THE END OF THE STORY
by Wayne McDaniel 11/24/99 WayneGMcD@aol.com
"Thou has made us for thy sake, and we are restless, until we rest in thee." -Augustine
"I preached as never sure to preach again, as a dying man, to dying men." -Richard Baxter
"What is left of the gospel, if you take away the cross?" - Charles Loos
"The hallmark of a Christian, is not logic, but love." - Edward Fudge
Genesis. The book of beginnings. "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." With these words, "In the beginning," the Lord suggested that there will be an end. Our hearts instinctively crave the end of the story.
As we approach the end of 2000 years since the Lord came among us, people have come to fear the future. It will be no surprise if evil men cause disruptions. Unbelievers will be most fearful. Believers learn to look to the future.
The book of Genesis inspires awe of its Author.
It tells of the heavens and the earth spoken into existence: Understandable to the simple, humbling to the proud.
The book of beginnings quickly moves from Adam's body being formed of dust, to his naming of the animals, to being left without a suitable mate.
The story of Eve, formed from his rib, is one test of trust in the Creator.
The entrance of sin into the creation is also told with words that humble pride. A speaking serpent, eating fruit, eyes wide open, ashamed, hiding from God.
Down to this day people are shamed by their disobedience.
The story is true, confirmed by the conscience of us all.
The human story continues with a cursed earth, pain in childbirth, jealousy, murder, evil thoughts continually, the Divine decree to destroy, the building of a great ark, the gathering of the animals, the rain and the Flood, an earth washed clean, but repopulated by men carrying the germ of disobedience.
The story develops with the call of one man whom God called His "friend."
God called Abram from Ur in Chaldea, and again from Haran, to walk into an unknown land, that he would afterwards receive for an inheritance.
In this pilgrimage, the Lord provided an example of daily fellowship with him.
Everyone who believes in Jesus, is called to leave the familiar and comfortable, to make a life-long pilgrimage of faith with him.
The people Abraham walked away from, understood no more of his destination, than those left behind by Noah.
By a simple page count, we see the story of Abraham occupies 25% of Genesis.
God promises a son that will bless all nations. But conception must wait.
Sarah conceives a plan, rather than a son, to expedite the promise. Ishmail is born, but later persecutes Issac. Paul wrote such behavior is repeated in the church. ( Galatians 4:29) Not waiting for the Lord has always brought pain.
When Isaac's conception was clearly beyond the natural, it was fulfilled.
The angel's question at the announcement years before, is finally answered: "Is anything too hard for Jehovah?" (18:14).
Isaac grows into a lad and Abraham receives a shocking word from the Lord: offer Isaac in sacrifice. None of us have ever been tested to that extent. Staggered, this friend of God makes a journey of three days to obey.
Faith, suspended reason to obey.
Isaac asks, "Where is the lamb...?" Abraham replies, "The Lord will provide."
That day, the Lord provided a ram caught in a thicket by its horns.
Over 2000 years later, on the same mountain, the Lord provided His own Son, as a lamb to take away the sin of the world.
Genesis continues with the birth of Isaac's twins, their destiny foreknown.
Paul writes that God's choice between them was before either did good or bad. If we resent those words, we must seek another god.
It is beyond our understanding that God would choose a deceiver like Jacob.
God foreknew Jacob and transformed Jacob into Israel. (32:28)
Genesis concludes with the story of Abraham's great-grandson, Joseph.
Once again, a simple page count reveals that 29% of Genesis concerns Joseph. The end of the first book of Scripture concerns this one son of Jacob.
Joseph's story begins with him as a teen, dreaming dreams. Nothing unusual. But his dreams came from the God of his great-grandfather.
They foretold the future, enraged his brothers, and perplexed his father.
One day Jacob sent him to his brothers, a long distance away tending flocks. Their hatred for the 17 year-old was so intense that they planned murder, and settled upon selling him as a slave.
In the lineage of the child who would save the world, we have this evil.
Who could bring good from such evil?
Years pass and Joseph's life goes from bad to worse, because he refused to lie with his master's wife. If we have difficulty believing that a young man in those circumstances would resist that temptation, do we believe that another man lived 33 years without sin?
Finally, Pharaoh, king of Egypt, dreams a dream that no one could interpret.
Then Joseph is rescued from the prison and is taken to stand before Pharaoh. The God of Abraham once again foretells the future from the dream, and faithfulness is rewarded as Joseph is lifted up to be second to Pharaoh.
After seven years of plenty, and two years of famine, Joseph's brothers enter Egypt to buy food. He recognizes them, but not vice-versa. On their third trip into Egypt, Joseph reveals himself and declares he has no anger against them.
In three statements he makes clear his grace towards them. ( 45:5,7,8 )
Jacob is brought into Egypt, Joseph sees his father again and rejoices.
Jacob rejoices to see Joseph's sons. Jacob lives in Egypt 17 years and dies.
His body is carried back to the promised land by his sons for burial.
Then the uneasiness of an unclean conscience is stirred among the brothers.
They reasoned that now their father was dead, Joseph might seek revenge.
The last chapter of Genesis contains Joseph's reply.
"And as for you, you meant evil against me: but God meant it for good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive." (50:20)
It is tragic that his brothers did not believe his words of grace 17 years before.
In the last verses of Genesis we are not told if they believed these words then.
At the conclusion of his article on Joseph for the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, M.G. Kyle points out some parallels between Joseph and Jesus.
He notes that Joseph provided salvation for those who betrayed him, that he went into humiliation enroute to exaltation, and forgave his brothers who had virtually killed him. Other parallels exist.
The end of the book of beginnings provides a window into the future.
Through Joseph, God rescues Abraham's family from perishing.
God brought good out of evil, revealing His into-the-future power and love.
Our Creator allowed His Son to bear our shame unto death upon the cross, that our hearts might be pierced and emptied of our shameful self, and someday receive the immortality His life and Resurection guarantees.
The death that darkened the sun, was changed into the hope of every burial.
He loves me so.
"and they shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads." Revelation 22:4
Wayne McDaniel 11/24/99 WayneGMcD@aol.com
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