Spiritual Lessons Found in Historical Accounts

April 28, 2010 at 12:24 pm | Posted in Genesis | 7 Comments
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Genesis is a book of “firsts.” Genesis 23 contains the first mention of tears in the Bible.

And Sarah died in Kirjatharba; the same is Hebron in the land of Canaan: and Abraham came to mourn for Sarah, and to weep for her.

Genesis 23:2

Abraham had grown greatly in faith. His internal faith had been there already, but by this time it had also transformed him on the outside.

I am a stranger and a sojourner with you: give me a possession of a buryingplace with you, that I may bury my dead out of my sight.

Genesis 23:4

Abraham was a pilgrim. He did not take Sarah’s body back to Ur of the Chaldees because by faith he knew that the land of Canaan was to be the inheritance of his descendants.

That he may give me the cave of Machpelah, which he hath, which is in the end of his field; for as much money as it is worth he shall give it me for a possession of a buryingplace amongst you.

Genesis 23:9

He didn’t haggle over the exorbitant price, or give offense, or try a scheme.

Genesis 24 gives us the account of the mission to find a bride for Isaac.

For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.

Romans 15:4

The New Testament clarifies that the accounts of the Old Testament patriarchs are given to us for good and bad examples. But even in the bad examples we see the difference between believers and unbelievers – saved and lost. Abraham and Isaac both had an Abimelech to deal with – and they both tried to deceive him by pretending their wives were their sisters (Genesis 20 and 26). Abimelech showed integrity; Abraham and Isaac didn’t. The Bible does not hide the faults of its heroes. However, Abimelech was lost and Abraham and Isaac were saved. We should remember this when we start reading about Isaac and Jacob and some of their shenanigans, so that we are not tempted to try to find an excuse for everything they did.

Tested Faith Is Strong Faith

April 9, 2010 at 9:45 am | Posted in Genesis | 9 Comments
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Thank You, Lord, for the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. Please help me to be more than just a listener. Help me not to have itching ears. Help me to want more than a scratch on the neck or a pat on the head. Help me want to not just be entertained. Help me to be more of a learner than a listener. Let me be empty of pride, flesh, and self. Let me be filled with the Holy Spirit as I wield the Sword of the Spirit. Break up the hard soil of calloused hearts, so that the seed of Your Word will go down deep and plant roots, so that when it is exposed to the light of Your Truth, it will grow and not wither, and so that it will produce good fruit in lives – to Your glory. I pray in the name that is above all names – the only Name under Heaven given among men whereby we must be saved – the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

In Genesis 22 we can learn something about the growth process of faith. Faith must be tried, stretched, challenged, tested, if it is to grow.

And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am.

Genesis 22:1

Dear Christian: Expect to be tested, but when the test comes, focus on the promise, not the reason for the test.

And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you.

Genesis 22:5

Focus on the promise, and trust God to provide the “how.”

And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering? And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together.

Genesis 22:7-8

Trust God to provide the “how,” and think about how this is going to bring glory to Christ.

And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me. And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son. And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovahjireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the LORD it shall be seen.

Genesis 22:12-14

J. Hudson Taylor used to say that Christians live between Ebenezer and Jehovah Jireh. Ebenezer: So far the Lord has provided. Jehovah Jireh: The Lord will see to it. When your faith is tested, think about glorifying Christ, and get ready to be blessed to be a blessing.

And the angel of the LORD called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time, And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the LORD, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies;

Genesis 22:15-17

Aren’t you glad that God calls Christians to be living sacrifices? Some false religions try to earn their gods’ approval by telling their adherents to be dead sacrifices. One day we might be called upon to die for Christ, but it is a blessing to know that God has called us to be living sacrifices. We need to remember, though, that the trouble with a living sacrifice is that it doesn’t want to stay on the altar.

As Good as Dead

March 31, 2010 at 1:17 pm | Posted in Common Expressions, Genesis | 14 Comments
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In Genesis 20 Abraham’s fault is not so much a failure of faith as it is the sin of a believer. Believers do still sin.

And Abraham journeyed from thence toward the south country, and dwelled between Kadesh and Shur, and sojourned in Gerar.

Genesis 20:1

Abraham didn’t go all the way back down into Egypt, but he did go into enemy territory.

And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, She is my sister: and Abimelech king of Gerar sent, and took Sarah.

Genesis 20:2

Why didn’t he tell the whole truth? (Sarah was Abraham’s half-sister). The answer is because:

And Abraham said, Because I thought, Surely the fear of God is not in this place; and they will slay me for my wife’s sake.

Genesis 20:11

He was more afraid of men than he was of God. He lost his testimony before an unbeliever. The lost Abimelech acted with more integrity than the saved Abraham. As Christians, unbelievers are going to call us hypocrites anyway, just because they are looking for an excuse. We must not give them good reason to do it.

Look at Abraham’s age when Isaac was born:

And Abraham was an hundred years old, when his son Isaac was born unto him.

Genesis 21:5

You may have heard the common expression, “as good as dead.” God was waiting for Abraham and Sarah to be as “good as dead,” because when the flesh is dead the Spirit gives new birth.

And the child grew, and was weaned: and Abraham made a great feast the same day that Isaac was weaned. And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, which she had born unto Abraham, mocking.

Genesis 21:8-9

Ishmael was probably about 17 – why was a 17 year old mocking a 3 year old? Ishmael is a picture of the first birth – born of flesh. Hagar is a picture of the Law. Sarah is a picture of grace. Abraham is a picture of faith. The flesh (disciplined and corrected by the Law) hates the Spirit-nature (born by grace through faith) because it is free.

And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and took bread, and a bottle of water, and gave it unto Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, and the child, and sent her away: and she departed, and wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba.

Genesis 21:14

Grace came first; then the Law came. The Law can only give birth to slaves. Slaves to the Law can never be free. Grace makes slaves to Christ truly free.

And the child grew, and was weaned: and Abraham made a great feast the same day that Isaac was weaned.

Genesis 21:8

Even the Spirit-man must be weaned, and must grow up. Babies hate their mothers as they are being weaned, but weaning is for their good – they must grow.

The Internal War

March 15, 2010 at 9:20 am | Posted in Genesis, Luke | 10 Comments
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Abraham was 85 years old. He had been walking with the Lord for 10 years. Abraham had not been perfect. He was still learning about faith, but he was in an unbreakable covenant with God.

God’s promise that Abraham and Sarah would have a child began to seem too long in its fulfillment. So, they did the opposite of exercising faith: they schemed (Genesis 16:1-4). This scheme involved Abraham conceiving a child with Sarah’s slave, Hagar, and it was a sinful scheme. Why was it sinful? Because whatsoever is not of faith is sin (Romans 14:23).

The child which Hagar conceived was named Ishmael. He was Abraham’s only child for 13 years, until God fulfilled His covenant promise with Abraham, and gave him a child by Sarah. This child was named Isaac (Genesis 21:1-3). Ishmael and Isaac could never co-exist peacefully, for God preordained them to be forerunners of the two types of men who can never get along, and are always at war with each other, even unto this day. Ishmael represents the man of flesh, born of faithlessness and sin, who can never change. Isaac represents the second birth – the spiritual “rebirth,” which is born of faith. That which is born of flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit (John 3:6; Galatians 4:29).

These two “men,” or “natures,” are at war with each other within each and every man, woman, and child who has trusted Jesus Christ as his/her Savior. The descendants of Ishmael and the descendants of Isaac are at war with each other in the Middle East today, and they will continue until Christ Himself puts a stop to it. In the mortal bodies of Christians, the flesh-man and the Spirit-man war, as well. The flesh may be, to some extent, disciplined, controlled, and even mortified (Romans 8:13; Colossians 3:5), but it will never be changed. If you are a Christian, which man will win the war in your body – the flesh-man or the Spirit-man? The obvious answer is: whichever is stronger. But, which is the stronger? The answer to that is: the one which you feed the most. Make sure you are feasting daily on the spirit-strengthening, life-giving bread of the Word of God.

And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.

Luke 4:4

A Match Made in Heaven Part 2

March 6, 2009 at 10:29 am | Posted in Bible Studies, Genesis | 6 Comments
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I believe that there is a “type” or an illustration in Genesis 24 of the relationship between Jesus Christ, the Head of the Church, and the New Covenant Church, which is His “bride.”

In a sense, Isaac is a type for Jesus Christ. Abraham is a type for God the Father. Isaac did not go out on his own looking for a wife. He waited obediently for his father, Abraham, to arrange his marriage. God wants, and is getting – to this day – a “bride” for His Son. Rebekah is a type for the Church – born-again believers.

Abraham’s servant is a type for the Holy Ghost. It is His job to go and convince sinners to come to Christ. Abraham’s servant convinced Rebekah that Isaac was a worthy husband, and he comforted her on the journey to meet him. The Holy Ghost does the same with New Testament believers.

Isaac, the type for Christ, is waiting and prepared for his bride. It was Abraham’s idea to get a bride for Isaac. Christians, by nature, are supposed to love what God loves. God loves seeing lost sinners brought to His Son. We should love to tell lost sinners about the Gospel, and to try to bring them to Jesus Christ.

Abraham’s servant wanted to take Isaac to search for a bride, but Abraham said no. This is a type of God, in a sense, saying, “I have already sent my Son once into the world. Today, He is available. He is not coming to live among men, as a man Himself, again. His bride must come to Him – she must be willing to say yes to the Holy Ghost.” This shows how important it is for us, as soul-winners, to be filled with the Holy Ghost.

Christians who want to lead others to Christ must place more emphasis on the filling of the Holy Spirit than on worldly manipulation or manufactured “outreaches.”

When we go to find a bride for Jesus Christ, God does not send us by ourselves. The Holy Ghost goes with us – or even leads us – every step of the way.

All believers will one day give an account to our Master for what we have done with the treasure of the Gospel message, which He has given us in trust. There is a picture of this accounting in Genesis 24.

For she had said unto the servant, What man is this that walketh in the field to meet us? And the servant had said, It is my master: therefore she took a vail, and covered herself. And the servant told Isaac all things that he had done.

Genesis 24:65-66

Abraham’s servant did not say, “We took your 10 camels loaded down with treasure, and we had a very good time, but we failed to get a bride.” He did not say, “We attracted many followers and hangers-on with your treasure, but we failed to get a bride.” He did not say, “We spread your treasure around doing many good works, but we failed to get a bride.” No, Abraham’s servant came back with a report of “Mission accomplished: I brought back a bride for the son!”

Let’s make sure that, whatever we do in our labors for the Lord, we stay focused on getting a bride for the Son.

A Match Made in Heaven Part 1

March 3, 2009 at 12:09 pm | Posted in Bible Studies, Genesis | 10 Comments
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Abraham was God’s friend, because he could be trusted by God (Genesis 18:19). It is wonderful to be a servant of the King. It is even more wonderful to be the King’s friend.

Abraham wanted his son, Isaac, to fulfill God’s promise of having many heirs. But Isaac was unmarried at age 40. Genesis Chapter 23 tells us that Isaac’s mother, Sarah, had died. Chapter 24 focuses on how Isaac met the bride that God wanted him to have. It was truly a “match made in Heaven.”

And Abraham said unto his eldest servant of his house, that ruled over all that he had, Put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh:

Genesis 24:2

Abraham made his servant promise to find Isaac a bride who was not a Canaanite.

And I will make thee swear by the LORD, the God of heaven, and the God of the earth, that thou shalt not take a wife unto my son of the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell: But thou shalt go unto my country, and to my kindred, and take a wife unto my son Isaac.

Genesis 24:3-4

Here is a principle we must use today: Christians should not marry non-Christians. A Christian who does marry a non-Christian will have problems with his/her father-in-law. That is because a Christian’s Father is God. A non-Christian’s spiritual father is the devil.

Abraham’s servant wanted to know if he could bring Isaac on his journey, so that he would have some help in convincing the prospective bride. But Abraham did not want Isaac going back to the place Abraham had left.

And the servant took ten camels of the camels of his master, and departed; for all the goods of his master were in his hand: and he arose, and went to Mesopotamia, unto the city of Nahor.

Genesis 24:10

Abraham’s servant loaded up 10 camels. This would probably be the modern-day equivalent of loading up ten U-Hauls with gold and jewels and perfumes. He did this because he wanted to be able to show the prospective bride and her family his master’s wealth.

Abraham’s servant seemed to be worried about doing well at this important task. He did what we should all do when we are worried about doing a good job on something: He prayed about it.

And he said, O LORD God of my master Abraham, I pray thee, send me good speed this day, and shew kindness unto my master Abraham. Behold, I stand here by the well of water; and the daughters of the men of the city come out to draw water: And let it come to pass, that the damsel to whom I shall say, Let down thy pitcher, I pray thee, that I may drink; and she shall say, Drink, and I will give thy camels drink also: let the same be she that thou hast appointed for thy servant Isaac; and thereby shall I know that thou hast shewed kindness unto my master.

Genesis 24:12-14

It was a hard job to get water in those days – women would carry the water in big pitchers on their heads.

Abraham’s servant was still praying when Rebekah showed up. She did offer to water the camels. Remember, there were 10 of them.

And it came to pass, as the camels had done drinking, that the man took a golden earring of half a shekel weight, and two bracelets for her hands of ten shekels weight of gold;

Genesis 24:22

I like to imagine the faces of Rebekah’s friends and family when she came home adorned with sparkling jewelery, and leading 10 U-Hauls full of treasure. Here’s where we meet ol’ Laban.

And Rebekah had a brother, and his name was Laban: and Laban ran out unto the man, unto the well. And it came to pass, when he saw the earring and bracelets upon his sister’s hands, and when he heard the words of Rebekah his sister, saying, Thus spake the man unto me; that he came unto the man; and, behold, he stood by the camels at the well. And he said, Come in, thou blessed of the LORD; wherefore standest thou without? for I have prepared the house, and room for the camels.

Genesis 24:29-31

Abraham’s servant was single-minded. He refused to eat until they had taken care of business. The result was that Rebekah agreed to go with him to marry Isaac.

Notice what Rebekah does the first time she sees Isaac.

And Isaac went out to meditate in the field at the eventide: and he lifted up his eyes, and saw, and, behold, the camels were coming. And Rebekah lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac, she lighted off the camel.

Genesis 24:63-64

I know it sounds like she fired up a cigarette (“she lighted off a camel”), but, trust me, this does not mean that it’s okay to smoke because “they did it in the Bible.”

Next time, we’ll try to see some more Biblical principles in this romantic account of match-making.

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