Righteous Lot

by my friend Gene Taylor – also found at

“And delivered righteous Lot, who was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked…” (2 Peter 2:7)

Lot was the son of Haran and the nephew of Abraham, (Gen. 11:27). Following Haran’s death, he went with Terah, his grandfather, and Abraham to Ha-ran (Gen. 11:31). After Terah’s death, he and Abraham went to Canaan (Gen. 12:5).

Following a sojourning in Egypt because of a famine in Canaan, Lot and Abraham were faced with a problem. The land was not able to support the great flocks and herds of both men so that they could continue to live at the same place (Gen. 13:6-7). Strife had even developed between their herdsmen.

To solve the problem, Abraham allowed Lot to choose where he would dwell (Gen. 13:8-13). Lot chose the plain of Jordan because it was well-watered with lush, green pasture. He pitched his tent toward Sodom whose people were “exceedingly wicked and sinful” (v. 13).

In time, the city of Sodom was overrun by Chedorlaomer, king of Elam, and his allies. Lot and his goods were taken captive to Dan (Gen. 14:1-16). Abraham raised an army from his own household and rescued Lot and the others who had been taken captive (vv. 14-16).

Eventually God decided to destroy the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah because of their great sin (Gen. 18:20-33). Lot and his family were warned by angels of the destruction that was to come (Gen. 19:1-16). Lot invited the angels to stay at his home where he showed hospitality to them. The men of the city surrounded Lot’s house and demanded he send the men (angels) out to them so that they might “know them carnally.” Lot offered his daughters to the men of the city who then turned upon Lot but he was rescued by the angels who blinded those men.

Learning of the cities’ impending destruction, Lot told his married daughters and their husbands but they regarded him as one who “seemed to be joking.” The angels then physically led Lot, his wife and his two unmarried daughters out of the city.

The angels told Lot to flee to the mountains but he wanted to go to the city of Zoar (Gen. 19:17-22). He feared for his life if he went to the mountains so the angels allowed him to go to Zoar.

God rained fire and brimstone on Sodom and Gomorrah and all the plain destroying the cities and their inhabitants (Gen. 19:23-29). Lot’s wife, contrary to God’s command, looked back toward Sodom and became a pillar of salt.

Fearing for his life, Lot and his two daughters fled to the mountains and lived in a cave where his daughters, possibly because of the wicked influence of Sodom, plotted to have children by their father (Gen. 19:30-38). They made Lot drunk with wine and went in to him, he being unaware of their presence. Each bore a child by him. The oldest daughter gave birth to Moab, the father of the Moabites. The younger bore Benammi, the father of the Ammonites.

Some Lessons From Lot

An example of the importance of making proper decisions. His decision to live in the cities of the plain brought him and his family much grief. As a direct consequence of this choice: his daughters partook of the city of Sodom and were destroyed (Gen. 19:14); he lost his wealth, leaving it behind when the cities were destroyed; he lost his wife (Gen. 19:26); his two surviving daughters were so influenced by the evil of Sodom that they got their own father drunk and sinned with him (Gen. 19:32-38).

An illustration of the principle of 1 Corinthians 15:33: “Evil company corrupts good habits.” Though Lot was strong enough to overcome the evil influence of Sodom, his family was not. His wife and some of his daughters perished because of Sodom’s evil influence.

An example of selfishness. In Genesis 13, he picked what he thought was best for himself. In reality, it was the worst thing he could have done. Selflessness is always better than selfishness in the long run.

An example of the dangers of materialism. His decision in Genesis 13 was made with a materialistic eye and heart. He saw no further than the lush green pastures of the Jordan plain. His mind was on the here and now. He should have had greater foresight and taken spiritual factors into consideration.

His wife’s death illustrates a number of facts that all must consider (Luke 17:32). She perished: even though she was the wife of a righteous man (2 Pet. 2:7-8); even though she had been warned by God; even though she made an effort to save herself; even though she committed only one sin.

Conclusion

In spite of all his shortcomings and sins, Lot is considered righteous by God (2 Pet. 2:7-8). He was righteous even though he was surrounded by wickedness. He was vexed or “oppressed” on a daily basis by the wickedness of those around him. Quite likely the early influence of Abraham had deeply impressed him. Like Lot, we live in a wicked society. Yet, we cannot excuse our sin because of it. Lot shows us we can be righteous even in the midst of the vilest of sin and sinners.

The Basic Message of the Bible

The fundamental teaching of the Bible, God’s revelation to man, is that Jesus is the Son of God. It is the basis of the New Testament Scriptures (John 20:30-31) and the theme of New Testament preaching (See Acts 2:36; 17:1-3; 1 Corinthians 2:2). The Scriptures contain many facts that give positive evidence to support its main theme.

Consider what they reveal about the life of Jesus. They show He had an immeasurable influence on people, that His teachings were the greatest words ever spoken (John 7:44-46) and that His life was sinless (Hebrews 4:15; 1 Peter 2:21-22; John 8:46). Even the enemies of Jesus admitted His innocence (Acts 2). Compare His sinlessness to the rest of mankind and you will find Him to be the only one ever to live in sinless perfection (Romans 3:10, 23).

Consider also what the Scriptures say about the miraculous works Jesus performed. Those works, done by the power of God (John 3:2), gave evidence that He was from the Father and gave support to His claim to be the Son of God (John 5:36). No one, not even those who opposed Him, ever denied His ability to work miracles. They may have attributed the power to work them to an evil source but they could not deny that He worked wonders before them.

The Scriptures also tell how Jesus fulfilled every one of the more than 300 Messianic prophecies of the Old Testament. He used those prophecies to further establish and confirm His identity (Luke 24:25-27; John 5:39-40). It would have been impossible for an impostor to manipulate events and occurences in such a way as to appear to be the genuine fulfillment of these prophecies. Many of the prophecies were minute in their details. Others were impossible for a human to control.

Among those Old Testament prophecies was the prophecy of the resurrection of the Messiah from the dead (Psalm 16:10). The resurrection is the greatest evidence the Scriptures give in support of Jesus as the Son of God. If one accepts His resurrection as true, there can be no question of His divinity. Romans 1:4 says that the resurrection demonstrated to all that He is the “Son of God with power.” Though efforts have been made to explain it away, the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is an undeniable fact. It shows without doubt that the basic message of the Bible is true — Jesus Christ is the Son of God.

This post was written by my friend Gene Taylor.

Jesus: Our Perfect Standard

“And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.” (Luke 2:52)

There are many outstanding traits that Jesus possessed that would be good for all of us to have as part of our basic character. As a child, he was subject to His parents (Luke 2:51; Eph. 6:1; Col. 3:20). He was about His Father’s business at an early age, i.e., He was interested in spiritual things while just a youth (Luke 2:49; Eccl. 12:1). He lived, not selfishly, but for others (Mark 10:45; Phil. 2:4). He accomplished God’s will in His life (John 6:38). He left an example that all can follow (1 Pet. 2:21).

In this article, though, we want to look at His development that is related in Luke 2:52. The four areas in which Jesus grew that are revealed in that passage — wisdom, stature, favor with men, and favor with God — are those areas we must emphasize as we look to our own lives.

Wisdom

To advance in wisdom is to grow intellectually or mentally. Wisdom is “the quality of being wise; the power of judging rightly and following the soundest course of action, based on knowledge, experience, understanding.” Wisdom’s importance is emphasized by Solomon in Proverbs 3:13-26.

While one should give attention, especially when young, to his education, he should “give diligence” (2 Tim. 2:15) to gain knowledge of the Bible. A good understanding of its teachings is far more valuable than an education at the finest academic institutions.

Stature

To advance in stature is to develop physically. Jesus developed a strong, healthy body. Our bodies are to be instruments of our service (Rom. 12:1; 6:12-13) and temples of God (1 Cor. 6:18-20).

There are three essentials to a strong body: eat proper food, exercise moderately (1 Tim. 4:8) and keep it free from diseases.

Favor with Men

This is to develop socially. It has to do with human beings living together as a group in a situation which requires they have dealings with one another. Man is created a social being: to live one with the other. It is not in man’s nature to live alone (Gen. 2:18). He is to be a gregarious being.

We need to learn to love people. It makes it easy to live with them. Jesus associated with all kinds of people — publicans, sinners, Samaritans — because He loved them (John 3:16). Jesus always tried to influence those with whom He associated to be better people setting the proper example of behavior before them.

Favor with God

This is the spiritual development that ought to characterize every child of God. The importance and value of the soul is seen in Matthew 16:26 where it is shown to be of greater value that all the amassed wealth to be found in the world.

Basically, the essentials for spiritual development are the same as those for physical growth: proper food, exercise and freedom from disease. The correct spiritual food is the Bible (Acts 20:32; 1 Pet. 2:1-2). Spiritual exercise is the application of the word of God to one’s life which results in proper character development and worthwhile service to the Lord and others. Freedom from disease is being pure and “unspotted from the world” (Jas. 1:27) by keeping one’s lusts in check.

 

Thanks so much to St Paul Carpet Cleaning for sponsoring my blog!

Using Scripture for Personal Advantage

Written by Gene Taylor

On my recent trip to Israel, the first archaeological dig we encountered was in the city of Caesarea Maritima. It was of some government offices from the Byzantine period. As I hurriedly got out my camera and began taking pictures of the remains of this ancient structure, I also took a picture of the sign the archaeologists had erected to inform visitors about the dig. It read, “TAX ARCHIVE. An inscription found in one of the building’s mosaic floors (now on display in the Sdot Yam Museum) identifies this edifice as Byzantine government offices where clerks recorded tax revenues. The inscriptions are quotations from the New Testament which praise obedience to the authorities.”

It seems using Scripture for personal gain is a practice that is ancient. While it was not wrong for such a use as these tax collectors made — even Jesus reminded people to “render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s” (Matthew 22:21), there are many occasions when people, even those who claim to be children of God, use Scripture in a sinful way for their personal advantage.

The apostle Peter cited such a practice when, in reference to the writings of Paul, he wrote, “which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction” (2 Peter 3:16). Though seeking to use the Scriptures to their own advantage, they ended up bringing about their own destruction for treating the word of God that way.

Some today “twist” the meaning of Matthew 7:1 for their own advantage. In an effort to have no one criticize their lifestyle or religious practices, they apply the teaching of “Judge not, that you be not judged” in a way the Savior never intended for it to be applied.

Some who claim to be members of the body of Christ will apply 1 Corinthians 6:1-8, where Paul forbids brother going to law against brother, for personal advantage. Knowing that many believe they should never take a brother to law for any reason, some use this passage as a protective shroud to take advantage of their brethren financially knowing no lawsuits will result.

Be careful how you use Scripture. While everyone has the right to the full blessings it supplies, it should never be misused in order to gain some personal advantage over another person.

Isaac: Son of Promise

“Of whom it was said, ‘In Isaac your seed shall be called'” (Hebrews 11:18).

In accordance with the promise that God had made to Abraham and Sarah, Isaac, whose name means “laughter,” was born to them when Abraham was 100 and Sarah was 90 years old. His birth was miraculous in that it was physically impossible for Sarah to have had a child (Gen. 18:11). He was named “Isaac” because of both the command of God and the reaction of Sarah. After Ishmael, Abraham’s son born of Hagar the handmaid of Sarah, scoffed Isaac, Abraham sent Ishmael away in accordance with Sarah’s wishes and God’s instruction.

In Genesis 22, Isaac accompanied his father to the land of Moriah not realizing that he was going there to be sacrificed. He willingly laid on the altar Abraham had built waiting for his father’s knife to plunge in him and kill him. But the angel of the Lord stayed Abraham’s hand and Isaac was spared.

Abraham, wanting Isaac to marry someone from his family, sent his oldest servant to them to get a wife for Isaac (Gen. 24). Outside of the city of Nahor, he prayed to God to assist him in finding a proper woman for Isaac. In response to his prayer to God, he met Rebekah, daughter of Bethuel the son of Nahor, Abraham’s brother. She gave him and his camels water from the well outside the city. She told him he could lodge at her father’s house. Laban, Rebekah’s brother, having heard her tell of Abraham’s servant, went to the well and repeated the invi-tation to lodge with them. The servant told them of the purpose of his mis-sion and asked that Rebekah return with him to be Isaac’s wife. They agreed.

After her marriage to Isaac, Rebekah was barren so Isaac prayed to God that she might have children (Gen. 25:20-28). God granted his plea and she conceived and bore twins. While she was with child, she thought something was wrong. God answered her fears and told her that two babies were within her. He also informed her that one would be stronger than the other and that the older would serve the younger.

The firstborn was Esau. He was red and hairy. He became a skillful hunter. Jacob was the younger. At birth he took hold of Esau’s heel. He became a mild man, a dweller in tents. It is said that Isaac loved Esau but Rebekah loved Jacob.

There was a famine in Canaan which caused Isaac to journey to Gerar where Abimelech, king of the Philistines lived (Gen. 26). God told him not to go to Egypt but to sojourn in the land of the Philistines. God repeated to Isaac the promises He had made to Abraham (vv. 3-5).

While living in Gerar, Isaac repeated the lie of his father telling the men of Gerar that Rebekah was his sister for, like Sarah, she was beautiful and he feared for his life. Abimelech saw Isaac “showing endearment” to her (v. 8). He chastised Isaac for lying about her and charged his people not to touch her under penalty of death.

Isaac prospered in Gerar. He reaped a hundredfold from what he sowed. He had great flocks and herds and many servants. The Philistines envied and feared him so Abimelech sent him away.

He redug the wells that his father had dug that the Philistines had filled with earth. In two instances they were taken from him by the herdsmen of Gerar but the third well provided him and his flocks and herds plentifully.

Upon his return to Beersheba, Abimelech came to him. He recognized God was with Isaac and wanted to have peace with him. They feasted and made an oath with one another.

In Genesis 27, nearly blind, Isaac desired to bless Esau before he died. He instructed Esau to provide for him and then he would bless him. Rebekah overheard and instructed Jacob to deceive his father into blessing him with the blessing he intended to bestow upon Esau. She put skins of animals on him so that he would appear to be hairy like Esau and then prepared food for him to give to Isaac. Isaac unwittingly bestowed Esau’s blessing on Jacob. Esau tearfully pleaded with his father to revoke the blessing but Isaac would not. In the blessing he then gave to Esau, Isaac said that he would serve his brother. Esau was angry with his brother so Isaac sent Jacob to Laban, Rebekah’s brother, so that not only could he get away from Esau but also could marry one of Laban’s daughters instead of a Canaanite woman.

Isaac died at Hebron at the age of 180 years (Gen. 35:27-29).

Some Lessons and Applications

The Bible has many references to Isaac. In Amos 7:9,16, Israel is identified as his people. He is used to ilustrate the resurrection of the dead and life after death in both Matthew 22:23-33 and Mark 12:18-27. In Galatians 4:28-31 he is used to illustrate the relation of the Old Law to the New. His blessing of his sons is cited as an example of faith in Hebrews 11:20.

While these are important, in his role in the sacrifice in Genesis 22, he, I believe, sets forth his most important lesson. For in it he is seen as a type of Jesus. Consider the chart below.

Isaac (Genesis 22)

Jesus

Only son of promise (v. 2) Only begotten of Father (John 3:16)
To be sacrificed in Moriah (v. 2) Sacrificed in Jerusalem (2 Chron. 3:1)
Considered dead by father for three days (v. 4) Dead for three days (1 Cor. 15:3-4)
Carried wood for his own sacrifice (v. 6) Bore his own cross (John 19:17-18)
Submitted willingly to father (vv. 6, 8) Submitted willingly to Father (Matt. 26:39)
Raised from altar, his life spared by the power of God Raised from the dead by the power of God (Rom. 6:4)

 

by my friend Gene Taylor – found at http://www.centervilleroad.com/articles/isaac.html

Abraham: The Friend of God

Abraham: The Friend of God

“‘Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.’ And he was called the friend of God.” (James 2:23)

Abraham is called the father of the faithful (Gal. 3:16-29; Rom. 4:11) and “the friend of God” (Jas. 2:23). He is an example to us in many ways, therefore, it is always good to study him and learn from that which the Bible reveals to us about him.

In commenting on the statement that Abraham was “the friend of God,” Guy N. Woods said, “God regarded Abraham as his friend because he was ever faithful to God and always submitted his will to God’s.” (A Commentary on the Epistle of James, p. 146) In his faithfulness and obedience, Abraham demonstrated several characteristics that we would do well to emulate so that we too might become friends of God.

Faithful

Nearly every action in Abraham’s life shows his great faith in God. He left his country and countrymen never to return (Heb. 11:8-16). He believed the promise of a son though such a birth was naturally impossible (Rom. 4:18-21). He cast out a son, Ishmael when Sarah and God commanded it (Gen. 21:9-14). He was even willing to offer Isaac, the son of promise, when God demanded it (Heb. 11:17-19). Because of his great faith, he enjoyed the victory of faith (Gen. 22:12).

Obedient

As seen in the illustrations above, whatever God wanted Abraham to do, he did. Whether it was leaving his homeland, casting out one son or sacrificing another, he obeyed God without question or qualm.

Devoted

In Genesis 18:19 God states one of the reasons He was able to bless Abraham so abundantly and regard him as His friend. He said, “For I have known him, in order that he may command his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of the Lord, to do righteousness and justice, that the Lord may bring to Abraham what He has spoken to him.” Abraham’s devotion to God not only caused him to walk obediently but also allowed him to influence others, especially those in his own house, to do the same.

Peaceable

In situations where strife could have occurred and then escalated, Abraham seemed able to defuse them (cf. Gen. 13:1-13). There was one key trait in his character that caused him to be able to be such a peacemaker — he regarded others better than self. This is a quality that the Christian is to possess today. Philippians 2:3-4 states, “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own in-terests, but also for the interests of others.”

His unselfish nature is not only seen in giving his nephew Lot first choice of land in which to pasture his flocks and herds (Gen. 13:9) but also in his willingness to intercede for the people of Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 18:22-23). Even though they were wicked, Abraham was concerned for them and did what he could to spare them from the judgment which came upon them.

The hospitality he gives to three men, who are angels of God, in Genesis 18:1-8 also shows his regard for others. Though he does not know these men, he generously provides for their needs. Since Christians are to be “given to hospitality” (Rom. 12:13), the writer of the book of Hebrews uses this incident in the life of Abraham to emphasize this responsibility: “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels” (13:2).

A Pilgrim and Sojourner

Christians are to be pilgrims and sojourners in this life, living in the world but not being of the world (John 15:19; I John 2:15-17). Again, Abraham is their example. “By faith he (Abraham — GT) dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Heb. 11:9-10). As he looked “for a city,” we must ever be looking to heaven and the things that are above (Col. 3:1-3) realizing that, even now, our real citizenship is in heaven (Phil. 3:20).

Conclusion

Because Abraham lived as a friend of God while on earth, he now lives in Paradise (Luke 16:23-31). Since God is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34-35), we can have that same hope if we will live the same life. Let us all follow the example of Abraham and do what is necessary to be those who can be called friends of God.

Written by my friend Gene Taylor – found at http://www.centervilleroad.com/articles/abraham.html.

Thanks so much to http://www.wavecuttercharters.com for sponsoring my blog.