Genesis 11:1-13:4 ~ Matthew 5:1-12 ~ Psalm 5:1-12 ~ Proverbs 1:24-28
Today is January 5th. Welcome to the Daily Audio Bible. I’m Brian. It is awesome to be here with you today from the rolling hills of Tennessee and I pray wherever you are on this big blue earth that God has given us to live in or on or both, that you are doing well and that you are kind of beginning to get into the rhythm of this fresh start known as the new year. We are certainly getting off to a good start to this year in the scriptures and we’ll continue with that rhythm now. We’re reading from the New Living Translation this week and picking up where we left off in the book of Genesis. Yesterday we learned of this great flood and now we enter into the territory that happens after. Genesis chapter 11, verse 1 through 13, verse 4 today.
Alright, so there are a number of things to point out in today’s reading to bring some context and to fill in the story that we’ve traveled so far in just the first few days of the year. So we read about the Tower of Babel today. That is a famous story. I grew up in church so I’ve been hearing the story of the Tower of Babel since Sunday School and maybe you have too, or maybe this is the first time you’ve ever heard of it. Either way, it’s a famous story in the Bible.
There are a couple of ways to read this story and one of them introduces this first uptight, angry, spiteful God, then there are other stories that we will come to that seem to indicate this judging, vengeful God and God gets this reputation, this Old Testament reputation that is fascinatingly and completely incorrect that has been perpetuated for a long, long time.
We see in the story of Babel God comes down, sees what the people are going to do. They are going to build this big tower. It is going to go up into the sky. And God says, ‘we can’t let this happen. If we let this happen, then nothing they set out to do will be impossible for them.’ So it’s easy enough to go ‘what’s God so uptight about here? What’s the big deal?’ The big deal is the ‘impossible for them’ part.
Let’s go back a couple of days, back to Genesis chapter 3, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil which we’ve already covered, the whole breach and breaking of trust that happened, the separation of divinity from humanity that happened, this chasm that was not bridgeable. So we go through all that and the slide downward of man that becomes so evil that a flood overtakes the world and a reset is done. Now we’re on the other side of that. People are repopulating the earth and the same kind of thing is happening. This tower can’t be built for the same reason that people can’t continue to eat from the tree of life. Humanity and divinity have been separated from their ordinary, normal, natural created state, which is intertwined.
So God banished humanity from the tree of life in the Garden of Eden because of this trade that was made. This perfect intimacy with God was traded for the knowledge of good and evil. Then mankind tried to use the knowledge to understand and control God and then to become his own god. We see this playing out in Babel again. So when God says ‘the people are united and they speak the same language and after this nothing they set out to do will be impossible for them,’ it’s just echoes of Eden. Echoes of the tree of life.
We can look at God as this spiteful, jilted person who is vengeful and is on a power trip or we can see it for what it is, a counterintuitive rescue and saving of all things, because humanity separated from divinity altogether is not humanity as it was created to be. Separated from divinity, separated from God, it will only do what it has always done, continue to slide into inhumanity, subhumanity and will only perpetuate its own total annihilation. All you have to do is look around even today. These thousands and thousands of years later all you have to do is look around and see that the possibility of complete annihilation is ever-present.
What the Bible will teach us later is that nothing is impossible with God. Our attempts to make nothing impossible without God will not work. We were not made that way. That is not how life works. So God confuses the whole mess and disperses people throughout the earth. He has larger plans of redemption for a later time.
We could stop there because there is plenty to think about there because it begins to shift our own assumptions about God and his work or his counterintuitive work or his disruptive work in our lives and the places that we go in our heads, in our hearts, the assumptions that we make that ultimately estrange us from God. So there is plenty to think about there, but we also meet a very, very important person in today’s reading and his name is Abram. He is going to have a name change pretty soon and be a very central figure in the story of the Bible and in the story of the world we live in right now.
We went through some genealogical territory today and you can feel like that is tedious at times, but we’ll get to that later. We read through some genealogical things today leading us to Abram and he is in Ur of the Chaldeans. This is modern day Iraq. He is a nomadic kind of person similar to the modern day Bedouins of the desert. He is a desert person who ends up coming into the land of the Canaanites. He comes to this place called Shechem which is a very ancient city and the city still exists today in modern day Israel. It is now known as Nabulus. But this city is going to keep recurring. It is going to keep coming up. Some of the most pivotal things in all of the Bible happened in and around Shechem and today is one of them because God comes to Abram and tells him near Shechem ‘all of this land I’m giving to you. I will make a nation out of you and you will bless the people of the earth.’
Now Shechem is not desert country and Abram continues to move southward. You can easily Google a map of Israel and the Middle East and kind of see this whole trajectory, but he moves south to Bethel where he makes an altar. Bethel will also become an important landmark as we move forward. And then he moves even further south toward the Negev, another desert, something a little more arid, something that he is accustomed to. But famine is in the land and so he has to go to Egypt where this whole episode happens of Abram telling his wife Sarai to claim that she is his sister. It’s amazing because she is obviously unspeakably beautiful, of biblical proportions because the Bible says so. She is gorgeous. She also happens to be 75 years old’ish which can feel like a little bit of a contradiction because you don’t usually think of a person 75 years old as being completely, unspeakably hot. As we’re reading in the book of Genesis, people had longer lifespans closer to the beginning when there was less pollution and population, so we read of people not really beginning their families until after the first 100 years. So this is what we find with Abram and Sarai.
Sarai is taken into the harem of the Pharaoh only to be given back to Abram and he is enriched with many things. Many of the gifts that the Pharaoh gave him made him wealthy, rich, and fortified. So when they leave Egypt, and I mean this is a pathway that the ancestors of Abram are going to follow, back toward Bethel, this man Abram has followed a God that he has just recently met, gotten a promise from this God, and has been fortified and enriched by partially plundering Egypt. This will happen again by the ancestors of Abram. This little trick of Sarai posing as Abram’s sister, this trick will happen again as well, but we’ll save that for another day.
Then in the New Testament we move into Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, which is really his central teaching, but we’ll be covering this territory, so we’ll save that for another day.
Father, thank you for your word. What a gift. Our hearts come alive within us as we hear the stories of our spiritual ancestry, how it is that we got from there to here and things begin to fill in and all of a sudden we see ourselves in these stories and we realize every fork in the road is a choice that is leading somewhere, even the small decisions that we make are choices that are going somewhere. Your word helps us to be awake and aware of those decisions and it makes us awake and aware of your presence in all of it. So come, Holy Spirit. Plant these words deep in our lives, in our souls. May our hearts be fertile soil that the fruit of the Spirit may grow in us. Come, Jesus, we pray. In your name we ask. Amen.
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And, as always, we are a community here and we pray for each other really well around here. If you have a prayer request or comment, there are a number of numbers that you can use, depending on where you are in the world and really I think you can use these numbers no matter where you are in the world if you just happen to not want to call the number closest to you. Either way, if you’re in the Americas, (877) 942-4253 is the number to call. If you are in the UK or Europe: 44, 20-3608-8078 is the number. And if you are in Australia or the lands down under: 61, 3-8820-5459 is the number to call.
And that is it for today. I’m Brian. I love you and I’ll be waiting for you here, right here tomorrow.
Community Prayer Requests and Praise Reports
Hey Dabbers, this is Slave of Jesus. Alright, Holy Spirit, let’s roll. This is for all of us but this is really focusing on the new Dabbers that are joining us probably after the first of the year and those that came in the middle of last year. They’re psyched. They’re ready to do this thing and do it every year. So I’m in military intelligence and it’s my job to tell the commander what the enemy is going to do, so I’m going to tell you all what the enemy is going to do in your lives if you try to get through a year with the DAB. You need to have a plan. You need to have a plan. You can have a great plan, but you need to have what they call a Plan B. Because you might be saying ‘okay, I’m going to go ahead and do this every single night right before I go to bed.’ After a few months the enemy is not going to like you listening to the Bible every day. He’s going to do something to mess up your night, whether it’s you have a new class you have to take or something like that. You gotta have a Plan B. Maybe that Plan B is you have to set your alarm a half hour earlier than you normally get up to do that. I don’t know what it is, but you’ve got to start thinking about this. You have to start thinking about if you call into the DAB and you don’t hear your call and the enemy gets in your head to tries to say ‘hey, you don’t need this community anymore.’ You need to have a plan that you’re going to fight through that. You’re going to post something to Facebook, maybe somebody is going to say something that offends you, you need to get a plan out there right now so that you can fight your way through this. Be prepared. The Bible says that the enemy prowls like a lion. That is what he’s doing. He’s going to go out there for all of us who lightly planted seeds that just don’t have big roots and you’re all excited, but as soon as that storm comes it rips it all out. That is what he wants to do. If you fight through that, if you get through a year, you get through two years, you start to say the Daily Prayer out loud, start learning scripture, you become a powerful warrior, but you gotta have a plan to fight through that so when that enemy comes at you, you’re ready. So that’s just a little warning for all of you out there. Don’t be afraid. The enemy is defeated. Scripture beats him every single time just like Jesus did, but start to have a plan now so you can get through it when you face it in real life. Love you all. Have a great day.
Hey there DAB family. This is Julie from Louisiana. Many of you have called in over the holidays because you’re lonely and so I just wanted to say a prayer for you. Lord, I just lift up every person who is heartbroken right now, who is struggling through the holidays, who feels alone. Lord, I just pray you’d wrap your arms around them right now and I pray that they would feel your peace and they would feel your love and they would feel your joy and, Lord, they would know that you became one of us so that you could be with us. So we’re thankful, Father, for you touching them right now. I just wanted to challenge everybody and especially if you’re lonely, I want to challenge you to do something I did last year. You know in 2015 I found the DAB and I listened to it all year by myself and it was so awesome that I just wanted everybody I knew to go through it with me. And so last January, my husband and I started a small group at our church for anybody who wanted to go through the Bible in a year. And we had about 15 people that signed up. And so what we would do is each of us would listen on our own every day and we might take notes on what we heard or we might write down any questions that we had and then one night a week we would get together and we would discuss what we had heard and what we learned and talk about questions that we had. It had to be the best small group that I’ve ever been part of in my life. In fact, this New Year’s Eve we’re all going to get together and we’re going to listen to the very last podcast of the year together as a group and then we’re going to have a party to celebrate that we’ve gone through the whole Bible together with each other. I want to encourage you to begin your own small group in 2017 and go through the Bible with your friends. If you have any questions about how to launch a small group, you can shoot me an email. I’d love to hear from you. My email address is info@RiverValleyChurch.net. I’m praying that lots of groups spring up in 2017. Love and blessings from Louisiana.
Good morning DAB. This is Sandy in New Hampshire. I wanted to say Brian, thank you so much, and actually China and Jill and everyone else. I love the way Brian says ‘I love you. I’ll be waiting for you here tomorrow.’ You know sometimes when we’re going through hard times, just knowing that somebody else is going to be there is awesome, so I want to thank you for that. I want to thank you for the sacrifices that you guys make personally, professionally and with your family, so I pray that God will bless you for that. Thank you for your faithfulness in serving God through serving others, selflessly serving and encouraging every day, loving through serving. I would like to pray for our family this year, for the whole DAB family, to have abundance, restoration, strength, resilience, depth, healing in relationships, health, marriages, families, siblings, serving opportunities. I ask that we would see Jesus’ reflection and feel his arms holding us, that we would see his smile through others smiling. I pray that we would see others beside us and that we would love through serving alongside others that are serving the Lord, that we would join hands with those who are serving, that God would use us to be a light in dark places. I just want to thank you and I pray that God will bless you. In Jesus’ name.
Hi brothers and sisters from the Daily Audio Bible family. This is Washed in the Blood of the Lamb from Perth, Western Australia. Today’s date is the 29th of December, 2016, and it’s not really a prayer today, but this is more just a word. This is called Anchors for Our Souls. In Hebrew 6:19 it talks about an anchor of hope, having our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ as an anchor of hope. Sometimes in life we have tempestuous storms. We have trials and tribulations and we can wax cold and grow cold and be hot and cold in this Christian relationship. So sometimes we need anchors for our souls. So in Hebrews 6:19 it talks of an anchor of hope and it also says in Romans 15:13 that God is our hope. He is the hope. Psalm 42:5 is to hope in God. Sometimes we need to have an anchor of duty to a church or a duty in which we’re doing things that God has asked us to do, whether that is to be street preaching, evangelizing, doing outreach programs, feeding the homeless, just things that will anchor our souls to the duty of working for God. Another one is an anchor of prayer which is what we do here. We pray and we bring our prayers and supplications to the throne room of grace. And last but not least is the anchor of love, to know that God loved his creation that he gave his only begotten son, Jesus Christ, that whosoever shall believe upon him shall not perish but have everlasting life. I love you all, my god brothers and sisters. I guess you would all be my god brothers and sisters. I love you all and peace and safety to you. God bless. Amen.
Hey family, it’s Arjen from Florida. By the time this message gets played, it is probably going to be the new year, so it is awesome just to be in 2017 with you guys. I look forward to walking through all of our struggles and supports and just continuing in that love together. Brian, thank you so much, Brother. I don’t say that, but I just want to know how grateful I am. I’m calling to pray for Reyna who is struggling with alcoholism and who is having confrontation with her sons and is just going through depression. Reyna, I know what depression is like. I know what isolation, feeling isolated is like. I pray for the company and unconditional love of Jesus, Reyna, to be so unbelievably strong in your life, so unbelievably powerful and unshakeable and present that all of the other worldly issues that come in your life will grow so dim that you forget that they even exist, that these enemies of yours will be extinguished, that though you look for them, you will not be able to find them, that you walk and live and love in the fellowship of Jesus and are at so much peace that you can comfort all of us, Reyna. I pray this in Jesus’ mighty name. I pray this with Jesus’ mighty heart. I pray with the Spirit of God, our creator, sustainer, and principle mover of all things. Reyna, we love you and we thank you for how open you are being because that openness gives us a window to be open. I love all of you guys. God bless.
Hey everybody. This is Pelham from Birmingham with Molly and now baby Andy whose name is Gerald Anderson Hart. I’m just calling in today because if I don’t call some time I’m not going to call because it’s pretty busy here in the hospital room. I’m standing here with my wife, with Molly. Say hi. [Molly] Hey everybody! Thank you all so much for your prayers. That was Molly and then we’re looking down here on Grandma who is holding Andy with the WubbaNub and he’s just as happy as he can be. I’m blown away by how good God has been through this whole process, the miracle of him giving us this baby. The fact that the baby was born on the day that we lost our first child is not lost on me. The health of this baby, everything has just been checking out just right. He’s amazed us at every turn. Let me see if I can get him to make a noise. Can you make a noise buddy? Only got a couple of seconds. [Molly] Say hey to your DAB family, baby Andy. [Pelham] You want to say something Andy? Nope, Andy doesn’t want to say anything. He wanted his WubbaNub back. Alright, well, I just wanted to call and thank everyone all over the world for praying for me and Molly through all these years. My father who passed away, he was here and is here and it just means so much to me, everyone out there. I’ll keep you updated as to how the child is doing. Everything is wonderful and I hope everyone is well.