All In

Genesis 17

What separates the average, even the good from the great? Throughout history, those who have changed the world have not only been fully convinced but also “all in” with that thing, whatever it was that was their passion. From outstanding athletes like Kobe Bryant or Peyton Manning to famous thinkers like Albert Einstein or Aristotle to founders of great movements like Martin Luther King, Jr. or his namesake Martin Luther.

Abraham made some incredible strides in his faith journey with God. He left the known for the unknown. He faced down incredible odds to rescue lot. He passed on the tainted riches of Sodom. He built altars along the way. But he also trusted in his own ingenuity…Egypt, Hagar. And while the promises of land and blessing don’t seem to trip him up, he struggles with the promise of a son. Lot. Eliezer. Ishmael. All want-to-be contenders for the title. But none the one God had in mind. Abram’s a believer…he has a relationship with God, but he struggles with fully trusting Him when it comes to a son…maybe not so much that God can (is able), but how could He (how is He going to do it). He has a seeing problem, his eyes keep getting in the way. He’s divided in his affections. In other words, his focus tends to drift to the earthy, the physical. He’s missing the incredible spiritual reality…nothing is beyond Creator God!

I can relate to Abraham. I have a “seeing” problem as well. Circumstances often inhibit my ability to live like I’m trusting God in the day-to-day and dictate my attitude toward others. Instead of viewing the world from God’s perspective, knowing that He is working, I lament the fact that finances are tight, relationships are sometimes hard, and situations don’t always work out the way I think they should.

God calls Abraham to be all in. He didn’t want just a casual relationship, a when-it’s-convenient- or a when-the world-is falling-apart-I’ll-call-upon-You companion. He wanted all of Abraham. He wanted Abraham to experience the life that He had created and saved him for. He didn’t want Abraham to settle. He wanted him to have it all. He wants the same for us. God wants us to experience life to the full in His kingdom…right now. But we can’t experience that life if we aren’t all in. And that takes a singleness of purpose, a driving passion, a desire and a determination to be all in that is only possible through the work of the Spirit in our lives. Without that we will only experience the frustration of what could have been. The “if only” reality that most of us invariably settle for.

My prayer for us this week is that we, like Abraham would be all in and that we would leave behind those things that keep us from pursuing Jesus with reckless abandon, so that we might experience the unbelievable adventure of walking with God with singleness of purpose (blameless) and incredible joy.

Until next time…stay salty.

This post is based on our Genesis series. Listen online at:http://www.centralchristian.org, or follow us on twitter: @ccclancaster

April 17 – OT Reading

Lent 2014

This is our last week of Lent. Friday we recognize Good Friday with “Journey to the Cross”. Then on Sunday we celebrate the resurrection! This is the week to create opportunities to invite your “8-15”. Our Friday Night whole-family event is perfect for inviting friends, family, co-workers…they will experience fun, creativity, the Stations of the Cross, and a closing ceremony and cross-raising.

Then, invite your “8-15” back for any of our 5 Easter services! This is an important celebration in the life of a believer…something that we want to share with everyone!

Continue to read and pray this week, to prepare for opportunities to invite and to share the Gospel. What an amazing time this is…making a Kingdom impact together!

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Deuteronomy 11

Rewards of Obedience

11 “You shall therefore love the Lord your God, and always keep His charge, His statutes, His ordinances, and His commandments. 2 Know this day that I am not speaking with your sons who have not known and who have not seen the discipline of the Lord your God—His greatness, His mighty hand and His outstretched arm, 3 and His signs and His works which He did in the midst of Egypt to Pharaoh the king of Egypt and to all his land; 4 and what He did to Egypt’s army, to its horses and its chariots, when He made the water of the Red Sea to engulf them while they were pursuing you, and the Lord completely destroyed them; 5 and what He did to you in the wilderness until you came to this place; 6 and what He did to Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, the son of Reuben, when the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them, their households, their tents, and every living thing that followed them, among all Israel— 7 but your own eyes have seen all the great work of the Lord which He did.

8 “You shall therefore keep every commandment which I am commanding you today, so that you may be strong and go in and possess the land into which you are about to cross to possess it; 9 so that you may prolong your days on the land which the Lord swore to your fathers to give to them and to their descendants, a land flowing with milk and honey. 10 For the land, into which you are entering to possess it, is not like the land of Egypt from which you came, where you used to sow your seed and water it with your foot like a vegetable garden. 11 But the land into which you are about to cross to possess it, a land of hills and valleys, drinks water from the rain of heaven, 12 a land for which the Lord your God cares; the eyes of the Lord your God are always on it, from the beginning even to the end of the year.

13 “It shall come about, if you listen obediently to my commandments which I am commanding you today, to love the Lord your God and to serve Him with all your heart and all your soul,14 that He will give the rain for your land in its season, the early and late rain, that you may gather in your grain and your new wine and your oil. 15 He will give grass in your fields for your cattle, and you will eat and be satisfied. 16 Beware that your hearts are not deceived, and that you do not turn away and serve other gods and worship them. 17 Or the anger of the Lord will be kindled against you, and He will shut up the heavens so that there will be no rain and the ground will not yield its fruit; and you will perish quickly from the good land which the Lord is giving you.

18 “You shall therefore impress these words of mine on your heart and on your soul; and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. 19 You shall teach them to your sons, talking of them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road and when you lie down and when you rise up. 20 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, 21 so that your days and the days of your sons may be multiplied on the land which the Lord swore to your fathers to give them, as long as the heavens remain above the earth. 22 For if you are careful to keep all this commandment which I am commanding you to do, to love the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and hold fast to Him, 23 then the Lord will drive out all these nations from before you, and you will dispossess nations greater and mightier than you. 24 Every place on which the sole of your foot treads shall be yours; your border will be from the wilderness to Lebanon, and from the river, the river Euphrates, as far as the western sea. 25 No man will be able to stand before you; the Lord your God will lay the dread of you and the fear of you on all the land on which you set foot, as He has spoken to you.

26 “See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse: 27 the blessing, if you listen to the commandments of the Lord your God, which I am commanding you today; 28 and the curse, if you do not listen to the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside from the way which I am commanding you today, by following other gods which you have not known.

29 “It shall come about, when the Lord your God brings you into the land where you are entering to possess it, that you shall place the blessing on Mount Gerizim and the curse on Mount Ebal. 30 Are they not across the Jordan, west of the way toward the sunset, in the land of the Canaanites who live in the Arabah, opposite Gilgal, beside the oaks of Moreh? 31 For you are about to cross the Jordan to go in to possess the land which the Lord your God is giving you, and you shall possess it and live in it, 32 and you shall be careful to do all the statutes and the judgments which I am setting before you today.

Deuteronomy 12

Laws of the Sanctuary

12 “These are the statutes and the judgments which you shall carefully observe in the land which the Lord, the God of your fathers, has given you to possess as long as you live on the earth. You shall utterly destroy all the places where the nations whom you shall dispossess serve their gods, on the high mountains and on the hills and under every green tree. 3 You shall tear down their altars and smash their sacred pillars and burn their Asherim with fire, and you shall cut down the engraved images of their gods and obliterate their name from that place. You shall not act like this toward the Lord your God. 5 But you shall seek the Lord at the place which the Lord your God will choose from all your tribes, to establish His name there for His dwelling, and there you shall come. There you shall bring your burnt offerings, your sacrifices, your tithes, the contribution of your hand, your votive offerings, your freewill offerings, and the firstborn of your herd and of your flock. There also you and your households shall eat before the Lord your God, and rejoice in all your undertakings in which the Lord your God has blessed you.

8 “You shall not do at all what we are doing here today, every man doing whatever is right in his own eyes; 9 for you have not as yet come to the resting place and the inheritance which the Lord your God is giving you. 10 When you cross the Jordan and live in the land which the Lord your God is giving you to inherit, and He gives you rest from all your enemies around you so that you live in security, 11 then it shall come about that the place in which the Lord your God will choose for His name to dwell, there you shall bring all that I command you: your burnt offerings and your sacrifices, your tithes and the contribution of your hand, and all your choice votive offerings which you will vow to the Lord. 12 And you shall rejoice before the Lord your God, you and your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, and the Levite who is within your gates, since he has no portion or inheritance with you.

13 “Be careful that you do not offer your burnt offerings in every cultic place you see, 14 but in the place which the Lord chooses in one of your tribes, there you shall offer your burnt offerings, and there you shall do all that I command you.

15 “However, you may slaughter and eat meat within any of your gates, whatever you desire, according to the blessing of the Lord your God which He has given you; the unclean and the clean may eat of it, as of the gazelle and the deer. 16 Only you shall not eat the blood; you are to pour it out on the ground like water. 17 You are not allowed to eat within your gates the tithe of your grain or new wine or oil, or the firstborn of your herd or flock, or any of your votive offerings which you vow, or your freewill offerings, or the contribution of your hand. 18 But you shall eat them before the Lord your God in the place which the Lord your God will choose, you and your son and daughter, and your male and female servants, and the Levite who is within your gates; and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God in all your undertakings. 19 Be careful that you do not forsake the Levite as long as you live in your land.

20 “When the Lord your God extends your border as He has promised you, and you say, ‘I will eat meat,’ because you desire to eat meat, then you may eat meat, whatever you desire. 21 If the place which the Lord your God chooses to put His name is too far from you, then you may slaughter of your herd and flock which the Lord has given you, as I have commanded you; and you may eat within your gates whatever you desire. 22 Just as a gazelle or a deer is eaten, so you will eat it; the unclean and the clean alike may eat of it. 23 Only be sure not to eat the blood, for the blood is the life, and you shall not eat the life with the flesh. 24 You shall not eat it; you shall pour it out on the ground like water. 25 You shall not eat it, so that it may be well with you and your sons after you, for you will be doing what is right in the sight of the Lord.26 Only your holy things which you may have and your votive offerings, you shall take and go to the place which the Lord chooses. 27 And you shall offer your burnt offerings, the flesh and the blood, on the altar of the Lord your God; and the blood of your sacrifices shall be poured out on the altar of the Lord your God, and you shall eat the flesh.

28 “Be careful to listen to all these words which I command you, so that it may be well with you and your sons after you forever, for you will be doing what is good and right in the sight of the Lord your God.

29 “When the Lord your God cuts off before you the nations which you are going in to dispossess, and you dispossess them and dwell in their land, 30 beware that you are not ensnared to follow them, after they are destroyed before you, and that you do not inquire after their gods, saying, ‘How do these nations serve their gods, that I also may do likewise?’ 31 You shall not behave thus toward the Lord your God, for every abominable act which the Lord hates they have done for their gods; for they even burn their sons and daughters in the fire to their gods.

32 “Whatever I command you, you shall be careful to do; you shall not add to nor take away from it.

Deuteronomy 13

Shun Idolatry

13 “If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder,and the sign or the wonder comes true, concerning which he spoke to you, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods (whom you have not known) and let us serve them,’ 3 you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams; for the Lord your God is testing you to find out if you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. 4 You shall follow the Lord your God and fear Him; and you shall keep His commandments, listen to His voice, serve Him, and cling to Him. 5 But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has counseled rebellion against the Lord your God who brought you from the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of slavery, to seduce you from the way in which the Lord your God commanded you to walk. So you shall purge the evil from among you.

6 “If your brother, your mother’s son, or your son or daughter, or the wife you cherish, or your friend who is as your own soul, entice you secretly, saying, ‘Let us go and serve other gods’ (whom neither you nor your fathers have known, 7 of the gods of the peoples who are around you, near you or far from you, from one end of the earth to the other end), you shall not yield to him or listen to him; and your eye shall not pity him, nor shall you spare or conceal him. But you shall surely kill him; your hand shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people. 10 So you shall stone him to death because he has sought to seduce you from the Lord your God who brought you out from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 11 Then all Israel will hear and be afraid, and will never again do such a wicked thing among you.

12 “If you hear in one of your cities, which the Lord your God is giving you to live in, anyone saying that 13 some worthless men have gone out from among you and have seduced the inhabitants of their city, saying, ‘Let us go and serve other gods’ (whom you have not known),14 then you shall investigate and search out and inquire thoroughly. If it is true and the matter established that this abomination has been done among you, 15 you shall surely strike the inhabitants of that city with the edge of the sword, utterly destroying it and all that is in it and its cattle with the edge of the sword. 16 Then you shall gather all its booty into the middle of its open square and burn the city and all its booty with fire as a whole burnt offering to the Lord your God; and it shall be a ruin forever. It shall never be rebuilt. 17 Nothing from that which is put under the ban shall cling to your hand, in order that the Lord may turn from His burning anger and show mercy to you, and have compassion on you and make you increase, just as He has sworn to your fathers, 18 if you will listen to the voice of the Lord your God, keeping all His commandments which I am commanding you today, and doing what is right in the sight of the Lord your God.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB © The Lockman Foundation (www.lockman.org)

April 12 – Weekend Passage

Lent 2014

What will you sacrifice through this season? How are you becoming a better image bearer? Throughout our daily readings, take the time to reflect on the following:

1. What’s God’s Story in the passage and what are the implications for my life?

2. Praying for your 8-15 (those in your life who need Jesus)

3. What will you sacrifice in order to draw closer to Christ?

4. Pray for opportunities to invite your 8-15 to church or our big Easter culmination “Journey to the Cross” on Good Friday

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Genesis 13

Abram and Lot

13 So Abram went up from Egypt to the Negev, he and his wife and all that belonged to him, and Lot with him.

Now Abram was very rich in livestock, in silver and in gold. He went on his journeys from the Negev as far as Bethel, to the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Ai, to the place of the altar which he had made there formerly; and there Abram called on the name of the Lord. Now Lot, who went with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents. And the land could not sustain them while dwelling together, for their possessions were so great that they were not able to remain together. And there was strife between the herdsmen of Abram’s livestock and the herdsmen of Lot’s livestock. Now the Canaanite and the Perizzite were dwelling then in the land.

So Abram said to Lot, “Please let there be no strife between you and me, nor between my herdsmen and your herdsmen, for we are brothers. Is not the whole land before you? Please separate from me; if to the left, then I will go to the right; or if to the right, then I will go to the left.” 10 Lot lifted up his eyes and saw all the valley of the Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere—this was before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah—like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt as you go to Zoar. 11 So Lot chose for himself all the valley of the Jordan, and Lot journeyed eastward. Thus they separated from each other. 12 Abram settled in the land of Canaan, while Lot settled in the cities of the valley, and moved his tents as far as Sodom. 13 Now the men of Sodom were wicked exceedingly and sinners against the Lord.

14 The Lord said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him, “Now lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward; 15 for all the land which you see, I will give it to you and to your descendants forever. 16 I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth, so that if anyone can number the dust of the earth, then your descendants can also be numbered. 17 Arise, walk about the land through its length and breadth; for I will give it to you.” 18 Then Abram moved his tent and came and dwelt by the oaks of Mamre, which are in Hebron, and there he built an altar to the Lord.

Genesis 14

War of the Kings

14 And it came about in the days of Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of Goiim, that they made war with Bera king of Sodom, and with Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, and Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar). All these came as allies to the valley of Siddim (that is, the Salt Sea). Twelve years they had served Chedorlaomer, but the thirteenth year they rebelled. In the fourteenth year Chedorlaomer and the kings that were with him, came and defeated the Rephaim in Ashteroth-karnaim and the Zuzim in Ham and the Emim in Shaveh-kiriathaim, and the Horites in their Mount Seir, as far as El-paran, which is by the wilderness. Then they turned back and came to En-mishpat (that is, Kadesh), and conquered all the country of the Amalekites, and also the Amorites, who lived in Hazazon-tamar. And the king of Sodom and the king of Gomorrah and the king of Admah and the king of Zeboiim and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar) came out; and they arrayed for battle against them in the valley of Siddim, against Chedorlaomer king of Elam and Tidal king of Goiim and Amraphel king of Shinar and Arioch king of Ellasar—four kings against five. 10 Now the valley of Siddim was full of tar pits; and the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, and they fell into them. But those who survived fled to the hill country. 11 Then they took all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah and all their food supply, and departed. 12 They also took Lot, Abram’s nephew, and his possessions and departed, for he was living in Sodom.

13 Then a fugitive came and told Abram the Hebrew. Now he was living by the oaks of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol and brother of Aner, and these were allies with Abram. 14 When Abram heard that his relative had been taken captive, he led out his trained men, born in his house, three hundred and eighteen, and went in pursuit as far as Dan. 15 He divided his forces against them by night, he and his servants, and defeated them, and pursued them as far as Hobah, which is north of Damascus. 16 He brought back all the goods, and also brought back his relative Lot with his possessions, and also the women, and the people.

God’s Promise to Abram

17 Then after his return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him, the king of Sodom went out to meet him at the valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley). 18 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; now he was a priest of God Most High. 19 He blessed him and said,

“Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; 20 And blessed be God Most High, Who has delivered your enemies into your hand.”

He gave him a tenth of all. 21 The king of Sodom said to Abram, “Give the people to me and take the goods for yourself.” 22 Abram said to the king of Sodom, “I have sworn to the Lord God Most High, possessor of heaven and earth, 23 that I will not take a thread or a sandal thong or anything that is yours, for fear you would say, ‘I have made Abram rich.’ 24 I will take nothing except what the young men have eaten, and the share of the men who went with me, Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre; let them take their share.”

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB © The Lockman Foundation (www.lockman.org)

A History-Making Decision

Genesis 11.27-13.1

“What is the hardest decision you’ve ever had to make? What made the decision so difficult?” Was it the cost…comfort, convenience? Was it fear of the unknown? Was it the stakes?

God gives Abram a simple (not easy) command…”Go.” Abram was to leave everything he knew – country, relatives and family – to go to an as yet undisclosed location. The blessings that follow are contingent on his going…on his obedience. But his obedience is predicated on faith. So what faith are we talking about? Genesis 3.15. But how does Abram know about Genesis 3.15. Don’t forget that Abram is a direct descendant of Adam through the line of Seth, and of Noah through the line of Shem. He comes from those with a spiritual heritage of calling on the name of the LORD, of walking with God, of believing the Seed promise of 3.15. Much like Noah who was described as righteous and blameless…not because he obeyed, but because he found favor in the eyes of the LORD…he believed the promise of 3.15…so he obeyed, now Abram will be called on to obey because he too has found favor, is righteous through faith. That’s important for us to keep in mind. There can be no obedience without faith.

The call of Abram in Genesis 12.1-3 is a key event in the biblical story. It ranks up there with Genesis 3.15 in the OT. It ties together both creation and redemption…it echoes the creation mandate and carries forward the plan of redemption, the search for the Head-crushing Seed of the Woman. It showcases God’s grace and reveals His heart for His creation. And it’s fulfilled in Jesus. Jesus’ charge to His early followers to “make disciples of all the nations” is a reflection of “in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.” It would be hard to overstate the importance of this passage.

But God’s call required a response. To experience what God had in store for Abram, he had to step out in obedience. He had to go. He had to be a blessing. For the Israelites to experience the blessings of the covenant at Sinai, they too would have to walk in obedience. That would cost them their comfort and convenience…they too would have to leave what they knew. They would have to embrace the unknown. They would have to risk everything. They would have to give up their definition of good…of doing what was right in their own eyes and trust that what God was calling them to really was good…that it was life. They had to believe that God truly loved them and wanted their good. And they would have to love Him in return.

What would have happened to Abram if he would have refused God’s call? Would he have lost his salvation? Not at all…but he would have lost his destiny. He wouldn’t have experienced the good that God had for him. The trip to Egypt illustrates this truth…Abram was to be a source of blessing to the nations, but he ends up being a source of cursing to Pharaoh. Thankfully not the last word when it comes to Abram.

I appreciate the honesty of a friend of mine who said, “God calls us away from our life and to His life. Something twinges when you say ‘leave comfort and convenience’ I don’t know what it is in me yet, but I need to. I know that fear, jealousy, pride – will keep me living my life. I’m tired of the cliché ‘comfort zone’, but it’s accurate. I need comfort. I need predictability. The life I am drawn to meets my expectations and has very few surprises. Does this sound like the life God calls people to? Noah, Moses, the judges, the prophets, the disciples? God called people to be kings and slaves, warriors and shepherds. But He called them away from themselves. I am convicted that I am, for the most part, living my life, proceeding with my plans, doing what seems right in my own eyes. I don’t want to go blindly after whatever seems to be the opposite direction. I do want to obey. I do want to move in faith to the life God is calling me to. I have set out on journey of faith, but what do I keep dragging around with me. What tethers me to peace? Is is faith or is it my inability to let go completely? Am I creating my own peace and not trusting God’s?”

But what about you? As important as Abram’s call was to the working out of God’s plan in salvation history, Jesus, the Head-crushing Seed of the Woman, calls us all to “Go” or better yet to “Follow”.  And that call is every bit as important on a micro-level as Abram’s call on a macro-level. Jesus calls us to leave our comfort and convenience, to leave what we know, our old life, and follow Him. A simple command, but not an easy one. It means that we have to embrace the unknown. We have to risk everything…but only in this sense: we have to die to defining good in our own eyes and trust in what He has revealed as good. Maybe that’s a new job…maybe building a relationship…maybe making a kingdom investment that financially doesn’t seem to make sense…maybe it’s a call into ministry… Whatever it is, experiencing the good that God wants for you requires obedience. It means taking the risk.

And like Abram…and the Israelites…you will fail. But God is still faithful, and He is patient. Proverbs 24.16: “For though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again, but the wicked stumble when calamity strikes.” Churchill said “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”

My prayer for us is that we would the courage, like Abram to take the risk, and enter into the wild adventure of a life spent with Jesus in His kingdom.

Until next time…stay salty.

This post is based on our Genesis series. Listen online at:http://www.centralchristian.org, or follow us on twitter: @ccclancaster

April 5 – Weekend Passage

Lent 2014

What will you sacrifice through this season? How are you becoming a better image bearer? Throughout our daily readings, take the time to reflect on the following:

1. What’s God’s Story in the passage and what are the implications for my life?

2. Praying for your 8-15 (those in your life who need Jesus)

3. What will you sacrifice in order to draw closer to Christ?

4. Pray for opportunities to invite your 8-15 to church or our big Easter culmination “Journey to the Cross” on Good Friday

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Genesis 11:27-13:1

27 Now these are the records of the generations of Terah. Terah became the father of Abram, Nahor and Haran; and Haran became the father of Lot. 28 Haran died in the presence of his father Terah in the land of his birth, in Ur of the Chaldeans. 29 Abram and Nahor took wives for themselves. The name of Abram’s wife was Sarai; and the name of Nahor’s wife was Milcah, the daughter of Haran, the father of Milcah and Iscah. 30 Sarai was barren; she had no child.

31 Terah took Abram his son, and Lot the son of Haran, his grandson, and Sarai his daughter-in-law, his son Abram’s wife; and they went out together from Ur of the Chaldeans in order to enter the land of Canaan; and they went as far as Haran, and settled there. 32 The days of Terah were two hundred and five years; and Terah died in Haran.

Genesis 12

Abram Journeys to Egypt

12 Now the Lord said to Abram,

“Go forth from your country, And from your relatives And from your father’s house, To the land which I will show you; And I will make you a great nation, And I will bless you, And make your name great; And so you shall be a blessing; And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.”

So Abram went forth as the Lord had spoken to him; and Lot went with him. Now Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran. Abram took Sarai his wife and Lot his nephew, and all their possessions which they had accumulated, and the persons which they had acquired in Haran, and they set out for the land of Canaan; thus they came to the land of Canaan. Abram passed through the land as far as the site of Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. Now the Canaanite was then in the land. The Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your descendants I will give this land.” So he built an altar there to the Lord who had appeared to him. Then he proceeded from there to the mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east; and there he built an altar to the Lord and called upon the name of the Lord. Abram journeyed on, continuing toward the Negev.

10 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. 11 It came about when he came near to Egypt, that he said to Sarai his wife, “See now, I know that you are a beautiful woman; 12 and when the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife’; and they will kill me, but they will let you live. 13 Please say that you are my sister so that it may go well with me because of you, and that I may live on account of you.” 14 It came about when Abram came into Egypt, the Egyptians saw that the woman was very beautiful. 15 Pharaoh’s officials saw her and praised her to Pharaoh; and the woman was taken into Pharaoh’s house. 16 Therefore he treated Abram well for her sake; and gave him sheep and oxen and donkeys and male and female servants and female donkeys and camels.

17 But the Lord struck Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai, Abram’s wife. 18 Then Pharaoh called Abram and said, “What is this you have done to me? Why did you not tell me that she was your wife? 19 Why did you say, ‘She is my sister,’ so that I took her for my wife? Now then, here is your wife, take her and go.” 20 Pharaoh commanded his men concerning him; and they escorted him away, with his wife and all that belonged to him.

Genesis 13

Abram and Lot

13 So Abram went up from Egypt to the Negev, he and his wife and all that belonged to him, and Lot with him.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB © The Lockman Foundation (www.lockman.org)

Thoughts About What We’re Reading…

WHEN A DONKEY SPEAKS…

As a child I remember a series of films made in the 1950’s centered on the comedic adventures of a talking mule named Francis.  Recently, we were bemused with the talking antics of the donkey in Shrek.

Talking animals in movies are cute, but in scripture it gives us pause.  Satan takes the form of a talking snake in Genesis 3, Jesus sends a legion of demons in a herd of pigs in Matthew 8 and here in Numbers 22-24, we read the story of Balaam and his talking donkey.

Balaam, a pagan diviner and seer is hired by King Balak to curse the nation of Israel.  After a vision or dream from God, Balaam instead blesses the nation to Balak’s dismay.

It may seem surprising that God can use such a corrupt character to deliver His Word, but our Big God can even make a donkey speak! It was the donkey that first recognized the Angel of the Lord, in essence saving the life of Balaam.

God demonstrates that He can use even a pagan wizard to bring blessing to His people.

Though Balaam had been unsuccessful in cursing the people of Israel, he evidently managed to play a role in their seduction by the Baal cult at Peor (Numbers 25:1-4 and 31:16). When Israel was in Shittim, Israelite men engaged in sexual immorality with Moabite women. This was an integral part of the Canaanite fertility rites and was practiced in connection with the regular services of their temples (Num. 25:2).

The physical, carnal aspects of this idolatry tempted the Israelites and led them into the spiritual apostasy of worshiping the false God Baal.

So serious was this breach of covenant, especially when Israel was on the threshold of the land of promise, that the Lord commanded Moses to take serious action– all the guilty individuals involved must die.

Later in Chapter 31:8, we read that Balaam was killed during Israel’s battle with the Midianites.

These accounts are reminders that a holy God demands complete obedience of His servants; on the journey to Moab, Balaam’s donkey was more sensitive to God’s moving than was this renowned seer.

Until next time, keep reading…

Jim
Excerpts and references: ESV Study Bible, HCSB Study Bible, Gospel Transformation Bible