Genesis 1-11, Cultural Context

Genesis is thousands of years before our present. The first major sections (chapters 1-11) has next to no information of their culture. From the passages we can gleam that they had a civilization, society, art, and metal work (Genesis 4:21-22). Apart from what the Bible tells us we know nothing of how their day-to-day life was before the flood.

“The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5, ESV).

How is this an aspect of culture? Culture is the worldview of a people group: how they think, what they believe, and how they behave is respect to the world around them. The culture is the primeval world was filled with evil. To be honest it was not that different than later biblical periods or even compared to our age. “Everyone did what was right in his own eyes” Judges 21:25b. The original audience of the Torah (Genesis-Deuteronomy) knew all too well how rebellious people can be, even when they had the blessing of seeing God at work before their eyes. Half of the kings of Judah and all of the kings of Israel had led their people into evil.

The cultural context here is one that repeats throughout human history: sin and judgement.

When we get to Exodus we will look at the cultural context of the original audience as we study the contexts of their own stories found in Exodus through Deuteronomy.

 

The Study: Update

Over the past many months I’ve been reading and posting on the introduction to Genesis 1-11, based on the New American Commentary, volume 1A. There are over 100 pages of information on various academic fields on the background of Genesis and how we got the version we have now.

This coming month this study will be looking at the various types of context that we looked at last summer. The format of “In God’s Holy Word: The Study” will look different than what it has been so far. Questions will be posted with the idea being that anyone should be able to use any commentary series and/or and study Bible to find the contextual answers. Applying the Scriptures to a personal level will be based on the contexts and personal conviction.

 

Prayer Challenge Eighty-Two

DEVOTIONAL: “Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.’” Matthew 9:37-38, ESV.

CHALLENGE: Praying for the church and praying for revival. The Great Awakening of the 1700’s began with prayer: a small town in Germany did not necessarily pray for change in the world around them, but for change within their church (see page 217-218, The Battle Plan for Prayer). When “dissension and infighting” turns to “joy, unity” within the church people around us begin to see “the mighty power of the Holy Spirit” at work. This was the beginning of the modern missionary movement that converted John and Charles Wesley as well as Jonathan Edwards.

“Ordinary people praying in extraordinary fashion.” This has happened throughout the ages, from the apostles to the Great Awakening. Kendrick says this is our prayer. “For you, for us, for the church, for the world. And ultimately for the glory of God.” How are we continuing praying in such a fashion?

If we desire for revival around us, for Christian revival in the world, we need to pray for the Holy Spirit to work in us and through us. “There’s no reason why we can’t see God’s Spirit poured out in abundance on us…” “There’s no reason why we can’t see” transformation of the “whole cultural landscape” around us.

Pray for the harvest. Pray that labourers heed Jesus’ call. Pray that we hear and obey the call to be labourers in the God’s harvest.

Prayer Challenge Eighty-One

DEVOTIONAL: “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior.” 1 Timothy 2:1-3, ESV.

CHALLENGE: In the twenty-first century praying for our authorities can be stressful, or, on the other hand, we just do not do it for personal reasons. News headlines are full of anti-this or anti-that protests, marches or books being released. Instead of praying, generally speaking, we are complaining that we didn’t get our way.

Kendrick opens chapter 33 of The Battle Plan for Prayer with the following two statements: “Actions and decisions made by people in authority create a significant impact on those within their sphere of influence—both good and bad.” “Our authorities either help us in doing the will of God, or they make it harder for us to pursue.”

Kendrick talks about government and how we should pray for them. By doing so we are obeying God our Father.

Whether it is local/city, provincial/state or federal governments, they all are in place for a reason. Kendrick also adds other forms such as “supervisors, parents, officials, law enforcement”. And to top that off “most of us also represent some kind of authority.

Do we want those beneath us to constantly be in rebellion? If we as non-elected authority figures desire peace and obedience, how much more do those in elected office deserve to control a peaceful and respectful country?

Let us pray for those who are in power over us, as well as those who we hold authority over. Pray for our respective nation, each other’s countries, and the world.

Prayer Challenge Eighty

DEVOTIONAL: “…that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children, so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments.” Psalm 78:6-7, ESV.

CHALLENGE: Family members are a big part of our prayer lives, at least they should be: spouses, children, parents, extended family, friends who are like family, etc. We pray for them all, but what are we praying for on their behalf? Kendrick says, “Surely by now, you’re way past the kind of praying that’s content with only asking God to ‘bless’ and ‘be with’ your” family. “Shouldn’t you know what you’re really asking Him for?”

Kendrick gives several pointers in respect to praying for spouses and children. For husbands or wives: “You should pray that both of you would maintain a sense of protective passion for [the] primary function of your marriage. That Christ would be where you run for love, joy and peace, not your spouse. And that you bring” all this back to your spouse. Related to this you pray that your husband or wife “be devoted to Christ” even above their devotion to you.

If we love “the Lord our God” with everything we have then we will love one another “as Christ first loved us”.

Praying for children can be easy and difficult. Whether they are young or grown-up we should pray “that they remain faithful to God in their generation.” How can we be living prayers for the next generations? We need to remain faithful to God the Father, Christ the Son and the Holy Spirit. Be examples of faithfulness in the workforce, at church, to our spouses, and to them, the children.

Let our general prayers, which “can get general answers”, become specific prayers, then “we will praise God more and recognize His handiwork when we pray specifically.”

February Bible Reading

Reading the Holy Scriptures is an adventure, we never know what the Holy Spirit will show us today. Being convicted to change our behaviour or attitude is perhaps a reason many people, including Christians, do not want to read their Bibles regularly. Since I made my 2017 resolution to read through the Bible I have fallen behind, way behind.

As I was reading last night, a question came to mind, one that many have asked in the past: am I ready for the sake of reading the Bible? Or am I reading for the sake of desiring to get closer to God? The latter was my ultimate new year’s resolution, and one that I continue to want to strive towards. This time round I will not give up. This year I will catch up and continue. I may fall behind again and again, but I shouldn’t allow that to discourage me. God doesn’t give up on His children, why should we ever give up getting to know Him on a personal level?

For those of you who are joining me in my reading in God’s Holy Word, here is February’s reading schedule.

 

Prayer Challenge Seventy-Seven

DEVOTIONAL: “I cry aloud to God, aloud to God, and he will hear me. In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord; in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying; my soul refuses to be comforted.” Psalm 77:1-2, ESV.

CHALLENGE: Extraordinary change requires extraordinary prayer. The Scriptures are filled with wonderful examples of God’s people faithfully praying to bring about God-honouring changes. Kendrick gives three examples of ordinary people with extraordinary prayer methods. Reading the book of Esther we see the use of corporate prayer. Esther beseeched her people the Jews to pray together for deliverance from Haman, “the mastermind of the genocide”.

Of corporate prayer Kendrick says, “Extraordinary prayer is a team effort.” And “The result of their united, above-and-beyond praying was miraculous.” This also is true of the apostles in the New Testament. In Acts 12 Peter is set for execution, and the disciples praying for him with fasting. “Serious matters call for unusual sacrifice with focused devotion and dedication.”

The final example of extraordinary prayer comes from Jonah’s shipmates during the storm. “They prayed fervently. Persistently and passionately.” They prayed to Jonah’s God for deliverance.

Reading these stories and many more in the Bible we see prayer shaping the people and their circumstances. Jesus’ life was filled with devote prayer, communion with His Father. How have corporate prayer, fasting and fervent prayer shaped you this past year? How have they affected your family, church and community? How can they change our walk with God?