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Chapter 6 Discussion

posted Nov 3, 2011, 8:49 AM by Lynn Squire   [ updated Nov 3, 2011, 8:49 AM ]
The Blacks and Sergeant Dixon are racing home ahead of a violent storm. They make it to the barn just as the storm unleashes its fury. But something strange is going on. The animals, which the Blacks put away before leaving for town were not in the barn nor were the chickens in the chicken coop. When the storm is over, they leave the barn and find the animals have been killed by the hailstorm.

We never know when our livelihood will be wiped out. No one could have predicted the tsunami in Japan; no one could have stopped the flooding of the Mississippi and other rivers or the tornado that destroyed Joplin, Missouri, or the fires in Arizona, Texas, and other places. Yet all these tragedies are limited to our time on earth and the sorrow we experience is tied to the losses we experience in this life.

Our perspective tends to be limited to this present life, but God’s perspective encompasses all of eternity.

When Sarah reacted to the death of her animals, do you think she was viewing her present future or her eternal future?

  • Present future

At the instant tragedy strikes our lives, what do we tend to focus on?

  • The event
  • Finding help
  • Surviving

Where should we turn our focus? To God.

We tend to limit our vision in terms of the present and only stretch it to include our life on earth. God sees all eternity. Let’s take a look at evidence of God’s eternal perspective in Scripture.

When God spoke with Abram about his children, He revealed His plan for the Egyptians and the Amorites. Read Genesis 15:13–16.

And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years;

 And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance.

 And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age.

 But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full.

The land that Abram’s seed (his family) would be a stranger in was Egypt. What did God know at this time would happen in Egypt based on this passage?

  • The Israelites would serve the Egyptians
  • The Egyptians would afflict them for 400 years
  • God would judge Egypt
  • The Israelites would come out of Egypt with great substance

Abram wouldn’t be alive when this happens, but he believed what God said. When the time came, the events occurred exactly as God said.

Read John 14:1-3:

Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.

 In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.

 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.

What does God promise us of our future if we believe? A place with Him in Heaven.

Yes, the Israelites would suffer at the hands of the Egyptians, but in the end God would be glorified and they would have their promised land.

We must not only grasp but embrace that we are here to bring God glory. If it is through affliction, so be it. It isn’t about us. It is about God. And if we think even the very least that it ought to be about us then we’ve got it all wrong.

Does that mean God doesn’t care for us, doesn’t want to bless us?

  • Absolutely not. He created us. He loves us enough even to suffer and die for us, but if we think for even one moment that we have a right to the good things of this earth then we have stepped out of line and we will not react in a manner that is glorifying to God—thereby messing up the very purpose of our lives.
  • Of course He wants to bless us. Sometimes the best blessings come after a period of suffering.

What blessings has God given you?

Let’s look at the Amorites now.  Genesis 15:16 says:

But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full.

Throughout Scripture we find God patiently waiting to pass judgment on people. Before that judgment comes, He gives them a warning. Can you think of examples of this?

  • Pharaoh before he releases Israel – plague after plague he refused, even though God told him through Moses and Aaron what to do.
  • The giving of the law to Israel – God had laid out how He wanted them to live, still they disobeyed and the curses God said would happen happened.
  • King Saul was given clear instructions by Samuel, still he disobeyed and the kingdom was taken from him.
  • God had Jonah tell Nineveh what would happen.
  • Nebuchadnezzar was given dreams and Daniel to interpret those dreams.

God knows how people will respond to these warnings, who will heed and who will not, because He sees all of eternity.

Did He still warn those who chose not to heed? Yes.

God could have wiped out the Amorites and settled Abram in their land, but God showed the Amorites mercy, until their iniquity was full.

Even when the Israelites came out of Egypt, word spread of what God had done for the Israelites, opportunity was given for the individual to humble himself before God.

For example, consider when Joshua sent the two men to spy the land and Jericho. These men came to Rahab’s house. Rahab hid them and helped them escape. She also asked them to protect her, but she also makes a confession of faith.

Read Joshua 2:9-11.

And she said unto the men, I know that the LORD hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you.

 For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red sea for you, when ye came out of Egypt; and what ye did unto the two kings of the Amorites, that were on the other side Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom ye utterly destroyed.

 And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you: for the LORD your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath.

How did Rahab respond to the judgment she knew was coming? She acknowledged who God was.

Did God save her? Yes

Rahab is an example of God’s mercy to the individual who believes even when His judgment falls on a nation.

Isaiah 40:28 describes God as an everlasting God. God also knows man’s heart (Psalm 44:21). When troubles come our way, we would be wise not to view them in terms of this life on earth, but in terms of eternity and under the realm of a holy, everlasting, all-knowing, just God.

How can we prepare ourselves for the trouble that will come our way?

  • Have a right relationship with God. Keep Him the center of your life moment by moment. Don’t let one moment pass where you let your affection turn to the things of this world. Are our possessions evil? No. But if we let them get in the way of our relationship with God we need to push them aside so that our line of vision is directly on the Lord.
  • Continue in prayer and praise moment by moment. How do you do this when you must work? Consider the yoyo. It goes up and down the string, but as long as its energy is coming from the hand, it returns to the hand. Let your energy, the well-spring of  your life, come from God so that while you might be at the end of the string when you’re working, your thoughts immediately spring back to Him when you pause from your work. So, when tragedy strikes, you roll right up the string into the Father’s hand.

When you keep that connection with God, like the string that connects the yoyo to its master’s hand, we can keep that eternal perspective and resist the temptation to let our present situation stop our ‘roll’.