Posted in 2Corinthians, Genesis, Revelation

Free From Shame

“I advise you to buy from Me… white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed.” Revelation 3:18

Jesus is speaking to the church at Laodicea who has lost any place of deep connection with Him. He actually pictures Himself outside the door of their hearts, knocking to gain entrance. Part of what is keeping them from opening the door is shame.

“The shame of your nakedness” is a reference to Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden. When God first placed them there, they were “naked and unashamed.” (Genesis 2:24) It was when they disobeyed God that shame came into their spirits and they looked around for things to hide themselves with.

When shame is on our spirit, even as Christians who love God, we live in a fear of being exposed as not good enough. Living in fear reduces our lives, so many don’t ever know or develop who they really are. Jesus is ready and waiting to take away the fear shame brings, so His children can put on the righteous robes He paid for. Paul writes: “He (the Father) made Him who knew no sin (Jesus) to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2Corinthians 5:21)

If you feel dirty, you will live dirty. Jesus wants us to feel clean on the inside so we don’t have to hide or pretend any more. He delights in us even though we are weak and immature – He’s knocking on the door because He wants to free us from the power of shame. Let’s open our hearts wide to His love and break all agreement with the enemy’s accusations over our lives.

Posted in Genesis, John

Raising Hell – Part Two

“He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat and live forever.” Genesis 3:22b

Part of becoming a Christian for me was accepting the Bible as the final authority on every area of life and doctrine. I was brought up in the Lord by people who believed that the Bible was clear on the nature of hell’s punishment, so I never even questioned it.

The argument went something like this: Because men and women are made in the image of God they are automatically eternal beings. The great tragedy of someone rejecting Christ, therefore, was that they would live in conscious torment for all eternity. No one chooses, whether they are eternal, I was taught, it is just a by-product of being in the image of God. Everyone is born with eternal life – they either spend it in heaven with Jesus or in the conscious torment of hell with Satan and his angels.

In the last few years I’ve questioned whether this is true Biblically or if it is only a tradition of man that was passed down. The context of the passage quoted above was God putting Cherubim with swords at the entrance to Eden because He wanted to ensure that Adam and Eve would not eat from the tree of life and live forever apart from Him.

Apparently being in the image of God didn’t mean Adam and Eve would automatically live forever, but only that they had the potential of being eternal. According to the text, to live forever they would have to eat of the tree of life.

Jesus said, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him would not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) Eternal life is God’s gift to humanity in Christ; without it, I believe, you and I will eventually perish. It was never in God’s heart that we would be able to live forever apart from Him.

Posted in Exodus, Genesis

Patterns of Evidence

“Know this for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and mistreated four hundred years. But I will punish the nation they will serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions . . . In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not reached its full measure.” Genesis 15:13-16

Filmmaker Timothy Mahoney went on a journey to discover whether the exodus the Bible describes is actual history or only a myth. What he found after more than a decade of traveling all over the world interviewing top scholars and Egyptologists is patterns of evidence affirming the Biblical account.

But the evidence was not in the time period archeologists were looking in and this led to much skepticism toward the Biblical account. Because of Exodus 1:11, “They built Pithom and Ramses as store cities for Pharaoh,” scholars assumed that Ramses was the Pharaoh of the exodus, so that was the city they were excavating. Many problems became evident: No sign of a Semite (Israelites are called Semites) population, no signs of distress in Egypt, and nothing that indicated any people group who were there, up and left.

Yet other Egyptologists call the text of Exodus 1:11 an “anachronism,” something added to the text by a later editor to help their readers understand where they were referring to. What the later editor was actually saying was something like this: “This is the place where the Israelites built the store city and we know it today as Ramses.” Evidence of a similar anachronism is found in Genesis 47:11 where Joseph settles his family in Goshen and the text refers to it as “the best part of the land, the district of Ramses.” This was hundreds of years earlier than the Exodus 2:11 text, long before any Ramses could possibly have been Pharaoh, or named a city after himself.

For the last thirty years, archeologists have been digging in another city, also in the area of Goshen, but at a lower level than Ramses, called “Avaris.” This city existed hundreds of years earlier than Ramses, in what Egyptologists call “The Middle Kingdom,” and in it is found every evidence Ramses was lacking. (Mahoney’s movie is called: Patterns of Evidence)

Posted in Genesis, Isaiah, Jeremiah, John, Revelation

The Age of the Earth – Part Three

“You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning…” John 8:44

Satan was already Satan at the beginning; not his beginning, but our beginning. Even though God called everything He made good, there was something evil left over from another time. The story of Satan’s fall is an untold story in Scripture even though we are repeatedly assured of the presence of an evil kingdom and given many instructions on how to stand against evil and how to exercise authority over demons.

So when did he fall? Genesis 1:2 says that after creation; “The earth was formless and void.” The greatest Hebrew scholars in the world say that the word “hayah” translated “was” in this text, can just as easily be translated, “became.” (See the footnote in the 1984 translation of the NIV Bible) In fact, the King James Bible translates “hayah” as “became” in 67 other places. Is it possible that God didn’t create the earth formless and void but that it became formless and void sometime after the creation?

The Hebrew words translated “formless and void” are “tohu va bohu.” The phrase “tohu va bohu” is only used in two other places in Scripture. One is in Jeremiah 4:23 where God is describing the result of His desolating judgment on Israel’s rebellion. Because they rebelled, God left Israel “tohu va bohu.” The other place this phrase is used is in Isaiah 34:11 where God is describing the result of His desolating judgment on Edom. Because Edom rebelled, God left the land “tohu va bohu.”

What if Genesis 1:2 is describing the result of God’s desolating judgment on the earth following Lucifer’s (Satan’s) rebellion? God created the early earth perfectly and it was inhabited by angels and animals but when Lucifer fell, God’s judgment followed. We don’t know when or how long until other angels followed him, we only know that a third did fall (Revelation 12:4, 7) and that judgment did come. The earth is covered with water and darkness in Genesis 1:2, not because God created it that way, but because it became that way after Satan’s rebellion.

Posted in Genesis, Job

The Age of the Earth – Part Two

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was (or possibly became) formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.” Genesis 1:1-2

Here are the four reasons I believe the heavens were already in existence before the six days of Genesis one:

  1. Darkness is only on the face of the earth in verse two; it isn’t filling the universe. Job 38 describes the earth at some time after it was created as having clouds as its garments and being “wrapped in thick darkness.” (Job 38:9)
  2. When God says, “Let there be light,” on day one, He was not creating light, He was allowing the light that was already filling the universe to appear on the earth.* Evening and morning on earth are describing a solar day as the clouds dissipate enough at God’s command for light to appear again on the face of the earth.
  3. The difference between “bara” and “asah.” In Genesis 1:1, God creates the heavens; on the fourth day He only works on them. The word “create” in Hebrew is “bara,” the word used on the fourth day in connection to the stars, sun, and moon is “asah” (often translated “made”). Bara indicates something brand new while asah never involves something new, but rather something preexisting that is being worked on.
  4. On day four God doesn’t create the heavens, He only works on them by completely removing the cloud cover so they can be seen from the earth. This is similar to the work He does on the earth in day three. He doesn’t create the earth on the third day, He gathers the water so that dry land appears, and then calls the dry land, “earth.” In a similar way, on day four He doesn’t create the heavens, He removes the clouds so the heavens can be seen from the earth.

*Scofield Study Bible: “And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.” Comments: “Neither here nor in verses 14-18 is an original creative act implied. A different word is used. The sense is made to appear; made visible. The sun and moon were created ‘in the beginning.’ The ‘light’ of course came from the sun, but the vapor diffused the light. Later the sun appeared in an unclouded sky.”

Posted in Genesis

The Age of the Earth – Part One

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was (or possibly became) formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.” Genesis 1:1-2

Many have felt that a straightforward reading of the Bible leads to an earth/universe which is less than 10,000 years old. Any other explanation is often seen as a compromise with the scientific community who believe the earth is billions of years old. Do we have to choose between the Bible and what most scientists believe about the age of the earth?

Genesis One gives six days of creation and describes each day by the words, “There was evening and there was morning,” giving the impression of a 24-hour period. Some make the point that the sun and moon are not created until day four so there is no reason to believe that “evening and morning” are describing a solar day. This group would say that each day, the Hebrew word “yom,” is describing an indefinite period where God creates through a long process that is only generally summarized in the text. There need be no conflict with scientists, in this view, because Genesis One is only concerned about “who” created, not about “how” He created.

Although I have some sympathy with this argument, I think it is unnecessary when one looks closely at the text. If we subtract all six days of creation given in Genesis One, notice that we still have an earth even though it’s covered with water and darkness. Before day one, the earth is already here. The only verse that references the creation of the earth is Genesis 1:1: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

Is this an introduction to what the author is going to describe as happening during the six days, or is the actual creation of the heavens and the earth being referenced before the six days? Since the earth isn’t created during any one of the six days, I think we have to conclude that Genesis 1:1 is describing the act of God in creating the original heavens and earth. If this is the case, and the heavens, including the stars, sun and moon, are already here before day one, day four cannot be describing their creation. Tomorrow I will give four reasons I believe this is true.

Posted in Genesis, Isaiah, Romans

Reexamining Our Faith

“Did God really say?” Genesis 3:1

The first attack of the enemy was not to question the existence of God, but the word of God. So it is today. The Word of God is being questioned and challenged at every level. This is a sobering time for the church in this country which should cause all Christians to pause and reexamine their own faith. Here are three questions we should ask ourselves:

  1. Am I really a Christian? Do I believe the Word of God as it is or have I twisted it to say something it doesn’t say? The enemy followed up the question above with a promise: “You will surely not die.” (Genesis 3:4) If we don’t really believe the wages of sin is death, I don’t think we will see our need to receive the gift of eternal life. If we don’t really believe in sin, why would we need forgiveness?
  2. Do I fear God? We can live in the fear of God and change our thinking to embrace His ways, or we can rebel against His commands and make a new god in our own image. Paul says we are to “behold the kindness and severity of God.” (Romans 11:22) Have we done this, or have we tamed God and made Him something He isn’t?
  3. Am I willing to be persecuted for my faith? Am I willing to go against the grain? Am I willing to be mocked and laughed at or put in prison for my faith? The late missionary, Elizabeth Elliott, said this in her journal: “If something isn’t worth dying for, it isn’t worth living for.” Am I willing to die for my faith?

This is not a time for Christians to become afraid; it’s time for us to shine. It’s not a time for us to be angry because America isn’t Christian; it’s time to wake up ourselves and make sure we’re Christians. Isaiah 60:1-3 says: “Arise, shine, for your light has come and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and His glory appears over you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.” This is to be the church’s greatest hour.

Posted in Genesis

The Main Character

“So Joseph’s master took him and put him into jail. But the Lord was with Joseph.” Genesis 39:20-21

“The Horse Whisperer” is a movie about a guy who can train horses that have been wild, spooked, or abused in their past. His method does not require violence or yelling, but only the power of a gentle whisper. Over time, the horses begin to trust his gentle ways so they will do what he asks until they are eventually fully trained for any one to ride.

Robert Redford is not only the director of the movie, he’s the main character. In the story of Joseph, God isn’t just the One who sovereignly directs events in Joseph’s life from above, He is with Joseph in the prison. God, the Divine director, has cast Himself as the main character, not just in Joseph’s life, but in ours as well.

The problem with human beings is that we often want to be the star of our own story. God is fine as long as He is helping us look good, but we still want to be the center. Through the gospel the Father has cast His own Son, Jesus, as the star of the human race. You and I can’t reinvent the story, but we are invited to join it.

Jesus is the “sinner” whisperer. Darkness has broken us, abused us, and spooked us, yet He has continued to love us. He draws us to the Father with great gentleness and whispers to our spirits in His still small voice. Our healing doesn’t come all at once, but He is patient. The more grace changes us the less people see of our brokenness and the more they see that the Healer has touched us. The Father wants to make Jesus the main character of their story as well.

Posted in Genesis, Hebrews

Shake To Wake

“’Yet once more I will shake not only the earth, but also the heaven.’ This expression, ‘Yet once more,’ denotes the removing of those things which can be shaken, as of created things, so that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe…” Hebrews 12:26-28

Have you ever been driving along and before you know it you realize that drowsiness is beginning to overtake you? Immediately you become awake and fear grips you because of the possible consequences of falling asleep at the wheel. Not only would you and anyone in your car be at risk, but also innocent people in other cars who hadn’t fallen asleep. When I know I’m a bit sleep deprived on a long trip I make sure that I’ve got caffeine and somebody to talk to who keeps me properly alert.

God is shaking America right now. We have gone our own way and done our own thing, yet He is calling out to us. I don’t believe He is shaking us to punish us as much as He is shaking us to wake us up. Some people feel like God would have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah if He didn’t send His wrath on America. I disagree. Scripture is clear that Sodom wasn’t destroyed because of how evil the worldly people were, but because God couldn’t find a remnant of His people to preserve it. As Abraham sought God’s face for mercy, the Lord promised him that if He could find a remnant of just ten, He would spare the whole city. (Genesis 18:32)

Well God has a huge remnant in America; people that love God, serve God, and seek God day in and day out. His heart is for this remnant to wake up from the spiritual sleeping pills this culture has given us through compromise and idolatry. As Hebrews says, “Let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:24-25)

Posted in Genesis, John

Foreshadows

“Take your son, your only son, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there on one of the mountains I will tell you about.” Genesis 22:2

Genesis promises redemption both by what God says to Abraham, “in your seed all the families of the earth will be blessed,” (Genesis 12:3) and by events that foreshadow His bigger plan.

First, God changes Abram’s name to Abraham which means, “Father of many nations.” Abraham foreshadows what the Father in heaven will do when He takes His Son, His only Son, and sacrifices Him for our salvation.

Isaac foreshadows Jesus, the only beloved Son of God. He goes up a mountain in the region of Moriah (Calvary is one of the mounts in this region) with wood on his back placed there by his father. (Genesis 22:6) When he asks, “Where is the lamb for sacrifice,” Abraham responds, “God Himself will provide the lamb.” (Genesis 22:7-8) When Abraham lifts the knife to kill his son, an angel stops him, and Abraham then sees a male lamb in a thicket caught by its horns. As that lamb was sacrificed, I can almost see tears in the eyes of the heavenly Father who knows His Son will be the Lamb He provides for the sins of the world.

After this powerful foreshadowing of Calvary, Abraham sends his servant back to his relatives in Haran to get a bride for his son. This unnamed servant represents the Holy Spirit who will be sent back to earth to prepare a bride for the Son of God. The servant brings a small sampling of wealth in his invitation to Rebekah, explaining that his abundantly wealthy master has left everything to his son. (Genesis 25:36) Jesus says, “All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is Mine and make it known to you.” (John 16:15)

Rebekah foreshadows us. The servant asked Abraham, “What if the woman will not come back with me?” Abraham said, “if she refuses, you will be released from my oath.” (Genesis 25:41) The Holy Spirit has authority to invite but not to force. When the servant explains that the invitation is urgent and that he will leave the next morning with or without her, her family asks Rebekah, “Will you go with this man?” (Genesis 25:58) Rebekah then leaves all security she has in her circumstances and goes with this servant on a journey that will end in her being the bride of the father’s only son. Amazingly, nothing less than this happens when we genuinely answer the Spirit’s call today.