Worth Leaving Everything Behind For. God is worthy. To use language from the Book of Revelation: He is worthy, “to receive glory and honor and power; for [He] created all things, and by [His] will they exist and were created” (Rev. 4:11). But He is also worth leaving everything behind for – something Abraham would wholeheartedly agree with. Granted, I’m sure Abraham could have given a lot of reasons why that was so when he was 175 years old, but at the age of 75, after apparently having received a similar call in Mesopotamia (Acts 7:2), Abraham, while in Haran, yielded to God’s call and took some of the largest of steps of faith that he would ever take. God commanded him saying, “Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you” (Gen. 12:1). He did not know where he was going (Heb. 11:8b) but he went. He left behind land and kindred to follow the God who not only was calling him out of Ur of Chaldeans, but away from the idolatry of his fathers (Josh. 24:2). Only God could make such a demand on a person’s life, a claim to an allegiance greater than even the most precious relationships. And as one of the many witnesses that the Father and the Son are one, Jesus has the same expectation of all of His disciples: “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me” (Mt. 10:37). By faith Abraham went (Heb. 11:8a) and by faith so must all of Jesus’ disciples.
Tag: Attributes of God (Page 1 of 3)
An Opposer of the Proud. Unity isn’t always a good thing – the opening portion of Genesis 11 bears witness to that. The whole earth had one language and one speech (vs.1) passed down from Noah and his family; so there were no barriers to their communication; and ultimately that wasn’t a good thing either. If they were living in the new earth with glorified bodies, it wouldn’t have been a problem; but they were still living in a fallen world with fallen bodies that had a bent towards rebellion and self-exaltation. The first hint of the former comes in verse two where, after God had commanded Noah and his sons to fill the earth (Gen. 9:1,7) we find that the people journeyed east, found a plain in Shinar and dwelt there (Gen. 11:2). Instead of spreading, they were settling. And shortly after they stopped we hear what they said (vs.3-4). In two verses we see the phrase “let us” appear three times. They were ready to weary themselves (vs.3) to exalt themselves by building a city and a tower that reached into the heavens (vs.4). It’s possible that this tower was a ziggurat suited for the worship of, and supposed communion with, pagan deities; it’s also possible that they were building the tower to reach into the heavens so as to guard themselves from a future flood – such a motivation would have been a notable outworking of their unbelief; but the clearest motivation from the text appears to be self-glory: “let us make a name for ourselves (11:4b).” It’s never a good thing when someone speaks or thinks like that – Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar, and Herod are three witnesses of that reality. And the rest of the narrative makes evident that God was against the motives behind the building project. It’s not surprising that the God who opposes the proud (Jas. 4:6) would be against a ‘city of man’ built for the glory of man. It’s good for Christians to listen in on the motivations of those at Shinar. It can help us more quickly identify a ‘let me…for myself…’ mentality. Our fallen frames desire recognition; but God’s Word tells us, “let nothing be done through selfish ambition (Phil. 2:3).” Our fallen frames desire to make a name for ourselves, but God’s word tells us, “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus… (Col. 3:17a)” and for the glory of God (1 Cor. 10:31). Our fallen frames prod us to exert ourselves to exalt ourselves, but God’s word esteems men who go forth for Jesus’ name sake (3 Jn. 7) and risk their lives for His fame (Acts 15:26). And while God is against man’s self-exaltation, He is not anti-exaltation. In His time He exalts the humble (1 Pet. 5:6). And for those who love the praise of God more than the praise of men, they will not be disappointed. Even as they have glorified Christ they will be glorified in Him (2 Thes. 1:11); and even as they have sought that men praise God, they will receive praise from God (1 Cor. 4:5).
Merciful. It’s oftentimes helpful to find ‘brackets’ in passages of Scripture, meaning – phrases or word choices that begin and end a passage. We see an example of that in the previous chapter (Gen. 9:1,7); and this chapter we have another: both verse 1 and verse 32 bracket the listing of the ‘table of nations.’ But not only does this bracket introduce and conclude the genealogy of Noah’s sons, it has within it a reminder of God’s mercy – both verses end with the phrase, “after the flood” (Gen. 10:1b; 32b). It’s as though the reader should stop and say – ‘Wow, look at how God so thoroughly replenished the planet that He made desolate. What mercy…’ Sadly, future generations like Nimrod and those at the Tower of Babel would spurn such mercy – forgetting that the populated planet they enjoyed had, not too long before, “perished, being flooded with water” (2 Pet. 3:6b). Let’s be careful not to do the same. We, too, live “after the flood.”
Giver of New Beginnings. You are only one verse into Genesis chapter nine and you hear language that is very reminiscent of Genesis chapter 1: “God blessed Noah and his sons” (9:1a; cf. 1:28a) and “be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth” (9:1b; 1:28b). And so as to bracket the opening section of this chapter, and just in case we missed it, a similar benediction is pronounced six verses later (9:7). While God did not take another lump of clay from the ground and breathe into it the breath of life, this was nonetheless a new beginning via a re-commissioning. Just as the entirety of humanity could trace its beginning to Adam, so, too, can all humanity trace its origin back to Noah and his sons (cf. 9:19). Incredible. And it all began with a post-judgment benediction of blessing that was reminiscent of a new beginning. And New Testament Christians surely know something about new beginnings – “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Cor. 5:17). Such a one has entered into a New Covenant (Mt. 26:28), received new birth from above (Jn. 3:3-8), walks in newness of life (Rom. 6:4), will receive a new name (Rev. 2:17), and spend forever with the God who makes all things new (Rev. 21:5).
Unforgetting. You might typically think of such an attribute as a negative one. The kind associated with someone who, say, forgives but refuses to forget. But the un-forgetting we see in the opening verse of chapter eight is a good kind. It’s the kind that remembers mercy, and communicates it to the objects of mercy in the midst of judgment. The flood came and the waters prevailed for one hundred and fifty days (Gen. 7:24). The judgment that God had promised had come, was complete, and in the opening verse of chapter eight we read the anthropomorphic expression: “Then God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the animals that were with him in the ark. And God made a wind to pass over the earth, and the waters subsided” (8:1). God never forgot Noah; rather, the expression “Then God remembered…” is way of saying, ‘After a period of time where God might have appeared, say, silent or distant, He undertook once again to do something on behalf of the objects of His mercy.’ For example: God remembered Abraham and delivered Lot from destruction (Gen 19:29); God remembered Rachel and opened her womb (Gen 30:22); and here God remembered Noah and all who were with him on the ark and He brought forth a wind, likely for the purpose of beginning to evaporate the waters (Gen 8:1). Even though for a time it might have seemed like Noah was forgotten in the ark as the waters prevailed on the earth, remember – he and his family were in the ark for one hundred fifty days leading up to Genesis 8:1 (not to mention the days that followed as the waters began to recede), and that might have been longer than Noah had anticipated, but through it all he and those with him were not forgotten. God remembered them and demonstrated afresh His kindness towards them by causing the waters to begin to recede. The words God spoke to Zion through the prophet Isaiah are a good reminder for all God’s people that the God who keeps His people not only does not slumber or sleep, neither does He forget. “Can a woman forget her nursing child, and not have compassion on the son of her womb? Surely they may forget, yet I will not forget you” (Isa. 49:15).