This morning I was overcome with the wonderful truth that Jesus had prayed for me even before I was born:
“‘My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one – I in them and you in me – so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” John 17:20-23 NIVUK
Wow … thank you Jesus.
“‘If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters – yes, even their own life – such a person cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. … In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.” – Luke 14:26-27, 33 NIVUK
As unreasonable as Jesus’ words sound here, they are perfect. Our relationship with Him is of such great importance that all other relationships pale in omparison. When we love God this way, we actually love others perfectly, i.e. as God wants us to love others.
I realise this sounds counter intuitive but loving God with all of my heart, all of my soul and all of my strength also means that I love others as much as I love myself. When I accept Jesus as my Saviour, I am a child of the King who has been made in the image of God. If I understand this, I can now love others as I love myself.
In Acts we get some insight in how Paul decides, or is led, to preach in different places.
“Paul and his companions travelled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas. During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, ‘Come over to Macedonia and help us.’ After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.” Acts 16:6-10 NIVUK
Scripture doesn’t make it clear how the Holy Spirit prevented them from going certain places. One must assume there were circumstances, like problems at border checkpoints, that prevented them from continuing their journey. Instead of laying the blame for the lack of success on the enemy of our souls, they saw it as the Holy Spirit directing their steps.
I believe their response indicates an excellent understanding of who they are as followers of Christ: Satan has no power over them because they are walking in Christ’s victory. So no scheme of the evil one will be able to stand against them when they walk in truth with the message of Truth. The logical conclusion, when things they have planned don’t work out, is that God has other plans.
I wonder if we give our enemy undue credit at times because we have forgotten who we are as followers of Christ. Christ is victorious. Let’s live as victors, having confidence that He is directing our steps.
After all of the excitement of the previous chapters, the text dives into another genealogy, gives a little background on the genealogy, and then prepares us for the next important part of Biblical history that starts with Abram (later called Abraham).
I don’t know about you, but I found the subject ‘history’ a little boring while I was attending primary and secondary school. Now, with some life experience under my belt, I realize that to truly appreciate and understand God’s Word, and what is happening in this world, one needs to be a little bit of a history buff. The genealogy in chapter 10 is also called the ‘Table of Nations’ because it gives information about the ancestors of the major people groups, as well as where they decided to settle. A comparison of some of these people groups with sources outside the Bible can be found by clicking here. Do you realize that the Bible teaches that we all have common ancestors? That ALL people are equal before God? The world has suffered so much at the hands of racism. Are you willing to be different? Here is an interesting article about this topic (it is quite a long read – make sure you have time to read through all of it).
One of the disservices done to us by the mass media is that it may cause us to think that the people from the Bible, especially the ancient peoples from Genesis, must have been very primitive. To me its fascinating to read in Genesis 11 that the people were building a tower from bricks and tar. The Bible even makes a point that they didn’t use stone and mortar. And then there was Noah who built a huge seafaring vessel years before that! The Bible teaches us that we were created in the image of God, not the image of a monkey . . . and now I am going to get in trouble with all the biologists out there . . . I honestly think that as much ‘evidence’ evolution has as a theory, it is not helping humankind to be better. Instead, there is evidence that seems to suggest it has done otherwise on a number of occasions (and yes it is true that terrible crimes have been committed in the name of Christianity too . . . as well as the other major worldviews . . . the idiom “people who live in glass houses should not throw stones” is most appropriate). I would much rather ‘brag’ about the fact that I have a Creator that has made me in His image for reasons I don’t completely understand, than ‘brag’ about my ‘ape man’ ancestors. How about you?
God knows the danger of pride, so when the people start building a monument to their pride in Genesis 11, God protects them against themselves by giving them different languages. Pride is one of the most dangerous things out there. Its ‘self-centeredness’ poison makes us numb to its effects, it destroys our relationships with God and other people, and it can cause us to live in denial of the fact that we have a serious problem – ultimately causing us to self-destruct. As a Christian, I need to make a special attempt to make sure I don’t have pride in my life. My wife and my friends are the best measures of my pride meter. I thank God for the people He has placed in my life to keep me humble.
Genesis 11 ends with another genealogy that will help us to place Abram (later called Abraham) in the big scheme of things. It is important to note that the text suggests that Abram came from a pagan background. Can’t wait for the story to continue tomorrow . . .
When I started reading the Bible many years ago, I always skipped the genealogies. They seemed to be so boring. Later I have learned that they provide coherence in the text, and they sometimes contain amazing pieces of information. This genealogy is no exception.
Verse 1 reminds us that we have been made in the likeness of God, which makes us distinctly different from all the other created, living organisms. A sizable component of the mass media propagates the idea that humans are not that special, that we are only a different species of organism, which stands in stark contrast with what the Bible is teaching here. To me there are comfort and security in the fact that human beings have been designed. We have a purpose and a reason for being here. If I am but the product of time, space, and chance, my life ultimately has no lasting worth or meaning, and what then would be the point of living? Being created in the likeness of God would also explain why most human beings can agree on some moral standards, despite having radically different worldviews.
One of the puzzling parts of this genealogy is the length of the people’s lives. Bible scholars explain this by saying that the world before the worldwide flood (recorded later in Genesis) was a lot different than the world we know today. The Bible doesn’t explain it to us, which, to me, means that it is not that important to know why they have lived that long. By that I am not saying that it is not fascinating or interesting to talk about. It is just not that important . . . you can read some of the hypotheses here, and here.
Enoch’s record is inspiring. “And after he became the father of Methuselah, Enoch walked with God 300 years and had other sons and daughters. Altogether, Enoch lived 365 years. Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him away.” The NETBible suggests that ‘walked with God’ means that he lived in very close fellowship with God. As a consequence, God decided to end the earthly chapter of his life without him physically dying. The prophet Elijah was also blessed by God this way. It makes me reflect on the closeness of my fellowship with God, and realize that my relationship with God needs a lot of work . . .
The genealogy ends with Noah, preparing us for the next part of humankind’s beginnings. His father’s words, “[Noah] will comfort us in the labor and painful toil of our hands caused by the ground the LORD has cursed“, proved to be both prophetic and ironic (NETBible).