Follow Me: I Will

I-Will-Win_www.FullHDWpp.com_Observations as I follow God through the Chronological Bible

Genesis [1]

The will of God is easy to find. Some might disagree with that statement, but it’s true. Throughout the Bible God repeatedly says “I will”. Whatever follows the “I Will” is the will of God. Some of the I will’s apply to individuals, some to the nation Jacob’s children became, some pertain to the surrounding nations and some to all of us. Discern which I wills belong to all of us, and you have found the “will” of God for your life.

I know. The I wills may not address the will of God for an individual pertaining to ones gifts and callings or more personal matters regarding a marriage partner or career choice. But if you lack direction for your life this is a good place to start. Knowing God’s will for his people gives direction for one’s gift, calling and personal matters.

God spoke the same I wills for three generations beginning with Abraham. According to the New Testament, the promises in the gospel he preached to Abraham were made to two men – Abraham and Jesus.[2] Any one from any nation who walks in the faith of Abraham will inherit the promises God made to Jesus.[3]

Therefore, the will of God for his people is to possess the land he showed Abraham forever. We will become a great nation more numerous than the dust of the earth and the stars of heaven that is a blessing to all nations. God will bless those who bless us and curse those who curse us. He will establish his covenant with us to be our God. We will possess the gate of our enemies, which is another way of saying we will govern our enemies. They will not govern us.

Did you notice the promises lack specifics. There is more to the gospel than the brief summary in the preceding chapter. The promises God made to Abraham and Jesus were the beginning of fulfilling the promise God made to humanity in the Garden of Eden.

I will put enmity between you [the serpent] and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.[4]

Jesus has come and returned to heaven without receiving the land God promised him. We are still strangers and foreigners on earth often ruled by the enemies of God. Clearly, God is still revealing and fulfilling his “I wills”.

[1] All scripture quotes are from the NIV Bible unless otherwise noted.

[2] Galatians 3:8, 16

[3] Galatians 3:29

[4] Genesis 3:14

Follow Me: I Know

I know everythingObservations as I follow God through the Chronological Bible.

Genesis [1]

When I first entered Christianity, I prayed more than I do today and that is a good thing. Most of my praying consisted of telling God what was going on in my life and the world around me and then telling him how to fix the problems. Such arrogance is appalling. What could I tell God that he doesn’t already know? Fortunately, his mercy is new every morning.[2]

I don’t pray as much today because I have stopped telling God what he already knows. God knows what happened in the past. He was there. He knows what is going on in our lives. He has placed his Spirit within us. He knows what will happen tomorrow. He decides what will happen and then makes it happen.

In God’s dealings with Abraham he said “I know” three times. Two times in reference to Abraham and once to calm the fear of a king that Abraham had lied to. Each time God’s actions were based on what he “knows” that no one had to tell him.

When God was on his way to judge Sodom and Gomorrah, he stopped at Abraham’s tent to reveal his plans. There was a reason God told Abraham about the coming judgment. God said,

“I know him [Abraham] that he will command his children and his household after him and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment; that the Lord may bring on Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.[3]

Preserving the knowledge of God’s way by teaching our children is important to God. God’s plan would take generations to fulfill. Therefore, it was important that Abraham teach his children the way of the Lord, so his children would teach their children and that practice would continue until the time came for the fulfillment of God’s promises.

God knew the good that was in Abraham but he also knew the bad. He did not punish Abraham for lying to Pharaoh and to King Abimelech, but he did expose him. We don’t know how Pharaoh learned Abraham lied to him. We do know how King Abimelech discovered the truth. God told him. He appeared to Abimelech in a dream and said, “You are as good as dead because of the woman you have taken; she is a married woman.”[4]

Abimelech told God what he already knew. Abraham lied to him. Abimelech had a clear conscience and clean hands. His innocence did not change the fact that Sarah was a married woman and taking her into his bed would have been a sin against God worthy of the death penalty. God told Abimelech the truth because he did not want him to perish.[5]

God’s response to the problem Abraham’s lie created tells us a lot about God.[6] He knew Abimelech was free of malicious intent, so he kept Abimelech from sin. Now that Abimelech knows the truth, he must do the right thing or he will die.[7] Not only must he return Sarah to her husband. Abimelech must ask the liar who got him into this mess to pray for him so he will live. If Abimelech had been an arrogant man he would have died.

Neither the good nor the bad in Abraham moved God to favor him. The promises God made to him were not guaranteed until God swore an oath to keep them.[8] God swore that oath when Abraham obeyed God to offer Isaac as a sacrifice. Abraham’s actions confirmed what God already knew.

“Now I know that you fear God seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son from me.”[9]

If Abraham had not feared God he might have lost everything God promised to him and we would be calling someone else the father of our faith.

[1] All Scriptures are from the NIV Bible unless otherwise noted.

[2] Lamentation 3:22-23

[3] Genesis 18:19, kjv

[4] Genesis 20:3

[5] 2 Peter 3:9

[6] Genesis 20:6

[7] James 4:17

[8] Hebrews 6:17-19

[9] Genesis 22:12

Follow Me: I AM

iamObservations as I follow God through the Chronological Bible

Genesis 12-46[1].

God’s dealings with the patriarchs are essential to understand the Bible for several reasons. First, God approached Abraham with the intent of blessing all nations making the things he promised Abraham relevant to everyone. Second, Abraham is the father of the only kind of faith that pleases God. Third, we acquire the things God has promised by walking in the steps of Abraham’s faith. Finally, God redeemed us so the blessing he gave to Abraham would come to the Gentiles. Therefore, before we leave the patriarchs I want to make some observations about the times God said, “I am”, “I know” and “I will” beginning with “I am”.

Some things God said to individuals belong only to that individual. The things that apply to “all nations” is the focus of this post and the next two posts about the things God knows and the things he will do.

On several occasions, God identified who he is with the words “I am”. He said to Abraham, “I am your shield, your very great reward.”[2] God is a shield or one who protects his people. He also calls himself our exceeding great reward. To the western mind, reward implies something given for good behavior. The Hebrew word means compensation or payment.[3] In other words we are rewarded when we obey God regardless of our good or bad behavior. All of the patriarchs had character flaws which would have cost them if we were rewarded based on our character.

God said to Abraham, “I am the Lord, who brought you out of Ur…”[4] In Hebrew God called himself Yehovah which means self-existent or eternal.[5] While humanity depends on God for their existence, God is dependent on no one to exist. There is no higher power who formed God and breathed life into him. He is eternal.

He also said to Abraham, “I am Almighty God; walk before me and be perfect.”[6] Other translations say “and be blameless” or “complete”. God’s greatest strength is his love. In everything God has done he has wronged no one because he loves everyone. Therefore he is blameless. At the end of the day, every evil accusation made about God will prove false.

If we walk in God’s might we will also be blameless as he is blameless. If we love people we will not wrong them. We will not treat people as a means to an end to be discarded when they are no longer useful. Everyone will be important and have value. Humanity falls far short of treating people the way God does. Therefore, the only way to truly love people is to walk in God’s ways.

Finally, God said, “I am the God of Abraham” to Isaac and to Jacob. Centuries after the patriarchs died God added a name to his many names – the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. God told Moses this is his name forever and the name he wants to be remembered by from generation to generation.[7]

[1] All scripture quotes are from the NIV Bible unless otherwise noted.

[2] Genesis 15:1

[3] OT:7939 sakar (saw-kawr’); from OT:7936; payment of contract; concretely, salary, fare, maintenance; by implication, compensation, benefit: (Biblesoft’s New Exhaustive Strong’s Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright © 1994, 2003, 2006 Biblesoft, Inc. and International Bible Translators, Inc.)

[4] Genesis 15:7

[5] OT:3068 Yehovah (yeh-ho-vaw’); from OT:1961; (the) self-Existent or Eternal; Jehovah, Jewish national name of God: (Biblesoft’s New Exhaustive Strong’s Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright © 1994, 2003, 2006 Biblesoft, Inc. and International Bible Translators, Inc.)

[6] Genesis 17:1

[7] Exodus 3:15

Follow Me: A Place Among the Great

joesph-and-his-brothersObservations as I follow God through the Chronological Bible

Genesis 45-46[1]

Two decades elapsed without record of God speaking to Jacob. He knew Jacob was heartbroken at the loss of Joseph. He knew Joseph brothers lied to their father. God also knew the pain and deception would one day work for their good. God had chosen Joseph to save his family from starvation.

A famine brought the shameful acts of Joseph’s brothers to light. They had sold Joseph into slavery thinking his dreams would never come to pass. The next time they saw Joseph, he was second only to Pharaoh in the mightiest nation on earth and they bowed before him fulfilling Joseph’s dreams. Instead of chiding his brothers for the evil they did to him, Joseph acknowledged three times God had sent him to Egypt.

The evil that is done to us by those closest to us can produce good things, but how do you forgive the kind of betrayal Joseph experienced. It appears God allowed evil things to happen because it advanced his plan to save everyone. That is how Joseph interpreted the events of his life and that may be why he could find the strength to forgive.

God’s plan is bigger than Jacob and his family. In the year 1882 God told Abraham, Joseph’s great grandfather, his family would be afflicted in a foreign nation, but God would judge that nation and afterward bring them out with great substance. Abraham and Isaac were not permitted to leave Canaan. When Jacob fled from his brother Esau’s wrath God promised to bring him back to Canaan. Only something truly dramatic would prompt Jacob to leave Canaan again.

The threat of starvation should he remain in Canaan and revelation that Joseph lived and ruled Egypt was not enough. Yes, he would go to Egypt to see his son but relocating his family was a difficult decision after three generations of God telling them to stay in Canaan.

On his way to Egypt, he stopped in Beersheba to offer sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac. God told him, “Don’t be afraid to go down to Egypt…”[2] Then God repeated what he had been saying for three generations, “I will make you into a great nation…”[3] God also promised to go with them to Egypt and bring them back to Canaan again.

Jacob knew God could bring them home again. He had already experienced God’s protection and provision when he relocated to Haran and God brought him back to Canaan. This time Jacob would not come back. God told him he would die in Egypt and Joseph would close his eyes.

Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph never saw the fulfillment of God’s promises. Yet they lived and died believing God would keep his word. Before Joseph died he told his family to bring his bones with them when God brought them back to Canaan. Joseph’s faith that God would keep his word gave him a place in Hebrews Chapter 11 among the great men and women of faith.

[1] All scripture quotes are from the NIV Bible unless otherwise noted.

[2] Genesis 46:3

[3] Genesis 46:3

Follow Me: Dreamers

Susan_Govatos_Josephs_Dreams_smObservations as I follow God through the Chronological Bible.

Genesis 37

After Jacob kept his vow at Bethel, God stopped talking to Jacob and began talking to Joseph. Jacob knew God spoke through dreams. The first time God spoke to Jacob was through a dream. When Joseph dreamed of being exalted above his brothers the brothers hated him. His father remained silent.

Then Joseph dreamed of being exalted above his father, and Jacob rebuked him. A clear indication that Jacob did not understand the gospel Abraham taught him. To receive the things God promised, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob must bow to one of their son. We know that son is Jesus, but the patriarchs did not know which son they would inherit the promises from. Jacob did not know about Jesus, and he did not know when the son God made the promises to would be born. For all Jacob knew he was rebuking the Messiah. Joseph was not the Messiah, but God did use him to save the world from starvation.

God’s message and actions have remained consistent for three generations. He told Abraham his family would serve a nation that would afflict them, and God would judge that nation before he brought them out with great substance. That nation was Egypt, but the patriarchs did not know that. God gave Joseph dreams to prepare the way for their relocation to Egypt fulfilling the things he spoke and vowed he would do when Abraham believed him.

It may have appeared that Joseph’s dreams were vain imaginations to both Joseph and his family. His brothers sold him into slavery, and then lied to their father. Jacob lived many years believing Joseph was dead. I find it interesting that Jacob’s sons treated him the same way Jacob treated his father Isaac. And Jacob would lived with sorrow for many years before he learned God made his evil deeds work together for good.

Follow Me: The Sons Answered Deceitfully

HamorObservations as I follow God through the Chronological Bible

Genesis 35[1]

When Jacob fled from his brother Esau, God appeared to Jacob and he made a foolish vow.  Twenty-one years later, Jacob desired to start a business and provide for his family of eleven sons and four wives. But God cannot bless the works of Jacob’s hands until he keeps the foolish vow he made at Bethel. I call the vow foolish because God offered him grace that made no demands on Jacobs life. Jacob turned grace into law when he vowed to make God his God, tithe and build a church if God did everything Jacob requested.

God sent angels to help Jacob because he wanted to bless the works of his hands. In a dream an angel told Jacob it was time to return home and reminded him of the vow he made at Bethel. Jacob departed in the middle of the night. His uncle pursued him. God prevented him from harming Jacob.  Laban departed and the angels arrive. Jacob was conflicted. He knows he should keep his vow. When he made the vow he was a poor man. Now he is a rich man and a tithe of his wealth is a lot to sacrifice.  Jacob’s sin nature is rebelling and the angels know it.

Jacob spent the night wrestling with himself. The angel pointed to the problem when he touched Jacob’s thigh knocking it out of joint. Jacob’s thinking is out of joint with the covenant of grace God made with Abraham. Even though Jacob has a permanent physical reminder, he ignored the angels counsel. Bethel was a mere twenty miles south. Instead of returning to Bethel to keep his vow, he limped to Shechem, bought land and started his own business. He stopped following God twenty miles short of preventing a disaster.

“When you make a vow to God, do not be late in paying it; for he takes no delight in fools. Pay what you vow! It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay. Do not let your speech cause you to sin and do not say in the presence of the messenger of God that it was a mistake. Why should God be angry on account of your voice and destroy the work of your hands?”[2]

God is patient, but the consequences of Jacob’s actions will eventually catch up with him.

Fifteen years after Jacob set up permanent residence in Shechem, his seventeen year old only daughter decided to visit some girlfriends in town. She never returned. Hamor, a Hivite prince, seduced Diane, and then fell in love with her setting in motion a series of events that destroyed the work of Jacob’s hands.

Following the example of their deceitful, rebellious father, Jacob’s sons made a covenant with Hamor, an honorable man,[3] that they never intended to keep. Jacob’s sons slaughtered every male in the city and plundered their goods. In that one deceitful act Jacob’s name was ruined and everything he spent more than a decade building destroyed.

This time an angel bearing a message was not sufficient. God spoke to Jacob, “Go up to Bethel and settle there, and build an altar there to God, who appeared to you when you were fleeing from your brother Esau.”[4]

This time Jacob obeyed. He returned to Bethel with his family and kept his vow. Again God spoke to him, but the message has not changed for three generations. God will give Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and one seed/son descended from them the land they lived upon as foreigners. They will become a nation producing kings and more nations.

God never wavered from the promise he made to Abraham, but he did add to the promise. Jacob’s name, which means supplanter, will be changed to Israel, which means he will rule as God.

[1] All scripture quotes are from the NIV Bible unless otherwise noted.

[2] Ecclesiastes 5:4-6, NASB

[3] Genesis 34:19

[4] Genesis 35:1

Follow Me: Angelic Visitation

ShechemObservations as I follow God through the Chronological Bible

Genesis 32-33[1]

After Jacob and Uncle Laban concluded their meeting in an amicable way, Jacob’s journey is stopped by angels of God. Jacob desires to provide for his own family, and God wants to fulfill that desire, but there is sin in Jacob’s life that must be dealt with first.

“When you make a vow to God, do not be late in paying it; for he takes no delight in fools. Pay what you vow! It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay. Do not let your speech cause you to sin and do not say in the presence of the messenger of God that it was a mistake. Why should God be angry on account of your voice and destroy the work of your hands?”[2]

Jacob had a good desire, but the unpaid vow leaves God little choice but to “destroy the work” of Jacob’s hands. God sent the angels to minister to Jacob.[3] If Jacob will receive it, they have the answer to Jacob’s sin problem.

Jacob has good intentions, but the desire to do the right thing is not strong enough to conquer the evil that resides in all of us. The Apostle Paul described the battle in Romans Chapter 7.

“For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.”[4]

Jacob knew keeping his vow was the right thing to do, but could not find the strength to keep his end of the deal. While waiting Esau’s arrival to verify if he could return home without his brother killing him, he arose in the middle of the night and sent his family to a safe place.

Jacob is alone with his thoughts and the Bible says “a man wrestled with him till day break.” The heading of this passage in my NIV bible says he wrestled with God. The heading in my Chronological Bible says he wrestled with an Angel. These are generally accepted views in Christianity, but I don’t believe he wrestled with God or an Angel. The Hebrew word translated man in Genesis 32:24 means “a man”, not a divine being.[5]

Jacob wrestled with himself. The New Testament tells us to put off the “old man”.[6] He was up all night trying to put off the “old man”, which is corrupted by our deceitful lusts.[7] When the Angel saw that Jacob could not prevail against the old man, he point to the problem. The Angel touched the hollow of Jacob’s thigh knocking it out of joint.

Covenants are established by vows. Vows were made by placing a hand upon the thigh. Jacob cannot overcome the sinful old man because his thoughts are out of joint regarding the covenant God made with Jacob’s ancestors and the covenant Jacob made with God at Bethel. God knows Jacob is headed for disaster. The disaster could be avoided if Jacob renewed his mind regarding the covenant God made with Abraham and if he kept the unnecessary vow he made at Bethel.

Esau arrived overjoyed to see his brother again. Jacob could have returned to his father’s house as God commanded him. Instead he limped his way to Shechem and bought land.[8] He had no intention of returning home or keeping the vow he made at Bethel, but he built another altar and continued to offer insincere worship to God.

[1] All scripture quotes are from the NIV Bible unless otherwise noted.

[2] Ecclesiastes 5:4-6, NASB

[3] Hebrews 1:14

[4] Romans 7:15-17

[5] H376, אישׁ, ‘ı̂ysh, eesh, Contracted for H582 (or perhaps rather from an unused root meaning to be extant); a man as an individual or a male person; often used as an adjunct to a more definite term (and in such cases frequently not expressed in translation.) : – also, another, any (man), a certain, + champion, consent, each, every (one), fellow, [foot-, husband-] man, (good-, great, mighty) man, he, high (degree), him (that is), husband, man [-kind], + none, one, people, person, + steward, what (man) soever, whoso (-ever), worthy. Compare H802.

[6] Romans 6:6

[7] Ephesians 4:22

[8] Genesis 33:18-19