Just men reading, memorizing and studying the bible together!

Reading Plans
Bible Order: Exodus 31–33
Chronological Order: Genesis 43–44
Old Testament Only: Exodus 11–12
New Testament Only: Matthew 18:21–35

Daily Verse: Psalm 65:3 Psalm 65. 3

Bible Study

Tame The Beast

Passage: Genesis 4:6-7

So yesterday we discussed why Abel’s offering was accepted and Cain’s was rejected. Cain’s response was anger. Today we’ll look at what God had to say to Cain about the situation.

Genesis 4:6-7 ESV

“[6] The LORD said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? [7] If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.’”

Cain’s offering was not accepted because it was grudgingly offered. Cain kept the best for himself and gave God what was left. Abel gave the first of his herd; he gave the best of what he had to God first and kept for himself what was left. So Cain is angry about this. But what is he angry about? Is he angry at God who rejected his offering? Is he angry that his younger brother got it right and he got it wrong? Is it more about jealousy or envy of the acceptance Abel got that he did not? Whatever the reason or emotion, the real problem is the fact that he is blaming someone else for the situation. We know this because he acted upon his feelings by killing his brother. If he had blamed himself for his situation murder would not have occurred.

This is exactly what God points out to Cain. God said “why are you angry. Don’t you know that if you make a good offering it will be accepted?” Who is God saying is responsible for Cain’s situation? God says “Cain, this is nobody’s fault but your own!” God also warns Cain about the road he is on. Cain started with a desire to put himself before God. The result of this bad decision led to his offering being rejected. His response to this was not to accept responsibility for his acts and change course but rather to get angry at others. Before he knew it he had committed murder the consequence of which was even worse than God’s rejection of his offering.

 Sin is born out of self-centeredness. Self-centeredness is the desire to rule; to be the center of the universe. As one self-centered desire takes us a step further away from God we find ourselves facing another desire born of the first which takes us another step away and so on. Our desire to be the ruler of our life actually leads to the destruction of that which we hold most dear – ourselves. The further we get from God the closer we get to eternal death. Each time we give in to our self-centeredness we feed the beast called sin. As we feed it the beast becomes bigger and hungrier. This beast will eventually devour us unless we take action to tame it. Of course it is easier to tame a baby beast than a full grown monster. The sooner you get control of the thing the better.

Have a blessed day!

Your brother and servant in Christ,

Bill

Dying to self, living to serve!

Reading Plans
Bible Order: Exodus 29–30
Chronological Order: Genesis 41–42
Old Testament Only: Exodus 9–10
New Testament Only: Matthew 18:1–20

Daily Verse: Psalm 51:17 Psalm 51. 17

Bible Study

Who Is First In Your Life

Passage: Genesis 4:3-5

Big news guys! Today we move on to chapter 4 of Genesis! Thought we’d never make it right? One of the reasons I wanted to take my time with the book of Genesis is that it contains so much important stuff. Having proceeded through creation and the fall of man, we have finally come to the story of Cain and Abel. We all know that Cain murdered his brother Abel out of jealousy. But there is more to understand in this text. The jealousy sprang from God’s response to the two different offerings offered up to Him.

Genesis 4:3-5 ESV

“[3] In the course of time Cain brought to the LORD an offering of the fruit of the ground, [4] and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the LORD had regard for Abel and his offering, [5] but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell.”

Cain brought God an offering of fruit from the ground. Abel brought God an offering of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. Most scholars believe that this indicated that Cain was a farmer and Abel a keeper of animals. In their offerings we see that they brought offerings from what they had. So why did God accept Abel’s offering and reject Cain’s offering? Some have proposed that since the forgiveness of sin requires blood sacrifice, God rejected Cain’s offering because it was not a blood offering. This certainly could be the case but we are not told anything about the purpose of the offering. All we are told is that they both brought an offering and one was accepted while the other rejected.

In Mosaic Law there were different kinds of offerings. Some were animal sacrifice and others had to do with grain and even drink. In fact there is a “First Fruits” offering described in Mosaic Law. I think this story in the Bible suggests that Moses had simply written down the Law that God had already shared with Man. Here at the very beginning Cain and Abel were bringing offerings somewhat consistent with Mosaic Law. I think the more likely reason God rejected Cain’s offering can be found in the text itself.

We are told in the text that Abel brought “of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions”. This phrase tells us that Abel put God first. He brought the firstborn of his flock. He also included the fat portions. Why is this important? Do you know what makes meat flavorful, juicy, and tender? The fat. The fat is also full of calories which are pretty important to those having to survive in the wild. Abel held nothing back. He didn’t hold the best for himself and give God seconds. He gave his best.

What does the text tell us of Cain’s offering? He brought and offering “of the fruit of the ground”. It was not the first fruits of his harvest. Since we are told that Abel brought the firstborn of his flock it seems to me we would have been told if Cain brought first fruits. This gives us the insight we need to understand what is happening here. Cain gave an offering of his leftovers. This means that Cain was first in his own heart with God taking up a begrudged second place. Is it any surprise God didn’t accept this offering?

The condition of our heart is the issue of the Bible. God cares about your relationship with Him. Jesus told us which of God’s commandments was the most important.

Matthew 22:36-40 ESV

“[36] ‘Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?’ [37] And he said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. [38] This is the great and first commandment. [39] And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. [40] On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.’”

We are to love God above all else – including ourselves. This requirement is not designed to provide God with something He needs but rather just the opposite. Loving God above ourselves is what is best for us. In fact it is the very thing that we so desperately need. King David wrote a Psalm that gives us insight into what God is looking for in our offerings.

Psalm 51:16-17 ESV

“[16] For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. [17] The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”

The offering that is acceptable to God is an offering of ourselves. An offering is a symbol of God’s priority in our lives. If we are giving God our leftovers we are sending a pretty loud signal that we come first in our life. Our heart is in the wrong place. You need God before you need anything else and God tells us exactly that in His Holy Word.

Matthew 6:31-33 ESV

“[31] Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ [32] For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. [33] But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

By seeing to ourselves first, and giving God the left overs, we are saying that we don’t trust Him to provide for us and that we are more important than He is. This is exactly what happened in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve; they both wanted to be number one – their own gods. Is it any wonder Cain’s offering was rejected? What was the result of Cain putting himself first? He was overcome with jealousy. He killed his brother. He was forced into further exile, forever marked and cursed. Misery comes from putting ourselves first. Joy comes from putting God first. So who is first in your life?

Have a blessed day!

Your brother and servant in Christ,

Bill

Dying to self, living to serve!

Reading Plans
Bible Order: Exodus 27–28
Chronological Order: Genesis 38–40
Old Testament Only: Exodus 7–8
New Testament Only: Matthew 17

Daily Verse: Jeremiah 29:11 Jeremiah 29. 11

Bible Study

Access To The Tree Of Life Delayed

Passage: Genesis 3:22-24

Today we’ll wrap up Genesis chapter 3. I think we need to address why God didn’t want mankind to have access to the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden. Below are the verses in question.

Genesis 3:22-24 ESV

“[22] Then the LORD God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—” [23] therefore the LORD God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. [24] He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.”

In chapter two of Genesis we are told that when God first put man in the Garden of Eden He placed two trees in the middle of the garden and only prohibited man from eating of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. The Tree of Life was not prohibited. At any time prior to the Fall, Adam and Eve could have eaten of the Tree of Life and lived forever. As I wrote earlier this year while covering those chapter two verses, mankind had been given a choice, to live forever in right relationship with God or attempt to usurp God’s place in their hearts and lives. They disastrously chose the latter course. But God’s forcing them from the Garden and access to eternal life is not vindictiveness.

There is no hope in eternal life separated from God. If God had left open the way to the Tree of Life without the remission of sin, mankind would have been condemned to Hell for all of eternity. That is not what God wanted for His creation. By removing access to the Tree of Life God gave man time to discover his need of confession, repentance, and forgiveness before it was too late. Remember that when confronted with their sin neither Adam or Eve admitted culpability for wrong doing. They did not confess that they desired to be their own gods. They did not repent of trying to be their own gods. Because they neither confess nor repented, they could not be forgiven.

Why didn’t God give final judgment to Adam and Eve immediately upon the occasion of their sin? Why has Jesus delayed His final return for over 2,000 years? Those questions have the same answer. Mercy. God has been working from the beginning to save us from our sin. The fact of the matter is, we all will one day eat of the proverbial Tree of Life. Every one of us will live for eternity. Some will have accepted Christ’s sacrifice upon the cross and when they pass into eternity they will live it as intended in God’s presence. The rest will not have accepted the blood of Christ and when they pass into eternity they will be forever separated from God. They will live a never ending nightmare in a place called Hell. Trust me, you don’t want to eat of the Tree of Life until you are right with God. Thank God for His Mercy!

Have a blessed day!

Your brother and servant in Christ,

Bill

Dying to self, living to serve!

Reading Plans
Bible Order: Exodus 24–26
Chronological Order: Genesis 35–37
Old Testament Only: Exodus 4–6
New Testament Only: Matthew 16:13-28

Daily Verse: Exodus 3:14 Exodus 3. 14

Bible Study

The Royal Us

Passage: Genesis 3:22

Some may think that the idea that God is three in one, or as we say a “triune God”, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, is a concept first revealed in the New Testament, but we actually have a hint of this truth here at the very beginning of the Bible. I remember hearing on the radio a Jewish man who had become a Christian. He said that he had been reading in the book of Genesis when he came across a verse that just blew his mind wide open. It was the realization that God referred to Himself as a “royal us” that caused him to look more closely at Christianity and eventually led to his salvation. Here is the verse in question.

Genesis 3:22 ESV

“Then the LORD God said, ‘Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—‘”

It’s easy to miss isn’t it? You could read this a hundred times and miss the subtle statement every time. God said that “man has become like one of us”. Now understand that in context God had just dealt with Satan, Eve, and Adam in turn. Having finished passing sentence on each of these individuals for their sin, He provided the blood sacrifice their sin required and used the now available animal skins to close Adam and Eve. It is then that we have the verse above. The Bible has given us no previous signal that there was anyone else present to whom God would have said this.

The Bible here is giving us an insight into the mind of God as He consults with Himself. It is also revealing that there is a royal “Us”. We see further evidence of God’s triune nature later in Genesis when God stops off to have a word with Abraham on His way to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah.

Genesis 18:1-3 ESV

“[1] And the LORD appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the door of his tent in the heat of the day. [2] He lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, three men were standing in front of him. When he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them and bowed himself to the earth [3] and said, “O Lord, if I have found favor in your sight, do not pass by your servant.”

The Lord appeared to Abraham as three men. Each time the Lord speaks to Abraham in the following Scripture, He is referred to in the plural. The book of John tells us that “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” As we read on we discover that the “Word” is Jesus Christ. Jesus was not only with God in the beginning, He was God as well.

Some people still look at the Old and New Testaments as if they were two different books containing two different Gods; the vengeful God versus the loving God. There is no divide. It is all one book telling one incredible story. The New Testament did not invent the concept of a triune God but rather affirms the truth of God’s triune nature first revealed to us at the very beginning of the story.

Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have existed from the beginning. God is three in one. For us created, one in one, beings, this is a difficult concept to understand. I liken it to water, steam, and ice – all H2O. If I took one unit of water and froze one third, heated one third and left one third alone I would have ice, steam, and water – all still water and yet different. Even this example falls far short of helping us truly understand what it means to be three in one. My inability to understand it, however, in no way invalidates the truth of it. God tells us this is who He is. He is the royal “Us”. Whether you choose to believe this or not is irrelevant. He is who He is; or as He said “I am who I am”.

Have a blessed day!

Your brother and servant in Christ,

Bill

Dying to self, living to serve!

Reading Plans
Bible Order: Exodus 21–23
Chronological Order: Genesis 32–34
Old Testament Only: Exodus 1–3
New Testament Only: Matthew 15:29–16:12
 

Daily Verse: 1 Chronicles 16:23 1 Chronicles 16. 23

 

Day of Rest

Saturdays are a day of rest for me in my blog writing. I write the blog a day ahead so this means it is a day of rest from my commentary for you on Sundays. Enjoy your day of worship!

Have a blessed day!

Your brother and servant in Christ,

Bill

Dying to self, living to serve!

Reading Plans
Bible Order: Exodus 17–20
Chronological Order: Genesis 30:25–31:55
Old Testament Only: Genesis 49–50
New Testament Only: Matthew 15:10–28

Daily Verse: Hebrews 9:22 Hebrews 9. 22

Bible Study

Sin Requires Blood

Passage: Genesis 3:21

Having prescribed the consequences for Adam, Eve, and Satan’s sin, God went on to cast them from His presence (Genesis 3:24). Sin has a lot of consequences; life gets harder, more violent, more painful, more self-centered, and more hopeless. In fact sin leads to death. At the end of verse 19 of Genesis chapter 3 God says to Adam “for you are dust and to dust you shall return.” Physical death is a result of original sin. The nature of man ever since has been fantastically self-centered. Every human being since has desired to be his own god. As the Bible says “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

Sin separates us from a Holy God. Sin also requires condemnation from a Just God. Justice requires death as payment for sin. The spilling of blood, death, is the only thing that satisfies the debt of sin. Many people mistakenly think that the murder of Abel by his brother Cain was the first time in the Bible that blood was spilt, but this is not true. Take a look at the following verse.

Genesis 3:21 ESV

“And the LORD God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.”

In the Garden of Eden everything was perfect for life. We were able to come into God’s presence. We had plenty of food and drink at the ready. All we had to do for sustenance was to reach out and take our fill. Even the temperature was perfect; there was no need for clothing. The fall of Man included the fall of Creation. Man had been given dominion over God’s creation. Under our authority, it fell when we fell. We read of the “fires of Hell” but for me the idea of eternal separation from God leaves me cold. To warm ourselves in the glow of His glory is that for which we were created. We lost that in our sinfulness.

Here in verse 21 we read of how an animal was killed to make coverings for Adam and Eve. The need to hide ourselves from God’s wrath began instantly upon eating of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. A blood sacrifice was required to appease justice. Pushed out of God’s presence, life became hard and cold. Life continues to be hard and cold; less so for those who belong to Christ but Christians still must spend some time in the world forged by man’s desire to usurp the place of the One True God. Eventually we read in the Bible of the Mosaic sacrificial system where the blood and guts of various animals were offered up in order to cover the sins of men. Today blood is still required to cover sin but rather than have to daily offer bloody sacrifice we can cover ourselves in the blood of Jesus Christ who died once and for all. He died so that those who accept His sacrifice will forever be changed and forgiven. He paid the debt of sin that each of us owes.

Don’t be mistaken. He did pay that price but to claim it as your own you have to admit with a contrite heart that you are a sinner, sincerely repent of your sin, ask God for forgiveness of that sin, and then surrender absolute control over your life to Jesus Christ. That is when His blood is applied to your sin. It is then that you begin your journey back to the Garden of Eden – not in a literal sense but in a spiritual sense. You were made to be in God’s presence for all of eternity. I am thankful He has provided a way for any who wish to return to Him to do so.

Have a blessed day!

Your brother and servant in Christ,

Bill

Dying to self, living to serve!