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Sodom and Gomorrah

by Richard J. Hill

Abram’s and Lot’s flocks had become large and their help began to clash with one another. God told Abram and Lot to separate from one another (Gen. 13:11). Abram gave Lot his choice of the land, and Lot and his wife looked and chose the valley of the green fields. Abram left the decision concerning his choice up to God. It is always far better to do that.  Lot pitched his tent toward Sodom – probably dreaming of the crops he could plant, and the number of sheep and goats he could raise, not to mention the beauty of the place. The people appeared at first to be decent, friendly, honest people and would make good friends and neighbors. It is clear from the Bible that Lot was a believer in the living God (2 Pet. 2:7-9). He was referred to as “righteous Lot.” Lot soon learned that things are not always what they appear to be.

 

Though his neighbors became generous, close friends, Lot realized that they were unprincipled people oppressed by serious sensual conduct. The Sodomites had a dark side that produced much anxiety within Lot’s soul. The land, true to promise, became very generous and produced much food for Lot’s family and his flocks.  He probably built a nice home and a beautiful lush garden. His wife and family grew to love their home and many of their neighbors soon became close friends. Lot took a leading position among the government officials of the settlement. He probably met often with other leaders in the town square to talk politics and discuss ways to help their community.  

 

Lot soon became painfully aware that his neighbors’ private lifestyle was far less than honorable. In fact, it was horrible, and in direct conflict with the character of his God. They were Sodomites actively involved in sensual, religious practices and private, illicit sexual activity. It became hard for Lot to live the good life among people who were very vile in their personal lives. But because of his family and their fondness for their friends and neighbors, and his daughters’ engagement to two men, Lot was trying constantly to negotiate. He was persistently trying to “straighten out” the Sodomites. He was attempting to legislate morality for the immoral. Impossible!

 

Believers who desire the best of both worlds – the knowledge of being a child of God and at the same time having an unquenchable thirst for all the temporal possessions of this life (position, influence, wealth, and power) become believers who seldom mature spiritually. They never really become productive for God, and they end up losing it all anyway.

 

There is always the haunting knowledge that God will discipline believers in this life for living contrary to His plan “Forwhom the Lord loves He chastens and scourges every son whom He receives” (Heb. 12:6). As long as God left Lot alone,he would continue to profess faith, while at the same time living among the Sodomites, quietly condoning their sexual immorality. Ultimately, he could not have both.

 

Sodom would have destroyed Lot if the Lord had not destroyed Sodom. One day two angels entered the gate of Sodom. The day of reckoning had come.  They had come to administer God’s justice on the Sodomites, who had constantly impugned God’s righteousness and His justice. The came to balance the scales (Deut. 32: 4) and to deliver Lot and his family out of harm’s way – to remove them from God’s judgment.  This is a vivid illustration of God’s act of mercy toward those who believe. God knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations (2 Pet. 2:9).  

 

Weak believers have the wrong emphasis in life. They busy themselves trying to clean up the devil’s world. They become actively involved in social actions to make this world a better place. On the surface that sounds commendable. God never tells believers to busy themselves straightening out this world. As one mentor once said, Christians are never told to clean up the fishpond; we are told to fish in it. God never tells believers to legislate morality for the unsaved – we are to share the gospel of grace with them and live a life that complements our words. A mature believer is to make a positive, moral impact on society because of who they are. We are to be God’s ambassadors to this fallen world.  We are told to be salt, making people thirsty for the living God, and light, showing people the way to life.  The unsaved are blessed by associating with Christians and their godly influence. Christians make the best salesmen, lawyers, doctors, bankers, etc.  And unbelievers are to recognize our integrity and have a desire for its source.

 

Lot’s urgency for the men to stay in the safe confines of his house indicated that he was well aware of the vile inhospitable treatment they would receive from the Sodomites if they chose to stay in the open square. Lot’s desire to protect them illustrated that there was spiritual life in him. Lot made it very plain that they really needed to stay in the safe confines of his home. He proved to be right! Every man of the city, both young and old, came to the house to involve themselves in homosexual rape of angels – angels!  The men said that they desired to “know them carnally.” This is a Hebrew phrase that would imply homosexual rape. There have been books written zeroing in on these words with the attempt to show that homosexuality is not considered a sin or an abomination to the Lord in the Old Testament.  However, this cannot be done. In the light of the context and the meaning of this word, homosexuality was and is a sin before God.

 

We are today living in a society filled with increasing emphasis on homosexual life. An article written in Time Magazinemany years ago was entitled “How gay is gay?” At that time, it was estimated, that ten percent of society was influenced by some form of homosexuality. Some of our leading citizens had announced that they were homosexual. Today it is much more so.

 

Today, much of our music, our dress, our hairstyles, (both long and short) are established by homosexuals. Our society today is filled with homosexual influence. The apostle Paul, in one of the most pointed sections of his writing, spoke loud and clear concerning this very subject in Romans one. The theme of his writing is a people that have fallen into sin and turned their backs on God and so God in turn gave them up. God gave them up to do that which was in the lust of their minds to do. Paul said that although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things (Rom. 1:21-23).

 

Therefore! This “therefore” in verse 24 is heavy with meaning. Here is God’s response to a homosexual filled society. Since they had given up God, God gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. God just gave them the freedom to do what they wanted to do.  

 

“For this reason [leaving the living God], God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due” (Rom. 1:24-25).

 

“And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them” (Rom. 1:26-32).

 

The apostle regards prevalent homosexual activity as God’s judgment upon a society that has rejected Him. It is not something that God was going to do, it is something that He has done.  Rampant homosexuality is not a symbol that God’s judgment “is coming” but that God’s judgment “has come.” According to Paul, this is not a society that is moving toward God’s judgment, but we are already under God’s judgment, and moving toward a final cataclysmic judgment like Sodom and Gomorrah.

 

Again, Lot’s begging his neighbors to cease from this activity is proof that he still had sensitivity to God and the wickedness of the people around him. It then appears that Lot then just completely fell off the wagon. He offered his two daughters to this Sodomite crowd instead of the angels (Gen. 19:8). In my thinking, Lot had become sodomized in his thinking, but not in his personal life. On the one hand, he appeared very moral, for he resisted homosexuality. He knew evil when he saw it. But ironically, he was willing to sacrifice his own daughters’ purity to fend off the vice of Sodomite men. “Be not unequally yoked together with unbelievers” becomes one of the heaviest burdens believers can bear. Believers who marry unbelievers are going to have problems.

 

This weak believer had anemic spiritual convictions concerning family responsibility. Here is Lot’s spiritual mentality. He was so immersed and disoriented in immorality that he viewed the giving of his daughters versus the sexual abuse of the men as the lessor of two evils.  And the Sodomites said to Lot, “Stand back!” They said that Lot had come to stay with them but that he was always acting like a judge. They turned on Lot completely. They said, “Now we will deal worse with you than with them” (the angels) (Gen. 19:9).  

 

Lot’s feeble attempt to stem the evil bent of his neighbors produced nothing. They did not respect him nor even like him. Believers who attempt to change unbelievers’ lifestyle by blending in with them, living with them attempting to influence them in the right way, will seldom succeed. The Sodomites pressed hard against Lot and came near to break down the door. Repeat! The weak compromising believer has no testimony with the unbeliever. Immature Christians think that they can change people’s view of Christianity by compromising their own lifestyle and just blending in. 

 

They think that they can join into their activity to show the freedom that God has given us through grace. Usually, the outcome is like this with Lot. In the end, unbelievers will turn on believers and attempt to destroy them. More than one believer attempting this maneuver has been consumed by the very crowd they were trying to spiritually placate.  God snatched Lot out of harm’s way. The angels pulled Lot into the house with them and slammed the door shut. And the angels struck the Sodomites who were at the doorway of the house with blindness, both small and great, so that they became weary trying to find the door. Notice that it is angelic work to defend and deliver God’s elect. Speaking of angels, Hebrews says; Are they not all ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation?” (Heb. 1:14).

 

The Sodomites were struck with a supernatural blindness which is found in only one other place in the Bible in 2 Kings 6:18. It refers to a confusion of the brain by a confusion of the eyes. They thought they were seeing but they were seeing wrongly. 

 

The angels asked Lot if there were any other family members in his house or in the city. God remembered His promise to Abraham. If they could find just ten, He would forego the destruction. Lot’s prospective sons-in-law who were to marry his daughters (verse 14), thought he was joking.

 

When the morning dawned, the angels urged Lot to hurry, telling him to get up and take his wife and his two daughters away lest he be consumed in the punishment of the city.  But Lot hesitated! Repetition! He had lived among the Sodomites so long he had become a part of the sodomite culture. He had friends among them. His home was there. He was probably hit with the prospect of losing all his property, the acquisition of many years of hard work. Or it may have been his benevolent heart paralyzed by thoughts of the awful crisis?  This is the charitable way of accounting for a delay that would have been fatal but for the urgency of the angel.

 

The angels took Lot by the hand and dragged him and his wife and his family to safety against their wills constantly telling them to escape for their very lives (Gen. 19:16). The angels forcefully delivered them. It was as difficult to get Lot out of Sodom as it was to get Sodom out of Lot’s family. Lot complained that he may have been too old and weak to make it through to the mountains. And there were dangers in those mountains. Lot never seemed to get it. He begged the angels to let him run to a small city close by (Zoar) and for them to spare that city for his sake. He said it would save his life. God granted Lot this request (Gen. 19:22).

 

Lot’s wife had been warned but she just could not let go of her home and her friends. She looked back and was destroyed for her unbelief. The sun was rising when Lot entered Zoar. God rained down brimstone and fire totally destroying Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 19: 28).  God possibly ignited the bitumen (oil) residue that was there. We do not know how! But we know that God’s wrath was poured out on the morally bankrupt Canaanite cities of the Jordan Valley.  This action provides seed truth for the fact that God is now storing up His wrath for every morally bankrupt city of this earth, upon everyone that falls short of His righteousness. “The Lord has appointed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom He has ordained concerning whom He has given assurance to all men that He raised him from the dead” (Acts 17:31). A prophetic glimpse of this coming judgment of God is found in 2 Peter. “But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men” (2 Pet. 3:7).

 

Lot and his two daughters dwelt in a cave evidently near Zoar. The daughters had become overcome with a sodomized world view. They had probably witnessed incest many times. They schemed a way to carry out Lot’s genealogical line. They rationalized their actions by thinking of the disgrace to be barren according to the customs of the earth – their worldview. They had become so much a part of the Sodomite culture that they saw no shame in what they were about to do. It was just a product of who they had become. They made Lot drunk and both lay with him to produce children. Even though the text is careful not to insinuate that Lot did not know what he was doing, there was no evidence of any shame on Lot’s part even for his drunkenness. He had to sober up and realize that that was not the right thing to do. The product of sinful acts never bodes well. The first daughter had a son and named him Moab. He became the the Arab group known as the Moabites.  The second daughter’s son was named Ben-Ammi. His family became known as the Ammonites. Both the Moabites and the Ammonites have historically been and continue to be a thorn in the side of Israel to this very day.  The rest of Lot’s life is unrecorded. No one knows what happened to him.  No one knows how he lived or where he died. This epitaph could be etched on his gravestone: For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap a harvest that will last forever. Blessings!

 

 

The Picture on the Box

When I was young, I was given some old hand me down puzzles for Christmas.  These were definitely not children’s puzzles because they contained hundreds of various sized pieces, mostly small, and in all kinds of shapes and colors. The boxes were tattered, revealing that others had used them. I simply had no clue where to begin putting the pieces together. After the decision to try, I dumped all the pieces into the lower part of the box and set up the picture on the box in front of me. I knew that the finished product was to match the picture. I would begin by looking intently at the picture. I would look at it over and over again trying to etch that picture in my mind. The more familiar it became, the more I zeroed in on the location of various color shades and the shapes of the pieces, some with straight sides, some with square corners, some with rounded corners, etc., all the time keeping the picture on the box in mind. Then piece-by-piece, starting with the straight edges and matching the lines and the colors, I began.  The outside usually went quicker. Through much trial and error, I began to locate the proper position of the pieces. When I finished all around the outside, I gradually began to make a little progress and headed toward the inside.  I did not work long at one sitting, but I was constantly drawn back. One piece here, another there. The hours turned into days and days into weeks, but little by little the picture began to take shape. It did not take much progress to encourage and motivate me to go back and work on it a little more. Then, though agonizingly slow, the picture began to come into view and the progress quickened. At last the final few pieces were inserted and ultimately the last piece was put in. And finally, there it was! When the last piece was put in place, the hundreds of pieces were beautifully transformed into the picture on the box. Piece by piece, I had put it together. It was time to celebrate! 

It is very much the same when attempting to understand the big picture behind the Bible. I discovered that there are 178,137 words in the Old King James Bible. No, I did not count them, I just Googled it. There are a lot of small two-letter words and some very big words. God’s Word is a book, and it is to be read and understood as a book, and each word matters. Every word is a piece of the big picture.  Where to begin! It seemed overwhelming, but I really wanted to know what the Bible said. As with the puzzle, I decided to start with the picture on the box. Not a picture that I saw but a picture that the apostle John saw and a message that he heard. John wrote at the end of His final book:

“Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also, there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.’ Then He who sat on the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new.’ And He said to me, ‘Write, for these words are true and faithful.’” (Rev. 21:1-5)

This became my big picture. I began to put the puzzle together piece-by-piece, or as I call it, glimpse-by-glimpse, from the thousands of words of the Bible. 

I launched out with the understanding that God had created me for His purpose. God alone made the decision to give me life. I did not ask to be born, nor did I choose who my parents would be or where my birth would occur. He determined when my life would occur. He decided what nationality I would be, that I would be male or female, that I would have blue eyes or brown, black hair, red, or blond, and these decisions were made long before I was here. I was given no choice in any of this.  David said that God saw my substance even before I was in my mother’s womb and all my days were written in His book before I was here, and he called this information, “precious” (Psa. 139:17).

I would like to refer to the word “mucilage” mentioned from my last series? Mucilage is a glue-like substance in plants that plays a role in the storage of water and food, seed germination, and thickening membranes. It makes beneficial elements stick to seed to help it germinate and produce. Repetition is Bible mucilage. It makes the amazing living seed of Bible truth stick in minds and become productive. I am a fan of repetition.

The Word of God came directly from God by means of His Holy Spirit and then through the fallen minds and pens of human beings that were set apart for this purpose. Its truth is then made clear to all who are given eyes to see and ears to hear its invisible, inaudible truth. God opens to the eyes of blinded minds that they might understand (1 Cor. 2:7-10; 2 Cor. 4:16-18).  The apostle Paul said that in this life we will have only partial knowledge. There will come a time, however, when limited knowledge will give way to full knowledge. Paul taught that when he was a child, he spoke as a child, and understood as a child. But when he became a man, he put away childish things. He then made this point. “For at this present time we see in a glass dimly, but then face to face. Now we know in part, but then we shall know just as I also am known” (1 Cor. 13:12). When believers – those who have the Spirit of God living inside – begin to unpack the truths of the Bible, it is as though they are looking down through a dimly lit corridor. We catch but glimpses of God’s amazing truth here and there. But there is coming a time when God will draw back the curtain and allow us to see – to really see, His wisdom and genius.  Our dim, foggy glass will become crystal clear and bright. Full knowledge will eventually prevail. Not full in the sense that we will ever know everything about God. That could never be true, or He would not be God. This is where Deuteronomy 29:29 comes into play. “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.” God gave us His word in writing through special men that he called “holy men.” His truth came together in one book – the Bible.

Our one textbook is to be the Bible alone and our one Teacher is the Holy Spirit alone (John 16:13-14).  At the end of the day, it comes down to what the Holy Spirit teaches us from God’s word, nothing more and nothing less. Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would guide us into all truth.  I assume He means all the truth that we would ever need. Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would glorify Jesus Christ – only. He is the member of the holy Trinity that God will shed light on. The Father will take that which sheds light upon Christ and reveal that to us. 

Blessings!

E-zine Volume 4, Issue 4

Thank you for taking time to stop by and check out the articles in this edition of our e-zine. We are grateful to our editor, Michael Moore, for pulling together the articles each time. Thank you to each of our contributors for the time, thought, and prayer that went into your article. May we all be growing in grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, as we see the Day of His return approaching!

 

Is the Church a Building? – Dick Hill

Kingdom Stories: Guardians of the Gospel, Chapter 6, Battle Ready – Danny Forrest

Tanya’s Thoughts: Love – Tanya Moore

Moore Thoughts: Is There Not a Cause? – Mike Moore

R.O.I. – Ken Sheppard

Front Porch Living: Stay Soft – Jessica Otto

The Heart of an Honest Pastor – Phil Engelman

Better than Fair – Justin Moore

Well Said – notable quotes

 

Credits
Richard J. Hill, Editor-in-Chief
Michael L. Moore, Editor
Linda Hill, Design Editor

Contact Info
Glimpses of Grace, 2587Attala Road 1153, Kosciusko, MS 39090
www.glimpsesofgrace.org
(662) 347-8291 (727) 458-1813

Glimpses of Grace Board Members
Richard J. Hill, Linda Hill, Danny Forrest, John Howell Jr., Quinn Hill, Michael L. Moore, Ken Sheppard

Israel’s Promise of some Real Estate

Noah’s prophecy concerning the LORD God of Shem is tied to a physical seed, the Jews, and a physical land, the land of Palestine. Many sincere believers today want to disassociate the Jews from this land saying that the land promised by God is spiritual in nature. Taking the Word of God in its literal sense, the Bible refers to a literal land, the land called Palestine. The simple words in the original promise, “to a land that I will show you,” cannot be minimized (Gen. 12:1). God called Abram to go to a land. This land is forever tied to our spiritual heritage in Jesus Christ and to the coming King and His kingdom. In fact, the land is at the very heart of the promise.  

 

God assured Abraham that it was a material land. He promised him “all the land which you see” (Gen. 13:15). Later, after Lot had chosen the beautiful parts of the land, God told Abraham to walk through the parts that remained and said that it would all belong to him (Gen. 13:17). It is always best to let God choose. The almighty God, Lord of heaven and earth, does not give and then take away. His gift is forever.  Not only did God promise Abram that He would give him a land, but He said that He would give it to him and “his descendants forever.” This promise is based solely upon the decree of God with no hidden attachments or addendums. It was not based upon human merit or failure. God gave solely on the basis of who He is, not on the basis of who Abraham was.

 

Unconditional covenants from God are always marked out with the words “I will.” “I will” means that what God says, He will do.  The land was occupied for a time by the Canaanites, the Moabites, the Ammonites, and others, but God passed the promise of land down to Isaac’s son, Jacob (Gen. 35:12). It did not stop there. The promise was passed on to Moses (Ex. 6:2–8). After the death of Moses, God renewed the promise with Joshua (Josh. 1:2).  God said to Abram, “I am the Lord, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to inherit it” (Gen. 15:7). It is as though He was saying, “Listen carefully, Abram. I’m not going back on this.”

 

Abram responded, “O Lord God, how [literally, on what basis] may I know [yada, may I have the intimate knowledge] that I will possess it?” To what does the tiny pronoun “it” refer? The answer is critical. “It” refers to the land. Abram never had to worry about two things: the perpetuation of his seed or his reception of the land. God alone walked between the sacrifices (Gen. 15:17). How could Abram (and everyone who reads these words) absolutely know that the Jews would inherit the land? Because God alone made it secure. How conclusive is that?  On that day, the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, “To your descendants, I have given this land.”

 

The boundaries of the land are from the river of Egypt (Nile River) to the great Euphrates River (Gen. 15:18). This includes the Red Sea and all of the surrounding country. The western boundary of the land of Israel in the kingdom will be the Nile River. Someone said that the Red Sea is to become a Jewish lake.  The eastern boundary will be the Euphrates River. The eastern Sudan region includes Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, and Palestine. That is a chunk of land. The Jews will not inhabit this land in its entirety until the kingdom reign of Jesus Christ. When the Son of David returns, He will hold in His hands the title deed to this earth in the form of the seven sealed scroll (Rev. 5:1). A part of the earth is portioned out for the land of Israel and their capital city of Jerusalem.

 

Israel is now in open rebellion against the living God. Has God broken His promise to Abraham? Not at all. Someday, and I believe soon, God’s people will occupy this land in its entirety. However, and this is a “big” however, God’s promised blessings on an obedient Jewish nation is tied to a conditional promise. He said that if they walked in His statutes and kept His commands, He would give rain for their crops and their land, and trees would produce in abundance. They would have plenty of food and would live in peace with their enemies. God said that He would set His tabernacle in their midst and that He would be their God and they would be His people (Lev. 26:1–13). As we often say, “I think I hear a ‘but’ coming.”  And we do!

 

If the Jews turned their backs on God again, He would judge accordingly. God put in play five cycles of discipline, each worse than the previous one (Lev. 26:14–33). First: loss of health, pain, inability to raise crops, lost battles, lost freedom (Lev. 26:15–17). Second: If they still failed to serve the living God, He would bring on them seven times the punishment of the first cycle plus there would be no rain, therefore no crops (Lev. 26:18–20). Third: seven times the punishment of the first two cycles, plus the invasion of wild beasts taking the lives of children and livestock (Lev. 26:21–22). Fourth: seven times the punishment of the previous cycles, plus being delivered into enemy hands and famine (Lev. 26:23–26).Fifth: seven times the punishment of the above, as well as cannibalism, high places and altars destroyed, cities laid waste, land becoming desolate, and people scattered throughout the world (Lev. 26:27–33).  Once again, the Jews broke God’s covenant with them, so God put them through the five cycles of discipline. In 70 A.D., they entered the fifth cycle of discipline when the Roman emperor Titus laid siege to the city of Jerusalem, starved them out, and burned their temple. Thousands of Jews died. God then scattered them throughout the nations where most of them remain today. But not for long! Blessings!

 

 

 

A Little History Lesson

Having caught a mountain top glimpse of the amazing earthly kingdom of the God-Man (Zech 14:9), we are ready for a history lesson. As mentioned earlier, the future kingdom began with Noah’s prophecy concerning Shem and Japheth (Gen. 9:25-29) and God’s promise to Abraham  to treat kindly those who treated Abraham kindly, and deal harshly with those who dealt harshly with the Abraham’s family (Gen. 12:3). God is the architect of all history. He recorded history in advance because He knew that the Jews (and us) were hardheaded and quick to forget God and give paganism praise (Isa. 46:9-10; 48:3-5). The familiar statement, “God works in mysterious ways,” is true. But God’s “mysterious ways” are recorded for us in the Bible so they are not mysterious at all. Abraham’s family (Isaac, Ishmael, Esau, and Jacob) grew in Canaan. The family of Jacob’s (Israel’s) twelve sons became a small clan. They needed to grow into a great nation.
God had a plan! He caused a famine throughout the land and famines were bad news. He wanted to use the famine to move the Jews into Egypt so they could grow into a larger nation of people. This fulfilled the prophecy He had given to Abraham (Gen. 15:13). What happened is truly incredible. Joseph – Jacob’s favorite son was hated by his brothers. They knew their father favored him (coat of many colors) and he was always squealing on them (never good). Jacob sent Joseph to find his brothers (not a good move) and report to him (the brothers knew). The brothers saw him coming (could not miss the coat) and conceived a dastardly plan. They beat Joseph up and threw him in a pit. This was horrible but it got worse. His brothers sold him into slavery to a group of Midianites headed for Egypt, which was horrific. The brothers lied to their father saying that Joseph had been killed. Life became a painful time for a dad and a whirlwind nightmare for his young son.
God always has a plan! Joseph had been suddenly removed from his happy home of security and peace into a rapid sequence of truly bizarre, heart-wrenching events: some bad, some good. But then – amazingly and miraculously, Joseph ended up the second in command over all of Egypt. What! This allowed Joseph to help move Israel into the land of Goshen in Egypt, giving his entire family the peace and prosperity necessary for them to grow. God is the genius of all history! His brilliance shouts to us through Joseph’s words later spoken to his disloyal brothers. “You sold me here, but God sent me before you to preserve life” (Gen. 45:5). You sold; God sent! Amazing!
God put a tremendous exclamation point on the entire life of Joseph and his brothers (which I believe in some shape is every believer’s story) with these truly searching words “You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good to save many people alive” (Gen. 50:20). God is the only Being capable of not being the author of evil and at the same time using evil for His good. How is this translated for us today? God works all things in our lives for His glory and our ultimate good (Rom. 8:28). Incredible!
Eventually, a new pharaoh came on the scene who did not know Joseph (Ex. 1:8). God began to stir the pot again! The pharaohs feared the astonishing growth of Israel and brought slavery into their lives – lest they rebel! Astoundingly, God used painful work to toughen his people, preparing them for a long and treacherous journey ahead. God never makes mistakes! Then it came time to move.
God miraculously deployed a man named Moses for the task of leading the Jews back home. Our Lord pummeled Egypt with a series of potent plagues – the last of which was the death of the firstborn of every family. Death is man’s most feared enemy! But God gave hope. Every Jewish family – and the Egyptians if they would listen – was to select a lamb of the highest quality. They were to kill it at a specific time and place its blood around the door of their homes. God sent His angel of death to search for the blood. When the Angel saw the blood, He would pass over that family and the firstborn would live. No blood – no life (Ex. 12)! This became a glimpse of God’s redemption of another group of people through the shed blood of His Special Lamb – the Lamb of God, the Lord Jesus Christ who was sacrificed for us (1 Cor. 5:7).
Pharaoh had enough. He let God’s people go! Across the Red Sea they went, then through the desert, and eventually back home, into the Promised Land. The reason behind all this? God chose this nation. He chose them to be a holy people to Himself. Why did He choose them? He chose them because He chose to choose them. He loved them! Why did He love them? He loved them because He chose to love them. His choice was not based upon any human qualities, but He had made a promise and He would never go back on His word (Deut. 7:6-8). God chose them to be a special treasure above all the peoples who are on the face of the earth (Deut. 14:2). God called them “My elect in whom My Soul delights” (Isa. 42:1). God included the promise of His kingdom to the Jews.
“I will bring forth descendants from Jacob, and from Judah an heir of My mountains; My elect shall inherit it, And My servants shall dwell there” (Isa. 65:9).
“They shall not build and another inhabit; They shall not plant and another eat; For as the days of a tree, so shall be the days of My people, My elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands” (Isa. 65:22).
“For the Lord has chosen Jacob for Himself, Israel for His special treasure” (Psa. 135:4).
“He sent Me after glory, to the nations which plunder you; for he who touches you touches the apple of His eye – I love this small line. Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion! For behold, I am coming, and I will dwell in your midst,” says the Lord. “Many nations shall be joined to the Lord in that day, and they shall become My people [this is us], and I will dwell in your midst. Then you will know that the Lord of hosts has sent Me to you. And the Lord will take possession of Judah as His inheritance in the Holy Land and will again choose Jerusalem. Be silent, all flesh, before the Lord, for He is aroused from His holy habitation” (Zech. 2:8, 10-13).
Be silent indeed! Blessings!