Thursday, January 27, 2011

Growing in Prayer - Examples of Prayers in Genesis (Part I - Ch's 1-10)

We can cast all of our concerns upon Him:

Casting all your cares upon Him; for he careth for you. I Peter 5:7


Going through Genesis, looking for examples of prayer, worship, etc., a peculiar kind of perspective came to light. Well, it was peculair to me. Some of you may have noticed these kinds of things before, but it has utterly passed under my radar screen until now - at least, as a theme through scripture!


First, just to point out the obvious background:

0) At ground zero, creation week itself, God's Word showed up in this universe which He had created. His Word was gloriously powerful in creative force. Further, His Word made evident the incredible designing/engineering capabilities of God! His Word may or may not have said much more than is recorded, but what is recorded shows Him to be a glorious God!

Then the alleged peculiarities begin to show up:

1) Before the fall, Adam walked with God in the garden and scripture says that God commanded Adam regarding the food he should and should not have eaten (Genesis 2:16-17). No comment from Adam is recorded - no praise, nothing.

Nothing? Hmmmm, well, okay. It's His Bible, right? His Word.....

1b) Lots of people wonder about walking with God in the garden. How many people wish they could have been walking with Adam? Really, I do look forward to fellowshiping with Adam in heaven someday, but I never longed to walk in the garden with Adam! I only have wanted to walk in the garden with God Himself.

God is utterly glorious! Man? Not so much: Only as much as God shares His glory with us..... Wow!

2a) Later, Adam and Eve heard the voice of God walking in the garden (Genesis 3:8 - that's how the King James puts it anyway.... the NAS and NIV put it differently, but the KJV makes some sense to me in light of what the NAS and NIV had to say).

But back on track: Assuming it was actually a 'voice': Was that voice even talking to Adam? If it was, that wasn't important enough to mention!

2b) By that time, Adam & Eve had eaten the forbidden fruit.

In response to their disobedience, the Bible records a conversation between God, Adam, Eve, and the Serpent, with the serpent no longer speaking. (If he said anything then, it was of no consequence to us.) (Genesis 3:9-19).

There is finally a comment from Adam. When? Once it was time to start explaining himself in light of the first sin in the whole world! Rather humbling, don'tcha think? I mean, what would you do if God asked you to explain how you knew you were naked? Adam tried to explain....... Did he try to make excuses? What was that like, anyway? Glad he had fig leaves on, no?

Whatever all Adam was trying to do, the first recorded words of man were........... humbling at best.

When God spoke to Adam and Eve after the fall, His words were still glorious. He was both just (handing out appropriate consequences for those who decided He wasn't really 'God' after all), yet promising a way to access His mercy, grace, and love anyway!

Adam's words aren't of much regard, really. They are there 'for the record.'

God's words right after the fall are entirely different. Gracious and glorious.

What a contrast between God's Word at the onset of creation & after the fall, and man's first *recorded* words.

3) God even recorded for us His talk with Cain prior to murdering his brother (offering him a chance to avoid murder). Nothing Cain might have said in response has been noted.

God's words to Cain, however, are vital to us still today.

After the murder, something of Cain's words finally make it into the Bible! Let's see - for one thing he lied! Need we go on further? Yep, lies. That's what crops up the *second* time that any of mankind's words are recorded in scripture.

Still nothing great about man showing through here. (Genesis 4:1-15). Ouch!

3b!) Not a word from Abel is recorded in Genesis, or anywhere else in scripture.

However, Abel 'speaketh' to us today according to the faith chapter, Hebrews 11! (Hebrews 11:4)
So what is Abel still speaking - and how? What clues are there, anyway? The only thing we know is that he relied on a sacrifice that was accepted in order to find forgiveness of sin in his life.

What did the acceptance of that sacrifice require of him?

Faith in a promise/instruction. Abel is still speaking to us today about the results of faith in a promise. The promise came from outside of himself, and the faith came from outside of himself as well. The promise, and the faith in that promise both came from God. Thus, Abel's testimony lifts up the Promise Maker and the Faith Giver, and illustrates his/our failures and need of the Promise Maker. Yep! humbling again!

But the love of God changes all of that 'low life' aspect of man showing through here!

His love lifts us up. He is the lifter of our head in spite of ourselves! (Psalm 3:3) Nothing we can do can lift us up above our sin.

But He can.

The glory is all God's.

The glory does not go to those who were lifted to the Faith Hall of Fame. The glory goes to the one who lifted them up to the Faith Hall of Fame in spite of their failures.

The glory does not go to those who 'do better than Cain did' today, either.

He lifts up those who lift up the glory of His promise, who glorify Him!

He seeks to lift us up today as well! He does it the same way today as He did in the case of Abel: by granting us faith in a promise - in His promise. (Now we should still be speaking about that to mankind - something He can grant us the faith to do as well.)

Glory be to God!

4) Men began to call on the name of the Lord when Adam's grandson Enos, the son of Seth, was born (Genesis 4:26). Someone has recently pointed out to me that the name Y-hw-h was in the text when Eve named Cain - - and they are only now calling on His name when Enos is born? This confuses me to some extent, so to date, I still do not have much comment here. Just a lot of confusion about the delay........

But it's pretty amazing that men would call on the name of the Lord at any point in time. Where does the glory go in that case? To mankind who is in desperate need of Him? Oops! Nope! The glory goes to God yet again!

The really amazing thing is that God listens! Mankind does a terrible job of listening to Him, but He listens to us and cares for each of our thoughts anyway. He thinks about US a LOT: (Psalms 139:3-4, & especially Psalms 139:17-18)

That is amazingly glorious!

Praise God for His tender kindnesses!

5) There are, however, times when man walked with or talked with God, with the story of Enoch being an extremely wonderful example (Genesis 5).

So what does Enoch have to say to us? Anything?

Enoch is remembered today for having walked with and talked with God, but not a word of what Enoch said when he was 'walking and talking with God' was important enough for us to need to know about it! *giggle* (amazing really!)

5b!) Even though Genesis did not specify any words from Enoch, what was important was 'his testimony' which God honored later in Hebrews 11:5!

Now, the NAS and NIV render the testimony as one given to Enoch (like as if it was there only to let Enoch know that He was accepted so closely by God). However, if that testimony was given to Enoch, I'm inclined to think the KJV's rendering is still appropriate: Any testimony that God has given to Enoch has the ability to uplift others. So Enoch can share his 'testimony' with us whether it was given to him or it arose from His own life's experiences (provided from God, of course) as a statement to us.

Certainly if Abel is still 'speaking', Enoch is still sharing forth his 'testimony/witness', no?

Well, that is my understanding to date.

People usually think of a 'testimony' as including words. But that isn't necessarily important. Enoch's reputation now precedes him...... What is that reputation?

Well, let's examine scripture: What was Enoch's testimony? "that he pleased God" (Hebrews 11:5) - - -

His reputation is not that he was eloquent, or had clever things to say when He walked and talked with God, or anything, just 'that he pleased God.' Nothing else mattered from that incredible life - except that he pleased God!

Any clue as to what he did that pleased God?

He had faith.

How do we know? From the very next verse in the Faith Chapter, Hebrews 11:6 "Without faith it is impossible to please [God]..........!"

So there it is. We gotta have faith!

Enoch had faith - the very existence of his faith is all that we need to know to 'hear' his testimony about pleasing God.

6a) God spoke to Noah about the ark, and Noah obeyed (Genesis 6:13-22). It is true that actions speak louder than words. They did in the case of Adam & Eve, Cain, and Enoch too. Certainly all we hear is Noah's actions. Not a word from him here - not any words used in prayer in particular.

[but don't you think that he did pray to God in faith, and don't you think that his prayer life had something to do with his getting a ticket on the ark?]

6b) It happened again! God spoke. Noah obeyed (without any of his words recorded *again*) (Genesis 7:1-5).

6c) God spoke to Noah and told him it was time to leave the ark, he, his family, and all the animals (Genesis 8:15-17). Not even a sigh of joy or anything from Noah recorded here! No long psalm of praise - not even a short one! Nada!

The message should be pretty clear:

God gives the instruction, the important thing for those who trust and fear Him is simply to obey - IN FAITH.

6d) Noah built an altar and offered burnt offerings, but there is no mention of specific prayers - though certainly he prayed then (Genesis 8:20). I mean, this is a dramatic moment in history - at least to Noah and his family. No more ark building! No more ark rides! Well - there was the monumental task of starting over, but the ark ordeal was over. Yet not a peep from Noah or his family is able to make it into God's word at this time!

God's incredible word and work says all that needs to be said.

6e) In response to that sacrifice which Noah offered after leaving the ark (the sacrifice which pointed to the promised savior - in indication of faith, no? - which pleases god, right!?):

Sure enough, God was pleased and promised certain things that make life easier for man - like, no more floods! (Genesis 8:21-22). But still not a word from this monumental man, Noah.

6f) Going into chapter 9, there is still no word from Noah, but there is more said by God almighty! Blessings for Noah, some new, post-flood guidelines, a covenant, and the rainbow, - without one word mentioned from Noah's mouth (Genesis 9:1-17).

[When Noah finally speaks in the Bible, it is related to family dysfunction, and the curses that arise from family dysfunction. Is that glorious of man or something? *sigh* - not at all.]

6Z) What does the Faith Chapter tell us about what Noah 'said'? That by being 'moved with fear' and constructing an ark 'to the saving of his family', he condemned the world - (along with becoming the heir of righteousness - for his faith, of course. All of this was accomplished by faith.) (Hebrews 11:7).

[Remember, faith is a gift of god - lest any man should boast (Ephesians 2:8).]


So thus far, ten whole chapters into Genesis:

--God spoke and created (a huge power, more powerful than all the stars together; yet concerned about all the little details - such as laminin which both holds us together, and bears testimony of Christ's sacrificial love........ wow! - what detail in our lives is not important to that kind of God? What solutions can He create for us about anything that can arise in our lives? What couldn't He deal with?) End result? God is wonderful!
--God explained both wonderful blessings and safety standards for Adam & Eve - - End result? God provides everything we need - we simply need to listen to Him. God is wonderful!

--God's voice was heard walking in the garden (how cool is that!?)
--God asked a question because the safety standards had not been observed....... (how gentle is that?)
--Adam explained his sin.......? How does one do that? no, only admit... / Some people see this as not a narration/telling-back what happened, but as excuses. I mean, Adam didn't exactly try to stop Eve and protect her or something. So, what's the deal if they were ?excuses? - the first words recorded from man were excuses? How humbling is that?
--God spoke forth the inevitable penalties which applied, since safety standards were not observed. How just is that?
--God spoke forth a promise in the midst of the penalties........ a creationary God having created a solution for weakness in others who were itty bitty but thought they could be huge like Him. Why did He do that? Because of love! What incredible love!
--God warned Cain. Again, what love.
--God exposed Cain for what he was and punished him after Cain refused to heed God's warning. God exposed Cain by asking him questions - and Cain's own testimony exposed the lack of truth in his life in spite of God's warning *&* invitation (truth sets us free/obedience keeps us safe; lies tyrannize us/disobedience brings disaster......). God can bring us to Him if we embrace the truth, but for Him to be a just God, all untruth will have to be destroyed - along with those who cling to it.
--Abel, who didn't have much to say about the sacrifice that made him famously righteous before God, who didn't have much to say about being murdered, speaks his testimony still today: faith makes the offering God calls us to rely upon effective. What made him worthy of the grandiose list in Hebrews 11? Faith in A PROMISE FROM SOMEONE ELSE. That promise giver is pretty incredible!
--Enos, Seth's son, had to be born before men began to call upon the name of the Lord. God listened anyway.
--Enoch, who talked with God, doesn't have any of his words recorded, but it is said of him that he pleased God (and only faith pleases God........) Again, that faith is IN A PROMISE FROM SOMEONE ELSE. So what's so glorious? The PROMISE GIVER!
--God spoke the fear of God into Noah's life (why? to preserve Noah), and Noah got good and busy - with plenty of diligence to last a lifetime!
--God spoke promises and new guidelines for the post-flood world.
--God provided Noah with both a promise and with faith.

That's it for the first 10 chapters. (Yes, Abraham will talk to God, and so will others in other portions of Genesis and the Bible - but that's a lot of years from Creation to the time just before Abraham to have such a humbling view of mankind's 'words', especially in light of the glory of God's Word!)


Conclusion? God is amazingly wonderful.

Man? Not so much.

However, God values faith in the sacrifice He has ordained, Jesus Christ!

He also desires to walk and talk with us today. Even if we cannot walk and talk with Him on the level that Enoch did, He does desire fellowship with you. After all, that is why Jesus died - to reconcile us to Him, so we can fellowship with Him again.

Glory be to God in the highest!


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