Genealogies and census data are some of the most skipped parts of the Bible. They are still important. Here’s why.
Every year my wife and I read through the Bible. Some sections fly by, such as the stories of Goliath, the fiery furnace, and the raising of Lazarus. Other parts crawl, like the sacrificial system in Leviticus. The slowest portions of all are the genealogies and the census data. “How?” we ask ourselves, “does knowing that Mikloth became the father of Shimeam, and that they lived with relatives in Jerusalem (1 Chronicles 9:38) impact my life as a Christian?” Likewise, we struggle to care that “The priests, the sons of Jedaiah of the house of Jeshua, (numbered) 973 (Nehemiah 7:39)?” Isn’t this a waste of space in a book that calls itself the word of the Almighty God?
Continue reading “Why Genealogies?”
The story behind one of the most infamous crimes in history, and committed by one of the most virtuous men in history.
In the pantheon of world leaders, King David stands at the pinnacle of faithfulness, courage, and honor. Jews, Muslims, and Christians revere David as a warrior, a poet, a prophet, and a man after God’s own heart. God Himself honored King David uniquely among the kings of Israel.
Yet the Bible is clear that David was not a perfect man. In fact, his powerful character was marred by equally powerful iniquities. As recorded in the Bible, 2 Samuel 11, the New American Standard Version:
Continue reading “David and Bathsheba – the Inside Story”
What do we do when crisis comes? What should we do? How can others help?
Carolyn, a friend in her 90s, approached me at church after the morning worship service a few Sundays ago. She and her husband Alan had had a terrible week. The previous Tuesday she was hit by another car while driving, destroying her vehicle but leaving her mercifully with only a few bumps and bruises. On Friday there had been an electrical fire in her house. She and her husband were safe but their home was badly damaged. They were living in a nearby hotel and needed prayer. The couple, another friend and I prayed together immediately, and my family has lifted them up before the Lord several times in the past few weeks.
Continue reading “When Crisis Comes”
We sin, we repent, and then we sin again. Understanding Noah’s flood gives us hints to break the cycle.
The 2016 Presidential Campaign in the United States has begun, and most of the candidates have claimed the Christian faith. Only the candidates know their hearts, and while outsiders are told to “know a tree by its fruit”, to judge based on what a person does, no one can ultimately state whether or not another’s name is in the Lamb’s Book of Life. Some presidential hopefuls mention their religion and then hurry on to other topics. Others, especially evangelicals, reveal how their religion impacts their politics. The faith statements of the first group are taken at face value, but those of the later often engender special ridicule.
People who take the Bible seriously and try to order their lives by it have always been misunderstood. Whether Catholic, Protestant, or Orthodox, those who study Scripture and try to follow it, all of it, have no lack of foes. One of the favorite games of those who oppose life-changing Christianity is to set up a caricature of what such Christians believe and then try to mock them into oblivion. Creation and Intelligent Design are favored targets, but so is the flood of Noah. This article will discuss Biblical and scientific issues around the Flood of Noah.
Continue reading “Noah’s Flood and the Cycle of Redemption”
Are you obsessed with success? Make sure that you are defining success as God does.
Washington DC is the most success-obsessed place that we have ever lived. Growing up in Southern California taught me a relaxed pace, and moving years later to DC from El Paso, TX was a culture shock as big as any in America. The first priority for many people seems to be to demonstrate how important they are. Even children compete in everything, from traveling sports to amateur dance to yearbook design. More than any place we have ever been, parents push their little Einsteins from the cradle through high school to get the tiniest advantage, the “best schools” and most prestigious careers.
Such competition can be dire. Our obsession with success makes us stressed and intolerant. Elizabeth Lauten, a communications director for a member of Congress, recently resigned after making some ill-advised, but true, comments about the President’s daughters. Was this an overreaction? Such stress and unbridled competition can even make us suicidal. Self-destruction is a risk even for those who have “won” the competition. For example, female physicians have a 250-400% higher suicide rate than other females, and male physicians’ suicide rate is 70% higher than other males.
Continue reading “Esther – Three Roads to Success”
God speaks to us, more often than we would like. He is not silent, but we are not listening.
I was teaching 30s-40s adult Sunday School several weeks ago, studying the call of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 1) and we were discussing how God speaks to man today. The expected answers came first; God speaks through His word (the Bible), He speaks through other people (the pastor, trusted Christian friends and family), and He speaks through circumstances (opening some doors to opportunity and closing others). These were all good answers, but none of them described how He spoke to Jeremiah in that chapter. The Weeping Prophet heard the word of God through visions and through the Lord speaking directly to his heart. I asked how many heard God in those ways and the room fell silent.
Does God still speak through dreams? Does he speak through visions? Did He ever? Sigmund Freud and modern naturalists would say no, that dreams are the product of the swirling mass of id and ego, or other psychological and naturalistic forces, within each of us. However, the Bible clearly teaches that God spoke through dreams and visions to men and women in the Old and New Testaments. Which is true?
Continue reading “Listening When God Speaks – Genesis 41”
Hezekiah had the same foibles and failings as the rest of us, and that is why his example is worth studying.
After the golden age of Israel, during the reigns of David and his son Solomon, Israel split apart. The tribes of Judah and Benjamin kept Rehoboam, grandson of David as their king, but the northern ten tribes chose Jeroboam, an Ephraimite. The subsequent history of Israel is a sad tale of uniformly evil rulers, people unfaithful to the Lord, and near extermination by the Assyrians two hundred years later (721 BC). The history of Judah is little better, with a few good kings, including Asa, Jehoshaphat, Joash, Uzziah and Jotham interspersed with many evil ones. Judah lasted 135 years longer than Israel but became progressively more wicked and was finally overwhelmed by the Babylonians under Nebuchadnezzar in 586 BC.
Continue reading “Hezekiah – an Example of Crisis Leadership”
Moses, the man of God, freed the slaves and built a nation. He has much to teach.
Moses is the single most famous leader in the Old Testament and is respected by Jews, Christians and Muslims alike. He was born a Hebrew slave, adopted by an Egyptian princess, raised as a prince of Egypt, exiled at age 40 after killing an Egyptian who beat a Hebrew slave. Fleeing to the tribe of Midian in the Sinai desert, Moses married, started a family, and became a shepherd, an occupation loathsome to the Egyptians, especially a prince. He was as low as a former prince of Egypt could go.
At age 80, when Moses probably felt that his life was nearly over, God met Moses on the slope of Mt. Sinai. God told Moses to return to Egypt and lead the Israelites, God’s chosen people, out of slavery to the Egyptians. The rest of Moses life was a tremendous example of faithfulness to the commands of God and skill in building a nation as he led His people into their Promised Land.
Continue reading “Moses, an Example of Administrative Leadership and People Management”
The Patriarchs of Israel believed God when others did not. Christians today can follow many of their examples.
In many ways, Abraham was an entrepreneurial leader. Born in Ur in southeast Mesopotamia in the second millennium BC, Abraham had a wide variety of skills and a strong work ethic. He could have been very successful in Ur. God, however, had other plans. Terah, Abram’s father, took his entire family, including Abram and his wife, hundreds of miles northwest to Haran in upper Mesopotamia (Genesis 11:31). After Terah’s death, God called the 75 year old Abram to take his entire household, scores of people and many possessions, to Canaan, 700 miles to the southwest. Genesis 12-24 recounts the rest of Abraham’s life, and in these chapters we see a wealthy rancher, a diplomat, a military leader, and a faithful servant of God.
Jehovah’s plan was to bring a great people out of Abraham that would bless the whole world. He intended to put these people in Canaan, the most fruitful part of the great land bridge between Europe, Asia, and Africa, and build them into a “kingdom of priests” to shine God’s light to all of His creation.
Continue reading “Leadership Examples of Abraham, Jacob and Joseph”