Notes on Genesis.
Notes on Genesis.
NUMBERS. God’s grace despite man’s sin.
The book takes its name from the counting of the people with a view to moving off from Mount Sinai. Many have sought over the years to talk down the facts of the Exodus. God clearly wanted an accurate record of the events for the future. The numbers were male censuses used for military purposes. The total numbers of people was probably about two to three million. The number would be small in comparison to the Canaanites. The initial number who settled in Egypt was 70. If each family had four offspring – low for these days – the figure of two and a half million would be the result after 400 years. If the people, walked 5 abreast the column would be 110 miles long. The book includes the opposition and hostility towards the former Hebrew slaves on the part of peoples who had been blessed by God during the time of the enslavement. The mercy of God is shown in sharp contrast to the lack of mercy on the part of the neighbouring peoples. It is a selective account of what happened on the way to the Promised Land over a period of forty years. It is a vivid physical picture of the spiritual pilgrimage of the believer on his way through life to Heaven, facing warfare, service, and at times failure – all the usual learning experiences of life, which God uses to forge the character of His people. Then they will be useful in the service of His Kingdom. It is the classic wilderness experience of most believers from time to time. The people were stuck in an aimless existence – killing time – until God’s judgement was complete. It is an account of people who were often discouraged and afraid in the face of hardship. Rebellions appear from time to time as a recurring theme, usually directed against the leader Moses. A spirit of rebellion leads the people into conflict with the purposes of God and Moses had on a number of occasions to stand fast against this spirit. It is also a story of God’s faithful, persistent care for His people in spite of their weakness and disobedience. There are eight separate occasions when the people complained to Moses. The second generation was no better than the first one – like father, like son. The pattern was in the family. It also recounts Moses steadfast, if sometimes impatient, devotion to the task God had called him to carry out. Other characters appear from time to time caught up in the ongoing purposes of God and their response is recorded. The book is full of bad examples of how not to behave.
Many believers have been brought out of sin but they have not enjoyed the blessing that God has set out for them. They too end up in a miserable wilderness – going nowhere and grumbling all the while. They are out of Egypt but not into the Promised Land. It may not be a popular book but, if a man does not learn the lessons of history, he is condemned to repeat them. While the people were camped and stationary, God told them what they should do and while they were moving the story of what they did is recorded.
Perhaps the most serious word for any believer is in ch 14 v 41. It is too late. Even though the people genuinely repented of their rebellion, it was too late to change the mind of God and His decision that they should not enter the Promised Land. Hebrews ch 6 v 4 echoes this principle. There are times when the going is hard and the pressure is on to give up and go back. Sometimes it is impossible to discern the purpose of God on a wider scale and it is necessary to hold fast despite the difficulties. An existence in limbo is very hard to endure.
There are three themes.
1. Service. The Lord’s people are saved to serve. In Genesis man is ruined. In Exodus man is redeemed. In Leviticus man is at worship. Now in Numbers man is serving God. Only a saved and worshipping soul is qualified for service.
2. God is orderly in all He does. The camp, the tabernacle, the journey and the plans to enter the land were all ordered by God. The daily life of a believer needs to be orderly and not vague.
3. Failure is due to unbelief. Beware of unbelief. This involved even Aaron and Moses. No one is exempt and indispensable to the purposes of God.
The laws in Numbers are not moral or social laws but laws given to prevent the people from losing their reverence for God. They were to be
(a) Careful. A careless attitude does not have a place in God’s camp. Carelessness is a dangerous thing. A modern word for this would be casualness – any old thing will do for God. If a vow has been made to God or to another person it must be kept.
(b) Clean. Cleanliness is next to godliness has some support in Numbers. A dirty, uncared-for Church is an insult to God. An unclean body tends to accompany an unclean mind.
(c) Costly. Each sacrifice had to be costly. Only the best animals were used. The daily, weekly and monthly sacrifice was a costly matter in order to receive forgiveness. Blood had to be shed. The upkeep of the priesthood involved a considerable cost to the people. Full time workers are a costly part of the Kingdom of God. Modern worship tends to focus on the preferences of individuals. A man’s worship should be what God wants.
CHAPTER 1. v 51. Only the Levites, specially chosen by God, were to be involved in the construction of the tabernacle. God chooses particular people for particular purposes and these tasks are not open to everyone.
CHAPTER 3 v 10 reinforces this fact. Anyone else was to be put to death. It was very serious.
CHAPTER 5. God provides a remedy for dealing with physical disease, like leprosy. Put them outside the camp. This would apply to any contagious disease. It is the physical manifestation of the importance of dealing effectively with sin. It contaminates those with whom it comes into contact. It is radical but very necessary, otherwise others will suffer also. They were to be removed, so that they did not defile the camp where God also lived among His people. That is a difficult command to follow, where all the family live in a one roomed house. But it is no less true.
CHAPTER 6 v 22-26. God provides a blessing for the people. The words of blessing are to be spoken over the people, at which time the Lord will pour out His blessing. The words are very real. There is power in the words of God, if spoken in truth and in the right context.
CHAPTER 9 v 16-17. By the use of the cloud God taught His people a principle – they were to move at His direction and within His timing. That applies to all believers today. They should be prompted by and respond to the prompting of the Holy Spirit. He will direct them to walk within the purposes of God. They must not be too soon by rushing their fences or too late and miss the opportunity.
CHAPTER 11. The complaint of the people is a severe warning to believers about not wanting to go back to the ways of the World out of which they have been called and delivered. It is the great challenge to the believer to be in the World but not of it. The World is constantly brainwashing believers to go back into the thinking of the World, especially in business and the Scriptures brainwash them into the ways of God. The believer should let his mind be transformed. Moses found the situation impossible. v 15. “Let me out of this impossible situation.” “My grace is sufficient for you,” was God’s reply. Sometimes believers take on burdens, which the Lord does not give them and then the situation is truly impossible. If God asks a believer to do a task, He will supply the grace at the right moment, but not ahead of the time. In this instance God arranged for the burden to be shared with 70 others – all men. The same Spirit who had guided Moses would guide the 70 others. Meekness is not weakness but it does mean the person should not try to defend himself.
CHAPTER 12. Jealousy can be a real problem for believers. Moses’ brother and sister were jealous of God’s appointment of Moses as leader. There are often murmurings against a leader, born out of jealousy. God dealt very severely with this rebellion, which was really against God’s decision to appoint Moses. Moses took the brunt of the complaint but it was really directed against God. Today people cannot throw stones at Jesus, so they throw them at His followers. That must be expected and Jesus warns that it will happen. “If they hated me, they will hate you.” People will also transfer their guilt before God onto another person. They will look to criticise a believer for the very faults and sins they have in themselves. There is something about the right kind of music, which releases the prophetic spirit. Miriam was a prophetess.
CHAPTER 13. There are two ways of looking at a problem – the positive one and the negative one. The ten spies saw the difficulties. The other two saw the attractions. There may have been a negative spirit lurking behind the ten spies. There were spiritual giants in the land. They had to be dealt with by the people as they went on with God. In the same way the same spiritual giants have to be dealt with by believers today. The same spiritual giants are ever present. God allows them to test the maturity of believers. A man only enters into the promises of God, if he believes in His word. Two spies entered the land, because they believed the Word of God. The others did not believe and did not enter. If there is a word of prophecy, only those who believe it will receive the word.
CHAPTER 14. The rebellion rises to a pitch. God strikes the 10 spies dead. The people realising the seriousness of the situation repent in v 41 but it is too late. The barriers were down and the people cannot go ahead. There may come a time when a believer finds that he cannot pray. Un-confessed sin is like a thin cloud between a man and God. After a time the cloud thickens and soon the light of the sun is shut out. That was the state of fallen man. If a believer allows that situation to become as bad again, there may be no second opportunity to receive special grace. v 35. “I will teach you what it means to reject me.” This is a solemn verse of scripture. A man does not need to follow his parents when they do evil. Believers should not question God’s appointments and become jealous.
CHAPTER 15. One person was found gathering wood on the Sabbath and was stoned to death. God has a wide purpose behind His commands and it is essential to keep them, even when the importance of them does not seem too relevant at the time. The same kind of punishment was meted out in ch 16 v 31.
CHAPTER 20. Moses and Aaron are punished for not speaking the truth of what God had said to them. Their own feelings got in the way and when they spoke to the people, they expressed what they wanted to do and not what God had told them He wanted to do. This teaches the importance of not putting words into the mouth of God. To do so makes God out to be a liar. This is the case with false prophecy or misquoting Scripture. It is vital to be absolutely sure that God has spoken, before passing on a word to others. If not, a man will be guilty of cursing the others who hear. If the word does not come true, as they had been led to expect, then they will have a problem – or a curse. It was God who chose the time of Aaron’s death. v 24.
CHAPTER 21. God provided a sign of a bronze snake on a pole. It seems ridiculous but it worked. All they had to do was to have faith that it would work. To mankind today the death of Jesus on a cross seems ridiculous to change lives but it works. It is God’s provision through His word. Those who believe His Word, however unlikely it may seem, will find the blessing of obedience. John ch 3 v 14 and 15 precede the verse Ch 3 v 16. In the same way God loved the World. The Amorites refused to allow the Hebrews to pass through their land, despite knowing of the miraculous escape, the intervention of God and the hardship, which they had experienced. Those who make life difficult for believers are often driven by the same hostile spirit of rebellion against God and His purpose.
CHAPTER 22. Balak was hostile to the people of God and sought to curse them or cause them real problems. He sought to involve another in his scheme – Balaam. Sin loves a companion. God warned Balaam of being in a position of opposition to His purposes. Those who reject the purposes of salvation today are in a perilous position. God even used a donkey to speak to Balaam in order to convince him. Balaam accepted the word of God and told Balak – “How can I curse those whom God has not cursed.” He dared not say anything, which God had not said. He dared not contradict the Word of God. v 20 God is not like a man, who tells lies. Animals can be possessed of an evil spirit or a good spirit. Jesus sent demons into the pigs. Dangerous dogs may be possessed of an evil spirit, which would change their character and lead them to inflict damage on a human being. The fertile ground of an aggressive dog is there for the evil spirit to possess. An animal may be used to lead home a distressed traveller.
CHAPTER 25. The danger of marrying an unbeliever. The unbeliever will lead the believer to worship pagan gods. One rotten apple in a barrel of good apples will make all the others rotten in time. One good apple in a barrel of rotten apples will not make the others good. Sin corrupts good people but a holy person will not necessarily make others holy. Like salt they may slow down the rot for a while. The zeal for God on the part of Phinehas in v 13 brought about an end to the problem. It was the zeal of David for God, which defeated Goliath and saved the people of Israel at that time. Pagan people have to be destroyed in the fullness of time in order to protect the believers.
CHAPTER 27. v 13. Moses received word of his punishment for misrepresenting the word of God in ch 20. After all he had been through that was hard for Moses to accept. In Near Eastern countries women could not inherit. God redresses the injustice and allows women to inherit, provided they marry within their own tribe.
CHAPTER 32. v 8 and v 14. The sons were repeating the sins of their fathers. Exodus ch 20 v 5. Certain traits run in families. v 23. There is a warning to all believers that if man makes a vow to God or to another person and does not carry it out, he will have trouble. There is no need to make the vow in the first place but, if he does, he must keep it. Believers are representatives of their Father and people will not trust the promises of God, if they find that they cannot trust the promises of believers.
CHAPTER 33. There was a command to drive out the people living in the land. Their sinful ways would soon pollute the lives of the new arrivals, if they did not drive them out. The high places, which were shrines to their false gods, were to be destroyed. For the believer all sinful ways have to go or else the witness will be spoiled and the power of the Holy Spirit will be withdrawn.
CHAPTER 35. v 30 – 34. All murderers must be executed or else the land will be polluted. God wants to live in the land with His people and so all pollution must be at an end. That principle applies today.
CHAPTER 36. v 8. Again there is the command not to marry out-with the Christian family. The strength of the family will soon weaken as a result of compromise in this area.
The general problem of the people was grumbling. A man does not need talent to grumble – or brains to grumble – or character to grumble – or self-denial to set up as a grumbler. It is one of the easiest things to do. Grumbling probably does more damage to the people of God than any other sin. It saps their enthusiasm. The people were prepared to kill Moses and Aaron for bringing them out of slavery in Egypt.
This book contains a lesson about the dangers of complaining and failing to arrive at a man’s destination. When people grumble and complain, it is called a bitter root, which can grow and cause trouble in a fellowship. In scripture the figure 40 is either a time of divine testing or of divine punishment.
CHAPTER 1. The Holy Spirit is the executive agent of the Godhead, who brings into being what the Godhead has decreed. He is seen as brooding over the face of the Earth like a brooding hen laying an egg. He brought into being the Earth as it is known today. It is reassuring to know that this World, where man lives, was created by a loving, intelligent Creator. It is not the product of some cosmic accident. v 16. The Earth was created first before the sun and moon and stars, which were created for the benefit of the people of the Earth. God provided food to sustain the bodies of the people and the animals. Human beings are made in the moral and spiritual image or likeness of God. These facts are known only because God chose to reveal them to mankind. When God was finished His creation it was perfect in every way. This statement contradicts the theory of evolution. The first instruction was to multiply and fill the Earth. It is sin, which has brought disorder to the physical World and separated man from God and man from man. It reads as a first-hand account of what happened. Only God was there and He must have told Moses how it happened. The name “Genesis” means beginnings – of the Universe, life, evil and sin, marriage, family life, society and worship. The sun was positioned at exactly the right distance to provide an environment in which man could exist. To worship the sun is as stupid as bowing down to a light bulb.
CHAPTER 2. God rested on the seventh day but He did not stop working after that. He ceased His work of creation after six days. Jesus said that His Father was always at work. God decided that it was not good for man to be alone. Loneliness is the greatest burden the human heart can bear. God created a companion for man. The purpose of marriage is companionship and procreation. Adam was placed in the Garden to work in the Garden. Work is a God-given right and duty. The Hebrew word for work and for worship is the same word. Work can be seen as an act of worship to God. When man works he gains a sense of achievement and satisfaction. Unemployment is a curse. The two trees are a physical picture of spiritual truth – the tree of life and the tree of conscience. God implanted in the human heart a conscience or knowledge of God and of right and wrong. Man was created a moral being. When a man chooses to do wrong, disobeying his conscience, he dies spiritually. This happens each time a man chooses to do wrong at any time throughout his life. There is the danger for a man of reaching the stage of having a seared conscience.
CHAPTER 3. A talking snake. How interesting! A moving glass. How interesting! Satan came to Eve in disguise as a snake. Satan came with doubts about the Word of God to cause uncertainty. Then he lied to deny the Word of God. Evolution casts doubt on the facts of creation and false religion denies the truth of the Bible. By v 6 Eve was convinced and deceived. She relied on her feelings rather than on the Word of God. Disobedience to his conscience left Adam afraid. The human personality was designed to function on love – love for God, love for his fellow man and love for the created World. When man sinned fear entered the human personality. Adam tried to pass the blame to Eve and ultimately to God. “The woman you gave me.” God was gracious to Adam despite his rebellion and He clothed them – as a symbol of His provision for them. The tree of life was banned from mankind. Eternal life was something man could not achieve by his own efforts. The tree of life would not be seen again by mankind until the New Jerusalem in Rev ch 22. Once man had experienced evil God had to limit his time on Earth or else evil would become eternal.
CHAPTER 4. God knows what is in a man’s heart. A man gives that away either by the words he speaks, by his bodily reaction or by his facial expression. v 7. Cain did not give his offering willingly. His face grew dark with anger.
v 9. Cain claimed that he was not responsible for his brother. There were only the two of them. A man knows that if he is in difficulty he expects his neighbours to render assistance. Therefore he has a duty to help his neighbours. The spilling of blood brings judgement on man. More blood was shed during the 20th century than in all the previous centuries together. God gave grace to Cain despite his sin.
CHAPTER 5. The genealogy makes it clear that all men descended from Adam and Eve. People today living in the stress-ridden World become tired of living. For many it is an artificial World of pretence and fantasy and for others it brings unbearable hardship. The early people enjoyed living and were not quickly worn out by stress. By a careful study of the dates of the people listed it can be calculated that Methuselah was born before Adam died and Methuselah was still alive in the days of Ham, Shem and Japheth. Therefore Methuselah could have told Ham, Shem and Japheth first hand what Adam told him about his conversations with God.
CHAPTER 6. It seems that as the population expanded even the men who worshipped God chose a wife based on her appearance rather than her character. Material appearance mattered more to them than anything else. The men of renown may mean that men sought status and fame and the successful were rewarded with honours. v 5 is one of the saddest verses in the Bible. That there was only one righteous man hints at the words of Jesus that the path to life is narrow and few travel on it. That truth is despite the gift of the Holy Spirit. v 11. The Earth was filled with violence and crime. On Western television the programmes are filled with crime and violence of actions and words. The new word is “rage.” Sport and even businesses are fiercely competitive, bordering on violence. Man was designed by God to complete one another and not to compete with one another. Competition is the product of humanism and was introduced in Greece. Noah was not a boat builder. There were not even ships in the area. God gave Noah the exact measurements of the ship. God alone who saved a remnant of mankind. Man could do nothing then or now to save himself from the consequences of sin.
CHAPTER 7. Noah preached to the people of his day for 120 years. He demonstrated his love for and commitment to God by building the ark. No one believed him and asked to be saved in the boat. The people had the evidence of their own eyes. They were not asked to believe in something they could not see. As God the Son Jesus came to Earth. Luke ch 7 v 22. “Tell John what you have seen and heard.” Noah had to be totally obedient to what God told him or else the boat would not have floated. It was a box rather than a ship since it was not designed to sail but to float. There were 8 people in the ark. Eight is the number in Scripture for a new beginning. The rains prevailed for 40 days. Forty is the number for judgement or testing. It was both a judgement on the fallen World and a real test of Noah’s faith. This chapter stands as a serious reminder to the World of the seriousness of sin. A student engineer copied the dimensions of the ark, when designing a vessel for his exams. It turned out to be one of the finest ocean liners ever built. Noah is a type of Christ, who also had to be totally obedient to what His Father had told Him to do.
CHAPTER 8. This is a wonderful picture of physical salvation as Noah and his family are utterly alone, floating between Heaven and Earth, utterly dependent on the Lord to rescue them. For each individual soul to receive salvation the Lord is totally in control rescuing the soul from a hopeless situation and carrying him from the Earth to be seated with Christ in the Heavenly places. It must have been hard for Noah to realise that all his friends and neighbours had been lost. He alone had been saved. The numbers of humans, who were in rebellion against God, must have been very small in relation to the numbers in the World today. Yet God has been true to His promise and has never flooded the Earth again.
CHAPTER 9. This is the authority for man to eat the meat of animals. But the blood must be drained off. The blood carries oxygen to the parts of the body but also takes the poisonous elements away to the liver for cleansing. Therefore it is dangerous to eat the blood. A man who commits murder should be put to death. Why? Because to kill a man is to kill one made like God. It is utter rebellion. When God gives an eternal promise it is awesome. v 19. The whole population of mankind is descended from the 3 sons of Noah. Noah himself must have had no further children. God said it. Believe it! Despite the wonderful grace of God, sin still reigns in the heart of man. Noah became drunk and while under the influence of alcohol lay naked in his tent. Nakedness is always associated with sin in the Bible after the fall of Adam and Eve. Ham sought to ridicule his father – the one whose faith had saved his life. When a person does not honour his parents he is stating that God did not give him parents who are good enough for him. He is denying the provision of God for him. The curse fell on the descendants of Ham and not Ham himself. The Canaanites would serve the descendants of Shem. Abraham and the Israelites are Shemites – hence anti-semitism or anti-shemitism. The whole trouble in the Middle East can be traced back to this incident. What a man does can have long-lasting consequences.
CHAPTER 10. The peoples of the World are descended from the 3 sons of Noah and their descendants. Japheth went into Europe. Shem stayed in the East. Ham went to Canaan and then his descendents went south into Africa. The people were classified according to their political groups, languages and geographical positions. The Lord knew each person and each group and watched over their development as they spread across the face of the Earth. Culture, agriculture, music, industry and metal-working begin to develop as God enriched the experience of mankind. God worked out His story. History is His story of grace to fallen mankind.
CHAPTER 11. The command was to spread across the face of the Earth. The decision to build a city in Babylon was in defiance of the Word from God. Today 80% of the population of the World live in cities. The city dwellers gather in cities for prosperity, hoping to find a better standard of living from working in the cities. Often as a result the people end up living in squalid shanty towns rather than in villages. Pollution, noise, stress and disease are often the result. The peoples of Babylon were involved in the occult and built a ziggarut, which was an occult worship tower with a shrine at the top. Under the umbrella of pantheism the ancient occult mysteries took hold and spread. After the Flood there was one language – that was spoken by Noah’s family. Abraham was born about 270 years after the Flood. In Ur there were text-books on mathematics, politics and religion. There were schools and libraries.
CHAPTER 12. When God called Abraham he did not take him out of the World but placed him at the very centre of the physical World and in the midst of very worldly people. The word “World” in the Bible means “man organised in community without reference to God.” It may not necessarily be evil but God is not consulted either in prayer or by reference to His Word. The Canaanites were the business people running the World around them in ways, which seemed right to them but which were increasingly in opposition to God’s ways. By the time Joshua entered the land these people were so opposed to God that He authorised the Hebrews to wipe them out. God does not want new believers to hide away in a monastery but to be in the World but not part of its thinking and attitudes. There is the beginning of a fantastic promise – a great nation. The Jewish nation, comprising less than one quarter of one per cent of the population of the World, have made a contribution to the wellbeing of the World out of all proportion to their numbers. A huge debt is owed to the Jewish people who have brought to the World the Word of God and the Messiah. In this way they have been a blessing to the whole World. Abraham lied to save his own life. That is the usual basis of lying – self-preservation. Often the non-believers behave morally better than believers. Pharaoh behaved better than Abraham.
CHAPTER 13. Abraham was very wealthy. There is nothing wrong with being wealthy. What matters is how a man obtains the wealth and what he does with it. There are times when it is necessary to divide for different reasons. The test is how to reach a favourable decision. Abraham stood back and allowed Lot to choose. Lot saw the fertility of the Jordan Valley and his judgement was clouded by thoughts of gain and profit. He settled amongst men who were unusually wicked and he paid a large price for his greed. Although God gave free choice to Lot, His purpose was fulfilled. Canaan was the land He had promised to Abraham and his descendants. On what basis does a man make decisions in life? Are they to prosper himself or to serve the Lord and others? In Hebrew the word for “work” and the word for “worship” is the same word. The question is: “is a man working for his own satisfaction or as an act of worship to God?”
CHAPTER 14. Murder and war are never far away from fallen man, even in times of plenty. King Ched-or-laomer was the ruler of the area. In the 13th year the people rebelled against his rule. 13 is the number in Scripture for rebellion. It is also a significant number in the occult. God appoints rulers and leaders for the benefit of the social order. The result of rebellion was trouble on a large scale. The rebels lost and Lot was captured. Despite Lot’s actions, which were not honouring to God, Abraham was moved to go to great lengths to rescue Lot. Lot did not deserve to be saved. Not one man deserves to be saved from his sins. Jesus came to Earth on a rescue mission. Lot returned to live in Sodom. He had not learned the lesson. Long before the Aaronic priesthood Abraham met Melchizedek and gave him a tenth of the spoils. Tithing is a principle of God. It recognises that a man owes God everything.
CHAPTER 15. From ancient Nuzu tablets man learns that childless couples used to adopt a slave on condition that the slave would care for them and give them a proper burial. If a natural son was born later the slave heir was disinherited to a great extent. God promised Abraham an heir, even though humanly speaking it seemed impossible. Abraham believed God and God considered Abraham to be righteous. God told Abraham exactly what would happen in the future. God has told man what will happen in the future and in particular that Jesus will return to Earth a second time as judge of all the Earth. There are 1845 references to this event in the Bible. If man believes it, then he should act accordingly, laying up treasures in Heaven and not on Earth. God made a covenant with Abraham on His own initiative and He and will not break His Word. v 16. God allowed the Amorites to live in Canaan for a period of over 400 years. 1 Kings ch 21 v 26. The Amorites were to be wiped out by the Israelites. Deut ch 7 v 1. God is slow to anger but when aroused He is awesome. Nahum ch 1 v 3. God always comes to man with a word of judgement and a word of mercy, as He did here. v 2-3. Abraham said to God: “What good are all your blessings when I have no son?” As long as a person does not have his basic needs met, he will not be able to fully concentrate on the less important things in life. When a person is unemployed all he wants is a job, not visitors or a good book to read in order to pass the time. A man may need healing or a girl may need a husband. A man should be bold and tell God what he needs. God knows but He wants to hear from the man.
CHAPTER 16. Despite the promise from God Abraham lacked patience and took matters into his own hands. He and Sarah decided to use a surrogate mother. If God wants a man to serve Him in one area of life, does he work at it or turn to another area? Some young people who have to wait for a wife or husband take matters into their own hands and become intimate with a friend. Hagar was used to irritate Sarah. Sin always has consequences. v 5. Sarah then blamed Abraham for her feelings, despite having agreed to the course of action. This is known as transference of guilt, when man tries to pass his guilt onto others. Abraham passed the guilt back to Sarah and allowed her to beat Hagar, who then ran away. As the relationships were breaking down completely, God intervened and addressed Hagar. He promised to make a great nation of her child. Ishmael became the father of the Arabs. He would be a wild, untamed person against everyone, yet would live near the Hebrews. This gives a general picture of the Arab people. Who was responsible? The people of God. Jonah ch 1 v 12.”Throw me into the sea, for I know that this storm has come because of me.” Jesus was thrown into the sea of divine wrath to bring peace between man and God. Judgement begins at the household of God.
CHAPTER 17. The promises of God are always conditional on living as a man should and being obedient to His Word. v 1. When God changed the name of Abram to Abraham, the difference is in the letter “hey” Each letter has a numerical equivalent and the letter “hey” equals 5. Five is the number for grace. David chose 5 stones with which to defeat Goliath. There were 5 loaves to feed the people – by grace. God promised Abraham millions of descendants. The covenant was to be forever and the land of Canaan was to be leased to the Hebrews forever. The land belongs to God. Joel ch 3 v 2. How could Abraham have understood events 3,800 years into the future? God never breaks His covenant promises but there is a weakness in that it depends on Abraham and his descendants keeping their part fully. The male bodies were to be marked to remind them of their part in the covenant. The son for Abraham was an integral part of the covenant. Abraham’s son Ishmael would also be the father of a great nation – the Arabs. His descendants are listed in Gen ch 25 v 12-18 and they have lived in Arabia to this day. One of the descendants is Kedar – now Al Queda? Mohammed was born of the tribe of Kedar. 23. That very day Abraham circumcised Ishmael. When God speaks a man should act at once.
CHAPTER 18. When Sarah laughed God knew, even though she was out of sight and did not make a noise. God knows a man’s thoughts. At once Sarah lied to God. Fear caused her to lie. This incident encourages a man to be bold and speak directly with God without pretence. God graciously preserves nations and cities where there are some godly people. There are 40 chapters of the Bible where God judges nations. An individual may be blessed while the nation in which he lives is judged. Some wicked men may be blessed within their nation. God makes the sun to shine on the righteous as well as the unrighteous. The danger for humanists is to accept the blessings of God and ascribe them to themselves, declaring themselves to be right. Such pride brings its own judgement. v 25. There are 3 major judgements in Scripture – the judgement of the sins of believers. John ch 3 v 24, the judgement of believers for rewards 2 Cor ch 5 v 10 and the judgement of unbelievers. Rev ch 20 v 11-15.
CHAPTER 19. In some parts of the World the situation seems unthinkable. In other parts the situation is not surprising. Why did Lot offer his daughters to the men in place of the angels? In the Eastern culture hospitality is at the centre of their way of living. There were not any hotels, which were safe and it was crucial to offer visitors hospitality. It was a disgrace to the name of a man to refuse to offer hospitality or to have his guests offended. It was only a supernatural action of God, which saved the situation and enabled Lot and his visitors to escape. The warning to Lot and his family was not to look back. Jesus gave the same urgent advice. Luke ch 9 v 62. The Girgashite spirit encourages believers to long for the old life. The Hebrews longed for Egypt. John ch 8 v 23. The challenge of the believers is to be in the World but not moulded by its thinking and attitudes. Lot’s wife was not entirely with her husband and looked back – longing for the way of life, which she had enjoyed. Her death is a warning to mankind. Many cities have been destroyed down through the centuries. Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed. In 2004 Bam in Iran was destroyed. v 29. It was the prayer of Abraham, which saved Lot. But Lot had been contaminated by the culture in which he had lived. His daughters had been living in a culture saturated with sex and drink. Many Muslims see Britain as a culture saturated with sex and drink. The Ammonites and Moabites were the descendants of the incestuous relationship. Amos ch 1 v 13-ch 2 v 3.
CHAPTER 20. This is a modern story. The believer indulged in half-truths. It is not an outright lie but a lie just the same. Both Abraham and Sarah were involved. The non-believer received light from God in a dream. v 6. It is God who instituted marriage and it is He who is offended when people have intimate relationships outside of marriage. Abimelech was aware of sin and regarded deception as a vile sin. Abraham regarded the place as godless and seemed to have little concern for the lost people who lived there. They would not be persuaded of the truth about God, if he himself were a stranger to the truth. Mat ch 12 v 36. Man shall be held to account for every careless word. The lie was out of self-preservation. Abraham did not take care about the words he said about Sarah. Often the non-believer behaves more morally than the believer. v 18. The sin of adultery in the land had led to barrenness.
CHAPTER 21. The act of circumcision is to be on the eighth day. 8 is the number for a new beginning. Scientists have proved that the blood clots most effectively on the eighth day after birth. But then God knew that. v 10. How quickly the son gifted by God as a miracle had become “my son.” Everything man possesses is a gift from God. Sarah told Abraham to “cast out” Hagar and Ishmael. Again, where is the concern for others? In the situation where did Sarah think Hagar would find support or did she not care, being so consumed with her child? If it had not been for God Hagar and Ishmael would have died. James ch 1 v 27 says that true religion is to look after widows and orphans. v 31. The well at Beersheba is still in existence today and water is available from it. The dispute was common in the Middle East. The shepherds needed water for their flocks and the farmers needed water for their crops. Where there is a conflict agreement is required. It is essential to consider the point of view of the other person. Fallen man tends to be one-eyed and see only his own needs.
CHAPTER 22. This was a real test for Abraham. He trusted God that He would give Isaac back to him. He said that he was going to worship. Worship is sacrificing a man’s interests to those of God. Mount Moriah is the mountain where Solomon built the temple. It is the very place where centuries later God would sacrifice His own Son. Isaac is a type of Christ being an only son to be sacrificed at the request of God. Isaac asked in v 7: “Where is the lamb?” In John ch 2 v 36 John, seeing Jesus coming, said: “Behold the lamb!” v 12. The Angel said: “I know that God is first in your life.” Mat ch 6 v 33. Jesus said: God will gladly give you what you need, if you place Him first in your life.” It is a consistent message throughout the Bible. It poses a question – what is most important in a man’s life?
CHAPTER 23. Why did Abraham insist on paying for the field? Ephron was genuinely willing to gift it to Abraham as he recognised Abraham’s contribution to the land of Canaan. God often has a purpose for the future, which is not evident at the time. The cave, which Abraham purchased, is at Hebron. It was in Hebron that David was crowned King of Israel. Hebron today is fiercely contested between Arabs and Jews. God owes man no debt. His people purchased the cave. It is evidence that this part of the land of Israel belongs to God’s people.
CHAPTER 24. Abraham gave instructions to his servant to obtain a wife for Isaac. Under no circumstances was Isaac to marry one of the Canaanite girls. Instead the servant was to travel back to the homeland of Abraham to find a wife for Isaac from amongst his own people. The servant considered the possibility that having found a girl she would not be prepared to leave her home and travel so far away. If that happened should he take Isaac to marry her and then both could live in Babylon? Never! “Make sure that you do not take my son to live in Babylon.” God had brought Abraham out of Babylon on a one-way ticket. Abraham could not have seen the whole purpose of God but he believed that he was to remove from Babylon with its occult worship and serve God in a place of God’s choosing. Abraham would rather risk Isaac remaining unmarried than see God’s plan be defeated. If the bride was to be fit for his son, then the bride must come out of Babylon. Babylon was the city built by man who chose to rule the Earth without reference to God. Babylon is the symbol for humanistic rebellion against God and the establishment of a multi-faith system where all religions are regarded of equal worth and all gods held in equal esteem. On the other hand the Hebrews had been brought into being by God’s promise to Abraham to know and worship the one true God. In time God made the Hebrews unique in the World by the fulfilment of His Word. God’s purpose was that His people would be a holy people in the midst of the World and that many people would recognise the real God as the God of the Hebrews and cross over from darkness into light.
CHAPTER 25. Ishmael also had 12 sons. In scripture the number 12 is the number for government. Ishmael was in process of becoming a great nation. v 18.The descendants of Ishmael were constantly at war with one another. In Jewish culture names were given, which had significance for the life of the child. Favouritism by Isaac and Rebecca had serious consequences. Parents should as far as possible treat children equally. If not, jealousy may arise and that can even lead to murder. Esau as the elder brother was to be the spiritual head of the family after the death of Isaac. That is both a privilege and a responsibility. v 34. Esau despised his birthright or was indifferent to the loss of his rights. When a man considers material prosperity or status of more importance that his spiritual life and relationship with God, he follows in the footsteps of Esau and throws away his spiritual inheritance in Heaven.
CHAPTER 26. Isaac does the same thing as his father Abraham had done. He lied to save himself. v 7. He feared for his life. Fear can cause a man to behave in ways, which are unhealthy. Perhaps Isaac suffered from insecurity. He was living in a foreign land and was inclined to protect himself. Once again Abimelech behaved in a way, which shows Isaac in a poor light. Were the sins of the father visited on the son? Obedience resulted in rich blessings. v 14. Jealousy knows no limits. Jealousy is normally directed against those who are in the immediate circle or those who just outstrip the best of the person next to them. Abimelech felt threatened. Instead of seeking the basis for the prosperity, he banished Isaac from the land. Today Israel is making the desert bloom. Do their neighbours want to seek the basis for the blessing on the Jewish people or do they try to exterminate them? Abimelech finally came to make a treaty or non-aggression pact with Isaac. He respected Isaac’s wealth. Isaac had earned the respect of the king. In such a pact there are benefits for both parties. Sadly Esau was in rebellion against his parents and married two Canaanite girls, bringing great grief to his parents. He did not honour his parents and as such moved away from God.
CHAPTER 27. Not one member of the family comes out of this incident with any credit. Rebekah dishonours her husband and shows favouritism to one son. Jacob is called the cheater not without reason. Isaac favours the more manly Esau and is careless in giving his blessing to the right child. Esau had already paid little attention to his position as spiritual head of the household. The result is division in the family with Esau hating Jacob and Jacob fleeing for his life. Not one of the four of them made any attempt to repent or to make peace in the family. What a poor witness to the grace of God. The children of Jacob are to form the Chosen People but God does not hide their sinfulness from man. How many families have followed this pattern with equally disastrous results?
CHAPTER 28. Despite his sin Jacob was advised to follow in his father’s footsteps and marry from the family. v 9. Esau married another two wives from the family of Ishmael to spite his father. Sometimes people are deliberately wicked. A spirit of rebellion had taken Esau and he was filled with hatred and jealousy. v 13-15. What grace from God to Jacob – one so undeserving. God called to Jacob and Jacob responded. This poses the question – how should a man respond when God challenges him through creation or his conscience? Bethel is about 12 miles north of Jerusalem. Jacob knew that this promise to him was wholly undeserved. This is the basis of every man’s walk with God.
CHAPTER 29. There is a special bond amongst members of the same family. What a contrast with the World today. Jacob was prepared to wait for 7 years to have Rachel as his wife. The trickery of Laban and the stupidity of Jacob combined to bring disgrace. Is it right that Jacob should start his married life drunk? In the morning – it was Leah. Jacob had reaped what he had sown in Esau’s life – deception. The culture allowed Jacob to have two wives and to be intimate with servant girls also. It is essential for man to decide what is culturally acceptable and what is right according to the word of God. Lotteries are acceptable to the World but not to God. Isaiah ch 65 v 11. Inevitably there was jealousy and strife between Leah and Rachel. God may allow the World to have its own way and He may bless the people as well, since He makes the sun to shine on the righteous and the unrighteous but that does not condone sin or excuse the people of the World from judgement at the end of their lives. v 8. The stone is only rolled away and the sheep watered when the time is right. Jesus rose when the stone was rolled away. It was God’s perfect timing to feed the sheep – the people of the whole World.
CHAPTER 30. Envy and anger entered the scene very quickly when matters were not conducted correctly. Jacob had not learned the lessons from his grandfather Abraham and all the trouble he had when he took Hagar to solve his problems. Unless a man learns the lessons of history he repeats the mistakes. Jacob was involved in a tense struggle between Leah and Rachel. v 27. When Jacob wished to return home Laban consulted a fortune-teller. Babylon was the centre of occult worship. Laban was involved in it. As Laban had deceived Jacob over the wife for Jacob, so now Jacob took his revenge and left Laban with the unhealthy lambs, taking the stronger ones for himself. It was the same old Jacob – looking out for himself. Jacob later reaped again what he had sown when his sons deceive him concerning the death of Joseph. v 22. God answered Rachel’s prayer for a child. This is God’s answer for infertility – not test tube babies or surrogacy.
CHAPTER 31. Jacob had become rich and it was seen to be at the expense of Laban and his sons. Jealousy is never far from the surface in life as men compete with one another. The enemy is quick to point out with his fiery darts that another is gaining an advantage. “Look after yourself.” The thought lodges in the mind and takes root. Jacob received the vibes and realised that it was time to depart. God was aware of the situation also and spoke to Jacob about going home. Even though God had told Jacob to leave he did not do so in an honourable way. Man may be in the right but ought to behave towards others in a dignified manner. v 27. Jacob may have remembered what happened the last time Uncle Laban had a party. Jacob got the wrong wife. v 31. Fear still gripped Jacob. Rachel does not appear in a good light. First she stole the household gods. Then she remained silent when the matter was raised and finally she lied outright. Sin always brings trouble. The deception set Jacob against Laban. Jacob was self-righteous in v 36-42. Neither Jacob nor Laban wanted to lose face. Laban clearly had knowledge of God and His ways. Just as tempers were rising the two made a peace pact. Romans ch 12 v 18. Try to live at peace with all people. By the intervention of God the potential dispute was brought amicably to an end.
CHAPTER 32. v 7. Once again Jacob was full of fear. He had not yet learned that perfect love casts out fear. He had not loved Esau or Laban both of whom he had cheated. If a man sins, he opens himself up to fears of all kind. v 10-11. However Jacob took his fear to God, acknowledging his unworthiness and need of God. When Jacob cast himself on God, He graciously answered his request. Jacob planned to give Esau presents to appease his anger. God met Jacob and wrestled with him. Then God changed his name. To name a person is to demonstrate power over him. God had changed Abram’s name to Abraham. Jesus changed Simon’s name to Peter. There are times when man has to wrestle with God and come to terms with what God is asking of him. v 28. When Jacob was in touch with God he would prevail with men. Until a man gets his life right with God, he lacks the power to change his circumstances. The word “Israel” means struggle. Israel has struggled with God through the pages of the Old Testament.
CHAPTER 33. What a beautiful reconciliation. This had been brought about by God. Only God working in the heart of Esau can explain the change in him as he greeted his brother in a friendly manner. Nothing is impossible for God. Jesus came to Earth to reconcile man to God and man to man. Neither brother sought to gain an advantage over the other. Despite the reconciliation Jacob still cheated on Esau. He gave the impression that he would follow Esau to Edom but planned to turn off to the west and he headed for Shechem. A new believer he has still a lot to change in his life. It does not all happen at once. Jacob would have been better to go to Edom. He made a bad choice.
CHAPTER 34. The Hivites lived at Shechem. The word Hivite means life-giving. The spirit behind the Hivites portrays this World with its illusions, delusions and dubious delights as a life-giving, soul-satisfying environment. The Hivite spirit has the objective of luring man into the snares of his cunning claims of providing pleasure and prosperity at the price of his soul, rather than seeking pursuits, which are of eternal value and worth. “What profits a man to gain the whole World and lose his soul?” Jesus warned against the spirit of the Hivites when He said that. Jacob allowed his daughter to participate in the life of the Hivites and the result was not only serious for Dinah but her brothers, who were insulted. It was both painful and fatal for all the men of Shechem.
CHAPTER 35. v 22. God chooses selected incidents from history for His purposes. 1 Cor ch 5 v 1. There was immorality not found among the pagan people. Shocking! What headlines the newspapers would have had. It is a good thing that the newspapers did not get this story. When believers fall into serious sin, it gives the enemy an opportunity to destroy the works of God in the eyes of mankind.
CHAPTER 36. Generations are important to people in the Middle East. Esau married unbelievers against the wishes of his parents. He rejected the Land promised to his father and went to the south – to Edom – now Jordan. The Edomites were perpetual enemies of the Children of Israel. Jacob I have loved but Esau I have hated. The sins of the father – Esau – were visited to the fourth and subsequent generations. Where a man is hostile to God it will have an influence on his children for generations. Yet God blessed the Edomites. Edom is a symbol of hardened unbelief and hostility of the World to the purposes of God and to God’s people. Esau was the first of many anti-semites.
CHAPTER 37. Joseph told tales against his brothers. Jacob favoured Joseph and Joseph paraded the favouritism and told the brothers about his dreams. The brothers did not need to know that information. There are times to keep quiet. Mary treasured the events of the birth of Jesus in her heart and did not tell people, until she told Luke. Had she boasted of the virgin conception, it would have upset all of God’s plans. The result of favouritism was hatred and almost the death of Joseph. Parents must treat their children equally and fairly. If not the family is in danger of falling apart eventually. Jacob had reaped what he had sown. He deceived his brother Esau and now his sons had deceived him.
CHAPTER 38. This is a story to shock any decent person. Judah who had saved the life of Joseph and the son of Jacob to whom God had promised so much went to a prostitute after his wife died. What makes a man go to a prostitute? There is nothing good to be said for it just as there was nothing good to be said for Adam’s sin. There was no advantage. It was all loss. The illegitimate son Perez is listed as an ancestor of Jesus on Joseph’s side. Judah, knowing that he had been with a prostitute – whom he did not know – found out that a child has been born by prostitution and called for his own daughter in law to be burned. How quickly a man judges others without examining his own life!
CHAPTER 39. Providence. A series of coincidences – God choosing to remain anonymous. The Lord was with Joseph – even in prison. Nothing is impossible for God. So often a man cannot see or even imagine what God is doing in his life and how it will work out. God even uses the evil others plan against a person for His purposes. Joseph is a type of Christ. The desires of Potiphar’s wife soon turn to hatred when she cannot get what she wants. This may happen in life when a man is extremely disappointed. Man has to learn that his disappointments are often God’s appointments. Trust God when things are not working out as expected. Joseph as a servant – no matter how good he was – was not given a fair trial. How many languish in prison today around the World because they take a stand for truth or for their faith in Jesus?
CHAPTER 40. Dreams are real and God is the interpreter of them. If Joseph had not been in prison he would not have met the butler and the baker. A man should not ask: “Why did this happen?” but “What can I do for you in these circumstances?” Gal ch 6 v 10. The believer should start each day by asking the Lord: “How can I co-operate with you to be a blessing to everyone I meet today?” Joseph served the butler and the baker. It was not wrong to promote himself rather than accept the wiles of the Devil, who had put him there. God expects a man to play his part in life. v 23. How quickly the butler forgot Joseph. How quickly a man forgets God’s grace and ascribes it to himself. Joseph must have been really disappointed that he was not to be released from prison.
CHAPTER 41. Two years later Pharaoh had his dream. How Joseph must have wished that he had had it earlier. Man cannot work out the providence of God or the timing of it. The Butler remembered Joseph and repented of his sin of failing to mention Joseph in terms of his promise to Joseph. What a transformation the repentance of one sin can make – for Joseph and for Egypt. v 30. Joseph was 30 when he entered the service of the king. Ezekiel ch 1 v 1. Ezekiel was 30 when he began to serve as a priest. Jesus was also 30 when He entered His public ministry and became the priest of God. As a type of Christ Joseph fed the people physical bread and all of the World came to Egypt. John ch 6 v 1. Jesus is the bread of life bringing spiritual food to the whole World.
CHAPTER 42. Joseph, now 39, dressed as an important Egyptian official, would not have been recognisable. It was the fulfilment of the dream as the brothers bowed before Joseph. Joseph knew what he planned to do to his brothers. Benjamin was the only full brother to Joseph, both born to Rachel, and naturally Joseph really wanted to see him. v 21. What the brothers had done to Joseph may have lain in their subconscious. Now guilt pricked their consciences. v 22. There comes a time of judgement for sins. v 28. When a man does wrong, guilt accuses him. Judges ch 1 v 6-7. v 37. Reuben made a foolish offer – like Herod in Mat ch 13 v 7. A man should choose his words with care.
CHAPTER 43. v 23. It was Joseph who put the money in the sacks. God, like Joseph, intended to be gracious to His enemies but the timing was important. Jesus came and waited until He was 30 to start His public ministry. v 35. Five is the number for grace. Benjamin received special grace. Joseph arranged the whole exercise so carefully just as Jesus arranged His own death so meticulously.
CHAPTER 44. v 16. God uses various ways to bring his guilt to the conscience of man. Judah, who in ch 38 had acted so immorally acted morally in v 33. In accepting responsibility towards his father and brother Benjamin, Judah offered to stay as a slave so that Benjamin could go free. He was prepared to be a sacrifice for Benjamin. Moses offered to die in the place of the Hebrews. Jesus was prepared to die to allow repentant sinners to go free. David was a man after God’s heart and yet he did some dreadful things. Here Joseph, although serving God also did some unthinkable things. He married Asenath daughter of Potiphar a priest of On. It appears that he was involved in deceiving and lying to his brothers and falsely accusing them of theft. Man is a mixture of grace and sin. God uses insignificant and sinful man to accomplish His purposes. What was Joseph really doing? Joseph was bringing them to the point of needing a saviour. Joseph tested the brothers. They had sold the first brother into slavery. What would they do with Benjamin? When all seemed lost Judah said in v 30: “The father will die, if we do not take Benjamin back.” For 20 years the brothers had not cared for Jacob allowing him to believe that Joseph was dead. Eventually Judah stood sacrifice for Benjamin. Joseph is a symbol for Christ. Benjamin is a symbol for Israel. The Church sees Israel as a foreigner. God is asking the Church – where is my brother? Will you kill him also? The Church can bring Jesus to reveal Himself, if the Church takes up its place before God as a sacrifice, to let Israel go free. Perhaps God is waiting for the Church to beseech Him for Israel. When Judah was prepared to give up his own life for Benjamin they were all reconciled to Joseph together.
CHAPTER 45. Joseph acknowledged before his brothers that despite all the trials and difficulties that God had allowed it all to happen so that there would be good for many people. In ch 50 v 20 he told them that while Satan meant it and planned it for evil, God had used it for good. Satan is the servant of God. Satan is permitted to do his work only so far as it serves God, even to the extent of bringing judgement on sinful men. Satan was allowed to sift Peter. Satan got the chaff and God got the wheat. Joseph made detailed provision for his family as Jesus does for His brothers and sisters. Joseph was well regarded by Pharaoh. Jesus found favour with man and with God. Each believer should live so as to serve his fellow man and also to gain respect from the men of the World. 1 Tim ch 3 v 7. A Church leader should be well thought of by outsiders.
CHAPTER 46. Jacob set out with 70 of his family in all. 7 is the perfect number and 10 is the number for completeness. From this number God would form a nation as a witness to the whole World. All of Jacob’s children had children of their own. There was no infertility in these days for God’s chosen people. The Egyptians hated shepherds. There was always a struggle in the Middle East over water between shepherds and farmers. The Egyptians were farmers and felt that their water supplies would be under threat from the shepherds, especially since the shepherds moved around with their flocks. Groups of men with vested interests often feel threatened by other groups. Groups in a Church can feel threatened by new arrivals in the Church. City dwellers and country people often do not mix. There are cultural differences and often differences in attitudes between the groups. Immigrants find difficulty in settling within a new culture. The Bible tells man to seek to live at peace with every person.
CHAPTER 47. Joseph and his family were given the best of the land by Pharaoh. God knows how to be good to His children and uses non-believers for this purpose. Of course God expects His children to behave as children of the King. Joseph appropriated the grain. Like the financiers in the World today they are accumulating all the wealth from the people and when they are in control can lend it out at whatever rate of interest they choose. Money is the only thing in the World, which man has created out of nothing. v 24. Joseph introduced income tax to the people. It was a 20% tax to Pharaoh. The people ended up in slavery to Pharaoh. v 27. The Hebrews had a lot of children and grew large in numbers. God had been faithful to His promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The Egyptians were not so blessed. Perhaps prosperity was more important to the Egyptians than a large family.
CHAPTER 48. v 5. Jacob adopted his grandsons. Ephraim and Manasseh. He blessed the younger -Ephraim – before the older. God had a purpose in this choice – one, which would only be apparent at a later date. Like Joseph a man cannot see the purpose of God. He can respond only as he thinks best.
CHAPTER 49. It was a biblical principle that names were given to reflect the character of a child. Here Jacob prophesies over his sons and their descendants. It is a good thing when God speaks a word over the life of a man. The first-born Reuben should have had pre-eminence but it was not to be. Judah, despite his adultery with his daughter-in law would be the key tribe for the future. Jesus would be known as the lion of Judah. Each tribe received a blessing suitable to it. It is a good idea to make a will and funeral arrangements so that the departure from this World to the next is in an orderly way. The Holy Spirit is a Spirit of order.
CHAPTER 50. Joseph did not take time off work to bury his father but asked his employer. v 9. It was a big funeral. v 15. Fear entered the brothers of Joseph. 85% of fears are imaginary fears – and are not based on facts. The facts suggested that Joseph had forgiven them. Satan is a master of the half truth and innuendo as well as imaginary fears. They lied to save their lives as they thought. v 19. Joseph knew that vengeance belonged to the Lord and that he was not to take matters into his own hands. He had knowledge of God, which his brothers did not have. Joseph had faced 5 tests during his life.
The test of adversity in ch 37 v 28 as the favoured son.
The test of the body in ch 39 v 7 respected in Egypt.
The test of the soul in ch 40 v 15 when tempted by Potiphar’s wife.
The test of prosperity in chs 41-42 when made governor of Egypt.
The test of the inner man in ch 50 v 19-21. When he had an opportunity for revenge.
Man can be truly understood only in the light of divine revelation and God’s purposes for mankind.
The theme. The plan of God that mankind would have access to Him through the shedding of blood, leading to the holiness of man as an imperative of God.
The book covers a period of one month. Whereas Exodus talks about God’s approach to a man, Leviticus talks about a man’s approach to God. It is about the dedication of God’s people to Him. God had delivered His people and He expects something in return for what He has done for them. They are saved in order to serve. God promised to do many things for His people. In return He expected them to live right and do things right. About 90% of Leviticus is direct speech of God. The first half describes a man’s way to God and how he should approach Him – justification – and the second half describes a man’s walk with God and how he should maintain fellowship with Him – sanctification. God looks for holiness – obedience to all His moral laws.
A. Gratitude offerings for what God has done for the people. This included 1. A burnt offering – a sweet smelling savour to God. 2. A meal offering – so that the worshipper could have a meal with God. 3. A peace offering.
B. Guilt offerings. These were to do with guilt and included 1 the sin offering and 2 the trespass offering. They made atonement for unintentional sin. There is no offering for intentional sin. Atonement means compensation. As a compensation for the bad life the one who made the offer had lived, he offered to God a good life, which had not sinned. Deliberate sin in those who have been forgiven is very serious. Jesus said to the woman caught in adultery: “Go and sin no more.” For unintentional and accidental sin, there is full provision, because God knows that His children do not always intend to do what they do.
Blood is essential to life and must be spilled to pay for sin. The best animal was a substitute for the person and was costly. Ch 1 v 3 and 10.
The blood must never be eaten. Ch 7 v 23.
The priest was set aside by God to be the representative of man to God. The High Priest had a special role to deal with the sins of the people. Ch 8
Worship. God gives the people a calendar for worship. Ch 23.
Passover in March / April.
Pentecost or the Feast of Weeks. 50 days later.
The Feast of Trumpets. September / October.
The Day of Atonement.
The Feast of Tabernacles (Succoth ) It lasted 8 days. Ch 23 v 43.
Sabbath was a weekly holy day of rest.
Jubilee was a festival every 50 years. It was the acceptable year of the Lord, when captives were to be set free.
Jesus came to fulfill all the feasts.
A good life is not enough for God. He looks for a holy life. Once a person becomes a believer he should experience the desire to be holy in order to please His Saviour. In Leviticus God gives rules for leading a healthy physical life – food and bodily care – Ch 13 v 46, a pure spiritual life – Ch 16 v 20-22, a responsible social life – Ch 19 v 16, caring for the disadvantaged – Ch 25 v 35 and a pure sexual life – Ch 15 v 24 & Ch 18 v 22.
God does not always explain why He gives man rules and regulations but asks him to trust Him. God has no obligation to explain Himself to man. He is God.
There are sanctions set out as the cost of disobedience. Happiness and holiness belong together. The lack of holiness brings unhappiness. God’s will is that believers be holy in this life and happy in the life to come. Most people want to be happy in this life and holy in the next life. God is willing to let things happen to a man, which may result in pain but which will make him holy as a result. A man’s character tends to make progress in the difficult times rather than in the good times.
Some laws have been fulfilled in Christ and are finished with today e.g. blood sacrifices. But four crucial things remain.
1. God’s desire that believers present Him as a holy God. His love is so great that He hates evil. Believers are to love God with reverence and fear.
2. God hates sin and wants His children to do something about it. Abominations are things, which make God sick, because he is so disgusted. Mankind tends to profane holy things and to pollute good things.
3. Man is required to bring a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving.
4. God wants holy lives. There is a shift from the material to the moral and spiritual aspects of life. These are the things, which will last into eternity.
It is a difficult book to read because it is (a) boring (b) unfamiliar – it is from a different culture – and (c) it seems irrelevant to life today. For the Jew reading Leviticus it is a matter of life and death. There is only one God and that is the God of Israel. All other gods are figments of the imagination. God promised to be their minister of defence, their minister of health and their minister of finance. He would be everything to them. God wanted His people to be holy – like Him. About 90% of the book is direct speech from God to His people.
The first half of the book describes man’s way to God – justification. The second half describes his walk with God – sanctification. If a man feels grateful to God, He wants him to say: “Thank you.” The burnt offering, the meal offering and the peace offering were offerings in gratitude. The guilt offerings were compensation for the bad life lived by a man. He offers to God a good life, which had not sinned. There is no offering for intentional sin. Deliberate sin is very serious.
The two messages of the book are:
1. Access to a holy God is only through blood.
2. Holiness of the redeemed is an imperative.
This is a book for all redeemed people – and not just the priests – showing how God is to be approached and worshipped. In Genesis man is ruined. In Exodus man is redeemed. In Leviticus man is at worship. This is the book of worship. How can sinful man approach a holy God? Only God can decide how this can be done. God has declared that it can only be secured on the basis of sacrifice through the shedding of blood. Jesus confirmed the teaching of the book when He said: “Be holy as your Father is holy.” God was holy in a way, which was unknown in the gods of the nations around. He demanded holiness in His people. Against the darkness of the Canaanite religion the glory of God is revealed.
The burnt offering was a token of dedication. The peace offering was re-establishing fellowship between the one who makes the offering and God. The sin offering was made in order to receive forgiveness. The guilt offering relates to offences against society. Sacrifice was commonplace amongst peoples in the ancient World. Israel’s sacrifices were unique in several ways.
1. Belief in the one true God. 2. The moral dimension stemmed from God’s absolute moral holiness. 3. The complete absence of sorcery or magic. 4. The high tone of sacrifice without frenzy or prostitution.
Jubilee was the acceptable year of the Lord. Every 50 years all property reverted to the family, which originally owned it. This is the only safeguard against the gap between the rich and the poor becoming greater. The gap is widening all over the World. Jesus declared that the Spirit of the Lord was upon Him and that He had come to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord’s favour. People outside of the Church may claim that they can live lives as good as those within it, but they are not the holy people God is looking for. Until a man becomes a believer he never thinks of being holy – just good – but that is not good enough. The World looks for happiness. But the only way to be really happy is to be holy. Happiness and holiness belong together. God’s will for a man is that he be holy in this life and happy in the next one. Most want to be happy in this life and holy in the next one. God is willing to let things happen to a man, which may be painful, but which will make him more holy as a result. The character of a man tends to make more progress in the difficult times than in good times.
CHAPTER 1. It is God who took the initiative and spoke to Moses. God gave Moses the instructions for sacrifice and worship. The commission was to “speak to the people of Israel.” In the ancient World a man’s wealth was determined by the number of animals he possessed. At a time of marriage the dowry was usually decided by reference to a number of animals. So to sacrifice an animal was a real financial sacrifice. It was costly. It represented real value. v 4. The death of the animal is accepted in place of the death of the man who brings it as a sacrifice for his sins. The animal is to be prefect – only the best can be given to God. To give God anything but the best is an insult to Him. The sacrificial system was always open to abuse. The system demanded a right inward attitude. God tests the attitude of the heart. Cain’s attitude was wrong, while Abel’s was right. God knew the inner thoughts of the heart. Each sacrifice, offered in sincerity, had real potency and effect. In Hebrews it is made clear that the sacrificial system was at best an incomplete answer to the problem of sin.
CHAPTER 2. Salt became a symbol for the covenant between God and Israel. Leaven caused fermentation – leading to drunkenness. Num ch 18 and 19. The burnt offering is a type of Christ, as the one who offered Himself in atonement for sin. It was intended as a substitute for the sinner himself. By laying his hands upon the animal’s head the one who made the offer was symbolically identifying himself with it. As the sacrifices were performed year in and year out Israel was reminded of the sin, which cut them off from God’s presence. God showed the people that He would accept a substitute – the death of an animal instead of the offender.
CHAPTER 3. v 17. God gave a permanent law that man was not to eat the fat or consume the blood. Blood is an essential to life. For all man’s achievements he cannot make blood. The life is in the blood. Blood carries energy to the parts of the body but also carries away the poisonous substances.
CHAPTER 4. There are occasions when a man, leader or nation commits a sin without realising it at the time. When it is pointed out or realised, the sin must be put right. This can only be done by bringing a sacrifice. Sins of ignorance did not have an attempt to renounce the sovereignty of God. That atonement was required demonstrates that ignorance of the law is no adequate excuse for failing to keep the law of God. Believers are enjoined to study the Scriptures. 2 Tim ch 2 v 15.
Even for unbelievers ignorance is no excuse. Rom ch 1 v 21 and 28.
The sin offering (a) met the demands of the law – justice was satisfied. (b) It was to be perfect.
(c) It was a substitute offered in the stead of the one who made the offer. (d) It removed the guilt and the penalty of the sin. The sin offering made atonement for the specific sin. The burnt offering symbolised approach to a holy God.
CHAPTER 5. It is a sin for a man to remain silent, if the man knows something about a crime. God is concerned for the truth. Anyone, who withholds information, which prevents the truth being established, is guilty of sin.
v 17. Anyone who disobeys a law of God without realising it is still guilty of sin. It is no excuse to plead ignorance. Confession of sin is essential to a godly walk and life. It is required of God by those who have sinned. Hos ch 5 v 15. Without repentance and confession it is vain to appeal to the blood sacrifice. True confession includes (a) godly sorrow for sin (b) self-abasement (c) prayer for forgiveness (d) a willingness to make restitution (e) a humble acceptance of the correcting hand of God in punishment (f) a turning away from that sin.
CHAPTER 6. God introduces other sins, which apply to all, whether believers or not. Refusing to return something, which has been borrowed or deposited, refusing to return something entrusted to an individual, refusing to return stolen goods, or by finding and keeping a lost article – all are sins and all articles are to be returned with compensation to the owner. When the laws were obeyed they were working for the physical, moral and spiritual health of the nation.
CHAPTER 7. The prohibition against eating fat and blood are confirmed.
CHAPTER 8. v 36. Aaron and his sons did all that the Lord had commanded them to do through Moses. They may not have understood the full significance of the commands but they were obedient. God’s purposes are not always clear. The command is to obey regardless.
CHAPTER 9. The promise was given to the people that they would see the glory of the Lord, but only after they had obeyed all the commands. That is still a principle of Scripture. Faith calls for obedience and then the hand of God will be revealed. A man wants the result first before he obeys. A man says: “Prove to me that Jesus is alive and I will trust Him.” To that Jesus would reply: “Trust me and then you will know that I am alive.” Some laws are not clear. God is asking: “Do you believe me that, if I tell you not to do something, I have a very good reason for that?” Fire is used as a symbol to teach different truths (a) to provide God’s protection (b) as a weapon of divine judgement (c) to denote the presence of the Holy Spirit – the burning bush. 2 Thes ch 1 v 7. Christ will return in flaming fire. God is a consuming fire. Heb ch 12 v 29.
CHAPTER 10. Nadab and Abihu disobeyed the Lord and were consumed by fire. It is dangerous to disobey the Lord. Moses did the same thing in Numbers ch 20 and was barred from the Promised Land. The duties of the priest were to arbitrate for the people, to teach them the difference between what is holy and what is ordinary, what is pure and what is impure, and to teach them all the laws of God. 1 Pet ch 2 v 5. Believers are a royal priesthood with the same purposes as the priests ordained by God. God’s commands are absolute and no man may tailor them to suit his own fancy. Wine featured in the Canaanite religious observances. The priests were ordered to abstain from wine.
CHAPTER 11. God has given clear instructions as to what can be eaten and what cannot. Scientists can provide evidence today to prove the wisdom of God. Previously the Jewish people had to obey the Word of God in order to be blessed. God’s instructions are based on (a) the flesh was unsuitable for sanitary reasons, because they fed on carrion (b) the animal was associated with depraved heathen worship e.g. the pig (c) the habits of the animals had an objectionable behaviour e.g. serpents or bats. In a warm climate the flesh decayed rapidly.
CHAPTER 12. The male child is to be circumcised on the eighth day after birth. The clotting agent in the blood is at its maximum on the eighth day after birth. God knew that long before scientists discovered it. The number eight stands for a new beginning. There were eight people in the ark. David was the eighth son of Jessie. In Canaan prostitution and fertility rites were all mixed up with worship. In Israel anything relating to the sexual or sensual is forbidden. The rule of strict cleanliness in all sexual matters was also a positive safeguard to health.
CHAPTER 13. Leprosy covered a variety of diseases and included moulds and defects in garments. The priest was given power to decide what required to be done. Quarantine was the only solution to prevent the disease spreading.
CHAPTER 14. God gave particular commands to deal with leprosy when they came into Canaan.
CHAPTER 15. God gives provisions for sexual disease, sexual defilement on the part of a man or intercourse with a woman during her menstrual period. God knows how important it is to avoid the spread of disease.
CHAPTER 16. God provides a physical picture to illustrate a spiritual reality. The second lamb was to be led into the desert by a man appointed for the purpose to show that the sins had been carried away. The priest is to lay hands on the lamb to show that the sins have been placed on the lamb. God shows that the sins have been forgiven and remembered no more.
CHAPTER 17. God made provisions to ensure that sacrifices were made properly. v 10 repeats the prohibition against consuming blood – either Israelites or foreigners. The life of the flesh is in the blood. It is the blood, which makes atonement, because it is the life. It was used to mean paying a price or ransom. To be cut off from God is death.
CHAPTER 18. As God, He is entitled to state the moral imperatives. The peoples of the land of Canaan are to be driven out because of the disgusting practices being carried on by them there. God also lists certain prohibitions for the protection of society. There must be no sexual relationship during menstruation. Homosexuality is forbidden. Child sacrifice is forbidden. Any sexual relationship between a human being and an animal is forbidden.
CHAPTER 19. Worshipping the Lord is not about religious observance but about justice and mercy to others in need. Religion plays down this aspect. So Moses is told to pass on commands to the people about providing for the poor (v 10), payment of fair wages to workers (v 13), a fair justice system (v 15), pure and honest speech (v 16), forgiveness (v 18), good husbandry (v 19) – an appropriate word in the days of genetically modified food – avoiding occultic activities (v 26), looking after the wonderful bodies, which the Lord has given (v 28) and looking after foreigners (v 33).
All these commands are very practical and designed to bring about a fair and compassionate society looking after the needs of the poorest in the society. God chose the Jewish people to reflect Himself to the peoples around Canaan. If they obeyed these commands, the peoples of the other nations would see a reflection of a just and compassionate God full of wisdom and truth.
CHAPTER 20. God created the sexual drive within a man and gave him the privilege of playing a part with God in the procreation of the species. God knew that this sexual drive is a powerful force. Each man was designed to be controlled by the power of the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit would control the use of the sexual drive for procreation and companionship. However, the danger was that each man was given free will and could use this sexual drive for his own selfish ends. To sacrifice the child to Molech – an Ammonite god – was to worship the sexual act and deliver the offspring to Satan. It is exactly the same in the twenty first century when people have abortions and place the foetus in the hospital incinerator. In that way they enjoy their sexual encounters and rid themselves of the responsibility, which derives from sexual activity.
God delivers laws to protect the sanctity of sexual intercourse. Honouring parents is the first step in avoiding intercourse outside of marriage. An unwanted pregnancy brings dishonour to the parents. The sexual act is to be between one man and one woman within the marriage and in no other circumstances. The peoples of Canaan were breaking this command and it was for this reason that God would drive them out of the land. The Jewish people were to be set apart as a holy people – as are believers today.
CHAPTER 21. Priests had a particular responsibility. The priest represented man to God and therefore the priest had to be without blemish. Those who are given special roles must be holy in order to enter into the presence of the Lord. v 13. It was imperative that a priest married a virgin.
CHAPTER 22. The priests were given special instructions. God commands man to revere Him and respect His laws.
CHAPTER 23. It was God who instituted the various festivals as times when the people of Israel would worship Him collectively. The feasts reflect a pattern of sevens – pointing back to God’s hallowing of the seventh day of creation. God knows that when pressure comes upon society time for the Lord evaporates. Satan likes nothing better than to keep the believer so busy that he does not have time for God. Sunday is now a busy day in Western society and there is pressure on people to look after their material possessions and to shop and take part in leisure activities. It is so easy to forget God or take Him for granted. He is the source of grace and it is grace, which rescued the believer from Hell. The purpose of the feasts was to provide for a great and glorious meeting of God and His people. The Feast of Tabernacles was to encourage the Jews of the time when they lived in tents and to take their minds off their material houses and concentrate on the presence of God.
CHAPTER 24. Murder, blasphemy and theft are sins, which strike at the heart of the social order. God makes it clear that the punishments are severe. If anyone who curses God must die, what are the consequences for Western society where the Lord’s name is used as a curse and as a source of humour? Surely the wrath of God will fall on such a society. The principle of an eye for an eye expresses the importance of public justice rather than personal revenge.
CHAPTER 25. God wanted to ensure that the people of Israel would never forget that they were the servants of God and totally indebted to Him for His grace to them. God wanted to reach out to the whole World through the Jewish people and therefore obedience to His laws was essential to achieve this purpose. The land itself needed rest to ensure its fertility. God is a capitalist. He owns everything. Jubilee was designed to ensure that no one forgot that fact. It guarded against the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer – which is what is happening in Western society and in many developing countries. v 22. If there is obedience, God promises to provide for all the needs of the people by bringing about a bumper harvest on every sixth year.
v 35 echoes Cain’s comment in Gen ch 4 v 9. “Am I my brother’s keeper?” This fact is the very heart of the Gospel. A man must look after his brother. Gal ch 6 v 10.
CHAPTER 26. There is a promise of blessing for obedience and curses for disobedience. Crops will be abundant. Victory over enemies will be assured. Freedom and dignity will follow. God is able to fulfil His promises. God does not need to be active in His punishment. All He needs to do is to withdraw His grace and the life of the nation – and the life of an individual – simply falls apart. But the various verses about punishment indicate that God will be active in effecting punishment. Failure to heed the warning will bring forth seven times greater punishment. In A. D. 70 the Jewish people who survived the Roman sacking of Jerusalem were indeed scattered amongst the nations of the World for nineteen hundred years as foretold in v 33. God promised in v 44 that He would not utterly destroy them – for the honour of His name. He had promised their ancestors and had to be faithful to His promises. It is a picture of Eden restored. The curses are more detailed than the blessings. Fear of punishment brings a quicker response than love. Despite everything God promises to respond to genuine repentance.
CHAPTER 27. The book ends with two basic aspects of life – the gift of speech and the giving of tithes. God stands by His Word. His Word is His bond. If God ever broke His Word, the Heavens would explode. He expects His people to keep their word. If a man breaks his word, he lies to himself. God’s Kingdom relies on the paying of tithes. Just as the United Kingdom government cannot run the United Kingdom without taxes, so God cannot run His Kingdom without tithes. Use of money is essential to an awareness that all wealth comes from God. Would a man rather have ten tenths without God’s blessing or nine-tenths with God’s blessing? The book leaves the reader with these two challenging questions. Speech is a great gift but out of the heart the mouth speaks. The words of a man have consequences. What a man does with his money also has consequences. Think well on these two aspects of daily life. Worship is far more than singing and praising or even studying the Word of God. It is about ensuring a God-centred society, based on justice and mercy, where young people can grow up in the nurture of the Lord. A man spends most of his waking time at work and it is there where God wants his life to reflect God’s presence. In Hebrew the word for “work” and the word for “worship” is the same word. Two men were working in the field. One was taken and the other one was left. Mat ch 24 v 40. The one who was working in gratitude to God for the work was left. The one who was working for himself was taken.
God’s love is so great that He hates evil. Very few love enough to hate evil. The word God uses –
“abomination” means something, which makes a man want to be physically sick because he feels so disgusted. Mankind constantly profanes holy things and pollutes clean things. Speech is an example. The blood of Jesus is another example. Only by the spilling of the blood of Jesus – an innocent life for a guilty life – is both justice and mercy satisfied. In the blood is the life. If a person’s blood is taken away, his life is taken away. The book of Leviticus gives an insight into the holiness of God, the sinfulness of man, the fullness of Christ and the godliness of life.
The main theme that runs through the book is that although God made everything good and man’s sin has spoiled it, God has not given up. God is now in search of man to save him. The overall control of God is stressed and special attention is given to how God directs history for the good of His people and their salvation.
CHAPTER 1. God created out of nothing by His sovereign will – ex nihilo. Creation was by God and not out of God. Pantheistic religions speak about creation being out of God i.e. a part of God. But creation was and is distinct from God. Prov ch 8 v 22. Psalm 8. John ch 1 v 1-3. Creation set things in order. By naming something the person naming it exercises his right over that thing. Man named the animals. God demonstrated that He is in control of the forces of nature. The sun, moon and stars are put in place to serve man and not to be worshipped. Man was the peak of God’s creation. Man is similar to the animals but different from them. The image of God has been defaced by sin and needs to be renewed. Everything made by God was good. He is not responsible for sin. Rest can be positive and is not necessarily negative. The account of creation is an orderly process. The second account of creation concentrates on man rather than on the Cosmos. Chapter 1 shows man as the pinnacle of creation. Chapter 2 shows man as the centre of a circle.
CHAPTER 2. God formed man. This is different from creation in that God used what already existed. Man became a living soul. Eden means bliss. It is an actual place and is identifiable and known to the writer. Early history is set in Mesopotamia. The Tree of Knowledge of good and evil represents man’s self will and pride, wanting to be equal with God. It is the same sin at Babel in chapter 11. There was always work to do in Eden but it would have been rewarding work without strain. Right from the start man is in the service of God, working to fulfil His purposes. Man has privileges but is subject to certain conditions and has obligations to God.
After the creation of woman, the two become one flesh. It is not the sexual act, which causes the bond but rather that in the sight of God they are one. The first two chapters teach:
(a) The Hebrews had faith in a monotheistic God – one God.
(b) Creation is distinct from God. Only God Himself is to be worshipped and not anything in creation.
(c) The Creation is unique and was made out of nothing. It had a beginning and will have an end. Material things will not exist forever.
(d) God is sovereign. God is always in control. This is in marked contrast with other creation stories. The possibility was there that man would disobey God.
(e) It was orderly. Everything has a place and a purpose. Other religions have a dual approach with forces out-with God’s control. Sin is also under the control of God.
(f) Creation is good. God is not the origin of evil. Earth is to supply all man’s needs.
(g) God breathed the breath of life into man. Man before the fall was good.
(h) Man is distinct from the animals – not just a higher form of animal.
(i) All creation is conditional on man obeying God’s warning.
CHAPTER 3. Sin. Man is responsible for succumbing to the doubts cast by the serpent. God had said not to touch. Eve said that He had said not to eat. There was error as to the accuracy of the Word of God. Then the serpent misquoted the Word. Then he contradicted God’s Word. Titanism is the name for becoming like God. It involves arrogance and pride. The fruit of the tree appealed to the emotions of the woman. It was sensual, a delight to the eyes, and it appealed to the intellect – it would make her wise. Lust leads to sin and sin leads to death. It is misquoting the Word of God to refer to an apple, since the word is fruit. They did not become like God. They realised that they were open to God’s gaze. It was nothing to do with sex. God intervened in the situation. He could have left them. “Where are you?” in v 9 has a deeper significance. It really means: “Where are you in relation to God?” Fear of God is part of a man’s unregenerate sinful position.
Adam tried to pass the buck and blame his wife. Jesus fulfils the bruising of Satan’s head. Ch 3 v 15 is the first promise of a saviour. It is the first good news and evidence of the grace of God. Pain enters the scene in childbirth. There is punishment on the natural World as a result of the sin of man. Man became an alien in his own environment. Alienation is a sinful phenomenon. God’s grace is seen when He clothes them. Sinful man is denied eternal life when he is cast out of the Garden, which was God’s provision for him. Eternal life on this Earth would be unbearable. Fellowship with God is at an end and man cannot restore fellowship by his own efforts.
The Cherubim guarded the holy places for God. Psalm 18 v 10. Noah would have learned all about the event from his father. Adam was alive at the time of Noah’s grandfather. Seven results of the fall.
(a) Physical results. Pain in toil and childbirth. The harmony of the World is upset. All physical suffering is due to sin.
(b) Personal effects. The harmony of the marriage bond was affected.
(c) Spiritual effects. Sin entered the World forever. Before that man had a choice but after he had no choice but to sin.
(d) Fellowship with God is broken. No longer will God walk with man.
(e) Eternal life is taken away.
(f) The last prospect of Adam is death.
(g) There is a promise of the one to come to bruise the head of the serpent – the Saviour.
From chapter 4 onwards God is working out His purposes. God did not want them to experience evil but they had to have free choice. God knew better. Man thought that he knew just as well. It has been the same ever since.
Sin spread and multiplied and God gave His judgement in the Flood. Abel’s sacrifice was acceptable to God. Cain’s was not and the murder was related to the fact the Cain felt guilty and jealous of Abel. Cereal offering had no blood in it. Abel had faith and brought his offering in faith. Cain still had a chance to put it right. God did not reject him right away. Cain had no excuse for the murder. Man has no excuse for his actions even though he is sinful by nature. Cain was responsible for his brother. God acts justly to avenge the death of Abel and the spilling of his blood. God wants to see justice done. God puts a mark on Cain. His punishment is not just vengeance but is justice. The death penalty is not for the purpose of vengeance but out of justice. Lev ch 24 v 17. Deut ch 19 v 21. Man must make sure that revenge is not his purpose in punishing. The motive should be justice. God stays His hand. How could Adam have executed his own son? God saved him from that. Mat ch 5 v 38. God does not punish each man as he deserves.
Genealogy. Culture began to develop, as does agriculture, music, industry and metal workers. But culture is no saviour. Men began to worship the Lord, more than just God in the abstract but it speaks of a relationship. Yahweh = Lord. Ex ch 3 v 14 and Ex ch 6 v 2-3. Enoch showed that there was still hope of finding faith with God.
The Flood. People were now so sinful that God put a limit on their life span. Every instinct of their hearts was evil. The heart means the centre of a man’s being – his will, emotions and understanding. Rom ch 7 v 18. God was sorry that He had made man. ch 5 v 6. Anthropomorphism is describing God in human terms. Noah was a godly man, walking in the ways of God but not perfect. Even in sin man can find God’s grace. The believing people are saved by the grace of God. God saved a remnant. This is a theme throughout Scripture. Is ch 7 v 3. Modern vessels have the same proportions as the ark. The ark was approximately 13,960 tons in weight. “Pairs” refers to unclean animals. Where there are 7 of an animal these are for sacrifice. Mount Ararat is 17,000 feet high. The ark landed in the range of mountains and is still there. Sin continued after the Flood. God promised never to flood the land again. God chose to bless Noah – he did not earn the blessing. The story is a forerunner of the salvation offered in Jesus.
Ch 9 v 2. Animals are now afraid of man and lions attack man. Is ch 11 v 6-9. The harmony will be restored one day. This is how it was before the Flood. Do not eat blood. It is precious to God. He gave life and life is precious to God. Life is symbolised by blood. Lev ch 3 v 17. All things are clean for believers because Jesus has spilled His blood for them. The death penalty must be in justice, administered by the State and not for personal revenge. The State is a representative of society.
God made a covenant with Noah. It is a covenant of grace. Before the fall Adam’s relationship depended on obedience. The new covenant was one of grace. It could not be earned by the obedience of man. It was similar to those made by the Hittites. The rainbow is the witness of the covenant. The first 11 chapters teach:
1. The goodness of the creation.
2. Man and woman – marriage – family.
3. The nature of man. Man’s hope is in God. He is lost without God’s grace. There is death due to Adam’s sin and life due to Christ’s sacrifice.
4. Justice and revenge.
5. Judgement in the Flood.
6. God’s promises. He will send a saviour and will not cause a flood again.
7. Salvation. Noah and his family were saved from death.
9. Pride. Babel. Acts ch 2. Tongues. What was done at Babel was reversed at Pentecost.
Interpretation of Genesis chapters 1 to 11.
The Literalist does not look for a deeper meaning than the factual statement e.g. a span of 7 days and a snake.
(a) The person who wrote and read Genesis understood it in this way.
(b) If the rest of the Old Testament is accepted, why not these chapters.
(c) On what authority can the chapters be changed?
(d) The New Testament quotes these chapters literally, word for word. Rom ch 5 v 1. 1 Cor ch 11 v 8f. 1 Tim ch 2 v 13. 2 Pet ch 3 v 5.
(a) Do these chapters give scientific explanations, rules or laws?
(b) What was the purpose of the writer? Scientific, religious or theological?
(c) Modern science contradicts the details of the creation story.
(d) There is no scientific evidence for a universal flood.
(e) Do these stories give the answers as to how and why these things happened?
2. Mythical. This assumes that the events did not happen in the way in which they are described.
(a) A myth is where a god plays an important part.
(b) A legend is a story handed down about a great legendary figure of the past. The story of Abraham is then regarded as legend.
(c) Aetiology – an explanation story.
Myth. There is little in favour of regarding it as a myth.
(a) To do so removes the historical basis of our faith. If the Fall did not happen, it makes nonsense of theology.
(b) Other ancient myths are crude and quite unlike the Biblical stories and are polytheistic.
(c) These explanations do not give the full story.
(d) Remove the myth from the stories and there is nothing left.
3. Symbolical. (Theological.) This view considers that the historical question is irrelevant. The stories are not scientific but they are timeless and are to be considered more like parables and are allegorical. e.g. the flood is like the Second Coming. There are 4 arguments against this view:
(a) The interpretation can get out of hand and go beyond what the New Testament understands
(b) There is a danger of showing the moral of the story and ignoring the meaning of the story itself.
(c) This ignores the historical question.
(d) It is really a mythical interpretation in disguise.
The Gap Theory. This suggests that there is a huge gap between chapters 1 and 2. This is to fit in with the idea that the Earth is 4,200,000,000 years old. Animals were created over a long period of time. Days are to be understood as longer than 24 hours. This view sees a harmony between science and religion. It recognises that Biblical writers are logical and faithful in their accounts. It gives due place to the importance of science and the Bible.
(a) It involves drastic interpretation of the text.
(b) Biblical interpretation is changed to suit scientific knowledge, which changes from time to time. The Bible explains what science does not understand.
(c) As theories of science change the understanding of the Bible will have to change.
(d) Science is not proof but theory.
(e) The stories are pre-scientific. Genesis was written in a pre-scientific age. Truth and meaning are eternal. The people then could understand them. Language is accommodated to what man can understand and changes with time. This does not make it wrong at the time.
The Gospel in Chapters 1 to 11.
1. Sin in the Fall. Doubt and disbelief by Adam and Eve. Sin breeds and leads to murder, revenge, bigamy, indecency, drunkenness and pride. Ch 11 v 4. Man seeks salvation by his own achievements. Babel. Apart from God, man’s position is hopeless.
2. Grace. God gives all man needs out of His grace and He is lenient in His punishment. He even scatters the people after Babel for their own protection.
3. Repentance and forgiveness. Noah gives a sacrifice for sin.
4. The Promises of God. A Saviour – death – no more flood.
5. Fellowship. It is possible to find God even after the Fall. Enoch. God required to bridge the gap. An offering was made.
6. The Chosen Family. Seth’s family lead to Abraham. God chooses a line to lead to Jesus.
Abraham is recognised as the father of the faithful. He just believed God. In faith he set out for Canaan. He was looking for a spiritual promise, rather than a physical one. God promised him a son and a family as many as the sand. Abraham also doubted and sinned and is revealed in an honest way. Despite his weakness he found favour with God. He left Ur at 75. Ur was destroyed about 1950 B. C. shortly before he left. Abraham lived about 200 B. C. God’s 3 promises are repeated time and again:
1. “I shall make you a great nation.”
2. “I shall bless you.”
3. “Blessings will flow to the whole World through you.”
He was a devout man and a man of worship. Abram meant “high or exalted father.” Abraham meant
“Father of many.” It was God who renamed him. He sinned by deception in Egypt when he made out Sarah to be his sister ch 20 v 12. This was a white lie or part truth. A white lie is a lie to God. Isaac did the same thing with King Abimelech – like father like son. ch 26 v 6-11.
Abraham lost sight of God’s promises. It happens so easily. The Patriarchs were nomads of no fixed abode. A land of his own was a great promise for a nomad, as was someone to carry on the name. There are 3 interpretations of the promise:
1. The promise still applies to the Jews today. Through the Jews all nations of the Earth are blessed.
2. It has never been fulfilled because of the sins of the Jews. Because the Jews broke God’s covenant it is at an end. But the promise had no strings attached. Why should God’s promises fall because man sins? A promise is a promise to God.
3. The promise finds fulfilment in the Church as the new Israel. The promise then no longer applies to the Jews. This means that all the promises are in danger of being spiritualised. The land was a concrete promise. This gives rise to replacement theology, which is a heresy.
CHAPTER 14. The war of the Kings.
There were city states – probably more like villages. There were power struggles amongst the states in Canaan. Lot was captured in the war and Abraham rescued him. Melchizedek. His name means King of righteousness and he was also King of Salem – peace – which is the same place as Jerusalem today.
It is a place of worship and faith. He was a priest of God most high. Normally King and priest were separate jobs but Melchizedek held both jobs. Psalm 110 v 4. Jesus was a priest like Melchizedek. Heb ch 7. The priesthood of Christ is higher than that of Israel. Melchizedek came before the priests of Israel. Abraham gave him a tenth of what he had. Melchizedek is greater then Abraham because he blessed Abraham. The greater blesses the lesser. Heb ch 7 v 7. Christ’s priesthood is eternal. Abimelech as a non-believer is aware of guilt and sin. The believer puts up a poor witness and is shown up by a non-believer. Lot made a bad choice of Sodom and got into trouble but God rescued him and then again when he went back to Sodom.
The promise of a son. Abraham began to doubt God’s word to him about a son and was afraid that a foreigner would inherit his property. He took matters into his own hand and used a concubine. Eleaser was not his son. In a man’s human frailty he needs to hear God’s promises over and over again. Abraham was considered righteous because he believed the Lord. He was justified by faith and not works. All the saints before the Law was given were justified by faith in God. The covenant was an agreement between a lesser and a greater party. The lesser has obligations to the greater, who makes promises. The covenant was accompanied by sacrifice. There were lines of animals cut up and the parties passed between them indicating that the same should happen to them, if they did not keep the agreement. God took the initiative. God passed through the pieces in the presence of smoke and flame. A theophany is a physical manifestation of God’s presence.
In 1700 B. C. the Hebrews went to Egypt. Slavery was never referred to as a punishment as the later captivities in Babylon and Assyria were. Egypt was just a fact. The land was promised but it had to be won by the people from those who occupied it. The Hebrews never drove out the people in the land.
Sarah and Hagar. At 85 Abraham still had no child. Hagar gave him one. This was common practice but it was wrong. The majority are not necessarily right. Just because everyone else is doing it does not make it right. The sin belonged to Abraham but Sarah hated Hagar. Abraham tried to pass the blame to Sarah as Adam did to Eve. God promised Abraham to make a great nation of Ishmael – and He did. The Arabs are still over and against their neighbours, the Arabs and are still smarting over the fact that Ishmael was the illegitimate son of Abraham and not the one who received the blessing. God has been good to the Arabs – oil. They ought to share it with their brothers – the Jews.
Circumcision is the seal of the covenant. The name El Shadday is a name, which implies the greatness of God and the weakness of man. A new name for God is often revealed at a time when God encounters man. Jesus was circumcised as a sign of the covenant. It was just a sign. Deut ch 30 v 6 refers to circumcision of the heart. It was replaced by baptism as an outward sign. The land was to be an everlasting possession. A real Jew is one who has faith in God.
Abraham laughed when he heard. He was 99 at the time. Nothing is impossible with God. God granted Abraham’s request for a blessing for Ishmael. An angel can be a human messenger. According to custom Sarah would not have been present when the three men called. A miracle child is always the sign of the power of God. These included Samuel, John the Baptist and Isaac. God revealed His plan to Abraham as He does to those who are walking close to Him. God does nothing except that He reveals it to the prophets. Amos ch 3 v 7.
Abraham bargained with God. It was faith and faith pleases God. If a man is in a close relationship with God he can intercede according to His will. No mistakes will be made in the final judgement. Lot was spared as a result of Abraham’s prayers. Sodomy is condemned. Lev ch 18 v 22 and ch 20 v 13. 1 Cor ch 6 v 9. 1 Tim ch 1 v 10. Sexual sins are not the worst a person can commit. They can be forgiven. Lot’s wife lagged behind or perhaps wanted to go back. Are women less inclined to leave their homes, which are a place of security? She was probably covered in ash. Sodom is now under the Dead Sea. Lot and Noah both sinned in relation to wine and sex. The result of his sin with his daughters is that the offspring are the ancestors of the Moabites and the Ammonites, who were mostly the enemies of Israel. A man’s sins can have consequences, which he can never predict.
Abraham again deceived the King by saying that Sarah was his sister. It endangered God’s plans. The people might have suffered as a result. God protected Sarah and the King did not touch her. God spoke to Abimelech and warned him. The pagan king turned out to be more moral than the Patriarch. Believers are not always better than non-believers, although they ought to be.
Isaac. His name means laughter and joy. Hagar had scorned Sarah. Now the tables were turned. God protects Hagar and Ishmael on the journey. Gal ch 4 v 21-31. Paul uses the story as an allegory. The offering of Isaac was the supreme test of Abraham’s faith. It looked as if God was going to take away the gift of a son after all. The pagans practised human sacrifice in these days. Abraham was willing to go ahead with it. It took place at Mount Moriah – Jerusalem. 2 Cor ch 3 v 1. The offering was on the third day. A father offered his only son. John ch 3 v 16. As Isaac carried the wood, so Jesus carried His cross. Whereas a substitute was provided for Isaac, Jesus was the perfect sacrifice and was a substitute for others. Heb ch 11 v 17-19. Isaac was as good as dead and God raised him from the dead.
The Hittites had a great empire at that time. Some of them settled in Canaan. Abraham bought the cave of Machpelah at Mamre. (Hebron) It was possible for him to own land despite the fact that he was an alien. It fulfilled God’s plan that Abraham would own land in Canaan. The only place Abraham could say was his was the cave, despite God’s promise to him. Today there is a mosque on top of it. Isaac is a shadowy figure. Little is known about him. The finding of a wife is one of the most important decisions in life. Marrying within the faith is an Old Testament theme. Deut ch 7 v 3f. 1 Kings ch 11 v 4. Ezra ch 9. To marry outside is to draw a man away from God. Abraham arranged it to some extent. Isaac stayed in the Promised Land and the wife came to him.
It was sensible for the servant to go to the well. He asked for direction from God and used common sense as well. Laban was a rogue. Women did have a say in the decision in these days. There is archaeological evidence to prove this.
CHAPTER 25. Concubines were never God’s will and did not receive God’s blessing. It is an example of believers following a pagan custom. Abraham died happily. Death can unite a family. Ishmael appeared at the funeral. Edom is a pun on the word hairy. Jacob always struggled with man and God. Archaeology confirms that a birthright could be sold. Esau became the father of the people of Edom – a dreadful family. God’s foreknowledge is shown in that He knew how they would turn out. It was grace for Jacob, since he was no better than Esau. There was no merit involved. It is dangerous to have favouritism within a family. It often leads to rejection. The Philistines hated Isaac because he was rich. The ungodly always despise those whom God blesses. Esau married two Hittite wives and brought grief to the family.
CHAPTER 27. When Isaac gave his blessing his emotions got the better of him. Rebecca schemed. Jacob lied. Esau still tried to get the blessing despite having sold his birthright. The blessing, once given, was binding. Esau had a hard life and was in subjection to his brother Israel – in the time of Kings. The story is told to show Isaac’s humanity and weakness. It tells of the reliability of the Bible. The people of God are shown with all their sins and are not falsely presented. Left to themselves the Jews would never have told such a story of their ancestors.
CHAPTER 28. Esau married an Ishmaelite to displease his father. The dream at Bethel was very important for Jacob. It transformed his life. The stairway indicated a two-way movement. The angels are God’s servants. The Colossians worshipped the angels. Col ch 2 v 18. But the angels only point to Jesus. Jacob made a vow to God. A vow usually affects your wallet. In ch 29 Jacob met Laban who was a trickster. Jacob had met his match. The names of the children are puns or etymologies.
Leah’s 6 children are: 1. Reuben – a son. 2. Simeon – loved. 3. Levi – attached.
4. Judah – praise. 5. Issachar – reward. 6. Zebulun – dwell.
Zilpah’s children are: 7. Gad – happy. 8. Asher – happy.
Bilhah’s children are: 9. Dan – judge. 10. Naphtali – wrestled.
Rachel’s children are: 11. Joseph – adds. 12. Benjamin – son of right hand.
Leah also gave birth to Dinah. It was a custom that the maid could have a child to be adopted as the man’s own. Mandrakes are to encourage fertility.
CHAPTER 31. There is evidence of the protecting hand of God in the story. The teraphim are the household idols. Laban wanted them back. They may have been linked to inheritance rights. Rachel punished Laban by hiding them. Laban and Jacob ended up making a covenant. God had prospered Jacob, which is a sign of God’s blessing. Jacob’s prayer is an honest one as he lays hold of the promise of God and called God to be true to His word. Jacob met God face to face – in the dark. Jacob had to get himself sorted out with God. This is every man’s problem. A man must be right with God before he can put his relationships with others right. Jacob was to be permanent in the land of Canaan.
CHAPTER 34. The rape of Dinah. The Hebrews as believers were to be different from their pagan neighbours. Dinah was an unwilling partner. Hamor pleaded with the people to intermarry with Shechem. It was a tempting offer of trade, land etc. But it was wrong to intermarry. Abraham and Isaac knew this and took wives from their own people. Shechem’s men were slaughtered while they were incapacitated. Simeon and Levi were taken to task for their revenge. They never received a portion of the land. It had not been justice but revenge. An eye for an eye was given only to the extent of the injury. Ex ch 21 v 24. Deut ch 19 v 21. Lev ch 20 v 24. In Mat ch 5 v 38 Jesus teaches that there is to be no such thing as revenge. The Lord will take vengeance.
CHAPTER 35. God appeared again to Jacob to confirm the name and the promise of the land. God sometimes says things several times to make the point. The chosen family developed. In ch 36 Esau lived in the land of Edom. Israel was to be the instrument of blessing to the World. The Edomites were not forgotten.
JOSEPH. The theme of providence is developed. God provided for Joseph and his family despite evil circumstances. Jacob made the same mistake Isaac made – favouritism. The special coat made the brothers jealous. The brothers sensed that God was speaking to them through Joseph and did not like it. It was a rejection of God centred on Joseph. Judah was used by God to save Joseph’s life. They sold him to the Midianites. Judges ch 8 v 22-4. Meantime Judah married a Canaanite woman. A Leverite marriage in Deut ch 25 v 5. The brother of a deceased was to marry the widow and give her a child. Ruth is another example. Boaz should have married her. The Saduccees used the idea to try to trick Jesus in Mat ch 22 v 24.
Joseph went through 5 tests in his life.
1. The test of adversity. Gen ch 37 v 28. The favoured son.
2. The test of the body. Gen ch 39 v 7. Respected in Egypt.
3. The test of the soul. Gen ch 40 v 15. Tempted by Potiphar’s wife.
4. The test of prosperity. Gen ch 41 v 41-42. Made Governor in Egypt.
5 The test of the inner man. Gen ch 50 v 19-21. Opportunity for revenge.
Joseph survived the tests because he had found that he could trust God in every situation.
He had a difficult start in life, coming from a family with more than the usual number of problems. Slaves did not usually live too long in slavery. Despair must have hovered over his life. The enemy would have used his favourite words: “If only”. Satan had robbed him of so much and still taunted him by suggesting that it need not have happened. Perhaps it was only because Joseph wanted to put God first in his life that he could cope with slavery. The whole story of the Children of Israel would have been different, if Joseph had not resisted Potiphar’s wife. Even if he had given in to her temptation, he would probably have ended in jail, once she had had her way. In all the difficulties Joseph asked not why this was happening to him but what could God do through the situation. That was the positive attitude, which overcame depression of the soul. When nothing was happening, Joseph did what he could to occupy the time and redeem it. He was concerned for others who came across his path and forgot himself. Gal ch 6 v 10. He had to wait for God. Jesus also had to wait until He was 30 before starting His public ministry.
Prosperity was as great a test. Would Joseph abandon God when times were good? When God sends prosperity many ignore Him. Deut ch 6 v 10-13. “Beware lest you forget God.” Psalm 62 v 13. Prov ch 30 v 7-9. Hosea ch 8 v 14. Phil ch 3 v 7-8. Mat ch 6 v 19.
Luke ch 18 v 24-25. Materialism tends to choke the spiritual life out of people.
God allowed the brothers to sin and then brought them to face up to their sin. These were to be the leaders of the new nation. The sin was un-confessed and had to be dealt with. All un-confessed sin holds back the believer in his walk with God and spiritual growth. The brothers were utterly dependent on mercy from Joseph. There was nothing they could do. The Gospel is all about mercy and not justice and it is seen in Joseph’s dealing with his brothers. They stood before the mercy seat of Joseph – as a picture of man standing before the mercy seat of Jesus. Heb ch 7 v 25. and ch 4 v 16. Joseph was full of mercy. Jesus was full of compassion for a lost World. Joseph was filled with faith that God would lead the family out of Egypt. Heb ch 11.
At each turn of events Joseph had to write a new chapter of his life in order to give glory to God. Joseph could see God’s hand on his life, despite the difficult circumstances and looked to the Lord for grace in the future, until such time as the Lord took him to be with Himself.
Joseph overcame difficult circumstances by faith, and he became a blessing to others. Death would have been the normal punishment for Joseph but Potiphar spared him. God can use a believer despite his sins. The Pharaohs had come from Mesopotamia originally and perhaps that is why they were sympathetic to Joseph. Joseph’s family arrived in Egypt around 1700 B. C. The events of the famine were brought about for God’s purposes. Pharaoh would not have recognised it but Joseph had the Spirit of God in him. Joseph called his sons Ephraim – fruitful for the 7 years of plenty and Manasseh – forget. God had caused him to forget his brothers’ treatment of him. Joseph was 39 when he met his brothers – some 22 years after they sold him into slavery. Joseph was clean-shaven and wore Egyptian clothes and they were not expecting him, so they did not recognise him. The meeting was a fulfilment of the dream that they would bow to him. He brought the brothers to the point of confession and repentance. Their attitude had changed. The cup was used for divination to read the future. They probably felt that Joseph had arranged the event. Sheol was the place of the dead and not hell. It just meant dying. Joseph was a picture of Jesus – cast out and on his own to save his people. Goshen was to the North east of the Nile Delta. It was a fertile region. 70 people came into the land of Egypt with Jacob.
Town dwellers did not like shepherds, which is what the children of Jacob were. Jacob did not have a lot to be happy about when he looked back on his life. Egypt was organised along feudal lines. Grain was sold for money until the people had no money left. Then they exchanged cattle for grain and finally sold themselves into slavery for food. So Pharaoh gained wealth and power. There was no welfare state for the needy.
It was considered a very important action on the part of an old man to bless the family. God is given one of His titles – El Shaddai – God Almighty. The blessings look to the future.
1. Reuben. He is not dependable. His land was later captured by Moabites. No important person ever came from the tribe of Reuben.
2. Simeon and Levi. They lost their inheritance of land. This was because of Shechem and Dinah.
3. Judah. It became an independent kingdom in 922 B. C. v 10 may be a Messianic prophecy. Rule came from Judah.
4. Zebulun. He would dwell on the shore.
5. Dan. Dan would be violent and treacherous.
6. Gad. Land across the Jordan.
7. Asher. Their land was the most fertile in Israel.
8. Benjamin. Saul was from this tribe. Joseph was buried at Shechem in Canaan. He hoped that God’s promises would be fulfilled in Canaan.
Ever since the first recorded words of God to mankind the Word of God, whether spoken or written has been under attack from Satan. During the twentieth century there was a consistent attack on the truth of the books of Genesis and Revelation. Genesis has been attacked as myth – just a collection of stories to teach man some moral principles – and Revelation has been criticised as a great mystery – far too difficult to understand. Why is this? Is it because Genesis describes Satan’s entrance on the stage of time and his plan to rob, kill and destroy mankind and Revelation describes his undignified exit and final casting into the Lake of Fire? If Satan can destroy faith in Genesis the whole Bible is undermined. If he can turn believers away from Revelation he will deny them an understanding of the unseen World where the forces of light and darkness are engaged in a mighty war.
Genesis deals with the real questions facing mankind. Life is a moral struggle. When people read Genesis, they have more questions than answers. Who made God? Was it really in 6 days? Where did Cain get his wife? Why bother to read Genesis? Man must be one of the most improbable productions of this Universe. “Where did I come from? Am I an accident – a cosmic orphan? Am I not wanted or not loved? Where do I fit in to this amazing World? Who am I? Why am I here? Why do I have to die? Is there a script to this play in which I am involved? Am I like the animals or different from them?” The first question for man on opening the book of Genesis is this: Is it human imagination or divine inspiration? Man has to take a step of faith to believe that it is divine inspiration and then he finds that it fits the facts, which he observes about the World in which he lives. Fact 1. Man lives in a wonderful, beautiful World. Fact 2. The World is being ruined by most of the human beings, who live in it. The facts fit Genesis. As a man thinks so he will become. That is the principle of brainwashing. Man needs to read Genesis and Revelation.
Why did God create man? Only God can answer the questions. He alone was there when it began. Scientists cannot tell man how it began or why it began. God created man to manifest Himself, to enjoy a relationship with mankind and to be glorified by mankind. Eph ch 3 v 10. The doctrine of creation asserts: – the free and sovereign lordship of God in respect of His World and the total dependence of all things upon God. God created out of nothing. Once there was nothing there. No Sun, No Moon, No Stars. No Earth. Nothing! Man’s existence is totally dependent on God. Man’s eternal destiny it totally dependent on his response to God’s Word.
There are two main themes running through the Bible. What has gone wrong with the World? How can God put it right? God intends to rescue mankind from itself. The whole Bible is the drama of redemption. There are just 2 chapters on creation. The death of Jesus has far greater attention than the Creation of the World. God selects the events from the lives of certain individuals to prove the need for a saviour to deal with sin and to restore the broken relationship between man and God.
If a man cannot accept that Genesis is true, then he cannot accept the rest of the Bible as true. The first sentence of the Bible appears in no other book in the World. If a man cannot believe the first sentence then the truth of the whole book is undermined. Remove Genesis and the Second Coming of Jesus has no basis. If Genesis is not true then chance is man’s creator and beasts are his ancestors. While man does not need to explain the existence of God, he does need to explain the existence of everything else. In order to believe the book and understand it, a man must first believe that God exists. The book is written in simple style. It confirms what happened without going into great detail. It is not a science textbook.
Genesis is the beginning of everything except God. God has always been there. Nothing cannot become something. There is only one thing, which man has created out of nothing and that is money. The love of it has caused endless distress. There is a fundamental assumption that God exists. The Bible does not try to prove God’s existence. Man today demands proof. It is impossible to prove the existence of God at creation. Heb ch 11 says that by faith man accepts what can be seen and he believes that He exists. Rom ch 1 v 20 makes it clear that nature reveals the invisible qualities of God and His eternal power and divine nature. No one has any excuse.
Who is man? He is the total of all that has happened to him in his past life and his responses to the events. The past is the key to the present and the present is the key to the future. What a man did in the past affects his life today and has determined where he is today. What he does today determines his eternal destiny. When the books are opened it will all be recorded. No wonder the Bible says again and again that “Today is the day of salvation” There is an urgency throughout the Bible. Gen ch 9 v 19 and ch 10 v 32. That fact has such a lot to say to nations and racial discrimination. No one race is superior to another. All are descended from Noah’s three sons.
Chapter one reads like an eye-witness account. There was no one there but God. The only real explanation is that God told Moses what happened and Moses recorded it for man. God saw it all happen. There was a beginning. Once it did not exist. Nothing turned into something. Either something or someone was always there. God does not have to prove Himself. It is the Universe, which needs to be explained. Assume that God is there and man will find Him. Faith assumes it is true. Moses was very well educated and there was an alphabet by his day. There was even a university in Egypt in the time of Moses.
The Jewish people rolled up the scrolls and wrote on the outside the opening words. So for the Jewish people the book is known as “in the beginning.” The Greek word for this is Genesis, which means origins. Genesis tells man about the origin of the Universe – the origin of life – mankind, plants and the animals – the origin of evil and sin – the origin of marriage – the origin of the family – the origin of society – the origin of worship of God. Man is given the duty and privilege of being steward of the whole Earth but on one condition – God rules over man. That is the framework of the World in which man lives. It is important to know the basic situation before a man moves on into daily living.
Chapter 1 is about God and not about His creation. It mentions God 35 times. It tells 13 things about God.
1. God is a mighty God full of power and imagination. It speaks about the greatness of God – the sheer majesty of His creation.
1. God is personal – He thinks, feels, sees, acts and has a mind and will. He thought it all out and acted. Jesus is always at work. God was excited about it and shares this with man.
2. God is powerful. There are 10 commandments. God is powerful and mighty. No sooner is it said than it is done.
3. God is uncreated. God is not a creature but the creator. He is always there. He is not made but He made Heaven and Earth. God is quite distinct from His creation. Idolatry worships what God has made and not God Himself. God is never identified with His creation. He is apart from it. To worship the creation and not the Creator is idolatry. To worship the sun is as silly as bowing down to a light bulb.
4. God is creative. Each person in the whole World is unique, physically, emotionally and spiritually. The imagination of God is immense. God is very creative, with a great imagination. No two snowflakes are alike.
5. God is singular. The noun is plural but the verb is singular. It does not make for good grammar but is theologically correct. The Godhead is a family of three – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. They are so closely related as to appear to be one. John ch 1 v 1-3. God planned it. Jesus, God the Son was actively involved in the Creation. The Holy Spirit acted as executive agent. The Holy Spirit hovered over the face of the Earth bringing forth order. The word in Hebrew is the word for a hen brooding over her chicks to give birth to them. All 3 members of the Godhead were involved in creation – out of nothing.
6. God is orderly. Everything is beautifully in order.
7. God is loving. God is good and seeks our good. Only a good God can create good things. He creates without anything. Man can only make.
8. God is living. God is very much alive and active – He is busy and never asleep.
9. God is a speaking God. He speaks and things happen.
10. God is a good God. Everything He creates is good.
11. God is like man in some respects. He sees. He can make without hands.
12. God is unlike man in other ways. Man cannot create out of nothing.
13. God is fatherly. He wants to recreate and have fellowship.
When a man comes to read the Gospels he finds that Jesus regarded all the characters in the book of Genesis as real people. He was there at the time of the Creation. Hebrews ch 1 v 2 tells that Jesus was involved with God the Father in creating everything. He told the people of His day: “Before Abraham was I am.” For a brief few years Jesus assumed the body of a human being and lived on Earth. Of the many days of the life of Earth the most important day by far was the day when Jesus died to receive the punishment for the sins of the World.
CHAPTER 2. This chapter is about man and where he fits into the Universe. Although God created a vast number of species, man is the pinnacle of His creation. Why did God create man? The best explanation is that He so enjoyed the relationship with His Son, Jesus that He wanted to have many more sons and daughters. Man is made in the image of God. Man is like God in certain ways. The Bible shows how men were meant to be. Man has become the centre of the picture. Man needs light to enable him to see and food to survive. It is no longer God at the centre of the picture. The Bible has to be understood within history and geography. It is set in a specific place with four rivers. It reads as if it is at a specific time. Particular individuals are now on stage. God now has a name. Jahweh is His name. There are names for the rivers and the places. Man is seen at the centre of a network of relationships. Man is set in God’s World and made in His image. Man holds a special responsibility for the running of the World. He is a steward.
This chapter introduces relationships. Man is only as rich as his relationships. Loneliness is a great curse. It was not fit that man should live alone. There are 4 relationships spoken about in this chapter. 1. With God. 2. With the plant World. 3. With animals and 4. Marriage. There is a vertical relationship with God and nature and a horizontal relationship with animals and people. Man is different from all other creatures in that man is made like God in certain aspects but unlike God in certain other aspects. God is like man and this leads to intimacy but is unlike man and that leads to reverence. Man cannot be too distant or too intimate. Adam means dusty. Eve means lively. Names in the Bible are usually descriptive and they carry authority. The one who gives the name has authority over the one who is named. In marriage the woman takes the name of the man, indicating his authority over her. The Bible shows man what he was meant to be and how far he has fallen. Work is shown as a glad co-operation with God. Man has great potential. Without sin this World would be incredibly rich. God is to be the centre of life. Adam snatched at equality with God. “My will, not yours.” Jesus prayed: “Your will, not mine.” There are two Gardens – Eden and Gethsemane and two results. Relationships are lost and later are restored. After creation God did not stop creating.
The Earth was created first and then the Sun, Moon and stars.
The Bible says there were 6 days of creation. Man says 4 million years. It is not important to know exactly how it happened. God did not choose to tell man. There are 7 alternatives.
1. Antique. Yom is a literal day of 24 hours. Evening and morning suggest this. If this is accepted then God forged antiques like rocks. Man was made whole and not as a baby. Rocks could have been made with age also.
2. Gap. Without form or void suggests a long period. But this is not creation. Rather it is experimentation.
3. The Flood. This theory suggests that the Flood altered the age of the rocks.
4. Geological age. This makes the Earth very old. Evening and morning are then just poetic language and have no real meaning. Yom sometimes means more than 24 hours. But usually means 24 hours.
5. Myth. Truths only but the framework is only fable. God tells the truth. It is not credible that God would tell man as fact if He only meant it to be a fable.
6. Educational days. As days of a story told to Moses.
7. Theological days. Not Earth days. It is like a week’s work to God and man’s week is a reflection of that work. Time does not matter to God. The day Jesus died is of supreme importance. Creation is of little importance. It was no big deal for God. In the Bible man is of supreme importance. Science makes creation more important and man of less importance. Today is the day of salvation. Creation just gives the background as to how man came to be here.
Day 7. God took a day off. Why?
(a) God enjoyed standing back and looking at what He had achieved. It gave Him satisfaction. Man does this. He spends more time admiring what he has done, than he did doing it.
(b) Day of rest. God does not need to rest, since He does not get tired. But God took a change of occupation. He was not so wrapped up in His work that He needed a day to Himself. Man needs time to reflect and be still and consider God and where he is going. A man needs to stand back from day to day involvement.
The Earth was naturally seeded. Man needs more than grassland. There is a sense of beauty. Man needs food plus a pleasant environment. God made sure that man had all he needed. There was plenty water in 4 rivers. Paradise. Man was to develop and cultivate it. This was teamwork. Man was to be a husband to the plant world – husbandry – caring for it. Part of the World was planted by God.
1. The relationship to God. Nowadays the idea of “old” is out of date and irrelevant. This is not so with Genesis. Man is a tenant and God is the landlord. God kept one tree as a test of their relationship. It was not a lot to ask. “You can rule the World, provided you let me rule you. That way it will work but, if you decide what is right and wrong, you will get it wrong.” The trees were real and sacramental. They were physical channels to bring blessings or curses – physical channels of grace and judgement – one to make man live longer and one to live shorter. The tree of life. Adam and Eve were not by nature immortal but through the tree had the possibility to live forever. By access to the tree of life they could have gone on living forever. Why cannot the body go on forever? The secret was in the tree of life. By feeding on God’s constant supply of life. The tree of knowledge or experience. God said: “I do not want you to experience evil. I want you to retain your innocence.” When man does a wrong thing, he loses his innocence. Innocence leads to happiness. Why did God put such a tree within their reach? God said: “I retain moral authority over you. You do not decide yourself what is right and wrong. You look to me to learn what is right and wrong.” Parents hope that their children learn to live right lives. Man is a tenant and God retains the right to decide what is best for him. When a man tries for himself to see whether it is good or bad, he loses his innocence.
A ouija board, which is just cardboard, unleashes power of evil, so the bread and wine release good. There were specific consequences for man. They touched supernatural realities. Physical things can become the means of reaching spiritual realities. Man in himself is not immortal but, by eating from the tree God gave him, he had the opportunity of living forever. Man lives by the power of the Spirit. He can receive the immortality of life into himself by accepting Jesus. To enter the place of delight meant there would be a limit on his liberty. God set a limit. Innocence is the key to true happiness. Once man has tasted evil he can never be innocent again. e. g. sex outside marriage. God always wants the best for man.
God retains authority over man. When man gives a name he exercises authority over it. On marriage a wife gets a new name and comes under the authority of the husband. Man is tenant and God is landlord. This was the basis of occupied land in Israel. God kept one tree as a test of their relationship. The trees were real and sacramental. They are symbolic. “Trust me and you can live forever.” The body was designed to live forever. Death is not natural. It is a judicial sentence by God for sin. God advised that if a man kept his innocence he would keep his happiness. Sin leads to guilt, which leads to unhappiness.
2. Human relationships. Man and the animals. Man can subdue the animals but he is not entitled to be cruel to them nor does he have the right to exterminate them. Man needs to have a sense of proportion. They are there to serve man and provide food for man. A baby seal is not more important than a human baby. Man has dominion over nature. Man needs an environment, which is both utilitarian and useful and beautiful. A dog does not gaze at a sunset or a range of hills.
3. True humanity needs fellowship with another human being. There are no soloists. When God created woman He was involved with cloning and genetic engineering. Every cell has a taped message for the whole body. He could have produced a clone, altered a little by genetic engineering. He took a cell from Adam and adjusted the chromosomes and created woman. Adam came round and burst into song. With Mary, God took the female ovum and adjusted the chromosomes to make a male child. It is not difficult for the original scientist. When God created the woman out of the man the word in Hebrew means “flesh” and not “rib.” God was simply carrying out a little genetic engineering. This is routinely carried out today around the World.
God designed the human personality to be fuelled by love – love for God, love for his fellow man and love for the created World in which he lived. Fuelled by love the personality thrives but starved of it the personality shrivels and dies. Man needs a network with other people. For man shalom means harmony with God, with himself, with others and with nature. Break the harmony and man will have to die. It seems a harsh punishment for a little sin. Once man has experienced evil God has to limit his time on Earth otherwise evil would become eternal. If God allowed rebellious people to live forever they would ruin His Universe forever. So He put a time limit on man who would not accept His moral authority. Male and female are equal in dignity, depravity and destiny. Woman is made from man and derives her being from him. She is made after man and man assumes responsibility for her. Woman was made for Adam. Adam had a job before woman was formed. Man named women. It is not a democracy but as a partnership where one has a responsibility. It becomes competition when leadership becomes domination.
Sex is good and beautiful. It was created for partnership rather than parenthood. Monogamy is the pattern. Leaving and cleaving make a marriage together a physical and social union. Sexual intercourse without social recognition is fornication. Social recognition without intercourse is not a marriage and should be annulled. Marriage takes precedence over all other relationships. A person’s spouse is the first priority even before the children. The picture is one of a couple with nothing hidden from one another, no embarrassment and totally open to one another. There are some pointers in Genesis.
1. Sex is good. They were meant to enjoy it.
2. Sex is for partnership mainly and for parenthood.
3. Man is incomplete. He needs another half.
4. Man was prior to but not superior to woman.
5. Monogamy is the pattern for life. Not polygamy i.e. many wives either at the same time or one after the other.
6. There is a call to leave the parents – the break up of one unit to form another.
7. Man cleaves to his wife. This creates a new unit.
8. Marriage takes precedence over all other relationships.
9. Divorce is out. Jesus quoted Genesis ch 2.
10. The husband is the leader. There is no democracy. Man gave the woman her name.
11. The wife’s primary function is to help the husband.
12. There should be nothing hidden from each other. They were naked and had nothing to hide.
A child can only keep his innocence when he lets his parents decide what is right and wrong e.g. smoking. Once he has tried, there is no going back and he has to live with the consequences of his decision. The memory of trying something is spoiling man’s happiness. Then it also spoils God’s World for others. Man was to have lived forever but the result of sin was death. It has a sting in it. “Trust me ” means leave the decision to God. “I know best.” If man keeps his innocence he will keep his happiness.
At Calvary a second tree of life was set in place. If man looks upon that tree and believes its message, he will inherit eternal life.
The fact that God is like man means that man’s relationship with Him can be intimate. The fact that He is unlike man will keep the relationship reverent and ensure that man’s worship is appropriate. Man can be too familiar with God or too overawed by God. Man has a vertical relationship to nature below, a vertical relationship with God above and a horizontal relationship with other people. Animals are given to serve mankind. Man needs an environment, which is both aesthetic and utilitarian. The relationship with animals is not an equal one. It is sad if a person has a deeper relationship with an animal than with another person. Gen ch 2 says never look for a companion in an animal. Man is placed above the animals. God cares more about man than about the plants and animals. (Consider the lilies of the field.)
Man is to enjoy the Earth but is to be under the authority of God. Once man has done a wrong thing he can never be the same as he was. He has lost his innocence in that area e.g. taking drugs or having intercourse. Man was to be a tenant on the Earth, with God as the Landlord, dictating the terms of the lease. Man was also to live in harmony with other human beings. Man needed a companion and was given woman. Man had the responsibility to provide for and protect the woman and the woman was to assist the man.
Why does man have to work? Work was designed by God to be a glad co-operation with God in stewarding or looking after the Earth. After the Fall it became hard and laborious. The Hebrew word for “work” and the Hebrew word for “worship” is the same word. The question for man is this: is he working for himself or is he working in co-operation with God to be a blessing to others? Two men were working in the field. One was taken and the other was left. The one who was taken was the one who was working for himself and not as an act of worship. Understanding of this fact changes the whole attitude to work.
If man thinks that he is an accident of the jungle, he will end up behaving in that way. If God has a plan for man, he ought to be seeking it. Scripture v science. In a snooker game two men watch the same events. The scientist sees the balls strike one another and move around the table. The believer sees the same events but believes that in the dark at the end of the cue is a person with a mind, planning his next move. Science looks at what it can see. Scripture describes what is behind it all. One believes that there was a player – the other that there was not. No one can prove it factually. It is a war of faith. The battle is between providence and chance. Evolution is still a theory – yet to be proved. The definition is – “the progressive development from the simple to the complex.” It claims that things are getting better. God says everything was perfect but sin spoiled it. Evolution has been used to hammer away at the truth of the Bible yet very few have read the theory of evolution. With creation man has a faith built on facts. With evolution man has faith based on fancy. If a man accepts evolution he is left with a view that man is free to make God in whatever image he chooses out of his imagination. With God’s World, man talks about responsibility and duty. With evolution he talks about demands and rights. With evolution man talks about independence of God and coming of age and no longer needing God. How could evolution produce intelligence, intellect, feelings emotion and will? Evolution is nonsense. Man is different from animals. It is an insult to say that man is an animal. Only man prays and is aware of environment. Man is a steward. God rules. God cares for man. He owns the World. Not man. There is scope for slight variation. In the time of Jesus the average man was about five feet tall. With better diet and a healthier life style man has grown taller. Poorer diet leads to unhealthy people. A Universe without a Creator and out of control is a sad joke.
Creation and Evolution. Depending on what a man believes he has choices to make.
Father God. Mother nature (who does not exist)
A personal choice by God. Impersonal choice.
A designed purpose by God. Impersonal chance.
A supernatural production. A random pattern.
An open situation – open to God to change. A closed system.
Providence. Coincidence or chance.
Faith based on facts. Faith based on fancy.
God is free to make man in His own image. Man is free to make God in his own image.
There are moral choices before a man.
God is Lord. Man is lord.
There is divine authority. Man has autonomy and can make his own decisions.
There are absolute standards. There are relative situations.
There is duty and responsibility. Man demands his rights.
There is infant dependence. Man is proud of his independence.
Man is fallen. Man is rising and getting better.
Salvation of the weak. It is the survival of the strongest.
Right is might. Might is right. The powerful win.
This brings peace. The result is always war as time has proved.
Obedience to God and man. Self-indulgence of man.
Faith, hope and love prevail. Fatalism, helplessness and chance are the result.
HEAVEN is the end result. HELL is the end result.
CHAPTER 3. There is an inclination to treat it as a myth. A talking snake. A fairy tale with a moral in it. The Earth is out of order. Philosophers try to find out why there is evil. Man likes to make his own moral judgements. He likes to decide what is right and wrong. Three facts affect all men. 1. Birth is painful. 2. Life is hard – an endless struggle and tension. 3. Death is inevitable. No one escapes. This chapter explains why this is. God did not want it that way. Evil was not always in the World. It came from outside. It is not physical and is not tied up with matter. It came from the Spirit to the body.
Chapter 1. The stage is set. Chapter 2. The cast appears. Chapter 3. The plot begins.
The snake. Three possibilities. 1. A talking animal – a reptile. 2. A demonised animal. Demons entered the pigs at the time of Legion. 3. Satan in disguise. If Satan did not come in disguise man would not let him in the house, but he always comes in disguise. Maybe she did not know that there was no talking animal or was just fascinated by it. How intriguing – a talking snake! Children today see a glass move on a ouija board all by itself. How intriguing! Satan’s tactics are to approach the mind – then the heart – then the will. “Do it.” He gets man thinking about it, feeling like it and then he surrenders his will and does it. It is true to human nature, which proves that it happened just as it says. It is written as an eyewitness. All are capable of being seduced. Satan can manipulate man.
Where did fear come from? Was it within the purposes of God? Adam and Eve lived in Eden. God designed the human personality to be fuelled by love – love for God, love for one another and love for the created World. When Adam and Eve were enticed by Satan to rebel against God’s rule, fear flowed in to the human personality. Love for God left Adam and fear flowed in to replace it. At that moment Adam was disconnected from God.
Picture the scene. As soon as Eve succumbed to the temptation by Satan who was disguised as a talking snake – how interesting – a talking snake – Satan, still slithering around in his snake body, looked towards the darkness of the vegetation close by and there half submerged in the darkness stood one of Satan’s princes of darkness. He is known as Fear. Satan gave the nod to Fear. Satan’s body language said; “Go get them.” Like a fly caught in a spider’s web Adam and Eve were trapped in bondage. God came to speak to Adam and Adam lowered his eyes and said: “I was afraid.” Ever since that moment mankind has been ruled by fear. The little demons called “fearlettes” have been at work sowing fearful thoughts into the minds of human beings. “It could be you next.” “What will people think?” “You will fail.” Man has to appreciate the sheer professionalism of this Prince of Darkness and his minions. They have dominated the lives of millions of people throughout the centuries carrying out the task of the master by robbing, stealing and destroying. Sadly the human beings – even those born of God’s Spirit – are so fickle and so ignorant that it is so easy for Fear to do his devilish work.
The Fall of man. The wonderful order of creation and the great capacity of man was destroyed by man’s disobedience of God. Satan and his demons were given power over man. It was not God’s idea but it was as the result of the choice of man. It is still the choice of man day by day as to whether he will obey the commands of God or go his own way and make his own decisions without reference to God. Once man had decided to rebel against God, there were certain choices open to God. He could have forgiven them and let them carry on in disobedience. He could have wiped them out and started again. God decided on an amazing plan. He asked His Son to go to Earth and take in His own body the punishment for the sins of the whole World so that those who accepted Jesus as their Saviour and Lord would be adopted as children of God and would receive the Holy Spirit to empower them to live as children of God and in a relationship with God. That is what God had wanted all along – a relationship with the human beings He had created. When man shares the resources of the World everyone benefits. Sin brought forth a self-centred mankind with lust for domination, quarrelling, stealing and group selfishness. There is enough food produced to feed everyone one and a quarter times over. However thousands starve, because not enough is done to get the surplus food to the points where it is required. Some in the needy countries steal the food aid and sell it for profit. Man has become an alien in his own land.
In the Fall there was an appeal to pride. “Be your own boss.” Then Eve felt guilty. The response – get someone else involved and man does not feel so guilty. They became partners in crime. They now knew good and evil, but it was evil from a first hand experience and good from a second hand experience. God is the opposite. They had lost their innocence. The more first hand experience of evil the more evil a person becomes. Relationships were broken. The result of wrongdoing is that there are consequences and penalties. Consequences happen automatically and the penalty is a court scene before the judge. Shame, fear, guilt and embarrassment are the consequences of sin. God asked Adam: “How do you plead?” Adam refused to accept his responsibility and tried to pass the blame to Eve. She tried to pass the blame to Satan. God could have put matters right, if they had said that they were sorry. They refused. God offered them the choice between justice and mercy. They chose justice. Yet God was still merciful to an extent, since He clothed them.
The first recorded words of God to Adam after the Fall are these: “Where are you, Adam?” The significance of these words for mankind has echoed through out the centuries. They speak to individuals, to families, to Churches, to nations and to the whole World. “Where do you stand in relation to me?” “What have you done with what I have given to you?”
History is His story. Any historian selects events from the period to teach about the impact on society of the events of the time. God does the same thing. God selects events from history for His own purposes. He records only a few of the incidents from the lives of Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph to teach about – salvation. The Bible is a book about salvation. It is a book about how God deals with His problem – what to do about rebellious mankind and how He plans a rescue mission through His Son Jesus to restore the broken relationship between man and God. It is important to understand that the Bible is set in a historical and geographical situation and is not as some claim a book of myths and tales.
Abel had learned from his parents that the only sacrifice worthy of God was a blood sacrifice – the result of a life being taken. So Abel brought an animal sacrifice, but Cain brought fruit. Bad people hate good people and the ungodly are envious of the godly. Even after he murdered his brother Cain was given an opportunity to put matters right with God. God did not reject Cain right away. God warned Cain that sin was ready to take hold of him unless he repented. Sadly Cain refused.
Britain has spent the last twenty years teaching their children that they are descended from the animals and then they leave school and some behave like the animals. That is actually an insult to the animals. There are several differences between man and the animals.
1. Man has a capacity to rise far above the animals. This is so in (a) language. (b) arts. (c) culture. (d) thinking of the past and the future. (e) a man reflects. (f) a man imagines. (g) a man creates. (h) a man has moral experiences, e. g. shame, guilt, etc and (i) man can pray.
2. Man has a capacity to fall far below the animals. Bestial cruelty is an insult to the animals. Man perverts sex. Man plans the deaths of others. Man wants to be a saint but enjoys being a sinner. Where does he belong? Man seems to be able to master everything else but himself. Man feels like a misfit. What does God have to say about man? God lapses into poetry when His heart is touched. The prophets spoke in poetry. God’s heart was deeply involved.
3. God never speaks to the animals. God plans a relationship with man but not with the animals.
4. In chapter 1 man is like God in some ways but in chapter 2 God is unlike man in certain respects. He is shown as a personal God. God names the man but man names the woman. Man is a hybrid or half cast. He is living in the animal world but yet like God in some ways. Man’s body is made up of 6 chemical elements worth about £2. These are the same chemicals as the animals. God breathed into the chemicals. Man belongs to both the physical sphere and the spiritual sphere and has to relate properly to both in order to be comfortable. If he gets the relationship right he fits and knows who he is.
The peoples of the World had their own gods. The Jews claimed that their God was the living God who created the Universe and who was above all gods. They also claimed that the God of the Universe was the God of the Jews. It was an incredible claim. It still is an incredible claim to those who are not born of the Spirit of God.
Genesis spans more time that the whole of the rest of the Bible. The rest spans 1,500 years from Exodus to Revelation. Chapters 1-11 takes up a quarter of the book but spans centuries. The rest – chapters 12-50 is three quarters of the book but covers only a few years and only one family over 4 generations. It zooms in on one family. This family contains the people who acknowledge God who can be used to fulfil the purposes of God. With Abraham God began the solution to His problem. Abraham was living in Ur of the Chaldeas – the centre of occultic activity. God called Abraham to come out of this World dedicated to worship of the occult. This is called the scandal of particularity. It is an offence to the people of the World that God chose Abraham and his descendants to solve His problem. Behind the scandal is the complaint – “ Why choose the Jews? What about us? Surely there are many ways to God?” The trouble is that then as now man has made God in his own image and assumes that God is like them. God’s idea was that as the Jews shared the grace of God they would be used to create a family. It was God’s sovereign choice to choose the Jewish people. He calls Himself the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Not the God of Joseph. Each person had a counter, who contrasted with him. Abraham had Lot. Isaac had Ishmael. Jacob had Esau. There are two lines portrayed and the question presents itself to mankind: with which line does a man associate himself? Does he see himself like Abraham or Lot?
There are ordinary stories about people who are not special in themselves. They are normal human beings. The only difference is that God talks to them and even calls Abraham His friend. They had no natural or moral claim on God. All three – Abraham, Isaac and Jacob – lied to save their skins. Jacob was a schemer and a deceiver. He reaped what he had sown. All three were bigamists. But they had faith. They believed in God each in their own way. The natural inheritance of the eldest son did not operate. God did not call the oldest son. Each time it was a free gift. God prefers a believing man rather than a good man. Only faith pleases God. Abraham left home and followed God – living in a tent. Isaac was called “Joke” or laughter. Ishmael was the founder of a great people but they did not exercise faith. God promised Abraham that He would make a great nation from Ishmael and so He has. The Arab people are a great nation. They have been blessed with deposits of oil to provide riches beyond their wildest dreams. Abraham believed that Isaac would be resurrected, if he killed him in obedience to God. Isaac was in his early thirties when the event took place at Mount Moriah. Isaac had faith that God would choose his wife. Jacob believed that his 12 sons would be tribes in Israel. The counter people were materialists or people of the flesh. Lot looked on the fertile valley and chose the prosperity it would bring, ignoring the dangers of Sodom. Ishmael and Esau were concerned with material things rather than spiritual things. Esau wanted it now! The wives of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were all beautiful – but not necessarily glamorous. The wives of the counter people were different. Lot’s wife looked back at the loss of the prosperity in Sodom and died as a result. “Jacob I have loved. Esau I have hated.” Mal ch 1 v 2-3. God prefers people who believe in Him. He desires that they be holy but He still wants a relationship with them. He will go to work to make them holy during the relationship. All three left the land to their sons without ever having owned it, but they believed that God had given them ownership of it.
God reveals Himself as a covenant God. Only the greater party can make a covenant. There is something in it for both parties. A covenant is made by one to bless the other. God swore by Himself, since there was no one higher. He said: “I will”. It is like a marriage for life. God made a covenant with Noah and all mankind concerning the destruction of the Earth. He made a covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to bless them and make a great nation from their descendants. God promised a place in which to live and promised descendants to live there. He promised to bless those nations, which blessed His choice of the Jewish people. On the other hand God looked for obedience. When God had called Abraham out of Babylon – the centre of occultic worship – He wanted to make a fresh start and provide a people who would love Him and reveal His glory to the Earth. They were not chosen as favourites but chosen for a purpose.
Jesus is seen in Genesis as follows.
1. The ram caught in the thicket as the Lamb of God crowned with thorns. Where is the lamb?
2. Jacob’s ladder. Jesus said to Nathaniel that He was the link between Heaven and Earth.
3. Gen ch 3 v 15. Jesus is the one whose heal is bruised. Satan is the one whose head is bruised.
In the Garden of Eden Adam said: “I will not.” In the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus said: “I will.”
Adam was homo sapiens. Jesus is homo novus. The new man will inhabit the Earth. The plates on which the Earth stands are called teutonic plates. Tectone in Greek means carpenter. Jesus made the trees suitable for a carpenter long before He worked as a carpenter to make furniture out of the trees.
Logos means “the reason why.” Biology is the reason why life behaves as it does. What about the reason why life is here in the first place? The whole Earth was made by Jesus, through Jesus and for Jesus.
THE FLOOD. Chapter 6.
It is treated as a fact and Jesus refers to it as a fact. God always comes to man with a word of judgement and a word of mercy. The emphasis in the story is of those who are being saved and not those who are being lost. It was only by God’s grace that any were saved. They were saved because they believed the word of God. It was wickedness, which led to the Flood. Sin grows and spreads. Evil is permitted but it is man who chooses to sin and lets evil take root. God sets limits but man had gone beyond these limits. There may have been demonised men who took the women or it may have been the line of Seth marrying the line of Cain. The believers were marrying unbelievers. They married for physical attraction alone. There was a tidal wave of godlessness. “My Spirit will not live with you.”
Gen ch 5 v 6 is perhaps the saddest verse in the Bible. There were no worthwhile thoughts in the whole World. Only one man was righteous – Noah. Jesus said that at the time of His Second Coming it would be the same as it was in the days of Noah. The people would be as indifferent to the things of God as they were in the days of Noah. This is a picture of the Church as being an ark of salvation to save the people from the World of sin, which is doomed to judgement. The wrath of God is the other side of love. If God was not angry with mankind for the way they have treated the objects of His love then He would not be a loving God but only a sentimental Santa Claus handing out presents. This is exactly why Satan has taken over Christmas and presents to children just such a false god. Santa is an anagram of Satan.
There are many parallels then as now. There was a population explosion. The thoughts and imaginations were worthless. Even believers think very little about the things of God. Idols are the things, which are first in man’s thoughts. “You would not come to me.” Jesus wept over Jerusalem. There is punishment for sin. Despite the bowls of wrath there is mercy shown by God. Seven people – the perfect number – believed the preacher and entered the ark. The rest of mankind pressed the self-destruct button. If man ignores all the warning signs he ends in Hell. God had a rescue plan. The safe place was to be in the ark.
The boat was built to float and not to sail. Therefore it could well have been a box shape. Noah knew nothing about building a ship to float. God gave him the measurements. The proportions of length to width to height are perfect for sailing and many of the best ships in the World are designed on the proportions, which God gave to Noah. God was preparing for the future. Migration is movement led by the Holy Spirit. Noah did not need to spend time rounding them up. The Holy Spirit brought the animals to Noah. Noah never questioned the task but got on with it. The boat had to be perfect, since there was no opportunity for a trial run. No adjustments were necessary to either the boat or the Church, which is a kind of ark. Jesus said: “I will build my Church.”
Both the ark and the Church were built by a carpenter. Even so, a man needs to enter by his own choice. Noah had to shepherd the animals. The actual day was mentioned. It has a ring of truth. There was no urgency or panic. God was in control. Evil had affected the environment as in Isaiah ch 24. The water vapour canopy had collapsed and the water rushed up from underground. If the mountain ranges were thrust up after that event then the water did not need to be so very high. Cataclysm means to wash down. Mal ch 3 v 10 is the reverse when God pours out grace from Heaven. The eight were shut in safely when God closed the door. They were sealed in by God. Believers are sealed in by the Holy Spirit. Eight is the number for a new beginning.
Jesus gave it authority as a World-wide flood. If it had been local Noah could have moved away in order to be saved. There was no partial judgement. If it had been a local flood God would have broken His promises, since there have been other local floods since that event. He promised that He would never do it again. It was God Himself who shut the door. Ch 7 v 23. All men were dead. Was Jesus wrong? He said that it would be the same when He returns. Faith is based on facts and not feelings. The Flood was about 4,300 years ago. Then God sent a wind to dry the rain. God told Noah to wait until the day was right. Noah must have been desperate to get out of the ark, but he was obedient. God had good reasons for the apparent delay. God also spoke to Noah’s sons. Murder is sacrilege – attacking God, since God made man in His own image. Human government was given the right to exercise capital punishment. Britain has moved away from God’s law and now there are 1,000 murders each year. Man has moved from fact to feeling. If man does not learn the lessons from human history, he will repeat them.
God saved a remnant at the time of the Flood. The remnant has been a theme recurring throughout the Bible. A remnant of Jewish people has been preserved despite awful attacks on the Jewish people. A remnant of Jewish people has returned to Israel in the 20th century. The path to life is narrow and few there are who travel on it.
Even the most godly man can fall in a moment of weakness. v 21. In a moment Noah was degraded. Ham ridiculed the saviour – his own father. He gossiped about the nakedness of his father and told it with relish. Nakedness is always associated with sin. When a man mocks the name of Jesus he denies the saviour. Noah was Ham’s saviour. These three men are the origin of the nations.
The Tower of Babel.
The people had the Word of God from Noah. God had said to multiply and spread over the Earth. The people had disobeyed God. They were concerned to make a name for themselves rather than for God. The enterprise was to weld the people together as one society. They were of one language. Language is the basis on which science feeds itself and grows. This was the beginning of the explosion of knowledge. But the knowledge gained was used wrongly. This is similar today when the explosion of knowledge gained as spoken of by Daniel is used wrongly. The people wanted to live together in a city. Now 80 % of the population of the World live in cities. This was not God’s plan for mankind. The sons of Noah were told to replenish the Earth.
This tower was more than a stairway to Heaven. It is the root of the Mysteries of Babylon. It is symbolic of the original Satanic alternative religion. God’s plan of salvation was rejected by man and an alternative plan was presented to mankind. Man can be sure that the Devil had a hand in it. It is a religion of works, whereby man declares himself good enough to enter Heaven by his own efforts. The first curse in Deut ch 28 is confusion. God confused the languages and frustrated their plans. The Tower symbolised Man’s independence from God. It is the most dangerous heresy on Earth. Humanism is man’s belief in man’s supremacy to be able to reach to God by human wisdom and human effort. It expounds what is man’s belief that what he does for God matters more than what God has done for him. The Tower was constructed by human effort. It was all about what man decided to do without any involvement by God. It commemorates human achievement and it confirms human reputation without recognising the grace of God. It asserts man’s supremacy over God. The ziggarurt was a temple as an expression of man’s religious impulses. God found it repulsive to him. God rejects this religious expression since there is no reference to Him. In Ephesians ch 2 we see the alternative stairway to Heaven, where God plans salvation, Jesus purchases salvation and the Holy Spirit executes the plan by coming into the lives of people to restore the relationship with God. It is God’s idea and His purpose. He raises man up through the sacrifice of Jesus. This asserts the supremacy of God and not man.
Every human being is naturally flawed when he comes out of the production line. Babel represents fallen man at his best. It shows man organised, industrious, adventurous and religious. The Tower indicates that there is a god, although what was understood about him shows that there is no understanding of the living God. The builders were self-centred and not God-centred. There was no consultation with God. When Adam sinned man’s love for God died. Self was at the centre of man’s World. They were self-serving and not God serving. The city was their idea so that there would be greater prosperity. Today millions flock from the countryside into the city in the hope of a higher standard of living. Instead pollution is choking the cities to death and the people living there. They were self-seeking rather than God-seeking. They wanted to make a name for themselves, rather than to give God the glory. Most people reinterpret God subjectively to make God fit their self-centred life style and ambition. “I think that God wants this or that.” Prosperity is seen as material rather than spiritual. Man was disobedient in not going out to conquer the whole Earth. They preferred to live in a city but built a tower to acknowledge God. This put them on a confrontation course with God. Men are the objects of God’s wrath. “Not by works” is the no entry sign across the way to Heaven.
The Tower may have been started with sincere motives but soon the project became more important than God. In the same way a Church can become more important than God. Those who stood against it were singled out for ridicule and criticism. The supporters started off with enthusiasm but in the end became enslaved and it became a burden to them. Satan enslaved them since the project was not of God. The project became an obsession to the leaders. Pride was their ultimate motive. The result was confusion. After confusion, division resulted.
The World Council of Churches fits well into this category of a project as does the European Union. It is not of God. The results are the same. 1. Pride on the part of the leaders. 2. Enslavement on the part of the supporters. 3. Confusion and division.
The line of Seth led to Abraham. God chose a family line to lead to Jesus. Left to themselves the Jews would never have told such a story of their ancestors.
Abraham. God tested him by asking him to sacrifice the life of the son he had longed for. How far would Abraham go in obedience to God? Concubines were never in the plan of God but the adoption of a pagan practice. Although allowed by God they never received His blessing. One man and one woman for life has always been the plan of God. Jesus confirmed it. Abraham bargained with God over the future of Lot and Sodom. God encourages man to talk to Him in a real way and not in religious language.
God made a promise to Abraham, which has stood for all time.
1. “I shall make a great nation from your family.”
2. “I shall bless you.”
3. “Blessing will flow to the World through you.”
4. “Those who bless you will be blessed.”
The promise of the land of Canaan was forever and stands today as the World rages against the Jewish people.
Family life. Isaac, Rebecca, Jacob and Esau. This is a story of a family, which went wrong. The relationships were not right. Isaac was responsible. There was injustice, envy, jealousy and rejection. The result was generational hatred. It is a lesson for man on how not to bring up his family. There was long lasting bitterness until A. D. 105 when the Edomites – the descendants of Esau were wiped out as prophesied by Obadiah and others.
Marriage. Both Isaac and Jacob knew the importance of finding a wife from among their own family and not from the World. Esau defied his parents and married two girls from Canaan. Finding a wife is one of the most important decisions in life. The decision is not meant to be based on physical appearance alone.
Jacob made a grave mistake and camped in the city of the Hivites and his daughter Dinah was raped. The message is clear – be in the World but not part of it or a man will pay the consequences. The sons of Jacob acted out of revenge and not justice. Revenge belongs to God. Jacob was no better than Esau but somehow he recognised his unworthiness and when confronted by God he struggled with God and asked a blessing. Esau regarded spiritual matters lightly and preferred matters of the flesh. So God eventually said: “Jacob I have loved and Esau I have hated.” Mal ch 1 v 3.
Joseph is a type of Christ. He is a picture of being rejected and yet being called by God to live a difficult life yet used to save his brothers from physical death. Jesus saved His brothers from spiritual death and brought spiritual life to those who put their trust in Him. Joseph saved his brothers from physical death when he fed them physical food. Joseph recognised that Satan had meant his abduction to Egypt for evil but God had turned the situation to good. Satan is always the servant – though reluctant – of God.
Joseph went through 5 tests in his life.
1. The test of adversity. Gen ch 37 v 28. The favoured son, yet rejected by his brothers.
2. The test of the body. Gen ch 39 v 7. Respected in Egypt. Would pride control his life?
3. The test of the soul. Gen ch 40 v 15. Tempted by Potiphar’s wife. Would he resist?
4. The test of prosperity. Gen ch 41 v 41-42. Made Governor in Egypt. Would he forget God?
5 The test of the inner man. Gen ch 50 v 19-21. Opportunity for revenge. Would he take it?
Joseph survived the tests because he had found that he could trust God in every situation.
Gen ch 39 v 1. Joseph was probably 17 – a teenager. God had His hand on Joseph. He was successful. Success is anything, which is pleasing to God. Joseph was a successful slave. The Lord was with Joseph. The more a man walks with God, the more he is tempted. Seven times man is told that the Lord was with Joseph. That was his secret. God allowed Joseph to be tempted. Crisis in life can be a great gift from God, if they are used to strengthen character. This situation made a man of Joseph. All are tempted sexually at some time in their lives.
What man does with temptation will determine his happiness. “Sin shall not have dominion over me.” The woman was shameless and coveted Joseph. She persisted day after day. Some men are flirting with women. She waited until there was no one in the house and he was alone. The serpent waited until Eve was alone. On his own a man is more vulnerable. Sex outside marriage is only selfish satisfaction and not true giving of self. It hurts others as well as the man who commits the sin. As soon as Joseph ran away Potiphar’s wife hated Joseph. She transferred her guilt onto him. She did not love him but only wanted to use him to satisfy her own selfish demands of power. The woman is responsible for enticing the man but God always puts the major responsibility on the man as the head of the house.
1. Joseph refused. His will was settled long before the temptation came along. Crucify the ego on the cross. Joseph had victory in the situation.
2. Joseph said that he would be disloyal to God and to the wife he would marry one day. A man cannot always see the consequences of his actions but he lives in the future with the decisions of the past.
3. Joseph’s intellect was clear. “You do not belong to me.” Only one person ever belongs to a man – one spouse in life.
4. It is evil and Joseph recognised this. Immorality hurts all sorts of people. Be holy. Look on whatsoever things are pure.
5. Joseph ran away. Sometimes it is best just to run. Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God. Moral impurity may cloud man’s vision of God. A man cannot have sin and Jesus.
6. To receive Christ means power over temptation. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
The brothers got rid of Joseph and left him for dead. He became the Lord of Egypt. The brothers met with Joseph. There came the point of reconciliation, when they came to live in each other’s presence. Ch 45. Joseph could not refrain himself any longer and he wept aloud. The brothers were troubled at his presence. “Come near to me. I am your brother whom you sold into Egypt.” The Church sold Israel into Egypt – the World. There will come a time when Jesus will not be able to refrain Himself any longer. What is holding Him back? “Jerusalem, Jerusalem…” When the brothers came to Egypt Joseph seemed like a hard man. His motive was different. It is all about Benjamin. It is about bringing Benjamin to Joseph. Their guilt all came out of their mouths. They carried their guilt around with them. They knew that they were sinners. Joseph was bringing them to the point of needing a saviour. Joseph tested Benjamin and the brothers. They got rid of the first brother. What will they do with Benjamin? When all seemed lost Judah said in v 30: “Jacob will die if we do not take Benjamin back.” For 20 years the brothers had not cared for Jacob allowing him to believe that Joseph was dead. Judah stood sacrifice for Benjamin. Joseph is a symbol for Christ. Benjamin is a symbol for Israel. The Church sees Israel as a foreigner. God is asking the Church – “Where is my brother? Will you kill him also?” The Church can bring Jesus to be beside Himself. If the Church took up its place before God as a sacrifice, to let Israel go free, then God will not be able to hold Himself back. Perhaps God is waiting for the Church to beseech Him for Israel. When Judah was prepared to give up his own life for Benjamin they were all reconciled to Joseph together. Salvation for Israel and for Egypt also. Rom ch 15. Life from the dead. “Be reconciled to your brother and then bring your gift to the altar.”
God never says that He is the God of Joseph. No angels appear to Joseph. His brothers are included in the scheme of things for the future. God never speaks to Joseph but is with Joseph. He is different in these ways from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Joseph is on his own. For 400 years nothing is heard about the children of Israel. Joseph is the link between the family of Jacob and the nation of Israel. The story of Joseph can be seen at four levels.
1. The human level. A good story of one who goes down into prison and rises to become Prime Minister of Egypt.
2. Joseph as seen from God’s point of view. God is at work behind the scene working out His providence in Joseph’s life and bringing His own purposes to fulfilment. Ch 45 v 7. God allowed it to happen to Joseph. God wanted His people in slavery in Egypt so that they would experience bondage and redemption. God told Abraham that they would be 400 years in Egypt until the wickedness of the Amorites had reached its peak. Then God would take the land from these people and give it to the Jewish people. There was no injustice on the part of God.
3. When a man studies the character of Joseph there is no criticism of him. There are no wrong attitudes. He has no concern for himself – only for others. He does not complain. No other character in the Bible is presented without blame. Joseph had utter integrity. There is a contrast with Judah’s incest. It highlights Joseph’s good character.
4. Joseph is a type of Christ. He is lowered to the depths and raised to the heights. There are many parallels with Jesus. Jesus is of the line of Seth. The ram was caught in the thorns of the thicket and Jesus was crowned with thorns. Joseph was a provider for his brothers.
Genesis is a remarkable book on which God builds as the scriptures unfold. Yet Genesis stands on its own merit and is complete in itself.
The name “exodus” means departure or going out. This is a big story. Over two million slaves escaped from one of the most highly fortified nations in the entire World. The event had significance for the people of Israel and it had spiritual significance. The Israelites discovered that their God was THE God who made the whole Universe and could control what He had made for His own sake. God did everything for His own glory. God was more powerful than all the gods of Egypt. In the midst of the story the Creator of everything becomes the redeemer of a few people. The theme of the whole book is redemption of sinful man by blood and God’s gracious provision in rescuing man. It opens in darkness and closes in glory. God started the process of redemption and came in glory to live with His people. The Hebrews had little. The Egyptians were not proud of the incident. Gen ch 15 v 13. Ex ch 12 v 40.
Within the book are lesser themes.
1. Bondage to the evil one. Chs 1 and 2. This is a graphic picture of man lost in sin – in bondage to the prince of the air and unable to save himself.
2. Redemption by the grace of God. Chs 3 – 15 v 21. God had a plan to rescue His people but it involved the blood of His own dear Son. God also used a man – Moses – to accomplish His purpose.
3. Education. Ch 15 v 22 – ch 19. The events were used to educate the people about the message of God. God hammers out His message on the anvil of history. He wanted to educate them about the necessity of depending on Him and on Him alone.
4. Consecration. Chs 20 – 23. The key to becoming holy and being of use to God is obedience to His revealed will. God said how they were to live after He had set them free. Justification comes before sanctification.
5. Worship. Chs 24 – 40. God decrees the ways by which He will be worshipped.
It is supposed that the reader knows the end of Genesis, without which this book would not make so much sense. Between the end of Genesis and the going down of Jacob to Egypt 115 years have passed. At the end of Genesis God was blessing the Children of Israel. 115 years later, after the people had walked away from God, it is God who intervenes to change the situation. If God did not intervene in the life of a man, he would be lost forever. Exodus is the historical picture of the outworking of divine grace in the recovery of lost mankind to bring them back into a living relationship with God. The story is repeated in every soul, which seeks deliverance from the bondage of sin. The prophets and the Psalmist constantly look back to this great act of deliverance by God. The events, which overtook the Egyptians, stand as a warning to mankind as it seeks to save itself without the grace of God. The story unfolds as to how God chose or selected this people for a purpose – to reveal Himself to the World. The nation of Israel was born and rose as a theocracy – a form of government where God was king. Democracy is government by the people. Dictatorship is government by one man. A theocracy is government by God. Believers do not live in a theocracy. However Israel can be seen as each individual on a national scale. In that way they are used like a tutorial. As God deals with the people of Israel, He also deals with each man personally. What displeases God in the life of Israel will displease Him in the life of an individual man. What God requires of His people Israel He will also require of each man personally.
The Children of Israel started as 70 people and over 430 years had prospered and grown into a nation of two and a half million by a population explosion. v 7. The women were having many children – more than the Egyptian women. The Hebrews were minding their own business but circumstances changed. A new Pharaoh arose who did not care to remember the fact that Joseph had saved Egypt from disaster. v 10. He was afraid of their numerical power. The departure of the Hebrews would weaken the economy of the country. A man’s personal situation in life is constantly changing – family – friends – work-mates – employer – the laws of the land – obligations to others. Things generally change slowly.
v 8. A man needs to be watchful, lest circumstances overtake him. Little sins grow into bigger more powerful sins. People will use a man, if he allows them to do so. Sinful people are aware of the testimony of believers – it reminds them of God and of their own sin. Behind the people there may be principalities and powers, which seek to rob, kill and destroy a man. Pharaoh was overtaken by an evil power, which sought to kill the Jewish boys. His decree made the Egyptians to sin by killing the boy babies. Herod did the same thing in the days of Jesus. Mat ch 2 v 16. A man ignores his enemy at his peril.
v 17. The midwives feared God rather than men. To take a life, which has been gifted by God, is a serious matter. In China people destroy the girls and keep the boys, since boys can bring them prosperity.
v 3. How fragile were the possibilities of survival for Moses. But God! What a coincidence that the princess came along at that precise moment! A coincidence is when God wants to remain anonymous. God is concerned for every little detail of each individual life. Nothing is impossible for God.
v 7. What courage it took for Miriam to approach a princess. She was moved by love for her baby brother. Real love – costly love – can change situations.
v 9. Moses’ mother had done the right thing by trying to save the baby and obeying God rather than the Pharaoh. Her obedience was rewarded and she was able to bring up her son. She could never have foreseen the possibility of that happening. It is more blessed to give than to receive. When a man gives, he finds that God blesses in a way he could not have imagined. Mal ch 3 v 10.
v 12. Moses was a prince of the most powerful country on the face of the Earth. He had everything. He was a man of the World. Moses was well educated in athletics, art, writing, music, geometry, literature, law, astronomy medicine and philosophy. He had a choice of many careers before him. God chose to use him as a leader of the new nation. His conscience was touched when he saw his own people in slavery. He had a choice to make. God had spoken to him through his conscience. He could have closed his eyes and gone on his way, looking after his own interests or responded at the injustice before him. He risked losing everything. A man also faces such decisions, when he sees poverty or injustice.
v 14. The next day Moses saw the sadness of the effects of sin – brothers fighting with each other. Again he could have kept quiet, but chose to speak out – to his cost. His murder of the Egyptian had been seen and prince Moses experienced fear – perhaps for the first time in his life. His courage failed him and he ran for his life.
v 16. Another coincidence. Moses met up with his wife to be. This time courage did not fail him and he protected the girls. God was in control of the events in the life of Moses. He had a plan for the life of Moses. That would not have been obvious to Moses at that time. First God had to change Moses and He used circumstances to bring that about, so that one day Moses would be fit for the purpose God had in mind.
v 22. Moses was in no man’s land. He did not belong to his own people and was exiled from where they were. He could not go back to Pharaoh. He had to learn to depend on God. Sometimes God leads a man into a wilderness situation where he learns that only God matters in the last analysis. He has to get his relationship with God right before he can build relationships with others. Moses knew what it was like to be a stranger in a foreign land. Eph ch 2 v 19. Believers are no longer foreigners but belong to Heaven. That is the real home for the believer. Moses called the Jews to remember the foreigners when they entered the Promised Land, because they were once foreigners themselves. It is a command of God to think about those who do not belong or who feel they do not belong. Help them to feel at home. A believer should remember that he was in that situation once himself.
v 23. When the worst pressure came upon the Hebrews, they cried out to God for help. God will respond, only if a man really wants Him in his life. Sadly He has to allow a man to do what he wants, until he wants God badly enough. For 400 years the Children of Israel were in Egypt. What would have happened, if they had called on God at an earlier date? How many peoples of the World in deep distress could call on the Lord for help? Rev ch 16 v 8-9. God sends trouble on the Earth with the express purpose of bringing the people to a state of true repentance. Mostly a man blames God for his problems instead of turning to God in repentance and asking for forgiveness and help. God knew that this was the time to rescue the Hebrews. What a coincidence! He had been preparing Moses for the task over the last 40 years. God is outside of time and in control of the affairs of the World.
Egypt depended on the River Nile for its fertility. Moses was miraculously saved by God. He became a Prince of Egypt, fled as a refugee and was called by God to lead forth His own people to the Land of Canaan, promised by God to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Moses spent 40 years in Egypt, 40 years in the wilderness and 40 years leading the people to the edge of the Promised Land.
The lack of documentation regarding the exodus need not surprise anyone. The exodus of the Jews was one of the most humiliating events in Egypt’s history. It hardly makes for comforting reflection. If each family had 4 children – a normal number – over 30 generations, the number of two and a half million is easily achieved. The human reason why they were very comfortable was that it was easier to make a living in Egypt than on the hills of Judea. The Egyptians were prosperous and probably had few children. The Hebrews were having many children. Over a period of time the Hebrews would outnumber the Egyptians. For a believer it may be more comfortable in the World. It was only when they were desperate did the Hebrews cry out to God. .
God longs for a response from man. He had watched over and guided His people for 400 years. He knows the deep sorrows and needs of mankind and works out His purposes through what seems like impossible situations. Why would God destroy Egypt? For centuries God had blessed and provided for the Egyptian people by flooding the Nile each year with rains from East Africa. Despite that the Egyptians had worshipped all kinds of false gods of their imagination. There was no glory going to God for all His blessings on the Egyptians.
v 4. Although God is a spirit without a body He can speak audibly. God revealed to Moses what He was going to do. Amos ch 3 v 7. God never does anything without first telling His prophets what He intends to do. God had resolved to act and was looking for a man who would be His spokesman. It was an awesome task. There was a death sentence outstanding against Moses in Egypt where Moses was a criminal.
v 7. This is a physical picture of the deep bondage of mankind to Satan’s destructive work. God stoops to deliver a man from his hopeless situation. When a man does not consider his situation as serious and is satisfied with the quality of his life, then there is no opportunity for God to rescue him.
v 11. Moses was quick to realise that he was not really up to the task and he protested his inadequacy. God chooses the weak to confound the strong. God was calling Moses to trust Him. Would God ask a man to do something, which he was unable to do? “If you go in my name, I shall be with you.” That does not mean that it is unnecessary to prepare for the task or that the task will be easy.
v 14. “I am” means that God is forever. He has always been, is now and will be forever more. “Always” would be a good name for God. Every time God revealed Himself to mankind, He gave Himself a more personal name, with features of His character. The final revelation is in Jesus – the name means: “He shall save His people from their sins.”
God revealed part of His plan to Moses to encourage Moses to accept the task. Faith is not stepping out blindly. Faith feeds on facts. If God has done it before, He will do it again. Jesus said that He only did what He saw his Father doing. Abraham’s descendants were to stay in Egypt until the wickedness of the Canaanites was completed. God ensured that there would be prosperity for the people when they left Egypt. They are His royal children. Nothing but the best would do for them.
It is understandable that Moses knew that the people would not believe that God had spoken to him. The same reaction is met today, when a person says that God has spoken to him. It cannot be proved, until the prophecy comes true. God performed a couple of minor supernatural miracles to prove that He was real and in control. Moses was still hesitant and protested that he was not a good speaker. So God overruled by sending Aaron, the older brother of Moses by three years and that left Moses with no answer. Aaron must have been born before the decree to kill the boy babies. Moses had presented five excuses to God as to why he should not do this task. He was insignificant, ignorant, impotent, incompetent and irrelevant. Moses suffered from an inferiority complex. The plagues give a tremendous sense of God’s control over what He has created. What a fool man is to defy God.
v 19. Moses must have still believed that the death sentence was outstanding. It was forty years he had spent in the land of Midian, which is Arabia. God comforted Moses by telling Moses that the death sentence was no longer outstanding.
v 21. It is said that God hardened the heart of Pharaoh. God sent the circumstances but knew beforehand that Pharaoh’s heart was already hard set against God. By confronting Pharaoh through Moses, God caused the heart of Pharaoh to harden even more. So it is with everyone who has rejected Jesus as Saviour and Lord. Each time a man is challenged his heart becomes harder and more set against God. It seems as if God does the hardening. In one sense He does. The first seven occasions Pharaoh hardens his own heart. In the next three God hardens the heart. If a man persistently chooses the wrong way, God will help him along that route. The tragedy would also have happened to the Jews unless they had followed God’s instructions. The afflictions gradually get worse as Pharaoh and the Egyptian people refused to respond to the warnings. The retribution was thoroughly appropriate. Every one of the plagues was an attack on a particular god worshipped by the Egyptians. The message was very simple. The God of the Hebrews is far more powerful than all your gods put together.
v 24. Moses had not circumcised his son in obedience to the command of God. This was a sin of omission. Moses knew that and his wife, although not a Hebrew, knew it also. He may have failed to do it so as not to offend his wife. She knew that to compromise is deadly. Moses could not carry out the work of God while he was in disobedience. Sometimes it takes a non-believer to shame the believer into doing what he should have done. Like those before him, Moses had failings in his life.
There are many references to Jesus in Exodus. Jesus said to search the Scriptures because they speak of Him. Jesus is the bread of Heaven – manna. The Word became flesh and tabernacled among men. God literally pitched His tent and dwelt amongst men. In Revelation half of the plagues of Egypt are going to happen all over again.
The Ten Commandments is all about respect – for God, His name, His day, His people, family life, life itself, marriage, the property of other people and the reputation of other people. A healthy society is built on respect. Today in Britain there is not much respect shown in the media where everyone is a potential figure of fun and nothing is sacred. The Book is also about responsibility and retribution – making good what others have lost as a result of man’s sin.
CHAPTER 5. To Pharaoh, steeped in worship of many gods, the idea of one supreme God seemed unbelievable to him. v 4-9. The light of God’s presence brought greater darkness to Pharaoh. His anger intensified. This is a common response today. To make good bricks in boxes without a straw lining was very difficult. The clay stuck to the sides of the box and would not come out easily. The rational arguments to Pharaoh were met with irrational replies. The Hebrews did not welcome the trials and difficulties, which had arisen due to the presence of Moses. Moses himself had failed to see the natural hostility, which would follow God’s intrusion into the pagan World. He failed to see that it would take persistence to bring about God’s plan. When the going was tough Moses faltered.
CHAPTER 6. God remembered His covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to give the land of Canaan to the Jewish people forever. God had waited patiently for over 400 years for the Children of Israel to call out to Him. When God sends blessing people tend to forget about God. For the Hebrew slaves the situation was impossible for them to resolve. For fallen man to be restored to a relationship with the living God is impossible for man. v 9. The people did not listen to Moses. Moses doubted that Pharaoh would listen to him. v 14. Genealogy is very important to the Jewish people. It confirms to them who they are and what they are about. v 30. Moses was blinded by his own horizons and lacked faith in God.
CHAPTER 7. God knew that Pharaoh would not listen to Him but that does not excuse Pharaoh from rejecting God. Pharaoh knew that he was treating the Hebrews as slaves. He knew that Joseph had in the past saved Egypt from disaster. Israel has brought the Scriptures to the World as well as the Messiah. The people of the World are hostile to the Jewish people instead of being grateful. The tribulation, which will fall on mankind, will be as a result of mankind’s rejection of a saviour in Jesus and their stubborn refusal to listen to their collective conscience. They witness suffering, famine, war and disease but do not call out to God for deliverance. Moses was eighty years old when he began his ministry. No one is too old to serve the Lord. v 11. Satan through his sorcerers has certain power and magical ability to perform miracles. v 17. The waters of the Nile were the lifeblood of the nation. Egypt itself had little or no rain. Each of the plagues was an attack on one or other of the false gods worshipped in Egypt. There is no indication as to how long the water of the Nile remained as blood.
CHAPTER 8. The plague of frogs. The Egyptians lived on either side of the River Nile. The Hebrews lived at Goshen, some distance away and so they were unaffected by the frogs coming up out of the Nile. v 8. Pharaoh was beginning to see that he was in trouble. However his heart hardened the following morning despite the fact that Moses and God had removed the threat of the frogs. The magicians could not replicate the gnats. Pharaoh promised to let the people go and worship the Lord, if the flies disappeared but when they did at God’s command Pharaoh hardened his heart again.
CHAPTER 9. The same pattern followed with the plague on the cattle and the boils and sores. v 16. God had mixed grace with judgement on the Egyptians. He could have destroyed them completely but He allowed them to live to show His power. When God sent the hail it was worse than it had ever been in Egypt. In Ezekiel ch 38 v 22 God will also send hail to defend the Israelis when Gog and Magog attack Israel in the days to come. v 27 Pharaoh admitted that he had sinned. At least Pharaoh acknowledged sin. Today’s political leaders might not recognise sin. They continue to defy God’s provision of the land of Canaan for the Jewish people and one plague after another has struck U.S.A. and Britain. In this instance the crops were ruined. v 35. What will it take for some people to repent and agree that God is God?
CHAPTER 10. Pharaoh defied the Lord again. God made a fool of the Egyptians. v 7. Even some of his advisers begged him to let the Hebrews go and worship their God. v 16. After the locusts Pharaoh cried in desperation to Moses to entreat God to move away from him. Even after the locusts had left Pharaoh continued to harden his heart. Some people who are seriously ill promise to worship God if only they are healed and allowed back home. However, when they get home they quickly abandon their vows. v 28. Up until this point Pharaoh had not threatened Moses’ life. In his fury he now threatened Moses. Pharaoh never saw Moses again. There is no evidence that in Ch 11 v 4 Moses actually saw Pharaoh. He may have passed word to him through his officials.
CHAPTER 11. God’s wrath has been simmering. Now it boils over like a pan of milk on a stove. The people – even Pharaoh’s officials – recognised Moses and his relationship with God. Pharaoh would not lose face. People are held bound in a dictatorship. Against the power of the army, what can the ordinary people do? Through Moses God announced that the first born of the Egyptians would all die.
CHAPTER 12. The Passover is instituted. It is to be observed forever. v 3 and 6. The Hebrews were instructed to take a lamb on the 10th of the month of Nissan and keep it until the 14th of the month. The purpose of taking the lamb into the house for 5 days was to carefully examine it for flaws. John ch 12 v 1 says that 6 days before the Passover Jesus arrived at Bethany. v 12. The next day Jesus rode into Jerusalem – 5 days before the Passover. Jesus entered Jerusalem five days before His crucifixion. The Scribes, Pharisees and Sadducees examined Jesus trying to find a flaw in Him. None was found. The rulers finally brought false witnesses against Jesus. Jesus was the flawless Passover Lamb. As Jesus was crucified lambs were being killed all over Jerusalem in preparation for the Feast of Passover.
The lamb was to be without blemish. It is the perfect picture of Jesus as the Passover lamb, saving those who put their trust in Him from death due to their sin. v 29. At midnight the first-born of every household died, including Pharaoh’s son. v 31. The Egyptians begged the Hebrews to leave and gave them jewellery to take with them. The Egyptians were practically stripped of everything they owned. The wealth passed to the Hebrews. v 40-41. About two and a half million people left Egypt 430 years after the Children of Israel arrived in Egypt. v 47. Not one of the bones of the lamb was to be broken.
CHAPTER 13. Moses tells the people never to forget what the Lord has done for them. The road along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea was the shortest way to Canaan but it was fortified and the Philistines would have fought against the Hebrews. They were not yet a trained army. God led the people by a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. Cloud always represents the presence of God. When Jesus ascended in Acts ch 1 v 9 He disappeared into a cloud, returning to the presence of His Father. The pillar of fire by night gave light to the people. Jesus claimed to be the light of the World. John ch 8 v 12. v 22. The pillars of cloud and fire were never out of sight.
CHAPTER 14. v 5. Pharaoh realised that he had lost the basis of his economy – slave labour. He set off with 600 chariots. Six is the number for fallen man. It was God who led the Hebrews to camp between Migdol and the sea. God set a trap for Pharaoh. The Hebrews were the bait in the trap. God knew that He would lead the Hebrews across the sea but they did not know that. The Hebrews experienced fear when they doubted that the Lord would deliver them. Circumstances indicated that they could not solve their problem. They had a crisis on their hands. A crisis is when a man cannot see any way of escape from his situation. There are times when a believer faces a crisis in life. Faith needs a crisis to walk on. v 11. The people moaned about their situation instead of seeking God for guidance. v 13. Moses knew where to turn. There is a way through the crisis. It may not be easy or without physical difficulties. God had more than one objective. He wanted to save the Hebrews and encourage them to trust Him. v 18. God also wanted to destroy the Egyptians in order to demonstrate to the World that He was God and sovereign over mankind. The soldiers were doing their duty but each soldier knew what Pharaoh had done in making the Hebrews slaves and killing their first-born sons. German soldiers were doing their duty when they murdered the Jewish people in Europe in World War II. Each soldier stood guilty before God. Some suggest that it was a shallow sea, which the Hebrews crossed. However the Egyptians would not have drowned in a shallow sea. There was a wall of sea on each side of the path across the sea. The Hebrews saw and believed in God. Moses is a type of Christ. A deliverer. Pharaoh is a type of Devil – holding the people in bondage and killing babies. God reveals Himself – each time by a new and more intimate name. Judgment fell on Egypt when they refused to accept the revelation of God.
CHAPTER 15. v 2 is the oldest praise song in the World. David repeats it in Psalm 118 v 14 and Isaiah repeats it in ch 12 v 2. Praise should be a natural consequence of God’s provision for a believer.
v 14. The nations heard what had happened and they trembled. Are the nations trembling today since God has brought the people of Israel back into their own land again? v 20 Miriam led the singing and dancing with a musical instrument. Moses led the people into the wilderness. A believer usually learns more about God in times of wilderness than in times of blessing. v 25. The tree made the water sweet. The tree on which Jesus died makes life sweet. v 26 is one of the great promises in Scripture. If a believer obeys all the commands of God he will not experience the diseases, which are linked to sin. There may be persecution as Jesus warned. God is a healing God.
CHAPTER 16. God is also the provider for His people. Even in the wilderness He provided food and water – manna and quail and water from the rocks. v 23. God commanded a day of rest. God knows that it is in the best interest of a man to have a day of rest.
CHAPTER 17. How quickly the people of God complain when difficulties come along instead of looking to the Lord to resolve the situation. The rocks were in layers. One layer was sandstone, which is porous and allows the water to pass through. The other layer is flint stone, which is impervious. If the flint stone is broken off the water flows out. There was water retained within the rock. God knew that. When Moses struck the rock, water was released by God. The first battle was with the Amalekites. They knew of the situation in Egypt and that God has miraculously released the Hebrews from the power of Pharaoh. Haman in the book of Esther was an Amalekite. There was a real hardness against God amongst the Amalekites. Rev ch 12 v 7 says that there is war in Heaven. “Everything, which happens in the physical, seen World is a manifestation of what is happening in the spiritual, unseen World.” The practice was for the Hebrews to raise their hands when they prayed. The lesson in v 11 is clearly that when believers do not pray the enemy gains ground. When the believer prays God releases angels to do battle with the demonic forces waging war on Earth. The Amalekites were constantly at war with God. Sometimes there is a generational hatred of God and opposition to Him with families.
CHAPTER 18. There are two principles in this chapter. Firstly, a believer should not despise the advice of a non-believer. God may exercise His grace through advice from a non-believer. Jethro was not a believer in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob but he understood the problem facing Moses. Secondly, a Church leader needs to delegate some of his responsibilities. Jethro advised Moses to delegate. “You will wear yourself out.” Moses was wearing himself out doing everything himself. Many Church leaders experience stress or burnout, because they refuse to delegate part of their duties. Pride on the part of the leader may well be the cause. Maybe others cannot do things as well as the leader but maybe, given an opportunity, they will in time be able to do so. Moses was to deal with the really important matters but others were to attend to the matters of less importance. Moses took the advice from Jethro.
CHAPTER 19. God made a covenant with the Hebrews. Israel was to be a theocracy – immediate government by God. It was a solemn occasion and Moses was told to instruct the people to prepare for the event. To take a vow before God is a very important matter in life. At the end of time there will be books opened, one of which is the Book of the Covenant. Every promise made by a man is recorded in that Book and the broken promises will be taken into account by God in passing judgement.
CHAPTER 20. God revealed Himself in the Ten Commandments. The first five demand respect for the Lord and the remaining ones demand respect for a man’s parents and his neighbour’s life, his wife, his property and his reputation. The keeping of these commandments is the glue to hold society together. The giving of the Commandments left the people with a healthy respect for God.
CHAPTER 21. God delivered certain laws regarding slaves, murder, physical injuries to another, and personal responsibilities towards the property of another. The penalties reflect the seriousness of behaviour towards another. There is no prohibition in the Bible against slavery. There is a strict requirement for a child to honour his parents. It is serious if a child rejects the parents who have brought the child into the World, fed, clothed and educated the child. Such rebellion strikes at the basis of society.
CHAPTER 22. God delivers further laws for the protection of society. These were once the basis of the laws of Britain. The basis of each law is for a man to do to others what he would want them to do for him. There is a requirement of the Hebrews to look after strangers in their midst. They knew what it had been like in Egypt. Each law was for the protection of the people whom God had set aside for His purposes. There was the promise of life in obedience to the Word of God. The Hebrews were a people through whom God wanted to reveal Himself to the nations around about. Each individual believer is in the same category but the believer is not part of a nation of God’s people. Respect for the property of another is important.
CHAPTER 23. There are further instructions. Everything a man does, says and thinks matters to God and to the neighbours of the man. There are implications of actions and speech, which need to be weighed carefully. God promised an angel to guide and protect His people. If they obey His instructions, God will provide all their needs and protect them from their enemies. They are to have nothing to do with the ways of the people of Canaan. They were to be in the midst of the World but not to be conform to the thinking and ways of the people of the World. God set the boundaries of the land promised to His chosen people.
CHAPTER 24. The Covenant between God and the Hebrew people was sealed with blood. Every covenant must be sealed with blood. The New Covenant in Jer ch 31 v 31 was sealed with the blood of Jesus. v 15. The cloud covered the mountain representing the presence of the Lord. Moses was forty days on the mountain. Forty is the number for testing. God was testing the people to trust Him.
CHAPTER 25. God, having delivered the people from slavery, looked for an offering from the people to provide materials for a tabernacle, whereby he would live with them in their midst. It was God who had persuaded the Egyptians to give the Hebrews gold etc so they were only giving back to God a little of what He had provided for them in the first instance. It is exactly the same with tithing or giving. All that a man has came from God. God gave detailed instructions for the ark, the table and the lamp-stand. Each item was highly symbolic and meaningful – all pointing to Jesus.
CHAPTER 26. There were further specific instructions for the tabernacle and the veil. Numerology plays a large part in the detailed instructions.
CHAPTER 27. There were additional instructions for the altar and the court of the tabernacle with oil for the lamp.
CHAPTER 28. The garments to be worn by the priests were also very meaningful.
CHAPTER 29. The ordination of the priests was important. Jesus would one day fulfil the role of the High Priest and everything pointed to Jesus. The role of the priest was to represent man to God. As High priest Jesus would offer Himself as the perfect sacrificial lamb.
CHAPTER 30. The blood of the sin offering would make atonement for the sins of the people. Washing of sins was an integral part of the ceremony.
CHAPTER 31. God through the Holy Spirit gave special gifts or skills to certain people to complete the Tabernacle as He wanted it. In the same way the Holy Spirit gives different gifts and skills to members of society so that the whole of society is blessed when everyone works together for the common good of society. v 16-17 remind the people to observe the Sabbath This verse is one of the clearest indications that God created the Earth in 6 physical days.
A man cannot change the past but he can ruin the present by being anxious about the future. There are four lessons.
1. There is always a danger of forgetting God and making decisions without reference to Him.
2. There are consequences for a man’s actions.
3. It is easy to succumb to temptation.
4. How ineffective are lame excuses.
1. There is always a danger of forgetting God and making decisions without reference to Him. Was there a meaning in Moses making the people eat the gold when it had been ground down? God no longer lives in a temple built by men but lives within His people. Within only forty days the Children of Israel forgot about God. They were tested and failed the test. The Church is only one generation away from extinction. It is harder for a believer to keep in fellowship with God on his own than it is if he meets together regularly with other believers. Heb ch 10 v 25. Believers need to be encouraged by others. The word for the animal is probably a young bull in the prime of its life – a symbol of strength and virility. A bull was a representation of the strength of God. This was common in Egyptian religious worship and in the religions of the Canaanites. The bull was to be the throne of God, as a symbol of His strength. The people had introduced their own ideas of what God was like and what God wanted. They made God in their own image. This is a common activity of man.
2. There are always consequences for a man’s actions. It is important for a man before making a decision to think through the consequences for himself and for others. A man has free choice and can make decisions. The Children of Israel were impatient and would not wait for Moses to return. After 430 years what did a few more days matter? God has all the time in the World at His disposal. Perhaps He is waiting for something else to happen before He answers a particular prayer – like a plane waiting to take off has to wait until an incoming plane has landed. Be patient. Patience is part of the fruit of the Spirit. Sin leads to separation from God and from other human beings and eventually to death.
v 35. Because of the sin God sent a plague upon the people.
3. It is so easy for a believer to take his eyes off the Lord and to fall to temptation. The enemy has wiles to outwit him, unless he is in regular contact with Him and is about His business. It is always easier to take an alternative or easier route to God – one, which does not involve repentance for sin and denial of self. A text without its context is a pretext. The people decided to worship what God had created rather than God Himself. There were good intentions, but these are never enough, if there is disobedience. Jesus did not come to make a man happy but to make him holy. “Be holy.”
4. Aaron gave a lame excuse for his part in the making of the bull. Bulls were symbols of fertility. God shows that idolatry leads to immorality. A loss of respect for God leads to a loss of respect for people.
v 5. Moses had seen how happy the people were with an alternative to God. The leader must please God and not men. A man’s ways lead to immorality. “It just happened.” v 24. It does not just happen! A man sins, either by ignoring the advice of God, or by failing to obey his conscience or by open rebellion. Adam blamed Eve. She blamed the serpent. “Who do you blame?” Man is always inclined to try to pass the blame to someone else for his sins. There was a common saying in Israel. The fathers ate sour grapes and the children’s teeth were set on edge. The sins of the children were the fault of the parents. Jer ch 31 v 29 and Ezekiel ch 18 v 2. God was saying that this is no longer acceptable. Each person is responsible for his own sins. A man is always inclined to transfer his guilt to someone else. Repentance is a man owning up and taking responsibility for his own sins.
God renewed the covenant with Israel for the Land – promised to them as an everlasting possession. However the nation was still stiff-necked. God promised to be present with Moses, who had the privilege of beholding God’s glory. v 17. God called Moses His friend.
v 23. Since God is a spirit and does not have a physical body it has been suggested that what Moses saw was the lacerated back of Jesus on His way to crucifixion. Moses clearly spent a great deal of time in the presence of God talking to Him and listening to what God had to say.
CHAPTER 34. A second set of two tablets of stone written by the finger of God was given to Moses. Nothing can thwart God in His purpose for this World. There was a further warning not to become engaged with the World and its ways. For the Hebrews this was represented by the seven peoples living in the land of Canaan. The same warning applies to each believer. When Moses had been in the presence of the Lord his face was shining.
CHAPTER 35. It is one thing hearing the Lord’s instruction but it is another thing doing them. Jesus said that it was not those who heard His words but those who did them. Moses challenged the people that it was now time for action. The materials had to be gathered in order to build the Tabernacle. Every gift however small was valuable.
CHAPTER 36. Every man who had been given a gift had to work together with the others who were also gifted. The gifts of the Spirit are given to build up the body of believers and not to show off how gifted an individual is. Every good gift comes from God and therefore there should be no boasting or competition. Every thing was detailed and every detail mattered. Gradually the Hebrews were being forged into a nation.
CHAPTER 37. The instructions continued for the construction of the ark, the table, the lamp-stand and the altar of incense.
CHAPTER 38. Next came the altar of burnt offering, the construction of the court and there was even a total of all the metals used in the construction.
CHAPTER 39. Details were given for the making of the clothes for the priest. Moses inspected the completed work. God admired all that He had created and saw that it was perfect.
CHAPTER 40. Once all the gifts had been given and all the items made in accordance with the instructions, Moses had to assemble all the items and then dedicate them to the Lord. v 33. Moses finished his work and it was perfect. God’s presence indicated by a cloud filled the Tabernacle.
Ch 3 v 7, 8 and 12. God delivers His people, whether Israel or individuals.
Ch 5 v 7-8. Many times in history the cruelty of man rises to the surface and knows no limits.
Ch 6 v 7. God confirms His choice of Israel in order to fulfil His purposes.
Ch 7 v 1. God establishes team ministry. If one fails the other is there to carry on the task.
Ch 12 v 43. The Passover was established to remind the people of the need for a lamb to take
away the sins of the people.
Ch 13 v 21. God guided the people by a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.
Ch 15 v 26. God promises healing for those who obey all His commands.
Ch 17 v 8-13. Prayer changes the situation for the better.
Ch 18 v 18. A leader must learn to delegate or he will become worn out.
Ch 19 v 4-6. God’s purpose for Israel revealed. They are to represent mankind to God as priests.
Ch 20. The moral law was given reflecting the character of God.
Ch 32 v 31. Man has an inclination to make an idol for himself.
Ch 36 v 1. God gives skills to a man in order to compliment one another and work together.
There are some key principles of Scripture to be considered at the start of this book.
First. “Israel is you and me on a national scale.” As a man sees the progress of Israel he is challenged to consider his own spiritual progress. Just as God revealed Himself to Israel, He has revealed Himself to each man. What has a man done with that revelation? That is the question, which the book poses – not what did Israel do with the revelation? A believer is invited to consider the progress of Israel over the period of time and also the progress he has made since he became a believer in light of the facts of God’s goodness to Israel and to him.
Second. Chapters 1 -3 gives the physical picture of the spiritual reality. It is not about a physical walk across a desert but growth in the spiritual darkness. 39 years after the moral law was delivered to the Children of Israel at Mount Sinai, they entered the Promised Land. Ch 1 v 2. The journey could have been completed in 11 days but took 39 years. The believer’s spiritual progress can be equally slow.
Third. A man must not rely on others. Each person is accountable for his or her own progress. Moses did what he was called to do. Whether the others responded or not was not due to Moses. Only two of the spies exercised faith and believed the Word of God. The others doubted it. Ch 1 v 21. Faith and doubt are opposites, as are love and fear. Only faith pleases God. When the Son of Man comes back to Earth, will He find faith on the Earth? That is the challenge, which confronts a man.
Fourth. As Moses restates the moral law and sets before the people the blessings, which flow from obedience to the Word of God and the curses or problems, which follow disobedience to the Word of God, a man also must from time to time have a spiritual check up to see if he is growing spiritually or is falling back into the ways of the World. Disobedience is viewed by God as rebellion against His provision and authority. This is a book, which is worth reading from time to time as a believer to remember the urgency of obedience to the Word of God. The book presents the true motive for obedience.
The meaning of the word Deuteronomy is “the second law” or “repetition of the law.” It also involves an explanation of the law. It is particularly important to restate the moral law of God before venturing on a new stage of a believer’s spiritual life. “It is not by might nor by power but by my Spirit” that progress will be made. It was necessary to state the law again, because the whole of the first generation had died. Each generation must renew the covenant with God. It was also important to read the law again, because the people were facing a land already occupied by enemies. Moses wanted to ensure that the new generation was informed about the past and ready to face the future. God did not tell the people how to live, until after He had saved them.
The physical picture of an inheritance – a good land with milk and honey – is a picture of Heaven and the role of the believer in Heaven. Life is not about just getting to Heaven but about preparing for the work, which lies ahead there. The children of God will govern the Universe with Christ and their role in Heaven depends on their actions and response on this Earth. Ch 2 v 5 confirms that God in an act of grace apportions the lands to all peoples, including those who are opposed to Him. Esau was a rebel but God had assigned Mount Seir to Esau and his descendants – the Edomites. It is an act of rebellion for one people to take over land belonging to another people. The Moabites had been given an area of land also. They were the descendants of Lot. Gen ch 19 v 36-7. Modern day genocide is in defiance of the provision of God. It is not difficult to see the hand of the enemy at work in this area. The Children of Israel had lacked nothing – because God had provided for them during the forty years in the desert. ch 2 v 25. God would make the peoples respect and fear the people of God. There is nothing, which the demons fear than a believer who knows the power he has and exercises it in response to the prompting of the Holy Spirit. “If you go in the name of the Lord, He will be with you.” That is a promise, as v 25 was.
Everything a man receives from God is a gift, but he has to possess it. Whether the Jews lived in the land depended on how they lived in it. God’s promises today are conditional. They are gifts, but how a man lives in those promises determines whether or not he can enjoy them.
The whole generation of people who received the law at Sinai had died in the wilderness as a result of disobedience to the moral law of God – apart from Caleb and Joshua. The people were camped just outside the Promised Land and set to enter it. What better time to restate the moral law. This is true for any believer about to embark on a major change in life. The people have in Moses a very real example of the consequences of disobedience. He is not permitted to enter the land because of disobedience on the journey. 1 Cor ch 9 v 27. This example had not been lost on Paul.
Moses does not castigate the people when he challenges them. In this way he demonstrates the grace of God as He graciously reminds the people of where they are and what lies ahead. He simply states the facts in chapters 1 – 4 and invites the people to respond. Moses points out that whenever the people were obedient to God, He was with them and success in battle followed. God is looking for a response in His children. ch 4 v 32. “Consider your position and realise how blessed you are.” ch 1 v 31. “Count your blessings one by one any time the enemy comes at you.” In a World where people are looking for a quick success, they are not prepared to wait for God to move or to see the long-term results of success. It takes years to invest in the future generation.
Moses gathers the people to restate the moral law and starts off with idolatry. This is always a temptation. It is the purpose of Satan to encourage a man to take his eyes and mind off God and onto anything else, which will capture his heart. God can impose a natural sanction, such as the absence of rain or an excess of rain. He can also impose military sanctions. He can bring another people against His people. He brought the Philistines into Gaza at the same time as He led Israel into Canaan.
The influence of Deuteronomy on the domestic and personal religion of all ages has not been surpassed by any other book in the Bible. It is quoted over 80 times in the New Testament. In the Scroll version it begins “These are the words.” They were the first words in the book. The second giving of the law was a repeat of the first given on the plains of Moab. There is a spirit of urgency throughout the book. The book is arranged according to a definite plan. Law in the book is an expression of the will of God, which must be obeyed. The law was cast in the shape of an ancient Near Eastern treaty. There are similarities with the Hittite treaties. The only adequate response to such love was single-minded devotion and unshared allegiance. Rejection of God’s covenant was the most heinous of all sins. It was rejection of God’s gracious intentions for His people. Any other way of life was fraught with danger and involved a curse. As sovereign Lord over the Universe, God demanded undivided allegiance from His people. Idolatry or divided allegiance merits His judgment. It was against a background of redemptive deliverance that God could appeal to His people.
There is always discussion as to authorship. Jesus appears to have accepted that Moses wrote it. Mat ch 19 v 8. The word “remember” occurs 16 times in Deuteronomy. Israel was reminded regularly of her privileged status and of her continuing debt of gratitude to God. True worship lies hidden in the recesses of the human heart and flows to God as a result of the love, gratitude, reverence and obedience of the worshipper. Time and again it is stated that God swore on His oath to give the Land to the descendants of Abraham. It was a gift from God to them. Israel possessed no natural right to the land. Their departure was as a result of God’s judgement on them. Israel was used as God’s instrument of judgement on the Canaanites. Other powers were used as instruments of judgement, e.g. Babylon. God exercises both judgement and redemption within history. Obedience brings blessing, prosperity and continued possession of the land and disobedience brings curses and finally dispossession of the land. All other powers in the World held authority from God.
Israel was forbidden to enter into alliances with pagans. Israel has a unique claim to recognition among the nations. God’s laws should be the pride of Israel. How great is the responsibility of leaders in every age to act in integrity and according to God’s laws despite what others do, even when their actions are provocative. Israel was instructed that no physical representation of God was necessary for her worship. In this way she differed radically from her idolatrous neighbours. Since God did not reveal Himself in physical form, Israel was not to have any physical representation of God.
CHAPTER 1. The Amorites had lived in the land from as early as 1900 B. C. v 6. Timing is God’s business. The Israelites were forbidden to enter into alliances with pagan nations. v 9. No leader can bear the whole problems of a group, however small. It is essential to delegate. v 17. If a matter is too difficult, take it to another and do not bottle it up or make a decision without the skill to deal with the matter. v 30. When the future looks too difficult, trust in the Lord. “He has not brought you this far to abandon you.” When a man looks back with honesty over his life he sees the many occasions he has failed the Lord and gone in disobedience and the many occasions when he received mercy despite his sin. He is left wondering what might have been, if he had followed the Lord on every step through life. v 34. It is wise to remember that God is angry when His children complain. Moses knew from personal experience the danger of disobeying God. v 38. Leaders need encouragement. v 44. It is dangerous for believers to move forward in their own strength. They cannot expect God to be concerned for them when they do so.
CHAPTER 2. v 5. God had blessed the descendants of Esau, despite their rebellion against Him. God makes the sun to shine on the unrighteous and the children of God should honour their enemies and deal fairly with them, even though their enemies disobey and rebel against God. God did the same for the Moabites and the Ammonites. v 12. God even destroyed the Horites to make room for the Edomites. God’s common grace is at work in the lives of those who ignore Him and those who rebel against Him. God demonstrated His sovereignty, judgement and providence to all the nations. Those people were so hard-hearted against God’s providence. God allowed the Israelites to defeat the Amorites and wipe them out. The Amorites had brought it upon themselves by their rebellion against God. v 25. Certain people would tremble in fear because of the Jewish people. It would not endear the Jewish people to these nations but still God will be God. The same consequence has followed the return of the Jewish people to the land of Israel in 1948. v 28. The Amorites refused what was a reasonable request by Moses.
CHAPTER 3. Moses recalls the grace of God, which had led the Children of Israel to where they were. It is good to look back and count the blessings to see what amazing things the Lord has done. It encourages the believer to expect the Lord to work again in the future. It always seems hard that God wiped out whole peoples as the Children of Israel advanced. This is a physical picture of the spiritual reality. These people were hostile to God and His revelation. They all knew very well that God’s people had suffered greatly in Egypt and they had done nothing to help them. Now they had witnessed God’s grace in saving and rescuing these people who bore His name. Yet they stood in the way and would not allow them to pass peaceably through the land, which God had by grace given to them. That revealed their hardened hearts. There comes a time when God’s grace ebbs away and He brings the people into judgement. God is a God of grace and a God of judgement. He always comes to mankind with a word of mercy and a word of judgement. The destruction of the people was the act of judgement upon them. Again it challenges mankind to think about where they stand individually and collectively as a nation before God. They see evil in their own land and tolerate it. God wants His people today to follow the example of Jesus and drive out the enemies and reduce their effectiveness. 1 John ch 3 v 8. At the end of the chapter Moses is commanded to train Joshua to take over the leadership. It is the responsibility of leaders to act in integrity and according to God’s laws despite what others do and even when their actions are provocative. That is the task of all leaders to train up new leaders to take over and expand the work of the Kingdom of God. If a leader dies without having trained others to succeed him in leadership, then there will be a set back to the work of the Kingdom of God. God was very patient with the peoples of Canaan but eventually He acted in judgement. Sexually transmitted diseases were commonplace amongst these peoples. If Israel had mixed with them, they would have been infected. There was great immorality in Canaan. God could not let the idolatry go on unpunished. Also they sacrificed their children to Molech and worshipped Mammon. v 23-27. Moses again incurred God’s anger by challenging His decision to refuse Moses entry to the Promised Land. “No” is a clear answer to prayer.
CHAPTER 4. God’ s purpose in choosing Israel was not to have them as a special possession in the wilderness praising and worshipping Him, but He wanted them to be in the World – in the midst of the other peoples – so that His glory might be revealed to the other nations.
v 4. There is a prohibition against adding to or subtracting from the Word of God. Rev ch 22 v 18 states the same command.
v 8. God wanted the other nations to see the wise and fair laws, which they had received from God. The law of God, which surpassed all other laws, was to be the pride of Israel. The Jewish people lost their calling to bring the other peoples to have knowledge of God. Instead they became insular. Isaiah ch 26 v 18. Isaiah pointed out that the nation of Israel had failed to deliver salvation to the World. There is the same challenge to each believer today – to be in the World but not part of its ways and thought processes. Jesus fulfilled that task so well. He mixed with sinners without becoming contaminated by them. He calls on His followers to let their light shine before men, reminding them of God.
v 9. A believer should never forget what God has done for him – personally and should remember the death of Jesus for his sins. He should consider where he might be but for God’s saving grace.
v 15. Idolatry is utterly forbidden. God is a spirit and is therefore non-material. God did not reveal Himself in physical form and so Israel was not to represent Him in physical form. To restrict God to an image is to belittle Him and to contain Him. The image of Jesus on a cross restricts the person to the picture of a defeated Jesus. Pictures are very important in presenting an image. Advertisers always want to associate their product with a successful situation – a good-looking person or a strong thing like an eagle or a fast car. By association they know that the person who sees the advert will associate his product with success. So an image is dangerous. God is so great that He cannot and will not be reduced in any way. In this way Israel differed radically from her idolatrous neighbours.
v 21. Moses uses his own experience of punishment to be a warning to the people. “If God did not spare me for my sin, He will not spare you either.”
v 25 – 28 are a prophecy as to what will happen – and it did happen. God warned the people with the most solemn words of warning and yet they did not heed Moses. Believers need to heed the warnings of Jesus.
v 29 – 31 promises future grace from a God who will never leave nor forsake His chosen people.
v 33. As if to drive home the point Moses challenges the people to consider that there has never been such an outpouring of grace on any other nation. They are truly blessed.
v 40 is a key verse. If the believer is to live within the Kingdom of God, obedience to the moral law of God is imperative. Disobedience and blessing simply do not live together. It was so for Israel as a people and it is so for each believer as an individual.
CHAPTER 5. There is a command to learn the statutes and ordinances of the Lord. The moral law given at Sinai is repeated. Whenever anything is repeated in the Bible it carries special weight. God heard the words spoken by the Children of Israel in response to his words. v 28. God hears the words a man speaks to Him and about Him. God knows the response of a man’s heart. He hears the unspoken decision in the heart. God knows the thoughts of each man. He knows a man’s frailty and sinfulness. Moses was set aside for a special life of obedience and service. The leader has a special responsibility to lead by example. This chapter is all about respect – respect for God, respect for His name, respect for parents, respect for life, respect for marriage, respect for property and respect for the reputation of people. When the people do not respect these things society is destroyed. Pagan practices are not based on this principle of respect. v 33 confirms that obedience to the laws of God is the only way to live a long and prosperous life. Anthromorphism is a literary device for stating in limited human terms that God is personal and may be known in personal terms.
CHAPTER 6. Moses holds out the prospect of the Jewish people being a great nation in a glorious land. However, there is an ever-present danger of forgetting the blessings of the past and the so great salvation. In the hour of prosperity or at times when all goes well, a man tends to forget God’s blessings. In its prosperity the Church in the West has forgotten God. God would have to punish those who broke their covenant with Him. Yesterday’s luxuries become today’s necessities. A man begins to take good things for granted, as if he had a right to them. Moses warns the Children of Israel against this danger and suggests some practical steps to overcome this danger v 8 – 9 – tying part of the Word of God on their fingers and wearing part of it on their foreheads. Putting up texts on the doorposts of the houses so that they cannot walk in or out without seeing them and remembering the blessings of God to them. This figurative way was to remind the Israelites that the Word of God should be uppermost in their minds and an absorbing interest in life. v 7. They are particularly advised to teach their children regularly. Like a recurring theme Moses advises that blessings flow from obedience. There is a promise of long life for those who are obedient to the Word of God. v 10-12. God plans to give them cities of the Canaanites, which they did not build and wells, which they did not dig. v 23 reminds the believers that there is a purpose in salvation and that is to receive an inheritance. The two dangers facing the Children of Israel are the same dangers facing the believer. 1. Taking salvation for granted and forgetting the work done in his life. 2. Allowing the ways of the World to take over the thought pattern of the believer. v 25 sums it all up. It always goes well with believers when they obey all the laws of God. Yahweh was not a pantheon of gods but One God. Israel’s obedience to God was to spring from a relationship of love and not from a barren legalism based on necessity and duty. The heart was regarded as the seat of the mind and the will – as well as of a wider range of emotions.
CHAPTER 7. So far the emphasis has been on moral integrity before God. Now as the people prepare to enter the Land the emphasis shifts to spiritual warfare. Each of the people named represents a spiritual power. Nations like people have their own characteristics and the enemy uses the fertile soil of life to plant his deadly demonic forces. The 7 named represent 7 spiritual powers as follows.
The Hittites. The spirit of fear.
The Girgashites. The spirit of turning back.
The Amorites. The spirit behind destruction of the gift of positive speech.
The Canaanites. The spirit behind the lust for materialism.
The Perizzites. The spirit behind breaking down a man’s defences and separating him from God.
The Hivites. The spirit behind the desire to be happy and to live it up.
The Jebusites. The spirit behind accusation – depression – condemnation and intimidation.
God did not choose the Israelites because they were a great nation any more then He chose a believer because he was someone of merit. He saw something in the believer with which He could fashion a personality useful in His Kingdom. In order to fulfil the true potential as a believer it is essential to root out all sin, to separate from the ways of the World and to overcome the spiritual forces arrayed against the believer. That task lay before the Israelites. God did this because He loved them and had sworn on His oath to give them the Land. On the other hand God is a jealous God and will not tolerate any challenge to His sovereignty.
v 2. Do a complete job of destroying them. Any compromise will lead to death. The enemy is an expert at infiltration. All these people had heard of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and had closed ranks against the Lord and His anointed. Psalm 2 v 2. The same situation prevails in the World today concerning the people of Israel. God’s grace had allowed the people of the World ample time to deal with the sin in their lives but they had deliberately chosen not to repent. God will deal with each person personally at the time of judgement. God is an awesome God. The wickedness of the people to be destroyed was so great, the patience of God towards them so long-suffering and the opportunities for repentance so many that when judgement did fall it came as just recompense for awful sinfulness.
v 14. Repeats the theme of blessings for Israel above all the nations of the Earth.
v 15. Health is also dependant on obedience to the laws of God.
v 22. God would clear them away gradually. Sin has to be defeated little by little.
v 25. The false gods were to be utterly destroyed. The challenge must have seemed formidable. The thought of a believer being holy is just as formidable.
v 26. An idol is to be detested. God uses the strongest possible language to make His point. There is a danger in allowing one into the house. There may be spiritual attachments to some ornaments and jewellery.
CHAPTER 8. Moses lists the mercies of God to His people. Each believer should remember how God provided for him at various stages of his life. Food – clothes – family – friends – work – interests. The future provision is better still. The most dangerous time is when God has blessed him. When God blesses man, man tends to ignore God. When God sends suffering, man complains against God. When God provided His only Son to pay the price for sins, man was suspicious. That sums up mankind. Comparative righteousness is hard to assess.
v 3. “Man does not live by bread alone but by every word, which proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord.” It is not mere food, which gives life. Without the divine word the food itself may not be available.
v 11 – 14. The enemy will encourage a man to forget God. Individual lives and nations teach that lesson. Anything a man has achieved is by the grace of God – even the air he breathes was created by God.
v 18. It is God who gives a man the power to gain wealth. God loves to give good things to His people.
v 20. The believer is no different from the non-believer in that, if he turns away from God, he too will perish physically. Whole nations have perished by rejecting God’s provision for them.
CHAPTER 9. v 1-6. Moses reminds the people that there is to be no place for pride in them. It is not because they are better than other people but because the other people are even more wicked than they are. That is why God is driving them out. It was right that God should assist His people to possess the Land because this was a divine promise. It was occupied by people who were in the wrong. God used Israel as His human agents in bringing this about. Even today God uses Israel to punish Hamas and others. That does not make them popular in the eyes of the World. The condition of some lands ought to make a man aware of God’s judgement on that land. There is a common thought in decent people – that they are better than others. “God must be pleased with me, because I have never done anything really wicked like other people have.” That is pride and an absence of grace. Moses invites them to remember their sins. Even while God was speaking and planning to bless them, they were busy making a golden calf. It was as quick as that. How easy it is to fall into sin even after a wonderful worship service and a word from the Lord. It was only the personal intervention of Moses that saved the people of Israel.
v 24 sums it up. “You have been rebellious against the Lord from the first day I knew you.” There is no place for pride there. Moses had been led by the Spirit of God to plead on their behalf, reminding God that the Egyptians would scoff, if God destroyed His own people, after the lengths He had gone to deliver them. Moses had a role as an intercessor. God’s reputation was on the line. Moses knew that. There should be no elements of competition as to righteousness. One man may be called to wait and another to go. If each obeys then, both are doing the right thing. In the eyes of the World the one who goes seems to have done the better thing but God does not see it on that basis.
CHAPTER 10. v 12 -13. Moses has briefly run over the blessings of God for the past 38 years and now the time has come to enter the Land. A man should keep God central in his thoughts and plans as he goes forth into the new life. Each day for the believer is the start of the rest of his life. Although God is in control of the whole Universe, He is thinking about His children today and has plans for their lives today. There is a danger of the believer going the other way and becoming so pleased with his relationship with the Lord that he comes to regard sinners lightly. The Jews were commanded to care for foreigners, since they knew what it was like to be foreigners in Egypt. If God’s Spirit lives in the heart of a man, he should have the compassion of Jesus for the lost and should never write them off as passed redemption. God can save anyone. This principle should be deeply imbedded in the thinking of a believer.
v 12. What does God require of His children? Micah ch 6 v 8. He makes it perfectly clear. There is no room for doubt. God brings His people to the point of decision after narrating the events showing what God has done for them. Israel was to love God because God had first loved them.
CHAPTER 11. A man tends to think that salvation is the most important thing in all the Earth. Certainly man is the pinnacle of God’s creation, made in His image but it is clear that God also derives great pleasure from the very land, which He created and the weather, which He controls. v 12 and v 14. God is sovereign over nature and history. The weather and other natural phenomena serve His historical purposes. Nature is not independent of God. Sin affects the weather pattern. Rain to water the land and the crops are a blessing from God – part of His grace and related to obedience to His Word. When that grace is withdrawn the rains dry up. Every natural misfortune should be a source of fear, searching and repentance for any evil thing in the lives of those who are affected. Judgement on the Earth in the last days will not be by a flood but by fire. Isaiah ch 24 v 6 says that in these days the Earth will lie parched beneath its inhabitants as a result of the rebellion of man, since man has broken the covenants. Already there are droughts on a scale not hitherto seen on the Earth. Man cannot control the weather but God does. If man could control the weather, there would be fighting over it between those who want more rain and those who want less rain. The daily weather is a reminder of the presence of God through the wind, the rain and the sun. In Egypt there is an impression that the high productivity of the land was due entirely to human industry as they harnessed the waters of the Nile. In Israel it would be the rain provided by God, which would sustain productivity. If Israel attributed the rains to Baal, God would withdraw the rains.
v 24. The extent of the land was declared. The position of the believer is stated. He is seated with Christ in the Heavenly places. It is necessary for a believer to accept his position to occupy it and take his seat, otherwise the seat lies empty. Moses closes with a clear and unambiguous statement – there is a choice to be made between blessing and curse. In the Hittite covenant it was not uncommon for a king, sometime before his death, to require his vassals to swear allegiance to his successor. Moses would be followed by Joshua. The law-giver – Moses – would be followed by the saviour – Joshua.
v 29. Mount Gerizim and Mount Ebal were two silent witnesses to the demand for allegiance and the choice between blessing and curse. Two is the number in Scripture for divine witnesses.
CHAPTER 12. There is a specific commandment to positively destroy all the places of worship of false gods. It is not enough to avoid them but the people are told to wipe them out and the very memory of them. Pictures have an impact on people. Advertisers know that. They arouse curiosity and encourage people to dabble in them. That is why the occult or hidden things are forbidden. That is why images of God are forbidden. If there is an idol in a man’s life it must be utterly destroyed or it will seek to control him again. God again repeats the command to bring the tithes and the free will offerings and the offerings to fulfil vows before the altar of the Lord in public. Tithes are like the income tax needed by God to operate the Kingdom of God. Thereafter free will offerings are an indication of the dedication and love of the believer for God and for the expansion of His Kingdom.
Moses now turns to specific laws relating to worship, the organisation of the State, family law and laws of purity. Unless there is true worship all the other laws will not be obeyed and will fail to hold the nation together. v 1-28 deal with worship. v 1-7 deal with the central sanctuary. Then the chapter goes on to deal with food to be eaten. v 23. God states that while meat is allowed to be eaten the blood must first be drained out of it, for the life is in the blood. Acts ch 15 v 29. There is a promise of a blessing for obedience to this command. Things, which do not always appear important to man, can have great importance to God in the longer term. Faith tells a man to obey even when he cannot see why it is important. True religion or Christianity is not a private thing between a man and God. Mat ch 10 v 32. Jesus calls on men to acknowledge Him before men. That public declaration avoids the danger mentioned in v 8 of people doing their own thing, which they personally think is right. It avoids error in thinking.
v 30 – 31. God’s people are forbidden even to enquire about what the heathen do. Satan would draw believers into the ways of the World out of good motives to find out what is happening. It seems a good motive but danger lies in finding out what a man does not need to know. A man does not need to know what the pagans are watching on television. There is a reminder that the peoples who are to be wiped out were involved in disgusting practices – even burning their own children. Religious education is part of the curriculum in schools telling children about other religions. This is for good motives to help children understand why other people behave as they do. It is specifically forbidden by God for His people. When false religion is taught as an equal or sister religion it undermines the truth.
CHAPTER 13. God is a jealous God. He is jealous for His own reputation as a holy God and will not tolerate worship of false gods among His own people. When there is a word from someone who claims to have a word from God, that word must be weighed carefully against Scripture. A false prophet is to be stoned to death and the first person to throw the stone is to be his nearest relative, if that is who discovers the person leading the people to worship a false god. This is an awesome command. Pressure comes from a member of a man’s own family to turn aside from God and miss worship. The enemy will always come through someone close. There must be no compromise. Loyalty to God comes before a man’s wife or child. If there is a city in rebellion it is to be utterly destroyed. This is the seriousness of the situation when a nation turns away from God. It demonstrates the seriousness of a believer committing apostasy. The whole nation will understand the seriousness of the situation. Impurity must be burned out.
v 14. Before acting on information, a believer should first check that the facts are correct. It is so dangerous to jump to false conclusions on half-truths and rumours. If a believer is put out of fellowship for serious sin, it is a good warning to others of the seriousness of sin. 1 Cor ch 5 v 1-13. It is a hard thing to do, but so is cutting off a limb, which will poison the whole body, if left in place.
CHAPTER 14. v 1. Cutting the body is offensive the Lord, who created the wonderful bodies. Cutting is evidence of demonic activity. Today there are Islamic factions who cut their heads and pour forth blood – in the supposed worship of their god. This verse includes tattoos and body piercing.
God lists those animals, which are forbidden to eat. It was probably the case that the Hebrews had no idea what lay behind this advice. There are almost certainly good scientific grounds for this advice, which was unknown at that time. God called for obedience, even when it was not understood. He calls on man today to obey, even though he cannot see a good reason for it. God explains the purpose of tithing. It is to teach man always to put God first in his life. Again it is a public activity. In that way everyone will be encouraged to participate. Mat ch 6 v 33. Jesus endorsed this teaching.
v 21. Boiling a kid with its mother’s milk was a pagan superstition and practice.
v 29 is a command to look after the poor. There were no state benefits in these days.
CHAPTER 15. There are some laws given to Israel as a nation, which are for them alone and should not be spiritualised or applied for the believer. God is not just a personal God but He is Lord of the nations. He set the boundaries of the nations. There are forty chapters in the Bible dealing with judgement of the nations. It may be that a nation is in decline while an individual man prospers. It may be that a believer is in sin while the nation, of which he is a part, is being blessed. The difficulty is in teasing out what is a general principle of Scripture and what is for Israel alone and can be ignored. The believer must rely on the Holy Spirit to guide him within the principles of Biblical interpretation.
The purpose of the release of debts is to enrich the nation. It guards against the lust for more and more – the god of materialism. It puts a stop to the rich becoming richer and the poor becoming poorer. The most contented country is the one where the gap between rich and poor is least. There was to be no poor in the land. In Israel the poor and needy were the special concern of God. This was not so in other nations. The law in Israel was framed to ensure the welfare of every member of the community and to protect the underprivileged. On the other hand much poverty is directly related to sin. When a sinner is born again and stops wasting his money on drink, drugs, gambling and women, he will inevitably experience a degree of prosperity. v 11 recognises that there will always be some among the nation who are poor. This gives opportunities for generosity. The nation is to remember Egypt and the slavery there where they were poor and remember that their new prosperity is in part due to the fact that God has led them to a Land, which produces good crops and fruit because of the climate. The Jewish people also inherited cities, which they had not built and wells, which they had not dug. It is a scriptural principle to share with those in need. However, this principle has to be held together with the principle to work hard. If a man will not work, he will not eat. 2 Thess ch 3 v 10. The Hebrew word for work and the Hebrew word for worship is the same word. A man is given the opportunity to worship God through his work. When God gives a man salvation freely, He follows it with the command to work out his salvation. Money makes the World go around. It is more blessed to give than to receive. In many instances slavery offered more security and better conditions than individual freedom gave.
CHAPTER 16. God instituted three festivals for the Jewish people to celebrate in order to remind the people of God’s provision for them and His purpose for them. God had a purpose for His people throughout the whole history of the World right to the very end. Even without their Messiah the Jewish people remind the World of God. Jesus faithfully kept the festivals. John ch 7 v 37. The Festival of Tabernacles was designed to remind the people that God was with them. Jesus rose to claim that He was God with them at the festival. God has written His law on the hearts of Pagans, so that everyone knows that certain things are wrong. Every society in the World has always thought that incest was wrong. v 19. Integrity of the judiciary is essential for a fair society. All citizens shall stand as equal before the law regardless of class as they will stand before God on judgement day.
CHAPTER 17. v 1. To offer God a second hand sacrifice is an insult. God is not honoured by such gifts. Sacrifice is costly – as Jesus proved. To raise money by a sponsored event, where the participants enjoy themselves and do not give in sacrifice is not the offering of a sacrifice to the Lord. There is no honour to the Lord. God is a God of justice and truth and is very particular about ensuring that wrongdoing is properly dealt with by the authorities. Wrongdoing must be dealt with effectively to purge the land of evil.
v 6. The number two in Scripture denotes divine witness. For the death sentence to be passed there must be two witnesses.
v 14. God always wanted a theocracy. The peoples of the World like a strong leader, usually a king. A democracy is not what God wanted. In a democracy the leaders rule by the authority of the people. Unless the leaders are righteous, the will of the people will dictate what they the people want to do. The people will choose measures, which bring prosperity in the short term at the expense of moral integrity. It seems that God foresaw that the people would sin and become like the other people around them. That is what happened in the days of Samuel. So God gives advice to lessen the burden on the people and gives three commands, which the King when chosen must follow. Egypt was always a symbol for the ways of the World. More than one wife was immorality. Excessive wealth would steal the heart away from God.
v 18. The King was to govern in accordance with the rules set out by God in the Scriptures. King Saul broke all three commands and brought the people into bondage. In a very practical way God advised the people for their own good. By refusing to pay attention to this advice, the people suffered. It is exactly the same today when people go their own way and do not pay attention to the Word of God.
CHAPTER 18. God set aside the tribe of Levites for a special purpose to act as priests. They did not have any land from which to earn a living and therefore the other peoples were to provide for the Levites out of their income. There is a principle that, if God calls a man to full time work, the others have a duty to support that person in his work. There is a corresponding duty on that man to do his work well and not to take advantage of his position. The Hebrews were particularly warned to avoid anything to do with the occult as was practised by the people living in the land of Canaan. This includes magic – fortune telling – mediums – charmers – child sacrifice (abortion) and consulting the spirits of the dead. The reason why the peoples of the land were being wiped out was that they were involved in these disgusting practices. Believers are utterly forbidden to be involved in these activities. If they want to know anything from God then He promised to send a prophet like Moses from among the people. The Jews must obey the words of this Prophet, since He will speak for God. He is, of course, Jesus.
v 19 is a most solemn word from God. “I will personally deal with anyone who will not listen to Him and heed His messages from me.” The test of a prophet is simply that if what he says comes true, it is from God. If not, it is not from God and they need have nothing to do with him. The difficulty is that it might be a long time until the prophecy becomes clear and is fulfilled.
CHAPTER 19. v 5. God provides civil remedies and compensation for damage to possessions and physical damage to bodies. The damage may be deliberate or by mistake. Where there is accidental damage there is to be protection for the one who makes a mistake. He is to be protected from an angry or disappointed person. This will avoid people taking the law into their own hands and killing an innocent person out of vengeance. The courts of law provide this safeguard today. The spilling of innocent blood brings the guilt of bloodshed on the nation. On the other hand anyone who deliberately kills another is to be put to death, in order to purge the land of evil.
v 15. As part of the system of justice God provides that there must be two witnesses – three if they can be found but never just one. There is a particular punishment for anyone guilty of perjury – lying in the witness box. It is an eye for an eye. This small verse v 21 is so often quoted wrongly to give the impression of a heartless people who sought revenge. It is a colourful way of describing the measure of punishment. The penalty for perjury is the same measure, which the false witness thought would be given to the innocent party. In that way the punishment is fair. He gets what he deserves. This is the rule in cases of perjury. In the Law of Moses there is no such thing as class. The same law applies to everybody.
CHAPTER 20. God envisages Israel going to battle. He knows the end from the beginning and therefore provides some useful rules for soldiers. Anyone who had just built a house, which requires dedication, anyone who has just planted a vineyard and not eaten from it, anyone who has just become engaged – all are excused from military duty in order to carry out important social and economic matters. In this and many other ways God shows what a caring and thoughtful God He is. No one should go to war at the expense of a marriage at home.
When it comes to warfare every effort is to be made to strike a peace treaty. But if they will not sue for peace, then the command is to destroy the city. Again God repeats the command to wipe out the people who live in the land of Canaan, because of their detestable practices. This is a spiritual battle. Destroy or be destroyed. It is a fight to the death. These passages are there to teach the believer that as soon as he is born, he is involved in a spiritual battle. Many believers who are materially minded cannot understand the nature of spiritual warfare. If the enemy hated him before he became a believer, he will certainly hate him all the more afterwards. Jesus said: “If they hated me, they will hate you.” He knew the nature of the battle. One quarter of His ministry was taken up with delivering people from demonic possession.
CHAPTER 21. v 18. Rebellious children are to be put to death. This seems a little harsh but it is the only way to protect the fabric of society. The West has gone soft on punishment. v 23. Even though the purpose behind this command is not clear, it is nonetheless true and to be obeyed. Jesus was hung on tree for man’s sins and bore the curse, which man should have borne.
CHAPTER 22. There are further practical steps to protect physical health, property and attitudes.
v 1. Lost property has to be returned to its owner. It is theft to keep it.
v 4. If someone needs help, do not turn the other way and pretend not to see. “Do unto others as you would have them do for you.”
v 5. God made men and women, with different purposes and roles in society. Unisex salons are rebellion against this rule. People who change their sex are abhorrent to God. God chose the sex of each person before he was born. There is to be no blurring of the sexes.
v 8. Guests to a property require protection. Put a guardrail round the roof and steps, to save any injury. There is a duty of care to visitors to the premises.
v 13- 21. Virginity and the sacredness of the marriage bed are protected by these provisions. Fornication is viewed with great seriousness by God.
v 22. The one found committing adultery is to be stoned to death. It is so serious it must be purged from the land and the culture of the people. In Western culture adultery is approved of and encouraged. Politicians think nothing of it. It is accepted and taught as normal in humanism.
v 29. An act of intercourse whatever the circumstances is seen by God as a union of the two people who take part. It is therefore marriage in God’s eyes. 1 Cor ch 6 v 16. Their souls are tied together in a soul tie. This is so even if it is rape, provided the girl is not engaged to another. Jealousy is when a man wants what belongs to him. Envy is when he wants what does not belong to him.
CHAPTER 23. God wants to walk among His people – as He walked with Adam in the Garden – and therefore there should be nothing unclean or indecent in the camp. Prostitutes male and female are forbidden. Hygiene laws are introduced. The toilet area is to be outside the camp to avoid disease.
Israelis are forbidden to charge interest on loans to one another. It is allowed for loans to foreigners. This is a principle. If a believer lends to a fellow believer or gives a loan to the work of God, he cannot charge God interest. Why should he make a profit out of God? He will see what the believer does and bless him.
Vows given to God are to be carried out quickly. A man is not obliged to make a vow to God but if he does he should make sure that it is carried out quickly. There is a Book of the Covenant, which will be opened on judgement day and all the vows made have been recorded. Some will have been kept and others broken.
CHAPTER 24. Moses allowed divorce because of the hard hearts of the people. It was not God’s intention from the beginning. One man and one wife for life is the ordinance of God. Like the provision for a king, it seems that God gave some back up commands to provide for the situation where sin had crept in to the social order. To protect it God made further provisions as in v 1 – 4.
v 5. There is practical advice for a man who has just married. He needs time to settle in with his wife and should not be conscripted to the army or sent to work away from home.
There is provision for orphans and widows. In these days there was no security for a widow or orphans. The responsibility rested with the community. The gleanings were to be left for them. The most contented society is the one where the gap between rich and poor is the least. God made rules for Israel to keep the gap between rich and poor as low as possible.
CHAPTER 25. v 1 -3. Punishment is provided in order to build a just society. 40 lashes was the maximum. The purpose was so that the guilty one would not be degraded in the eyes of the others. The Romans were not restricted to 40 lashes. There is no provision for imprisonment.
v 13. Justice is another principle of God, since He is a just God. Accurate scales and measurements were to be used. Cheating is detestable to God.
v 17. The Amalekites were inveterate enemies of Israel. God told the Israelites to utterly destroy them. The matter came to a head in 1 Sam ch 15 v 3. Saul spared Agag the King of the Amalekites. v 33. Samuel finished the business by killing Agag. Amalek was a grandson of Esau. 1 Chron ch 1 v 35-6.
CHAPTER 26. Moses hammers home the theme of his message to the people. In order to attain the honour, which God wants to bestow on the people, obedience to the commands of God in its entirety is essential. Jesus said: “You will do what I have done and greater things still.” John ch 14 v 12. This is a true statement but in order to do these things, believers must live the holy life, which Jesus lived. The Israelites were not to enquire about or get interested in other religions.
CHAPTER 27. The people were about to cross the river and enter the Promised Land. This would be the onset of a spiritual battle like no other. As soon as a believer steps out into new territory, he can expect the enemy to engage him in battle. As soon as Jesus set out into His public ministry, the enemy went on the attack. If a believer goes in the name of Jesus, the enemy will be right there. In physical battle it is good advice to for a man to watch his back, to ensure that there is not an attack from the rear. Regular exposure to the Word of God is essential.
v 4. The Jewish people had no books but were told to plaster large stones and write the Word of God on them.
v 15 – 26. Moses lists the areas of attack, which the people can expect. These lines of attack are the same today for each believer.
v 15. Idolatry is singled out for special condemnation.
v 17. It is sin for a man to take personal advantage at the expense of another.
v 20-23. Sexual temptations were as real then as they are today.
CHAPTER 28. Moses sets out the principles of God not just for the people of Israel but for all time. Grace will flow to bring blessings in relation to financial matters, agricultural matters, personal integrity, a man’s reputation and fertility for humans and animals. In every area of life there will be blessings. On the other hand where there is disobedience, there will be curses or problems. The first problem will be confusion. False religions bring confusion on the adherents. Without a vision the people perish. As soon as a man departs from the ways of God, he loses his vision for the future.
Problems pile up in relation to the economy, lack of success in business, a fall in agricultural production, ill health, rainfall or the lack of it, the fertility of the land, international reputation and mental health problems. Britain is the 23rd empire in the history of the World to go into decline and the same symptoms are evident in each empire as it goes into decline. For the Jewish people there would be even greater problems, as they are ejected from the land and sent as castaways among the nations of the World. Many nations have been invaded and fallen into captivity and sometimes into slavery. The Jewish people have experienced the curses listed in v 64 – 67 during the captivity in Babylon and during and after the days of the Roman Empire. In A D 70 the Romans sacked Jerusalem and scattered the Jewish people. Even so God has held to account those nations, which have overstepped the mark in carrying out the punishment of the Jewish people. Whatever a man vows he must do.
CHAPTER 29. v 12 -13. As He had done at Sinai, God sought to make a covenant or agreement with the Children of Israel. There was no obligation on them to enter into it. It had to be freely entered into by them. God is love and He will not force a man, since love and force are opposites.
v 4 suggests that it was unfair to blame the Children of Israel for not understanding, because God had not given them to understand. Why does God condemn anyone, if He has not given him the Holy Spirit? What can be known of God can be seen in creation. Romans ch 1 v 19. The evidence was there for all to see. Sandals did not wear out. The real problem was that, although they knew about God, they had not sought after Him with all their hearts and had chosen not to retain the knowledge of God, which He had given to them. God would have given them everything, if only they had really wanted Him.
v 16-18. There is a severe warning not to worship false gods like the other people.
v 24. When God’s people let Him down, the people of the World are not slow to mock and blame God for all kinds of things. God is committed to His people to the extent that, if they let Him down, their poor performance reflects on the Lord. God does not need any believer and yet the reputation of the Lord is directly linked to the life of believers. As believers obey the Lord, His glory is revealed to the World.
CHAPTER 30. While chapter 28 clearly prophesies that the people will fail God and that as a result He will scatter them among the nations, this chapter holds out hope that the people will in their exile reflect on what has happened and want to return to God. Then God will rescue them from captivity and bless them again in their land. The blessings and the occupation of the Land go together. The Land is never the same without the Jewish people living in it. The Jewish people are never fulfilled outside of the Land. The believer is never really fulfilled, unless he remains in the vine and walks close to God.
v 15. Moses has set before the people a clear choice and in v 19 he pleads with the people on behalf of God to choose life and blessing and not death and curses.
CHAPTER 31. Moses commissions Joshua. The role of leadership was decisively handed over from one commander to his successor. Moses could assure Joshua that God would never leave him or forsake him, because he had experienced that fact over 40 years. A man can only speak from experience.
v 14. God told Moses that it was now the time to die, although he was in excellent health. ch 34 v 7.
God foresaw what would happen in the future. There would be rebellion and idol worship. God would turn away from them. This is a serious warning to every believer. It could happen to any one, if he is not careful to keep in touch with the Lord and seek His will for his life.
v 27. There is a saying that when the cat is away, the mice will play. Generally children tend to behave less well when the teacher has gone out of the room. Mankind, thinking that God does not see them, behave less well morally. The nation needs clear spiritual leadership. So does the Church. Fallen man is inclined to fall. It is a test of maturity that a man does his job to the best of his ability when there is no financial reward or when no one is watching him.
CHAPTER 32. Moses gives the people a song to remind them of God. Singing is one way in which the Holy Spirit can imprint the words of a song in the mind and can call the words to mind as He calls the music to mind. That is why it is important that the words of praise are based on the words of scripture, so that when the music is recalled the words of Scripture fill the mind.
v 8-9. God tells man through the words of this song that He divided the peoples and the land into nations with their own boundaries. He appointed an angel for each nation, except Israel. He would look after them Himself. The Jewish people are the apple of His eye.
v 17. Behind every false god is a demon. 1 Chronicles ch 16 v 26.
v 21. When Israel disobeys, God will bless the foolish Gentile nations in order to make Israel jealous.
v 26-27. One reason the Lord holds fast to Israel is that His name is bound up with their name. If they fail it appears that God is not powerful enough to sustain them. He has restored the Jewish people to the Land of Israel to prove that he is a faithful God – faithful to His covenant and His Word.
v 51. It seems a harsh decision on the part of God to deny Moses the goal he has cherished for a period of forty years. Numbers ch 20 v 12. However the leaders are more strictly judged than the ordinary people. So much depends on the leaders. They have special privileges but have additional demands.
CHAPTER 33. Moses was used of God to speak a blessing over the different tribes within Israel. He leaves a clear message that God is in total control of the affairs of this nation and of the peoples of the World. God is interested in the whole of the life of each believer. There is a right way to do everything. God wants people to be right in every area of their lives. v 29. God is described as a shield of the people. A shield is the weapon, which comes between a soldier and his enemy and which protects the soldier.
CHAPTER 34. v 10. No other human being – apart form the person of Jesus in His humanity – was so used of God in the role of leadership, lawmaker, prophet and priest – in that he was the go-between from God to the people – and the ruler of the people. God spoke to Moses face to face. Moses spent time in the presence of God. However, like John the Baptist, Moses would have said that he must decrease while Jesus increased.
Throughout Deuteronomy there are eight separate discourses or speeches by Moses.
1. Ch 1 – ch 4 v 43. Retrospect.
2. Ch 4 v 44 – ch 26. Review.
3. Ch 27 – ch 28. Warning.
4. Ch 29 – ch 30. Covenant.
5. Ch 31 v 1-23. Counsels.
6. Ch 31 v 24 – 29. Instruction.
7. Ch 31 v 30 – ch 32. Song.
8. Ch 33. Blessing.
Lessons from Deuteronomy.
1. Everything in life depends on obedience to the Word of God – life itself, prosperity, health and social order. God’s desire was that His people, by honouring and respecting Him, should be worthy of the Land, which He was giving them.
2. It is dangerous to presume on God’ s grace.
3. God is the God of the nations as well as of individuals. God provides laws to protect society, so that people can live in security and enjoy family life. The Devil comes to destroy that security and is given an open door when the laws of God are broken.
4. Deuteronomy is the only book quoted by Jesus in His time of temptation in the wilderness.
5. A man should never forget the grace of God. Count the blessings, especially in times of difficulty.
6. God always walks with His people – across the desert and in the good times.
7. At the time of the new spiritual birth there is a battle in progress. The first period of the new birth might be a time of learning and adjusting, but sooner rather than later there comes a decision to join the battle and enlist for active service. There is no possibility of sitting on the fence, since there is no fence. There will be either blessings or curses.
8. There is a clear warning about not being involved with the occult. The Canaanites believed that cooking a kid in its mother’s milk caused it to have incest with its mother, which them promoted fertility. A believer can easily incorporate pagan practices into his life without realising it. Christmas was originally a pagan festival.
9. There is no division between the secular and the sacred. God wants His children to be healthy and holy.