|Passage: Genesis 12-15|
On Saturday, January 13, 2018, Yujin wrote,
One of my TaeKwonDo trainers and friends told me that at a recent Evangelical Theological Society Conference a presenter shared that Abram's servants, who fought against the Kings of Canaan in order to rescue Abram's nephew Lot, were likely trained in the martial arts.
How cool is that!
I imagine this nomadic group of shepherds did not travel with a large armory, but they had their sheperd's staff, which could be used like a modern day cane or bokken. Beyond this, they probably knew how to use their hands and feet in combat. In fact, this is what Tae Kwon Do means, namely, "the way of the foot and the fist," or in plain English, the art of kicking and punching.
Abram trained his servants to defend and protect rather than to conquer or oppress. If I might expand, training is not a substitute for prayer and worship, it is an extension of it. When centuries later Joshua warred against the Canaanites, he both trusted God and fought at the same time. Abram did not simply pray for his nephew Lot to be rescued, he prepared and fought.
Training the body is like training the mind and the spirit. God has purposed us to grow by training rather than osmosis. So we also eat and drink and exercise. All these can be acts of worship to the Lord. As the apostle Paul wrote, "So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God" (1 Corinthians 10:31).
So friends, train your Spirit with Bible reading and memorization (this dailyQT site), prayer, and the loving exercise of your faith. Train your mind by reading, thinking and exploring all manner of good and useful ideas. Train your body with exercise and the martial arts. We have TaeKwonDo Classes every Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 6:30-7:30 PM at First Baptist Church of Dallas. We will be opening a new location on March 5, meeting Mondays and Thursdays from 6:30-7:30 PM at Freedom Church in Carrollton. We have schools in six states that you can join. What are you waiting for?!
|Passage: Genesis 12-15|
On Friday, January 13, 2017, Yujin wrote,
Therefore it will happen, when the Egyptians see you, that they will say, ‘This is his wife’; and they will kill me, but they will let you live (Genesis 12:12).
When Abraham received the call of God, his faith was not anywhere near perfect. If it was perfect, would he have worried about being killed by Pharoah?
His faith was like that of Jesus' disciples on the stormy Galilean Sea. They frantically awoke Jesus, saying, "Teacher, don't you care if we drown?" (cf. Mark 4:38). Jesus rebuked them for their weak faith. He had told them that they would "go over to the other side" (Mark 4:35). His word should have been sufficient for them.
So also Abraham. Let us dispense with the notion that Abraham was strong in his faith right from the outset of his call and all through his life. It was anything but that. Consider his wanting confirmation of God's promise with a sign in Genesis 15:8. Consider also his attempt with Sarah to gain children through her servant Hagar in Genesis 18. Consider Abraham's laughter when God promised him a child in his old age (Genesis 17:17). No, Abraham, while a man of faith, was not a man of perfect faith.
I believe God shows the imperfect faith of Abraham to encourage us, so that we will not despair because of the weakness of our faith. Just as Abraham continued to call on the Name of the LORD, we should continue to do so as well, trusting God to complete what is lacking in our faith according to His mercy and grace. Praise God!
|Passage: Genesis 12-15|
On Tuesday, January 12, 2016 (Last Updated on 1/13/2016), Yujin wrote,
God's call to Abram was not in Haran but in Ur, as Stephen makes clear:
The use of the pluperfect tense "had said" also suggests that the command came to Abram some time before they arrived in Haran.
But then we read in Genesis 11:31 that it was Terah's decision to leave Ur for Canaan. Did God also call Terah, who Joshua 24:2 declared was an idolator (Joshua 24:2)? No. The call was clearly to Abraham, for the Book of Hebrews tells us,
So, what are we to make of Genesis 11:31, where Terah is said to have taken his whole family from Ur of the Chaldeans (in Mesopotamia) to Haran on their way to Canaan?
It appears that Abram did not immediately and fully obey God, as he would later do when God commanded him to sacrifice his son Isaac (Genesis 22:3). Abram may have waited for his father Terah to agree or to take the lead in going to Canaan, even though God told Abram to leave both his family and his father's house. Abram went both with his family and his father's house. What is more, rather than going to Ur, they stopped mid-way in Haran (Genesis 11:31). What is more, Abram may have waited till his father Terah died before moving on to Canaan (Genesis 11:32; Acts 7:4). Finally, the journey to Canaan was not some unusual path, for it followed the Fertile Crescent, a path that readily took travelers from Mesopotamia to Canaan. While the Book of Hebrews highlights Abraham's faith and obedience, we discover that at this point Abraham's faith had much to be desired. It was tenuous and undeveloped. So Abram obeyed God by faith and entered into the land of Canaan, but only after considerable preparatory steps had been taken by God.
Friends, these observations should encourage us greatly. Abraham is known for his faith. When that faith is overly glamorized, it seems so far out of the reach of ordinary folks like you and me. But when we recognize that Abraham himself was an average "Joe" and that his faith needed to be nurtured and helped by the grace and providence of God, we can have a greater sense of hope. As Paul wrote,
Accounts like that of Abraham were given to us not as some perfect and unattainable ideal. On the contrary, they show that even the great men of old were just as fallible as we are and just as dependent on God's grace; therefore, we can have hope.
|Passage: Genesis 12-15|
On Monday, January 13, 2014 (Last Updated on 1/12/2016), Yujin wrote,
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" (Genesis 15:1).
God spoke to Abraham in various ways. Here he speaks to him in a vision. He gives Abraham words of encouragement, which were certainly needed after Abraham carried out a military campaign to rescue his nephew Lot. Abraham likely feared retribution. How could his small crew survive if one or more of the large peoples in the land decided to come against him?
God tells him not to be afraid. Why? God will protect him, so that he should not fear any loss. God will provide for him, so that he would experience great gain.
I am not so sure that God gives such visions today though I would like to believe that He does. I often have mornings when I get up disheartened and fearful, usually because of strains in relationships, business and ministry uncertainties, or spiritual and moral frustration. In these times I pray to the Lord, confessing my sins, appealing to His restorative grace, and petitioning Him to guide me to the kind of attitude and lifestyle that most pleases Him.
In those moments, I sometimes think that God is speaking to me, that is, in my mind, saying something like, "I am with you," and "I will make you great" or "You will do great things." I normally don't dwell too much on this because I often imagine this is simply my own self-talk, where my inner voice pretends to be the voice of God to encourage me out of my depressed stupor.
Even so, whether imagined or real, I am encouraged. But I don't put too much stock in such experiences because they are often misguided or simply wrong. Nevertheless, when such inner counsel is simply words of encouragement, I don't throw it all out because I think that while God may not be directly speaking to me in the moment, He has spoken similar things in His Word. Therefore, rather than finding comfort in the words as some special and questionable revelation from God, I find comfort in the timeless and inerrant revelation of God in His Word.
Therefore, I know that as a Christian I can trust with confidence that God is both my Protector and my Provider. I know this because God has promised this to me in His Word (e.g. Romans 8:31-39).
And I find no less assurance from receiving words of encouragement in this way. In fact, my assurance is even greater, for it does not depend on my perception of things. I do not need to wonder whether I am speaking to myself or if God is speaking, for I can know with certainty that what I have heard is what God has clearly revealed in His Word.
Friends, this is, therefore, what I recommend to you as well. Those that claim to have heard directly from God are often afflicted with selective amnesia, for they forget the times when their perceptions were wrong about things. People often remember only what they want to remember and the way they want to remember it. Oftentimes, when they keep their experiences private, little harm may be done, as it only affects them; however, some try to impose their pretense of hearing from God on others, which can do great harm. Places like IHOP (International House of Prayer) have done great harm through their "prophecy rooms", for they make themselves out to be mediators of God's revelation, leading people to cling to a false hope in what they hear from an IHOP prophet.
Friends, everyone who has the Spirit of God can hear from God directly without the need for other human intermediaries. Why would God need you to go to some special place hundreds of miles away to hear Him? Is the Spirit, who saved you, lives in you, and leads you, mute unless He has an intermediary from IHOP speaking for Him to you? Isn't it rather a sign of unbelief for you to go to such places?
Friends, stop looking for signs, prophecies, or ecstatic experiences. Simply and humbly trust in God's written Word and obey what is already clearly revealed there. And the Spirit, who lives in you, will apply the truths of God's Word to the specific challenges you face in your life.
|Passage: Genesis 12-15|
On Friday, March 29, 2013, Fernando wrote,
16 And for her sake he dealt well with Abram;
God blesses all in certain ways equally. If you are a Christian and live in the desert you will receive as much rain as your neighbor. If you have minimum wage job you will live like those with minimum wage jobs. If you have a high power job you will have to manage stress like those who have high power jobs.
God already said “I will be with you.” If like Abram, we walk trying to be clever and think like the world thinks, we may still get the results that would have come, but unfortunately you will not have learned that it was from God. You might assume it was your clever devices. We are all susceptible to this kind of deception.
Only with daily meditation on God’s word do we gain the chance of knowing God better through all the possible explanations. I think often we will not get an explanation. But just as God said he IS the way, or IS the truth; he IS our explanation.
We often seek to know ‘why’ through understanding the steps or order of things. We have something better that surpasses all understanding - the understanding of steps or order of things- we know the Alpha and Omega. This Alpha and Omega, this Joy, is how we can be ‘Anxious about nothing, but in everything in prayer.’
|Passage: Genesis 12-15|
On Sunday, January 13, 2013, Yujin wrote,
Friends, Genesis 12:1-3 is a significant passage in the history of Israel and the church. It stands as the first of the five great covenants God made with His people Israel, of which we Gentiles share in the spiritual benefits. To understand the hope of Israel and the church, one must understand the nature of these covenants. When the Old Testament speaks of the love of God, it almost always, if not always, stands in connection with one or more of these covenants.
One of the clearest and least technical presentations that I've found on the web is by Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum, who is himself a Jewish Christian. He not only addresses the significance of these covenants, he also explains the significant matter of the Christian's freedom from the Mosaic Law. Here is his explanation of the eight covenants of the Bible.
Eight Covenants of the Bible by Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum (just 40 pages).
|Passage: Genesis 12-15|
On Saturday, January 14, 2012 (Last Updated on 1/12/2016), Matt wrote,
Yujin, thank you for posing these questions. I agree that critical thinking can be easily replaced with anything you might find on the internet or hear from the pulpit that doesn't originate from God's word. My thoughts follow and I welcome readers' responses.
QUESTION 1: Are all the commands of God of equal weight? Is there such a thing as a greater good or a worse evil?
The way I read this question is in regard to our keeping of them. Another way to look at it is not keeping them is sin. Are all sins equal? To answer this question I refer to the following passages:
1 John 3:4
These verses collectively say a sin is a sin. What these verses don't address is within the category of lawlessness whether there are varying degrees of sin. Is this what the question is?
QUESTION 2: How do you understand the command not to "bear false witness"? What is the nature and intent of the command? Is it an absolute command or somewhat situational?
I believe God does not desire us to sin. Lying is bearing false witness whether it is for a good reason or not. So in the example where Rahab lied about the Israelite spies, I believe God's plan would have prevailed regardless of whether Rahab lied or not. Even if the reason is for good, lying is still a sin and lack of faith. Do we really think that we have to lie (whether good or bad) to control the outcome? Can we really thwart God's plan?
QUESTION 3: Is God also subject to the commands He gives to people? In answering this you may also consider whether God is subject to natural laws. Specifically, the Bible says that God cannot lie (Titus 1:2; Hebrews 6:18). How do you understand this?
I believe Yujin has actually commented on this in previous posts. Not being able to recall or find the specific posts, I will share the two main points I believe are relative. God is the Maker we are the creation. A Maker is not confined to the rules, restrictions and limitations of His creations.
Yujin responds... This is some excellent thinking! If I might add some observations that might disrupt this line of thinking even more this year...
(1) With respect to the first question regarding whether some commands of God are greater than others and whether there is such a thing as a greater good or lesser evil, Matt cites three passages to argue that "sin is sin". Consider two of them:
1 John 3:4
These verses certainly teach that sin is sin, but they do not negate the possibility of greater and lesser sins. After all, recall what Jesus said to Pilate,
Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin” (John 19:11).
Jesus also speaks of a greater good, even the greatest command:
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment" (Matthew 22:37).
Therefore, while any sin will make a person a "sinner," this does not mean that all sins are alike. We might say, for instance, that all people are alike as people, but not all people have the same significance in terms of their role in a company or in government. In the same way we could say that unbelief is a greater sin (even an "unpardonable" sin) versus other sins. Even within human law, the crime of murder is usually weighed more heavily than perjury. And sometimes crimes are overlooked when a greater good is accomplished. For example, we commend someone like Correy ten Boom, who repeatedly lied to Hitler's SS police in order to preserve the lives of the Jews she was hiding. In order to honor God's command to perserve innocent life, she disobeyed God's command not to lie.
Now, with respect to Matt's third Scripture:
It is true that there is no distinction made with respect sin in terms of God's final judgment. Even one sin could condemn a person hell in view of God's holiness. Yet, even with respect to this judgment there may be degrees of punishment (Luke 12:47-48). However, to say that any sin could condemn a person to hell does not nullify the possibility of greater and lesser sins. It just means that apart from salvation in Christ, any sin, whether greater or lesser, will be judged by an eternal punishment, for this judgment is not weighed based on the greatness of the offense so much as the greatness of the One being offended, namely, an eternal and holy God.
(2) This leads into the second queston regarding the matter of bearing false witness. Matt argues that all lying is wrong, even when it is for a good purpose, because the person should have enough faith to believe that God will work things out without sinning.
This makes perfect sense to me; however, I have been led to consider another perspective. What if there are two or more commands that run into each other. As I have mentioned before, what if one lies to save a life, as Correy ten Boom did to save Jews from the Nazis? Yes, one could say that God could save the Jews Himself if He really wanted to do it without her having to lie. One could also say that He could have rescued the millions of Jews, men, women and chldren from the cruel treatment and death of the Nazi Concentration Camps. But He did not. Would God hold her guiltless if she told the SS police the truth about the innocent Jews hidden in her home? Would Rahab the harlot have survived the conquest of Jericho if she revealed to the pagan king that she was hiding the spies from Israel? Would the Hebrew midwives have been commended as they were if they told Pharoah the truth about preserving the lives of the Hebrew babies? In every case, I don't think so.
While I am certainly against the blanket teaching of situational ethics and relative morality, I think the Sriptures teach that the commands of God are not all of equal weight and situations may indeed shape how they are applied. Remember, after the Ten Commands were given, there were another 610 others given. A careful study might reveal that every one of these hundreds of other commands extend from one of the ten, but they have diverse applications based on different situations. Again, we are not defending "situational ethics," which define morality based on humanistic values. But God's commands are situational with respect to each other (i.e. God's other commands), as well as to the priorities of values established by other passages of Scripture.
|Passage: Genesis 12-15|
On Friday, January 13, 2012, Unmi wrote,
Abraham thought that his wife was beautiful to the point that he feared for his life... However, as I read this again, I just realized that Sarai was a 65 year old woman. The Egyptians saw a 65 year old woman and thought that she was beautiful. WOW!!! How do we know that she was 65? Genesis 12:4 says that Abram was 75 years old when he departed from Haran. Genesis 17:17 shows us that Sarah was 10 years younger than Abraham.
However, even though the Egyptians only saw Sarah's outer beauty, God gives credit to Sarah for her inner beauty:
1 Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, 2 when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. 3 Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. 4 Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. 5 For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves. They submitted themselves to their own husbands, 6 like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her lord. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear. (1 Peter 3:1-6)
Peter says we (women) are to follow Sarah's example, submitting to our husbands, doing what is right, not giving way to fear, putting our hope in God...in this we will be found worthy and beautiful in the sight of God.
|Passage: Genesis 12-15|
On Friday, January 13, 2012 (Last Updated on 1/12/2016), Yujin wrote,
Friends, were you a bit puzzled in reading about the incident between Abraham and Pharaoh in Genesis 12? Clearly Abraham lied to Pharaoh, but God did not punish Abraham for it. Instead, Pharaoh was the one in danger. A similar incident occurs in Genesis 20 with Abimelech of Gerar. There, too, Abraham was blessed and not punished. Then it happens again with Abraham's son, Isaac, who deceived Abimelech of the Philistines. Again, Isaac was blessed before and after the incident. What is more, Isaac's son, Jacob, was known as a "deceiver" because he lied to his brother, his father, and even to his uncle Laban. On every occasion Jacob was blessed. Then Jacob's sons lied to him about Joseph. Jacob's two sons, Levi and Simeon, deceived the people of Shechem. Joseph lied to his brothers about his identity and about various other matters. There was a lot of lying and decepion going on here in the history of the patriarchs, but there was no divine punishment. It was not as though they were absent the comands of God, for God says that they had His commandments, statutes and laws (Genesis 26:5). Is it possible that the command not to bear false witness was not a part of these pre-Mosaic laws?
Just to add more fuel to this topic, consider some other incidents. Rahab, the Canaanite harlot, was blessed after she lied about the Hebrew spies. The Hebrew midwives were blessed when they lied to Pharaoh in order to save the Hebrew babies from death. David asked Jonathan to lie to his father. David deceived the Philistines by pretending to be a madman. God sent a lying spirit to deceive Ahab into going to war, so that he might die in battle.
Finally, Jesus often spoke to the people in confusing parables, whose meaning was unclear even to His disciples. Was this not a sort of deception? Even to the disciples Jesus often spoke in metaphors, so that they did not know what He meant.
I would like to do something different today. Rather than trying to resolve this issue myself, I would just like to throw this out there for some of you readers to consider. As you think about this, consider these three questions:
1. Are all the commands of God of equal weight? Is there such a thing as a greater good or a worse evil?
2. How do you understand the command not to "bear false witness"? What is the nature and intent of the command? Is it an absolute command or somewhat situational?
3. Is God also subject to the commands He gives to people? In answering this you may also consider whether God is subject to natural laws. Specifically, the Bible says that God cannot lie (Titus 1:2; Hebrews 6:18). How do you understand this?
I bring this to your attention because I want to be a disruptive force in your thinking. We too easily swallow whatever we hear as "gospel truth." We have ceased to think critically. We have abandoned wisdom for pseudo-harmony. We trust more in our culturally-tuned intuition than biblical revelation. Rather than seeking God's meaning in His Word we often prefer to go with the meaning we prefer. At some point we lose sight of inspired truth and opt for our fallen instinct. It is not without reason that the Bible often says, "Do not be deceived" and "Do not deceive yourselves."
|Passage: Genesis 12-15|
On Wednesday, February 23, 2011, Unmi wrote,
Perhaps the most important doctrine of our Christian faith comes from this section of Scripture:
Gen 15:6 "Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness."
Some Biblical scholars even call this verse "The most important verse in the entire Bible".
This is the 1st mention in the Bible of faith being credited to someone as righteousness.
The doctrine of "Justification by Faith" is not New Testament theology that was developed by Paul.
Paul talks of Abraham's faith extensively in Romans Chapter 4.
Abram was declared righteous before he was cicumcisized, before the law was given to Moses, solely based on his faith in God.
This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.” The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him alone, but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.
In, Paul counters the Judaizers (Jews who claimed to be Christian who were trying to get new Gentile believers to submit to the ). Paul says through Galatians 3:11 Clearly no one who relies on the law is justified before God, because “the righteous will live by faith.”
In the above Galatians verse, Paul was quoting from Habakkuk 2:4
“See, the enemy is puffed up;
his desires are not upright—
but the righteous person will live by his faithfulness
God said this to Habakkuk when Habakkuk was complaining of all the injustice and wickedness of his time. God tells Habakkuk that "in his time" he will bring justice...in the meanwhile, we are to live by faith.
Habakkuk 3:17-18 is one on my favorite verses in the Bible. Although oppressed by injustice and wickedness, Habakkuk says:
Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the LORD,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.
Whether we live in times of prosperity and material blessings or through times of injustice and personal loss, God wants us to remain faithful to him and wait upon the Lord because in his time, he will answer the cries of his people. How many years did Abraham wait before God finally blessed him with the promised heir... 25 years!!!
BOTH for the Jews and the Gentiles justification comes by faith. The God of the O and the New Testament is the same God, unchanging and everlasting. It is because of this, we are able to trust him.
|Passage: Genesis 12-15|
On Monday, January 24, 2011, Yujin wrote,
Someone asked about the meaning of the phrase "in the order of Melchizedek" in Psalm 110 and Hebrews 5-7. It applies here because Melchizedek is first mentioned in Genesis 14. It is a great question and a hard one. Even the writer of Hebrews says that it is "hard to explain" (Hebrews 5:11). Perhaps the easy part is the point of comparison with Jesus.