WELCOME…WEEK 1 – 2018 – INSIGHTS with Pastor Ray

 

READING THROUGH THE CHRONOLOGICAL BIBLE: 1) Keep a notebook with your own questions and observations. 2) Discuss your insights and findings with a friend. 3) Join our discussion group the following Wednesday of each week in Chico–1137 Arbutus Ave (First Assembly), Rm. E1, 6:30 p.m. Begins January 10.

DAY 1 – Genesis 1-2,  John 1:1-3, Psalms 8, 104

“In the beginning God…” That simple reference frames the context for all existence of which we are aware. If there is more to be said, it will have to be said by God Himself, for we cannot be before the beginning; therefore we cannot know for certain what lies beyond the beginning. Have you ever wondered where God came from? I have; but I quickly abandon the subject, because it is futile to pursue it. God can be known only by revelation, not by observation. However, if we read the account of creation as it was related to us in Scripture, we can know what is intended to be known. And what is that? 1) God created the heavens and the earth. 2) He divided the waters above from the waters below, then gathered the waters on earth into seas. 3) He populated the heavens with things that fly, and the seas with things that swim. 4) On the dry land He created things large and small that move, breathe and procreate. 5) To all this He added the jewel of His creation–mankind. 6) Surveying it all He pronounced it good, then rested from His works. All of this is observable, yet observation of all the works of God doesn’t explain God. It only reveals the magnificence and glory of all that He has done. To see the creation, to study it, to arrange it and try to understand it is laudable and exposes wonderful truths hidden within its mysteries; but it still doesn’t explain God. God can be explained only by God. He exists before and after His creation, but He is NOT His creation; He exists apart from it. Therefore to understand Him, we must FIRST enter into relationship with Him to know Him. He reveals Himself as He wills to do. Therefore it is wicked to try to explain God without God, for it leads to all kinds of mischief with which history is replete!

We are introduced in this study to the Word (Logos) which turns out to be Jesus Christ, who was with the Father God in creation. He made everything. There–it is said. And now we can come closer to explaining and knowing God than we can by any other means, because the divine Logos became flesh and dwelt among us. Being the Incarnation of God, only He can truly reveal God. Studying the creation is a humbling experience, because its greatness can be overwhelming, no matter how much science we employ. So His secrets are made known to the humble, the childlike, the truly inquiring souls. As we read through Scripture, may it be to discover and to know Him, not to explain Him.

DAY 2 – Genesis 3-5

The first child born to a human couple–Adam and Eve–was a murderer! How do we get from pristine creation to detestable wickedness in one generation? We shall later hear this called the ‘mystery of lawlessness.’ And it is truly a mystery. Yahweh God knew of prior evil in the universe, because of a created being we come to know as Lucifer, the devil. In our reading he appears to Eve in the form of a serpent (at that time nothing to be feared). So enticing and deceptive is the proposition he makes to the woman that she eats fruit from the only tree in the garden withheld by God from this wonderful couple. Then Adam joins her and eats as well. It’s a game-changer. Nothing will EVER be the same after that. 1) Their nakedness is suddenly exposed. 2) They are afraid of God. 3) They are making excuses for their behavior. 4) They are stripped of their royalty. 5) God kills an animal to make skin coverings for the pair. 6) They are now outside the garden in an environment that has been cursed with THEIR evil. 7) They are becoming aware of the consequences of their disobedience and will live to eat its fruit when their firstborn kills his brother. Death will now be a normal end of life, though it was never intended to be.

The first generations of mankind typically lived more than nine hundred years, having begun childbearing within the first sixty to one hundred years, give or take. That each person was endowed with the ability to think, act, choose and prefer is obvious. That each person was unique is also obvious; no two were alike. That is an awesome specter; it means that the  fortunes of mankind will ebb and flow throughout history; and Yahweh God will by Divine Sovereignty rule and overrule in the affairs of mankind until His greater purposes have been achieved and fulfilled. Our readings going forward will be rife with interest, sometimes a bit tedious (genealogies); but always with expectation that something wonderful resides within God’s heart toward us, His greatest creation.

DAY 3 – Genesis 6-7

Yesterday’s reading ended on a man named Noah, concluding ‘the book of the genealogy of Adam.’ Noah’s name is typically associated with the ark–Noah’s ark. His father Lamech said of Noah when he was born, “This one will comfort us in our work and in the toil of our hands, caused by the ground which Yahweh has cursed.” The world Noah grew up in was terrible; this is how Yahweh God described it at the time: Genesis 6:5-8  Yahweh saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of man’s heart was continually only evil. 6  Yahweh was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him in his heart. 7  Yahweh said, “I will destroy man whom I have created from the surface of the ground—man, along with animals, creeping things, and birds of the sky—for I am sorry that I have made them.” 8  But Noah found favor in Yahweh’s eyes. So what do we know for sure about Noah? 1) He was five hundred years old and had three sons. 2) He walked with God, perfect in his generations. 3) He heard God say that the end of all flesh had come.  4) He was told to make an ark and given the details by God. 5) Yahweh explained what would happen when the ark was finished, which presumably occupied Noah for the next hundred years or so. 6) Noah and his entire family went into the ark when it was done and properly supplied, after which God sealed the door. Then the floodgates of both heaven and earth opened… and everything perished, except what was in the ark. This is remarkable, for until that time rain had never been seen on the earth! Who ever would have believed it might rain?

It’s pointless to debate the flood–it happened. But it’s on point to take note of the flood; for Yahweh God, through both Jesus and Peter uses the event to explain the next great crisis on earth leading to global confrontation, judgment and the second advent of the Lord, Jesus Christ. The generation in crisis will be similar to that in the days of Noah; and that corrupted generation will likewise perish, although in a different manner. Can we… can you possibly stop for the next few minutes to contemplate this wonderful, terrible specter? Check out these references as you do… Matthew 24:37-39, Hebrews 11:7, 1 Peter 3:20, 2 Peter 2:5. And remember Noah.

DAY 4 – Genesis 8-9, Psalm 12

Gen. 8:1  God remembered Noah, all the animals, and all the livestock that were with him in the ship; and God made a wind to pass over the earth. The waters subsided. “God remembered…” That is a most intriguing statement, as if God’s memory is put to the test. It cannot mean what it means to us, we who live in time and must hark back to things of the past to ‘remember.’ There is no past in God, as there is no future. He who says, “I am that I am,” and “I am Alpha and Omega,” doesn’t ‘remember’ as we do. It must therefore mean that He takes note of the present situation or circumstance and determines a course of action which will, for us, bring the past, present and future together into a planned action to serve God’s purposes, which He alone comprehends. I am therefore humbled and grateful when God ‘remembers’ –especially when He remembers my sins NO MORE against me!

Gen. 9:1  God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them, “Be fruitful, multiply, and replenish the earth. The only four men left alive on earth ALL heard God speak to them. It is reminiscent of the way Adam started out, even before Eve was brought to him. God blessed, God encouraged, and God instructed. This was a starting over. There were, however, some distinct differences from the original creation. The animals were now afraid of mankind, as they were now given as a food source. Enmity would prevail between mankind and animals. However, a new and permanent law would apply: The life of all creatures–man and animal–is in the BLOOD. The blood would take on new meaning, and man was never to consume or take lightly the blood of ANY created being–man or animal. It was a capital offense. So the stage was set; a COVENANT was struck by God with His creation–Genesis 9:8-11  God spoke to Noah and to his sons with him, saying, 9  “As for me, behold, I establish my covenant with you, and with your offspring after you, 10  and with every living creature that is with you: the birds, the livestock, and every animal of the earth with you, of all that go out of the ship, even every animal of the earth. 11  I will establish my covenant with you: All flesh will not be cut off any more by the waters of the flood. There will never again be a flood to destroy the earth.” And so a new beginning came into reality. Even though the heart of mankind remained ‘evil’ from his youth, the earth was fresh, the curse on the ground was rescinded, and the rainbow was in the sky. And so it is to this day. Does not this humble us in the Presence of God Almighty, Creator of all there is, Gracious and Merciful in all His ways?

DAY 5 – Genesis 10-11

Welcome to another genealogy; why are they important? Because God is into details–that is, He hasn’t missed a lick since the days He created the heavens and earth. Humankind is traceable, all the way back to Adam, especially but not exclusively, through the Jewish race, the first people of the Bible. Movements, patterns, boundaries, eras–these are all observable through the pages of Scripture. To lose track of, or be ignorant of this history is to miss the most mysterious and awesome characteristics of God’s eternal vigilance over mankind. Not for a moment has He turned His back to the affairs of earth. “For God so loved the world…” That is the first and most wonderful revelation concerning God and His creation, the ‘world’ being the world of mankind. God so loved. God SO loved! If we didn’t go further than this it would be enough to draw us toward the eternal God of the Bible who has been so libeled and slandered that a good portion of mankind believes Him to be other than He has revealed Himself to be.

We get some idea of the ‘image’ of God in mankind when the Lord Himself says that the people have become a threat: Gen. 11:6  Yahweh said, “Behold, they are one people, and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do. Now nothing will be withheld from them, which they intend to do. How God managed to mix up the languages I certainly don’t know, but it’s likely a good thing He did, in order to prevent global conspiracy which would bring about an early extinction of mankind. Time has been extended to every generation to get to know God… Acts 17:26-27  He made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the surface of the earth, having determined appointed seasons, and the boundaries of their dwellings, 27  that they should seek the Lord, if perhaps they might reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. Our great quest is to know the Lord and to make Him known in our time.

CONGRATULATIONS! We have made it through Week One of 2018. Every weekend, the succeeding five days of INSIGHTS will be published. Thanks so much for reading through with us. PLEASE SHARE if you are connecting on Facebook or LinkedIn. 

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