So Abram went up from Egypt to the Negev, with his wife and everything he had, and Lot went with him. Genesis 13:1
So Abram said to Lot, “Let’s not have any quarreling between you and me, or between your herdsmen and mine, for we are brothers. Is not the whole land before you? Let’s part company. If you go to the left, I’ll go to the right; if you go to the right, I’ll go to the left.” Genesis 13:8-9
Abram had been discovered as a liar in Egypt, in regards to his true relationship with Sarai. After Pharoah became aware that the two were married, rather than siblings, he forced them out. Abram took Sarai, his belongings, and Lot with him. Abram had become very wealthy during his time in Egypt. (Thanks to Sarai) We are told that Lot had gained many riches as well. With both men having had livestock that needed a fair amount of land, problems ensued. After a time, disputes arose between the two men’s herdsmen.
Abraham saw the potential for bad blood with his nephew, so he suggested that they part ways. He figured there was enough land to satisfy them both, and gave Lot first choice. In whichever direction Lot chose to travel, Abram would go the opposite. Lot set out toward the east and the plains near the Jordan, which were well watered. His tent was pitched near Sodom. Abram lived in the land of Canaan.
The Lord then told Abram to look around him – North, South, East, and West. He promised that the land, as far as Abram could see, would be given to him and his offspring. Further, Abram was promised that his offspring would be like the dust of the Earth, or too many to count. Abram’s tent was moved to Hebron, where he set up an altar to God in thanks.
This is the story of two men who develop conflict. This is the first description, in the scriptures, of how such conflict (man versus man) is to be handled.
Respectfully nip conflicts in the bud…Abram saw conflict approaching. Though it had not yet arrived, he sought to end it before it began. He went to Lot and, respectfully, expressed his concerns. He then stated that perhaps it would be best if they parted company. In that way, each of them would have what they required and the relationship would remain intact. (How many men, Christian or otherwise, would do that today? I suspect very few.)
Walk by faith, not by sight…Lot chose the east, the land of the plains of Jordan. He chose the area because of the water and proximity to Sodom. It mattered not that he left his uncle the land that was dry. It mattered not that Sodom was well-known for its wickedness. He sought to increase his wealth, and his selection would have given him such an opportunity. Lot was not described as a wicked man, himself. We do get the impression that he was willing to abide with and suffer others sinful deeds if he would profit. Abram showed no discontent with being left the drier land. He did not heckle or bargain. He accepted Lot’s choice, as he said he would. He had to have known that he, too, could gain more wealth in the land Lot had chosen. Yet, he had faith that God would see to the needs of he and his family. (If you are anything like me, you know many more Lots than you do Abrams. Good men put up with all manner of evil in search of the almighty dollar.)
Have confidence in God’s promises…After Lot had left, God promised that all the land surrounding Abram would belong to him and his offspring. Abram and Sarai were an older couple, with no children. It would have been easy to laugh at the idea that he would have innumerable offspring, especially at his age. But, what did he do? He believed. He had every confidence that God would keep every promise made. He established his altar, and gave thanks. He expressed joy and gratitude for things that had yet to happen. (And are there any men who would have this type of faith? Let me know when you stop laughing.)
Finally, keep in mind that today is the day of Pentecost. In the Old Testament, Jews knew this as the Feast of Weeks. (A sacred day when no work is to be done. It is a day to express gratitude for the abundant wheat harvest.) Christians know this to be the day the Holy Spirit filled the bodies of over one hundred men and women after Christ’s death. The Holy Spirit gave them knowledge and confidence to spread the Good News of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. In essence, it was the beginning of the church. The goal of the church was, and is, to add to the dust, or offspring, promised to Abram.
Being referred to as a child of Abraham (Abram) is a compliment to most Christians. Abram is the father of the Hebrews who would be given land that we now know as Israel. This man originally came from a town that worshipped pagan idols. What reason did he have to leave his father’s house and religion? What reason did he have to leave all that he knew? There was none but faith. He was not perfect, by any means. (See previous blog) He made mistakes, but he believed. He accepted the spirit of God, as disciples would years later, and followed where it led.
Isn’t that what we are supposed to do? Aren’t we supposed to take the “word of God written on our hearts” and do something with it? How often do Christians follow the Spirit’s lead? How much more frequently do they expect the Spirit to follow theirs?
Too many times, we seek fault in others because we enjoy conflict. We are selfish and greedy. As long as there is something in it for us, we accept hatred and wickedness. We are self-righteous and expect to have our way. When that doesn’t happen, we feel persecuted.
Is that where the Spirit leads you? Because the spirit inside me leads me to come up with compromises that benefit everyone, avoiding conflict wherever possible. It leads me away from greed. It gives me the courage to stand up to those who would place profit over people. It strengthens my faith to know I am not who I was. I am confident that I can encourage and support others, because I feel encouraged and supported.
The spirit inside me, the spirit of love, demands to be given away. I obey and give it to as many as I can. Because it was given to me.
As he was about to enter Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai, “I know what a beautiful woman you are. When the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife.’ Then they will kill me but let you live. Say you are my sister, so that I will be treated well for your sake and my life will be spared because of you.”
Abram (descendent of Noah’s son, Shem) had been directed by God to leave his country and go to a land of God’s choosing. Abram was told that he and his line would be made into a “great nation”. Abram followed the command. He took his wife (Sarai), his nephew (Lot), and all of their possessions and set out. They first arrived in Canaan. Abram’s offspring were promised the land, and Abram built an altar in thanks.
A famine came upon that land, which prompted Abram to move on toward Egypt where his family would have a better chance of survival. Abram asks something remarkable of Sarai before entering Egypt. He asks that she pretend to be his sister. He knows how beautiful she is, and that the Pharoah may well desire her because of it. He also claims that if it is known that they are married, he might well be killed so that the Pharoah could have her. He goes on to state that if they pretend to be siblings…not only will the Pharoah not kill him; but he will be treated well, for her sake.
The Bible tells us that Abram’s assessment of the situation, indeed, came to pass. Pharoah was taken by Sarai’s beauty enough to invite her into his palace. Abram was treated well, very well, for her sake. He was given all manner of animals and servants, for her sake. However, Pharoah found out the truth. He was, naturally, quite angry. He had, after all, taken another man’s wife for his own…and paid that man, handsomely, for the privilege. Pharoah ordered Abram to take Sarai and leave.
Sarai’s sacrifice. Can you imagine what that conversation must have been like? In that time, women were seen as little more than possessions. But one would assume that she would, at least, be valuable to her family. But maybe not, huh? He, Abram, shamelessly, used her. He asked her to make a huge sacrifice. And she did it. She pretended that she was not married. She was taken into another man’s house and made his wife. I won’t even go into what that must have been like. I can not fathom what it felt like to be taken as the wife of another, while your true husband profits from your pain and misery.
Which leads me to what I would like to say…a woman has always been expected to sacrifice. She has been expected to sacrifice for her spouse throughout the years. She was taught that behind every great man is a great woman. She aspired to be one of those women. She has been expected to sacrifice for her children, to always put their needs ahead of her own. Even in recent years, life before children is expected to become a memory. She is expected to shoulder the weight and help carry the burdens of her friends and family. To volunteer in the community and teach Sunday school.
And, for the most part, she has. She has, somehow, found a way to do all of that. And more.
She is married. She is single. She is gay or she is straight. She cooks the bacon or she brings it home. Sometimes, she does both.
She is a chef. She is a launderer. She is a teacher. She is a janitor. She is a mediator. She is a counselor. She is a nurse. She is a seamstress.
She is a support system for her lover. She is a shield for her kids. She is a shoulder for her friends and family.
She embraces and she scolds. She laughs and she cries.
She is happy. She is sad. She is disappointed. She is exhausted. She is angry. She is undervalued.
She is PROUD!
Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers out there. Be they mothers of biological children or foster mothers or teachers or advisors. Mothering comes in all forms. I recognize how much the world asks you to sacrifice. You are underpaid, if paid at all. I know that the job seems unappreciated and, often, thankless. It is not.
Best wishes to you all, today and everyday.
The Nephilim were on the earth in those days – and also afterward – when the sons of God went to the daughters of men and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown. Genesis 6:4
I always found this passage a bit puzzling. It’s location and total lack of context brings many questions to mind. The Nephilim were the offspring of the sons of God and the daughters of men. (They would later be known as the giants who inhabited Canaan.) Does the phrase “sons of God” refer to the angels? Were the Nephilim inherently evil, thus becoming part of the reason for God’s drastic decision to flood the world?
Ancient Jews understood “sons of God” to mean angelic beings. This view would be corroborated in 1 Peter 3:20 and 2 Peter 2:4-5. If the Jewish interpretation is to be trusted – that they are angelic beings – we run into another dilemma. Looking forward in the text…We learn that Jesus, in Matthew 22:30, said that angels did not marry. That would mean that we could infer that producing children wasn’t on the to-do list. Procreation, outside of a marital union, was extremely taboo.
We do, however, learn that angels did not always do as they were told. And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day—Jude 6. It is important to note, though, that the author of Jude used pseudepigraphical literature as reference material. Pseudepigrapha are books claiming (falsely) to be written by some ancient hero of the faith, such as Moses or Abraham. Yet another conundrum is the fact that these demigods, as lawless and wicked as their behavior was, were known as heroes. But to whom? I can only assume they would be considered heroic to those who perished in the flood.
I, personally, believe this mention of the Nephilim was to teach that even heavenly beings sin. Not only that, they will face punishment. Considering the fact that we are still in the section of the Bible known as The Law, this is not terribly surprising. This is the period, in the faith, where works is focused on more than faith. It is also my opinion that those telling this story would need a truly wicked sin to recount, in order to explain and/or justify the near total extinction of the human race. What is more wicked than wayward angels cavorting with humans and creating progeny that brings nothing but sin and evil?
I would also like to add that genealogy, found in Genesis, should probably be taken with a grain of salt. The book has Shem outliving Abraham! And, let us not forget that female offspring barely receive an honorable mention. Again, I will reiterate that these accounts had been handed down generation after generation. Another thing worthy of remembering is that the lineage we are given only tells us how various groups/nations relate to Israel.
No novice to gossip, I am equally pretty sure a little bit of that 2nd grade gossip thing was happening, too. You know, little Sarah says “I gotta pee.” By the time we get to the sixth kid, it’s “Sarah peed on herself and wants you to tell the teacher!” And, well, let’s be perfectly honest. How many of us could regurgitate our entire history orally, and get it all right?? Not too many, I would assume. I am certainly no threat to ancestry.com.
Lastly, I would like to point out another detail that stuck out to me. The ages of the characters prior to death will begin to drop, dramatically, after the death of Shem. Shem, the middle son of Noah, lived to be 500 years old. I am convinced that ages were fudged, to begin with. However, I feel that this marked decrease in lifespans is due to change in climate and landscape post flooding. Naturally, after a major catastrophic event, you might see lack of food and other environmental changes that could lead to human beings living shorter lives.
Next up: Abram (Abraham), the first faithful
“You call me Teacher and Lord, and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”
John 13: 13-17
***** Life or Resurrection? *****
Before this blog begins its full journey through the Christian faith, I feel I need to address this question. In truth, this is the fundamental divide between many of us. I, as a Christian, have found myself at odds with many non-believers. That would be expected, right? However, I also find myself at odds with many Christians. This, I believe, is due to how we answer the question above.
We all know the story, no? Jesus, born of a virgin, came to Earth to teach the ways of the Father. His ministry was a short one. Conflicts between He and the Pharisees about what was Holy, and who was Holy, led to his trial. Conviction and crucifixion followed. On the third day after being sealed in a tomb, He arose. This resurrection will be shared by any who believe in and follow Him. Salvation given freely. Sacrifice made by Him, yet for us.
What is my issue here?
Well, here goes. My issue here is that I think too many people, especially Christians, forget His life.
Anyone who has read, or even skimmed through, the Bible knows that the resurrection is an extremely important part of Christian history. About the only thing to rival it, in the New Testament, is the virgin birth. I mean…what is more important to a Christian follower than the fact that Christ was born (to be our savior) and that Christ died (to solidify that salvation)?
However, it is also very clear that nearly every word out of Jesus’ mouth was a mandate on how to live. He told countless parables about how to become a better person. Those who would judge another, were warned that the very same judgement would befall ourselves. Those who would take up a sword against another, were warned that they, too, would become victims of the same. We were taught to treat the poor with dignity and respect. We were to feed them if they suffered of hunger, provide water for the thirsty. We were to turn the other cheek to any who may persecute us. We were to receive strangers with the same love that God has for us. We were to be good stewards of our money, without worshipping it. He walked, miles and miles, to teach us…to be good to one another. That’s the message, in a nutshell.
It is amazing to me that this is overlooked. In all four gospels, the overwhelming bulk of the narrative is Jesus’ life. That, in no way, takes away from the importance of his death and resurrection. On the contrary, it add context for it. His life is what makes His death (and the victory over it)…More. This man, of kind and gentle spirit, led a life that God would be proud of. He led a life, that we as followers, should mimic.
The idea of the resurrection appeals to us, naturally. We are human beings. And humans love nothing more than getting something for free. It’s like winning Power Ball, right?! Jesus came to us, and died for us. If we believe this is so, we are granted eternal life. It is just so….easy. We didn’t have to do anything. Who wouldn’t want the millions without buying the ticket? What could be better?
I’ll tell you what could be better. Hold on to your Bibles, because this will make me sound like a radical!
Christians following Christ would be better.
*Don’t just hear the stories…live them.
*Don’t cast stones from your glass house.
*Don’t avert your eyes from the hungry and homeless.
*Don’t lie, cheat, or steal.
*Don’t repay persecution with persecution.
*Don’t regurgitate Bible passages, regurgitate LOVE!
Don’t believe me?
“If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.”
John 14: 23-24
“My mother and brothers are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice.”
Luke 8: 21
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
John 13: 34-35
***** So,…Life or Resurrection? *****