Friday, September 30, 2011

The Son of The Flesh

Genesis 16:1-16

God had promised that Abram’s descendants would be given the land of Canaan. Abram was eighty five and Sarai was seventy five and she’d never been able to get pregnant. She suspected she’d never be able to have children. God had stated that Abram’s heir would be as child that he had fathered, so they knew it was God’s will for him to have a child, and they both wanted one desperately. Perhaps a surrogate mother would be the best way to go.

“Now Sarai Abram's wife bare him no children: and she had an handmaid, an Egyptian, whose name was Hagar. And Sarai said unto Abram, Behold now, the LORD hath restrained me from bearing: I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her. And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai. And Sarai Abram's wife took Hagar her maid the Egyptian, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife.” (Genesis 16:1-3)

When God had promised Abram a child of his own would be his heir, Genesis 15:6 states, “And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.” Believing it, they set out to make it happen. Not believing it would happen naturally, they set out to make it happen. It has been a common practice for women who couldn’t have children themselves to use a surrogate and adopt the child throughout history, because they didn’t trust God to give them a child.

Romans 14:23 tells us, “…for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.” The sin of not trusting God to produce the child naturally resulted in sexual sin by Abram with Hagar. We tend to focus on the, obvious sin while ignoring the sin that led to it. For Example, in New Mexico, a great deal is made over driving while intoxicated, while abstinence is considered unsophisticated. People don’t set out to drive under the influence, they just drink and don’t consider the effects. The problem isn’t the driving, it is the drinking. The DUI is just a result of drinking. Abram’s sin was just a result of failing to trust God.

“And he went in unto Hagar, and she conceived: and when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress was despised in her eyes. And Sarai said unto Abram, My wrong be upon thee: I have given my maid into thy bosom; and when she saw that she had conceived, I was despised in her eyes: the LORD judge between me and thee.” (Genesis 16:4-5)

Even casual sexual acts produce emotional ties that are never completely severed according to I Corinthians 6:16. Though they had agreed for Abram to have a child with Hagar, it created problems between them. Now Sarai wanted Abram to accept all the blame, and while the primary responsibility was his, all three were at fault. As his wife, Sarai had a right Hagar couldn’t claim.

Trying to accomplish Gods plan in the flesh always results in serious problems, whether from a church or individual struggling to pay off a loan, a couple trying to have a child, or a preacher trying build a great church.

“But Abram said unto Sarai, Behold, thy maid is in thy hand; do to her as it pleaseth thee. And when Sarai dealt hardly with her, she fled from her face.” (Genesis 16:6)

Because Sarai was legally his wife and he had a clear obligation to her, and Hagar was her servant, in an effort to reduce the pressures, Abram gave Sarai permission to do whatever she found necessary. She took advantage and was so overbearing Hagar fled to escape the emotional stress.

“And the angel of the LORD found her by a fountain of water in the wilderness, by the fountain in the way to Shur. And he said, Hagar, Sarai's maid, whence camest thou? and whither wilt thou go? And she said, I flee from the face of my mistress Sarai.

And the angel of the LORD said unto her, Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hands.” (Genesis 16:7-9)

Hagar bore little or none of the responsibility for the problems between her and Sarai, but as is so often the case, she was the one who suffered most. God was not unaware of her suffering, and sent his angel to find her and show his concern. Despite the stress and discomfort, God wanted her to return and submit to Sarai, even though what she was suffering was unfair. God then made some promises to her.

“And the angel of the LORD said unto her, I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, that it shall not be numbered for multitude.

And the angel of the LORD said unto her, Behold, thou art with child, and shalt bear a son, and shalt call his name Ishmael; because the LORD hath heard thy affliction. And he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man's hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.” (Genesis 16:10-12)

God promised that the son would produce a huge multitude of descendants, and that he would be in constant conflict, living among his relatives. The present day Bedouins are believed by many to be descendants of her son, and the prophecy fits. They are still scattered among the other Arab groups and in Israel, with few ties to the established governments.

“And she called the name of the LORD that spake unto her, Thou God seest me: for she said, Have I also here looked after him that seeth me? Wherefore the well was called Beerlahairoi; behold, it is between Kadesh and Bered.” (Genesis 16:13-14)

Hagar recognized that God sees us and cares about us, calling God the one who saw(knew) her and naming the well the place where she saw the one who saw her, the place she met God.

“And Hagar bare Abram a son: and Abram called his son's name, which Hagar bare, Ishmael. And Abram was fourscore and six years old, when Hagar bare Ishmael to Abram.” (Genesis 16:15-16)

Ishmael was born when Abram was eighty six, about fourteen years before Isaac. Under the ancient tradition, as the eldest son, he would have been the heir. His name means “God will hear.”

Thursday, September 29, 2011

He Simply Believed

Genesis 15:1-20

Abram had refused to accept repayment from the King of Sodom because he didn’t want him to be able to take credit for any of Abram’s blessings. He would not be or appear to be obligated in any way to the king of Sodom, even if it meant he might not have a s much as he could have otherwise. Unfortunately many churches, and most politicians don't adhere to such a standard. God promised to protect him and supply his every need so Abram would not need what the world offered. It is the same promise he made Christians in Philippians 4:19. “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”

“After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.” (Genesis 15:1)

Over eighty years old, with no children, Abram no longer expected to have children of his own. God had promised the entire land to his descendants, but he didn‘t have any. A further promise of protection and supply seemed a little nebulous and inconsequential. He had all he really wanted for himself, and there was no one he particularly wanted to leave it to.

“And Abram said, Lord GOD, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus? And Abram said, Behold, to me thou hast given no seed: and, lo, one born in my house is mine heir.” (Genesis 15:2-3)

If Abram had died during that period, his business manager would have simply took over. While Abram respected him a lot, and he could continue to grow the flocks, he was still just an employee. It would not be the same as leaving it to his own children. Ultimately, there appeared to be little benefit to Abram himself.

“And, behold, the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir. And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be.” (Genesis 15:4-5)

God had promised, “And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered,” in Genesis 13:16. He reiterated the promise but stressed that the inheritance would go to one of Abram’s own children, not some outsider who just took over his property.

“And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.” (Genesis 15:6)

Abram simply accepted God’s promise, and God counted it as righteousness. Romans 4:18-25 refers back to this in describing how we receive salvation. “Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be. And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah's womb: He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform. And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness.

Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.”
Our righteousness, our salvation, is received exactly the same way Abram received his, by believing God. Ephesians 2:8-9 states, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”

“And he said unto him, I am the LORD that brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give thee this land to inherit it.” (Genesis 15:6-7)

God then reminded him of what he’d already done for him. God rarely asks us believe something without evidence. In Deuteronomy 18:22, God stated, “When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.” Literally, whether a statement was actually from God or not was demonstrated by whether it happened. For events in the future, God would give a special sign that could be checked. If it didn’t happen, the message didn’t come from God.

“And he said, Lord GOD, whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it?” (Genesis 15:8)

Abram was not asking God whether he would keep the promise, but he was asking for assurance that it was actually God who was making the promise. Our belief in God’s promises of salvation are based on the fulfillment of signs about who Christ is. If the promised signs did not occur, it was not God’s promised one. Once we are assured it was God who made the promise, to doubt it will happen is to impugn the name of God. In I Corinthians 14: 22, we learn, “Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not…” For those who believe they are not needed, and as I Corinthians 13:8 states, “…whether there be tongues, they shall cease…”, when no longer needed, as would other gifts.

“And he said unto him, Take me an heifer of three years old, and a she goat of three years old, and a ram of three years old, and a turtledove, and a young pigeon. And he took unto him all these, and divided them in the midst, and laid each piece one against another: but the birds divided he not. And when the fowls came down upon the carcases, Abram drove them away.” (Genesis 15:9-11)

Many times, God asks our obedience before he reveals himself to us. Abram was obedient in making the sacrifices God asked. As a result God honored his request, giving additional details about what would happen in the future to givwe repeated assurance ti was God who was causing these things to happen.

“And when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and, lo, an horror of great darkness fell upon him. And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance. And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age. But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full.” (Genesis 15:12-16)

II Peter 3:8 declares, “But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” God was going to give that land to Abrams descendants, but before he did, they would spend four hundred years in slavery in Egypt. Not all the Canaanites had turned fully away from God yet, and he would not destroy them until they did. It would have been natural for Abram to expect God to give it immediately, but this promise would not be fulfilled until six hundred years later. God then gave a miraculous sign to indicate it was God who was making the promise.

“And it came to pass, that, when the sun went down, and it was dark, behold a smoking furnace, and a burning lamp that passed between those pieces. In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates: The Kenites, and the Kenizzites, and the Kadmonites, And the Hittites, and the Perizzites, and the Rephaims, And the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Girgashites, and the Jebusites.” (Genesis 15:17-21)

God committed himself to give Abram’s descendants all the land from the river of Egypt to the Euphrates river, almost all of the Middle East. It was to include everything from Cairo Egypt to Bagdad in Iraq. Israel has never possessed all the promised land, reaching their greatest extent during Solomon’s day, but as we see, Ishmael and other descendants of Abram have possessed most of it.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Abram Delivers Lot

Genesis 14:13-24

"And there came one that had escaped, and told Abram the Hebrew; for he dwelt in the plain of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol, and brother of Aner: and these were confederate with Abram." (Genesis 14:13)

The armies of the four allied kings had defeated the alliance by Sodom and Gomorrah, forcing their armies to flee to the mountains. One person escaped from the sacking of Sodom and told Abram what had happened. Living among the Amorites on the plain of Mamre. Abram had formed a friendship and agreement with them. Chedorlaomer and his allies had attacked the Amorites on their way to Sodom and defeated them.

“And when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his trained servants, born in his own house, three hundred and eighteen, and pursued them unto Dan.” (Genesis 14:14)

Learning of Lot’s capture, Abram decided to rescue him and took over three hundred of his own servants, all men who’d been born into his service, and went recover him and his belongings. Smarting from the allies attack, Abram’s Amorite friends were happy to bring their forces and accompany him.

“And he divided himself against them, he and his servants, by night, and smote them, and pursued them unto Hobah, which is on the left hand of Damascus. And he brought back all the goods, and also brought again his brother Lot, and his goods, and the women also, and the people.” (Genesis 14:15-16)

Having defeated and destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah’s armies and being clear back in present day Syria, near Damascus, nearly a hundred fifty miles away, Chedorlaomer and his allies were not expecting retaliation. Abram and his three hundred eighteen servants, accompanied by his Amorite friends attacked them at night and recovered Lot and his belongings, the captive women, and those who’d been taken to be enslaved as well as their belongings. God definitely blessed that such a small group could defeat a coalition of four armies,

“And the king of Sodom went out to meet him after his return from the slaughter of Chedorlaomer, and of the kings that were with him, at the valley of Shaveh, which is the king's dale.

And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God. And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth: And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all. ” (Genesis 14:17-20)

Learning of Abram’s successful foray, the king of Sodom traveled north to meet him, but before he arrived, Melchizedek met him, blessed him, and received tithes from him. The word tithe means literally a tenth. Hebrews 7:1-3 tells us more about Melchizedek. “For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him; To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace; Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually” Clearly, from this description, Melchizedek was not an ordinary man, since he had neither father or mother and his life was without beginning or end. Many believe that Melchizedek was in fact Christ himself.

Hebrews 7:9-11 then establishes that the Levitical priesthood is limited and requires a higher priesthood, represented by Melchizedek. “And as I may so say, Levi also, who receiveth tithes, payed tithes in Abraham. For he was yet in the loins of his father, when Melchisedec met him. If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron?” (Hebrews 7:9-11) Hebrews 6:22 declares that Jesus fulfills that priesthood forever. "Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.” There is no need for additional priests after the order of Melchizedek.

“And the king of Sodom said unto Abram, Give me the persons, and take the goods to thyself.

And Abram said to the king of Sodom, I have lift up mine hand unto the LORD, the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth, That I will not take from a thread even to a shoelatchet, and that I will not take any thing that is thine, lest thou shouldest say, I have made Abram rich: Save only that which the young men have eaten, and the portion of the men which went with me, Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre; let them take their portion.” (Genesis 14:21-24)

When the king of Sodom arrived, he offered to give all the spoils they had recovered in appreciation for his efforts to recover the captives. Abram had promise God that he would accept nothing beyond the food they had eaten for himself or his servants, because he did not want the credit for his success to go to the king of Sodom. When we accept the world s provision, we obligate ourselves to them. Far too many religious groups hve sacrificed some of their control to gain financial support, and lost their autonomy and biblical stance as a result. Abram refused to give the Sodomites any kind of hold. He recognized that the appreciation was deserved and the Amorites were free to receive it if they chose.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Associated with Sodom

Genesis 14:1-13

“And it came to pass in the days of Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of nations; That these made war with Bera king of Sodom, and with Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, and Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela, which is Zoar.” (Genesis 14:1-2)

God said man’s thoughts were only evil continually. As a result Cain killed Abel, and violence grew from then until God destroyed the world. Modern Americans would like to think he has gotten beyond that focus on violence, but 70,000 people will pay to watch a WWF wrestling match, a violent movie, or a hockey match because they want to see the violence. The League of Nations, and later the United Nations were started to prevent wars, but in recent years have furnished troops to fight in almost every war in the world.

Four hundred years after the flood we find alliances between various countries. Mankind really hasn’t changed very much despite our education and technology. The alliance headed by Chedorlaomer reached from present day Iraq to Israel. While most of them claimed only one country, Tidal apparently had an empire of several nations.

The rulers of Sodom and Gomorrah had allied themselves with three other city states in the valley of Siddim, in the area now known as the Dead Sea, in an effort to defend themselves against invasion by Chedorlaomer and his allies. The initial alliance failed and they were subjected to his reign for twelve years.

“All these were joined together in the vale of Siddim, which is the salt sea. Twelve years they served Chedorlaomer, and in the thirteenth year they rebelled.” (Genesis 14:3-4)

Even with modern transportation and communication technology, it takes months of planning and preparation to mount a full scale military action. It was almost a year after the rebellion before Chedorlaomer was able to mobilize a large enough force to attack the alliance in the valley of Siddim. Along the way, he attacked and defeated various other groups in the area, although less centralized groups are hard to subdue.

“And in the fourteenth year came Chedorlaomer, and the kings that were with him, and smote the Rephaims in Ashteroth Karnaim, and the Zuzims in Ham, and the Emims in Shaveh Kiriathaim, And the Horites in their mount Seir, unto Elparan, which is by the wilderness. And they returned, and came to Enmishpat, which is Kadesh, and smote all the country of the Amalekites, and also the Amorites, that dwelt in Hazezontamar.” (Genesis 14:5-7)

By the time Israel conquered the land, some six hundred years later, all but eh Amalekites and the Amorites had been conquered or absorbed by other groups, and the names of most of the cities changed to the names by which they were known to Israel.

“And there went out the king of Sodom, and the king of Gomorrah, and the king of Admah, and the king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (the same is Zoar;) and they joined battle with them in the vale of Siddim; With Chedorlaomer the king of Elam, and with Tidal king of nations, and Amraphel king of Shinar, and Arioch king of Ellasar; four kings with five.” (Genesis 14:8-9)

The local alliance joined battle with Chedorlaomers forces in the valley Siddim, where they were defeated. The valley was dotted with tarpits, and when the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah tried to escape they were trapped and killed. The remnant fled to the mountains and escaped. The victors then spoiled Sodom and Gomorrah, taking everything and returning home.

“And the vale of Siddim was full of slimepits; and the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, and fell there; and they that remained fled to the mountain. And they took all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their victuals, and went their way. And they took Lot, Abram's brother's son, who dwelt in Sodom, and his goods, and departed.” (Genesis 14:10-12)

Lot had gradually moved toward Sodom, and by this time, had moved clear in. even though it was a wicked city and he was offended by much that went on there. He overlooked his discomfort because Sodom appeared to offer so much. Though he was not one of them, he was captured and his possessions taken simply because he was associating with them. Who we choose to associate with has an effect on what we experience. We are likely to experience the same things our associates do.

“And there came one that had escaped, and told Abram the Hebrew; for he dwelt in the plain of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol, and brother of Aner: and these were confederate with Abram.” (Genesis 14:13)

Somebody escaped when Sodom was ransacked and contacted Abram what had happened to Lot.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Faith Rewarded

Genesis 13:14-18

Lot had chosen the most fertile and best watered land for himself, with little or no consideration for Abram. When someone deliberately takes advantage, it is easy to feel cheated. In Psalm 84:12, David stated, “O LORD of hosts, blessed is the man that trusteth in thee.” In Proverbs 28:20, Solomon declared, “A faithful man shall abound with blessings: but he that maketh haste to be rich shall not be innocent.”

Lot’s desire to be rich would eventually destroy his family. Because Abram was faithful, on the other hand, he would be richly blessed. God makes the promise to him after Lot separated from him.

“And the LORD said unto Abram, after that Lot was separated from him, Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward: For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever. And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered. Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for I will give it unto thee.” (Genesis 13:14-17)

Though Abram was the older and had cared for Lot for many years, he put his own interests aside and meekly allowed Lot to take what he wanted. Lot selfishly took the best for himself. God’s promise to Abram illustrates Jesus’ statement in Matthew 5:5, “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.” God will reward those who are not self centered.

Even the land Lot claimed for himself was to belong to Abram. The plain that so attracted Lot and the desert he rejected would all be Abram’s. Abram’s descendants would be so plentiful it would be as easy to count the dust particles as to count them. While the Jews are the best known of his descendants, and have been scattered throughout the world, they are not the only ones, as we will learn later. God then recommended that Abram visit all the land because it would all be his.

“Then Abram removed his tent, and came and dwelt in the plain of Mamre, which is in Hebron, and built there an altar unto the LORD.” (Genesis 3:18)

From Bethel, Abram moved to the plains of Mamre I what would later be known as Hebron. Walking with the Lord, in the place where he was supposed to be Abram continued to worship God and enjoy his presence.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Establishing Boundaries

Genesis 13:2-12

The sheer size of his herds forced Abram to relocate regularly to provide pasture. The drought that led to his going to Egypt in the first place made it impossible to stay in the southern desert area of Canaan. They moved back to the North.

“And Abram was very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold. And he went on his journeys from the south even to Bethel, unto the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Hai; Unto the place of the altar, which he had made there at the first: and there Abram called on the name of the LORD.” (Genesis 13:2-4)

When he had first come to The area between Bethel and Hai, Abram had built an altar and worshipped God. When he came back to that place he again was inspired to worship God. When he went to Egypt, he was acting on his own and not trusting God, and it resulted in sin and eventual expulsion from Egypt. When he got back to trusting God in the place where he was supposed to be he again wanted to worship God. A loss of interest in the things of the Lord always indicates we have moved away from him. That relationship will only be restored when we go back to the place we left the Lord. It was not him leaving us, but us leaving him.

“And Lot also, which went with Abram, had flocks, and herds, and tents. And the land was not able to bear them, that they might dwell together: for their substance was great, so that they could not dwell together. And there was a strife between the herdmen of Abram's cattle and the herdmen of Lot's cattle: and the Canaanite and the Perizzite dwelled then in the land.” (Genesis 13:5-7)

Abram’s brother, Haran died, so Lot had been raised by his grandfather. He was more like Abram’s little brother than his nephew. He had also acquired herds and possessions. In Canaan, as the flocks grew, it reached a point where there was not enough feed available for all their flocks if they stayed together. As they became increasingly separated, competition for the forage began to develop between their employees. The fact that others also used the land aggravated the problem.

“And Abram said unto Lot, Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdmen and thy herdmen; for we be brethren. Is not the whole land before thee? separate thyself, I pray thee, from me: if thou wilt take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if thou depart to the right hand, then I will go to the left.” (Genesis 13:8-9)

There ought not be strife between brethren. Strife always indicates selfishness. Unfortunately selfishness is characteristic of the natural man, and no matter how much they love each other, from time to time it rears it’s head. If not resolved properly, it will eventually destroy the relationship.

In essence, Abram recommended setting some boundaries. He offered Lot the choice which he would take. They would separate and lot could take whichever part he wanted. Establishing boundaries is essential in avoiding or limiting conflict, although they may not be formally set. We see the problem with little children if one is allowed to take whatever toy another is playing with, and it continues through life. Those boundaries have to be recognized by both sides if they are to work. Sometimes it is necessary to physically separate in order to define the boundaries, or to maintain them. Genesis 2:24 declares, “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh,” for this very reason. It will be nearly impossible to maintain proper boundaries if a married couple moves in with one of their parents. There is a natural physical boundary if they live in a separate home, that is easy to identify. If people refuse to honor those boundaries, it always leads to conflict. By giving Lot his choice, Abram ensured that Lot agreed with the boundaries.

“And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered every where, before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar. Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan; and Lot journeyed east: and they separated themselves the one from the other.” (Genesis 13:10-11)

It is amusing to note that flesh spelled backward is h self, as in himself or herself. In the flesh, it is natural to focus on ones own benefit. Even boundaries tend to become sources of conflict as both sides seek to get more for themselves. Abram overcame that tendency, offering Lot the choice. Lot yielded to the natural instinct.

On one side was arid hills with limited capacity, while on the other was a rich irrigated valley that offered easy abundance. Lot could have selected some landmark as a boundary, splitting the rich valley and the desert so they both had some of each. He could have taken the desert and given his uncle the best opportunity, Instead he took what he thought was the best for himself. Like most choices made out of selfishness, it would later turn out to be a bad choice. He went east toward Sodom.

“Abram dwelled in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom.” (Genesis 13:12)

Once the boundaries were set, Abram remained in the place God had directed him to. It didn’t look as appealing as what Lot had taken, but it was where God wanted them. Lot, on the other hand, having begun with a selfish intent moved steadily farther from what God wanted and closer to Sodom, both physically and morally. It is a very clear picture of what happens when we put ourselves first. What he ignored was what the people in Sodom were like.

“But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the LORD exceedingly.” (Genesis 13:13)

We tend to adopt the attitudes and standards of those we associate most closely with. If those are evil people, we adopt an evil standard. As I Corinthians 15:33 warns, “Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.” The closer Lot got to the people of Sodom, the more he lowered his standards, even though he was not comfortable with the changes, as we see in II Peter 2:8. “(For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;)”

Sadly, like Lot, many today move toward Sodom because they want what the world offers, even though they are troubled by what those in the field they pursue do. Success or recognition may require sacrificing their ethical or moral standards. In I Timothy 6:9-10, Paul warned, “But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” The boundaries we set can cause other problems if set for selfish reasons. We need to consider them carefully.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Kicked out of Egypt

Genesis 12:10-13:1

By Abram’s day, the desertification of the Sahara was established, and much of the Middle east was becoming increasingly dry, and droughts became common. Competition for food began to force people to seek new areas where food was more readily available. Though Abram was following God’s direction, he was still subject to the same problems others suffered. As Matthew 5:45 declares, “…for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” Being where God wants us does not make us immune to difficulties.

“And there was a famine in the land: and Abram went down into Egypt to sojourn there; for the famine was grievous in the land.” (Genesis 12:10)

As the area became dryer and the population increased, the ability to irrigate crops became more important and the Egyptians developed extensive irrigation projects. The cooperation required led to the formation of the Old Kingdom to facilitate that cooperation. Because they had an abundance of food, other people were attracted to Egypt as well. The Egyptian government became stronger in an attempt to prevent others from taking over. At some point, worship of the kings was introduced and the beginnings of the later religion began to develop, reaching it’s peak during the Middle Kingdom. They didn’t consider Pharaoh a God yet when Abram went there.

“And it came to pass, when he was come near to enter into Egypt, that he said unto Sarai his wife, Behold now, I know that thou art a fair woman to look upon: Therefore it shall come to pass, when the Egyptians shall see thee, that they shall say, This is his wife: and they will kill me, but they will save thee alive. Say, I pray thee, thou art my sister: that it may be well with me for thy sake; and my soul shall live because of thee.” (Genesis 12:11-13)

Abram was seventy five when he left Haran, several years before, and Sarai was about ten years younger. As we’ve seen already, most people still lived a couple hundred or more years, although the life spans were decreasing. Abram’s concern indicates that, at least in Canaan, it was not uncommon for a man to be murdered if someone decided they wanted his wife for themselves. While Abram had enough servants to protect them in the less occupied area of Canaan, a powerful man in Egypt might have a force he couldn’t defend himself against.

Abram developed a scheme to reduce his danger. If she claimed to be his sister instead of his wife, they would not want to offend her, and would, hopefully, not kill Abraham to get her. Not wanting him killed, she agreed to do so.

“And it came to pass, that, when Abram was come into Egypt, the Egyptians beheld the woman that she was very fair. The princes also of Pharaoh saw her, and commended her before Pharaoh: and the woman was taken into Pharaoh's house. And he entreated Abram well for her sake: and he had sheep, and oxen, and he asses, and menservants, and maidservants, and she asses, and camels.” (Genesis 12:14-16)

Human nature has always been the same and a good looking woman attracts men’s interest. Sarai’s beauty was noticed and talked about and it wasn’t long before Pharaoh started hearing about her and began courting her, inviting her to enjoy the luxury of the palace. He began to give Abram gifts as well, trying to enlist his support in winning her to be his wife.

“And the LORD plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai Abram's wife.” (Genesis 12:17)

Sarai was already Abram’s wife. To leave Abram and marry Pharaoh would be adultery, as Jesus points out in Mark 10:11-12. “And he saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her. And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery.” God caused plagues on Pharaoh and his family because he was considering taking her, even though he hadn’t yet done so. Unlike many, Pharaoh paid attention to what was happening.

“And Pharaoh called Abram, and said, What is this that thou hast done unto me? why didst thou not tell me that she was thy wife? Why saidst thou, She is my sister? so I might have taken her to me to wife: now therefore behold thy wife, take her, and go thy way. And Pharaoh commanded his men concerning him: and they sent him away, and his wife, and all that he had.” (Genesis 12:18-20)

Pharaoh was upset that Abram’s failure to trust God had resulted in his lying to him and exposed him and his family to God’s judgment. He would never have even considered taking her if he had known she was married. He ordered him to leave Egypt toe prevent it happening again. While such and attitude was acceptable among the Canaanites, it was not acceptable to the Egyptians at the time.

“And Abram went up out of Egypt, he, and his wife, and all that he had, and Lot with him, into the south.” (Genesis 13:1)

Abram was forced to leave Egypt and returned to the southern part of Canaan, where God had commanded him to go.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Abram Obeyed God

Genesis 12:1-9

Terah had originally set out to go to Canaan, about six hundred miles away. Because of the herds of cattle and sheep, they could not go directly. A herd of mature cattle such as the old cattle drives could only average eight to ten miles a day. Flocks and herds with calves and lambs would be limited to only two or three miles. After months of travel, Terah was only about half way to Canaan when he came to Haran and decided to stay there.

“Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will show thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” (Genesis 12:1-3)

After some time in Haran, God commanded Abram to leave his father's house and go to a land God would show him. Hebrews 11:8 makes it clear, Abram was going with no clear destination in mind. “By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.” God promised obedience would result in his posterity forming a great Nation, known throughout the world. Abram’s life, and that of his posterity would be a blessing to those around them. On the other hand, those who hated them would be cursed of God.

Any land they found could be and probably was claimed by someone. The present landholders were likely to resent intruders. While he had a large group of servants, it was still a pretty small group for invading another area. Nevertheless, Abram obeyed God’s command.

“So Abram departed, as the LORD had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran. And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother's son, and all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls that they had gotten in Haran; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came.” (Genesis 12:465)

In Haran, Abram had prospered, developing large herds of his own. When Abraham left, he was accompanied by his nephew, Lot. They took everything they had with no plans to return to Haran. Abram was seventy five when they left Haran. Terah had already died according to Acts 7:4. After months of travel, they arrived in Canaan, Traveling as far south as Shechem before stopping.

“And Abram passed through the land unto the place of Sichem, unto the plain of Moreh. And the Canaanite was then in the land.” (Genesis 12:6)

The land was already occupied by the Canaanite tribes, the group who were cursed because of Ham’s sin. It was difficult for Abram to find an area that someone else didn’t already claim.

“And the LORD appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the LORD, who appeared unto him.” (Genesis 12:7)

When the Lord gave him reassurance about his being right, Abram took time to worship, building an altar in thanksgiving. Obedience to God did not relieve all the problems. The need for fresh grazing land forced him to move regularly.

“And he removed from thence unto a mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, having Bethel on the west, and Hai on the east: and there he builded an altar unto the LORD, and called upon the name of the LORD.” (Genesis 12:8)

Bethel wouldn’t receive that name until Jacob named it in Genesis 28, but it was an area Abram would visit repeatedly. Hai would later be called Ai in the book of Joshua.

“And Abram journeyed, going on still toward the south.” (Genesis 12:9)

The great herds Abram and Lot had forced frequent moves. The Canaanites also had cattle, and first claim to the grass, so Abram moved steadily to the south seeking new grazing. As long as the competition for grazing wasn’t severe, there was no serious conflict.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Abraham’s Lineage

Genesis 11:18-31

“And Peleg lived thirty years, and begat Reu: And Peleg lived after he begat Reu two hundred and nine years, and begat sons and daughters.

And Reu lived two and thirty years, and begat Serug: And Reu lived after he begat Serug two hundred and seven years, and begat sons and daughters.

And Serug lived thirty years, and begat Nahor: And Serug lived after he begat Nahor two hundred years, and begat sons and daughters.

And Nahor lived nine and twenty years, and begat Terah: And Nahor lived after he begat Terah an hundred and nineteen years, and begat sons and daughters.

And Terah lived seventy years, and begat Abram, Nahor, and Haran.” (Genesis 11:18-26)

One thing that makes giving exact dates for many of these events is seen here, As we see shortly, Terah lived to be two hundred five. From the wording in the English translations it appears that Abraham was born about the time Terah was seventy years old, yet according to Acts 7:4, which was based on the traditional understanding of the Jews of the Hebrew wording, when Abraham left Haran at the age of seventy five, Terah had died, making Abram's, later known as Abraham's birth around the time Terah was a hundred and thirty. This would have been about three hundred fifty years after the flood. Peleg lived until about three hundred thirty nine years after the flood. Noah lived until three hundred fifty years after the flood, while Shem lived five hundred and two years after the flood.

People who knew Noah and had experienced the flood, the confounding of the languages, and the division of the earth were still alive in Abraham’s day, yet the majority had already turned away from God. I can only speculate as to whether Abraham knew Noah or Shem personally, but he was familiar with the stories of the flood and God’s action. We know this because they were recorded by the Babylonians, Chaldeans, Assyrians, and other groups. Job is believed to have been a contemporary of Abraham. Shem would not have died until Abraham was about a hundred and fifty years old.

“Now these are the generations of Terah: Terah begat Abram, Nahor, and Haran; and Haran begat Lot. And Haran died before his father Terah in the land of his nativity, in Ur of the Chaldees.” (Genesis 11:27-28)

Descended from the same line as the Chaldeans, who would later become leaders of Babylon, Terah remained in the area of Ur until after his sons were grown. His son Haran died fairly young, after having a son, Lot.

“And Abram and Nahor took them wives: the name of Abram's wife was Sarai; and the name of Nahor's wife, Milcah, the daughter of Haran, the father of Milcah, and the father of Iscah. But Sarai was barren; she had no child.” (Genesis 11:29-30)

Nahor married a daughter of a different Haran, and later his descendants would be known as Syrians. Abram married Sarai. According to Genesis 20:12, she was his half sister. “And yet indeed she is my sister; she is the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother; and she became my wife.”

“And Terah took Abram his son, and Lot the son of Haran his son's son, and Sarai his daughter in law, his son Abram's wife; and they went forth with them from Ur of the Chaldees, to go into the land of Canaan; and they came unto Haran, and dwelt there. And the days of Terah were two hundred and five years: and Terah died in Haran.” (Genesis 11:31-32)

After the death of Haran, Terah, accompanied by Abram and Sarai, took his grandson lot and headed to Canaan. Lot may have been very close to Abraham's age. While Canaan is due west of Ur, they traveled northwest along the Euphrates River to Haran, near the edge of Syria, probablyu to find a place where their flocks and herds could cross safely. Coming to Haran, they stopped and Terah stayed until his death. Some time later, part of Nahor’s family also came down to Haran, where Jacob found Laban when fleeing from Esau’s anger.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Some Problems With Evolutionary Theory

The Theory of Evolution, in all it’s different permutations, assumes that a random collection of particles, whether quarks or electrons or whatever else, came together, and over time became increasingly organized. Eventually they formed the stars and planets through some mechanism. Over vast periods of time life evolved on earth by some similar mechanism, constantly becoming more refined until arriving at it’s present state.

The Theory of Evolution is based on Lyell’s Doctrine of Uniformity, that everything continues just as it always has, that things can only happen according to the Laws of nature. It is the belief described in II Peter 3:3-4. “Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.”

The idea of unorganized particles organizing into the modern world is in direct contradiction of the Second Law of Thermodynamics, which states that everything tends to greater randomness or decreased organization, or in other words, everything deteriorates. That it is a law means that it has been proven to be true in every conceivable situation. The very basis of Evolution is thus in direct contradiction of science. Creation, on the other hand assumes God created everything perfect and it has deteriorated to the present state, which is exactly what science indicates.

One factor that caused the split between Einstein and the physicists of his day was the insistence that the so called Res shift or Doppler effect of light proved the universe to be expanding, thus supporting the Big Bang Theory of evolution. While I college, we went through the Einstein- Lorentz equations, proving that while there is a Doppler effect on true wave motion, special properties of light make it impossible for there to be a Doppler effect on light. The supposed Doppler effect results from the same phenomenon which causes the sun’s rays to appear to turn red just after sunrise and just before sunset, the filtering effect of our atmosphere on the light. Having proven that it could not be true, Einstein insisted that it could not be used to prove the universe was expanding. Ignoring Einstein’s proof or claiming it contains mistakes, the Red Shift is still cited as proof of the Big Bang Theory.

During the Dark Ages, alchemists tried to convert various materials into gold. The modern science of chemistry resulted, proving that any combination of materials always results in the same products each time. Even nuclear events produce predictable results. This is the very basis of modern Chemistry. Evolution insists that occasionally some new product occurs, contrary to that basic principle. The very experiment demonstrated on film of combining Nitrogen, hydrogen, and oxygen that purported to prove life could have evolved because the experiment produced organic compounds, in fact demonstrated that the evolution of life was impossible since only those compounds could result.

Evolution also assumes that Mendel’s Laws were in abeyance for a great deal of time in order for the evolution of new species. That they are considered Laws means that they also have been proven to always be true. If the doctrine of uniformity is true, these laws cannot be set aside.

Evolutionary proponents often point to differing population densities of a particular variety of insect or other life form to support their theories. Research has repeatedly demonstrated that both genetic traits were already present, but that natural selection resulted in a comparative numerical declines of one or the other as conditions changed and favored one more than the other. No new genetic material surfaced, and evolution would require formation of new genetic structures. Since such evolution is not seen today, it is theorized that the clock stopped, that the mechanism no longer functions. This is contradiction of Lyell’s Doctrine of Uniformity.

If as we are told, the inhabitants all came to the Americas over a land bridge near the north pole, the vast differences between different tribes of Indians is very hard to explain. There is as much difference between different Indian tribes as there is between Danes or Norwegians and Greeks. It seems unlikely that so many different groups would have traveled such vast differences. In addition, it seems improbable that people who built pyramids would have traveled through all northern Europe or Asia and then all the way back to Central America before setting up any civilizations. It is far more probable that they were simply isolated as the continents separated.

No matter how they try, evolution still had to start with some particles. Something still existed. No amount of time can overcome that fact. The particles had to come from somewhere. They have the same problem of original existence of matter we have with the existence of God. Something was already there. Since there has to b a cause for everything that happens, for evolution to be true, something had to cause the matter to evolve. The explanations they give are incapable of producing the results we see around us. Evolution has been described as being similar to taking a barrel of metal scraps to the top of a hill and rolling them down repeatedly with the expectation that one day they metal scraps will turn into a car if we do it often enough. Starting with neither the metal scraps or a hill to roll them down further decreases the likelihood of it occurring.

Human records and legends add further problems to the Evolutionary theories, reporting sightings of dinosaur like creatures(dragons) and mastodons in writings and pictures from around the world. Fossils do not explain the detailed accounts of such encounters. Legends of the flood, and written accounts dating back more than two thousand years BC indicate that it was widely believed.

Recent studies have indicated that the formation of coal and oil do not require millions of years. Neither does the formation of sedimentary rocks, and the formation of fossils is more indicative of rapid solidification than of prolonged periods. The geologic formations we see are more easily explained by erosion while the rocks were still soft than by millions of years of time. Hydrologists tell us a single world wide flood would cause the so called Glacial effects that would require seven Ice Ages. The fossil record itself conflicts with evolutionary theory by associating fossils in the same layer that should not coexist if evolution were true.

Of all the dating methods, the only tree ring dating has proven accurate. Every method of radioactive dating and dating by fossils is based on a series of assumptions. If the assumptions change, so do the results. Using radioactive measurements different labs produced dates ranging from about three thousand years to over thirty thousand years on the same piece of wood. Tree ring dating placed it about three thousand years before Christ. There is no way of knowing what assumptions are correct, and thus no way of being sure of the dates.

Fossil dating is based on the estimated time when the plant or animal lived. If the estimate is wrong, the date is equally wrong. Until the estimates can be verified, it is nothing more than a guess. The discovery of several living fossils, including coelacanths and trilobites makes dating using their fossils impossible.

The oldest wood only dates back about five thousand years, or about the time of the flood. Something must have destroyed all the wood before that, whether it was a flood or something else. If there was no flood, what was it?

One of my readers pointed out that continental drift is only about one half inch per year, and could never account for the separation of the continents in the biblical time frame. We know that there is a vast amount of resistance to the movements of the tectonic plates, which should eventually stop all movement. That it is moving despite such massive forces indicate that some force greater than the friction forces is pushing it. Since we have been unable to detect other forces of sufficient power, it would appear that the continental drift is a result of inertia, that a body in motion tends to stay in motion. That it is moving at all four thousand years later thus indicates that it moved far faster in the past. At a speed of eight inches per second, or roughly a half mile per hour, the present spacing of the continents would only require about six months, but considering the laws of inertia, it is probably the initial speed was far less. After all they have been in motion four thousand years, constantly slowing down. Unless some heretofore undetected force is driving the continental drift, it is the only possible explanation for the current rate of drift according to the laws of motion and inertia.

I believe creation is more in accord with the scientific evidence than evolution. That the theory of evolution in direct conflict with proven scientific principles of physics, chemistry, and biology proves it is unscientific. I have only mentioned a few of t conflicts, there are hundreds more. Many different versions of evolutionary theory have been developed in attempts to explain certain conflicts, but none address all, or even most of the problems.

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Dividing of the Earth

Genesis 11:10-19

While no dates are given, the confounding of the languages could have happened within about sixty years after the flood, since Cush was born just after the flood and Nimrod was his son. As a result of the breakdown in communication man was scattered around the world, fulfilling God’s command.

“So the LORD scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city. 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 11:8-9)

We do know it had to have happened before Peleg’s death however, from Genesis 10:24. “And Arphaxad begat Salah; and Salah begat Eber. And unto Eber were born two sons: the name of one was Peleg; for in his days was the earth divided;” (Genesis 10:24)

In Navajo, one would use a different verb form in asking for a piece of paper than in asking for a cup of coffee, and still a different form when asking for an apple. Hebrew seems to use a similar structure in their verbs. The name Peleg means division, but it is specific to division by waterways, such as lakes, rivers and canals. Geologists tell us that at one time all the land mass was a single continent. At some point in time it broke up into the continents we know today. Genesis 10:24 appears to refer to this separation of the continents. It occurred during Peleg’s life.

“These are the generations of Shem: Shem was an hundred years old, and begat Arphaxad two years after the flood: And Shem lived after he begat Arphaxad five hundred years, and begat sons and daughters.

And Arphaxad lived five and thirty years, and begat Salah: And Arphaxad lived after he begat Salah four hundred and three years, and begat sons and daughters.

And Salah lived thirty years, and begat Eber: And Salah lived after he begat Eber four hundred and three years, and begat sons and daughters.

And Eber lived four and thirty years, and begat Peleg: And Eber lived after he begat Peleg four hundred and thirty years, and begat sons and daughters.

And Peleg lived thirty years, and begat Reu: And Peleg lived after he begat Reu two hundred and nine years, and begat sons and daughters.” (Genesis 11:10-19)

According to this passage, Peleg was born a hundred and one years after the flood and lived two hundred and thirty nine years, making the separation of the continents between a hundred and three hundred forty years after the flood. Working backward from the present this would indicate it occurred around two thousand four hundred BC.

Geologists tell us that about the same time the continents separated there was a shift in the axis of rotation with respect to the sun to close to the present angle. It is possible that the breaking up of the continents and tectonic plate movement changed the earth’s center of gravity enough to shift the axis of rotation. It is also possible, and geologists think it more probable that a meteor or asteroid collided with the earth, knocking it out of alignment. Such a collision might well have cracked the earth’s crust into the present day tectonic plates and started the separation of the continents. If it occurred in the Pacific Ocean it may well have gone unnoticed and undetected in our day, but could explain the very deep Marianas trench.

The angle of the axis of rotation and the subsequent variations of solar incidence is the cause of our present polar icecaps and the extremes of weather we now experience. Both archaeologists and geologists tell us the Sahara became desert around that time, which fits well with the biblical account of the separation of the continents. Early paintings in caves from the region depict it as a vast rich plain. The drastic weather changes also explain the finding of tropical plants and animals under the Glaciers in northern Europe. A rapid change in weather may well have trapped both animals and plants.

Changing the angle of rotation of a body causes it to wobble for a while, as anyone who has ever spun a top has observed. Scientists tell us that the world’s axis of rotation wobbles very slowly, confirming that something caused a shift in the angle of rotation after it was in motion. Some scientists believe it is the wobble which causes periodic warming and cooling cycles on the earth, with accompanying expansion or contraction of the polar ice caps. There are indications that we have been in gradual warming trend since the mid 1800‘s. If so, the global warming effects are just the culmination of a hundred fifty years warming and should begin to reverse in the near future, making global warming a natural occurrence and not something to panic about. Efforts to prevent it are similar to the panic and efforts to reverse a solar eclipse by various groups. The Chinese, for example, would fire fireworks to drive away the dragon that was eating the sun. When the sun re-emerged they convinced themselves it was a result of their efforts and it became a tradition they repeated during every eclipse. Today they know the truth but some still practice the ritual as part of their tradition.

The separation of the continents after the scattering of people from Babel also explains the similar religious and architectural cultures between the ancient peoples of central and south America to those of Egypt, and Mesopotamia. Once the various groups settled somewhat, the separation of the continents would simply separate them from others who had similar architectural, cultural, and religious practices. While some of the American Indian tribes have legends of having crossed the land bridge into the Americas, others do not and studies of genetic relationships indicate that it is improbable that all came that way. The land bridge may have remained long after the continents separated.

Isolation would have resulted in limited gene pools of both animals and plants, with the result that only certain varieties would be found on a particular continent. Natural selection would then tend to emphasize differences in the various populations. Plants that required more water would die as some areas became dryer, and animals who required specific foods would die as well. Such processes are well documented.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Forced to Scatter Abroad

Genesis 11:1-9

Genesis 9:1-2 states, “And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth. And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered.” They were commanded to fill the earth, and were to be responsible for the animals. While modern ecologists have recognized this responsibility, most have not taken the trouble to learn what is entailed. Noah’s descendants were no different.

“And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech. And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there. And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them thoroughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for mortar.” (Genesis 11:1-3)

The Ark had grounded on Mount Ararat, at the edge of the fertile crescent. As people moved down the mountain into the Mesopotamian valley they found a fertile area with ample rainfall and moderate weather. The plains around present day Babylon offered easily farmed land, and people quickly settled the area. While there was not a lot of stone for building, fired bricks made an acceptable substitute, and were easily produced and clay mud made a satisfactory mortar. Modern archaeologists indicate that civilization originally developed in the this general area because of the conditions of the fertile crescent, lending further credence to the story. Since there was only one family, only one language was spoken, and there was no communication problem.

“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)

It wasn’t very long after the flood that Ham’s grandson, Nimrod took control of the city known as Babel and started building prestige for himself. Genesis 10:8-10 describes the basis of his empire. “And Cush begat Nimrod: he began to be a mighty one in the earth. He was a mighty hunter before the LORD: wherefore it is said, Even as Nimrod the mighty hunter before the LORD. And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, and Erech, and Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar.”

Nimrod’s existence and Babylonian connection is attested by many ancient cultures, leaving little room for doubt. Later he was worshipped a s a God by many groups. It would appear that the construction of the tower of Babel was an attempt to consolidate the empire and retain control of the entire population. Their intent was “…and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.” It was a deliberate effort to prevent people from fulfilling God’s command to “…Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth,” in Genesis 9:1. The idea of becoming a god led to Satan’s sin, and to Eve’s eating the fruit, and had serious consequences. It is obvious again in Nimrod and the people at Babel.

“And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded. And the LORD said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech.” (Genesis 11:5-7)

There is a saying that what man can conceive, man can achieve. While that is not completely true, we are able to figure out amazing things when we share our ideas. Unfortunately, we will try almost everything we dream up and some are really bad ideas. Perhaps a more accurate statement would be, “What man can conceive, man will attempt.” God recognized this about man, and he knew something else about us as we see in Genesis 6:5. “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”

If allowed to freely share their ideas and knowledge man would attempt to implement every evil idea they could imagine as well as the good. God had been forced to destroy the world once already because of man’s propensity for evil. By preventing the free interchange of ideas, God could slow the spread of evil, although it would slow some positive developments as well.

As a result of the inability to communicate freely, people began to separate into smaller groups and isolate themselves. Language and close family ties determined how the people banded together, resulting in the divisions we saw in Genesis 10. God used it to force them to fulfill the command in Genesis 9:1, to fill the earth.

“So the LORD scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city. 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 11:8-9)

Interestingly, every effort to reunite the entire world has failed to date, more than four thousand years later. The Bible portrays the Antichrist being successful in forming a single world government and conditions being much like they were before the flood. Wickedness will abound during his reign, culminating in the destruction of the world.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Descendants of Shem

Genesis 10:21-32

“Unto Shem also, the father of all the children of Eber, the brother of Japheth the elder, even to him were children born. The children of Shem; Elam, and Asshur, and Arphaxad, and Lud, and Aram.” (Genesis 10:21-22)

Shem is the progenitor of the Semetic peoples. The Bible especially focuses on the descendants of Eber, the Hebrews, as the main group to serve God. Japheth was Shem’s older brother, by a couple of years.

Elam His descendants are mentioned as Babylonian subjects in Ezra 4:9

Asshur is the one who left Babel to build Nineveh and the Assyrian culture, according to Genesis 10:11.

Aram Father of the Aramaens, his descendants spread over a wide area. The Aramaic language still spoken is from his descendants.

“And the children of Aram; Uz, and Hul, and Gether, and Mash.” (Genesis 10:23)

Uz unsure of their exact area, but all the Aramaic peoples moved fairly regularly

Hul his descendants settled north of the Sea of Galilee in the valley of present day lake Hula.

Gether settled in the area south of Damascus,

Mash occupied part of Lebanon

Lud the Ludim or Ludu settled in Asia Minor in the area later known as Lydia.

Arphaxad was the progenitor of the Chaldeans. They initially settled just east of Nineveh.

“And Arphaxad begat Salah; and Salah begat Eber. And unto Eber were born two sons: the name of one was Peleg; for in his days was the earth divided; and his brother's name was Joktan.” (Genesis 10:24-25)

Salah is not identified except as the father of Eber.

Eber is the source of the Hebrew name and all his descendants are technically Hebrews. There were two main branches of his family.

Peleg A progenitor of the Jews, Syrians, Ammonites, Moabites, Edomites and Middianites. Peleg means division, usually in the sense of physical divisions such as rivers, or canals. His descendants will be examined more closely in a later chapter, as the father of the Jewish people..

Joktan is father of many of the Arab tribes. He is remembered as Yaqtan today, and some of the Arab people can trace their family tree all the way back to him..

“And Joktan begat Almodad, and Sheleph, and Hazarmaveth, and Jerah, And Hadoram, and Uzal, and Diklah, And Obal, and Abimael, and Sheba, And Ophir, and Havilah, and Jobab: all these were the sons of Joktan. And their dwelling was from Mesha, as thou goest unto Sephar a mount of the east. These are the sons of Shem, after their families, after their tongues, in their lands, after their nations.” (Genesis 10:26-31)

Almodad Arab tribe known to Arab historians as the Almorad.

Sheleph Yemeni tribe known as the Salif in pre Islamic times.

Hazarmaveth populated the valley now known as the Hadramaut in southern Arabia.

Jerah settled close to the Hadramaut in a city known as Jerakon Kome.

Hadoram Southern Arab tribe with few records found.

Uzal or Azal is the ancient name of the modern capital of Yemen.

Diklath was later known as the Tigris to the Greeks

Obal southern Arabian tribe also known to historians as Ebal or Abil.

Abimiel southern Arabian tribe mentioned in Sabean writings

Sheba Unable to identify his descendants.

Ophir Seems to have settled in southwest Arabia around the town of Ma’afir.

Havilah settled on the western side of the Arab peninsula and maintained a separate identity from the Hamitic tribe of Havilah on the Eastern side of the peninsula.

Jobab settled close to modern Mecca.

“These are the families of the sons of Noah, after their generations, in their nations: and by these were the nations divided in the earth after the flood.” (Genesis 10:32)

Some question the accuracy of the biblical records of the origins of the different races, but records by various groups ranging from the Celts of the British Isles, to the Arab culture support them. Ancient writings have been discovered to corroborate most of it’s claims. Clearly the people who were there and passed the stories on knew more than the archaeologists and anthropologists who came later. It seems unscientific to ignore the ancient records as false because they don’t support modern theories, yet is often done in modern archaeology and anthropology.

The Indians in the Southwest told the Spaniards that most of the ruins scattered across the region had originally been built by the Tewa Indians. For over a hundred years, archeologists insisted that that was just myth and they were built by some other group, but just in the last few years, incontrovertible evidence has surfaced that the old claims were valid. Even myths usually are based on some truth, although it may be hard to discover.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Descendants of Ham

Genesis 10:6-20

“And the sons of Ham; Cush, and Mizraim, and Phut, and Canaan.” (Genesis 10:6)

Ham’s descendants occupied parts of Asia minor, the Arab Peninsula, and most of Africa.
Contrary to what many have taught, they are not all black races.


Part of Egypt was once called Kush, and the Babylonian city of Kish is believed to carry on his name.

“And the sons of Cush; Seba, and Havilah, and Sabtah, and Raamah, and Sabtechah: and the sons of Raamah; Sheba, and Dedan.” (Genesis 10:7)

Seba father of the Sabeans on the west coast of the Arab Peninsula.
Havilah settled in the east coast of Africa along the Persian Gulf.
Sabtah fathered a people known as the Sabateni, on the east side of the Arab Peninsula.
Raamah Settled near Havilah on the East coast of Africa
Sheba founded a kingdom near present day Eritrea
Dedan founded a city known as Al-ula
Sabtecha Settled in modern Yemen


“And Cush begat Nimrod: he began to be a mighty one in the earth. He was a mighty hunter before the LORD: wherefore it is said, Even as Nimrod the mighty hunter before the LORD. And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, and Erech, and Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar. Out of that land went forth Asshur, and builded Nineveh, and the city Rehoboth, and Calah, And Resen between Nineveh and Calah: the same is a great city.” (Genesis 10:8-12)

Nimrod established the city of Babel, and the major cities that would centuries later become the Babylonian capital, in what is modern Iraq. He was himself worshipped from a very early period as the Assyrian god of war and as the Babylonian king of the gods. His name was carried on in the name of a mountain and an Assyrian city. The Assyrian nation was started as copy of Nimrod’s kingdom.


Settling in Egypt, it is still the name assigned to Egypt in Hebrew, and is recorded in various ancient manuscripts. His sons founded several nations, some of which were wiped during the Ethiopic war, a conflict between Egypt and Ethiopia, according to Josephus.

“And Mizraim begat Ludim, and Anamim, and Lehabim, and Naphtuhim, And Pathrusim, and Casluhim, (out of whom came Philistim,) and Caphtorim.” (Genesis 10:13-14)

Ludim, later known as Lubim, settled what is now known as Libya.
Anamim is one of the groups believed to have been wiped out in the Ethiopic War.
Lehabim is recorded in Egyptian records, but little is known.
Naphtuhim Settled in the Nile Delta and western Egypt
Pathrusim founded the district of Pathros.
Casluhim settled in Northern Egypt.and took part in the Ethiopic war.
Philistim was the father of the Philistines. Later they were known as the Palaistine, and it is from them we get the name Palestine. They appear to have migrated to Canaan from Egypt.
Caphtorim is sometimes claimed to have settled Crete, but both secular and biblical records indicate they were in fact in or near Egypt and were involved in the Ethiopic War.


Canaan was the only one of Ham’s sons that was cursed. It was his land that was promised to Abraham’s descendants because of their wickedness, about four hundred twenty five years after the flood, and only about eighty years after Noah’s death.

“And Canaan begat Sidon his firstborn, and Heth, And the Jebusite, and the Amorite, and the Girgasite, And the Hivite, and the Arkite, and the Sinite, And the Arvadite, and the Zemarite, and the Hamathite: and afterward were the families of the Canaanites spread abroad. And the border of the Canaanites was from Sidon, as thou comest to Gerar, unto Gaza; as thou goest, unto Sodom, and Gomorrah, and Admah, and Zeboim, even unto Lasha.” (Genesis 10:15-19)

Sidon settled on the Mediterranean coast and the city of Sidon still carries his name. Also known as the Zidonians, his descendents were later known as the Phoenicians.

Heth founded the Hittite peoples. Their Empire at one time stretched into modern Turkey, and their ruins are still found there.

Jebusites were the original occupants of modern Jerusalem

Amorites also set up an empire that at one point conquered Babylon. They seem to have been nomadic people.

Girgashites settled the land east of the Jordan river between Galilee and the Red Sea.

Hivites were driven into Lebanon when Israel conquered Canaan.

Arkites were recorded in various Egyptian records and established the city known to the Romans as Caesarea Libani.

Shinites were recorded in Phonecian and Assyrian writings located near the modern city of Arqa

Arvadites settled the island known today as Ruad, in the Bay of Tripoli. They were known for their seamanship.

Zemarite were later known to the Egyptians as the Sumerians

Hammathites founded the city of Hamath.

“These are the sons of Ham, after their families, after their tongues, in their countries, and in their nations.” (Genesis 10:20)

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Different Races

Genesis 10:1-4

“Now these are the generations of the sons of Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth: and unto them were sons born after the flood.” (Genesis 10:1)

Throughout history there has been a tendency to separate people by skin color. It seems instinctive to assume black, brown, and whites are different, and some have used that concept to imply that some groups are inferior to others. In Acts 17:26, Paul is very specific that God “…hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth…” Every human being is descended from Noah, through one of his three sons, making us all related to one another on both sides of our family. Even dividing according to skin color is a flawed method as we will see in examining the different families. Genetically, every living being can be traced back to one or more of these three. Thanks to interracial marriages, it is some times difficult to narrow it down to just one.

Until God confused the languages at Babel, they stayed largely in one area. After Babel, they began to spread and become identified as individual races and ethnic groups. This chapter gives a brief look at the origins of the different groups. I will attempt to identify some of the their descendants but they have subdivided until it is difficult to be sure of many of them. I have relied heavily on The Early History of Man, by Bill Cooper as found on www. Only some of their descendants are listed. Think how fast the population must have grown with people often living more than three hundred years. Despite wars, disease and old age, Afghanistan’s population is doubling every 14.8 years. Just using that rate of growth, the world population by the time of Peleg’s death, three hundred thirty nine years after the flood would have been over thirty million.

Descendants of Japeth

“The sons of Japheth; Gomer, and Magog, and Madai, and Javan, and Tubal, and Meshech, and Tiras. And the sons of Gomer; Ashkenaz, and Riphath, and Togarmah. And the sons of Javan; Elishah, and Tarshish, Kittim, and Dodanim.” (Genesis 10:2-4)

Gomer is believed to be the father of the Cimmerians, who originally settled on the shores of the Caspian sea.
Ashkenaz We know these people as the Scythians. The Celts of the British Isles trace their lineage through the Scythians, and back to Schaif(Japeth), the son of Noah. Various other groups were absorbed by them.
Ripath Settled along the Black sea in northern Asia Minor. Their name is still used for a range of mountains.
Togarmah is believed to have been the original name for what is now called Turkey.

Magog settled in Russia, and some of his descendants are believed to have become the Magyars, a major ethnic group in Hungary. They are very closely related to some of the groups in India. Others of his descendants were absorbed by the Scythians.

Madai is associated with the group later known as the Medes, later a major part of the Medo-Persian Empire in middle East.

Javan appears to be the father of the Ionian people, a Greek tribe, according to Homer’s Illiad.
Elishah father of the Aeolian people, another Greek group. The Elysian fields were named for him.
Tarshish believed to have originally settled in Spain
Kittim original settlers of the area now known as Cyprus
Dodanim father of the Dardanians from the Dardanelle region of Asia Minor

Tubal appears to be the origin of the name of the Tobol river and the city of Tobolsk in modern Siberia. They originally settled in the Russian area known as Georgia.

Meshech seems to be father of the Muscovites and his name is perpetuated in the name Moscow.

Tiras fathered the group known as the Thracians. The city of Troas or Troy was named for him.

“By these were the isles of the Gentiles divided in their lands; every one after his tongue, after their families, in their nations.” (Genesis 10:5)

The Jewish word translated ‘Gentile’ referred in particular to the descendants of Japheth, the group many refer to as the white races. The black skinned people of India, darker than most black races are genetically from this group, as are many of the brown races. A dark skin was not indicated by the curse on Canaan.

It is believed that the name Jupiter was a corruption of Japheth, and he was worshipped as a god by the Greeks and various other groups. Tiras was originally worshipped under his own name but later was changed to Mars. As Romans 1:25 says, they “… changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator…”

Friday, September 9, 2011

Man Retained the Sinful Nature

Genesis 9:18-29

God had just destroyed all life off the earth except for Noah’s family and the animals who were with him because of man’s wickedness. Noah and his family were spared because they pleased God. All of the genetic pool except that of Noah’s sons and their wives had been wiped out as a result of sin. Noah and his three sons, along with the animals they had protected would have to repopulate the earth.

“And the sons of Noah, that went forth of the ark, were Shem, and Ham, and Japheth: and Ham is the father of Canaan. These are the three sons of Noah: and of them was the whole earth overspread.” (Genesis 9:18-19)

DNA analysis has enabled researchers to state that all modern species of dogs originated with a single pair, probably in northern Africa. While almost no other species has been so thoroughly researched, most seem to generally indicate the same thing. Humans are less clear. Noah brough t only one pair of dogs, but there were eight humans. While all his sons shared Noah and his wife’s genetic heritage, His son’s wives did not. While all their descendants would share a majority of genetic traits. There would be some differences. Many of the similarities and differences in modern humans are explained by The fact that unlike dogs, our genetic history goes back farther that at of dogs, with Noah’s sons wives bringing genetic material dating back to Adam and Eve. It is exactly what the laws of genetics would lead us to expect from the biblical description.

“And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard: And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent.” (Genesis 9:20-21)

Genesis 6:8-9 states, “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.” Undoubtedly, the making of wine had been discovered before the flood. While scripture never forbids the use of fermented wine, it warns that fermented wine leads to sin. Proverbs 23:31-33 warns, “Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder. Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thine heart shall utter perverse things."

Noah was a man who pleased God, yet he himself was just a susceptible to it’s effects as anyone else. Alcohol affects one’s perceptions and mental functions, even in small quantities. As a result, Noah was less conscious of what he was doing and he exposed himself when he drank. In doing so, he exposed others to temptation.

“And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without.” (Genesis 9:22)

Ham saw what hids father had done. He could have just covered his father and kept his mouth shut. Noah would have known he’d been seen and might have stopped. Instead, Ham couldn’t wait to tell on his Dad. Noah had done wrong, and Ham was excited about it, much as people today are thrilled by dirty talk or sexual activity even though they don’t do it themselves. Ephesians 5:11-12 instructs, "And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret.” Instead drunkenness or sexual sin is treated as a joke. Proverbs 14:9 warns, “Fools make a mock at sin: but among the righteous there is favour.” Many times even those who know it is wrong sit and enjoy movies about such wickedness, or even emulate them, as Romans 1:32 describes. “Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.”

“And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were backward, and they saw not their father's nakedness.” (Genesis 9:23)

Shem and Ham recognized Noah’s behavior as shameful and tried to prevent others being tempted, including themselves. A psychology professor told his students they would never be able to effectively deal with drug addicts unless they tried it themselves. Almost the entire class tried them with the idea of helping others and became addicted themselves. Shem and Japheth fled temptation themselves.

“And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him.” (Genesis 9:24)

We are constantly told that drunks do not know what is going on, yet unless they completely pass out they can nearly always remember at least some of the details. Noah knew the mockery and disrespect Ham had shown when he woke up.

“And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren.” (Genesis 9:25)

As a result of Ham’s disrespect for his father, his son Canaan was cursed. It would result in his being a slave to the others. For many years various groups held this curse as justification for enslaving the blacks. Canaan was the father of the groups who settled Canaan, the land that was later given to Israel. They do not appear to have been black. None of Ham’s other children were cursed, although some of them are black. The language of the Ethiopians is Semetic or of the family of Shem, and the blacks of India, are genetically linked to Japheth rather than Ham. The dark skin does not appear to have anything to do with the curse. It does appear that most of Ham’s descendants moved to the south.

“And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.” (Genesis 9:26)

The Semetic peoples would follow the path of Seths family more than the other people, with the Jews being chosen as God’s special people because of their progenitor’s faith in God. The Canaanites would be forced to serve the Semetic peoples. Semetic groups frequently ruled over Canaan. They filled parts of Asia and the area of Northern Africa. Many of the great empires originated with Shem’s descendants.

“God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.” (Genesis 9:27)

Japhath’s descendants tended to move predominantly to the north, It was somewhat later that the Canaanites were subjected to their power under Roman domination. They filled most of the European continent and India and are known as Indo-Europeans.

“And Noah lived after the flood three hundred and fifty years. And all the days of Noah were nine hundred and fifty years: and he died.” (Genesis 9:28-29)

The human race was firmly re-established by the time of Noah’s death, and he had had time to make sure all his descendants knew the story of the flood. All the ancient races originated with one of his sons, and it is not surprising that the stories of the flood have been passed down in almost every culture. They were not just adopting a story from another culture, but passing down part of their own heritage.

Noah was still alive until about seventeen years before God called Abram to leave Haran to go to Canaan.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Covenant With All Living Things

Genesis 9:8-17

Frustrated with the corruption of everything he had made by sin God had decided to start over with just the basics of what he had made. Having built a great many things over the years, I know how frustrating it can be when they don’t turn out just as I desired. Unfortunately, when things I make malfunction, it is a result of a mistake on my part. In the case of the world, it was a deliberate choice by man not to do what he was designed to do. The problem was not God’s fault, but man’s choice. When Noah tried to do what he should, it pleased God immensely. He made a commitment to himself not
Completely start over the same way again.

“And the LORD smelled a sweet savour; and the LORD said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man's sake; for the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done. While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.” (Genesis 8:21-22)

When he was instructing Noah as to what he was to do, God declared that commitment as a covenant with all living things. There were no conditions on the covenant, it was something God committed himself to. He had too much emotionally invested in what he had made to simply throw it all away. He would not again destroy it as long as there was any possibility of salvaging it.

“And God spake unto Noah, and to his sons with him, saying, And I, behold, I establish my covenant with you, and with your seed after you; And with every living creature that is with you, of the fowl, of the cattle, and of every beast of the earth with you; from all that go out of the ark, to every beast of the earth. 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 9:8-11)

God’s covenant was with every living creature, that as long as the world remained, that never again would all life be destroyed from the earth by a flood. As long as the earth remained things would remain close enough to the original condition to sustain life. The seasons would not change and crops would still be capable of being grown.

“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. And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall 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 the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh. And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth. And God said unto Noah, This is the token of the covenant, which I have established between me and all flesh that is upon the earth.” (Genesis 9:12-17)

It is common to see a rainbow in the spray from a lawn sprinkler when the sun shines on it. It results from diffraction of light by the water droplets. The diffraction of light by a prism requires that it be projected onto another surface for the eye to see it. Since clouds are composed of small water droplets they always diffract the light, but frequently it doesn‘t strike another surface strongly enough for us to see it. God promised that any time there was a cloud in the sky a rainbow would form to remind him of his promise or covenant to us.

When we see the rainbow it should serve as a reminder that not only will there never be another flood that covers the entire earth, but that as long as the earth remains, we don’t have to worry about an the sun fading or climate change destroying our ability to produce food. While we will always have problems on the earth, they will not be insurmountable.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Starting Over

Genesis 8:20-9:7

Though the ark was a very large structure, It still had definite limits. After more than a year on board, surrounded with all the animals, just getting off must have been like taking a trip to the mountains for Noah and his family. It was probably almost as much a blessing, as knowing that they’d survived the flood.

“And Noah builded an altar unto the LORD; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar.” (Genesis 8:20)

The first thing Noah did was to give thanks to the Lord for their deliverance. Though he had done a lot of work preparing the ark and caring for the animals, he recognized that their survival was the result of God’s working, God had given the warning. Had told what was needed, had enabled him to do his part, and had kept the storm from exceeding the ark’s capabilities. Too often humans count only their part and ignore what God had to do for their efforts to succeed. Noah took time to recognize and express his appreciation.

“And the LORD smelled a sweet savour; and the LORD said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man's sake; for the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done. While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.” (Genesis 8:21-22)

Pleased with Noah’s sacrifice, God made some specific commitments. He would never again curse the earth for man’s sin like he had at this time, totally destroying every living thing. Man is inherently wicked, deliberately dreaming up evil. The wickedness portrayed in our literary and artistic endeavors just demonstrates our preoccupation with evil. Not only would God never again totally destroy life like he had done, but he made another promise. As long as this earth continues, there will be seasons for planting and harvesting, variations in weather, winter and summer and day and night. We do not need to concern ourselves with the burning out of the sun, or global warming causing dramatic changes, or a lot of the other things people concern themselves with because God has promised to see to it that they continue in normal fashion until the world ends. This does not imply that we have no responsibility for the environment. The command in Genesis 1:28 has never been repealed. “And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth."

“And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth. And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered.” (Genesis 9:1-2)

Part of the instructions to Noah were the same as the instructions to Adam. They were to have children and fill the earth. They were still to have responsibility over the animals and land. There was a major difference, however. The animals would live in fear of man from that time forward as a result of a major change in man’s diet. In Genesis 1:29 we learn, “And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.”

God originally intended for all the animals and man to be vegetarian. As a result of man’s sin, they began eating animals, with Able, and later Jabal beginning to raise animals for food. God made the eating of meat official after the flood. Notice the instruction.

“Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things. But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat.” (Genesis 9:3-4)

One result of this change was that the animals would develop and instinctive fear of man they hadn’t had previously. Another was that while man could survive on a vegetarian diet, he would have a hard time attaining maximum health. Today, despite claims of vegetarian diets being more healthy, studies have found that in general, vegetarians live shorter lives than those who eat both meat and vegetables. They have higher rates of Alzheimer’s and dementia, and their children miss more school due to sickness than those who eat a diet containing some meat. Human bodies are unable to produce certain essential compounds that other animals produce. Healthy vegetarians have to use supplements either derived from animals or artificially synthesized.

One specific guideline about the eating of meat was that they were not to eat the blood with the meat. The reason given was that the blood was the life thereof. Literally, life, even that of the other animals, was not to be taken lightly. Practically, the blood carries any harmful viruses or bacteria or poisons the animal may have ingested or produced, as well as hastening decomposition, and to eat the blood increases the likelihood of ingesting harmful material.

Another major change was a specific guideline about what was to be done when a person was killed. Before Adam’s sin, there was no death. After Cain killed Abel, killing grew to be a problem until, just before the flood, violence filled the earth. God gave the next command to prevent killing reaching the same level again. All life came from God, and especially human life was to be considered sacred.

“And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man's brother will I require the life of man. Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.” (Genesis 9:5-6)

Even animals such as lions and tigers and bears normally avoid attacking man. However, it has been found that once that natural hesitation is overcome, they are much more likely to attack again. Almost two thirds of all people who are killed are killed by someone who has killed before. Once the initial aversion is destroyed, it is easier to kill again.

Recognizing this, God specified that the killer, whether man or animal, was to be killed to prevent doing it again. It had nothing to do with punishment, which is God’s business. It was strictly about preventing more. Following God’s command on this would eliminate any discussion over competence to stand trial, since even animals were to be killed if they killed a man. Even if executing murders did not deter anyone from committing murder, in the United States, simply executing them after their first muder would reduce the murder level by more than half. It would also drastically reduce the number of prisons we currently have.

Furthermore the system would be far more just than the present system in that the person who took a person’s life would have his own life taken. He would just experience what he had done to another. The crime would be related to the punishment. A corollary to “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is that it is okay for people to treat you the same way you treat others. Modern society tries to accomplish the same thing with the temporary expedient of imprisonment. It doesn’t work very well.

“And you, be ye fruitful, and multiply; bring forth abundantly in the earth, and multiply therein.” (Genesis 9:7)

God then repeated his initial command. That he repeated himself makes it clear he considers this very important. I am amazed how much effort is devoted to trying to stop population growth in our day. While we experience famines and food shortages, they are not primarily the result of overpopulation, but of man’s efforts to control others for his own advantage. If instead of trying to control it, we focused doing things the way God specified, with one man and one woman marrying and then supporting their own children, population growth would probably slow dramatically. There would no longer be an incentive to see how many different people they could procreate with.