1403.) Genesis 12

September 17, 2014
The Call of Abraham, ceramic relief by Richard McBee, 1980
“The Call of Abraham”  ceramic relief by Richard McBee, 1980

Genesis 12    (NRSV)

The Call of Abram

This chapter is a turning point in the narrative of the Book of Genesis.  The story of the human family in Genesis has gradually narrowed its focus from all the world’s families (Genesis 10:1-32), to one particular family (Genesis 11:10-32), then to one particular man (Genesis 12:1).

–Linda B. Hinton

Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. 2I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. 3I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

A three-fold promise of land, descendants, and blessing.  The remainder of the Old Testament is the great story of Abraham’s children, the Jewish people, living in the land that God promised to Abraham.  And the New Testament is the story of the greatest blessing from God, which he sent to all people through Abraham’s genealogical line, his Son Jesus Christ.

4So Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran. 5Abram took his wife Sarai and his brother’s son Lot, and all the possessions that they had gathered, and the persons whom they had acquired in Haran; and they set forth to go to the land of Canaan. When they had come to the land of Canaan,6Abram passed through the land to the place at Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. At that time the Canaanites were in the land.

7Then the Lord appeared to Abram, and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built there an altar to the Lord, who had appeared to him. 8From there he moved on to the hill country 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 invoked the name of the Lord. 9And Abram journeyed on by stages toward the Negeb.

Hebrews 11:8-10 (Contemporary English Version)

Abraham had faith and obeyed God. He was told to go to the land that God had said would be his, and he left for a country he had never seen.  Because Abraham had faith, he lived as a stranger in the promised land. He lived there in a tent, and so did Isaac and Jacob, who were later given the same promise.  Abraham did this, because he was waiting for the eternal city that God had planned and built.

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Resources:

Bruce Feiler.  Walking the Bible: A Journey by Land through the Five Books of Moses (Book I, Chapter 1 “In the Land of Canaan”).

HERE  is a clear and interesting map of Abraham’s journeys.

Field of Dreams, 1989, starring Kevin Costner.  A movie with an Abraham-esque theme:  Farmer Ray Kinsella gives up everything in Iowa to find his destiny. At the end of the movie, his daughter envisions the field as a promised land for people, and as the credits roll the lights of the cars coming there seem almost like the stars in the sky. (Can you tell I am a displaced Iowa farm girl?!)
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12-ab-pl-cartoon

Abram and Sarai in Egypt

10Now there was a famine in the land. So Abram went down to Egypt to reside there as an alien, for the famine was severe in the land. 11When he was about to enter Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai, “I know well that you are a woman beautiful in appearance;

A Jewish legend says when Abram went into Egypt, he tried to hide Sarai in a casket. When Egyptian customs officials asked what he had in the casket, he said, “barley.” “No,” they said, “it contains wheat.” “Very well,” answered Abram. “I’ll pay the custom on wheat.” Then the officers said it contained pepper. Abram said he would pay the custom charges on pepper. Then the officers said it contained gold. Abram said he would pay the custom charges on gold. Then the officers said it contained precious stones. Abram said he would pay the custom charges on precious stones. By this time, the officers insisted on opening the casket. When they did, all of Egypt shone because of the beauty of Sarai. These same legends say that in comparison to Sarai, all other women looked like monkeys. She was even more beautiful than Eve.

–David Guzik

12and when the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife’; then they will kill me, but they will let you live. 13Say you are my sister, so that it may go well with me because of you, and that my life may be spared on your account.”

14When Abram entered Egypt the Egyptians saw that the woman was very beautiful. 15When the officials of Pharaoh saw her, they praised her to Pharaoh. And the woman was taken into Pharaoh’s house. 16And for her sake he dealt well with Abram; and he had sheep, oxen, male donkeys, male and female slaves, female donkeys, and camels. 17But the Lord afflicted Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai, Abram’s wife.

18So Pharaoh called Abram, and said, “What is this you have done to me? Why did you not tell me that she was your wife? 19Why did you say, ‘She is my sister,’ so that I took her for my wife? Now then, here is your wife, take her, and be gone.” 20And Pharaoh gave his men orders concerning him; and they set him on the way, with his wife and all that he had.

Memo #1 to Abram:

“Better a poor man whose walk is blameless
than a rich man whose ways are perverse.”

–Proverbs 28:6  (NIV)

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Music:

In this chapter God calls Abram.  Later we will read of God calling Moses at the burning bush.  Calling Jonah to go to the city of Ninevah.  Calling Saul on the road to Damascus.  And God is still calling disciples, calling them by name, calling you, calling me . . .  HERE  is Paul Baloche’s “The Same Love.”

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The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
McBee (a contemporary Jewish artist from New York).   http://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2009/02/callofabraham1.jpg?w=470&h=453
cartoon.   http://www.cartoonstock.com/lowres/jco0017l.jpg
photograph of Kristin Kreuk.  http://www.toptenz.net/wp-content/uploads/2008/06/kristin-kreuk.jpg

1402.) Genesis 11

September 16, 2014

towerofbabel-kid1

Genesis 11   (NRSV)

The Tower of Babel

Now the whole earth had one language and the same words. 2And as they migrated from the east, they came upon a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. 3And they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.” And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar. 4Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves; otherwise we shall be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.”

The ancient Greek historian Herodotus said the tower of Babel still stood in his day and he had seen it.

5The Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which mortals had built. 6And the Lord said, “Look, they are one people, and they have all one language; and this is only the beginning of what they will do; nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. 7Come, let us go down, and confuse their language there, so that they will not understand one another’s speech.” 8So the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. 9Therefore it was called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth; and from there the Lord scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth.

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Interesting large artistic renderings of the Tower of Babel:

“The Tower of Babel,” a 1928 woodcut by M. C. Escher.  Click  HERE.

“The Tower of Babel”  by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, c. 1563 (Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna).  Click  HERE.

“The Construction of the Tower of Babel,” by Hendrik van Cleve, c. 1500? (Pinacoteca Nazionale, Bologna).  Click  HERE.

“Tower of Babel,” The Bedford Master, Book of Hours, 1423.  Click  HERE.

a modern “Tower of Babel,” — urban overload! — by Joel Stoehr.  Click  HERE.
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Music:

Using our speech to praise God — here are a couple versions of “O, for a Thousand Tongues to Sing.”  This is one of the more famous of Charles Wesley’s 6000 hymns.  The hymn was placed first in John Wesley’s A Collection of Hymns for the People Called Methodists published in 1780, and is often found on the first page of Methodist hymnals even today.

1)  Mike Rayson, a tribute to Charles and John Wesley.

2)  the MetroSingers, from the culturally diverse Metropolitan Seventh-Day Adventist Church in Hyattsville, MD.

 

And:

Speaking of different languages — HERE  is a fascinating overview of the worldwide status of Bible translation, from Wycliffe Bible Translators.  I must add that if you ever make a trip to Orlando, Florida, to see the Mouse, do yourself a spiritual favor and visit the Wycliffe headquarters.  Their museum is fascinating, interactive for children and adults, and I promise you will learn a lot!

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the tower of Babel language fiasco — in reverse!

Acts 2:1-11 (New Living Translation)

On the day of Pentecost all the believers were meeting together in one place. Suddenly, there was a sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm, and it filled the house where they were sitting. Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them. And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages, as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability.

At that time there were devout Jews from every nation living in Jerusalem. When they heard the loud noise, everyone came running, and they were bewildered to hear their own languages being spoken by the believers.  They were completely amazed. “How can this be?” they exclaimed.

“These people are all from Galilee, and yet we hear them speaking in our own native languages! Here we are—Parthians, Medes, Elamites, people from Mesopotamia, Judea, Cappadocia, Pontus, the province of Asia, Phrygia, Pamphylia, Egypt, and the areas of Libya around Cyrene, visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism), Cretans, and Arabs. And we all hear these people speaking in our own languages about the wonderful things God has done!”

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Descendants of Shem

joy-begetting-cartoon

10These are the descendants of Shem. When Shem was one hundred years old, he became the father of Arpachshad two years after the flood; 11and Shem lived after the birth of Arpachshad five hundred years, and had other sons and daughters. 12When Arpachshad had lived thirty-five years, he became the father of Shelah; 13and Arpachshad lived after the birth of Shelah four hundred three years, and had other sons and daughters. 14When Shelah had lived thirty years, he became the father of Eber; 15and Shelah lived after the birth of Eber four hundred three years, and had other sons and daughters. 16When Eber had lived thirty-four years, he became the father of Peleg; 17and Eber lived after the birth of Peleg four hundred thirty years, and had other sons and daughters. 18When Peleg had lived thirty years, he became the father of Reu; 19and Peleg lived after the birth of Reu two hundred nine years, and had other sons and daughters. 20When Reu had lived thirty-two years, he became the father of Serug; 21and Reu lived after the birth of Serug two hundred seven years, and had other sons and daughters. 22When Serug had lived thirty years, he became the father of Nahor; 23and Serug lived after the birth of Nahor two hundred years, and had other sons and daughters. 24When Nahor had lived twenty-nine years, he became the father of Terah; 25and Nahor lived after the birth of Terah one hundred nineteen years, and had other sons and daughters. 26When Terah had lived seventy years, he became the father of Abram, Nahor, and Haran.

Here is the Bible’s first mention of Abram, later re-named Abraham.  About one-third of the book of Genesis is about this man, who is remembered for his faith.

James 2:23 (New International Version)

And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend.

Descendants of Terah

This passage leads into what are called the Patriarchal Narratives (Genesis 12-36) of the Old Testament.  Abraham and his family probably lived sometime around 1800-1750 B.C., and with them the biblical narrative moves from primeval times into the time of recorded history.

Though no documents outside the Bible have been found that tell about the patriarchs specifically, much has been discovered about the world in which Abraham’s family moved.  Personal names and place names like some listed in these verses have been found in the documents of other people in Mesopotamia and Palestine at this time.  The historical and social settings of the patriarchal stories are in agreement with what is known from archaeological discoveries about the lands and peoples among whom the patriarchs lived.  Thus, the biblical narrative takes a turn here from the dimly-seen reaches of the past into the increasing light of historical affirmation.

–Linda B. Hinton

27Now these are the descendants of Terah. Terah was the father of Abram, Nahor, and Haran; and Haran was the father of Lot. 28Haran died before his father Terah in the land of his birth, in Ur of the Chaldeans. 29Abram and Nahor took wives; the name of Abram’s wife was Sarai, and the name of Nahor’s wife was Milcah. She was the daughter of Haran the father of Milcah and Iscah. 30Now Sarai was barren; she had no child. 31Terah took his son Abram and his grandson Lot son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, his son Abram’s wife, and they went out together from Ur of the Chaldeans to go into the land of Canaan; but when they came to Haran, they settled there. 32The days of Terah were two hundred five years; and Terah died in Haran.

As we are set to go into the next portion of Scripture, let’s review just where we are now.  Abram and Sarai have obeyed God and set out for an unknown land.  They have traveled from Ur, near the coast of the Persian Gulf, northward along the Euphrates River to the busy cosmopolitan center of Haran (now in southern Turkey).  There Abram’s father, Terah, died.  Now Abram is the man in charge.  He will decide where his entourage goes, how they live, what/who they worship. 

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The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Tower of Babel coloring page.     http://vectories.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/tower-of-babel-coloring-pages1.gif
“Tower of Babel” stained glass window from First Presbyterian Church, Belmont, NC.   http://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/gen10-tower-glass.jpg
“begetting” cartoon.      http://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2009/02/joy-begetting-cartoon.jpg?w=450
map of Abram’s journey.  http://www.bible-archaeology.info/images/haran_map.jpg

1401.) Genesis 10

September 15, 2014
Many of these identities are built on linguistic connections and language studies.

Scholars build many of these identities based on linguistic connections and language studies.

Genesis 10   (NRSV)

Nations Descended from Noah

Here we have the second genealogy in the book of Genesis. The first genealogy (in chapter 5) detailed the generations from Adam to Noah. The genealogy in this chapter–the so-called “Table of Nations”–details the descendants of Noah and his sons, with the purpose of describing how Noah’s descendants were divided into the nations of the world. As Moses states in verse 32: “These are the clans of Noah’s sons, according to their lines of descent, within their nations. From these the nations spread out over the earth after the flood.” Given this stated purpose, it is worthwhile to look at the names in this genealogy and determine into what areas they settled and into what nations they evolved.

There are other Biblical references to the nations in this genealogy which provide a connection to the modern areas that correspond to where these nations resided. Because of the Biblical references, many of these nations are easy to locate. Modern archaeology gives us more evidence for locating these nations and confirms that this account is historically accurate. So, we find that this chapter (though it may seem, upon cursory reading, boring and useless to us) is important in establishing that the book of Genesis is a history and not a collection of fables. Many consider the Bible a collection of “cleverly invented stories” (2 Peter 1:16), but on the contrary, when the Bible depicts historical events, details cultural customs or describes locations and landmarks, it has been found to be accurate.

The Table of Nations tells us how the family of one man grew into a world of nations and languages. At the same time, it reminds us that we all have the same heritage. Though we do not at present speak the same or look the same or dress the same, we indeed all belong to the same family (trite though it may sound).

–scripturestudies.com

These are the descendants of Noah’s sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth; children were born to them after the flood. 2The descendants of Japheth:

Japheth has traditionally been called the father of the Indo-European peoples — Caucasians, or the Gentiles.

Gomer, Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Meshech, and Tiras. 3The descendants of Gomer: Ashkenaz, Riphath, and Togarmah. 4The descendants of Javan: Elishah, Tarshish, Kittim, and Rodanim. 5From these the coastland peoples spread. These are the descendants of Japheth in their lands, with their own language, by their families, in their nations.

6The descendants of Ham:

The descendants of Ham have traditionally been thought to be those who populated Africa and the Far East.

Cush, Egypt, Put, and Canaan. 7The descendants of Cush: Seba, Havilah, Sabtah, Raamah, and Sabteca. The descendants of Raamah: Sheba and Dedan. 8Cush became the father of Nimrod; he was the first on earth to become a mighty warrior. 9He was a mighty hunter before the Lord; therefore it is said, “Like Nimrod a mighty hunter before the Lord.”

“He was powerful in hunting and in wickedness before the Lord, for he was a hunter of the sons of men, and he said to them, ‘Depart from the judgment of the Lord, and adhere to the judgment of Nimrod!’ Therefore it is said: ‘As Nimrod the strong one, strong in hunting, and in wickedness before the Lord.’ The great success that attended all of Nimrod’s undertakings produced a sinister effect. Men no longer trusted in God, but rather in their own prowess and ability, an attitude to which Nimrod tried to convert the whole world.”

–Rabbi Louis Ginzberg

10The beginning of his kingdom was Babel, Erech, and Accad, all of them in the land of Shinar. 11From that land he went into Assyria, and built Nineveh, Rehoboth-ir, Calah, and 12Resen between Nineveh and Calah; that is the great city. 13Egypt became the father of Ludim, Anamim, Lehabim, Naphtuhim, 14Pathrusim, Casluhim, and Caphtorim, from which the Philistines come.

15Canaan became the father of Sidon his firstborn, and Heth, 16and the Jebusites, the Amorites, the Girgashites, 17the Hivites, the Arkites, the Sinites, 18the Arvadites, the Zemarites, and the Hamathites. Afterward the families of the Canaanites spread abroad. 19And the territory of the Canaanites extended from Sidon, in the direction of Gerar, as far as Gaza, and in the direction of Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboiim, as far as Lasha. 20These are the descendants of Ham, by their families, their languages, their lands, and their nations.

21To Shem also, the father of all the children of Eber, the elder brother of Japheth, children were born. 22The descendants of Shem:

Shem has traditionally been considered the father of the Semitic peoples, Jews and Arabs.

Elam, Asshur, Arpachshad, Lud, and Aram. 23The descendants of Aram: Uz, Hul, Gether, and Mash.

Uz: Later, a region in Arabia was named after this son of Aram. Job came from the land of Uz (Job 1:1).

–David Guzik

24Arpachshad became the father of Shelah; and Shelah became the father of Eber. 25To Eber were born two sons: the name of the one was Peleg, for in his days the earth was divided, and his brother’s name was Joktan. 26Joktan became the father of Almodad, Sheleph, Hazarmaveth, Jerah, 27Hadoram, Uzal, Diklah, 28Obal, Abimael, Sheba, 29Ophir, Havilah, and Jobab; all these were the descendants of Joktan. 30The territory in which they lived extended from Mesha in the direction of Sephar, the hill country of the east. 31These are the descendants of Shem, by their families, their languages, their lands, and their nations. 32These are the families of Noah’s sons, according to their genealogies, in their nations; and from these the nations spread abroad on the earth after the flood.

“Hence one must consider this chapter of Genesis a mirror in which to discern that we human beings are, namely, creatures so marred by sin that we have no knowledge of our own origin, not even of God Himself, our Creator, unless the Word of God reveals these sparks of divine light to us from afar . . . This knowledge the Holy Scriptures reveal to us. Those who are without them live in error, uncertainty, and boundless ungodliness; for they have no knowledge about who they are and whence they came.”

–Martin Luther

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Music:

HERE  is “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands,” sung by Marian Anderson.  What a treat to hear such a wonderful voice!

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The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
“The Nations of Genesis 10.”     http://answersfromthebook.com/cgi-data/aftb_rw/img_000056_010280_233965.jpg
map of Shem-Ham-Japheth.  http://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/tableofnationsgenesis10.jpg

1400.) Genesis 9

September 12, 2014

9-the-rainbow-promise

Genesis 9   (NRSV)

The Covenant with Noah

God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth. 2The fear and dread of you shall rest on every animal of the earth, and on every bird of the air, on everything that creeps on the ground, and on all the fish of the sea; into your hand they are delivered. 3Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you; and just as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything. 4Only, you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood.

The importance of the idea of blood in the Bible is shown by how often the word is used. It is used 424 times in 357 separate verses (in the New King James Version).

  • Blood was the sign of mercy for Israel at the first Passover (Exodus 12:13)
  • Blood sealed God’s covenant with Israel (Exodus 24:8)
  • Blood sanctified the altar (Exodus 29:12)
  • Blood set aside the priests (Exodus 29:20)
  • Blood made atonement for God’s people (Exodus 30:10)
  • Blood sealed the new covenant (Matthew 26:28)
  • Blood justifies us (Romans 5:9)
  • Blood brings redemption (Ephesians 1:7)
  • Blood brings peace with God (Colossians 1:20)
  • Blood cleanses us (Hebrews 9:14 and 1 John 1:7)
  • Blood gives entrance to God’s holy place (Hebrews 10:19)
  • Blood sanctifies us (Hebrews 13:12)
  • Blood enables us to overcome Satan (Revelation 12:11)

–David Guzik

5For your own lifeblood I will surely require a reckoning: from every animal I will require it and from human beings, each one for the blood of another, I will require a reckoning for human life. 6Whoever sheds the blood of a human, by a human shall that person’s blood be shed; for in his own image God made humankind. 7And you, be fruitful and multiply, abound on the earth and multiply in it.”

8Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him, 9“As for me, I am establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you, 10and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the domestic animals, and every animal of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark. 11I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.”

9-photogrpah-a-rainbow

At its most basic, a covenant is an agreement between two parties.  Some covenants place requirements on each of the partners (see, for example, Genesis 12:1-3).  God’s covenant with Noah, however, requires only God’s maintenance and remembrance.  Despite the disruptions in God’s original intentions for creation and despite the grief and trouble humanity has caused for God, God decides not to abandon creation.

–Linda B. Hinton

Psalm 138:8  

The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me.
Lord, Your love is eternal;
do not abandon the work of Your hands.

12God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: 13I have set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, 15I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. 16When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” 17God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.”

Hebrews 11:7 (Contemporary English Version)

Because Noah had faith, he was warned about something that had not yet happened. He obeyed and built a boat that saved him and his family. In this way the people of the world were judged, and Noah was given the blessings that come to everyone who pleases God.

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Music:

Gen9 Judy

The most famous rainbow song in the world.  “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” performed  HERE  by Eric Clapton, the only person to be inducted three times into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and widely considered to be one of the greatest guitarists of all time.

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Ezekiel 1:27-28 (Contemporary English Version)

From the waist up, it was glowing like metal in a hot furnace, and from the waist down it looked like the flames of a fire. The figure was surrounded by a bright light, as colorful as a rainbow that appears after a storm. I realized I was seeing the brightness of the LORD’s glory! So I bowed with my face to the ground.

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Books:

Bruce Feiler.  Walking the Bible: A Journey by Land through the Five Books of Moses,  (Introduction — “And God Said”)

Peter Spier.  Noah’s Ark (a Caldecott winner wordless picture book)

Carmen Bernos De Gasztold, Author; Rumer Godden, Translator. Prayers from the Ark (from the animals and the humans!)

Tim Lovett.  Noah’s Ark: Thinking Outside the Box (current research by a naval expert and mechanical engineer)
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Noah and His Sons

“The Drunkenness of Noah” by Michelangelo, 1509 (Sistine Chapel, Rome)

18The sons of Noah who went out of the ark were Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Ham was the father of Canaan. 19These three were the sons of Noah; and from these the whole earth was peopled. 20Noah, a man of the soil, was the first to plant a vineyard. 21He drank some of the wine and became drunk, and he lay uncovered in his tent.

Proverbs 20:1 (English Standard Version)

  Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler,

   and whoever is led astray by it is not wise.

22And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brothers outside. 23Then Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it on both their shoulders, and walked backward and covered the nakedness of their father; their faces were turned away, and they did not see their father’s nakedness.

24When Noah awoke from his wine and knew what his youngest son had done to him, 25he said, “Cursed be Canaan; lowest of slaves shall he be to his brothers.” 26He also said, “Blessed by the Lord my God be Shem; and let Canaan be his slave. 27May God make space for Japheth, and let him live in the tents of Shem; and let Canaan be his slave.”

28After the flood Noah lived three hundred fifty years. 29All the days of Noah were nine hundred fifty years; and he died.

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The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Rainbow and Promise.   http://www.essex1.com/people/paul/the-rainbow.jpg
rainbow.   http://digital-photography-school.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/11/photogrpah-a-rainbow.jpg
Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz.    http://i.ytimg.com/vi/IKCX71zBHo8/0.jpg
Michelangelo.  http://www.wga.hu/art/m/michelan/3sistina/1genesis/1drunken/01_3ce1.jpg

 


1399.) Genesis 8

September 11, 2014

Genesis 8  (NRSV)

The Flood Subsides

But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and all the domestic animals that were with him in the ark.

To remember is not just a mental activity.  Remembering also involves action.  God’s remembrance of Noah brings God’s grace, mercy, and action on Noah’s behalf.

–Linda B. Hinton

And God made a wind blow over the earth, and the waters subsided; 2the fountains of the deep and the windows of the heavens were closed, the rain from the heavens was restrained, 3and the waters gradually receded from the earth. At the end of one hundred fifty days the waters had abated;

4and in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat.

Mount Ararat in eastern Turkey

Twenty-three summers ago I was traveling in eastern Turkey and was in the presence of Mount Ararat.  The huge ancient volcano towers over a broad plain which is near the borders of Iraq and Armenia.  Villages there were very poor — small concrete block boxes for houses, with tall pyramids of dried dung outside each door, fuel for the winter.  But the mountain!  It is immense and stunningly beautiful!  Although the region is frequently witness to Kurdish-Turkish unrest, the stately magnificence of the mountain seemed to me to quiet all discord.  The verse that came to my mind was “Be still, and know that I AM God.”

This is what Marco Polo wrote in his journal about Mount Ararat in the early 1300’s:  “In the heart of Greater Armenia is a very high mountain, shaped like a cube (or cup), on which Noah’s ark is said to have rested, whence it is called the Mountain of Noah’s Ark. It [the mountain] is so broad and long that it takes more than two days to go around it. On the summit the snow lies so deep all the year round that no one can ever climb it; this snow never entirely melts, but new snow is for ever falling on the old, so that the level rises.”

5The waters continued to abate until the tenth month; in the tenth month, on the first day of the month, the tops of the mountains appeared.

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Music:

“Over mountains steep, or on the stormy sea . . .”  My husband’s father, Tom Mitchell, sang this hymn to the congregation at his last church service the evening before before he shipped out to England and then on to Germany in WWII, leaving behind a wife and two daughters.  Fortunately he returned safe and sound and lived to see his son and all his grandchildren born!  So  HERE  is a fun experience for you — listen to Ernie Haase & Signature Sound sing “My Heavenly Father Watches Over Me.”

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6At the end of forty days Noah opened the window of the ark that he had made 7and sent out the raven; and it went to and fro until the waters were dried up from the earth.

8Then he sent out the dove from him, to see if the waters had subsided from the face of the ground; 9but the dove found no place to set its foot, and it returned to him to the ark, for the waters were still on the face of the whole earth. So he put out his hand and took it and brought it into the ark with him. 10He waited another seven days, and again he sent out the dove from the ark; 11and the dove came back to him in the evening, and there in its beak was a freshly plucked olive leaf; so Noah knew that the waters had subsided from the earth.

olive-leaf-dove1

Olive trees do not grow at high elevations, so the olive leaf picked by the dove shows that the waters have drained away from the low-lying areas as well as from the mountains.

–Linda B. Hinton

12Then he waited another seven days, and sent out the dove; and it did not return to him any more.

13In the six hundred first year, in the first month, the first day of the month, the waters were dried up from the earth; and Noah removed the covering of the ark, and looked, and saw that the face of the ground was drying. 14In the second month, on the twenty-seventh day of the month, the earth was dry.

15Then God said to Noah, 16“Go out of the ark, you and your wife, and your sons and your sons’ wives with you. 17Bring out with you every living thing that is with you of all flesh—birds and animals and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth—so that they may abound on the earth, and be fruitful and multiply on the earth.” 18So Noah went out with his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives. 19And every animal, every creeping thing, and every bird, everything that moves on the earth, went out of the ark by families.

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Amazing!

HERE  is a striking space shuttle photo of Mount Ararat and Little Ararat with Landsat Photo overlay.

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Thy Holy Wings

Thy holy wings, O Savior,
spread gently over me
and let me rest securely
through good and ill in thee.
Oh, be my strength and portion,
my rock and hiding place,
and let my ev’ry moment
be lived within thy grace.

Oh, wash me in the waters
of Noah’s cleansing flood.
Give me a willing spirit,
a heart both clean and good.
Oh, take into thy keeping
thy children great and small,
and while we sweetly slumber,
enfold us one and all.

Written by Carolina Sandell Berg, 1832-1903;
translated by Gracia Grindal, b. 1943

God’s Promise to Noah

20Then Noah built an altar to the Lord, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird, and offered burnt offerings on the altar.

As soon as Noah leaves the ark, he offers a sacrifice to God to thank God and praise God.

21And when the Lord smelled the pleasing odor,

. . . which proves that God loves a good barbecue!

the Lord said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of humankind, for the inclination of the human heart is evil from youth; nor will I ever again destroy every living creature as I have done. 22As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.”

8springsummerfallwinter

2 Peter 3:3-9 (New Living Translation)

I want to remind you that in the last days scoffers will come, mocking the truth and following their own desires.  They will say, “What happened to the promise that Jesus is coming again? From before the times of our ancestors, everything has remained the same since the world was first created.”

They deliberately forget that God made the heavens by the word of his command, and he brought the earth out from the water and surrounded it with water.  Then he used the water to destroy the ancient world with a mighty flood.  And by the same word, the present heavens and earth have been stored up for fire. They are being kept for the day of judgment, when ungodly people will be destroyed.

But you must not forget this one thing, dear friends: A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day.  The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.

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The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Rainbow and ark.   http://www.muralsforkids.com/product_images/h/gu92351bblndr__29169.jpg
Mount Ararat.    http://media-2.web.britannica.com/eb-media/76/110276-004-BF483E63.jpg
Dove with olive leaf.  http://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/peace-dove-flying.jpg
Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter.   http://danwiz.com/Feb2007/SpringSummerFallWinterSmall.jpg

1398.) Genesis 7

September 10, 2014

“The Deluge” by contemporary Belgian painter Benedicte Vandewattyne.

Genesis 7  (NRSV)

The Great Flood

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Music:

HERE   is “Bring the Rain,” by MercyMe.

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Then the Lord said to Noah, “Go into the ark, you and all your household, for I have seen that you alone are righteous before me in this generation.

from Experiencing God Day-by-Day,
by Henry T. Blackaby and Richard Blackaby

A GODLY INFLUENCE

The children of Noah faced a significant decision.  They lived in a world where everyone blatantly disregarded God.  Wickedness was the norm.  No one would have condemned Noah’s sons for living evil lives like the rest of society—no one except their father.  In a world rampant with ungodly attitudes and every form of wicked behavior, they were fortunate to be Noah’s sons.  When their father invited them to spend the next hundred years building an ark in obedience to a word from God, Noah’s sons had to choose whether to believe those around them or to trust their father.  They chose to join their father.  What a wonderful testimony of Noah’s godly influence in his home!  How fortunate for Shem, Ham, and Japheth that their father refused to compromise his integrity, even though everyone else in his society had done so.

Your life has an influence on those around you as well.  Your spouse and your children are profoundly affected by your choices.  Your co-workers, your neighbors, and your friends will all be impacted by your life.  As the world tries to persuade people to follow its standard, your life should stand in stark contrast as an example of a righteous person.  Your life should convince those around you of the wisdom of following God.  Do not underestimate the positive effect that your obedience will have upon those close to you.

2Take with you seven pairs of all clean animals, the male and its mate; and a pair of the animals that are not clean, the male and its mate; 3and seven pairs of the birds of the air also, male and female, to keep their kind alive on the face of all the earth. 4For in seven days I will send rain on the earth for forty days and forty nights; and every living thing that I have made I will blot out from the face of the ground.”

5And Noah did all that the Lord had commanded him. 6Noah was six hundred years old when the flood of waters came on the earth. 7And Noah with his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives went into the ark to escape the waters of the flood. 8Of clean animals, and of animals that are not clean, and of birds, and of everything that creeps on the ground, 9two and two, male and female, went into the ark with Noah, as God had commanded Noah. 10And after seven days the waters of the flood came on the earth.

11In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened. 12The rain fell on the earth forty days and forty nights.

Gen7 forty

The number 40 becomes associated with testing and purification, especially before coming into something new and significant. This is seen in Moses’ time on Mount Sinai (Exodus 24:18, Deuteronomy 9:25), the spies’ trip to Canaan (Numbers 13:25), Israel’s time in the wilderness (Numbers 14:33, 32:13), Elijah’s miraculous journey to Sinai (1 Kings 19:8), and Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness (Mark 1:13).

–David Guzik

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Music:

Cannot resist!  I remember my little niece, Kari, singing and dancing to this song as a pre-schooler — so fun!  “I Love a Rainy Night” was a #1 hit for Eddie Rabbit in 1981.  HERE  it is!

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13On the very same day Noah with his sons, Shem and Ham and Japheth, and Noah’s wife and the three wives of his sons entered the ark, 14they and every wild animal of every kind, and all domestic animals of every kind, and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth, and every bird of every kind—every bird, every winged creature. 15They went into the ark with Noah, two and two of all flesh in which there was the breath of life.

Gen7 ark_soft_play_set

16And those that entered, male and female of all flesh, went in as God had commanded him; and the Lord shut him in.

17The flood continued forty days on the earth; and the waters increased, and bore up the ark, and it rose high above the earth. 18The waters swelled and increased greatly on the earth; and the ark floated on the face of the waters. 19The waters swelled so mightily on the earth that all the high mountains under the whole heaven were covered; 20the waters swelled above the mountains, covering them fifteen cubits deep.

7-great-flood-noahsark

21And all flesh died that moved on the earth, birds, domestic animals, wild animals, all swarming creatures that swarm on the earth, and all human beings; 22everything on dry land in whose nostrils was the breath of life died. 23He blotted out every living thing that was on the face of the ground, human beings and animals and creeping things and birds of the air; they were blotted out from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those that were with him in the ark. 24And the waters swelled on the earth for one hundred fifty days.

1 Peter 3:18-21 (New Living Translation)

Christ suffered for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but he died for sinners to bring you safely home to God. He suffered physical death, but he was raised to life in the Spirit.

So he went and preached to the spirits in prison—those who disobeyed God long ago when God waited patiently while Noah was building his boat. Only eight people were saved from drowning in that terrible flood.  And that water is a picture of baptism, which now saves you, not by removing dirt from your body, but as a response to God from a clean conscience. It is effective because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

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Gen7 woman cries

Flood

The rains fall forever
Or so it seems.
I should build an ark,
I thought,
Watching the melancholy
Drizzle against the glass.
That’s what I would do
If I was Noah and God spoke to me.
But I am not
And He doesn’t
So I sit and watch.
The tides rise.
The rivers overspill into homes
That belong to other people.
Faces on the news,
Holding a single prized possession ,
Rescued from the debris,
To take with them
Into a new day.
And I wonder.
What would I take with me
Should that new day come
And the rains stop
And the waters recede?
What will I carry
That I treasure
From the flood?

– by Helen Eden

*     *     *     *     *

cartoon by Andrew Root

cartoon by Andrew Root

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The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Vandewattyne.   http://ben.vandewattyne.free.fr/galerie_3.html
40.   http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/4406/387/320/forty.jpg
Noah’s Ark toy play set.   http://www.kidsrooms.co.uk/media/catalog/product/cache/1/image/9df78eab33525d08d6e5fb8d27136e95/n/o/noahs_ark_soft_play_set_6426_large.jpg
The Great Flood.   http://www.vegetarianfriends.net/NoahsArk.jpg
woman in flooded house.   http://tonicoward.blogspot.com/2011/01/guest-blogging-from-sarah.html
Woodpecker on the ark cartoon.    http://images.sodahead.com/polls/000743841/polls_14x12ty_3731_361132_poll_xlarge.jpeg

1397.) Genesis 6

September 9, 2014

“Noah’s Ark” by Pennsylvania artist Edward Hicks, 1846 (Philadelphia Museum of Art)

Genesis 6  (NRSV)

The Wickedness of Humankind

When people began to multiply on the face of the ground, and daughters were born to them, 2the sons of God saw that they were fair; and they took wives for themselves of all that they chose.

3Then the Lord said, “My spirit shall not abide in mortals forever, for they are flesh; their days shall be one hundred twenty years.”

4The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God went in to the daughters of humans, who bore children to them. These were the heroes that were of old, warriors of renown. 5The Lord saw that the wickedness of humankind was great in the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of their hearts was only evil continually.

Mark 7:20-23 (New Living Translation)

And then he added, “It is what comes from inside that defiles you. For from within, out of a person’s heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. All these vile things come from within; they are what defile you.”

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Music:

HERE  is “Change My Heart, O God”  by Eddie Espinoza.  “Make it ever true.”

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6And the Lord was sorry that he had made humankind on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. 7So the Lord said, “I will blot out from the earth the human beings I have created—people together with animals and creeping things and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.”

8But Noah found favor in the sight of the Lord.

Noah didn’t earn grace, he found it.

Romans 5:20  (NIV)

Where sin increased, grace increased all the more.

Noah Pleases God

‘Noah and his sons building the Ark’ fresco by Raffaello Sanzio, 1519 (Città del Vaticano-Palazzi Pontifici – Loggia di Raffaello)

9These are the descendants of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation; Noah walked with God. 10And Noah had three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth.

Noah’s three sons will figure into the account in a significant way. God will use them as a foundation for the rest of the human race.

11Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence. 12And God saw that the earth was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted its ways upon the earth.

13And God said to Noah, “I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence because of them; now I am going to destroy them along with the earth. 14Make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch.

Because of this mention of pitch (a petroleum product) in what most people think is the Middle East, John D. Rockefeller looked for (and found) oil in that region based on this verse.

–David Guzik

15This is how you are to make it: the length of the ark three hundred cubits, its width fifty cubits, and its height thirty cubits.

The dimensions of the ark, about 450 by 75 by 45 feet, indicate a stable and seaworthy vessel similar in size to the Titanic, but more like a barge, meant only to float.

16Make a roof for the ark, and finish it to a cubit above; and put the door of the ark in its side; make it with lower, second, and third decks. 17For my part, I am going to bring a flood of waters on the earth, to destroy from under heaven all flesh in which is the breath of life; everything that is on the earth shall die. 18But I will establish my covenant with you; and you shall come into the ark, you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you. 19And of every living thing, of all flesh, you shall bring two of every kind into the ark, to keep them alive with you; they shall be male and female.

Gen6 ele and roo

The animals came in, two by two,
The elephant and the kangaroo,
Supposing it were up to you
To bring in a tiger, and a shrew,
And a horse with eyes of blue,
And take them to their rooms so new,
And listen to the doves sing “Coo,”
And watch the world turn from green to blue.

20Of the birds according to their kinds, and of the animals according to their kinds, of every creeping thing of the ground according to its kind, two of every kind shall come in to you, to keep them alive. 21Also take with you every kind of food that is eaten, and store it up; and it shall serve as food for you and for them.”

22Noah did this; he did all that God commanded him.

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Humor:

God calls Noah, Bill Cosby’s version!   —   “Right!”

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Current Events:

Click  HERE   to read about Johan Huibers, a man who has recently built a model ark in The Netherlands as a testament to his faith.

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The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Hicks.   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Noahs_Ark.jpg
Sanzio.   http://viticodevagamundo.blogspot.com/2011/05/building-of-noahs-ark-construcao-da.html
Huiber and his ark.   http://blog.aboattime.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/arca.jpg

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