When you look at the relationship between Leah and Rachel, on the surface you may feel bad for Leah because you read of Jacob’s great love for Rachel. Read Genesis 29. Rachel was younger, “had a lovely figure and was beautiful,” while Leah “had weak eyes” (v. 17 NIV). Plainly put, “Jacob was in love with Rachel” (v. 18 NIV).
Despite her love of Jacob, Rachel sacrificially remains silent so that Jacob would marry her sister Leah first. It was not a custom to have the younger child marry off before the eldest. Though Leah was “not loved” by Jacob as she desired, God soon blesses her with Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah. Note, Judah is the line that leads to Jesus.
These two sisters certainly had their moments, and more children followed to form the twelve tribes of Israel; Leah bore six of the twelve. Though Leah lacked the love of Jacob that she desired, God provided her a huge family and wealth. She is mentioned in Ruth 4, along with her sister, as building the house of Israel. Eventually she would be buried beside the man she adored, in the cave with Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah (see Genesis 49:29-33). God was with her and her children. She was loved by Him. She was not for lack. God loves you too. Today, rest in His love. You, too, are not for lack.
“When the LORD saw that Leah was not loved, He enabled her to conceive, but Rachel remained childless.” Genesis 29:31 [NIV]
“Behold, children are a gift of the LORD, the fruit of the womb is a reward.” – Psalm 127:3 [NASB]
Even though Lot chose the land to the east, it didn’t remove the promise of God. Remember, God promised Abram descendants, land, and blessing. Lot making a choice for some land, does not cancel a promise of God. No one can take away from the Word of God. This is why it is so vital for us to have His Word written in our hearts. This is why it is so important for us to be deep in the Word, reading it, meditating on it, cherishing it. So that we know these promises. So that we know what He says, what He commands, what He desires. So that we know Him.
Abram was given these promises and these promises would stand. Abram never saw all of the promises come to fruition; his descendants did. At this moment in the narrative, as Lot goes in one direction and Abram is to go the other, it would appear as if this promise of land would now not happen. That’s how you and I think so often. Well I guess this won’t happen now. God says this, God promises that, but I’m not seeing anything appear to be moving in that direction. At this point, God told Abram to stand and walk the land He would deliver.
Arise, walk into the promise of God. That’s basically what He told Abram. Arise, walk into the promise of God. See, God promises you and I a lot. He promises you things. Look into His Word. Read His promises. Speak to Him. Through the Holy Spirit, He will reveal His Word to you. Listen. You will read of His promises. But these promises do not just fall upon you. The world will tell you they aren’t true. Some will make you think they couldn’t possibly happen. You will look around and think that it’s never going to come to fruition. Arise, walk into the promise of God. Stand up. Walk forward in faith. Embrace the promises of God. Hold onto them. Trust that He will deliver.
“Arise, walk through the length and the breadth of the land, for I will give it to you.” – Genesis 13:17 [ESV]
After Abram and Lot part ways, with Lot selecting the Jordan Valley and heading eastward, the Lord speaks to Abram. He says, “Now lift up your eyes.” Lift up your eyes. Fix your eyes. Focus. Look from the place where you are. Imagine Abram looking upward, as he listened to the Lord. Then northward and southward and eastward and westward. God restates His promise to Abram. It didn’t matter that Lot took part of the land; Abram and His descendants would have it all.
I often find myself looking upwards. It is when I lift my eyes that I remember. I remember from where my help comes. I remember God has a great plan. I remember that I am His. I remember that this current circumstance is temporary. I remember what He has promised. I remember that He is with me. I remember Who has given me everything. I remember.
Today, lift your eyes. Remember what your Father has promised. Remember He wants a relationship with you. Remember He is with you through every step of the way. Remember.
“The LORD said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him, “Now lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward.” – Genesis 13:14 [NASB]
When Abram and Lot had conflict arise because God blessed them with so much, Abram initiated the separation of the two. He gave Lot the choice of the land to select. He basically said, “You go one way, and I’ll go the other.” Verse 9 notes that Abram said, “Separate yourself from me. If you take the left hand, then I will go to the right, or if you take the right hand, then I will go to the left” (ESV).
The narrative tells us that Lot made a choice. He “looked around and saw that the whole plain of the Jordan toward Zoar was well watered.” Seeing the great land, he made his selection. While choosing the Jordan Valley, he disregarding what was happening in the area. He was taking residence in the area of Sodom and Gomorrah. Sadly, we all know these choices. We see what looks amazing, but it’s too good to be true.
We often make Jordan Valley Choices. We sacrifice for the sake of temporary pleasure. We choose to participate in things that get us close to crossing the line. We spend time near those who will cause us to move in the wrong direction. We pick what looks good from what we see on the outside, thereby missing the better choice. Today, focus on the choices you are making. Are you trying to select what you think would be most rewarding to you, no matter where it leads? Well-watered land isn’t always the most refreshing.
“Lot looked around and saw that the whole plain of the Jordan toward Zoar was well watered, like the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt. (This was before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.)” – Genesis 13:10 [NIV]
I love what happens in Genesis 13:8. Abram recognizes that the conflict or strife between Lot and himself could not continue. When we get wrapped up in conflict, it may keep us from keeping our eyes fixed on God and His call on our life. It also may cause division. God’s Word speaks a lot about unity, not division. He wants a united people, a united people with a heart for Him.
Abram takes the initiative to do something about it, rather than allow the conflict to continue. What a great example of a leader—one who can notice a situation and take steps to ensure it would not lead to something worse. This meant a separation from his nephew, but it was necessary. It reminds me of what Jesus says in Matthew, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”
God has great plans for His people. It requires us to humble ourselves and have a unity of mind. What does this mean? It means we are united for one purpose – doing the will of God. We don’t allow ourselves to get in the way, to be a stumbling block, to what God is doing. We don’t put ourselves first, but we show brotherly love to others and look out for their best interests. We trust that God has the best plan, and we surrender to it.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” – Matthew 5:9 [ESV]
“Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.” – 1 Peter 3:8 [ESV]
These past two weeks, I continue to be reminded of floods. As we continue our series through Genesis, we were discussing Noah and the Flood, and the aftermath. As well, Facebook has reminded me of the flooding we had in 2011, with photos of local areas flooded from Tropical Storm Lee. I cannot fathom the view Noah would have had from the Ark as the earth was destroyed by flood waters.
When I look back on these flood photos from Tropical Storm Lee, I still cannot believe the area was flooded. I remember seeing photos of Knoebels Amusement Park underwater and thinking I would never again get to take a family visit to the park. Two years ago, I found myself walking around at Knoebels as if the place was never flooded. Some of the photos of the roads flooded by Lee I have driven on just last week. It was as if nothing ever happened.
All of this talk of flooding these past few weeks reminds me of the restoration of God. He is Jehovah Rophi, God who heals, Who restores. In Exodus 15, God proclaims this to the Israelites as they cry out because of the bitter water at Marah. Still today, God restores. Yes, we will suffer a little while; however, “He will restore, support, and strengthen you, and He will place you on a firm foundation.” Keep pressing forward. Restoration will come!
“He said, ‘If you will listen carefully to the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in His sight, obeying His commands and keeping all His decrees, then I will not make you suffer any of the diseases I sent on the Egyptians; for I am the LORD who heals you.’” – Exodus 15:26 [NLT]
“In His kindness God called you to share in His eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, He will restore, support, and strengthen you, and He will place you on a firm foundation.” – 1 Peter 5:10 [NLT]
As I study Exodus, I am preaching about Genesis. We just finished looking at the Creation story. As you review each day of Creation, you finally reach the seventh day. Rest. I love how God built this great rhythm of work and rest into His creation. This rhythm continues throughout the Bible, and today’s verse is one of these continuations.
God tells His people that the land needs renewal. As I take my morning walks, I often take note of the small things that I wouldn’t see rushing throughout my day. I look around the neighborhood, at the different gardens and flowers. I consider the different seasons, the way the growth patterns work. There is great rhythm in creation, and with it there is renewal that God designed within His creation.
We also need renewal. We need to have time to rest and time to renew ourselves in the Lord. Part of this means being intentional with your time. We have different seasons of our lives, just like there are different seasons of a calendar year. We have seasons of challenge, seasons of loss. We have seasons of growth and seasons of change. Each season is different, but each requires rest and renewal. More importantly, in each season we need the Spirit of God to lead us through, to mold us and grow us for the next season.
“But let the land be renewed and lie uncultivated during the seventh year. Then let the poor among you harvest whatever grows on its own. Leave the rest for wild animals to eat. The same applies to your vineyards and olive groves.” – Exodus 23:11 [NLT]
In Genesis 8, we read that “God remembered Noah.” This doesn’t mean that God forgot Noah, but then remembered Him later. When saying God remembered Noah, it means that God faithfully did what He told Noah He would do. This verse is saying that God was going to fulfill the promise He made to Noah (see Genesis 6:13-22).
Our God is faithful. Don’t think for a second that He has forgotten you or overlooked you. He remembers you and He remembers the promises He made to you. If you don’t know what He has promised you, spend more time in His Word seeking out these promises.
Just as God remembered Noah, God also remembers you.
“But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and livestock with him in the boat. He sent a wind to blow across the earth, and the floodwaters began to recede.” – Genesis 8:1 [NLT]
In Genesis 11, we have another example of people moving away from God and His grand design. After the Fall and the Flood, it seemed like mankind was being restored. Noah and his family departed from the Ark, but it did not take much time before one brother leads the others to see a drunk, naked Noah in his tent. Canaan was cursed. Later, we read of the Tower of Babel.
As we look at this historical moment, we can note that the people were focused on themselves. The people wanted to build a city for themselves. The people also wanted to construct a tower that would reach all the way up to the heavens. The question that begs to be asked—why are the people desiring to build a city for themselves when God already has a place for His people?
Adam and Eve sinned long ago. Although they did not outright say they wanted a city for themselves, it is clear that they could not even follow God’s directions in the Garden. They risked everything they had with God—such a special, intimate relationship—for the words of the serpent. They chose something other than God at that point, at that moment they did not accept the Word of God. The cycle continues again and again, as we try to build for ourselves a life, a life apart from God. We try so desperately to make a name for ourselves, yet God has already chosen us and named us. Not only are we children of God through faith, but He will give each one of us a new name. Today, ask yourself this question: are you a tower builder?
“Then they said, ‘Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.’” – Genesis 11:4 [NIV]
I love the name Nimrod. Although it typically means socially inadequate to most people who use it, the actual name means “skillful hunter” or “mighty hunter.” The Bible tells us that Nimrod was not only the great-grandson of Noah, but also a renowned hunter. I personally became curious about the name Nimrod when I heard the name while researching my family genealogy which is connected to the Blue Eyes Six. Every once in a while, I’ll say Nimrod Spattenhoover. This is the name of another person who was punished by hanging in my local area.
The name Nimrod isn’t the first name usually mentioned when we consider someone from the Bible. Many people likely do not even remember Nimrod. Some possibly would say the name doesn’t appear in the Bible at all, because they skimmed over it or never heard it once in a sermon or Sunday School lesson. But Nimrod was renowned to some people. He lived a life and he left a mark. Some traditions even hold that Nimrod led in the building of the Tower of Babel, although I don’t think someone would want to brag about that attempt to live without God.
Nimrod may not be remembered, but he appears in Genesis along with so many other names you and I may not remember. Even so, everyone matters. Not everyone gets their names in lights. Not everyone gets to be the leaders. Not everyone gets the attention. In life, it is not about lifting yourself up or trying to be better than anyone else. Having the second position is okay. God will use you wherever He places you. Be satisfied with where He places you, and you will enjoy a great partnership with God, building His kingdom and serving His people. He will honor you for it and you will be blessed by it.
“Cush was also the ancestor of Nimrod, who was the first heroic warrior on earth. Since he was the greatest hunter in the world, his name became proverbial. People would say, ‘This man is like Nimrod, the greatest hunter in the world.’” – Genesis 10:8-9 [NLT]