Gen devos 11-15

Daily reading: Read Genesis chapter 11
Food for Thought: The first playhouse…?
Have you ever built a playhouse? I did. When my cousins and I were younger, we would look for scrap wood behind my grandpas’ shed, old boxes, or whatever else we could find and our imaginations would go into overdrive. We built military barracks, castles, houses. In our minds these were grand and elaborate structures. In reality they three pieces of used paneling propped up together, that when the wind blew could and would topple over. It didn’t stop us though from having lots of fun. Then I remember my first real play house. I was five, I had just returned home from extended trip with my grandparents, and when I returned home in my back yard was the hugest playhouse I ever saw (I know hugest isn’t a word, but I am telling the story and I can use whatever words I want J!) These playhouses pail in comparison to what was being constructed in Genesis 11. This first story in Genesis 11 I have always found interesting. The whole world had one language and a common speech. Apparently quit a few of our earliest ancestors had journeyed together “east,” and decided to build a permanent place of residence. In other words, humanity continues to move further and further away from Eden. Their task was to build a city. They used brick, and they wanted to build a tower that reached to the heavens. It appears there two motivations for this tower that stretched from earth to heaven is twofold: 1. They wanted to make a name for themselves and 2., they didn’t want to be scattered over the whole earth.
It would seem that the Tower of Babel was an attempt to compete with God. If you remember as early as chapter 4, men began to call on the name of the Lord, and now by chapter 11 they want to make a name for themselves. I read this as an attempt to overthrow their need for God. If the creation could build a tower to provide them access to heaven, why need God the creator anymore? They are attempting to make a mark, a mark that would not need God in the picture. God does intervene, and confuses the language of the people and scatters humanity over the whole world.
Keep in mind, God does not scatter humanity or confuse their language because He doesn’t appreciate creativity. He gave us all the ability to create, to be creativity, to use our minds, to learn, to build etc. God’s concern, as always in history is when mankind attempts to write their own story, one that writes God out of the story. Keep reading, God isn’t done with us just yet.
Reflection:
1. What stood out to you today?
2. What is one thing you can take away from this chapter?
Prayer:

Daily reading: Read Genesis chapter 12
Food for Thought: The blessing in jeopardy
The Abram (Later changed to Abraham) narrative really begins near the end of chapter 11. What we find out is that Abram is in the line of Shem, one of the sons of Noah. Chapter 12 opens with a weird invitation. God tells Abram to move away from his country, his people and his father’s household and to go to a land that God would show him. In other words, Abram was to leave behind everything he knew, his home, his friends, and his family to travel to an unknown location. Sounds risky, dangerous, maybe even a little crazy.
What is even more strange is that God calls Abram to move to a new land, and then blesses him in a huge way. The words of v. 2-3 will guide the Old Testament plot from Gen 12 to end of Malachi. This blessing is even present in the New Testament. This blessing is as follows: “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will blesse those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” There’s a couple of things I want to draw your attention too:
1. Remember in chapter 11, the people building the tower of Babel were wanting to make a name for themselves (11:4), and here in chapter 12, God tells Abram that he will make his name great. Where the people at Babel wanted to bless themselves, Abram is told that he will bless the world.
2. Remember in 11:30 we were told Sarai (Abram’s wife) is barren. She is unable to have children. God tells Abram in 12:3 that he will make him into a great nation. We already know the outcome of the story, Abram and Sarai did not. Let us not forget that nothing is impossible with God.
Abram obeys the Lord’s call and leaves his country, and takes his nephew with him. I wonder if He takes Lot with him, because he intends on leaving his estate to him? I do know this as the story continues to unfold, the promise of God to Abram is seemingly in jeopardy. Observe with me if you again: Abram had no heir, Abram is told to go to a land whose location is unknown, he winds up in Egypt due to a famine, not exactly Canaan, Abram lies about Sarai being his wife, and the Pharaoh of Egypt brought her into his palace (12:15). This is a nice of way of saying, to make her his wife! But, the Lord intervenes, and Abram and Sarai leave Pharoah a lot richer than when they started. As the story of Abram begins we must also remember, that this promise to Abram will bless the whole world, it is God’s plan to undo the sin of Adam and Eve.
Reflection:
1. What stood out to you today?
2. What is one thing you can take away from this chapter?
Prayer:

Daily reading: Read Genesis chapter 13
Food for Thought: Where would you pitch your tents?
After the tension in Egypt, Abram and Sarai are sent on their way. As chapter 13 opens it must be observed that Abram was very wealthy in livestock and in silver and gold (13:2). Remember that Lot journeyed with his uncle, and he too was well off. We are introduced to another tension in the narrative, one that would seem to exclude Lot from being Abram’s heir. Because of the possessions of both men, we are told in v. 6-7, “6 But the land could not support them while they stayed together, for their possessions were so great that they were not able to stay together. 7 And quarreling arose between Abram’s herders and Lot’s.” Abram comes up with a plan that seems good to Lot. Abram and Lot agree to part company, and Abram lets Lot choose where he will go, and Abram promises to go elsewhere.
Verse 10-13 introduces more tension into the story. Lot looks up sees a desirable location to move, it is even described as being “like the garden of the Lord.” But in reality the place where Lot goes is a place of wickedness, a place where men were sinning greatly against the Lord (13:13). Lot pitched his tents near Sodom. We also read in here, that in order to get to his new location he “set out toward the east.” I read somewhere, that this phrase is an indication of the movement away from God’s will. It certainly would seem to be the case with we read about that takes place in Sodom in chapter 14. Remember this phrase, “set out toward the east,” or something like it was was used as well in 11:2 to set up the Babel Tower incident.
Another observation that helps guide the Abram narrative along is the word “see,” or “saw, or “look,” or words involve “seeing.” We are first introduced to this word with Abram in chapter 12 while Abram is in Egypt. As you read the Abram/Abraham narrative pay attention to this word. It will be used some 32 or 33 times and it is what scholars refer to as a theme word. I don’t want to give away the details now, but for now, just circle these occurrences in your Bible when you see them.
As the text for today comes to close, notice the sharp contrast with where Abram moves his tents. Lot chose the allure of Sodom, Abram chose to be near the Lord, he builds an altar (13:18).
Reflection:
1. What stood out to you today?
2. What is one thing you can take away from this chapter?
Prayer:

Daily reading: Read Genesis chapter 14
Food for Thought: In the wrong place at the wrong time…
Lot made his choice, remember last chapter? He saw the whole plain of Jordan, how it was well watered, and he went to live there. Only one problem, right? Lot pitched his tents near Sodom. From reading ahead a little in the story, even though Lot lived near Sodom, and eventually we find him in Sodom he doesn’t appear to take on the characteristics of those who lived there. Remember Sodom was a wicked place. But, the phrase “pitched his tents near Sodom,” remind me of an important truth. We should avoid evil. The close we get to it, the closer we get to sin, and the closer we get to sin, the more likely we will reach out for the forbidden fruit. Lot is in trouble.
In addition to the wickedness and sin of his neighbors there are two groups of warring kings fighting for control of the same area. Sodom is captured, and Lot finds himself a captive. Thankfully for Lot, Abram will hear about his nephew’s misfortune and gathers a small army and rescues his nephew.
After the search and rescue mission, we are introduced to a mysterious character in the Bible, Melchizedek, the king of Salem, and the priest of God most high. Abram and he share food and drink, and Abram gives him a tenth of all of his stuff. I think what is interesting here, is the name Abram uses for God. We don’t often see it in English, but Abram calls God “El Elyon,” or God most high. “El” was a general term for God. It expresses his majesty and power. It is used 238 times in the OT.
It was frequently used in reference to deity in the nations surrounding Israel during biblical times; i.e., El was the name of one of the high gods of the Canaanites. (Ex. 34:14, God says, “for you shall not worship any other god [el], for the LORD [Yahweh], whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.”). The God of Israel stands apart from all the supposed gods of other nations in that He reveals Himself in human history by His deeds. One of the cool things about God’s story in the Old Testament is that he has many names, and God’s various names reveals his multifaceted character, in other words God’s many names reveal unique aspects of His nature and character.

Reflection:
1. What stood out to you today?
2. What is one thing you can take away from this chapter?
Prayer:

Daily reading: Read Genesis chapter 15
Food for Thought: The Smoking Fire Pot…
Abram was promised in chapter 12 that he would be made into a great nation and that he would be blessed. There’s no doubt up this point that Abram has indeed been blessed. But, here in chapter 15 you get a sense of a deep longing on the part of Abram. He has the Lord’s provision, the Lord’s protection, the Lord’s presence, but he’s childless. From Abram’s perspective, the promise of descendants seems like a huge impossibility. His wife is old, he is old. His estate appears to be headed to a servant in his household, Eliezer of Damascus. He’s not even a relative, but a foreigner. Then the Lord speaks a word of reassurance again to Abram in 15:4, reminding him that a son would come from his own body. Then we see again our key theme word in 15:5, Look,” when God tells Abram to look up at the heavens and count the stars.” God tells Abram, do you see the stars? That is how many your descendants shall be? I love 15:6 “Abram believed the Lord and he credited it to him as righteousness.”
I am reminded here of the importance of trust. Abram was promised a descendant. Even though he doesn’t have a child, and he and his wife are old, what great faith in the word of God. Do you believe God is going to keep his word? And if this little scene isn’t enough, keep reading and I am just astounded at the next conversation the Lord and Abram have. Abram is told to bring to God a heifer, a got and a ram, each three years old along with a dove and young pigeon. Abram is instructed to cut them into two and arrange the halves opposite one another (15:20, the birds were not cut in half). Abram falls into a deep sleep, and has a vision of the Lord once again speaking to him and promising him descendants as well as telling us of their future Exodus out of Egypt (15:13) and then a smoking firepot and blazing torch appeared and passes between the pieces. God is often represented by fire. God shows up in person this time, and passes between the cut halves of the animals. In the ancient Mediterranean cultures, agreements were often made in this manner; animals were cut, and then both parties would pass the animal halves, saying that if they failed to keep up their end of the deal, then what happened to the animals would happen to them. In 15:18, we read, “On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram and said, “To your descendants I give this land, from the Wadi of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates— 19 the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, 20 Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, 21 Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites and Jebusites.” Again, Abram here’s that he would have descendants. But, note the Lord makes a promise and binds himself to his word to carry out this plan to bless Abram with a child and descendants. God is such that His word can be trusted. Think of what is at stake here, nothing less than the reputation of God himself.
Reflection:
1. What stood out to you today?
2. What is one thing you can take away from this chapter?
Prayer:

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About Jason Retherford

The random musings of a youth minister.
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