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I remember when I first resolved to read through the whole Bible. I was in high school and it seemed like the godly thing to do. But, as I began making my way through Scripture, I kept stumbling upon verses that were unsettling to me. Sometimes what a verse described seemed abhorrent to me (Should I be happy when babies have their heads dashed on the rocks?). Other verses just seemed wrong (Should I always give to those who ask?). I believed that the Bible was God’s Word and was always true. But what was I to do with verses that seemed to be, well, false?
When I was a boy, I did not want to be a nimrod. In the community of my upbringing, the word “nimrod” was equivalent to “idiot” or “stupidhead.” If a friend said to me, “You nimrod!” that meant I had done or said something especially foolish.
Interestingly enough, the word “nimrod” did not originally have such a connotation.
Where do you belong?
As you read this question, what first came to mind for you? Did you think of your family? Or did you envision you friends? Maybe your community? Where do you fit? In what relationships do you find love, meaning, and security?
In yesterday’s Life for Leaders edition, we focused on the covenant God established with Noah, his progeny, and, indeed, all creatures on earth. I talked about how covenants are like contracts, though distinctive in their binding and one might say “serious” character. We might talk about the covenant of marriage, for example. But we would not say that we established a covenant with someone to paint our house.
You may have wondered if the notion of covenants is relevant to today’s world beyond the church. Do covenants matter, for example, in the business world?
Contracts. We all have them, by the dozens. In business, government, and in our personal lives, contracts provide structure and order for relationships that are essential to all of life. Contracts tell us what is expected of us and what we can expect from others. Without contracts, both explicit and implicit, our lives and our work would quickly unravel.
There are times when it’s fairly easy to trust in God’s love, to rejoice in his salvation, and to sing because he has been good to us. I think of times in my life when I was overwhelmed by God’s blessings, when I could hardly believe how good my life was. My heart was filled with thanks and praise.
Yet, there are other times, aren’t there? Times when life is hard, when sorrow fills our hearts, when we wonder if God is even there for us.
In many and varied ways the Old Testament points to the new, especially to God’s work in Jesus Christ. We think, for example of prophetic texts that promise salvation through God’s special ruler (Isaiah 9:1-7). Yet, beyond specific prophecies, Christian readers of the Old Testament see other kinds of pointers to Christ. One of these is found in Genesis 8:20-21.
The sovereignty of God is one of the great mysteries of Christian faith. I’m certainly not going to sort it all out in one edition of Life for Leaders. I couldn’t do so definitively in a thousand! Today, my purpose is fairly modest. I want to help us pay close attention to one surprising verse in Genesis 8 so that we might see how this verse helps us answer the question: Do our actions affect God’s actions?
In yesterday’s devotion, I reflected on how the very first thing Noah did after leaving the ark was to build an altar in order to offer sacrifices to God. He made worship a priority.
I believe this and I believe it’s important. But I also believe that how we talk about Noah’s worship of God can limit our understanding and practice of worship. Allow me to explain.
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