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Genesis 19:1-5

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

“Now the two angels came to Sodom in the evening as Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them and bowed down with his face to the ground. And he said, ‘Now behold, my lords, please turn aside into your servant’s house, and spend the night, and wash your feet; then you may rise early and go on your way.’ They said however, ‘No, but we shall spend the night in the square.’ Yet he urged them strongly, so they turned aside to him and entered his house; and he prepared a feast for them, and baked unleavened bread, and they ate. Before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, surrounded the house, both young and old, all the people from every quarter; and they called to Lot and said to him, ‘Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may have relations with them.’”

---End of Scripture verses---

“Now the two angels came to Sodom in the evening…” (verse 10) Two of the three “men” who appeared at Abraham’s tent in Hebron “in the heat of the day” (Genesis 18:1-2), are here clearly identified as angels. They had been sent by the Lord to “investigate” whether Sodom had “done entirely according to its outcry,” so that He would “know” if their “sin” was as “exceedingly grave” as the “outcry” indicated (Genesis 18:20-21). If they did so “in the evening” of the same day that they had departed from Abraham, then their travel time was miraculous in nature. “Speiser tells us that the ‘normal traveling time from Abraham's tent to Sodom was about two days,’ that is, some thirty-five or forty miles.” (James Burton Coffman)

“As Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom.” (verse 1) “The gate of a large city usually comprised towers and guardrooms and a large area where people could sit… The gate area in an ancient Near Eastern city served as a civic center where the affairs of the community would be conducted in full view of, and with full participation of, the citizens. Here gossip would be exchanged and disseminated, business transacted, and justice dispensed. (Nahum Sarna) “We agree with Leupold that Lot's presence here in the gate of Sodom, ‘constitutes a reproach,’ to this otherwise good and ‘righteous’ man. In fact, despite the fact of Peter's reference to the righteousness of Lot, we must definitely understand it in a relative, not an absolute, sense. Compared with Sodom he was righteous; or, as said of Noah earlier in Genesis, ‘He was righteous in his generation.’” (James Burton Coffman)

“When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them and bowed down with his face to the ground.” (verse 1) As his uncle Abraham had done before him, Lot warmly greeted his otherworldly guests by prostrating himself at their feet and presenting himself as their humble servant. He extended the same heartfelt hospitality, begging them to rest for the night under the shelter of his own roof and offering to refresh them by washing their feet. He also “prepared a feast for them, and baked unleavened bread, and they ate” (verse 3). Lot seems to have sensed the danger posed to these two travelers by not only urging them to not spend the night in the open “square” (verse 2), but by also strongly imploring them to “rise early and go on” their “way” before they caught the attention of the cities wicked natives. The angels were obviously not fearful for their own personal safety, and likely wanted to remain out in the open to determine whether the Sodomites’ reputation for wickedness was indeed warranted.

Lot prevailed upon the two angels by his insistent urging and they graced his Home with their presence. But, “before they” had the chance to pillow their heads for the evening, “the men of Sodom, surrounded the house, both young and old, all the people from every quarter” (verse 4). This wording demonstrates that the wickedness of Sodom was, indeed, totally pervasive. “People from every quarter,” that is to say, from one end of town to the other, from all classes of people, to the very last person. Aside from Lot and his family, not a single righteous person could be found among the whole lot of them, let alone ten righteous people. They shouted through the door to Lot, “Bring them out to us that we may have relations with them.” (verse 5) “The sin here euphemistically referred to (cf. Judges 19:22) was exceedingly prevalent among the Canaanites (Leviticus 18:22) and other heathen nations (Romans 1:27). Under the law of Moses it was punishable by death.” (Pulpit Commentary)

Lot was eager to show the two strangers hospitality, but the wicked men of Sodom, conversely, only wanted to abuse and defile them. “Bring them out unto us, that we may know them; not who they were, and from whence they came, and what their business was; nor did they pretend anything of this kind to hide and cover their design from Lot, but they were open and impudent, and declared their sin without shame and blushing, which is their character, Isaiah 3:9; their meaning was, that they might commit that unnatural sin with them, they were addicted to, and in common used...” (Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible)

Please read Genesis 19:6-11 for tomorrow.

Have a great day!

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 18:22-33

Monday, December 09, 2019

“Then the men turned away from there and went toward Sodom, while Abraham was still standing before the Lord. Abraham came near and said, ‘Will You indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city; will You indeed sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous who are in it? Far be it from You to do such a thing, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous and the wicked are treated alike. Far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?’ So the Lord said, ‘If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare the whole place on their account.’ And Abraham replied, ‘Now behold, I have ventured to speak to the Lord, although I am but dust and ashes. Suppose the fifty righteous are lacking five, will You destroy the whole city because of five?’ And He said, ‘I will not destroy it if I find forty-five there.’ He spoke to Him yet again and said, ‘Suppose forty are found there?’ And He said, ‘I will not do it on account of the forty.’ Then he said, ‘Oh may the Lord not be angry, and I shall speak; suppose thirty are found there?’ And He said, ‘I will not do it if I find thirty there.’ And he said, ‘Now behold, I have ventured to speak to the Lord; suppose twenty are found there?’ And He said, ‘I will not destroy it on account of the twenty.’ Then he said, ‘Oh may the Lord not be angry, and I shall speak only this once; suppose ten are found there?’ And He said, ‘I will not destroy it on account of the ten.’ As soon as He had finished speaking to Abraham the Lord departed, and Abraham returned to his place.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“This introduces the great Intercessory Scene in which Abraham pleaded for God to spare the execution of the wicked cities. Note that the two angels are sent on their way to Sodom, but that Jehovah himself remained and heeded the plea of Abraham. The reception that the angels received in Sodom is recorded in the next chapter. The great intercession that Abraham made, and which is next recorded, is, ‘the sublimest act of human intercession, of which Scripture preserves a record.’” (James Burton Coffman)

In this amazing dialogue between the Lord and His righteous servant, many suppose that Abraham is appealing on behalf of total strangers, therefore it speaks even greater to his sense of love and compassion for all humanity. While this is possible, it is very likely that he at least knew of the people in the city of Sodom, and had even seen some of them face to face when he delivered them from the abduction of the coalition of Eastern Kings and returned them safely to their homes as recorded Genesis 14:1-16. Either way you look at it though, his love and compassion and earnest prayers for even the ungodly people of Sin City is exemplary! "But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous" (Matthew 6:44-45)

“Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?” (verse 25) The Lord of the Universe, even though His is God Almighty and the Judge over all His creation, allows himself to be examined and challenged by His lowly creatures. He is not whimsical in His treatment of humanity as the false pagan deities are depicted to be, and He allows His righteousness and justice to be called into question. It is actually Abraham’s belief in God’s justice that prompts his encounter with the Almighty.

But Abraham doesn’t merely call into question the Lord’s justice in His pronouncement of the destruction of Sodom, he also appeals His mercy by begging for the acquittal of the whole city for the righteousness of a small minority. It should be obvious to us, however, that our loving Lord did not need His arm to be twisted into dealing compassionately. “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)

“Far be it from You!” (verse 25) This calls immediately to my mind the Apostle Peter’s castigation of the Lord in Matthew 16:22, after Jesus informed the Twelve that He must soon suffer and be killed at the hands of the hypocritical religious leaders in Jerusalem: “Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, 'God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You.'” But the Lord does not tell Abraham to “Get behind Me, Satan!” as Jesus told Peter. The difference is that Abraham didn’t “rebuke” the Lord as much as He respectfully appealed to Him in all humility and reverence. The difference is conspicuously evident: “I have ventured to speak to the Lord, although I am but dust and ashes.” (verse 27) “Oh may the Lord not be angry…” (verse 30).

From fifty to ten: While it is possible that Abraham had in mind from the very beginning that he would continue to push for a sweeter deal, I doubt that was the case. When he observed how willingly the Lord granted each of his requests, it probably caused Abraham’s faith in the divine justice to grow stronger, and made it that much easier for Abraham to appeal to the Lord’s mercy and compassion for a more lenient number. We see clearly demonstrated here the truth of James 5:16—“The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” I can’t help but wonder if this righteous servant’s further appeals could have brought that number even lower still. But having pressed the Lord six separate times, maybe he didn’t desire to push his luck another inch and tempt the Lord past His breaking point. Besides, surely in such a large place Sodom ten righteous people could be easily found, right?!

"One deduction that must be made from this passage is that Sodom did not have ten righteous people in it; for God judged them and destroyed the city the very night following this intercession. The next chapter will begin with the experience of the two angels who had proceeded on to Sodom with a view to spending the night there." (James Burton Coffman)

Please read Genesis 19:1-5 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed day!

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 18:16-21

Sunday, December 08, 2019

“Then the men rose up from there, and looked down toward Sodom; and Abraham was walking with them to send them off. The Lord said, 'Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do, since Abraham will surely become a great and mighty nation, and in him all the nations of the earth will be blessed? For I have chosen him, so that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice, so that the Lord may bring upon Abraham what He has spoken about him.' And the Lord said, 'The outcry of Sodom and Gomorrah is indeed great, and their sin is exceedingly grave. I will go down now, and see if they have done entirely according to its outcry, which has come to Me; and if not, I will know.'”

---End of Scripture verses---

“God now makes Abraham privy to one of his historic decisions. Ten generations earlier He had disclosed His secret purposes to Noah (6:12f.), but only to save the man's life. Here foreknowledge permits Abraham to plead disinterestedly for other people's lives. One is reminded of the word of Amos in 3:7, 'Indeed, My Lord God does nothing / Without having revealed His purpose / To His servants the prophets.'... In the case of the prophets, the divine foretelling is an expression of God's love for humanity, meant to warn of impending calamity in the hope of bringing about repentance and the enhancement of the human condition. Such was the case, for instance, in the book of Jonah. In this prior revelation to Abraham of God's intentions toward Sodom, both the patriarch's humanity and God's morality are put to the test.” (Nahum Sarna)

“Then the men rose up from there, and looked down toward Sodom...” (verse 16) “This indicated the direction that they intended to go... If they could see Sodom from the road, then they must have walked about three miles east of the terebinths of Mamre at Hebron, where the hills of Hebron overlook the Dead Sea and the adjoining region.” (James Burton Coffman) It is obvious that the Lord sent His angelic messengers to accomplish more than one task and deliver more than one message. The good news was that Abraham and Sarah were finally going to have a son! The bad news was that their nephew Lot was in for a world of hurting because of the intolerable wickedness and impending doom of Sodom.

“The Lord said, 'Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do?’” (verse 18) Abraham was so critical a character in the temporal and eternal destinies of his Jewish descendants specifically, and of “all the nations of the earth” who would be blessed by his Seed, the coming Savior and King, that He would not keep His plans for Sodom a secret from him. “The rationale behind God's action in revealing before it happened the fate of the doomed cities is here visible. It was important that the human race should understand the ultimate penalty and punishment to be executed upon vile and presumptuous wickedness. The terrible destruction that came to Sodom and Gomorrah would, in time, be deserved by the Chosen Nation, of which Abraham was the patriarch; and it was extremely important that the Jews should understand the basic connection between rebellious wickedness and divine punishment, a lesson which, sadly, they never heeded; but the recurrence of just such a judgment occurred again, and again, in their history.” (James Burton Coffman) God teaches us about His justice and righteousness from His appropriate judgment against Sodom and Gomorrah, and Abraham demonstrates proper human discernment and righteousness with his compassionate and hopeful pleas on behalf this pitiable community of men.

“For I have chosen him, so that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice...” (verse 19) In a world overrun by idolatry and hedonism, Abraham’s charge of instilling the Lord’s will to his future generations was of supreme importance, and the Lord knew that he was up to the task. This charge was not only necessary and obligatory, it was also mandatory for Abraham’s seed to inherit the Land of Promise. “Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” (Deuteronomy 6:4-9) This charge is paramount for all of Abraham’s spiritual seed through Christ Jesus as well. “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4)

“The outcry of Sodom and Gomorrah is indeed great, and their sin is exceedingly grave.” (verse 20) “The sin and cataclysmic punishment of Sodom and Gomorrah have converted the names of those two cities into a permanent metaphor of human wickedness and divine retribution… The narrative…speaks of ‘outrage’ and ‘outcry’… They connote the anguished cry of the oppressed, the agonized plea of the victim for help in the face of some great soul-stirring passion. God heeded the ‘outcry’…of His people against the harsh slavery of Egypt in Exodus 3:7; His ‘anger blazes forth’ when He hears the ‘outcry’ of the ill-treated widow and orphan in Exodus 22:21-23; and to the prophet Isaiah, in 5:7, an ‘outcry’ is the absolute negation of justice and righteousness… The sin of Sodom, then is heinous moral and social corruption, an arrogant disregard of basic human rights, a cynical insensitivity to the sufferings of others. The prophet Jeremiah identified Sodom with adultery, false dealing, and the encouragement of evildoers—all without any feelings of contrition (23:14)—while Ezekiel sums up the situation as follows in 16:49: ‘Only this was a sin of your sister Sodom: arrogance! She and her daughters had plenty of bread and untroubled tranquility; yet she did not support the poor and the needy. In their haughtiness, they committed abomination before Me; and so I removed them…’ The indictment of Sodom lies entirely in the moral realm; there is no hint of cultic offense, no whisper of idolatry. As with the Flood story, the Sodom and Gomorrah narrative assumes the existence of a universal moral law that God expects all humankind to follow.” (Nahum Sarna)

And let’s make no mistake about another fact as well. One of the most blatant, heinous sins that the Sodomites committed was homosexuality, and that sin still bears the name of these reprobates thousands of years later, even to this very day. “Before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, surrounded the house, both young and old, all the people from every quarter; and they called to Lot and said to him, ‘Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may have relations with them.’” (Genesis 19:45) While these degenerates were more than willing to use force, consensual homosexual relations are emphatically condemned in both the New and Old Testaments. Consider Leviticus 18:22; 20:13; Romans 1:26-27 and 1 Corinthians 6:9.

“I will go down now, and see if they have done entirely according to its outcry, which has come to Me; and if not, I will know.” (verse 21) “The amazing anthropomorphism here represents God as having heard a very damaging report of the wickedness of the doomed cities, and as making a personal trip down to them in order to have the facts first hand. The justice and fairness of any authority making such an investigation before the execution of drastic penalties is indicated here, reflecting a revelation concerning the justice and fairness of God Himself. Of course, God's omniscience enables Him to know all things instantly; but this language accommodates itself to the behavior and customs of men.” (James Burton Coffman)

Please read Genesis 18:22-33 for tomorrow.

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 18:9-15

Saturday, December 07, 2019

“Then they said to him, 'Where is Sarah your wife?' And he said, 'There, in the tent.' He said, 'I will surely return to you at this time next year; and behold, Sarah your wife will have a son.' And Sarah was listening at the tent door, which was behind him. Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in age; Sarah was past childbearing. Sarah laughed to herself, saying, 'After I have become old, shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?' And the Lord said to Abraham, 'Why did Sarah laugh, saying, “Shall I indeed bear a child, when I am so old?” Is anything too difficult for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you, at this time next year, and Sarah will have a son.' Sarah denied it however, saying, 'I did not laugh'; for she was afraid. And He said, 'No, but you did laugh.'”

---End of Scripture verses---

“Sarah your wife will have a son...” (verse 10) If Abraham had been ignorant as to the supernatural quality of his visitors up until this point, their words of verse 10 took the mystery out of the picture. They knew his wife's name was Sarah, and they foretold the arrival time and gender of the coming child of promise. “The divine promise has been unfolding in stages. First, in 15:4, Abraham was assured that his heir would be a natural-born son; then in 17:16-21, he was assured that Sarah would bear this child; now a time limit is set for the fulfillment of the promise.” (Nahum Sarna) Sarah heard the whole conversation because she “was listening at the tent door,” and who could blame her for eavesdropping on this rather bizarre incident?

“Sarah laughed to herself, saying, 'After I have become old, shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?'” (verse 12) “From the human standpoint, it was impossible for a woman long after the onset of menopause to give birth to a child, and Sarah's derisive laughter seemed to her to be the most appropriate response to what the stranger had said. As yet, it was not fully evident to her that God Himself was behind the promise. To her credit, in time, she believed and was empowered by The Highest to conceive and bear Isaac, appropriately enough called 'laughter.' Willis noted that, "The Hebrew word [~titschaq] is very similar to the word Isaac, [~Yitschaq]"; and that is why the meaning of the name Isaac is usually given as 'laughter.' He was, by his very name, a perpetual reminder to both Abraham and Sarah that, in a genuine sense, he was a supernatural gift from God, called forever afterward, 'the son of promise.'” (James Burton Coffman)

As Abraham had done before her, Sarah's initial reaction was laughter. Whether the nature of this laughter was derision, incredulity or surprise is of little importance because we often have little control over an initial emotional response to something of such extraordinary and momentous significance. We must be careful to not call into question Sarah's faith in this matter because the Hebrew writer sets the record straight. “By faith even Sarah herself received ability to conceive, even beyond the proper time of life, since she considered Him faithful who had promised.” (Hebrews 11:11)

Notice that Sarah referred to her husband has “my lord”. The Holy Spirit speaks complementary of Sarah in this regard and sets her as an example for all godly, submissive women to follow after. “In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior. Your adornment must not be merely external—braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God. For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their own husbands; just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear.” (1 Peter 3:1-6)

“And the Lord said to Abraham, 'Why did Sarah laugh saying, 'Shall I indeed bear a child, when I am so old?'” (verse 13) Only the Lord could know what a person says to “herself” (verse 12). Sarah tried to hide her inner doubt and laughter by lying because “she was afraid” (verse 15). We can understand her fear and her instinct for self preservation, but it is always best to speak the truth to others and in our own hearts, because God is intimately familiar with all our words and thoughts. “O Lord, You have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thought from afar. You scrutinize my path and my lying down, and are intimately acquainted with all my ways. Even before there is a word on my tongue, behold, O Lord, You know it all.” (Psalm 139:1-4)

“Is anything too difficult for the Lord?” (verse 14) "Verse 14 is one of the mountain-peak verses of the Bible. `Is anything too hard for the Lord?' To ask this question is to answer it. `With God all things are possible' (Matthew 19:26). He who created all things surely controls all things. He who enacted the laws of nature can change them if he wills." (Henry M. Morris – The Genesis Record) I don't know why the Lord's people are so astounded when He does marvelous and amazing things in their lives. I have often been blown away when God has answered my prayers in the affirmative and granted my petitions to me. Of course thankfulness is always due along with the overflowing of praise and glory for His power and providence. But we should not be astounded when the Lord grants our requests through His amazing grace as if some task could be too difficult or “wonderful” for Him to perform. “Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20-21)

Please read Genesis 18:16-21 for tomorrow.

Have a great day!

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 18:1-8

Friday, December 06, 2019

“Now the Lord appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre, while he was sitting at the tent door in the heat of the day. When he lifted up his eyes and looked, behold, three men were standing opposite him; and when he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them and bowed himself to the earth, and said, ‘My Lord, if now I have found favor in Your sight, please do not pass Your servant by. Please let a little water be brought and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree; and I will bring a piece of bread, that you may [refresh yourselves; after that you may go on, since you have visited your servant.’ And they said, ‘So do, as you have said.’ So Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah, and said, ‘Quickly, prepare three measures of fine flour, knead it and make bread cakes.’ Abraham also ran to the herd, and took a tender and choice calf and gave it to the servant, and he hurried to prepare it. He took curds and milk and the calf which he had prepared, and placed it before them; and he was standing by them under the tree as they ate.”

---End of Scripture verses---

James Burton Coffman wrote the following as an introduction to the whole chapter of Genesis 18:

“This remarkable chapter is divided about equally between the reaffirmation of the covenant for the benefit of Sarah (Genesis 18:1-15), and the announcement of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 18:16-33). As Payne pointed out, there are a number of dramatic contrasts visible in this chapter and the next, (Genesis 19), the two in fact being a unit and reaching a climax in the judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah.

  1. The long-awaited birth of Isaac, an event so full of joy and hope, stands in parallel and contrast to the birth, unheralded, unwanted and degrading of the two ancestors of Moab and Ammon.
  2. It was high noon when God and two angels appeared before Abraham; and it was a terrible night at the time of their arrival in Sodom.
  3. Abraham's tent was a place of honor and righteousness, but Lot's house was in the midst of the most lustful and violent wickedness.
  4. Abraham's most generous and delightful hospitality stands in naked contrast with the most vicious and wicked mistreatment of strangers in Sodom.
  5. There is the contrast between the blessings of God upon the posterity of Abraham and the summary judgment and punishment of the wicked cities, the destruction of which would stand as a type of the eternal judgment throughout the ages.”

“Now the Lord appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre…” The oaks of Mamre were located in or around the area of Hebron. There is no way to know for certain how much time had elapsed between the events of chapter 17 concerning the circumcision of Abraham and his household, and what took place here in chapter 18, but the one appears to have occurred relatively quickly upon the heels of the other. While Abraham was sitting in his tent, verse 2 tells us he “lifted up his eyes” and saw “three men” standing outside “in the heat of the day”—at noontime when most people would be cooling themselves indoors or under the cover of shade. When trying to determine the identity of these “men,” the fact that verse 1 says “the Lord appeared to him” may be very instructive. This gives much credence to the possibility that one of the three visitors was actually a physical manifestation of the Lord himself (a theophany).

Hebrews 13:2 tells us, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.” If this is a direct reference to Abraham and his three visitors, as many believe it to be, then maybe these three strangers were all only angels who appeared to him in human form. Abraham, calling himself their “servant” (verse 3), certainly did pull out all the stops in his efforts to show them hospitality, and they did refresh themselves with the food that Sarai and the servants prepared for them. Abraham “ran…to meet them,” and appears to have “bowed himself to the earth” as a form of warm and welcoming salutation and not as an act of worship. Maybe the fact that Abraham did not build an altar and worship the Lord as he did in previous theophanies indicates that the Lord appeared to and communicated with him through the agency a trio of angelic messengers. As you can tell I am completely undecided about whether one of these visitors was divine or they were all angelic!

“There seems to be nothing superhuman about their appearance. Abraham perceives them to be human, as do the people of Sodom (19:5). They are repeatedly designated ‘men,’ although they are also called ‘angels.’ Their arrival as a group of three is without analogy in the Bible. Chapter 19:1 mentions ‘the two angels,’ which suggests that the third was manifestly different. Indeed, Abraham speaks to, and is in turn addressed by, one of them directly (vv. 4,10). Perhaps the other two are his attendants.” (Nahum Sarna)

Nahum Sarna commented on verses 4-8 the following: “Abraham’s openhearted, liberal hospitality to the total strangers knows no bounds. He has water brought for them to bathe their feet, a much appreciated comfort to the traveler with his sandal-like footwear and the pervasive dust of the roads (cf. Judg. 19:21). He invites them to rest under ‘the tree,’ probably one of the famous local terebinths. He promises to fetch ‘a morsel of bread’ but prepares a lavish feast. The Talmud remarks, ‘Such is the way of the righteous; they promise little but perform much’ (BM87a). In asking Sarah to bake cakes, Abraham specifies the use of ‘choice flour,’ that is, the finest and choicest of wheat flour, the type from which meal offerings were later brought to the sanctuary. He himself selects the calf for the main dish, a rare delicacy and a sign of princely hospitality among pastoralists. He provides curds and milk, the basic products of a pastoral economy. Curds are the coagulated state of the fatty part of the milk, corresponding to the modern lebenor yogurt. Milk was highly esteemed in the ancient Near East… It was regarded as a source of vitality and possessor of curative powers. Abraham personally serves the strangers this rich fare and stands close by, ready to attend to their needs.”

Please read Genesis 18:9-15 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed day!

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 17:23-27

Thursday, December 05, 2019

“Then Abraham took Ishmael his son, and all the servants who were born in his house and all who were bought with his money, every male among the men of Abraham’s household, and circumcised the flesh of their foreskin in the very same day, as God had said to him. Now Abraham was ninety-nine years old when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. And Ishmael his son was thirteen years old when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. In the very same day Abraham was circumcised, and Ishmael his son. All the men of his household, who were born in the house or bought with money from a foreigner, were circumcised with him.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“In the very same day, as God had said to him…” (verse 23) If you could distill the essence of Abraham’s faith down to just a few, simple words, this snippet would define it perfectly. He did just exactly what God told him to do, and he obeyed the Lord with promptness—“in the very same day.” You see this throughout the Bible as the distinguishing characteristic of good-hearted people who desire first foremost to please the Lord and serve Him in loving, trusting faith. They obey the Lord willingly, completely and swiftly.

The jailor in Philippi is a prime example of the good heart that can be touched deeply and meaningfully by God’s word, grace and mercy. “They said, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.’ And they spoke the word of the Lord to him together with all who were in his house. And he took them that very hour of the night and washed their wounds, and immediately he was baptized, he and all his household.” (Acts 17:31-33) He didn’t need time to think it over and he didn’t wait for a more convenient time and place. He listened. He learned. He believed. He obeyed.

The Ethiopian eunuch is another case in point. “Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture he preached Jesus to him. As they went along the road they came to some water; and the eunuch said, ‘Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?’ And Philip said, ‘If you believe with all your heart, you may.’ And he answered and said, ‘I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.’ And he ordered the chariot to stop; and they both went down into the water, Philip as well as the eunuch, and he baptized him.” (Acts 8:35-38) The eunuch willing, eagerly, immediately and joyfully obeyed (verse 39)!

People of faith do reason away God’s commandments and justify motives to not comply with the Lord’s will. They do not argue that there is no magical power in the water, or insist that baptism is a “work” and therefore cannot save them. They just obey God at His word. If anyone could have justified balking at God’s word it would have been Abraham. Can you imagine how painful it must have been to be circumcised, at the age of 99, likely with a piece of flint, and with no pharmaceuticals available to deaden the pain?! But he and all the males in his household immediately complied to this command, willingly enduring the pain, because they loved the Lord and wanted to please Him. More importantly, they wanted their lives to be right with Him.

“Ishmael his son was thirteen years old when he was circumcised…” (verse 25) “This is an important detail, because it provides unexpected confirmation of the historicity of this whole chapter. The Arabs to this day claim descent from Abraham through Hagar. And they also observe the rite of circumcision, but not on the eighth day of life (as among the Jews), but when the males are ‘thirteen years old’ as Ishmael was here!” (James Burton Coffman)

Please read Genesis 18:1-8 for tomorrow.

Have a great day!

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 17:15-22

Wednesday, December 04, 2019

“Then God said to Abraham, ‘As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. I will bless her, and indeed I will give you a son by her. Then I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her.’ Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed, and said in his heart, ‘Will a child be born to a man one hundred years old? And will Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?’ And Abraham said to God, ‘Oh that Ishmael might live before You!’ But God said, ‘No, but Sarah your wife will bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; and I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him. As for Ishmael, I have heard you; behold, I will bless him, and will make him fruitful and will multiply him exceedingly. He shall become the father of twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation. But My covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you at this season next year.’ When He finished talking with him, God went up from Abraham.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“You shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name.” (verse 15) “Thus God reveals the purposes of his good-will to his people by degrees. He had told Abraham long before that he should have a son, but never till now that he should have a son by Sarai. Sarah shall her name be — The same letter is added to her name that was to Abraham’s. Sarai signifies my princess, as if her honour were confined to one family only; Sarah signifies a princess, namely, of multitudes.” (Benson’s Commentary)

“I will bless her, and indeed I will give you a son by her.” (verse 16) Psalm 127:3 tells us, “Behold, children are a gift of the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward.” In the beginning when God created people after His own image, the Word says, “God blessed them; and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply’ (Genesis 1:28)” Finally, at the age of ninety, the Lord blessed Sarah with the ability to conceive in her body her very own child. This is nothing short of the miraculous intervention of God Almighty and not an occurrence in the ordinary course of human nature. “She shall be a mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her.” She became the “matriarch” of the twelve tribes of Israel, and of the nations of Israel and Judah. Her offspring produced King David, King Solomon, and all the monarchs of this dynasty, all the way up to, and most remarkably, the King of kings and Lord of lords!

“Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed…” (verse 17) Verse 3 tells us that Abraham fell on His face before the Lord as well, but in the former instance it was in awe and reverence. On this occasion Abraham was staggered by the thought of a child being born to a 100 year old man and a 90 year old woman. Some people think that his laughter was a positive expression of surprise and joy, while others see it as a negative expression of cynicism and incredulity. But it appears to me that it’s more of a “You gotta be kidding me!” moment. Abraham’s immediate response is to beg God to let Ishmael be the chosen one. It sounds to me like he wasn’t too jazzed about the idea of becoming a new parent as a centenarian. And quite frankly, who could blame him for that being his initial thought, feeling and response?!

“Oh that Ishmael might live before You!” (verse 18) Nahum Sarna suggests that Abraham is begging the Lord “that Ishmael might live before Your favor… Hebrew lifnei seems to have this meaning in other texts (cf. Gen. 10:9; 27:7; Hos. 6:2). Abraham fears for the life of Ishmael because God’s words appear wholly to exclude the boy from the benefits of the covenant.” The Lord goes on to comfort Abraham by promising: “As for Ishmael, I have heard you; behold, I will bless him, and will make him fruitful and will multiply him exceedingly. He shall become the father of twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation.” (verse 20) We see this promise fulfilled in Genesis 25:13-16: “And these are the names of the sons of Ishmael, by their names, in the order of their birth: Nebaioth, the firstborn of Ishmael, and Kedar and Adbeel and Mibsam and Mishma and Dumah and Massa, Hadad and Tema, Jetur, Naphish and Kedemah. These are the sons of Ishmael and these are their names, by their villages, and by their camps; twelve princes according to their tribes.”

“Sarah your wife will bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac.” (verse 19) “Hebrew yitshak is a verbal form meaning ‘He laughs’… All three biblical traditions relating to the birth of Isaac (cf. 17:19; 18:12; 21:6) emphatically connect the name with human laughter. The explanation for all this is twofold. On the one hand, there is a deliberate dissociation from the pagan, mythological origin of yitshak-’el, which reflects the laughter and merriment of the gods, something entirely devoid of moral and historical significance. On the other hand, the laughter of God in the Bible, by contrast, invariably expresses His reaction to the ludicrous attempts of men to act independently of His will and in defiance of it (Pss. 2:4; 37:13; 59:9). The repeated laughter of humans in connection with the birth of Isaac is, in a sense, the inverse of God’s laughter, for it is a questioning of divine sovereignty (cf. 18:14). The person of Isaac, therefore, represents the triumph of the power of God over the limitations of nature. No wonder he receives his name from God Himself.” (Nahum Sarna)

“But My covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you at this season next year.” (verse 21) Now that is a much more specific promise and prophecy, and one with a definitive target date. James Burton Coffman observed: “For the first time, God set the time when the son would be born. We may wonder why God made Abraham wait such a long time for the fulfillment of the glorious promise; but it was absolutely imperative that the father of the Chosen People should truly believe God and know of a certainty that God's promises would be fulfilled, no matter how impossible and unreasonable they might have seemed from the human standpoint. ‘God fulfills his promises, not because they are reasonable by human standards, but because God is God, and His Word is true and absolutely reliable.’”

“When He finished talking with him, God went up from Abraham.” (verse 22) Indicating that God had come down from heaven to talk to him. The Lord God Almighty condescends to His lowly creation in love and mercy and compassion! Please do not feel excluded from the Lord’s care and reach. He did this as much for you as He did it for Abraham! “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not so short that it cannot save; nor is His ear so dull that it cannot hear.” (Isaiah 59:1) He condescended ever so personally and perfectly in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ! “Heaven came down and glory filled my soul! When at the cross the Savior made me whole! My sins were washed away! And my night was turned day! Heaven came down and glory filled my soul!” God sees! God knows! God saves! God loves YOU!

Please read Genesis 17:23-27 for tomorrow.

Have a great day!

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 17:9-14

Tuesday, December 03, 2019

“God said further to Abraham, ‘Now as for you, you shall keep My covenant, you and your descendants after you throughout their generations. This is My covenant, which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: every male among you shall be circumcised. And you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin, and it shall be the sign of the covenant between Me and you. And every male among you who is eight days old shall be circumcised throughout your generations, a servant who is born in the house or who is bought with money from any foreigner, who is not of your descendants. A servant who is born in your house or who is bought with your money shall surely be circumcised; thus shall My covenant be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant. But an uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin, that person shall be cut off from his people; he has broken My covenant.’”

---End of Scripture verses---

“Now as for you, you shall keep My covenant” (verse 9). We observed yesterday that God has His part in any covenant, which is the bulk of the heavy lifting because He is the all-seeing Almighty God, and His subjects have their part to perform. In verse 4 the Lord revealed His divine part to Abraham—“As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, and you will be the father of a multitude of nations.” In verse 9 He tells Abraham his part—“As for you, you shall keep My covenant…” Another requirement that God demanded of Abraham and his male descendants, along with the command to “walk before” the Lord “and be blameless,” was the ordinance of circumcision (verse 10).

“And you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin, and it shall be the sign of the covenant between Me and you.” (verse 11) Circumcision in the foreskin was the physical, outward sign of God’s covenant with Abraham and His descendants, much as the rainbow was the visible token of God’s promise to mankind to never flood the entire earth with water again (Genesis 9:13). But why did the Lord choose this obscure marking to be the outward symbol for His spiritual union with Abraham’s descendants? “The fitness of circumcision to be a sign of entering into a covenant, and especially into one to which children were to be admitted, consisted in its being a representation of a new birth by the putting off of the old man, and the dedication of the new man unto holiness. The flesh was cast away that the spirit might grow strong; and the change of name in Abram and Sarai was typical of this change of condition.” (Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers)

Barnes’ Notes on the Bible comments: “The rainbow was the appropriate natural emblem of preservation from a flood; and the removal of the foreskin was the fit symbol of that removal of the old man and renewal of nature, which qualified Abraham to be the parent of a holy seed. And as the former sign foreshadows an incorruptible inheritance, so the latter prepares the way for a holy seed, by which the holiness and the heritage will at length be universally extended. It is worthy of remark that in circumcision, after Abraham himself, the parent is the voluntary imponent, and the child merely the passive recipient of the sign of the covenant. Hereby is taught the lesson of parental responsibility and parental hope. This is the first formal step in a godly education, in which the parent acknowledges his obligation to perform all the rest… This admission cannot be reversed but by the deliberate rebellion of the child.”

“When God told Israel, ‘Therefore circumcise the foreskin of your heart, and be stiff-necked no longer’ (Deuteronomy 10:16), it meant that they were to remove their stubborn sinful thoughts from their minds. In other words, they were to purge sin from their lives and become obedient to the laws of God. ‘And the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live’ (Deuteronomy 30:6).” (La Vista Church of Christ)

Many people are quick to point out the connections between Old Testament circumcision and New Testament baptism. Colossians chapter one refers to baptism as a circumcision that is made without human hands. “And in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions.” (Colossians 2:11-13)

But baptism into Christ is more than just an outward sign of our faith like circumcision was. Baptism is to be done for the remission of sins by the penitent believer. Circumcision was a decision made by parents for their newly born, innocent children, while baptism is always a deliberate choice made and a covenant entered into by a fully cognizant sinner who personally desires to meet God on His terms. Of course an adult could have chosen to be circumcised like Abraham did when he was 99 years old in humble obedience to God’s will. But even in such cases circumcision was never said to be done for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38) and to receive eternal salvation (Mark 16:16). While similarities and connections obviously do exist, circumcision and baptism are far from true parallels. Another obvious difference is that baptism is a command to be obeyed by both males and females.

“And every male among you who is eight days old shall be circumcised…” (verse 12) “The radical reinterpretation of the common practice of circumcision from a pubertal or nuptial rite to a covenantal rite is reinforced by the unique shift of the operation to the eighth day after birth. The incidental result, noted in a midrash, is that the rite becomes more humane because it avoids the physical and psychological effects attendant upon the performance of circumcision at a more mature age. The eighth day is particularly significant because the newborn has completed a seven-day unit of time corresponding to the process of Creation. In like manner, Exodus 22:39 stipulates that the first-born of an animal is dedicated only on the eighth day after birth, and Leviticus 22:27 lays down that an animal is not fit for sacrifice before that day.” (Nahum Sarna) It has also been noted that the eighth day is optimal for medical reasons since a newborn typically obtains the highest levels of blood clotting factors on that day.

“But an uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin, that person shall be cut off from his people; he has broken My covenant.” (verse 14) “Jewish commentators generally consider that this penalty consisted in the offender being left to the direct interposition of God, who would punish him with childlessness and premature death… Most Christian commentators suppose that the offender was to be put to death by the civil magistrate; but this view is untenable. For a distinction is constantly drawn between the penalty of death, and the being ‘cut off from among the people’… The punishment really seems to have been that of excommunication or outlawry, to which other penalties might have been attached by custom: but the main point was that one uncircumcised (as subsequently one who violated the principles of the Mosaic law) forfeited his privileges as a member of the Jewish nation, could claim no protection from the elders for life and property, and could not take his place at the gate of the city.” (Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers)

Please read Genesis 17:15-22 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed day!

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 17:1-8

Monday, December 02, 2019

“Now when Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, 'I am God Almighty; walk before Me, and be blameless. I will establish My covenant between Me and you, and I will multiply you exceedingly.' Abram fell on his face, and God talked with him, saying, 'As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, and you will be the father of a multitude of nations. No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make nations of you, and kings will come forth from you. I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your descendants after you. I will give to you and to your descendants after you, the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.'”

---End of Scripture verses---

Verses 1-8 constitute a confirmation of the previous covenant that God had previously made with Abraham. Nahum Sarna observed: “Sarai's desperate stratagem has failed. Thirteen more years pass, and God's promises still remain unfulfilled. We learn nothing of Abram's activities during the intervening period. The biblical Narrator focuses solely on those events that bear upon the destiny of the nation yet to be born. Suddenly Abram receives a series of divine communications that not only reaffirm the assurances of posterity and national territory but also broaden their scope and add a note of specificity.”

“The Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, 'I am God Almighty.'” (verse 1) The Hebrew name for “God Almighty” is “El Shaddai”. “Scholars agree that the exact meaning of [~'El] [~Shadday], from which these words are derived, is 'uncertain'; but 'The Almighty' is the best translation available. The same name for God is used six times in Genesis, and thirty-one times in Job. Keil has an excellent explanation of the meaning: 'It belonged to the sphere of salvation, forming one element in the manifestation of Jehovah, the covenant God, as possessing the power to realize His promises, even when the order of nature presented no prospect of their fulfillment, and the powers of nature were insufficient to secure it.'”

Ellicott commented: “The word is Archaic, but there is no doubt that it means strong so as to overpower.” Benson's Commentary added about the meaning of El Shaddai: “Our old English translation reads it here, very significantly. 'I am God all-sufficient.' The God with whom we have to do is self-sufficient; he hath every thing, and he needs not any thing. And he is enough to us, if we be in covenant with him; we have all in him, and we have enough in him; enough to satisfy our most enlarged desires; enough to supply the defect of every thing else, and to secure us happiness for our immortal souls.”

“Walk before Me, and be blameless.” (verse 1) While the Lord is God Almighty, the all-sufficient One who is “strong so as to overpower,” a covenant with Him is always a two-way street. God always attaches expectations and requirements to His promises, and one thing He demanded of Abraham was that he “walk before” the Lord and “be blameless”. He certainly expects no less of you and me in our covenant with Christ today. To “walk before” God is to walk in all His ways in absolute loyalty and obedience as toward the Supreme Sovereign of all the Universe. It is to have a continual regard for His commands and to give Him first thought and consideration in all that we do. When we intentionally and lovingly align our lives with God's desires and directives, we walk as closely to a 'blameless” or “perfect” life as is humanly possible.

“I will establish My covenant between Me and you, and I will multiply you exceedingly.” (verse 2) It had been nearly 25 years since the Lord had called Abram out of Ur of the Chaldeans, and now, a quarter of a century later, the Lord's perfect timing had finally arrived to bless Abram and Sarai with the fulfillment of the promised son of the covenant. Abram had experienced a variety of changes and a host of ups and downs, but the one, true constant in his life was the always dependable, never changing Almighty God. “Abram fell on his face” (verse 3), overtaken by utter awe and humble submission to God Almighty. The realization and visualization of God Almighty reigning supremely upon His throne in heaven should have the capacity to drive our faces to the ground in lowliness, reverence and adoration.

“You will be the father of a multitude of nations.” (verse 4) “In the narrow sense, the reference may be to the Ishmaelites, Edomites, Midianites, and several other peoples descended from Abraham, according to the genealogical lists of Genesis 25 and 36. However, the phrase has a more universal application in that a larger segment of humanity looks upon Abraham as its spiritual father.” (Nahum Sarna) James Burton Coffman made a similar observation: “The fulfillment of this might not lie merely in the nations and kings that descended lineally from Abraham, for if we should view the one nation of secular Israel as the one primarily descended from Abraham, then the 'multitude of nations,' enlarged in the spiritual sense, would include all the hosts of Christianity throughout the ages. Keil advocated this view and thought that Paul had this in mind when he declared, that Abraham received the promise that, 'he should be heir to the world' (Romans 4:13).”

No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations.” (verse 5) The name “Abram” is generally taken to mean “exalted father,” or “high father” and “Abraham” to mean “father of a multitude.” From this verse forward, the extended, God-given name, Abraham, is used. Names are very significant, and they are always deeply meaningful to the one who gives the name. Remember that great and holy name by which we were called and that we wear, and cherish it as a sacred reminder of the perfect One who purchased us with His own blood and life. “Make sure that none of you suffers as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler; but if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name.” (1 Peter 4:15-16)

“I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make nations of you, and kings will come forth from you. I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your descendants after you.” (verses 6-7) Of course the great "King of kings" came forth from Abraham and He was the ultimate fulfillment of this prophecy and all the eternal promises extended to mankind through the great forefather of the faithful. “The great purpose of this covenant was the delivery of the Messiah to redeem all mankind, and that aspect of it was indeed eternal. However, the land promise, mentioned a little later, was contingent, absolutely, upon Israel's keeping the terms of the covenant and continuing to walk before God and submitting to His government.” (James Burton Coffman)

“I will give to you and to your descendants after you, the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.” “All of God's commands are conditions, and failure to obey is forfeiture of every blessing mentioned in connection with the commands... Willis pointed out that 'Everlasting here does not mean endless time, but a relatively long period of time.' Whatever the meaning of everlasting, Israel forfeited the promise in its entirety by rebelling against God and becoming 'worse than Sodom and Gomorrah' (Ezekiel 16:48). Israel followed in the way of the pre-Israelite paganism of Canaan and became, in fact, just as wicked as the old Canaanites whom God had expelled in order to bring them into the land. And, when Israel themselves became merely another generation of Canaanites, God threw them out of the land and moved the whole nation into captivity. That marked the end of 'the land promise' as far as it concerned the fleshly descendants of Abraham... 'When Abraham's descendants broke their relationship to God by their disobedience, they thereby forfeited the temporal blessings.'” (James Burton Coffman)

Please read Genesis 17:9-14 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed day!

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 16:13-16

Sunday, December 01, 2019

“Then she called the name of the Lordwho spoke to her, 'You are a God who sees'; for she said, 'Have I even remained alive here after seeing Him?' Therefore the well was called Beer-lahai-roi; behold, it is between Kadesh and Bered. So Hagar bore Abram a son; and Abram called the name of his son, whom Hagar bore, Ishmael. Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore Ishmael to him.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“You are a God who sees...” (verse 13) This truth about God is both reassuring and unsettling. It is comforting to know that the Lord who created us and loves us sees all the problems and heartaches that we endure, and He doesn't turn a blind eye to our troubles. When we turn to Him in trust and dependence He helps us, strengthens us, blesses us and will never forsake or desert us. But, when we abandon Him, His love and His perfect will for our lives, He sees and knows that as well. In that case He will deliver us over to our own devices, dilemmas and eventual destruction if we refuse to return to Him with penitent hearts (Romans 1:18; 1 Corinthians 5:5).

“Have I even remained alive here after seeing Him?” (verse 13) This is a very difficult phrase to translate into English. The main thrust is Hagar's amazement that she has seen the One who sees all. She is astonished that God is a God who allows himself to be seen, and that she can still see after gazing upon His glory. Of course we know that He has manifested himself in ways that are bearable for human eyes to behold (theophanies), the ultimate manifestation being the incarnation of God in the form of a human servant, Jesus Christ. “No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.” (John 1:18)

“Therefore the well was called Beer-lahai-roi...” (verse 14) “That is, Well of the living-seeing (of God), the well where God has been seen, and the beholder still lives. It became afterwards a favourite dwelling-place of Isaac (Genesis 25:11), and was probably, therefore, surrounded by pastures, but its site has not been identified.” (Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers) “It is between Kadesh and Bered.” “Kadesh is the same with Kadesh Barnea in the wilderness, Numbers 13:3. The Targums of Onkelos and Jonathan call it Rekam, the same with Petra, the chief city of Arabia Petraea, inhabited in later times by the Nabathaeans, the posterity of Ishmael: and Bered is nowhere else mentioned, it is called by Onkelos Chagra or Hagra, by which he interprets Shur, Genesis 16:7; and by the Targum of Jonathan it is called Chaluza, a noted town in Idumea, the same with Chelus, mentioned with Kades in the Apocrypha...”

“Abram called the name of his son, whom Hagar bore, Ishmael.” (verse 15) The boy's name means “God hears” or “God will hear.” In verse 11 the Angel of the Lord said to Hagar, “Behold, you are with child, and you will bear a son; and you shall call his name Ishmael, because the Lordhas given heed to your affliction.” The Lord had heard Hagar's cries of affliction and seen her struggles at home and in the wilderness, and He gave “heed,” or responded favorably. And this to a woman who was not seeking the Lord's guidance, protection or deliverance! How much more will He fly to the aid of those who love and serve and reverence Him! “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!” (Matthew 7:7-11)

“Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore Ishmael to him.” (verse 16) “Which is easily reckoned, for he was seventy five years of age when he left Haran, Genesis 12:4; and he had been ten years in Canaan when Hagar was given him by Sarai for his wife, Genesis 16:3; and so must be then eighty five years of age, and of course must be eighty six when Ishmael was born.” Of course this means it would be another fourteen years before God would fulfill His promise to Give Abraham a son through Sarai (Genesis 21:5)! How trying that near decade and a half must have been for that godly couple! But the Lord delivered on His promises like He always has, always does and always will! Patience, patience, patience! Wait on the Lord! He will never disappoint you!

Please read Genesis 17:1-8 for tomorrow.

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 16:7-12

Saturday, November 30, 2019

“Now the angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, by the spring on the way to Shur. 8 He said, 'Hagar, Sarai’s maid, where have you come from and where are you going?' And she said, 'I am fleeing from the presence of my mistress Sarai.' 9 Then the angel of the Lord said to her, 'Return to your mistress, and submit yourself to her authority.' 10 Moreover, the angel of the Lord said to her, 'I will greatly multiply your descendants so that they will be too many to count.' 11 The angel of the Lord said to her further, 'Behold, you are with child, and you will bear a son; and you shall call his name Ishmael, because the Lord has given heed to your affliction. He will be a wild donkey of a man, his hand will be against everyone, and everyone’s hand will be against him; and he will live to the east of all his brothers.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“Now the angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness” (verse 7), after “Sarai treated her harshly, and she fled from her presence” (verse 6). The text does reveal to us in what form the angel appeared to her and how he spoke to her. Nahum Sarna made the following observations about angels in the Bible: “From several texts it is clear that the demarcation between God and His angel is often blurred. Hagar is addressed by the angel (16:7-8,9,11) but she responds directly to God (v. 13). The same interchange of speakers occurs in Genesis 22:11-12,15-18 and at the incident at the burning bush in Exodus 3:2,4. At the Exodus from Egypt it is now God (Exod. 13:21), now His angel (14:9) who goes ahead of the Israelite camp. In the story of Gideon (Judg. 6:11-23) God and His angel speak interchangeably. On the other hand, angels most frequently assume human form so that the individuals to whom they appear are at first unaware of their angelic nature. Such is the case, for instance, in Genesis 18-19. The three who visit Abraham are variously described as 'men' (18:1,16,22; 19:5,10,12,16) and as 'angels' (19:1,15), and the Sodomites certainly perceive them to be humans (19:5,9). In the case of the mother of Samson (Judg. 13), the one who appears to her is 'an angel of the Lord' (v. 3) whom she describes as 'a man of God' who 'looked like an angel of God, very frightening' (v. 6) When the angel reappears to her husband, Manoah does not recognize him as such (v. 16) until he disappears in the flames of the altar (vv. 20f.).” He goes on to suggest that the angel is regarded “as the personified extension o f God's will, or the personification of His self-manifestation. A third theory sees the angel as a conceptual device to avoid anthropomorphism. He serves as a mediator between the transcendent God and His mundane world.”

“By the spring on the way to Shur” (verse 7) “This was evidently a well-known watering place on the way back to Egypt, toward which Hagar was evidently going. The word `Shur' means `wall' and was probably applied to the chain of fortresses on the northeast frontier of Egypt. Hagar could flee from Sarai, but not from the presence of God. The angel of the Lord questioned her as God had questioned Adam in Eden, not for the purpose of procuring information but with a design of appealing to Hagar's conscience. She was engaged in an illegal flight, which, according to the laws of that age, could have been punished severely, even with death. Furthermore, there were terrible dangers and hardships on the way, as she had already discovered. 'Whence camest thou? and whither goest thou?'... Everyone needs to ask such questions of himself when confronting any crisis in life.” (James Burton Coffman) “In the Hebrew, the 'spring on the road to Shur' contains a play on words: 'ayin may mean 'an eye' as well as 'a spring,' and shur can mean 'to see' and also 'a wall'... The place where Hagar takes refuge thus suggests 'a seeing eye.' She calls God El-roi, 'God of seeing,' and the well after the 'Living One Who sees me' (verse 13). (Nahum Sarna)

“Then the angel of the Lord said to her, 'Return to your mistress, and submit yourself to her authority.'” (verse 9) Returning to certain hostility would not have been an easy pill for Hagar to swallow, but under the circumstances it was the best medicine she could take to remedy her ills. But she was not just to return and maintain her same atrocious attitude and behavior. She was to abandon her hatefulness (verse 4), and return in full submission to Sarai's authority as family matriarch. “Moreover, the angel of the Lord said to her, 'I will greatly multiply your descendants so that they will be too many to count.'” (verse 10) There was something in the deal for Hagar. She and her son would have likely faded into obscurity had she not returned to her appropriate place in the household of this very distinguished and consecrated family. But under the care of a legitimate father such as Abram, Ishmael would lead a dignified life (at least for enough time to build a firm foundation), and he would produce a renowned (yet infamous) posterity and legacy. (Genesis 17:20; 25:16)

“You will bear a son, and you shall call his name Ishmael, because the Lord has given heed to your affliction.” (verse 11) This is amazing similar to what the Angel Gabriel spoke to Mary: “You will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus.” (Luke 1:31) Only the all-seeing and all-knowing God can know and name a child before he is formed in his mother's womb (Jeremiah 1:5). Unlike Mary's blessed and holy offspring, Hagar's son “will be a wild donkey of a man, his hand will be against everyone, and everyone’s hand will be against him” (verse 12) “Like the wild ass among the beasts, so are the Ishmaelites among men. In their nature and destiny they call to mind the sturdy, fearless, and fleet-footed Syrian onager...who inhabits the wilderness and is almost impossible to domesticate. Jeremiah describes the wild ass of the desert: 'snuffing the wind in her eagerness, whose passion none can restrain.' Hagar, the abused slave woman subjected to the harsh discipline of her mistress, will produce people free and undisciplined.” (Nahum Sarna) “The antagonistic and war-like disposition of the Arab nations has continued until the present time. Only God could have uttered a prophecy so circumstantially fulfilled over such a long period of time... And thus it came to pass that the child of Abram and Sarai's unbelief became the progenitor of the Arabs, Israel's bitterest foes throughout history, and, as Unger noted, 'And from this line also came Muhammad and Islam, one of the most demonic of religions and a foe of Christianity.'” (James Burton Coffman)

Please read Genesis 16:13-16 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed day!

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 16:1-6

Friday, November 29, 2019

“Now Sarai, Abram’s wife had borne him no children, and she had an Egyptian maid whose name was Hagar. So Sarai said to Abram, 'Now behold, the Lord has prevented me from bearing children. Please go in to my maid; perhaps I will obtain children through her.' And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai. After Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, Abram’s wife Sarai took Hagar the Egyptian, her maid, and gave her to her husband Abram as his wife. He went in to Hagar, and she conceived; and when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress was despised in her sight. And Sarai said to Abram, 'May the wrong done me be upon you. I gave my maid into your arms, but when she saw that she had conceived, I was despised in her sight. May the Lord judge between you and me.' But Abram said to Sarai, 'Behold, your maid is in your power; do to her what is good in your sight.' So Sarai treated her harshly, and she fled from her presence.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“Now Sarai, Abram’s wife had borne him no children...” (verse 1) The attention now switches to Sarai as she is about to take matters into her own hands. She had departed Haran with her husband and entered into the land of Canaan at the age of 65, and now it was ten years later (verse 3). The clock was ticking faster, she wasn't getting any younger and she had given up all hope of conceiving a child of her own. Instead of appealing to the Lord for a heart full of understanding to discern His will in this critical matter, she made a unilateral, executive decision to give her servant to Abram “as his wife” (verse 4) and make him a full-blown polygamist.

“Now behold, the Lord has prevented me from bearing children.” (verse 2) God had pledged to give Abram a son from his own body (Genesis 15:4), but He had not specified that Sarai's womb would be the one to conceive the promised child. At the age of seventy-five, after suffering the shame of childlessness for several decades, she deduced in her dejection that the Lord had intentionally “shut up her womb” (Genesis 20:18). In one regard she thought she was submitting her will to God's will. On the other hand, she limited the Lord's power to the ordinary course of human nature and natural law.

“Please go in to my maid; perhaps I will obtain children through her.” (verse 2) In the ancient Near East a child born to a slave would have legally been the property of the slave owner, so in a warped fashion, Sarai aimed to “help” God fulfill His promise to Abram by giving him her Egyptian servant, Hagar. We can see how Abram's trip down to Egypt and his lie about the status of his sister/wife led to even further transgression and unnecessary turbulence and heartache. It is highly likely that Sarai acquired Hagar while she was briefly in the harem of Pharaoh because of Abram's cowardice. Pharaoh “treated Abram well for her sake; and gave him sheep and oxen and donkeys and male and female servants and female donkeys and camels.” (Genesis 12:16) “And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai” and took Hagar to himself. Something tells me that Sarai didn't have twist his arm!

“He went in to Hagar, and she conceived; and when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress was despised in her sight.” (verse 4) My but did Sarai's misconceived plan to help the Lord achieve His will ever backfire! In her blind compulsion to remedy her childlessness she could not see what should have been obvious: that polygamy breeds rivalry, jealousy, bitterness, antagonism and strife! “Hagar no sooner perceives herself with child, but she looks scornfully upon her mistress; upbraids her, perhaps, with her barrenness, and insults over her.” (Benson's Commentary)We see a similar situation in the book of 1 Samuel 1:1-6: “Now there was a certain man from Ramathaim-zophim from the hill country of Ephraim, and his name was Elkanah... He had two wives: the name of one was Hannah and the name of the other Peninnah; and Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children.

… When the day came that Elkanah sacrificed, he would give portions to Peninnah his wife and to all her sons and her daughters; but to Hannah he would give a double portion, for he loved Hannah, but the Lord had closed her womb. Her rival, however, would provoke her bitterly to irritate her, because the Lord had closed her womb.”

“And Sarai said to Abram, 'May the wrong done me be upon you.'” (verse 5) Sarai now shifts the blame to Abram for her own foolish judgment. Since she had “given” her maid to her husband, in her eyes it was his responsibility to control her and keep her in line. Blaming others for our own foolishness is as old as Adam and Eve. Of course Sarai, Abram and Hagar were all in the wrong for their sinful and selfish behavior and for their inability or unwillingness to practice righteous self-control. The disgruntled woman said to her husband: “May the Lord judge between you and me.” “See it in this case, passionate people often quarrel with others, for things of which they themselves must bear the blame. Sarai had given her maid to Abram, yet she cries out, My wrong be upon thee. That is never said wisely, which pride and anger put into our mouths. Those are not always in the right, who are most loud and forward in appealing to God: such rash and bold imprecations commonly speak guilt and a bad cause.” (Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary)

“But Abram said to Sarai, 'Behold, your maid is in your power; do to her what is good in your sight.'” (verse 6) If this was an attempt by Abram to restore harmony to his household by relinquishing Hagar back to the authority of Sarai so she could treat her in any way she saw fit, it failed miserably. As head of the house, Abram should never have allowed this situation to arise in the first place, and afterward his should have been the voice of authority, wisdom and reason to diffuse the volatility of these two enraged wives of his. Instead, like Pilate, he washed his hands of the whole ordeal and left matters that he should have dealt with in the hands of the enraged and vindictive. It is no surprise that things were not going to end well!

“So Sarai treated her harshly, and she fled from her presence.” (verse 6) “The Hebrew verb used here implies that Sarai subjected Hagar to physical and psychological abuse. It carries with it the nuance of critical judgment of her actions. According to Ramban, 'the matriarch sinned by such maltreatment, and Abraham too by permitting it.'” (Nahum Sarna) Friends, no matter how wrongly we believe we may have been treated, cruelty to another human being is never justified, is never permissible in the sight of God, is never proper behavior of one bearing the name of the King!

Two divine precepts come to mind that would have helped Abram and Sarai considerably and are a must for us if we want to avoid the sinfulness and consequences depicted in this whole sordid and sad account: 1) Wait for the Lord! 2) Do not take vengeance into your own hands! “Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the Lord.” (Psalm 27:14) “Yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.”

“To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing.” (1 Peter 3:8-9) “Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, 'Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,' says the Lord. 'But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning colas on his head.' Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:19-21)

Please read Genesis 16:7-12 for tomorrow.

Have a great day!

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 15:17-21

Thursday, November 28, 2019

“It came about when the sun had set, that it was very dark, and behold, there appeared a smoking oven and a flaming torch which passed between these pieces. On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, ‘To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt as far as the great river, the river Euphrates: the Kenite and the Kenizzite and the Kadmonite and the Hittite and the Perizzite and the Rephaim and the Amorite and the Canaanite and the Girgashite and the Jebusite.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“There appeared a smoking oven and a flaming torch which passed between these pieces.” (verse 17) God had instructed Abram to cut the animals into halves and separate the pieces from one another in verse 10. Then the smoking oven and flaming torch passed between the cuts. Nahum Sarna sees these two objects as representative of the Lord himself” “The principal party, here God, passes between the pieces. He is represented by the smoke and the fire, which are frequently symbols of the Divine Presence.”

Benson’s Commentary has as different take on this imagery: “This signified the affliction of his seed in Egypt: they were there in the furnace of affliction, and labouring in the very fire. They were there in the smoke, their eyes darkened that they could not see to the end of their troubles. And a burning lamp — This speaks comfort in this affliction: and this God showed Abram at the same time with the smoking furnace. The lamp notes direction in the smoke; God’s word was their lamp, a light shining in a dark place. Perhaps, too, this burning lamp prefigured the pillar of a cloud and fire which led them out of Egypt. The ‘passing of these between the pieces’ was the confirming of the covenant God now made with him.”

“On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram…” Or literally “cut a covenant.” When the Lord passed through the severed animal pieces, he ratified His sacred pledge and promised unto Abram: “To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt as far as the great river, the river Euphrates.” From the river of Egypt, which is not the Nile but the Wadi el-‘Arish on the southernmost border of the Promised Land and the Sanai desert, as far as the great river Euphrates—“The ideal limits of the Holy Land, which were practically reached under David and Solomon (...1 Kings 4:21; 2 Chronicles 9:26)” (Pulpit Commentary)

Vreses 19-21 – “This list constitutes a register of ten pre-Israelite peoples who presently inhabit the promised land. This is the most comprehensive of the seventeen such lists scattered among the historical books… The fact that the Jebusites invariably appear in the final position may betoken David’s capture of Jerusalem, which was the culmination of his conquests. The present register features some peculiarities. The Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, and Rephaim appear in no other list, while the Hivites, featured in all the others, are here inexplicably excluded. The extraordinarily complex ethnic situation that these lists reflect is matched by the no less than thirty-one city-states that Joshua encountered in this tiny country, as listed in Joshua 12.” (Nahum Sarna)

Please read Genesis 16:1-6 for tomorrow.

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 15:12-16

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

“Now when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and behold, terror and great darkness fell upon him. God said to Abram, ‘Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, where they will be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years. But I will also judge the nation whom they will serve, and afterward they will come out with many possessions. As for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you will be buried at a good old age. Then in the fourth generation they will return here, for the iniquity of the Amorite is not yet complete.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“Now when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram…” (verse 12) Either a deep sleep fell upon Abram during the original “vision” (verse 1), or this was a different “trance” occurring several hours later. This doesn’t seem to be a fatigue-induced slumber, but an intentional condition provoked by the Lord for the reception of divine revelation (Consider Daniel 8:18; 10:9). “Terror and great darkness fell upon him.” He had asked the Lord how he could know that he, or more likely his descendants, would possess the land of promise (verse 8). A very deep gloom engulfed the great patriarch as God revealed to him the horrors his offspring would be forced to endure.

“‘Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs…” (verse 13). Before Abraham’s descendants could possess the Promised Land, they would be the possession of cruel taskmasters in a foreign land where they would toil as forced-laborers. “Where they will be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years.” There are different takes on this number to help us understand it chronologically and in consideration of other related Bible verses such as Exodus 12:40-41 and Galatians 3:17.

Benson’s Commentary calculates the 400 years from the youthful days of Isaac to the Exodus led by Moses: “This persecution began with mocking, when Ishmael, the son of an Egyptian, persecuted Isaac, (Genesis 21:9,) and it came at last to murder, the basest of murders, that of their new-born children; so that, more or less, it continued four hundred years.”

Adam Clarke also suggested that the persecution began: “When Ishmael, son of Hagar, mocked and persecuted Isaac, Gen 21:9; Gal 4:29; which fell out thirty years after the promise, Gen 12:3; which promise was four hundred and thirty years before the law, Gal 3:17, and four hundred and thirty years after that promise came Israel out of Egypt, Ex 12:41.” It does not appear that Israel was in the land of Egypt for 400 years, but more like 300 to 330 years.

James Burton Coffman takes the 400 years to be the actual duration of time that Israel spent in the land of Egypt: “The same period is referred to as 430 years in Exodus 12:40…but no contradiction exists. Note that it is not the total stay in Egypt, but the period of their ‘affliction’ which is here prophesied as ‘four hundred years.’ They were not afflicted during the early years of their sojourn there while Joseph was yet Pharaoh's deputy. Also, in all probability, the time period here is stated in round numbers, meaning ‘about four hundred years.’ The same period is called ‘four generations"’ a little later, that being correct in view of the longevity of the patriarchs.”

Many doubters are quick to criticize the apparent “contradictory” accounts in the Bible about the timespan of Israel’s bondage in Egypt instead of marveling at this amazing prophecy. No matter how you tabulate these numbers, it is an astonishing thing that Israel’s Egyptian slavery was predicted, with accuracy, decades before there was an Israel (Jacob), and nearly two hundred years before Jacob descended into Egypt! The Lord foretold that His own chosen people would be “oppressed” and He did not shield them from their suffering. We can see from God’s dealings with humanity that He is completely just and evenhanded. He allows His loved ones to deal with adversity (helping them all the while of course), and He does not hastily punish the wicked but gives them ample time to repent or for their sinfulness to come to “fullness” (verse 16).

“But I will also judge the nation whom they will serve…” (verse 14) The Lord did not reveal the identity of persecuting nation and that may have been intentional. That way His people would not attempt to bypass their excursion to Egypt and forestall His arrangement. The Lord “judged” or “punished” Egypt severely for their cruel oppression by sending ten devastating plagues, culminating in the death of the firstborn male of every person and animal, including the hardhearted Pharaoh’s own son. “Say, therefore, to the sons of Israel, ‘I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from their bondage. I will also redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments.” (Exodus 6:6) “When Pharaoh does not listen to you, then I will lay My hand on Egypt and bring out My hosts, My people the sons of Israel, from the land of Egypt by great judgments.” (Exodus 7:4) “For I will go through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments—I am the Lord.” (Exodus 12:12) Oppression by sending ten devastating plagues, culminating in the death of the firstborn male of every person and animal, including the hardhearted Pharaoh’s own son. “Say, therefore, to the sons of Israel, ‘I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from their bondage. I will also redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments.” (Exodus 6:6) “When Pharaoh does not listen to you, then I will lay My hand on Egypt and bring out My hosts, My people the sons of Israel, from the land of Egypt by great judgments.” (Exodus 7:4) “For I will go through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments—I am the Lord.” (Exodus 12:12)

“And afterward they will come out with many possessions.” (verse 14) God bestowed great favor upon His people and rewarded them with plunder that their former persecutors willingly parted with. This was “Either restitution for the years of slave labor or in accordance with the law in Deuteronomy 15:13f. that an emancipated slave must be liberally provisioned by the master.” (Nahum Sarna) “Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘I will bring one more plague on Pharaoh and Egypt. After that he will let you go. When he does, he will be certain to force all of you out of here. Now announce to the people of Israel that each man and woman must ask the Egyptians for silver and gold jewelry.’” (Exodus 11:1-2) “The Lord made the Egyptians generous to the people, and they gave them what they asked for. So the Israelites stripped Egypt of its wealth. (Exodus 12:36)

“You shall go to your fathers in peace; you will be buried at a good old age.” (verse 15) “A unique term for dying. Elsewhere the expression is to ‘lie down with one’s fathers,’ as in Genesis 47:30, or to be ‘gathered to one’s kin,’ as in Genesis 25:8,17. In whatever form, the phrase certainly originates from a belief in an afterlife in which one is reunited with one’s ancestors irrespective of where they are buried.” (Nahum Sarna) “These are all the years of Abraham’s life that he lived, one hundred and seventy-five years. Abraham breathed his last and died in a ripe old age, an old man and satisfied with life; and he was gathered to his people.” (Genesis 25:7)

“Then in the fourth generation they will return here…” (verse 16) “Generation” is the Hebrew word “dor” and it has been calculated in many different ways. Based on the 400 year prophecy just three verses earlier, four generations here must be a reference to four full life spans. “For the iniquity of the Amorite is not yet complete.” God would give the native inhabitants of the land more time, therefore Israel’s fate was interwoven with that of the heathen nations of Canaan. The Lord would not allow their wickedness to endure forever, but it would take several centuries for them to be ripe for the plucking and treading in the winepress of God’s fierce wrath. God wasn’t just playing favorites with Israel when he gave them the land of Canaan, He was also executing judgement upon a vile and idolatrous “civilization,” and He would wait until the harsh punishment was justly suited to the climactic escalation of the heinous sin.

Please read Genesis 15:17-21 for tomorrow.

Have a great day!

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 15:7-11

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

“And He said to him, ‘I am the Lord who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to possess it.’ He said, ‘O Lord God, how may I know that I will possess it?’ So He said to him, ‘Bring Me a three year old heifer, and a three year old female goat, and a three year old ram, and a turtledove, and a young pigeon.’ Then he brought all these to Him and cut them in two, and laid each half opposite the other; but he did not cut the birds. The birds of prey came down upon the carcasses, and Abram drove them away.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“I am the Lord…” (verse 7) This is the first of many times that the Lord invokes a declaration of His divine identity. When He does this, He follows with a solemn affirmation of absolute truth and authority. He is not so much introducing himself, but emphasizing that He is not one to be doubted or trifled with. The Lord used this expression to proclaim His absolute power to Moses and the children of Israel in Exodus 20:2-3 when issuing the Ten Commandments. “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before Me.” As He reminded His liberated children that it was He who brought them out of the land of Egypt, so He declared to Abram that it was by the strong arm of the Lord that he was “brought…out of Ur of the Chaldeans…” As He called and delivered Israel out of Egypt to give them the Promised Land, so He called and brought their forebear out of Ur to “give” him “this land to possess it” in anticipation of that later inheritance.

“O Lord God, how may I know that I will possess it?” (verse 8) Since God would only truly grant this land as a possession to future generations of his offspring, Abram requests some sort of assurance of its fulfillment or understanding of how the implementation of this promise would unfold. “The Lord now directs him to make ready the things requisite for entering into a formal covenant regarding the land. These include all the kinds of animals afterward used in sacrifice. The number three is sacred, and denotes the perfection of the victim in point of maturity. The division of the animals refers to the covenant between two parties, who participate in the rights which it guarantees. The birds are two without being divided.” (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)

“The text does not explain the elaborate ritual that is followed. Clearly no sacrifice is involved, for there is no altar, no mention of the sprinkling of blood as in Exodus 24:8, and no suggestion that the animals are either eaten or burnt. The meaning of the ceremonials is to be sought elsewhere. The Hebrew term for covenant-making is k-r-t, literally ‘to cut a covenant; (v. 18)… The cutting up of the animal was a crucial element in the treaty-making procedure. Its retributive meaning is suggested by the only other biblical parallel. When, in the days of Jeremiah, the nobility of Jerusalem proclaimed a wholesale emancipation of slaves during the Babylonian siege, only to reverse themselves later, the prophet thundered: ‘Lo! I proclaim your release—declares the Lord—to the sword, to pestilence, and to famine; and I will make you a horror to all the kingdoms of the earth. I will make the men who violated My covenant…which they made before Me, [like] the calf which they cut in two so as to pass between the halves…they shall be handed over to their enemies, to those who seek to kill them. Their carcasses shall become food for the birds of the sky and beasts of the earth…’ (Jer. 34:17-20). The cutting of the animals is thus a form of self-imprecation in which the potential violator invokes their fate upon himself… The fate of the animal is explicitly projected upon the violator.” (Nahum Sarna)

“The birds of prey came down upon the carcasses, and Abram drove them away.” (verse 11) “The birds of prey, regarded as unclean, swooping down threatened to carry off the pieces of flesh. This would have interrupted the ceremony with an evil omen, polluted the sacrifice, and impaired the covenant. Abram drives away the birds of ill omen. In the context, these birds evidently symbolized the Egyptians, who threatened, by enslaving Israel in Egypt, to frustrate the fulfilment of the Divine promise to the seed of Abram. The chasing away of the birds typified the surmounting of all obstacles.” (Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges)

Remember that verse one tells us “the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision…” The text gives no clear indication as to when this vision ended, and these verses with the severed animals and birds of prey may be a continuation of it. But whether Abram literally prepared the animals for the invocation of the covenant and chased away actual birds of prey, or it all came to pass in the course of divinely induced reverie, the validity of the covenant is not affected in the slightest. The great God of heaven declared these things to be true, and “it is impossible for God to lie.” (Hebrews 6:18)

Please read Genesis 15:12-16 for tomorrow.

Have a great day!

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 15:1-6

Monday, November 25, 2019

“After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, 'Do not fear, Abram, I am a shield to you; your reward shall be very great.' Abram said, 'O Lord God, what will You give me, since I am childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?' And Abram said, 'Since You have given no offspring to me, one born in my house is my heir.' Then behold, the word of the Lord came to him, saying, 'This man will not be your heir; but one who will come forth from your own body, he shall be your heir.' And He took him outside and said, 'Now look toward the heavens, and count the stars, if you are able to count them.' And He said to him, 'So shall your descendants be.' Then he believed in the Lord; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“The word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision...” This chapter is comprised of God reaffirming his promises and covenant with Abram. In this first part God reconfirms His promise to bless Abram with innumerable descendants (verse 5), and in the second He guarantees their future inheritance of the Land of Promise (verse 18). The Lord communicated these promises to Abram by his “word” through the medium of “a vision”. What is not perfectly clear is whether the whole chapter constitutes the transmission of one continuous vision, or if it is broken up into two different, consecutive experiences. Whichever view is accurate, the two promises are interdependent and indivisible.

“Do not fear, Abram...” (verse 1) Abram had just recently saved Lot from the powerful alliance of eastern kings. It would have been perfectly understandable if he had feared a retaliatory strike. The Lord appeared to him in a vision to comfort and reassure him and allay his fears. God told Abram that he had no reason to be afraid because He would serve as a shield of protection over and around him. Abram also took no compensation for the energy, time and resources he had expended in saving the prisoners of Sodom, but the Lord told him that He would be all the reward that he would ever need.

“O Lord God, what will You give me, since I am childless...” (verse 2) Another thing that Abram feared greatly was that he would die before God ever blessed him with a biological child. He and his wife were advanced in age, and the closest thing to an heir in his household was “Eliezer of Damascus.” It was customary for a childless man living in the ancient East to adopt a servant, but God promised Abram that an heir would be born to him from his “own body” (verse 4). “According to the usage of nomadic tribes, his chief confidential servant, would be heir to his possessions and honors. But this man could have become his son only by adoption; and how sadly would that have come short of the parental hopes he had been encouraged to entertain! His language betrayed a latent spirit of fretfulness or perhaps a temporary failure in the very virtue for which he is so renowned—an absolute submission to God's time, as well as way, of accomplishing His promise.” (Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary)

“This man will not be your heir; but one who will come forth from your own body, he shall be your heir.” (verse 4) We see here God's response to Abram's despair and impatient attempt to preempt the plans of God. Abraham and Sarah's impatience would escalate in the next chapter to an attempt to produce Abraham's biological son and heir through Sarah's servant Hagar. “Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore Ishmael to him” (Genesis 16:16), making it just over a decade after God's original promise to bless him with great posterity (Genesis 12:1-4). A common characteristic of human weakness is impatience and discouragement at the delay of a thing greatly hoped for. Abraham was a great man of faith, but like us, only human and subject to the weakness of the flesh.

“'Now look toward the heavens, and count the stars, if you are able to count them.' And He said to him, 'So shall your descendants be.'” (verse 5) God's promise to Abram was not to have as many children as there are stars in the universe or as there are grains of sand on the seashore. The promise was, just like the stars and the sand, his descendants would be too numerous to count. He was in his eighth decade of life, and still childless. And still, “he believed in the Lord; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.” Abram believed that which was difficult to comprehend. This does not indicate that his belief would never be overshadowed at times by doubt, and the same is true for believers to this very day. Sometimes we have doubts, but we must never turn lose of our faith and trust in God and the recognition of our complete dependence upon Him.

Because Abram accepted God's promise as true by faith, the Lord “reckoned it to him as righteousness.” The Apostle Paul tells us that we, as Abraham's spiritual descendants, are considered righteous through Christ Jesus in just the same way: through our believing, trusting faith. “What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, has found? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? 'Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.'” (Romans 4:1-3)

We must be obedient as Abraham was if we want to be acceptable in the sight of God and works of righteousness are absolutely critical to our eternal salvation as James 2:21-25 tells us. “Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected; and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, 'And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,' and he was called the friend of God. You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.” But, like Abraham, we will never be perfectly righteous, and we will never be able to do enough works of righteousness to make us righteous in the sight of God. Only through a continuing faith in Christ, through all of life's valleys and mountains, upsets and victories, blessings and disappointments, can we hope to be accounted as righteous in the sight of the righteous Judge on that great and final day. It is only through faith in the righteousness of the only One who was perfectly righteous that we have hope of being declared righteous on the day of Judgment.

Please read Genesis 15:7-11 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed day!

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 14:17-24

Sunday, November 24, 2019

“Then after his return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him, the king of Sodom went out to meet him at the valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley). And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; now he was a priest of God Most High. He blessed him and said, 'Blessed be Abram of God Most High, possessor of heaven and earth; and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand.' He gave him a tenth of all. The king of Sodom said to Abram, 'Give the people to me and take the goods for yourself.' Abram said to the king of Sodom, 'I have sworn to the Lord God Most High, possessor of heaven and earth, that I will not take a thread or a sandal thong or anything that is yours, for fear you would say, “I have made Abram rich.” I will take nothing except what the young men have eaten, and the share of the men who went with me, Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre; let them take their share.'”

---End of Scripture verses---

“The king of Sodom went out to meet him... (verse 17) Verse 10 tells us that “the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, and they fell into” the tar pits, so evidently Bera, the king of Sodom survived that ordeal. If so, and the king mentioned here is not his successor, it is understandable why he would willingly forgo all the spoils of war, from a newfound appreciation for his own, precious life that he had narrowly escaped with. “The valley of Shaveh” means “the valley of the plain,” where King David's son Absalom would later erect a monument to himself in this “King's Valley” (2 Samuel 18:18), which was located somewhere near to Jerusalem.

“And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine...” (verse 18) The king of “Salem” is set in contrast to the king of “Sodom” (verse 17). “Salem” is the Hebrew word “shalem” which means “peace,” and is indicative of goodness and blessings. The word “Sodom” only evokes thoughts of depravity and carnage. Psalm 76 equates “Salem” with “Jerusalem” (the city of peace), and there is no good reason not to assume the same is true in this verse. “God is known in Judah; His name is great in Israel. His tabernacle is in Salem; His dwelling place also is in Zion. There He broke the flaming arrows, The shield and the sword and the weapons of war.” (Psalm 76:1-3)

Melchizedek bursts upon the scene with no previous introduction and there is no subsequent allusion to him in the entirety of the Old Testament except an obscure reference in Psalm 110:4. There is really no way to understand this character's existence and significance within the biblical framework without using the New Testament as our guiding light. The Hebrews writer presents Melchizedek as an Old Testament “type” or “prefiguring” of Jesus, and uses his abrupt entrance into and exit from the annals of inspired revelation as a symbol for the eternal nature of the priesthood of Jesus Christ. “For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, who met Abraham as he was returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, to whom also Abraham apportioned a tenth part of all the spoils, was first of all, by the translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then also king of Salem, which is king of peace. Without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, he remains a priest perpetually.” (Hebrews 7:1-3)

Melchizedek was both “king” and “priest of God Most High.” As a prefigurement of Jesus, he is the only other individual in Scripture to share the combining of these two offices with the Christ, only doing so as an inferior “foreshadowing” of the glory and splendor with which Jesus holds these truly eternal titles in divine and spiritual power and perfection. As “priest of God Most High,” he stood alone in the pagan land of Canaan, as far as the Scriptures reveal, as a servant and worshiper of the One True God of heaven, along with the immigrant Abram and his household. We can only assume and hope that his great example influenced others in the area to bow down to the Creator of the universe and serve Him in love and obedience. What we know for sure is that God had a presence for truth and righteousness residing within the boundaries of Canaan even before the arrival of Abram.

Melchizedek received Abram, the victor in liberating the captives of the region and defeating the enemies of its people, by bringing “bread and wine” to honor him and the Most High God who “delivered” the victory unto him (verses 18 and 20). As Melchizedek is a type of Jesus, some people see prophetic symbolism for the Lord's Supper in this offering, and that certainly exists within the realm of possibility. It seems more than merely food and drink offered to an exhausted and famished army for physical refreshment and sustenance. Whether it was meant to be emblematic of the Lord's Supper or not, there seems to be something symbolic and spiritual in the essence of this “meal”. Subsequently, Abram “gave him a tenth of all.” (verse 20) Now observe how great this man was to whom Abraham, the patriarch, gave a tenth of the choicest spoils.” (Hebrews 7:4)

“I will not take a thread or a sandal thong or anything that is yours...” (verse 23) Abram made sure that Melchizedek got a tenth of the spoil due to a man of his status, and his three Amorite associates received a fair portion for risking their own necks to save his kinsman. But as for himself, Abram wouldn't accept the slightest trifle as gift from the king of Sodom. “For fear you would say, 'I have made Abram rich.'” Abram would allow no one to receive the credit and praise for his blessings save “God Most High” alone. I think we see the maturing of the man who had willingly received ample wealth at the hands of Pharaoh while previously dwelling in the land of Egypt (Genesis 12:15-16). His only concerns at this point are for the wellbeing and provision of others: for Melchizedek, Lot, Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre, and that his men had plenty to eat.

Putting others first is one of the hallmarks of the faith of a true disciple of Christ. “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:3-8)

Please read Genesis 15:1-6 for tomorrow.

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 14:13-16

Saturday, November 23, 2019

“Then a fugitive came and told Abram the Hebrew. Now he was living by the oaks of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol and brother of Aner, and these were allies with Abram. When Abram heard that his relative had been taken captive, he led out his trained men, born in his house, three hundred and eighteen, and went in pursuit as far as Dan. He divided his forces against them by night, he and his servants, and defeated them, and pursued them as far as Hobah, which is north of Damascus. He brought back all the goods, and also brought back his relative Lot with his possessions, and also the women, and the people.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“What are the purposes of Scripture in featuring this story? Undoubtedly, its primary motive is to bring into prominence new facets of Abram's character. The one who displayed fear and evasiveness in Egypt now shows himself to be decisive and courageous in the promised land. The man of peace knows how to exhibit skill and heroism in battle. He who experienced his nephew's estrangement unhesitatingly demonstrates self-sacrificing loyalty to him in his hour of need. Abram is a military hero, but he is not glorified as such. He does not initiate the war—others do—and he is drawn into it, acquitting himself magnificently against enormous odds. Notwithstanding the wealth of detail recorded in the chapter, there is little about the war itself—nothing about the size of the opposing foreign armies, the weapons deployed, the mode of transportation, the number of casualties, or the content of the booty—none of the items that are the staple ingredients of ancient Near Eastern war chronicles. Instead, the story serves to emphasize the virtues of loyalty to family, the redeeming of captives, the disdain of material reward, and faith in the power of the few against the many.” (Nahum Sarna)

“Abram the Hebrew...” (verse 13) This is the first appearance of the word “Hebrew” in Holy Scripture and the only time this phrase is used to describe Abram. The word means, “one from beyond,” and could have been a nickname for Abram, the foreigner from beyond the Euphrates River, given to him by the natives of the land of Canaan whom he lived among. But it appears to me, in the current context, to be a title given by the Spirit-inspired author of Genesis, and is much more likely a patriarchal name derived from his ancestor Eber, the grandson of Noah (Genesis 10:24; 11:14). A “fugitive,” one who had escaped from the battle with his life and freedom, traveled to the “oaks of Mamre” where Abram was staying, to inform him of the situation with his nephew Lot.

“When Abram heard that his relative had been taken captive" (verse 14), he mustered together an army to pursue and overthrow the captors of his “relative”. This militia included “trained men, born in his house, three hundred and eighteen,” and also “Mamre the Amorite,” and his brothers “Eshcol and...Aner” who “were allies with Abram”(verses 13 and 24). The Hebrew term used for “allies” literally means “lords of a covenant.” These men formed a pact with one another to provide for their mutual defense in case of unwelcome hostility from outsiders. The 318 men born in Abram's house were servants born of servants, which were much more like family than slaves, and much more trustworthy than hired hands. They pursued the aggressors “as far as Dan,” the northernmost extremity of what would eventually be the land of Israel.

“He divided his forces against them by night, he and his servants, and defeated them, and pursued them as far as Hobah, which is north of Damascus.” (verse 15) “The large armies fielded by the coalition of kings had just completed a long and exhausting campaign. They did not expect to have to fight again and were unprepared for an attack. They encamped for the night, since armies did not generally march after sunset in the ancient world. For his part, Abram had all the advantages of using fresh troops and of a night engagement against an unwary, battle-weary, depleted enemy. By dividing his strike forces and simultaneously attacking two sides, he was able to achieve complete surprise and so neutralize the effectiveness of the great numerical superiority enjoyed by the coalition of kings.” (Nahum Sarna) Of course, all this strategizing and outmaneuvering would have been completely ineffective had not the Lord been with Abram to strengthen him, protect him, and curse those who cursed him!

“He brought back all the goods, and also brought back his relative Lot with his possessions, and also the women, and the people.” (verse 16) It greatly uplifts the hopes and hearts of good and honest people when the good guys win and the story has a happy ending! God, through Abram, rescued his nephew and everyone who was with him and all their earthly belongings. This gave Lot a fresh start and a bright outlook after all hope appeared to be lost. Unfortunately for him, he did not use his second chance as an opportunity to do some serious soul-searching, reevaluate his choice of living arrangements, and come out from among the exceedingly wicked men of Sodom. But the real story here is the bravery, selflessness and righteousness of Abraham, the forefather of our faith and the paragon of human faithfulness!

Please read Genesis 14:17-24 for tomorrow.

Have a great day!

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 14:1-12

Friday, November 22, 2019

“And it came about in the days of Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of Goiim, that they made war with Bera king of Sodom, and with Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, and Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar). All these came as allies to the valley of Siddim (that is, the Salt Sea). Twelve years they had served Chedorlaomer, but the thirteenth year they rebelled. In the fourteenth year Chedorlaomer and the kings that were with him, came and defeated the Rephaim in Ashteroth-karnaim and the Zuzim in Ham and the Emim in Shaveh-kiriathaim, and the Horites in their Mount Seir, as far as El-paran, which is by the wilderness. Then they turned back and came to En-mishpat (that is, Kadesh), and conquered all the country of the Amalekites, and also the Amorites, who lived in Hazazon-tamar. And the king of Sodom and the king of Gomorrah and the king of Admah and the king of Zeboiim and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar) came out; and they arrayed for battle against them in the valley of Siddim, against Chedorlaomer king of Elam and Tidal king of Goiim and Amraphel king of Shinar and Arioch king of Ellasar—four kings against five. Now the valley of Siddim was full of tar pits; and the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, and they fell into them. But those who survived fled to the hill country. Then they took all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah and all their food supply, and departed. They also took Lot, Abram’s nephew, and his possessions and departed, for he was living in Sodom.”

---End of Scripture verses---

Mini World War One – This is the first record of warfare recorded in the Bible. After Lot chose to dwell in the Jordan valley, he moved his tents as far as Sodom (Genesis 13:12). The king of Sodom was part of a political alliance with four other kingdoms in the land of Canaan that paid tribute money to a coalition of four eastern kings. After twelve years the tribute-paying alliance rebelled and refused to pay the extortion money. The kings of the east then waged war against the rebel kings and thwarted them, as well as the people of other territories that lie in their path along the way. The vassal forces were defeated, and in the course of their defeat, the retreating armies of Sodom and Gomorrah fell into tar pits as they fled through the valley of Siddim. In this epic battle lives were lost, captives were taken, and Abram's nephew Lot and his family were among the prisoners of war.

“And it came about in the days of Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of Goiim.” (verse 1) This list of the four eastern kings appears to be recorded in alphabetical sequence, and not in order of importance. Although Amraphel is king of Shinar, or Babylon, they had not yet become the dominant power and empire that would later arrive from that province. It is also likely that he was more of a provincial leader and not king of the entire realm of Babylon. Cherdolaomer is obviously the most prominent power in this coalition of four kings, as indicated by verses 4, 5 and 9. He is the “king of Elam,” “a country east of the lower Tigris, and separated by it from Shinar. He is probably a Shemite, as the country over which he ruled received its name from a son of Shem (Genesis 10:22). He is the lord paramount of the others, and commander-in-chief of the united forces. Hence, the Hamite seems to have already succumbed to the Shemite.” (Barnes' Notes on the Bible)

“They made war with Bera king of Sodom, and with Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, and Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar).” (verse 2) “Each of the five cities has its own king. This is the classic Canaanite city-state system that prevailed in Canaan before the Israelite conquest (cf. Josh. 12). The names of the kings were recognized early in Jewish exegesis as lending themselves to midrashic elaboration, each being taken as a reflection of the character or reputation of the possessor. Thus, Bera = 'in evil' (be-ra'); Birsha = 'with wickedness' (be-resha'); Shinab = 'who hated his father' (Sone' 'av); and shemeber = 'the voluptuary' (sam'ever). (Nahum Sarna)

“All these came as allies to the valley of Siddim (that is, the Salt Sea).” (verse 3) The Dead sea has the highest salt content of any other body of water. While the world's oceans average 3% salt content, the Dead sea is 32% saline. “This remark implies that the valley no longer existed at the time of the Narrator... The only explanation is that the valley lay below the southern bank of the Dead Sea. As a matter of fact, the great disproportion between the 1,300-foot...water depth in the north end and the mere 20-foot...average in the far south proves that the basin below the Lisan, that tongue-shaped peninsula that protrudes into the sea, is of far more recent formation than the upper part. The Vale of Siddim was what existed before the area was submerged by the encroaching waters of the Dead Sea in historical times.” (Nahum Sarna)

Verses 5-7 - “Detail the invasion route followed by the kings from the east. It shows that they traversed the entire length of the 'king's highway' (Num. 21:22) that ran practically in a continuous straight line through the hill country east of the Jordan from north to south. When they reached El-paran they turned west (or northwest?), crossing the Negeb until they arrived at Kadesh-barnea. Here they made another abrupt turn, this time to the northeast, finally reaching the Valley of Siddim. All along the way they struck at various peoples and their settlements. Apparently, before attacking the pentapolis itself, the invaders sought to secure their flanks, protect their supply lines, and ensure their retreat route by neutralizing the hostile forces in the area.” (Nahum Sarna) The word “pentapolis” simply refers to the five city-state coalition headed by the five vassal kings.

“Now the valley of Siddim was full of tar pits; and the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, and they fell into them.” (verse 10) “Bitumen and asphalt are native to the Dead Sea, which Josephus actually calls the Asphalt Sea. Asphalt is found in heavy liquid form in the southern part of the sea.” (Nahum Sarna) “Then they took all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah and all their food supply, and departed. They also took Lot, Abram’s nephew, and his possessions and departed, for he was living in Sodom.” (verses 11-12) Lot was in the wrong place at the wrong time. We see that his choice of settling near to the wicked city quickly turned sour for him and his family, and God did not shield him from the consequences of his choices. If it were not for the heroic efforts of his uncle Abram recorded in the next few verses, all would have been lost. The worst was yet to come for Lot (Genesis 19), but here is the first hint that things were not going to end well for him because of his poor decision-making.

Please read Genesis 14:13-16 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed day!

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 13:14-18

Thursday, November 21, 2019

“The Lord said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him, ‘Now lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward; for all the land which you see, I will give it to you and to your descendants forever. I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth, so that if anyone can number the dust of the earth, then your descendants can also be numbered. Arise, walk about the land through its length and breadth; for I will give it to you.’ Then Abram moved his tent and came and dwelt by the oaks of Mamre, which are in Hebron, and there he built an altar to the Lord.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“The Lord said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him…” (verse 14) Perhaps the childless Abram was saddened to see the last remnant of his blood kinsmen, who had traveled with him from his homeland, depart from him. Now all his ties from his father’s house in Ur and Haran have been severed, even one who had been like a son to him. The Lord spoke words of consolation and encouragement to Abram: “Now lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward; for all the land which you see, I will give it to you and to your descendants forever.” (verses 14-15) As Lot had “lifted up his eyes and saw the valley of the Jordan” (verse 10), so the Lord tells Abram to “lift up your eyes” to see the whole land of Canaan. Lot chose a rich and fertile plot of ground to feed and water his flocks, but to Abram and his descendants, the Lord would give the entirety of it.

“Between Bethel and Ai, on cue of the mountain peaks (cf. Genesis 12:8; Genesis 13:3), from which a commanding view of almost the entire country could be obtained. Northward – towards ‘the hills which divide Judaea from the rich plains of Samaria’ – and southward – as far as to the Hebron range – and eastward – in the direction of the dark mountain wall of Moab, down through the rich ravine which leads from the central hills of Palestine to the valley of the Jordan, and across that very ‘circle’ into which Lot has already departed with his flocks – and westward – literally, towards the sea… For all the land which thou seest – i.e. the entire country, a part being put for the whole – to thee will I give it.” (Pulpit Commentary) This does not contradict what Stephen said in his sermon to the Sanhedrin in Acts 7:5, “But He gave him no inheritance in it, not even a foot of ground, and yet, even when he had no child, He promised that He would give it to him as a possession, and to his descendants after him.” Abraham had no “permanent settlement” in the Promised Land but he did live safely there wandering about as a nomad and died peacefully within its borders.

This is the first issuance of the oft repeated “Land Promise” to Abraham and his posterity. When God made a covenant with Abraham in Genesis 15, He promised, “To your descendants I have given this land, From the river of Egypt as far as the great river, the river Euphrates: the Kenite and the Kenizzite and the Kadmonite and the Hittite and the Perizzite and the Rephaim and the Amorite and the Canaanite and the Girgashite and the Jebusite.” (Genesis 15;18-20) The Lord promised He would give this land to Abraham’s descendants “forever” (verse 15). The question to be answered, then, is does this promise still apply to Abraham’s physical, ethnic descendants now and until the end of time, or has this land promise since been forfeited?

The simple truth of the matter is that God did make this promise to Abraham and the children of Israel on a permanent basis, but their endurance was based upon meeting certain conditions. The Lord warned Israel that if they chose the path of disobedience and idolatry that He would remove them from the Promised Land and scatter them to the four corners of the earth. “If you are not careful to observe all the words of this law which are written in this book, to fear this honored and awesome name, the Lord your God,… It shall come about that as the Lord delighted over you to prosper you, and multiply you, so the Lord will delight over you to make you perish and destroy you; and you will be torn from the land where you are entering to possess it. Moreover, the Lord will scatter you among all peoples, from one end of the earth to the other end of the earth; and there you shall serve other gods, wood and stone, which you or your fathers have not known.” (Deuteronomy 28:58, 63-64) The word “forever” means throughout the complete duration of a certain period of time, and that period was fulfilled when Israel and Judah were carried off into captivity by Assyria and Babylon. God’s promise to restore His captives back to the Land of promise was fulfilled as well, but only a small remnant chose to remain faithful to Him and His covenant (Ezekiel 11:14-20; Romans 9:27-29). In God’s present and final covenant with mankind, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise.” (Galatians 3:28-29)

“I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth…” (verse 16) “That is, they shall increase incredibly, and, take them all together, shall be such a multitude as no man can number. When Moses wrote this history, these predictions had been in some measure fulfilled. But the increase of Abram’s seed at that time bore no proportion to what it was in the days of Solomon, when Israel and Judah, without taking his descendants by Ishmael, Esau, and the children he had by his second wife Keturah, into the account at all, were as many as the sand which is by the sea in multitude. Now what human foresight could have perceived that this would be the case?” (Benson Commentary) Especially given the fact that Abram was old, and childless, and his wife was elderly and barren! This, my friends, is the doing of the Lord, and “it is marvelous in our eyes” (Psalm 118:23)!!!

"Arise, walk about the land through its length and breadth; for I will give it to you." (verse 17) The Lord tells Abram to roam about the land of Canaan and inspect it up close and see that it is even more marvelous than what it appears to be from a distance! "In these journeyings Abram is now to have the tranquil pleasure of feeling that his seed will inherit each beautiful spot that he visits, and that he is taking possession of it, and hallowing it for them." (Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers)

"Then Abram moved his tent and came and dwelt by the oaks of Mamre, which are in Hebron..." (verse 18) “Mamre was an Amorite, then living, and as he was confederate with Abram, it was apparently with the consent of the Amorites, and by virtue of the treaty entered into with them, that Abram made this oak-grove one of his permanent stations.... Hebron—That is, alliance. Hebron was perhaps so called from the confederacy formed between Abram and the Amorites, and was apparently the name not only of a city, but of a district, as the oaks of Mamre are described as being 'in Hebron.'”(Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers) “And there he built an altar to the Lord.” This is the third altar Abram is recorded as having built to this point. As he traveled around, he required multiple “holy” places to worship his glorious Provider. But make no mistake about it. Wherever Abram found himself, at least within the confines of the Promised Land, he was going to find a way and place to thank and praise and honor and sacrifice to the Lord!

Please read Genesis 14:1-12 for tomorrow.

Have a great day!

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 13:8-13

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

“So Abram said to Lot, ‘Please let there be no strife between you and me, nor between my herdsmen and your herdsmen, for we are brothers. Is not the whole land before you? Please separate from me; if to the left, then I will go to the right; or if to the right, then I will go to the left.’ Lot lifted up his eyes and saw all the valley of the Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere—this was before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah—like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt as you go to Zoar. So Lot chose for himself all the valley of the Jordan, and Lot journeyed eastward. Thus they separated from each other. Abram settled in the land of Canaan, while Lot settled in the cities of the valley, and moved his tents as far as Sodom. Now the men of Sodom were wicked exceedingly and sinners against the Lord.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“Please let there be no strife between you and me…” (verse 8) Abram loved his nephew Lot as is evident by how well he provided for him, and treated him and respectfully spoke to him. But, sometimes we need to part ways with loved ones, even those in the inner circle of our family, to avoid unnecessary tension. Sometimes it is necessary to love people from a bit of a distance, at least for a while. But as we will see in chapter 14, good ole uncle Abe was ready, willing and able to run to Lot’s aid and rescue during a time severe crisis. Just because we occasionally need a few degrees of separation between ourselves and our close companions, that doesn’t mean we have stopped loving them. It often means that we just want what’s best for them.

“Is not the whole land before you?” (verse 9) This statement has never rung more true than it does today. We have a world of opportunities positioned before us to pursue in the prosperous and free country we live in. The course of our lives, our future physical and financial welfare, and even our eternal destinies will be determined by the choices that we make on a daily basis. “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants, by loving the Lord your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him; for this is your life and the length of your days…” (Deuteronomy 30:19-20) Think long, pray hard, choose well. Give the Lord first consideration in every decision you make.

“Please separate from me; if to the left, then I will go to the right; or if to the right, then I will go to the left.” (verse 9) Left or right. It seemed like such a harmless decision. Everything looked so inviting and promising when Lot “lifted up his eyes and saw the valley of the Jordan…” (verse 10) It looked like sheer paradise ("the garden of the Lord")! Like a little slice of heaven on earth! Little did he know that his choice of the lush vegetation and copious waters of the Jordan valley was the gateway for him to pitch his tent toward Sodom (verse 12), and ultimately settle within the gates of sin city (Genesis 19:1), and the catastrophes that would follow. In all honesty, out of respect for his older and more esteemed uncle, he should have given Abram first choice in the first place. It just goes to show that, even though Lot was righteous (2 Peter 2:7), he was not yet as wise and experienced in the ways of the world as he needed to be.

“Lot lifted up his eyes and saw all the valley of the Jordan…” (verse 10) “The objection that it would have been impossible for Lot to have seen 'all the Plain' from any vantage point near Bethel is a ridiculous quibble. Actually, there is a vantage point near Bethel, mentioned thus: ‘The Burg Beitin a few minutes southeast of the village, is described as one of the great viewpoints of Palestine.’ The place affords an extraordinarily extensive view of the whole lower course of the Jordan and of the northern end of the Dead Sea.” (James Burton Coffman)

“Now the men of Sodom were wicked exceedingly and sinners against the Lord.” (verse 13) The Lord probably included this statement in the current context to indicate that Lot had made a foolish decision. The sexual perversion that still bears the name of this depraved bunch of reprobates tells us all we need to know about the nature of their sinfulness. What is even more troubling is that Lot eventually grew so comfortable with these evildoers that he came to consider and refer to them as “brothers” (Genesis 19:7) “How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers.” (Psalm 1:1-3)

Please read Genesis 13:14-18 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed day!

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 13:1-7

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

“So Abram went up from Egypt to the Negev, he and his wife and all that belonged to him, and Lot with him. Now Abram was very rich in livestock, in silver and in gold. He went on his journeys from the Negev as far as Bethel, to the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Ai, to the place of the altar which he had made there formerly; and there Abram called on the name of the Lord. Now Lot, who went with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents. And the land could not sustain them while dwelling together, for their possessions were so great that they were not able to remain together. And there was strife between the herdsmen of Abram’s livestock and the herdsmen of Lot’s livestock. Now the Canaanite and the Perizzite were dwelling then in the land.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“So Abram when up from Egypt to the Negev…” (verse 1) As Abram “went down to Egypt” (Genesis 12:10), so he now goes back up. This refers to elevation and not southward and northward direction. He and his clan travelled downward from the hills of Canaan into the plain of the Egyptian delta. Now they ascend back to higher elevation. “And Lot with him.” Even though Lot was not mentioned as being in the entourage that journeyed with Abram down to Egypt, it is obvious from this verse that he was a member of the travelling party. This is further corroborated by what Lot saw in verse 10 when he lifted his eyes and looked toward the land of Sodom and Gomorrah: “Lot lifted up his eyes and saw all the valley of the Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere…like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt as you go to Zoar.” Some scholars doubt that Lot went to Egypt with his uncle, but if he had not, how would he have known what “the land of Egypt as you go to Zoar” looked like?

“Now Abram was very rich in livestock, in silver and in gold.” (verse 2) God had promised to bless Abram when He called him to go forth from his hometown and family, and journey into the Land of Promise (Genesis 12:1-3). Already by this time the Lord had blessed him with considerable material wealth. The text doesn’t say where Abram attained his silver and gold, but we learned from yesterday’s reading that Pharaoh paid him a substantial dowry for his “sister” in livestock – “sheep and oxen and donkeys and male and female servants and female donkeys and camels (Genesis 12:16).” Pharaoh lost Sarai from his harem when the Lord subsequently plagued him and his family, but Abram got to keep all his gifts as plunder. This is reminiscent of Pharaoh’s daughter paying Moses’ birthmother to nurse her own child, and future liberator of her people, before he went to live in the royal household (Exodus 2:9).

“He went on his journeys from the Negev as far as Bethel…” (verse 3) We see Abram setting his steps aright after having committed a terrible blunder by leaving the land of God’s choosing, and travelling to Egypt and betraying Sarai—his own covenant companion for life. “To the place of the altar which he had made there formerly; and there Abram called on the name of the Lord.” (verse 4) There is little doubt that he made this journey to the place where he had first sacrificed to the Lord in Canaan with a heart full of remorse, begging forgiveness for his distrusting sinfulness; and with a heart filled with gratitude for his newfound wealth. “Abram renews his spiritual connection with the land by returning to worship at the altar he had previously built (12:8)” (Nahum Sarna), and reestablishes his commitment to the Lord by calling on His name.

“Now Lot, who went with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents” (verse 5) We can see how Lot’s association with his uncle Abram brought him a financial windfall as well. This is a prime example of God blessing those who were a blessing to Abram (Genesis 12:3). Good things are much more likely to happen to us if we consort and spend the preponderance of our time with the holy children of God. The famous New Testament verse powerfully and correctly states, “Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company corrupts good morals’” (1 Corinthians 15:33). Unfortunately we will see this play out all too accurately in a reversal of fortune for Abram's nephew as he chooses to cast his lot (no pun intended) with the wicked Sodomites in the next few verses and culminating in chapter 19.

Verses 6-7 reveal that Abram and Lot’s accumulated wealth in livestock was so great that the land was bursting at the seams, and could not support watering and feeding the combination of their flocks and herds. To complicate things, “the Perizzite were dwelling then in the land” also, utilizing precious grazing land that was already pushed to the limits. Maybe if the “natives” weren’t already there Abram and Lot could have remained together. But as it was, relationships were beginning to be strained between the two companies. “There was strife between the herdsmen of Abram’s livestock and the herdsmen of Lot’s livestock,” and Nahum Sarna suggests that since Lot was mentioned as being with Abram as kind of an afterthought—only after “his wife and all that belonged to him” (verse 5), that their personal relationship was likely a bit stressed as well. Something had to give. We shall see just what happened tomorrow!

Please read Genesis 13:8-13 for tomorrow.

Have a wonderful day!

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 12:10-20

Monday, November 18, 2019

“Now there was a famine in the land; so Abram went down to Egypt to sojourn there, for the famine was severe in the land. It came about when he came near to Egypt, that he said to Sarai his wife, 'See now, I know that you are a beautiful woman; and when the Egyptians see you, they will say, “This is his wife”; and they will kill me, but they will let you live. Please say that you are my sister so that it may go well with me because of you, and that I may live on account of you.' It came about when Abram came into Egypt, the Egyptians saw that the woman was very beautiful. Pharaoh’s officials saw her and praised her to Pharaoh; and the woman was taken into Pharaoh’s house. Therefore he treated Abram well for her sake; and gave him sheep and oxen and donkeys and male and female servants and female donkeys and camels. But the Lord struck Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai, Abram’s wife. Then Pharaoh called Abram and said, 'What is this you have done to me? Why did you not tell me that she was your wife? Why did you say, “She is my sister,” so that I took her for my wife? Now then, here is your wife, take her and go.' Pharaoh commanded his men concerning him; and they escorted him away, with his wife and all that belonged to him.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“Now there was a famine in the land; so Abram went down to Egypt to sojourn there...” (verse 10) Once a person dedicates his life to the Lord and decides to follow Him in obedient faith, difficulties often arise soon afterward. God does not shield his children from troubles, but He does promise to always be with them and carry them through life's “droughts” and “famines” (Deuteronomy 31:6; Psalm 23:4-6; 34:19-22). We have no indication from the text that God directed Abram to go to Egypt during this great famine that plagued the land of Canaan, so chances are he made this determination for himself. Very little good ever comes from God's children descending into Egypt during times of distress. It started out well for Joseph and his brothers, but soon their descendants were enslaved. God's people were forbidden to return to Egypt during the days of Jeremiah by fear of punishment and death, but they did so anyway. “The Lord has spoken to you, O remnant of Judah, 'Do not go into Egypt!'...clearly understand that you will die by the sword, by famine and by pestilence, in the place where you wish to go to reside.” (Jeremiah 42:19, 22) Of course, they foolishly went anyway! Once you turn your back on the wicked ways of the world to follow the Lord Jesus, never turn back to a life of sin and evil and error. There's nothing waiting for you in spiritual “Egypt” that's worth going back to!

“Please say that you are my sister so that it may go well with me because of you...” (verse 13) You can truly understand Abram's concern because he knew he was entering into a ruthless, totalitarian, heathen nation as a very vulnerable, total stranger. But, instead of trusting the Lord to deliver him from danger and possible death, he took it upon himself to devise this deceptive plot “when he came near to Egypt” (verse 11). It was deceptive because, while it was technically true that Sarai was Abram's (half) sister, she was still his whole wife! So that made this half-truth a whole lie! And hadn't the Lord recently promised to make a great nation from him, to bless those who bless him and curse those who curse him, and that He would bless the whole world through him (verses 1-3)? Didn't Abram believe God could and would deliver him? How soon and easily we forget the precepts and promises of the Lord when the devil turns up the heat of fear, trial and persecution in our lives!

And just look how selfish this great man's motives were—Please Sarai, put yourself in sin and harm's way “so that it will go well with me”!!! You must admire the Lord and His complete honesty when it comes to His divine revelations about His own, chosen followers, and even a hero like Abraham. God let's us clearly see the weakness and foibles and flat out sinfulness of the people that He loves and claims as His very own. Abraham, the great forefather of our faith, caved into fear and sinfulness and the weakness of the flesh just like we do! The Lord rescued his erring servant during his time of spiritual ineptness, and that gives us hope that He will not turn His back on us when we cave into the pressures and temptations of sin as well! I just pray that doesn't incentivize us to think the wrong ways and do the wrong things!

“Pharaoh’s officials saw her and praised her to Pharaoh; and the woman was taken into Pharaoh’s house.” (verse 15) What an amazingly beautiful woman Sarai must have been at the age of 65! Pharaoh “treated Abram well for her sake; and gave him sheep and oxen and donkeys and male and female servants and female donkeys and camels.” (verse 16) That is quite a handsome dowry to pay to the brother of a foreign woman by a despot. With such an financial windfall you can almost understand why Abram later pulled this same stunt a second time (Genesis 20:1-18). And Abraham actually allowed his wife to be taken into Pharaoh's harem to save his own skin, and she would have been disgraced had it not been for God's direct intervention! “But the Lord struck Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai, Abram’s wife.” (verse 17) God was not about to let His plan to bless the whole world through Christ, the Seed of Abraham and Sarai, go awry just because of one man's fear, foolishness and faithlessness!

“Then Pharaoh called Abram and said, 'What is this you have done to me?'” (verse 18) “This is almost verbatim the same language used by the sailors to Jonah (Jonah 1:10). The mighty patriarch cuts a sorry figure indeed in this. He is rebuked and reprimanded and sent out of the country by the pagan Pharaoh. And to all of this Abram opposed not a single word of defense.” (James Burton Coffman) Somehow Pharaoh knew it was because of Sarai that these unidentified “plagues” had stricken his household, so the Lord must have informed him in some way. He may have possibly divulged this to him in a dream has he would later do with Abimelech in Genesis 20:3. “Pharaoh commanded his men concerning him; and they escorted him away, with his wife and all that belonged to him.” (verse 20) Pharaoh provided a military escort for Abram and his family to prevent something bad from happening to them until they had safely exited his borders, for fear that he receive even more severe punishment by the hand of the Almighty, All-knowing, All-seeing God of heaven.

God knows and sees all that we do! He loves us and He cares for us and He looks out for our best interests! Let's learn from Abraham's foolishness to just trust in the Lord to do the right thing no matter how rough our lives get, and let's purpose in our hearts to always try to do the right things come rain or shine!

Please read Genesis 13:1-7 for tomorrow.

Have a great day!

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 12:4-9

Sunday, November 17, 2019

“So Abram went forth as the Lord had spoken to him; and Lot went with him. Now Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran. Abram took Sarai his wife and Lot his nephew, and all their possessions which they had accumulated, and the persons which they had acquired in Haran, and they set out for the land of Canaan; thus they came to the land of Canaan. Abram passed through the land as far as the site of Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. Now the Canaanite was then in the land. The Lord appeared to Abram and said, 'To your descendants I will give this land.' So he built an altar there to the Lord who had appeared to him. Then he proceeded from there to the mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east; and there he built an altar to the Lord and called upon the name of the Lord. Abram journeyed on, continuing toward the Negev.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“So Abram when forth as the Lord had spoken to him...” (verse 4) We mentioned Hebrews 11:9 yesterday, “By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going.” The Lord called him to a difficult and life-changing undertaking, and, Like Noah ten generations before him, he heard and obeyed the voice and commandments of God. The text doesn't reveal the manner in which “the Lord had spoken to him,” but we know exactly how God “calls” people today. The Lord called Abraham out of Ur and out of Haran and into the Promised Land; and He calls us through the Gospel (2 Thessalonians 2:14) to come out of a life of sin, error and transgression and into the truth, eternal life and promise of heaven that resides in Christ Jesus alone.

“And Lot went with him.” (verse 4) This information is given in preparation for the events recorded in the next chapter. “Now Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran.” This means that Abraham could not have been the oldest of Terah's sons, even though Genesis 11:26 tells us, “Terah lived seventy years, and became the father of Abram, Nahor and Haran.” If Abram was 75 years old when his father died in Haran, and Terah lived to be 205 years old (Genesis 11:32), then he must have been 130 years old when his son Abram was born. So Genesis 11:26 actually indicates that Terah BEGAN having sons at the age of 75, but it was another 55 years before Abram came along.

“And the persons which they had acquired in Haran...” (verse 5) “The Jewish interpreters explain this of proselytes, and persons whom they had converted to the faith in one God. Such might probably be in Abram’s company; but the most part were his dependents and slaves (comp. Genesis 14:14), though the word “slave” suggests a very different relation to us than that which existed between Abram and his household. Their descendants were most certainly incorporated into the Israelitish nation, and we have direct testimony that Abram gave them careful religious training (Genesis 18:19). Thus the Jewish traditions record a fact, and by acknowledging Abram’s household as proselytes admit their claim to incorporation with the race.” (Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers)

“And they set out for the land of Canaan; thus they came to the land of Canaan.” (verse 5) “They make a fresh start, and this time they arrive in Canaan. Although the text does not report the precise details of the route from Haran to Shechem, all available possibilities would have taken them through or near some of the great urban centers of the day. Since Haran lay on the banks of the Balikh River, a tributary of the Euphrates, they most likely traveled southward along the Balikh Valley in order to reach the great east-west arterial road that led from Ur, Babylon, and Accad to Mari, where it branched into two. They then could either have taken the upper branch, leading to Aleppo, and then veered south past Qatna and Damascus, or they could have continued southward to the oasis of Tadmor (Palmyra) on the lower branch and then turned southwestward along the road to Damascus. Either way, they could have continued on to Hazor, a major commercial and military center, strategically placed in Upper Galilee at the junction of ancient and important roads leading to some of the main cities of Canaan. The narrative is silent concerning the route and the incidents on the journey in order to avoid diverting attention from the primary theme, which is the entry into the land and the first theophany, or divine revelation, that the patriarch experiences.” (Nahum Sarna)

“Abram passed through the land as far as the site of Shechem, to the oak of Moreh.” (verse 6) “Abram and the other patriarchs, in their pastoral migrations, generally avoided the well-inhabited areas in the northern part of Canaan and the coastal plain. They likewise kept away from the Plain of Jezreel and the Jordan Valley. By sticking to the central mountain range and the Negeb, they could enjoy a region that was suited to pastoral economy but was sparsely populated. They could wander with their herds without encroaching on the rights of others. At the same time, they were generally on the fringes of urban centers where they could obtain supplies, if need be, and also dispose of their own products.” (Nahum Sarna)

Shechem, “signifies 'shoulder,' and was the name of the ridge uniting Mounts Ebal and Gerizim, the summits of which are about two miles apart. As the name is thus taken from the natural conformation of the ground, it may be very ancient. The modern name of the place is Nablous... Mr. Conder...describes the valley as an oasis of remarkable beauty and luxuriance, but set, like Damascus, in a desert, and girt around by strong and barren mountains... The oak of Moreh, It was here that Jacob buried the strange gods brought by his household from Haran (Genesis 35:4), and here, too, Joshua set up the stone of testimony (Joshua 24:26; Judges 9:6); but as in Deuteronomy 11:30 the oaks...are described in the plural, it is probable that the word is to be taken as a collective for an oak grove. Such shady spots were favourite places for the tents of the wandering patriarchs. A famous terebinth, called after Abram’s name, long existed in Mamre...” (Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers)

“Now the Canaanite was then in the land.” (verse 6) “This is no sign of post-Mosaic authorship, nor a later interpolation, as if the meaning were that the Canaanite was there at that time, but is so no longer. What really is meant is that Abram on his arrival found the country no longer in the hands of the old Semitic stock, but occupied by the Canaanites, who seem to have gained the ascendancy, not so much by conquest as by gradual and peaceful means. We gather from the Egyptian records that this had taken place not very long before Abram’s time. In the early inscriptions we read only of the Sati and Aamu, both apparently Semitic races... Subsequently we find frequent mention of the Amaor and the Kheta—that is, the Amorites and Hittites, evidently in Abram’s time the two most powerful races of Canaan.” (Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers)

“The Lord appeared to Abram and said, 'To your descendants I will give this land.'” (verse 7) This is the first patriarchal divine appearance, or “theophany” recorded in Genesis. Genesis 12:1 says that the Lord “said” to Abram,” which is a different Hebrew term than “appeared”. The term “is used three times with Abraham (also 17:1; 18:1), twice with Isaac (26:2,24), and once with Jacob (35:9)... It is quite clear, however, that such a usage need not imply any visual accompaniment to the oral communication. Thus, the experience of the boy Samuel in the temple at Shiloh is purely auditory (1 Sam. 3:11-14), yet it is described as a vision (...1 Sam. 3:15).” (Nahum Sarna)

“'To your descendants I will give this land.' So he built an altar there to the Lord who had appeared to him.” (verse 7) With a heart filled with gratitude for God's deliverance and promise, Abram built an altar to offer sacrifice to the Lord. By doing so he acknowledged his acceptance of God's gift and consecrated the Land to Him. No mention is made of the actual sacrifice itself, however. Nahum Sarna observed: “Among patriarchs, acts of worship are always individual, never public. The patriarchs do not take part in any existing cult, and they always build new altars or reuse the one they themselves had previously erected. Significantly, we have no record of an act of worship by them outside the boundaries of the Land of Israel, and Abram refrains from putting up an altar inside the land before it has been divinely identified as the land of promise.”

“Then he proceeded from there to the mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent...” (verse 8) The name “Beth-el” means “House of God.” It may have bore that name as an ancient shrine even before Abram's arrival, or could have been named “Luz” when Abram arrived, and only called Bethel after Jacob named it so (Genesis 28:19) “So Jacob rose early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up as a pillar and poured oil on its top. He called the name of that place Bethel; however, previously the name of the city had been Luz.” (Genesis 18:18-19)

Abram “pitched his tent.” (verse 8) Abram did not settle down in any one place in the Land of Promise, but traveled about surveying the various regions that would later be the inheritance of his vast posterity, as he journeyed his way southward. “By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise.” (Hebrews 11:9) “With Bethel on the west and Ai on the east; and there he built an altar to the Lord and called upon the name of the Lord.” “The situation of Abram’s tent between Bethel and Ai must have commanded a view of the valley of the Jordan and of the Dead Sea, with the mountains of Moab. 'Beth-el,' or 'House of God,' was probably also an ancient shrine, the modern Bêtîn, 9½ miles N. of Jerusalem.” (Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges) Abram built an altar there that he would later revisit on his return from Egypt as recorded in Genesis 13:2-4. Here he invoked the ancient custom instituted through the line of Seth by Enosh of “calling on the name of the Lord” (Genesis 4:26) “Abram addresses God by his proper name, Yahweh, with an audible voice, in his assembled household. This, then, is a continuation of the worship of Adam, with additional light according to the progressive development of the moral nature of man.” (Barnes' Notes on the Bible)

“Abram journeyed on, continuing toward the Negev.” (verse 9) “That is, to southern and southeastern Judah around Beer-sheba, below the central hill country and the Shephelah. The name derives from a root meaning 'dry, parched,' indicative of the precarious rainfall in the area and the arid terrain. By now, Abram has covered the entire length of the country from north to south.” (Nahum Sarna)

Please read Genesis 12:10-20 for tomorrow.

Genesis 12:1-3

Saturday, November 16, 2019

“Now the Lord said to Abram, ‘Go forth from your country, and from your relatives and from your father’s house, to the land which I will show you; and I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and so you shall be a blessing; and I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.’”

---End of Scripture verses---

This is actually the second time God called Abram to leave his family and country behind and journey to the Land of Promise. His original call was when he lived in Ur of the Chaldees (Genesis 11:31) in Mesopotamia. Steven tells us in Acts 7:2-4 the following: “The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran, and said to him, ‘Leave your country and your relatives, and come into the land that I will show you.’ Then he left the land of the Chaldeans and settled in Haran. From there, after his father died, God had him move to this country in which you are now living.” We mentioned James Burton Coffman’s comments yesterday on Abraham’s father, Terah, and his idolatry possibly being the reason why Abram remained in Haran after the Lord had told him to leave Ur and settle in the land of Canaan the first time.

He went on to observe: “God had commanded Abram to leave his native land, his kindred, and his father's house, etc., but, for some reason, Terah was not left in Ur, but accompanied Abram. This would appear to be the reason why, instead of going to Canaan as was their stated intention upon their departure from Ur, they went to Haran and settled there!... Inherent in the fact of the emigrants having settled down in Haran was the truth that, to this point, Abram had NOT fully obeyed the commandment of God; hence, the necessity for the second call which apparently came following the death of Terah. Abram no doubt found it extremely difficult to say ‘goodbye’ to his father's house. And there would seem to have been a special dispensation of mercy on God's part that he should have delayed the second call until after Terah died.”

Whatever the reason may have been for his stalling out in Haran, Abraham is displayed in the Holy Word as the paragon of obedient faith and praised for his unwavering trust in and dependency upon the Great God of heaven. The Lord said the very reason He chose and blessed Abraham in the first place was: “For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.” (Genesis 18:19) “By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise; for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.” (Hebrews 11:8-10) Abraham left his home and went out not knowing WHERE he was going, but he went out knowing perfectly well WHO he was serving. His was not a blind faith, but one that could see past the here and now and into the eternal beyond.

Verses 2-3 comprise what has been traditionally referred to by many as God's “Seven-fold Promise” to Abraham:

1) “I will make you a great nation…” (verse 2) This is a remarkable promise considering the fact that Abraham was 75 years old at the time of his calling and the giving of God's pledge. He had not a single child, and his wife, “Sarai was barren” (Genesis 11:30). Because of these mitigating circumstances, there was no way this promise could have even begun to be realized in Abraham's own lifetime. The earthly “father of the faithful” accepted and believed this promise purely because he fully trusted the One who had promised. “Look to Abraham your father and to Sarah who gave birth to you in pain; when he was but one I called him, then I blessed him and multiplied him.” (Isaiah 51:2) “Therefore there was born even of one man, and him as good as dead at that, as many descendants as the stars of heaven in number, and innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore.” (Hebrews 11:12)

2) “I will bless you...” (verse 2) The Lord promised Abraham divine provisions of good things in his life. We have already seen that the ability to procreate is a great blessing from God (Genesis 1:22; 9:1). “Behold, children are a gift of the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward. (Psalm 127:3), and God blessed Abraham with a vast and extensive posterity. According to Vine's Expository Dictionary of Old Testament Words, “The Lord's 'blessings' rest on those who are faithful to Him: 'A blessing, if ye obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you this day...' (Deut. 11:27). His blessing brings righteousness (Ps. 24:5), life (Ps. 133:3), prosperity (2 Sam. 7:29), and salvation (Ps. 3:8). Righteousness – “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” (Romans 4:3) Prosperity – “Now Abram was very rich in livestock, in silver and in gold. (Genesis 13:2) A life of faithfulness does not guarantee a life of earthly riches, but in Abraham's case it was a part of the package. Life and Salvation – While God's greatest blessing of salvation is conditional, contingent upon faithfulness to God's commandments, it is still a gift that only God can grant. The Lord blessed Abraham with a permanent mansion in the beautiful city of God (Hebrews 11:16).

3) “And make your name great...” (verse 2) “In the ancient Near East, the name was not merely a convenient designation but an expression of the very essence of being. Hence, this promise means not only that Abraham will acquire fame but also that he will be highly esteemed as a man of superior character.” (Nahum Sarna) “You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected; and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, 'And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,' and he was called the friend of God.” (James 2:22-23) “As it was among the Jews his descendants, who boasted of having Abram for their father; and among the several nations of the world; his name is famous in profane history, and is in high esteem with the Mahometans to this day; and especially his name is great and famous, and the memory of him precious among all those who have obtained like precious faith with him, in every age and in every nation.” (John Gill's Exposition of the whole Bible)

4) “And so you shall be a blessing” (verse 2) Abraham is a blessing to anyone who emulates his faith. In this regard he is not a source of blessings but a prototype of those who receive blessings. “So then those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham, the believer. (Galatians 3:9)

5) “I will bless those who bless you...” (verse 3) The Lord took the way that people treated Abraham personally. God greatly blessed Abraham's nephew, Lot, with substantial prosperity because of his friendly and harmonious association with his righteous uncle. “Now Lot, who went with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents. And the land could not sustain them while dwelling together, for their possessions were so great that they were not able to remain together.” (Genesis 13:5-6) Aner, Eschol and Mamre, the Amorites, received great spoils of war from the king of Sodom because they helped Abraham defeat the four nations responsible for the abduction of Lot and his family in the war of the kings (Genesis 14:13, 24). When we live lives of faithfulness and righteousness like father Abraham, we become a blessing for our circle of influence.

6) “The one who curses you I will curse...” (verse 3) This is the flipside of the reciprocal blessing. God took it personally when someone antagonized or mistreated Abraham and He responded accordingly. We see this prominently in the case of Abimelech king of Gerar. “Now Abraham journeyed from there toward the land of the Negev, and settled between Kadesh and Shur; then he sojourned in Gerar. Abraham said of Sarah his wife, 'She is my sister.' So Abimelech king of Gerar sent and took Sarah. But God came to Abimelech in a dream of the night, and said to him, 'Behold, you are a dead man because of the woman whom you have taken, for she is married.'” (Genesis 20:1-4) Sometimes it seems like those who mistreat us are actually rewarded for their injustice, but we will ultimately see God's enemies recompensed if we live faithfully as Abraham's spiritual seed. “For after all it is only just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.” (2 Thessalonians 1:6-8)

7) “And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.” (verse 3) “A promise as big as this one can be fulfilled in only one thing, and that is by the coming of the Son of God to save all people from sin... God had promised the 'seed of woman' as the One who would accomplish this (Genesis 3:15); and, Now it becomes clear that it would be accomplished through Abraham's own family. Only in the idea of the Messiah does the depth of the thought (of this passage) adequately display itself...” (James Burton Coffman) “In this passage, the thought which was faintly foreshadowed in the prediction of (1) the conflict between man and the power of evil in Genesis 3:15, and of (2) the privilege of the family of Shem in Genesis 9:26, becomes more definite in (3) the selection of the patriarchal family as the channel of universal blessing.” (Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges). “And in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed; that is, in his seed, as in Genesis 22:18, and which is interpreted of Christ, Acts 3:25, meaning not every individual of all the families or nations of the earth; but that as many as believe in Christ, of all nations, are blessed in him; and that whoever of them are blessed, they are blessed and only blessed in him, and that they are blessed for his sake with all spiritual blessings; see Ephesians 1:3, such as redemption, justification, remission of sins, sanctification, adoption, and eternal life.” (Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible)

Please read Genesis 3:4-9 for tomorrow.

Have a great day!

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 11:10-32

Friday, November 15, 2019

“These are the records of the generations of Shem. Shem was one hundred years old, and became the father of Arpachshad two years after the flood; and Shem lived five hundred years after he became the father of Arpachshad, and he had other sons and daughters. Arpachshad lived thirty-five years, and became the father of Shelah; and Arpachshad lived four hundred and three years after he became the father of Shelah, and he had other sons and daughters. Shelah lived thirty years, and became the father of Eber; and Shelah lived four hundred and three years after he became the father of Eber, and he had other sons and daughters. Eber lived thirty-four years, and became the father of Peleg; and Eber lived four hundred and thirty years after he became the father of Peleg, and he had other sons and daughters. Peleg lived thirty years, and became the father of Reu; and Peleg lived two hundred and nine years after he became the father of Reu, and he had other sons and daughters. Reu lived thirty-two years, and became the father of Serug; and Reu lived two hundred and seven years after he became the father of Serug, and he had other sons and daughters. Serug lived thirty years, and became the father of Nahor; and Serug lived two hundred years after he became the father of Nahor, and he had other sons and daughters. Nahor lived twenty-nine years, and became the father of Terah; and Nahor lived one hundred and nineteen years after he became the father of Terah, and he had other sons and daughters. Terah lived seventy years, and became the father of Abram, Nahor and Haran. Now these are the records of the generations of Terah. Terah became the father of Abram, Nahor and Haran; and Haran became the father of Lot. Haran died in the presence of his father Terah in the land of his birth, in Ur of the Chaldeans. Abram and Nahor took wives for themselves. The name of Abram’s wife was Sarai; and the name of Nahor’s wife was Milcah, the daughter of Haran, the father of Milcah and Iscah. Sarai was barren; she had no child. Terah took Abram his son, and Lot the son of Haran, his grandson, and Sarai his daughter-in-law, his son Abram’s wife; and they went out together from Ur of the Chaldeans in order to enter the land of Canaan; and they went as far as Haran, and settled there. The days of Terah were two hundred and five years; and Terah died in Haran.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“In the foregoing episode the human race again became estranged from God. In the Table of Nations the genealogy of Shem received special attention, an intimation of future developments. These two elements now come together. The focus of the biblical narration decisively narrows to concentrate upon one particular line of descent within the family tree of Shem. This line issues in Abraham, who is the tenth generation from Shem, just as Noah was the tenth generation from Adam. From the scriptural point of view, the birth of Abraham constitutes a turning point in human history.” (Nahum Sarna)

This is the fourth of ten “Toledots” or “Towledahs” (Generations) recorded in Genesis. Verses 11-16 repeat, in a condensed fashion, the five generations that extend from Shem to Peleg recorded earlier in Genesis 10:21-25. The lineage of Shem that ultimately produced Abraham is narrowed from the previous genealogy to only include Arpachshad, Shelah, Eber, and Peleg (when “the earth was divided” – Genesis 10:25). Luke’s genealogy of Jesus places Cainan between Arpachshad and Shelah (Luke 3:36). There is a considerable difference between the average years that people lived before the flood recorded in Genesis chapter five, and those of people listed in chapter 11 after the flood, with even a greater reduction in lifespan from the time of Peleg and afterward. The age at which people begin having children becomes much younger as well.

Verses 19-25 – “Peleg…became the father of Reu.” Reu’s name means “friend of God” or “friendship”. “Reu…became the father of Serug.” “Serugi” is the sight of the modern village called Suruc in far northern Haran according to Nahum Sarna. “Serug…became the father of Nahor.” Nahor was Abraham’s (Abram’s) grandfather, and it was also the name of one of his brothers (verse 26). “Nahor…became the father of Terah.” “The name may well be connected with yareah, ‘moon.’ Several members of Terah’s family, as well as some of the sites connected with him, bear names that are associated with moon worship. Joshua 24:2 explicitly designates Terah as having ben an idolater.” (Nahum Sarna)

“Terah lived seventy years, and became the father of Abram, Nahor and Haran.” (verse 26). “Terah begets posterity at an age at least twice that of his forebears in the line of Shem. This fact insinuates into the text the motif of prolonged childlessness, a condition that is to be characteristic of his descendants, the patriarchs of Israel.” (Nahum Sarna) We see this dynamic stressed in verse 30 about Abram’s wife: “Sarai was barren; she had no child.” The name “Abram” likely means “exalted father” or “the father is exalted.” This entire genealogy is included in the Sacred Text to introduce Abram (changed to Abraham in Genesis 17:5) and the story of the exceptional life of “the father of the faithful” (Romans 4:11).

“Now these are the records of the generations of Terah. Terah became the father of Abram, Nahor and Haran; and Haran became the father of Lot.” (verse 27). This is the fifth “toledot” or “generations” and magnifies this critically important family in the annals of inspired history. James Burton Coffman says this verse “provides the additional information that Terah had two other sons besides Abraham, i.e., Nahor (named after his uncle) and Haran, the father of Lot. This was probably given to explain the association of Lot with Abraham in subsequent chapters of Genesis. He apparently became, in fact, a kind of adopted son of Abraham, following the death of Haran in Ur of the Chaldees.”

James Burton Coffman comments further on Genesis 11:28-29: This “relates the marriages of Nahor who married the daughter of Haran, and that of Abraham who married Sarah (Sarai), the daughter of Terah (evidently by a second marriage), making her thus his sister, or half-sister. This explains other subsequent events mentioned in Genesis.”

“Terah took Abram his son, and Lot the son of Haran, his grandson, and Sarai his daughter-in-law, his son Abram’s wife; and they went out together from Ur of the Chaldeans in order to enter the land of Canaan; and they went as far as Haran, and settled there.” (verse 31) “What happened? Why did they not go where they started to go? We have no way of knowing. Some think that Terah, unwilling to leave the pagan culture of Ur completely out of his life, diverted the journey to Haran, where the culture of Ur was likewise entrenched. In any case, Abram was unable to leave Haran until Terah died. The call of God to Abram next to be related in Gen. 12, carried the specific that Abram should ‘leave his father's house, and his kindred’; and this seems to confirm the view that Terah had been the big hindrance at first. ‘Even, Terah, the father of Abraham and of Nahor ... they served other gods’ (Joshua 24:2)… Unger gives the following on the cultural and religious makeup of Ur and Haran: ‘When Abraham migrated from Ur, the city was idolatrous, given over to the worship of the moon deity Nannar and his consort Nin-Gal; a sacred area and a ziggurat were devoted to this idolatry ... Nannar was also worshipped at Haran to which Terah migrated.” (James Burton Coffman)

Please read Genesis 12:1-3 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed day!

- Louie Taylor

Where Did All The Differences Come From?

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Instead of reading further in Genesis chapter 11 today I thought we would take a detour and consider some interesting information concerning the differences that exist among the people of the world. We know where the different languages came from, but where did all the different colors come from? There is one major pigment, called melanin That produces skin color. There are two main forms of melanin: Eumelanin (brown to black) and pheomelanin (red to yellow). These combine to give each of us our particular skin shade. There are four to six genes, each with multiple alleles (or variations), that control the amount and type of melanin produced. These variations account for all the wide varieties of skin coloration. It is easy, therefore, for one couple to produce a wide range of skin shades in just one generation.

DNA is the molecule of heredity that is passed from parents to children. In humans, the child inherits 23 chromosomes from each parent. At conception, these chromosomes unite to form a unique combination of DNA and a unique individual. Each chromosome pair contains hundreds of genes which regulate the physical development of a child. No new genetic information is generated at conception, just a new combination of pre-existing genetic information is formed.

A simplified illustration is given by an Apologetics Press article entitled Reason and Revelation. Included is a Punnett Square demonstrating how two genes would control melanin production. This is just for illustrative purposes. In the “AB” versions the genes code for a significant amount of melanin. In the “ab” versions they code for a small amount of melanin. If the mother and father both carry the “AB” code then their offspring would be "AABB" giving them a lot of melanin and very dark skin. If the mother and father both carry the “ab” code their children would be “aabb” having a little melanin and very light skin. If the father is “AB” and the mother is “ab” the offspring will be "AaBb", with a middle brown shade of skin, which the majority of the world’s population possesses. If each parent has the “AaBb” gene combination they could produce and account for a wide variety colors in just one generation.

It is only logical to deduce that Noah and his family had middle brown skin pigment, which would account for all the skin color variations in the whole world. No one really has red, yellow, or black skin. We all have the same basic color, just different shades of it. We all share the same pigments, our bodies just have different combinations of them. The so-called major differences (skin/hair color, eye shape, etc.) account for only 0.012 % of our biological variations, which anyone would agree is trivial.

So what accounts for the origin of people groups with concentrations of similar physical features & skin colors? Because of the new language and geographic barriers from the confusion and dispersion at Babel, groups didn’t mix freely with other groups, resulting in a gene pool split. Different cultures formed, with certain features becoming predominant within each group. Some of these combinations became general characteristics of particular groups through selection pressures and gene mutation. The characteristics of each became more and more prominent as new generations of children were born.

As an example: Generally speaking, those with darker skin tend to derive from warmer climates, and lighter skinned people tend to derive from colder climates. Because of the protective factor in melanin, those with dark skin are more likely to survive and thrive in climates with intense heat and sunlight, and are less likely to acquire skin cancer. Those with lighter skin and less protection from UV rays are less likely to proliferate and subsequently their numbers are fewer. On the downside, melanin is a natural sun blocker which limits the sunlight’s ability to stimulate the liver to produce vitamin D, which in turn builds strong bones. Dark skinned people do not do as well in northern, colder regions that have less sunlight. People deficient in vitamin D are more likely to develop diseases such as rickets which is associated with calcium deficiency causing slowed bone growth and easy fracturing.

Those with darker skin in England during the Industrial Revolution were quick to develop rickets for the lack of sunlight. An exception to this trend is darker-skinned Inuit tribes living in cold northern regions. Not surprisingly their diet consists of mostly of fish, and fish oil is a good source of vitamin D, which could account for their survival in this area. I’m not saying these are the answers, but that they could possibly explain some things, and that there are good explanations for these difficult questions, that completely harmonize with the biblical account of Creation, the Flood, the confusing of the languages, and all other Bible narratives.

Please read Genesis 11:10-26 for tomorrow.

Have a great day!

Genesis 11:1-9

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

“Now the whole earth used the same language and the same words. It came about as they journeyed east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. They said to one another, ‘Come, let us make bricks and burn them thoroughly.’ And they used brick for stone, and they used tar for mortar. They said, ‘Come, let us build for ourselves a city, and a tower whose top will reach into heaven, and let us make for ourselves a name, otherwise we will be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.’ The Lord came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built. The Lord said, ‘Behold, they are one people, and they all have the same language. And this is what they began to do, and now nothing which they purpose to do will be impossible for them. Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, so that they will not understand one another’s speech.’ So the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the face of the whole earth; and they stopped building the city. Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of the whole earth; and from there the Lord scattered them abroad over the face of the whole earth.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“The story is basically the same in both cases: ‘man's defiance of God.’ The setting, however, is different. The first Fall occurred among the flowers and fruits of Eden; the second one came in the bricks and asphalt of the city. Therefore, we see nothing less in this event than the Second Judicial Hardening of Adam's race, the first resulting in the Flood, this one resulting in the call of Abraham and the commissioning of a ‘Chosen People,’ by means of whom God's purpose of Redemption would still be achieved.” (James Burton Coffman)

“The whole earth used the same language…” (verse 1) Since all people on earth came from the same family and shared a common ancestor in Noah, it only makes sense that they spoke the same language. It has been estimated that 100 years or so after the ark landed on one of the mountains of Ararat, the concentration of the world’s people traveled “east” to “a plain in…Shinar and settled there” (verse 2). Shinar was the great flatland located in southern Mesopotamia between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers upon which Nimrod built the first cities after the flood. “The beginning of his kingdom was Babel and Erech and Accad and Calneh, in the land of Shinar.” (Genesis 10:10)

“‘Come let us make bricks’…and they used brick for stone… ‘Come let us build for ourselves a city’…” (verses 3-4) This endeavor not only seems to be harmless but admirable and positively productive. The people had a mind to work and set their hearts to industriousness. They set about perfecting the skill of brickmaking from molded, sundried clay because of the lack of stone for building in the area. But, unfortunately, not all advancement is truly progress in the eyes of the Lord. Their first indiscretion was deciding to settle in one place, which was in direct contradiction to the command the Lord had given them to “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth” (Genesis 9:2). Their next transgression, and the real underlying character flaw that propelled their rebellion, was pride.

“Come, let us build for ourselves a city, and a tower whose top will reach into heaven, and let us make for ourselves a name.” (verse 4) Possibly their intentions for building such a tall tower was to provide protection against another potential flood, or maybe they had idolatrous intent to draw closer to the host of heaven by building a “ziggurat” to worship the celestial luminaries. That information is not divulged, but what is evident is that they desired to make a name for themselves instead of calling on the name of the Lord. In their arrogance they wanted to uplift themselves and their own self-importance instead of elevating the name of the Lord and raising Him up to his proper place of prominence in their hearts. “Generally, the Bible regarded tall towers as symbols of human arrogance, as, for example, in Isaiah 2:12-15, and Ezekiel 26:4,9.” (Nahum Sarna)

On the nature of the tower, Nahum Sarna observed: “The reference is certainly to the ziggurat…, the lofty, massive, solid brick, multistaged temple tower that was the outstanding feature of most Mesopotamian cities and dominated their landscapes… This type of architecture seems first to have developed in Babylonia in the third millennia B.C.E in the dynasty of Akkad (ca. 2360-2180 B.C.E). Its function, it is generally agreed, was to symbolize a mountain. The sacred mountain played an important role in most religions in ancient times. Rooted in the earth, with its head lost in the clouds, it was taken to be the meeting point of heaven and earth and, as such, the natural arena of divine activity. On its heights the gods were imagined to have their abode.” This being the case, the text does seem to imply either idolatry or a feeble and misguided attempt to draw closer to the Lord of all Creation.

“Otherwise we will be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.” (verse 4) This statement and determination was made in direct defiance to God’s command to go and repopulate the earth. When we know the Lord’s directives and intentionally choose to do just the opposite, we essentially put ourselves in the place of God. This is the height of rebellion against a good and benevolent God. “Let US build… let US make for OURSELVES a name… Otherwise WE will be scattered…” Their focus was set completely on themselves and their own perverted desires, and that self-centered concentration drove them further and further away from God’s good graces and protection.

“The Lord came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built.” (verse 5) “This speaking of God in terms that are related to the conduct of men was most natural, there being, in fact, no other way that knowledge of the true God could be conveyed. This is called anthropomorphism; and this passage is loaded with it. Significantly, while man was boasting of his tower to reach heaven, God could not even see it without making a trip down to earth! Despite the fact that God sees everything continually throughout the whole universe, this manner of speech is superlative as an exposure of the foolishness and wickedness of men.” (James Burton Coffman) It also speaks to the justice and fairness of the Lord, indicating that He would not pass judgment upon the deeds of men without a thorough “investigation” and knowledge of the situation.

“Now nothing which they purpose to do will be impossible for them.” (verse 6) The Creator did not fear man as a rival but was concerned for their present and future wellbeing. If they stuck together as thick as thieves in this ungodly endeavor, the limits to their evil thoughts, plots and desires would have been nonexistent. God wasn’t alarmed by the thought that they would achieve the heights of heaven to rival His own unlimited power. He knew that no evil thing which they purposed to do would be impossible for them, and there would be no end to their egotistic schemes.

“Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, so that they will not understand one another’s speech.” (verse 7) The people of Babel said, “Let us build for ourselves a city, and a tower whose top will reach into heaven” (verse 4). But God thwarted the intentions of their hearts by saying, “Let us go down and confuse their languages…” No human strength and effort can match the will and power of the Almighty Creator, even when the entirety of the world’s population sets its will against His. Only He has the ultimate power to build up and tear down strongholds. Again, the peoples said in verse 4, “Let us make for ourselves a name,” but, in a twist of irony, the only name their renowned city received was “Babel” or “confusion”.

“The Lord scattered them abroad over the face of the whole earth.” (verse 9) The Lord’s will be done! Just as Jonah discovered it was impossible to “flee…from the presence of the Lord” (Jonah 1:3) and thwart His plans, so these arrogant schemers learned the same, hard, preventable lesson. I was also struck by the inverse similarity of this event and the establishment of the church recorded in Acts chapter 2. God divided men with strange tongues at the tower of Babel and scattered them from there, but He brought them back together at Pentecost in Jerusalem when men of different languages from all over the globe heard the Gospel preached in their native tongue (Acts 2:8-11).

Please read Genesis 11:10-26 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed day!

- Louie Taylor

Additional Commentary on Genesis Chapter 10

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Genesis chapter 10 can be a very confusing and frustrating chapter when trying to pick through all the details. It is important to keep our eye on the big picture view when sifting through the sand of the finer points. The following is a perspective from Nahum Sarna about how Genesis 10 fits into the grand scheme of God's dealings with humanity:

“The peoples listed amount precisely to seventy, excluding Nimrod, who is an individual. There are fourteen Japhethites, thirty Hamites, and twenty-six Shemites. The figure seventy, even if not explicitly given, can hardly be fortuitous. The mere recognition in verse 5 of the existence of additional, unnamed ‘maritime nations’ lends added significance to the enumeration as being deliberately chosen. In the biblical world the number seventy is ‘typological’; that is, it is used for rhetorical effect to evoke the idea of totality, of comprehensiveness on a large scale, as opposed to the use of seven on a smaller scale. Thus, according to Genesis 46:27, the entire household of Jacob that went down to Egypt comprised seventy souls. The representative body of the entire community of Israel in the wilderness consisted of seventy elders, as recorded in Exodus 24:9 and Numbers 11:24; and the prophet Ezekiel, in 8:11, uses the same figure at the end of the period of the monarchy…

"In light of this convention one may safely assume that making the offspring of Noah’s sons total seventy is a literary device to convey the notion of the totality of the human race… This device affords an insight into a major function of the Table, a document thus far unparalleled in the ancient world. This strangely perplexing miscellany of peoples, tribes, and places is no mere academic or scholastic exercise. It affirms, first of all, the common origin and absolute unity of humankind after the flood; then it tacitly, but effectively, asserts that the varied instrumentalities of human divisiveness are all secondary to the essential unity of the international community, which truly constitutes a family of man…

"The number seventy, which is not only emblematic of the totality of the human race but may also function to intensify the general prefiguring thrust of the Table. The number seventy resonates with the composition of the offspring of Jacob who went down to Egypt. The special significance this assumes is demonstrated not only by its emphasis in Genesis 46:27 but also by its reiteration twice more, in Exodus 1:5 and Deuteronomy 10:23. It is as though the totality of the nations and the totality of the Israelites who migrate to Egypt are intertwined. The fundamental biblical theme of Israel and the international community is delicately insinuated in the text. It is not coincidental that God’s first communication to the patriarch Abraham immediately places his offspring in a worldwide context: ‘All the families of the earth shall bless themselves by you.’”

Please read Genesis 11:1-9 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed day!

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 10:21-32

Monday, November 11, 2019

“Also to Shem, the father of all the children of Eber, and the older brother of Japheth, children were born. The sons of Shem were Elam and Asshur and Arpachshad and Lud and Aram. The sons of Aram were Uz and Hul and Gether and Mash. Arpachshad became the father of Shelah; and Shelah became the father of Eber. Two sons were born to Eber; the name of the one was Peleg, for in his days the earth was divided; and his brother’s name was Joktan. Joktan became the father of Almodad and Sheleph and Hazarmaveth and Jerah and Hadoram and Uzal and Diklah and Obal and Abimael and Sheba and Ophir and Havilah and Jobab; all these were the sons of Joktan. Now their settlement extended from Mesha as you go toward Sephar, the hill country of the east. These are the sons of Shem, according to their families, according to their languages, by their lands, according to their nations. These are the families of the sons of Noah, according to their genealogies, by their nations; and out of these the nations were separated on the earth after the flood.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“Also to Shem, the father of all the children of Eber…” “Eber was his great-grandson; but why should he be called the father of all his children, rather than of all Arphaxad’s or Salah’s? Probably because Abraham and his seed, from Eber, were called Hebrews. Eber himself, we may suppose, was a man eminent for religion in a time of general apostacy.” (Benson Commentary). “Although he is the fourth generation from Shem, he receives special mention here because he is the ancestor both of Israel and of a variety of peoples with who Israelite history is closely intertwined. According to later genealogies in Genesis, these include Arameans, Ammonites, Moabites, Midianites, the Ishmaelite tribes, and Edomites. One would expect these descendants of Eber to be called ‘Hebrews’… Nevertheless, it is strange that of all the above-mentioned peoples, only the line of Abraham through Isaac and Jacob is so designated.” (Nahum Sarna)

“The older brother of Japheth” – As mentioned in an earlier Bible reading, I believe various verses in Genesis teach that Japheth was the oldest of the three brothers and Ham was the youngest. So what about this statement? This phrase can either be rendered, “the older brother of Japheth,” or “the brother of Japheth, who was older.” The Septuagint (Greek version of the Old Testament), Syriac and Latin Vulgate Bibles (and others) all translate it as the latter. The commentaries that I consult are divided as to which is the best rendering, but since the math in the other verses adds up to Japheth being the oldest son, that seems more logical to me. Having said that, some insist that, “the rules of Hebrew grammar will admit of no other rendering” than Shem being “the older brother of Japheth.” (Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers)

Quoting from the Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges on verses 22-24: “Elam—The name of a people and a country east of the Tigris and north of the Persian Gulf. The Elamites were at one time supreme in Western Asia… Asshur—The Assyrians were the most powerful of the Semitic peoples. Arpachshad—The two final syllables in which we naturally recognize Chesed, or the Chasdim = the ‘Chaldeans,” a people dwelling in the south of Babylonia… Lud—Presumably the Lydians of Asia Minor, though it is difficult to explain why they should be here associated with the ‘sons of Shem.’ Aram—The people inhabiting the whole country north-east of Palestine, the northern region of the Euphrates Valley… and the country of Syria proper… Uz—The country of Job: see Job 1:1. Generally considered to have been in the south of Palestine… Mash—In the parallel passage (1 Chronicles 1:17) = Meshech… Begat Shelah—R.V. marg. 'The Sept. reads begat Cainan, and Cainan begat Shelah.' This addition is followed in Luke 3:36. Eber—Eber is evidently the most important name in this genealogy. As the grandson of Arpachshad, his name stands geographically in some kind of connection with Elam, Asshur, Arpachshad and Aram. Êber in the Hebrew means ‘on the other side of.’ The ancestors of Israel are described as those who ‘dwelt of old time beyond the River’…on the other side of the Euphrates river…See Joshua 24:2.”

“Two sons were born to Eber; the name of the one was Peleg, for in his days the earth was divided; and his brother’s name was Joktan.” (verse 25) The name “Peleg” means “division”. The division of the earth has traditionally been taken to mean the confusion of the languages and dispersion of the people assembled en masse at Babel, recorded in the very next chapter. Another possible explanation is that there was a division among the Shemites, possibly the severance of the northern tribe from the southern tribe. Yet another possibility is the dividing of arable land by means of digging irrigation canals. Strangely enough, in Hebrew the word “peleg” can also mean “water channel” or “water course”. The genealogy of Peleg is not included in this chapter but is addressed starting in Genesis 11:18. Peleg's brother Joktan had an extensive family including 13 sons (verses 26-29), and his descendants settled the regions of the Arabian Peninsula.

“Now their settlement extended from Mesha as you go toward Sephar, the hill country of the east.” (verse 30) “The extent of the settlements of the Joktanites is paralleled in the Table only by the boundaries of the Canaanites, again testifying to the special importance of this tribal league at some still unknown period in Israelite history. Mesha—This may be the same as Massa of 25:14, but that appears to be in northern Arabia, and a southerly location, otherwise unknown, is indicated here. Sephar—The word means 'border' in postbiblical Hebrew. The reference may be to Zafar, a port city and center of the spice trade in Hadramaut...” Verse “32 taken with verse 1, this summarizing conclusion forms a literary frame to the Table of Nations and forges the transition to the next episode.” (Nahum Sarna)

We will have some additional commentary on chapter 10 for tomorrow.

Have a great day!

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 10:15-20

Sunday, November 10, 2019

“Canaan became the father of Sidon, his firstborn, and Heth and the Jebusite and the Amorite and the Girgashite and the Hivite and the Arkite and the Sinite and the Arvadite and the Zemarite and the Hamathite; and afterward the families of the Canaanite were spread abroad. The territory of the Canaanite extended from Sidon as you go toward Gerar, as far as Gaza; as you go toward Sodom and Gomorrah and Admah and Zeboiim, as far as Lasha. These are the sons of Ham, according to their families, according to their languages, by their lands, by their nations..”

---End of Scripture verses---

“This section is a composite. Only the first two of the eleven names listed are without the –i ending that indicates a gentilic form, and they are to be understood as the names of individuals who are the eponymous, or name-giving, ancestors of the Sidonians and Hittites. The next four names appear in the numerous biblical registers of the original, pre-Israelite inhabitants of Canaan. It is not clear why specifically these were selected here. Further, the order of presentation is unique and appears to be independent of the other similar registers. The Jebusites, named first here, otherwise almost invariably close the lists. Also, the list includes the rarely mentioned Girgashites. The last five names are those of cities in Phoenicia.” (Nahum Sarna).

Quoting Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges on verses 15-18: “Zidon his firstborn—‘Firstborn’; i.e. the capital, and most ancient city, of the Phoenicians. The Phoenicians called themselves Zidonians, and were so called by the Israelites. Cf. 1 Kings 16:31. Zidon probably means “fish-town.” Heth—i.e. the Hittites called by the Egyptians ‘Khêta,’ and by the Assyrians ‘Khatti’… The mention of Heth as the ‘son of Canaan’ is probably to be understood as indicating the presence of a large number of Hittite dwellers in Phoenicia and Palestine… The Jebusite—The Canaanite tribe dwelling in Jerusalem and its neighbourhood: cf. Joshua 15:63; Jdg 1:21; 2 Samuel 5:6. The Amorite—The name Amorite seems to have been used by the Assyrians to designate Palestine. In the O.T. the original inhabitants of Canaan are sometimes called by this name; e.g. Jdg 1:34-36; Amos 2:9… The Girgashite—Mentioned e.g. Genesis 15:21, Deuteronomy 7:1, with the other dwellers in Canaan, but their locality is not indicated. The Hivite—Dwellers in the country about Gibeon (Joshua 9:7) and Sichem (Genesis 34:2); while Joshua 11:3 and Jdg 3:3 speak of the Hivites as dwelling near Mount Hermon and Mount Lebanon… The Arkite—A Phoenician tribe represented by the modern Tell Arḳa, some 80 miles north of Zidon, and not far from Tripolis. The Sinite—Jerome mentions a town Sini near Arka.”

“The territory of the Canaanite extended from Sidon as you go toward Gerar, as far as Gaza; as you go toward Sodom and Gomorrah and Admah and Zeboiim, as far as Lasha.” (verse 19) “Here, ‘Canaan’ is not a person but a people. The Table of Nations displays this exceptional interest in the territorial boundaries because it is leading up to the progenitors of Abraham, whose descendants are to inherit the land. Significantly, the city-states north of Sidon, detailed in verses 17-18, are excluded, and only the region west of the Jordan is included. Sidon constitutes the extreme northern limit; Gaza represents the southwestern extremity, and then the border extends westward across the low hill country to the Dead Sea region… The patriarchal narratives in chapters 20 and 26 show Gerar to have been an important royal city in the western Negeb and to have been situated west or northwest of Beer-sheba in a region sufficiently well watered to provide pasturing facilities for shepherds… ” (Nahum Sarna) “Sodom and Gomorrah and Admah and Zeboiim, as far as Lasha.” These were the four cities the Lord destroyed in His righteous wrath because of their brazen, perverted sinfulness. “All its land is brimstone and salt, a burning waste, unsown and unproductive, and no grass grows in it, like the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboiim, which the Lord overthrew in His anger and in His wrath.” (Deuteronomy 29:23)

Please read Genesis 10:21-32 for tomorrow.

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 10:6-14

Saturday, November 09, 2019

“The sons of Ham were Cush and Mizraim and Put and Canaan. The sons of Cush were Seba and Havilah and Sabtah and Raamah and Sabteca; and the sons of Raamah were Sheba and Dedan. Now Cush became the father of Nimrod; he became a mighty one on the earth. He was a mighty hunter before the Lord; therefore it is said, ‘Like Nimrod a mighty hunter before the Lord.’ The beginning of his kingdom was Babel and Erech and Accad and Calneh, in the land of Shinar. From that land he went forth into Assyria, and built Nineveh and Rehoboth-Ir and Calah, and Resen between Nineveh and Calah; that is the great city. Mizraim became the father of Ludim and Anamim and Lehabim and Naphtuhim and Pathrusim and Casluhim (from which came the Philistines) and Caphtorim.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“The sons of Ham were Cush and Mizraim and Put and Canaan.” (verse 6) Quoting the Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges: “Cush—A name of frequent occurrence in the O.T. for Ethiopia and the Ethiopians, i.e. the country and the people between Egypt and Abyssinia… Mizraim—The regular Hebrew name for Egypt. Cf. the Assyrian Muṣur… Put—Mentioned also in Ezekiel 27:10; Ezekiel 38:5; Jeremiah 46:9; Nahum 3:9. In these passages “Put” is mentioned together with the composite materials of an Egyptian mercenary army. It is generally identified with the Libyans… Canaan—This is the land of Phoenicia, probably in its widest sense…” Canaan will be picked back up on verse 15.

“The sons of Cush were Seba and Havilah and Sabtah and Raamah and Sabteca; and the sons of Raamah were Sheba and Dedan.” (verse 7) Quoting the Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges: “And the sons of Cush—The names given in this verse are usually identified with the names of tribes, or places, on the African coast, or on the opposite shores of Arabia. Seba—Cf. Psalm 72:10; Isaiah 43:3; Isaiah 45:14, where it is named with Egypt and Cush…generally supposed to denote tribes on the coast of the Red Sea in the neighbourhood of Massowah. Havilah—The name occurs again in Genesis 10:29 among ‘the sons of Joktan’; possibly a branch of the same Arabian tribe which had settled on the African coast. Raamah—Mentioned also in Ezekiel 27:22 for its trade with Tyre, and with Sheba. Sabtah …Unknown. Sheba—Also in Genesis 10:28, among ‘the sons of Joktan,’ and in Genesis 25:3, among ‘the sons of Keturah.’ The trade of this people and their dependencies consisted especially of spices, precious stones, and gold (Ezekiel 27:22). The occurrence of the name of ‘Sheba’ here among the sons of Ham, and in Genesis 10:28 among the sons of Shem, illustrates the difficulty of identification. Dedan—Mentioned also in Genesis 25:3; apparently an Arabian tribe, bordering on Edom (Ezekiel 25:13), and occasionally brought into contact with Israel through trade. Cf. Isaiah 21:13; Jeremiah 25:23; Ezekiel 27:20.”

“Now Cush became the father of Nimrod; he became a mighty one on the earth.” (verse 8) Nahum Sarna observed: “This section is a digression that shifts the focus of interest to Mesopotamia. How this region came to be associated here with Cush, son of Ham, can be accounted for…Two possible explanations exist. One is that behind the present Cush is the royal city of Kish, where, according to Mesopotamian tradition, kingship initially resumed after the flood… Another possibility is that Cush is a reflex of the dynasty of Kassites, a Caucasian people who came down from the Zagros Mountains and ruled Babylonia for about four centuries from 1595 B.C.E. on… This outstanding personality, whose exploits obviously left their mark on the historical memory of Israel, has not been positively identified with any known individual in the ancient world.”

“The beginning of his kingdom was Babel and Erech and Accad and Calneh, in the land of Shinar.” (verse 10) Quoting the Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges: “The beginning of his kingdom—Nimrod is represented, not as the founder of the Babylonian cities, but as their king. His four cities are enumerated: 1. Babel, i.e. Babylon, as the Hebrew is rendered in the Greek: Assyrian Babilu, possibly = ‘the gate of God.’ This was the capital of the Babylonian empire from the time of Hammurabi who founded that empire, circ. 2130 b.c. 2. Erech, the Uruk of the inscriptions…was the principal seat of the Babylonian deities Anu and Istar, and the scene of the exploits of the mythical hero Gilgames. 3. Accad, the Agade of the inscriptions, the chief town in ancient northern Babylonia, and the capital of Sargon the First, one of the earliest Babylonian kings. 4. Calneh, of doubtful identification; not to be identified with the Syrian town Calneh (Amos 6:2)… In the land of Shinar—i.e. in Babylonia, which comprised both northern Babylonia or Accad, and southern Babylonia or Sumer.”

“From that land he went forth into Assyria, and built Nineveh and Rehoboth-Ir and Calah. and Resen between Nineveh and Calah; that is the great city.” (verses 10-12) Quoting the Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges: “Into Assyria—or ‘Asshur.’ There is no difference in the Hebrew between the name of the country and that of its first capital (see Genesis 2:14). The city Asshur was distant about 300 miles from Babylon… Nineveh—situated on the left bank of the Tigris, opposite to the modern Mosul. Nineveh was the capital of Assyria in its most famous period, but it was not until about 1000 b.c. that it became the royal residence of Assyrian monarchs… Rehoboth-Ir—Possibly to be identified…with…the modern Mosul, over against Nineveh. Calah—The modern Kellach, at the confluence of the upper Zab and the Tigris, some 20 miles S. of Nineveh. It stands on the ruined mounds of Nimrud. The capital of Assyria was transferred by Shalmaneser I, circ. 1300 b.c., from Asshur to Calah.”

“Mizraim became the father of Ludim and Anamim and Lehabim and Naphtuhim and Pathrusim and Casluhim (from which came the Philistines) and Caphtorim.” (verses 13-14) Quoting the Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges: “The genealogy is continued with the ‘sons of Mizraim.’… The names here mentioned are probably tribes on the borders of Egypt. Ludim—Mentioned also in Jeremiah 46:9; presumably the same as Lud in Isaiah 66:19; Ezekiel 27:10; Ezekiel 30:5… Lehabim—Possibly the same as the ‘Libyans,’ who appear as Lubim in 2 Chronicles 12:3; 2 Chronicles 16:8; Daniel 11:43; Nahum 3:9. The Libyans were the African tribes west of Cyrene. Naphtuhim—the dwellers in the north, i.e. the Delta of Egypt… Pathrusim—Clearly to be identified with Upper Egypt…the Pathros of Isaiah 11:11; Jeremiah 44:1; Jeremiah 44:15; Ezekiel 29:14; Ezekiel 30:14… Caphtorim—According to Deuteronomy 2:23, Jeremiah 47:4, Amos 9:7 the Philistines came out of Caphtor. Accordingly, we may conjecture the clause originally stood after the word “Caphtorim,” and has been accidentally transposed… Caphtorim—The people of Caphtor which has commonly been identified with Crete…”

Please read Genesis 10:15-20 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed day!

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 10:1-5

Friday, November 08, 2019

“Now these are the records of the generations of Shem, Ham, and Japheth, the sons of Noah; and sons were born to them after the flood. The sons of Japheth were Gomer and Magog and Madai and Javan and Tubal and Meshech and Tiras. The sons of Gomer were Ashkenaz and Riphath and Togarmah. The sons of Javan were Elishah and Tarshish, Kittim and Dodanim. From these the coastlands of the nations were separated into their lands, every one according to his language, according to their families, into their nations.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“These are the records of the generations of Shem, Ham and Japheth…” (verse 1) This is the third “toledot” (generations) in genesis, and what follows is a genealogy of not only people but nations. It is always tempting to pass over biblical genealogies with all their foreign and difficult (impossible!) to pronounce names. And, even though they might seem to be irrelevant, every word and name recorded in the Holy Writ is important. On the grander scale, this chapter serves to emphasize one critical, fundamental teaching, and that is that all people and nations of the earth have a common ancestry, therefore we are all one, big family! “And He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children.’” (Acts 17:26-28)

“It is clear enough that these lists are incomplete and selective. The sacred writer did not design them to be exhaustive in this report but merely to show that all the peoples of the earth descended from a SINGLE ancestor. It is also noted that sometimes the names of people, clans, or nations are substituted for the names of individuals, which meant it was impossible to ascertain in some cases. Generally speaking, the sons of Japheth went north, those of Ham went south and southeast, and the Shemites went eastward. It is admitted even by critical opponents of the Bible that this tenth chapter of Genesis is a ‘remarkably accurate historical document.’ The descendants of Japheth settled primarily in Asia Minor and Europe, those of Ham populated Africa, Arabia, and Egypt, with the sons of Canaan occupying primarily the land that bore their name in perpetuity. The sons of Shem occupied the Tigris-Euphrates valley, spreading eastward and beyond into Asia. Of course, only the beginning of nations appears here. All of the peoples descended from Noah spread rapidly over the earth, and there were many overlapping districts in which the various families were commingled.” (James Burton Coffman)

On the nature of this “Table of Nations,” Nahum Sarna observed: “On the surface, the use of verbs expressing birth and of terms like ‘son,’ ‘father,’ ‘first-born’ suggest straightforward genealogies of the kind already encountered in previous chapters. In actual fact, these recapitulations disclose that the terminology is not meant to be taken literally but, rather, in the same figurative way that one speaks of a ‘metropolis’ in the sense of ‘mother city,’ of ‘daughter colonies,’ or of ‘fatherland’ and ‘mother country.’ Many of the personal names listed here are otherwise known to be those of places or peoples. Ten names have plural endings, nine others take the gentilic adjectival suffix –i, which indicates ethnic affiliation, and they also have the definite article, which is inadmissible with personal names in Hebrew.” Moses does not always give the name of the first person that settled in a country, but the individuals that the locale or nation got their name from. Kittim and Dodanim are plural names and not the names of specific people. The same is true of Mizraim (plural of Mezer – verse 6), Ludim, Ananim, Lehabim, Naphtuhim, Pathrusim, Casluhim, Philistim, and Caphtorim (verse 13). To Canaan, tribes of people are listed as his offspring—Jebusite, Amorite, Girgasite, Hivite, Arkite, Sinite, Arvadite, Zemarite, and Hamathite. (verse 18)

“The sons of Japheth were Gomer and Magog and Madai and Javan and Tubal and Meshech and Tiras.” (verse 2) Quoting the Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges: “The sons of Japheth—These are names of peoples who for the most part seem to have dwelt in remote northern and western regions in Asia Minor. Gomer—Mentioned also in Ezekiel 38:6. Probably the people dwelling in the region of Pontus in Asia Minor, and called by the Greeks Cimmerians (Κιμμέριοι). Cf. 1 Chronicles 1:5-6. Magog—appears as the name of a country in Ezekiel 38:2, and of a northern people in Ezekiel 39:6, generally identified with the Scythians… Madai—Almost certainly ‘the land of the Medes.’ The people of Media are referred to in the Assyrian inscriptions as “Madai” in the 9th century b.c. In the history of Israel they are first mentioned in 2 Kings 17:6. Cf. Isaiah 13:17; Isaiah 21:2; 1 Chronicles 1:5. Javan—This is the Hebrew name for ‘the Greeks.’ The Ionians were the Greeks of Asia Minor and of the islands of the Ægean Sea, who were first known to the peoples of Western Asia... Tubal … Meshech—These two names are mentioned, along with Javan, in Ezekiel 27:13; Ezekiel 39:1. They have been identified with peoples in N.E. Asia Minor, Tibarenians and Moschians. Tiras—Identified by Josephus (Ant. i. 6) with the Thracians, but now more frequently with a race of sea pirates of the Ægean Sea called Τυρσηνοί. Another conjecture is Tarsus; another, Tarshish; cf. 1 Chronicles 1:6.”

“The sons of Gomer were Ashkenaz and Riphath and Togarmah.” (verse 3) Quoting the Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges: “Ashkenaz—Mentioned in Jeremiah 51:27 along with Ararat; and now generally identified with the region of Armenia. It is worth noticing that the mediaeval Jews explained this name as denoting Germany. Thus the Ashkenazim are the German Jews. Riphath—In 1 Chronicles 1:6 the name appears as ‘Diphath.’ The letters, R (ר) and D (ד), are very similar in Hebrew. Cf. ‘Dodanim’ for ‘Rodanim,’ Genesis 10:4. Josephus identified “Riphath” with the Paphlagonians. The name is now unknown. Togarmah—Mentioned also in Ezekiel 27:14, with Javan, Tubal and Meshech; and in Ezekiel 38:6, with Gomer, and generally identified with the western part of Armenia. Cf. 1 Chronicles 1:6.”

“The sons of Javan were Elishah and Tarshish, Kittim and Dodanim.” (verse 4) Quoting the Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges: “the sons of Javan—The names here mentioned are evidently geographical. Javan’s sons are well-known Greek colonies and settlements or communities. This example will serve to illustrate the composition of the genealogical list. Elishah—Mentioned in Ezekiel 27:7 as a place from which there was a trade in purple. Josephus identified it with the Æolians. Other conjectures have been Hellas, Elis, Sicily, and Carthage. Possibly, it is Alasa, the modern Cyprus. Tarshish—Probably the ancient commercial town of Tartessus, at the mouth of the river Guadalquivir… On ‘the ships of Tarshish’ in King Solomon’s time, see 1 Kings 10:22; 1 Kings 22:48… Kittim—Usually identified with Cyprus and its inhabitants. The chief town was Κιτίον, the modern Larnaca, and was probably occupied at an early time by Greek-speaking people. The name ‘Kittim’ became transferred from Cyprus to other islands. Cf. Jeremiah 2:10; Ezekiel 27:6. Dodanim—In 1 Chronicles 1:7, Rodanim… Rodanim being identified with the island of Rhodes.”

“From these the coastlands of the nations were separated into their lands, every one according to his language, according to their families, into their nations.” (verse 5) The coastlands of the nations…” or the Isles of the Gentiles. This constitutes the continent of Europe, all the countries that settlers arrived at by sea: Spain, Gaul, Italy, Greece, and Asia Minor. “Every one according to his language…” This refers to the time after the confusion of languages and the dispersion from Babel.

If your still awake (BIG YAWN!), please read Genesis 10:6-14 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed day!

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 9:18-28

Thursday, November 07, 2019

“Now the sons of Noah who came out of the ark were Shem and Ham and Japheth; and Ham was the father of Canaan. These three were the sons of Noah, and from these the whole earth was populated. Then Noah began farming and planted a vineyard. He drank of the wine and became drunk, and uncovered himself inside his tent. Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brothers outside. But Shem and Japheth took a garment and laid it upon both their shoulders and walked backward and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were turned away, so that they did not see their father’s nakedness. When Noah awoke from his wine, he knew what his youngest son had done to him. So he said, ‘Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants he shall be to his brothers.’ He also said, ‘Blessed be the Lord, the God of Shem; and let Canaan be his servant. May God enlarge Japheth, and let him dwell in the tents of Shem; and let Canaan be his servant.’ Noah lived three hundred and fifty years after the flood. So all the days of Noah were nine hundred and fifty years, and he died.”

---End of Scripture verses---

After Noah’s family exited the ark “and God blessed Noah and his sons” (Genesis 9:1), we are presented with an obscure little incident that helps set the stage for future developments in the affairs of their descendants and, in particular, God’s people. “The present episode illustrates the virtue and piety of the original ancestor (of Abraham), Shem, values that are to serve as the paradigm for his descendants, the Israelites. By the same token, the typically degenerate state of the Canaanites provides the reason and moral justification for their displacement.” (Nahum Sarna)

“Then Noah began farming and planted a vineyard.” (verse 20) Literally, Noah became “a man of the ground,” and began to cultivate grapes. Since the Lord does not condemn Noah for becoming “drunk,” some people give Noah a pass because he may have been ignorant of the intoxicating effects of fermented grape juice. More likely he just made a poor decision and chose the path of sinfulness like all of even God’s people do on occasion, and sometimes far too frequently. Why exactly he “uncovered himself inside his tent” (verse 21) is not divulged either, but both Habakkuk 2:15 and Lamentations 4:21 associate inebriation with indecent bodily exposure. This if the first mention of “nakedness” since Genesis 3:10 where it says that Adam and Eve knew they were naked and hid themselves in shame (consider Genesis 2:25).

“Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brothers outside.” (verse 22) Since the particulars in this story are so sketchy, many assume that it was a well-known oral account and therefore see fit to try and fill in the missing details. I firmly believe that God has revealed, through divine inspiration, precisely what He wanted to divulge, and exactly what we need to know in every Bible narrative. Most commentaries that I consult insist that there must have been some sort of sexual assault or mutilation for Noah to pronounce such an awful curse upon the descendants of Ham. But the simple truth is that we downplay the serious sinful nature of viewing the “nakedness” of another human being.

God associates shamefulness with the uncovering of nakedness repeatedly in the Old Testament and applies that metaphorically to the recurrent, disgraceful conduct of His people (Isaiah 47:3; Ezekiel 16:18, 22:10; Micah 1:11). It is a mark of decency and propriety when God’s people dress themselves modestly (1 Timothy 2:9), and Jesus said to even look upon someone’s body in a lustful way is to commit mental adultery with them (Matthew 5:28). Granted we can commit this sin when someone is fully and modestly dressed, but lustfulness is made all the more difficult to resist when private parts are exposed for public view.

Verse 22 reveals that Ham committed at least two heinous sins against his father, apart from that which MIGHT have been perpetrated and not revealed in the story for dignity’s sake. Firstly, he looked at his father’s naked body. And, since Noah did not make a public spectacle of his nudity in his drunken stupor, but was hidden behind the curtains of his own, private tent; this makes Ham’s actions all the more reprehensible. And friends, this was not a chance glimpse, having stumbled unintentionally upon his vulnerable father, and then quickly averting his glance. He looked, and, in his glee, he committed his second sin. He went and told his two brothers about the sordid spectacle he had found inviting them to join in the festivities.

What a repulsive and unloving thing to do! And to your father of all people! “Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8) “He who conceals a transgression seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates intimate friends. (Proverbs 17:9) “If sinners entice you, do not consent.” (Proverbs 1:10)

“But Shem and Japheth took a garment and laid it upon both their shoulders and walked backward and covered the nakedness of their father…” (verse 23) Ham’s two brothers didn’t take the bait! They did the noble and honorable thing. And notice, “their faces were turned away” and they refused to even look at their father’s naked body. This tells me all I need to know about the nature of Ham’s sin. He looked and his brothers’ did not. Just the “mere” looking constituted a great sin in the eyes of Shem and Japheth and God!

“When Noah awoke from his wine, he knew what his youngest son had done to him.” (verse 24) The obvious question to be answered, and the problem to be solved, is how did Noah know what Ham had done to him? This is where most commentaries insist that some physical sin must have been perpetrated upon Noah by His “youngest son,” because Noah detected physical evidence. But Noah could just have easily been made aware of Ham’s vile action by Shem and Japheth telling him about it.

“So he said, ‘Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants he shall be to his brothers.’” (verse 25) This “curse” presents the biggest problem in interpreting the text. Why did Noah pronounce a curse upon Canaan for the infraction of his father? Benson’s Commentary submitted this explanation: “Canaan may be here put, by a well-known figure termed ellipsis, often used in Scripture, for the father of Canaan, the title given to Ham in Genesis 9:22. And although Ham had more sons, he may here be described by his relation to Canaan, because in him the curse was more fixed and dreadful, reaching to the utter extirpation of his seed, while many of the other nations descended from Ham were, in after ages, blessed with the knowledge of the true God and the gospel of his Son.” Matthew Henry added, “Noah declares a curse on Canaan, the son of Ham; perhaps this grandson of his was more guilty than the rest.”

Canaan, and by extension, the Canaanites would be “a servant of servants,” or “the lowest of slaves.” We see in these verses the first patriarchal blessing and cursing of male offspring, invoking God’s power for judgment and approval. But it is interesting the way Shem’s blessing is imparted. Noah said, “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Shem.” (verse26) The delighted father gushes with praises of thanksgiving to the Lord for His righteous son’s godly behavior. All praise, glory and honor be to God for every good thing He allows us and empowers us to do!

“May God enlarge Japheth, and let him dwell in the tents of Shem; and let Canaan be his servant.’” (verse 27) Nahum Sarna observed: “A subtle point is the use here of the general term ‘elohim, ‘God,” with Japheth, in contrast to the sacred name YHVH, which is exclusive to Shem and later to Israel, his descendants.” “The Hebrew is Yapheth Elohim l’Yepheth, ‘God enlarge the enlarger’ (not ‘God shall enlarge’). While, then, it is the special blessing of Shem that through him the voice of thanksgiving is to ascend to Jehovah, the God of grace; it is Elohim, the God of nature and of the universe, who gives to Japheth wide extension and the most numerous posterity. If the most ancient civilization and the earliest empires in Egypt and on the Tigris were Hamite, the great world- powers of history, the Chaldean, the Medo-Persian, the Greek and Roman, the Hindu, were all of Japhetic origin, as are also the modern rulers of mankind.” (Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers)

Noah lived 950 years! (verse 29) Amazing! “And he died.” Like we all will! Make sure your life is right with God because nobody, no matter how long they live on earth, will stick around here forever!

Please read Genesis 10:1-5 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed day!

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 9:8-17

Wednesday, November 06, 2019

“Then God spoke to Noah and to his sons with him, saying, ‘Now behold, I Myself do establish My covenant with you, and with your descendants after you; and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the cattle, and every beast of the earth with you; of all that comes out of the ark, even every beast of the earth. I establish My covenant with you; and all flesh shall never again be cut off by the water of the flood, neither shall there again be a flood to destroy the earth.’ God said, ‘This is the sign of the covenant which I am making between Me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all successive generations; I set My bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a sign of a covenant between Me and the earth. It shall come about, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow will be seen in the cloud, and I will remember My covenant, which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and never again shall the water become a flood to destroy all flesh. When the bow is in the cloud, then I will look upon it, to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.’ And God said to Noah, ‘This is the sign of the covenant which I have established between Me and all flesh that is on the earth.’”

---End of Scripture verses---

James Burton Coffman had this to say about God’s post-flood covenant: “This is not the same covenant mentioned in Gen. 6:18. That covenant was conditional, requiring that Noah should build an ark according to God's directions, and then enter it with his family and all the other creatures as God directed. This covenant is absolutely unconditional. That covenant regarded the safety of Noah and those with him on the ark through the impending disaster of the Flood. This one regards absence of any other universal flood unto perpetual generations. No token was given of that covenant, but the rainbow was given as the token of this.”

Of course, it is possible that God could have been speaking of His covenant in future terms in Genesis 6:18 where He said, “I will establish My covenant with you…” But either way you look at it, it is because of Noah and his faithfulness that this covenant exists with mankind today. Never again will the Lord destroy all creatures on earth who breathe the breath of life by a universal flood. “The promise was not that never again would the earth be destroyed, but that it would not be done a second time by means of a flood. The N.T. is explicit, as also the Minor Prophets, that another total destruction of the earth will yet occur, by means of fire, at or near the time of the Great Assize. (See 2 Pet. 3; Zech. 12:9).” (James Burton Coffman)

“The sign of the covenant” is the “bow in the cloud,” or the rainbow (verses 12-13). But is this the rainbow’s first appearance or was it prevalent prior to the flood and before this covenant? Those who think it first appeared after the flood claim that the earth’s atmosphere must have undergone drastic changes after the floodgates of the sky were opened up, and also surmise that it likely never rained prior to the downpour of the great deluge. Those who believe that rainbows were common before the flood simply see God giving the beautiful phenomenon newfound meaning and symbolic significance.

The “bow” was a weapon used repeatedly in ancient, pagan mythology as an emblem for war and conquest. But the God of the Bible chose the bow as a symbol of hope and promise for all living creatures of the earth. As Satan flings his “flaming arrows” of temptation and adversity at us (Ephesians 6:16), we can take comfort in knowing that God uses His “bow in the cloud” as an instrument of splendor and optimism. “The thicker the cloud, the brighter the bow in the cloud. Thus, as threatening afflictions abound, encouraging consolations much more abound…A bow speaks terror, but this has neither string nor arrow; and a bow alone will do little hurt.” (Matthew Henry Concise Commentary)

The prophet Ezekiel was shown the rainbow as a symbol for the radiance and glory of the presence of God in his fantastic vision of chapter 1. “As the appearance of the rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the appearance of the surrounding radiance. Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. And when I saw it, I fell on my face and heard a voice speaking.” (Ezekiel 1:28) Friends, no matter what other thoughts and emotions the appearance of the magnificent rainbow may evoke within us, the one constant notice it should always call to mind is that there is a Great and Awesome Creator in heaven who loves us, provides for us and protects us.

Please read Genesis 9:18-28 for tomorrow.

Have a wonderful day!

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 9:1-7

Tuesday, November 05, 2019

“And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth. The fear of you and the terror of you will be on every beast of the earth and on every bird of the sky; with everything that creeps on the ground, and all the fish of the sea, into your hand they are given. Every moving thing that is alive shall be food for you; I give all to you, as I gave the green plant. Only you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood. Surely I will require your lifeblood; from every beast I will require it. And from every man, from every man’s brother I will require the life of man. Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed, for in the image of God He made man. As for you, be fruitful and multiply; populate the earth abundantly and multiply in it.’”

---End of Scripture verses---

Nahum Sarna submitted an astute introduction to the Flood epilogue (Genesis 9:1-17): “The destruction of the old world calls for the repopulation of the earth and the remedying of the ills that brought on the Flood. Society must henceforth rest on more secure moral foundations. New norms of human behavior must be instituted. At the same time, the haunting specter of a repetition of the cataclysm must be laid to rest, lest it have a paralyzing effect on human activity and impede all progress. The epilogue to the Flood narrative attends to these considerations. It divides clearly into two complementary parts, logically interconnected. Verses 1-7 deal with the renewal of the world, verses 8-17 with divine assurances. A key phrase frames each part: the first, ‘Be fertile and increase’ (vv. 1,7); the second, ‘I establish a covenant’ (vv. 9,17).”

“And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth.” (verse 1) This is a repetition of the blessing that God gave to Adam and Eve in Genesis 1:28. The world did not have a population problem, it was destroyed because of pervasive wickedness. Population control is a constraint invented and imposed by humans. God has blessed mankind with a spacious and habitable earth and He wants us to proliferate and flourish upon it. As Adam is the father and Eve is “the mother of all the living” (Genesis 3:21), So Noah and his wife are the progenitors of the entire postdiluvian, human, family tree.

“The fear of you and the terror of you will be on every beast of the earth and on every bird of the sky.” (verse 2) After the Lord told Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply, he went on to say, “and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” It is obvious that something drastically changed between human and animal interactions after the flood, because God informed Noah that He would not only give people dominion over lower creatures but would instill instinctual fear within the animal kingdom for their human superiors. This probably served as protection for people as they proliferated upon the earth, and also as a good self-defense mechanism for animals would now be hunted as prey for humans and their new omnivorous diet. I would certainly be afraid of anyone or anything that I thought would want to eat me!

“Every moving thing that is alive shall be food for you; I give all to you, as I gave the green plant.” (verse 3) The Lord didn’t explain why He allowed men to become meat-eaters after the Flood. Perhaps the nutrients in the vegetation were not as potent after the flood as they were before, or maybe vegetation sufficient for an exclusively vegetarian diet would be scarce in some locations. Whatever God’s reasoning may have been, He did not make eating animal meat a requirement but extended it as an option. He also specified that only the “moving thing” this is “alive” is suitable for food. Since the Lord condemned outright the eating of an animal while its lifeblood remained within it, He must be forbidding the eating of animals that are found dead— perished either by natural or other means.

“Only you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood.” (verse 4) The eating of an animal while it was still alive, or the consuming of its blood, or any form of cruelty toward our furry or feathered friends is strictly forbidden. Nahum Sarna wrote, “This concession to human weakness” to eat animal flesh “is not a license for savagery.” He went on to write, “It might be thought that the eating of blood would be so naturally repulsive as not to require legal proscription, but the history of the subject discredits such a notion. The frequency with which the prohibition is repeated in the Torah legislation testifies to the attractiveness of the practice in ancient times. Its appeal lay in the premise, explicated in Leviticus 17:11,14 and Deuteronomy 12:23, that the blood constituted the life-essence. Consequently, popular thought had it that one could renew or reinforce one’s vitality through its absorption of blood. For this reason blood played an important role in the cults of the dead in the ancient world. In the Torah, however, precisely because blood is the symbol of life, it belongs to God alone, as does life itself. The legislation contained in the present verse…together with Leviticus 17:13 and Deuteronomy 12:24, forms the basis of the Jewish dietary laws governing the koshering of meat, the purpose of which is to ensure the maximum extraction of blood from the flesh before cooking.” (Nahum Sarna)

“Surely I will require your lifeblood; from every beast I will require it. And from every man, from every man’s brother I will require the life of man.” (verse 5) In verses 5-6 we have the Godly ordained, divine institution of capital punishment. If an animal killed a human or a man murdered another man, the Lord “required the life” of that animal or man. Notice God’s wording when He stated “from every man’s brother I will require the life of man.” All people are brothers and sisters in the human race. To kill another human being is to kill a member of the family. As Nahum Sarna astutely observed, “homicide is fratricide”.

“Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed…” (verse 6) “It is a human responsibility. The particle bet in Hebrew ba-’adam is here taken to indicate the instrument of punishment. Human institutions, a judiciary, must be established for the purpose. This requirement seeks to correct the condition of ‘lawlessness’ that existed prior to the Flood (6:11). The blood feud is eliminated, and murder is no longer a private affair between the killer and the family of the victim; it is a crime against society.” (Nahum Sarna)

And the ultimate reason why this is true is because, “in the image of God He made man.” “Murder is the supreme and capital crime because the dignity, sanctity, and inviolability of human life all derive from the fact that every human being bears the stamp of the divine Maker. The murderer may be put to death because his unspeakable act effaces the divine image in his victim and within himself as well, so that his own life forfeits its claim to inviolability.” (Nahum Sarna)

Please read Genesis 9:8-17 for tomorrow.

Have a great day!

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 8:20-22

Monday, November 04, 2019

“Then Noah built an altar to the Lord, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar. The Lord smelled the soothing aroma; and the Lord said to Himself, 'I will never again curse the ground on account of man, for the intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth; and I will never again destroy every living thing, as I have done. While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.'”

---End of Scripture verses---

“Then Noah built an altar to the Lord...” (verse 20) This is the very first mention of an “altar” of sacrifice in the Bible. But I do not believe this was necessarily an invention on Noah's part because both Cain and Abel could have used altars when they offered sacrifices to the Lord (Genesis 4:3-4). There can be no doubt that Noah offered these sacrifices by his own “free will” from a heart overflowing with gratitude, but I hesitate to accept the view shared by most commentaries that he offered this of his own design and initiative. While there is no record of God directly or specifically demanding Noah to offer these sacrifices, I believe the command is implied in the very fact that God told him to bring “every clean animal” and “every clean bird” onto the ark in the first place. Noah lived his life by obedient faith, and “faith comes by hearing the word of God” (Romans 10:17).

“The Lord smelled the soothing aroma...” (verse 21) “God's smelling the 'sweet savor' of Noah's magnificent sacrifice is merely an anthropomorphism to describe God's acceptance and approval of it. On the other hand, the vulgar Babylonian myth represents 'the gods' as being 'gathered like flies above the offerer of the sacrifice,' as if they were hungry and even starving because they had not been fed by sacrifice in such a long time! Even the most casual glance at the various mythical stories with accounts of a great flood reveals them as distorted and perverted accounts of the event accurately recorded in Genesis.” (James Burton Coffman)

“I will never again curse the ground on account of man” (verse 21). Some people view this as a reversal of the curse recorded in Genesis 3:17-19 after Adam sinned and the earth no longer yielded up its produce with ease to mankind as punishment. From this understanding various scholars see this as a “fulfillment” to the “prophecy” that Lamech made of Noah in Genesis 5:29: “This one will give us rest from our work and from the toil of our hands arising from the ground which the Lord has cursed.” While this is possibly true, the context strongly suggests that God is promising to never “curse the ground” by sending another world-wide flood to destroy “every living thing” as He had so recently done.

“For the intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth....” (verse 21) Before the Lord destroyed the earth and its inhabitants, He said “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, because he also is flesh” (Genesis 6:3), and “that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” (Genesis 6:5) In verse 21 He reverses course and says He will NOT “destroy every living thing” because “the intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth.” Mankind was going to continue to pursue the path of sin and destruction regardless of God's most extreme measures. Nahum Sarna observed: “The statement is not a judgment but an observation that a proclivity for evil is woven into the fabric of human nature. The key phrase is 'from his youth,' not from birth or conception, implying that the tendency to evil may be curbed and redirected through the discipline of laws. Hence, the next section deals with the imposition of laws upon postdiluvian humanity.”

“While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.” (verse 22) By saying “while the earth remains,” the Lord is clearly implying that the earth will not endure forever. But as long as the world is still spinning, its Creator will never again interrupt or upend the ordinary, ordered, rhythmic processes of nature in a worldwide fashion. The totality of natural law will continue on as dependable, predictable, comforting constants. Humanity can set its hope upon on the ground continuing to produce its crops (seedtime and harvest), the climate remaining relatively constant (cold and heat), and the seasons persistently marching to the drumbeats of time (summer and winter).

Please read Genesis 9:1-7 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed day!

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 8:13-19

Sunday, November 03, 2019

“Now it came about in the six hundred and first year, in the first month, on the first of the month, the water was dried up from the earth. Then Noah removed the covering of the ark, and looked, and behold, the surface of the ground was dried up. In the second month, on the twenty-seventh day of the month, the earth was dry. Then God spoke to Noah, saying, ‘Go out of the ark, you and your wife and your sons and your sons’ wives with you. Bring out with you every living thing of all flesh that is with you, birds and animals and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth, that they may breed abundantly on the earth, and be fruitful and multiply on the earth.’ So Noah went out, and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives with him. Every beast, every creeping thing, and every bird, everything that moves on the earth, went out by their families from the ark.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“In the six hundred and first year, in the first month, on the first day of the month…” (verse 13) At this time “Noah removed the covering from the ark” and observed that ground was dried up. It is possible that the difference between the statement that the earth was “dried up” (verse 13 ) and 27 days later “the earth was dry” (verse 14), may indicate that all the water was gone on the earlier date, and that the earth was actually solidified and dry enough to walk upon on the day of verse 14. If so, Noah waited long enough for his family and the animals to have a firm foothold on solid ground before exiting the ark. But whether there was any difference in the “dryness” of the earth revealed in the two verses or not, the reason Noah waited as long as he did to disembark is because he was awaiting the Lord’s command to “Go out of the ark” before doing so (verse 16).

The covering of the ark – “The word is elsewhere used of the covering of skins for the Tabernacle (Exodus 26:14; Numbers 4:25), and it has probably a similar meaning here. To have removed the solid framework of the roof would have been a very laborious task, and still more so to have broken up the roof itself. But as the asphalt employed for filling up the interstices between the beams in the hulk of the ark would have been difficult to manage for the roof, it was apparently protected from the rain by a covering, probably of skins sewn together.” (Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers)

“In the second month, on the twenty-seventh day of the month, the earth was dry. Then God spoke to Noah, saying, ‘Go out of the ark…’” (verses 14-16) Noah, his family and the selected animals likely spent a complete "solar year" of 365 days in the ark. They entered the ark the 17th day of the 2nd month, in the 600th year of Noah's life (Genesis 7:11,13). They exited on the 27th day of the 2nd month, in the 601st year of Noah's life. It is believed that the ancient Hebrews based their calendar on lunar year (Twelve complete lunar cycles consisting of 354 days), with an additional eleven days spent in the ark.

The following tabulations have been submitted from Barnes’ Notes on the Bible: The rain continued for 40 days. The waters prevailed on the earth 150 days. The waters subsided for 99 days. Noah delays for 40 days. The sending of the raven and the dove, 20 days. Another month of 29 days. The interval until the 27th of the 2nd month, 57 days. The sum-total of days 365 days. The chart attached is an additional compilation to consider. It is difficult to tabulate with precision the exact breakdown of the days, but friends, no matter how you slice it or dice it or do the math, they were on the ark for a long, long time! Those must have been the sweetest words to ever bless their ears: “Go out of the ark”! Stretch! Breathe! Move about! Be free!

“God consults our benefit, rather than our desires; he knows what is good for us better than we do for ourselves, and how long it is fit our restraints should continue, and desired mercies should be delayed. We would go out of the ark before the ground is dried; and perhaps, if the door is shut, are ready to thrust off the covering, and to climb up some other way; but God's time of showing mercy is the best time. As Noah had a command to go into the ark, so, how tedious soever his confinement there was, he would wait for a command to go out of it again. We must in all our ways acknowledge God, and set him before us in all our removals. Those only go under God's protection, who follow God's direction, and submit to him.” (Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary)

“Be fruitful and multiply on the earth.” (verse 17) God gave the inhabitants of the ark the same command to populate (repopulate actually) the earth that He did His original animal and human creation (Genesis 1:22, 28). Although to 99.9% of the world's inhabitants the flood brought utter devastation, to Noah, his family and the animals on the ark, it was an opportunity for a new beginning. Noah was faithful, obedient, diligent, trusting, reverent and patient, and the Lord rewarded and blessed him and his loved ones for his devotion. Noah had a heart that was open to the will of his Father in heaven. He listened. He believed. He heeded. “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves... But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.” (James 1:22, 25)

Please read Genesis 8:20-22 for tomorrow.

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 8:6-12

Saturday, November 02, 2019

“Then it came about at the end of forty days, that Noah opened the window of the ark which he had made; and he sent out a raven, and it flew here and there until the water was dried up from the earth. Then he sent out a dove from him, to see if the water was abated from the face of the land; but the dove found no resting place for the sole of her foot, so she returned to him into the ark, for the water was on the surface of all the earth. Then he put out his hand and took her, and brought her into the ark to himself. So he waited yet another seven days; and again he sent out the dove from the ark. The dove came to him toward evening, and behold, in her beak was a freshly picked olive leaf. So Noah knew that the water was abated from the earth. Then he waited yet another seven days, and sent out the dove; but she did not return to him again.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“Noah opened the window of the ark which he had made.” (verse 6) This was truly “Noah’s ark”—the ark which he had made. He opened “the window”—the single aperture or opening besides the lone door for entering and exiting the giant barge. He did this “forty days” after “the tenth month…on the first day of the month” when “the tops of the mountains became visible.” (verse 5)

“And he sent out a raven” or literally “the raven”. (verse 7) Much speculation has been made about this raven and understandably so because the Lord really gives no reason why he selected this bird first. Some have speculated that it is called “the raven” because “there was only one male raven in the ark, the raven being among the unclean birds.” (Pulpit Commentary) I think more likely it was called “the raven” because it was simply “the raven” selected by Noah to do this particular job.

The raven “flew here and there” or literally “it went forth going and returning.” Some scholars believe the raven flew “here and there” finding food sources for survival and never again returned to the ark. It is more likely, however, that “it went forth going and returning” to the ark but never reentered the ark. Nahum Sarna commented that, ‘The raven is a wild bird that is not discriminating in its diet. It feeds on carrion as well as vegetation and could thus obtain its food from among the floating carcasses. That is why it made repeated forays from the ark. Noah could observe its movements over several days.”

“Literally, and it went forth going and returning, i.e. flying backwards and forwards, from the ark and to the ark, perhaps resting on it, but not entering into it… Whether it entirely disappeared at the first, or continued hovering round the ark, Noah was unable from its movements to arrive at any certain conclusion as to the condition of the earth, and accordingly required to adopt another expedient, which he did in the mission of the dove.” (Pulpit Commentary)

“Then he sent out a dove…” (verse 8) The dove was a more “delicate” bird and maybe Noah could determine more about the surrounding conditions by setting it free. “The selection which Noah made of the birds may…be explained quite simply from the difference in their nature, with which Noah must have been acquainted; that is to say, from the fact that the raven in seeking its food settles upon every carcass that it sees, whereas the dove will only settle upon what is dry and clean.” (Keil and Delitzsch Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament)

“But the dove found no resting place for the sole of her foot…” (verse 9) Some of the mountain tops were visible, but as of yet, not enough “quality” dry real estate was available for the dove to feel good about alighting upon. Noah sent the raven and the dove out of the ark at intervals of “seven days”. (verse 10) Fourteen days after opening the window and sending out the raven, and seven days after sending out the dove for the second time, “The dove came to him toward evening, and behold, in her beak was a freshly picked olive leaf.” (verse 11) That the dove did not return until evening strongly suggests that it found plenty of dry places to perch and rest. That the olive leaf was “freshly picked” suggests it was growing on a live, exposed tree, and not merely floating on water or lying on the ground.

“The olive tree, one of the earliest to be cultivated in the Near East, is an evergreen. It is extraordinarily sturdy and may thrive for up to a thousand years. Thus it became symbolic of God’s blessings of regeneration, abundance, and strength, which is most likely the function it serves here. In the present context the olive branch is invested with the idea of peace and reconciliation, and for this reason it was incorporated into the official emblem of the State of Israel.” (Nahum Sarna) “It is said by Theophrastus…and Pliny…that the olive strikes leaves even under water. From this event, the olive branch became the symbol of peace, and the dove the emblem of the Comforter, the messenger of peace.” (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)

“Then he waited yet another seven days, and sent out the dove; but she did not return to him again.” (verse 12) This was a sign that the water had dried considerably or completely from the earth’s surface. “The number seven figures very conspicuously in this narrative. Seven days before the showers commence the command to enter the ark is given; and at intervals of seven days the winged messengers are sent out… The clean beasts also and the birds are admitted into the ark by seven pairs. This points to the sacredness associated with the number arising from the hallowed character of the seventh day.” (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)

While I wholeheartedly agree that seven is a richly symbolic number, and that the seventh day was pronounced “holy” or “sacred” by the Lord (Genesis 2:3), He did so in anticipation the future covenant He would make with Israel. The first time the word “Sabbath” is used in the Bible is after Israel’s exodus from Egyptian slavery and the giving of the Law to Moses at Sinai (Exodus 16:23). We do not read of a single commandment or example for any of the ancient patriarchs, including Moses, to keep the Sabbath day holy. But still, it is likely that the number seven did acquire its “sacred” symbolic status because of the seven days of Creation and the seventh day of Creation.

Please read Genesis 8:13-19 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed day!

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 8:1-5

Friday, November 01, 2019

“But God remembered Noah and all the beasts and all the cattle that were with him in the ark; and God caused a wind to pass over the earth, and the water subsided. Also the fountains of the deep and the floodgates of the sky were closed, and the rain from the sky was restrained; and the water receded steadily from the earth, and at the end of one hundred and fifty days the water decreased. In the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, the ark rested upon the mountains of Ararat. The water decreased steadily until the tenth month; in the tenth month, on the first day of the month, the tops of the mountains became visible.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“But God remembered Noah…” (verse 1) It is not that God could have forgotten about the people and animals that were sheltered safely within the ark. But as long as they had been cooped up in the great vessel, it may have seemed to them as if the Lord had lost track of them. Sometimes when a leg of our journey upon this earth seems particularly long, dark, lonely and cold, we may feel as if the Lord has forgotten us. But He is working things out for our favor in remote realms of inapproachable light beyond our ability to see. “The whole race of mankind, except Noah and his family, was now extinguished, and gone into the land of forgetfulness, so that God’s remembering Noah was the return of his mercy to mankind, of whom he would not make a full end. Noah himself, though one that had found grace in the eyes of the Lord, yet seemed to be forgotten in the ark; but at length God returned in mercy to him, and that is expressed by his remembering him.” (Benson Commentary)

“God caused a wind to pass over the earth, and the water subsided.” (verse 1) Just as in the beginning when “The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters” (Genesis 1:2), so now “a wind” passed over the waters in the days of the flood. The same word for “spirit” and “wind” is the Hebrew word “ruwach”. As the “Spirit” moved over the surface of the deep in the beginning to bring order from chaos, so God sent a “wind” to pass over the top of the floodwaters to restore order from chaos. “The same hand that brings the desolation, must bring the deliverance; to that hand, therefore, we must ever look. When afflictions have done the work for which they are sent, whether killing work or curing work, they will be taken away. As the earth was not drowned in a day, so it was not dried in a day. God usually works deliverance for his people gradually, that the day of small things may not be despised, nor the day of great things despaired of.” (Matthew Henry)

“Also the fountains of the deep and the floodgates of the sky were closed, and the rain from the sky was restrained” (verse 2) Here we see a definite distinction made between “the floodgates of the sky” and “the rain from the sky,” strongly suggesting that the “floodgates” were the “cosmic ocean” described in Genesis 1:7 as “the waters which were above the expanse.” The Lord “opened” the sky and “unleashed” the rain to initiate the immense inundation, and after forty days it was His hand that “closed” and “restrained” them to abate the floodwaters. “And the water receded steadily from the earth, and at the end of one hundred and fifty days the water decreased.” (verse 3) The Holman Christian Standard Bible renders this verse: “The water steadily receded from the earth, and by the end of 150 days the waters had decreased significantly.” The water level dropped steadily more and more until after the timespan of 150 days (likely including the 40 days and nights of rain), the water was considerably, conspicuously, noticeably lower. When God allows an appreciable improvement to be seen during a prolonged period of stressfulness, that is always good for lifting human minds and spirits.

“In the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, the ark rested upon the mountains of Ararat.” (verse 4) “Not on Mount Ararat but on the highest peak in Ararat, which is a lofty tableland mentioned in 2 Kings 19:37, Isaiah 37:38, and Jeremiah 51:27. It is known as Urartu in Assyrian inscriptions. That kingdom occupied a large portion of present-day Armenia between the River Araxes and Lake Van. The sources of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers lie in this region. Today there is a mountain called Ararat near the conjunction of the Turkish, Armenian, and Iranian borders. Rising nearly 17,000 feet (5,185 m.) above sea level, its peak is perpetually covered with snow.” (Nahum Sarna) This indicates that the ark bottomed out on one of the mountains of Ararat, but the mountains themselves had not yet become exposed. “In the tenth month, on the first day of the month, the tops of the mountains became visible.” (verse 5) “Reckoning 30 days for a month, we thus have an interval of 73 days between the grounding of the ark upon the mountains of Ararat and the visibility of the other mountains.” (Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges)

Please read Genesis 8:6-12 for tomorrow.

Have a great day!

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 7:17-24

Thursday, October 31, 2019

“Then the flood came upon the earth for forty days, and the water increased and lifted up the ark, so that it rose above the earth. The water prevailed and increased greatly upon the earth, and the ark floated on the surface of the water. The water prevailed more and more upon the earth, so that all the high mountains everywhere under the heavens were covered. The water prevailed fifteen cubits higher, and the mountains were covered. All flesh that moved on the earth perished, birds and cattle and beasts and every swarming thing that swarms upon the earth, and all mankind; of all that was on the dry land, all in whose nostrils was the breath of the spirit of life, died. Thus He blotted out every living thing that was upon the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky, and they were blotted out from the earth; and only Noah was left, together with those that were with him in the ark. The water prevailed upon the earth one hundred and fifty days.”

---End of Scripture verses---

I cannot improve on James Burton Coffman’s commentary on verses 17-20 so we will just go with his observations: "‘The waters increased, and bare up the ark... The waters prevailed and increased... The waters prevailed exceedingly upon the earth...’ This threefold multiplication of the flood waters upon the earth is a most impressive superlative, culminating at last in the inundation of all the high mountains under heaven. Natural man has a rough time with this; it is totally beyond his capacity to believe or accept it, resulting in the response: ‘It has lost contact with history entirely!’ There are simply too many things in this that men cannot explain for some of them to believe it, but, we might add, such men are exactly like Noah's generation who also could not conceive of such a thing. Did it really happen? Of course it did! Every nation under the heaven, in all continents, testifies to the truth of this report by its myths and legends, which are nothing but distorted and perverted tales of the same event, but this account is different. It is accurately and precisely dated; it is embedded in the matrix of a moral theology that assigns plausible and accurate moral reasons for the catastrophe. Both the judgment and the mercy inherent in the event are fully in character with the nature of God, as revealed in both Testaments… A scientific community that has no explanation whatever of how marine fossils are found at elevations above the snowline in the Cordilleras and the Himalayas are not at all convincing in their shouted denials that what is recorded here is a record of what really happened.”

“All flesh that moved on the earth perished, birds and cattle and beasts and every swarming thing that swarms upon the earth, and all mankind.” (verse 21) What shock and horror these pitiful people (and animals) must have felt when the floodwaters continually rose until they struggled to take their last, helpless, dying breath. Our Lord, Jesus said in Luke 17:27, “They were eating, they were drinking, they were marrying, they were being given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all.” It may seem merciless on the part of God to do such an extreme thing, but He gave them ample time over the decades while the ark was being built (1 Peter 3:21), and ample warning from a godly preacher of righteousness to turn from their evil ways (2 Peter 2:5). “‘As I live!’ declares the Lord God, ‘I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn back, turn back from your evil ways!” (Ezekiel 33:11). The Lord is “patient…not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” But His longsuffering of sinfulness is not eternal. His patience reached the point of termination with that evil generation, and it will reach an end someday “soon” when the Lord Jesus comes in Final Judgment to obliterate the physical universe.

“Of all that was on the dry land, all in whose nostrils was the breath of the spirit of life, died.” (verse 22) Both Hebrew words for “spirit” or “breath” are used in this verse. “Breath” here is the word “nashama”, and the word for “spirit” is the typical word used 372 times in the Old Testament, “ruwach”. This would obviously comprise all living and breathing creatures that dwelled upon the earth, but the less frequently used word “nashama” (24 times) likely emphasizes human beings who “the LORD God formed…of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath (nashama) of life; and man became a living soul.” (Genesis 2:7) “The water prevailed upon the earth one hundred and fifty days.” (verse 24) “Prevailed"—were strong, as in Genesis 7:18. The rains lasted forty days; for one hundred and ten more days they still bore up the ark, and then it grounded. But though still mighty, they had by this time “abated” (see Genesis 8:3), inasmuch as, instead of covering the hills to the depth of nearly four fathoms, the ark now had touched dry land.” (Elliot’s Commentary for English Readers)

Please read Genesis 8:1-5 for tomorrow.

Have a great day!

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 7:6-16

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

“Now Noah was six hundred years old when the flood of water came upon the earth. Then Noah and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives with him entered the ark because of the water of the flood. Of clean animals and animals that are not clean and birds and everything that creeps on the ground, there went into the ark to Noah by twos, male and female, as God had commanded Noah. It came about after the seven days, that the water of the flood came upon the earth. In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on the same day all the fountains of the great deep burst open, and the floodgates of the sky were opened. The rain fell upon the earth for forty days and forty nights. On the very same day Noah and Shem and Ham and Japheth, the sons of Noah, and Noah’s wife and the three wives of his sons with them, entered the ark, they and every beast after its kind, and all the cattle after their kind, and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth after its kind, and every bird after its kind, all sorts of birds. So they went into the ark to Noah, by twos of all flesh in which was the breath of life. Those that entered, male and female of all flesh, entered as God had commanded him; and the Lord closed it behind him.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“Noah was six hundred years old when the flood” came. (verse 7). Genesis 5:32 tells us that “Noah was five hundred years old, and Noah became the father of Shem, Ham, and Japheth.” This may appear to state that Noah’s three sons were triplets, but upon further investigation this cannot be the case. Genesis 11:10 says that “Shem was one hundred years old, and became the father of Arpachshad two years after the flood.” This means that he must have been 98 (100 minus 2) years old when he entered the ark with his 600 year old father. Since at least one of Noah’s sons must have been born in his 500th year, it had to have been Japheth because Genesis 9:24 states that Ham was his youngest son. Japheth would have been 100, Shem 98 and Ham somewhat younger still when they boarded the great ark of salvation.

“There went into the ark to Noah by twos, male and female…” (verse 9) This likely suggests that God brought the animals unto Noah without him having to constrain them and compel them by force to enter the ark. This does not imply, however, that no effort was required on Noah’s part in leading them into the vessel and positioning them in their stations. Just that Noah oversaw the mass influx while God controlled the beasts by supernatural measures. This whole endeavor was one of the most amazing, physical undertakings recorded in all the Bible, and involved many miraculous measures to pull it off.

“In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on the same day all the fountains of the great deep burst open, and the floodgates of the sky were opened.” (verse 11) This could have taken place in the spring or the fall, depending on when exactly the new year was measured from at the time. “The fountains” and “the floodgates” could simply refer to the oceans and the rainclouds, but I think there is much more involved than merely the rising of the seas and the pouring down of precipitation. Nahum Sarna suggests the following meaning: “The ‘great deep’ is the cosmic abyssal water… The ‘floodgates of the sky’ are openings in the expanse of the heavens through which water from the celestial part of the cosmic ocean can escape onto the earth. In other words, creation is being undone, and the world returned to chaos… Human wickedness inevitably undermines the very foundations of society, so that the pillars upon which rest the permanence of all earthly relationships totter and collapse, bringing ruin and disaster to mankind.”

“The rain fell upon the earth for forty days and forty nights.” (verse 12) There is no natural phenomenon that could account for rain pouring continuously for forty straight days in a single location, let alone over the entire face of the globe. In verse 7 the Lord told Noah, “I will send rain on the earth forty days and forty nights.” The Lord Yahweh reigns supreme over all laws of nature and can choose to control them directly at any time and in any place when He so chooses. Of course the Lord Jesus shares this absolute supremacy with the Father in heaven. “And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being covered with the waves; but Jesus Himself was asleep. And they came to Him and woke Him, saying, ‘Save us, Lord; we are perishing!’ He said to them, ‘Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?’ Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the sea, and it became perfectly calm. The men were amazed, and said, ‘What kind of a man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?’” (Matthew 8:24-27)

“On the very same day Noah and Shem and Ham and Japheth, the sons of Noah, and Noah’s wife and the three wives of his sons with them, entered the ark.” (verse 13) I believe the Lord specified that the three sons of Noah collectively had “three wives” to emphasize that they were not polygamists. Each son had one single wife, the way God designed the marriage covenant to be from before the very beginning. One man and one wife until death separates that one-flesh relationship. From eight people the entire world would be repopulated after the gargantuan flood that wiped out the totality of all terrestrial lifeforms outside of the safety of the ark.

“And the Lord closed it behind him.” (verse 16) “Schaeffer described this as a hard verse, and so it is. There may have been some of those souls to whom he preached so long and so faithfully for whom Noah still had hope that they would enter and be spared; and he would have found it difficult indeed to close the door of hope; but God spared him that act of sorrow by himself sealing the gate of life. The day of grace was then over. The long deserved destruction of rebellious mankind would appear at once. So it is today. Man can neither open nor close the way of salvation, either for themselves or for others. Behold, I have set before thee a door opened, which no man can shut (Revelation 3:24). Our Lord Jesus Christ is described as, He that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth and none shall shut, and shutteth and none openeth (Rev. 3:7b).” (James Burton Coffman)

Please read Genesis 7:17-24 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed day!

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 7:1-5

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

“Then the Lord said to Noah, ‘Enter the ark, you and all your household, for you alone I have seen to be righteous before Me in this time. You shall take with you of every clean animal by sevens, a male and his female; and of the animals that are not clean two, a male and his female; also of the birds of the sky, by sevens, male and female, to keep offspring alive on the face of all the earth. For after seven more days, I will send rain on the earth forty days and forty nights; and I will blot out from the face of the land every living thing that I have made.’ Noah did according to all that the Lord had commanded him.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“Enter the ark…” (verse 1) Here the Lord instructs Noah to load his family, all the animals and himself into the ark. God gave this commandment “seven days” before the waters began to arise and descend (verse 4), but verse 13 tells us that Noah and his family entered the ark on “the very same day” that the rains began to fall. It must have taken a full week for Noah to usher all the animals into the giant vessel and assign them to their appropriate stations.

“For you alone I have seen to be righteous before Me in this time.” (verse 1) It is amazing what the faithfulness and righteousness of one man can accomplish for the world. Noah positively influenced and saved his entire family, and preserved the posterity of the entire animal kingdom because he “alone” trusted the Lord in loving, obedient faith. He was not a perfect man, but he had a heart that desired to please the Lord above all else. Because of this one man’s righteousness, you and I are living and prospering, and sitting here reading these verses today. Please do not underestimate the positive affect that your godly example can have on your family, friends, neighbors, workmates and community and on their futures. A sinful example can do just as much harm as an excellent example can produce good.

Noah was previously commanded to take only two of each animal onto the ark, but in verses 2-3 God instructed him to take seven pairs of “clean animals,” including clean “birds” as well. This is not a contradiction but further details that were revealed to Noah and are now disclosed to the readers. The reason for the additional clean animals is divulged in the text only after the floodwaters were receded: “Then Noah built an altar to the Lord, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar.” (Genesis 8:20) Some scholars suggest that these were also included as food for Noah’s family, but there is no distinction made between clean and unclean food sources until much later in the Bible. After exiting the ark, God gave “Every moving thing that is alive” as a human food source (Genesis 9:3).

“I will send rain on the earth forty days and forty nights; and I will blot out from the face of the land every living thing that I have made.” (Verse 4) James Burton Coffman wrote: “Two things of special interest here are the use of the number ‘forty,’ and the destruction of animals, which may not be considered sinful, along with the punishment of human wickedness. Regarding the first of these, Unger pointed out that ‘forty’ appears in both O.T. and N.T. as ‘the sacred number of trial and patience,’ there being many examples of it: Jesus' fasting for forty days, the children of Israel wandering in the wilderness for forty years, etc. Regarding the second, Jamieson pointed out that such was necessary in order to preserve the ecological balance on the earth. At a time when the human family was being reduced so drastically in numbers, the unlimited proliferation of the lower creation would have become a threat to the lives of men.”

“Noah did according to all that the Lord had commanded him.” (verse 5) It cannot be stressed enough how important this phrase is. That’s why it is repeated frequently in the Sacred Writ for emphasis. None of the good things that befell Noah and his family would have happened if he had not done all that the Lord had commanded him. We can expect no different outcome for ourselves. The Lord “will render to each person according to his deeds: to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life; but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation.” (Romans 2:6-8)

Please read Genesis 7:6-15 for tomorrow.

Have a great day!

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 6:17-22

Monday, October 28, 2019

“'Behold, I, even I am bringing the flood of water upon the earth, to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life, from under heaven; everything that is on the earth shall perish. But I will establish My covenant with you; and you shall enter the ark—you and your sons and your wife, and your sons’ wives with you. And of every living thing of all flesh, you shall bring two of every kind into the ark, to keep them alive with you; they shall be male and female. Of the birds after their kind, and of the animals after their kind, of every creeping thing of the ground after its kind, two of every kind will come to you to keep them alive. As for you, take for yourself some of all food which is edible, and gather it to yourself; and it shall be for food for you and for them.' Thus Noah did; according to all that God had commanded him, so he did.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“Behold, I, even I am bringing the flood...” (verse 17). The Lord had just instructed and commanded Noah to build an ark according to very rigid specifications. This would undoubtedly be an arduous task on the part of Noah, with, I am assuming, the assistance of his family. No power tools. No electric lights. No construction vehicles. Just a lot of hard, intensive, prolonged manual labor. God is now in effect saying: “Noah, you do your part, and I (even I) will do My part.” Noah builds the ark. God brings the flood to save him from that perverse and evil generation (not to mention the flood itself).

This is ever the way of the Lord in His dealings with His faithful children. He always requires some “work” on our part in the unfolding of our salvation (Philippians 2:12). As Noah was required to build the vessel that would provide salvation from the flood for him and his family, so the Lord demands that certain requirements be fulfilled by us for our eternal salvation. Among those requirements is baptism for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38). This in no way suggests that we are “earning” our salvation, or that it is a "works based" salvation, because we could never “do” enough work to produce it. God saves us by His awesome power and amazing grace. But we still must obey the conditional commandments that God places upon reception of that saving grace. 1 Peter 3:20-21 even compares the salvation that Noah experienced through the waters of the flood with the waters of “baptism” that also "now saves” us.

“The flood of water upon the earth...” (verse 17). The wording here suggests that the flood of water that God would bring “upon the earth” may have existed somewhere else prior to that devastating terrestrial deluge. This could possibly be the “the waters which were above the expanse” spoken of in Genesis 1:7. Nahum Sarna commented on this observation in his JPS Commentary: “The extraordinary term mabbul indicates the unparalleled cataclysmic nature of the event. The definite article implies some well-known entity. The closer definition here and in 7:6, 'waters upon the earth,' points to a celestial origin. This suggests that mabbul was a technical term denoting the heavenly or upper part of the original cosmic ocean that is now allowed to fall upon the earth.”

“To destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life...” (verse 17) Obviously this would exclude any animal that Noah would bring into the ark for safekeeping, and any sea-dwelling creatures that did not require “breath” to survive under the surface of the water. “Everything that is” left “on” the surface of “the earth shall perish.” This positively speaks to the world-wide nature of the cataclysm that was about to befall all air-breathing creatures that walked upon the face of the earth, and all carbon dioxide “breathing” plant life as well. It is chilling to contemplate the sheer horror that must have engulfed the entirety of the earth's population save the relatively few protected souls on the ark, but it clearly speaks to the utter moral corruption of man and the breakneck reckless abandon by which they pursued their daily affairs.

“But I will establish My covenant with you...” (verse 18) This is the first time we see the word “covenant” used in the Bible. It is the Hebrew word “berit” and it means an “alliance” or “pledge”. Of course this “agreement” was not entered into by parties of equal stature. The All-Powerful Creator made it, “pledged” it, initiated it and placed all the stipulations within it, and it was up to Noah, the completely dependent creation, to obediently enter into this “alliance” and faithfully abide by all of God's specifications.

But what was the nature of this covenant? Was it just a reiteration of the “blessing” that God gave to Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply (Genesis 1:28; 9:1)? Some believe God made this promise in anticipation of the rainbow He would set in the sky after the flood. But that was just “the sign of the covenant”. (Genesis 9:12-13) This is what James Burton Coffman had to say about God's covenant with Noah: “It is remarkable how little attention is paid to God's covenant with Noah, which is by far the most important thing in the chapter, in that the redemption of the entire human race afterward is most surely involved it... The necessity for this covenant derived from the fact that the promise of deliverance God had made to Eve (Genesis 3:15) was apparently about to be abrogated and canceled through the death of all mankind, as God had just announced. What about the Seed (singular) who would crush the head of the Serpent? This covenant was God's arrangement with Noah, whereby the Seed would be delivered through him and his posterity.”

“And of every living thing of all flesh, you shall bring two of every kind into the ark, to keep them alive with you; they shall be male and female.” (verse 19) Concerning the nature of the “kind” of each animal that Noah was commanded to bring into the ark, Trevor Major wrote in the Apologetics Press article, “Origins and the 'Created Kind' Concept” the following: “In 1941, Frank Marsh coined the term “baramin”—a compound of the Hebrew words bara (“created”) and min (“kind”). He suggested that the nearest equivalent to the created kind would vary, depending on the greatest taxonomic level at which two organisms could interbreed (1976, p. 34). For example, while there are several species of cattle and bison, they probably belong to the same kind because they all can interbreed (Marsh, 1976, p. 31).”

Noah was also commanded to take enough food for himself and his family and all the animals on the ark to sustain them for a whole year! What a massive undertaking this must have been! Gathering the materials, transporting the materials, building the ark, populating the ark, gathering and storing enough food for hundreds of animals! The most amazing thing of all and the most telling revelation about the faith of this great man is this: “Thus Noah did; according to all that God had commanded him, so he did.” (verse 22) Friends, we must make it our primary ambition in life to do all that the Lord has commanded of us if we want to be seated safely within Christ Jesus when all the world is torched at His Second Coming!

Please read Genesis 7:1-5 for tomorrow.

Have a great day!

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 6:9-16

Sunday, October 27, 2019

“These are the records of the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his time; Noah walked with God. Noah became the father of three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Now the earth was corrupt in the sight of God, and the earth was filled with violence. God looked on the earth, and behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way upon the earth. Then God said to Noah, 'The end of all flesh has come before Me; for the earth is filled with violence because of them; and behold, I am about to destroy them with the earth. Make for yourself an ark of gopher wood; you shall make the ark with rooms, and shall cover it inside and out with pitch. This is how you shall make it: the length of the ark three hundred cubits, its breadth fifty cubits, and its height thirty cubits. You shall make a window for the ark, and finish it to a cubit from the top; and set the door of the ark in the side of it; you shall make it with lower, second, and third decks.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“These are the records of the generations of Noah.” (verse 9) This is the third usage of the Hebrew word “toledot” (“generations”), and marks the third major division recorded in the book of Genesis. What follows is the developments of the life of one of the greatest men in all of inspired Scripture—Noah. “Noah was a righteous man.” The Hebrew writer tells us, “By faith Noah, being warned by God about things not yet seen, in reverence prepared an ark for the salvation of his household, by which he condemned the world, and became an heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.” (Hebrews 11:7) He was declared righteous or “upright” by God because of his obedient faith.

Noah was “blameless in his time.” Compared to all other people living in the world along with Noah, he was the standard bearer for godly living. But obeying God is not a competition with your fellowman, and you need not be the only righteous person living on earth to be considered “blameless”. The word describes conduct that is “beyond reproach,” and while it by no means implies perfection, it does speak to the highest level of integrity. Noah shares the honorable distinction with his forebear Enoch to have God's word declare he “walked with God.” I can't think of a better way to be remembered in the eyes of God and human posterity than to have been righteous, blameless and to have walked with God.

“Now the earth was corrupt in the sight of God, and the earth was filled with violence.” (verse 11) While Noah is depicted as “blameless” and “upright” in “the sight of God,” the inhabitants of the world were just the opposite. They were “corrupt” and they corrupted the whole earth with their perversity and moral rottenness and decay. This absence of moral restraint led to acts of “violence” of the worst sorts by aggressors against their fellow man. When a “civilization” refuses to hold itself to a high standard of personal ethics, disregard for the lives of others will invariably follow. The whole world had gone the way of Cain whose unrestrained anger and jealousy led to the murder of his younger brother in cold blood. It is appalling to think of the violent acts of murder currently committed against millions of innocent young babies each year, and it is certain that God is equally displeased, disgusted and grieved by what He sees when he looks down upon the earth today.

“God looked on the earth, and behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way upon the earth.” (verse 12) The word “flesh” has many different meanings when used in the Bible, but in this context it just refers to people. The people God created good had “corrupted their” own “way”. The burden of responsibility falls squarely upon the violators when they commit acts of sin, immorality and violence. The devil doesn't make us do it. It is not society's fault when criminals break the law. Criminals cannot rightly accuse their parents when they chose the path of corruption and violence. And, while it is true that some parents contribute to the delinquency of their grown children by neglect or abuse, the offender will bear the burden of his guilt through the exercise of his own free will to do wrong.

“I am about to destroy them with the earth.” (verse 13) It took all of ten generations from the creation of the first man for human sinfulness and immorality to plunge to such horrid depths that God saw fit to purge the earth with a universal flood. God allows people to go their own way and this is what happens when the created chooses to live their lives apart from the guidance and dictates of the One that created them. “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.” (Romans 1:18-20)

“Make for yourself an ark of gopher wood.” (verse 14) There is no way to be certain what tree this wood would have been taken from or even if such a tree is in existence today. Be that as it may, Nahum Sarna opined the following about gopher wood: “The otherwise unknown type almost certainly refers to a coniferous tree of great durability. Sanhedrin 108b and the Targums, as well as Radak, identify it with the cedar. Many modern scholars prefer the cypress both because of a similarity in sound to the Hebrew and because it was widely used in shipbuilding in ancient times, due to its resistance to rot.” Whatever gopher wood may have been no matter what it was good for, God could have kept the ark together and afloat during the flood with whatever means He saw fit. He could have told Noah to sow fig leaves together in the form of a great ship and that would have equally sufficed if God's power was behind it. The important thing to note is that God specified gopher wood and Noah obeyed God's commands. That is what made Noah righteous and blameless and that is why he and his family were brought safely through the waters of the flood.

Writing on the seaworthiness and reliability of the ark based on God's required dimensions, Doctors Burt Thompson and Brad Harrub wrote in the Apologetics Press article, “An Examination of Noah’s Ark and the Global Flood,” the following:

“One of the most frequent charges critics raise is against the ark itself, as they assert that it was not large enough to do its job. This charge is easily refuted, since Scripture provides us with the dimensions of the vessel. God told Noah to make 'the length of the ark three hundred cubits, the breadth of it fifty cubits, and the height of it thirty cubits”'(Genesis 6:15)... Using the most conservative estimate available for the length of the cubit (17.5 inches), Whitcomb and Morris have shown that the ark would have been 437.5 feet long, 72.92 feet wide, and 43.75 feet high. In its three decks (Genesis 6:16), it had a total area of approximately 95,700 square feet—the equivalent of slightly more than twenty standard basketball courts. Its total volume would have been about 1,396,000 cubic feet. The gross tonnage (a measurement of cubic space rather than weight, one ton being equivalent to 100 cubic feet of usable storage space) was about 13,960 tons (p. 10).

“These ratios are strikingly similar to those of the S.S. Jeremiah O’Brien (one of the 'Liberty Ships' constructed during World War II), which was launched in 1943. During the war, a fleet of ships was created in response to the critical shortage of maritime cargo ships. These ships were manned, for the most part, by merchant seamen who carried all kinds of wartime supplies through the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, the Mediterranean Sea, and the Persian Gulf. The S.S. Jeremiah O’Brien measured 441 feet long and 56 feet wide, and could displace 14,300 tons when fully loaded (see Jaffee, 1993). When U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt was shown the plans in 1941 for this fleet, he approved of the efficiency of the proposed design, but commented, 'Admiral, I think this ship will do us very well. She’ll carry a good load. She isn’t much to look at, though is she? A real ugly duckling' (as quoted in Jaffee, p. 4). The S.S. Jeremiah O’Brien thus became known by the nickname, 'Ugly Duckling.' Jaffee, in describing the advantage of this new fleet, wrote:

“Driven by an obsolete reciprocating engine with coal burning fire-tube boilers, the vessel had been built, year after year, on the River Tyne and had proven its reliability in trades where speed was secondary to reliability (pp. 2-3, emp. Added). The ark, just like the S.S. Jeremiah O’Brien, was not built for speed (it had nowhere to go!). But it did need to be reliable—since it would have to withstand pounding waves and whipping winds on the open seas for approximately a year.”

While this is very interesting and even somewhat amusing, once again, the dimensions were perfect for building Noah's Ark because those were the specifications God commanded. If God had specified that the great barge be built in the shape of a giant cube than that would have been the perfect shape to keep the vessel afloat for the several, long months necessary. The power was in God's commandment and in Noah's perfect compliance to God's demands. When God specifies that we do a certain thing in a certain way then we dare not deviate from what He authorizes if we want to be pleasing in His sight (2 Corinthians 5:9).

Please read Genesis 6:17-22 for tomorrow.

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 6:1-8

Saturday, October 26, 2019

“Now it came about, when men began to multiply on the face of the land, and daughters were born to them, that the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves, whomever they chose. Then the Lord said, 'My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, because he also is flesh; nevertheless his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.' The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men, and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown. Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. The Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. The Lord said, 'I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky; for I am sorry that I have made them.' But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“The sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves...” (verse 2). It is a popular belief to view “the sons of God” in this verse to be angels (Job 1:6; 2:1), and that what is depicted is supernatural and human inbreeding that produces some sort of hybrid, giant superheroes. While this is fascinating and exciting to think about, I have to reject this fanciful notion in favor of a much more likely scenario, and one that fits the preceding and current context much better. I am in total agreement with James Burton Coffman as to why “the sons of God” in this passage cannot be angels:

“No angels have been mentioned in the Bible up to this point, and the supposition that they make their first appearance in the Scripture under the title 'sons of God' is untenable. There are only two classes of angels, the holy angels, and the angels of Satan (fallen angels); and neither class could be viewed here. Holy angels would not have induced men to sin; and fallen angels, in a million years, would never have been designated by the Holy Spirit as 'the sons of God!' Note too that these 'sons of God' 'took them wives of all that they chose,' an unmistakable reference to marriage; and Jesus our Lord flatly declared that angels do not marry (Matthew 22:30). If angels, or other supernatural creatures, had been to blame for the gross wickedness about to envelope mankind, then God would have announced their punishment and destruction, instead of the punishment and destruction of men... God's punishment always falls upon the guilty, and...it was men, not angels, who received punishment here. The two classes of men visible in these verses had already been carefully introduced in Genesis 4 and Genesis 5, the sons of men (in their hardened state) being of the Cainites, and the 'sons of God' being the people of the line of Seth.” Remember Genesis 4:26 tells us that when Enosh was born to Seth, “Then men began to call upon the name of the Lord.”

“My Spirit shall not strive with man forever.” This word “strive” can mean “to judge, contend, plead”. This is a tricky statement but I take it to mean that God would not continue to “plead” with, or try to reach out to, wicked mankind by godly men such as Enoch and Noah, because they were so far gone. Another way to look at it is that God would take away His “restraining grace” because nearly every person on the face of the earth was determined to do wrong. We see this in Romans chapter 1 in regard to the wickedness of the Gentiles where on three separate occasions the Apostle wrote that “God gave them over” to their wickedness, and they spiraled downward into the depths of depravity (Romans 1:24, 26, 28).

“His days shall be one hundred and twenty years.” I view this as God's “grace period” or “window of grace” before He would wipe most of the world's population out with a flood. 1 Peter 3:19-21 tells us that God continued to reach out to sinful man until the waters of the flood came. “In which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison, who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water.” “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9) The “one hundred and twenty years” could possibly be a reference to the shortening of the average human lifespan after the flood, but it seems to me the statement applies to what would happen before the great deluge.

“The Nephilim were on the earth in those days...” (verse 4) Nephilim can mean “giants”. The faithless spies were terrified by the inhabitants of the land of Canaan in Numbers 13:32-33, and reported: “The land through which we have gone, in spying it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants; and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great size. There also we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak are part of the Nephilim); and we became like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.” The Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary says of the Nephilim, “it describes a class of men of worthless and at the same time of violent character,” and that the word can “signify either fallen ones, apostates, or falling upon others.”

“Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown.” (verse 4) “Their violence and lawlessness was spread so far and wide, they obtained lasting notoriety. In subsequent ages of ignorance and idolatry they were exalted by different nations into the demigods of pagan mythology.” Although it is tempting to equate the Nephilim and the mighty men of renown, the text differentiates the two classes of men. It sates that the Nephilim arrived on the scene first, then “afterward” the “sons of God” and the “daughters of men” produced the “mighty men....of renown.” What is being described in these verses is a time of extreme violence, lawlessness and brutality. And God had taken in His fill from His throne on high and was about to put an end to it.

“Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” (verse 5) Quoting Nahum Sarna on “every intent of the thoughts of his heart”: “The term for the innate impulses or drives in human beings that dispose them to good...or evil...and that can be controlled and directed by the exercise of the will. God's observation is a judgment on the moral state of man at that specific time.” What God saw made Him “sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.” (verse 6) “God's decision is made in sorrow not in anger” (Nahum Sarna). It “grieved” Him to have to see what He saw, and do what He was about to do.

“The Lord said, 'I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky; for I am sorry that I have made them.'” (verse 7) It was time to start over. Wash out and clean up the entirety of the earth's population. Make all things new. But why destroy the animals and plants along with the guilty, vile and sinful humans? The truth is that the plants and animals were made for mankind and not for themselves. Destruction is the consequences of sins. They weren't created with an immortal soul to live forever anyway. But man was. And this judgment by God was not Him giving up on humanity but giving it a fresh start and opportunity through His abundant grace. He had suffered long with them but His patience had reached its limit with the pre-flood world.

“But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.”

Please read Genesis 6:9-16 for tomorrow.

Have a great day!

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 5:18-32

Friday, October 25, 2019

“Jared lived one hundred and sixty-two years, and became the father of Enoch. Then Jared lived eight hundred years after he became the father of Enoch, and he had other sons and daughters. So all the days of Jared were nine hundred and sixty-two years, and he died. Enoch lived sixty-five years, and became the father of Methuselah. Then Enoch walked with God three hundred years after he became the father of Methuselah, and he had other sons and daughters. So all the days of Enoch were three hundred and sixty-five years. Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him. Methuselah lived one hundred and eighty-seven years, and became the father of Lamech. Then Methuselah lived seven hundred and eighty-two years after he became the father of Lamech, and he had other sons and daughters. So all the days of Methuselah were nine hundred and sixty-nine years, and he died. Lamech lived one hundred and eighty-two years, and became the father of a son. Now he called his name Noah, saying, ‘This one will give us rest from our work and from the toil of our hands arising from the ground which the Lord has cursed.’ Then Lamech lived five hundred and ninety-five years after he became the father of Noah, and he had other sons and daughters. So all the days of Lamech were seven hundred and seventy-seven years, and he died. Noah was five hundred years old, and Noah became the father of Shem, Ham, and Japheth.”

--- End of Scripture verses---

“‘And he died’… Eight times these ominous words appear in this chapter, emphasizing the reign of death in the long antediluvian journey of Adam's fallen race. What a brutal lie the glib denial of Satan proved to be! The big thing in the chapter, however, is the revelation that in spite of the universal reign of death, the sons of God, that is, people who responded to God's love and honored him, were continued in the posterity of Seth. Apparently, Eve was the first to recognize the special significance of this patriarch, through whom the Chosen People would descend, and through whom, at last, the Messiah would be born. It is quite obvious that the Cainite descendants of Adam were sons of the devil, and that the Sethites were the sons of God. This chapter is particularly concerned with tracing the line of the sons of God. This is evident in the very names that were given: SETH means appointed or seedling; ENOSH means inquire of the Lord; MAHALALEL means praise of God; JARED means descent; ENOCH means dedicated; NOAH means rest.” (James Burton Coffman)

Enoch “walked with God.” “The regular formula, ‘he lived,’ is replaced by a description of how he lived. The idiom is used again only of Noah in 6:9… It is expressive of a life spent in full accord with God’s will and in closest intimacy with Him.” (Nahum Sarna) At the age 365, Enoch lived the shortest earthly life by far of any of the men in Seth’s genealogy. His early departure was not an untimely death but a divine reception. The Lord was so pleased with Enoch (Hebrews 11:5) that He just decided to take him home early. While a long earthly life can certainly be seen as a great blessing, sometimes the Father takes His godly children home sooner than we might expect as an expression of favor. “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose. But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better.” (Philippians 1:21-23)

“All the days of Methuselah were nine hundred and sixty-nine years…” Wow! Almost nailed 1000! But oddly enough, this record of Methuselah always reminds me of the BREVITY of life! Yes he lived for nearly a millennium, but he has been dead for several thousand years now. His life is just a distant memory, just a footnote in an inspired genealogy of a lot of other dearly departed. Friend, you may only live to see 30 years or you could live to the ripe old age of 969! But the only thing that will have mattered in the end is whether you “walked with God” during your short interval of time here on earth like Methuselah’s father did. That will determine if you live for eternity with the Lord in heaven, or suffer forever in the lower realms.

The Lamech of Seth’s lineage must not be confused with the arrogant, vengeful, polygamist Lamech from the line of Cain (Genesis 4:18-24). In fact, there is a striking similarity between several of the names in Cain’s genealogy in chapter 4 and Seth’s descendants in chapter 5. Some scholars insist these must be corrupted accounts of the same genealogies. But,James Burton Coffman observed: “As Willis expressed it, ‘The names are similar because people are fond of repeating names of important ancestors.’ Abraham had a brother and a grandfather named Nahor; there were two Judas' among the Twelve, two Simons among the Twelve; and in the genealogy of Christ one finds such names as Amos, Nahum, Judas, Jesus, two Matthats, Eleazer, and a number of others that may easily be identified with persons outside of Jesus' ancestry. There are so many Marys in the Bible that sometimes it is difficult to determine who is meant!” (James Burton Coffman)

Lamech had a son, and “he called his name Noah.” (verse 29) His name means “rest”, or possibly “relief”, given in his father’s anticipation that Noah would “give us rest from our work and from the toil of our hands arising from the ground which the Lord has cursed.” “Noah began farming” after the Flood (Genesis 9:20), and tradition holds that he invented the plow that revolutionized agricultural endeavors. “As Rashbam observes, since Noah was the first to be born after the death of Adam, his arrival signified some easing of the curse laid on the soil through Adam’s sin. The father looked to ‘relief’…from toil…but instead came God’s decision to wipe out civilization. God ‘regretted’…and was ‘saddened’” (Nahum Sarna)

I thought I waited late in life to have children, but Noah! 500 years old! Shem, Ham and Japheth. Japheth appears to be the oldest son (Genesis 10:21), and Ham is the youngest (Genesis 9:24), so the order is a bit perplexing. It makes perfect sense that Shem is listed first, though, because it is through his lineage that God brings Abraham, Israel and ultimately the Messiah, Jesus into the world!

Please read Genesis 6:1-8 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed day!

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 5:1-17

Thursday, October 24, 2019

“This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day when God created man, He made him in the likeness of God. He created them male and female, and He blessed them and named them Man in the day when they were created. When Adam had lived one hundred and thirty years, he became the father of a son in his own likeness, according to his image, and named him Seth. Then the days of Adam after he became the father of Seth were eight hundred years, and he had other sons and daughters. So all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years, and he died. Seth lived one hundred and five years, and became the father of Enosh. Then Seth lived eight hundred and seven years after he became the father of Enosh, and he had other sons and daughters. So all the days of Seth were nine hundred and twelve years, and he died. Enosh lived ninety years, and became the father of Kenan. Then Enosh lived eight hundred and fifteen years after he became the father of Kenan, and he had other sons and daughters. So all the days of Enosh were nine hundred and five years, and he died. Kenan lived seventy years, and became the father of Mahalalel. Then Kenan lived eight hundred and forty years after he became the father of Mahalalel, and he had other sons and daughters. So all the days of Kenan were nine hundred and ten years, and he died. Mahalalel lived sixty-five years, and became the father of Jared. Then Mahalalel lived eight hundred and thirty years after he became the father of Jared, and he had other sons and daughters. So all the days of Mahalalel were eight hundred and ninety-five years, and he died.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“This is the book of the generations of Adam.” (verse 1) This is the second reference to the word “generations” or “towledah” (Hebrew), and the first of the seven genealogies in Genesis that begins with this term. “This remarkable chapter bridges the time-lapse between the Creation and the Flood, that is, from Adam to Noah… The great purpose of the chapter was not to give the age either of the earth or the human race when the flood came, but to trace the line of people who continued to honor God in those generations leading up to the Deluge.” (James Burton Coffman)

“In the day when God created man, He made them in the likeness of God.” (verse 1) This may sound like a redundant reiteration of Genesis 1:26-27, but the statement is very purposeful and forceful when used as the introduction for this genealogy. When God created Adam and Eve in His “likeness” and “image”, that was a “trait” that was passed on to all of their offspring. All people share a common beginning through the first parents, therefore we are all related physically. And, we all share spiritual ties in that all people are fashioned after the image of the Creator. The two great commandments of all Scripture are to love God above all else and love neighbor as self (Leviticus 19:18; Matthew 22:37-40). Genesis 5:1 shows us why this is true and motivates us to love all people.

“He created them male and female, and blessed them and named them Man…” (verse 2) God created male and female and “blessed them” with the gift of intimacy in the marital union to “be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it.” (Genesis 1:28). We see in the list of generations that follows that good and blessed commandment being fulfilled. God created man with the ability to also “create”, or better yet “procreate”, but He also “named them” to demonstrate His absolute sovereignty and authority over them and their (our) complete subjugation to and dependency upon Him.

Nahum Sarna observed about the pattern in this ancestry list the following: “There is a stereotyped pattern in the genealogy. For each personality, the age at which he first became the father of a son is noted, then the number of his remaining years, then the fact that he fathered sons and daughters, and, finally, the age when he died. The formula is varied in the case of the first and the last on the list, Adam and Noah, so that these constitute a literary framework for the entire list. The seventh, Enoch, is also singled out for special attention, meriting four verses instead of the three uniformly assigned to the other personalities.”

Concerning the long lifespans of our ancestors before the Flood, James Burton Coffman observed: “It must never be forgotten that between us and those dim yesteryears, there roll the vast waters of the mighty Deluge itself, involving not merely the inundation of the earth, but tremendous and cataclysmic changes that accompanied it. In short, the pages of God's book (the earth) have been disrupted and shuffled. If we knew all of the facts, we would have no difficulty with what the Holy Spirit has revealed on these pages. A physician called upon to examine Adam half an hour after he was created, or a wine-taster estimating the age of the wine that Jesus created in Cana, would doubtless have reached conclusions far different from the facts in the case, with reference either to the age of the wine, or of Adam.”

We will pick back up on this genealogy tomorrow – Please read Genesis 5:18-32.

Have a blessed day!

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 4:16-25

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

“Then Cain went out from the presence of the Lord, and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden. Cain had relations with his wife and she conceived, and gave birth to Enoch; and he built a city, and called the name of the city Enoch, after the name of his son. Now to Enoch was born Irad, and Irad became the father of Mehujael, and Mehujael became the father of Methushael, and Methushael became the father of Lamech. Lamech took to himself two wives: the name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other, Zillah. Adah gave birth to Jabal; he was the father of those who dwell in tents and have livestock. His brother’s name was Jubal; he was the father of all those who play the lyre and pipe. As for Zillah, she also gave birth to Tubal-cain, the forger of all implements of bronze and iron; and the sister of Tubal-cain was Naamah. Lamech said to his wives, ‘Adah and Zillah, listen to my voice, you wives of Lamech, give heed to my speech, for I have killed a man for wounding me; and a boy for striking me; If Cain is avenged sevenfold, then Lamech seventy-sevenfold.’ Adam had relations with his wife again; and she gave birth to a son, and named him Seth, for, she said, ‘God has appointed me another offspring in place of Abel, for Cain killed him.’ To Seth, to him also a son was born; and he called his name Enosh. Then men began to call upon the name of the Lord.”

---End of Scripture verses---

Nahum Sarna astutely summarizes this section of Scripture: “The first killing has taken place, and justice has been done. A human life has been extinguished, but life must go on. Humankind proliferates. Cain and his descendants are now listed, seven generations in all. The genealogy is linear, with only the first-born mentioned until the seventh generation; then the list becomes segmented, and more than one branch. Brief narrative material about the development of the arts of civilization is interspersed throughout the list… The list constitutes a silent polemic against the mythological concepts of the ancient world, which attributed the advance of culture to divine or semidivine figures… The development of human culture is demythologized and historicized. The seven-day divine creation of the cosmos is paralleled by these seven generations of human creativity. Man became a copartner with God in the world of creation. At the same time, the ascription of the origins of technology and urban life to Cain and his line constitute an unfavorable…judgment of man’s material progress…a recognition that it frequently outruns moral progress and that human ingenuity, so potentially beneficial, is often directed toward evil ends.”

“Then Cain went out from the presence of the Lord…” (verse 16). Of course it is impossible to travel outside of the sphere of influence of the All-Seeing and All-Knowing Creator of the universe. But Cain’s one-on-one encounters with the Lord were over. He also left his place of origin, near unto the garden where God had manifested himself physically. He travelled to and settled in “Nod”, a word that itself means “wandering”. He is noted for building a city, the first “urbanized” center for human interactivity, commerce, amusement. Cain was “cursed from the ground” (verses 13) for spilling his brother’s blood into it, so he set about pursuing different endeavors.

Cain and his (unnamed) wife had a son they called “Enoch” (verse 17). This man must not be confused with the faithful Enoch of the lineage of Seth who “walked with God” (Genesis 5:24; Hebrews 11:5). The descendants of Cain and his son Enoch moved farther and farther away from the Lord. Enoch’s great-great-grandson, Lamech, holds the dishonorable notoriety of being the world’s first polygamist (verse 19), perverting the God-ordained arrangement of marriage constituting a “one flesh” bond between one man and one woman.

He was also an arrogant and belligerent man, boasting to his wives about killing a man and a boy for doing him harm (verse 23-24). “Although this little poem is somewhat uncertain as to the meaning, it is nevertheless recognized as the oldest poem ever written, at least the oldest that has come down through history, and, tragically, it is a song of murder and vengeance. Perhaps the significant thing in it is the arrogant egotism of Lamech. It was God who had promised to avenge any slayer of Cain, but Lamech does not rely upon God. He apparently thinks that with the new weapons which his son has invented, he does not need God at all; he is fully able to take care of himself. Furthermore, he will do a much bigger and more effective job of avenging himself than God had mentioned in regard to Cain! Whereas, Cain would have been avenged sevenfold, Lamech will execute his own vengeance on a scale ten times as terrible as that God promised upon behalf of Cain!” (James Burton Coffman)

Lamech’s son “Jabal…was the father of those who dwell in tents and have livestock. (verse 20). Jabal’s “brother’s name was Jubal; he was the father of all those who play the lyre and pipe.” (verse 21). Lamech's son “Tubal-cain" was "the forger of all implements of bronze and iron.” (verse 22). “The seventh natural-born generation comprises three brothers, and to each of them a major advance in material culture is attributed. By this time labor has become still more specialized, and an artisan class has arisen. An intriguing question is the reason for highlighting only the three ingredients of civilization mentioned here. The similarity of the sound between the three personal names and the common fatherhood suggests closeness of relationship between the pastoral, musical, and metalworking arts, which in fact is well founded.” (Nahum Sarna)

Adam and Eve had another son and “named him Seth.” (verse 25) “The purpose of the narrator here is to introduce the institution of public worship and to announce the appearance of the Messianic line in the person of Seth and his posterity. It is clear that the evil course of mankind had already been charted by the godless behavior of the descendants of Cain; and this is the introduction of a new and higher element into the history of mankind.” (James Burton Coffman)

The Hebrew name “Shet” means "given". The birth of her son Seth compensates Eve for the death of Abel. To Seth a son was born whom he named “Enosh”. “Then men began to call upon the name of the Lord.” (verse 26) These were the godly men who dwelled upon the earth and prayed earnestly to God for his guidance, mercy and provision. There can be no doubt that the first believers in God were not polytheistic idolaters. God gave life to the human race, and, even though people chose to stray from His guidance, love and care, the early generations of men knew from firsthand experience, or knew people who had firsthand experience, who the true God of heaven and earth was.

Please read Genesis 5:1-17 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed day!

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 4:9-15

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

“Then the Lord said to Cain, ‘Where is Abel your brother?’ And he said, ‘I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?’ He said, ‘What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to Me from the ground. Now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you cultivate the ground, it will no longer yield its strength to you; you will be a vagrant and a wanderer on the earth.’ Cain said to the Lord, ‘My punishment is too great to bear! Behold, You have driven me this day from the face of the ground; and from Your face I will be hidden, and I will be a vagrant and a wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.’ So the Lord said to him, ‘Therefore whoever kills Cain, vengeance will be taken on him sevenfold.’ And the Lord appointed a sign for Cain, so that no one finding him would slay him.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“Where is your brother Abel.” (verse 9) As He did when He asked Adam where he was (Genesis 3:9), so the Lord asked Cain concerning the whereabouts of his brother. In both cases the questions were not asked to elicit physical locations but to reveal spiritual conditions of the heart. Both Adam and His murderous son failed the test. Neither confessed with remorseful, godly sorrow, and Cain flat out lied—“I do not know.” Just like his dad, Cain thought he could hide from the Lord. He figured he could kill his brother, hide the body and God would be none the wiser.

Denis Prager observed: “Cain could have responded, ‘I killed him. What’s the problem?’ After all, God had not yet told people not to murder, so why did Cain feel he had to lie about what he had done? The implication in Cain’s response is that he knew that what he did was wrong… the human being has an inner voice—the conscience—that can perceive the difference between right and wrong. Clearly, however, conscience is not good enough for good to prevail in the world. It didn’t work for Cain…and it hasn’t worked much since.”

“Am I my brother’s keeper?” What a brash and shameful thing to say to the God of all life and love and benevolence. Especially after playing God by taking a precious life that only the Creator had the right to rule over. Maybe he was thinking of how his brother was “a keeper of flocks” (verse 2), and still stewing over God's delight in Abel's sacrifice, he scorned the Lord in his sarcasm for playing favorites. But, actually Cain convicted himself with his own, cold words. All human beings should view themselves as their brothers' protectors. It is true that no one is solely responsible for the health and safety of another full-grown, capable adult, but we deny our Maker when we selfishly and exclusively pursue our own personal interests to the neglect of the wellbeing of our brothers and sisters in the human family. “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 2:3-5)

“What have you done?” (verse 10) Not a question but an exclamation of shock and disgust! “The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to Me from the ground.” Nahum Sarna notes that the stem of the Hebrw word for “crying” has legal significance, and “connotes a plea for help or redress on the part of the victim of some great injustice.” James Burton Coffman made some keen observations about what the blood of Abel says as it figuratively cries out from the ground, and as Abel continues to “speak” through his faith:

“What does the blood of Abel Say? “Abel...he being dead yet speaketh” (Hebrews 11:4).

  1. The blood of Abel says that God will one day avenge the crimes perpetrated against the innocent (Romans 12:19).
  2. The blood of Abel says that the righteous are hated without cause (1 John 3:11-13).
  3. The blood of Abel says that it DOES make a difference how men worship Almighty God.
  4. The blood of Abel says that faith is the only key to winning approval of God (Hebrews 11:6).
  5. The blood of Abel says that the only righteousness is in obeying the Word of the Lord (Romans 1:16, 17).”

Nahum Sarna commented on Cain's punishment recorded in verses 11-12: “A breach of moral law inevitably sets in motion countervailing forces that must ultimately prevail because they are sustained by God Himself. Cain, tiller of the soil, whose criminal act was the outcome of his offering the fruits of the soil, stained the earth with his brother's blood. It is fitting, then, that the earth be the instrument of his punishment. It will no longer yield him its produce, and so he can no longer pursue his vocation. He must perforce become a vagrant and an outcast.”

“My punishment is too great to bear!” (verse 13) Still no remorse. Still no acknowledgment of his wrong doing. Still no recognition of appropriate justice administered. As is typical of calculating, calloused criminals when faced with their just desserts, Cain complained that, “It's just not fair!” Cain lamented to the Lord in verse 14 that as a vagrant on the earth and isolated from God's protection, someone would likely seek him out and avenge his brother's blood. This, of course, would be another sibling or cousin avenging the death of a righteous relative.

Surprisingly the Lord responded with mercy and not further reprimand. God promised that He would “appoint a sign” or a “mark” for Cain to announce to the world that he possessed a protected status. Whether it was some external mark or aura or even some sort of signal that Cain would give to ward off a possible assailant, we are simply not told. But somehow God made it conspicuous to Cain's contemporaries.

Please read Genesis 4:16-25 for tomorrow.

Have a great day!

- Louie Taylor

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