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Tag Archives: Bible

The Bible’s Prologue Concludes

Table of Nations

“Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the LORD did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the LORD scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.” (Genesis 11:9)

Starting at Genesis 11:10, there is a great shift of focus in the Bible from worldwide, universal events to localized, specific details in the lives of individuals. Up to this point, God has been dealing with mankind in general, no distinction has been made concerning race or ethnicity, but humanity only. Now, the Lord of Heaven will pluck from the tree that contains all the nations of the Earth a single branch with which He will deal directly. God will prune and cultivate this single branch, that is, the nation of Israel, with the purpose of preparing it to bear the Fruit that will come forth from it: the Lord Jesus Christ, the Promised Messiah.

The first 11 chapters of Genesis cover the span of history from the very dawn of time until the first part of the life of Abraham. The narrative deals in eras and epochs and speaks of the human condition in general – giving very limited detail whatsoever – moving rapidly from one monumental incident to the next. These chapters, although they literally cover an immensely greater span of time than the entire rest of the Bible combined, are really simply a background given to familiarize the reader of Scripture with the setting against which the remainder of the Word of God will unfold. Even though the details and explanations are often minimal and meager, many of the most perplexing questions and dilemmas that have plagued the thoughts of man since the most ancient of times are summarily resolved within these first 11 chapters of Genesis. Where did man come from? Why are we here? Are we alone in the Universe? Why does there exist a universal yearning in the hearts of all men for spiritual fulfillment –  for a connection with our Creator – that seems so impossible to fulfill? What is it that has separated us from the One Who put us here in the first place?

Sin And Judgment

If we were pressed to arrive at a simple, recurring theme throughout these first 11 chapters of the Bible, we could summarize this theme as one of sin and judgment. Since Adam, I think that it would be very hard to find a single, honest individual who did not look at the world around them and conclude that something was very, very wrong. Whether they be men of faith or not, whether they be spiritual, philosophical, contemplative, or simply given to pure logic apart from emotion; most people realize that the world is not the way that it should be. Something has gone terribly wrong. Just about the time that another secular philosopher is ready to again advance the concept of the innate goodness of the heart of man, another catastrophic tragedy grips the headlines and leaves people shaking their heads and wondering what this world is coming to.

But the Bible makes it clear that there has always been evil in the heart of man, since the very beginning. From Adam and Eve’s Fall in the Garden of Eden, to Cain’s murder of Abel, to the people living in the time leading up to the Flood, to the denizens of Babel and their audacious Tower; the case is clearly made that the problem of man is his sin and it is his rebellion that separates him from God. If we learn nothing else from this portion of Scripture, we can be sure of one thing: God judges the sins of man.

“For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” (1 John 2:16)

The antediluvians fulfilled all the lusts of their flesh; Cain demonstrated the pride of life in his arrogant, self-reliant offering to God; and the early Mesopotamians at the Plain of Shinar catered to the lust of their eyes when they sought to construct the Tower of Babel. Man has been opposed to God since the very beginning. It is in this setting and against this background and with this understanding that we will now meet Abraham: the man of faith. From this point on, the Bible will deal primarily with individuals rather than global events. We have heretofore gazed at the entire world, as through a telescope; now we will look upon more specific locations, as through a microscope. The pace will also greatly slow down as the elapsed time between one chapter to the next will be measured by days, months, and, sometimes, years; rather than decades, centuries, and millenia.

We have been introduced to the human condition in these first chapters of Genesis with scarcely a brief glance at the remedy that God would eventually provide for the problem of man’s sin. Starting in Chapter 12, we will now see how God moved toward providing the break in the endless cycle of sin and judgment and how man can again be reconciled to his Creator.

To Jesus Christ goes all glory. In service to Him,

Loren

loren@answersfromthebook.org

[This post was originally published November 15, 2009]

**All Scripture quotations in this post are taken from the King James Version (KJV) Bible

[If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ or you are not certain where you are headed when this life ends, I invite you to read the article “Am I Going To Heaven?“]

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Nimrod And The Tower Of Babel

Earth From Space

“From these the coastlands of the nations were separated into their lands, every one according to his language, according to their families, into their nations.” (Genesis 10:5)

In Chapter 10 of Genesis, we have the result of what happened in Genesis 11:1-9, that is, God’s confounding of man’s language at the Tower of Babel. Here we have the origin of every single nation that would inhabit the face of the Earth. Every civilization that would arise in the post-Flood world can trace its beginnings to one of these 70 descendants of the sons of Noah in one way or another.

In the middle of Chapter 11, the Bible will again narrow its focus as it did between Chapters 1 and 2 . This time, the focus will move away from mankind in general to the nation of Israel specifically. Yet before it does, we are given a farewell look at the Gentile nations, the Goyim, and are shown that God is truly the God of all mankind, Jew and Gentile alike (Romans 3:29). When we arrive at the New Testament, in the Book of Acts, all the nations of the world will come into sharp focus again as all men, out of every tongue and nation, are drawn to the Lord Jesus Christ. God leaves off His direct dealings with the nations of the world here in Genesis 10 until the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2) and turns His attention toward His chosen people through whom the Son of God will come to the Earth. Yet God never really lifts His hand entirely from these nations, nor does He turn His eye away from them. The Spirit of God carefully records the names of these nations in the text of Genesis 10 because they matter to Him. We may not care about or even fully understand the distinction between an Arvadite, Zemarite, Hamathite, or any of the other “ites” listed, but God does.

Nimrod The “Mighty Hunter”

Not much detail is given about any of the specific individuals listed in Chapter 10 aside from which “branch” of the sons of Noah they descended from and then who descended from them. But in verses 8-10 we encounter a man by the name of Nimrod whom the Bible tells us was a “mighty hunter before the Lord.” The idea of the language here seems to be that Nimrod “set his face” against the Lord. He stood in opposition against God. And the “prey” upon which he hunted was not deer and wild game, but the souls of men. Nimrod is a shadow, a spiritual predecessor of the Antichrist of Revelation. Like the Antichrist, Nimrod sought to build for himself a kingdom, a government over which he himself would preside and rule over all the people of the Earth. His kingdom was founded upon the efforts of man and inspired by the common bond of defiance against God. It was Nimrod who laid the groundwork for the Babylonian Empire, an empire that would symbolize, throughout Scripture, man’s arrogant attempts to institute his own religious and political system in defiance of God Almighty.

What Happened At Babel

"Tower Of Babel" (Pieter Bruegel the Elder)

“And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.” (Genesis 11:4 KJV)

“And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.”

It is abundantly clear from this statement where the focus of these people who set about building the Tower was: themselves. Noah’s focus was on God and he built an altar to honor Him. The people at the Plain of Shinar here in Genesis 11 were focused on themselves and set about to build a monument to honor themselves.  God had told man to scatter and fill the Earth (Genesis 9:1), these people said, “No, we will not be scattered.” Here we have the two seeds of rebellion against God: focus on self and defiance of His commands.

In verses 3 and 4 we have the the phrase repeated, “Go to, let us…” It is a phenomenon of human nature that man will do things in a group that he would never do alone, and that is exactly what we see happening here. People will entice and provoke others to do the most wicked things under the illusion of safety that a mob mentality provides. These people, under Nimrod, had built a capitol city that would be the seat of their empire against God. Within that city, they were attempting to set a rallying point at which place they could gather together. They thought that this Tower would “reach the heavens”, that it would match the Throne of God in its splendor and magnificence, and that it would serve to establish their names upon the Earth for posterity.

But what did this “great” Tower really amount to? When God laid out the blueprint for the construction of His Tabernacle and the furnishings contained therein, He called for the use of gold, silver, and precious stones. When John beheld what the New Jerusalem will look like, the Jerusalem built by God, he saw walls of precious stone, gates of pearl, and a city adorned with gold so pure it looked like clear glass. When man attempted to build a tower that would reach the heavens and preserve his name forever, he used bricks of mud and slime for mortar.

Divided Language

Man said, “Go to, let us…” and God responded in verse 7 with His own “Go to, let Us…”

What the people did at Babel deserved the righteous judgment of God and He could have simply wiped them from the face of the Earth. But God chose instead to divide man by confounding his language. This division would compel them to obey His command to disperse and fill the Earth, even though they had resisted it before. There is no doubt that mankind is very capable of accomplishing great things and the greatest of these things are accomplished when man is united in his purpose. Common culture and language serve as very powerful forces that bind men in their efforts. All the nations of the world would still share the common purpose of defying God, but their ability to unite together in their efforts would now be restricted by the language barrier.

On the Day of Pentecost, in Acts Chapter 2, God would lift the barrier of language for the purpose of uniting mankind in his ability to come to the Lord Jesus Christ. Everyone would be able to hear the Gospel preached in his own tongue and would be able to respond accordingly. When we enter the next life and dwell directly in God’s presence, man will again share a common language. We will also share a common purpose. But that purpose will be to honor God and to seek glory for the name of Jesus Christ, not glory for our own.

To Jesus Christ goes all glory. In service to Him,

Loren

loren@answersfromthebook.org

[This post was originally published November 12, 2009]

**Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) © The Lockman Foundation and are used by permission.

[If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ or you are not certain where you are headed when this life ends, I invite you to read the article “Am I Going To Heaven?“]

Noah’s Sin, Ham’s Sin, And The Curse Of Canaan

"Drunken Noah" (Michelangelo - Sistine Chapel)

“Noah began to be a man of the soil, and he planted a vineyard. He drank of the wine and became drunk and lay uncovered in his tent. And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father and told his two brothers outside.” (Genesis 9:20-22 ESV)

There are quite a few things that we can learn from this singular incident recorded about Noah’s life after the Flood. First, it is noteworthy that this incident is the only thing that we read about Noah after he builds his altar to the Lord and makes his sacrifices upon it. Verse 28 tells us that he lived another 350 years after the Flood, yet this is the sole incident that the Word of God records during that entire time. What a powerful reminder of how our sins so often carry a legacy that remains far after we would have ever imagined they would. We should always remember that the indiscretions that we give into during a brief moment of passion can bring lingering and lasting consequences. When we are in Christ, our sins are forgiven and our eternal Salvation is not forfeited, but there are many times that our sinful behaviors carry unintended repercussions that can cause us great sorrow for a long time.

Sin Is Still A Problem

Lest we think that the judgment of the Flood remedied the problem of sin and changed the hearts of men- turning them from their sinful ways- this passage records not one but two offenses. Noah, who had been called “a just man” and “perfect in his generations” (Gen. 6:9), drinks the wine of his vineyard to the point of passing out in a drunken stupor. Regardless of how close God’s people walk with Him, no matter how long they serve Him in this world, until we put off this flesh and dwell forever in His presence in the age to come, we remain susceptible to the temptations of sin. Why? Because sin comes from the heart of man. Sin comes from the desires of the flesh which we are never separated from during this life.

In addition to Noah’s drunkenness, we are also told of his son Ham’s impropriety. Ham saw his father’s nakedness and told his two brothers (verse 22).

What Exactly Was Ham’s Sin?

There has been much speculation about what it was specifically that Ham did that would be sinful in this matter. All sorts of immoral, lewd, and perverted misdeeds have been suggested in order to explain where Ham went wrong. Personally, I think that it reflects more on the twisted imaginations of the commentators who read such innuendos into the text rather than bringing clarity to the narrative. I see no reason to surmise that anything else happened other than what the Bible says happened: Ham saw his father naked, passed out in drunkenness, and he went and told Shem and Japheth about it. So what was the problem with what he did?

It has always been the practice of the unrepentant to mock and ridicule the people of God when they fall into temptation. They rejoice and revel in the failures of those who seek to live a godly life and obey the Lord. Accusations of “hypocrisy” are hurled, even today, by those of the world whenever a servant of the Lord stumbles in their walk with Christ. Shem and Japheth sought to cover up their father’s shame, they wanted to uphold his integrity even in his moment of weakness. They knew that they were not beyond temptation themselves and, rather than joining in with Ham’s celebration of their godly father’s missteps, they reverently covered Noah’s nakedness and refused to look upon his humiliation. Sadly, just as it was a member of Noah’s own family who was quick to delight in his disobedience, it is so often those in our own “family” of the Body of Christ who are the first to run and tell others of our indiscretions rather than helping us put our garments back on.

Why Was Canaan Cursed?

"Noah Cursing Canaan" (Gustave Doré)

“And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him. And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren.” (Genesis 9:24-25)

It seems a little confusing at first glance that Noah, after he awakens from his sleep and learns what was done to him by Ham, proceeds to pronounce a curse on Canaan, Ham’s son. Why should Canaan be punished for the sins of his father? I think that there are two reasons that the Bible records this the way that it does:

1.) It Was A Prophecy More Than A “Curse”

Noah does not say anything along the lines of, “Because of what was done to me: cursed be Canaan…”

His words are meant to be interpreted as prophetic rather than punitive. Like father, like son – the old saying goes, and that is the point being made here. Canaan and his descendants after him would be guilty of displaying this same attitude toward God’s people and would, therefore, earn the curse of God upon themselves, as well. Rather than humble themselves before the hand of God and turn to Him in repentance, the Canaanites would make it a habit to mock, scorn, and defy the children of Israel as they later would enter into the land of Canaan. In reality, they were guilty of mocking God Himself because it was not the ability of the people of God that was ridiculed, but the ability of God to act on their behalf. It is really the same thing today when the skeptic mocks and ridicules the Christian: he is not attacking the person himself so much as he is disparaging God’s ability to move in that person’s life.

2.) Relevance

The second reason that the passage records the curse upon Canaan is for the very simple fact that the Book of Genesis was originally written by Moses to the children of Israel, as they were preparing to move into the land that God had promised them – namely, Canaan. We are not told how the Lord dealt with Ham for what he had done because, frankly, it was not relevant for the Israelites to know, nor is it really any of our concern. Ham’s name is not mentioned in chapter 9 apart from the statement that he was the father of Canaan. Ham was of no relevance to the children of Israel, but Canaan sure was! It was crucial for them to know that they were dealing with an enemy that bore the curse and judgment of God upon them.

To Jesus Christ goes all glory. In service to Him,

Loren

loren@answersfromthebook.org

[This post was originally published November 8, 2009]

**Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations in this post are taken from the King James Version (KJV) Bible

**English Standard Version (ESV)

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

[If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ or you are not certain where you are headed when this life ends, I invite you to read the article “Am I Going To Heaven?“]

The Sign Of The Rainbow

Suðuroy Rainbow2 (Photo By: Erik Christensen)

“And God said, This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth.” (Genesis 9:12-13)

What comes to mind when you see a rainbow? For most people, rainbows elicit happy feelings: “warm fuzzies”, if you will, as they look upon these beautiful and colorful natural phenomena. But they should also serve as a solemn reminder about the reality of the judgments of God.

In Genesis 8:20, we saw that Noah built an altar to the Lord, an altar in recognition of God’s mercy and grace. The rainbow was God’s response to Noah’s altar. Some have misunderstood what the text is telling us in Genesis 9:13. We are not told that God created the rainbow at this time, but that God set the rainbow as a token of His covenant. Rainbows appear as tiny particles of moisture in the air act as prisms, refracting rays of light from the sun. What an awesome sign of God’s mercy as the rainbow reveals that the clouds of rain are departing and the sunlight is shining back through. Rainbows are clear indicators that the rains are ceasing and clear skies are returning!

Although man, from the vantage point of Earth, is able to behold the rainbow and consider its significance, verses 14-16 tell us that God said that He would see the rainbow when He brought the clouds of rain and that it would serve as a reminder to Him of His covenant to never again destroy the whole Earth by water. Obviously, God does not need to be reminded of anything, but we should understand that the value of this sign is from God’s perspective looking upon it, not from ours. Unlike other signs given under other covenants (such as the sign of circumcision given under the Abrahamic Covenant), this sign requires no response on the part of man to validate it.

“And I will establish my covenant with you, neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth.” (Genesis 9:11)

“But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.” (2 Peter 3:10)

Never again will the Lord destroy all living things from the face of the Earth with the waters of a flood. At the end of this age, God will consume the Earth with fire. The Flood served as a reminder to man that sin carries with it judgment. The rainbow is a reminder to man that God’s judgment is currently being withheld. The day will come when the Lord Jesus Christ will return to judge a sinful and fallen world. As it was in the days of Noah, when people were going about their lives giving no thought to obeying God, so shall it be when the Lord returns (Matthew 24:37-39).

When we look upon a rainbow, let us not boast in our hearts that the sun will shine again that we might live to sin another day. May we look upon the sign of God’s covenant with Noah and rejoice in gratitude that God has spared us from a judgment which our own sin has earned. Let us not be as the scoffers who despise the grace and mercy of God, but let us humble ourselves before the Lord at the very sight of a rainbow and offer up praise to Him that He did not appoint us to perish in the days of the Flood and, by the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, we shall not perish in the coming judgment, either.

To Jesus Christ goes all glory. In service to Him,

Loren

loren@answersfromthebook.org

[This post was originally published November 5, 2009]

**All Scripture quotations in this post are taken from the King James Version (KJV) Bible

[If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ or you are not certain where you are headed when this life ends, I invite you to read the article “Am I Going To Heaven?“]

What Does The Bible Say About The Death Penalty?

Gallows (Line Drawing By: Pearson Scott Foresman)

“Surely I will require your lifeblood; from every beast I will require it. And from every man, from every man’s brother I will require the life of man. Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed, for in the image of God He made man.”  (Genesis 9:5-6)

During the modern era, the application of capital punishment, for even the most heinous of crimes, has become very controversial in the industrialized nations of the world. It has been called “barbaric”, “inhumane”, “cruel”, and an antiquated relic of a less civilized era. There are those who object to the use of it under any circumstances: thinking of themselves as enlightened and sophisticated, while the proponents of the “death penalty” are vengeful and bloodthirsty.

Since even some sincere Christians are whole-heartedly opposed to the implementation of capital punishment, it is worthwhile to consider what the Word of God has to say on the matter. In the “Noahic Covenant”, God lays out some fundamental changes in how man is permitted and instructed to behave with regards to the taking of life. As we considered last time, man was now afforded the liberty to consume meat and , thus, take the lives of animals for food consumption. Additionally, man was also issued the responsibility of acting on behalf of the Lord Himself by executing capital punishment on those guilty of capital crimes: “Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed.”

In order to determine how this command applies to those living today or if it is even still valid at all, let us examine a few points of consideration in relation to it:

Since This Is Given In The Old Testament, Doesn’t The New Testament Override Or Even Revoke Its Implementation?

Many people either discount entirely or else severely “water-down” any and all commandments and instructions that appear in the Bible before Matthew 1:1. Obviously, a great many of the commandments that appear in the Law of Moses (contained in Exodus through Deuteronomy) were given specifically to the nation of Israel and are not in force for the believer today. Laws concerning the Tabernacle, Temple Sacrifice, Dietary Laws, the Ark of the Covenant, etc. have all been superseded by the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. But we must remember that the words which the Lord spoke to Noah and his sons occurred before the Law of Moses was given.  These edicts were not issued within the context of the Theocratic government of the nation of Israel, but were universally given to every living person on the Earth at the time. Although that was only eight people, verse 9 of Genesis 9 clarifies that God is speaking to them and to all of their seed after them. This would include everyone who would ever live after them.

Does The New Testament Give Any Support For Carrying On Capital Punishment?

“For [government authorities are] a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for [they do] not bear the sword for nothing; for [they are] a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. (Romans 13:4)

There is never a time in the New Testament when any apostle or even the Lord Jesus Christ Himself would decry the “injustice” or “barbarism” of capital punishment. They never set about to enact social reform, they never preached about the evils of the criminal justice system. If anyone ever had a valid reason to object to the unfairness and injustice of criminal execution, the apostles Paul and Peter certainly did as they languished away in Roman prisons – awaiting their cruel fates. But they never protested the use of capital punishment itself, even though they were innocent men, guiltless of any crime worthy of death (as, of course, our Lord was too). In fact, Paul even tells the Roman governor Festus, as he lays out his defense against the charges made against him:

“If, then, I am a wrongdoer and have committed anything worthy of death, I do not refuse to die…” (Acts 25:11a)

No, Paul preached and lived the words that he penned in Romans 13:4. God is the One Who puts governmental authorities in power for the carrying out of justice. This includes capital punishment.

But What About The Teachings Of Jesus?

Many believers object to seemingly harsh penalties like capital punishment because of the Lord’s teachings about “turning the other cheek” or “doing unto others as you would have them do unto you.” But the Lord was referring to personal behavior between individuals with these teachings. We are in no way supposed to enact a sort of “vigilante justice” and take matters into our own hands. Retribution and punishment belongs to God (Romans 12:19), not to the individual. But He has delegated some of this authority to governmental powers for the carrying out of justice. Capital punishment is to be employed by a society, as represented by their leaders, not by private lynchings.

Summary

It is the opinion of some that we demonstrate an enlightenment and civility as a society when we forgo the use of capital punishment. Modern sensibilities dictate, they say, that we must behave in a morally superior fashion than our ancestors. The Russian novelist, Fyodor Dostoevsky wrote: “The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons.” But is it morally acceptable to allow the most violent members in a society to kill without fear of reprisal? Without a very real fear of severe retribution, what would deter those without conscience from following their most base passions? Sadly, we are witnessing this very thing in many modern societies.

I am not writing this article as a political argument in favor of capital punishment. My interest, as always, is to share what the Word of God teaches. But if I may be at liberty to express my own opinion, I believe that it is abundantly evident that swift and appropriate punishment for crime serves as the greatest deterrent. This is not based on a sort of primal “bloodlust” or an extreme sense of vengeance, it is simply the realization that if a would-be murderer knows for a fact that he is going to forfeit his own life by taking another, he is going to think twice before doing it. It is terrible that the death penalty is ever necessary to be carried out, but as long as there are those who so degrade human life to the point that they believe they possess the right to terminate it at will, then it is a society’s God-given responsibility to act appropriately and protect the rest of its citizens from such wanton brutality. This is what I believe to be true and it is what the Word of God teaches here in Genesis 9.

To Jesus Christ goes all glory. In service to Him,

Loren

loren@answersfromthebook.org

[This post was originally published November 4, 2009]

**Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) © The Lockman Foundation and are used by permission.

[If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ or you are not certain where you are headed when this life ends, I invite you to read the article “Am I Going To Heaven?“]

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