Genesis 39

This entry is part 334 of 334 in the series Inquiring Minds
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How can you explain Genesis chapter 39?

Genesis 39 recounts the account of Joseph’s rise to leadership in the house of Potiphar, descent into prison for being falsely accused, and his rise to leadership within the prison. More than that, it shows the character and integrity of a man of God despite his station in life.

The beginning of the chapter picks up from the ending of Genesis 37. Genesis 38 in between seems like it doesn’t fit in the narrative, but it shows how one of his other brothers, Judah, was not a man of integrity or conviction while Joseph is.

So we pick up the story and the beginning of Genesis 39. After his brothers sold him to slave traders who took him to Egypt, we find that he, as a slave, becomes the master of Potiphar’s house. He is second only to Potiphar. He makes all of the decisions and takes care of all of Potiphar’s belongings.

Don’t miss the key phrase, although it is small, in Genesis 39:2 where the Lord was with Joseph. That is the key to all of his success no matter where he was. He didn’t do these things on his own. He had the favor of the Lord.

Favor and success were given to him by the Lord. Even Potiphar, not an Israelite or a believer in the Lord, could see the favor. Potiphar completely trusted Joseph. He saw that he was a man of integrity. And the only reason for this was because he trusted in the Lord.

But Joseph had a big problem I wish I had. He was handsome. Potiphar’s wife began to take notice of him. And after Potiphar left the house, she took her advantage. She backed Joseph into a corner and commanded this slave to lie with her.

But Joseph refused to do it, and I love his reason. He said that he had Potiphar’s trust and didn’t want to break it. And even more than that, how could he do this great sin against God (Genesis 39:9). This showed integrity to both the master of the house and to God. Joseph feared the Lord first and also understood his place, privileged that it was.

He pushed away her advances many times until one day when he refused her, she took his garment when he resisted her. This time they were alone so she could make up her own story. It cost him two years in prison because of her lies. Potiphar listened to his wife and put his slave, Joseph, in jail.

Even still, Joseph wasn’t put in just any prison. He was put in the prison where the king’s servants were placed. The opportunity for God to do something special was evident. It is God who works in the background of our lives and his favor continues even when we think he has moved on from us.

God continues to favor Joseph even in prison because Joseph was genuine before him. Because Joseph cared about sin against God, God granted him favor in the prison. He was right in the place he needed to be, right in the center of God’s will.

I think the theme of this chapter is that the Lord was with Joseph because it appears again in Genesis 39:21. Even in prison, the worst place you would think a person could be, God’s favor extended to him and made him a leader among the prisoners.

Like Potiphar, the keeper of the prison put Joseph in charge of the prisoners. As a slave and a prisoner, he was put in leadership positions for the same reason. He was a man of integrity. He received God’s favor because of that integrity.

No matter what situation Joseph was in, he maintained his faith in God and his integrity. This kept the doors wide open for God to give him favor and use him. God was setting the stage for something even bigger.

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Sabbath Day

This entry is part 333 of 334 in the series Inquiring Minds
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When is the Sabbath day?

People like to argue about the Sabbath. When is this day? The Jews say it’s Saturday. The Christians say it’s Sunday. When is it? Scripture does not tell us what day God rested. The Sabbath day on Saturday was set up, I believe, so that the whole community could observe the day.

Christians have their Sabbath on Sunday because that is the day the Lord rose from the dead. Every Sunday is a celebration of the resurrection. Constantine made Sunday an official day for Christians in the Roman Empire in 325 AD.

But it is most likely that this was already Christian practice (1 Corinthians 16:2, where the first day is the first day of the work week, a Sunday on the Jewish calendar) and that he simply made it official when Rome became a Christian empire.

The important thing is that you take one day out of seven, and of course this expands to the seventh year, and every 50 years as well with the Jubilee that no one practices in God’s Law, to both rest and revere God.

God did not declare a certain day for the Sabbath. Nobody knows when the first day of the week was when he created the universe. Since we don’t know this, we cannot know what day it was when he rested seven days later.

The Sabbath commandment (Exodus 20:8-11) in the Ten Commandments tells us to remember (observe) the Sabbath and keep it holy (separate from the rest of the week). God commands us to do all of our work for the week in six days instead of seven.

The seventh day is a Sabbath (rest). On this day we rest, but it is not a day for sleep. It is a day to honor the Lord and rest in his presence. In the wilderness, God used manna to show the principle of the Sabbath rest. Six days of the week the Israelites had to go out and pick up their own manna. But on the sixth day, God provided for two days.

If they went out to look for manna, they found none on the ground. And if they kept the manna throughout the week for more than one day it would spoil. But the manna they picked up on the sixth day lasted through the seventh day.

God’s point was that they should work for six days picking up the manna. But on the seventh day, he provided for enough to get them through that day. They didn’t have to work to get the manna. And it didn’t spoil on them on that seventh day.

More than which day of the week the Sabbath falls on, God is teaching us the principle of resting in him and trusting him to provide for that one day of the week. If we honor the principle of the Sabbath, the day that we honor it on is the Sabbath for us. If we celebrate the Sabbath with a group of people, then we should follow the community standard and honor it together.

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Steps Away from God

This entry is part 57 of 57 in the series Holiness Matters
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I’ve never written a post like this before. It’s not very often Christians talk about ways to lose your salvation. But I feel this is an important step in understanding holiness. Israel fell away from God, ignored him, turned to idols, lost the Promised Land, were exiled, and had to find their way back.

I don’t ever want to see any Christian fall away from God. Some Christians don’t even teach that it’s possible to fall away. If we don’t know the process of falling away from him, we are susceptible to doing it.

I write this post in hopes that it will show you what it looks like to be going the wrong way in becoming more like Jesus. We can avoid these pitfalls as we follow him. Perhaps you can use these steps to evaluate your walk with God and keep yourself from getting close to the edge.

Quenching and Grieving

There’s a two-step process we can avoid. It involves how we interact with the Spirit of God. Because the Holy Spirit dwells in us and we are his temples (1 Corinthians 6:19), much of our interaction with God involves the Holy Spirit.

Scripture teaches that we can quench the Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:19). This happens when we ignore the Spirit or we stop him from working in our lives. It’s often related to practicing the spiritual gifts.

If we don’t follow his prompting when he activates the gift in us, we’re quenching him. Paul tells the Corinthians not to forbid speaking in tongues, one of the gifts of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 14:39).

To avoid quenching the spirit, always listen and be attentive to him when he speaks to you. Do not ignore him or refuse to do what he says. Obedience quells quenching the Spirit.

If we don’t catch ourselves when we quench the Holy Spirit, the next step goes slightly farther. Grieving the Holy Spirit happens when we do the opposite of what he commands. Scripture mentions grieving the Holy Spirit in both Testaments (Ephesians 4:30; Isaiah 63:10-11; Psalm 51:11).

Paul connects it to the seal of the Holy Spirit at salvation (Ephesians 1:13-14). We strike a chord with the Spirit when we don’t obey him. Jesus placed the Holy Spirit in our hearts and lives, sealing us with his Name and presence when we followed him.

To disobey the Holy Spirit and quench him should grab and wrench our hearts. We should realize we are stepping on the very foundation of our salvation. Disobedience and rebellion were the sins of Adam and Eve. That’s how they lost that precious friendship in God’s presence in the Garden.

David is a good example of grieving the Spirit. In Psalm 51 we have one of the most elegant confessional prayers in Scripture. David realizes his folly and the possibility of losing relationship with God.

One of the things he prays that may throw off Christians is when he talks about being cast away from God’s presence and the Spirit being taken from him (Psalm 51:11-12). We can’t imagine losing our relationship with the Holy Spirit or him no longer dwelling in us.

But there’s a bit of historical context here. Kings of Israel, along with prophets and priests were anointed with oil. The oil symbolized the Holy Spirit coming upon a person to serve God in that office.

It wasn’t the same as the indwelling presence of the Spirit in believers today. That was prophesied as part of the new covenant, but these people fell under the old covenant where not everyone could receive the Spirit as God’s indwelling presence.

When David realized the sin he committed against God and how it grieved the Spirit, he realized that he could also lose the anointing. He had just watched King Saul, his predecessor, lose the Spirit. In this sense I mean that the Spirit left him because he was disobedient.

As we will see below, it is possible to lose our salvation and the presence of the Holy Spirit. But for David, it was different because the Spirit came upon him to serve as king instead of dwelling in him.

But the prayer he prays, his confessional prayer, is still just as important for us to realize the severity of disobeying the Holy Spirit. Quenching the Spirit is a serious offense, but grieving the Holy Spirit goes even further. We must realize what we have done before things get any worse.

Hardening of the Heart

Christians must not flirt with sin or temptation in their lives. We must put away the old self. Our old desires are no longer our desires. Jesus made us a new creature in Christ the moment that we trusted in him (2 Corinthians 5:17).

The problem with sin is that we don’t realize how pervasive it can be. In ancient Israel when they traveled in the wilderness, any sin that showed up in the camp must be dealt with immediately. They were afraid it would spread to other people.

They treated it like a disease, and for good reason. If we flirt with our sin and don’t put it away immediately, it will master us. We died to sin (Ephesians 2:1-3). It has no hold on us because of the freedom of Jesus (Galatians 5:1-2).

Sometimes we hide sin so no one will know about it but we can enjoy it every once in a while. But it so easily entangles us that we find ourselves trapped (Hebrews 12:1-3). Jesus calls us to put away our sin for good. He is our Master, not sin.

The problem is we think that we can flirt with sin and get away with it. But we can’t live in both worlds. Holiness requires us to be pure before the Lord, to not mix his commands with worldly society.

When we don’t treat sin with sorrowful repentance, disgust, and absolute disdain, we let it gain a foothold. Sooner rather than later sin has us in its grip. And the more it grips the more we slip away from God.

We begin to become calloused toward the Holy Spirit. We rationalize our sin instead of repenting of it. We don’t feel the need to confess to feel God’s presence again. Sin separates as its first step, and then it leads to death. That death begins as spiritual death, but physical death finalizes our place with God.

We harden our hearts because we begin to want to do our own thing. When we have a bad habit and remove it, it must be replaced with something. When we don’t stop our sin, we get used to doing it once again. We open the door that gets harder to shut the more we walk through it.

Sin solidifies our hardened hearts against God. We become calloused even toward his presence. It’s not a road any of us should even think of going down. But we must be aware of it. When temptation rears its ugly head, think about how it hurts God’s heart if we were to commit to our temptation instead of our discipline.

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Falling Away

There are a number of different denominations, theologies, and Christians that teach that we cannot fall away from God’s grace. They say that it is irresistible. Some teach that once you are saved, you are always saved, and nothing can change that.

However, Israel is the prime historical example of falling away from God. They lost everything and only gained it back through God’s grace after their punishment. The Holy Spirit disciplines us when we are beginning to fall away from God.

But if we don’t listen to his gentle proddings, we will find ourselves in a very dangerous spiritual place. Whether or not you were taught that you could lose your salvation, there is ample evidence for it in Scripture.

One of the strongest places the Bible talks about apostasy, or falling away, is in Hebrews 6:1-4. The author of Hebrews is especially harsh in the way he approaches apostasy. There are different interpretations for this passage, but each of us must realize the danger the author presents.

We treat God as absolute sinners when we are falling away from him. Whether we neglected our sin, the quenching and grieving of the Spirit, or made a conscious choice to turn away from God, we are trampling the grace that God provided.

This is the last step of turning our backs on God. This is where we sever our relationship with him. The effects of our sin and disobedience are so gradual that we don’t even realize where we are.

I’m a firm believer that it’s never too late until you have completely severed your connection with God and turned to the final step, which we’ll discuss next. Please hear my pastoral heart that if you are in this place or any of these places, do not neglect your opportunity to return to the path and walk with Christ.

Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit

This is one of the toughest subjects for a pastor to talk about. I never want to hear or see this happen to anyone. In the same way, and must be taught because many people are either not taught about the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit or they think they’ve committed it.

Most often I talk about blasphemy of the Holy Spirit when well-meaning saints tell me they are afraid they have committed the unpardonable sin. It’s called blasphemy of the Holy Spirit because of the way Jesus talks about it (Matthew 12:31-32; Mark 5:28-30).

He says that all kinds of sins and blasphemy will be forgiven, even when you blaspheme him, but blaspheming the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven. But what is blasphemy of the Holy Spirit?

Looking at the context of when Jesus says this, the religious leaders of Israel accused Jesus of casting out demons by the prince of demons. They claimed he had a demon that gave him the power to do this.

Based on that context, we can define blasphemy of the Holy Spirit as giving credit for the works of the Spirit of God to Satan and his demons. Basically, a person who blasphemes the Holy Spirit says that demons did what the Spirit did instead. They give credit for his marvelous and miraculous works to evil spirits.

This is beyond terminating the relationship with God. This is devil worship. And this is why it will never be forgiven here, or after physical death. We must always acknowledge God for everything that he does.

When these saints tell me that they are afraid they did it, I tell him they don’t have to worry. A person who commits the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit not only doesn’t care that they did, but they did it on purpose. If you think you’ve done it and you are worried, you haven’t done it.

It takes an active and willful determination to commit the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. It is done from a seared conscience and a hardened heart. But we must be aware of all of these steps so that we can avoid them with every fiber of our being, turn toward God, and never look back.

Conclusion

All of these steps can be avoided if we notice them and change course. We must be sensitive to the Holy Spirit at all times. This is the key to monitoring our hearts and making sure we don’t step toward the edge, but follow hard after God in desperation to know him more.

When we begin to ignore any of these little things in the first couple of steps, we take steps in the wrong direction. We must evaluate ourselves regularly. The goal is not to figure out how close we can get to falling over the edge but to never even come close.

We want to know God more. We want to be more holy. We want to be like Jesus. Anytime you follow this path, you have nothing to worry about. Being sensitive to the Spirit when he addresses anything in our lives that doesn’t please him keeps us from stepping away from him.

The key is to realize the gradual steps away from God and immediately go to him in repentance and confession. One of the best ways to avoid this is to have an accountability partner, a fellow believer who is more mature than you. He or she can be used by the Holy Spirit to notice the little things you may not see.

If we don’t know the steps to fall away from God, we won’t be able to evaluate our lives to stay on the path of walking closer to him. Keep your heart soft and tender before the Lord. Address anything the Spirit addresses. Don’t let sin linger. Don’t play with it.

Leave a comment and let me know if you think there are other ways we can fall away from God. May none of us ever find ourselves anywhere close to these issues. Follow hard after God with your whole being!

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Satan and Lucifer

This entry is part 332 of 334 in the series Inquiring Minds
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Are Lucifer and Satan the same? Is there a difference between them?

They are the same individual recorded in the Old Testament. However, the names “Satan” and “Lucifer” come from different places. Satan is a Hebrew name that may not be an actual name. Lucifer is Latin for the same person referred to in a few prophetic writings.

“Satan” in Hebrew means “adversary.” Scholars debate whether “Satan” is a name or an occupation because it is often preceded with the article, “The Satan.” But names can have the article in front of them as well.

We see him talked about in Job 1-2. He is the adversary of God who complains when Job does not turn away from God through the trials he gives him. God gives Satan permission to cause trouble for Job.

In both instances, God points out Job his servant and how righteous he is (Job 1:8; 2:3). This gets under Satan’s skin and he says that if Job suffered some trials, he would turn away from God (Job 1:9-11; 2:4-5).

In the first instance, Satan is allowed to touch anything around Job, but he is not allowed to do anything to Job’s person (Job 1:12). In the second instance, he is allowed to afflict Job with sickness, pain, and suffering, but is not allowed to touch his life, or to kill him (Job 2:6).

What we learn about Satan from the book of Job is that he is a celestial being. He is an angel because angels throughout the Old Testament are referred to as the “sons of God” (Job 1:6). He is not allowed to enter heaven because when God asks what he’s been doing (already knowing the answer) Satan says he has been walking around the earth.

This agrees with Revelation where Satan, the Dragon, is kicked out of heaven after the war with the other angels (Revelation 12:7-12). So “Satan” in the New Testament is just a transliteration of the Hebrew word. But in the New Testament, he is clearly a single being. The New Testament expands our understanding to speak of him as the chief ruler of the demons.

“Lucifer” is a Latin word for the way the prophets describe a fallen angel who is the epitome of a couple of human kings. They begin by talking about these human kings, but it is clear from the context that these are references beyond human kings.

First, in Isaiah 14:12-17, Isaiah uses high Hebrew poetry to talk about the king of Babylon, but really to talk about a fallen angel, Lucifer. This matches what we have already learned about Satan.

As with all prophecy, not everything will line up perfectly with all the talking about Lucifer or the king of Babylon. The images of the two are sort of stuck together by the prophet Isaiah. He talks about both of them in the same breath.

But the images we get of Lucifer throughout this passage talk about his pride, his fall from heaven, his desire to make himself God, and is being brought low. The king of Babylon represents the same attitude and motives of Lucifer.

“Lucifer” is the Latin equivalent of “Day Star, Son of the Dawn” or “Morning Star” depending on the you are looking at. These terms stand for the one who stole the same terms from Jesus (Revelation 22:16). It shows how he is the usurper of God’s throne.

Another place in the prophetic writings you will find prophecy about Lucifer, or Satan, is in Ezekiel 28. The prophet speaks of the Prince of Tyre, but as with the king of Babylon, it is clear that this language goes far beyond speaking of the human king.

Once again we see the same themes as Ezekiel talks about the Prince of Tyre in Ezekiel 28:1-10. But it provokes more supernatural imagery than for a human king in Ezekiel 28:12-19. Once again, an elevated Hebrew poetry, the prophet describes what seems to be a different person, Satan.

The prophet describes a beautiful angel that had something to do with the Garden of Eden (that’s how we know it’s not just about the king of Tyre) (Ezekiel 28:12). This may refer to the serpent in the Garden of Eden. He is a created being by God (Ezekiel 28:13).

He then says that this being as an anointed cherub, an angel (Ezekiel 28:14). He dwelled on the mountain of God (in heaven) and unrighteousness was found in him (when he fell) (Ezekiel 28:15-16). He sinned in God’s presence in contrast heaven (Ezekiel 28:16).

Ezekiel 28:18 speaks of the arrogance and pride of the angel. God brought him low and he will be no more forever (Ezekiel 28:19). This speaks about his final defeat at the end of time. So you see, there are many correlations to Satan or Lucifer in these prophecies.

These two aliases or names refer to the same person in Scripture. This is the devil, prince of demons. He has many names, but these are the two most commonly referred to in our culture.

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Deception and Jacob’s Blessing

This entry is part 331 of 334 in the series Inquiring Minds
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Why did God allow deception to be used in the blessing of Jacob. Was Jacob justified, in the eyes of God, to use deception for getting blessing from his father?

Reading the Old Testament from the New Testament perspective is difficult for Christians. In the Old Testament, it is not that God condones or agrees with everything that happens, even by people that he wants to use, like Jacob.

Jacob’s name means “Heel Grabber, or Deceiver.” He was given the name by his parents when he tried to come out of the womb first by grabbing the heel of his brother to pull him back in. But it has the idea of deception behind it.

And it fits Jacob for much of his life. He used deception to get ahead and get what he thought he should have. He didn’t count on trust in God until he met the angel of the Lord and wrestled with him. The only time he has bested is by his uncle Laban, marrying Leah, the older sister, before the one he wanted, Rachel.

Otherwise, Jacob steals the birthright from his older brother Esau when he will only make a suit for him if he will give him the birthright. Esau is so hungry that he agrees to the deal, disregarding the birthright of the firstborn.

Jacob used the hunger of his brother, his desire for immediate gratification, against him to get what he wanted. Later on, not only will he have the firstborn’s birthright, but through deception of his father Isaac, he will gain the elder son’s blessing.

Deception is the larger part of the story for Jacob until God changes his heart in wrestling with the angel of the Lord. But the larger story with Jacob is that God changed his heart. After he changed his name to Israel, “He fights with God,” Jacob became a much better representative for God.

God molded him from the character he thought he needed to get by and succeed to the kind of character he could use to build his nation of Israel off of. God didn’t agree with Jacob’s methods in the beginning, which is why he changed his character name.

Jacob wasn’t justified in the way that he deceived others to get what he wanted. But it’s good to know that the Bible does it show people that are so saintly that none of us think we ever have a shot at pleasing God. In fact, Jacob is not the only one that God changed and used in powerful ways. The whole Bible is full of people who needed God to change them.

So Jacob used his own means in the very beginning of his life to get what he wanted. But he quickly found out that he could not handle wrestling with God. Even though he fought with the angel of the Lord, his hip was displaced and he would remember it for the rest of his life, as it gave him a limp.

The truth of the Bible, and the gospel, is that God changes each of us so that we can know him and serve him. He works from the inside out to change our character and then our behavior. He is working his holy purposes in each of us.

All of us start in the red, far away from God. God gives each of us the opportunity to know him. And as he changes us, we can serve him in greater and more effective ways. He loves us enough to know us, but he doesn’t leave us where we are when he finds us. He is ever working on us to make us who he wants us to be.

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Christianity and Morality

This entry is part 330 of 334 in the series Inquiring Minds
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Isn’t Christianity merely a morality?

While Christians espouse a high view of morality because they know and trust in God, the Law Giver, it is not just morality that Christians stand for. In fact, Christianity is much more than morality.

It is first and foremost a religion that espouses relationship with Jesus Christ, God incarnate, and the second member of the Trinity. Christianity contains a number of doctrines and beliefs about God, and especially about Jesus, the Anointed One God sent to save people from their sins and give them eternal life.

Although morality is included in Christianity, it is so much more. Morality is a small sliver of the pie. But it is very important to Jesus. He expects those who represent him on this earth to be good representatives that imitate him in everything he does.

Another concept related to Christianity running throughout the entire Bible is holiness. Holiness also includes morality, but it’s how God works from the inside out. When unbelievers become Christians, God begins a process that works from the inside out, from character to behavior.

Morality is part of the behavioral aspect of holiness, but holiness encompasses so much more. It encompasses all of the things that morality cannot monitor, like thoughts, intentions, motives, and the like. So Christianity is much more involved than just morality.

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God’s Children

This entry is part 329 of 334 in the series Inquiring Minds
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Since we are all God’s children, how much should we pray to him?

Actually, all human beings are not all God’s children. Many politicians are saying this so that they sound like they are inclusive. Only people who believe in Jesus Christ are God’s children.

John 1:9-13 explains this principle. As a talks about Jesus, the true light, comes into the world, which does not know him and rejects him. The world refers to all the inhabitants of the earth. Then John makes a distinction between all the inhabitants of the earth and people who believe in Jesus in John 1:12.

He says that to all who did receive Jesus, who believed in his name, God gave the right to become children of God. Then he describes how God’s making those who believe in Jesus part of his family is different from how humans do it (John 1:13).

Although all human beings are not all God’s children, there are some things Scripture says about humanity that also apply to this question. First of all, God placed his image in each of us (Genesis 1:26-28).

Even after the Fall of Man in Genesis 3, humans continue to be image bearers for God. Scholars debate exactly what containing God’s image means, but we know that after the Fall it was marred by sin. But every human being still has the image of God.

So we do have this in common. As far as the question about how much we should pray to God, the answer is that there is never too much prayer. Prayer can be directed toward different divinities. If you are referring to the God of the Bible, anyone can pray to him.

However, the Bible is unclear as to whether or not God will answer an unbeliever. He always listens to those who believe in him, but he may not answer the prayers of those who don’t know him. The best I can understand is that he answers the prayer to know him, believe in him, and trust in him.

God preferred his people, the nation of Israel, when it came to answering prayers and giving them favor in the Old Testament. And he does favor those who are his children through belief in Jesus when it comes to prayer.

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God’s Regret

This entry is part 328 of 334 in the series Inquiring Minds
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What does Genesis 6:6 mean “The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled?”

This is a really hard part of Scripture. It’s especially hard for us as Christians living in God’s grace to understand why he would feel this way about his own creation, about the pinnacle of his creation.

But look at the context of what has been happening in Genesis 6. It opens by telling us about what we can best interpret as fallen angels marrying human beings, a violation of how God ordered his creation (Genesis 6:1-4).

When God made Adam, nothing in creation could be suited for him (Genesis 2:18-20). If none of the animals were suitable for Adam, and God made woman as a perfect and suitable companion for him, compatible with him in every way, the angels violated God’s order by marrying the daughters of men.

Beyond this wickedness that seemed to cross the line more than anything else humans found they could do do for themselves, their wickedness continued to spiral downward. Now, they not only did wicked things, but every thought of their heart was evil and wickedness all the time (Genesis 6:5).

This was not what God intended for his creation. He wanted a holy and blameless creation that freely chose to worship and serve him, to have relationship with him. But sin ruined all of that. It marred his image that he placed in humanity.

He could see from the way things were going and the intention of humanity that there was no redeeming quality in his creation. In just six short chapters of Scripture, humanity had completely become corrupt and was unredeemable.

So he found the one person in all of the world who was still righteous, Noah, and made a plan to start over with him and his family. He regretted making humanity and creation because of the corruption and how quickly it happened.

There was no way for him to have any relationship with humanity because of the sin and wickedness that was rampant not only in human actions, but also in human thought.

It gets even worse, as he says he is sorry for making humanity and all his creation because of the sin and corruption that was upon the earth (Genesis 6:7). We can’t even fathom how bad sin got throughout the earth.

But it all defeated his purpose for creating everything in the first place. So he was going to start over my making a flood to wipe clean the entire earth and start over again. He would need a redemptive plan that was bigger than just re-creating earth the next time.

This is why Jesus came to earth, to be the redemptive Messiah who would wipe away the sin itself instead of just fixing the outside. He is the perfect fulfillment of God’s plan to restore creation to himself.

Much of the situation of God being unable to relate to his creation the way he wished, and the wickedness that went on in those days before the flood is summed up in Genesis 6:3. There, God says that is Spirit will not always abide with humanity

Jesus has opened the door for all who believe in him to have eternal life once again with God forever. One of the greatest refrains of all of Scripture is, “I will be their God and they will be my people.”

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Michael the Archangel

This entry is part 326 of 334 in the series Inquiring Minds
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Is Michael the Archangel included in the important areas of biblical prophecy?

Michael the Archangel only appears in several biblical texts, Daniel’s writings (Daniel 10:21; 12:1), Jude 1:9, and Revelation 12:7. He also shows up in very popular Old Testament Apocrypha or deuterocanonical texts.

Because of the prophecy-rich nature of Daniel and Revelation, many people become curious about angels and how they affect end times events. Indeed, God uses angels throughout the book of Revelation to do everything from heralding the events to carrying them out.

Michael the Archangel seems to be the one in charge of the host of heaven. He is the commander of the military force of God’s angels. Every time he does show up in Scripture, he is fighting a battle or is part of one.

For instance, he is called one of the “Princes” doing spiritual battle in the book of Daniel. Each time he shows up, he is relaying a message to Daniel about the spiritual battles that have kept his answers to prayer from coming to him sooner, and being the protector of Israel.

In Jude 1:9, Michael fights with the devil over the body of Moses. We don’t know exactly where this account comes from, but the church father Origen claims that it comes from lost work called “The Ascension of Moses.”

The other place Michael is mentioned by name is in Revelation 12:7, where Michael leads all of the other angels in battle against Satan, the Dragon. This seems to be a war that divided the entire angelic host, pitting one against another. It seems that this is the origin of the difference between demons and angels.

John gives us a rare glimpse into the spiritual battles that occurred in heaven. The problem is that we cannot tell exactly when this battle happened. Most scholars put it at the beginning of time, so that John is looking back at it as part of the understanding of why the Dragon is after the woman in the desert.

Jesus might reference the same thing when he says he saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven (Luke 10:18). Some prophetic texts seem to be speaking of more than a human king whenever they address the same type of issue (Isaiah 14:12-16; Ezekiel 28:1-10).

These all help to shed light on how Satan came to be and what his aim is in attacking God’s people. Such prophetic texts to help us understand the enemy better. But as far as I understand Bible prophecy, especially about the end times, it is Jesus who will face off with Satan and the battle of Armageddon with his saints and angels and defeat him. The credit goes to Jesus, not Michael the Archangel.

Beyond biblical sources, many people are hungry to learn more about angels. There is an entire study of theology devoted to angelic matters, called angelology. It’s my opinion that people can get caught up in these minor matters of the Scriptures and devote too much time to them before they have fully engaged with major doctrines.

It’s not that we can’t, or shouldn’t, study angels in the Bible. It’s that we must give them the same amount of weight that the Bible gives them. Mostly they amount to God’s celestial servants, doing whatever he tells them to. They play a role but are not the main story of the Bible.

As far as deuterocanonical texts, Michael the Archangel is often found and described in 1 Enoch, a very popular piece of literature around the time of Jesus in first century Palestine. First Enoch “fills in” a lot of Jewish belief about angels and is very much connected with eschatology, or end times events.

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Your Heavenly Employer Part 1

This entry is part 1 of 1 in the series Your Heavenly Employer

Everyone works. In fact, we often ask what others do before who they are. Think about it. When’s the last time you met somebody and ask them about anything other than, “So what do you do for living?” So much of who we are is tied into what we do.

And Scripture is not silent on the subject. It talks a lot about work. In the next five posts, we will break down what the Bible says about our work, what God expects, and how he expects us to represent him in what we do.

Genesis has always been a thoroughly interesting read. There are so many things that leave us with partial answers to our questions. Consider the environment of the Garden of Eden.

Most scholars accept the idea that this garden is at least a template of what believers might expect in heaven for eternity. Our redeemed minds spend much time and resources thinking on noble things, like what heaven will be like.

But there’s something interesting about the Garden of Eden. As much as many of us would like from work to no longer be part of heaven, as we see in the man-made utopias in our entertainment, this is not the case.

From the very beginning, God gave Adam work in the garden. If the Garden of Eden is a place that gives us a hint of what heaven will be like, work will be part of human existence until the end. And then in eternity, although the Bible doesn’t really say, I would imagine there is work for us to do.

Productivity and satisfaction from completing work is fundamental to human existence. We need to see progress. When I was in high school, I read a book by Elie Wiesel entitled, “Night.” He lived through the Nazi concentration camps in the 1940s.

One of the most compelling stories in the book is how the Nazis would make them dig a hole in one side of the camp, move the dirt, and put it in a pile on the other side of the camp. Then they would make them shovel the pile of dirt, transported to the other side of the camp, and dump it in the same hole.

He said that many of the Jews lost their belief in God through these exercises. The futile efforts of moving dirt from one place to another, simply to put it back where it was, drove many of them mad. Humans need rest, but we also need to be productive, to have purpose in life.

God knows this about us. And so work is part of who we are. But in the Garden, after sin entered the world, God cursed the ground and made work much harder than it was beforehand.

The Bible is full of a robust theology of work, as some have called it. Let’s take a look at what it has to say about the human endeavor of work.

A God-Pleasing Work Ethic

When we consider the work ethic expected of believers, we can start at the very beginning. Many people do not have a job that brings them joy or satisfaction. Some work long hours, or even hate their jobs.

Others, in an attempt to keep up with the Jones’ or to run the rat race because of the false hopes of the American Dream, run themselves ragged and end up with health issues. Work takes up so much of our lives that it can easily become our master.

But what does the Bible teach about work? Will we work in heaven? Is work part of the fallen world? Does God have any rules about work? As we trace the Bible’s principles on work, let us start in Genesis.

In the Garden of Eden, Adam was given work to do before the Fall. In Genesis 2:15-17, God puts Adam in the garden to work it. This tells us that God intended work to be part of what humans do.

We are hardwired for purpose through productivity in our work. We must have both. Work is hard, if not impossible, when we cannot see the reason or purpose in it. It’s unnatural for us to not produce anything. Even in just sitting around, we produce something: waste. We must be productive creatures, and God made us this way.

Work in Eden

In Genesis 3 at the Fall of Man, God cursed the good thing He gave in Adams work. In Genesis 3:17-19, God cursed the man because he did not lead by example nor did he stop his wife, Eve, from sinning against Him.

Adam did not take his role as the leader in his home and lead his wife in righteousness. Because of this, Adam, and every human being who works, found work much harder to do.

The curse first affects his ability to eat from the Tree of Life. This means that no longer will he live immortally. He will be subject to death because of his sin. His work will be cursed so that it is harder to achieve the same success.

Now, tending to the ground and fields is work instead of joy. All the days of our lives, we will toil for all we consume. Work is harder and less fulfilling because of the Fall of Man. It’s not that we were never supposed to work, but that we were supposed to receive enjoyment and fulfillment even from our work.

Conclusion

As we see from the beginning of the Bible, work is not a curse. Harder work is. But it didn’t begin this way.  And if the Garden of Eden is a template for what heaven will look like, work is part of God’s plan for humanity.

God designed us to work. It’s not an evil thing added because of sin. It’s something God made us to do. And even those who don’t enjoy working would tell you that when they complete a project, finish off a checklist, or share good things about the things they produce in their work, they enjoy seeing something completed well.

We’re going to continue on this theme of work throughout the Bible. Scholars call it the theology of work. This is only the beginning of what the Bible has to say about our work ethic and what we do for God. In the next couple of posts, we will be addressing two extreme poles of understanding our work ethic.

Have you ever thought to look through the Scriptures and see what they say about work? Leave a comment and tell me what you think these extreme poles of work are.

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