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Tag Archives: Religion

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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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?“]

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?“]

Christ Our “Ark”: Promise

"And God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the cattle that was with him in the ark: and God made a wind to pass over the earth, and the waters assuaged;" (Genesis 8:1)

“And God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the cattle that was with him in the ark: and God made a wind to pass over the earth, and the waters assuaged;” (Genesis 8:1)

As we come to the final parallel that we will consider between Noah’s experience in the Ark and the believer’s experience in Christ, we read one of the most comforting statements in all of Scripture:

“God remembered Noah”

God had released the flood waters upon the Earth for forty days and nights and we find in Genesis 8:1-2 that He caused them to stop. Why? Because He remembered those who were in the Ark and the promise that He had made to them. In short, God keeps His Word. God remembers those who trust Him; He never forgets those whose faith is in Him.

We have considered the invitation that God gave Noah to come into the Ark, the direction with which God controlled the Ark; as well as the safety, security, and sufficiency that God provided to those in the Ark. But as wonderful as all of these blessings inside the Ark were, Noah’s final destination was not to remain afloat upon the seas of a world under judgment. God brought Noah through the Flood so that He could bring him to the place of promise.

“If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.” (1 Corinthians 15:19)

All too often we who are in Christ lose sight of the final destination to which God is taking us. The direction, safety, security, and sufficiency that we have in the Lord is given to us that we might accomplish the purposes for which He has left us as strangers and pilgrims in a world that is not our home. Our journey through this world is no more the place of promise than the waves of the sea were Noah’s. Like Noah, God graciously provides for us as we are tossed about on the waters of this life, but He has a better place awaiting for us. The day will come when the Ark in which we rest will land upon dry ground.

“And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:41-43)

When we read that God remembered Noah, or Joseph when he was unjustly imprisoned (Genesis 41:38), or the thief who was crucified beside our Lord, it reminds us that God always remembers those who trust Him. He remembered them. He will remember us and bring us to where He has promised to take us.

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

Loren

loren@answersfromthebook.org

[This post was originally published October 24, 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?“]

But Noah Found Grace

"But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD. These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God." (Genesis 6:8-9)

“But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD. These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.” (Genesis 6:8-9)

The heights of sinfulness and the depths of depravity that man reached in the days before the Flood had left God with no other possible course of action than an all-encompassing, worldwide judgment upon all mankind. None were repenting and turning to God at this time, there was nobody seeking God’s forgiveness and reconciliation with Him. The Holy Spirit contended with the hearts of men for 120 years prior to His unleashing of the flood waters, yet nobody heeded His call, no one believed God.

Except Noah.

“By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.” (Hebrews 11:7)

We are told in Genesis 6:8 that Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. But why did he find grace? What was it about Noah that caused God’s favor to be upon him? Verse 9 tells us three things about Noah’s character: he was a just man, he was perfect in his generations, and he walked with God.

Noah Was A Just Man

That he was a “just” man carries with it two shades of meaning. First, he was just in the sense that he was loyal to God. While the entire world was living in a manner that was as far as possible from the things of God, while every other person on the planet was worshiping at the altars of idolatry and hedonistic pleasures, being actually worshipers of self, Noah remained loyal and faithful to the living God. At times, as we look at the world around us,  it is easy to think as did Elijah that we must be the only person in the world who still believes in and follows God Almighty (1 Kings 19:10). This wasn’t true in Elijah’s day (1 Kings 19:18), nor is it true today. But for Noah, it really was the case! He alone remained loyal to God in the midst of an entire world that had turned as far away from God as they could.

Second, the term just man signifies that Noah was justified in a legalistic sense. He was just and righteous because he lived up to God’s requirements. He met the holy demands of a holy God and was, therefore, deemed righteous and justified. And what were those requirements? Was it the fact that he built the Ark as God had instructed? No, he found grace from God before he did this. Was it that he answered God’s calling on his life to preach the Word to a lost and dying world? No. Again, God’s grace upon him preceded his answer to the calling, as well. Noah believed God. As God would later do in the life of Abraham, He imputed righteousness to Noah on the basis of his faith (Romans 4:3). Salvation has always been by grace through faith. This is precisely the manner in which Noah and his family were saved from the Flood.

Noah Was A “Perfect” Man

When we think of somebody being perfect, we think of somebody who never makes mistakes or errors. This is not the meaning here in Genesis 6:9. Noah was human and, as a human, we know that he sinned and made mistakes (we even have an example a couple of chapters later, in Genesis 9:21). The meaning here is that Noah was “upright”, he was “complete” and “whole.” In short, Noah was blameless. It wasn’t that Noah himself was perfect and without blame, but that is the way that God viewed him. God was holding nothing against Noah and laying no sin to his charge. Noah was justified and he was deemed blameless before God.

Noah Walked With God

As we saw in the case of Enoch, here again we have an individual who “walked with God.” Yet Noah’s walk with God did not take him directly to God’s house. God had something else in mind for him. If Enoch was a picture of the raptured Church being taken out of the wold before the judgment, then Noah is a model of the Jewish remnant who are saved through the Tribulation. Both are God’s people, yet each are called to serve God during a different era and in a different way.

What is important to see is that Noah did not find the grace of God because of who he was or what he did before God’s grace came to him. Noah in no way earned the grace of God, indeed, nobody ever can. It is not anything desirable or attractive or good within the heart of man that moves God to extend His awesome grace, God is wholly motivated out of His wonderful love. Whether or not we choose to accept and receive His grace is entirely up to us. Could Noah have rejected God’s grace along with all of his contemporaries? Sure. I do not pretend to know how that would have played out exactly, but I know that God could have found another way of fulfilling His promises even without the co-operation of a single human being. What if, perhaps, more people had embraced the grace of God and turned to Him? I see nothing that would have prohibited God from commissioning a larger Ark, or more of them.

“But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.” (James 4:6)

It was one who laid hold of the grace of God and was saved by it. One. What a deeply profound revelation of the grace and mercy of God that He would seek out and know the hearts of every single individual on the face of the Earth down to the very last one! God is not unjust, there was not a single innocent person who perished in the Flood. After trying the hearts of all mankind, there was but one who would humble himself and receive God’s grace .

The Holy Spirit is still seeking out and knowing the hearts of every individual on the Earth. It is still possible for anyone who desires to lay hold of His grace by faith. But, like Noah, we must believe Him in order to do that.

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

Loren

loren@answersfromthebook.org

[This post was originally published October 12, 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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