Lord, Leader, and Ladder

June 15, 2010 at 9:53 am | Posted in A Little Alliteration, Genesis | 8 Comments
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In Genesis Chapter 28 we see the account of “Jacob’s Ladder.”

And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it.

Genesis 28:12

This was Jacob’s exclamation when he awoke from that dream:

And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the LORD is in this place; and I knew it not.

Genesis 28:16

Why was Jacob so surprised at the presence of God? I suspect, like most of us, Jacob had an intellectual understanding of God’s omnipresence. However, also like most of us, he tended to get distracted by circumstances and forget about God’s presence.

For one thing, Jacob had left his family for the first time. He was on a long trip to the home of his father’s people. He probably did not expect to encounter another Yahweh-worshiper during the whole trip. Christians who do not attend church regularly, and who work with nonbelievers during the week, may tend to miss out on the reminder of God’s presence that comes with being around God’s people.

For another thing, Jacob had left behind his earthly father, and his earthly father’s altars and tents. As Christians we must not forget that the house of the Lord is not the only place we can meet with the Lord. We can make an altar and experience God’s presence anytime, anywhere.

Finally, Jacob may have been too focused on his own fears to focus on God’s presence. Jacob’s mother had told him, before he left,

Until thy brother’s anger turn away from thee, and he forget that which thou hast done to him: then I will send, and fetch thee from thence: why should I be deprived also of you both in one day?

Genesis 27:45

For all he knew, his brother, Esau, might have been hot on his heels, ready to take his life. This would have been quite a reversal of roles, because Jacob is known for sneaking up on his brother throughout their lives up until this point (Genesis 25:26-34). Christians today must remember that fears, dire circumstances, and the possibility of our past catching up to us, should not cause us to forget the Lord’s presence. Our Savior, Christ Jesus, compared Himself to the ladder that Jacob saw in his dream (John 1:51). Jesus, fully man and fully God, is our Gateway into God’s presence. He is the only One who can put one hand on us and one hand on God the Father, and bring us into mediated fellowship.

Jacob's ladder

The Scientific Method

May 26, 2010 at 9:26 am | Posted in Genesis | 12 Comments
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Rebekah and Jacob concocted a scheme to get Jacob the blessing of his father, Isaac, but they did not need to do this. God had already ordained that Jacob would receive it. Jacob’s name is complex. In Hebrew it is Yaaquob, which sounds like aqueb. Aqueb is the word for heel. Aqueb also sounds like aqab, which means “to supplant or sneak up from behind and overtake by surprise.” So, while the name “Jacob” actually means “may God protect,” it became a nickname for someone who is a trickster or a “heel-grabber.” Jacob, of course, came out of the womb grabbing Esau from behind, as though he were trying to overtake him. This paints Jacob in a bad light, but at least he wanted the spiritual blessings. The early bird may get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese. God can deal with you to change your means if your motive (heart) desires Him.

Now, after that brief interlude about Jacob’s name and his birth, let’s go back to the narrative of Issac:

And Abimelech charged all his people, saying, He that toucheth this man or his wife shall surely be put to death. Then Isaac sowed in that land, and received in the same year an hundredfold: and the LORD blessed him. And the man waxed great, and went forward, and grew until he became very great: For he had possession of flocks, and possession of herds, and great store of servants: and the Philistines envied him. For all the wells which his father’s servants had digged in the days of Abraham his father, the Philistines had stopped them, and filled them with earth. And Abimelech said unto Isaac, Go from us; for thou art much mightier than we. And Isaac departed thence, and pitched his tent in the valley of Gerar, and dwelt there. And Isaac digged again the wells of water, which they had digged in the days of Abraham his father; for the Philistines had stopped them after the death of Abraham: and he called their names after the names by which his father had called them. And Isaac’s servants digged in the valley, and found there a well of springing water.

Genesis 26:11-19

The old wells had living water.

And the herdmen of Gerar did strive with Isaac’s herdmen, saying, The water is ours: and he called the name of the well Esek; because they strove with him.

Genesis 26:20

Esek meant “contention.”

And they digged another well, and strove for that also: and he called the name of it Sitnah.

Genesis 26:21

Sitnah meant “hating” or “strife.”

And he removed from thence, and digged another well; and for that they strove not: and he called the name of it Rehoboth; and he said, For now the LORD hath made room for us, and we shall be fruitful in the land.

Genesis 26:22

Rehoboth meant “enlargement.” Isaac wanted God to enlarge his territory not just to get more land – he wanted to enlarge his influence. The Philistines saw his tents and altars every time he moved. We should ask God to enlarge our sphere of influence for witnessing.

Once again, we see in Esau evidence of his lack of desire for spiritual things.

And Esau was forty years old when he took to wife Judith the daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and Bashemath the daughter of Elon the Hittite: Which were a grief of mind unto Isaac and to Rebekah.

Genesis 26:34-35

In Chapter 27 Jacob’s trickery shows that his name was well-deserved. He attempts to supplant his brother by creeping around behind his back, although the scheme seems to be more of Rebekah’s idea.

And Jacob said unto his father, I am Esau thy firstborn; I have done according as thou badest me: arise, I pray thee, sit and eat of my venison, that thy soul may bless me.

Genesis 27:19

Isaac is lying down, probably bedridden.

And Isaac said unto Jacob, Come near, I pray thee, that I may feel thee, my son, whether thou be my very son Esau or not.

Genesis 27:21

Apparently, he can’t see. He is blind both physically and spiritually. He has closed his eyes to God’s command. He should not have been wanting to give the blessing to Esau. God had commanded that Jacob was to get it, and, furthermore, Esau had evidenced a flesh-driven nature.

Little children, in elementary school, are commonly taught the “scientific method.” I know it’s more complicated than this, but, basically it boils down to teaching them to take matter and examine its properties, and learn about it, using their natural senses. Touch it. Look at it. Smell it. Taste it. I’m not opposed to children being taught that way, but think of the spiritual implications. In Genesis Chapter 27, Isaac employed a form of the scientific method with Jacob. Jacob and Rebekah plotted to deceive Isaac into thinking that Jacob was Esau. Isaac touched him. He listened to him. He couldn’t see him but, no doubt, he smelled him. And he came to the wrong conclusion! It would have been better for Isaac just to believe God’s promise by faith, that Jacob, although the younger, and not Esau, was to receive the blessing.

And Rebekah spake unto Jacob her son, saying, Behold, I heard thy father speak unto Esau thy brother, saying, Bring me venison, and make me savoury meat, that I may eat, and bless thee before the LORD before my death. Now therefore, my son, obey my voice according to that which I command thee. Go now to the flock, and fetch me from thence two good kids of the goats; and I will make them savoury meat for thy father, such as he loveth: And thou shalt bring it to thy father, that he may eat, and that he may bless thee before his death.

Genesis 27:6-10

We are not told how Rebekah made goat meat taste like venison, but look at Jacob’s concern:

And Jacob said to Rebekah his mother, Behold, Esau my brother is a hairy man, and I am a smooth man: My father peradventure will feel me, and I shall seem to him as a deceiver; and I shall bring a curse upon me, and not a blessing.

Genesis 27:11-12

Jacob did not want to break the “11th Commandment:” Thou shalt not get caught.

Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.

Hebrews 12:16-17

Isaac trembled after being deceived, but Esau did not accept any of the blame. He sought the blessing “carefully” with many tears. Then, when Jacob was sent away to keep Esau from killing him, look at what Esau did:

When Esau saw that Isaac had blessed Jacob, and sent him away to Padanaram, to take him a wife from thence; and that as he blessed him he gave him a charge, saying, Thou shalt not take a wife of the daughters of Canaan; And that Jacob obeyed his father and his mother, and was gone to Padanaram; And Esau seeing that the daughters of Canaan pleased not Isaac his father; Then went Esau unto Ishmael, and took unto the wives which he had Mahalath the daughter of Ishmael Abraham’s son, the sister of Nebajoth, to be his wife.

Genesis 28:6-9

He took a third wife from Uncle Ishmael’s family.

Just as a side note, Genesis 28:22 is the second mention of the practice of tithing in the Bible, the first being Abraham paying tithes to Melchizedek.

One Year Athe-versary

January 5, 2010 at 11:17 am | Posted in ProfessingAtheists | 1 Comment
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This post is a couple of days late, but, in celebration of the one year anniversary of this blog (which actually started on January 3, 2009), I have decided to re-post the post which has been by far my most-read post. It is one in a series of posts which make up an ongoing dialogue between a Christian and a professing atheist.

Professing Atheists Worship Creation Rather Than the Creator

Professing Atheist: I would challenge any Christian to step out side of the Christian “box” and just for a moment consider the vast scientific evidence regarding the origins of the universe and of life.

Christian: Since you have brought up scientific evidence, this may be helpful: Little children, in elementary school, are commonly taught the “scientific method.” I know it’s more complicated than this, but, basically it boils down to teaching them to take matter and examine its properties, and learn about it, using their natural senses. Touch it. Look at it. Smell it. Taste it. I’m not opposed to children being taught that way, but think of the spiritual implications. In Genesis Chap. 27, Isaac employed a form of the scientific method with Jacob. Jacob and Rebekah plotted to deceive Isaac into thinking that Jacob was Esau. Isaac touched him. He listened to him. He couldn’t see him but, no doubt, he smelled him. And he came to the wrong conclusion! It would have been better for Isaac just to believe God’s promise by faith, that Jacob, although the younger, and not Esau, was to receive the blessing.

Professing Atheist: Have you ever been in an aircraft? If so, the fact that you landed again is because a large number of scientists kept working and improving things until they got their sums right. Evidence matters. Planes fly, diseases are cured, water comes out when you turn the tap on, and you and I can argue in cyberspace like this. You benefit from real, evidence-based science as much as I do. It’s hypocritical of you to dismiss it.

Would you say that (for example) Iranians and pagan Vikings would be “without excuse” if they “failed to acknowledge” God?

Christian: Hypocrisy is being grateful for the benefits of evidence-based science while ignoring God, who created all the scientific laws that the aviators, doctors, and engineers have discovered (John 1:3). Every time your heart beats, it is not thanks to cardiology or cardiologists. It is thanks to God, Who has caused it to beat, by His sovereign power, your whole life. When you expel the next breath of air from your nostrils, you will have hope of another breath, not because a scientist discovered evidence of the air you breath, but because God provides it (Isaiah 2:22).

You can check this out by climbing up on a roof. Shake your fist, and cry out, “I don’t believe you exist, Gravity! You can’t be real! If you were real, you would not have held all those Norsemen and Iranians down! You would have let them float away in true freedom! Therefore, I defy, O Gravity, that you exist!” Then, leap off the roof. (By the way, I do not recommend that you really try this.) But if you did, you would see that, if you break God’s law of gravity, then God’s law of gravity will break you – literally. It’s the same way with God’s Biblical laws. You can break them if you want. But, if you do, they will break you (Galatians 6:7)

Professing Atheist: Well, I have other, more worthwhile calls on my time, but the Devil can quote scripture, as they say, so here I go. You will be as familiar with John 3:16 as I am, or as any of those people who hold up placards at wrestling matches. You would, I feel sure, assert that God’s purpose to all humanity, in sending his Son to die for us, is loving and merciful. Tell me, what do you believe that loving and merciful God, and gentle Jesus, meek and mild, have in store for these billions of people, all ignorant, in my humble opinion, through no fault of their own?

Christian: When considering the decision to accept, or willfully reject, the truth of the existence of God, it is irrelevant what anyone “thinks” would produce results, or what anyone’s humble “opinion” is – apart from Scripture.

I hope that the more worthwhile calls on your time do not include actually going to the wrestling matches where the John 3:16 placards are held. You are coming to that verse in isolation, not taking into account the entirety of Scripture. These Iranians and Vikings you mention – just like me, and just like you, and just like everyone else – are wicked sinners, who deserve God’s judgment (Romans 3:10; 3:23). Because He is loving and merciful, He sent His Son to die. Because He is just, righteous, true, and holy, He must judge those Who reject His Son.

(The other posts in the series – which received some attention, but were not nearly as popular as the one posted above – can be viewed here:)

Atheists Aren’t Real
Professing Atheists Are in Denial
Professing Atheists Are Disturbed by the Truth
Professing Atheists Fear the Bible
Professing Atheists Try To Allay Their Fears
Professing Atheists Understand More of the Bible Than They Want To Admit
Professing Atheists Are Incapable of Being “Good”
Professing Atheists Conveniently Pick and Choose Their Own “Morality”
Professing Atheists Do Have Faith
Professing Atheists Are Affected by Their Past
Professing Atheists Are Angry at God
Professing Atheists Pretend They Would Like God If He Could Be Controlled
Professing Atheists Despise the Idea of Answering To Their Creator
Professing Atheists Are Blind to Their Own Lack of Objectivity
Acting Like We’ve Been There

Professing Atheists Worship Creation Rather than the Creator

April 2, 2009 at 8:14 am | Posted in ProfessingAtheists | 24 Comments
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Professing Atheist: I would challenge any Christian to step out side of the Christian “box” and just for a moment consider the vast scientific evidence regarding the origins of the universe and of life.

Christian: Since you have brought up scientific evidence, this may be helpful: Little children, in elementary school, are commonly taught the “scientific method.” I know it’s more complicated than this, but, basically it boils down to teaching them to take matter and examine its properties, and learn about it, using their natural senses. Touch it. Look at it. Smell it. Taste it. I’m not opposed to children being taught that way, but think of the spiritual implications. In Genesis Chap. 27, Isaac employed a form of the scientific method with Jacob. Jacob and Rebekah plotted to deceive Isaac into thinking that Jacob was Esau. Isaac touched him. He listened to him. He couldn’t see him but, no doubt, he smelled him. And he came to the wrong conclusion! It would have been better for Isaac just to believe God’s promise by faith, that Jacob, although the younger, and not Esau, was to receive the blessing.

Professing Atheist: Have you ever been in an aircraft? If so, the fact that you landed again is because a large number of scientists kept working and improving things until they got their sums right. Evidence matters. Planes fly, diseases are cured, water comes out when you turn the tap on, and you and I can argue in cyberspace like this. You benefit from real, evidence-based science as much as I do. It’s hypocritical of you to dismiss it.

Would you say that (for example) Iranians and pagan Vikings would be “without excuse” if they “failed to acknowledge” God?

Christian: Hypocrisy is being grateful for the benefits of evidence-based science while ignoring God, who created all the scientific laws that the aviators, doctors, and engineers have discovered (John 1:3). Every time your heart beats, it is not thanks to cardiology or cardiologists. It is thanks to God, Who has caused it to beat, by His sovereign power, your whole life. When you expel the next breath of air from your nostrils, you will have hope of another breath, not because a scientist discovered evidence of the air you breath, but because God provides it (Isaiah 2:22).

You can check this out by climbing up on a roof. Shake your fist, and cry out, “I don’t believe you exist, Gravity! You can’t be real! If you were real, you would not have held all those Norsemen and Iranians down! You would have let them float away in true freedom! Therefore, I defy, O Gravity, that you exist!” Then, leap off the roof. (By the way, I do not recommend that you really try this.) But if you did, you would see that, if you break God’s law of gravity, then God’s law of gravity will break you – literally. It’s the same way with God’s Biblical laws. You can break them if you want. But, if you do, they will break you (Galatians 6:7).

Professing Atheist: Well, I have other, more worthwhile calls on my time, but the Devil can quote scripture, as they say, so here I go. You will be as familiar with John 3:16 as I am, or as any of those people who hold up placards at wrestling matches. You would, I feel sure, assert that God’s purpose to all humanity, in sending his Son to die for us, is loving and merciful. Tell me, what do you believe that loving and merciful God, and gentle Jesus, meek and mild, have in store for these billions of people, all ignorant, in my humble opinion, through no fault of their own?

Christian: When considering the decision to accept, or willfully reject, the truth of the existence of God, it is irrelevant what anyone “thinks” would produce results, or what anyone’s humble “opinion” is – apart from Scripture.

I hope that the more worthwhile calls on your time do not include actually going to the wrestling matches where the John 3:16 placards are held. You are coming to that verse in isolation, not taking into account the entirety of Scripture. These Iranians and Vikings you mention – just like me, and just like you, and just like everyone else – are wicked sinners, who deserve God’s judgment (Romans 3:10; 3:23). Because He is loving and merciful, He sent His Son to die. Because He is just, righteous, true, and holy, He must judge those Who reject His Son.


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