How Should Christians Respond to Divorce (even if it is a relative or friend)?

How Should Christians Respond to Divorce (even if it is a relative or friend)? (Matthew 5:31-32; 19:1-12; 1 Cor. 7; etc)

Prepared and preach by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Sunday, September 11, 2022 or Sunday September 18, 2022

Prior to serving as a pastor, I never thought that I would ever recommend divorce. The Bible says that God hates divorce (Mal. 2:16). However, I have too often sat with couple and thought, wow! This should be so easy to work out, but it is not. That goes along with what Jesus say in Matthew 19:8, Moses gave the divorce laws because of hardness of heart.  

About divorce Dallas Willard shares:

This position [his admittance that sometimes divorce is the best option in a bad situation] certainly represents a change on my part. I recall with embarrassment sitting around a seminar table at the University of Wisconsin in the early sixties. The professor had not yet arrived for our seminar in formal logic, and one of the class members was talking about his divorce proceedings. Without being asked for my opinion, I ventured to say, “Divorce is always wrong.”

Looking back on it, the strangest thing of all was that no one objected to what I said or even to my saying it. Everyone seemed accepting of it. Of course that was because my words represented a cultural assumption of those days. But in fact I was vastly ignorant of the things men and women do to one another.

Later I came across the situation of a devout woman whose husband had married her as a cover for his homosexuality. He consummated the marriage so it couldn’t be annulled, and after that he had nothing to do with her. They had no personal relationship at all. He would bring his male friends home and, in her presence, have sex in the living room or wherever else they pleased any time they pleased. Her religious guides continued to tell her that she must stay in “the marriage,” while she died a further death every day, year after year.

I was simply an ignorant young man full of self-righteous ideas. This and later episodes of discovery educated me in the hardness of the human heart. But Jesus, of course, always knew.[1]

Today, we deal with the very difficult topic of divorce.

How should a Christian respond to divorce.

My theme today is that a Christian should always respond in love.

  1. First, when is divorce permitted?
    1. I do not want this to be a comprehensive study on divorce. I can approach this topic in two ways. One is a message on divorce, when is it permitted, when can one re-marry. Secondly, how can Christians respond to divorce? I am going to try to do the latter.
    2. How should you respond if your adult children are divorced? You should respond in love and forgiveness.
    3. First, I need to talk about divorce in the Bible.
    4. The Bible mentions and comments about divorce in the following passages:
    5. Deuteronomy 24:1-4;
    6. Malachi 2:16;
    7. Matthew 5:31-32;
    8. Luke 16:18; and
    9. 1 Cor. 7:10-16.
    10. Let’s read and talk about Matthew 19:1-9.
    11. Matthew 19:1-9: Now when Jesus had finished these sayings, he went away from Galilee and entered the region of Judea beyond the Jordan. And large crowds followed him, and he healed them there. And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?” He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.”
    12. Mark 10:1-12: this passage is almost identical except that in verses 11-12 Jesus mentions that if a woman divorces her husband. Mark is written to a gentile audience and that may be why.  
    13. However, the exception clause, which is added by Matthew is very important. There are other times in which Matthew adds and expands on what Jesus teaches in the other gospels.
    14. The ESV Study Bible shares:
    15. This implies that divorce and remarriage on the grounds of sexual immorality are not prohibited and thus do not constitute adultery. This is the one exception Jesus makes to the requirement that marriage be lifelong, for sexual immorality grievously defiles and indeed corrupts the “one flesh” union (v. 5). [2]
    16. In 1 Corinthians 7:10-16 Paul adds abandonment as a reason for divorce.
    17. So, it seems that divorce is permitted because of hardness of heart (verse 8). Divorce and remarriage is permitted if adultery was present.
    18. Hardness of heart leads to the adultery and hardness of heart leads to neglect, or abandonment.
    19. The Old Testament divorce laws come from Deut 24.
    20. Note: Jesus nowhere encourage divorce. It is almost like triage. In bad situations we must do triage and divorce is the best in an already complicated and harmful situation.
    21. We can expand on this.
    22. I have several quotations and I do not know that I will read all of them, but they are helpful.
    23. Dallas Willard shares: Certainly there was long-standing disagreement among the interpreters of the law as to whether the man was free to divorce his wife “for every reason whatsoever” (Matt. 19:3), or only for adultery. The Pharisees dragged Jesus into this controversy, and he clearly took the highly restrictive position of the school of Shammai, which allowed divorce only on “moral” grounds. The school of Hillel, by contrast, permitted it “for every reason.” For example, if the wife burned the food or merely oversalted it. Rabbi Akibah even allowed divorce if the husband merely saw a woman whose appearance pleased him better and he wanted her as wife instead of a wife he had.[3]
    24. In practice, however, a woman knew very well that she could be divorced for any reason her husband chose. The law as practiced was entirely favorable to the husband’s slightest whim, even though the Mosaic codes, chiefly found in Deuteronomy 22–24, are obviously much more restrictive and require some sort of sexual impropriety in the woman. They also specify conditions under which a man entirely loses the right to divorce a woman.[4]
  2. Divorce in the Old Testament protected the woman. Otherwise, the husband would make life unbearable for the woman and children. Bobby Murphy shares: Jesus expresses His concern for women in the language of His teachings. Look at Matthew 5:32, for example. He’s speaking to men and instructs them not to divorce their wives because they’ve burned dinner, gained weight, or so on as the school of Hillel allows. If men do, they make them commit adultery, which probably refers to them becoming prostitutes. In addition, those who subsequently marry them also commit adultery. That likely refers to the new husbands viewing them as damaged goods, still the wives of their first husbands. Those interpretations are consistent with the premise that Jesus is rejecting the school of Hillel and its liberal approach to divorce.      
    1. Again, Willard: It is not an accident that Jesus deals with divorce [in Matthew 5: 31-32] after having dealt with anger, contempt, and obsessive desire. Just ask yourself how many divorces would occur, and in how many cases the question of divorce would never even have arisen, if anger, contempt, and obsessive fantasized desire were eliminated. The answer is, of course, hardly any at all.[5]
    2. Is, then, divorce ever justifiable for Jesus? I think it clearly is. His principle of the hardness of hearts allows it, though its application would require great care. Perhaps divorce must be viewed somewhat as the practice of triage in medical care. Decisions must be made as to who cannot, under the circumstances, be helped. They are then left to die so that those who can be helped should live.[6]
    3. Divorce, if it were rightly done, would be done as an act of love. It would be dictated by love and done for the honest good of the people involved. Such divorce, though rare, remains nonetheless possible and may be necessary. If it were truly done on this basis, it would be rightly done, in spite of the heartbreak and loss it is sure to involve.[7]
  3. Further: Richard Foster captures the essence of Jesus’ teachings on divorce better than anyone I’ve read.  He writes: “Jesus was not trying to set down a legalistic set of rules to determine when divorce was allowable.  He was striking at the spirit in which people live with each other.” 
  4. How is a Christian to respond?
    1. Suppose that you have a relative going through a divorce, how do you respond? I believe that we should respond with compassion, with love, and with forgiveness.
    2. This is the case regardless of whether we believe that the divorce was permitted or not.
    3. Certainly, if they are Christians and respect the Scriptures, and if you have opportunity prior to the divorce, you can share the above material and recommend they get marital counseling.
    4. Suppose that the divorce is over and has happened, then it is time to offer support.
    5. We must support them, and we must love them.
    6. Loving them does not mean condoning the divorce, but the divorce is over now.
    7. Encourage others to calm down from vindictive or self-centered hostile ways of relating.[8]
    8. Make sure that you forgive your relatives, or friends.
    9. If there are children involved, do not talk negatively about either spouse in front of the children.
    10. Divorce affects more than the immediate family, and so I encourage you to be willing to get help. I am glad to talk with you and support you. Celebrate Recovery can help. A Christian counselor or friend can help as well.
    11. Avoiding Harmful Thinking: They include the following, which are not limited to divorcing couples but can apply to other problem situations as well:
      1. Making sweeping generalizations about oneself or others. These generalizations may have little or no basis in fact, but they can pull people down. Examples might include: “I am completely incompetent as a parent,” or “My former spouse wants to get even with everybody.”
      2. Developing and anticipating unrealistic expectations.
      3. Living out self-fulfilling prophecies. For example, a person may conclude that “from now on my life will be miserable.” This attitude, in turn, can make life miserable.
      4. Always being defensive and expecting the worst. This can lead to behavior that alienates people and brings the worst.
      5. Wallowing in one’s problems, talking about them incessantly, and always focusing on the negative.
      6. Blaming others persistently, especially one’s mate.
      7. Rushing to new jobs, new locations, or new churches in an attempt to start fresh but without careful prior thought to the wisdom of the new moves.
      8. Living through others, such as finding satisfaction only in one’s children or in the achievements of others.
      9. Assuming that life only can be meaningful again when there is another marriage.[10]
      10. I can go on and on about how important it is to get help after you or a relative go through divorce. I know that this affects extended family as well. For example, what do you do at Thanksgiving and holidays? I believe it is important to do the most loving thing possible. This is especially important if children are involved.
      11. Always remember grace. God gives us grace and we must give grace to others.
      12. Remember, you may not want to be around someone, but that person is the mother or father of your grandchildren. Try to view it from the children’s perspective.
  5. The following is especially helpful for the immediate victim of divorce, but it applies to relatives and friends as well. It comes from a counseling book by Dr. Gary Collins:

C.S. Lewis writes:

…Christianity teaches that marriage is for life. There is, of course, a difference here between different Churches: some do not admit divorce at all; some allow it reluctantly in very special cases. It is a great pity that Christians should disagree about such a question; but for an ordinary layman the thing to notice is that the Churches all agree with one another about marriage a great deal more than any of them agrees with the outside world. I mean, they all regard divorce as something like cutting up a living body, as a kind of surgical operation. Some of them think the operation so violent that it cannot be done at all; others admit it as a desperate remedy in extreme cases. They are all agreed that it is more like having both your legs cut off than it is like dissolving a business partnership or even deserting a regiment.[11]

Yet, it does happen and that is when we must exercise love, forgiveness, and support.

Below from Dr. Stratton, Asbury Theological Seminary

  • Remember the hurt: you don’t have to forget

“When we are hurt, we often try to protect ourselves by denying it.  But if unforgiveness keeps intruding into your thoughts and feelings, consider forgiving. Recall the hurt as objectively as possible. Don’t rail against the person who hurt you, waste time wishing for an apology that will never be offered, or dwell on your victimization. Instead, admit that a wrong was done to you and set your sights on its repair.” (from class notes powerpoint: PC510 Asbury)

  • Empathize

Empathy involves seeing things from another person’s point of view and identifying with the pressures that made the person hurt you.

How would he or she explain the harmful acts? Forgiveness is facilitated when we can look at the transgression from multiple perspectives.  The harmful act is seen more objectively when we can step outside of the victim role.  We have a chance to view what happened from a bigger perspective – one that includes the human and the divine.  (from class notes powerpoint: PC510 Asbury)

  • Altruistic gift: selfless gift

Empathy can prepare you for forgiving, but to give that gift of forgiveness, consider yourself. Have you ever harmed or offended a friend, a parent, or a partner who later forgave you? Think about your guilt. Then consider the way you felt when you were forgiven. Most people say, “I felt free. The chains were broken.” By recalling your own guilt and the gratitude over being forgiven, you can develop the desire to give that gift of freedom to the person who hurt you. (from class notes powerpoint: PC510 Asbury)

  • Commitment: you will have to stay committed

When you forgive, you can eventually doubt that you have forgiven. When people remember a previous injury or offense, they often interpret it as evidence that they must not have forgiven. If you make your forgiveness tangible, you are less likely to doubt it later. Tell a friend, partner, or counselor that you have forgiven the person who hurt you. Write a “certificate of forgiveness,” stating that you have, as of today, forgiven. (from class notes powerpoint: PC510 Asbury)

  • Hold on

When you doubt that you’ve forgiven, remind yourself of the Pyramid, refer to your certificate of forgiveness, and tell yourself that a painful memory does not disqualify the hard work of forgiving that you have done. Instead of trying to stop unforgiving thoughts, think realistically about the forgiveness you have experienced. If you continue to doubt your forgiveness, work back through these steps to REACH forgiveness. (from class notes powerpoint: PC510 Asbury)


[1] Willard, Dallas. The Divine Conspiracy: Rediscovering Our Hidden Life In God (p. 173). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

[2] Crossway Bibles, The ESV Study Bible (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008), 1860–1861.

[3] Willard, Dallas. The Divine Conspiracy: Rediscovering Our Hidden Life In God (pp. 168-169). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Willard, Dallas. The Divine Conspiracy: Rediscovering Our Hidden Life In God (p. 172). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid. (172-173)

[8] Gary R. Collins, Christian Counseling: A Comprehensive Guide, 3rd ed. (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2006), 619.

[9] Gary R. Collins, Christian Counseling: A Comprehensive Guide, 3rd ed. (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2006), 621.

44 Mel Krantzler, Creative Divorce: A New Opportunity for Personal Growth (New York: M. Evans, 1974), 103–116.

[10] Gary R. Collins, Christian Counseling: A Comprehensive Guide, 3rd ed. (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2006), 621–622.

[11] Lewis, C. S.. Mere Christianity (C.S. Lewis Signature Classics) (p. 105). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

How are We to Respond to Rejection, especially by the Church, Spouse, or Parents? (Matt 22:16; Romans 8:31-33)

I do not know about you, but I can be thin-skinned.

I have a problem…

I have only recently realized my problem. Over the last few years, I realized how much I try to keep everyone happy. A few months back, I was reminded about this from an article through Desiring God.

The article began this way:

“Tell me, good Brutus, can you see your face?”

Cassius, one of the villains in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, is ambitious. He sees Julius Caesar ascending to power, and Cassius hates it. Yet he knows, like Scar in The Lion King, that if he wants to take down Caesar, he must gain powerful allies. Brutus, a noble war hero, is such a man.

Cassius slithers up to Brutus while Brutus is in some untold conflict with himself (perhaps fighting a similar concern with Caesar’s rise). Listen again to his question,

“Tell me, good Brutus, can you see your face?” (1.2.51)

Cassius asks Brutus if he can see himself. In other words, Cassius asks if he can properly know himself — see Brutus as Brutus is — without the help of another.

“No, Cassius,” Brutus responds, “for the eye sees not itself, but by reflection, by some other things.” (1.2.52–53)

As the eye cannot see its own face, Brutus responds, neither can he know himself alone. He must see his reflection by some mirror. Cassius, to recruit this needed Knight to checkmate the potential King, offers to be that mirror for Brutus. Flatteringly, he reflects a majestic Brutus. A regal Brutus. A Brutus that is as great, if not greater, than Caesar — a Brutus the people would wish was in charge.[1]

Greg Morse continues:

Who do you look at to see yourself? Whose opinion of you forms your identity? If you have been like me, perhaps you rely on many mirrors. Does this group think I am fun to be around? Does my wife find me desirable? Does this pastor or small group respect me? Do these people think I am smart, or those people, funny? Does this group like my writing; does he think I talk too much?[2]

I received a question about how we are to respond to rejection

My theme today is:

If God is for us, who can be against us?

  1. Jesus was not concerned with this:
    1. Matthew 22:16: And they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are true and teach the way of God truthfully, and you do not care about anyone’s opinion, for you are not swayed by appearances.
    2. What a nugget of truth about the fear of man.
    3. Morse continues: The Pharisees, in the spirit of Cassius, said this to manipulate Jesus. They meant to entangle him. They wanted him out of the way, so they held a meeting to discuss how to trap him in his words. This introduction, which flattered Jesus for not regarding faces, was bait.
    4. For their plan to work, they needed him to continue to do what he had been doing: speak truthfully regardless of the consequences. He couldn’t back down now, or the web wouldn’t stick. They need him to answer; they think they’ve asked a question Jesus cannot answer without his harm. So they say in effect,
    5. Teacher, we know you’re true and speak God’s way truthfully and that you don’t fear any man. We know you will tell us exactly how it is — that you will speak plainly the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth — come what may.
    6. Matthew Henry comments: In his evangelical judgment, he did not know faces; that Lion of the tribe of Judah, turned not away for any (Proverbs 30:30), turned not a step from the truth, nor from his work, for fear of the most formidable. He reproved with equity (Isaiah 11:4), and never with partiality.[3]
  2. More Scripture about the fear of man:
    1. Prov 29:25: The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.
    2. Luke 12:4-5: “I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him!
    3. Jesus was preparing them for persecution (Acts 8:1; 2 Tim 3:12).
    4. Acts 5:29: But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.
    5. Psalm 111:10: The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever!
    6. One source shares:
    7. The fear of man has replaced biblical conviction in some so-called Christian circles today. Public opinion has overridden the clear teaching of Scripture on many social issues.[4]
  3. Now, why do we not have to be concerned about rejection?
    1. God has accepted you.
    2. Eph 1:3-6: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.
    3. We do not accept God, he accepts us.
    4. We are saved by grace (Eph 2:8-9).
    5. We must live with Jesus (John 15).  
  4. Read your Romans.
    1. Romans 8:31–33 (ESV): 31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.
    2. Who is to condemn (Romans 8:34)?
    3. If you are in Christ no one can condemn you. Jesus has saved you.
    4. Jesus died, and was raised for you. Jesus is at the right hand of God, that is the place of authority, interceding for you.
    5. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Remember if God sent Jesus to the cross for us what more can God do to show that He cares? No one can separate us. Tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger, sword, no, nothing can separate us from God’s love. 
    6. See the rest of that passage: Romans 8:34-38: Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
    7. We are more than conquerors, but how? Through God, who loved us.
    8. Because of the salvation that God freely gives us we are more than conquerors, but not because of what we do, but what He has done. It is all about Jesus.
    9. Paul repeats with great detail that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
    10. Notice the end, “in Christ Jesus, our Lord.”
  5. Applications:
    1. The question related to how we deal with being rejected by a spouse or family member.
    2. Read, mediate on, memorize those passages. Fuel your life with Christ. Pour yourself into Jesus.
    3. Jesus told us this would happen.
    4. Luke 12:51-53: Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”
    5. Read testimonies of Christians who have faced this.
    6. If God accepted us, that is all that matters.
    7. Ultimately, if God forgives me what else is concerning.
    8. We must forgive others as God has forgiven us (Eph 4:32).
    9. We must get support, talk to Christian friends, prayer partners, counselors (Prov 27:17; Ecc 4:12).
    10. We must stay in the spiritual disciplines to make sure we are getting our hope from Christ.
    11. We must stay close to Jesus to make sure that we are being fueled by our relationship with Him (John 15:1-5).
    12. Pray Scripture.
    13. When we have the fear of man or the fear of people pleasing we must consult scripture and pray. If we have done what is right we should leave it to God.
    14. Journaling and prayer journaling may help.
    15. Seek a counselor. I recommend Emerge Counseling services. We want a counselor with a Biblical worldview. I am also willing to meet and help. Talking to a strong Christian friend will help a lot.
    16. Psalm 119:9-11: meditate on Scripture.
    17. Spiritual disciplines are key, but not the only key.
    18. I don’t know about you, but I am done with people-pleasing, as long as that is okay with you.


Consider in closing a story Michael Reeves recently gave at Ligonier about Hugh Latimer (1487–1555). Latimer, an English bishop, once preached before the frightful King Henry VIII, an easily provoked man with many wives and mistresses.

Spurgeon described the scene this way.

It was the custom of the Court preacher to present the king with something on his birthday, and Latimer presented Henry VIII. with a pocket-handkerchief with this text in the corner, “Whoremongers and adulterers God will judge” [Hebrews 13:4]; a very suitable text for bluff Harry. And then he preached a sermon before his most gracious majesty against sins of lust, and he delivered himself with tremendous force, not forgetting or abridging the personal application.

The king, as you would expect, was not pleased. He told Latimer that he was to preach again the next Sunday and apologize to him publicly. Latimer thanked the king and left.

The following Sunday arrived, Latimer climbed the pulpit, and said these unforgettable words:

“Hugh Latimer [referring to himself in the third person], thou art this day to preach before the high and mighty prince Henry, King of Great Britain and France. If thou sayest one single word that displeases his Majesty he will take thy head off; therefore, mind what thou art at.”[5]

But then said he, “Hugh Latimer, thou art this day to preach before the Lord God Almighty, who is able to cast both body and soul into hell, and so tell the king the truth outright.” (Godly Fear and Its Goodly Consequences, 237)

I know that is dealing with rejection by an authority not a close family member, but it is still an example of rejection.

Stay close to Jesus!



[2] Ibid.




How are We to Make Sense of the Death of the Innocent, Such as Children? (Luke 13:1-5)

How are We to Make Sense of the Death of the Innocent, Such as Children? (Luke 13:1-5)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church on Sunday, August 28, 2022

A little boy’s legs were not developing as they ought. The pediatrician told his parents that their son needed to wear a leg brace, which would help to position the legs and feet to grow properly. The parents wanted to do the right thing for their son but were miserable following the doctor’s orders. The bar held the little boy’s feet and legs completely straight and unbendable. Each night when his parents would put the brace on and put him to bed, he would cry from discomfort and from his dislike of it. The little boy was sure to have felt hurt that his parents would treat him wrongly and possibly he even doubted their love for him. The mother was at times tempted to take off the bar but resisted because she felt in her heart that she was doing the right thing for her son.

As difficult as this time was, the doctor, the mother, and the father did what they did because of their concern and their thought for his future well-being years down the road. They were willing to sacrifice convenience now for a better life later.

God cares for His children. Right now He might use means of restraint and discomfort to achieve His desired result but He operates out of the love He has for us.941[1]

We are in a new sermon series on dealing with life’s difficulties. Today, I want to tackle the subject on the death of the innocent.

My theme today is: How are We to Make Sense of the Death of the Innocent, Such as Children? (Luke 13:1-5)

In the passage we will look at we see moral evil and natural evil. Pilate killed people and that is moral evil. The tower fell on people and that is natural evil.

  1. Context:
    1. Jesus is traveling and talking with the people as He is on His road to Jerusalem. 
    2. At this point in Luke’s gospel, Jesus is heading to Jerusalem. He is on His way towards Jerusalem in order to be crucified. From Luke 9:51-19:27 Jesus is on His road to Jerusalem. On this journey towards Jerusalem, Jesus goes right through Samaria. Most Jerusalem Jews went around Samaria, but Jesus did not do that. Jesus came for everyone. While in Samaria, Jesus told 10 parables that are not found in the other gospels.
    3. Jesus tells the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37.
    4. Jesus tells the parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15:11-32.
  2. The question to Jesus (Luke 13:1).
    1. Look at verse 1, Luke 13:1: There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.
    2. Some of the people present tell Jesus about something that happened.
    3. These people were “present.” This means they were present from the previous chapter and the teaching Jesus was doing.
    4. They share about something that had happened.
    5. I wonder if Jesus knew about this event.
    6. Maybe He had heard about it before.
    7. Maybe Jesus received a news alert on His cell phone or on Twitter.
    8. Seriously, maybe word got around.
    9. There were Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with the sacrifices.
    10. We do not know anything else about this incident. We do know that Pilate was a cruel man. One source reads: It is not known why Pontius Pilate killed the Galileans mentioned here. The mention of their sacrifices specifies that their deaths took place in the temple area, probably in relation to a major religious festival, when all Jewish men were required to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.[2]
    11. The NET Bible shares: This is an event that otherwise is unattested, though several events similar to it are noted in Josephus (J. W. 2.9.2–4 [2.169–177]; Ant. 13.13.5 [13.372–73], 18.3.1–2 [18.55–62]; 18.4.1 [18.85–87]). It would have caused a major furor.[3]
    12. Another source shares: Luke linked this incident chronologically with the preceding one. Apparently messengers from Jerusalem had just arrived with news about Pilate’s act. This is the usual force of the Greek verb apaggello, translated “reported” or “told.” Some Galileans had been in Jerusalem offering sacrifices at the temple. This may have been at Passover since only then did non-priests offers sacrifices.318 Pilate, the Roman governor of the province of Judea, may have killed them beside the altar in the temple courtyard. However the figure of speech that Luke used to describe Pilate’s action permits a somewhat looser interpretation. There are no extra-biblical references to this event currently extant.[4]
    13. Sproul shares: We can guess, however, what happened. Some Galilean pilgrims, in Jerusalem to offer their sacred sacrifices at the altar, were killed by Pilate, either directly or through his soldiers. The narrative includes the ghastly detail that their own blood was mixed with the blood from the animal sacrifices. This was a particularly heinous offence, indeed it was sacrilege. So the question is understandable.[5]
  3. Jesus’ answer: we all must repent (Luke 13:2-5).
    1. Look at Luke 13:2: And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way?
    2. First example: Those Galileans whose blood Pilate mingled versus the other Galileans (Luke 13:2).
    3. In John 9:2 the disciples ask Jesus who sinned the man born blind or His parents. That was a fellocy of logic, the false dilemma, or either or fallacy. Behind the question in John 9 is that suffering is related to sin. People still think this way today.
    4. All suffering is because of sin in general.
    5. Here Jesus is saying that everyone must repent, no one is innocent before God.
    6. Jesus is responding that they are all sinners. Regardless of their suffering or punishment they all need salvation.
    7. Piper shares on Sproul’s message: Then R.C. made a devastating — jolting — observation. He said that these crowds, who were so amazed that some people had been judged for their sin, had put their amazement entirely in the wrong place — “a misplaced locus of amazement.” They were amazed that something horrible had happened to a few Galileans. What they should have been amazed at was that something equally horrible hasn’t happened to everybody in Jerusalem — indeed, R.C. added, everybody in the world.[6]
    8. In Luke 13:3 Jesus responds: No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.
    9. Jesus is saying no one is innocent in the eyes of God. We all ultimately face hardship because of the sin problem in the world. We all need salvation. If we all got what we deserved it would be God’s wrath.
    10. Then, Jesus gives a second example: those on whom the tower in Siloam fell (Luke 13:4).
    11. Let’s read Luke 13:4: Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem?
    12. One source shares: The “tower in Siloam” may have been on Jerusalem’s city wall above the pool of Siloam; it may have been associated with Pilate’s construction of an improved water-supply system for the city.[7]
    13. It fell and killed people. Jesus is saying they were not worse offenders.
    14. That leads to Like 13:5. Let’s read Luke 13:5: No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”
    15. We all must repent.
    16. Sproul shares: Jesus is saying we should really ask why these bad things don’t happen to me and everyone.
    17. What is amazing is not the justice of God but the grace of God.
    18. These 18 innocent people weren’t worse, but why didn’t the temple fall on my head?
    19. We can never see tragedy as an act of injustice.
    20. The only antidote to perishing at the hands of God is repentance.
    21. Many of the Jews in Jesus’ day believed that tragedy or accident was the direct result of some personal sin (cf. John 9:1–3). Thus they concluded that the Galileans who had perished must have been great sinners. They based this view on a faulty theory of divine retribution (cf. Job 4:7; 8:20; 22:4–5). Jesus repudiated this theory and viewed the death of the Galileans as the consequence of sin generally. Jesus stressed the error of their view by placing the word “no” (Gr. ouchi) first in the sentence for emphasis (cf. v. 4). He then drew a conclusion. Therefore everyone needs to repent because everyone is a sinner, and all sin brings judgment.[8]
    22. Sproul: Jonathan Edwards once asked his congregation to give him one reason why God hadn’t destroyed them since they got up that morning. He asked them to consider that every moment that we live, every luxury that we enjoy, every blessing that we participate in, is a matter of receiving the grace of God, that it represents God’s willingness to be patient with a race of people who have rebelled against him. God has called every human being to perfection. We are not allowed to sin. The penalty for sin is death, and yet we continue to sin and become astonished and offended when God allows suffering.[9]
  4. How do we make sense of the death of the innocent?
    1. In this account people thought there was a relationship between the degree of sin one commits, and the degree of suffering and Jesus responds that that is not true.
    2. There are no innocent people.
    3. As I already mentioned, Jesus also addressed this in John 9.
    4. In John 9:3 Jesus shares: Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.
    5. He had been born blind for the glory of God.
    6. Sproul shares: God made him be born blind for His glory… He endured his pain for the moment and for all eternity he has the unimpeded vision of the panorama of the glory of God.[10]
    7. Think about that. He got to experience a miracle. He got to experience and testify to this amazing miracle.
    8. Sproul: Philosopher John Stuart Mill posed one of the most famous arguments against Christian theism. It goes like this: Christians claim that God is good and that He is omnipotent, but these things cannot both be true, not with all the pain, suffering, and tragedy there is in this world. If God is good, He would see all the pain and all the suffering and He would surely eliminate it, unless He were unable to. If He wanted to get rid of pain and suffering but He can’t, then He’s not omnipotent, and if He is omnipotent and doesn’t rid the world of pain and suffering, then He’s not good.
    9. Mill overlooked two salient points that were not part of his thinking—namely, the holiness of God and the sinfulness of human beings. If God is holy and we are sinful, there must be pain and sorrow in this world until it is all redeemed. Jesus, however, understood the struggle that these people were having regarding this tragic event, and He gave an answer to their question.[11]
    10. The Scriptures make clear that all of us from time to time are victims of injustice, and all of us at one time or another have injured others unfairly and unjustly. When we experience injustice at the hands of men, Jesus tells us we ought not faint but ought to pray, for He said, “Will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night?” (18:7). God promises to make right those injustices that we have either committed or received from others. But not once have we ever received an injustice from the hands of God. We have never been treated unfairly or unjustly by God.[12]
    11. Sproul: I taught theology for more than fifty years, and I’ve heard literally thousands of questions from students asking about difficult theological questions. One I hear often is closely related to what is dealt with here: Why did God allow this to happen? People ask, “Why did my baby die?” “Why did my husband die?” I get that kind of question all the time. Do you know the question I almost never hear? “Why did God save me?” That’s the biggest mystery in theology.[13]
    12. Docetic view of suffering: suffering is not real.
    13. Stoic view of suffering: have a stiff upper lip.
    14. Hedonist: epicureans; live for pleasure; maximize pleasure; 1 Cor 15: if Christ has not been raised, eat, drink and be merry because tomorrow we die.
    15. The Christian view: suffering for the Christian is never futile. The Christian faith is born in suffering. Jesus said we will have suffering.
    16. Grief is right and a legitimate human emotion. It is right to mourn the loss of a loved one.
    17. Tribulation works patience and patience character, etc (Romans 5:3).[14] 
    18. The evil we face in the world is a reminder that things are not as they should be. I believe we face these things because God is using them to woo us to Him.
    19. C.S. Lewis wrote: “We can ignore even pleasure. But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”[15]
    20. Honestly, I have wrestled with this. I really have. I have wrestled with the sufferings of the innocent. Then, I remember there are no innocent people. However, it is much easier to make sense of the suffering of a terrorist than a child.
    21. A number of years ago I was really struggling with this. I researched it. I listened to 4 messaged by Dr. William Lane Craig on the subject. I spoke with others about the subject. At the end, I did not get better answers, but I was able to renew the answers I had already learned.
    22. Interestingly enough, none of the other religions have better answers for suffering.
    23. To the Eastern religions the answer is Kharma. The people suffer because they were bad in a previous life. Their caste symptom and reincarnation is wrapped into their belief in kharma. That is why Mother Theresa had such a good ministry. No one took care of the poor because they are suffering because of a previous life.
    24. Christianity has the best answer.
    25. Why do the innocent suffer? No one is innocent. We are all sinners.
    26. We are victims of the sins of others.
    27. We are victims of our own sins.
    28. We are victims of a fallen world.
    29. We are asking questions that we cannot specifically answer.
    30. God is good. God is able to take something bad and use it for good.
    31. I want to say one other thing about the suffering of children, really anyone. God may take the life of a child to spare them of something in the future. Further, God is able to take the life of a child with less suffering than they would have experienced in the future.
    32. Creation (Genesis 1-2),
    33. Fall (Genesis 3),
    34. Redemption (John 3:16; 14:6),
    35. Restoration (Revelation 21-22)
  5. So, what do you do?
    1. Read, meditate on, memorize, listen to Romans chapter 8:
    2. Remember Romans 8:28: And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
    3. If we love God, there is no senseless suffering.
    4. We do not know why things happen the way they do, but we know God is a loving God with a purpose.
    5. He permits or causes all things and His goal is good.
    6. Romans 8:22: For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.
    7. All creation is suffering.
    8. Evil is a parasite; it lives off of good.
    9. Someday God will renew all things.
    10. Romans 8:18: For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
    11. Also, when you are struggling: journal, meditate on Scripture, spend time in spiritual disciplines, talk to other Christians, let me help, talk to Christian counselors, talk to God.

Joni Eareckson Tada hit her head when she dove into a lake and became paralyzed. Now, she has a worldwide ministry for people who are challenged physically. Today, Joni would tell you she wouldn’t trade her experience for anything. She hasn’t walked for a long time, but millions of people who are hurting physically are encouraged by the hope she gives, because of the suffering she’s had. Her testimony is that she would have never known that God could be so real to her had she not experienced pain.942[16]


[1] Tony Evans, Tony Evans’ Book of Illustrations: Stories, Quotes, and Anecdotes from More than 30 Years of Preaching and Public Speaking (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2009), 314.

[2] Craig A. Evans, “Messianic Expectations,” in CSB Study Bible: Notes, ed. Edwin A. Blum and Trevin Wax (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2017), 1634.

[3] Biblical Studies Press, The NET Bible First Edition Notes (Biblical Studies Press, 2006), Lk 13:1.

318 318. J. Jeremias, The Eucharistic Words of Jesus, p. 207, n. 4.

[4] Tom Constable, Tom Constable’s Expository Notes on the Bible (Galaxie Software, 2003), Lk 13:1.

[5] R. C. Sproul, A Walk with God: An Exposition of Luke (Great Britain: Christian Focus Publications, 1999), 275.


[7] Craig S. Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993), Lk 13:1–5.

[8] Tom Constable, Tom Constable’s Expository Notes on the Bible (Galaxie Software, 2003), Lk 13:2.

[9] R. C. Sproul, A Walk with God: An Exposition of Luke (Great Britain: Christian Focus Publications, 1999), 277.

[10] Sproul; Renewing Your Mind; 09.07.2021

[11] Sproul, R.C.. Luke: An Expositional Commentary (p. 378). Ligonier Ministries. Kindle Edition. 

[12] Sproul, R.C.. Luke: An Expositional Commentary (p. 379). Ligonier Ministries. Kindle Edition. 

[13] Sproul, R.C.. Luke: An Expositional Commentary (p. 379). Ligonier Ministries. Kindle Edition.

[14] Sproul, Renewing Your Mind, 02.08.2022

[15] Lewis, C. S.. The Problem of Pain (p. 59). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

[16] Tony Evans, Tony Evans’ Book of Illustrations: Stories, Quotes, and Anecdotes from More than 30 Years of Preaching and Public Speaking (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2009), 314.

Dealing with Life’s Difficulties, introduction: We Are All in Need

Dealing with Life’s Difficulties, introduction: We Are All in Need

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Sunday, August 14, 2022

Dealing with Life’s Difficulties, introduction: We Are All in Need

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Sunday, August 14, 2022

Do you know Jesus?

Do you really know Jesus?

Okay, for those that said yes, that means you are perfect, right?

You no longer have any hurts, correct?

You no longer have any bad habits, correct?

Of course not, we are still walking the Christian life stumbling towards Jesus.

Today, I am beginning a sermon series on dealing with life’s difficulties. During the coming weeks, we will talk about many of the difficulties of life and how a Christian should respond. We will talk about things like the death of the innocent. How should we reconcile the tragic death of children? We will talk about anxiety, depression, and many other subjects. This series will end before Christmas, but I think I will use some leftover topics as occasional sermons. After Christmas, I plan to preach on Heaven.

Today’s theme:

We are all needy in a broken world. Even after we are saved, we are still in process of God making us more like Jesus.

  1. Firstly, we all are in need for salvation.
    1. The parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collectors.

R.C. Sproul shares:

In 1969, I worked in a church in Ohio as minister of theology and teaching. I also was the minister of evangelism, and I trained people in the Evangelism Explosion program for outreach. We took two hundred people into the community each Tuesday night, visited people in their homes, and presented the gospel to them. We used well-known diagnostic questions to begin the gospel conversation. The first one was this: “Have you come to a place where you know for sure that when you die you will go to heaven?” The large majority of people were not sure they were going to heaven.

The second question was this: “Suppose you were to die tonight and stand before God, and God asked, ‘Why should I let you into My heaven?’ What would you say?” We tabulated the answers of hundreds and hundreds of people, and 90 percent of them gave some kind of “works- righteousness” answer: “I tried to live a good life.” “I went to church every Sunday.” “I tithed my income.” “I did this good work and performed that good work.” Ninety percent of the people answered that they were trusting in their own righteousness.

Probably the worst answer ever given to that question was from my own five-year-old son. I said to him, “Son, if you were to die tonight and stand before God, and God asked, ‘Why should I let you into My heaven?’ what would you say?” My son answered, “Because I’m dead.” My own son believed in justification by death, that all you have to do to go to heaven is die. In reality, that is the popular view of many. People are sinners until they die, and suddenly, they become saints when you attend their funerals and hear the stories that are told.[1]

  • In this parable, one person thought he was good on his own, and another person knew he needed God’s mercy. The audience of Jesus’ parable thought they were okay on their own.
  • We see the characters in Luke 18:9-10.
  • In verse 9, we see the audience.
  • Let’s read Luke 18:9: He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt:
  • Notice how this begins. He, Jesus, told a parable.
  • Who does He address the parable to? He addresses the parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and treated others with contempt.
  • This parable is addressed to people who trusted in themselves. They thought they were doing just fine and did not need a Savior.
  • This parable is first and foremost about salvation, how we become righteous, and the only way is through Jesus.
  • In this passage, Luke 18:9-14, people thought they were okay, but they were NOT okay.
  • In verse 10, we see the two people praying. One is a pharisee. They are the religious elite of the day. Pharisees do not need Celebrate Recovery, they do not need any help, and they do not need Jesus, or so they thought.
  • Then a tax collector. They are not even supposed to be in the temple. They were looked down upon. It looked like they had sold out to Rome. The taxes were not regulated and held accountable so the tax collectors would charge extra taking advantage of people.
    • In verses 11-12, we see the first prayer.
    • Look at the pharisees prayer in Luke 18:11-12: The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’
    • He thinks he is okay, doesn’t he?
    • Sproul: The Pharisee probably stood near the temple. He raised his head and his hands in prayer, and he thanked God that he was a righteous man. I wonder how much honesty was in that prayer of gratitude.[2]
    • He talks about all that he has done for God. But it is all about him.
    • I think the audience was laughing at this. They were probably thinking, “I cannot believe Jesus said that. He is going to get Himself stoned or crucified.”
    • In verse 13, we see the second prayer.
    • Look at the Luke 18:13: But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’
    • The tax collector who was looked upon as a sinner was very humble.
    • The tax collector pleaded to God in humility.
    • He asked for mercy.
    • Sproul: In contrast to the Pharisee, who said he’d never stolen, yet who stole the glory of God and who was not an atheist but was an idolater, stood the tax collector. He was probably by the door of the temple. He, in fear and trembling, wouldn’t even lift his face up to heaven. His gaze was on the floor. He brought absolutely nothing to God but his sin. He had nothing to offer to God except his guilt. “Be merciful. Have mercy. It’s only by Your grace alone, not Your grace and my contribution.” This man understood the doctrines of sola fide and sola gratia: justification by faith alone and justification by grace alone. There are tens of thousands of Christians in America today who will affirm justification by faith alone but not justification by grace alone. You really don’t believe in justification by faith alone if you think you’re adding something beyond your faith, beyond the righteousness of Christ, for you to be justified.[3]
    • In verse 14, we see Jesus’ principle.
    • Look at Luke 18:14: I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
    • Jesus says the tax collector was justified. Jesus is saying that the tax collector was declared righteous.
    • Why?
    • He recognized his brokenness before God.
    • The humbled will be exalted by God.
    • This is the sum of the gospel, how do we get justified?
    • It is all about Jesus.
    • We all are broken, and we need Jesus.
    • This parable is mainly about needing a Savior for eternal life.
  • The first point today is we all need a Savior.
  • Even for the saved, we are needy.
    • Firstly, this is because we are in a broken world.
    • Secondly, this is because we are still dealing with our own sin issues.
    • Once we are saved it takes time as God sanctifies us, that means that He is making us more like Him.
    • 1 John 1:10: If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
    • Romans 8:18-23: For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.
    • All creation is waiting for redemption. We are saved, but we are not in heaven yet.
  • What do you think?
  • Are we okay?
  • In the New Testament, after we are saved, we are always called saints, not sinners. But we know that we are still growing. Once we are in heaven, we are perfected, sinless, glorified.
  • We are NOT okay, and it is okay not to be okay. It is NOT okay to stay that way. Allow Jesus to work in growing you into a mature Christian. The first step is admitting that we are not okay.
  • I know, I know, you are thinking, “But once we are saved we are fixed.” No, we are being fixed (sanctification: 1 Cor. 9:24-27; Phil 2:12-13; Titus 2:11-3:11). Our salvation is secure as long as we persevere in the faith. But for the here and now God is in the process of fixing us. God is making us more like Him. Beyond that we live in a fallen world.
  • Think of it like this: Imagine the Christian life like storming the beaches of Normandy. Suppose that you know you will make it to safety as long as you keep moving forward. Even though you will make it, you are still getting shot at. You are in danger. There are bullets all around you. Plus, you are affected by all of your fellow soldiers dying and getting injured. That is the Christian life.
  • Prov 30:12: There are those who are clean in their own eyes but are not washed of their filth.
  • Celebrate Recovery is code for spiritual growth.
    • We are going to start Celebrate Recovery. Celebrate Recovery helps people with hurts, habits, and hang-ups.
    • It is code for spiritual growth.
    • Do you have hurts, habits, and hang-ups? I do. If you do not, you are already dead and in heaven.
    • For example, do you have any relational issues? Do you have a broken relationship with a child, a grandchild, a sibling?
    • Do you deal with any addictions?
    • Do you ever over-eat?
    • Do you have close family stuck in addictions?
    • Are you unhappy when others are unhappy?
    • Are you anxious?
    • Are you dealing with grief? Are you ignoring grief?
    • Other things: lust, pornography?
    • I was visiting an older saint who is now with the Lord and he said, “I like Fox News, but those ladies and their short skirts…”
    • Celebrate Recovery helps with what we are ignoring. Meaning we think these are not problems, but they are.
    • We are in a fallen and broken world, and as long as we live in this world, we will have trouble.
    • I was listening to Christian psychologist and author Dr. Juli Slattery, and she said we are all sexually broken. Some were startled to hear that. Some of you are startled to hear that now, but it is true. I have heard her share and explain that many times, but one thing she shares is: “We’re all sinners. None of us are righteous, not one. And apart from the redemption of Christ and the daily ministry of the Holy Spirit in our lives, we can never achieve righteousness. Why can’t we apply that to sexuality?”[4]
    • Romans 3:23, and really Romans 3:10-23, shares about how we are all sinners, every one of us. We are in a sinful world. We are impacted by our sin and the sins around us, and that means we are all broken. God is fixing us, but we are all broken. Either we understand that, or we are lying to ourselves and others.
    • Some of you right now are thinking, “Not me, I am not broken, I am not sexually broken, I do not have hurts, habits and hang-ups.”
    • I want to respond to that and say, “Yes, you are, and so am I.” Until we reach glorification (Romans 8:30) in heaven, we are in a hospital for sinners, and it is called the church.
    • Celebrate Recovery is code for discipleship. Think about it like exercise. Some of us prefer to wait until we are way unhealthy and take blood pressure medicine. However, if we could do it over again, we would have preferred to stay healthy to begin with. It is better to build healthy habits to begin with rather than have a heart attack and then adjust our habits. Think of Celebrate Recovery like that. Certainly, some have hit bottom, and Celebrate Recovery helps. Others, however, recognize they need help with depression, or anxiety, or alcohol, or anger, or lust, or pornography, or eating and they get help before it is a major issue.
    • Listen, we are all the problem. We all need help. We do. Many times, young men talk to me about their sexual sins. That is not unusual. However, I know of a pastor who had a young man talk to him about a problem concerning sexual sin, but the pastor could not help this young man. Do you know why? He did not come to church. He did not commit to youth group. He needed God’s help, but anytime there was a conflict between sports and church sports wins. Do you know why? The family did not realize they are broken. Now, suppose that young man started attending youth group and church, discipleship would help him. Or, suppose he attended the high school version of Celebrate Recovery and went through their discipleship program. That would help. Otherwise, it will get worse.
    • Some at Bethel have commented with concerns about Celebrate Recovery. Some are concerned that we do not want “those” people around our children or grandchildren. Do you know why that comment crosses our mind? I will tell you. It is because we do not realize we are all “those” people. Seriously, we are concerned about Celebrate Recovery when we are not concerned about choosing a sporting event over church. Really, we are concerned about Celebrate Recovery when we are not concerned about the dangers of wealth and affluence.
    • Someone asked a missionary how they could risk their family in a dangerous location and they responded about the dangers in America: dangers like wealth and affluence.
    • We are all broken.
    • However, do we realize that we need a Savior for this life now?
    • We are all broken.
    • We are all in need.
    • Take divorce for example. Even if you have not been divorced, you know others affected by divorce. You have children hurt by divorce. You have siblings hurt by divorce. You have friends hurt by divorce.
    • We are all affected by sin, and we need to run to Jesus for help.
    • Take homosexuality and the LGBTQ+ movement. All of us are affected by that because we see it in the media and the media is passively affecting us. Further, if our children are in the schools, especially public schools, they are definitely affected by it.

So, recognize two things:

We are not okay, but if we are a Christian Jesus is making us okay.

We need to stay with Jesus, and we need to recognize our brokenness. We must not think that we are righteous in ourselves.

The Christian life is firmly making the decision to be with Jesus, in order to become like Him, to learn and do that He says and arrange your affairs around Him (John 15:1-11).

Do we realize we are broken?

Stick with Jesus. Jesus wants to help us, but oftentimes we are ignoring the help He wants us to take.

You know the story of the man stuck on the roof during a flood. God sends 3 people to help, one had a boat, one a helicopter, and one something else, and he turned them away. He said, “God is going to rescue me.” He dies, gets to heaven and said to God, “Why didn’t you rescue me?” God said that He sent 3 people to rescue him. Don’t ignore God’s methods of spiritual growth.

The first step is to recognize we are needy. We need salvation, and we need help in this life now.


[1] Sproul, R.C.. Luke: An Expositional Commentary (pp. 457-458). Ligonier Ministries. Kindle Edition.

[2] Sproul, R.C.. Luke: An Expositional Commentary (p. 459). Ligonier Ministries. Kindle Edition

[3] Sproul, R.C.. Luke: An Expositional Commentary (p. 459). Ligonier Ministries. Kindle Edition.


The Significance of Genesis: Wrap-up: Abraham, His Call, His Significance (Genesis 12:1-3)

The Significance of Genesis: Wrap-up: Abraham, His Call, His Significance (Genesis 12:1-3)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Sunday, August 7, 2022

I heard a good illustration from Chuck Swindoll:

Generosity is not as much an overflow of wealth as it is an overabundance of faith. Stinginess, on the other hand, is a sure sign that a person trusts things instead of God. And make no mistake, we serve what we trust.

My older brother, Orville, was never a wealthy man, but he was wonderfully generous with what he had. He never held back from the Lord . . . and that is still true! It was this overabundance of faith that led him to be a missionary for more than thirty years in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Just before that, he had done some short-term mission work in Mexico and had come north to gather his wife, Erma Jean, and the kids for the long trip down into the far reaches of South America.

Before leaving, they stopped off for a quick visit with our parents in Houston. Now, you have to appreciate the kind of man my father was. Look up the word responsible in the dictionary, and his picture is there! To him, risks are for those who fail to plan. Responsible people leave nothing to chance. As far as he was concerned, faith is something you exercise when your three backup plans fall through and you have run out of all other options. My father was a believer, but he never understood the life of faith. Not really.

My brother, on the other hand, was stimulated by faith. He has lived his entire adult life on the raw edge of faith. To him, life doesn’t get exciting until God, and God alone, can get us through some specific challenge. That drove our dad nuts!

Orville pulled up to the house in an old Chevy sedan on four of the slickest tires I had ever seen. My father always inspected tires when we came to visit. I wondered how long it would take for him to say something. I’m sure Orville did too. Not very is the answer.

After a great supper of good ol’ collard greens and corn bread, onions and red beans, my mother and sister went into the kitchen, leaving my father at one end of the table, Orville at the other, and me sitting on one side. Then it started.

“Son, how much money do you have for your long trip?”

“Oh, Dad, don’t worry about it. We’re gonna be fine.”

Before he could change the subject, my father pressed the issue, “Answer me! How much money do you have in your wallet?”

Orville smiled and shrugged as he said, “I don’t have any in my wallet.”

I sat silent, watching this verbal tennis match.

“Nothing in your wallet? How much money do you have? You’re gettin’ ready to go down to South America! How much money you got?”

With that, my brother smiled, dug into his pocket, pulled out a quarter, set it on its edge on his end of the table, then gave it a careful thump. It slowly rolled past me all the way to my father’s end of the table and fell into his hand. Dad said, “A quarter? That is all you’ve got?”

Orville broke into an even bigger smile and said, “Yeah. Isn’t that exciting!”

That was not the word my father had in mind. After a heavy sigh and a very brief pause, Dad shook his head and said, “Orville, I just don’t understand you.”

My brother grew more serious. Looking Dad in the eyes, he answered without blinking, “No, Dad, you never have.”

I don’t know how he actually made the trip to their destination . . . or how he and Erma Jean took care of all their little kids, but they never went hungry. And they served in Buenos Aires and traveled to other parts of the world for more than three decades. My father was a man who emerged through the Great Depression, lived in fear of poverty his whole life, seldom took a risk, and never experienced the joy of trusting God that made my brother smile so big that day.

Jesus never said that having nice things is wrong. By His sovereign choice, He may ordain some to be as poor as Himself and His disciples. Yet He may want others to have an overabundance of money and material goods so that they might give in abundance. His chief concern is not the issue of wealth; He cares about us and where we turn for security. Whether or not we own nice things, He wants to be sure that they don’t own us!

Generosity is not only a sure sign of faith; it’s also a surefire way to stimulate it. As soon as something begins to feel just a little too crucial to our happiness or safety, it’s time to show it who’s boss by giving it away.[1]

That faith, that Swindoll’s brother, Orville, had, that is the faith that Abraham had. Abraham is for sure the father of our faith.

Today, we wrap up our sermon series on Genesis chapters 1-11 as foundational to our faith.

My theme today:

Abraham had faith following God unknowing where God was leading him. So, let’s follow Abraham’s example, having faith in God with our future.

  • The rest of the Bible is about Abram’s descendants:
    • This passage is Genesis 12. You may or may not realize it, but we are only a couple thousand years into history in this passage. In Genesis chapters 1-3 we have the creation of Adam and Eve. Then Adam and Eve sinned.
    • Beginning in Genesis 4 we have Cain and Abel, then we have all the descendants of Adam and Eve.
    • In Genesis chapters 6-9 we have the flood narrative with Noah and his family.
    • In Genesis chapter 10 we have the table of nations. All of Noah’s descendants spread out.
    • In Genesis 11 we have the tower of Babel.
    • At the end of Genesis 11 we are introduced to Abram.
    • Abram’s father begins moving the family from Ur to the land of Canaan. They stopped in Haran.
    • This brings us to Genesis 12. The rest of Genesis and the rest of the Old Testament will be about Abraham and his descendants. His descendants become the people of Israel.
    • Jesus came through the people of Israel.
    • We are saved and grafted in to the people of Israel.
  • Abram’s call and obedience
    • Genesis 12:1-3: Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
    • The place (12:1): Ur of the Chaldeans (see Genesis 11:31).
    • The promises (12:2–3): Abram will found a great nation; and God will bless him, make his name great, and cause him to bless others. Those who bless Abram will be blessed; those who curse him will be cursed. Everyone on earth will be blessed through him. This takes place through Jesus Christ, a descendant of Abram.
    • The Lord calls Abram. He is called “Abram,” right now and not, “Abraham.” In Genesis 17:4-6 his name is changed to Abraham.
    • This promissory call is the first recorded speech since God’s word of judgment at the Tower of Babel, resulting in the creation of the nations (11:5–6, 9). Abram is called upon to leave both his past and his future in placing his trust in God.[2]
    • The many promises of the passage cohere into three strands: land, seed, and blessing. The divine oath is like an avalanche of blessing cascading in wave after wave on the patriarch and his children yet to come.[3]
    • Abram is called upon to leave both his past and his future in placing his trust in God.[4]
    • Abram was introduced in Genesis 11:27ff.
    • The Lord calls him to leave his country. The Lord calls him to leave his relatives and his father’s household.
    • This is a big deal. Back then they needed their family and friends to survive. They needed each other.
    • Verse 2: God says that He, the Lord, will make Abram’s name great… God will make him a great nation. God will bless him.
    • God will make his name great. This was the failed aspiration of the tower builders (11:4).[5]
    • This passage is proven true.
    • We are talking about Abram today are we not?
    • Jesus came through the descendants of Abraham.
    • All gentiles are saved through the seed of Abraham.
    • God will bless Abram and also he will be a blessing. Abram was a blessing through his descendants.
    • Verse 3: Those who bless Abram will be blessed, but those who curse him will be cursed.
    • Again, all the families of the earth will be blessed through Abram. We have all been blessed through the Messiah…
  • Applications and Review:
  • Genesis chapters 1-12 are important for the rest of the Bible.
  • These people show up throughout the Scriptures. Through Abram, we are all blessed. Abram literally changes history.
  • We must be responsive to the Lord as Abram was. He obeyed what the Lord had told him to do (Gen. 12:4).
  • We must trust the Lord as Abram did. Abram left his family, his network, his community to trust the Lord.
    • Sometimes the Lord’s will may not make sense, but we must trust him.
      1. We must trust Him with our home.
      2. We must trust Him with our money.
      3. We must trust Him with our family.
      4. We must trust Him with our children.
  • We must recognize the Lord is sovereign and in control as we see in this passage. In verse 2 we see the Lord is the One Who blesses Abram, makes his name great and makes him a great nation. In verse 3 we see it is the Lord who blesses those who bless him and curses those who curse him. It is the Lord who blesses all the families of the earth through Abram.
  • We must recognize the Lord gives blessings out of grace. As verse 1 shows, Abram did not do anything to earn this covenant.
  • We must worship the Lord as we are all blessed through Abraham’s seed, Jesus.
  • We must be willing to trust God to lead us to uncharted territory as Abraham was willing.
  • We must be willing to sacrifice, income, time, talent, location to serve the Lord.
  • We must be willing to move for the Lord.
  • We must be willing to change occupations for the Lord.
  • We must be willing to prayerfully consider mission trips, local or foreign. This may be uncharted territory.
  • We must be willing to serve somewhere new in the community: hospice, nursing home ministry.
  • We must be willing to talk to someone about Jesus. This is uncharted territory in many ways.
  • We must be willing to step out.
  • We must be willing to trust God with our future. We must trust God with the unknown.
  • We must not compromise the Old Testament.
  • The Old Testament is the foundation for the New Testament. Genesis 1-11 is the foundation for the Bible


We can picture faith as a connection between the work of the Holy Spirit and the power at work in our new nature. Faith is a wire that conducts a current called grace that flows from the Spirit so that the new nature receives power.270[6]

A blind girl, one day, was caught in a fire on the tenth floor of a building. She could make her way to a window, but she couldn’t see anything. She felt the heat and smelled the smoke of the fire. Then she heard a fireman yell, “Jump, jump!”

She said, “I’m scared to jump. I can’t see.”

The fireman said, “If you don’t jump, you’re going to die. Take the risk, and jump.”

It’s bad enough to jump from ten stories high, but to jump when you can’t see where you’re jumping—that’s terror. In the midst of the chaos and confusion, she heard another voice, “Darling, jump, I’ve got you.” She smiled and said, “Okay, Daddy, I’ll jump.”

Jesus Christ is inviting us to jump. He knows we’re nervous, but just jump. He knows you’re scared, but just jump. Remember, we’re talking about your Daddy. We’re talking about Somebody you know. You’ve seen what He can do.276[7]


[1] Taken from Charles R. Swindoll, “Ragged-Edge Faith and Reckless Generosity,” Insights (May 2007): 1-2. Copyright © 2007, Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide

[2] K. A. Mathews, Genesis 11:27–50:26, vol. 1B, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2005), 105.

[3] K. A. Mathews, Genesis 11:27–50:26, vol. 1B, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2005), 104–105.

[4] Ibid, 105.

[5] Crossway Bibles, The ESV Study Bible (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008), 71.

[6] Tony Evans, Tony Evans’ Book of Illustrations: Stories, Quotes, and Anecdotes from More than 30 Years of Preaching and Public Speaking (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2009), 96.

[7] Tony Evans, Tony Evans’ Book of Illustrations: Stories, Quotes, and Anecdotes from More than 30 Years of Preaching and Public Speaking (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2009), 97.

The Significance of Genesis: Family Line of Abram, the Family Line of Christians (Genesis 11:10-32)

The Significance of Genesis: Family Line of Abram, the Family Line of Christians (Genesis 11:10-32)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends in Poland, OH on July Sunday, July 31, 2022

Over the last several years we have experienced a lot of moral shifts as a culture. No one can argue that. It is just clear. We look at things and think, wow! Never thought I would see that in my lifetime. Yet, we can trust that God is in control.

Piper writes:

I [Piper] created this story based very loosely on a tale from T. H. White’s The Once and Future King.

Once upon a time there was a very wise old man named Job. In his old age, God gave to him a daughter whom he named Jemima, which means “little dove.” He loved his little girl, and she loved her daddy. One day, Job decided to go on a journey and asked Jemima if she would like to go along. “Oh, yes,” Jemima said. “I would love to go along.” And so they started off on their journey and walked all day. At sundown they saw a little cottage and knocked on the door. A very poor man and his wife and baby lived there. Job asked if he and Jemima could spend the night there before they continued on their journey in the morning. The poor man and his wife were very happy to let them stay. They gave Job and Jemima their own room and made them a simple supper. The special treat was fresh milk from their only cow. This was how the poor couple made a living. Their cow gave good milk, which they sold for enough to live on.

In the morning, when Job and Jemima got up, they heard crying. The cow had died during the night. The poor man’s wife was weeping. “What will we do? What will we do?” she sobbed. The poor man was about to cut the cow into pieces and sell the meat before it spoiled. But Job said, “I think you should not cut the cow in pieces but bury him by your back wall under the olive tree. The meat may not be good to sell. Trust God, and he will take care of you.” So the poor man did as Job suggested.

Then Job and Jemima went on their way. They walked all day again and were very tired when they came to the next town and noticed a fine home. They knocked on the door. A very wealthy man lived in this house, and they hoped that they would not be an inconvenience to one so wealthy.

But the man was very gruff with them and said they could stay in the barn. He gave them water and bread for supper and let them eat it by themselves in the barn. Job was very thankful, and said to the wealthy man, “Thank you very much for the bread and water and for letting us stay in your barn.”

In the morning, Job noticed that one of the walls of the house was crumbling. So he went and bought bricks and mortar and repaired the hole in the wall for the wealthy man. Then Job and Jemima went on their way and came to their destination.

As they sat by the fire that night, Jemima said, “Daddy, I don’t understand the ways of God. It doesn’t seem right that the poor man’s cow should die when he was so good to us, and that you should fix the rich man’s wall when he was so bad to us.”

“Well, Jemima,” Job said, “many things are not the way they seem. Perhaps this once I will tell you why. But after this you will have to trust God, who does not usually explain what he is doing.”

“The poor man’s cow was very sick, but he didn’t know it. I could taste it in the milk that he gave us for supper. Soon he would have sold bad milk, and the people would have gotten sick and died, and they would have stoned him. So I told him not to sell the meat, but to bury the cow under the olive tree by his back wall because the Lord showed me that, if he dug the grave there, he would find a silver cup buried from long ago and sell it for enough money to buy two good cows. And in the end things would be better for him and his wife and child.

“When we spent the night at the rich man’s house, I saw the hole in the wall, and I saw more than that. I saw that hidden in the wall, from generations ago, was a chest full of gold. If the rich man had repaired the wall himself, he would have found it and continued in his pride and cruelty. So I bought brick and mortar, and closed the wall so that the man would never find this treasure.

“Do you see, Jemima?”

“Yes, Daddy. I see.”[1]

Like that father, God works certain things out in ways that we are unaware of. In today’s passage we see the family line of Abram, but I see much more than that. I see God being in control of all of human history. As God orchestrates history from Shem (Noah’s son) to Abram, God is also orchestrating history towards our salvation. Through Abram’s descendants Christ will come.

My theme today is:

The family line of Abram, the family history of Christians.

Notice God’s sovereignty over time.  

  1. The Settlement (11:10–32): A history is given of Shem’s descendants. Shem is the ancestor of Abraham.[2]
    1. We will not read the whole passage, but I will share specific verses.
    2. Genesis 11:10-11: These are the generations of Shem. When Shem was 100 years old, he fathered Arpachshad two years after the flood. 11 And Shem lived after he fathered Arpachshad 500 years and had other sons and daughters.
    3. Jewish people came from one common ancestor
    4. Dr Michael Rydelnik shares now through DNA studies we can tell that the Jewish people in the Israel area came from one common ancestor.
    5. Now, we are back to a genealogical record.
    6. ESV Study Bible: While the periods mentioned are still unusually long, they gradually become somewhat shorter. The length of time during which these men live is much shorter than is recorded for men living before the flood (cf. 5:1–32). This is similar to the pattern found in a clay tablet from the Mesopotamian city of Uruk, called the Sumerian King List. It was inscribed by a scribe during the reign of King Utukhegal, about 2100 b.c. It tells of kings who reigned for extremely long times. A flood then came, and subsequent kings ruled for vastly shorter times.[3]
    7. Shem, son of Noah.
    8. Moody shares: Much like the genealogies in chaps. 4; 5, and 10, so the genealogy here follows immediately after a brief narrative describing the commission of grave sin (4:1–15 [the murder of Cain]; 4:23–26 [unjust capital punishment]; 9:20–29 [sexual perversion]; and 11:1–9 [collective rejection of God]). Thus this “moderates” the negative tone of the previous episode by demonstrating that God’s fundamental blessing of humanity in 1:28 remains intact, and if intact in its physical aspect, then also, potentially, in its spiritual aspect. The present genealogy, moreover, being that of Shem, also serves as an adept literary-theological transition to the next thematic “half” of Genesis. The expectation is thus laid that the present genealogy of Shem will likewise be followed by a narrative episode involving the making of a shem (“name”) for a man. And indeed it is, for in 12:2 God declared to Abraham, “I will … make your name [shem] great.[4]
    9. They are tracing Shem because Shem was the ancestor of Abraham and the Jewish people.
  2. Abram is introduced in Genesis 11:26:
    1. Genesis 11:26: When Terah had lived 70 years, he fathered Abram, Nahor, and Haran.
    2. Verse 26: Terah lived 70 years and became the father of Abram, Nahor, and Haran.
      1. Now we see three listed
      2. Abram
      3. Nahor
      4. Haran
      5. Joshua 24:2: And Joshua said to all the people, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘Long ago, your fathers lived beyond the Euphrates, Terah, the father of Abraham and of Nahor; and they served other gods.
      6. Abram was a pagan. God did not choose him because he was special and followed God. God took the initiative.
    3. Genesis 11:27: Now these are the generations of Terah. Terah fathered Abram, Nahor, and Haran; and Haran fathered Lot.
    4. We now see Lot and Abram…CSB: Nahor’s wife … Milcah eventually produced eight sons (22:20–23); her most famous son, Bethuel, became the father-in-law of Abraham’s son Isaac (25:20).In contrast to Milcah, Sarai (later called Sarah) was unable to conceive. This painful fact is emphasized by the biblical writer restating the fact: she did not have a child. God’s provision of an heir for Abraham in spite of Sarah’s barrenness is a major theme in the narratives that follow (15:2–4; 17:15–21;21:10).[5]
    5. Genesis 11:28-30: Haran died in the presence of his father Terah in the land of his kindred, in Ur of the Chaldeans. And Abram and Nahor took wives. The name of Abram’s wife was Sarai, and the name of Nahor’s wife, Milcah, the daughter of Haran the father of Milcah and Iscah. Now Sarai was barren; she had no child.
    6. Verse 28: Haran died in the presence of his father of Teran…
      1. Now we see the land of Ur mentioned.
      2. Ur of the Chaldeans…
      3. NET: The phrase of the Chaldeans is a later editorial clarification for the readers, designating the location of Ur. From all evidence there would have been no Chaldeans in existence at this early date; they are known in the time of the neo-Babylonian empire in the first millennium b.c.[6]
    7. Verse 29: Abram and Nahor take wives…
      1. Sarai: the NET shares: The name Sarai (a variant spelling of “Sarah”) means “princess” (or “lady”). Sharratu was the name of the wife of the moon god Sin. The original name may reflect the culture out of which the patriarch was called, for the family did worship other gods in Mesopotamia.[7]
      2. Nahor’s wife was Milcah, the daughter of Haran, the father of Milcah and Iscah.
      3. Milcah will come up later: Gen 22:20, 23; 24:15: NET: The name Milcah means “Queen.” But more to the point here is the fact that Malkatu was a title for Ishtar, the daughter of the moon god. If the women were named after such titles (and there is no evidence that this was the motivation for naming the girls “Princess” or “Queen”), that would not necessarily imply anything about the faith of the two women themselves.[8]
    8. Genesis 11:31-32: Terah took Abram his son and Lot the son of Haran, his grandson, and Sarai his daughter-in-law, his son Abram’s wife, and they went forth together from Ur of the Chaldeans to go into the land of Canaan, but when they came to Haran, they settled there. The days of Terah were 205 years, and Terah died in Haran.
    9. Verse 30: Sarai was barren, repeated, she had no child.
    10. This shows that it was initially Terah who left Ur.
    11. Terah, Abram, Lot (grandson), Sarai.
    12. They go as far as Haran and settle there.
    13. Moody: Terah, not Abram, is presented as the one taking the lead to set out toward Canaan. This is clear from v. 31a, which portrays Terah as the one who took Abram, Lot, and Sarai. This passive portrayal of Abram is extremely significant, for it disallows the conclusion that the promise was given to Abraham as a result of anything especially meritorious that he did.[9]
    14. ESV Study Bible: By way of completing this short introduction to Terah’s family, the narrative records his death at the age of 205. If Abram was born when Terah was 70 years old (see v. 26), and if Abram was 75 years old when he departed for Canaan (see 12:4), then Terah died 60 years after Abram’s departure (70 + 75 + 60 = 205). In Acts 7:4, however, Stephen says that Abram left Haran after the death of Terah. A simple way to resolve the chronological difficulty is to suppose that Stephen was following an alternative text (represented today in the Samaritan Pentateuch), which says that Terah died at the age of 145.[10]
  3. Applications:
    1. Abram’s father, Terah, was called out of Ur. This happened prior to Abram’s call. This shows that the call of Abram (Genesis 12) was all about God’s grace. Salvation is always from the Lord. We must never boast of our salvation (Jonah 2:9).
    2. God is working in history, we must trust Him. He is in charge of history.
    3. We must trust Him with the present, we must trust Him with the future. God was working His providential plan in the line of Shem knowing His future plan.
    4. We may get fearful of things going on, but this reminds me that God is at work.
    5. Terah left Ur but may not have even realized God’s plan, yet God was at work. Sometimes God is working through us and we do not even know it, praise God!
    6. We must NEVER underestimate God’s providential plan.
    7. This section sets up the rest of Genesis to be about Abram’s family.
    8. This section sets up the rest of the Old Testament to be about Israel.
    9. This section sets up the rest of the Bible to be about Israel.
    10. Through Abram will come Israel, through Israel will come Jesus.
    11. Praise God for His detailed work in history.  
    12. Psalm 22:28: For kingship belongs to the Lord, and he rules over the nations.

Do NOT fear, God is in control.

Again from Piper:

Providence is the purposeful sovereignty that carries those plans into action, guides all things toward God’s ultimate goal, and leads to the final consummation. Job’s prayer is true: “You can do all things, and . . . no purpose of yours can be thwarted” (Job 42:2). Or as God himself states it positively, “My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose” (Isa. 46:10).

God’s eternal plan includes everything from the most insignificant bird fall (Matt. 10:29), to the movement of stars (Isa. 40:26), to the murder of his Son (Acts 4:27–28). It includes the moral acts of every soul—its preferences, choices, and deeds. Neither Satan at his hellish worst nor human beings at their redeemed best ever act in a way that causes a revision in God’s all-wise plan. Whether God planned to permit something or planned to be more directly involved, nothing comes to pass but what God planned as part of the process of pursuing his ultimate goal. Therefore, the extent of his providence is total. Nothing is independent of it. Nothing happens but by “the counsel of his will”—the infinite wisdom of his plan.[11]


[1] Piper, John. Providence (pp. 659-661). Crossway. Kindle Edition.

[2] H. L. Willmington, The Outline Bible (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1999), Ge 11:1–32.

[3] Crossway Bibles, The ESV Study Bible (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008), 70.

chaps. chapters

[4] Michael A. Rydelnik and Michael Vanlaningham, eds., “Genesis,” in The Moody Bible Commentary (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2014), 67.

[5] Robert D. Bergen, “Genesis,” in CSB Study Bible: Notes, ed. Edwin A. Blum and Trevin Wax (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2017), 26.

[6] Biblical Studies Press, The NET Bible First Edition Notes (Biblical Studies Press, 2006), Ge 11:16–28.

[7] Biblical Studies Press, The NET Bible First Edition Notes (Biblical Studies Press, 2006), Ge 11:29.

[8] Biblical Studies Press, The NET Bible First Edition Notes (Biblical Studies Press, 2006), Ge 11:29.

v. verse

[9] Michael A. Rydelnik and Michael Vanlaningham, eds., “Genesis,” in The Moody Bible Commentary (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2014), 68.

[10] Crossway Bibles, The ESV Study Bible (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008), 70–71.

[11] Piper, John. Providence (pp. 650-651). Crossway. Kindle Edition.

The Significance of Genesis: The Tower of Babylon, How does Babel Connect with the Rest of the Bible? (Genesis 11:1-9)

The Significance of Genesis: The Tower of Babylon, How does Babel Connect with the Rest of the Bible? (Genesis 11:1-9)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Sunday, July 24, 2022

Over the course of several months, Peter Skillman conducted a study pitting the skill of elite university students against that of the average kindergartner. Groups of four built structures using 20 pieces of spaghetti, 1 yard of tape, 1 yard of string, and 1 marshmallow. The only rule, the marshmallow had to end up on top.

Business students began by diagnosing the task, formulating a solution, and assigning roles. The kindergarteners, by contrast, got right to work, trying, failing, and trying again. Author Daniel Coyle explains the outcome, “We presume skilled individuals will combine to produce skilled performance.” But this assumption is wrong. In dozens of trials, the kindergartners built structures that averaged 26 inches tall, while the business school students built structures that averaged less than 10 inches.

We see smart, experienced business school students, and we find it difficult to imagine that they would combine to produce a poor performance. We see unsophisticated, inexperienced kindergartners, and we find it difficult to imagine that they would combine to produce a successful performance . . . individual skills are not what matters. What matters is the interaction.

The kindergartners succeed not because they are smarter but because they work together in a smarter way. They are tapping into a simple and powerful method in which a group of ordinary people can create a performance far beyond the sum of their parts.[1]

Human beings are amazing. Our abilities to build and communicate are amazing. Today, we will look at the tower of babel incident. What is with this story? Why does it matter? Well, let’s find out.

My theme today is:

The tower of Babel, God intervenes to help humanity and prevent sin.

  1. The Sin (11:1–4): All human beings attempt to unify themselves for their own glory.

Read with me Genesis 11:1-4: Now the whole earth had one language and the same words. And as people migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. And they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.” And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar. Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.

  • This section seems to not be after Genesis 10, but sometime during Genesis 10.
    • The whole earth used the same language, or more literally, one set of words. This does not mean simple language. Instead, it means one language.
    • CSB: The tower of Babylon incident occurred earlier than at least some of the events of chap. 10 since the whole earth still had the same language and vocabulary (10:5, 20, 31).[2]
    • I like what MacArthur shares: God, who made man as the one creature with whom He could speak (1:28), was to take the gift of language and use it to divide the race, for the apostate worship at Babel indicated that man had turned against God in pride (11:8, 9).[3]
    • Verse 2: they journey east…

Dr Constable: Some of the Hamites migrated “east” (specifically southeast) to the plain of Shinar (cf. 10:10). This was in the Mesopotamian basin (modern Iraq).

“In light of such intentional uses of the notion of ‘eastward’ within the Genesis narratives, we can see that here too the author intentionally draws the story of the founding of Babylon into the larger scheme at work throughout the book. It is a scheme that contrasts God’s way of blessing (e.g., Eden and the Promised Land) with man’s own attempt to find the ‘good.’ In the Genesis narratives, when man goes ‘east,’ he leaves the land of blessing (Eden and the Promised Land) and goes to a land where the greatest of his hopes will turn to ruin (Babylon and Sodom).365[4]

  • The land of Shinar corresponds to ancient Babylonia and includes the region of the cities of Babylon, Erech, Accad, and Calneh (10:10). Migrated from the east can be translated “migrated eastward.”[5]
    • They find a plain… God had commanded them to fill the earth (Genesis 1, 2, and 9), but they were all together in one place, so God in His mercy is going to help them spread out.
    • Verse 3 continues now with what is going to happen.
    • Notice they say, “Let us…” this is echoing God’s language from Genesis 1. They want to be like God. See Gen 1:24.
    • Verse 4: they are gathered all together and they are united in a common purpose, but it is the wrong purpose.
    • The people’s pride and ambition is expressed in three different ways: (1) the fivefold use of the first-person pronouns—us (three times), ourselves (twice), and we; (2) their desire to build … a tower into the sky, thus giving them access to “the heavens,” the domain of God; and (3) their attempt at self-glorification—let us make a name for ourselves. Because they did it to avoid being scattered throughout the earth, all their efforts amounted to a rebellion against God and his command to fill the earth (9:1).[6]
    • Think of Stonehenge.
    • Do you hear the ignorance and insurrection? Lest we be dispersed (ESV)…
    • Or, be scattered in NASB…
    • “Let us” again…
    • Build a city
    • A tower that will reach to the heavens…
    • Make for ourselves a name…
    • Notice repetition of “us,” “ourselves,” and “we.”
    • This is human pride.
    • This is human depravity.
    • God is not as much judging them, but rather in His grace He is saving them from their own sin by scattering them.
  • The Sentence (11:5–9): God scatters them by confusing their language at the tower of Babel.

Read with me Genesis 11:5-9: And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built. And the Lord said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another’s speech.” So the Lord dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth. And from there the Lord dispersed them over the face of all the earth.

  • The Lord comes down… That phrase is anthropomorphic in nature. It is ascribing to God human attributes. We see it other places: Gen 18:21; Ex 3:8; 19:11, 18, 20.[8]
    • In Genesis 18:21 it seems to be a Theophany or more likely a Christophany where God is present in human form.
    • The Lord knows what is going on as He is omniscient and omnipresent.
    • Notice verse 5 says “children of man” had built. This seems to be emphasizing the descendants of humanity multiplying.
    • Verse 6: The Lord speaks.
    • Who is the Lord talking to?
    • It seems to be just like in Genesis 1:3, 24 and throughout that passage. God is speaking to either the angels, or the Godhead. This could also be anthropomorphic language, that is ascribing to God human attributes. This could be sharing with us God’s thinking.   
    • God has great concern. In their depravity with the same language and the same location this could lead to very bad things.
    • Verse 7: God intervenes, He does what they were trying to prevent in verse 4. This is an act of grace.
    • God confuses their language.
    • God says, “Let Us go down…” Again, anthropomorphic language as God is omnipresent.
    • CSB: Perhaps the most dramatic Hebrew wordplay in the tower of Babylon episode involves the deliberate reversal of sounds between vv. 3 and 7. Humans created brick—a word that contains the sound sequence l-b-n in Hebrew—to rebel against God. In response God created confusion—a Hebrew word containing n-b-l—to reverse the evil human plot.[9]
    • Some scholars believe that this judgment also involved the implantation of ethnic and racial distinctions in humankind. The Table of Nations in chapter 10 may imply this.371[10]
    • Verse 8 gets interesting. The Lord had already confused their language. Now it says, the Lord “Scattered them abroad from there over the face of the whole earth…”
    • It seems that God is confusing their language and scattering them.
    • God scattered them and they stopped building the city.
    • The name of that city was called “Babel”which means to confuse.
    • The Lord confused the language of the “whole” earth and “scattered them…”
    • NET: Babel. Here is the climax of the account, a parody on the pride of Babylon. In the Babylonian literature the name bab-ili meant “the gate of God,” but in Hebrew it sounds like the word for “confusion,” and so retained that connotation. The name “Babel” (בָּבֶל, bavel) and the verb translated “confused” (בָּלַל, balal) form a paronomasia (sound play). For the many wordplays and other rhetorical devices in Genesis, see J. P. Fokkelman, Narrative Art in Genesis (SSN).[11]
    • Moody: Just as He graciously prevented humanity from expressing their collective rejection of Him by “confusing” their language and causing them to scatter, so He will graciously enable them to one day express their collective worship of Him by “restoring” to them a clarified speech to serve Him in one accord (Zph 3:9). A foretaste of this was given at Pentecost, on the day the church was born, when the language of the people was clarified and the gospel was heard by all (Ac 2:5–6).[12]
  • Applications and review:
    1. They wanted to make themselves a name (Gen. 11:4). We must always be about God’s Name. We must not be prideful.
    2. God had told them to multiply and fill the earth (Gen. 9:1), yet they all came to one place (Gen. 11:1-2). We must obey the Lord’s instructions.
    3. The Lord intervened and praise God that He did. The Lord prevented further sin (Gen. 11:7-8).
    4. Rather than thinking like a child, and thinking that God deprived them of their opportunities, we must understand God acted for the betterment of humanity.
    5. We must worship the Lord for His goodness.
    6. We must objectively consider how God acted in history and try to notice His goodness.
    7. Someday God, through the Holy Spirit, will bring unity to the people for a good thing. Jesus prayed that the church will be one (John 17:21). To this day, there is more sin in a city. Many times, people come together for bad and not for good.


[1] Daniel Coyle, The Culture Code (Bantam, 2018), pp. xv-xvii.

chap. chapter

[2] Robert D. Bergen, “Genesis,” in CSB Study Bible: Notes, ed. Edwin A. Blum and Trevin Wax (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2017), 25.

[3] John F. MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur Study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2006), Ge 11:1.

365 365. Idem, “Genesis,” p. 104.

[4] Tom Constable, Tom Constable’s Expository Notes on the Bible (Galaxie Software, 2003), Ge 11:1.

[5] Robert D. Bergen, “Genesis,” in CSB Study Bible: Notes, ed. Edwin A. Blum and Trevin Wax (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2017), 25.

[6] Robert D. Bergen, “Genesis,” in CSB Study Bible: Notes, ed. Edwin A. Blum and Trevin Wax (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2017), 25.

v. verse

i.e. that is

[7] Michael A. Rydelnik and Michael Vanlaningham, eds., “Genesis,” in The Moody Bible Commentary (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2014), 66–67.

[8] New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995).

vv. verses

[9] Robert D. Bergen, “Genesis,” in CSB Study Bible: Notes, ed. Edwin A. Blum and Trevin Wax (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2017), 25.

371 371. See Merrill, “The Peoples . . .,” p. 22.

[10] Tom Constable, Tom Constable’s Expository Notes on the Bible (Galaxie Software, 2003), Ge 11:7.

SSN Studia semitica neerlandica

[11] Biblical Studies Press, The NET Bible First Edition Notes (Biblical Studies Press, 2006), Ge 11:9.

[12] Michael A. Rydelnik and Michael Vanlaningham, eds., “Genesis,” in The Moody Bible Commentary (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2014), 67.

The Significance of Genesis: Noah’s Family Multiplies (Genesis 10:1-32)

The Significance of Genesis: Noah’s Family Multiplies (Genesis 10:1-32)

Prepared and preached for and at Bethel Friends Church on Sunday, July 17, 2022 by Pastor Steve Rhodes

Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us, only sky

Imagine all the people
Livin’ for today

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion, too

Imagine all the people
Livin’ life in peace

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man

Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one

About this song Dr. Michael Rydelnic writes:

John Lennon released his greatest hit song, Imagine. It was the best-selling single of his solo career, one that Rolling Stone described as his “greatest musical gift to the world.” They called it “22 lines of graceful, plain-spoken faith in the power of a world, united in purpose, to repair and change itself.” The song was designed to imagine a completely unified world, one without borders between nations, or religion to divide us. It was a utopian vision of peace and love without God or Jesus. Imagine everyone in the world just holding hands and singing “Kumbaya!”…it could have been written by Vladmir Ilyich Lenin.

And John Lennon understood exactly what he was writing: In Geoffrey Giuliano’s 2000 biography Lennon In America, Lennon is quoted as describing the song as “Anti-religious, anti-nationalistic, anti-conventional, anti-capitalistic, but because it is sugarcoated it is accepted.

In another interview, Lennon said that Imagine “is virtually the Communist Manifesto” in song. Let’s think about some of the lyrics.

“Imagine there’s no heaven,” so no promise of peace or comfort for Jesus followers who have endured so much pain in this world.

“No hell below us,” so there’s no assurance of judgment for the wicked. Hitler, Mao, and Stalin will never stand before God’s Judgment seat to receive justice for their crimes.

“Imagine all the people, living for today,” so no living in light of eternity, looking for the return of Jesus. Since no one would have hope, no one would seek to live pure lives.

“Imagine there’s no countries,” ignoring that God Himself established the 70 nations (Gen 10; 46:7; Deut 32:8; Exod 19:6) and chose one nation, Israel, to be “a kingdom of priests” to mediate the knowledge of God to all the nations.

“Nothing to kill or die for, and no religion too,” ignoring that this has been tried. This same kind of communist and atheist vision led to Stalin’s murder of 40 million people and Mao’s cultural revolution killing 60 million.[1]

Dr. Rydelnic continues and we will come back to his article.

Why do I begin this message this way? I begin this message this way because in Genesis 10 we see people, many of them. We see God establish 70 nations. We see Noah’s descendants multiply.

My theme:

In God’s faithfulness, Noah’s family multiplies.

Read with me Genesis 10:1:

These are the generations of the sons of Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Sons were born to them after the flood.

Now, read Genesis 10:32:

These are the clans of the sons of Noah, according to their genealogies, in their nations, and from these the nations spread abroad on the earth after the flood.

  1. Why this genealogy?
    1. Gn 10:1–32 lists a total of seventy descendants in the family lines of Shem, Ham, and Japheth.[2]
    2. Why do we need to see all of these names?
    3. In this genealogy, we see that Noah’s family was faithful obeying the Genesis 9:1 command to be fruitful and multiply.
    4. We also see that God was faithful in providing children to them.
    5. The flood has happened and almost all of the world’s population has been killed and yet God is giving a fresh start.
    6. The CSB shares: Seventy, a multiple of two numbers that suggest completeness (seven, the number of days of creation week; ten, the number of fingers), would have suggested to ancient Israelites a satisfying completeness to the quantity of persons and nations that came into being after the flood. This is labeled a list of clans, languages, nations, and lands (vv. 5, 20, 31; cp. Rv 14:6). Thus some of the names refer to the regions where that person’s descendants settled; some refer to people groups.[3]
    7. God is providing a way for them to re-populate the earth.
    8. In this genealogy we also see how the curse on Canaan will be carried out. The CSB shares: This passagesdistinguish[es] the “unchosen” lines of Noah’s descendants (the Japhethites and Hamites) from the line that would be both the recipient and the agent of God’s special blessing to the rest of humanity (the Shemites).[4]
    9. The Moody Bible Commentary shares: the genealogies indicate the fulfillment of Noah’s declarative statement in 9:25–27 that the Shemites would subjugate the Canaanites as related in 14:1–12. This in turn reinforces both the divine imperative as well as the historical precedent for the Israelites—likewise descendants of Shem—to do the same.[5]
    10. The descendants of Shem lead to Abraham and Israel (Genesis 11:10-26).
    11. So, we see the people multiply and we see the curse on Canaan carried out.
    12. We also see how the various people groups develop.
  2. Why genealogies in general?
    1. In genealogies we see God’s faithfulness. We see how God provides. Everytime we read a genealogy in the Bible we see how God has carried out His plan in that people group.
    2. We see that in 1 Chronicles chapters 1-10 as we read about the history of the Israelite people.
    3. We see that in Nehemiah chapters 11-12 as we read about God being faithful to His people after the captivity.
    4. In genealogies, we see important people that many times show up in other places in the Bible.
    5. In genealogies we see that this is real history, it is not fiction.
    6. In genealogies, we see the detail-oriented nature of God and His interest in individuals.
    7. In genealogies, we see prophesy confirmed.
  3. Applications and review
    1. Praise God’s faithfulness.
    2. Once again, we see God populating the earth.
    3. We see nations spread out.
    4. We see His plans come to pass.
    5. This passage correlates with Acts 17:26 and this means we can trust the Bible. In Acts 17:26 Paul shared: And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place
    6. In this genealogy, we are seeing things setup for the people of Israel at the end of Genesis 11.
    7. Through the people of Israel, we will have salvation through Jesus.
    8. Notice how this genealogy leads to Abraham which leads to Israel, which leads to the Savior.
    9. Genesis 10 is connecting Noah to Abraham.
    10. Abraham connects to the rest of the Scriptures.

Certainly, much more could be shared about this chapter and you can find my notes about this whole chapter under the Sunday School section of our website. I taught this chapter in Sunday School. However, those are the things that I wanted to focus on today.

I encourage you, when you read the genealogies notice God’s faithfulness.

I began this message with Dr. Rydelnic’s comments on the song “Imagine.” This is how he concludes his article:

So the next time you’re in the grocery store and the ever present Muzak comes on, playing Imagine, instead of humming along with it, maybe we should all start singing, I Can Only Imagine instead:

I Can Only Imagine,

What it will be like

When I walk by Your side

I can only imagine

What my eyes would see

When Your face is before me

I can only imagine

Surrounded by Your glory

What will my heart feel?[6]

There are a lot of people and God multiplied the people and eventually sent a Savior to save us from our sins.



[2] Robert D. Bergen, “Genesis,” in CSB Study Bible: Notes, ed. Edwin A. Blum and Trevin Wax (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2017), 23.

vv. verses

cp. compare

[3] Robert D. Bergen, “Genesis,” in CSB Study Bible: Notes, ed. Edwin A. Blum and Trevin Wax (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2017), 23–24.

[4] Robert D. Bergen, “Genesis,” in CSB Study Bible: Notes, ed. Edwin A. Blum and Trevin Wax (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2017), 23.

[5] Michael A. Rydelnik and Michael Vanlaningham, eds., “Genesis,” in The Moody Bible Commentary (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2014), 64.


Prayers for Our Leaders (1 Timothy 2:1-7)

Prayers for Our Leaders (1 Timothy 2:1-7)

July 3, 2022

I think prayer has always been talked about a lot; even in the public spotlight. No matter how much we don’t want to give Jesus Lordship, no matter how much it is illegal to mix our faith into certain public areas; people still respect prayer. They may not respect the content of your prayer, but they still want prayer. People desire prayer; we are all in desperate need of prayer, aren’t we? We even have prayer at the President’s inauguration.

We have prayers led at sporting events. For example: CBS news reports this:

Pastor Joe Nelms came through with a car-racing invocation that won’t soon be forgotten. His prayer before the Nationwide Federated Auto Parts 300 managed to fuse unusual automotive praise with a memorable spousal shout-out.

Nelms began the prayer straightforward enough, thanking God for all his blessings. But then his list of gratitude grew increasingly creative.

First, he thanked the Man Upstairs for “all the Dodges and Toyotas and the Fords.” He then gave thanks for “GM performance technology,” “Sunoco racing fuel” and “Goodyear tires that bring performance and power to the track.”

Then Nelms got personal: “Lord, I want to thank you for my smokin’ hot wife tonight, Lisa, and my two children, Eli and Emma, or as we like to call the ‘The Little E’s.”[1]

Today, I want to look at 1 Timothy 2:1-7. This passage is about praying for our leaders. How are Christians to live today? I think we live like people in a country that increasingly does not share our values. That was also true in the first century. Like the people in Ephesus, who Paul wrote to, we must pray.  

Let’s turn in our Bibles to 1 Timothy 2:1-7 and we will see that the Bible challenges us to pray; also, this passage tells us what to pray for, the goal of our prayer, and the confidence we can have in who we pray to. 

Let’s read 1 Timothy 2:1-7

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, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.

  1. In verses: 1-2 the apostle Paul writes about the objects and contents of prayer.
    1. Notice as we look at verse 1 that Paul urges the people; he writes, “I urge…” The verb this is translated from just carries the idea of encouraging or exhorting. Paul is exhorting us, challenging us, to take this instruction on prayer so seriously. Now, what does he say?
    2. He says that we pray with “supplications.” This has the idea of our prayer life being a humble list to God. This carries the idea of pleading to God.
    3. Then Paul simply says, “prayers.” The noun used for “pray” is the most general word we can use to pray. In fact, prayers of thanksgiving, prayers of praise, prayers of intercession, and all other types of prayers fit under this noun’s definition.
    4. Then Paul urges us to intercession: this is praying on behalf of other people’s needs.
    5. Then we are urged to pray in thanksgiving. Never forget what God has given you.
    6. It is so easy to simply come to God with our needs while forgetting what we have been given. Things like giving thanks prior to eating a meal are not that common anymore.
    7. We pray in supplication, intercession, and thanksgiving: One source tells me: “These three terms indicate that the initial prayer term distinguishes the element of insufficiency by the requester, the second highlights devotion by the seeker, and the third underscores the childlike confidence of the petitioner.”[2]
    8. These prayer terms are all very important. Prayers of supplication show that we are merely human coming before God. We are insufficient and we ask for God’s help in humility. We pray in intercession simply coming to God with the needs of others. We come giving thanks recognizing what God has provided.
    9. Now, Paul writes under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit that these prayers are to be offered for all people. No one is left out. Now, this doesn’t mean that we are to list everyone by name. We might, but this just means that we can pray for anyone. Don’t leave people out because you don’t like them, or because they are a different social class, or because they vote differently, or because you didn’t vote for him or her. The word translated “all” literally means “everyone.”
    10. In 1 Timothy Paul had been writing against false teachers. These false teachers that Paul had been writing about might have limited prayers for a specific group. 
    11. But verse 2 specifies a few groups to pray for. We must pray for kings and all who are in high positions. This is not the only time Paul mentions praying for our leaders. Our leaders have a great task on them; pray for them.

Listen to one of Washington’s prayers for our country.

 Some years ago there was placed upon the altar of the Washington Memorial Chapel at Valley Forge an exquisitely illuminated copy of Washington’s prayer for the nation.

 “Almighty God: We make our earnest prayer that Thou wilt keep the United States in Thy holy protection; that Thou wilt incline the heads of the citizens to cultivate a spirit of subordination and obedience to government, and entertain a brother-affection and love for one another and for their fellow-citizens of the United States at large.

 “And finally that Thou wilt most graciously be pleased to dispose us all to do justice, to love mercy, and to demean ourselves with that charity, humility, and pacific temper of mind which were the characteristics of the Divine Author of our blessed religion and with a humble imitation of whose example in these things we can ever hope to be a happy nation.

 “Grant our supplication, we beseech Thee, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.”[3]

Washington modeled prayer and in this case prayer for our nation.

  • Now Paul writes that when we pray that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.
  • Now, in verses 3-4: we see the goal of prayer.
    • First, this is good and pleasing to God.
    • I think that is amazing in and of itself. Isn’t it nice to think that we can be good and pleasing to God? Here He is the God of the universe, the creator of all and we can please Him; we can be good in His sight. Also, God is our Savior. This means our redeemer.
    • Now, the Bible says, God wants all to be saved and come to the knowledge of the Truth.
    • This is a major principle: God loves all. It doesn’t matter whether you are male or female, black or white, American, French, German, Egyptian, etc, etc and etc. God loves all. God wants all to be saved.
    • The false teachers likely taught that salvation was only for Jewish people, but that is not true. God loves all.
    • So, a goal of our prayer is salvation. As we pray for people, pray for their salvation. Pray for their spiritual state. Ask God to make you think like an evangelist.
  • In verses 5-7 Paul writes about the confidence of the goal of prayer: (Jesus paid a ransom for our sins).
    • We have confidence that there is one God. Isn’t it nice that we don’t have to think about pleasing all these gods? There is one God.
    • There is also one mediator between God and mankind.
    • These false teachers might have taught that angels were mediators. There was a problem with the worship of angels in the first century.
    • But no, our mediator is the man Christ Jesus. Jesus came as one of us and He mediates for us.
    • Verse 6 tells us how Jesus can mediate. This is because He paid our ransom to God.
    • We have this confidence when we pray. We have confidence in God.
    • So, Paul says that God made him a herald of the Gospel. A herald was one who announced major news. He was a herald to the gentiles.
    • This means that Paul saw himself as one who was to go around and announce the good news of Jesus to the gentiles.
    • So, I ask: How’s your prayer life?
    • Do you pray with petition, intercession, and thanksgiving?
    • Do you have an evangelical mindset?


One of the great shaping personalities of Protestantism was Martin Luther. We sometimes have the impression that all this brilliant monk did was nail a list of protests on the church door in Wittenberg. Nothing could be further from the truth. He worked as an inspired man, preaching, lecturing, and writing daily. The complete edition of his papers runs into thousands of pages. He worked inconceivably hard, and yet in spite of all this, Luther managed to pray for an hour or two every day. He said he prayed because he had so much to accomplish. We are recipients of this hope, and in a world that is so corrupt and needy, we also need to pray.[4]

C.S. Lewis

“The Christian is not to ask whether this or that event happened because of a prayer. He is rather to believe that all events without exception are answers to prayer in the sense that whether they are grantings or refusals the prayers of all concerned and their needs have all been taken into account.” [5]



[2] New American Commentary

[3] Tan, P. L. (1996). Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations: Signs of the Times. Garland, TX: Bible Communications, Inc.

[4] Jones, G. C. (1986). 1000 illustrations for preaching and teaching (174). Nashville, TN: Broadman Press.

[5] (Jeeves Malcolm A. and Myers David G. Psychology Through the Eyes of Faith. 1987. Harper Publishing San Francisco. Christian College Coalition. Page 92. C.S. Lewis’ book Miracles New York Macmillian, 1947 page 215.)

Sin Continues After the Flood (Genesis 9:18-29).

Sin is like leprosy or to put it in contemporary terms, it’s like cancer. Leprosy is a modern ailment still affecting thousands of people. When you get it, it spreads. The drunk becomes a drunk because he started with his first drink. It spreads; it’s like a cancer. And so, when the Bible wants to describe sin graphically, it compares sin to a leprous kind of disease.[1]

A college with an established football team wanted a mascot so they decided to get a goat. The question was where to keep the goat! Two of the students offered to keep the goat in their room. The head of the sports department got wind of this and approached the two students. “Well, I hear you are gonna keep the goat in your room. What about the smell?” One of the students replied, “The goat will get used to it.”

Although the goat may get used to it, God doesn’t. Sin is a violation, a transgression of the law of God.838[2]

Today we see a passage in which Noah falls into sin.

My theme today is:

Sin continues after the flood. Noah and his family still have a sin problem and so do we.

  1. The sin and then the curse on Canaan (verses 18-27).

Verses 18-19, Genesis 9:18-19: The sons of Noah who went forth from the ark were Shem, Ham, and Japheth. (Ham was the father of Canaan.) These three were the sons of Noah, and from these the people of the whole earth were dispersed.

  • The sons of Noah: Shem, Ham and Japheth. There is a special note that Ham is the father of Canaan This may have to do with Canaan being the land in which the Israelites were to eventually take possession.
    • The whole earth was populated from these three men (verse 19).
    • Now we see Noah’s new work (verse 20).

Verse 20, Genesis 9:20: Noah began to be a man of the soil, and he planted a vineyard.

Verse 21, Genesis 9:21: He drank of the wine and became drunk and lay uncovered in his tent.

Verses 22-23, Genesis 9:22-23: And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father and told his two brothers outside. Then Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it on both their shoulders, and walked backward and covered the nakedness of their father. Their faces were turned backward, and they did not see their father’s nakedness.

  • It is difficult to know what was going on here.
    • Ham is specified as the father of Canaan. Now, the land of Canaan will be the land that the Israelites will eventually inherit.
    • The people of Canaan will later be corrupted with sexual depravity.
    • What was the nakedness?
    • Often times “uncovered” is a euphemism, in the Bible. In other words “uncovered” would be a word in order to sanitize what was really going on. It is likely that some type of sinful sexual activity is going on. Or, maybe just a sexual act, but Ham, or possibly Canaan, saw it and tried to get the brothers to come look as well.
    • The text says that Ham saw the nakedness, but it could be that Canaan actually saw the nakedness.
    • This is because the text in verse 24 says that Noah cursed his youngest son. His youngest son is not Ham, but Canaan was the youngest grandson so far mentioned.
    • The Moody Bible Commentary makes an interesting point that Canaan was the actual culprit: The following considerations, on the other hand, clearly support the view that Canaan was the culprit. Noah himself identified the culprit as his youngest son (v. 24), and whereas Ham was Noah’s middle son (5:32; 6:10; 7:13; 9:18; 10:1; 1Ch 1:14), Canaan was his youngest grandson (10:6; 1Ch 1:8). Whether Canaan was the youngest of all Noah’s grandchildren, he was the youngest so far mentioned (Gn 9:18, 22) and hence the only person with whom the youngest son in v. 24 can be identified. Canaan was the one cursed, and the biblical pattern, already established in 3:14, is that the actual culprit is cursed (cf. Dt 27:15–16; 1Sm 26:19; Jr 48:10). Also the sin involved something that the culprit had physically done (’asa, which typically denotes physical, not merely verbal, activity) to Noah in his nakedness (note that Lv 18 uses the expression “to uncover the nakedness” of a relative to refer to inappropriate sexual relations). The phrase about seeing the nakedness of his father (v. 22) seems to imply that a homosexual sin was committed, which is consistent with the same specific perversity by which Canaan’s descendants are characterized a few chapters later (namely, the Sodomites in 19:4–7, whose “exceeding wickedness” is already noted in 13:13; on their explicit descent from Canaan, see 10:19). For these reasons Canaan’s identity as the culprit has long been recognized in Jewish interpretive tradition.[5]
  • Noah awakes and is aware of what Ham, his youngest son, had done (verse 24). But remember “Ham” is not his youngest son.
    • Now, if this is the case why would he say “Ham” in verse 22? Maybe it is because Ham is Canaan’s father and they are being identified together.
    • Either way, some type of sexual act was viewed, or committed, and Canaan is cursed.

Verses 24-27, Genesis 9:24-27: When Noah awoke from his wine and knew what his youngest son had done to him, he said, “Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be to his brothers.” He also said, “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Shem; and let Canaan be his servant. May God enlarge Japheth, and let him dwell in the tents of Shem, and let Canaan be his servant.”

  • Curse on Canaan, the son of Ham (verse 25): Noah curses the son of Ham and he will be a servant of his brothers (descendants of Shem and Japheth).
    • Blessing on the Lord, the God of Shem, Canaan, son of Ham, shall be his servant (verse 26).
    • The Israelites would come from Shem.
    • K&D: “Servant of servants (i.e., the lowest of slaves, vid., Ewald, § 313) let him become to his brethren.” Although this curse was expressly pronounced upon Canaan alone, the fact that Ham had no share in Noah’s blessing, either for himself or his other sons, was a sufficient proof that his whole family was included by implication in the curse, even if it was to fall chiefly upon Canaan. And history confirms the supposition. The Canaanites were partly exterminated, and partly subjected to the lowest form of slavery, by the Israelites, who belonged to the family of Shem; and those who still remained were reduced by Solomon to the same condition (1 Kings 9:20, 21). The Phoenicians, along with the Carthaginians and the Egyptians, who all belonged to the family of Canaan, were subjected by the Japhetic Persians, Macedonians, and Romans; and the remainder of the Hamitic tribes either shared the same fate...[6]
    • Blessing on Japheth, dwell in the tents of Shem, Canaan (son of Ham) to be his servant (verse 27).
    • Dr Constable: There is no basis for the popular notion that this oracle doomed the Hamites, who were mainly Africans, to a position of inferiority or slavery among the other peoples of the world. Canaan and his branch of the family are the subject of this prophecy, not Ham and all his descendants.

“There are no grounds in our passage for an ethnic reading of the ‘curse’ as some have done, supposing that some peoples are inferior to others. Here Genesis looks only to the social and religious life of Israel’s ancient rival Canaan, whose immorality defiled their land and threatened Israel’s religious fidelity (cf. Lev 18:28; Josh 23). It was not an issue of ethnicity but of the wicked practices that characterized Canaanite culture.”344[7]

  1. Noah’s final days (verses 28-29).
    • 350 years after the flood (verse 28).

Verses 28-29, Genesis 9:28-29: After the flood Noah lived 350 years. All the days of Noah were 950 years, and he died.

  • 950 years of life and he died (verse 29).
    • CSB: Noah’s 950 years mark him as the third-oldest human in biblical history, behind Methuselah (969 years) and Jared (962 years).[8]
  • Applications:
    • In verse 21 Noah fell into sin. We must always guard ourselves against sin.

An evangelist had to travel often to preach. On one trip, he arrived at his hotel and proceeded to go to his room, which was on the fifth floor. The man got on the elevator and a lady with a lot of baggage got on too. She noticed that he had pressed the button for the fifth floor and told him that she was going to the same floor. The evangelist, being a gentleman at heart, offered to help her since they were going to the same floor anyway and because she was so weighed down by her baggage. They arrived at their floor and the evangelist proceeded to help her carry her bags to her room. When they finally got to her door, the woman said, “Oh, sir, thank you very much, won’t you come in for a while?” The minister politely declined and hurried to his room. When retelling this story to a close friend, his friend said, “So, you were obedient to the Word in fleeing immorality because of your fear of God.” The evangelist replied, “No, I think I was fleeing immorality out of the fear of my wife!”844[9]

  • We must pray “lead us not into temptation (Matthew 6:13).
    • We must pray that we do not give the devil a foothold (Eph 4:27).
    • We must pray that we do not even give the appearance of sin (1 Thess 5:22).
    • We must guard that we are not drunk (Eph 5:18).  
    • We must guard against other sins as well.
    • We must have an active relationship with God in order to enable us to stay away from sin (John 15:1-5; Prov 27:17; Psalm 119:9-11).

Sickness often doesn’t happen suddenly. A person may feel a little tired one day and then notice a tickle in the throat the next. Many people ignore sickness at this stage because it doesn’t bother them that much or interrupt their life enough for them to take notice. They won’t rush to take vitamin C or head to the pharmacy for medicine. They will go on with business as usual. But, very suddenly, something that is insignificant can become significant. Sickness can dominate, knock a person down, and then knock them out. What starts out as a tickle can become a full-blown virus.836[10]


[1] Tony Evans, Tony Evans’ Book of Illustrations: Stories, Quotes, and Anecdotes from More than 30 Years of Preaching and Public Speaking (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2009), 279.

[2] Tony Evans, Tony Evans’ Book of Illustrations: Stories, Quotes, and Anecdotes from More than 30 Years of Preaching and Public Speaking (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2009), 280.

lit Literally/literally

Hb Hebrew

[3] Robert D. Bergen, “Genesis,” in CSB Study Bible: Notes, ed. Edwin A. Blum and Trevin Wax (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2017), 23.

vv. verses

[4] Robert D. Bergen, “Genesis,” in CSB Study Bible: Notes, ed. Edwin A. Blum and Trevin Wax (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2017), 23.

v. verse

v. verse

cf. compare or consult

v. verse

[5] Michael A. Rydelnik and Michael Vanlaningham, eds., “Genesis,” in The Moody Bible Commentary (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2014), 63.

[6] Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, vol. 1 (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1996), 100.

344 344. Mathews, p. 423. See also Charles C. Ryrie, You Mean the Bible Teaches That . . ., p. 60; Thomas Figart, A Biblical Perspective on the Race Problem, p. 55; and O. Palmer Robertson, “Current Critical Questions Concerning the ‘Curse of Ham’ (Gen 9:20–27),” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 41:2 (June 1998):177-88.

[7] Tom Constable, Tom Constable’s Expository Notes on the Bible (Galaxie Software, 2003), Ge 9:25.

[8] Robert D. Bergen, “Genesis,” in CSB Study Bible: Notes, ed. Edwin A. Blum and Trevin Wax (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2017), 23.

[9] Tony Evans, Tony Evans’ Book of Illustrations: Stories, Quotes, and Anecdotes from More than 30 Years of Preaching and Public Speaking (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2009), 281.

[10] Tony Evans, Tony Evans’ Book of Illustrations: Stories, Quotes, and Anecdotes from More than 30 Years of Preaching and Public Speaking (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2009), 279.