I still think starting Bible Survey was a great idea. I wish we were halfway through the New Testament right now instead of still in Genesis, but when were promised everything we want, right?
There is just so much to say about Abraham. His story runs from Genesis 12 to 25, and I’ve found it hard to summarize or skip anything. In Genesis 22, Abraham is willing to and almost does sacrifice Isaac. There are some good lessons in the story about God, and they are all about his love and mercy toward sinners, not about him being vicious, cruel or scary.
Here’s the deal: it’s been one year since I started Bible Survey, and I have now posted 10 times. I refuse to quit. Bible Survey is a project that I’m working on in addition to blogging theology, working full time in the ministry and being a husband/father in my family. The goal is to work systematically through the Bible not doing a verse by verse commentary but an overview of the major points. There’s a lot of important business in the Bible dealing with Abraham and his family (that’s right; I’m still in the first 25 chapters of Genesis) but afterwards I think the pace will really take off. I’m hanging in there; I have the rest of my natural life or until Christ comes back. Whichever.
In Genesis 17, God gives Abraham the covenant of circumcision. If you don’t know what circumcision is, I’m afraid this post doesn’t get that plain. If you’ve always wondered exactly what God is doing and what circumcision means, I think I can help with that. What’s the purpose for circumcision? Should Christians be circumcised? What’s the difference between Abram and Abraham? What does the name Clark mean? No, really. All of these answers and more when you follow this link to Bible Survey.
Remember that newspaper comic the born loser? The humor was that things never went his way. Abraham was wealthy by ancient and/or modern standards, and became the father of many nations. Sometimes though you just gotta’ feel sorry for the guy. For all the faith, for all the blessings, some days he just couldn’t win for losing. Could there be a moral to this story?
If you had your thinking cap on when you read the story of Cain and Abel, then you should have made certain observations. These guys are building alters and offering sacrifices, but at this point no Law has been given nor instructions for such things as alters and sacrifices. Had God told them personally to make such an offering? If you have such questions, then good for you. You’re paying attention. I can’t answer your questions, but it’s a good sign you have them.
If those guys making sacrifices bothers you, just wait till you hit Genesis 14. Abram is blessed by Melchizadek, priest of God Most High. Still no Law, no Moses nor Aaron, to temple or tabernacle, but here is a guy worshiping God Most High, blessing people, and apparently receiving tithes. If Cain and Abel gave you some questions, Melchizadek ought to give you an aneurysm.
The Bible Survey project took something of a hiatus when my daughter Johannah was born. The few posts that exist continue to attract page views, presumably through search engine results for the key words. Ridden with guilt about never getting past Gen 11, I am ready to pick up the torch.
Abraham is the first man of faith we encounter in the Bible. At Gen 15, a significant event takes place in the relationship between God and man. It is neither obedience nor sacrifice that makes Abraham right with God; it is what he believes about God that counts as righteousness. Join me at Bible Survey to continue the journey.
There’s a lot of negative things to say about topical preaching, but I know two things: 1) Father’s Day will be one of the most searched terms today on the Internet, and 2) No matter what “topic” I begin with, before the sermon is over I will preach the Gospel.
“Father Abraham had many sons, many sons had Father Abraham.” So goes the old children’s song. While we recognize Abraham as the primogenitor of the Jewish nation, like any member our fallen race he was far from perfect. One danger of celebrating historic lives is that we elevate a person too high by never mentioning certain shortcomings or character flaws. Historians have to be careful in their presentation of certain figures, particularly the ones they like. Continue reading →
As I began preparing to preach on Mother’s Day, I searched the internet just to see what other preachers would be doing that day. What I ended up reading instead was a blogpost and comment thread about how most woman are unhappy with the Mother’s Day sermons they’ve heard in the past. Some felt the day should not be celebrated in church at all, while others thought the church should recognize mothers in some way and then the pastor should preach his message. More than a couple of commenters said that whatever text he was using, what they wanted to hear preached was the gospel! Amen to that. The general consensus was that too often the Mother’s Day sermon comes off as “light” and that wasn’t what the church needed. Continue reading →
Moses tells the story of Abraham, Paul mentions Abraham several times, but did Jesus ever talk about Abraham? He does at length in John 8. Jesus is explaining that God the Father has sent him, yet the people do not listen to his words but instead do the will of their father, the devil. His Jewish audience insists their father is Abraham. Jesus says that if Abraham were their father they would do the things Abraham did, such as rejoice when he saw the Day of the Lord. Jesus contends they are not sons of Abraham. Continue reading →
Elijah is one of the better known prophets of the Old Testament. Just after defeating the prophets of Baal, however, Elijah does something very strange considering his victory. He hides out in a cave and simply asks God to kill him. 1 Kings chapter 19 is the very well known passage where there is a wind, but God was not in the wind; there was an earthquake, but God was not in the earthquake. Finally he hears the voice of God in a small still voice. I’m sure you’ve at least heard of this story. But twice in this passage Elijah expresses his concern that he is the only true believer left in the world. God basically tells him to get over his pity party, and informs him that there are 7,000 still in Israel that never bowed the knee to Baal. The lesson for us is that we are often not as alone as we think.
In Genesis chapter 14, Abram is the only man of faith we know about. After the flood, the population of the world grew, and very quickly forgot about God. As far as we know, Abram is the only person God is talking to period. Then he meets Melchizadek, king of Salem and priest of God Most High (El Elyon in Hebrew). Melchizadek blesses Abram, and Abram gives the priest a tenth of all he has. What’s weird about all this is the tribe of Levi, from which the Levitical priests are anointed, will not exist for hundreds of years yet. Levi was Abraham’s great-grandson, but not yet, not in Genesis 14. The New Testament book of Hebrews makes a big deal of this, and has a lot to say about the relationship between Abraham the patriarch and this priest not of the Levite order. Simply put, Abram was not alone in his belief of the True and the Living God.
At times, we are placed in tough places to grow. Remember the sunflower story? It can be discouraging, but recall the words of Jesus in Matthew 28: “I am with you always, even until the end of the age.” Just before that he said all authority was given to him in heaven and on earth. Not only are we not alone, who better could we ask be with us?