Significant Events in Genesis through Judges

As we near the end of our series on Old Testament history, today we look at the first part of the major events that are described in Genesis through Judges. This is a very brief, high-level overview of just some of the events. The rest will be covered in the next post.

Events/Ideas

Creation-As His first saving work for Israel, God created the world with mankind as its ruler, to worship Him functioning as His image, blessing them and the whole earth.

  1. God created all that exists
  2. On the first day, God created it light, separating it from the darkness
  3. On the second day, God separated the waters to form the sky by an expanse so that both heaven and ocean are creatures of God.
  4. On the third day, God caused dry land to appear and vegetation to sprout from the heart to provide food for His creatures.
  5. On the fourth day, God banished total darkness, created the sun, moon, and stars to guide the worship seasons and signal the passage of time.
  6. On the fifth day, God created water dwelling creatures and birds
  7. On the sixth day, God created land dwelling creatures and made mankind
  8. On the seventh day, God contemplated His work, deemed it good, and sanctified the seventh day.

Fall/Punishments-Unbelieving sin of Adam and Eve with their disobedience to God’s command to not eat from the tree of knowledge. As a result of disobedience, God imposed punishment on humankind. As a result God condemned the blame shifting people to travail, the woman in childbirth and subservience to her husband, and the man to travail in work and finally death, and cursed the serpent to be crushed by the women’s seeds .

Proto-evangelium-literally, “the first good news”, evidence of God’s mercy and grace, concern and compassion for Adam and Eve in the provision of coverings for them following the Fall. Important to note that this precedes their expulsion from the garden (Handbook on the Pentateuch, p 43-44).

The question of Gen 6:1-2-“When human beings began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of humans were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose.” There are several interpretations to explain the “sons of God” and “daughters of men”. The first, and most popular is that the “sons of God” is a reference to the descendants of Seth, and the “daughters of men” is a reference to the descendants of Cain, referring to the mingling in marriage between the godly Sethite line and the ungodly Cainite line. The second interpretation suggests that the “sons of God” are ancient dynastic rulers, and the “daughters of men” are their royal harems; this interpretation moves toward an ambiguous reference potentially to a group of regal individuals whose existence has not yet been mentioned. The third interpretation suggests that the “sons of God” are angels and the “daughters of men” are humans wherein the sin is cohabitation between supernatural and natural beings (Handbook on the Pentateuch, p 61-63).

Flood-as God inspected the earth, He found it corrupt and filled with violence. God told Noah of His plan for a life destroying flood and of His plan to deliver Noah and his family with a remnant of animal life through an ark Noah should build. God repeated that He would bring a flood upon the earth to destroy all flesh under heaven, but He promised to make a covenant with Noah and his family who would enter the ark. After brining a year-long flood in which all flesh died, Yahweh delivered Noah, his family, and the animals with them .

Noahic Covenant-After the waters receded, Noah waited on God’s command to eventually leave the ark to fulfill the creation blessing to fill the earth. God renewed the creation blessing by granting an everlasting covenant to all flesh promising not to destroy the whole earth by flood ever again. God gave the rainbow as the covenant sign to remind Himself that He would not again make war with the earth by a flood .

Canaanite Curse-Ham broke loyalty with his father Noah when he found Noah drunk with wine, “uncovered”, and reported this to his brothers. Shem and Japheth maintained loyalty by not looking on their father’s nakedness, but proceeding to cover him. Noah cursed Ham’s youngest son Canaan (Handbook on the Pentateuch, p 73-74).

Tower of Babel-captured in Genesis 11, the story of the tower opens with the migration of people from the east to the plain of Shinar. Men rebelliously determine to build a city to prevent their scattering over the earth and to make a name for themselves. The sin of the people does not lie in the desire to build a city, which is a neutral, amoral act; it is the motivation behind the undertaking-the concept of immortality. The Bible reports that God intervenes when learning of their motives and he confuses the language of the people; God’s punishment is directed at both the instrument of sin that made the building project possible, the one language, and at the intention of that sin, to avoid being scattered over the earth (Handbook on the Pentateuch, p 75-76).

Abrahamic Covenant-God leads fearful Abraham to understand and trust His promises, especially of descendants by giving him a covenant with a covenant sign to mark those who may share in covenant fulfillment .

Covenant of Circumcision-God grants Abraham promises of a son by Sarah and innumerable and royal offspring, calling him to live faithfully in covenant, especially giving him the sign of circumcision to mark those who may share in covenant fulfillment. .

The Binding of Isaac-Abraham proves his radical covenant loyalty to God in facing the most stringent of the threats to the promise, God’s command to sacrifice Isaac, Gen 22 .

The Transfer of the Birthright-Jacob in unbelieving faith in the covenant promises, seeks to grasp God’s promise by buying the birthright from Esau who despised his birthright, Gen 25

The Transfer of the Blessing-God provides twin offspring to Isaac, choosing the younger, Jacob to receive the blessing, Isaac offers to bless Esau, scheming against God; Jacob and Rebekah scheme to get the blessing for Jacob against Isaac and Esau. Rebekah sends Jacob to Isaac, he appears before his father and receives blessing. Esau appears before Isaac and receives antiblessing. Rebekah protects Jacob by sending him away, Gen 25 .

Jacob’s Dream at Bethel-Jacob has a dream in which he sees a stairway to heaven with angels ascending and descending on it. God grants the Abrahamic blessing to Jacob who in response vows to worship Yahweh at Bethel giving a tithe tribute offering, Gen 28 .

Joseph’s Dreams-Joseph experiences two dreams in which he and his brothers were binding sheaves of grain when his sheaf rose and stood upright while the others bowed down to it. In the second dream, he retells that the sun, moon, and eleven stars were bowing down to him, Gen 37 .

Pharaoh’s Dreams-Pharaoh experiences two dreams that he asks his wise men and magicians to interpret. In the first dream, Pharaoh was standing by the Nile and seven cows came up out of the river who were sleek and fat and they grazed among the reeds. After them, seven ugly cows came out of the river and stood beside the seven sleek cows. The cows that were ugly ate the seven sleek cows. The second dream was of seven heads of grain, healthy and good growing on a single stalk. After them seven other heads of grain sprouted and they were scorched by the sun and wind. The thin heads of grain swallowed up the seven healthy heads of grain. Joseph interpreted through the power of the Lord that there was to be a famine coming, with seven years of plenty, and seven years of famine. Joseph instructed Pharaoh to gather stores for the country during the seven years of plenty so that when the famine came, there might be food, Gen 41.

Pharaoh’s Infanticide Program-God’s blessing on Israel caused fearful Pharaoh to enslave the people. Israel was fruitful and continued to increase while living in Egypt. Pharaoh declared to two Hebrew midwives that when a Hebrew woman gives birth to a son, he must be killed, but that all girls might live. The Hebrew midwives feared God and could not carry out the order; God blessed the midwives and the people of Israel continued to increase. Then Pharaoh gave the order to his people, that “Every Hebrew boy that is born you must throw into the Nile, but let every girl live”, Ex 1.

Burning Bush-Moses was tending the sheep of his father-in-law Jethro at Horeb, the mountain of God. An angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire within a bush. Moses saw that the bush was on fire, but did not burn and went to inspect it further. The Lord spoke to Moses, telling him that he was on holy ground, to remove his sandals, and that He had seen the plight of the people of Israel and that Moses would be the one to deliver them from Egypt. Moses spoke with God concerning Israel’s deliverance, God revealed His name to Moses, provided a sign to him, and Moses claimed he could not speak well and God gives Aaron to assist Moses, Ex 3.

Ten Plagues-Moses and Aaron approach Pharaoh to release Israel from the slavery of Egypt. God has hardened Pharaoh’s heart and he refuses and increase the workload of the Israelites. As a result, God shows His power to Pharaoh and all of Egypt through ten plagues.

  1. The Plague of Blood-the Lord tells Moses to use his staff (that had become a snake), to stretch it over the river and all the water will become blood, even water in vessels and stones, Ex 7
  2. The Plague of Frogs-after seven days, Moses and Aaron return to Pharaoh and say that if Israel is not released, that frogs will come over the Egyptians, Ex 8
  3. The Plague of Gnats-the Lord tells Moses and instructs Aaron to take his staff, strike the ground, and the dust will become gnats that will afflict Egypt, Ex 8
  4. The Plague of Flies-Moses and Aaron visit Pharaoh again, this time to make a distinction between Israel and Egypt in the affliction of the plague. Swarms of flies then only affect the people of Egypt, Ex 8.
  5. The Plague on Livestock-the Lord brings about an affliction on all the livestock of the Egyptians and their cattle, horses, donkeys, camels, sheep and goats all die, Ex 9
  6. The Plague of Boils- the Lord brings about a plague of boils, instructing Moses and Aaron to take handfuls of soot and to toss it into the air in the presence of Pharaoh so that it becomes festering boils that afflict people and animals, Ex 9.
  7. The Plague of Hail-the Lord brings about a plague of hail that destroys crops of the Egyptians, Ex 9
  8. The Plague of Locusts-the Lord brings about a plague of locusts, they are intentionally sent to destroy what was not destroyed during the plague of hail, Ex 10.
  9. The Plague of Darkness-the Lord brings about darkness over the land for three days, Ex 10.
  10. The Plague of the Firstborn-for those who do not follow the Passover ceremony, the firstborn from every household is killed, Ex 11.
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Significant Locations in Genesis through Judges

In continuing our wrap-up of Genesis through Judges, we look today at significant places or places were significant events happened through these books. The descriptions are not completely detailed but try to offer a high level overview of some of those events. In the upcoming posts, we will look at the significant events, main themes, significant dates, and a brief background on the secular accounts.

Significant Places

Shechem-the northern region that we know from the book of Joshua that Israel took the land in one of three campaigns. 1. Abraham promised the land. 2. Jacob buys a plot of land; Dinah is raped. 3. Jacob’s sons are tending the sheep here before Joseph finds them in Dothan. 4. The covenant is confirmed during the Conquest. 5. The city is set aside as a levitical city and a city of refuge. 6. Joseph is buried here. 7. The ten tribes reject Rehoboam

Bethel-the central region that we know from the book of Joshua that Israel took the land in one of three campaigns. God grants the Abrahamic blessing to Jacob who in response vows to worship Yahweh at Bethel giving a tithe tribute offering. Means house of God, was originally still called Luz. God spoke to Jacob.

Hebron-significant to the narrative of Abraham and Israel; it was near Hebron that God first promised Abraham that he would inherit the land, it was from this area that he set out to defeat the coalition of kings; it was in Hebron that Abraham acquired his only piece of real estate for the burial of his wife and where the other patriarchs were buried . Sarah died in hebron.

Sodom/Gomorrah-wicked cities that God executes the curse against the Canaanites, delivering only Lot for the sake of Abraham, Gen 18-19 .

Beersheba-location of a treaty between Abraham and Abimelek/Phicol, the commander of the Philistines. Once the treaty had been made, Abraham planted a tamarisk tree and called on the name of the Lord, Gen 21.

Peniel-the location where Jacob wrestled with God; Jacob named the place Peniel, saying “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared”, Gen 32.

Marah-location where the Lord tested Israel with bitter water to conform them with the call to careful obedience. The people, fearing death from thirst, grumbled against Moses because he led them for three days into the wilderness to Marah where there was only bitter water. Moses cried out to Yahweh who showed him how to sweet the water. Yahweh made a decree that if they would obey Him, He would not bring any of the disease of Egypt upon the people, Gen 15 .

Desert of Sin-the location where Israel grumbled against Moses because they feared starving to death. Yahweh promised Moses, as a test of their obedience, to rain bread from heaven that they were to gather daily, except on the Sabbath, Gen 16 .

Mt. Sinai-location where the Law was given to Moses, and the Lord made a covenant with the people of Israel.

Kadesh-location at which the Israelites came to and then sent spies to the land of the Amorites; Israel displayed unbelieving fear that led them to fail in covenant loyalty, Deut 1 .

Edom-brother nation, region in which descendants of Esau resided. God fulfills His promise to Abraham to bless Esau by making him a great royal people allied with kings, having separated Esau from Jacob of Canaan, Gen 36-37. As Israel moved to Canaan, the region through which Israel tried to pass through, Edom refused causing Israel to turn away, Num 20 .

Moab-location at which Yahweh made a renewed covenant with Israel through Moses; third location in which God made an important revelation to Israel, Deut 29 .

Peor-Num 25 or Deut 3. Joshua was commissioned. Where Israelites stayed. Israel men had sex with women who caused them to worships Baals of Peor. They had to put to death these people. Phineas killed an Israelite man who brought a midianite into the camp.

Mt. Nebo-Mountain opposite from Jericho; Yahweh allowed Moses to see the land [Canaan] from Mt. Nebo to survey it and then die without entering it since he broke faith with God at Kadesh, Deut 32 .

Jericho-city to which Joshua had spies sent; there they encountered Rahab, Josh 2. The city in which the Israelites are instructed to march around once per day for six days and then march around 7 times on the seventh day, after which the walls of the city will be destroyed. After this, Israel attacks Jericho and they are commanded to completely destroy the city (except for the home/family of Rahab), Josh 5-6.

Ai-city to which Israel is given victory over. Joshua leads the people in an ambush, and Israel is directed to keep the spoils for themselves, Josh 8 .

Gibeon-Fearful of Israel’s defeat at Ai, the Gibeonites deceive Israel, Israel enters into a covenant of protection for the Gibeonites and region of Gibeon without consulting Yahweh. As a result of the oath, their land is protected, however the people become enslaved becoming wood cutters and water men for the tabernacle, Josh 9 .

Hazor-The location of Israel when under oppression from King Jabin during the time of Deborah’s judgeship.

Dan-region from which Samson’s mother was from, Jud 13 .

Summary of the Main People in Genesis through Judges

To finish up our study of the Pentateuch, I would like to provide a list of the key people, places, events, dates and background that are found in the Pentateuch and Joshua and Judges. These are the important items that happen in these books. Hopefully, this brief study will provide a small help in knowing where something occurred in the Bible and be provided a very brief summary of that person, event, or date. Obviously, I cannot be comprehensive with every person like Moses or Adam, as (1) that would be a giant book, (2) there are already many great books out there on them, and (3) this is a brief high level overview. This is just scratching the surface on some of these items and you will probably see that there are many details that are not included for sake of time and space.

Really, the purpose of these posts will be to help bring some stories back to mind and provide any help in the form of study. Today, we will focus on the main characters that are seen from Genesis through Judges.

Adam-the first man, formed from the earth’s dust to be a living being to inhabit the earth that God furnished. God placed mankind in the Garden of Eden to cultivate and keep it, commanding him to eat the fruit of the trees freely, but promising death if he should eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge, Gen 1-5

Eve-the first woman, a completer for Adam made by God; one that corresponded to his nature, taken from his own body to become one with him, his wife. Deceived by the serpent and failing to recognize the goodness of God and His commandment, disobeyed the command and ate of the fruit giving it to Adam as well Gen 2-4

Cain-son of Adam & Eve, twin to Abel, brother to Seth. Cain murdered his brother Abel because of religious envy. God forced Cain to acknowledge his act, driving him from the ground, making him a wandered in the earth though protecting him from blood vengeance Gen 4 . The line through which secular culture is advanced (Handbook on the Pentateuch, p 60-61). Tiller of the fields

Abel-son of Adam & Eve, twin to Cain, brother to Seth. Murdered by his brother Cain. Gen 4. Keeper of the flocks

Seth-son of Adam & Eve, brother to Cain & Abel. It is through the line of Seth that God’s plan of redemption will move, Gen 4-5 (Handbook on the Pentateuch, p 61).

Enoch-father of Methuselah, lived 365 years, walked faithfully with God and then was no more because God took him away, Gen 5

Noah-walked with God, escaped the purifying wrath of God to become the new head of mankind, worshipping in the day of salvation in the gift of covenant under God’s blessing though sin was still at work. After inspecting the corruption and violence in the earth, God told Noah of His plan for a life destroying flood and that He would deliver Noah and his family with a remnant of animal life. Noah was directed by God to build an ark to carry them through the flood. Gen 6-9

Shem-son of Noah, populated the earth following the Flood. Sons of Shem included the descendants of Aram and Arphaxad, the father of all the sons of Eber (the line through which the blessing flowed); lived in the eastern hill country, Gen 10-11

Ham-son of Noah, populated the earth following the Flood. Ham broke loyalty with his father Noah when Noah became drunk, and then cursed Ham’s son Canaan. Sons of Ham were Cush, Mizraim, Put, and Canaan from whom the lands of Arabia, including the Assyrians, Africa, and Canaan were settled, Gen 10-11

Japheth-son of Noah, populated the earth following the Flood. Sons of Japheth were Gomer, Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Meshech, and Tiras and were the peoples who spread into the maritime territories of the earth, Gen 10-11

Abraham-a man of faith, receives God’s covenant promises and models for his heirs covenant loyalty to God in the face of threats to the fulfillment of the promises; fearful Abraham, seeks to aid God’s promises by fathering a son through Hagar causing division in the family. God grants Abraham a son through his wife Sarah and she delivers Isaac, the line through which God will fulfill his promise of multitudes of offspring, Gen 11-25

Sarah-Abraham’s wife; despite her unbelief in God’s provision of a child, she gives birth to a son, Gen 11-25

Lot-relative of Abraham, Lot fathers nations, as does Abraham, but through the breach of family to nations who themselves will breach family loyalty, Gen 13, 18-19

Hagar-Sarah’s maid, mother of Ishmael, fathered by Abraham, Gen 16

Ishmael-son of Hagar and Abraham; under God’s blessing, becomes a nation with twelve tribes, fulfilling God’s promise that he would live in defiance of all his relatives, Gen 16, 21

Abimelech-Philistine king whom God controls his actions in order to protect Abraham, Gen 20 Abraham lied to him that sarah was his sister and not his wife. Abimelech spoke to God and God spared him. Abimelech gave Abraham all sorts of servants and gifts. He was healed and his wife was able to have children as Abraham prayed for him. Covenant with Abraham over a well that Abraham dug and gave 7 lambs for

Isaac-son of Abraham and Sarah; the line through which God will fulfill His promise of multitudes of offspring. In contrast to Abraham, Isaac fails to lead his sons to respect God’s gift of the blessing. God provides Isaac with twin offspring and Isaac chooses to Jacob, the younger to receive the blessing. The Lord calls Isaac to the land of Canaan, renewing the Abrahamic promises to bless him and make him a blessing to all the earth because of Abraham’s obedience, though Isaac endangered the family by following the bad example of Abraham (lying about her being his sister) at Gerar, Gen 25- God fulfills His plan of blessing Isaac even through the unbelief and disobedience of the family.

Rebekah-wife of Isaac; Rebekah schemes with Jacob to get the blessing for Jacob against Isaac and Esau. Was also barren but Isaac prayed and she gave birth, she was 60 years old when she gave birth.

Jacob-son of Isaac and Rebekah, younger brother of Esau, husband of Rachel and Leah. Jacob exhibits unbelieving faith in the covenant promises, and seeks to grasp God’s promise by buying the birthright from Esau who despised his birthright. Jacob’s sin fulfills the plan of God to bless Jacob, but requires the discipline of flight to protect himself from his wronged brother, but also to find a proper wife.

Esau-son of Isaac and Rebekah, older brother of Jacob. Esau despised and sold his birthright to his younger brother Jacob. Also called Edom because of the red stew.

Laban-uncle of Jacob, father of Rachel and Leah. Laban allowed Jacob to live with him in Paddan Aram, for Jacob’s compensation for working for him, Laban offered his daughter Rachel in marriage. Laban deceived Jacob and gave him Leah as wife first because she was the older daughter. Jacob loved Rachel however and worked for Laban another 7 years so that he might make Rachel his wife. After Jacob’s family increases, Laban’s attitude toward Jacob changes—Jacob’s household and flocks increase, he requests leave, flees from Laban, who then pursues him.

Rachel-wife of Jacob; mother of Joseph and Benjamin. Barren; stole Labans idols.

Leah-wife of Jacob; mother of Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, and Dinah

Reuben-firstborn of Jacob and Leah; disqualified himself from leadership of the family by committing incest and slept with Jacob’s concubine Bilhah Gen 35

Simeon-second son of Jacob and Leah; sought revenge for Dinah’s rape by killing every male in the city in which they lived

Levi-third son of Jacob and Leah; sought revenge for Dinah’s rape by killing every male in the city in which they lived

Judah-fourth son of Jacob and Leah

Joseph-first son of Jacob and Rachel; Jacob’s favorite son and choice to manage the family. Joseph experiences two dreams that indicate that he will lead their family, inciting jealousy in his 11 brothers. They sell him into slavery, telling Jacob that he is dead. Joseph thrives in Egypt, works in the household of Potiphar, but is then put into prison after claims that he seduced Potiphar’s wife. Joseph through the power of the Lord tells the meanings behind dreams of fellow prisoners, and after two years is connected to Pharaoh to interpret his dreams. Pharaoh puts Joseph in charge of Egypt. During famine, Joseph has the opportunity to reconcile with his brothers and father who visit Egypt to purchase grain for their family, Gen 37-50.

Benjamin-second son of Jacob and Rachel; God completes His promise to Jacob by giving him twelve sons, ending with Benjamin’s birth and the death of Rachel, Gen 35.

Dinah-daughter of Jacob and Leah; experienced rape at the hand of Shechem a Hivite, who then requested that Dinah become his wife. Shechem and his father Hamor spoke to Jacob and his sons about this request and agreed that Dinah might be given to Shechem in marriage if the men of the region become circumcised. The men agreed, and were circumcised, three days after, Simeon and Levi sought revenge for the rape of their sister and killed all the males in the region Gen 34

Tamar-daughter-in-law of Judah; Tamar was married to Judah’s son Er, who was wicked in the sight of the Lord and was killed. Tamar became pregnant through her father-in-law when he refused to give his other son Shelah to her as husband, Gen 38.

Potiphar-when Joseph was sold into slavery, Potiphar purchased Joseph from the Ishmaelites. Joseph was blessed by the Lord and Potiphar saw this, and elevated him to second in command of his household, Gen 39.

The Cupbearer-offended Pharaoh and was put into the same prison as Joseph; Joseph was assigned to attend to the cupbearer. The Cupbearer experienced a dream in which a vine grew in front of him, and it grew three branches. On the vine, the branches grew into clusters of grapes which he squeezed into the cup of Pharaoh. Joseph interpreted his dream through the power of the Lord to mean that in three days, the Cupbearer would be restored to his prior position. Once Joseph interpreted the dream, he asked that the Cupbearer remember him to Pharaoh so that he might be released from prison. Just as Joseph had interpreted the dream, so it came to be; however the Cupbearer did not remember him to Pharaoh, Gen 40.

The Baker-offended Pharaoh and was put into the same prison as Joseph; Joseph was assigned to attend to the baker. The Baker experienced a dream in which three baskets of bread were on his head, and on the top basket, all types of baked goods were there for Pharaoh, but the birds were eating the bread out of the basket. Joseph interpreted his dream through the power of the Lord to mean that in three days, the Baker would be killed by Pharaoh. Just as Joseph had interpreted the dream, so it came to be, Gen 40.

Manasseh-firstborn son of Joseph, Gen 48

Ephraim-second son of Joseph; received blessing from Jacob (Israel) even though he was the younger son, Gen 48.

Moses-a Levite through whom which God uses to deliver Israel. God uses many mighty signs and wonders, showing that He is God, causing Moses to trust in Him.

Miriam-sister of Moses, she hid among the reeds to watch what would happen to the papyrus basket that Moses was placed in as an infant. Miriam watched as the basket floated to Pharaoh’s daughter and offered to provide her with a wet nurse (her mother), Ex 2.

Pharaoh’s daughter-bathing in the Nile, found the papyrus basket in which the infant Moses was floating. Pharaoh’s daughter took Moses and he became her son, Ex 2.

Jethro-Moses’ father-in-law, a Midianite priest, Zipporah is daughter

Aaron-brother of Moses, mouthpiece of Moses through which Israel is delivered.

Joshua-Moses successor as leader of Israel, Josh 1-18

Bezalel-chief craftsman and overseer (along with Oholiab) of the construction/building of the Tabernacle, Ex 31, 33

Nadab-son of Aaron, attempted to worship Yahweh by his own device (along with Abihu) by offering unauthorized fire before the Lord contrary to His command and was destroyed by God with holy fire from the sanctuary, Lev 10

Abihu-son of Aaron, attempted to worship Yahweh by his own device (along with Nadab) by offering unauthorized fire before the Lord contrary to His command and was destroyed by God with holy fire from the sanctuary, Lev 10

Caleb-one of the twelve spies sent into Canaan, from the tribe of Judah. Upon the spies’ return from their exploration, contrary to the other 11 spies, Caleb encouraged Israel to invade that they might overcome the land (the other spies brought back fruit telling that the land was good, but were intimidated by the inhabitants and well fortified cities), Num 13. Caleb, for his faith in Yahweh’s provision, was spared during a plague and was allowed to enter Canaan, Deut 1

Korah-along with Dathan and Abiram led Israel to rebel against Moses and Aaron, but Yahweh vindicated their leadership by great judgments against them and all Israel. Moses warned them that Yahweh would show the next day who should lead Israel, who was holy, by choosing the censer of the man He honored. Moses rebuked Korah for presumption beyond the good gifts of God to Levi, seeking the priesthood also. Moses interceded with Yahweh against them, commanding them to be present the next day bringing a fire pan and censer, which they did along with 250 other community leaders. Yahweh commanded Moses, Aaron, and Israel to separate themselves as a result of Moses’ intercession. The power of the Lord was shown then who should leave Israel when the earth was opened and swallowed alive Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, along with the 250 men and their households validating Moses’ leadership, Num 16

Balak-king of Moab, fearing Israel, sent for Balaam, God’s prophet to curse Israel. Balaam sternly warned by Yahweh, reminded Balak that he could speak only what Yahweh had said, Num 22-24

Balaam-a prophet, hired by Balak to curse Israel; Balaam prophetically proclaimed Yahweh’s blessing on Israel. The Balaam narrative shows that God had begun to fulfill His promise to Abraham and that his seed had become a “great nation”. It showed that God was about to fulfill His promise to give Abraham’s seed the land. The narrative also shows that the curses of the nations could not thwart God’s promise to bless the nation of Israel, Num 22-24

Rahab-prostitute of Jericho who hid spies sent from Israel and lied to the king, urging him to send after them to the Jordan, leaving him to think they had fled. Rahab hid the spies under the flax on the room. Knowledge of God and all that He had done for Israel had come to Rahab, her response showed her faithfulness to God and she requested that God honor her and her family when Israel came to take Jericho. The spies gave an oath and escaped via a cord through a window; it was through the sign of the cord that Israel would know to not destroy Rahab’s house, Josh 2

Achan-upon the defeat of Jericho, Israel was instructed by the Lord to keep away from all “devoted things” and that the silver, gold, bronze, and iron from the city were to be put into the Lord’s treasury. Achan brought about Yahweh’s wrath against the people when he stole some of the things from Jericho, Josh 7

Eleazar-son of Aaron, priest during the time of Joshua’s leadership of Israel, Josh 14

Deborah-prophetess, judged Israel in Ephraim to settle disputes of the Israelites; worked alongside Barak, Jud 4

Barak-Recipient of the Lord’s command through Deborah to take 10,000 men of Naphtali and Zebulun to Mt. Tabor to defeat Sisera’s army at Kishon. Barak displayed cowardice and refused to carry out the Lord’s command unless Deborah would go with him. Deborah agreed to go, however Barak lost honor because Yahweh would kill Sisera by the hands of a woman (Jael), Jud 4

Gideon-because of Israel’s rebellion, they were given in to the hands of the Midianites. Yahweh commission Gideon to deliver Israel, by returning to Yahweh worship in Ophrah. Upon being commissioned by God, Gideon requests that a sign be performed to confirm that he was hearing from God. Gideon prepared unleavened bread and boiled goat that were miraculously consumed in fire on a rock. Gideon built an altar to the Lord at that place and named it Ophrah, Jud 6 (Judges Notes, p 17). Israel battles against Midian and Gideon displays wavering faith in God’s deliverance by asking for additional signs (a dewy fleece on dry ground and the next day a dry fleece on dewy ground). God uses a dream to reveal to Gideon that He will deliver Israel, Jud 6-7

Jephthah-was given the direct promise of Yahweh that victory will come over the Ammonites, but he will try to secure the victory by a foolish and unnecessary oath. The judgeship of Jephthat is characterized by ignorance and negligence of divine things and his manipulation of Yahweh, Jud 10-11

Samson-The judgeship of Samson is driven by his appetites, negligent of his Nazirite vow, selfish and uncaring about the face of his people, Jud 12-16.

Delilah-the person responsible for the downfall of Samson’s strength. Delilah seduced Samson to tell her the secret sources of his strength for a bag of silver from the Philistines, Jud 16

Born into Persecution: How to respond

I would like to share with you a question that I received during an interaction I had with someone in discussing Genesis. The question is below in italics and it is a tough question because it is something that we all struggle with at one time or another. It leads us to wonder, which can then lead to doubt. In those times of doubt where we doubt God, His existence, His goodness, or any of His attributes/characteristics, there are a couple of options that we can take.

We can go the route that satan would have us take and not trust in God or doubt Him in some way. It can shake our faith and give him a foot in the door. Even possibly to the point that a Christian would turn their back on the Triune God. Or that doubt can lead us to seeking answers. Or, we can take that doubt or those questions and seek out God to learn more. Many times in my own life, when doubt has arisen, it has caused a strengthening in my faith because I could look to the Bible or look to some type of “research” (that being theologians, pastors, etc.) that is based on Scripture and find answers. If I couldn’t find clear answers, I could at least have a more solid foundation than I had before or knew of a better way to defend myself against the attacks of the accuser.

There are many times that we must also surrender and say “I don’t know. I don’t have a clear answer, but I have faith in the Almighty.” In these times it is tough, real tough. There are things in this world that we just don’t or won’t understand. This question is one of them. The evils of this world and the horrible things that happen is a tough question that there will probably never be an adequate answer on this side of heaven.

Please note, I answer this question not as an authority and not as someone who claims to have all the answers or even know the answer. I come as someone who is seeking God, trusting Him, and believing in His perfect and infinite attributes and characteristics that make Him God. At the end of the day, I just have to say I don’t have a good answer. But, I trust in God and in His sovereignty. I know He has a plan that is far beyond what I can imagine and He can do great things through various circumstances. He does them every day!

Here is the question: How does a Christian decipher between hardships that are as a result of God’s ultimate plan, vs. hardships that are self-induced – either as a result of disobedience to God’s word or a consequent of bad / unwise choices or hardships which are as a result of external factors such as tyranny / dictatorship oppression or religious persecutions? How would you encourage Christians in places like Syria, Iraq, Nigeria or China facing extreme religious persecution to hold on to their faith?

I think at first glance I would recommend a believer examine their life to see if there was some sort of disobedience that could have resulted in the hardships. Obviously, we need to be careful here to not think in a legalistic way, much like Job’s friends did. Even looking in Genesis, we can look at someone like Abraham who did not trust God to protect himself when he lied about Sarah being his wife. In his sin, God still protected him and Sarah. Job’s misfortunes were not a result of anything he did or disobedience, it was a result of satanic attack upon him. So, I think we must examine our lives to see if we have acted in disobedience and honestly come before God to ask Him to show us the ways we have sinned or been disobedient and confess those sins.

On the other side, there are many of our Christian brothers and sisters who are being tortured and killed simply because of these external factors you mentioned. My encouragement to them would be that God placed them there for a reason and purpose. Maybe God has them there to help others that are oppressed to find Jesus. I would encourage them to persevere and endure and keep looking for ways to be used by God. It is not an easy situation and at any time someone could kill them because they proclaim Christ. It is not an easy situation by any means, but my hope would be for them to hold on and cling to God. I feel He would strengthen them. I cannot imagine the horrors they have seen or the struggles they have or are going through. So my feeble attempt to help them is almost lost because I cannot imagine, understand or comprehend how tough things are that they are going through.

Also, the world is full of evil. People killing others for no reason. There is torture and things that happen that are so horrible that they are just unspeakable. This post is not about that. It is not about what groups like ISIS do to Christians and people of other religions and areas. There are so many topics and ways that could be addressed about the persecution and torture of Christians and others that there is not enough space to address. Simply, there is no sense to evilness. It tries to destroy everything in its way. It will do everything it can to keep people from seeing God and His goodness. It is sad. We probably all know or have heard about those on the front lines who have been persecuted and tortured because of their beliefs. They have been beaten within an inch of their lives. Some will not leave because they feel that is where they are called to be. they feel they are called to make a difference in a very dark place. They are courageous and bold. They are strong. They are heroes.

What I and all of us can do is to remember the persecuted church, our brothers and sisters in Christ, every day in our prayers.

Faith in Genesis

One of the main themes throughout the Bible is that of faith. It is key to our salvation in Christ Jesus. Our faith is something that is almost constantly under attack. We are faced with trials, tribulations, struggles and doubts. Sometimes we prevail. Sometimes we fail. At times in our lives, we will be called to take a leap of faith. we do not know where we are going or what we will do, but we know that God the Father is calling us to something more. Just like Indiana Jones had to take the “leap of faith” to get to the Holy Grail, so we will be faced with similar situations.

The book of Genesis is a story of beginnings. The world had its beginning, sin was introduced into this world, mankind almost completely destroyed and began again, Abraham had his beginning, as did Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. Through this line the nation of Israel had its beginning. Almost every page in the book of beginnings displays the theme of faith. A person is called to faith. A person faith is tested. Faith in the Almighty is kept or a lack of faith is displayed. Faith is also a beginning. We begin our life with Christ by faith in Him and His finished work for us. Faith is not easy as Genesis shows, but even with the patriarchs are faithless, God is always faithful. Genesis has many storylines, but faith is one of the overarching themes. The faith of the people and the faithfulness of God.

This post is the main message of Genesis in this writers eyes and a high level summary outline of Genesis. I will also look at the faith of one of the patriarchs, how they lived a life of faith and finally how modern believers can learn from this life of faith.

FAITH IN GENESIS

  1. The main message of Genesis
    1. The book of Genesis displays creation and God’s covenant with the patriarchs to develop faith in His chosen people.
  2. Outline of Genesis
    1. The creation of the world and history of the earliest ages (chs. 1-11).
      1. God establishes His existence and His creation of all things (chs. 1-2).
      2. Mankind falls into sin and the progression throughout creation (chs. 3-5).
      3. God judges the world and His covenant with the lone faithful man named Noah (chs. 6-11).
    2. God makes covenants of promise with the chosen patriarchal fathers of faith (chs. 11-50).
      1. God establishes a covenant with Abraham and his journey of faith (chs. 11-25).
      2. God’s covenant is confirmed with Isaac and Jacob (chs. 25-36).
      3. The covenant of God is displayed through the life of Joseph for the future protection of the chosen people (chs. 37-50).
  1. How did Joseph model faith?

Joseph modeled faith even in facing reoccurring adversity, he did not compromise his integrity or faith in God. No matter what position he was in, he did not lose heart but instead willingly submitted and did all that was asked of him to be faithful, honoring, and glorifying to God. Through all the struggles and tribulations of Joseph’s life, when life was the bleakest, he continually trusted and had faith that God would not only work in those circumstances, but work them out for good. When others would have given up, Joseph was patient and endured the hardships. Joseph’s patient endurance through the struggles modeled faith because he focused on God’s big picture and trusted in God’s promises. He knew that there was a reason for these hardships and God was using him for a greater purpose to provide for his family, but more importantly ensure the protection for future generations of God’s people.

  1. How does the narrative of Joseph apply to the 21st century believer?

As the modern believer experiences and is faced with their own difficult hardships and circumstances, the story of Joseph is one that can be looked to for encouragement. His life was filled with trials and tribulations as it seemed it was one thing after another; the modern believer can look to the story of Joseph as an example of perseverance, endurance, patience, trust and faith. Honoring God, Joseph lived out his faith and refused to give in to the depression of his circumstances or succumbing to the temptations of the flesh. The story of Joseph translates through the centuries because when everything seems to be going wrong, Joseph displays a hope and faith that never submits to despair. His story reminds all of us that we must hold on to the promises of God, because God can use that for good to do something beyond our understanding. Joseph’s story shows that God will walk with us through the darkest valleys of life as we trust and remain faithful to Him.

A prayer in chains

Ephesians 6:20 – for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should

As we finish this section in Ephesians 6, Paul does two things in this short verse: (1) He reminds us that he was in chains for proclaiming the Gospel and (2) reiterates that he may declare it fearlessly as was done in the previous verse.

First, Paul is such an amazing example for all of us. He was not scared and was never ashamed of his faith. Even if it meant losing everything, he would keep on preaching it. Paul didn’t care about his comfort. He followed the same path as Christ. They never worried about their comfort. In fact, they lived very uncomfortable lives. The life of Christ is such a reminder that we never need to seek the comforts of this world. We never need to seek things in this world that will only fail us and let us down.

As Paul points out that he is in chains for his faith, he reminds us that this life and the things of this world doesn’t matter in Philippians 3:8 (NIV), “What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ.” The surpassing worth of knowing Christ. WOW, that is powerful! As Paul wrote this from a prison in Rome, he asked in verse 19 and the continuation into this verse that as he was in chains, he wanted to make the most of the opportunities to fearlessly and boldly tell the Gospel to those around him.

He knew that God had him there for a reason. He knew that this was a beautiful opportunity to tell the guards and other prisoners of the hope of Christ. That even though they were physically in chains, they could have spiritual freedom. He felt that freedom and wanted to share that with others. The same freedom that brought him to that cell. I love that no matter what was happening in life to Paul, he was so filled with God’s love and it overflowed in him that he wanted to share it with all. Nothing else mattered. He took God’s charge seriously. And so should we.

I struggle greatly with thoughts of “Why am I here? In this place, what is my purpose?” I struggle with how to make a difference in a corporate environment when I have this inner thing inside of me reminding me I wasn’t made for this. But, this is where God has me for now and I must and want to honor that.

I think about Joseph and all those years that passed between the time he was thrown in the pit and the time he came to be Pharaoh’s right hand man that led to seeing his family again and the eventual protection of God’s children. I think of the time that passed between when God told Abraham he was going to have a child to actually having Isaac.

God has this great and masterful plan that is beyond our comprehension and there is this big story going on up there. This upper story is happening but it is one we can’t see because we get stuck in the lower story. We get lost in the trees and can’t see we are in a forest. The lower story is what is in front of us now and what we can see. The upper story is essentially the 50,000 foot view. It sees a whole range of things happening.

The point is that as God has us in our different places for a reason. He is working in us. It may be to get us back on track because we made a wrong decision. Or out of no fault of our own, to grow and be used for some purpose in the future like Joseph. Just like Paul who was in chains used this time to write inspired letters and help those without hope come to know what hope is. Through Paul’s imprisonment in Rome, he was able to reach a whole new set of people. But it had to come on God’s terms, not his.

Secondly, as we discussed in the last post, Paul mentions once again to declare the Gospel fearlessly. What I love is at the end he throws in “as I should” reminding us that we should all do that. We get so caught up in what people think and what will happen if we even mention the name Jesus, yet Paul tells us so simply it is what we should do. We should tell people of the wonderful hope that God offers. We should show those around the peace of God even in such troubling and hurtful times. Fearlessly cling to God asking Him for help and wisdom to handle the toughest parts of life. Asking God to help us and strengthen us even when life seems so good.

This verse while short is powerful. We may be persecuted. We may get thrown in prison. People will leave us and fail us. We will experience pain. But we have a task. A task to glorify God not because He needs us. Not for our glory or to earn our salvation. But out of being a benefactor of the Great Giver and being so satisfied in Him that we delight to do His will and are so overjoyed with Him that the joy and love that overflows in us reaches out to meet the needs of those around us. God is good. We should adore Him. What a great and amazing joy it is to be called a co-heir with Christ.

I am left with the great old hymn “It is well with my soul”.

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,When sorrows like sea billows roll; Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,It is well, it is well, with my soul.

It is well, with my soul, It is well, with my soul,It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,Let this blessed assurance control,That Christ has regarded my helpless estate, And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

It is well, with my soul,It is well, with my soul,It is well, it is well, with my soul.

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

It is well, with my soul,It is well, with my soul,It is well, it is well, with my soul.

And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,Even so, it is well with my soul.

It is well, with my soul,It is well, with my soul,It is well, it is well, with my soul.