Friday, November 25, 2011
NIMROD AND THE TOWER OF BABEL
Gen 10 - 11
Chapters 10 and 11 of Genesis are composed of genealogies of nations and peoples designed to link the story of Noah and the Flood, which fills chapters 6 through 9, with the story of Abraham and his descendants, which fills the remainder of the book of Genesis. The genealogies begin with Noah's three sons-Shem, Ham, and Japheth-and move eventually to Terah from whom Abraham is born. There are two scriptures dealing with the founding of the first world empire under Nimrod. The first is Gen 10:8-12. The second is Gen 11:1-9.
These two chapters go together. The first tells of Nimrod's exploits. The second does not mention Nimrod but speaks rather of an attempt to build the city of Babylon, a central feature of which was to be a great tower. On the surface these seem to be accounts of two quite separate incidents. But this is not the case. In the first we have an emphasis on Nimrod--what he was like, what he did, what his goals were. In the second we have a treatment of the same theme but from the perspective of the people who worked with him. In each case there is a desire to build a civilization without God.
THE FIRST "COME"
The account of the building of Babylon begins by saying that the world had one common language (as would be expected due to the people's common descent from Noah) and since part of the world's people moved eastward, some settled on the plain of Shinar ( Babylonia). God had told the descendants of Noah to "increase in number and fill the earth" (Gen. 9:1), a reiteration of the command originally given to Adam and Eve in Paradise (Gen. 1:28). The settlement of Shinar could be construed as a partial fulfillment of that command. Yet as we read we find that the goal of this particular settlement was not to fulfill God's command but to defy it.
From the beginning, Babylon's goal was to resist any further scattering of the peoples over the earth and instead to create a city where the achievements of a united and integrated people would be centralized. The Bible reports this desire as an invitation to "come" together to work on this great project. It is the first important "come" of the story. "They said to each other, 'Come, let's make bricks and bake them thoroughly.' They used brick instead of stone, and tar instead of mortar. Then they said, 'Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth"' (Gen. 11:3,4).
Three things are involved in this invitation, “Come“: 1) a vision for the city, 2) a desire for a name or reputation, and 3) a plan for a new religion. The plan for a city does not need to be examined at length. The important point is that it was not God's city, as Jerusalem was. It was man's city, the secular city. As such it was constructed by man for man's glory. The last of these desires--to construct a place for man's glory--is involved in the word "name": Come, let us...make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth." It was the desire for reputation but, more than that, also a desire for independence from God. This reputation was to be earned by man apart from God. It was to be man’s alone.
We cannot forget that one characteristic of the God of the Bible is that He names people. He gives them names symbolic of what He is going to do with them or make of them. God named Adam (Gen. 5:2), Abraham (Gen. 17:5), Israel (Gen. 32:28), even Jesus (Matt. 1:21). In each case, the names point to what God has done or will yet do. The people of Babylon wanted none of this. They wanted to establish their own reputation and eliminate God entirely.
REACHING FOR THE STARS
In our study of Babylon the one element that has been missing is religion. But that is where the famed tower of Babel comes in. I must add that most commentators sense this truth, even though they interpret the tower in different ways. Luther says that the words "reaches to the heavens" should not be applied to the height alone but rather should be seen as denoting "that this was to be a place of worship. Candlish says, "The building of the tower 'unto heaven' had undoubtedly a religions meaning. Morris writes that in his desire to build a great empire, Nimrod realized that the people needed a religious motivation strong enough to overcome their knowledge that God had commanded them to scatter abroad on the earth. The tower satisfied that need and was therefore "dedicated to heaven and its angelic host.
First, it should be regarded as having a religious end because the Bible traces all false religions to Babylon and this is the only element in the description of early Babylon that can have this meaning. We would expect something like this from the nature of Babylon and its culture, and from what is told us of all cultures that turn away from God. Romans says that when people reject the knowledge of God they inevitably turn to false gods, making them like "mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles" (Rom. 1:23). The citizens of Babylon had rejected the knowledge of the true God.
Therefore, we should expect the creation of a false religion as part of their dubious cultural achievements. Again, the Bible speaks of "mystery Babylon," that is, of the reality symbolized by the earthly city, saying that it is "the mother of prostitutes and of the abominations of the earth" (Rev. 17:5). This refers, as do the ideas of prostitution and abomination throughout the Bible, to false religion.
There is evidence that this was the case historically. Morris notes, "The essential identity of the various gods and goddesses of Rome, Greece, India, Egypt, and other nations with the original pantheon of the Babylonians is well established. Nimrod himself was apparently later deified as the chief god ('Merodach' or 'Marduk') of Babylon.
Second, there is the description of the tower. Most of our translations speak of a tower that should "reach" to the heavens, but it is hard to think that even these people could have been foolish enough to suppose that they could do this literally. Or even if they did, it is hard to think of them as being foolish enough to build their tower on the plain of Shinar, that is, almost at sea level, when they could equally well have built it on the top of a nearby mountain and thus have begun with a few thousand feet head start. Actually, in the Hebrew text the words "to reach" do not occur. The text speaks of the top of the tower as "in," "on," "with," or "by" the heavens ,all four being possible translations of the one Hebrew preposition. This could mean that the top was dedicated to the heavens as a place of worship or even that it had a representation of the heavens (a zodiac) upon it.
“Representation of the heavens” is the real meaning, for the reason that astrology, which focuses on a study of the zodiac, originated in Babylon. Turn to any book on astrology and you will find that it was the Chaldeans (another name for the inhabitants of Babylon) who first developed the zodiac by dividing the sky into sections and giving meanings to each on the basis of the stars that are found there. A person's destiny is said to be determined by whatever section or "sign" he is born under.
From Babylon, astrology passed to the empire of ancient Egypt where it mingled with the native animism and polytheism of the Nile. The pyramids were constructed with certain mathematical relationships to the stars. The Sphinx has astrological significance. It has the head of a woman, symbolizing Virgo, the virgin, and the body of a lion, symbolizing Leo. Virgo is the first sign of the zodiac, Leo the last. So the Sphinx (which incidentally means "joining" in Greek) is the meeting point of the zodiac, indicating that the Egyptian priests believed the starting point of the earth in relation to the zodiac lay in Egypt, on the banks of the Nile.
By the time the Jews left Egypt for Canaan, astrology had infected the population there. Hence, some of the strictest warnings in the Bible against astrology date from this period (Lev. 19:31; Deut. 18). Still later, astrology entered the religious life of Rome.
The interesting thing about these biblical denunciations of astrology is that astrology is identified with demonism or Satanism in the sense that Satan and his hosts were actually being worshiped in the guise of the signs or planets. This is the reason for the Bible's denunciation of these practices. Are we to think, then, that Satan was entirely absent from the original attempt to build a civilization without God? I don't think so. Was then the religion of the tower actually a satanic attempt to direct worship of the human race to himself and those former angels who, having rebelled against God, were now already demons?
The tower in its lofty grandeur did symbolize the might and majesty of the true God of heaven, while its great temple would provide a center and an altar where men could offer their sacrifices and worship to Satan. The signs of zodiac would be emblazoned on the ornate ceiling and walls of the temple, signifying the great story of creation and redemption, as told by the antediluvian patriarchs. But God was not in this worship. Satan was. Thus, the forms of religion became increasingly debased, the worship of the devil and his became more noticeable. "From such beginning soon emerged the complex of human 'religion'--an evolutionary pantheism, promulgated system of astrology and idolatrous polytheism, empowered by occultism and demonism.
Satan is a great corrupter. It is possible that this system of religion was a version of an earlier, a true revelation of God's plan of redemption, being suggested seriously with considerable evidence that the formations of stars were originally named by God as a reminder of godly things, perhaps to the point of forecasting the coming of the great Deliverer who would crush the head of Satan.
How many Nimrods are there in the world today?
May The Lord bless us and show us how we can thank Him by helping our neighbors for the things He has done and is doing.
Give God all thanks and praise!
Thursday, November 24, 2011
THE STORY OF NOAH AND THE ARK
In those bad times God saw another good man. His name was Noah. Noah tried to do right in the sight of God. As Enoch had walked with God, so Noah walked with God, and talked with him. And Noah had three sons; their names were Shem, Ham, and Japheth.
God said to Noah, "The time has come when all the men and women on the earth are to be destroyed. Every one must die, because they are all wicked. But you and your family shall be saved, because you alone are trying to do right."
Then God told Noah how he might save his life and the lives of his sons. He was to build a very large boat, as large as the largest ships that are made in our time; very long, and very wide and very deep; with a roof over it; and made like a long, wide house, three stories; but built it so it would float on the water. Such a ship as this was called "an ark." God told Noah to build this ark, and to have it ready for the time when he would need it.
"For," said God to Noah, "I am going to bring a great flood of water on the earth to cover all the land and to drown all the people on the earth. And as the animals on the earth will be drowned with the people, you must make the ark large enough to hold a pair of each kind of unclean animals and seven pairs of clean animals that are needed by men; so that there will be animals as well as men to live upon the earth after the flood has passed away. And you must take in the ark food for yourself and your family, and for all the animals with you; enough food to last for a year, while the flood shall stay on the earth."
And Noah did what God told him to do, although it must have seemed very strange to all the people around, to build this great ark where there was no water for it to sail upon. And it was a long time, because this ship was so big, that Noah and his sons were at work building the ark, which God had told them to build, while the wicked people around wondered, and no doubt laughed at Noah for building a great ship where there was no sea.
At last the ark was finished, and stood like a great house on the land. There was a door on one side, and a window on the roof, to let in the light. Then God said to Noah: "Come into the ark, you and your wife, and your three sons, and their wives with them; for the flood of waters will come very soon. And take with you animals of all kinds, and birds, and things that will be needed by men so that all kinds of animals may be kept alive upon the earth."
So Noah and his wife, and his three sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth, with their wives, went into the ark. And God brought to the door of the ark the animals, and the birds, and the creeping things of all kinds; and they went into the ark. And Noah and his sons put them in their places, and brought in food enough to feed them all for many days. And then the door of the ark was shut and no more people and no more animals could come in.
In a few days the rain began to fall, as it had never rained before. It seemed as though the heavens were opened to pour great floods upon the earth. The streams filled, and the rivers rose higher and higher, and the ark began to float on the water. The people left their houses and ran up to the hills; but soon the hills were covered, and all the people on them were drowned.
Some had climbed up to the tops of higher mountains, but the water rose higher and higher, until even the mountains were covered and all the people, wicked as they had been, were drowned in the great sea that now rolled over all the earth where man had lived. And all the animals, the tame animals, cattle, and sheep, and oxen, were drowned; and the wild animals, lions, and tigers, and all the rest were drowned also, except for those animals in the ark. Even the birds were drowned, for their nests in the trees were swept away, and there was no place where they could fly from the terrible storm. For forty days and nights the rain kept on, until there was no breath of life remaining outside of the ark.
The water rose higher and higher. After forty days the rain stopped, but the water stayed upon the earth for more than six months, and the ark with all that were in it floated over the great sea that covered the land. Then God sent a wind to blow over the waters, and to dry them up; so by degrees the waters grew less and less. First mountains rose above the waters, then the hills rose up, and finally the ark ceased to float and lay aground on a mountain which is called Mount Ararat.
But Noah could not see what had happened on the earth, because the door was shut, and the only window was up in the roof. But he felt that the ark was no longer moving, and he knew that the water must have gone down. So, after waiting for a time, Noah opened a window, and let loose a bird called a raven. Now the raven has strong wings; and this raven flew round and round until the waters had gone down, and it could find a place to rest, and it did not come back to the ark.
After Noah had waited for it awhile, he sent out a dove; but the dove could not find any place to rest, so it flew back to the ark, and Noah took it into the ark again. Then Noah waited a week longer, and afterward he sent out the dove again. And at the evening, the dove came back to the ark, which was its home; and in its bill was a fresh leaf which it had picked off from an olive tree.
So Noah knew that the water had gone down enough to let the trees grow again. He waited another week, and sent out the dove again; but this time the dove flew away and never came back. And Noah knew that the earth was becoming dry again. So he took off a part of the roof, and looked out, and saw that there was dry land all around the ark, and the waters were no longer everywhere.
Noah had now lived in the ark a little more than a year, and he was glad to see the green land and the trees once more. And God said to Noah: "Come out of the ark, with your wife, and your sons, and their wives, and all the living things that are with you in the ark."
So Noah opened the door of the ark, and with his family came out, and stood once more on the ground. And the animals, and birds, and creeping things in the ark, came out also, and began again to bring life to the earth.
The first thing that Noah did when he came out of the ark, was to give thanks to God for saving all his family when the rest of the people on the earth were destroyed. He built an altar, and laid upon it an offering to the Lord, and gave himself and his family to God and promised to do God's will.
And God was pleased with Noah's offering, and God said:
"I will not again destroy the earth by water on account of men, no matter how bad they may be. From this time no flood shall again cover the earth; but the seasons of spring and summer and fall and winter, shall remain without change. I give to you the earth; you shall be the rulers of the ground and of every living thing upon it."
Then God caused a rainbow to appear in the sky, and he told Noah and his sons that whenever they or the people after them should see the rainbow, they should remember that God had placed it in the sky and over the clouds as a sign of his promise, that he would always remember the earth, and the people upon it, and would never again send a flood to destroy man from the earth. So as often as we see the beautiful rainbow, we are to remember that it is the sign of God's promise to the world.
From both believers in God and non-believers, there have been many objections to the credibility of the story above. Also, there have been many attempts to concoct different versions of what might have really happened. In other words, many people don't believe God really meant what He tells us through the writings of Moses in the first 11 chapters of Genesis.
I believe that God said what He meant to say and that He revealed to us things that we can understand. I do not believe God gave us incorrect information in the Bible, especially in passages that seem very easy to understand what He said. The writings of Moses about Noah and the Flood are too simple to misunderstand.
I am convinced of the truthfulness of the story of Noah, because my Savior Jesus Christ believed it to be true. He said:
"But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be." (Matthew 24:37-39).
The writer of Hebrews believed it--
"By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith." (Hebrews 11:7).
The Apostle Peter believed it--
"Who formerly were disobedient, when once the Divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water." (I Peter 3:20).
"And did not spare the ancient world, but saved Noah, one of eight people, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood on the world of the ungodly." (II Peter 2:5).
Heavenly Father, so often times, as any other day when we sit down to our meal and pray. We hurry along and make fast the blessing, “Thanks, amen. Now please pass the dressing”. We’re slaves to the olfactory overload; we must rush our prayer before the food gets cold. But Lord, we’d like to take a few minute more to really give thanks to what we’re thankful for: For our family, our health, a nice soft bed, our friends, our freedom, a roof over our head. We’re thankful right now to be surrounded by those whose lives touch us more than they’ll ever possibly know. We’re Thankful Lord, that You’ve blessed us beyond measure; Thankful that in our heart lives life’s greatest treasure; that You, dear Jesus, reside in that place, and we’re ever so grateful for Your unending grace. So please, heavenly Father, bless this food You’ve provided today and bless each and every person invited. This we pray in Jesus’ name, Amen!
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
THE STORY OF ENOCH
After Abel was slain, and his brother Cain had gone into another land, again God gave a child to Adam and Eve. This child they named Seth; and other sons and daughters were given to them; for Adam and Eve lived many years. But at last they died, as God had said they must die, because they had eaten of the tree that God had forbidden them to eat.
By the time that Adam died, there were many people on the earth; for the children of Adam and Eve had many other children; and when these grew up they had other children; and these had children also. These men and women and children lived in tents. They owned sheep and cattle, and they moved about with them, wherever they could find pasture. And after a time this land where Adam's sons lived began to be full of people.
It is sad to tell that as time went on more and more of these people became wicked, and fewer and fewer of them grew up to become good men and women. All the people lived near together, and few went away to other lands; so it came to pass that even the children of good men and women learned to be bad, like the people around them, and no longer did what was right and good. And as God looked down on the world that he had made, he saw how wicked the men in it had become, and that every thought and every act of man was evil and only evil continually.
But while most of the people in the world were very wicked, there were some good people also, though they were very few. The best of all the men who lived at that time was a man whose name was Enoch. He was not the son of Cain, but another Enoch, who came from the family of Seth, the son of Adam, who was born after the death of Abel. While so many around Enoch were doing evil, this man did only what was right. He walked with God and God walked with him, and talked with him. And at last, when Enoch was a very old man and weary with life, God took him away from earth to heaven. He did not die, as all the people have since Adam disobeyed God, but "he was not, for God took him." This means that Enoch was taken up from earth without dying.
When it is said that Enoch walked with God, we are to understand that he obeyed God's commandments, so far as they were revealed to him, and that he lived in communion with God. It was a walk of faith. But to how many of us, are the words really a true expression of our experience? We talk a good deal about God, but how many of us are actually walking with God? An eloquent preacher says, "A missing note of the religious life of today, is that of personal fellowship with the Creator. We are largely dependent on other people, not Christ for our spiritual experience." Never have there been so many religious activities in which Christians take part, as at present. There are meetings, societies, brotherhoods, unions and all manner of organizations for the promotion of spiritual life and for the winning of souls. But is there not a lack of personal communion with Christ? We are depending more for the quickening of our spirits and for our religious interest and earnestness, on outside activities and on the influence of other Christians upon us, than on our own individual fellowship with Christ!
We all walk with God in a sense, for all our life. We never can get away from His presence for a moment. He is closer to us than our nearest friend. Wherever we go, He walks beside us. But the trouble with many of us is that we do not realize his presence. We never think of it. Faith is that exercise of the mind, which makes unseen things, real. God was real to Enoch. His walk with God was as real as if he had seen God's face, and heard His voice and felt the touch of His hand! We may walk with God as consciously and as familiarly as Enoch did, if we really desire it. Christ told the disciples that He wished to make them His personal friends, opening His heart to them and giving them His full confidence. But how many of us are living in conscious communion with Christ?
There are many blessings which come to him who walks with God. One is companionship with God. Human companionship is very sweet and refreshing. It makes the way seem shorter and easier. How could we live without friends? We never can be thankful enough for the companionships of our lives. It would be hard to live without our human friends. We need them, and they bring us cheer, comfort, strength, encouragement all along the way. But human companionships, as heart-filling as they may be, are not enough. Then they drop away one by one: we know not what morning, the dearest and most needed friend shall be missed from our side when we come out to begin our day's walk.
Another blessing from walking with God, is a heavenly atmosphere. We know the value of atmosphere even in human friendships and associations. Everyone has an atmosphere of his own. With some people we feel ourselves in an atmosphere that is sweet, exhilarating, inspiring. All our life is quickened by their influence. With others we find a depressing atmosphere about us, when we enter their presence.
Another blessing from walking with God, is the cleansing of our lives. The influence of pure and good companionship is always transforming. When two live together in close and intimate association, they grow alike. Intimacy with God, can result only in becoming like God.
All the people in the time of Enoch were not shepherds. Some of them had learned how to make rude bows and arrows, axes and plows. And after a long time they melted iron, and they made knives, swords and dishes to use. They sowed grain in the fields and reaped harvests, and they planted vines and fruit trees. But God looked down on the earth and said: "I will take away all men from the earth that I have made; because the men of the world are evil, and do evil continually."
That was the way He led Enoch. "Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him away." People missed him one day and saw him no more—but he was not lost. God had simply lifted him over the river of death, so that he missed dying, and had taken him home!
Christian life here is very sweet. It is a glorious thing to walk with God in this world. But only in heaven can we get the whole of anything good, which was begun here. We are going on into that land where all faith's dreams shall be realized, where all love's visions shall be fulfilled. Nothing beautiful shall be lost. We shall meet our Christian friends on the other side; dying is but parting for a little while. So let us walk with God, wherever He leads us. The way may not be easy, but that is not our concern; our concern is only to walk with Him, without question, unfalteringly. He always leads in the right way. He will lead us home!
Most Holy Father, Our Loving God! Let us taste and see the beauty of living and walking with You by faith in our Lord, Jesus Christ. Teach us to walk like Enoch did. Fill our lives in ways we cannot understand so we may grow in our faith and in our spirituality with You. Bless us with Your bounty daily. Open all our senses to You so we may commune with You more deeply every day. Enable us to engage all that we are as we seek to taste Your goodness. Forgive us of all our sins. This we pray in Jesus’ blessed name, Amen!
FROM MY WIFE AND I TO EACH OF YOU AND YOUR FAMILY: PRAISE GOD AND HAVE A HAPPY THANKSGIVING DAY! God Bless, Vic.
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
CAIN AND ABEL CONTINUED FROM YESTERDAY: Part 2
THE RESULTS OF DISOBEDIENCE AND EVIL!
"Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him!" Genesis 4:8. See here, the fearful growth of the evil feeling in Cain's heart. It was only a thought at first, but it was admitted into the heart and cherished there. Then it grew until it caused a terrible crime! We learn here, the danger of cherishing even the smallest beginning of bitterness; we do not know to what it will grow!
Some people think lightly of bad temper, laughing at it as a mere harmless weakness; but it is a perilous mood to indulge, and we do not know to what it may lead. In His reproof of Cain, the Lord likens his sin to a wild beast lying in hiding by his door, ready to leap on him and devour him. This is true of all sin which is cherished in the heart. It may long lie quiet and seem harmless—but it is only a devouring wild beast sleeping!
There is a story of a man who took a young tiger and resolved to make a pet of it. It moved about his house like a kitten and grew up fond and gentle. For a long time its savage, blood-thirsty nature seemed changed into gentleness, a creature that was quiet and harmless. But one day the man was playing with his pet, when by accident his hand was scratched and the beast tasted blood. That one taste, aroused all the fierce tiger nature, and the ferocious animal flew on his master and tore him to pieces!
So it is, with the passions and lusts of our old nature, which are petted and tamed and allowed to stay in the heart. They will crouch at the door in treacherous lurking, and in some unguarded hour. They will rise up in all their old ferocity! It is never safe to make pets of tigers! It is never safe to make pets of little sins!
We never know what sin may grow into, if we let it stay in our heart. "It came to pass when they were in the field, that Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him!" That is what came of the passion of envy in Cain's heart! It was left un-rebuked, un-repented of, un-crushed—and in time it grew to fearful evil. We never know to what dreadful stature a little sin may grow. It was the apostle of love who said, "He who hates his brother is a murderer." Hatred is a seed, which when it grows into its full strength, is murder!
We can easily trace the development of this sin in Cain. First, it was only a bitter and hurt feeling, as he saw that Abel's sacrifice was more pleasing to God than his own. But by and by in uncontrolled anger, Cain rose and murdered his brother!
We need to guard especially, against envy. Few sins are more destructive. One pupil recites his lesson better than another, and the less successful one is tempted to all manner of ugly feelings toward his fellow. Envy is classed among the "seven deadly sins," and one has said that of all these, envy most disturbs the peace of mankind. Envy follows every successful man; as close as his shadow. Let us guard against the beginnings of envy.
The Lord asked Cain to account for his brother. "Where is your brother?" We all are our brother's keepers, in a certain sense. In families, the members are each other's keepers. Parents are their children's keepers. The older brothers and sisters are the keepers of the younger. Brothers are their sisters' keepers, and should be their protectors and benefactors. Sisters are their brothers' keepers, and should throw about them all the pure, gentle, holy influences of love. Each one of us is in greater or less degree;a keeper of all who come under our influence. We are certainly each other's keepers, in the sense that we are not to harm each other in any way. We have no right to injure anyone; and we are under obligation to do as much good as possible to all about us. We shall have to account for our influence over each other, and for all our opportunities of doing good to others. There is no more serious teaching in the Scriptures than this of our responsibility for the lives of others, not for members of our own families only, but for everyone who belongs to the human family.
After Cain had committed his crime, he thought of its enormity. "What have you done! Your brother's blood cries out to Me from the ground!" People do not stop to think beforehand, of the evil things they are going to do. They are carried away by passion or desire for pleasure, for power, or for gain, and do not see the darkness of the deed they are committing. But when it is done and they turn back to look at it, they see it in all its shame and guilt.
The experience of Cain ought to teach everyone to ask before doing any wrong thing, "What is this that I am going to do?" Sin brings curse! Even the very ground is cursed, when remorse is in a man's heart. Even the flowers, the trees, the birds, and all beautiful and innocent things, seem to whisper shame and curse to his conscience.
"My punishment is too great to bear!" said Cain. Sin is always a dreadful burden. It may seem pleasant at the moment, but afterward the bitterness is intolerable! A man gratifies his evil passions for a time and seems happy, but the result is shame and remorse, a penalty greater than he can bear. Cain would have given all he had to undo the sin he had committed, but he could not. He could not bring back the life he had destroyed. His dead brother would not answer his cry of grief. Though one suffers from the law no punishment for his sin, he yet bears punishment intolerable in himself.
People say they do not believe in a hell of fire, that a God of mercy would not cast His children into such torment. But sin needs no literal flames to make its hell. It brings its torment in itself. It is not that God is cruel; it is sin that is cruel. We cannot blame God for the punishment which our disobedience brings; we have only ourselves to blame.
Someone said in bitterness, "If I were God, my heart would break for the world's woe and sorrow." God's heart did break: that is what the Cross meant. Sin is indeed a heavy burden. Many are driven to suicide by remorse. Some become hardened, all tenderness in them having been destroyed. But it will not be until the sinner gets to the next world, that he will know all the intolerable burden of his sin and its punishment. Then there will be no escape from the awful load, no hiding forever, and no getting clear of the terrible burden.
While there is time in this world, there is always a way of escape from sin's punishment. Christ bore sin and its punishment at the cross for us, and all who flee to Him will have the load lifted off their souls!
May God bless us and help us to turn to His Word for guidance, direction and salvation. PRAISE GOD!
Monday, November 21, 2011
The Story of Cain and Abel: Part 1
Cain was the first child born on earth. The coming of the first baby, is always an important event in a home—but the birth of the first child in the human family, was an event of great importance. Mothers have many dreams and hopes for their babies. Perhaps the first mother (Eve) had her dreams. She might have dreamed to have been expecting that her son would be the "seed of the woman" referred to in the promise of the bruising of the serpent's head. When she saw the beautiful new-born child, she said joyfully, "With the LORD'S help, I have brought forth a male child!" She forgot the pain of her travail in her joy that a child was born. It is sad to think how this first mother's dreams would be disappointed. Instead of becoming a godly man, his life an honor to his parents—Cain proved to be a wicked man, who brought sorrow to his home! Eve conceived a second time and had Abel.
At the beginning of the story of the human family, we find both good and evil. What Adam and Eve had found in the garden, they brought with them into the world. Two children of the same parents, have in their hearts dispositions that differ in every way. They had different tastes, which led them to different occupations. Cain become a farmer, tilling the soil, and thus providing for his own necessities. Abel, with peaceful tastes, became a shepherd.
The two sons differed still more radically in moral character. Cain developed wicked traits. He was energetic, ambitious, resourceful, a man who made his mark in the world, a builder of cities, a leader in civilization—but a man of bad temper, selfish, morose, cruel, hard, resentful. Cain was the kind of man who today wins the world's honors, who gets on in the world, grows rich, is enterprising, becomes powerful and rules over his fellows.
Abel was quiet, affectionate, patient. The world now would call him easy-going, not disposed to stand up for his rights, meek, allowing others to trample over him and tread him down in the dust. Abel was the type of man described in the Beatitudes, poor in spirit, hungering and thirsting after righteousness, merciful, a peacemaker, unresisting, bearing wrong without complaint, not striving for mastery. Abel was the kind of man that Jesus was—who, at the end of the ages, appeared as the true Seed of the woman, whose heel was bruised by the serpent, but He bruised the serpent's head, conquering by love and goodness, and not by evil.
Both the sons were worshipers of God, though here, too, they differed. Cain brought of the fruit of the ground for his offering; and Abel brought of the firstlings of his flock. Some suppose that Cain's offering was unfit in itself, inferring that God had already instituted the offering of blood, as the only acceptable worship. We do not learn this, however, from the Bible narrative; we are told only that the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering—but unto Cain and his offering He had not respect. Then in the Epistle to the Hebrews we are told that it was Abel’s faith which made his sacrifice more excellent than Cain's.
We learn at least—that God must be worshiped in the way He has commanded. We learn also that God’s acceptance of worship, depends on the heart of the worshiper. Cain's heart was wrong, and Abel's heart was right. God cares for the right form of worship; He looks into the heart and is pleased only when He finds love, faith, and true devotion there.
"Cain was very angry." Why was Cain angry? Was he angry with God for not showing respect to his offering? Did he think God had treated him badly? If the anger was against God, how very foolish that was! What good could it do? It would be most silly for us to be angry at the waves of the sea, or at the storm, or at the lightning. Would the waves, the tempest, or the thunderbolt mind our rage? It is infinitely senseless, to be angry with God!
Or was Cain angry with Abel because he had pleased God—while he himself had failed to do so? It seems, however, from the record, that he was angry with Abel. Why? What had Abel done? He had done nothing, except that he was a better man than his brother. Was that reason enough why Cain should be angry?
Superiority always arouses envy, opposition and dislike. We must not expect to make ourselves popular—by being great or good. To show your intelligence and ability, is only an indirect way of reproaching others for being dull and incapable. It was Abel's favor with God—that made Cain hate him. Envy is a most unworthy passion. It is utterly without reason. It is pure malevolence that reveals the worst spirit. Cain was angry with Abel, because Able was good.
“Merciful Father, Loving God! Help us to know that the existence of Good and Evil in this world does takes control of our life and will lead us to death and destruction, unless we turn to Jesus, the One who has destroy evil and provided love, mercy and grace for us through His own sacrifice and goodness. Show us how to live in Jesus…just as He lived. This we pray and ask in His name, Amen!”
A GRATEFUL RESPONSE:
I would like to thank everyone for their wonderful responses and comments to last weeks stories.
God Bless, Vic.
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