Genesis 30

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Amazing that we are only 30 chapters into this beautiful story, and we can see mistakes and errors riddling the path of humanity and interfering with the Blessing. But even more amazing is the fact that the covenant Promise which God made with Abraham back in Chapter 12-13 is still in effect in the lives of those who walk in it. For Abraham’s sake – Issac was blessed, and that same Blessing Promise was passed on to his sons – Esau & Jacob. But, as time goes on and people move further away from that initial Promise… they forget God and what He said. Esau already possessed the Blessing of Abraham – yet he cared so little about it that he sold it to his brother for a bowl of stew (Chapter 27). As well, Jacob already possessed the Blessing of Abraham – yet he failed to realize that and instead used deception to gain what was already his! As we shall see – these steps of disobedience brought many struggles and heartache.

When we read Chapter 30 it can be natural to raise an eyebrow at the unique circumstances of bearing children. But we must remember that we are looking at people who lived 5000 or so years ago – within a different culture and mindset. So while the circumstances surrounding the birthing of Jacob’s 12 sons was definitely weird – the continuing work of the Blessing in his life isn’t.

Jacob has agreed to work for 7 years for his Uncle Laban in order to secure Rachel as his wife. But Laban is less than honest in his dealings with Jacob – and deceives him into marrying Leah first. (See how the way Jacob dealt with Esau and Issac has now come back upon himself?). In the end Jacob works 14 years for his two wives – Leah and Rachel.

Then when it comes time for Jacob to take his family and leave – his fourteen years being completed – we are given a glimpse into what life was like for Jacob (and Laban). In Genesis 30:27 Laban is clearly upset that Jacob wants to leave him because he has “learned by experience that the Lord has favored me with blessings on your account”. Jacob goes on to acknowledge that Laban has “increased and multiplied abundantly” (vs 30). (Remember what the Blessing is?… Be Fruitful and Multiply). So instead of inquiring as to WHY Jacob was blessed and increased wherever he went – instead Laban sought to try the same tricks Jacob had… deception and trickery.

In the end – our main lesson from this chapter is that we cannot use the “wisdom” of man to walk in the Blessing of the Lord. Jacob was in the process of learning this – yet Laban had not. So when Laban separated the strong parts of the flock and tried to only give Jacob the weak – the Lord gave Jacob insight into how to strengthen the weak flock into the strong. So the Deceiver (Jacob) was learning how to walk in a trusting relationship with the Lord instead of trying to manipulate. In the end – Jacob had increased because of the Blessing working in his life… not because of his own cunning or logic.

What lesson does that speak to you and I today in our world?

Be Fruitful & Multiply,

PK

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Genesis 26-27

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Obedience & Favor. Those two words sum up these two chapters in Genesis. Abraham has died – and now Issac is positioned to carry on The Blessing that the Lord promised to his father. The covenant that God cut with Abraham is in effect for Issac as well.

But there is a famine in the land.

Genesis 26:1 says that the famine was not the famine spoken of in chapter 12 – but a new, severe famine. (The word famine means – among other things – “a severe shortage”). Then in verses 2-5 we see the Lord gives direction to his favored family, now led by Issac. As in all things – Issac had a choice. Obey God and continue to operate under the Blessing, or disobey Him and remove yourself from Favor. In verse 6 we are told of Issac’s decision; “So Issac stayed in Gerar.” (exactly like God told him to!).

Now Issac wasn’t perfect – he made the same sort of mistakes that his father made when he tried to protect himself under his own strength. This could have backfired – yet the Lord was gracious with him (like He was with Abraham). In the end, Issac obeyed the Lord – followed His instructions – and it was good for him. We see in verse 12 that he is reaping 100 times in harvest DURING A FAMINE! That is how it is with the Lord – obedience brings plenty, protection, provision in all things. Issac is just another example. In the middle of one of the worst famines the area had ever seen – this Kingdom Man – Issac actually increased.

If you will listen diligently to the voice of the Lord your God, being watchful to do all His commandments which I command you this day, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you if you heed the voice of the Lord your God.” – Deut 28:1-2 (This hasn’t changed!).

But – as in obedience… disobedience will remove us from this place of Blessing as well! Notice what happens in chapter 27 of Genesis. Esau is the elder of Issac’s children – and therefore the rightful heir of a double portion of the estate then his younger brother Jacob. But Jacob listens to his mother and tricks Issac into blessing him with the Firstborn Blessing.

What was wrong here? Not only did Jacob deceive his father, he also stole from his brother. That is not how the Blessing works! This is the perfect example of “making the weak arm of flesh your strength” (Jer. 17:5). Jacob made the choice to listen to his mother and attempt to gain the Blessing by his own strength, power and cunning instead of trusting in the Lord to provide for him.

What was the result of this? As we shall see, because of Jacob’s decision – he will be at odds with his brother Esau for many years. This family feud would go on to cost countless lives throughout succeeding centuries. The descendants of Esau (the Amalekites) would grow to become ruthless enemies of Israel – as well it would be the Edomites who would be instrumental in not only attempting to break the family line of Jesus by almost killing King David (1 Sam 21-22) – but again trying the same thing through king Herod and his edict against the 2-yr old boys at the time of Jesus. (Matt 2:16).

Obedience brings Blessing. But when we choose instead to disobey the Lord and try to achieve the Blessing on our own strength we only create more problems – many more problems – which can affect those who come generations after us.

Choose Obedience – and you will increase even in the midst of a famine!

Be Fruitful & Multiply,

PK

Genesis 22-23

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So we continue to see this beautiful story weave it’s way through the life of Abraham. Abraham was clearly a man of obedience – simply by the fact that when God spoke to him, he listened and obeyed without even knowing the outcome. That is faith! Abraham had no reason to believe that what God had told him would come to pass then simply the fact that God had told him!

You and I have the same opportunities for faith.

In Genesis chapter 22 – God gives Abraham an opportunity to really put his faith into action. Why did God test Abraham with his son Issac? From one perspective this can seem like God is being cruel – forcing Abraham to sacrifice his beloved son, yet if we look at the bigger picture we get more insight into what is really going on.

God knows what the plan is – the rescue mission. He is going to bring the Redeemer through Abraham’s seed – and Abraham will need to walk in faith for the rest of his life – believing and obeying God in His Promise to him. Not only that – Abraham will need to teach Issac this as well – passing it along through the family lines. So the test wasn’t really to convince God that Abraham will not fail Him– it was to convince Abraham that God will not fail him.

But even more is going on then that! You see – Abraham showed that he was walking in the confidence that God had promised him the Blessing through Issac – and so God would work everything out according to that promise (even if it meant bringing Issac back from the dead!). That was why Abraham kept answering Issac’s questions with “God will provide”. But Issac was walking in a level of faith as well! According to the Jewish historian Josephus, Issac was about 25 years old by this time… a strapping young man would could have easily defied his father and resisted when being bound on that altar – yet he didn’t. He trusted not only his father, but the Promise that God had given his father.

You and I have the same opportunities for faith.

In the end, the Angel of the Lord (Jesus) comes and stops Abraham before the deed is done. Then we see that God has indeed provided a lamb caught in the thicket.

He would later provide the Lamb for us all – beautiful imagery here!

The story continues – Sarah dies – and Abraham purchases a field from the Hittites in which he buries his wife (and eventually himself and other family members). This field would later become a major city in Israel – Hebron. It would be a city of refuge – where anyone being falsely accused can run and find safety, and much later it would be the city from which King David would rule Israel for 7 years.

So we see even the small details actually mean much more in the large scope of the story. That is how it works when walking with God – even the small moments of faithful choices play a huge role in the larger picture.

You and I have the same opportunities for faith.

Be Fruitful & Multiply,

PK

Genesis 18

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As I was reading my chapter this morning (Chapter 18) – a couple of things jumped out of me.

For starters – have you spotted Jesus in the mix throughout these first 18 chapters? He was present at Creation as the Word spoken – He is referenced several times as the “Angel of the Lord” – and even here in Chapter 18 He is present as one of the 3 visitors who ate with Abram. How do we know this? Because numerous verses (such as Col 1:17) speak of Jesus being present before the beginning. In this chapter – three strangers come to visit Abraham… one of which is addressed as the LORD (a name which typically signifies Jesus). How comforting to learn that Jesus didn’t simply show up in the manger for the first time. He has been present with God the Father and the Holy Spirit since before time began.

What does that say to me? That the way of salvation was planned before I was even born. The moment man fell dead in the garden, Jesus already was on His rescue mission. We serve an awesome God!

A second thing which jumped out at me is Gen 18:17. Here we are given insight into the reason the strangers are there… not JUST to tell Abram that Sarah was going to have a son – but also to check out the vile rampant sin that was present in Sodom. We see two of the three strangers make their way towards Sodom – yet the LORD hangs back and asks Himself a very important question:

Shall I hide from Abraham [My friend and servant] what I am going to do?” Gen 18:17 AMP

You see – God already knew what needed to be done in reference to Sodom. Yet, because His heart is to partner with mankind to rule the earth, He decides to share this secret information with Abraham (his Friend). Then, in a beautiful demonstration of grace – God allows Abraham to bargain for the city (and namely for his nephew Lot who lived in that city!) – even though God already knew there were not even 10 righteous people there. That is love!

God wants to share secrets with us… His friends. My desire – both for myself and for all of you – is that we would all become the type of friend like Abraham was…and that God will share His secrets with us.

Be Fruitful & Multiply,

PK

Genesis 13-16

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A lot of things have happened in the past few chapters which play a huge role in the overall story of God’s partnership with humanity in spreading the Blessing across the earth. For starters – in Chapter 13 – we see that this man Abram, whom we first met in chapter 12, is walking right in the middle of God’s plan. God has chosen Abram to become a hinge pin in His masterful plan of Blessing. In Gen 13:14-17 we see the first signs of this plan when God makes His Promise to manifest the Blessing in Abram’s life (Be Fruitful & Multiply!). This Blessing provides for Abram even when he takes the second best parcel of land – and defers the best to Lot. God is working behind the scenes on Abram’s behalf!

Then in Chapter 14 we see what the Blessing has done in Abram’s life. He has become a powerful leader in the area – which aides him in rescuing his nephew from an alliance of evil kings. In Gen 14:18-20 we see Abram pay homage to a King named Melchizedek by giving him the tithe (10%) of his spoils. (Hebrews chapter 7 gives us some added insight into what happens here – telling us that Melchizedek is a prototype of Jesus – the King of Righteousness who was to come). By paying his tithe – Abram establishes the steps for all of us to follow in walking in the Blessing of the Lord. The victories are not based on his (or our) own strength – but acknowledges that it was because of the Blessing of the Lord.

In Chapter 15 we, as a fly on the wall, are provided a glimpse of God further establishing Abram as His Man for the Plan by cutting a blood covenant with him. In ancient days a blood covenant was legally binding by penalty of death. God reconfirms his Promise to Bless Abram – and Abram enters into agreement with God by “believing the Lord and He counted it to him for righteousness.” (15:6). This is a demonstration of the partnership between God and man… God’s part is to fulfill the Blessing and our part is to believe and obey. Again – Abram had done nothing to earn this – but when he believed God (by faith) it was credited to his account as being worthy. All God needs is for us to come into agreement with Him in faith and then He can change the world through us!

Which brings us to today’s reading of chapter 16. This chapter brings me such comfort because even Abram, a man chosen by God Himself to be a catalyst for the Blessing, messed up. It was Abram to whom God has promised such things as we have read this far. It was Abram who had come into agreement with God and had responded in faith. Yet – when Sarai came to Abram with an alternative plan to achieve what God had already promised – Abram gave in willingly. What should he have done? He should have stood on what God and said and resisted the temptation to make it happen by his own strength! God has promised it – and God would see that it came to pass! Instead, Abram went along with Sarai’s plan – and the result was Ishmael.

There are a lot of theories about who Ishmael represents today (namely that he is the father of the Arab people – mortal enemies to the Jews). But going beyond all of that – the true lesson is that God’s best cannot be gained by human means. Ishmael did not represent what God was planning on doing through Abram and Sarai (NOT Hagar!). Now – God still took care of Ishmael (because of His promise to Abram), but the plan of God was still in motion. All Abram’s poor choice did was create an alternative branch in His seed which would become a thorn throughout the generations to come (even to this day!).

Whew! That is a lot to absorb! Much has happened already (and we aren’t even half way through Genesis yet!). But – more important are the lessons we are learning. God has The Blessing in mind at all times – He operates in Grace to bring this Blessing to pass – and when we (Abram) take Him at His Word and obey Him then that Blessing will come to reality in our lives. BUT – attempting to circumvent this obedience and achieve the results on our own will only cause more problems for the future.

Be Fruitful & Multiply,

PK

Genesis 12

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As we read the 12th chapter of Genesis this morning, we are introduced to Abram. Abram – son of Terah, husband of Sarai – is living in Ur of the Chaldees before relocating with his father to Haran. It was there that the Lord suddenly reaches out to Abram. I find it amazing that God did this… after all – the chances of Abram being a God-fearing man were remote. His homeland was famous for Moon worship. (Excavations have turned up a sophisticated society in Ur at that time, with an education system and temples dedicated to the worship of false deity’s). Although it cannot be known for certain – we can surmise that anything Abram knew about the true God, Yahweh, was scant at best.

So God suddenly introduces Himself to Abram – and pronounces a series of Blessings over him. Now remember, God’s original plan is still on His heart. He is working towards blessing the entire world and restoring it to it’s original state as expressed in the garden. He is also looking for people to do it through – as his agents of blessing. So God calls Abram.

A big question right off the bat is ‘What did Abram do to catch God’s eye?’ How did Abram get himself into position for God to bless him? The answer is Nothing! We have no record of Abram ever calling out to the Lord – worshiping him – honoring him. God simply reached out first to Abram with e Blessing offer.

I will make you a great nation.

I will bless you.

I will make your name great.

I will bless those who bless you.

In you shall all families of the earth be blessed.
(That is grace).

God chose to bless Abram – to use him as the catalyst for the reworking of His plan for creation. Abram did nothing to deserve it or earn it… grace. What Abram did do is believe and respond in obedience. That is faith. It was God’s grace – coupled with Abram’s faith – which set him up to be blessed. The two working hand in hand – just as God wanted it in the garden with Adam & Eve.

Just as He still wants it today. He blesses – we believe and obey with faith.

Be Fruitful & Multiply,

PK

Genesis 9

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So the flood is over – the waters have rescinded – and Noah is instructed by God to leave the ark with his family and begin the process of creation anew. We have seen this process laid out in detail for Adam and Eve – and the destruction that came about due to their disobedience. We have watched the first family structure degrade under the curse of disobedience – eventually ending in murder. Now we see a restart (of sorts).

Just as He did with Adam, God declares the Blessing over Noah. “Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth.” Gen 9:1) Notice this is the exact same words spoken to Adam in Gen 1:28! God’s plan hasn’t changed due to man’s disobedience – it is simply following a different route. This is important to remember – because man does not have the power to stop what God wants to do. The irony is that man has the choice to participate with God or not… but God will only find someone else who will obey him! Adam chose to disobey and invited sin into the beautiful creation, so God simply found another – Noah – who would obey him and put His plan back into motion.

As noted in the comments of a previous chapter – the word “fruitful” does not suggest simply having babies. The Hebrew word is actually “parah” and it means “to bear fruit, grow, increase”. It has a much deeper meaning then simply procreation. It means production – multiplication – reproduction. It means to fill and spread and cause what was at the beginning to reproduce itself. Adams charge (and now Noah’s charge) was always to take the template that God has started and work it, build on it, create with it – and cause it to spread across the earth.

Of course – if I am to be honest – the next logical question is… did this mandate stop with Noah? If it didn’t, then does it also apply to me? If so – then in what ways am I doing that today?

Grace & Peace,

PK

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