SATANIC ATTACKS AGAINST CHRISTIANS

Satanic attacks are real to all persons, but specifically to Christians, because Satan is God’s enemy and thus an enemy to all God’s followers. Ever since his fall from grace, Satan has been organizing his forces (demons) to oppose the work of MP900443097Christ in and through His followers, those that are called Christians. This opposition has been a reality from the dawn of creation as was seen in the Garden of Eden when Satan, in the outward appearance of a serpent, caused Adam and Eve to sin against God <Gen.3>. Satanic attacks on God’s followers are seen throughout the Scriptures, mentioned often in the New Testament, and seldom, but apparent, in the Old Testament; and belief in the existence and power of spirits (demons) was virtually universal in the ancient world, and is very evident in today’s society. Although Satan, through his demons, has power to bring catastrophe to humans, we should understand that they are only able to do so when they are permitted by God <see Jud.9:23-24a; Job 1:1-2:10>. How then can we as followers of Jesus Christ survive these satanic attacks?

The Apostle Peter, in his letter to Jewish and Gentile Christians, forewarns us that Satan pursues like a lion on the hunt for prey seeking those that he can overcome: “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” <1 Pet.5:8-9 (NIV)>.

Be self-controlled and alert: we should not be asleep like unbelievers; we should be alert or on the lookout for the danger that lurks around us, we should “keep watch” as Christ encouraged His disciples <see 1 Thess.5:6-8a; Matt.24:42; 25:13> and as Peter remembered his failure <see Matt. 26:36-46>.

Resist him, standing firm in the faith: we are unlikely to succeed in our own personal attempts so it is imperative that we depend upon the help of The Holy Spirit in this purpose. It is useless to say “I trust God and ignore Satan” because we are reminded that our battle is not against flesh and blood but against “the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” <Eph.6:12 (NIV)> so we need to put on the full armor of God. The war between God and Satan began when Satan rebelled <see Isa.14:12-17; Ezek.28:1-19> and it continues until the present day and will continue until Christ returns in triumph to reign on earth, since Christians are Satan’s enemy he will do everything to defeat us.

SATAN’S METHODS OF ATTACK

As followers of Christ and students of the Scriptures we should not be surprised at Satan’s tactics, so we must continue to live by the Scriptures “in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.” <2 Cor.2:11 (NIV)>, or as J.B. Phillips translates it – We don’t want Satan to win any victory here, and well we know his methods!” Some of his methods are:

  • Causing a spirit of laziness to overcome us, wherein we become tired and ambition-less in our studies. This can also be the result of the weather, our diet, or pressure of duties, so we need to set our priorities <cf Jas.4:7-8a>; and here again we must be reminded that it is only through the help and power of The Holy Spirit that we succeed. We cannot allow external pressures to keep us away from God; we need to set limits to physical living as opposed to our spiritual needs.
  • Attempting to wreck our minds through incorrect thoughts, impressions or ideas, bitterness, grudges, life’s disappointments and pride. Satan is engaged in the battle of the mind in an attempt to regain control of our lives <cf 2 Cor.4:4>.
  • Being the source of mental stress, triggering changes in our mental condition introducing thoughts of suicide, our routine changes, and we express this in the way we excessively conduct ourselves in the things that we do. We have to be cautious about our uncontrolled mental thoughts, especially when aimless and unsystematic. We should not be led by our “reasoning” but rather we should live by faith in God. We should always understand that God holds the keys to life and death, yet He permits Satan to act in various ways <see Job 1:12; 2:6>.
  • Discouragement is one of Satan’s major weapons, and comes in various ways throughout our life, and especially as we get older and recognize some of our failures in our service for God or as we experience great difficulty serving God in “Satan’s territory”.

HOW DO WE RESIST THE DEVIL’S ATTACKS?

As believers in God we need to understand that we are in a constant battle with evil, the Devil will do everything he can to cause us to fail in our relationship with Christ. We need to be conscious of the fact that as we face the demands of life the Devil will cause us to have wrong desires, thoughts and motives; we need to seek God’s grace and humbly walk with Him each day <cf Jas.4:1-6>; recognize what we are experiencing as a Satanic attack, we then submit ourselves to God and “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” <Jas.4:7 (NIV)>. Here again we must understand that we cannot fight against the Devil by our own capability, our defense is only through the help of The Holy Spirit and the Word of God.

How do we submit to God? The method given to us is: “Come near”, “wash”, “purify”, “grieve”, “mourn”, “wail”, “change”, “humble yourselves before the Lord” <Jas.4:8-10>; and the Lord will direct our ways and deliver us as we resist the Devil.

How do we resist the Devil? We do so by clothing ourselves in the armor of God so as to stand against the Devil’s schemes <see Eph.6:10-18>. We need to protect ourselves with Christ and not think about gratifying our sinful nature <Rom.13:14>. We should defend ourselves by applying the Word of God <cf Matt.4:1-11>, and diligent prayer to God for His protection and deliverance. We must always remember to confess sin immediately, for sin breaks our communion with God and allows the Devil a foothold in our life <1 Jn.1:9> for the Word of God declares “They overcame him (Satan) by the blood of the Lamb” <Rev.12:11a (NIV)>.

 

SEVEN EDITIONS OF GOD’S DIVINE LAW

1st EDITION – WRITTEN IN NATURE

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” <Psa.19:1 (NIV)>. The heavens and the skies declare God’s glory and His creation, for the Scriptures affirm Him as the Creator of all things <see Gen.1:8, 14-18; Psa. 8:1; 97:6; Isa.6:3b>, but what do they reveal about God to mankind? Looking up to the skies on a clear night we see millions of stars, looking through a telescope we can see more and see further into the universe, and with tGalaxy (by Wikipedia)he current Space Telescope we learn that there are billions of galaxies, earth being a part of one small galaxy. Science teaches that the speed of light is 186,000 miles per second, which tells us that the light from each star that we see has taken billions of years to travel through space, so that in effect what we see has already occurred far back in time. This should cause us to consider the Creator in respect to the creation, for all that we see in the skies “affirm the work of God’s hands”, and the fact that He is in control of each and every heavenly object, as each one remains in its orbit with no variation; and with all the technology that is available today no human being is able maintain such control of the universe <cf Job 38:31-32>.

Although their voices are silent “Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words Galaxies (Hubble Telescope)to the ends of the world.” <Psa.19:2-4 (NIV)>; their proclamation is audible to all mankind in every corner of the earth. Since all mankind experience that inner craving to satisfy our spiritual need, which has been expressed from the dawn of creation by the desire to establish a “god” that is worshiped, and we have seen this in every people and nation throughout history. Today such “gods” can be in various forms, anything that replaces the true God is nothing but an idol. When mankind fails to acknowledge what has been revealed through nature, we worship nature itself instead of The God who is revealed to us and so we face His wrath <see Rom.1:18-20; Psa.50:6; 89:5-8; 97:6>.

God’s divine Law is therefore revealed to us in nature, and like the sun “nothing is hidden from its heat”, we cannot hide from God <Psa.19:6; cf Heb.4:13>. Unlike the laws created by our governments, God’s Law is prefect, trustworthy, precise, beneficial, untainted and positive; “By them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.” It keeps us from hidden and willful sins so that they do not control our lives, and causes our speech and meditations to be pleasing to God our Redeemer <Psa.19:7-14>.

2nd EDITION – WRITTEN ON OUR CONSCIENCE

Heathen people, who have no knowledge of God’s Law, who act in accordance to the Law by what is revealed to them in nature, demonstrate the effect of the Law that is working in their minds. “since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.” <Rom.2:15 (NIV)>. J.B. Phillips, in his translation, writes: “Their own consciences endorse the existence of such a law, for there is something which condemns or commends their actions.”  The requirements of the Law designed to work in the lives of the Israelites is observed in some degree in the lives of the heathen people; the fact that they know the right action to take shows that the requirement of the Law is etched on their consciences, which confirms an inborn knowledge, causing them to constantly determine what is right or wrong; being forbidden or allowed to act. So here we see that their consciences, or moral nature, functions in a similar manner as the Law did for the Jews.

When a heathen is lead to a personal relationship with God through some incident in life, the full understanding of the requirement of God’s Law is understood <see 2 Kings 5:13-19a>.

3rd EDITION – WRITTEN ON SLABS OF STONE

Stone Tablets (pinterest.com)

A study of the Time Chart of Biblical History will indicate that the giving of the Law to Moses occurred some 2500 years after the creation, which means that mankind’s knowledge of God and the requirements of the Law, prior to it being given to Moses, were strictly by conscience. God revealed Himself personally to certain individuals as we read in the Genesis account, while others, specifically the pagans, were dependent upon conscience. The accounts in the book of Exodus reveal the transition to the written Law of God.

“The Lord said to Moses, “Come up to me on the mountain and stay here, and I will give you the tablets of stone, with the law and commands I have written for their instruction.”” <Ex.24:12 (NIV); 31:18>. Here we read of God calling Moses to the top of the mountain to give him the Law, or covenant, which was written for their instruction. The Law was not given as a means of righteousness for mankind but rather to reveal what was in the heart of mankind, for we see that the people broke the first commandment of the covenant by plunging into idol worship while they awaited Moses’ return <cf Ex.32:1-10; Gal.3:19a>. Previously, God was revealed to mankind by way of conscience, now God is giving the Law to reveal that mankind is not capable of attaining righteousness by any individual action or effort of conscience <cf Gal.3:10-11>. So we see that the Jews were given the Law to instruct them how to worship and live in ways pleasing to God and to be examples to the pagans by obedience to God’s Law.

4th EDITION – THE ENTIRE SCRIPTURES

“For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us” <Rom.15:4 (NIV)>. When we need to fully understand how a device works we go to the manual or instruction book to read the details; and so it is with God’s Law. The Bible is a collection of books written by God’s messengers of ancient times (O.T.) and of more recent times (N.T.), and the contents were dictated by God Himself for our instruction and teaching in today’s world <cf 2 Tim.3:15-16>. In relation to the Israelites and their adjoining nations “These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come.” <1 Cor.10:11 (NIV)>, so that we can understand the demands of the Law and what God requires of us as we observe the warnings to those that disobey and ridicule the Law of God. God’s Law and its requirements will be found nowhere else except in the Holy Scriptures, since He is the author and He recorded them.

5th EDITION – CONFIRMED BY CHRIST

As discussed previously, the purpose of the Law was to bring condemnation to the sinner, since the Law only exposes sin and God’s wrath and, in itself, does not produce righteousness <cf Rom.4:15a; Heb.9:22>. God, therefore, had to introduce another way to bring righteousness to all mankind; “For what the law was powerless to do …. God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering.” <Rom.8:3 (NIV)>. The Law demanded the death of the sinner, and the sinner had to bring a sacrificial offering, one that would be without defect, which would substitute for the sinner, and this was the pattern under the Old Covenant (O.T.). The N.T. introduced the New Covenant in which God would provide an eternal sacrifice in the person of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the “Word” or “Law”; “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God….  The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” <Jn.1:1, 14 (NIV)>. Now the righteous requirements of the Law has been met through Christ in the life of the believer, who now lives in obedience to the Law out of love for Christ, fulfilling the requirements of the new covenant <cf Rom.8:4; Jer.31:33-34; Gal.3:24-25>. The Lord Jesus Christ thus confirmed the requirements of the Law and provided a way for all mankind to escape the wrath of God.

6th EDITION – INSCRIBED ON THE HEART (INTELLECT)

“This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts.” <Heb.8:10 (NIV); cf Jer.31:33-34>; here we see the fulfillment of the New Covenant foretold by Jeremiah. The New Covenant is different to and superior to the Mosaic Covenant (Law) <Heb.8:9>. God’s Law now becomes an individual attitude because it is placed in our minds and written on our hearts <Heb.8:10>, which enables us to delight in doing God’s will <cf Ezek.36:26-27; Rom.8:2-4>. Thus we can now have a close relationship with God, our ignorance of God is forever removed and we receive everlasting forgiveness of our sins <Heb.8:10-12>.

7th EDITION – BELIEVERS AS LIVING COMMUNICATORS

“You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody. You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.” <2 Cor.3:2-3 (NIV)> The Corinthian believers, and likewise, all believers in Christ are described by Paul as “a letter from Christ” because the Word of God, God’s Law, is written on our hearts by the Holy Spirit and thus can be read by everyone with whom we are in contact. The work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer is permanent because it is eternal, unlike the ink on paper that will eventually fade <cf 2 Cor.3:6>. Unlike the Law that was written on stone tablets, the New Covenant is now written on our hearts <see Jer.31:33; Ezek.11:19; 36:26-27>; and the result of this is, like Moses, the glory of God is reflected in our lives as we live pleasing to Him <see 2 Cor.3:7-18>.

THE CHRISTMAS NARRATIVE (THE FIRST CHRISTMAS SONGS)

[The first Christmas carols (songs) are all recorded in the Scriptures, and some of them are here presented in what can be called a “Christmas Carol Recital”; hope you enjoy reading (singing) them.]
 
OVERTURE
“The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” .  “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.” . “Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins. A voice of one calling: “In the desert prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God. Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all mankind together will see it. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”” <Isa.40:1-5 (NIV>.
ACT 1
And Mary said:
“My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me — holy is his name. His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, even as he said to our fathers.” <Lk.1:46-55 (NIV)>
Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied:
“Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come and has redeemed his people. He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David (as he said through his holy prophets of long ago), salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us—to show mercy to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant, the oath he swore to our father Abraham: to rescue us from the hand of our enemies, and to enable us to serve him without fear in holiness and righteousness before him all our days. And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.” <Lk.1:67-79 (NIV)>
The angel said to them,
“Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.” And a great company of the heavenly host appeared… “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” <Lk.2:9-14 (NIV)>
Simeon …. praised God, saying:
“Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.”…..”This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.” <Lk.2:28-32, 34-35 (NIV>
“Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him….God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact. Exalted to the right hand of God…..God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” <Acts2:22-25, 32-33, 36 (NIV)>
FINALE
“he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.  They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.” <Acts 1:9-11 (NIV)>.
“You who bring good tidings to Jerusalem, lift up your voice with a shout, lift it up, do not be afraid; say to the towns of Judah, “Here is your God!” See, the Sovereign Lord comes with power, and his arm rules for him. See, his reward is with him, and his recompense accompanies him. He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.” <Isa.40:9-11 (NIV)>.
“I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: 
KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.”  
<Rev.19:11-16 (NIV)>.

THE FLOOD – WAS IT LOCAL OR GLOBAL?

FLOOD LEGENDS

The account of Noah and the Flood may be the best known, but it is neither the only nor the oldest such legend. Other legends can be found in the folklore of such diverse places as the Middle East, India, China, Australia, and southern Asia, the islands of the Pacific, Europe, and the Americas. All these folklore legends present the thought of a local flood in which individuals saved themselves from its effects.
THE BIBLICAL ACCOUNT
The book of Genesis gives the Biblical account of what took place, and the reason why it happened. “Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence. God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways. So God said to Noah, “I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth.” <Gen.6:11-13 (NIV)>. The corruption and violence of mankind lead to the need for divine intervention and a way of salvation for the only righteous person, Noah and his family <Gen.6:9>.
THE ARK
“So make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in it and coat it with pitch inside and out. This is how you are to build it: The ark is to be 450 feet long, 75 feet wide and 45 feet high. Make a roof for it and finish the ark to within 18 inches of the top. Put a door in the side of the ark and make lower, middle and upper decks.” <Gen.6:14-16 (NIV)> ; in comparison to a Football Field it was 90 ft longer and 85 ft narrower. It was covered by one roof, had three decks, one door, one window; and although the complete specifications are not given, neither are important to the written account, it was completely adequate for the purpose.
THE NATURE OF THE DESTRUCTION
The flood waters will cover the entire world, which was never seen before that time, and every living (air-breathing) thing will perish; “I am going to bring floodwaters on the earth to destroy all life under the heavens, every creature that has the breath of life in it. Everything on earth will perish…..Seven days from now I will send rain on the earth for forty days and forty nights, and I will wipe from the face of the earth every living creature I have made.” And Noah did all that the LORD commanded him.” <Gen.6:17; 7:4-5 (NIV)>.
THE BEGINNING OF THE FLOOD
Noah was six hundred years old when the flood began on the earth; he and his family and one pair of all the species of animals and birds and other air-breathing creatures entered the Ark, and seven days later it began to rain; “the springs of the great deep burst forth, and the floodgates of the heavens were opened” <Gen.7:11 (NIV)>; the springs of the great deep were underground rivers and water supplies (Believer’s Bible Commentary); or “subterranean waters confined by creative power on the second day of creation” (Wycliffe Bible Commentary).
THE LENGTH OF TIME OF THE FLOOD
“For forty days the flood kept coming on the earth, and as the waters increased they lifted the ark high above the earth. The waters rose and increased greatly on the earth, and the ark floated on the surface of the water.” <Gen.7:17-18 (NIV)>. There was a continual downpour and outpour for 40 days [5.5 weeks] producing enough water to “bear up” the Ark, indicating a depth of at least 20 feet in the earliest stages (in reference to the displacement of the ship). “The waters rose and covered the mountains to a depth of more than twenty feet.” <Gen.7:20 (NIV)>; all the high mountains were covered to a depth of approximately 20 ft. The highest peak of the Ararat mountains is 17,000 ft; the waters prevailed 150 days [5 months 3 weeks] at which time the windows of heaven and the fountains of the deep were shut . The waters began to abate and the Ark rests upon the mountains of Ararat . Ten months later the tops of the other mountains become visible . Forty days later the Dove was let out but could not find anywhere to perch; and one year and twenty seven days passed before there was enough dry land for Noah and his family and animals to leave the Ark, [Noah’s 601 year]; “In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, on the seventeenth day of the second month– on that day all the springs of the great deep burst forth, and the floodgates of the heavens were opened……The water receded steadily from the earth. At the end of the hundred and fifty days the water had gone down” <Gen.7:11; 8:3 (NIV)>. This account does not indicate a local flood as some believe and teach – it was a universal destruction.
THE EFFECTS OF THE FLOOD
All flesh and every living substance was destroyed: “Every living thing that moved on the earth perished– birds, livestock, wild animals, all the creatures that swarm over the earth, and all mankind. Everything on dry land that had the breath of life in its nostrils died. Every living thing on the face of the earth was wiped out; men and animals and the creatures that move along the ground and the birds of the air were wiped from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those with him in the ark.” <Gen.7:21-23 (NIV)>. The oceans became much more extensive, and the land areas much less extensive; much less of the resultant land area was inhabitable. The thermal vapor blanket that had covered the world was now crumbled, and strong differentials in temperature were now evident – snow and ice at the polar regions and at high elevations – further contributing to the uninhabitable conditions; winds, rains, snow, and storms were now possible making a harsh environment for man and animals. The life-span for man and animals was reduced considerably. Tremendous glaciers, rivers and lakes existed for a time and the crust of the earth developed a state of instability reflected in seismic and volcanic activity. The resulting sediments of the flood were left to be unearthed by archaeologists down through the ages – further proof that there was a worldwide catastrophe, buried fossils of animals fish and people.
THE EARTH IN ITS ORIGINAL FORM: “And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.” And it was so. God called the dry ground “land,” and the gathered waters he called “seas.” And God saw that it was good.” . “But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed.” <2 Pet.3:5-6 (NIV)>.
CONTINENTAL DRIFT
“If the continents of the world are cut from a map, they can be made to fit together like the pieces of a jigsaw. Hence the theory that the Earth was originally one enormous continent, before it split up and the pieces drifted apart to their present positions. The theory, formulated earlier this century [20th]has recently won fresh scientific support. Magnetic measurements, showing which way rocks were facing when they were first formed, indicate that rocks all over the world were once differently orientated – in a pattern that seems to fit the theory of continental drift. Sandstones, some 200 million years old, found in Britain, suggest a Saharan climate; and the magnetic measurements indicate that Britain was where the Sahara is now.” 
  ·         Some 326 million cubic miles of water cover the planet
·         Enough to submerge the land to an average depth of 8,500 feet
[The deepest part of the Pacific Ocean is measured at 10,800 m (35,640 ft]
 [© The Reader’s Digest Association – from The Reader’s Digest Great World Atlas 1964]
WHAT SHOULD WE LEARN FROM THE FLOOD?
“As the days of Noah were, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man” <Matt.24:37 (NIV)>. There will be the preoccupation with physical appetites <cf Lk.17:27>. There will be rapid advances in technology <cf Gen.4:22>; and disgustingly materialistic attitudes and interests <cf Lk.17:28>. There will be excessive devotion to pleasure and comfort <cf Gen.4:21>, and no concern for God in either belief or conduct <cf Isa.5:12; 2 Pet.3:3>. There will be population explosion <Gen.6:1>, widespread violence <cf Gen.6:11> and corruption throughout society <cf Gen.6:12>, prevalent words and thoughts of profanity <cf Ex.20:7, 2 Chron.32:19, 21; Jude 15>. Organized Satanic activity will be on the increase <cf Gen.6:4>, and a general acceptance of systems and movements of abnormal depravity <cf Gen.6:5; Rom.1:28-32>. All these conditions prevailed in Noah’s days and are all rapidly growing again today.
In addition to these we must understand that the fact of the flood is a pivotal issue in the conflict between Christianity and anti-Christianity, since it testifies to the awfulness of sin and the reality of divine retribution. It is God’s prerogative to intervene wherever and whenever evil becomes excessive in society. God determines the extent of such intervention. This has been God’s way throughout the history of the world [in Noah’s day; Sodom and Gomorrah; the Israelites in Egypt; the Israeli conquest of Canaan; when Israel as a nation sinned; the Assyrian & Babylonian nations]. Down through history God’s pattern of intervention has been the same since His ways are unchangeable. Evil is ever increasing in our society today and God will one day bring everything to a close; the Church will be removed; evil will become more excessive; tribulation will begin; the Lord Jesus Christ will return to judge the evil ones; Satan and all the rebellious angels will be cast into the Lake of fire with all those who serve him; the sad part is that the ungodly will continue to deny and reject the coming judgment just as they did in Noah’s day.
GOD’S JUDGMENT IS SURE
As God judged the evil people of Noah’s day, He will do the same to the evil people of this present world; first, He will remove those who have accepted His salvation in Jesus Christ. We are safe in Christ – our Ark, just as Noah and his family were safe in the Ark, then Christ will appear the second time on earth to judge the evil and ungodly ones <see Jn.14:2-3; 2 Thess.1:7-9; 2:3-12>; they will perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved, and all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness. The gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ brings hope to all who fall into this category <see Joel 2:32; 1 Jn.5:11-12>. Just as Noah believed God, we are also to believe what God’s Word says.
Where do you stand? Do you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ? Have you trusted in Him for your salvation?

THE DAYS OF NOAH – THE EXTENT OF MAN’S WICKEDNESS

“When men began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose. Then the Lord said, “My Spirit will not contend with man forever, for he is mortal; his days will be a hundred and twenty years.” The Nephilim were on the earth in those days — and also afterward — when the sons of God went to the daughters of men and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown. The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. The Lord was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain. So the Lord said, “I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth — men and animals, and creatures that move along the ground, and birds of the air — for I am grieved that I have made them.””. <Gen.6:1-7 (NIV)>
“The LORD saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become”. <Gen.6:5 (NIV)> Some of the wickedness seen in mankind as a result of what occurred in this account are: occultism, violence, corruption, terror and demon theology. <cf Rom.1:18-32>
  
OCCULTISM: (Latin occulere, “to hide”), belief in the efficacy of various practices—including astrology, alchemy, divination, and magic—regarded as being based on hidden knowledge about the universe and its mysterious forces. Occultism may also include a belief in beings, such as angels, deities, or spirits, who can be contacted by those who possess the appropriate knowledge. Medieval occult practice included astrology, alchemy, and ceremonial magic rites for evoking spiritual beings. In the late medieval and early modern period (13th century to 15th century), occultism came to be increasingly regarded by the church as connected with the worship of Satan. Occultism continued as an intellectual presence in Europe in the 18th and 19th centuries, and came to be valued more for its spiritual meaning than for its prescientific world view. In the 20th century, another rebirth of occultism can be seen in the counterculture movement of the 1960s, with its interest in astrology, divination, and magic. The New Age movement of the 1980s and 1990s may be considered another manifestation of occultism. A recent example of occultism is seen in this quotation: Cult leader and convicted killer Charles Manson, who died on Sunday (Nov. 19) at the age of 83, built his own perverse mythology upon a foundation of occultism, race war conspiracy theories and, ultimately, murder.”— [Bryan Rolli, Billboard, “Music Journalist Legs McNeil Talks New Book on Charles Manson and the Dark Side of Late-’60s ‘Free Love’,” 21 Nov. 2017]
What do the Scriptures teach about the Occult? <see Deut.18:9-12; Isa.47:10-15; 41:23; Gen.3:5; 2 Cor.11:13-15>
VIOLENCE“The number of crimes in South Africa is down, but the level of violence is scarier…the remaining violent crime is not only ever more spectacular, but ever harder to rein in….” (News item from the New York Times Friday Sept. 23, 2005); (Items from Canadian Press): VANCOUVER (CP) – Three attackers were ordered Tuesday to pay $5.7 million to a man they beat so badly he has to be fed like a baby. TORONTO (CP) – One day after police in Canada’s largest city arrested dozens of suspects in a sweeping gang bust that had top officials boasting of safer streets, gunfire rang across the city Friday with five more shootings – three of them fatal. Homicide rate jumped last year after reaching 30-year low in 2003  [StatsCan 10/6/05]
What do the Scriptures teach about Violence? <see Job.24:2-4; Hos.4:2; Prov.4:17>
CORRUPTION: – A Manitoba aboriginal group accused Winnipeg’s police force Thursday of whitewashing an investigation into the fatal shooting of a native teenager. [CP]. Two senior officials at the centre of a city hall cronyism scandal were fired yesterday, a sombre Mayor told a news conference. This is not a happy day for the City of Toronto…. [Globe & Mail 10/6/05]. Federal public service managers were warned Thursday to make sure they toe the line when it comes to fairness and transparency in staffing practices after a series of audits turned up signs of negligence and favouritism in hiring at some government departments [Globe & Mail 10/6/05].
What do the Scriptures teach about Corruption? <see Psa.12:1-2; Isa.1:23; Ezek.22:26>
TERROR: During George Bush’s recent remarks, billed as a major address in the War on Terror, [quote] “In this new century, freedom is once again assaulted by enemies determined to roll back generations of democratic progress. Once again, we’re responding to a global campaign of fear with a global campaign of freedom, and once again, we will see freedom’s victory,” …….“We will not tire or rest until the War on Terror is won,” Bush said. [Fox News 10/6/05]. Lots of things wake people up in the middle of the night ….it was a rude and more violent awakening – the sound of thieves breaking into their home. A couple and their three children, aged 13 to 21, were terrorized by the bandits for half an hour as they ransacked the home in northwest Toronto. [City Pulse News 10/6/05]
What do the Scriptures teach about Terror? <see Prov.28:2; Zech.14:13; Lk.21:11-13; cf Matt.27:15-26>
God condemns Corruption, Violence, and Terror and He will one day put an end to all such, even as He did in days gone by <see Isa.13:11; 14:27>
DEMON THEOLOGY: much can be said in regard to this subject. “A demon is a supernatural and often malevolent being prevalent in religion, occultism, literature, fiction, mythology and folklore.” [From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia]. We see recorded in various documents such as “Great Religions of The World” (National Geographic Society) where there are many references to demon personification and demon worship in all of the ancient religions of eastern countries, specifically in various forms of Hinduism and Buddhism. This theology has been restructured and has migrated in various forms to all countries of the world in our day. Demon personification, worship and human indwelling is also recorded in various forms by the Gospels and other books of the Old and New Testaments <cf Num.22:4b-7; Matt.8:28-29; Mk.5:1-10; Lk.22:3; 1 Tim.5:15; Acts 17:22; Gal.4:8-9>. Our Lord Jesus gave an example of those who seek to deliver themselves from demon possession, without the help of the Holy Spirit, the result of such an attempt being further demon possession <see Matt.12:43-45a; cf Heb.6:4-6; 10:23-29; 2 Pet.2:20>.
“The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. <1 Tim.4:1-3 (NIV)>; cf Jude 4-10, 14-23>.
How was Noah and his family affected by the ungodliness and sin that was so  rampant in their day? In what ways can believers be influenced by demon theology in our world? What can we do to avoid such theology?
“To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy–to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.” <Jude 24-25>.

THE DAYS OF NOAH

“When men began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose. The Nephilim were on the earth in those days– and also afterward– when the sons of God went to the daughters of men and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown.” <Gen.6:1-2, 4 (NIV)>
A STRANGE AND TERRIBLE EVENT OCCURRED <Gen.6:1-2, 4>: There were giants (KJV), Nephilim (NIV); monsters, not only in size but also in wickedness.
WHO WERE THEY AND WHERE DID THEY COME FROM? <Gen.6:4>  “the sons of God” <cf Job.1:6>; these references speak of angelic beings: <cf Dan.3:25> here in the book of Daniel, is a reference to Christ in one of His pre-incarnate appearances. Thus, the phrase “the sons of God”, has to be interpreted as angelic beings, and in the context of the passage, these beings were “fallen angels”; those that had rebelled against God and were cast out of heaven.
The passage refers to their offspring as “giants” or “Nephilim”. The Nephilim are considered by many as giant demigods, the unnatural off­spring of the “daughters of men” (mortal women) in cohabitation with the “sons of God” (fallen angels). GiantAn abnormally tall and powerful human being of ancient Bible lands; the rendering of several Hebrew words [Nephilim (nef’i-lim; Rephaim(ref’a-im; Anakim (an’a-kim; Emim (em’im); Zamzummim(zam’zum-im)] Anakim – A gigantic race descended through Anak from Arba a Hittite, one of the descendants of Ham <Gen.23:3; 10:15>. The name “Arba” is mentioned in Jos.14:15 as “the greatest among the Anakites”. In their presence the Israelites reckoned themselves only as grasshoppers <Num.13:28, 33>. The Anakim were like the Emim, who were great, and many, and tall, and it was a common saying among the Israelites, “Who can stand before the children of Anak?” <Deut.9:2>. “the daughters of men” were descendants of human beings that populated the earth at that time, and the result of this type of marriage produced the giants or Nephilim.
THE WICKEDNESS OF MANKIND WAS GREAT! “The LORD saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence.” <Gen.6:5, 22 (NIV)>. The union of fallen angels and human beings not only produced giants, but also a race of wicked and evil people who had totally rejected God and did what was right in their own eyes.
THE NATURE OF THEIR WICKEDNESS: to understand this let us look at the other descendants of Adam, in particular – Lamech who was the 7thdescendant of Adam, and was evil personified. “Lamech said to his wives, “Adah and Zillah, listen to me; wives of Lamech, hear my words. I have killed a man for wounding me, a young man for injuring me. If Cain is avenged seven times, then Lamech seventy-seven times.” <Gen.4:23-24 (NIV)>. He was a member of a line of Adam that departed the ways of God and their father Adam. He was aware of the account of Cain and Abel <Gen.4:1-18>, and knew of the curse that God had laid on Cain. His statement in v24 shows his militant defiance against God in declaring that he took the life of another person and would be avenged for it. That is, he had the means to defend himself and no one, not even God, could punish him for his actions. Lamech had three sons, who by their actions and professions dominated the godless line of Cain in their prosperity, pleasure and power. Jabal: a nomadic cattle rancher (ie. to possess or acquire) . A new way of life in that he dominated or “cornered” the market. Anyone who required beef had to come to him. Jubal: his speciality was music. This new world order had its entertainment in music as it needed to find pleasurable ways to structure its time; ways to “drown out” the thought of God; ways to fill the void in their souls. Tubal-Cain: he introduced the first industrial revolution with the “cutting instrument”. He too had a monopoly on the business and no doubt supplied his father with the means of defending himself.
The growing anarchy of the antediluvians caused God to “look” from His throne in heaven upon their wicked philosophies, their obscene artefacts, their filthy causes, and their fashionable vile sins in which the society was being molded. So the influence of godlessness spread among the people of the antediluvian world, to the extent that their wickedness and evil caused God to regret forming man and placing him on this earth, “The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain.” <Gen.6:6 (NIV)>.
GOD’S INTERVENTION:  “So the LORD said, “I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth—men and animals, and creatures that move along the ground, and birds of the air—for I am grieved that I have made them.” <Gen.6:7 (NIV)>. Since God is the creator of all human, animal, and plant life, He has the right to destroy as He sees fit. The fatal line between God’s mercy and His wrath was crossed as the race had sinned beyond recall, and He had set the machinery in motion to destroy the world by flood.
GOD’S PROVISION“But Noah found favour in the eyes of the LORD… So make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in it and coat it with pitch inside and out…. But I will establish my covenant with you, and you will enter the ark—you and your sons and your wife and your sons’ wives with you. You are to bring into the ark two of all living creatures, male and female, to keep them alive with you. Two of every kind of bird, of every kind of animal and of every kind of creature that moves along the ground will come to you to be kept alive. You are to take every kind of food that is to be eaten and store it away as food for you and for them.” Noah did everything just as God commanded him.” <Gen.6:8, 14, 18-22 (NIV)>. The first biblical account of God’s preservation of His truth (other occurrences – the conquest of Canaan, the Jewish captivity in Babylon, the flight to Egypt of the Christ-child).
AS IT WAS – SO IT WILL BE: “As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.” <Matt.24:37-39 (NIV)>. Giants: fascination with the occult produced giants then, and will do the same today. Evil controls thoughts, actions and attitudes then and will continue today. There was increasing ungodliness then which continues today and rejection of God at every level of society, in Noah’s day and in ours. The Occult: the “sons of god” accomplished their purposes by an equivalent to demon possession. That is, they possessed the bodies of human men and women that were open to the mysteries of the spirit world. By such possession they controlled not only the men they exploited but also the women they took to themselves, and their evil control extended to the children that were born; <see Jude 6-7; Eph.2:2; 6:12; cf Matt.5:2-5; 8:28; Lk.8:29>. Demon possession can cause the possessed person to have great physical strength. Demons feared the Lord Jesus Christ because they were originally destined for the abyss (gloomy dungeons) <see 2 Pet.2:4>. The people in Noah’s day, no doubt because of their fascination with spiritualism and the occult, were possessed by such demons. 
EVIL CONTROL OF SOCIETY: is evident in the control of economic markets, both in government and business in general, causing a great deal of difficulty for consumers. Certain music of the world today can certainly drown out all thought of God – consider the effects of some modern music groups and individuals upon the lives and minds of society in general. Human rights and individual rights have certainly stressed our society in modern times, as we consider the decisions of our political and judicial systems in regards to individuals connected to crimes. Increasing violence among people in our communities and increasing corruption is evident in every segment of our society; “The LORD saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time….Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence.” <Gen.6:5, 22 (NIV)>. The occult and evil control in our present social circles has led to and will increasingly lead to ungodliness and a total rejection of God by the people of our day; God’s people were being enticed and it was difficult for Noah and his family, and God’s people today are in great danger of this ever appealing ungodliness <see 2 Pet.2:1-2; Jude 11-13>.
JUDGMENT: God’s patience ended in Noah’s day an will end for this present world in the not too distant future; as it was unexpected and denied by Noah’s society it is also rejected and denied by the world today <see 2 Pet.3:3-9>. Judgment was certain upon all who rejected Noah’s warning and is certain on all who reject it today <see 2 Pet.3:10; Rev.19:11, 17-20; 20:7-15>.
GOD’S PURPOSE: was the eradication of evil from Noah’s world and will be the eventual eradication of evil from this present world; from the earth itself and from people in general. A new heaven and earth will be brought into being, just as after the flood the earth had been purged of evil and in this new state evil will forever be purged from mankind <see Rev.21:1-5>. As in Noah’s day the whole creation was eagerly awaiting God’s intervention, so it is today! <see Rom.8:19-23>.
The creation groans as it did in Noah’s day to be liberated from the decay of sin, and we, as God’s children, also groan as we await the redemption of our bodies from this sinful state. We are God’s children – “sons of God” <1 Jn.3:1>, Because of, and only through, faith in Jesus Christ <Jn.1:12-13>, and are led by His Holy Spirit (as opposed to the “sons of god” in Noah’s day).
Are you beyond doubt a “child of God”? Only God’s children, those who are truly born again into His family, will escape the impending judgment upon this evil world!

HAGAR AND ISHMAEL – THE SURVIVAL OF ABRAM’S FAMILY

The effects that Abram and Sarai’s action had on their family.

THE PROPHECY CONCERNING ISHMAEL  <Gen.16:11-12> 

“The angel of the LORD also said to her: “You are now with child and you will have a son. You shall name him Ishmael, for the LORD has heard of your misery.” <Gen.16:11>
ISHMAEL = “God hears” – he will: “Be a wild donkey of a man”<Gen.16:12>: He will roam the desert (a nomad) like a wild donkey . The Bedouin tribes have roamed the desert as nomads for years. “His hand will be against everyone and everyone’s hand against him” <Gen.16:12>. God’s promise for Ishmael was based upon His knowledge of Ishmael’s heart; mockery of divine things lurked deep in his soul; he would be the father of 12 rulers; his descendants are held fast in one of the most deadly, inflexible, and militant errors this world has ever known. “he will live in hostility toward all his brothers” <Gen.16:12>; the hostility between Sarai and Hagar was passed on to Hagar’s descendants; and God predicted that this would continue throughout their generations at the end of the first conflict between Israel and Ishmael’s descendants .
GOD’S PROMISE    – the final details: “Then God said, “Yes, but your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him.” < Gen 17:19 (NIV)>.
FACTS CONCERNING THE ARAB NATIONS
From Ishmael all the Arab tribes descended, and the prophecy has been accurately fulfilled. They remain in the background of all the biblical accounts concerning the nation of Israel: their religion, started by Mohammed, has been spread throughout the middle-east by war and conquest: the Arab world stretches from the Atlantic seaboard to the Persian Gulf, encompassing some of the most strategically placed and economically wealthy countries of the world: their continued hostility toward their brothers (Israel) constantly threatens world-peace.

THE RESULT OF ABRAM AND SARAI’S IMPATIENCE       Ishmael’s Family:

“These are the names of the sons of Ishmael, listed in the order of their birth: Nebaioth the firstborn of Ishmael, Kedar, Adbeel, Mibsam, Mishma, Dumah, Massa, Hadad, Tema, Jetur, Naphish and Kedemah. These were the sons of Ishmael, and these are the names of the twelve tribal rulers according to their settlements and camps. Altogether, Ishmael lived a hundred and thirty-seven years. He breathed his last and died, and he was gathered to his people. His descendants settled in the area from Havilah to Shur, near the border of Egypt, as you go toward Asshur. And they lived in hostility toward all their brothers.” <Gen.25:13-18 (NIV)> [Havilah – 3 possible locations: the centre of the Arabian Peninsular; N.E. Africa; and Mesopotamia. Shur – located in the northern part of the Arabian Peninsular]. This was the result of the fatal decision of Abram and Sarai, when they failed to wait on God’s timing.

THREATS TO FAMILY SURVIVAL:

LEAVING OUT THE LORD:  most of us fill our daily lives with good things – school, work, appointments, sports etc. At the end of the day do we ask – Is the Lord in all of these things? Did I get to know Him better? Did I serve Him faithfully today? As well intentioned as most of us are, we find that the Lord is the easiest Person to be left out of our plans and activities! Abram and Sarai’s biggest mistake was to leave the Lord out of their plans <see Prov.19:21; Isa.29:15>.
HURTING OR OFFENDING EACH OTHER WITH THE TONGUE: when things go wrong it is human to blame others for our failures. This was Sarai’s way – blames Abram – mistreats Hagar – hostility – suspicion. When decisions are implemented, there will always be some disagreement; however, Spirit-filled believers can agree to disagree without strife and ill-will <see Eph.6:24; Col.4:6>.
LIVING BY THE WORLD’S STANDARDS: this was Sarai’s suggestion, to follow the social customs of the time. Do we base our spiritual standards on the social customs of our time? What would be our reaction to someone who says that he would like to brainwash our children according to the social standards in which we live? While we sit by hoping that no damage is being done, our families are being bombarded with a mixture of ungodly, worldly messages! cf Rom.12:2>.
In what ways could these have influenced Ishmael; in what ways do these affect our families today?
THE DECISIONS WE MAKE TODAY WILL HAVE FAR-REACHING RESULTS FOR THE FUTURE
There are good and bad decisions – God’s word warns us about these and the consequences <Deut.30:15-20>. Decisions require that we seek God’s direction . Changes become necessary in our personal lives and Church activities, which usually introduces conflict, and need to be carefully thought through, we need to understand the times or be able to read the cultural waves. Individual Christians and Church leaders need not accept and adopt the social customs of our day, but we need to be aware of the changes that will affect our witnessing, and act accordingly <cf 1 Chr.12:32>.  

CHANGES ARE NECESSARY:   UNITY IN DECISIONS Making decisions will mold our character – for the good or bad; they will also deeply affect those that we love dearly! Therefore, we need to be cautious and discuss our decisions carefully and intelligently with those who will be affected so as not to cause disagreement.
DECISIONS MOLD YOU
“A young, ambitious gentleman got a double promotion that required a transfer to Cairo from his home in the United States. He went home to his new wife and young baby and said, “Great news, we’re moving to Cairo.” Appalled, his wife said, “You’re moving alone. I’m going home to my mother.” That was the first test of leadership in that family. There was no viable compromise: If he relinquished his promotion, he would resent his wife for ruining his career; if she just went along with the move, she would hate him for squashing her ideals for her baby and herself. What to do?
After some discussion, they might have been tempted to believe that maturity required them to deny their feelings and to sacrifice on behalf of each other. Instead, they went back to the fundamentals: Is it my career, or is it ourcareer? Is it your baby, or is it our baby? Are we individuals, or do we operate as a team? What are our values? That marriage had to grow up by the equivalent of five years in about two weeks. They ended up going to Cairo, but their relationship had been transformed. She understood that his career was important to him; he recommitted to his values as a participant in the family. What matters is not what they ended up choosing, but how. They took the courageous step to redefine, from the inside out, who they truly were. The how is what gives you character. The what, which at first appears paramount, is ultimately of no emotional significance.” [Citation: Peter Koestenbaum, business consultant and philosopher, in Fast Company (March 2000), p. 228]
THERE MUST BE UNITY IN OUR DECISIONS  <see Col.2:4; 3:15>.
Is it going to be MY plan?
or
Is it going to be GOD’S way?

HAGAR AND ISHMAEL

Genesis 16

THE FIRST BIBLICAL RECORD OF DOMESTIC STRIFE
  
BACKGROUND: Abram was 75 years old when he left Haran; Sarai (Sayr-I) could not have children: “Now Sarai was barren; she had no children.” < Gen.11:30 (NIV)>
  
GOD’S PROMISE: [at Haran] “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.” < Gen.12:2  (NIV)>:  [at Shechem] “I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth, so that if anyone could count the dust, then your offspring could be counted.” < Gen.13:16  (NIV)>: [at Bethel] “a son coming from your own body will be your heir.” < Gen.15:4 (NIV)>
THE HUMAN REACTION TO GOD’S PROMISES: God promises and Satan immediately plants the seed of doubt. Questions enter the mind – How will this happen considering the circumstances? How long will it take? Why is there no further communication? Why is God silent for so long? Perhaps God wants me to take action now, maybe I should try this alternative, or do this instead. God’s promise is absolutely different to our desire! God does not will that I should fit Him into my desire or plan!
God had not revealed any specifics of the promise to Abram; Abram believed what God had said, but as time passed he began to doubt. He knew of Sarai’s barrenness – was there an alternative? Did it have to be through Sarai that God’s promise would be fulfilled? How do we get around this problem? There is an acceptable social alternative, so why shouldn’t we choose this route? And so the minds of both Abram and Sarai begin to wrestle with the circumstances.
SARAI’S PLAN <16:2-3>: God’s promise had not yet been fulfilled to Sarai, nor did she see any possibility of her bearing children; “The Lord has kept me from having children” <16:2>; She suggests her plan to Abram, and both desired to have a son more than anything else, and Sarai’s frustration was beyond expression, creating all the human ingredients for a solution to the problem. An attractive slave girl, a legal social loophole, worldly reasoning, and a carnal resolve. The result – a decision so snarled and twisted that 4000 years have not unraveled it; “Go, sleep with my maidservant; perhaps I can build a family through her.” <Gen 16:2 (NIV)>. It is evident that whenever God introduces a new chapter in the history of mankind, we are faced with the original temptations and sin of Adam; “So …… Sarai …. took Hagar and gave her to her husband” < Gen.16:3 (NIV); cf. Gen.3:6>. Sarai’s decision and their exploit was no doubt acceptable within the social custom of their day, but God’s desire for man was one wife (monogamy) as was stated in regards to Adam and Eve <cf Gen.2:24>.
We see the similarities of this in our day and age: a church congregation is decreasing in numbers – there seems to be no blessing or fruit for their labour; or a believer is spiritually barren – spiritual life is at a low level; so a “Hagar” is brought in – a decision is made to attract the community; Some worldly method is adopted and executed to escape the spiritual doldrums. The results are fantastic, but unfortunately of the wrong kind – not what God had planned and a price has to be paid for the human effort and plan.
  
THE OUTCOME: The result of any polygamous marriage situation – envy, scorn and mocking; “When she [Hagar] knew she was pregnant, she began to despise her mistress.[Sarai] < Gen.16:4 (NIV)>.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THINGS GO WRONG? ACCUSATIONS! – the natural first response: “You are responsible”“It’s your fault” <16:5>  – we blame someone else for our blunder. We all do the natural thing: someone had to take the blame for the situation that evolved in Abram’s household; someone else usually has to take the blame for our wrong decisions, and when things go wrong we do and say unkind things and hurt others. What is on the inside comes to the outside cf Jer.17:9>. Sarai blames Abram and mistreats Hagar; and Hagar flees the home <16:6>.
Every member of Abram’s household was doing the natural thing: Abram surrenders his headship to Sarai; Abram sleeps with Hagar; Sarai is upset and resentful; and Hagar, unable to endure the stress, runs away.
The test of God’s silence is very difficult to endure, and here we see the results: Hagar fails as a servant; Sarai fails as a wife; Abram fails as a man and head of his household; and both Abram and Sarai fail as a godly example to Hagar. We too can fail in our service as God allows others to cross our pathway; instead of being a godly example, we use and abuse them for our gain, and then watch them run away. Their mind filled with all the wrong ideas of what Christianity should be as we totally misrepresent God to them and they turn back to their old way of life.
HAGAR’S DILEMMA<16:7-10>  Hagar has no where to go but back where she came from, and on her way back to Egypt, is found by the angel of the Lord; God steps in before she is forever lost to Egypt: “Where have you come from, and where are you going to? “I’m running away from my mistress Sarai,” she answered. <16:8>. Go back – return, is God’s command; “Then the angel of the LORD told her, “Go back to your mistress and submit to her.”…..I will so increase your descendants that they will be too numerous to count.” <16:9>. If obedient to God’s command, He promises to bless her descendants (similar to Abram’s blessing ).
Is your life experience similar to Hagar’s? Are you running away from God because of some mistreatment by a fellow Christian, or some other unfortunate circumstance? God is calling you to turn back before it is too late. Nothing could have been harder for Hagar to do, than to go back and submit to Sarai! Nothing could be harder for you to do than to go back and face the situation from which you are running – but that is God’s command!
HAGAR’S RESPONSE:  She acknowledges that God had seen her affliction; “She gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.” < 16:13  (NIV)>. Hagar gives a verbal expression of her faith – she acknowledges that God has seen her need and has met that need, she has now passed from “death to life”, she had seen the One who saw her. Hagar puts her faith into action – she returns to Abram’s household, submits herself to Sarai, and bears a son – Ishmael. Such action may be necessary from you today as He commands you to “Go back”
  
WHAT SHOULD WE LEARN?  There are five things that are evident:
1.   God’s promises are most often followed by God’s silence: You claim a promise of God; you hear His call and respond then there is a deafening silence and time passes while you suffer the agony of waiting.

LIVING BEYOND THE GRIND OF DIVINE SILENCE [Chuck Swindoll] “Ever felt totally removed from God’s awareness? It’s almost like you are standing at the bottom of a long stairway looking up. The light is off, and even though you knock or call out for a re­sponse, nothing happens. There isn’t even a stir. You are not alone. Many a soul struggles at this very moment with divine silence. And to make matters worse, it grinds on for days, sometimes weeks. Following a calamity, the victim crawls out, cries out, and expects overnight relief. It doesn’t come. A mate who has been there for years suddenly packs it in and walks out. The one who is left alone to face what seems to be endless responsibilities, turns to God for His intervention – for His comforting reassurance, only to be met with silence. That awful silence! Equally difficult is a lingering illness. No prayer, it seems, is effective. As the deafening silence continues from above, pain intensifies below.” [Living Beyond The Daily Grind Bk 1 p 58 – Charles Swindoll]

2.    God’s silence is to test our faith. Why does God test us? Does He want to know how well we know and understand the scriptures?
“The biblical concept of testing is not to ascertain knowledge; it is a method of teaching. God’s tests are learning experiences, designed by the Teacher to share knowledge, not to determine its presence or absence.” [Through The Wilderness – Chapter 4,  by Jamie Buckingham]
Are we learning by the experiences God brings us through?
3.   When four walls surround us and there seems no way out, and the heavens seem like brass, wait in faith for God’s guiding. Was God taken by surprise by Abram and Sarai’s decision and actions? Did the birth of Ishmael wreck God’s plan? Our Omniscient God knows all that we will face as we wait in faith! Even if we make the wrong decisions – God understands and will provide a solution! Abram was 100 years old when the promise was fulfilled – 25 years after it was given.
“God never brings a hindrance into our lives that He does not intend to use to open another door that would not have opened otherwise.” [Through The Wilderness – Chapter 4,  by Jamie Buckingham]
4.    Our inability to wait on God can lead us to decisions that will have long lasting and far reaching consequences. Waiting on God can be described by a Flyer on a Trapeze – there has to be trust that the flyer will be caught.

Waiting Like a Trapeze Flyer – “There’s a special relationship between flyer and catcher on the trapeze. The flyer is the one that lets go, and the catcher is the one that catches. As the flyer swings high above the crowd on the trapeze, the moment comes when he must let go. As he arcs out into the air, his job is to remain as still as possible and wait for the strong hands of the catcher to pluck him from the air.
The flyer must never try to catch the catcher. The flyer must wait in absolute trust. The catcher will catch him, but he must wait.” [Citation: John Ortberg, from sermon “Waiting on God,” Preaching Today #199]
Waiting on God is difficult, but the result is worth the wait; and as we feel the pain of waiting and we weather the storm, God wants us to wait and trust in Him; and the words of the song comes to mind:
“Hold on my child, joy comes in the morning, 
The darkest hour is gone, dawn is just in sight”
The final lesson from this account is:
If you have failed the test of faith, obey God’s command – “Go back” and submit, if submission is required.
God hears and sees even when to us He seems absent . We can trust His word and wait for its fulfillment for God knows the difficulties in our waiting in faith; He hears our cries, sees our troubles, and will accomplish what He has promised.
Are you waiting on God for some request or answer? How are you doing while you are waiting?

SODOM AND GOMORRAH – THE INFLUENCE OF SODOM

GEN. 19: 29-38

What influences did Sodom have on Lot and his family? How deep-seated were such influences? Why did God spare them from the destruction?

“So when God destroyed the cities of the plain, he remembered Abraham, and he brought Lot out of the catastrophe that overthrew the cities where Lot had lived.” . Lot was Abram’s chief concern in his intercession with God for Sodom , and his rescue from the catastrophe was an answer to Abram’s request, as Lot was the only righteous person in Sodom. This can be related to God’s promise to Abram where God said: “all people on earth will be blessed” through Abram. “When he hesitated, the men grasped his hand and the hands of his wife and of his two daughters and led them safely out of the city, for the LORD was merciful to them.”

THE DETERIORATION OF LOT’S TESTIMONY

As a righteous man living in a wicked and sinful city, Lot had his work cut out for him. He may have defended his decision to live in Sodom by trying to make things better there but he accepted their ways and was eventually one like them. If he had any desire to pray for or witness to his fellow citizens, he would have seen that such would have been inappropriate, for his circumstances and long association with their wicked ways had set him on quite a different footing compared to Abram. On the eve of the disaster Lot sadly came to recognize that he no longer could influence anyone for God, since all the years he lived there he had done little or nothing to persuade anyone to repent of their sin. Such is the state to which any Christian in society is brought when they risk their spiritual life to make the most of this world! It is equally useless for Christians today to try to make the world a better place, for our task is to bring people to Christ, who alone can change their hearts and ways, and it is thus extremely important that we bear a clear positive witness of the gospel so as to influence lost souls!


THE EFFECT ON LOT

He was reluctant to leave the city, even though it was doomed for destruction, “When he hesitated, the men grasped his hand and the hands of his wife and of his two daughters and led them safely out” . He was not willing to break with his former ways: city life; the comfort of a home instead of a tent, nor did he not know what it was to step out in faith with the God he professed to know. Some Christians are like this; they are unwilling to forsake everything that pertains to the old life of sin, and are intent on holding on to some pet sin or worldly pleasure.
THE EFFECT ON LOT’S WIFE
“But Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.” ; She too was reluctant to leave all her possessions and comforts of city life although they were warned by the angels not to stop or look back, she could not resist the temptation. As the fire and brimstone came falling from the sky, she was entombed as a symbol of those who value worldly things more than spiritual.

THE EFFECT ON LOT’S CHILDREN

The mentality of Sodom was so thoroughly absorbed by Lot’s daughters, they found it impossible to reason correctly; “One day the older daughter said to the younger, “Our father is old, and there is no man around here to lie with us, as is the custom all over the earth. Let’s get our father to drink wine and then lie with him and preserve our family line through our father.” . Such thoughts and actions display the kind of teaching they received in Sodom’s schools; since there was no thought of God, no knowledge of His Word, no concern for His will, no concept of His care, no prayer, or thought that such a proposal was morally wrong, no shame or sorrow, sense of sin or concept of the holiness of God. They were spiritually dead and a sad picture of a Christian family. It is ironic that, in his drunkenness, Lot carried out the shameful act that he himself had suggested to the men of Sodom – a similarity to the last days of Noah. Thus, those who were saved from God’s wrath subsequently fell into a form of sin similar to those who died in the judgment; and this account serves as a warning to Christian parents that those who bring up their children in worldly pleasures, and no proper instruction on God’s word, may live to regret it. The influences of peers and an ungodly school system is more than our children can handle. There MUST be a Godly influence in our homes!

HOW DO WE ACCOMPLISH THIS?      

“These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” .

THE END OF LOT’S CAREER
“So both of Lot’s daughters became pregnant by their father. The older daughter had a son, and she named him Moab; he is the father of the Moabites of today. The younger daughter also had a son, and she named him Ben-Ammi; he is the father of the Ammonites of today.” . He ended up making no positive contribution to the life of faith as compared to Abram since He chose the sensual worldly pathway. He left the fellowship of the faith at the earliest possible moment and appears never to have been restored so his family ended in disaster. God, however, allowed some good to come of his errors for Lot ends up fathering sons from both of his daughters; Moab and Ben-Ammi, and Moses later delivers God’s instructions to Israel in regards to the Moabites and Ammonites: “Then the LORD said to me, “Do not harass the Moabites or provoke them to war, for I will not give you any part of their land. I have given Ar to the descendants of Lot as a possession.” When you come to the Ammonites, do not harass them or provoke them to war, for I will not give you possession of any land belonging to the Ammonites. I have given it as a possession to the descendants of Lot.” . They are referred to as the descendants of Lot and God had intended that they live in peace with Israel. This pictured them as survivors of God’s judgment and recipients of His mercy; they were, however, excluded from Israel’s worship: “No Ammonite or Moabite or any of his descendants may enter the assembly of the LORD, even down to the tenth generation. For they did not come to meet you with bread and water on your way when you came out of Egypt, and they hired Balaam ….. to pronounce a curse on you.”. Their territories were located to the southeast of Israel’s territory, and frequently came into conflict with the Israelites; in later years they provided a safe refuge for Jews fleeing the Babylonian conquest of Judah . Ruth, a Moabite, was included in the genealogy of our Lord Jesus Christ.

In contrast to the end of Abram’s career, we find that Lot was saved from the destruction but his influences, through his descendants, delayed the progress of God’s people Israel; and in similarity, a worldly Christian may be saved from the penalty and destruction of sin, but the worldly influences for which he/she is responsible delays and hinders the progress of Christ’s kingdom.

YOU HAVEN’T LIVED THE LIFE!

“A minister was called to the bedside of a dying girl, who had lived for and enjoyed the sinful things of this Christ-­rejecting world. The faithful minister did his best to reason with her to see her need of the Saviour, pleading, praying and quoting God’s Word to her. Seemingly he could make no impression on the dying girl. As a final effort, he called in her mother. The mother, with heart­-breaking sorrow, also pled with the girl to accept Christ as her Saviour. The girl listened insensitively, and then she said these accusing words to her mother, “Mother, you can’t talk to me now.” YOU HAVEN’T LIVED THE LIFE BEFORE ME!” How great will be OUR accountability before God if we, by low lustful living, cause others to stumble into hell over us!” (source Knights Master Book of New Illustrations)

SODOM AND GOMORRAH – THE UNHOLY MORALITY

GEN. 19:1-29

BACKGROUND: Abram and Lot had parted company because of quarrelling among their servants and Lot moved his tents to the “well watered plains” of the Jordan – the “Vale of Siddim”: “Lot looked up and..…… Lot chose for himself … Lot lived among the cities of the plain and pitched his tents near Sodom.” . Lot finally moved into the city of Sodom and evidently became one of the leaders or elders of the city. The“Cities of the Plain” or the “Vale of Siddim” consisted of five cities: Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboim, and Zoar (originally Bela; [now Ziara]).

“Now the men of Sodom were wicked and were sinning greatly against the LORD.” . “Then the LORD said…… I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know.” The men turned away and went toward Sodom….”. Sodom is named six times in the O.T. and four times in the N.T. Its name is synonymous with sexual perversion, and stands in the Bible as the excellent example of an “overthrow without remedy”. While Abram was pleading with the Lord for Sodom, the angels were on their way.


THE APPROACHING DESTRUCTION: “The two angels arrived at Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gateway of the city.”  . As Lot sat in his accustomed position at the gate to the city, what thoughts were going through his mind? Were they thoughts of disillusionment and displeasure with the noise of the revelers in the street? Was he was depressed with the oppressive atmosphere of a catastrophe?. As he looked out toward the western horizon and the setting sun, did he picture and long for the peaceful atmosphere of Abram’s tents? Then his thoughts are interrupted by the approach of the two men that arrived in the city.

“I will go down and see” : How will God determine what needs to be done, and how will this angelic commission of inquiry proceed? Should the angels call the leaders of the city for an examination of their character? Should they take Lot outside the city and cross-examine him? When a crisis comes, individuals do not suddenly acquire an intelligence or insight that they have not habitually cultivated, so when the test comes, we stand or fall according to what the previous self-discipline or self-indulgence has made us. There is a more effective way of detecting character than by any method of questions and answers . So the angels method will be; they will allow each one to act their usual way. This is the way we are all judged – by the insignificant circumstances in which we all act without reflection. God sets a limit to human wickedness beyond which judgment is inevitable – unsuspected by the majority, and final in its outcome.
FIRST – LOT IS JUDGED Lot is found sitting at the gate of Sodom where he apparently had become one of the city’s high officials, charged with upholding its principles and protecting the filthy privileges of the citizens. There he sat, accepted by them because he now spoke their language and condoned their practices. What a place for a backslidden child of God! That was how far the morality of the city had tainted his values and judgment. “Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the filthy lives of lawless men (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard)” . There is much that is both admirable and pathetic by Lot’s conduct. To defend his unknown guests, he put himself in a position where others have lost their lives, and his scheme for his own private well-being is the key to his whole character. Abram gave him the choice of a grazing ground for his flocks and he chose the best; and when his house was attacked by the mob he closes the door behind him so that the men inside could not hear his bargain with the mob for his daughters . Lot had to pretend good-will where he felt none and deceit and coldness grew upon him. Any attempt to live a righteous life with an evil conscience is doomed to failure and Lot had totally lost any testimony that he had, and was no longer able to warn even his own family of the pending destruction.So Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law…..But his sons-in-law thought he was joking.” <Gen.19:14 (NIV)>. So Lot’s true character is evident to the angels, they did not have to cross-examine him.

SECOND – THE CITIZENS ARE JUDGED The citizens quickly provide the evidence that they are ripe for judgment, they do nothing worse than their habitual conduct led them to do. “… all the men from every part of the city of Sodom– both young and old– surrounded the house. They called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them.” . The unholy morality of the men of Sodom was prevalent and was not limited to a few individuals who performed their obscenities in private, it was an accepted way of life for both young and old. They persisted in their efforts to satisfy their lusts and nothing that Lot could say to them or offer them would make them change their minds. Perversion is deep-seated in character, like a cancerous cell it entrenches itself and takes over the person. “Get out of our way.” . No longer was their perversion practiced as they wished, it had gone far beyond that; now they were open and aggressive, an insistent force in the city with which none dared to interfere. They had the constitutional right to indulge in their passions wherever and whenever they wished and any interference would cause a riot. When a person persists in sinning, and heeds no warning to cease; the day will come when such iniquity produces the frightful results of the character of the life lived. Character tends to express itself in one perfectly representative act, the habitual passion is always alive and seeking expression, and so the citizens of Sodom condemned themselves without one question from the angels.

THE CITY IS DESTROYED “Then the LORD rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah…” . The unholy morality of Sodom was punishable – perhaps not by the laws of Sodom but definitely by the Laws of God, and where society fails to punish that form of behaviour, God will definitely act. Many an argument can be raised as to whether or not it was God’s intervention, or if it was just a natural disaster, but we do have to account for the fact that it was predicted both to Abram and Lot. God’s judgment for sin is TOTAL and the destruction depopulated the region, and has been supported in broad outline by archaeological discovery. It has been shown that most probably the sites of these cities are now beneath the waters at the southern end of the Dead Sea, a fact that prevents their excavations by conventional methods.

THE LESSONS TO BE LEARNED

LOT: His witness was worthless – “his sons-in-law thought he was joking”; “The old man is crazy”, was their expression; his testimony had fallen on deaf ears. With the years of backsliding behind him, he had no spiritual power to carry conviction with his words. He was reluctant to leave the city and all his possessions . Spiritual truth had become unexciting to Him, he could not appreciate or identify with it. God was not going to save him from the destruction and then leave him to survive for himself, but with the mentality of Sodom so deeply entrenched in his heart he could not comprehend the truth. Lot was a decent and righteous man, but Sodom had eaten out his heart till he had nothing to keep him in harmony with heaven, and any believer who is trying to live like the world will never win people for the Lord, you will only make yourself look foolish to them; you must be friendly towards them, but never adopt their worldly practices and habits! Lot could have left Sodom at any time he wished, but he chose to remain in that wicked city until his whole family was influenced by the sin and wickedness.


LOT’S WIFE: “As soon as they had brought them out, one of them said, “Flee for your lives! Don’t look back, and don’t stop anywhere in the plain!” . Those that have been saved from the destruction of sin must now forsake and forget the ways of the world, for the things of this world that would attract and enslave you must be left behind, you must not attempt to carry them along with you for they are of no value to you any longer, you cannot afford to stop or look back, otherwise you could be overtaken by the desires and suffer great loss. Are such things attracting you? Unable to move she is overtaken by the sulphurous smoke, the bitter salts rise out of the earth and encrust her and her death warns that if we crave to make the best of both worlds, we shall probably lose both. We must remember Lot’s wife and realize the possibility that those who make great efforts to reach the place of safety may be overtaken by destruction by indecision . The question always is, not what you have done, but what are you now doing? If you are conscious that in your life there are practices that will result in moral disaster, an angel has taken you by the hand and is trying to help you to escape; REMEMBER LOT’S WIFE!

SODOM: There comes a point in the rising tide of human wickedness where God acts, and He may not always intervene so spectacularly, but this account serves as a warning that His tolerance for evil has a limit, and in preparation for His action He blinds or allows the devil to deceive mankind . The cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were so wicked that God decided to destroy them for this was the only way to keep the evil from spreading throughout the land, and since God owns this earth, He has the right to “eject bad tenants” whenever He sees fit. As believers we struggle with the thought that ungodliness is taking over our society, but we must understand that God sees and will act in His time .


THEREFORE: Believers must remain faithful to God. As in the case of Sodom, while the people were awakening to spend another day in their sinful ways, the ungodly must understand that God’s patience with their evil will come to an unexpected and dreadful end!