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074 The seed will continue

June 15, 2017 | Permalink

The technique of constantly looking for and seeing what God has to say to us is well served if we summarize and consolidate what we learn as we go along.  Today that’s our thought.  We should know well what God has said, otherwise the devil will continue to say to us, “did God really say?”

Here’s my summary efforts.

1:1 – 6:8 God creates the world, and Adam and Eve. They are to live in relationship with God instrisically done so by being obedient to Him and His commandments.  They commit the first sin, however, by following the serpent who wants to make another kingdom and God expels them from the Garden of Eden. One of their sons, Cain, becomes the first murderer by killing his brother Abel out of envy; likewise attempting to create his own kingdom reality. Adam and Eve also have other children, whose descendants populate the earth, but each generation becomes more and more degenerate until God, despairing, decides to destroy humanity.  Marriage has fallen, brotherhood has fallen, society has fallen.  Only one man, Noah, finds grace in the eyes of God.

6:9 – 11:32 The Flood judges sin, but does not eliminate depravity.  A curse is proclaimed on Canaan, one of Noah’s descendants.  We see that the actual outworking of the genealogies of Gen. 10 occurs after the events of the Tower of Babel (11:1 cf. 10:5, 20 and 31).  Throughout all the darkness of depravity seen, the light of God and his covenantal promises shines through.  The focal point is still on one who will be part of God’s seed, one who will come from the family line of Shem – Abram.

The covenant that God laid out at the beginning at Gen. 3:15 – a seed will survive – stands fast.  Despite man’s depravity and disobedience God is merciful in His justice.  The covenant given to Adam is further underscored with a covenant to Noah.  And no matter what has happened with mankind in the cities of Enoch (Gen. 4:17) and Babylon (Gen. 11:1-9), God’s promise will not be thwarted.

073 Cleansed

June 14, 2017 | Permalink

As we have seen in our reading of Genesis chapters 7, 8 and 9, God brings a great flood to destroy (virtually) all creation.  This was in response to the great acts of wickedness that men were doing upon the face of the earth (Gen. 6:5).  Yet, as we’ve witnessed, despite the righteousness of Noah, immediately after finding themselves in a new land… sin occurs!  Didn’t the Flood wash away all the sin?

As my professor, Dr. Baylis noted in the classroom, “depravity was not eliminated by the flood, only judged.”

It would be wonderful indeed if we could have our sins washed away, if all our depravity could be eradicated.  But wait there is a way.  By the blood of Jesus.

“but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.”  1 John 1:7

Praise God!  Our sin can be cleansed. Not by anything created, but by that which is greater than creation… the only begotten Son, Jesus Christ.

072 Mercy amidst judgment

June 13, 2017 | Permalink

Yesterday and the day before we discussed the issue of Ham and his father Noah and the great transgression that brought about a curse.  A key question here is why did Noah curse Canaan and not Ham?  Unfair?

One of Ham’s son’s only is cursed, not Ham, otherwise all of the sons would experience the curse.  Ham needs to be judged, but casting all the burden of judgment on him would have cursed all his siblings.  Amidst the judgment there is some level of mercy.

If Noah is being just and merciful, which I believe he is, might we see all acts of judgment as being intrinsically merciful?  I hope so.

A portion of Ham’s descendants (Canaanites) will be cursed with being servants to the two family lines of Shem and Japheth.  And, as you read more of the Old Testament, I have no doubt you’ll also see that a portion of Ham’s descendants will develop a propensity towards the same kind of perversity as Canaan’s father.

071 Violated

June 12, 2017 | Permalink

In yesterday’s Thought for the Day we learned that Noah’s family would face devastating consequences.

Here’s a reminder of the story from Gen. 9.

Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brothers outside. But Shem and Japheth took a garment and laid it upon both their shoulders and walked backward and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were turned away, so that they did not see their father’s nakedness. When Noah awoke from his wine, he knew what his youngest son had done to him.  Gen. 9:22-24

One son engages in a certain deed, while his brothers, in contrast, determine not to engage in such a way.  We’ll look at the deed in a moment, but it is instructive to see how Noah reacts.

So he said,
“Cursed be Canaan;
A servant of servants
He shall be to his brothers.”

He also said,
“Blessed be the LORD,
The God of Shem;
And let Canaan be his servant.

“May God enlarge Japheth,
And let him dwell in the tents of Shem;
And let Canaan be his servant.”  
Gen. 9:25-27

Noah feels greatly violated by the deed of Ham.  Why so?  Without yet interpreting the deed of Ham, we should note that the nature of Noah’s judgment is severe.  Ham’s son is demoted to a role of servitude to the family lines of Ham’s brothers, Shem and Japheth.  Twice it is mentioned that Canaan will be a servant.

Now we might evaluate a possible interpretation of Ham’s deed.  Obviously, the deed is not seen in a good light, no matter what we might subsequently state.  The contrasts of how Shem and Japheth operate and the striking subsequent curse upon Ham’s son Cannan and the blessing on the siblings is clear.  It’s not seen by Noah as a trivial matter.  So why then, does Noah judge in such a manner?  Was he unfair, or has he rightly judged the matter and given an appropriate level of justice?

I perceive that Noah has acted righteously in judging Ham’s son Canaan.  How so?  A review, again, of all the books of the Torah is instructive.  Yes, it takes a bit of research, but a good concordance can help.  The starting place is the evidence we have.  First, is Ham’s act of trying to persuade his brothers and second the key word nakedness; Ham saw his father’s nakedness.  Let’s tackle the thorniest issue first, that of nakedness.  What might the Torah have to state about nakedness?  If you look up Leviticus 18:6-18 and 20:17, one must conclude that the Hebrews saw the word or phrase as a description of sexual sin which occurred following seeing the nakedness of another. In this case, the sin of incest seems to be the problem. If so, Noah is right to bring a curse upon Ham’s son Canaan.

Why does the teaching of the Torah and the Hebrews response communicate that seeing nakedness is akin to incest?  Well, in much the same way that Jesus said that even lust, if committed in the heart, is an act of adultery.

We should note that the Torah is teaching us rightly about relationships and how God sees them.  A man is to love a woman, brothers are supposed to take care of each other, society is to live in peace.  Mankind is to co-rule with the Lord.  Any disruption to these patterns and order must be dealt with by a loving and just God.  And so He does.

Incest, is clearly a violation of God’s order and given that this first family after The Flood are entering into a new beginning, anything that disturbs the order of things will be dealt with seriously.  They need to procreate, male and female, if there is to be an opportunity to multiple and fill the land as God so desires.  Given the premise of incest, for the son to violate his father, we see a clear act of working against the plan of God.  Now before moving on to the second point, let us state that the evidence for incest is not incontrovertible; it is presented as a premise.  We should rightly state that it is an interpretation and one, without further evidence, open to some level of  scrutiny.

Second, we now consider the act of Ham influencing his brothers.  What we observe in the text is that Ham wanted his brothers to participate in a like manner with him in the deed (whatever that deed may truly be) against their father.  The issue here is of Ham trying to influence or lead his brothers.  This seems more of a definitive issue than that of the purported incest.  Ham clearly tells his brothers but they act nobly and rightfully with their father; they purpose to cover their father and not engage in any kind of deed.  Ham is to be rightly accused of inappropriate leading; leading outside what is healthy for the family.  In this respect, Ham is guilty of following the serpent’s leading of Adam and Eve against God.  Ham, like the serpent, is intent on doing things “his way” and not “the right way.”  Ham is disobedient, Ham is a violator.  Instead of serving as a younger brother as he should have in following the lead of his other brothers, Ham is attempting to usurp a role not his.  I think this is why Noah rightly judges him with a curse to be a servant.

Tomorrow we’ll discuss why it is Ham’s son Canaan that is punished instead of Ham.

070 The judgment on Canaan

June 11, 2017 | Permalink

To understand the story of the Canaanites is to understand the story of their father, Ham, and their grandfather, Noah.  It’s a sad tale when you read of all three men.

Noah, already seen as righteous, indeed the only man righteous in times of great violence, is the benefactor of God’s covenantal promise to Adam and Eve (Gen.3:15) and the promise that no more would God determine that all the world be destroyed.

‘Then God spoke to Noah and to his sons with him, saying, “Now behold, I Myself do establish My covenant with you, and with your descendants after you; and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the cattle, and every beast of the earth with you; of all that comes out of the ark, even every beast of the earth. I establish My covenant with you; and all flesh shall never again be cut off by the water of the flood, neither shall there again be a flood to destroy the earth.” God said, “This is the sign of the covenant which I am making between Me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all successive generations; I set My bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a sign of a covenant between Me and the earth. It shall come about, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow will be seen in the cloud, and I will remember My covenant, which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and never again shall the water become a flood to destroy all flesh. When the bow is in the cloud, then I will look upon it, to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” And God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant which I have established between Me and all flesh that is on the earth.”’  Gen. 9:8-17

In two ways, God communicates His covental love – by way of promise.  And Noah, as mentioned, is the benefactor of that.  His righteousness did not instigate a move that changed God, no, instead, Noah lived out intrinsically the manner of what a good relationship should be – he lived rightly.  Until that is, he lived differently.

The Genesis account of chapter 9 shows that, after the recounting of God’s covenantal promise – Noah gets drunk!  Furthermore, he uncovers himself in his tent.  Tomorrow, we’ll found out the devastating consequences of this turn of events.

069 The continuing value of context

June 10, 2017 | Permalink

Fast forward.

If you know your Bible, or at least the story of the Canaanites, you’ll know that they receive a dreadful punishment.  Why so?  Was it perhaps for their unrighteousness during the period of time as told in Exodus through Judges?  Some might think so.  But, again, note the value of context.

‘he [God] said
“Cursed be Canaan;
a slave of slaves shall he be to his brothers.”’  
Gen. 9:25

The point here is, when reading the Bible, read as much context as you can.  The starting point for the story of the Canaanites is found in Gen. 9.  True, the Canaanites will sin in the future, but their story is marks by how God sees them from the beginning.  Eventually God will expel them from the land – for their wickedness.  But note, their story is not only about some far off time, it’s also about their whole story.

And that the point of today’s Thought for the Day… God sees your whole story.

Tomorrow we’ll look at more of how God sees the whole story of the Canaanites… starting in Gen. 9.

068 We shall live

June 9, 2017 | Permalink

“Noah takes of every animal and of every clean bird, and makes a burnt offering on an altar he built.”  Gen. 8:20

Noah makes an offering.  How does the LORD receive this?  Very well, it seems.

The LORD smelled the soothing aroma; and the LORD said to Himself, “I will never again curse the ground on account of man, for the intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth; and I will never again destroy every living thing, as I have done.  Gen. 8:21

Why does Noah’s sacrifice please the LORD?  Perhaps it echoes the giving of Abel, maybe?  Both sacrifices involve the giving of blood – that which gives life.

Life is important to God, vitally so.  And blood, at least in part if not in whole, is seen by God as a symbol of life as much as it is in itself the substance that upholds life.  Such is the pleasure of God that He makes another in a line of covenantal promises: He will never again destroy every living thing.

No small promise.

And with that the LORD offers this to us:

“While the earth remains,
Seedtime and harvest,
And cold and heat,
And summer and winter,
And day and night
Shall not cease.”  
Gen 8:22

The LORD promises that while the earth remains, seasons shall go on; seasons that mark the times of planting and harvesting.  God gloriously offers us consistency, He offers us sustenance.  We shall live.

Jesus, The Alpha and The Omega (Rev. 22:13) , proclaimed, “I am the bread of life.”  John 6:35

As God incarnate, Jesus has no beginning, nor will He have any end with respect to time, being from everlasting to everlasting.  No mere concept, The Everlasting One will sustain us.

Blood, it was mentioned, is a symbol of life as much as it is in itself the substance that upholds life.  Jesus is so much more than a symbol… He gives life.  When you read of Abel and Noah sacrificing, think on Christ, think on His body, His blood.  God covenants with us and His Son is the new covenant.  We shall live.

067 In submission to God or your own god

June 8, 2017 | Permalink

While Noah, found favor in the sight of the Lord (Gen. 6:8)… was a righteous man (6:9; 7:1)… was blameless (6:9)… walked with God (6:9)… did all that God had commanded (6:22), we find a stark contrast: the earth is filled with violence (6:11, 13).

Which side of the contrast are we on?

For Noah, he was a man who responded to God in all he did.  He acted in submission to the Lord.  In opposition, all other men did what was right in their own eyes.  They didn’t walk with God, they were their own gods.


066 God’s promise will not be thwarted

June 7, 2017 | Permalink

In yesterday’s Thought for the Day, we noticed that in Genesis chapter 10, Moses traces the descendants of these sons in reverse order: Japheth (10:2-5); Ham (10:6-20); and Shem (10:21-31 and 11:10-26.). Japheth first, Ham, second, and Shem, third.

So what of this sequencing?  Well, Shem, so far, has been primary whenever all three sons are mentioned in one verse, but here, he is viewed last.  Note also, that Japheth is commented upon in only 4 whole verses (10:2-5), Ham in 15 verses (10:6-20), while Shem gets the greater commentary in 11+17=28 verses (10:21-31 and 11:10-26).  So, with Shem being last referred to and the greater bulk of commentary spent on him, what is the author getting at?

To know that, once again, we must look at the context of a passage and in this case we might widen the circle of view to include the end of chapter 11 which eventually introduces one of the most prolific and well known characters in the Bible, Abraham.

For me, as mentioned, Shem could be the eldest son, but what is of greater note is the fact that it is from Shem that we eventually see the birth of Terah, and from Terah we see the birth of Abram, or Abraham as he will eventually be so named.

The author could have spoken about each son in chronological order, but clearly, he has ordered them so that the focus is on a specific lineage. Why so?

Again, we must remember the covenant that God has laid out beginning at Gen. 3:15 – a seed will survive.  And no matter what has happened with mankind in the cities of Enoch (Gen. 4:17) and Babylon (Gen. 11:1-9), God’s promise will not be thwarted.

065 Ordering

June 6, 2017 | Permalink

You will notice that the order of Noah’s sons as given in Gen. 9:18 is Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Simple, right?  Well maybe so. But, the order could either give the birth order or is intent on showing who is primary from the author’s perspective regardless of birth order.

One might ordinarily think that it’s probably the former, that is, their birth order. The problem is that various English translations available to us confuse the issue. How so?

Let’s look at some translations.

KJV Genesis 10:21 Unto Shem also, the father of all the children of Eber, the brother of Japheth the elder, even to him were children born.

So, in the King James Version, Japheth is noted as the elder.

NAS Genesis 10:21 And also to Shem, the father of all the children of Eber, and the older brother of Japheth, children were born.

In the New American Standard, Shem is noted at the older brother.

Confusing?  I think so.  Who do you think is the eldest?  Shem or Japheth?

One verse from 9:24 is helpful.

“When Noah awoke from his wine and knew what his youngest son had done to him.”

The youngest, or it could be the younger, son is Ham.  All translations are agreed upon that.  So what to say?  Well, clearly Ham cannot be the eldest.  Beyond that, I think Shem is likely the eldest, but if more evidence comes to light, I could make a more definitive statement.

The point of all this is to see how we can look at different texts to, hopefully, achieve clarity.  Most of the time, we can use the first rule of interpretation which is, “when the plain sense makes sense, seek no other sense.”  One could apply that rule to Gen. 9:18, but what we’ve discovered today is that we should always get as much contextual evidence as is possible.  And notice that it’s okay not to have to make a definitive choice.  For me, Ham is not the eldest and I’ll currently stick to the fact that Shem is most likely the eldest of all three.

What else?

Now, in chapter 10, Moses traces the descendants of these sons in reverse order: Japheth (10:2-5); Ham (10:6-20); and Shem (10:21-31 and 11:10-26.). Japheth first, Ham, second, and Shem, third.

We’ll look at that sequencing tomorrow.