Day 12: Rahab’s Rescue

Read Joshua 2 and Hebrews 11:31

You have to wonder what Rahab’s family must have been thinking as they hunkered down in her apartment watching those mysterious Israelites circle around their city of Jericho. “Here they come again, Rahab. I don’t know what they’re doing but I’m getting worried. Are you sure we’re going to be okay in here?” It probably took a lot of convincing on Rahab’s part to get her family to believe that by tying a scarlet cord in her window they would be protected from the mass destruction we read about in Joshua 6.

Perhaps it took the same kind of faith for the Israelites themselves to trust that the blood of the lamb they had smeared across their doorframe would protect them from the plague of death striking the Egyptians in Exodus 12. In either case the Lord had provided a means of escape from certain death through a scarlet sign marking the bearer as His own.

Romans 5:9-11 describes how we are saved both from the wrath of God and justified by the blood of Christ who died for us. The blood He shed marks us as His own, justified, saved and reconciled to God.

“Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”

That is cause for rejoicing indeed!

“Rejoice, ye pure in heart, rejoice, give thanks, and sing;
Your festal banner wave on high, the cross of Christ your King.”

(After singing Rejoice Ye Pure in Heart, listen to Handel’s Messiah selection “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion…”)

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Click on the About link at the top of the page to find out how we use tiny objects like the one above to help remember each of the 25 people in the genealogy of Christ we will be reading about during the Advent season.

 

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Day 11 – The Lion of Judah

Read Genesis 49:8-12 and Revelation 5

“Then I saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the throne a scroll written within and on the back, sealed with the seven seals. And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “ Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?” And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it,

and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. And one of the elders said to me,

“Weep no more;

Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah,

the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.”

And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders

I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain,

with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. And he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne. And when he taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp,

and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.

And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals,

for you were slain,

and by your blood you ransomed people for God

from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.”

Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice,

“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain,

to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!”

And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying

“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!”

And the four living creatures said, ‘Amen!’

and the elders fell down and worshiped.

(Normally I would insert a hymn to sing here and a selection from Handel’s Messiah to listen to but just as there was nothing I felt I could add to that reading by way of commentary, I feel silenced by way of worship.  I too, can only think to fall down.)

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Click on the About link at the top of the page to find out how we use tiny objects like the one above to help remember each of the 25 people in the genealogy of Christ we will be reading about during the Advent season.

Day 10: Jacob Have I Loved

Read  Genesis 28:10-22 and Hebrews 11:20,21

“Is God unjust?” asks the Apostle Paul in Roman 9:14. It was a rhetorical question to be sure, but when we read the story of Jacob, Paul understood the conclusion we might be tempted to draw.

Jacob, the beloved. How could God say, “Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.” Were those unjust words? Paul says no. “For he says to Moses, ‘I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.’ So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God who has mercy.” Could not this knowledge be the source of Jacob’s worship as he leaned over his staff while blessing Joseph’s sons?

Jacob, the heal-grabbing cheater. He who had connived and contended from birth— into birthrights, into marriage, into wealth, who had striven with God Himself, earning a new name in the process— this Jacob-turned-Israel, at the end of his life must have pondered in awe the mercies of the Lord. Until his dying day, we see Jacob summoning his own strength and power and will, and yet all along it was God who acted in mercy to fulfill His promises to this offspring of Abraham and not to his brother. Every one of God’s promises to Jacob was fulfilled; the land, the offspring, God’s presence, His keeping, and His bringing back. Were not these fulfilled promises on Jacob’s mind as he leaned over his staff in worship when blessing Joseph’s sons?

Jacob —the fulfillment of God’s promises to Abraham and Isaac, the buyer of birthrights, the receiver of Isaacs blessing, of God’s blessing, the giver of blessings to his sons and to Joseph’s— in the very act of blessing his descendants, leaned on his staff in worship. Was he perhaps reminded of the one promise he had received that had yet to be fulfilled? That in him and his offspring “shall all the families of the earth be blessed?”

Jacob, the worshipper. Why did the writer of Hebrews introduce this new detail of Israel’s life story? The striving, contending, heal grabbing cheater, at the end of his life once more summons his strength, this time to bless his descendants. But Israel’s strength is spent. He leans on his staff in worship of the only One in whom he, and all we who contend with God, can find true rest. In the promised descendant of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, through whom all families on earth would be blessed, Jesus Christ, the Lord.

“Come, Thou long expected Jesus, born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us; let us find our rest in Thee.
Israel’s strength and consolation, hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear Desire of every nation, joy of every longing heart.”

(After singing Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus listen to Handel’s Messiah selections “Thou art gone up on high…” and “The Lord gave the word…”)

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Click on the About link at the top of the page to find out how we use tiny objects like the one above to help remember each of the 25 people in the genealogy of Christ we will be reading about during the Advent season.

Day 9 – Isaac Sees God Provide

Read Genesis 22 and Hebrews 11:13-19.

It’s one of the most disturbing accounts in scripture. A man is told by God to take his only son and sacrifice him on an alter. And the man does it. Well almost.  Just as the knife is raised the man is stopped before the slaughter begins.

What kind of God would tell a father to do that? What kind of God would let him almost carry it through?  The image of a father sacrificing his son is too horrific to even understand.  But the horror of our rebellion against our loving, holy Creator required exactly that kind of a sacrifice.  We like to think of the cross as a thing of beauty, a means of bringing us the eternal life that we sometimes deep down inside think we deserve.  But such a punishment could only be demanded for crimes of the worst magnitude.

When Abraham, with knifed hand upraised, looked back and saw the ram caught in the thicket, he was looking back at a promise given generations earlier that an offspring of Eve would crush the head of the enemy.  But that victory over sin and death would come at an unimaginable price.  God Himself would have to provide the perfect sacrifice and the only one who could qualify would be His Only Son.

In perfect obedience Jesus Christ, offspring of Abraham, would lay His life down on the alter.  And in perfect holiness and love, God the Father would slay Him through the hands of the very sinners Christ was dying to save.  That was the promise of that Moriah mount fulfilled on Calvary’s hill.  “Abraham called the name of that place, ‘THE LORD WILL PROVIDE;’ as it is said to this day, ‘On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.”

“What wondrous love is this, O my soul!

What wondrous love is this that caused the Lord of bliss                                                          to bear the dreadful curse for my soul.

To God and to the Lamb I will sing,                                                                                                          To God and to the Lamb, who is the great ‘I Am,’                                                                    While millions join the them, I will sing.”

(After singing What Wondrous Love Is This, listen REALLY LISTEN TO Handel’s Messiah selections “Behold the Lamb…”, “He was despised…”, “Surely He hath borne our griefs…”, and “All we like sheep…”)

Click on the About link at the top of the page to find out how we use tiny objects like the one above to help remember each of the 25 people in the genealogy of Christ we will be reading about during the Advent season.

Day 8: The God of Abraham Praise

Read Genesis 15:1-6 and Hebrews 11:8-12

Does anyone else find it remarkable that all Abraham does is believe and the Lord declares him righteous? God appears to this virtual pagan and basically says 3 things: “Fear not,” “I am your shield,” and “Your reward shall be great.” Abraham then responds like this: “Keep your reward,” “I have no kids,” “My heir is a servant,” and “It’s your fault.” But God gives him this amazing promise anyway, that his offspring would be numbered like the stars in the heavens. Abraham actually believes him and BOOM! Just like that he’s counted as righteous. God then seals His promise with a covenantal ceremony, which Abraham sleeps through.

The point I’m trying to make, and which Abraham continually proves through a series of moral foibles, is that Abraham’s righteousness, depends 100% on God’s declaring him such. God didn’t have to provide a way of redemption for Abraham or for us. When certain angels rebelled, He didn’t work up a plan of salvation for them. And according to James 2:19, even the demons believe that God is one! But James continues that Abraham believed God and it was credited it to him as righteousness, and not only that, he was called God’s friend!

Obviously, there are 2 kinds of belief here. There’s a knowledge of God that according to Romans 1:19-21, everyone on earth possesses, and there is a saving faith that James makes clear is evidenced by the fruit it bears in the life of the believer. How does one kind of belief produce the fruit of good works and one kind only lead to the shuddering of the demons? Is it not because of the declaration of righteousness by God?

I don’t know about you, but I just don’t feel all that comfortable resting on my own belief in God as the means to my salvation. God has to declare me righteous and the way He does that is through the perfect sacrifice of His own Son, the very Son that would be born through Abrahams family line. It’s through the righteousness of Jesus Christ that I can say with Abraham and the writer of today’s hymn, “He by Himself hath sworn, I on His oath depend.”

“The God of Abraham praise, who reigns enthroned above;
Ancient of everlasting days, and God of love.
Jehovah, Great I Am, By earth and heaven confessed;
I bow and bless the sacred name, Forever blest.”

(After singing The God of Abraham Praise, listen to Handel’s Messiah selection “For unto us a child is born…”)


Click on the About link at the top of the page to find out how we use tiny objects like the one above to help remember each of the 25 people in the genealogy of Christ we will be reading about during the Advent season.

Day 7: Shem Finds God Faithful

Read Genesis 9:1-19 and Isaiah 54:9,10

“Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.”

After getting caught  in a lightening storm while backpacking in the High Sierra, my brother started taking clouds very seriously. One glimpse of a distant puffy white apparition, and inevitably he would be packing up and heading down the mountain. His caution was certainly warranted and reminds me very much of how Noah’s family must have felt the first time they saw clouds gathering again after stepping forth onto a deluge devastated earth.

Prior to the flood, Earth’s water canopy had maintained a rather greenhouse-like atmosphere, likely void of stormy weather. Imagine the trauma when the floodgates opened and all that water came crashing down. Not to mention the visual manifestation of God’s wrath when those 8 survivors saw the world as they had known it, utterly changed by the seismic activity of the fountains of the deep bursting forth. It must have been with fear and trembling that they first stepped forth on that ruined, yet remade earth.

But God in His mercy, with great compassion, placed a bow in those ominous clouds; a bow not pointed at the earth in perpetual wrath, but hung up as it were, in a posture of peace. This was their reminder that when the fearful clouds came and the rain started falling again, that it would not be for the destruction of but for the nourishment of the earth. What a comfort the sight of that rainbow must have been for Noah’s family ever after!

Perhaps stormy weather has you, like the weeping prophet of Lamentations 3:12, feeling that God had “bent His bow and set me as a target for His arrows.” But the rainbow helps us all call to mind  verses 21-23, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

And dear friend, the rainbow only tells half the story. Did you know that from a heavenly perspective a rainbow is actually a complete circle? Because of the angle of the light shining through the water droplets combined with the slope of the earth we only see half the circle, or a bow. But since the advent of flight people have been able to capture images like the one linked here, which has been God’s perspective all along! We see the promise. He sees the fulfillment of it in Christ. “For all the promises of God find their Yes in Him. That is why it is through Him that we utter our Amen to God for His glory” (2 Corinthians 1:20).

“As I swore that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth,
so I have sworn that I will not be angry with you, and will not rebuke you.
For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed,
but my steadfast love shall not depart from you,
and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,’
says the Lord, who has compassion on you.” —Isaiah 54:9,10

(After singing Great Is Thy Faithfulness, listen to Handel’s Messiah selections “There sound is gone out…”)

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Click on the About link at the top of the page to find out how we use tiny objects like the one above to help remember each of the 25 people in the genealogy of Christ we will be reading about during the Advent season.

 

 

Day 6: Noah Found Favor In The Eyes Of The Lord

Read Genesis 6:5-7:24 and Hebrews 11:7

“Noah’s Ark, Noah’s Flood, Lot’s of Water, Lot’s of Mud.” So reads the rather simplistic title of one of our favorite children’s books by John Morris of Institute for Creation Research. But the flood was so much more than that, wasn’t it? The flood wasn’t just a means of God’s judgement for the total depravity of mankind on earth, it was an instrument of His mercy. God used the flood not just to destroy the earth but to recreate it anew. And He promises to do the same again. When Christ returns, He will once more make all things new. Our hymn for today is taken from the following poem by Horatius Bonar and looks forward to that time.

“Come, Lord, and tarry not,
Bring the long-looked-for day;
Oh, why these years of waiting here,
These ages of delay?

Come, for Thy saints still wait;
Daily ascends their cry:
‘The Spirit and the Bride say, Come’;
Dost Thou not hear their cry?

Come, for creation groans,
Impatient of Thy stay;
Worn out with these long years of ill,
These ages of delay.

Come, for Thy foes are strong;
With taunting lips they say,
‘Where is the promised advent now,
And where the dreaded day?’

Come, in Thy glorious might;
Come, with Thine iron rod;
Disperse Thy foes before Thy face,
Most mighty Son of God.

Come, and make all things new,
Build up this ruined earth;
Restore our faded paradise,
Creation’s second birth.

Come, and begin Thy reign
Of everlasting peace;
Come, take the kingdom to Thyself,
Great King of Righteousness.”

(After singing All Things New, Listen to Handel’s Messiah by clicking on the following selections “All they that see him…” “He trusted God…”)


Click on the About link at the top of the page to find out how we use tiny objects like the one above to help remember each of the 25 people in the genealogy of Christ we will be reading about during the Advent season.

Day 5: After Methuselah, Judgement

Read Genesis 5:25-27 and 1 Peter 3:18-23

Methuselah has the impressive distinction of being the oldest man on earth. He lived more days than any other person and in so doing proved the kindness and patience of our Lord.
Methuselah’s name means “after me comes judgement.” Methuselah’s grandson was Noah. 1 Peter 3:20 says that “God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared.” Indeed His patience waited 969 years before He judged the world with water during which time He worked a plan of salvation for mankind through the safe passage of 8 people on a boat.

1 Peter 3:18 speaks of God’s broader plan of salvation for mankind. “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit.” Each day of our life is a testament to God’s kindness and patience. Each passing day can be THE day of salvation for those who trust in Him to provide safe passage from death unto life.

“Day by day and with each passing moment,
strength I find to meet my trials here;
trusting in my Father’s wise bestowment,
I’ve no cause for worry or for fear.
He whose heart is kind beyond all measure
gives unto each day what He deems best—
lovingly, its part of pain and pleasure,
mingling toil with peace and rest.”

(After singing Day by Day click tolisten to Handel’s Messiah on the following selections “Then shall be brought to pass…” “O death…” “But thanks be to God…”)

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Click on the About link at the top of the page to find out how we use tiny objects like the one above to help remember each of the 25 people in the genealogy of Christ we will be reading about during the Advent season.

 

Day 4: Enoch Walked With God

Read Genesis 5:12-24 and Hebrews 11:5,6

In the second to the last book of the Bible, we read this obscure quote by the ancient prophet, Enoch, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones, to execute judgement on all and to convince all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him” (Jude 14-16).

Just seven generations from the creation of man, Enoch is already warning the ungodly of the coming of the Lord. These people are ungodly, their deeds are ungodly, their speech is ungodly and in sharp contrast to them we have Enoch, who simply “walked with God and was not found, for God took him” (Genesis 5:24). So how was it that Enoch came to walk with God and so escape the judgement of all the ungodly sinners around him? Hebrews 11:5,6 explains it this way, “By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for who ever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him.”

In other words, unless we have been granted the faith to believe that God really is who He says He is, nothing good we do will ever please Him. We’re in the same boat as all those ungodly sinners. And in that case the second Advent of Christ is NOT good news. But if we confess that we really are who He says we are, ungodly sinners, and trust Him to save us from His judgement, we can walk in fellowship with Him as Enoch did and also not see death. God has granted eternal life to ALL who believe and that eternal life starts now!

“When we walk with the Lord,
in the light of His Word,
what a glory He sheds on our way!
While we do His good will
He abides with us still,
and with all who will trust and obey.”

Jude ends with this beautiful benediction, “Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.”

(After singing Trust and Obey click below to listen to Handel’s Messiah selections “Behold I tell you a mystery…” “The trumpet shall sound…”)

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Click on the About link at the top of the page to find out how we use tiny objects like the one above to help remember each of the 25 people in the genealogy of Christ we will be reading about during the Advent season.

 

 

Day 3: The Calling Out of Seth’s Time

Read Genesis 4:25-5:11 and Romans 10

By the time Adam and Eve’s son, Seth, had his own son, people were quite aware of their perilous condition and thus began to call on the name of the Lord. All hail the power of that name! Romans 10:13 promises that “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Verse 9 further instructs us that “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” This is good news indeed! Verse 15 quotes Isaiah 52, “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns.’” Back then it might have been feet that carried good news like that from one person to another, but today we have so many other means. We can pick up the phone and call someone on the other side of the planet. We can open up our laptops and publish a blog post and within seconds a hundred friends can read the good news: “Jesus is Lord!” “Our God reigns!” “You CAN be saved!”

“Ye chosen seed of Israel’s race,
Ye ransomed of the fall;
Hail Him who saves you by His grace,
And crown Him Lord of all.”

(After singing All Hail the Power of Jesus Name, click to listen to Handel’s Messiah selection “How beautiful are the feet of them…”)

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Click on the About link at the top of the page to find out how we use tiny objects like the one above to help remember each of the 25 people we will be reading about during the Advent season.

 

Day 2: In Adam’s Fall, We Sinned All

Read Genesis 3 and Romans 5:12-21

So here’s the bad news. The creatures God made in His own image committed cosmic treason against their Creator and the whole world was thrown into a state of ruin and death. Now every person who would ever be born would be born with a sinful, rebellious nature and after death face eternal punishment at the hands of a just and holy God.

But “Joy to the World!” There’s Romans 5:18!

“Just as the trespass of one led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men.”

Jesus came for that one act of righteousness. His purpose from manger to grave was to pay the penalty for the rebellion brought into the world by that one man, Adam. Just think of the gift offered to us in the words of Romans 5:17!

“For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.”

Joy to the world indeed!

“No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found.”

(After singing Joy to the World,” click to listen to Handel’s Messiah selection “Since by man came death…”)

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Click on the About link at the top of the page to find out how we use tiny objects like the one above to help remember each of the 25 people in the genealogy of Christ we will be reading about during the Advent season.

 

Day 1: Of the Father’s Love Begotten

Read Genesis 1 and Hebrews 1:1-12

Followers of my past blogs would know that I always start the school year with Genesis chapter 1. Whatever it is we’re studying— science, history, math, language— it all has it’s beginning right there in those first few words of scripture, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”

In Hebrews 1:2,3 we read that everything that was created was created through Jesus Christ and that it is He who upholds the entire universe by the word of His power. Put that thought side by side with the baby in the manger!

The writer of today’s hymn captured it well with the following words:

“Of the Father’s love begotten,
Ere the worlds began to be,
He is Alpha and Omega,
He the source, the ending He,
Of the things that are, that have been,
And that future years shall see,
Ever more and ever more!

O that birth forever blessed,
When the virgin, full of grace,
By the Holy Ghost conceiving,
Bare the Savior of our race;
And the Babe, the world’s Redeemer,
First revealed His sacred face,
Ever more and ever more!”

Our reading in Hebrews 1 ends with this quote from Psalm 102,

“You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning,
and the heavens are the work of your hands;
they will perish, but you remain;
they will all wear out like a garment,
like a robe you will roll them up,
like a garment they will be changed.
But you are the same,
and your years will have no end.”

The same Lord, through whom the universe was created, who holds it all together by the word of His power, is the same Lord who became a helpless babe, lived a perfect life, offered Himself up through death on a cross as a sacrifice on our behalf, rose powerfully from the grave and ascended to His rightful throne in Heaven. This same Lord is coming again to judge the living and the dead. There will be a second advent just as surely as there was a first. Do you rejoice in His coming? “Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!”

(After singing Of the Father’s Love Begotten, click to listen to Handel’s Messiah selections “Unto which of the angels…” and “Let all the angels…” Note: some versions of the Messiah, namely those produced/performed by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir do not contain these selections)

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Click on the About link at the top of the page to find out how we use tiny objects like the one above to help remember each of the 25 people in the genealogy of Christ we will be reading about during the Advent season.