Genesis 15 – Who needs a covenant?

The term covenant is a lost word in the American culture. Yet it is such a vital term to understand the relationship between God and his people. So what is a covenant?

As Genesis 15 shows, a covenant is a promise between two people initiated by a ritual. So how is God in covenant with his people?

God promises to give Abraham and his descendants the land between the river of Egypt and the river Euphrates by passing through animals cut in half, a ritual known in those days as a promise by the one who passes through, that if he doesn’t keep his covenant that he will die like these animals.

As a result, God creates a covenant between him and his people that he will give them the Promised land. So what is this to us? Why should we care about this covenant?

We could easily roll our eyes and ignore this because what is the Promised land to us? But to overlook this would be a tragic mistake for the Promised land symbolizes heaven where God promises us a place to dwell with him forever.

What happens when you are not in covenant with God? You are separated from God and his goodness and blessing are absent where you will suffer in his wrath or otherwise known as hell.

If I ended this post right now, I would be doing a great injustice to you for you will misunderstand why joining God in covenant is good. Because we are utterly sinful, not in that we have done the worse that we could possibly do, but that not one part of you is not affected by sin. We are sinful; therefore, we cannot be in the presence of the holy God.

Because of this, God must reach to us and make a covenant with us so that we may dwell with him. And in Genesis 15:6, God displays our part in the covenant which is to believe in him and his righteousness will be credited to us. This enables us to dwell with him forever.

So in essence, this is the best news we could ever get that God has reached out to us and makes a covenant with us.

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Genesis 14 – Holy War

In Genesis 14, five kings who were under King Chedorlaomer rebelled against him which began the first war recorded in the Bible. Chedorlaomer defeated the 5 kings, but also captured Lot, Abram’s nephew, taking him, his family, and all their goods. When the news reached Abram, he gathered his soldiers and fought to rescue his nephew. His battle was successful as he was able to rescue Lot, his family, and their goods. The chapter ends as Melchizedek blesses Abram as well as Abram giving a tithe to Melchizedek.

Lot, as he settles in his land after departing from Abram, is quickly captured by the idolatrous nations surrounding him, a display of what happens to us when the lusts of our flesh direct us in the midst of idolatry and rebellion. When we get too close to the world, the world will take us in and enslave us, and once we are enslaved to the world, we become as one of the world and this leads only to destruction.

There is only one hope once we are entrapped in the world and that is, a rescue from an outsider. Someone not enslaved to the world must come and save you from the world. In this story, Abram, an outsider living in Canaan, comes and saves his nephew Lot from the idolatrous nations. If you want to know what love and grace is, this is the story to learn them from. Abram shows real love and grace for Lot by going to war with the idolatrous nations to rescue Lot from them. He shows love by sacrificing his life and the lives of his men to save Lot. He shows grace by saving Lot who chose to go live amongst the idolatrous nations on his own chasing after the lusts of his flesh. Lot didn’t deserve to be saved, but Abram saved him regardless.

This story foreshadows the grand story of the Bible of Jesus Christ, the outsider, sacrificing His life for His brothers who are enslaved to the world. You and I came into this world and was enslaved to it chasing after our own lusts of the flesh and our own desires. We are headed to destruction. Yet by the love and grace of Jesus Christ, He went to war for us sacrificing his life so that we may be saved from the world. He conquered the world and set us free from it.

So now, we as Christians know what Christ has done for us and we can go to war against the world for our brothers. We can fight this world by going against the grains of this world and loving others by caring for them and revealing to them that they can be saved from this world also.

So when are you going to war for your brothers?

Genesis 13 – May we go in Peace

In Genesis 13, Abram travels out of Egypt into the Negev. During this time, Abram and Lot both become very wealthy and because of this, it becomes very difficult for them both to live together. As a result, Abram and Lot decide to part ways and live separately. Lot chooses the valley of the Jordan while Abram settles in the land of Canaan.

As Abram came up out of his temptations (Egypt symbolizes temptations), Abram and Lot were both blessed with many Earthly riches. Abram continued to call on the name of the Lord, and Lot continued following Abram. But a problem arose. Their riches began to interfere with each other. They had so much that both of them couldn’t keep peace while remaining together. So Abram decides that they must separate and go different ways to keep peace between them. Abram allows Lot to choose which way he wants to go and Lot doesn’t think twice and goes after the land that is well-watered and looks good for settlement. Abram settles in to the land that isn’t so pleasant.

There are two people in this world, those who are selfless and are not controlled by Earthly riches, and there are those who are selfish and are controlled by Earthly riches, and this story of Abram and Lot is the perfect picture of these two kinds of people. Abram first wants peace kept between him and Lot and doesn’t want their riches to break the peace they have. He then allows Lot to choose the land first instead of himself taking first choice which was ideally who would have it. Lot hears Abram’s plea, sees what is good in his eyes (even though it is a land full of wicked sinners verse 13 points out), and takes it. Here are two drastically different attitudes yet in the same family.

At first glance, we might think that we are like Abram, but in second thought, we are like Lot. We go after what looks good in our eyes without even thinking about what is good for others. We pick what is good for us. How selfish and ignorant we are. But how do we become like Abram? How do we become selfless rather than selfish?

There is only one being that keeps Abram separate from Lot. His name is God. He is the only one who can change our nature from being selfish to selfless. You see, Abram did one thing that stood out from Lot. He called on the name of the Lord. He prayed to God and this is what we must do also. We must depend on and ask God to take us from who we are, broken and sinful, to the man he wants us to be, righteous and Christ-like. Prayer is what separates normal men from godly men.

Abram ends up in the land that God has promised to give to his descendants and Lot ends up in a land full of sinners. So what kind of person do you want to be? Like Abram or like Lot?

Genesis 12 – To the Unknown

In Genesis 12, God calls Abram out of Ur to the land of Canaan giving him several promises. Abram along with his wife, Sarai, and his nephew, Lot follow God to the land of Canaan. They reach Canaan but as a result of a famine in the land, they travel to Egypt. In Egypt, Abram denies Sarai as his wife in fear of Pharaoh and his people. Pharaoh about to sleep with Sarai is plagued by God and Pharaoh returns Sarai to Abram and commands them to leave their land.

“Go forth from your country,” God declares. The land that Abram has lived, the people he has been with since he was born, God wants him to leave. Why is it so important for Abram to leave his country? What is there that is so bad? Abram was from a country that is wicked and rebellious in its ways. People are defined at where they live and who they live with. People are defined by their culture. Culture is everywhere and we grow up and are raised in a certain culture. We then know that culture and if we have lived only in that culture, that is all we know. So when God calls Abram out of his country, He is not only telling him to part ways with where he lives, but also to part ways with who he is. God is calling Abram out of his wicked and rebellious ways, and this is first priority for all who God calls.

“To the land which I will show you,” God says. After God tells Abram to leave his country, He proclaims where Abram will be headed. In essence, He is saying “I am taking you where I want you to be. I want you in a new land, with new people, with new culture.”

“And will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, and so you shall be a blessing; and I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse,” God continues. God is taking Abram from his country into God’s country because He wants to change Abram from a wicked and rebellious man into a good and righteous man. It isn’t about Abram’s location but rather his character. God calls men to righteousness.

“And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.” God does not want only Abram but all His people to be good and righteous.

But with this magnificent call from God, the call is to the unknown. Abram has no idea what is out there for him if he goes. All he has is his family in a comfortable land and a mysterious call to the unknown in which he can and must trust and depend on the God who is calling. This is our situation also. We have this call from God but we don’t know what is ahead of us if we follow the call. This is the truth that we must accept. We can stay in our rebellious and wicked ways or follow God’s calling and trust that He will not break His promise.

Abram does follow God’s call into the unknown and brings his wife and nephew and all his possessions, and this is what we must do also. Abram takes the call and puts complete faith in God to deliver in His promises. This is what is required of us also. We must put our faith in God and trust that He will take us to the land He promised.

“To your descendants I will give this land.” And this is where it settles in. Here is where we understand that in this world, we will always be strangers. Our home is not here but rather with God. This world is always full of rebellious and wicked people so we must wait for the world to be ready as Canaan wasn’t ready either as the inhabitants at that time were rebellious and wicked also. We will always be roaming this world waiting to come home.  But we are not to roam aimlessly around this world however. As Abram in every place he was he built an altar and worshipped God, we shall do the same. Wherever we are, our worship shall not cease.

As Abram was roaming Canaan, he was driven out of it into Egypt by a famine and was tempted by Pharoah and his people. Although Abram had faith in God to travel to Canaan, his faith faltered as he feared Pharoah and his people, and as we go, we will have temptations and have our faith fail us at times. The good news is that God does not throw us under the bus for our failures, but rather delivers us out of them and continues to be faithful in His promises.

In the end, God’s call is to remake us from our wickedness and rebellion into  holiness and righteousness, but it is not an instant action yet a long journey that we must travel.

Genesis 11 – Flips, Confusion, and Drawings

An adequate portrayal of how God changes our plans

In Genesis 11, the people decided to settle in the land of Shinar and build a city and a tower which would reach the heavens. In the middle of building the tower, God comes down and confuses their languages scattering them over the earth. The second half of the chapter is the record of Shem’s descendants.

It is time for the people to replenish the earth after the flood yet the people decide that it will be better for them to stay in one place and build a city. So right off the bat we see that the people do not consider what God has said and rather do what they think is best for them.

The people not only decide to settle in one place and build a city, but also, they start to build a tower that will reach the heavens. They do this to make a name for themselves and reason that this will prevent them from scattering to the ends of the earth. Rather than doing what they were created to do which was to lift God’s name up, they build this tower to build their name up high. Full of their pride and ego, they deceive themselves into thinking that if their name is known, they will be able to stay in that land rather than scattering.

What you might not see as I explain why these people built the city and the tower is that what I describe them as self-centered, prideful, and rebellious, these are descriptions of you and me also. We are self-centered in our thinking as we think of what is best for us rather than listening to God what He says is best for us. We are prideful in that we strive and work so hard to give ourselves fame and a good reputation. We are rebellious in that we rebel against God in all fashions to do what we want rather than what God wants. This is the bad news that I must share with you that you are a sinner.

But this is not the end of the story.  As the people are building the tower, God comes down, sees their work and judges them by confusing their languages ending the work of the tower. In the end, the people were scattered across the earth which was what the people were planning against. As the story illustrates, the people were able to rebel against God for a time, but judgment came in due time and their plans failed. You might think that your sin will have no consequences and it might seem that way for a while, but I warn you, judgment is coming. And in the end, what you are planning towards, comfort and safety, will be flipped upside down on you.

Judgment is coming, but the end of the chapter brings hope. The second half of the chapter is the record of the descendants of Shem. Now, as you might remember, Genesis 10 has already listed the descendants of Shem, but this record is more detailed and ends with a very important person. This person is Abram. The record ends with him and his brothers and goes into detail about their whereabouts. His family was from Ur, but his father took them out of Ur and was traveling to the land of Canaan. The chapter ends with them settling in Haran as Abram’s father, Terah, dies.

It might not seem too important to go into detail about their whereabouts, but looking ahead to Abram’s future, it is very important. See, in God’s providence, He is drawing Abram out of Ur to Canaan, which He will give to Abram as an inheritance. Just like this account, God is drawing people today to Him. It might not look like it is God that is drawing us, but in the end, we can look back and see God’s providence and grace.

So judgment is coming, but God is drawing His people out of judgment to Himself.

What is Christianity? Conclusion

Redemption by Jesus Christ of His bride which births a relationship between the Father and His children which births religion practiced by God’s church powered by the Spirit for the glory of God.

As I have finished breaking down each part of my definition of Christianity, here are my concluding thoughts to merge it into one flowing definition.

My definition as a whole is my definition of Christianity. You cannot take only one part and set it apart as the definition but rather take the whole of it. Also, the parts cannot be mixed around or changed. If you switch anything around, you will get a wrong view of Christianity. This is why I said it is one flowing definition. Each part flows into the next. Redemption births Relationship which births Religion. It cannot be Religion births Redemption which births Relationship or any other combination. Redemption by Jesus Christ enables us to have a relationship with the Father which enables us to in gratitude serve God in religion.

In addition, you cannot enjoy one of these without the other two or enjoy two of them without the third. You cannot practice religion if you do not have a relationship with the Father that was brought forth by redemption. You cannot have a relationship with the Father without redemption or religion.

I wish I had the time to go deeper with each part of my definition and maybe one day I will, but for now, this is it. I hope my definition has helped you understand what Christianity is.

What is Christianity? Religion

Redemption by Jesus Christ of His bride which births a relationship between the Father and His children which births religion practiced by God’s church powered by the Spirit for the glory of God.

Today, we focus on the last part of my definition of Christianity.

First, religion. The term religion gets a bad reputation these days even by Christians. People relate religion with hardcore law-keeping. The Pharisees in the Bible are called religious people, and Islam and Judaism are called religions. Now many do call Christianity a religion still but many have backed away from that and define religion as those people who make Christianity about law-keeping. But as Christians, we do not throw away the law, but are actually called to uphold the law.

Second, religion practiced by God’s church. Religion is not graceless but rather must be grace-filled because it is by God’s church that it is practiced, and we know God’s church is the bride of Christ which Christ redeemed. Christ’s redemption was God’s grace given to Christians so that they may have a relationship with God the Father so that they may practice religion. This religion practiced by God’s church is in the big picture simply love for others, and it is practiced by the redeemed people of God not Muslims or Jews.

Third, religion practiced by God’s church powered by the Spirit. God does not redeem us, restore our relationship with Him, then leave us to do religion on our own. He gives us the Holy Spirit to empower us to do it. The spirit gives us strength, wisdom, and zeal to love others. Left on our own, we are hopeless to practice religion, but with the Holy Spirit in us, loving others is possible and accomplished.

Fourth, religion practiced by God’s church powered by the Spirit for the glory of God. We do not practice religion to lift our name up, to check it off on our list, or to impress others but rather to give glory to God. The glory of God is the most wonderful, most majestic, most beautiful thing in the world, and this is what we aim to lift high. If you are practicing religion for any other reason than giving God glory, you are not practicing true religion.