The opening chapters of the Old and New Testaments bring to the forefront two couples: Adam and Eve in the Old Testament and Mary and Joseph in the New. Their stories emphasize the concepts of family and community. Adam and Eve were created to enjoy each other as husband and wife. Their family was in community with God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Sin had not yet broken this beautiful fellowship between man and wife and God and humanity.
Soon, however, sin did enter the world, but Mary and Joseph’s family began the restoration of the human race back to God. In their community, God placed His Son Jesus to restore God’s fellowship to humanity (community) and humanity’s fellowship with one another (family). Nothing was wrong with God’s original plan—it was “excellent in every way” (Genesis 1:31).
Let us start by asking the Lord to restore to us our fellowship with Him in any area that has been broken by sin. Then let us ask Him to restore family in relationships with others whom we have offended. Jesus came to bring us back to God’s original plan!
From the moment God promised the devil that Eve’s offspring would crush his head, Satan sought to murder the Messiah. John 8:44 tells us that “he was a murderer from the beginning and has always hated the truth.” The spirit of murder is of the devil.
Thinking that perhaps Abel was the Messiah, Satan incited Cain to murder his brother. Later, when he realized that Jesus was the true Messiah, he provoked the bloodthirsty tyrant Herod into killing “all the boys in and around Bethlehem who were two years old and under, because the wise men had told him the star first appeared to them about two years earlier” (Matthew 2:16).
Satan’s hatred, not only for Christ but also for those who are “Christ-ians,” has driven him to murder millions of believers worldwide. Try as he will, though, to gather those who will “plot together against the Lord and against his anointed one” (Psalm 2:2), the devil is always defeated! In fact, God even laughs at Satan’s anger and murderous attempts to stop His Son from redeeming the world (v. 4).
In the end, the ultimate prophecy to believers will be fulfilled: “Only ask, and I will give you the nations as your inheritance, the ends of the earth as your possession” (v. 8). We are on the winning side!
Even as a child, David recognized God’s divine shield of protection around him. He felt so safe when surrounded by his enemies that he could actually lie down and sleep. God has always protected His children and made a way of escape for those He loves (1 Corinthians 10:13).
Genesis 6 describes another example of God’s protection, relating how He saved Noah’s family from the raging waters of destruction that He had sent to cleanse the earth. Later on, in Genesis 19, the Lord delivered Lot and his family out of the city of Sodom just moments before He destroyed it with fire and brimstone.
Christ found the way of escape from temptation in the wilderness when Satan came on three separate occasions with his most subtle deceptions. Each time Jesus escaped from the snare by quoting the Word of God.
In times of trouble, remember, as did Noah and his family, that the raging waters and winds outside your “ark” pose no threat. You are safe and dry inside the refuge of God. Let the winds blow, the heathen rage, and the enemy rise up. God’s angels will protect and deliver you in the midst of any storm!
Something about the comfort and safety of the boat makes it hard to leave! After Noah had floated in the ark for months, God caused the floodwaters to recede and directed Noah and his family to leave their haven of refuge. Surely Noah wondered what it would be like outside the ark.
Peter, too, knew the safety of the boat. But one day Jesus challenged him to leave the known and enter the unknown realm of “fishing for men.” Can’t you just imagine how Peter must have felt? What would it be like to wake up every day and follow Jesus? he must have thought.
The boat represents old habits, securities, and ways of doing things. Peter had been a fisherman for years; Noah had been confined to the security of the ark for months. Both had to decide if they would dare to follow the One who called them. When Noah sent the dove out the second time and it did not return to him (Genesis 8:12), he knew it was time to leave the ark. Like the dove, he had no desire to stay in his world of former security. When Peter heard the voice of the Master, he knew it was time to leave the place of family refuge and follow the will of God.
Once you have tasted of a new world—a world of ministry—you will have no desire to return to the mundane routine of life. Leave the boat, my Christian friend. A new world awaits you!
On the plain of Shinar, the people decided to make a name for themselves by building a great tower. Their example shows the powerful forces of self-exaltation at work within the human race. God cannot share His glory, however, and will intentionally bring to naught any plan or project that overly exalts the name of humankind.
The opposite of such an exalted spirit can be seen in Abraham’s life. Abraham, a lowly Aramaean, became the father of faith for all time. God promised him, “I will cause you to become the father of a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and I will make you a blessing to others” (Genesis 12:2). Subsequent passages show how Abraham’s simple, childlike obedience repeatedly attracted God’s favor. He rose to higher and higher planes of honor by placing his faith solely in God.
Jesus said in Matthew 5:3, “God blesses those who realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is given to them.” In verse 5 He says, “God blesses those who are gentle and lowly, for the whole earth will belong to them.” What a contrast these attitudes are to those of the arrogant tower builders who tried to control the earth through their aggressiveness!
The psalmist said, “With deepest awe I will worship at your Temple” (Psalm 5:7). A temple, not a tower, is what we are building, and all its glory belongs to God, not to us!
God knew that people would battle two major enemies: pride and selfishness. He dealt with humanity’s pride at Babel (Genesis 11:1-9), and in Genesis 14 He dealt with humanity’s selfishness.
Abraham was the first man recorded in the Scriptures to tithe, although Abel did offer the Lord “choice lambs from the best of his flock” (Genesis 4:4). Abraham’s worship of God with ten percent of his revenue showed that he acknowledged his financial responsibility before God and knew that God, in turn, would take care of his needs. By refusing the king of Sodom’s reward (Genesis 14:21-23), Abraham rejected the world’s system. God became his reward (his salary, wages, and compensation), and God, in turn, recompensed Abraham with something that money could not buy: a child!
Tithing was a sign of Abraham’s covenant with God. God reciprocated and pledged all His assets to Abraham, even unto the fourth generation (Genesis 15:14-16). Abraham further exemplified an unselfish spirit when he gave Lot the first choice of where to live. The final result was that Abraham profited much more than Lot because he obeyed the principle of unselfish sacrifice for others (Genesis 13).
Want to be blessed? Be a tither!
The importance of patience in prayer and in life cannot be overemphasized! Abraham lived most of his life patiently believing that God would fulfill His promise to give him a son. In his old age, however, he succumbed to pressure from his wife to have a child by her maid, Hagar (Genesis 16:2). Abraham hearkened to the voice of his wife instead of giving her godly direction—a choice that proved to be a historic mistake.
Ishmael has come to symbolize the fruit of impatience. When you do not believe that God has heard your cry in prayer, you take matters into your own hands and create situations that you cannot successfully bring to a close. If you truly believe that your Father has seen you and heard your prayer, why struggle to come up with your own solution? Boldly assert as did Hagar, “I have seen the One who sees me!” (Genesis 16:13).
Isaac means “laughter,” so you may as well keep laughing until your “Isaac” shows up. Ishmaels come quickly, but they never go away.
The story of Lot is a chronicle of the search for the “wide gate,” symbolizing the luxuries and pleasures of the world. Lot’s eyes were distracted from purity by viewing the pastures of the well-watered plain of Sodom. From living in the valley, to pitching his tent near Sodom, to living in the city, to city rulership in the gate of Sodom— the pitiful progression of distraction continued.
How easy it is to fall deeper and deeper into the lure of the world! “Everybody’s doing it” is a statement from a person sure to be heading down the broad way that leads to destruction. Satan’s payoff for Lot’s compromise was to give him a cave instead of a castle, incestuous daughters instead of his wife, poverty instead of position.
The opposite was true of Abraham, who chose the “narrow gate.” His unswerving desire to please God resulted in his gaining favor with God. He was a part of the chosen few, and his intercession with God for Lot is a classic example of his reward.
Stay in the “narrow way.” Neither you nor your children will ever regret it.
Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac represents a faith that acts, not one that just talks. Anyone can say, “I trust the Lord,” but raising a knife to one’s most precious possession is proof of real faith.
It is not enough to only hear the commandments of God—we must do them. James said, “Fool! When will you ever learn that faith that does not result in good deeds is useless?” (James 2:20). There comes a moment in our lives when we must translate talk into an action that demonstrates the reality of our faith.
As Abraham climbed the mountain of Moriah, his faith gave energy to his actions. In his mind he had reckoned that God was able to raise up Isaac, even if he died (Hebrews 11:19). Abraham’s faith risked all and lost nothing.
Let’s step out in obedience. When we do, God will have the ram waiting in the thicket!
When Abraham was old, he grew anxious for Isaac, his son and heir, to marry a girl from his own clan from the region where he’d been raised. He certainly didn’t want Isaac to marry an ungodly Canaanite! So Abraham sent a trusted servant to find a wife for Isaac. The servant posed a legitimate question: How could he travel a thousand miles to an unknown region and find just the right bride for his master?
To his everlasting credit, this servant was wise enough to commit his nearly impossible mission to God’s direction. The miraculous result was that out of all the cities, all the wells, and all the girls in the land of the East, Rebekah came out to the well. The servant’s secret to success was in committing his journey to God’s providence.
If God has the hairs of your head numbered (Matthew 10:30), He can surely do a better job of running your life than you can. If you lean upon your own understanding, you face an endless, impossible task. But God, who is infinite in understanding, can quickly bring a positive solution to the assignment.
The servant reported to Abraham, saying, “Before I had finished praying these words, I saw Rebekah” (Genesis 24:45). Pray, commit, and watch. Your answer may already be there.
Rebekah’s journey to meet Isaac is an inspiring lesson in devotion to the unseen. Although she had never seen Isaac, Rebekah willingly separated from her family for life. There was no courtship, no “trial period,” and no way home! A thousand-mile camel ride stood between her family and her decision to marry Isaac.
As though leaving her family was not enough, Rebekah embarked on one of the roughest journeys a bride could ever face, involving weeks of camelback travel over harsh desert terrain. All her endurance was based upon the servant’s description of Isaac. No wonder Isaac’s heart was filled with love for this bride when he saw the camels approaching (Genesis 24:63-67)!
In the same way, Jesus is looking for His Bride. He is looking for a Church that is willing to separate forever from its family and follow after Him. His Church must be able to endure hardship on its journey through the desert of life. The Church presses on toward heaven with one motive: devotion to Jesus.
Get on your camel one more time, for this may be the day you see your long-awaited Bridegroom!