Category Archives: Genesis

Monday Memo – Enoch

I guess that of all Bible characters, Enoch is the most curious. We know little about him but what we do know is exciting and encouraging.

“When Enoch had lived 65 years, he fathered Methuselah.  Enoch walked with God after he fathered Methuselah 300 years and had other sons and daughters. Thus all the days of Enoch were 365 years. Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him” (Genesis 5:21-24)

“By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God” (Hebrews 11:5)

These two verses tell us just about everything we know about this great man. However, there is plenty here to consider and contemplate.

Enoch was a real, mortal man.

Enoch lived during a period when mankind reached extraordinary ages. His father lived 962 years and his son, Methuselah, 969 years. “Young” Enoch lived on earth a paltry 365 years. While these ages are extreme they should not be so surprising to the Bible student. If God can create the world from nothing, he can sure create old men! But we note here that Enoch had a very human beginning in his father Jared. He had a wife and he fathered a son. Enoch was not an angel and possessed no superhuman abilities. He was no more divine that anyone else who lived in his day.

His humanity is important because we share the same design. Like Jared, Enoch and Methuselah we are all flesh and blood. We are born in the natural way through the joining of a man and woman. We struggle with physical and spiritual ailments just like they did. Yet we do not share in the same end. Despite his human frailties, Enoch did not taste death!

Enoch was pleasing to God

There is nothing better on a grave marker than “He pleased God.” Such was the epitaph of Enoch (Hebrews 11:5). I try to please my wife, my children, my neighbors and my church family. But the single most important act is to be found pleasing unto God. Nothing matters more. James is pretty clear, “…whoever chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God” (James 4:4, TNIV) Enoch cast his lot with the Creator. As such, he is  the one bright spot between his ancestor Abel and the Great flood.

If Enoch could be pleasing to God during a time of deepening depravity (c.f. Genesis 6:5,6), we can be pleasing too. While we are busy making excuses about how busy we are and how demanding our jobs are, the world is spinning away. People are dying without Jesus and culture becomes more and more corrupt. What if the modern world had a few Enoch’s around?

Enoch was not

That phrase in Genesis is unexpected; it hits you square in the face with its implication. Enoch was not. Enoch stopped. Enoch ceased to exist here. All of the others in the chapter 5 genealogy end with the phrase, “and he died.” But not Enoch. Enoch was not. What does that mean? The text simply says that God took him. Enoch did not face death and all of its attendant pains. God was so enthralled with Enoch that he took him on home. Someone, not me, once remarked that Enoch and God walked together. One day, they were closer to heaven than earth and God said, “why don’t you come home with me?” And Enoch agreed.

Enoch was one of only two people in the Bible who did not see death. The other was Elijah (2 Kings 2:11). ((No, Melchizedek is not a third. The passage in Hebrews 7:3 does not mean that Melchizedek was eternal, but that’s another post.)) It is a stunning honor to  be counted worthy of avoiding the darkness of death. One day, Enoch was just gone.

Enoch walked with God

Here is the answer to all questions about Enoch. He walked with God (Genesis 5:24). It’s such a simple compliment. But what exactly does it mean? How does one walk with a spirit? God is pictured in Eden as walking in the cool of the day (Genesis 3:8). Noah walked with God (Genesis 6:9). God promised to walk among the Israelites (Leviticus 26:12). How does one do that?

We walk with God when we spend time talking with him. We must be in agreement with him and we must be willing to follow him where he leads us. If the Lord points to the south, we cannot walk to the north. Walking to the east or even the southeast will put more distance between us. We must walk precisely where he goes and where he leads.

That is the secret of Enoch’s life. He stayed always with God. He did not veer off but remained in step with his Creator. As such, he was abundantly rewarded.  What does God have in store for those who walk with him today? I leave you with the words of Isaiah:

For of old no one has heard or perceived by the ear, no eye has seen a God besides you, who acts for those who wait for him” (Isaiah 64:4 / 1 Corinthians 2:9)


Bryant Evans may be reached at bryant at You can follow Bryant on Twitter @jbevans.

Noah Found Grace guess all the rain has me thinking about Noah and the Ark. It’s been raining hard here for a few days with at least two more to go. It’s nothing like the people of Noah’s day experienced however and I am glad for that.

Noah’s story begins in Genesis 6:5 ff when the wickedness of the world brought divine judgment. The inspired description of mankind is sobering:

“The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart” (Genesis 6:5-6).

Unfortunately Noah found himself among these wicked people. But fortunately God had something special in mind for the future boat builder. The Bible says, “But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD”  (Genesis 6:8). The word “favor” here can also be translated, and is translated by some, as “grace.” So I am wondering about this grace or favor that Noah found in God. What exactly did it do for him?

Noah Found Grace Through A Plan

Beginning in verse 14 God delivers a plan of escape. He carefully details a plan for a large boat, the Ark, which Noah is to build. The Ark will lift Noah and his family above the raging destruction that will come upon the earth. God supplied the plan through his grace but Noah was required to build the boat. “Noah did this; he did all that God commanded him” (Genesis 6:22).

Clearly, Noah was a man of faith (Hebrews 11:7) but he was also a man of action with a living faith that obeyed the plan in all its details.

God’s grace has been shown to all men (Titus 2:11). As part of that grace we have been given our own kind of Ark. We have been given a plan that will bear us up and above the coming destruction of the wicked; we have the gospel plan of salvation. When we are obedient, like Noah, we too are blessed with deliverance (Romans 6:17; 1 Peter 1:22).

Noah Found Grace, But Not An Ark

This Bible story would have been interesting if God, instead of delivering a plan, had delivered an Ark instead. Really, think about it. God could have done all the work and still saved Noah. Perhaps he could have instructed Noah to take his family to a certain location where he would have found the Ark already assembled and ready for occupancy. But that is not what happened is it?

The grace Noah found was not the Ark but rather the plan for the Ark. God in his gracious mercy told Noah how to escape the judgment he was bring upon the earth. Likewise, the grace shown us is not a sudden pronouncement of salvation but a path of justification and sanctification in Jesus Christ.

There was nothing that compelled God to save Noah nor is there any necessary reason why God saves us. Only his love for his creatures matched with his grace and mercy produced the plan of redemption. we are saved in Jesus alone. Only the precious Son can save from sins. Let us come to him in a humble spirit of obedience and he will save!

Bryant Evans may be reached at bryant at You can follow Bryant on Twitter  @jbevans.

Spoiled Fruit: The Sin of Eve

The greatest disappointment in global history came when Adam and Eve sinned in Eden.  From within the borders of God’s perfect garden came an act of treason so horrible that all of mankind suffers from its consequences. God may have known she would sin but God did not cause her sin.

“So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.” (Genesis 3:6).

Although this verse tells us why Eve took, ate and then gave to Adam, it really only scratches the surface. Did Eve have any choice in the matter? Did some unseen force compel her to violate God’s direct order (Genesis 2:16-17)? I argue that Eve was in total control of her choice and that she was not compelled to eat the forbidden fruit. But some notable theologians argue that Eve was compelled by God to eat the fruit because her sin was a part of God’s divine plan.

Speaking of the doctrine of predestination, Boettner ((Loraine Boettner (1901-1990) was a noted Presbyterian theologian who is often quoted as a defender of Calvinism.)) argues that even the tiniest act of man is part of God’s plan of predestination. “Even the sinful acts of men are included in this plan. They are foreseen, permitted and have their exact place. They are controlled and overruled for the divine glory.” He continues. “plainly the fall of Adam and all other sins which made that sacrifice necessary (sacrifice of Jesus – jbe) were in the plan, no matter how undesirable a part of that plan they may have been.” ((Boettner, Loraine, The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination, 1932, Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, Philipsburg, NJ, pg. 24))

Let us ask some questions of the text and see if Boettner’s ideas hold up under close scrutiny.

What was the Setting?

Adam and Eve were the first couple. They were specially created beings crafted from the very had of God. Neither was the result of human procreation. Man was created from the earth (Genesis 2:7) and then the woman was created from man (Genesis 2:21-22). After creating man, God looked upon his world and declared that it was “very good” (Genesis 1:31) It cannot be reasonably argued that sin was lurking somewhere in the world. All that God created was good and without blemish. Regarding man, he was made in the image of God and therefore would be as pure as God (Genesis 1:26).

Among the plants in the garden were two particular trees. The Tree of Life was necessary for their continuing life without death (Genesis 3:22). There was no restriction of access to this tree. The second was the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. It was this tree, located in the garden, which was not to be touched. The fruit Eve ate and gave to Adam was from this tree. It did precisely what the name implied; it gave the first couple a knowledge or accountability for sin.

Why Did God Make It Possible to Sin?

This is an important question. Without the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, man could not have sinned. Why would God place such a temptation in their path? The answer is that God decided to give man a choice.

God could have created the world without allowing man any choice. His actions and behaviors would be pre-programmed much as an assembly line robot. Man would not sin anymore than your internet browser can sin. To disobey would lie beyond the possibilities for the robotic man. Of course if man could not sin he could not freely love either. His response to God would be determined by his pre-creation programming.

By giving man choice, it made him able to love freely but also, inherent in that choice, was the possibility that man would sin. But in God’s eyes, that which is freely given is superior to that which is compelled.

What is the Evidence that Eve Had a Choice?

From Genesis 3:1-13 we learn several important facts concerning Eve’s choice.

Eve was Intellectually Challenged by the Serpent

Eve was confronted intellectually by the serpent. The text records a dialogue between Eve and the serpent which called upon her mental faculties to make a decision. The serpent asked of God’s commands and Eve correctly responded with God’s prohibition against even touching the tree. Such would be unnecessary if Eve were compelled, beyond her will, to sin.

Eve was Deceived by the Serpent

Not surprisingly, the Serpent lied to Eve. Such a lie was necessary in order to coax her into sinning. Genesis 3:13 has Eve placing blame upon the Serpent for that deception. ((Although she was deceived, she was still responsible for her sin as is clear from verse 16.))

If a person is compelled to do anything, their mental state is irrelevant. In World War II many citizens of Eastern Europe were captured and compelled to work in the industrial machine of Germany. Whether they cared to or not and whether or not they agreed with the German cause was not important. Such is the nature of compelling a person to work. If Eve were compelled to sin because of some divine plan, her mental assent would be of no importance.

Eve Wanted the Fruit

Eve was negatively impacted by the serpent’s lie. But she was inclined to sin because of her own desires. James reminds us that sin comes from within the man:

But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death” (James 1:14-15).

Likewise, Eve’s sin came from within herself, not from some outside force or compulsion.  According to Genesis 3:6, Eve “saw that tree was good for food, that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desired to make one wise.” It appealed to her bodily, through the normal sense of sight and to her mentally for wisdom. These factors enticed her to sin just as James would warn millennia later. Now these temptations do not come from God.

“ For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world” (1 John 2:16)

“Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one” (James 1:13)

If temptations do not come from God then certainly an irresistible force to sin would not either. Eve sinned because Eve chose to sin.

The Unanswerable Question

If, as Boettner claims, the sin of Eden was the result of God’s plan, we are forced to ask “why?” Why would a pure and holy God create a perfect world and then, of his own volition, ruin that world? Why would a Creator with “eyes too pure to look on evil” (Habakkuk 1:13) actually force his creation into sin? Why would the Holy One who planted every tree of the garden spoil his own fruit? The biggest question is why would God force sin into his world knowing beyond question that his action would cause Jesus to be offered at Calvary?

Boettner is just wrong. And if he is wrong here then his entire concept is also flawed. By showing that Eve sinned of her own choice we demonstrate that there are some things God has left in man’s hands. Man does have choices and is judged accordingly.

Is There Common Ground?

We do not mean to suggest that every Presbyterian, Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran and so on believes that God caused Eve to sin. Many who worshipper in Calvinistic based faiths have never plumbed the depths of its doctrine and do not know what is taught. Sadly, many are Biblically illiterate and simply ingest whatever their preacher offers on Sunday.

But would say that there are some things we can agree on, perhaps. First, God can know a thing without causing it to happen. As one of our Bible teachers here recently taught the youth, you can watch an apple fall from a tree and know it will hit the ground without ever causing it to fall. The fact that God did not cause Eve to sin is no limitation on his power and certainly only brightens his purity and glory.

We can further agree that we need to all be students of the word. You have read all the way to the end of this lengthy post because you at least have a curiosity of the word. I hope you are provoked to study more and more.

Bad Things Happen to Good People

Bad things happen to good people. The faithful suffer illness and death. The righteous are persecuted by the unrighteous. The devout face ruin and destruction. Such trials have happened since the days of the first couple and they continue even now. People much wiser than I have tried to explain this phenomenon in volumes of writings. How can it be that the God of the Bible can allow such suffering? We cannot argue that suffering is not real or that it is some imagination of an active mind. Good people really do suffer.

But it may help to examine one righteous struggler and see what lessons we can learn. Joseph, son of Jacob is a perfect example.

Joseph’s story is found in Genesis chapters 37 through 50. He was born into a family of 12 boys and one girl. Only one brother was younger. Joseph is born to Rachel, the favored wife of Jacob. He the favored child (Genesis 37:3) and serves his father well although even his mother and father become troubled because of dreams that Joseph has which cast them as subservient to him (Genesis 37:9-11).

The resulting jealousy of his brothers causes Joseph to be kidnapped and sold into slavery by his brothers (Genesis 37:12 ff). He rises to prominence and responsibility in the house of Potiphar, a military commander of Egyptian King Pharaoh (Genesis 39:2-6). An encounter with Potiphar’s wife forces Joseph to choose between good and evil. He chooses good and is falsely accused of attempted rape. He is cast into an Egyptian prison. But even in prison God brings him success and causes him to find favor in the jailer’s eyes (Genesis 39:21-23). Joseph precisely interprets dreams of two fellow inmates but even when one returns to his position of honor at the Pharaoh’s side, Joseph is forgotten and languishes for two years in the prison (Genesis 40:1).

Finally, a troubling dream causes Joseph to be brought before Pharaoh himself. The king is so impressed with Joseph that he not only takes him from prison but elevates him to a position second only to the Pharaoh himself (Genesis 41:40-45). For 13 years (c.f. Genesis 37:2; Genesis 41:46) Joseph had ridden roller coaster. At just the moment life began to look better, everything crashed. But through it all Joseph was faithful. Not one word is written that even hints at Joseph losing faith in Jehovah.

It is true that bad things really do happen to good people. But it is also true that even in the darkest hour, God stays with the faithful and brings them through to better days.

It is also true that God’s will is always done even when we suffer.  Although Joseph is not a direct ancestor of Jesus, his life and struggles were required for the coming of our Lord. Pharaoh’s dreams were a divine warning of a coming famine. Joseph, having interpreted the dream, was put in charge of preparations. Joseph was so successful that his estranged family, living in another country, came to Egypt to buy food so that they could survive the foot shortages. Without Joseph’s work, they likely would have succumbed to hunger and disease thus eliminating the line of Jesus.

Because Joseph was so beloved by Pharaoh and the people, an invitation was extended to his family to come and live in Goshen, a province of Egypt. It was there they grew into a mighty people.

Our lives seem to mirror Joseph’s sometimes. One day things are great and the next we can barely hold our heads up. The lesson from Joseph is one of endurance and faithfulness. God can and will do great things with us when we place all of our faith and trust in him. We see the result of Joseph’s life but he could not. Like us, he could only see the walls of a pit and the walls of a prison. But he trusted that God would bring him to a better place, and he did. Does this encourage you? It should. Trust God!

Genesis – Know the Book

Genesis is the first book of the Bible,  the first book of the Pentateuch and the first book of the Old Testament. It covers a longer period of time than any other book in the Bible. Genesis stretches from “the beginning” (Genesis 1:1) until the entrance of Jacob’s family into Egypt and the death of both Joseph and his father Jacob (Israel). Between these two events lie some of the grandest stories of Scripture.

The volume begins with the Biblical account of Creation. It pictures God acting out of his own will and bringing into existence all that has ever been. The Fall of man is recorded in Genesis 3 but along with the dark story comes the first messianic prophecy of the coming Christ (Genesis 3:15). The story of Noah and the Ark follow which details God’s hatred of sin and his decision to destroy his creation except for Noah and his family. Beginning in Genesis 12 and continuing until the end of the book we read of the Patriarchs and the formative years of the Hebrews. The roller coaster ride of Joseph’s life serves as somewhat of an interlude but provides the background for the Hebrew presence in Egypt.

Many key verses are possible in this 50 chapter book. But I have chosen Genesis 3:15 for it begins to unveil God’s redemptive plan for lost mankind.

“I will put enmity between you and the woman,

and between your offspring and her offspring;

he shall bruise your head,

and you shall bruise his heel.”

Authorship, Dating and Technical Details

There is no explicit comment as to who penned the book of Genesis. However a very strong tradition points to Moses and even Jesus gives him the nod for authorship.

“Moses gave you circumcision (not that it is from Moses, but from the fathers), and you circumcise a man on the Sabbath.  If on the Sabbath a man receives circumcision, so that the law of Moses may not be broken, are you angry with me because on the Sabbath I made a man’s whole body well?  Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment” (John 7:22-24).

Circumcision, here mentioned by Jesus as being given by Moses, is found in Genesis 17:12. Internally, the book appears as a seamless prologue to the book of Exodus which Jesus directly attributes to Moses (Mark 12:26) as does the writer of Hebrews (Hebrews 9:19).

Obviously the date of composition is closely tied to authorship. If we are correct that Moses is the author then it seems most reasonable that Genesis was composed during the 40 years of wandering recorded elsewhere in the Penteuchal record.

Some are puzzled that Moses could write of the Creation and of events that predated his own birth by several centuries. However Moses was only writing that which he was inspired to write. As Gleason Archer says  “Moses seems to have served as a Spirit-guided compiler and interpreter of the pre-existent material which had come to him from his forebears in oral and written form.” ((Gleason Archer, A Survey of Old Testament Introduction, Moody Press, 1994, pg 193)) We would add, and I think Dr. Archer would agree, that all of the material in chapters 1 and 2 likely came directly from the Holy Spirit as no one was there to make an oral record.

Genesis is significant in that it gives us a thorough history of God’s earliest interactions with man. It shows he cared enough to immediately begin careful plans for man’s redemption. Sin and its unavoidable consequences are revealed through the narrative of Adam & Eve, Cain & Abel and the Noahic flood. Yet in all those cases hope was extended through the grace of our Creator.


In the Beginning God…

The first verse of the Bible says a lot.

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

God marks the beginning and ending of all we know. He was present at the first sunrise and will be the one to bring everything to an end. It’s hard to think about but God came before the beginning. He caused the beginning. Sometimes God is described as the prime force or the first cause. God alone is sufficient to be the first cause he remains outside of our Creation and far beyond our existence.

It was God who got to work and caused all that we know to come into existence. From the most basic elements of the periodic chart to the great mountains and deepest seas. From the frequencies that give us music to the complex laws of math and physics that govern it all. God is the Creator.

But his power is not raw or unbridled. He carefully directed into just the precise needs of mankind. And when it seemed that his anger would break through and destroy it all he restrained himself (Genesis 6:6-8; Deuteronomy 9:13-29). God’s power is not precipitous but carefully measured to achieve his own plans.

All that we know come from God. God is beyond full understanding for he is apart from our outside of our ability to study him. He is only knowable to the degree he reveals himself to mankind. In the coming weeks we plan to publish numerous articles about Jehovah God. We hope you will join us.

Monday Memo: Righteous Abel

Abel is a pivotal character in Scripture. Ironically, little is revealed about the son of Adam and Eve but his life marks an important point in history. Abel is first mentioned in Genesis 4:2 as the second of two children born to the first couple. His name appears in only 13 verses in the Bible and 6 of those are in the initial account in chapter 4. Nevertheless his life offers some important aspects for our learning.

Abel Teaches Us That Righteousness Is Best

Jesus himself observed the righteousness of Abel and highlighted his goodness (Matthew 23:35; Luke 11:51). The writer of Hebrews notes his excellent service to God.

By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks. (Hebrews 11:4).

We don’t know precisely why Abel’s sacrifice was accepted and Cain’s rejected except that it was offered in faith which is a part of his righteousness. But we do know that thousands of years later his goodness was known by mankind and was used by Jesus and the inspired writers of the Bible to teach us how important righteousness is.

There are few things that we can do today that will have long lasting effects. Personal righteousness is one of them.

Abel Teaches Us That the Righteous Suffer

It is comforting to think that if we live righteously God will protect us from trouble and strife. He does not. Abel was murdered by his brother. His only act that contributed to his death was his faithful service to God. His righteousness got him killed. God did not shield righteous Abel from an angry, malice driven brother.

We suffer today at the hands of people who are unrighteous. We suffer from their freely made choices and decisions that cause harm and mayhem to others.

Abel suffered at the hands of his brother (Genesis 4:8). David suffered at the hands of King Saul (1 Samuel 13:1-11). Peter and John suffered at the hands of the Sanhedrin Council (Acts 5:40-42).

Of course the ultimate example is Jesus who suffered for unrighteous men (Romans 5:8) at the hands of unrighteous men (Acts 2:36).

The unrighteous have always persecuted the righteous and always will – at least in this life.

Abel Teaches Us That There is a Right Way to Approach God

An outside observer might conclude that worship is open to any interpretation but the conflict between Abel and Cain suggests otherwise. Abel’s offering was acceptable to God because it was given “by faith.” We conclude that Cain’s was rejected because it was not by faith (Hebrews 11:4). We learn that men who approach God “by faith” are accepted by him (Acts 26:18).

The Bible teaches that faith is central to Christian living. Paul says “the righteous shall live by faith” (Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11 quoted from Habakkuk 2:4). He says we are justified by grace which must be received by faith (Romans 3:24-25). This justification by faith sets us apart from Mosaic laws which were fleshly, even mechanical in nature (Romans 3:28). Of course James complements Paul’s writings when he says we are not justified by “faith alone” but by works as well (James 2:24). Notice we say they complement and not contradict one another. Works are a part of the Christian life. But works under the law of Moses, which Paul is speaking of in Romans 3:28, do not save. Indeed nothing in  the Mosaic law produced salvation (Hebrews 9:13).

We are saved today through faith and through obedience to Jesus Christ (Romans 10:16; 2 Thessalonians 1:8; 1 Peter 4:17). Like Abel, there is a right way, and a wrong way, to approach God.

Abel is a great messenger of God even today. Let us learn from his example.

Monday Memo – Joseph

“The keeper of the prison paid no attention to anything that was in Joseph’s charge.
because the Lord was with him.
And whatever he did, the Lord made it succeed.
(Genesis 39:23)

CNN told us Friday that Americans were turning to fortune tellers to help them get through the present economic hardships. That only proves what Tusser said,  that “a fool and his money are soon parted.” Happily, many others have chosen to seek their future in God.

Joseph was a young man who struggled with just about every problem that could be imagined. His life looked more like a modern day roller coaster than that of a man with a great future. Yet for every downturn in his life there was a bigger upturn! How and why?

The Genesis 39 account gives us the answer. Joseph was successful because of his relationship with God. Despite his world routinely falling apart, Joseph had discovered that by remaining faithful to God he would be blessed. In fact his blessings were so immense that they were even noticed by the pagan prison Warden.

Read it carefully — “whatever he did, the Lord made it succeed…” You and I can enjoy the same level of blessing when we have the same level of faith and dedication that Joseph displayed.

Will you focus this week on securing and strengthening your relationship with Jesus? Will you walk faithfully with him so that he can bless you? Try it. You may be surprised!

When Evil is Good

There are times when we wonder why we struggle so much. We wonder why there seems to be so much badness or evil in the world. Why must the righteous suffer while the wicked seem to prosper and flourish? Questions like these are neither new nor uncommon. Often the psalmist cried to God for deliverance from his troubles when it seemed the foes of God would be victorious. Truly, it often seems that evil will win.

Joseph likely felt the same way at times. Beginning in Genesis 37, Joseph began to endure a series of up and down events that brought him into direct confrontation with the very worst life has to offer. For example, Joseph was unjustly accused of rape (Genesis 39:7-20) and cast into a prison where he languished for at least two years (Genesis 41:1). He had previously been separated from his loving father and his family when his own brothers sold him as a slave into the hands of traders (Genesis 37:12ff).  Finally, after years of struggling Joseph was freed and rose to a position second only to Pharaoh in Egypt.

Later, the very same brothers who sold him find themselves standing before the brother-turned Egyptian-ruler begging for famine relief. When he reveals his true identity the brothers are terrified of his reprisals. He does not return evil to them but brings them to live in his new country in luxury (Genesis 47:11,12). Later, when their father dies the brothers are again fearful of Joseph (Genesis 50:15) and the possibility of retribution.

Joseph does not seek revenge. Although in a position to bring horror to the lives of his brothers and repay them for the evil they did to him, Joseph instead calms his nervous brethren. Joseph said, “…you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive as they are today” (Genesis 50:20). Through Joseph’s struggles, God protected and preserved the very family  that would eventually bring forth the son of Joseph and Mary, Jesus Christ. Without Joseph in Egypt, the family may well have died from starvation in famine stricken Canaan.

First of all, Joseph recognized that God was ruling from heaven. Although times often seemed dark and despair was all around, God was still in charge. When Joseph had nothing else, he maintained his faith in God Almighty and  trusted in his deliverance. Through his unwavering faithfulness and dependence, this rejected son of Israel, like Jesus later, would be the means through which his people would be saved.

Next, Joseph knew that God’s plans could not be stopped. The Lord made a series of promises to Joseph’s father, grandfather and great-grandfather concerning the future of that particular family. Those promises had not yet been fulfilled. God had also promised to care for and protect all those who trusted in him. God had never been found lacking in his plans. He always did what he said he would – just in his time, not ours. Suffering  Job, in the midst of his own struggles, having confronted God and found himself lacking before his creator declared, “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted” (Job 42:2).

Third, God was able to deliver. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego would later declare what Joseph already knew, “God …is able to deliver” us (Daniel 3:17). These three righteous men were delivered from the fiery furnace and Joseph would be delivered from the hand of his oppressors.

Finally, Joseph learned that God could take evil and turn it into a blessing. In our words, God can turn a lemon into lemonade! Although is brothers intended to do evil to Joseph, God would not sit by and allow his faithful, devoted servant to be consumed. Not only had Joseph survived, he was thriving in a foreign land.

Rest assured that evil will come your way too. But with God deliverance also comes to his faithful children. The key for us, the central demand of our spiritual survival, is faithfulness. Apart from such there is no deliverance and evil wins. But always remember that there is victory in God’s Son, there is victory in Jesus!

Monday Memo – Abraham

The earliest days of the life of Abraham are a bit foggy. He lived in the east, in a place called Ur. He lived with his wife, his father and brothers. The place where they lived was given over to pagan worship. Men worshipped numerous gods, each with responsibility for some aspect of their lives. But Abraham’s family was different. His father, Terah, was told by God to leave Ur and travel west. Now we know that thier travels would eventually end in the conquest, by their distant family, of the land of Canaan.

God called their family to a great leap of faith. They were to leave everything they knew and travel to a place not yet revealed to them (Genesis 11:31,32). And that is exactly what they did.

Perhaps God has given you a great leap of faith this week. Continue reading Monday Memo – Abraham