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Tag Archives: Holy Spirit

Nobody Left Behind

“And they took their cattle, and their goods, which they had gotten in the land of Canaan, and came into Egypt, Jacob, and all his seed with him:” (Genesis 46:6)

We can only imagine the overwhelming excitement that filled Jacob’s soul as the news that Joseph was alive began to sink in. It had been more than twenty years since Jacob had beheld his son’s face and, by this time, any remaining inkling of hope that Joseph had been able to limp away from the supposed encounter with wild beasts had long since faded away. Jacob’s incredulity at the report of Joseph’s survival is recorded in Genesis 45:26, and it is only when he personally looks upon the finest wagons of Egypt, laden with the best of that nation’s precious commodities and parked in front of his own house, that the details of his other sons’ account begin to ring true (v. 27).

With the prospect of seeing into Joseph’s eyes once more before his own life leaves him, Jacob is filled with a motivation which energizes him beyond anything else. Joseph, his beloved Joseph, first son of the only woman he has ever truly loved, is alive! No journey is too great nor any distance too far if Joseph, alive and well, is waiting at its end. Yet one thing causes a delay in the trip; something is brought to Jacob’s mind that is of even greater import than his anticipated reunion with his son. As the caravan of Jacob and his family enters the land of Beer-sheba, he takes the time to offer sacrifices to God. “The God of his father Isaac“, Genesis 46:1 states. Perhaps it was the sight of the well which his father’s servants had dug so long ago, or maybe it was the altar itself which Isaac had erected near the spot (Gen. 26:25) that brought a great sense of God’s presence to Jacob.

Beer-sheba, the place where Jacob’s grandfather Abraham had planted a grove in honor of God Almighty after his covenant with Abimelech (Gen. 21:33); Beer-sheba, the place where God appeared to his father, Isaac, saying: “Fear not, for I am with thee, and will bless thee, and multiply thy seed for my servant Abraham’s sake” (Gen. 26:24). The gravity of these words must have hit home as Jacob pondered them, for he had in his company the entirety of that seed (except Joseph who was already in Egypt). And now, Jacob was marching this entire family straight into the land of Egypt. Was this the will of God or had Jacob acted impetuously? What about another time when the Lord had appeared to Isaac and told him directly to not go into Egypt during another time of famine (Gen. 26:2)? What about all of the trouble that had come upon his grandfather Abraham as a result of doing exactly what he himself was doing right now (Gen. 12:10-20)? Most importantly, what would be the fate of the seed of Jacob, this precious family of descendants for whom and through whom God had promised so much to Abraham and Isaac?

“And he said, I am God, the God of thy father: fear not to go down into Egypt; for I will there make of thee a great nation:” (Genesis 46:3)

God appeared to Jacob in a dream and reassured him of the propriety of this journey into Egypt. God Himself is never-changing, but His timing is a factor wherein we must be obedient. What was not in the will of God for those a generation or two ago might be exactly what God has in store for us (and vice-versa!). Sin is sin in all ages and is never acceptable, but as to the specific direction which God wants us to go and the exact place where He wants us to be differs from age to age and from person to person. The Apostle Paul, for instance, was forbidden by the Spirit of God to travel into certain regions during his missionary journeys which would later be opened up to future missionaries (Acts 16:6-7). It was wrong for Paul to go there, but right for others. It was not God’s will for Abraham and Isaac to journey into Egypt, but it was God’s will for Jacob and his sons.

Genesis 46:6 tells us that all of Jacob’s seed accompanied him into Egypt. Lest we suspect that this expression is merely hyperbole, verses 8 through 25 go on to gives us an exact register of the names of each and every individual who went. We may not have a manifest giving the details of all of the material possessions the family brought with them, but we do have a complete list of travelers. To us, this may amount to little more than a roll of strange-sounding, sometimes difficult to pronounce foreign names. But the fact that the Spirit of God inspired the writer of Genesis to take the time and space to list each and every name is a wonderful reminder of God’s great love for and interest in each one of us. Nobody was left behind to fend for themselves back in Canaan, they all came along on the trip to Egypt. Every last one of them. We are insured of this by the detailed list given. If such attention was given and care taken to make sure that not one of the 67 individuals of the family of Jacob was left behind in Canaan, we know that God will not leave a single one of us belonging to His family behind. For every 100 sheep belonging to the Great Shepherd, 100 will finish the journey with Him (Luke 15:4-7).

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

Loren

loren@answersfromthebook.org

[This post was originally published November 15, 2010]

All Scripture quotations in this post are taken from the King James Version (KJV) of the Holy 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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Eliezer: A Faithful Servant

In Genesis 24, the eldest servant of Abraham is sent on a mission to find a bride for Isaac from among Abraham’s relatives back in the city of Nahor, in Mesopotamia. The subject of this chapter is how Rebekah came to be married to Isaac. It’s about Rebekah. It’s about Isaac. It’s even about Abraham. It is not about the eldest servant of Abraham, although it is his actions and words which take center stage. In this “eldest servant”, we have a wonderful portrait of what a faithful servant looks like. It is a picture of how a good and profitable servant of the Lord should be. Let us consider some of his qualities:

Anonymous

There is a remarkable difference between Genesis 24:2 and Genesis 15:2. It seems that they are both referring to the same individual, Eliezer of Damascus, but in Genesis 15:2 he is mentioned by name, while in 24:2 he is not. Why is that? In the first instance, Abraham is contemplating Eliezer as the potential heir of all of his household. Eliezer is the subject at hand; it is about Eliezer. But in Chapter 24, as we mentioned above, Eliezer is not the subject at all.

What a fantastic lesson for the servant of God! How often do we go about our “service” to the Lord, and all the while we are really seeking to glorify ourselves? Our own service to God is no more about us than Eliezer’s service to Abraham was about Eliezer. Abraham knew the name of his faithful servant and doubtlessly recognized and valued him accordingly. But Eliezer did not serve his master in order to magnify himself but to magnify the one he served.

Bound

“So the servant placed his hand under the thigh of Abraham his master, and swore to him concerning this matter. (Gen. 24:9)

Eliezer did not tell Abraham that he would follow Abraham’s instructions unless things got too tough. He did not tell him that he would obey his commands so long as he felt like it. Eliezer made a promise, he took a binding oath that he would remain faithful to the purpose which Abraham had commissioned him.

The servant of the Lord is bound in the same way to the Lord Jesus Christ whenever they first begin to follow Him. Jesus said that once we put our hand to the plow, we are not to look back (Luke 9:62). When we make a vow to the Lord, He expects us to keep it (Numbers 30:2). Commitment is a non-negotiable quality of a faithful servant of the Lord.

Equipped

“The servant took ten of his master’s camels, and with all kinds of his master’s goods in hand, he went to Aram-naharaim, to Nahor’s town. (Genesis 24:10 CSB)

“All kinds of his master’s goods” were in his hands. Abraham did not send Eliezer out to find a bride for his son empty-handed. Everything that Abraham had was at his disposal in order that he could accomplish the mission that Abraham had given him.

God does the same thing for His own servants. God has equipped us with His Word, with His Holy Spirit, and with the assurance that whatsoever we ask in His name and according to His will shall be given. Abraham didn’t put everything at the disposal of Eliezer so that Eliezer could enrich himself or impress others. He did it so that Eliezer would have the tools he needed to accomplish his mission. So it is with the servant of God. God does not equip His servants so that they can live a life of ease and luxury; He equips them so that they can fulfill His calling on their life.

Prayerful

“He said, “O Lord, the God of my master Abraham, please grant me success today, and show lovingkindness to my master Abraham.” (Gen. 24:12)

I wonder how many more of our own prayers would be answered if we prayed in this way? We often end our prayers by saying something like “In Jesus’ name”, or “For Jesus’ sake”, but is that what we really mean? Are we really praying for the blessings and provision of God so that we can see Christ glorified?

Eliezer prayed for God’s blessing on him so that he could accomplish his master’s will, not so that he could fulfill his own desires. Should not the servant of God pray in like manner?

Eager

“Then the servant ran to meet her, and said, “Please let me drink a little water from your jar.” (Gen. 24:17)

When Eliezer sees Rebekah, he is eager to find out if she is the one designated by the Lord as the one to be Isaac’s wife. He runs to meet her. If this verse were written about the typical “servant of God” today, it would likely read more like:

“And the servant stood and considered whether or not he should go and speak to Rebekah. He thought about it and thought about it, weighing out the pros and cons. He decided to consult the men in his group and promptly organized a committee to determine if meeting with her was in everyone’s best interest at the time. After much deliberation, a vote was taken with the ‘yes’ votes winning by a narrow margin. The servant was advised that he was free to consult with Rebekah on a temporary, trial basis to determine if ongoing conversation with her could be fit into the time and budget constraints of the organization. After getting the go ahead, the servant tentatively walked up to Rebekah, trying to come up with the most effective way to approach her in a manner that she would not feel threatened or be scared away…”

NO, he ran up to her! The prospect of seeing his master’s wishes come to fruition was too exciting for him to delay.

Dedicated

 

“But when food was set before him to eat, he said, “I will not eat until I have told my business.” And he said, “Speak on.” (Gen. 24:33)

Eliezer was likely very hungry at this point, but his service to his master took precedence. The servant of God is faithful when he puts the will and desires of his Lord ahead of his own. He can take no comfort in having his own needs met until he has done what God has called him to do.

Humble

“So he said, “I am Abraham’s servant. (Genesis 24:34)

Eliezer introduced himself by saying: “I am Abraham’s servant.” What a wonderful introduction! How great would it be for the servant of God to introduce himself as “a servant of Christ.” Eliezer did not say “I am Eliezer of Damascus, I was educated in Egypt and earned my degree in domestic service from the University of the Nile.”

One thing that drives me absolutely crazy is when I pass by a church’s billboard and see something like:

“First Community Church

Dr. John S. Dough, Jr. – Senior Pastor”

Does the senior pastor’s name and credentials really need to be splattered on the signboard? Is that what is going to draw people inside? It makes me wonder if that church is about Jesus Christ or is it more about Dr. John S. Dough, Jr.? Being a faithful servant of Jesus Christ is the highest aspiration that any person can attain. We should identify ourselves with that above all else.

Direct

“So tell me—will you or won’t you show unfailing love and faithfulness to my master? Please tell me yes or no, and then I’ll know what to do next.” (Gen. 24:49 NLT)

Eliezer did not beat around the bush. He presented his case and called for a decision. The faithful servant of God does the same upon presenting the Gospel. He presents it, lays it out for the consideration of those to whom he is delivering it, and then calls for a response.

Diligent

“But he responded to them, “Do not delay me, since the Lord has made my journey a success. Send me away so that I may go to my master.” (Gen. 24:56 CSB)

Eliezer did not wait around for the convenience of those within Rebekah’s household. He was on his master’s schedule, not theirs. They had already made their decision to abide by his words (v. 50-51). Now was the time for action, not waiting. Eliezer had accomplished the directions that Abraham had given him. Now it was time to return to his master and await further instructions.

These are of course just some of the defining qualities of a good and faithful servant. But they do give us a pretty good illustration of how the Christian’s service to the Lord should look. One final thing we should note is that Eliezer was only responsible for following his master’s instructions. It was not his responsibility to convince Rebekah to heed his words. His obligation only extended so far as presenting the offer of his master to her (Gen. 24:8). The decision to act on it was entirely hers.

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

Loren

loren@answersfromthebook.org

[This post was originally published April 23, 2010]

[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?“]

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

Scriptures marked (CSB) are taken from the Christian Standard Bible  (CSB) Copyright © 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible®, and CSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers, all rights reserved.

Scriptures marked (NLT) are taken from the New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible,New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Scriptures marked (KJV) are taken from the King James Version of the Holy Bible, Public Domain.

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?“]

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?“]

Two Birds In One Ark

Noah Mosaic in Basilica di San Marco, Venice

“And it came to pass at the end of forty days, that Noah opened the window of the ark which he had made: And he sent forth a raven, which went forth to and fro, until the waters were dried up from off the earth. Also he sent forth a dove from him, to see if the waters were abated from off the face of the ground;” (Genesis 8:6-8)

After the rains had stopped, Noah sent two birds out of the Ark in order to see how much of the flood waters remained on the face of the Earth. He sent a raven and a dove. The response to what they found is very different between the two.

We are told that the raven went to and fro until the waters were abated (Genesis 8:7). But the dove, we see, returned to the Ark – finding no rest for the sole of her foot (v. 9). How is it that one was able to find rest and comfort in a world under judgment while the other could find no peace away from the Ark?

“Of all clean birds ye shall eat. But these are they which ye shall not eat: the eagle, and the ossifrage…and every raven after its kind.” (Deuteronomy 14:11,12,14 emphasis added)

“And if she be not able to bring a lamb, then she shall bring two [turtledoves], or two young pigeons; the one for the burnt offering, and the other for a sin offering: and the priest shall make an atonement for her, and she shall be clean.” (Leviticus 12:8)

The raven is an unclean bird while the dove is a clean bird. The raven is a scavenger who feeds off of anything it finds while the dove is more selective in its diet. The raven went out into a world filled with the dead and rotting flesh which had perished in the Flood and made a feast of what it found. The dove, however, could find no solace or comfort in a world under judgment. The raven was pleased to stay as far away from the Ark as she could, feeding on the things of this world; the dove rejected the dead things of this world and could only find joy in the safety of the Ark.

The reality is that the two birds are not an illustration of the unbeliever compared with the believer. Both birds were in the Ark which, as we considered before, is a picture of Christ. No, the two birds symbolize the believer’s old nature and the new – which both dwell within us. When we came to Christ, we received a new nature that can only find peace and joy in the things of God: the “dove”, if you please. But we still have the old “raven” nature dwelling within us even though we live now in the safety of the “Ark.”

We retain within us the old nature even after we come to faith in Christ, a nature that desires to continue to feast on the dead things of this world and “eat” anything that it can find. It is contented to gorge itself on dead and rotting things of the flesh. But now we have the ability to walk after the Spirit of God, and we are instructed to do so (Galatians 5:16). We have a “dove” nature that seeks to follow the Dove that is the Holy Spirit and can find no rest for the sole of its foot apart from Him. As did the dove which Noah sent forth, our “dove” nature beholds a world full of death and judgment and finds nothing to be desired in it. This nature can only find a place of rest and comfort within the “Ark” that is the Lord Jesus Christ.

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

Loren

loren@answersfromthebook.org

[This post was originally published October 28, 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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