Tag Archives: Genesis

The Heart of Mankind

I read this quote by Nelson Mandela posted on Facebook the other day:

“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

At first glance this quote seems right and a wonderful sentiment. And it is partly true — people can be taught to love and the objects of hatred are often taught. But I’m not sure I agree with the idea that no one is born hating. If no human being was ever born hating then who taught mankind to hate? It had to start somewhere.

In Genesis we see Cain expressing hatred for his brother Abel — hatred so strong it led him to commit the first murder. If Cain was not born with that propensity to hate, then who taught him to hate his brother? Surely it wasn’t his parents, Adam and Eve. What did they know of hatred? Only what they had learned from eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, but I doubt they would have taught that knowledge to Cain and suggest that it was the better course.

After several generations had passed after that first act of hatred by Cain, the Bible tells us, “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.” Genesis 6:5 (NIV). Nothing has changed since that time.

I believe that envy, jealousy, selfishness, and pride, which lead to hatred, are all more natural to the human heart than love. I know that when I once looked into my own heart, this is what I saw. Even now there are times when those feelings can so easily rear their ugly head. I doubt that I am so different from other people in this regard, and yet so many fail to see the defects in their own hearts but want to believe that love comes more naturally to them.

Not only can we be taught to love, we must be taught to love. “We love because he first loved us.” 1 John 4:19 (NIV). Apart from God, and the knowledge of His great love and mercy, the inclinations of the human heart continue to be towards evil. Love flourishes in the human heart and overcomes hatred and selfishness only where love is taught.

Thankfully, “God is love,” 1 John 4:8 (NIV), and He is willing to change the human heart that trusts in Him.

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Pray for Knowledge of Christ’s Love

Earlier this week during my morning prayer time I read a wonderful passage from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. This passage is one of my favorite prayers in the Bible:

For this reason I kneel before the Father,from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:14-19 (NIV).

At the time I thought about how this passage would be a great basis for a blog post reminding people how much God loves them, but the week got away from me and the post didn’t get written. Today, following the tragedies in Portland, Oregon (so close to my home) and in Connecticut, I realize that God’s timing is perfect because this passage holds the answer so many are looking for as to how someone could do such an evil thing as shoot strangers in a mall or kindergarteners in a school, not to mention their own mother.

Throughout scripture we are told that the heart of mankind is evil. The reason we are told God flooded the earth and saved only Noah and his family is because “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.” Genesis 6:5 (NIV). Of one of the kings of Israel it is said, “He did evil because he had not set his heart on seeking the Lord.” 2 Chronicles 12:14 (NIV). As Jesus explained to His disciples, “For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. 23 All these evils come from inside and make a man ‘unclean.’” Mark 7:22-23 (NIV).

But the heart that grasps the love of Christ is filled with the fullness of God. In such a heart evil thoughts are driven out by love and compassion. In this world we live in, and especially in the United States, people think they can live without God. Many don’t teach their children that God loves them, perhaps because they don’t know this wonderful truth themselves, and then we are surprised when children grow up to be murderers.

The problem that leads to such tragedies as we have seen this week is not that people have guns, it is that they do not have Christ. I realize that there are plenty of people who do not believe in or know God who do not go out and murder others, but I also know that those who commit such unspeakable acts cannot possibly know God’s love for them.

The love of Christ is kind of like a vaccine. We give vaccines to all our kids to prevent them from getting terrible diseases, even though not every kid would get the disease if the vaccine was not given. We need to vaccinate all our children against the evil that has the potential to take over their hearts, and that vaccine is the heart knowledge of the love of God that surpasses human knowledge.

As Christians, we need to pray not only for those who have suffered a great tragedy, but we need to pray every day—as Paul did for the Ephesians—for our children to have the power “to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.”

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A Lesson from Joseph

In church today we heard probably the most important lesson in all of Christianity. It is also the most important lesson in all of humanity. It is the lesson of forgiveness.

Our scripture reading for the day was Genesis 50:15-21:

When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “What if Joseph holds a grudge against us and pays us back for all the wrongs we did to him?” So they sent word to Joseph, saying, “Your father left these instructions before he died: ‘This is what you are to say to Joseph: I ask you to forgive your brothers the sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly.’ Now please forgive the sins of the servants of the God of your father. ” When their message came to him, Joseph wept.

His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. “We are your slaves,” they said.

But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children. ” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.

When you consider all that Joseph endured all because his brothers were jealous of him and sold him as a slave to a passing group of Ishmaelites on their way to Egypt, he certainly had good reason to hold a grudge. If anyone had good reason to pay back the wrong that had been done to him, it was Joseph.

But he didn’t. Instead he forgave his brothers. He looked at the bigger picture and saw that although they had intended him harm, God had used what they did to accomplish a greater good.

If Joseph had stayed in Canaan as the favored son of his father Jacob, there would have been no one in Egypt to interpret Pharaoh’s dream of the coming famine. There would have been no one to put into place the plan of storing away enough food during the seven years of plenty to survive the seven years of famine. Not only the people of Egypt, but also those of all the surrounding nations, would have suffered great loss during the drought.

Often it is difficult for us to see the big picture when someone hurts us, to see how God could possibly use what another intends to harm us and turn it to good. It is difficult to forgive, especially when it is clear that the person who has wronged us intended to harm us.

But as our pastor pointed out this morning, scripture doesn’t give us an out. Jesus said, “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 6:14-15 (NIV).

This seems like a harsh and unfair command. But our Heavenly Father requires us to forgive because He knows that the poison of anger and unforgiveness will kill our soul just as cyanide will surely kill our body.

If we desire to live, to truly live, then we must forgive. We must trust that God will use whatever comes our way for the greater good. We may not enjoy the benefit of seeing that good, as Joseph did, but still we must have faith that forgiveness is the better path.

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Natural Consequences of Sin Aren’t God’s Punishment

I often hear people say that the bad things that happen to them are God’s punishment for something wrong they have done. I have a friend who desires to find someone to marry, but has said that she doesn’t think God will ever bring her a mate because of all the wrong she has done in the past with respect to relationships. In the news we hear televangelists say that natural disasters are God’s punishment for the sins of the people in the area hit by the disaster.

But I don’t think God works that way. James wrote, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.” James 1:17-18 (NIV). God desires to give good gifts, not punishment.

I also think of Job, a man who endured great suffering and loss. But none of it was punishment from God. Rather, all of his sorrows came from Satan, albeit with God’s permission, so that Satan would see that God’s redeemed and faithful servants would never reject Him simply because of trials they face. See
Job 1-2 (NIV).

For the believer in Christ Jesus, all the punishment for our sins has already been meted out at the cross. As Jesus said, “It is finished.” John 19:30 (NIV). To believe that we need to suffer punishment for our own sin is to believe that Jesus’ sacrifice was insufficient. The apostle John wrote, “My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” 1 John 2:1-2 (NIV). God does not seek to punish, but to restore and redeem those He loves.

There are, however, natural consequences of sin. If we are gluttonous, we are likely to be overweight and suffer various illnesses that come from poor eating habits. If we get drunk, especially habitually, we will suffer in terms of health problems, possibly losing a job, or having financial difficulties because we spend too much money on alcohol. If we get involved with other drugs, the same problems can happen, perhaps even worse if they are illegal drugs because we could end up in prison for breaking the law. If we are sexually promiscuous we may contract diseases, end up with a child we didn’t want, or will suffer emotional damages and loneliness. If we gossip and badmouth others, we will damage others view of us and damage our relationships.

Every sin has natural consequences. Sometimes we are fortunate to avoid the worst of the natural consequences, but not always. And all sin results in the natural consequence of separating us from God because our guilt and shame cause us to avoid God. That has been the case from the first sin in the Garden of Eden, when Adam and Eve hid from God.

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?”

 He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” Genesis 3:6-10 (NIV).

God knows what is best for us and has declared what is sin based on His superior knowledge of what is beneficial for our physical and emotional well-being. Just as He gave to Adam and Eve all that they needed in the Garden, He desires to give us good and perfect gifts.

In addition to the natural consequences of individual sinful behavior, the sinful nature of mankind over the centuries has brought into our lives a brokenness that leads to pain and suffering. The evil nature of some people can lead to suffering by others, such as a violent man who beats his wife, or the drunk driver who causes an accident that kills others, or a serial killer who tortures his victims. Our sinfulness is also engrained in our DNA and can lead to sickness and disease that brings suffering as well.

So if you are suffering and think that God is punishing you, think again. Return to God and seek His face, seek the good and perfect gifts that He has offered. Lean on Jesus in your suffering because He desires to restore and redeem you, not cause you more suffering. “This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.” 1 John 1:5 (NIV). Come into the light and rest in His love.

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Nature – A Poem

As we move, finally, into summer, I am once again in awe of the beauty of nature as things begin to grow. But it is not really nature itself that is the source of my awe, but rather contemplating the God of the universe who created such beauty. At the Women’s Retreat I attended two weekends ago, we spent part of a session listening to waves so that we could be still and know that He is God. As I sat there meditating on the sound of the waves it occurred to me that as awe inspiring as it is to stand upon a beach and look out at the vastness of the ocean, it is even more awe inspiring to contemplate that God created that ocean. He dictated where there would be ocean and where there would be land. He is in control of each wave and could halt it’s coming in if He so chose.

But there is much more to nature, to creation, than just the ocean. So I decided to write my Thankful Thursday poem to express the source of my thankfulness for all the beauty around me.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Nature

Nature and all creation
Almighty God spoke and it came to be
Trees tower, flowers flourish, wildlife and birds abound
Under the ocean fish flow, mammals move, and plants prosper
Roaring waterfalls, rushing wind, stars sweep across the night sky
Every detail perfectly designed for beauty and the glory of the Lord

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.

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. Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so.

And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth.” And it was so.

And God said, “Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky.” So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living and moving thing with which the water teems, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.

And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals, each according to its kind.” And it was so.

Genesis 1:1-3, 9-11, 14-15, 20-21, 24 (NIV).

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Am I My Brothers’ Keeper? – A Poem

This poem is a bit out of the ordinary for Thankful Thursday, but I wrote it because I am thankful for my sister who inspired it. She wrote a paper for a college class she is taking, and she asked me to proofread it for her. It was a great paper about the connectedness of our world and how we cannot simply ignore the troubles of others because they live in a different neighborhood or a different country. She started with part of Genesis 4:9, after Cain has killed Abel and God asks where Abel is. Cain replies, “I don’t know. Am I my brother’s keeper?” My sister didn’t have a conclusion to her paper yet when I proofread it, and I suggested she use Matthew 25:40 as a great bookend closing to the paper. She took my suggestion.

As I thought about my Thankful Thursday poem, I was going to write a poem about sisters. In fact I wrote one, but it’s really not very good. Then I realized that my sister would be more honored by a poem that highlighted something she cares deeply about than by a fluff poem about sisters being awesome. You can also check out her new blog titled Life as I know it . . . . She’s just getting started and I’m sure she would be thankful for the encouragement.

10/4/11 Update: I posted a link to this poem at dVerse Poets Pub for Open Link Night~Week 12. Check out the other cool poetry there.

So here’s my Thankful Thursday poem:

Am I My Brothers’ Keeper?

“Am I my brother’s keeper?”
Asked Cain, when questioned by God
It was a rhetorical question
Cain knew the answer
Or what he thought was the answer
It was “no” as far as he was concerned
Abel was dead
No need for keeping any more

“Am I my brother’s keeper?”
We ask, as we walk by the homeless man
Standing in a doorway with his dog
Drinking our $4 latte
It’s a rhetorical question
We think we know the answer
It’s “no” as far as we’re concerned
It’s probably his fault he’s homeless
Why does he have a dog anyway?
Why doesn’t he get a job or
At least go to a shelter for help
Instead of begging

“Am I my brother’s keeper?”
We ask, as we switch the channel
So we don’t have to see the ad
About children in Africa
Dying of diseases that are unheard of
In our cozy little town
It’s a rhetorical question
We think we know the answer
It’s “no” as far as we’re concerned
Organizations like World Vision or Unicef
Will take care of the dying children
It’s not our concern
We have Reality TV we need to watch
So we flip the channel again

“Am I my brother’s keeper?”
We ask, as the collection plate passes by
As we sit in our pew at the back
Of the neighborhood church
It’s a rhetorical question
We think we know the answer
It’s “no” as far as we’re concerned
We drop in a $5 bill, that’ll do
The rich folks in the congregation
Can take up the slack
We need a new computer, and
A new car, maybe a new watch,
And the mortgage payment
On our 5 bedroom house is coming up due

“Am I my brother’s keeper?”
We ask, as we skim our Facebook
On our brand new computer and see
A wall post about sex trafficking of young girls
It’s a rhetorical question
We think we know the answer
It’s “no” as far as we’re concerned
We don’t engage is such activities
And there’s nothing we can do to stop it
It happens half way around the world
We’re much too busy with our own lives
Oh look, a new Facebook game to play

“Am I my brother’s keeper?”
It’s not a rhetorical question
It’s a real question
An important question
It’s a question Jesus has answered
The answer is “YES”
The King said, ‘I tell you the truth,
whatever you did for one
of the least of these brothers of mine
you did for me.’
I am my brothers’ keeper
And my sisters’ keeper
We are all responsible for each other
We all need to love our neighbors
And keep our brothers from harm

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’”
Matthew 25:34-40 (NIV).

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Credit Where Credit Is Due

As part of the Post-a-Day 2011 Challenge, The Daily Post at WordPress.com has been providing an optional writing prompt to get bloggers started. Although I won’t use their prompt on most days, I have already found one that I like. It was posted on Jan. 1 for use in Jan. 2 posts, but since I already had plans for Jan. 2 as part of Psalm Sunday, and then decided I wanted to do Music Monday, I decided to save it for a later day. Here is the prompt:

Name someone who deserves more credit than they get. And for bonus points, how to change things so they get more.

The first person I thought of when I read this was the Holy Spirit. Even in the Apostles’ Creed, all we say is “I believe in the Holy Spirit.” The Nicene Creed does have a bit more to say about the Holy Spirit:

And in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of life, who proceedeth from the Father, who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified, who spake by the prophets.

The Bible, however, has much to say about the Holy Spirit. Beginning at the beginning, Genesis 1:2 says, “The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep waters. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.” The Holy Spirit of God has always existed and was instrumental in the creation of the earth.

Throughout the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit is revealed as powerful and magnificent. Many times, God filled prophets and others with His Spirit, giving them wisdom, expertise, knowledge, and strength beyond their natural abilities.

“Look, I have specifically chosen Bezalel son of Uri, grandson of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. I have filled him with the Spirit of God, giving him great wisdom, ability, and expertise in all kinds of crafts. He is a master craftsman, expert in working with gold, silver, and bronze.” Exodus 31:2-4.

And the Lord came down in the cloud and spoke to Moses. Then he gave the seventy elders the same Spirit that was upon Moses. And when the Spirit rested upon them, they prophesied. Numbers 11:25.

At that moment the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon him [Samson], and he ripped the lion’s jaws apart with his bare hands. He did it as easily as if it were a young goat. . . But the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon Samson, and he snapped the ropes on his arms as if they were burnt strands of flax, and they fell from his wrists. Judges 14:6; 15:14.

Then the Spirit came upon Amasai, the leader of the Thirty, and he said,“We are yours, David!We are on your side, son of Jesse.Peace and prosperity be with you,and success to all who help you,for your God is the one who helps you.”So David let them join him, and he made them officers over his troops. 1 Chronicles 12:18.

His Spirit made the heavens beautiful, and his power pierced the gliding serpent. Job 26:13.

But as for me, I am filled with power—with the Spirit of the Lord. I am filled with justice and strength to boldly declare Israel’s sin and rebellion. Micah 3:8.

The Old Testament also contains the promise, fulfilled in the New Testament, that God will give His Holy Spirit power to all who believe.

“Then, after doing all those things,
      I will pour out my Spirit upon all people.
   Your sons and daughters will prophesy.
      Your old men will dream dreams,
      and your young men will see visions.
 In those days I will pour out my Spirit
      even on servants—men and women alike.” Joel 2:28-29.

In the New Testament, the Holy Spirit continues to be revealed as powerful, as well as beneficial to the believer. Jesus, the Messiah, was conceived by the Holy Spirit, and thus is the Son of God. The Holy Spirit is the giver of life and the source of wisdom, counsel, and more.

This is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit. Matthew 1:18.

The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God.” Luke 1:35.

But when you are arrested and stand trial, don’t worry in advance about what to say. Just say what God tells you at that time, for it is not you who will be speaking, but the Holy Spirit. Mark 13:11.

[Jesus said,] “You are witnesses of all these things. And now I will send the Holy Spirit, just as my Father promised. But stay here in the city until the Holy Spirit comes and fills you with power from heaven.” Luke 24:48-49.

Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life. John 3:6.

The Spirit alone gives eternal life. Human effort accomplishes nothing. And the very words I have spoken to you are spirit and life. John 6:63.

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate [Or Comforter, or Encourager, or Counselor], who will never leave you.  He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you. John 14:16-17.

But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you. John 14:26.

That last verse is one of my favorites. I have personally experienced the Holy Spirit reminding me of something Jesus had taught me through my reading of the Word, of His teaching. When I need a verse to help me through a difficult situation, it is the Holy Spirit that brings just the right verse to mind. I may not always remember the Biblical “address” of the verse, or even what book of the Bible it is in, but I know where it comes from and Who has brought it to my attention.

I think that too often even Christians forget to give credit to the Holy Spirit when it is due. All of the charitable acts or service for our fellow man that we do are born out of the power and desire of the Holy Spirit. Even our faith itself is given to us by the Holy Spirit. I have quoted quite a few verses here, but I really haven’t even scratched the surface of the power and purpose of the Holy Spirit.

So that brings me to the second part of the prompt. What can I do to change things so that the Holy Spirit gets the credit He deserves? I will endeavor, with the help of the Holy Spirit Himself, to write about the wonderful things He deserves credit for in my life and as promised in scripture in the weeks and months to come. I’m going to be posting every day, so I’ll certainly have plenty of opportunity.

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The Third Day

Tonight I am going to go see the Christian band Third Day in concert. I love their music! Having seen them in concert before, I know that what lies ahead is a wonderful evening of praise and worship of our Lord.

I’ve always assumed that the band name is based on the fact that Jesus was raised from the dead on the “third day” after His crucifixion. Since I have VIP tickets for a before-concert Q&A session with the band, maybe I will get a chance to ask whether that assumption is accurate. But in the meantime, I decided to do a search on www.biblegateway.com for the phrase “third day” to find the scriptures about this glorious event and write about Jesus’ resurrection. To my surprise, my search yielded more than a few Old Testament passages referring to something that occurred on the “third day.”

Genesis 22:1-19 is the story of when Abraham was tested by God to sacrifice his only son Isaac. Before he actually sacrificed Isaac, God provided a substitute sacrifice. This story is an example of Abraham’s complete trust in God. Verse 4 says, “On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance.” The place referred to is the mountain on which he would perform the sacrifice.

In Genesis 42 is the story of when Joseph’s brothers came to Egypt looking for food. Joseph had put them all in jail because of a “stolen” chalice in their bags of grain.

On the third day, Joseph said to them, “Do this and you will live, for I fear God: If you are honest men, let one of your brothers stay here in prison, while the rest of you go and take grain back for your starving households. But you must bring your youngest brother to me, so that your words may be verified and that you may not die.” This they proceeded to do. Genesis 42:18-20.

In Exodus 19, we find part of the story of Moses and the Israelites in the desert. They have come to Mt. Sinai and Moses has spoken with God.

And the LORD said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow. Have them wash their clothes and be ready by the third day, because on that day the LORD will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people. Exodus 19:10-11.

The book of Ezra is the story of the Israelites returning to Jerusalem from exile in Babylon. Their return and the rebuilding of the city and the temple were assisted greatly by King Darius who believed in the Lord, the God of Israel. It took a long time for the work to be completed, but finally it was.

The temple was completed on the third day of the month Adar, in the sixth year of the reign of King Darius. 
Then the people of Israel—the priests, the Levites and the rest of the exiles—celebrated the dedication of the house of God with joy. Ezra 6:15-16.

Hosea is one of the minor prophets. When we say he is a “minor” prophet, that does not mean his writings are less important than the major prophets. Rather, the book that bears his name is one of the shorter prophetic writings in the Old Testament. Chapter 6 of Hosea begins like this:

1 “Come, let us return to the LORD.
       He has torn us to pieces
       but he will heal us;
       he has injured us
       but he will bind up our wounds.

 2 After two days he will revive us;
       on the third day he will restore us,
       that we may live in his presence.

 3 Let us acknowledge the LORD;
       let us press on to acknowledge him.
       As surely as the sun rises,
       he will appear;
       he will come to us like the winter rains,
       like the spring rains that water the earth.”

Hosea is the last Old Testament book to include the phrase “third day.” The next time we see this phrase, Jesus is predicting His own death and resurrection in Matthew 16:21.

As I read through these passages, I saw a common theme. The third day is a day of redemption, a day on which God is powerfully present. It is a day of celebration of the wonders of our God. It is a day to be in awe of God’s mercy, of His power and desire to restore us through the death and third-day resurrection of Jesus.

Now when I recite the Apostles’ Creed in church, when I say with my fellow believers “On the third day He rose again,” it will have more meaning.

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