In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. – Genesis 1:1
Blessed is the man
Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,
Nor stands in the path of sinners,
Nor sits in the seat of the scornful; – Psalm 1:1
Genesis 1-3, Psalm 1
The first 11 chapters of Genesis have been under assault for approximately 100 years. Though the theory of evolution really began in 1859 when Charles Darwin wrote, “The Origin of the Species”, the theory exploded pushing Creation out of the public sector in 1925. In the famous Monkey-Scopes trial popularized in the play and movie, “Inherit the Wind”, the path was paved to push evolution in and Creation out of the school system. Though people would like to try to merge the two, this doesn’t make any sense since at the core of Evolution is randomness and a lack of purpose, where Creation speaks of purpose in the hands of a Creator. Though those who speak against Creation like to claim they have science on their side, a careful study shows the opposite is true. Society will never know this since those in power in education from elementary school to college, those in control of all of the scientific journals and media will only permit “evidence” in support of Evolution. Ben Stein in 2008 put out a documentary revealing this called, “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed”.
The Bible begins with Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”. Importantly, the word translated “created” comes from the Hebrew term bara, which speaks of creating something out of nothing. Man and the evolutionary theory can only speak of creating something from something else, only God can create something out of nothing. In Genesis 1:5, we read, “God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning were the first day.” Though skeptics like to claim that the word for day in Hebrew, “yom” used here can have different meanings to try to explain the billions of years, an honest look doesn’t allow this. The day is a 24 hour day, even mentions evening and morning. Outside of Genesis 1 every time the word “yom” is used (359 times) with a number it means a literal day (24 hours). In Genesis 1:11, we read, “Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb that yields seed, and the fruit tree that yields fruit according to its kind, whose seed is in itself, on the earth”; and it was so.” This seed which produces its own kind is the DNA which enables any species to reproduce. This marvelous creation of God is amazingly complex. Realize the average human has 70 trillion cells. Each cell has tightly coiled DNA which if stretched goes to 6 feet. Realize if we stretched the DNA in any adult human it could go back and forth from the earth to the sun 610.9x. Francis Crick, co-discoverer of DNA and atheist concluded later in life that the complexity of DNA required an intelligent creator.
So, if we question why this debate so important. Once you begin to question or eliminate Scripture, we put ourselves in the position of judge rather than God and His Word. Genesis is as much a part of God’s Word as Romans. It is a very dangerous thing when society tries to twist Scripture to conform to what they believe is correct. Whenever we try to adjust God’s Word or cherry-pick what we want in order to make it more pleasing or relevant we run the risk of elevating our opinions to god-like status. May we all approach God’s Word with fear and trembling, in absolute awe as to the nature and power of God. Anyone who questions how it’s possible that God could create all we see in 6 days doesn’t know God. If God wanted to create it in 6 seconds He could have. After a careful look at Creation versus Evolution, it actually takes much more of a leap of faith to believe in Evolution.
Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley:
- In the Beginning, Genesis 1:1-5
- Days of Creation, Genesis 1:6-31
- The Creation of Man and Woman, Genesis 2
- Paradise Lost – Part 1, Genesis 3:1-7
- Paradise Lost – Part 2, Genesis 3:8-24
Digging Deeper from Other Sources
- Answers in Genesis: How old is the Earth?
- Answers in Genesis: Did humans really evolve from ape-like creatures?
Genesis 4-7, Psalm 2
Union Square Park on a Sunday afternoon is an interesting place to be. Within this 3 block radius probably over 10 religions are represented and demonstrative. There is a man dressed like a monkey god, there is a group of women dancing in worship of small planters of grass, there are fortune tellers with crystal balls, there are those who follow Hare Krishna, Buddhists, Muslims, etc. Though many reading this do not adhere to these religions, anytime we alter the relationship prescribed by God’s Word to accommodate the will of man we have moved from relationship to religion. In the Jewish religion, though God always required a blood sacrifice for the atonement of sin, without a Temple( destroyed in 70 AD), they have devised the religious concept of making their good works outweigh their bad works, especially the week before Yom Kippur (the day of atonement). For Roman Catholics, rather than true repentance, they have developed the religious practice of confession, where your sin is absolved by the priest in response to your reciting a prescribed number of “Hail Mary’s” and “Our Fathers”. Religion destroys that relationship that God desires. The result in this Biblically illiterate society is a total disregard of the consequences of one’s own sin. Consider the YouTube which glorifies abortion with “Shout your abortion”, or the seeming lack of sincerity of those caught in sexual sin, like former Congressman Anthony Weiner or Movie mogul Harvey Weinstein.
We know that Abel makes it to the Hall of Faith in Hebrews 11:4, thus we can assume that God clearly communicated what was deemed an acceptable sacrifice. We read in Genesis 4:3-5 that, “And in the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the Lord. Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. And the Lord respected Abel and his offering, but He did not respect Cain and his offering. And Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell.” God has given the way, but Cain thought he had a better way. Even this early in the Bible, this is the third example of man made religion. In Genesis 3:3, when Eve speaks to the serpent, she adds to God’s command by saying, “…’You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.'” In 2:17, God only said not to eat of that tree, Eve added the part not to touch it. In 3:7, Adam and Eve devised their own method of covering up their sin, “…they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.” God offered Cain the opportunity to move from his religion back into relationship in 4:7, “If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.” God offers Cain both mercy and restitution, but blinded by his own pride and sense of right and wrong, Cain rejects God’s offer. When Cain then murders Abel and is confronted and punished, we read his response in 4:13, “And Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is greater than I can bear!” Notice no repentance, no falling to his knees in acknowledgment. Religion blinds all of its adherents from a true relationship.
In Jude 11, we read, “Woe to them! For they have gone in the way of Cain,…”. We are living in a society which does not acknowledge sin for what it is. Cain viewed his punishment as dreadful, but it is his sin and our sin which is dreadful. Sin means missing the mark. The more we do it without repenting and turning back to God the further we find ourselves from His best plan for our lives. God always required a blood sacrifice in payment for sin. Many look at this as barbaric, only because they don’t acknowledge the seriousness of sin. If we had to pay for our sins by sacrificing our own pet, we might begin to see it a little closer to how serious God views it. But God loves us so much that he doesn’t require our own blood nor the life of our own pets. God sent His Son to make the full payment of all of our sins: past, present and future, once and for all, the moment He took our sins upon Himself and died on the Cross. He is our sacrifice. The only thing that God requires is true repentance, honest acceptance of what Jesus did in our behalf, and to make Him Lord of our lives. Anything which adds or subtracts from this simple truth is religion which destroys the relationship with God which is necessary.
Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley:
- The Way of Cain, Genesis 4
- The Devolution of Man, Genesis 5:1-6:8
- The Great Flood- Part 1, Genesis 6-8
- The Great Flood- Part 2, Genesis 6-8
Genesis 8-11, Psalm 3
Our last presidential campaign was one of the most divisive in our nation’s history. Despite government’s continual failure to provide any real solution to our world’s problems, everyone clings to their nominee as though the world will cease to exist if they are not nominated. After last year’s election I actually had patients say that before I could go on with the exam, I had to tell them who I voted for. After telling them who I voted for, I told them that God was not biting his nails, sitting at the edge of His throne in Heaven waiting for Pennsylvania to come in. Trump was God’s choice, they could decide and only God knows whether he was installed for our nation’s judgment or blessing. I also tell them that no matter who won, we are to pray for them, and quote 2 Chronicles 7:14, “if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” But looking at recent presidential slogans, submission to God is nowhere to be found. Hillary Clinton’s was “Stronger Together”. Donald Trump’s was, “Make America Great Again”. Mitt Romney’s was, “Believe in America”. Barack Obama was, “Change we can believe in”. George W Bush was, “Yes, America can”. Al Gore’s was, “Prosperity and Progress”. Notice every slogan exalts nation, not God. I’m not a politician, but a good slogan would be, “Let us submit to God again.” Though that is what we need, I don’t think that slogan would get me many votes.
We find our first government and it’s leader in today’s reading. We read in Genesis 10:8-9, “Cush begot Nimrod; he began to be a mighty one on the earth. He was a mighty hunter before the Lord;…”. Nimrod means “rebel”. Many say the verse would be better translated , “He was a mighty hunter against the Lord.” We read of his nation in 11:1,4, “Now the whole earth had one language and one speech…And they said, “Come let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.” Nimrod built this tower as a ziggurat, to worship the stars, creating the first false religious system. God gave us the stars to communicate His story, the zodiac and astrology has perverted this. This is also in direct rebellion to God’s direction to Noah to spread out over the earth. The Lord put an end to this in Genesis 11:9, “Therefore its name is called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth; and from there the Lord scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth.” This was the first of many nations who have sought to elevate themselves and diminish God. As an aside, for those who call into question the reality of the Tower of Babel and the rest of Genesis 1-11, though the Tower was built around 2250 BC, as late as 480 BC the Greek historian, Herodotus, comments that the actual Tower of Babel was in a state of disrepair.
It is our duty to vote for governmental officials. But our hope must be in God not any man or nation. Interestingly, in Acts 2 at Pentecost, God did indeed unify mankind as the Holy Spirit empowered the 120 gathered in the Upper Room to communicate the gospel message in languages they couldn’t formerly speak to people in Mesopotamia, Cappadocia, Egypt, Arabia, Galatia, etc. Unifying under any banner outside of God will fail. Paul said in Galatians 3:28, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Until King Jesus is ruling in the Millennial Kingdom, every government will be flawed and should not be the focus of our hope.
Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley:
Genesis 12-15, Psalm 4
We engage in contracts constantly in society. Every patient who sees me is in a conditional contract with me. I agree to provide my medical services, and they agree to pay me for these services. Every employee contract is conditional. Wages are earned in response to work that has been agreed upon. The Mosaic Covenant between God and the Israelites was conditional. There were 613 laws, if they were followed obediently then they would be blessed, if not they would be cursed. But in today’s reading we read of a unilateral, unconditional covenant between God and Abram.
We note the only thing required of Abram was faith. This was before the rite of circumcision and before the Law handed to Moses. We read in Genesis 15:6, “And he believed in the Lord, and He accounted it to him for righteousness.” The Lord had already promised Abram in Genesis 12:2-3, “I will make you a great nation; I will bless you And make your name great; And you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” He promised him numerous descendants in Genesis 13:16 and 15:5. He was promised that he would be a father of many nations in 17:4-5. In our society when a covenant or contract is made the two parties agree and sign. In that society we read about the different, bloody nature of covenants. We read the preparation in Genesis 15:9-10, where animals would be cut in half so that the two parties could enter into the covenant between the carcasses. If anyone broke the covenant they were as good as the dead animals they were between. But as Abram was waiting, he fell into a deep sleep. We read in Genesis 15:17-18, “And it came to pass, when the sun went down and it was dark, that behold, there appeared a smoking oven and a burning torch that passed between those pieces. On the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying,”. Realize, Abram did nothing, God did it all. The covenant is unconditional and unilateral and perfect because the all perfect God is the one who established it.
We have to reflect on this and understand that Abram had no part except having faith in this covenant. When people are asked when they die where they will be going, heaven or hell, and why. Almost everyone says heaven based on their own goodness. People ascribe to the religion of good works. But this wasn’t God’s way with Abram and it’s not His way with us. When Jesus died on the cross, He did it all, unconditionally and unilaterally. Instead of going between the blood of the animals, He signed this covenant with His own precious blood, spilled out for us. Like Abram, our only part is to repent and have faith and believe with our whole heart. Heaven is now available to anyone who simply is willing to enter into this covenant with Jesus. Paul said in 2 Corinthians 5:21, “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley:
Genesis 16-18, Psalm 5
When we read stories of those in Scripture who erred due to either a lack of patience or not fully trusting God, rather than be critical, we should ask ourselves how we would fare in a similar situation. In 2014, when Pope Francis was asked about his views supporting the Big Bang theory and evolution, he stated that “God is not a magician with a magic wand.” I asked one of my friends why she continues to pray to the saints and she responded by saying, “God can use all the help He can get”. When God doesn’t answer no or yes to a prayer, but delays, it’s not due to procrastination or preoccupation on His part, but preparation to help develop faith. Immediate gratification does not develop or require faith. The Bible is full of stories of those who couldn’t wait. We read in 1 Samuel 13 that King Saul was told to wait seven days until Samuel arrived to perform a sacrifice before they went into battle (v.8). Unwilling to wait any longer he offered the sacrifice himself. As a result, Samuel tells Saul in 13:13-14, “…For now the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. But now your kingdom shall not continue. The Lord has sought a man after His own heart,…”. Saul lost his kingdom because he couldn’t wait and trust God for 7 days.
Realize Abram was called to leave his homeland and go to the promised land at around the age of 50. He delayed for 25 years, until the age of 75 when God established a covenant with Abram including the promise of an heir. In fairness, when we come to this section God has delayed 11 years in providing a child and it will be another 13 before it actually is fulfilled, with Abraham at 99 and Sarah at 89. We read in Genesis 16:1-2, “Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. And she had an Egyptian maidservant whose name was Hagar. So Sarai said to Abram, “See now, the Lord has restrained me from bearing children. Please, go in to my maid; perhaps I shall obtain children by her.” Due to circumstances between Sarai and the pregnant, Hagar, Hagar flees. The Angel of the Lord meets her and says in Genesis 16:11-12, “Behold, you are with child, And you shall bear a son. You shall call his name Ishmael, Because the Lord has heard your affliction. He shall be a wild man; His hand shall be against every man, And every man’s hand against him…”. Whenever we try to help out God or force His hand beware of the consequences. This move on the part of Abram and Sarai gave rise to the whole Middle East crisis that is still spinning out of control. Before Abram followed God, he followed the moon God (the local deity) in Ur of the Chaldees. This moon God also goes by the name of Allah. So, Ishmael the father of the Arabs, serving their god, Allah, is set against Isaac, born 13 years later to Abraham and Sarah who will be one of the founding fathers of the Israelites. That is why anyone who says we all worship the same God is incorrect.
So, even though Abraham erred, he did wait 25 years before the promise was fulfilled. Consider the apostle Paul, he waited 14 years from his encounter and calling on the Damascus road in Acts 9 by Jesus until he received his commission to reach out to the Gentiles in Acts 13:2-3. Consider Daniel in Daniel 10:1-3, he remained in constant prayer for 3 weeks without getting frustrated and quitting before receiving an answer. When we consider these examples, it should humble all of us who often struggle with our patience in the time frame of hours. God is willing to do a work in each of us. Are we willing to patiently wait on the Holy Spirit?. Are we willing to trust on the promises of God outlined in His Word, or do we feel we need to help Him out a little. God’s ways are often not our ways because His ways are much better than our ways.
Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley:
Genesis 19-21, Psalm 6
On October 26, 2017, President Trump declared a public health emergency on our nation’s opioid epidemic. Opioids are interesting drugs with important effects for short term pain control. It has been shown that over time, opioids lose their analgesic effect, and higher and higher doses along with stronger forms of opioids are used for any effect at all. Eventually individuals using these drugs for chronic pain are left with an addiction without any benefit. Opioids have so much in common with sin. What starts with a glance, a taste, a try will start one’s appetite for that particular sin. No longer satisfied with that, they need to feed that sin more and more to get the same effect. Over time it is easy to be consumed by this sin, losing any sense of shame associated with it. Such was the case with Lot in today’s reading along with the city of Sodom that he dwelt in.
We notice the start of Lot and Sodom begin in Genesis 13:10,12-13, “And Lot lifted his eyes and saw all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere,…and Lot dwelt in the cities of the plain and pitched his tent even as far as Sodom. But the men of Sodom were exceedingly wicked and sinful against the Lord.” So, Lot started with a glance. We see the progression in Genesis 14:12 during the war between the kings of that area, we read, “They also took Lot, Abram’s brother’s son who dwelt in Sodom and his goods, and departed.” So he initially glanced and lived on the perimeter, but at this time he was living with them. By the time we get to Genesis 19:1, we read, “Now the two angels came to Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom…”. He was now a leader sitting in the gate of this godless city. As the story progresses, and the men of the city surround Lot’s house and want to have sexual relations with the angels ( who appeared to men), Lot responds in 19:7 saying, “Please, my brethren, do not do so wickedly! See now, I have two daughters who have not known a man; please, let me bring them out to you, and you may do to them as you wish; only do nothing to these men,…”. This response by Lot defies any logical explanation, other than being in Sodom so long, he was now desensitized to the rampant perversion, much as we are now in our society. Lot began his long journey with Abraham and was blessed when he was with him, and lived a righteous life then. Paul knows that any of us can fall if we allow ourselves to engage the wrong people or habits as he warned in 1 Corinthians 15:33, “Do not be deceived, “Evil company corrupts good habits”.” None of us are that strong in our own strength, but we are told in 1 Corinthians 10:13, “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” Trust in ourselves and we can all fall, trust in and lean on God and we will find true strength.
Many like to categorize the sin of Sodom as homosexuality. But it is so much more than this. The sin of Sodom is sin without shame. It is a brazen, in your face level of sinfulness which is rampant in today’s society. Consider homosexual marriage, transgender bathrooms, widespread fornication and cohabitation outside of marriage, abortion (even a YouTube site called “Shout your abortion”), etc. Jesus can enter and heal anyone trapped in any sin and fully forgive that person if they will only acknowledge it as sin and come to Him with a heart of repentance. But when individuals feel a sense of pride associated with their sin and have a “seared conscience” ( 1 Timothy 4:1-2), then they can not be helped. Many do not want to confront in love those struggling in these areas for fear of offending or alienating them. But true love realizes that without repentance and accepting Jesus they are in a state of hopelessness. Though we all fall into sin daily, may we not live in sin. May we keep short accounts with God, frequently in prayer before Him. Lastly, never underestimate the power of intercessory prayer on behalf of others as we read in Genesis 19:29, “And it came to pass, when God destroyed the cities of the plain, that God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow, when He overthrew the cities in which Lot had dwelt.”
Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley:
- Fleeing from Sodom, Genesis 19
- Faith’s Stumblings and Strengthenings, Genesis 20:1-21:21
- Citizenship on Earth & In Heaven, Genesis 21:22-34
Genesis 22-24, Psalm 7
One of my favorite movies is “Luther” starring Joseph Fiennes from 2003. To understand and fully appreciate the story I need to start from the beginning and watch it straight through. How else would I understand what made Luther turn from the church practices, or why he was chased and persecuted, or why the war and carnage or why the court trials. The story might be interesting but would not make total sense if seen in an interrupted fashion. The Bible also tells a story beginning with God’s Creation and culminating in Revelation with the new heaven and earth. Each of the 66 books also conveys it’s own story by the author inspired by the Holy Spirit. Yet many Christians consider themselves New Testament Christians, largely ignoring the Old Testament, considering it obsolete. Others only focus on certain disjointed verses in devotionals which they can relate to. Others just hang around in particular books, such as the Psalms. If we would not view a movie this way or read a novel this way, why would we view God’s story any differently. It is only by a full reading do you realize that the New Testament is in the Old Testament concealed, and the Old Testament is in the New Testament revealed. Jesus is not just a New Testament figure, but on careful inspection, He is seen throughout the pages of the Old Testament.
We read in Genesis 22 the story of Isaac being offered as a sacrifice by Abraham. We will see in this story that Isaac was a picture or a type of Christ, but Jesus was the fulfillment. We can’t miss the response of Abraham to God’s command to sacrifice Isaac in Genesis 22:2. We read in 22:3, “So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son; and he split the wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him.” Notice after this unfathomable request is made to Abraham, he responds in total obedience without procrastination. For years when I read the story I envisioned a young boy who could easily be made to obey Abraham. But we notice in Genesis 22:6, “So Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife, and the two of them went together.” Isaac was not a little boy but was somewhere between his upper teens to early 30’s. This makes Isaac’s contribution to the story so much more impressive. He could have outran, outstrengthened and outmaneuvered his 120 year old father. We read in Genesis 22:9-10, “…And Abraham built an altar there and placed the wood in order; and he bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, upon the wood. And Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son.” What we see in Isaac is total submission as he willingly allows himself to be bound and offered.” Prior to this we see in Abraham’s response to Isaac’s question, the prophecy that would come true around 2000 years later in Genesis 22:8, “And Abraham said, My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering.” Amazingly, in Genesis 22:2, we read that Abraham was told to go to Moriah to offer the sacrifice. This Mount Moriah is the exact same location, later called Calvary, where Jesus was ultimately sacrificed for our sins.
Among the parallels between Isaac and Jesus are: both births were miraculous; both births were prophesied before they occurred; both fathers were told beforehand what to name their sons; both were obedient to the point of death; Isaac carried the wood, Jesus carried His cross; both took place on Mount Moriah/Calvary. Though Abraham was prevented from following through with the sacrifice, Jesus was allowed to be sacrificed on behalf of all of us. Many mistakenly believe that God is continually adjusting and reacting to changing circumstances. God is sovereign and omniscient. As we see in this dress rehearsal of Isaac, God fully knew what He was planning 2000 years later to be fulfilled in the life of His Son, Jesus. Reading the entirety of Scripture enables us to have confidence in an omniscient God who never changes and knows both the beginning and the end.
Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley:
Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go – Genesis 28:15a
I will praise You, O Lord, with my whole heart; I will tell of all Your marvelous works. – Psalm 9:1
Genesis 25-28, Psalm 8
Though we like to consider ourselves objective, how we interpret things and see things are influenced by a wide range of items, often without realizing it. Growing up in the 60’s and 70’s, the Beatles were beyond popular. In the song, “Imagine” by John Lennon we hear, “Imagine there’s no heaven, It’s easy if you try, No hell below us, Above us only sky, Imagine all the people living for today.” George Harrison, another Beatle, sang , “My Sweet Lord”, which I always enjoyed and didn’t even realize he was chanting to Hare Krishna in the last half of the song. In schools we were taught evolution with convincing arguments such as homologous structures showing the similarities between the flipper of a whale, the wing of a bat, the leg of a cat and the arm of a man. With modern genetics this argument is nonsense, but not to a young impressionable student. Nothing on television, the movies, etc supported a God centered view. This along with going to a dead church with no joy or true Bible study, is it hard to understand how difficult it is to be open to the things of God. Today, with social media and an even stronger atheistic stance on the part of the media and society, it is even more difficult. Unfortunately much of this material is unbalanced and biased against God, but cleverly concealed. So when we approach Scripture we must be careful not to allow these factors to cloud our ability to interpret Scripture.
In Genesis 27 we come to an interesting drama revolving around a very dysfunctional family. If we are not careful and read it through a worldly lens, we could end up being angry with everyone, except poor Esau who seems tricked out of his deserved blessing. But, we must remember this is God’s story. When Rebekah was pregnant and inquired of the Lord, He prophetically said to her in Genesis 25:23, “…Two nations are in your womb, Two peoples shall be separated from your body; One people shall be stronger than the other, And the older shall serve the younger.” We see in Genesis 25:28 that Isaac favored Esau, the older twin, while Rebekah favored Jacob, the younger. We see Esau’s character in Genesis 25:29-34, where he sells his birthright for a bowl of stew. We read in 25:34, “And Jacob gave Esau bread and stew of lentils; then he ate and drank, arose, and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright.” The birthright of the firstborn would receive a double inheritance, and would assume both the spiritual and financial leadership of the family. Esau forfeits his rights to satisfy the appetite of his flesh. We assume Isaac knew Jacob was to receive the blessing, but perhaps blinded by favoritism or in a backslidden state we read in Genesis 27:4 that he instructs Esau to hunt and prepare a meal for him and he would then bless him. The next character in the story is Rebekah who overhearing the conversation between Isaac and Esau schemes and devises a plot to take the blessing from Isaac onto Jacob by deception. Though Rebekah knew Jacob was to receive the blessing we are not to twist God’s will, our way. The next character is Jacob whose only problem with deceiving his father, is the possibility of getting caught. We finally come back to Esau, after the deception worked, and we see his response to being “cheated” out of his blessing in Genesis 27:34, “When Esau heard the words of his father, he cried with an exceedingly great and bitter cry, and said to his father, “Bless me-me also, O my father.” One thing to realize when reading this story is Isaac is 137, and his boys Jacob and Esau are in their 70’s. Though no one in this story rises above the rest, we can’t forget that Jacob, though a deceiver, was sensitive to God, while Esau was a carnal man blind to the things of God. Through it all, it was God’s will that was prophesied that came true.
Being able to see things through God’s eyes is not always easy. Mostly all of us have had years of garbage placed into our heads between the media and what we are taught. This along with most being Biblically illiterate for most of their lives it is easy to see how difficult it can be to come to and interpret Scripture. If we are in a relationship with Jesus, we now have the Holy Spirit in us. He is our helper who replaces all the junk that we have allowed to fill us through the years. But the process is not overnight. Many read through the Bible last year going through the One Year Bible Challenge. So why is it so important to do it again this year, and for that matter every year. Because each year if we abide in Him, He opens our eyes more and more and we can read and understand and become more and more like our Savior, in the process of sanctification. Though the disciples on the road to Emmaus were followers of Jesus, we read in Luke 24:25,27, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken!…And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.”
Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley:
- A Tale of Two Hearts, Genesis 25
- Re-Digging the Old Wells, Genesis 26
- Sovereign Grace in Action, Genesis 27-28:9
- Jacob: Type of Believer Part 1, Genesis 28:10-22
Genesis 29-31, Psalm 9
Willie Hurt won 3.1 million dollars in the Michigan lottery in 1989. The money didn’t last long. Within two years Hurt wrecked his marriage, lost custody of his kids and was charged with attempted murder. He spent his winnings on his divorce and drugs, according to his attorney. This is one of many stories of those who felt that if they were only rich then they would truly be happy. When John D. Rockefeller, the richest man on the earth at the time, was asked by a reporter how much more money he could possibly want, he answered, “Just a little more.” They, like many others, feel that if they simply received more of what this world could offer them, then they would experience true happiness. But we are all born with a God sized hole in our hearts, and only God will ever satisfy this.
We read in Genesis 30:1, “Now when Rachel saw that she bore Jacob no children, Rachel envied her sister, and said to Jacob, “Give me children, or else I die!”.” To be barren in that culture was considered a curse and Rachel felt the only way to find relief and happiness was wrapped up in a child. We read in 30:22-24, “Then God remembered Rachel, and God listened to her and opened her womb. And she conceived and bore a son, and said, “God has taken away my reproach.” So she called his name Joseph, and said, “The Lord shall add to me another son.” Humanity is never satisfied. Barren Rachel finally has a child, and her response is not thank you, but please give me another. As the story continues, we find in Genesis 35:16-20, that indeed Rachel had one more son, whom she named Benoni, which means “the son of my sorrow”, as she died in childbirth. Jacob then changed his name to Benjamin, which means “son of my right hand”. So, Rachel felt to truly live she needed children which is ultimately what killed her.
Corrie Ten Boom said, “Hold everything in your hands lightly, otherwise it hurts when God pries your fingers open.” How many of us believe we can be satisfied with a little more of what this world has to offer: financial security, the right spouse, the perfect children, the right friends, the right job, the bigger house, the nice vacation, etc. But the things of this world never satisfies, we will crave for more. Happiness comes from the word happenstance which is based on circumstances. Joy is independent of circumstances and comes from a life filled with the Holy Spirit. Joy makes us realize we make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give. In fact, Jesus said in Matthew 5:16, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in Heaven.” Our joy should be in bringing glory to God, not acquiring possessions.
Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley:
Genesis 32-34, Psalm 10
Many Americans like to keep all their options open. In college many like to have an undeclared major or change their major as they seek fit. People are getting married much later afraid they will settle too early and miss out on something better. As opposed to previous generations when people would loyally remain in a job for decades, now most skip around every couple of years. People are afraid to commit, feeling they can manipulate the situation to their best advantage. This is part of the reason for the high divorce rate. Though many Christians trust In God, it is easy to trust more in ourselves in making decisions. How often in our complacent, relatively non-persecuted environment are we pushed against the wall with no where to look other than up. Our Christian brothers and sisters in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East are finding themselves in this situation on a frequent basis. Christianity is growing in these areas much more so than in complacent nations like our own.
Jacob was an intelligent, clever, charming, skilled, “self-made man”. We have witnessed Jacob in Scripture as he has effectively manipulated himself in and out of many difficult situations. Though Jacob became a believer in Genesis chapter 28 when he encountered God at Bethel, he hadn’t furthered that relationship. In fact in Genesis 32:9, in prayer he calls out ,” …O God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac,…”. Notice he hadn’t yet considered God, his God yet. We see in Genesis 31:52, that Jacob could not return back to life with Laban, “This heap is a witness, and this pillar is a witness, that I will not pass beyond this heap to you, and you will not pass beyond this heap and this pillar to me, for harm.” Now on his way back home he must pass through his brother Esau’s territory. He fearfully sends messengers to Esau, who return to Jacob saying in 32:6, “We came to your brother Esau, and he also is coming to meet you, and four hundred men are with him.” Backed against a wall, he finally turns to God in prayer, reminding God of His promises to Jacob in 32:12. That night, by himself, we now see him in an interesting wrestling match with Jesus. Jacob, realizing, he needs God’s blessings on his life refuses to let Him go. We read in 32:25, “Now when He saw that He did not prevail against Him, He touched the socket of His hip; and the socket of Jacob’s hip was out of joint as He wrestled with him.” By doing this, Jacob could no longer run from trouble as he always had, but instead he needed to rely completely on God.
When we find ourselves needing help and answers, do we look horizontally and internally, or do we look vertically. We tend to grow in faith more in the valleys of life than the mountaintops. We can all learn from the example of Hezekiah who as king, in Jerusalem was surrounded by and laid siege by the Assyrian Empire. Outnumbered and with no earthly hope we see his response in Isaiah 37:14, “And Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers, and read it; and Hezekiah went up to the house of the Lord, and spread it before the Lord.” He completely turned the situation over to God. In the book of Revelation in chapters 2 and 3, it was the persecuted churches of Smyrna and Philadelphia that relied on Jesus and were commended for their faith. Paul said in 2 Corinthians 12:10, “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” If we want to see God act powerfully in our lives we must see ourselves the weak vessels that we are, and yield and depend on the power of Him and Him alone.
Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley:
Genesis 35-37, Psalm 11
Penn Jillette, half of the magical team of Penn and Teller and outspoken atheist, after finishing a show one evening was approached by a fan with a gift. The man handed Penn a small copy of the New Testament and Psalms and went on his way. But this simple gift made an impact on this atheist. Penn said afterwards that he has no respect for people who won’t proselytize. He said, if you believe that there is a Heaven and Hell and people could be going to Hell and you choose not to or feel it is not worth telling someone because it might seem socially awkward, “how much do you have to hate somebody to not proselytize? “How much do you have to hate somebody to believe that everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?”
As we are introduced to Joseph, realize that besides Jesus who is perfect, only he and Daniel are the only two main characters in the Bible where sin is not mentioned about them. When we first are introduced to him, we see that he is Israel’s favorite. In Genesis 37:4, we read, “But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him and could not speak peaceably to him.” If this wasn’t bad enough, Joseph goes on to explain two dreams to them. In Genesis 37:7, he said, “There we were, binding sheaves in the field. Then behold, my sheaf arose and also stood upright; and indeed your sheaves stood all around and bowed down to my sheaf.” He then tells his second dream in 37:9, “…Look, I have dreamed another dream. And this time, the sun , the moon, and the eleven stars bowed down to me.” For Joseph to tell the dream, it is obvious that he realized that it was not just any ordinary dream, but was given to him under divine revelation by God. The response to the favoritism, the coat, the dreams, etc was envy on the part of his brothers, which resulted in their throwing him in a pit, then selling him as a slave to a company of Ishmaelites (Genesis 37:24-25).
We must ask ourselves whether we would have done the same thing as Joseph. Would the fear of offending one’s brothers be enough to prevent us from revealing God’s divine message to them? Would the fear of retribution be enough to stifle us? We, who call ourselves Christian, and know the truth of the gospel message, do we hold back? The gospel message is often unpopular to unbelievers, but the truth of this message is meant to be shared, no matter what the cost. Jesus said in Matthew 10:28, “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Jesus also said in Luke 9:26, “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father’s, and of the holy angels.” The prophets were often tasked with difficult and unpopular messages, but faithfully spoke forth the word of God, no matter the consequences (Jeremiah 38). Every generation feels their situation is unique and somehow more difficult. We can state many excuses for not sharing God’s message of salvation: fear of getting in trouble at work, fear of being ostracized by one’s family, fear of upsetting a friend, etc. The reality is since we know that without Christ that person will end up on the wrong side of eternity, as Penn said, how can we remain quiet. Jesus’ parting words before ascending, His Commission, was to spread the gospel message and make disciples. Final words are meant to be taken seriously.
Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley:
- Genesis 34-36: From Compromise to Consecration
- Genesis 37: God’s Sovereignty in Life altering Events
Genesis 38-40, Psalm 12
My residency began in 1988 and took place in a network of 3 hospitals: UMDNJ Robert Wood Johnson in New Brunswick, Saint Peters Medical Center and Muhlenberg Hospital. Being a Catholic Hospital, Saint Peters did not allow abortions to take place there. Whenever a patient was miscarrying, it was the job of the 1st year resident on call to examine and do the paper work to facilitate the D+C for the attending physician. One night when I inquired about a patient from the largest private group who was in the E.R., I was told by my senior resident to leave it alone. When this group wanted to perform abortions under the radar, they would tell the patient to come in through the E.R., claim that she was bleeding and cramping, and decline all exams from the residents and E.R. physicians. The attending would then come in and perform the abortion without anyone knowing. During my first month at this same hospital on my first weekend on call, I was ambitiously charting every patient’s progress in labor to better understand the normal progress of labor. One patient who was progressing wonderfully was called for a C-section despite no apparent problems with her labor. When I showed the attending my graph and asked, he told me to throw away my chart and to be quiet. I assisted on the C-section only to see him run out afterwards with his tennis outfit on and to the match that he was late for. Though I have witnessed much good in my profession, there have been many who go about their work unethically and unnoticed by the majority.
We see Joseph being approached sexually by his master’s wife in Genesis 39. Who could really blame him if he caved into the temptation. He was 17 years old, sold by his own family into slavery, alone in a foreign country, and who would have known. Joseph was placed in charge of his master’s house due to God’s blessing of Joseph. We read in Genesis 39:6-7, “…Now Joseph was handsome in form and appearance. And it came to pass after these things that his master’s wife cast longing eyes on Joseph, and said, “Lie with me”. Notice Joseph’s reply, without hesitation in 39:8-9, “But he refused and said to his master’s wife, “Look, my master does not know what is with me in the house, and he has committed all that he has to my hand. There is no one greater in this house than I, nor has he kept back anything from me but you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” Notice his primary concern is not sinning against God. We read in Proverbs 1:7, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, But fools despise wisdom and instruction.” When David’s sin of adultery and murder is uncovered by the prophet Nathan in 2 Samuel 12:1-10, notice David’s response in Psalm 51:3-4, “For I acknowledge my transgressions, And my sin is always before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned, And done this evil in Your sight…”. As the story unfolds with Joseph, the aggression of Potiphar’s wife intensifies and we read in Genesis 39:12, “that she caught him by the garment, saying, “Lie with me.” But he left his garment in her hand, and fled and ran outside.” Notice Joseph doesn’t explain, share his views, or discuss; he flees. In 1 Corinthians 6:18, Paul writes, “Flee sexual immorality…”. Paul also tells Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:22, “Flee also youthful lusts;…”. Realizing that God always sees and that flirting with sin will often lead to compromise, we are told to flee. Joseph was punished by his master, after his wife lied, and was thrown in prison. Doing the right thing will not always have the right earthly results immediately.
We know that we are sinners, saved by grace. We can all go through life looking pretty good, keeping those dark sins hidden from the eyes of many. The author of Hebrews writes in chapter 4:12-13, “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all thngs are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.” Jesus said in Luke 12:2, “For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, nor hidden that will not be known.” The process of sanctification is a long process, never completed this side of eternity. As we learn form the examples above, we never really get away with anything, since the One who sees and the One we truly answer to is God. Realizing this may we all keep short accounts with Him and come to Him frequently acknowledging and confessing and repenting of our sins. If things don’t seem to go well as we keep God at the forefront of our decisions as it did for Joseph, may we never forget Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”
Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley:
Genesis 41-42, Psalm 13
William Wilberforce, by the age of 24, had a powerful seat in Parliament. Like most politicians his hope was to be Prime Minister and he was positioned to give a good run for that position. While on a trip with a man named Isaac Milner, he became a believer in Jesus Christ. All else now seemed insignificant. Rather than seek his own ambition he believed God called him to champion the cause of abolishing the slave trade and bring a biblical world view to his culture so they would respect everyone as a person made in the image of God. He realized that without changing hearts the laws could never get passed to improve the plight of the slaves. 3 days before his death at the age of 48, in 1833, the House of Commons outlawed slavery. He has been quoted as saying, “Let true Christians then, with becoming earnestness, strive in all things to recommend their profession, and to put to silence the vain scoffs of ignorant objectors. Let them boldly assert the cause of Christ in an age when so many, who bear the name of Christians, are ashamed of Him…but rather by that sure and radical benefit of restoring the influence of Religion, and of raising the standard of morality.” William Wilberforce made a choice to live a life giving all the glory to God rather than himself and as a result God used him mightily.
After 13 years since being sold into slavery, and around 10 years in prison for a crime he did not commit, Joseph finds himself before Pharaoh. We read in Genesis 41:15-16, “And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I have had a dream, and there is no one who can interpret it. But I have heard it said of you that you can understand a dream, to interpret it.” So Joseph answered Pharaoh, saying, “It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh an answer of peace.” You have to be amazed at this, after 10 years in prison don’t you think that you would want to shine the spotlight on yourself, but despite his long suffering all the glory goes to God. When Daniel was before King Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 2:26-28, he responded similarly. The king said, “Are you able to make known to me the dream which I have seen, and it’s interpretation?” And Daniel responded with, “The secret which the king has demanded, the wise men, the astrologers, the magicians, and the soothsayers cannot declare to the king. But there is a God in heaven who reveals secrets,…”. Both godly men were put before pagan kings and chose to give all the glory to God, rather than themselves. In Joseph’s presentation in Genesis 41:25,28, and 32, he continues to glorify God in the interpretation. Notice Pharoah’s statement concerning Joseph in 41:38, “Can we find such a one as this, a man in whom is the Spirit of God?”
Jesus said in Matthew 5:16, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” One hour before Joseph is declared Prime Minister of Egypt, he was a prisoner. The development of character is a long process. Joseph spent 13 years in obscurity, probably wondering why his talents were being wasted and overlooked. If we seek man’s approval, fulfillment will never be achieved. Jesus said in Matthew 6:33, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” We are vessels, which if emptied of ourselves can yield to and be filled with the Holy Spirit and then be used by God, for His glory.
Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley:
- Forgotten by Man, Remembered by God, Genesis 40-41
- A Conscience Awakened – Part 1, Genesis 42:1-16
- A Conscience Awakened – Part 2, Genesis 42:17-37
Genesis 43-45, Psalm 14
For many years I was deemed a Jesus Freak by my family. By the grace of God, over the past 30 years, slowly most all have come into a relationship with Jesus Christ. I have one brother who, unfortunately, is bitter and angry about a host of things and is hostile to the gospel message. His son, who came to Christ around 5 years ago, feels his father seems too far gone. But the Bible, Christian history, and our churches are full of changed lives. John Newton, the writer of the hymn, Amazing Grace, referred to himself as the “old African blasphemer”. He was defiant to any form of authority, led a life racked with every form of sinful lifestyle, found himself deep in the slave trade, before finding God aboard a boat in the stormy seas. This is how he came to write: “Amazing grace! How sweet the sound That saved a wretch like me! I once was lost, but now am found; Was blind, but now I see.”
We come to an interesting part of the story of Joseph. Joseph overhears his brothers say in Genesis 42:21, “We are truly guilty concerning our brother, for we saw the anguish of his soul when he pleaded with us, and we would not hear; therefore this distress has come upon us.” One of the most callous scenes in the Bible is in Genesis 37:25, which takes place immediately after tossing Joseph in a pit, “And they sat down to a meal.” Filled with envy, they cared so little that despite his anguished pleas, they sat and enjoyed a meal together. When the brothers come to Egypt from Canaan the second time with their brother Benjamin, he puts the brothers to a test to see if they are still struggling with envy in Genesis 43:34, “Then he took servings to them from before him, but Benjamin’s serving was five times as much as any of theirs. So they drank and were merry with him.” Judah passes the final test showing that their change was genuine. When it seemed that Benjamin was going to be forced into slavery, Judah responds in Genesis 44:33, “Now therefore, please let your servant remain instead of the lad as a slave to my lord, and let the lad go up with his brothers.” Repentance was necessary to reestablish a relationship. No different than us, now. We cannot establish a relationship with Jesus unless we approach Him in a spirit of repentance. Just like Joseph could not hold back his emotions and weeped over his brothers after witnessing this repentance, Jesus lovingly embraces each sinner and gives them the Holy Spirit when we repent. In Luke 15:10, we read, “Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” In many ways, Joseph exemplified many characteristics and life circumstances of Jesus.
When we consider our family, friends, neighbors and co-workers, are there any that we have written off as too far gone? Are there any whom we feel are too hardened to ever change? For this should never be our stance. Heaven is full of hardened sinners brought to their knees who have formed a saving relationship with Jesus. When Peter asks whether he should forgive his brother who sins against him seven times in Matthew 18:21, Jesus responds in verse 22 with, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.” Though people like to compare and stratify sins, we must never forget that even one sin uncovered by the blood of Christ is enough to keep one out of heaven. We are not to judge, but plant seeds of the gospel message. Anyone can change, but many won’t unless we choose to never give up on them.
Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley:
But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good – Genesis 50:20a
I have set the Lord always before me; Because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved. – Psalm 16:8
Genesis 46-47, Psalm 15
I became a believer in Jesus approximately 30 years ago. In short, when I found my mother in the hospital, no longer alive, a woman saw me crying by the bedside and saying nothing else, simply placed her hand on my shoulder and prayed Psalm 23 in it’s entirety. A couple of weeks later, I asked the hospital chaplain for a Bible and over the next two years slowly went through it. It was then that I realized that God’s story all made sense and I gave my life to Him. My wife did not start believing until approximately 10 years ago. She is now on fire for the Lord and has been for quite some time. Until my wife came along, my walk was slow with one foot in His Word and the other in the world. My wife and I truly fellowship continually now, and both of our walks have strengthened, with both feet planted on the side of God. My son, Michael, started reading and being discipled by me around 4 1/2 years ago. Prior to this, my son was completely invested in the things of this world, he was even a club promoter prior to this. Through the Bible study he came to accept Jesus as his Lord and Savior after about a year. Once that occurred he slowly shed himself of those worldly things that were hindering his walk. The last step, which he found difficult, was leaving the bulk of his friends behind and separating himself from the lifestyle they were engaged in. Once he did this, his walk clarified without one foot in the world and the other with God. He now is a deacon in his church, and has an online evangelistic ministry.
When Joseph’s family meet him in Goshen, he prepares them for his meeting with Pharaoh. He tell them in Genesis 46:33-34, “So it shall be, when Pharaoh calls you and says, ‘What is your occupation?’ that you shall say, ‘Your servants’ occupation has been with livestock from our youth even till now, both we and also our fathers’, that we may dwell in the land of Goshen; for every shepherd is an abomination to the Egyptians.” Joseph knew that Egyptians had a caste system in which shepherds were the lowest rung on the ladder. Shepherds were not allowed to assimilate with the rest of Egyptian society and were not allowed into their places of worship. In fact, in Egyptian art uncovered by archaeologists, shepherds are depicted as dirty and crippled and treated with scorn by the Egyptians. Joseph was protecting his family, realizing if they were absorbed into Egyptian culture they would assimilate and lose their God. Despite this, notice in Genesis 47:10, “So Jacob blessed Pharaoh, and went out from before Pharaoh.” So many are fearful or intimidated when around celebrities, dignitaries, and world leaders. Here we see this poor bedouin from Canaan blessing the most powerful man in the world. Paul reminds Timothy in 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” We who have Christ in our hearts possess something much bigger than anything the world and it’s system has to offer.
We, as Christians, must be in the world, but not of the world. We must never forget what Paul said in Philippians 3:20, “For our citizenship is in heaven. from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,”. We are citizens in heaven and ambassadors on earth. If we assimilate with our culture, we will be absorbed into it and lose our influence. Paul reminded the believers in 1 Corinthians 15:33, “Do not be deceived: “Evil company corrupts good habits.” Though the world separates the world into “good” vs. “bad” according to the world’s standards of moral relativism, God sees things through absolutes. We are either in Him or not in Him. We are either saved or unsaved. The world sees the world as shades of gray, God’s Word describes things in black and white. If we are to make a difference in this world we must avoid assimilating and becoming gray. We who are called by Him, must keep ourselves separate from the ways of the world so that we might influence the world.
Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley:
Genesis 48-50, Psalm 16
Many ask what distinguishes the Bible from every other book of antiquity, especially concerning those of other religions. The Bible is the only book with fulfilled prophecy. In fact, approximately 25% of Scripture is prophecy. Every prophetic prediction which could be fulfilled has been fulfilled with precise accuracy. The Bible has also been shown to be textually, historically and archaeologically accurate. An interesting finding in the area of Avaris which is the area of Goshen in the Bible was uncovered. An Egyptian palace was found, but the occupant was not Egyptian. By the rooms it belonged to a very important state official, who was honored for his work for the state. The palace had 12 pillars. In the garden behind the palace, archaeologists found 12 graves with memorial chapels on top of them. One of these tombs was very special because it was a pyramid tomb which is generally reserved for only Pharoahs and queens. Inside the tomb was a large statue, twice the size of a man. The statue of the man had red hair in a mushroom cut and pale yellow skin which is how the Egyptians depicted Semites. On the back of the statue is seen the faintest remains of paint in stripes revealing a multicolored coat. Lastly, aside from the smashed statue, there were no bones, no mummy beads, no coffin wood. The body was removed by someone.
We know from Genesis 47:1 that this is where Joseph’s family settled, “Then Joseph went and told Pharoah, and said, “My father and my brothers, their flocks and their herds and all that they possess, have come from the land of Canaan; and indeed they are in the land of Goshen.” At the end of Genesis, we read in 50:24-26, “And Joseph said to his brethren, “I am dying; but God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land to the land of which He swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.” Then Joseph took an oath from the children of Israel, saying, “God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here.” So Joseph died, being one hundred and ten years old; and they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt.” The story continues approximately 400 years later when Moses leads the Israelites out of Egypt. We read in Exodus 13:19, “And Moses took the bones of Joseph with him, for he placed the children of Israel under solemn oath, saying, “God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here with you.”
Peter said in 2 Peter 3:3, “knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts,”. We live in a world full of scoffers and skeptics. Full of ignorance and filling every area from academia to Hollywood to the media, they make empty statements and accusations. Those who remain Biblically ignorant find themselves either unable to defend or worse swayed by their empty arguments. The Bible that you have put your trust in is worthy of that trust. No other book of antiquity has had to withstand the level of scrutiny that the Bible has. Yet every shred of evidence from archaeology and history affirms the truth of Scripture. In Jeremiah 29:12-13, “Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.” Jesus said something similar to this in Matthew 7:7-8, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” God will never play hide and seek with us, if we only come to Him with a seeking heart, He will reveal Himself to us.
Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley:
Exodus 1-3, Psalm 17
Dwight L. Moody said concerning the life of Moses, “Moses spent his first forty years thinking he was a somebody, the next forty years learning he was a nobody, and his last forty years discovering what God can do with a nobody.” Like, Moses we as a whole suffer from prideful self-centeredness. Francis Chan in “Crazy Love”, describes our selfishly putting ourselves in the center of the universe with an analogy to a movie. Frances Chan gives the example that you are an extra in this movie, and in the film we get to see the back of your head for two-fifths of a second. But you are so excited about your appearance in the movie that you rent out the local movie theater and invite everyone you know to see the movie about you. Frances Chan concludes with we simply have to get over ourselves. Rather than ourselves being the center of the universe, we are all part of God’s story. God, who is omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent, is always in control as things progress according to His will. We tend to focus on our own little bubble and miss the big picture.
While Genesis is a book of beginnings, Exodus is a book of redemption, a release from bondage. There are three main groups involved in this portion of Biblical history. The Egyptians were the world power. The Amorites who were living in Canaan were quietly leading their very sinful lives seemingly unnoticed by the world. The Israelites were being persecuted in slavery under the Egyptians. Prophetically we read of this in Genesis 15:13-16, “Then He said to Abram: “Know certainly that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them, and they will afflict them four hundred years. And also the nation whom they serve I will judge; afterward they shall come out with great possessions…But in the fourth generation they shall return here, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.” Like the three groups, Moses spends his earlier years in royalty. We read in Exodus 2:10, “And the child grew, and she brought him to Pharoah’s daughter, and he became her son…”. He spent his first forty years a prince in Egypt. Then trying to do God’s will, his way and murdering an Egyptian he flees to Midian. We read in Exodus 3:1, “Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian…”. From one of the most powerful men in the world he is reduced to not only being a shepherd, but the flock is not even his. Now, Moses can be used as we see his humility to God’s calling in Exodus 3:11, “But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharoah, and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?”
Paul said in 2 Timothy 3:1-2, “But know this, in the last day’s perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves…”. If we honestly look around, with selfies, YouTube videos about ourselves, Facebook pictures of every segment of our lives, we probably live in the most narcissistic society ever. When Moses was humbled those forty years in the desert, the answer was not to boost his self-esteem and self-image. God’s answer to Moses is the same as it is to us now, in Exodus 3:12, “So He said, “I will certainly be with you…”. Who and what we are doesn’t matter as long as God is with us. So as we see this story unfold where do we fit in. Do we consider ourselves in the drivers seat of our lives part of the most powerful nation in the world, like the Egyptians, trying to figure out how and if we can fit God into our important lives. Or are we like the Amorites, quietly leading our lives in sin, thinking no one notices, living only to please ourselves. Or do we realize that sin is bondage and like the Israelites, we all need to be freed from this. The Israelites depended on God’s miracles, we depend on the finished work on the cross that Jesus provided for us to free us from the bondage of sin and death. Once we realize that we get to be part of His story, rather than the other way around, then we can truly be used.
Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley:
Exodus 4-6, Psalm 18
Frank Stephens, a man with Down Syndrome defended with an eloquent speech, his existence, on November 1, 2017 on Capital Hill. He said, “Whatever you learn today, remember this: I am a man with Down Syndrome and my life is worth living!” He emotionally said, “It’s hard for me to sit here and say those words,” addressing the use of prenatal testing to identify preborn children with Down Syndrome so that they could be targeted for termination. He mentioned those in Denmark and Iceland bragging about eliminating Down Syndrome in their respective nations through the use of testing and abortion. He said that their push for a final solution for Down Syndrome is similar to Nazi genocide and is a deeply prejudiced view based on very outdated ideas on life with Down Syndrome. Dwight L. Moody, one of the great preachers of the 19th century had a speech impediment. Nick Vujicic born without limbs, is a Christian motivational speaker. We are all usable by God, if we allow ourselves to be used.
When Moses is called by God to go before Pharaoh in Exodus 4:10-12, we read, “Then Moses said to the Lord, “O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither before nor since You have spoken to Your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.” So the Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes the mute, the deaf, the seeing, or the blind? Have not I, the Lord? Now therefore, go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall say.” We may have weaknesses and disabilities, but God has a purpose in all of it and can easily overcome our disabilities. Moses also answers God’s calling in Exodus 4:1 with doubt, “But suppose they will not believe me or listen to my voice; suppose they say, ‘The Lord had not appeared to you.’ ” How many refuse to step out in faith fearing possible obstacles. Paul said in Romans 8:31, “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” But when we finally do step out in faith, we must remember the road might not be easy. Moses approached God in Exodus 5:22-23, “Lord, why have you brought trouble on this people? Why is it You have sent me? For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in Your name, he has done evil to this people; neither have You delivered Your people at all.” God responds in the next verse, 6:1, “Now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh. For with a strong hand he will let them go, and with a strong hand he will drive them out of his land.”
When reading Scripture sometimes it’s easy to look at it in disbelief. How could Moses, still with his sandals off and speaking to a burning bush which is not being consumed, to God Himself not yield to His calling. But then we must ask ourselves the same question. All of us who call ourselves Christian are called. What obstacles do we deem insurmountable that prevents us from stepping out in faith. Is it fear of rejection, being afraid of not knowing what to say, fear of offending someone etc. Would we rather sit on the sidelines and let someone else step out. God promises us that if we step out in faith, He will reward us with more faith. Though the task and the road may be difficult, He will never leave us nor forsake us. As Paul told Timothy in 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”
Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley:
Exodus 7-9, Psalm 19
Growing up in the Episcopal church, we didn’t have individual confession but a general confession at church when we were supposed to quietly think about what we did, then the priest would say we were forgiven. Most of my friends were Roman Catholic and were forced by their parents to go to confession individually. They generally would never tell the real bad things, but come up with a little disrespect, a small lie or two and tell these to the priest and be sent on their way being told to say a few Hail Mary’s and a couple of Our Fathers. Though true confession is essential and we are to keep short accounts with God, what God desires for us is repentance or a changing of our mind and our heart. Mental ascent of our wrongdoing without a sincere commitment realizing that our way is wrong and God’s way is right leads to no change. Also, once we realize a certain sin is wrong, we are not to compromise with it, but instead, get rid of it. So often, we hear in politics, that a particular candidate is willing to compromise and cross political aisles. Compromising on non-essentials is one thing, compromising on essentials from God’s Word is elevating man and not God.
We see after a number of plagues, Pharoah finally said in Exodus 9:27-28, “I have sinned this time. The Lord is righteous, and my people and I are wicked. Entreat the Lord, that there may be no more mighty thundering and hail, for it is enough. I will let you go, and you shall stay no longer.” This confession was made to stop the plague but lacked sincerity. We see in 9:34-35, “And when Pharoah saw that the rain, the hail, and the thunder had ceased, he sinned yet more; and he hardened his heart, he and his servants. So the heart of Pharoah was hard; neither would he let the children of Israel go, as the Lord had spoken by Moses.” The concept of Pharoah’s hardened hearts trouble many. It is a phrase repeated frequently in Exodus 7:3, 13-14, etc. But the line that troubles people is 9:12, “But the Lord hardened the heart of Pharoah, and he did not heed them, just as the Lord had spoken to Moses.” Chuck Smith explains this well. He said in his commentary, “It is important to properly understand the two Hebrew words for the one word “hardened”. One Hebrew word implies “a stubbornness, rebellion”, which is used for the conduct of Pharoah. He hardened his heart in stubborn rebellion against God. The other Hebrew word indicates “to make firm,” like clay hardening in the fire, and that is the word used to describe what God did to Pharoah in Exodus 9:12. Pharoah hardened his heart against God and so He strengthened Pharoah in that position.” Lack of repentance along with pride often results in compromise as we see in Exodus 8:28, “:So Pharoah said, “I will let you go, that you may sacrifice to the Lord your God in the wilderness; only you shall not go very far away. Intercede for me.”
Paul said in 1 Timothy 4:1-2, “Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron,”. If we choose to flirt with sin, let it linger around without repenting of it, our conscience can continue to harden. Over time the sin doesn’t seem as bad, and eventually like Pharoah we can become hardened to it and our conscience can be seared. Like John the Baptist in Matthew 3:2, Jesus’ first preaching in Matthew 4:17, was, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” When confronting sin, we are not to compromise with it as Pharoah continually did, we are not to insincerely confess it as Pharoah did, we are to repent and eliminate it. We are told in 2 Corinthians 6:17, “Come out from among them And be separate, says the Lord.” We are to repent and separate ourselves from the world system which seeks to compromise our walk. When Jesus died for us on the cross, He not only paved the way for our salvation, He also freed us from the bondage of sin, if we truly want that freedom.
Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley:
Exodus 10-12, Psalm 20
It’s so easy when we go to church to use terms that we don’t really understand. They become so commonly used that to ask why, almost makes one feel ignorant asking. Growing up I always heard the term Lamb of God used in responsorials, in songs, etc. but truthfully never understood why the term was used, though I knew it referred to Jesus. It is said that the New Testament is in the Old Testament concealed, while the Old Testament is in the New Testament revealed. Without going through the Passover Celebration and understanding the Levitical sacrificial system, much of what transpires in the life of our Lord and Savior doesn’t make sense. Mitch Glaser of Chosen People Ministries has been at CCOB before to show how Jesus is the complete fulfillment of the Passover celebration.
It says in Exodus 12:3,5-6, “On the tenth of this month every man shall take for himself a lamb, according to the house of his father, a lamb for a household…Your lamb shall be without blemish…Now you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month.” It was on the tenth of Nissan that Jesus entered Jerusalem as Messiah on the Palm Sunday Road. For the next four days the Pharisees, Sadducees, and His enemies tried to challenge Him both theologically and ethically, but He was found without blemish. He was indeed flawless. When brought on trial they could find no fault in Him other than His claim to be God, and for this He was crucified. They, not recognizing who He was, accused Him of blasphemy. Even Pontius Pilate in Luke 23:4 could find no fault in Him. Peter referring to what our redemption is based on in 1 Peter 1:19, said, “but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” Realize a blemish was an acquired defect, while a spot is an inherited defect. Jesus was free of both, our perfect Lamb. In Exodus 12:7, after the lamb was sacrificed, we read, “And they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses where they eat.” We read the reason for this in 12:13, “Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.” Likewise it is only by our applying the blood of Jesus to our own lives personally that we pass from death to life. Since God is 100% just, every sin must be accounted for and no amount of good works could redeem us. When we come before God in judgment it is only by being covered by the blood of Christ that we are declared not guilty. Many don’t realize that the Last Supper was actually the Passover Seder. There are four cups of blessing shared at each Passover meal. Jesus said in Luke 22:20, “Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.” When Jesus introduced us to Communion, He specifically used the 3rd cup of the celebration. This cup is known as the cup of redemption. Part of the Passover celebration involves the Afikoman. This is a Greek word. the only one introduced in to the Hebrew celebration of Passover. and Jewish experts can’t fully explain why this custom was inserted. In it there are three pieces of Matzoh placed in a linen pouch, the middle one is broken. This middle piece is then hid and the children are asked to find it, the one that does receives a prize. Realize that Jesus, the middle One in the Trinity, was broken, wrapped in linen in the grave, and discovered and arose in celebration. The word Afikoman in Greek means: “I came”, or “the coming one”, or “He who has come”. These are just a few of the parallels between Passover and the fulfillment in Jesus.
We read in 2 Corinthians 5:21, “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” Our hope, our future rests securely on Him, our Passover Lamb. A beautiful picture of this is presented for us in Revelation 5:2-6, “Then I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and to loose its seals?” And no one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll, or look at it. So I wept much, because no one was found worthy to open and read the scroll, or to look at it. But one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals.” And I looked, and behold, in the midst of the throne and of th four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb…”. It is because of Jesus, and Jesus alone, by His sacrifice, that we can confidently go through life secure of our salvation. May all praise and glory be directed towards our Lamb.
Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley:
Exodus 13-15, Psalm 21
It’s easy in today’s reading to focus on the excitement of the actual exodus from Egypt in chapter 13 or the Red Sea crossing in chapter 14, while minimizing the significance of chapter 15, focusing on the Song of Moses. Realize this song is the first song and the last song in all of Scripture (Revelation 15:3-4). Notice after the first 2 verses when Moses speaks of his response, the remainder of the song focuses completely on God. We should all ask ourselves, when we worship, pray, read,etc do we focus on our feelings, our change, our response or do we focus on Him, His promises, His abilities, His awesomeness.
Interestingly, in the previous chapter when faced with the advancing Egyptian army, despite being a first hand witness to all of the miraculous plagues, not to mention the presence of the Angel of the Lord ( Jesus) directly above them, the Israelites only look horizontally for a solution. May we respond like Moses when faced with problems. May we gaze vertically at God, rather than horizontally at others for our solutions.
One last point, a direct route from Egypt to the Promised land would have taken less than 2 weeks, even with 2 million people. God knew that it was easier to get the people out of Egypt than Egypt( a picture of worldliness) out of the Israelites. As a result, we will see when we get to Numbers that God takes them on a one year journey instead. I pray that as all of us progress through the One Year Bible Challenge we will all learn to focus more on Him and less on ourselves. Like the Israelites on their one Year journey in the wilderness, may this one year journey for us in the Bible help us to lose everything else which hinders our walk as we seek to allow ourselves to be used mightily by the Holy Spirit.
Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley:
…for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul – Leviticus 17:11b
Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who trusts in Him!
– Psalm 34:8
Exodus 16-18, Psalm 22
In today’s reading, God provides manna to sustain the Israelites. He then gives specific directions on how much and how often to collect it, along with the requirement that it all be used. We read in Exodus 16:4-5, “Then the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you. And the people shall go out and gather a certain quota every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in My law or not. And it shall be on the sixth day that they shall prepare what they bring in, and it shall be twice as much as they gather daily.” He was teaching them to depend on Him daily and use what He provides. The same is true for us now. He still wants us to depend on Him daily. We all say that we want to walk with God, by being in His Word daily we can do just that. Not only being in His Word.but using what He provides through His Word in fellowship, service, worship, evangelism, etc. In Israel, the Jordan River supplies two bodies of water, the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea. The Sea of Galilee is full of life since the Jordan River flows into and out of it. The Dead Sea has no life. If, like the Jordan River we allow the Word of God to flow into us and allow it to pour out of us, we can enjoy the Spirit filled life. If we simply take it in, but do not do anything with it we can become like the Dead Sea.
In chapter 18, it had been around one year when Jethro brings Zipporah along with Moses’ two sons. Unfortunately, many of the prominent servants of God did not spend much time training and discipling their children, such as Samuel and David (1 Samuel 8:1-5, 2 Samuel 13). No matter our job or position, we must all take the job of discipling our children seriously. Even good programs such as Awana, Ignite and Imprint do not remove the primary responsibility of discipling from us parents. Discipling also never ends, even if our children are adults. Unfortunately, when our children get exposed to the world in school and work, the lures are strong to wander away from God. No matter what the age of our children I pray that this One Year Bible Challenge will provide the perfect vehicle to disciple those in our family.
Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley:
- Bread from Heaven, Exodus 16
- Living Water – Split Rock, Exodus 17:1-7
- Spiritual Warfare, Exodus 17:8-16
- Qualities of the Person God Uses, Exodus 18
Exodus 19-21, Psalm 23
This being the week that we celebrate the March for Life we should consider how God views the unborn. The world likes to describe the developing baby as a clump of tissue as opposed to what it truly is, which is a wonderful example of God’s marvelous creation. The world describes everything from the point of the mother who is in charge of her body and therefore has the right to maintain or abort the life within her. The world sees the mother as being responsible for the successful outcome of the pregnancy. When you actually study the true relationship, the truth is the baby actually directs the pregnancy, while the mother is the passive one. Just to mention a few examples: the growing conception provides the chemicals which enable implantation, products produced by the developing baby act on the mother’ ovary to maintain the hormonal environment required for its own survival, cell expression by the developing baby enables immunological acceptance of this completely genetically distinct being preventing the mother from rejecting it, the developing baby directs many of the maternal responses enabling the successful pregnancy, and is probably responsible for initiating the actual birth. These are just a few of the things that God in His Creation has placed under the control of the baby. Through this we realize that God defends the defenseless. While the World sees nothing wrong with the 58 million babies aborted in the United States since Roe v Wade, God sees it otherwise.
We read in Exodus 21:22-25, “If men fight, and hurt a woman with child, so that she gives birth prematurely, yet no harm follows, he shall surely be punished accordingly as the woman’s husband imposes on him; and he shall pay as the judges determine. But if any harm follows, then you shall give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.” Consider, this is God’s command for one who unintentionally causes the loss of life for the unborn or prematurely born. How do you believe God would consider those who do so intentionally. As Creator, God gets to decide what is life and when it begins. We, the created, do not have the right to pridefully and arrogantly overrule God’s definition to suit our own purposes. We read in Jeremiah 1:5, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations.” We read in Psalm 139:13-16, “For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;…My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret,…Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them.” Both Jeremiah and David wrote of their preborn existence. Being that God determines what life is, Exodus 20:13, “You shall not murder”, applies to the life of the unborn as it does for those walking on the earth.
Some reading these words may have had an abortion or participated in one. Like any other sin, just repent of this to Jesus and forgiveness and freedom are yours. God creates each life with a plan and a purpose. Just consider the loss to our nation those 58 million lives have meant. To understand the vastness of this number, this is more than the combined population of the 50 largest cities in the United States, including NYC and LA. What potential contributions might we never know because their lives were ended prematurely? People can frame and articulate the argument any way they like, but God has weighed in on this issue, and He loves the life He created and we have no right to take it.
Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley:
- On the Mountain with God, Exodus 19
- The Ten Commandments- Part 1, Exodus 20:1-11
- The Ten Commandments- Part 2, Exodus 20:12-26
- Civil Justice, Exodus 21:1-22:15
Exodus 22-24, Psalm 24
The Mosaic law consists of 613 laws. As we go through them, it’s easy to gloss over the bulk of them, or consider them irrelevant or arbitrary. Some even read them and misconstrue God’s loving hand and come up with an incorrect view that Father God is a God of wrath wanting to punish, while the God of the New Testament, Jesus, is a God of love and wants to forgive. As we go through them, let’s see God’s loving hand throughout.
Approximately 8 years ago, my house was robbed. The robbers were eventually caught, but the 20,000 dollars of jewelry that they took from me was quickly sold by the robbers, and my insurance did not cover this, so I received nothing for my loss. While our system revolves around incarceration with almost 2 million filling our prisons. His system was one of restitution. We read in Exodus 22:1,3, “If a man steals an ox or a sheep, and slaughters it or sells it, he shall restore five oxen for an ox and four sheep for a sheep…He should make full restitution; if he has nothing, then he shall be sold for his theft.” .In our system the criminal is punished, the victim receives nothing. In God’s system the robber either paid back more than he took, or he became the slave of the victim. Unlike slavery in our nation, this was a temporary situation, and the slave could not be mistreated. Where I grew up in Brooklyn, there was very little grass to play on. One game we played as a kid was peel-away. In it the one kid in the middle of the grass would be rushed at and that person would have to wrestle someone to the ground and not let him pass. Once caught, then it would be two against the rest, etc. There was only one “nice” house on our block, with a beautifully landscaped front lawn. The neighborhood kids designated that lawn as our site for peel-away. In retrospect, we destroyed that lawn, falling into bushes and hedges as we wrestled. We viewed it as typical childhood pranks and fun. We read in Exodus 22:5-6, “If a man causes a field or vineyard to be grazed, and lets loose his animal, and it feeds in another man’s field, he shall make restitution from the best of his own vineyard. If a fire breaks out and catches in thorns, so that the stacked grain, standing grain, or the field is consumed, he who kindled the fire shall surely make restitution.” I came from very modest means, if my family, could not pay for the damage as a result of my childhood pranks, I or my father or family members would either make restitution or become their slaves. This would no longer be a childhood prank with no consequences but would cost us seriously and serve as a deterrent.
In our current society, the overwhelming trend in society is premarital sex, if the couple remains together it is followed by living together. Often it is now followed by having children and buying a house together before either getting married or as so often happens, breaking up. We read in Exodus 22:16-17, “If a man entices a virgin who is not betrothed, and lies with her, he shall surely pay the bride-price for her to be his wife. If her father utterly refuses to give her to him, he shall pay money according to the bride-price of virgins.” Realize the bride-price or dowry represented a significant portion of one’s income. God wanted people to think long and hard before sexual relations occurred. This concept of casual, consensual sex has no equivalent in the Bible. There was no classification for this type of sex. This is not something new, it is just something which our morally decaying society has accepted as the norm and new standard.
Many wonder in the many dietary laws, where does the separation of dairy and meat in the kosher laws occur. It all comes from this portion of Exodus 23:19, “…You shall not boil a young goat in its mother’s milk.” Writings from 1300 BC revealed that nearby cultures were doing this as a fertility rite to their false gods, in order for those gods to bless them with children. We must remember there were no chapters and verses when Scripture was written. This would bring it in proper context to the surrounding verses which prohibited having anything to do with foreign gods. This is the problem of taking verses in isolation and out of context. This one verse, meant for something completely different, makes the kosher laws so much more difficult to follow with requiring separate dishes, etc. Man’s tradition and interpretation often clouds what the Bible actually says.
So as we continue through these laws, both here and in Leviticus, rather than seeing them as outdated and arbitrary. let’s instead see them as coming from a loving God setting up boundaries to protect His people. Though we are children of grace and not law, and no longer follow many of the dietary and ceremonial laws, the laws were indeed good.
Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley:
- Civil Justice, Exodus:21:1-22:15
- Moral Justice, Exodus:22:16-23:19
- Entering God’s Presence, Exodus 22:16-23:19
Exodus 25-27, Psalm 25
It’s easy when approaching detailed portions of Scripture about items or events that are no longer current, to allow our minds to wander. It is important to realize that nothing in Scripture is irrelevant. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work”. Matthew 5:17-18 says, “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass away from the law till all is fulfilled”. So, as we approach this, it has relevance, then as well as in the life of Jesus and the future Tabernacle mentioned in Revelation 21.
Realize, the Tabernacle was where God dwelled and met with the people, at the Mercy Seat (not the seat of good works). So, then, as now, He met us, not because of anything that we do, but solely by what He did. Also, in the Tabernacle is the Table of Showbread. In John 6:35, we read, “And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life”. Another object in the Tabernacle is The Gold Lampstand. We read in John 8:12, “Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the Light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”In chapter 26 we should pay close attention to the veil in v.31-35. This separated the Most Holy Place from the Holy Place. It was very thick (at least as 4 inches, as much as 18 inches) so that no one could accidentally fall in. Only the High Priest, once a year on Yom Kippur, could actually enter this room. When Jesus died on the Cross, the veil tore in two (Matthew 27:51, “Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split.”), thereby allowing all of us direct access to the Mercy Seat, not through a man, but by The Man, Jesus Christ.
In Chapter 27, realize nothing in Scripture is by accident. Every metal, design, etc. is divinely chosen. For the metals, everything made of gold in the building of the Tabernacle is a picture of heaven. Silver is a picture of redemption (sold for 30 pieces of silver). Bronze (or Brass) is a symbol of judgment. The bronze altar would be the first thing seen by those entering the courtyard of the Tabernacle. This would be a vivid, constant reminder to the people that they could only come to God by means of Sacrifice (the only way that their sins could actually be forgiven and taken away). God’s pattern never changes, we have the way to the Mercy Seat, only through the finished work of the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Any and all other religions, without this Sacrifice attempt to come by their good works. This has never been His way.
Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley:
Exodus 28-29, Psalm 26
As we read about the garments of the High Priest, we see a picture of our High Priest, our Intercessor, Jesus Christ. We read of this in Hebrews 4:14-16, “Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” In Ex 28:12 we read, ” And you shall put the two stones on the shoulders of the ephod as memorial stones for the sons of Israel. So Aaron shall bear their names before the Lord on his two shoulders as a memorial.” In v.29, we read, “So Aaron shall bear the names of the sons of Israel on the breastplate of judgment over his heart, when he goes into the holy place, as a memorial before the Lord continually.” In v.38 we read, “So it shall be on Aaron’s forehead, that Aaron may bear the iniquity of the holy things which the children of Israel hallow in all their gifts; and it shall always be on his forehead, that they may be accepted before the Lord.” These were to be worn by the high priest whenever ministering in the Holy Place before the Lord on behalf of the people. The Breastplate described in Exodus 28:16-21 is amazing in its construction as well as its application prophetically to Jesus. The first stone in the breastplate in Exodus 28:17 is sardius (also called carnelian or ruby) and represents the tribe of Reuben, whose name means, “Behold a son”. The last stone mentioned in 28:20 is jasper which represents the tribe of Benjamin, whose name means, “Son of my right hand”. Jesus is the alpha and omega, the first and the last. Interestingly, in Revelation 4:2-3, we read, “Immediately, I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne. And He who sat there was like a jasper and a sardius stone in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, in appearance like an emerald.” That last gem, emerald, represents the tribe of Judah, and we know that Jesus is the Lion of the tribe of Judah.
This is a perfect moment to take a little time to read through Isaiah 53, slowly and see the analogy as it relates to our High Priest, Jesus. He who was and is perfect, was willing to bear the burden of the whole world’s sins upon His shoulders as He hung on the cross. There are so many verses in the New Testament which show Jesus as our Great High Priest who continually intercedes on our behalf (Hebrews 7:25 “Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them”).
We read in Exodus 29:10-14 that the sins of the High Priest were transferred onto an innocent bull. Once the sins were transferred, the bull was sacrificed as a sin offering. All of our sins were transferred onto Jesus, our Sacrificial Lamb, on the cross at Calvary as payment for our sins. Just before He died, while on the cross, Jesus said in John 19:30, “It is finished”. This also means, “paid in full”. The High Priest had an imperfect sacrifice which had to be repeated to atone for his sins. Our Great High Priest, our Perfect Sacrifice finished it for us, once and for all, on the cross.
So, as we will soon see with the feasts and sacrifices, the High Priest was a forerunner or foreshadowing of something much greater, Our Great High Priest, Jesus Christ.
Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley:
Exodus 30-31, Psalm 27
All of us have been given gifts. Some are natural, some are inherited, but they all are given to us by God. Vanity is one of those sins which is almost comical. We did nothing to acquire our basic appearance, yet many can’t get their face out of the mirror or stop themselves from taking selfies. Other gifts we must work at, but still the gift was given. Athletic ability can be improved upon, but some are born with coordination while others are not. Not only do people pridefully see their own gifts, but certain gifts such as acting and athletics receive constant media attention and accolades. May we never forget that gifts are just that, gifts from God. Bezalel and Aholiab were obviously gifted artisans, now put in charge of an amazing project. We read of them in Exodus 31:1-6, “Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: “See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. And I have filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship, to design artistic works, to work in gold, in silver, in bronze, in cutting jewels for setting, in carving wood, and to work in all manner of workmanship. And I, indeed I, have appointed with him Aholiab the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan; and I have put wisdom in the hearts of all the gifted artisans, that they may make all that I have commanded you:”. There should never be an I or me when it comes to our gifts. May we all use what God has given us (and God has given all of us who are filled with the Holy Spirit, gifts) not for our glory, but to glorify God. We read in Matthew 5:16, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” Lucifer, a tremendously gifted cherub, lost focus of this point, and we all know the consequence of that.
Mentioning the Sabbath again here in Exodus 31:12-17, may seem out of sequence, but makes a lot of sense. It would be easy to so focus on the task at hand and forget or rationalize away this command. So many people lead busy lives with their spouse, with their children, at work, etc. It is so easy to place all of these concerns front and center and place the things of God on the back burner. The first commandment in Exodus 20:3 is: “You shall have no other gods before Me.” Whenever, we place anything, even a good thing before God, it has become an idol. A frequently asked question is whether, we Gentiles, must follow the Sabbath. The Sabbath was the only one of the 10 Commandments not restated in the New Testament. Therefore, it was more of a covenant between God and the people of Israel, much like circumcision. This is illustrated in Colossians 2:16-17 ” So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ”. There is certainly nothing wrong with taking a Sabbath rest, in fact, it is a good thing to set a day aside to relax and focus on God.
Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley:
Exodus 32-34, Psalm 28
Dwight L. Moody said: ” Moses spent 40 years thinking he was somebody; then he spent 40 years on the backside of the desert realizing he was nobody; he spent the last 40 years of his life learning what God can do with a nobody!” Like Moses, unless we lose ourselves, we are in no position to be used by God. There is a book called, “Harvest”, by Chuck Smith. Contained in those pages are the true stories of many of the Calvary Chapel pastors like: Greg Laurie, Skip Heitzig, Jon Courson, Raul Ries, etc. Each one has been used mightily by God, but not until they lost their sinful lives, their pride, their selves.
When we see the response of Moses in today’s readings, full of humility, selflessness, and pure love for his fellow Israelites we begin to see why Moses needed those middle 40 years to remove any sense of pride. I wonder if the young Moses (Acts 7:22 “…learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and deeds”) would have responded differently to God’s offer to make of Moses a great nation in Exodus 32:10, “Now therefore, let Me alone, that My wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them. And I will make of you a great nation.” But Moses, full of humility and love pleads on behalf of the Israelites. We read in Ex:32:11-14, “Then Moses pleaded with the Lird his God, and said, “Lord, why does Your wrath burn hot against Your people whom You have brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand?…Turn from Your fierce wrath, and relent from this harm to Your people. Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, Your servants, to whom You swore by Your own self, and said to them, ‘I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven;…’ “. So the Lord relented from the harm which He said He would do to His people.” Moses had to be removed of pride and self to think of others, and more importantly God, first. Before giving the perfect example in Jesus Christ in Philippians 2:5-12, Paul exhorts us, saying in 2:3-4, “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in loneliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.”
If we pause for a second and realize that, in 1 Corinthians 6:19 “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?”. We who are full of the Holy Spirit have the fullness of God residing within us. Can you imagine the revival that our church, that our community, that our nation would have if like Moses, we humbled ourselves and yielded to what the Holy Spirit could do in all of our lives. But God loves us too much to ever force His will on us. It is up to us to submit and empty ourselves of anything which holds us back. God wants to use us, but if we are vessels filled with ourselves, we are unusable. If we empty ourselves then we can be filled with the Holy Spirit and used to accomplish His will.
Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley:
…for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul. – Leviticus 17:11b
Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the
man who trusts in Him! – Psalm 34:8
Exodus 35-40, Psalm 29
Many of us have ideas, even start off well, but, how do we finish. Some might remember a softball game in 2014 between Florida Southern and Eckerd College. This would be the final game for Chelsea Oglevie, Florida Southern’s pitcher. With the game close to over, and Oglevie about to win her final game, pinch hitter Kara Oberer stepped up and hit a winning 3 run homer. Kara Oberer was injured, hopping on one leg and unable to make it around the bases. If you can’t reach the base the ball is considered dead. This might have meant a win for Florida Southern. But to the surprise of the crowds, Oglevie and the second baseman, Leah Pemberton, picked up the opposing player and carried her around the bases enabling the home run to count. Though Oglevie and her team lost, she finished strong and will be remembered for this act of sportsmanship.
Moses was given an incredible task in arranging for the building of the tabernacle along with all of its furnishings. We read in Exodus 40:33, “And he raised up the court all around the tabernacle and the altar, and hung up the screen of the court gate. So Moses finished the work.” We see how God responded to the finished work in 40:34,38, “Then the cloud covered the tabernacle of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle…For the cloud of the Lord was above the tabernacle by day, and fire was over it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys.” When Moses completed his work on the tabernacle, God’s presence over it at the center of the camp would remind the people that God was at the center of their lives and their nation. The Bible is full of those who finished their lives strong and completed what God gave them to do, such as Noah, Joseph, Daniel and Nehemiah. The Bible is also full of those who started strong only to fall off, such as Adam, Solomon, and Uzziah.
Joseph Farrar wrote a book called, “Finishing Strong”. This book speaks about finishing your life strong and leaving a godly legacy behind. We must all ask ourselves what God has called us to, and are we willing to keep ourselves strong and in the race until the end of our lives. Paul writes during his life in Philippians 3:14, “I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Just before his death, Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 4:7, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” Paul kept his focus and finished strong. Notice Jesus’ words in His amazing prayer in John 17:4, “I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do.” We read Jesus’ words while on the cross in a John 19:30, “It is finished”. All of us want to hear what was told to the faithful servants in Matthew 25:21, “Well done, good and faithful servant”. Like over the tabernacle, if we can hold strong and finish the work we all have been called to, we could all have the consciousness of God dwelling with us, his people, at the center of our lives, always.
Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley:
Leviticus 1-4, Psalm 30
It seems like sin looks so much worse on others than ourselves. It has been said that we tend to judge others by their worst actions, yet we judge ourselves by our best intentions. This is true both inside and outside the church. It is easy to be critical of others’ sinful behavior, especially when they are unrepentant. At Gay Pride parades, there is no shortage of those who disagree, holding up banners like, “It is Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve”. Others hold banners with verses like Leviticus 18:22, “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination.” Though none in the church should debate whether homosexuality is a sin or not, there seems to be a shortage of love and grace extended. When a sinner repents, no matter what the sin, they are generally welcomed with open arms within the church. But once in the fold, when sin occurs, once again there is often a shortage of grace. It has been said that nearly 25% of those having abortions at Planned Parenthood claim to be Evangelical Christians. This should not be. But I also wonder how that pregnant teenager would be welcomed as her abdomen began to grow. Would she be shunned by the other girls? Would the parents of the boys at the church want their sons to have nothing to do with her? We like to make a hierarchy of sins, usually putting our own as not as bad. But we should never forget that God hates pride, lying, lust, greed, etc.
We see the seriousness of sin in Leviticus 4, and how seriously God considers it. It’s important to realize that the penalty for intentional sin was much more severe than the prescription given here for unintentional sin. We see in Leviticus 4:2-3, “Speak to the children of Israel, saying: ‘If a person sins unintentionally against any of the commandments of the Lord in anything which ought to be done, and does any of them, if the anointed priest sins, bringing guilt on the people, then let him offer to the Lord for his sin which he has sinned a young bull without blemish as a sin offering.” We see a similar recipe in Leviticus 4:13 if it is the whole congregation that unintentionally sins; in 4:22, if it is the ruler that has unintentionally sinned; and in 4:27 if anyone of the common people unintentionally sinned. The repentant sinner had to take a defenseless animal and sacrifice it to restore himself to fellowship with God. This sacrifice was not impersonal or ritualistic, but personal. We often get the image that the sinner takes one of their multitude of livestock and sends it away to the priest to do the job. But this is far from the case. It was costly and it was personal. We read in Leviticus 4:29, “And he” (the one who sinned) “shall lay his hand on the head of the sin offering, and kill the sin offering at the place of the burnt offering.” In our part of the country, where most of us don’t have livestock, replace in your mind the animal with your beloved pet. I have 2 King Charles Cavaliers and the thought of my having to take one of them and personally sacrificing them for my sin repulses me. But this animal sacrifice only brought temporary atonement. Now picture our true Sacrifice. Realize that it was our sin which held our Savior to the cross until He could say “It is finished” or paid in full. Now some religions prefer corporate confession with prayer, others prefer personal confession followed by the reciting of certain prayers. The Jewish religion without the Temple tries to have their good works outweigh their bad ones the week before Yom Kippur. These are all religious attempts full of works. This has never been the solution in Scripture.
How easy it is to trivialize our sins. How easy it is to look at the various sin offerings and consider them out of date or irrelevant. In Romans 6:23, Paul said, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Many feel they are pretty good, but Paul said in Romans 3:10, 12, “There is none righteous, no, not one;…There is none who does good, no, not one.” If anyone still feels that they are without sin or that their sins are not so bad, we read John’s words in 1 John 1:10, “If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.” But just before this, we get one of the most beautiful promises in the Bible, in 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” So I pray that this picture makes our sin personal, our repentance personal, and our Sacrifice in Jesus Christ personal. May we never trivialize our sin or our payment. Thank you, Jesus
Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley:
Leviticus 5-7, Psalm 31
A 2017 Barna study examining behaviors and beliefs about the Bible among U.S. adults was conducted. 20% are engaged 4x/week or more in Bible reading and consider the Bible as God’s inerrant Word. 38% hold to the same beliefs, but read less than 4x/week. 23% rarely read the Bible but believe the bulk of the Bible, but consider other parts erroneous or false. 19% consider themselves skeptics and consider the Bible as just another book of the teachings of man. Finally, 13% consider themselves hostile to the Bible. They view the Bible as a tool intended to manipulate and control people. Women are much more likely than men to be active in Bible reading. As of October 2017 the full Bible has been translated into 670 languages, the New Testament alone into 1521 languages and Bible portions or stories into 1121 languages. Within the English language, there are over a hundred versions. The Bible is available in print, on audio, on tapes, etc. Many like to say that it is difficult to comprehend, or that it doesn’t make any sense to them, but this is often just an excuse for one with no desire to be in His Word. I have a 67-year-old sister who is cognitively at a 2nd grade level. We gave her a Bible last year and she reads it every day. I’m sure the Holy Spirit is opening things to her, that we would not believe. My mother-in-law is 91. She was taken from her family by the Nazis at age 11-12, never finishing school, though she is cognitively very sharp. Polish is her native language. For the past 5 years, my wife and she read through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation every year.
We read an interesting portion of Scripture in Leviticus 5:17-19, “If a person sins, and commits any of these things which are forbidden to be done by the commandments of the Lord, though he does not know it, yet he is guilty and shall bear his iniquity. And he shall bring to the priest a ram without blemish from the flock, with your valuation, as a trespass offering. So the priest shall make atonement for him regarding his ignorance in which he erred and did not know it, and it shall be forgiven him. It is a trespass offering; he has certainly trespassed against the Lord.” God prescribed sacrifices to be done when committed out of ignorance. Ignorance has never been a defense for wrongful behavior. We see the prophet Hosea write almost 600-700 years later in Hosea 4:6, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being priest for Me; Because you have forgotten the law of God, I also will forget your children.” Ignorance is also condemned in the New Testament. We read Paul writing in Romans 1:19-20, “because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse,”.
Many question how God can possibly judge those who never knew. People have many hours on this earth, they choose to spend them on other things. They choose to remain ignorant concerning the things of God. God will never force against their free will. People state that it is too difficult, yet many graduate college. Many state that they have no time, but they can quote sports statistics, discuss the latest TV show, spend countless hours on FaceBook and social media. People are only ignorant out of choice. This choice is their responsibility. Interestingly, parents spend all of their attention getting their kids to do well in school, getting into a good college, excelling in sports or activities, while completely ignoring God. Many state that they don’t want to force them, wanting them to make a decision for themselves when they get older. This is ignorance giving way to more ignorance. One of the major reasons for The One Year Bible Challenge is to combat Biblical illiteracy, even within the church. Let’s reach out to anyone and everyone and encourage them to join along in the study. It is never too late to jump on board
Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley: