The Sons of Noah

Genesis 10:1-32 

This not one of the top 10 go-to texts for aspiring preachers. Are even seasoned ones who probably would choose another one. Yet are some good and important things to learn from chapter filled with strange sounding names.

All this of great significance to people Moses most concerned with, Hebrew children. They needed this story because gives answers to ultimate questions. Every generation including ours needs it for same reason. Names given here probably largely familiar to Hebrews, doubtful whether many grasped all the connections and their place in it all.

Not simply list of names useful for constructing family tree. Not even useful for figuring out elapsed time… no age or life-span numbers given. Not even certain if names listed in birth order, especially since introductory sentence follows different order from subsequent listing. Is not a complete listing of names yet contains details found nowhere else in ancient literature.

Repeated summary statement in v.5, 20, 31

From these the coastland peoples of the Gentiles were separated into their lands, everyone according to his language, according to their families, into their nations. 

These were the sons of Ham, according to their families, according to their languages, in their lands and in their nations.

These were the sons of Shem, according to their families, according to their languages, in their lands, according to their nations.

No explanation given to bridge between way of life before the flood and after. Idea of languages, lands and nations certainly well-known to Moses and Hebrews… no surprise there. How it all happened not necessarily well understood, something Moses will take care of next. Understanding what is taught here in Table of Nations helps them and us with question of identity, sense of place, God’s purpose and their part in it.

A. identity

who you are

descended from Adam and Eve for sure, through line of Seth and then Noah… but what about after the Flood?

have to wait until end of list before names would start getting personal – descendant of Shem: Eber, then Peleg (25)

next chapter with Shem’s genealogy continue story, identifying these as direct ancestors of Abraham… the limb on family tree where they were attached

two possibilities: Eber perhaps the source of name “Hebrew”; Peleg: “in his days the earth was divided” perhaps reference to division/scattering explained in next chapter

who they are

Japheth listed first, descendants of only two of 7 sons named (selectively) – ancestor of Gentile peoples including us

next Ham’s people, significant commentary included in this section – details given about Nimrod, pertinent to next chapter as well as Israel’s future

seeds of unrest / rebellion already beginning to show – Nimrod described as “a mighty hunter”, not a good thing

Nimrod all about empire building… starting with Babel/Babylon, then Nineveh, later known for rebellion against God and oppression of his people

what happened

descendants of Noah did indeed through their many offspring replenish the earth, probably not how they expected!

somehow there came to be different languages / families / nations… but not different races

yet even for all the differentness and what it would lead to, still related – enemies at times yet family

B. place

where you are going

headed for Canaan, the land God promised – Moses language changes v.16, identifying peoples rather than individuals

should have encouraged Moses’ contemporaries – all the “-ites” descended from Noah’s grandson Canaan… the one he cursed, said would serve others

implied warning perhaps in how borders of Canaan identified – Sidon and Gaza ok for north/south, but Sodom and Gomorrah?

who your neighbors will be

neighbors would be Assyrians and Babylonians, then further away the families of Japheth reaching outer limits of known world

knew about some of neighbors in Egypt and northern Africa, now have clearer teaching about their ancestry

brief reference to coastland people indication that neighbors more than just the ones you can see over the next hill

center of the world

would be easy to understand from this political-historical-genealogical account that land of Canaan the hub of human activity

from that area where concentrated population had been dispersed, where major social and commercial routes intersected

Japheth’s people an arc NE to NW of Canaan, Ham’s people S and SW, Shem’s people S and E, Mediterranean to W

C. purpose

one God

if was one God over original one family, is still same God over all their descendants – includes Hebrew children… and us

may seem like for a time Israel was focus of God’s attention – did certainly receive special favors / treatment

at same time, God has always had entire world, whole human family in view and he is Lord over all of them

one race

Acts 17:26 “And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings”

racial distinctions and racism as we know it not God’s way of looking at mankind – in his view are one human race

one Redeemer

God has had a plan from the beginning, articulated in miniature form to Adam and Eve – at no time has God deviated from or abandoned his one plan

instead he has governed his creatures and their actions to bring about that one plan, preserving the line of people from Adam through Seth and Shem down to Jesus

Regardless of how it looks in world today, God is still Lord of the nations. He has a plan for the nations, to “redeem us to God by His blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation” (Rev. 5:9) We are included in his plan, are privileged to be part of his plan – we are his ambassadors, carrying truth of Gospel to all who will hear. Should do so, confident that God will continue to move his plan forward, that Christ’s kingdom will advance. We know the good news, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, to give hope to the hopeless, to heal the brokenhearted and set captives free.

Light Under Threat

2 Peter 2:10-22

Advent season one of great excitement, anticipation. Words like merry, joyous, blessed, happy common and essential fixtures in holiday greetings – seen on signs and decorations, included in cards, in ones personally spoken. Repeated theme in our music of joyfulness, celebration, praise to God and warm feelings toward one another. All that is true and right and proper – is a time to rejoice and celebrate what God has done in past, what he will do in future.

Sang about angels in two carols already, they have part in our closing carol. Familiar words: “Sing choirs of angels, sing in exultation; O sing, all ye bright hosts of heaven above!” Two Sundays hence will light Angel candle on Advent wreath, commonly think of angels as the choir providing mood music for newborn baby. Was not their only reason for being present there over Bethlehem – hosts of heaven were on guard duty, ensuring the Light which had just come into world wasn’t snuffed out. Remember action Herod took as soon as he found out some important details about Savior’s birth!

Danger didn’t go away when Jesus did, it persisted and Christians have been in line of fire ever since. Peter had seen the Light, wrote about that in chapter 1. Had seen the Light in another way, too – the spiritual light of truth that shined in darkness of his heart. Had been his mission for thirty years or more to bring that light to all who would listen, first fellow Jews and then others. Based on what he saw / heard from Asia Minor, light of true Gospel at risk of being extinguished. No way Peter was going to stand idly by and watch it happen. He proceeded to call out those attacking the Gospel and then turned attention of readers back to truth. We need to do same today… whether false teachers who have crept into the church or those of similar tactics who seduce from outside.

A. do not live in the light  v.10-14

no respect for authority

stated right out by Peter: despise authority – speaking, of course, about authority of others; hold own authority in very high regard

displayed in several ways: self-willed/arrogant/insolent/audacious, make strong statements without knowledge or understanding, expect to be believed and followed

act as if they have authority

they do not tremble as they blaspheme the glorious ones” ESV – need to look at next verse for explanation: dignitaries, glorious ones probably reference to Satan and his angels

Jude 1:9 Yet Michael the archangel, in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!”

false teachers act (and encourage others to act) as if they have authority over Satan/demons… to bind and command

perform works of darkness in broad daylight

pursue pleasure at all times, seek to acquire more and more for themselves – entice others to follow same licentious lifestyle

in today’s setting: readily speak for God – tell people “God wants you to…” have this, go there, be that, and here’s the formula

are skilled at making the kind of pitch that seduces the weak – just one example, not wealthy who go to Foxwoods, Atlantic City

saddest of all: in spite of respectable outward appearance, are in reality behaving as lowest of brute beasts… living for pleasure of moment, no more valuable to mankind than Ham and Bacon, Steak and Stew

B. not ignorant of the light  v.15-16

were once on the right way

didn’t ignore the right path, they forsook it – means they traveled on it for a while, picked up enough Christian code to sound native

makes them even more dangerous – insiders always sound more authentic – is easier to persuade less discerning to follow

prefer the ways of darkness

weren’t kicked off the path, didn’t get lost in the dark, they made the choice to go a different way intentionally

placed a higher value, had a greater desire for material gain than spiritual wealth – had an understanding of the light, had walked in the light for a time, chose to leave the light for darkness

even dumb animals are smarter

God uses all sorts of instruments – dumb donkey restrained the prophet’s madness; another donkey likely provided transport for Mary; yet another carried Son of David into Jerusalem; will be a white horse that brings him back – each animal willingly follows God’s instructions

false teachers follow example of Balaam rather than the donkey – rushing blindly to destruction when even the donkey could see better

C. attempt to quench the light  v.17-19

have one appearance

things Peter describes here are ones that, when genuine, give great hope – these individuals outwardly appear to have it all together, be able to supply what they promise

is even possible they are themselves deceived – if tell yourself a lie long enough, loud enough, will eventually come to believe it

but are actually the opposite

these false teachers wells without water, clouds without rain, darkness without light, tables without food – could not quench thirst, nourish crops, provide safety, satisfy hunger

Savior was born in Bethlehem – house of bread; the One who called himself the bread of life, who actually delivered what he promised

intentionally draw others away from the light

promise freedom while they are enslaved – everyone who follows their teaching / example will become just as enslaved, hopeless

even if they cannot put the light out in the world, do their best to put it out in individual lives – and here’s what probably got Peter most exercised:

For by speaking high-sounding but empty words they are able to entice …people who have just escaped from those who reside in error. NET, v.18

those who managed to escape getting sucked back in, who had some hope of coming to light suddenly back in darkness

D. no hope of recovering the light  v.20-22

had some understanding of the truth

speaking of those who get enticed – once enslaved to the world, had managed to escape through knowing Jesus, then “fall back”

take an example: Teen Challenge does not have 100% success rate – some complete program (walk the walk, talk the talk) then go back to their addiction

better to have none

as general proposition, would have less bleak future if had never gone through the program – are less sensitive to Gospel, have greater responsibility for knowledge gained and rejected

unlikely to be restored

are in a worse state… but not without hope – false teaching makes it significantly more difficult yet God can and does overrule

cannot take it for granted that God will overrule in particular cases – better if we act up front like he won’t, be bold like Peter against false teaching

Peter was furious with false teachers because everything they did was designed to make Jesus’ birth, life, death, resurrection of no use. Jesus came to provide light, they work to put it out. Jesus came to give life and nourishment, they work to starve and kill.

Phil. 2:8-10 …He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth,

False teachers exalt themselves and not Jesus. Jesus is the one who has the words of life, who not only promises freedom but actually sets captives free and heals brokenhearted. Don’t need big words, extravagant lifestyle, any of things people see as attractive and desirable – only need Jesus as he is revealed to us in his word and by his Spirit.

Come and adore Him. Come and trust Him. Come and find hope and healing and joy and peace in Him. Tell your friends, tell your family, hold the light high so all can see.

 

64. Who will commit to your trust the true riches?

Luke 16:11 Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?

Read: Luke 16:1-13

 

Setting:

still on the road to Jerusalem with the crowds

singles out the disciples for particular attention

Person(s) being questioned:

question primarily for the Twelve but all within earshot could profit from hearing/thinking/answering

applies on some level to anyone who can “hear” with understanding

 

Question behind the question:

several “layers” of significance to the story/parable, summary questions, Jesus’ conclusion: personal responsibility, faithfulness, loyalty, value of spiritual vs. temporal, living in the moment while planning for the future

If you do not take responsibility with temporal things, why should you be trusted with more important things?

If you are not faithful in one part of life, how can you be expected to be faithful in other parts of life?

If you are content to live for the moment, what hope do you have for the future?

 

Expected response:

not necessarily a question that required spoken response – more important to give sufficient thought to what Jesus was getting at

Pharisees thought they knew the answers… and that Jesus was wrong – believed they figured out how to have God and stuff

 

Jesus’ point:

property manager in the story makes several of Jesus’ points – was not responsible with either his or master’s stuff, why he had to scramble

pink slip changed his relationship with stuff: he became master of it, using it to purchase a commendable outcome

1. need to be acting responsibly (demonstrating faithfulness) in all areas of life if we expect God to entrust us with more/greater spiritual treasure

2. first loyalty must be to the right thing, all other things should serve the first thing

3. are some things God’s people can learn from “the sons of the world” – need to keep the good points, discard the rest

 

Modern Application: 

be sure are taking responsibility seriously for what has been entrusted, whether temporal or spiritual things, acting/living faithfully across the board

loyalty must be to God first, “mammon” must then serve our service to God – making us more useful, gaining advantages for the Gospel

need a “plan” for when the “mammon” runs out – using/managing resources most wisely in the moment so that they are producing results in next life

be sure are doing our part/best we can to live in such a way that God willingly entrusts greater spiritual treasure to us for our use

Judgment and Mercy

2 Peter 2:4-10 

This portion of 2 Peter not comfortable to read, especially when considering what author is describing. It gets personal and painful for all of us – Peter describing people close to us and certain doom that awaits them… apart from God’s mercy. That bothers us, don’t like to hear even though know is true. Remember who Peter wrote to, what his purpose in writing was – first audience the people of God suffering and oppressed because of their faith. Intended his letter to comfort and encourage, was not trying to add to their already sizable burden.

Were persuasive people then as now trying to challenge and change core beliefs of God’s people, convince them to live for the moment since was little hope for future. Has already made case that God’s word can be trusted – God has spoken by his prophets, promised certain things. Many fulfilled already, can safely be confident God will do the rest. And don’t forget, same Enemy present in Eden and ancient world and Sodom and Gomorrah and Bethlehem and Gorham.

Peter repeatedly turns attention to God and his word – does not intend focus to remain on evil and circumstances and all that is wrong with world and our lives without full consideration of God and what he is doing. Would be way better if we spent more time reading the Bible and less time reading the newspaper. God’s word the Bible makes plain God has the power and the plan to carry out his good purpose – judgment on his enemies and mercy toward his people.

A. if God… then God…

refutes the Enemy’s argument

God is not involved – if he were, why so much evil, injustice, poverty – how can God of love put up with drug dealers and sexual predators and… must be another reason why it’s all happening

God has not intervened in the past and God will not intervene in the future – what happened just freaks of nature, bad guys like Herod and Hitler and Hussein

the righteous would suffer along with the wicked if God acted – they are now, would be same if God sent lightning strike

with a valid logical argument

based on witness of prophets, human explanation not adequate – was indeed God acting in affairs of men and angels

if God has acted this way in history, then he will act this way in present and future – according to prophets, acted too many times to be accidental

also based on another if…then – if immutability is an attribute of God, can expect him to not change, different in future than past

that leads to a correct conclusion

not every if…then statement does – if conclusion to be correct based on original premise, must be logical connection between

no logical fallacies here – happens often in current culture, something asserted as true when available evidence does not support

Peter did his homework – stays close to beginning, treating Genesis as historical fact not myth and Moses as true prophet

B. three examples

the angels

sinned against God, perhaps mankind too – specific circumstances not identified… God apparently had other point most in view

preserved the righteous angels – know this from numerous places in Bible, some identified by name who retained original position and purpose as God’s messengers

did not spare the angels who sinned – God’s power and authority extends over unseen spiritual world throughout all creation

the ancient world

vast majority sinned against God and against one another – nearly entire population so corrupt and rebellious God had to act

yet God preserved (saved) Noah – went to great lengths to ensure Noah’s safety… way simpler to wipe all out and start over!

and did not spare the ancient world – worldwide catastrophe yet those delivered according to plan – when God acts in big way, can still be particular and save whom he chooses

the corrupt cities

sinned against God – despised his commands, lived by own rules… which weren’t many, turned God’s order of things on its head

and against the righteous – enough they complained so God heard – profoundly immoral, arrogant, harsh toward poor and needy

God turned them to ashes – justly punished them and made them example for rest of humanity: whether whole world or small %

and delivered righteous Lot – yet another method, this time put messengers at some risk of harm – delivered Lot, wife, daughters… until wife turned back

C. a powerful message

hope for the righteous redeemed

God knows the righteous – not only is able to distinguish, he does so in every sphere of his creation from very large to very small

righteous messengers, righteous preacher, righteous sufferer – hope reserved for righteous, those viewed that way by God

God acts particularly – see it by examples Peter gave, hear it said in words by Abraham: Gen 18:25-26 

“Far be it from You to do such a thing as this, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous should be as the wicked; far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” So the LORD said, “If I find in Sodom fifty (40, 30, 20, 10) righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes.”

God has a plan for the righteous – loves them, uses all experiences for their good, has wonderful outcome stored up for them

warning for the rebellious lost

God has a plan for the lost, too… and is not bright future – all of these historical acts of judgment serve as warning to rebellious

God knows who they are – Santa may know naughty/nice, more important that God knows and will reward accordingly

God will act particularly – no need to worry, bottom line at very end will be this: perfect justice has been carried out

full and just penalty for sin will be paid for all mankind without exception – one trusting in own righteousness will individually satisfy God; one trusting in Christ’s righteousness rejoice Lord Jesus has already satisfied God

desire for the future

those who are oppressed desire Christ’s return – are different sources/kinds of oppression… economic, political, social, religious

v.7, “righteous Lot, who was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked” – tempting to look at lost, God’s plan for them, rejoice because they’ll get what they deserve

not how Lot is remembered – 2x called “righteous”, “oppressed” by conduct of friends and neighbors, greatly distressed and “tormented” in his soul by their sinful behavior

the righteous desire to see Christ glorified – should be our #1 desire, to see / hear him glorified in every way possible

glorified in conversion of sinners, in deliverance of his people from enemies, “coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (Matt. 24:30) 

and desire to be present with him forever – deliverance from oppression of enemies good, from oppression of sin both in and around us far better

Peter’s conclusion: if all this is true about God in the past, then he knows how to deliver us and deal with his enemies

since prophets have foretold not only first coming but also his return in power and great glory, can/should anticipate with confidence his sure return

Advent season / celebration rightly looks in two directions – behind us to anticipation of increasing light and hope leading up to first coming of Messiah promised by prophets and ahead of us in anticipation of glorious coming again of conquering King, the Lion of Judah. We anticipate, not dread, his second coming because of his first coming, our faith in what he achieved for us by his life, death, burial, resurrection. The better we understand that, the more we will desire Him and his return.

False Teachers Among You

2 Peter 2:1-3 

 “Doctrine divides, love unites. Let’s just love one another and get along.” If only life were that simple, yet we know from God’s word, history, and personal experience it’s not. For those who seriously try to live that way, God’s truth always what gets sacrificed, watered down, set aside.

If you seriously think false teaching in the church is not a problem, consider all the churches we know about that once stood firm for the Gospel… but no longer. Same can also be said for individuals and even whole denominations. Often starts with just a weed seed or two, before long entire field taken over by them, nothing else to be found. Peter doesn’t mince words – tells it like it is, calling out those who promote error that leads only to destruction.

Peter already laid solid foundation for this teaching – anticipated problem by first giving tools to deal with it. Absolute best thing we can do to avoid harm from false teaching: know and love and use God’s word the Bible as standard for everything. Do not need to defend the Bible – God and his word need no defense. God’s word will rather defend us from destructive effects of erroneous teaching.

Here in text Peter describes false teachers and their ways. He also makes very plain that for those who persist in believing their falsehoods, God does not have a wonderful plan for their life. Same holds true for all who follow them in their error.

A. there will be false teachers  v.1a

Satan was the first

earth not very old when he showed up – adapted himself to local culture… not 3-pc. suit, not cutoffs and flip-flops, blended right in with surroundings… just another creature like ones Adam/Eve had been living with

90% of what he said was true… and continues to be – complete falsehood would be unbelievable, rejected immediately

who are the influencers, ones with credibility… is who Satan and agents mimic – wasn’t foreign religious leaders, was prophets from among the ranks that did most harm to Israelites

there will be more

with each major encounter, Satan has lost to arch-enemy Jesus – Bethlehem, temptation, storm on the sea, the Garden, the cross, the empty tomb

methods that worked best in OT era carried on into NT – Satan still has agenda, using false teachers to push it forward

what worked among OT people of God will be effective among NT people of God, the church – even though Jesus won at cross and tomb, still need to be alert and on guard

is even more attractive as cost of following Jesus goes up – they capitalize on people’s desire to avoid discomfort, suffering

they thrive on deception

deceptive about who they are – sometimes fine line between being trusting / gullible… Christians often get on wrong side of line

can be taken in by appearance, convincing arguments – for persecuted people, much easier to play on fears, offer poisoned solution

deceptive about their teaching – some false teachers taken in by own falsehoods, are genuinely convinced of value/usefulness

many know better, have hidden personal agenda, keep that to themselves – maintain pretense of helping others while really helping themselves

deceptive about results of following them – Peter uncovers their motives (v.3a), covetous, intending to exploit audience one way or another – think big pharma, promises and results

B. their ways and wares are destructive  v.1b-3a

they destroy the truth about Jesus

couple ways to influence – what you say (teach), what you do/how you live – Peter warns about those who do both, with success

was Jesus really God? is that possible? is it even necessary to believe? and that sinless bit, good guy, nice guy, probably did sin… some, everyone does

well, it’s ok to believe in Jesus, we all do, are you having hard time paying your bills? are people to help with that, and other things in life… you know, that don’t relate to religion

and then for our Muslim friends, they know the Qur’an so pray they come to know Isa of the Qur’an… the one who did no miracles, who was prophet and no more, who hasn’t died yet

and while we’re at it, translating Bibles for Muslim cultures, probably shouldn’t call Jesus “Son of God”, they’d be offended

they destroy the truth about what Jesus did

of course, we know that’s what the Bible says he did, but you know the writers… to them it looked like a miracle but there’s probably a good explanation for what happened

lots of people in world who never heard Jesus’ name – God is love, if they’ve done the best they can with what they know…

Satan is just a force, sin isn’t that big a deal (esp. the little ones), God helps those who help themselves, Jesus just victim of political plot gone horribly wrong

all these insinuations and statements diminish who Jesus is, devalue what he did, work to make him someone other than glorious Son of God found throughout God’s word the Bible

they destroy the one who believes the lies

and then if you look at how they live… they act as though what they teach is truth – trusting in people and things alongside Jesus for their salvation, their wisdom, their daily needs

bring destruction on themselves and on all who follow them… in this life and the next – living dangerously, trusting in empty promises for both body and soul

Acts 4:11-12 “This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’ Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

1 Tim. 2:5-6 “For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all”

John 14:6 “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

C. they face certain destruction  v.3b

their condemnation is coming

“Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.” NIV

may look like nothing bad is happening, don’t be deceived – God has already declared truth… and that those who willfully deny it have no hope, face only certain condemnation

their followers have the same destiny

very persuasive convincing false teachers lead others to the same destination they have themselves – no excuses for either

might seem harsh, that God condemns those who trustingly believed their teachers – remember (1) can/should check the source, God’s word, to see what it says, and (2)

Rom. 1:20-21 “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, 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.”

it will be brought by the one they deny

here’s greatest irony of all: the one whose power and faithfulness they deny is the very one who will come to reward his own, banish his enemies to eternal condemnation

severe warning for false teachers and their followers in those words – at same time great comfort for those who love God and his truth

this deadly deception will have its just reward and God and his truth will prevail – those on Lord’s side will come through safely

Time in which we live one when all kinds of things about all subjects masquerade as truth… in the church, and elsewhere. Peter has given us resources to guard against deception, has given strong and clear warning so we’re not taken by surprise. Still… we need an anchor, something that keeps us from drifting, getting tangled in the weeds of deception and doubt. Have an anchor, the Rock Christ Jesus, and his word that reveals him clearly. Make the most of them!!

63. Which of you does not sit down first and count the cost?

63. Which of you does not sit down first and count the cost?

Luke 14:28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it.

Read: Luke 14:25-33

Setting:

see Luke 13:22, 33; 14:1, 15 

And He went through the cities and villages, teaching, and journeying toward Jerusalem.  …”Nevertheless I must journey today, tomorrow, and the day following; for it cannot be that a prophet should perish outside of Jerusalem. …Now it happened, as He went into the house of one of the rulers of the Pharisees to eat bread on the Sabbath, that they watched Him closely. …Now when one of those who sat at the table with Him heard these things, he said to Him, “Blessed is he who shall eat bread in the kingdom of God!”

still “moving” toward Jerusalem, in a Pharisee leader’s home for a meal on the Sabbath; next day perhaps continues journey

still followed by large numbers of people including the Twelve

Person(s) being questioned:

addresses the crowds of people – appropriate since his question relates to the cost of discipleship

the Twelve have had 3 years experience beginning to learn what following Jesus means, could relate to what Jesus was asking

Question behind the question: 

“Have you counted the cost of following Me?”

“Have you committed to following me whatever the cost?”

this section begins with an if…then: “If anyone comes to Me and does not…. he cannot be My disciple.” “whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.” and “whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.” (v.27,33)

Expected response:

to original question: even full spectrum cross-cultural multitude could easily relate to building project or military engagement – only a fool worthy of ridicule would be that irresponsible, duh, of course

to questions behind the question, would be range of replies: “huh? what do you mean?”; “maybe, let me think about it”; perhaps more definite either positive or negative

Jesus’ point:

hundreds, maybe thousands in crowds “following” Jesus… for different reasons, …with different levels of commitment – some fully committed to following him (11 of the Twelve), some equally committed to destroying him, most in between

for Jesus to consider you his disciple, certain things must be true… for longer than the moment of conversion, …or just the first few days/weeks/months

is definite cost associated with being a disciple – relationships, loyalties, comforts, possessions, earnings, liberties, life

context helps describe / define Jesus’ meaning when he says “hate”; see also Matt. 10:34-39; compare Matt. 10:39, 16:25 and John 12:25 

even though Jesus may not require us to sacrifice absolutely everything for his sake, he does want us to love him enough to do so if he asked

Modern Application: 

need to do regular check-ups: how do priorities line up – things can change position in the list over time, assume a greater level of importance

when sharing the Gospel with others, also in discipleship settings, set the bar where Jesus did – avoid temptation to minimize, accommodate, make it easier to accept

must be careful in contextualizing that we contextualize the presentation and not the Gospel itself

“contextualization is the word we use for the process of making the gospel and the church as much at home as possible in a given cultural context.”  Zane Pratt; https://www.9marks.org/article/four-biblical-foundations-for-contextualization/

see Gal. 3:28, re: Messianic Jews, cultural Muslims e.g. – tweak this or that detail, you can keep the rest

same is true in Bible translation – must maintain fidelity to God’s word as delivered; question should not be “how well is it received” but “how well is it understood”

“The confusion is due to Jesus’ use of a Semitic idiom. To love one person more than another is described in OT language as “loving one and hating another” (cf. Gen 29:30-31, RSV). In contrast to Luke’s “word-for-word” translation of Jesus’ words. Matthew gave a “thought-for-thought” translation in Matt 10:37. revealing that Jesus’ demand is for his followers to love/obey him more than anyone else, even their own families. Being Jesus’ disciple entails primary allegiance to Jesus.” David Dockery

My Three Sons

Genesis 9:18-29 

Hard to wrap minds around just how quickly the bright beauty of rainbow turned to black ugliness of awful sin. Makes it even harder to understand when consider cultural context. Noah living with family surrounded by depravity so horrendous God compelled to end it by massive judgment… and Noah stayed the course. Faithful to God, beacon of right living and doing, consistent obedience to God in face of continual persecution and temptation. Yet when were only 8 adults and few children, Noah couldn’t keep it together… and neither could youngest son, Ham (Gen. 9:24; 10:21)

Some lessons in all that for us: God didn’t finally give up, start over with fresh material. Still committed to promise made to Adam and Eve about a redeemer, holds true today and in future. Eve tried to blame serpent, Noah didn’t have that exact excuse. Couldn’t blame sin on his external environment – was far less corrupt than pre-Flood… and he still sinned. Yet God didn’t cast Noah aside either. Singled out Noah along with Daniel and Job as examples of righteousness… 2000 years later during Babylonian captivity. God is truly “merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth”. Ex. 34:6 

In spite of man’s best efforts to push God away, off his position of authority, and try to be fully autonomous, God refuses to be set aside. Instead, God faithfully and firmly stays in control, governing his creation according to his purpose. This scene in the Genesis drama not only concludes Act III, The Account of Noah, it introduces the next Act and the Table of Nations fractured at Tower of Babel. God continues to amaze with his gracious treatment of his very human children.

A. they multiplied abundantly  v.18-19

we know our earliest ancestors by name

God continues the pattern, contrary to competing narratives – not only our ancestors, those of Lord Jesus also clearly identified

is big deal: God made us relational… because he is… and we’re made in his image… so, relationships have great significance

they obeyed God’s command

were told twice to multiply, to fill / replenish the earth – apparently they did well enough since God said earth was repopulated… and we’re here

all they had was God’s spoken word… to Noah, maybe a rainbow or two – gave sufficient confidence to have sizeable families – 16 sons between them, plus daughters

God blessed their obedience

that they had large families who had large families confirms God’s blessing – know from later on, if God says “no”, will be no kids

God so orchestrated whole process that gene pool stayed healthy enough for many generations of healthy offspring, even today

B. they were fruitful  v.20-21

of first importance after worship: food

don’t know how supplies on ark were holding out, were certainly greatly diminished – apparently enough natural forage for animals…God let them out of the ark!

hard to imagine hunter-gather lifestyle conducive to rapid population growth – needed cultivation for predictable and adequate supply of food

obeyed second part of God’s command

likely took next season’s seed on the ark, at least had some of what they took for food that could be used for planting

would be in keeping with Noah’s character to plant more than grapes to provide for family – probably encouraged sons also

the ground responded

think about what the ground has been through – completely inundated by flood with who knows what in the water

yet 1000 years later, could produce grape clusters that took two men to carry, 2000 years later clusters “two cubits long”, 7 gallons of wine from one vine, 90 bushels of figs from one tree (Geography of Strabo)

C. they were sinful  v.22-24

Noah started it

no surprise, Noah took Noah with him on the ark – which means… his issues went with him, sinfulness included

could try to blame his disappointing behavior on the neighbors… except, he had significant part in their training too

Noah no more or less blameworthy than many others who have experienced moral lapses later in life

Ham continued it

just like dad, Ham could try to rationalize, blame, excuse his disrespectful behavior but… each responsible for own actions

may seem like Noah overreacted (compared to today’s values) – remember, were 8 foundational building blocks of world’s civilization – any serious threat to God-ordained order, esp. inter-generational, would have dire consequences

Shem and Japheth avoided it

all were old enough to know better, two older sons did better – set proper example for Ham and all who know the story

make good case that those who are sinners by nature do not have to sin at every opportunity – can do what is right, show compassionate respect in spite of bad example / temptation

D. they had a future  v.25-29

both individuals and representatives

story as recorded very compressed, some detail and much time passed over silently – if sons listed in order (10:6), Canaan youngest son like father (maybe 5 years or more after leaving the ark)

certainly Noah’s pronouncement had relevance to individuals named – by singling out Canaan, shows later generations in view

at least some foreshadowing of what would occur later in history… after dispersion of peoples from Tower of Babel

looking back with hindsight, can see how Canaanites did become servants of Shem’s descendants – even later, how in Christ descendants of Japheth and Shem can live together peaceably

all sinners, yet…

Flood served God’s purpose, yet did not eradicate sin – his plan/purpose for humanity still needed to include provision for Someone to rescue fallen man

will eventually see how, even though oldest son got greater portion, Shem and descendants would lead up to birth of a Savior

all part of God’s eternal plan

harsh curse pronounced on Shem’s youngest, God changed typical ordering of older sons, yet all three had a future

none were excluded from life or participation in God’s plan of redemption – what great unwarranted favor from merciful God

Noah himself greatly blessed by God – lived (350 years) to see his 10th generation, Abraham – observe just how well God kept his promise

Remember Moses’ / God’s purpose in recording what is contained in first chapters of Genesis – first, to give mass of Jewish slaves recently escaped from oppression in Egypt answers to their ultimate questions: who are we, where did we come from, why are we here, where are we going. Is for our learning also :-)

This extended scene serves both as a warning and a comfort/encouragement. Even in newly populated world, sin never far away… even from those God commends for righteousness. Basic rules about right and wrong haven’t changed – while encouraging, also warning that sin comes with consequences. At same time God shows unswerving commitment to redemption. He has not and will not abandon frail fallen human beings. Instead, promises hope and future while continuing to sustain his creation / creatures until the end.

Is a basic outline of what God intends found in Noah’s pronouncement regarding his sons: each of three sons and their descendants has a place in God’s big plan. Canaanites will suffer severe consequences for their sin but will not be exterminated – reduced to servitude but not destroyed. Descendants of Japheth will live apart for a while but eventually find peaceful coexistence within Shemite community. What God starts with the Shemites will grow to include the Japhethites. What a big God with a big plan… that includes us and our church families and our loved ones. God grant we do our part to bring others into his family.