Friday, January 4, 2013

Revelations 17-22, Genesis 1-22

Genesis 4:15
And the Lord said to him, "Therefore, whoever kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold." And the Lord set a mark on Cain, lest anyone finding him should kill him.

God says over and over again that only He is allowed to kill people, that only He is allowed to have vengeance, to take life. Yet in this first story of murder, God not only declines to kill Cain himself, but prevents anyone else from killing him. God goes out of His way to protect the first murderer.

Genesis 12:1
Now the Lord had said to Abram:
"Get out of your country,
From your kindred
And from your father's house,
To a land that I will show you."

What intrigues me about this is that final line: to a land that I will show you. God didn't say, "Go to Egypt", or "travel west for seven weeks" or anything like that. He just told Abram to go until He said to stop. Abram was traveling blind, placing his trust entirely in God's hands.

What's especially interesting is that, when you read on, you see that Abram messed up and wasn't able to get where he was going until he set it right. God said to leave his family behind, but Abram brought along his nephew, Lot. Abram and Lot camped out in Canaan and Jordan for a while, but Abram's servants and Lot's servants quarreled, because there wasn't enough water and food for everyone. So they parted ways, and Abram got stuck with Canaan. At which point God said, "This is where I wanted you to be."

Sometimes we just have to go until God tells us to stop. When we start to feel lost or confused, we should review what God told us to do. Have we followed His whole instruction, or only part of it? Is there something else we could be doing? Make sure we're doing what we're supposed to be doing, and then keep doing it until God tells us to stop.

Genesis 18:16-33

This is the passage where God decides to destroy Sodom and Abraham intercedes for them. Every time someone says something like, "We shouldn't question God; his ways are higher than ours," I want to beat them over the head with a baseball bat and scream these verses into their faces. God proclaimed His intentions, and Abraham argued with Him and got Him to change His mind. God wants us to engage with Him, to talk to Him, to press for what we think is right. Is there a time and a place for us to shut up and accept what God gives us? Absolutely. In fact, if you read the passage, Abraham is bargaining with God for righteous people in the city. He starts out with fifty: "Suppose there were fifty righteous within the city; would You also destroy the place and not spare it for the fifty righteous that were in it?" He gets God to agree that it is worth saving the city, if fifty righteous people can be found within it. And then Abraham keeps bargaining, and talks God down to ten. If they can find ten righteous people in the city, it will be spared.

But that's how messed up this city is: there are not even ten righteous people in it. God generally has really good reasons for what He's doing. Yet He still allows us to ask questions, to doubt and argue, to engage Him in debate. He's awesome that way.

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