A former artillery soldier was worried about his wife’s hearing. So, during his annual physical exam he asked his doctor what to do. The doctor gave him some simple instructions. He said, “Talk to your wife in a normal voice, first at a distance and then closer. Pay special attention to when she responds to your voice.”
The man went home and tried it out. He knew she would be preparing supper; so first, he called to her at the front door, “Honey, what’s for supper?” Nothing. He walked a little closer and called again in the living room. Again, nothing. He was worried and thought to himself, “Poor thing, she’s getting to be deaf as a post.” Finally, he stood right behind her in the kitchen and asked, “Honey, what’s for supper?”
The wife turned around and said, “Spaghetti, for the THIRD TIME!”
1. What do you think of when you hear the word, “Judge”?
- Laugh-In – “Here Comes the Judge”
- Judge Judy
- A person passing judgment – critical spirit (remember we are told not to judge/condemn – not our job)
2. Time Line
3. Judges in bible times were warrior leaders among the tribes/nation – Hebrew name means “Leaders” or “Judges”
4. During the 330 year period of Judges there is approximately 111 years of oppression to the Israelites in which a Judge was needed to deliver the people
I. The Recurring Cycle – Judges 2.11-19
[Evaporation Cycle; Circle of Life; etc. – some are unavoidable; some are not
A. The Four Staged Repetition:
- Rebellion – rejecting God and his ways (did not remove all of the Canaanites – influence remained – Judges 2.20-23
- Repression – Various nations arose to oppress the Hebrews
- Repentance – Crying out to God for Deliverance
- Rescue and Restoration
B. The Prevention — Faithfulness
- Certain Cycles need to be stopped – Abuses within families
- God’s love breaks cycles
- Our faithfulness as a response breaks cycles
II. The Failure of Family – Judges 2.7, 10-11
The May 1984 National Geographic showed, through color photos and drawings, the swift and terrible destruction that wiped out the Roman Cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum in 79 A.D. The explosion of Mount Vesuvius was so sudden that the residents were killed while in their routine: men and women were at the market, the rich in their luxurious baths, and slaves at toil. They died amid volcanic ash and superheated gasses. The saddest part is that these people did not have to die. Scientists confirm what ancient Roman writers record—weeks of rumblings and shakings preceded the actual explosion. Even an ominous plume of smoke was clearly visible from the mountain days before the eruption. If only they had been able to read and respond to Vesuvius’ warning There are similar “rumblings” spiritually today: murder, hatred, sexual immorality, divorce, greed, bitterness, envy, jealousy, etc.
A. Parents Failed to Teach Their Children
1. They knew their responsibility — Deuteronomy 6.4-9
- To themselves and To their children
- Jewish Tradition – House is the small temple – if the temple and synagogues are destroyed Judaism will live on because of the teaching of parents to their children
- Question: Why should we do anything less? We should be making Jewish people jealous – Romans 11.11b: But through their trespass salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel
- *It isn’t fun (for the kids or me)
- *Busy with other things
- * We have circumcised – it’s enough
- *Don’t want to push them – might drive away
B. The Result was Ignorance Toward God and His Instructions
- *Failure to Follow God
- *Failure Toward Others
- *We are always one generation away from extinction
III. The Substandard Standards – Judges 17.6; 21.25
A woman from Wichita wrote in to “Playboy” to get the opinion of its readers on mate swapping. So, “Playboy” published her question as a poll. She asked, “When both partners consent, is adultery immoral?” One Dion O’Glass of New York responded with an editorial. Dion concluded that the first mistake is asking if something is moral at all. He wrote, “individual feelings are the most important thing there is…To realize that each man is a law unto himself is to arrive at an irreducible basis for libertarian thought – the most valuable and needed viewpoint in avoiding the pitfalls of right- or left-wing totalitarianism. Therefore I suggest to the lady from Wichita one rule that eliminates the need for all others: think for yourself.” In other words, there is no wrong decision. You don’t ask if something is “right” or “wrong.” The important thing is that you make a decision.”
A. God Sets the Standards – 2 Timothy 3.16-17; John 17.17; Psalms 119.9; 111.7-8
- To deny standards of truth is to deny God’s existence
- To deny standards is to deny God’s integrity (i.e., he gave us standards but does not care if we live by them)
B. Yeshua (Jesus) Shows the Standards (John 14.6)
1. There is a failure to see
2. There is a failure to grasp
C. We Support the Standards by Our Lives
- National Institutes of Standards and Technology
In Washington D.C. there is a building called the “National Institute of Standards & Technology.” This facility is responsible for storing perfect samples of weights and measurements. They have what are called “prototypes” of pound weights and kilograms as well as measuring rods for feet, yards & metric measurements like meters. For example, they have a “Meter Standard” a reinforced bar of platinum alloyed with exactly 10% iridium. When they want to know the exact measurement of a “meter” they cool this bar down to 0 degrees Celsius at a sea level of 45 degrees latitude then they know they will have the exact tip to tip measurement of a meter. That bar is known as “prototype #27, because the original is kept in a suburb of Paris at the International Bureau of Weights & Measures.
A meter is a meter; Tablespoon is a tablespoon – standards
Applied to right and wrong
2. The book of Judges has a pattern that also repeats and for which there is a remedy
a. Rebellion – rejecting God and his ways
1) Sin; self in control, not God
2) Wrong priorities and actions – If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 1 John 1.8
b. Repression – Various nations arose to oppress the Hebrews
1) Broken relationship with God
2) Broken relationship with people – 1 John 1.6
c. Repentance – Crying out to God for Deliverance
1) Change of direction
2) Demands a response – either we will come clean with God or we won’t 1 John 1.9
d. Rescue and Restoration
1) God’s deliverance results in joy and fruitfulness
2) Experience God’s deliverance for the first time or repeated times – 1 John 1.7
1. Feeling Overwhelmed – Abraham Lincoln: “I have been driven many times to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go. My own wisdom and that of those about me seemed insufficient for the day.”
2. Creation – Noah – Abraham – Moses – Wilderness – Joshua and Conquest [Picture: Map of Canaan
3. Problem – Giants in the Land — [Picture: Sumo Wrestler vs. Average Man/David Robinson and Danny DeVito
4. Joshua 1.1-9
5. Success Secrets:
I. Remember to Be Strong and Courageous
Joshua is repeatedly told, “Be strong and courageous.” To do that he (we) had to:
A. Lead God’s People – 1.6
1. Explanation of Leadership – Influence
2. Importance of Leadership – Proverbs 29.2
3. Result of Joshua’s Leadership – cause to inherit the land
4. Application for Leadership
a. ALL of us have influence/leadership – 2 Timothy 2.1-2
b. We need leaders and need to be led – Mentor/Teacher/Rabbi and Disciple
B. Follow God’s Person – 1.7
1. His Torah in Order to DO
2. Prosperity comes by God’s Direction
Erik Weihenmayer is blind, yet on May 25, 2001, he reached the peak of Mt. Everest. He lost his sight when he was 13, but that didn’t stop him. 90 percent of climbers never make it to the top of Everest—and 165 have died trying since 1953—Erik succeeded, in large measure because he listened well. He listened to the little bell tied to the back of the climber in front of him, so he would know what direction to go. He listened to the voice of teammates who would shout warnings to him, so he would know what direction not to go. He listened to the sound of his pick jabbing the ice, so he would know whether the ice was safe to cross. When we take a perilous journey, listening well can make all the difference. Application to our journey with God – we must listen well. (Shema Israel)
3. Danger of an “above the law” mentality
C. Know God’s Presence – 1.7
1. God’s desire – to be in our midst
a. Tabernacle – Temple
b. Yeshua (Jesus)
c. Holy Spirit
2. His presence is powerful – Jericho – Joshua 6
II. Remember to Fail Forward
Someone once asked Paul Harvey, the journalist and radio commentator, to reveal the secret of his success. “I get up when I fall down,” said Harvey.
A. Routed by Sin – Joshua 7; Ai and Achan
1. Achan’s Sin Impacted the Whole Nation
2. We are Interconnected as a Community, not merely an Assembly
a. Edah – Torah Witnessing Community of Israel
b. We are a community of witnesses for Yeshua (Jesus) – Matthew 16.18
B. Returned to God – Joshua – Joshua 7.9
1. No consulting of God between Jericho and AI – Own plans
2. Returned to God (change of direction) with a prayer for his direction
3. Need for reminders of God’s direction – daily blessings and prayers – or we think we are doing it on our own
C. Renewed their Covenant – Joshua 8.30-35 (circumcision at Gilgal)
1. We have a constant need for the word of God
2. We have a constant addiction for entertainment – even in our faith circles
3. Constant reminders of the Supremacy of God – Sunrise; Births; LS; etc.
4. Need to be faithful to the covenant
When Pompeii was destroyed by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius there were many persons buried in the ruins who were afterwards found in very different positions. There were some found in deep vaults, as if they had gone there for security. There were some found in lofty chambers. But where did they find the Roman sentinel? They found him standing at the city gate where he had been placed by the captain, with his hands still grasping the weapon. Let us stand ready in the hope of our Lord Jesus Christ, walking in holiness and standing eternally in Honor, that when He comes for us, we may be at our posts, dutiful, with a legacy that may grow a thousand years.
1. Joshua Leads Israel to great victories in the Land promised to Abraham and the descendants of Isaac
a. Defeat of 5 kings and cities in the South
b. Defeat of 14 kings and cities in the North
2. Reminders of the source of Israel’s victories
a. Not the greatness of Israel – least of nations
b. Covenant with Abraham
Wickedness of the Canaanites (Genesis 15.16; Deuteronomy 20.18; Exodus 34.15-16) * Deuteronomy 12.31
c. So God Could be known among the nations
a. Are we (as a church and individuals) a people who are making God known in our world?
b. Are we (as a church and individuals) a people who are renewing our commitment and covenant with God?
c. Are we (as a church and individuals) a people who are led by God? (Word, etc.)
d. Are we (as a church and individuals) a people who are leading others to know God?
e. Are we (as a church and individuals) a people who are practicing the presence of God?
4. Real Success
The very first person to reach the status of billionaire was a man who knew how to set goals and follow through. At the age of 23, he had become a millionaire, by the age of 50 a billionaire. But three years later at the age of 53 he became ill.
His entire body became racked with pain and he lost all the hair on his head. In complete agony, the world’s only billionaire could buy anything he wanted, but he could only digest milk and crackers. An associate wrote, “He could not sleep, would not smile and nothing in life meant anything to him.” His personal, highly skilled physicians predicted he would die within a year.
That year passed agonizingly slowly. As he approached death he awoke one morning with the vague remembrances of a dream. He could barely recall the dream but knew it had something to do with not being able to take any of his successes with him into the next world. The man who could control the business world suddenly realized he was not in in control of his own life. He was left with a choice.
He called his attorneys, accountants, and managers and announced that he wanted to channel his assets to hospitals, research, and mission work. On that day John D. Rockefeller established his foundation. This new direction eventually led to the discovery of penicillin, cures for current strains of malaria, tuberculosis and diphtheria. The list of discoveries resulting from his choice is enormous.
But perhaps the most amazing part of Rockefeller’s story is that the moment he began to give back a portion of all that he had earned, his body’s chemistry was altered so significantly that he got better. It looked as if he would die at 53 but he lived to be 98.
Rockefeller learned gratitude and gave back from his wealth. Doing so made him whole. It is one thing to be healed it is another to be made whole.
Recently Lloyd Stephens and I went on a fact-finding trip to Blantyre, Malawi. We are supporting some preachers locally there and wanted to see how the work is going. This was my first trip to Malawi and, it was an eye-opening experience for me.
We have converted literally hundreds, no, thousands of people through the use of World Bible School in Malawi. As a result we have established many congregations. Austin, Gabriel, and Martin have been working tirelessly in the country following up on the WBS studentss in order to baptize those who commit to following Jesus.
Some of the things that stood out to me included the following. First, there is a great poverty in Malawi. People struggle from day to day for survival. It is very unlike the USA and our abundance.
Second, we found that people are people. They combat many of the same church issues that we do in the USA. If we remove the issues related to the lack of funds, we see people behaving similarly. Immature Christians are vying for power — it is the same everywhere. People are seeking to be entertained — often when the disciples in Malawi feel the need for a different worship experience, they will change Fellowships. This happens all over the USA as well. In America, people have developed a consumer mentality towards religion. There is often a lack of commitment to Jesus and an overemphasis on self.
Third, there is a great need to help new converts develop maturity in Jesus. While the Malawians are baptizing many more than we do in America, the same issue is involved. We tend to baptize someone and then let them “sink or swim” all on their own. In Malawi, there is a great need to follow up on new converts. I could not help but wonder about the eighteen new souls we watch be baptized into Christ. Will they stay the course or will they be distracted away?
It was an interesting trip on many levels. I asked God to show me what I needed to see on that trip and I believe he gave me insight into the work there. My hope is that we will support the work there as it needs to be supported.
a. I wonder if Moses felt like he was “herding cats”
b. Or, maybe he felt like a parent on a cross country road trip with the kids saying:
1) Are we there yet?
2) Mom, he’s looking at/touching me.
3) Bologna sandwiches? Why can’t we stop?
2. A serious issue on any road trip is a wrong turn. The GPS (Global Positioning Satellite) has eliminated many stops in order to ask for directions – the “recalculating” does get annoying, however.
3. We have moved from Sinai to Kadesh Barnea [MAP]
a. Here God intended to encourage the conquest of Canaan
b. However, there was a wrong turn that resulted in a 40 year detour.
4. Notice a significant difference:5. Attitude plays a key role:
a. We speak of this time as the “Wilderness wanderings”
b. God spoke of it as the time he led them in the desert/wilderness
I. The Complaint Department
I read an article once that stated that waitresses and waiters complained that Sunday was the worst day of the week to work. The servers complaint was, on Sunday’s the restaurants are filled with impatient, rude and sometimes obnoxious people dressed in their Sunday best, who rarely if at all ever gave a tip. Now apparently these Christians had forgotten what they had just heard at Worship or in Bible class.
A. 3 Key Complaints
1. Their difficulties – Numbers 11.1
2. Their Diet – Numbers 11.4-6
a. Manna Vs. Meat
b. God’s Solution – 11.18-20
c. The problem was that Egypt was still in them
3. Their Deliverer
B. Complications of Complaint
1. A Major Concern – 11.1-2
2. A Mighty Contagion – 11.4
b. Spread through the camp (leprosy and gossip)
3. A Misleading Crime (Sin)
a. Hidden agenda – Miriam and Aaron – jealousy and secret ambition (12.2)
b. A Desire for control – even with God (Satan and temptation in Gan Eden)
c. Lack of Contentment
II. The Corporate Decision (Numbers 13-14)
A woman went to her doctor with a whole catalog of complaints about her health. He examined her thoroughly and came to the conclusion that there was absolutely nothing wrong with her physically. He was convinced that her problem was due to her negative attitude toward life. He took her into a back room where he kept most of his medicine. He showed her a shelf filled with empty bottles. He said to her, “See those bottles. Notice that they are all empty. They are shaped differently from one another, but basically they are all the same. But the most important thing I want you to notice is that they have nothing in them. Now I can take one of these bottles and fill it with enough poison to kill or I can fill one with medicine to heal. I am the one who makes that choice. I can fill it with whatever I want. Each day that God gives us is like one of those empty bottles. We can choose to fill it with love and life-affirming thoughts or we can fill it with destructive thoughts. The choice is ours.”
A. The Covert Mission
1. Spying out the land – 40 fear-filled days
2. Qualified Men – 13.1
B. The Coarse Message
1. 10 Spies – “We’ve got good news and bad news.”
a. Good food – Milk and honey, etc. – 13.26-27
b. Giant People – 13.30.33
2. National Revolt – 14.1-3
3. Problem – they thought like spies and not like conquerors
C. The Capable Men – Joshua and Caleb – 14.6-10
1. People ignored their message
2. The result was the wilderness – 14.26-35
III. The Clear Declaration (Deuteronomy 30-32)
A. A Choice – Deuteronomy 30.19-20
1. Moses’ bad choice – Numbers 20
There is a report that a major retail corporation put mirrors behind their customer service representatives so irate customers could see their own behavior. Their anger levels subsided and they negotiated their complaints more graciously when they could see what they looked like in the mirror. Too bad Moses did not have that mirror. We have a mirror – the Word of God (James 1.22-24)
2. No entrance into Canaan (To whom much is given, much is required – Luke 12.48)
An umpire named Babe Pinelli once called Babe Ruth out on strikes. When the crowd booed with sharp disapproval at the call, the legendary Ruth turned to the umpire with disdain and said, “There’s 40,000 people here who know that the last pitch was ball, tomato head.” Suspecting that the umpire would erupt with anger, the coaches and players braced themselves for Ruth’s ejection. However, the cool headed Pinelli replied, “Maybe so, Babe, but mine is the only opinion that counts.”
B. A Call – Deuteronomy 32.1-3
1. Two witnesses – Heaven and Earth
2. Requirements of Torah
3. Response to rebellions – drought; famine; expulsion from the land
1. Bobby Jones
John Maxwell relates the story of Bobby Jones, a legendary golfer who won a major tournament at 21. By age 28, he had already won the grand slam and retired.
Jones had an uncle who said that by the time he was fourteen, Bobby was probably already the best golfer in the world. He certainly was popular. However, Jones was also known for his temper because he would throw his clubs when he got irritated. Jones’s uncle sat down with him and said, “Bobby, your problem is you’ve mastered the game of golf, but you haven’t mastered your emotions; and until you master your emotions, you’ll never be a champion in golf.”
Maxwell observes: “We have choices when it comes to our emotions: we can master them, or they can master us.”
2. What do we choose?
a. Complaint? (Some people act as if complaining is a spiritual gift.
b. Corruption (Rebellion)?
3. We are on the Road Trip of our lifetimes – John 14.6
4. Choose life and live – now and forever!
1. Working out for the good
Back in 1921, a missionary couple named David & Svea Flood went with their 2-year-old son from Sweden to the heart of Africa – to what was then called the Belgian Congo. They met up with another Scandinavian couple, the Ericksons, & soon the 4 of them felt led by the Lord to move out of the central mission station & take the gospel to one of the more remote areas of the Congo.
At the village of N’dolera they were rebuffed by the chief, who would not let them enter his town for fear of alienating the local gods. So the two couples decided to go half a mile away & build their own huts.
They prayed for a spiritual breakthrough, but there was none. Their only contact with the villagers was a young boy, who was allowed to sell them chickens & eggs twice a week.
Svea Flood – a tiny woman only 4 feet, 8 inches tall – decided that if this boy was the only African she could talk to, she would try to lead him to Jesus. And in fact, over a period of time she succeeded.
But there were no other encouragements. Meanwhile, malaria struck one member of their little group after another. In time the Ericksons decided they had had enough suffering & left for the relative security of the central mission station.
Then, in the middle of this primitive wilderness, Svea found herself pregnant. When the time came for her to give birth, the village chief softened enough to allow a midwife to help her. A little girl was born, whom they named Aina.
The delivery, however, was difficult, & Svea was already weak from malaria. The birth process was a heavy blow to her stamina. She lasted only another 17 days.
Inside David Flood, something snapped. He dug a crude grave, buried his 27-year-old wife, & then took his children back to the central mission station.
Giving his newborn daughter to the Ericksons, he snarled, “I’m going back to Sweden. I’ve lost my wife, & I obviously can’t take care of this baby. God has ruined my life.” With that, he left, rejecting not only his calling, but God Himself.
It’s true. Sometimes tragic things happen, even in the lives of those who seek to walk closest to Him. Bad things do happen to good people.
2. We have looked at creation – Abraham – Isaac – Jacob – the 12 Sons of Jacob
3. Today we look at the life of Joseph and how God used some unfortunate circumstances to preserve his people
I. Joseph Was Foolish (Genesis 37)
A. Arrogance in His Actions
1. Tattle Tale
2. Condescension of his dreams (37.5-11)
3. Youngest son of the favorite wife – coat of many colors
[Our Guide in Israel told us of the main problem with Muslim polygamy – jealousy of the siblings
B. Stirred with His Abilities
1. Gifted with insights of dreams and interpretations
2. One of many ways God has spoken – Hebrews 1.1-2
C. Enslaved to Aliens
1. Sold to Ishmaelite Traders then into slavery in Egypt
2. Deception of Jacob
II. Joseph Was Faithful (Genesis 38-41)
A. To God’s Instructions
1. Taking the Easy Way Out is not always the right thing to do
2. “You can justify anything”
3. Benjamin Franklin said: “He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else”
4. Refused adultery with Potiphar’s wife – would expect commendation – wound up in prison
5. A Higher calling than saving your own skin – “You have heard, but I say “ – more than external truth – underlying motives
B. To God’s Gifting
1. Prominence in Prison – favor with the jailer
2. Dreams of Butler (good) and Baker (bad)
3. “Lord was with Joseph” – recurring theme of the story. (Romans 8.31)
III. Joseph Was Formidable (Genesis 41-50)
A. An Aid to Pharaoh (Genesis 41)
1. Some troubling dreams with no interpretations
2. Baker’s assistance brought Joseph into the spotlight
a. 7 years of plenty
b. 7 years of famine
c. Rewarded as #2 in Egypt only Pharaoh was higher (41.37-46)
B. An Aid to Family (Genesis 42-50)
1. Brothers sent to Egypt because of the famine
2. Bow to him as in his dreams
3. Reveals himself and God’s purpose to preserve the whole family in Egypt – 45.3-11
C. An Aid to the Future (Romans 8.28)
1. Saves the new nation that God would build
2. Would become a nation of possibly 3 million in 430 years
3. Would bring the Messiah
Eight months later both of the Ericksons were stricken with an illness & died within days of each other. The baby was turned over to some American missionaries, who adjusted her Swedish name to “Aggie” & eventually took her with them back to America.
As a young woman, she attended a Christian College. There she met & married a young man named Dewey Hurst. Years passed. The Hursts enjoyed a fruitful ministry. In time her husband became president of a Christian college.
One day a Swedish religious magazine appeared in her mailbox. She had no idea who had sent it, & she couldn’t read the words. But as she turned the pages, all of a sudden a photo stopped her cold. There, in a primitive setting was a grave with a white cross – & on the cross were the words “Svea Flood.”
Aggie jumped in her car & went straight to a college faculty member who, she knew, could translate the article. “What does this say?” she asked.
The instructor summarized the story: It was about missionaries who had come to N’dolera long ago … the birth of a white baby … the death of the young mother … the one little African boy who had been led to Christ … & how, after the whites had all left, the boy had grown up & finally persuaded the chief to let him build a school in the village.
The article said that gradually he won all his students to Christ … & the children led their parents to Christ … even the chief had become a Christian. Today there were 600 believers in that one village alone …
All because of the sacrifice of David & Svea Flood. Wow!
But that is not the end of the story.
For the Hurst’s 25th wedding anniversary, the college presented them with the gift of a vacation to Sweden. There Aggie sought to find her real father. An old man now, David Flood had remarried, fathered 4 more children, & generally dissipated his life with alcohol. He had recently suffered a stroke. Still bitter, he had one rule in his family: “Never mention the name of God because God took everything from me.”
After an emotional reunion with her half-brothers & half-sister, Aggie brought up the subject of seeing her father. The others hesitated. “You can talk to him,” they replied, “even though he’s very ill now. But you need to know that whenever he hears the name of God, he flies into a rage.”
Aggie was not to be deterred. She walked into the squalid apartment, with liquor bottles everywhere, & approached the 73-year-old man lying in a rumpled bed.
“Papa?” she said tentatively. He turned toward her & began to cry. “Aina,” he said. “I never meant to give you away.” “It’s all right, Papa,” she replied, taking him gently in her arms. “God took care of me.”
The man instantly stiffened. The tears stopped. “God forgot all of us. Our lives have been like this because of Him.” He turned his face back to the wall.
Aggie stoked his face & then continued, undaunted. “Papa, I have a story to tell you, & it’s a true one. You didn’t go to Africa in vain. Mama didn’t die in vain. The little boy you won to the Lord grew up to win that whole village to Jesus. The one seed you planted just kept growing & growing. Today there are 600 African people serving the Lord because you were faithful to the call of God in your life ….”
“Papa, Jesus loves you. He has never hated you.” The old man turned back to look into his daughter’s eyes. His body relaxed. He began to talk. And by the end of the afternoon, he had come back to the God he had resented for so many decades.
A few years later, the Hursts were attending an evangelism conference in London, England, when a report was given from the nation of Zaire (the former Belgian Congo).
The leader of the national church, representing over 110,000 baptized believers, spoke eloquently of the gospel’s spread in his nation. Aggie could not help going to ask him afterward if he had ever heard of David & Svea Flood.
“Yes, madam,” the man replied in French, his words then being translated into English. “It was Svea Flood who led me to Jesus. I was the boy who brought food to your parents before you were born. In fact, to this day your mother’s grave & her memory are honored by all of us.”
He embraced her in a long, sobbing hug. Then he continued, “You must come to Africa to see, because your mother is the most famous person in our history.”
In time that is exactly what Aggie Hurst & her husband did. They were welcomed by cheering throngs of villagers. The most dramatic moment, of course, was when the minister escorted Aggie to see her mother’s white cross for herself. She knelt in the soil to pray & give thanks.
Later that day, in the church, the preacher read from John 12:24, “I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground & dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” He then followed with Psalm 126:5, “Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy.”
(The story of Svea Flood was adapted from the book, “Fresh Power” by Jim Cymbala of the Brooklyn Tabernacle. Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI)
1. The Story – an overview of God’s story – last week in the “Book of Beginnings” we looked at Creation to Noah2. This Week – Abraham – Isaac — Jacob
2. This Week — Abraham — Isaac — Jacob
a. God Creates
b. God Re-Creates
3. A Nailed Down Faith
An 84 year old grandmother fiercely maintained her independence and lived alone in the old family home. Her 4 children lived in the same town, but she rarely called them except in emergencies. It was with some apprehension, therefore, that her grandson drove to her house one morning in answer to her phone call. When he arrived, she said she suspected that there was a burglar in her bedroom closet, since she had heard noises in there the night before.
“Why didn’t you call me last night?” the man exclaimed.
“Well,” she replied, “it was late and I hated to bother you, so I just nailed the closet shut and went to bed.”
That’s an example of the type of faith that we can see in Abraham. A faith, that nails the doors of doubt shut and then calmly leaves the rest to God. His faith so impressed God that Abraham earned the title: “The father of all who believe” (Romans 4:11)
4. Focus will be on Abraham but all he was charged to do was forwarded to his descendants
5. In fact, through Abraham we have the beginning of the great nation of God, Israel and origin of Messiah
I. The Call to Commence (Genesis 12:1-3)
[Map of Abraham’s Journeys]
A. Abram was Called:
1. FROM – his environment of idolatry
[Jewish tradition about Abram – as a child he saw the folly of idolatry; he lived in a land of idolatry and Terah was an idol maker; one day as a youth, Terah needed to go away on business and left Abram in charge of the idol shop; Abram took a stick and broke all of the idols but one, then laid the stick in the hand of the idol; when Terah returned, he asked Abram who had broken the idols – Abram pointed to the idol with the stick and accused it.
2. TO – New Land; New beginnings; New orientation to GOD; A New Mission
a. Land shown to him by God – necessity of faith and openness to God
b. Alternate translation possibility:
“by you all the families of the earth shall bless themselves”; could be
“All families in the earth will be grafted into you.”
Puts us in Memory of:
- Galatians 3:8
- Romans 11:17-18
3. Mission of Abram was to GO and share the good news of the ONE God among the idolatrous nations
B. Abram Became – Abraham – Name Change
1. Abram = Exalted Father; Abraham – Father of Many
2. Physical nations – Isaac and Ishmael
3. Converts are also “children” (3 John 4)
Case for Abram’s Converts – Genesis 12.5
Normal reading – 5 And Abram took Sar′ai his wife, and Lot his brother’s son, and all their possessions which they had gathered, and the persons that they had gotten in Haran; and they set forth to go to the land of Canaan.
An alternative translation – all the SOULS they had MADE in Haran, i.e., Converts
II. The Call to Covenant – Genesis 15
A. Formalized Agreement
1. Land promise – descendants, et al (15:7-16)
2. Blood Path and implications (15:17-21)
B. A Fouled Partner (Imperfect)
1. Message of hope for us – Abram was not perfect, but was faithful
2. Examples of his imperfections:
a. Two Calls – Acts 7:2-4 vs. Genesis 12:4
b. Lies about Sarah (influences Isaac and Jacob) – 12.13ff
c. Hagar and Ishmael – consequences
[A dad was talking to his daughter. He told her to pick a flower from the garden. She did and presented it to her dad; he then said to put it back – impossible!
C. Application – God has made covenant with us through Yeshua (Jesus) and what he says WILL happen; but he has worked with and through imperfect people to establish his covenant and rule in the world
III. The Call to Concede
A. Abram and Sarai had been promised a son Hebrews 11:11
B. Abraham was Called to Sacrifice that Son – Hebrews 11:17-18
1. Absence of bargaining as with Lot and Sodom – “Here I am” (Genesis 22:1)
2. The Change in Abraham – GREAT MAN OF FAITH – Romans 4:16b-17a; Hebrews 11:19
3. This was only a test but look what it proved! – we test everything – test drive cars; tested in basic training
4. WE are also tested – James 1:2-4
1. We are called to live by faith. That implies that not just any old faith is going to do. God wants a faith that changes how we live. But that doesn’t always happen. According to a poll taken by George Barna back in 2002: 44% of adults make their moral choices based on “the desire to do whatever will bring them the most pleasing or satisfying results.” But only 24% made their choices based upon “religious teaching or Bible content.”
2. Faith in God is the answer to the dilemma of our culture
3. God’s Pattern is to choose and use imperfect people – willing to say – “Here I am” and to be tested in order to grow up before God
4. WE have a call to Commence; Covenant; and Concede (surrender to God)
5. Abraham answered the call and sent it forward to Isaac; Jacob; 12 sons; all the way down to us – How will we respond?
1. Creation and Science
An astronomer named Allan Sandage was an atheist until he was 50. He said he was nagged by mysteries whose answers were not to be found in the stars. One of those mysteries:
Why is there something rather than nothing? Sandage began to despair of answering that question through reason alone, and so at age 50, he willed himself to accept God. “It was my science that drove me to the conclusion that the world is much more complicated than can be explained by science. It is only through the supernatural that I can understand the mystery of existence.” (an article by Sharon Begley in “The Saturday Evening Post” Jan/Feb 1999)
Allan Sandage (and others like him) have had questions that science can’t answer. But the Bible can: In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
2. The Bible is the story of God for man
- It explains some things about God and creation; as well as the God of creation
- God chose to include man in his story and we have the revelation of some of his activities in the lives of people
- God declared the origins of temptation; sin; death; and Satan as well as the coming of the savior – the coming of God as a man
- The bible is a book of books – 66 in total; divided in the English Bible into two testaments of one story (OT/NT);
3. The bible begins with the basics – God creating all things
4. The Bible Answers how we got here
5. Consider some Beginnings from Genesis 1-6
I. The Beginning of the Heavens and Earth
A. The Creator –
1. God – Genesis 1.1
2. The Spirit – Genesis 1.2
3. The Son – Genesis 1.3; John 1.1-3
B. The Created – Order from Chaos
1. The Days:
Places of Creation: 1 – Light and Dark; 2 – Sky and Water; 3 – Land
2. Purposes of Creation: 4 – Sun, Moon, Stars; 5 – Birds and Sea Creatures; 6 – Animals and Mankind
3. The Sabbath – Created or Designated in the beginning – for rest --Genesis 2.2-3
II. The Beginnings of Man and Woman
Maybe you’ve heard about the gorilla in a zoo holding a Bible in one hand and Darwin’s Origin of Species in the other. He looked confused, so someone asked, “What are you doing?” The gorilla answered, “Well, I’m trying to decide if I’m my brother’s keeper or my keeper’s brother.”
A. Both in the Image of God with Differences in Temperament (Ish and Ishah; YHWH)
1. Adam – Formed outside of Eden; Eve Formed inside of Eden
2. Essentiality of Male and Female
ABORTION OR ENDANGERED SPECIES – which is a crime?
III. The Beginnings of Temptation and Death
Why is NYC called the “Big Apple”? – So much Temptation
- A. An Adversary to Test Us
A woman bought a extravagant dress, and the husband asked why did it have to be so extravagant, She said the devil made me buy it, The husband asked, why didn’t you say get behind me Satan?, The woman said, I did and he said it looked as good in the front as it did in the back, so I bought it
B. An Appeal to the Basics of Our Being 1 John 2.15-17
1. Eve and Adam
2. Yeshua (Jesus) in the wilderness – Matthew 4; Luke 4
3. Us on a daily basis
C. Punishment – Death – The day you eat, you shall die
1. Adam did not die immediately – lived hundreds of years; was separated from God by sin
2. Reminder of Grace
IV. The Beginnings of Salvation
A. A Sacrificial System – a Response to God
In his book, Celebration of Discipline, Richard Foster writes: “Worship is the human response to the divine initiative. …Worship is our response to the overtures of love from the heart of the Father.” (pp.158 and 159)
1. Adam and Eve – skins to wear – God showed them how to sacrifice
2. Cain and Abel – proper/improper sacrifices – necessity of blood (a place for plant offerings – not here)
3. Noah offered sacrifice to God after the flood – God saved mankind by his grace and with a flood 1 Peter 3.18-21
B. The Sacrifice of the Son – (start ANYWHERE in the Bible and come to Yeshua (Jesus))
1. First reference – I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” Genesis 3.15
2. God’s Plan Embedded in the Names of Genesis 5
- Adam – Man
- Seth – Appointed
- Enosh – Mortal
- Kenan – Sorrow
- Mahalalel – Blessed God
- Jared – Shall Come Down
- Enoch – Teaching
- Methusaleh – His Death Shall Bring
- Lamech – The Despairing
- Noah – Rest (Or Comfort)
Put together as a sentence:
“Man has Appointed Mortal Sorrow, (but) the Blessed God Shall Come Down Teaching; His Death Shall Bring The Despairing Comfort.
1. God is the Great Initiator – we respond to him
2. Some years back as you traveled along I-10 in Louisiana there was a large billboard which would catch your eye. It stood high above the city just as you started up the Mississippi River Bridge. On it was a picture of Jesus Christ hanging on the cross of Calvary, head bowed. The caption underneath said in bold letters, “IT’S YOUR MOVE!” What a powerful thought. God has already taken the initiative in salvation. Christ died for you. Now–it’s your move! –