The Beginning Of Conflict And The Promise Of Victory
“Created in the image of God” (Genesis 1:26-27) - “God saw everything that He had created … it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). At the end of Genesis 1, things couldn’t get any better. It looked so promising. The future looked bright with hope. It was bright with the light of God’s love. Everything looked so good. Could things get any better than this? Sometimes when we feel like this, there can be trouble just around the next corner! That’s what we have in Genesis 3. It begins with the question, “Did God say?” (Genesis 3:1). This is asking for trouble – big trouble! Before long, questioning becomes contradiction – “the serpent said to the woman, ‘You shall not surely die” (Genesis 3:4). God says one thing. The serpent (Satan – see Revelation 12:9) says something else. He says the exact opposite! From that moment, there was conflict – but there was also the promise of victory. In Genesis 3:15, there’s a great prophecy. It points forward to the death of Jesus Christ, our Saviour. The serpent – Satan – bruises our Saviour’s heel. Jesus was crucified. This is the bruising of his heel. Beyond the pain of crucifixion, there was, for Jesus, the mighty triumph of resurrection. Jesus triumphed over Satan. It was not Satan’s heel that was bruised. It was his head! The heel and the head – what a difference there is between the two! Jesus has the upper hand! The victory belongs to Jesus. The conflict is “fierce.” The victory is “secure.” While we are on this earth, we can never escape the conflict. Satan will keep on badgering us. He will keep on sowing his seeds of doubt – “Did God say?” We are not alone in this battle. God keeps on coming to us. He comes with His grace – and He comes with His question, “Who is on the Lord’s side?” He’s inviting us to walk with Him on the pathway of salvation, sanctification and service. He does not lift us above the conflict – but He does give us the victory: His victory. When Satan comes to us, may God give us strength to say, “No.” When Jesus comes to us, may we receive His strength, the strength to say “Yes”, the strength to say, “By Thy call of mercy … By Thy grand redemption, By Thy grace divine, We are on the Lord’s side; Saviour, we are Thine… Always on the Lord’s side, Saviour, always Thine.”
Great Sin And Even Greater Grace
"The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth" (Genesis 6: 5) - This is great sin. "But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord" (Genesis 6:8) - This is even greater grace. God could have looked on the whole human race , and said, "Enough is enough. That's us finished." He didn't do this. He didn't give up on us. He kept on going - with His purpose of grace, His plan of salvation. Beyond the flood, there was the new beginning. God was doing a new thing. This was the work of His grace. It had nothing to do with human righteousness. It had everything to do with divine mercy - the saving grace of God. When you read about the flood, look beyond the destruction - and see the salvation of God.
God's Blessing - Given, Accepted And Enjoyed (Genesis 12 & 13)
The “land” was given to Abraham by God. It was to be the land of His “blessing” (Genesis 12:1-3). God’s gift of grace calls forth our response – “Abraham went, as the Lord had spoken to him” (Genesis 12:4). God had spoken. Abraham had acted upon God’s Word. Was it all plain sailing after that? No! There were trying times ahead of Abraham, times when he had to keep his eyes on the Lord. Receiving God’s gift of salvation does not guarantee that we will always walk with the Lord. We fall into sin – when we take our eyes off the Lord. “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” (Genesis 12:10). What are we make of this? What was going on here? Here are two different ways of looking at this situation – “Even when we are where God wants us to be, all will not necessarily go well for us materially – no matter what the prosperity gospel teaches. Abram was in the land God had sent him to, but that land was afflicted by famine (Genesis 12:10). The Lord does, however, guarantee to provide a way out. While there was famine in Canaan, there was enough food in Egypt and so Abram went there to wait till the famine in Canaan was over (Genesis 12:11)” (Africa Bible Commentary); “During a time of serious famine, Abram left the place of God’s choosing and fled to Egypt, a symbol of the world. This move bred trouble” (Believer’s Bible Commentary). Was Abram led by the Lord to go to Egypt? or Did he take a wrong turning? One thing we can say is this: When Abraham arrived in Egypt, he needed to be very careful. There’s a lesson for us here: We are not to rest content with receiving God’s gift of salvation. We are to press on from the beginnings of our faith. We are to press on to a greater enjoyment of our salvation. This growing joy in the Lord is more than looking back and saying, “There was a day in my life when I accepted Jesus as my Saviour.” We look back with thanksgiving. We say, “O happy day that fixed my choice on You, my Saviour and my God” – but we must not remain in the past. The life of faith is for here-and-now. The vow that we made to the Lord when we first came is to be renews day-by-day: “So God, who heard my solemn vow, in daily prayer shall hear my voice till in my final breath I bow and bless the day that fixed my choice” (P. Doddridge, this version - Jubilate Hymns). Abraham let the Lord down. He had accepted the Lord’s will for his life, and then he had lost his way. Did he lose his way by going to Egypt? or Did he lose his way once he had arrived in Egypt? Whatever may be said about Abraham losing his way, there is something we must not overlook: Abraham found his way back to the Lord. He learned from his mistakes.If his time in Egypt taught him anything, it taught him this: Be careful. Abram saw that “the men of Sodom were wicked, great sinners against the Lord” – and Abraham made sure that he kept well away from that place (Genesis 13:8-13, “Lot got grass for his cattle. Abram got grace for his children”, Believer’s Bible Commentary – Lot plunged into worldliness. Abraham progressed into holiness). We are not saved by our great holiness. We are saved by the grace of God – the God who gives to us His salvation. We receive this salvation through faith in Christ – “it is not our own doing, it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8). We need, however, to be reminded, again and again, that our joy in the Lord will only grow strong when we are learning to walk with Him on the pathway of holiness – “we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus, for good works … ” (Ephesians 2:10).
Let The Living Water Flow.
“And Abraham reproved Abimelech because of a well of water, which Abimelech’s servants had violently taken away” (Genesis 21:25, King James Version).
As I read this verse, I found myself thinking about God’s Word and God’s Spirit. Through God’s written Word, the Holy Spirit speaks to us His Word of “reproof” and “correction” (2 Timothy 3:16). In His ministry of reproof, He says to us, “This is not the way you are to go.” In His ministry of correction, He says to us, “This is the way you are to go.” Leading us out of the wrong way and into the right way – this is the Spirit’s ministry of reproof and correction. Jesus speaks of this ministry of the Spirit – He leads us out of “sin” and into “righteousness” (John 16:8). The Holy Spirit calls us to look at ourselves honestly. He shows us that we “have forsaken the Lord, the fountain of living waters” (Jeremiah 2:13). Jesus calls us to “come to Him and drink.” He says to us that, when we believe in Him, “rivers of living water will flow from our hearts” (John 7:37-38).
Gathered To His People
“Gathered to his people” (Genesis 25:8,17)
This phrase caught my attention. It brought to mind the words of Jesus – ” … they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He will send out His angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather His elect … from one end of heaven to the other” (Matthew 24:30-31). What a great and glorious future the Lord is preparing for His people! We thank the Lord for what He done. We look forward, and we say, “The best is yet to be” – “if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more surely, having been reconciled, will we be saved by His life” (Romans 5:10).
Open Doors And Closed Doors
"The Lord appeared to Isaac and said,'Do not go down to Egypt, settle in the land that I shall show you" (Genesis 26:2).
Sometimes, God says, "No" - "This is not the way you are to go." Sometimes, He says, "Yes" - "This is the way you are to go." The Lord "opens and no one shuts." He "shuts and no one opens." At the crossroads of life, where we must make decisions concerning the direction our life is going to take, it is good to have the Lord's promise: "I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut" (Revelation 3:7-8). "Thus says the Lord: Stand at the crossroads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way lies and walk in it and find rest for your souls" Help us, Lord, not to be like those who looked at the good way, and said, "We will not walk in it" (Jeremiah 6:16). Help us to choose the good way - and not the bad way.
"The voice is Jacob's voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau" (Genesis 27:22).
Be real! What we are and what we appear to be can be two very different things. God is calling us out of hypocrisy and into holiness. There can be no real holiness if we're only trying to keep up appearances. God is looking for holiness of heart. This is so different from the "holiness" of the Pharisees. That wasn't holiness. It was hypocrisy. Lord, deliver us from hypocrisy, and lead us into holiness.
God's Blessing Overflows
"The Lord blessed the Egyptian's house for Joseph's sake" (Genesis 39:5).
God's blessing overflows. We go back to Genesis 39:2 - "the Lord was with Joseph." God was blessing Joseph - and His blessing overflowed to others. This is the way it should be with us - receiving blessing from the Lord, sharing blessing with others. The blessing of the Lord is wonderful. It's not to be kept to ourselves. We're to pass His blessing on to others.
The Word Of The Lord And The Spirit Of The Lord
"Do not interpretations belong to God?" (Genesis 40:8).
It's a great blessing to have the Word of the Lord. There's another great blessing. God has given to us the Holy Spirit. Through the working of the Holy Spirit in us, the Word of God comes alive. It is more than just a book. It is the Word of God to me. It is the Word of God to you. The Holy Spirit opens our eyes. He shows us Jesus. he leads us to Jesus. He gives us love for Jesus. Thank God for His written Word. Thank Him for the Holy Spirit. We read the Word, and the Holy Spirit says to us, "This is for you."
The Power Of God AndThe Blessing Of God
"It is not in me. God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace" (Genesis 41:16).
Can any of us speak the Word of God - and bring blessing to others? - "It is not in me." Our words will never bring blessing to anyone, unless God is in our words. The real power comes from God. The real blessing comes from Him.
Sent To Bring Life
"God sent me before you to preserve life" (Genesis 45:5).
We are to bring life. That's why God has sent us. We are to bring the Saviour. We are to bring the Scriptures. We are to bring the Spirit. People coming to the Saviour, people learning from the Scriptures, people walking in the Spirit - this is what we're praying for and working for.
"God meant it for good" (Genesis 50:20).
Sometimes, when we're going through the mill, it can be difficult to see God in the things that are happening to us - but that doesn't mean that He isn't there. It just means that we can't see Him. We're looking for Him, but we can't find Him. Is He hiding from us? Is He trying to confuse us? No! He's waiting in the background - "From a distance, God is watching us." When we see nothing but clouds in our sky, we must keep on believing that the sun is waiting to shine. God is there. His Son is there. His Spirit is giving the strength that we need. There is light at the end of the tunnel. God is leading us out of our dark times. He's leading us to the place, where we will see that He never left us. He was there all the time, leading us to the place where we will say, "God meant it for good."