Posts Tagged ‘Culture’

Before the Doors and Wheels Fall off © created by Ross Cochrane as a 3d computer image using Blender 2.8 and GetPaint.net

Psalm 10 – Psalm 10:4-6 – HUMAN HUNTING – Before the Doors and the Wheels fall off? – Part 4

Introduction: Australia burns. My heart is breaking for the country and the people I love.

In Psalm 10, David speaks of the spiritual fires of destruction that can also devastate a society. Although this is a sobering picture (Psalm 10 paints a gloomy picture), you will also find David holds on to something positive to offer us also by way of hope. I have sought to grapple with my own thoughts on how to apply this part of the Bible.

The Newspapers today reflect Psalm 10. 

  • Terrorists killing innocent people. 
  • A Politician doing the wrong thing gets away with it on a technicality, 
  • Teenagers at a train station beat up an old man. 
  • In the middle of huge bushfires, a man is accused of lighting a fire deliberately. It is believed many others are also lighting fires deliberately. Others are looting. 
  • Designer drugs at concerts are so commonplace there are more lenient laws introduced in the hope to regulate too many deaths. 
  • A young truck driver is arrested recently for human trafficking. 
  • Ivan Milat a mass murderer, goes to his grave recently but refuses even on his deathbed to let families know of where the bodies are. He is defiant until death, glorying in the power he has to withhold this information and unwilling to be constrained by authority. 
  • Governments make bad decisions, and protesters turn into lawless mobs who loot shops and other businesses, and destroy property. 
  • A Football player loses his career for quoting a verse in the Bible that speaks about being accountable to God. An article declares how Christians utter hate speech by expressing anything from the Bible that is confronting. 

HOW THEN WILL I LIVE AS A FOLLOWER OF CHRIST?

How then will I live as a follower of Christ? Like David, I find myself praying for God’s protection (Psalm 10:12). Like David, I know that God thinks that we matter (Psalm 10:14). I’m probably a little less passionate in describing how I would like God to deal with arrogant people who go out of their way to ridicule belief in God or with those who lack common decency in the way Christ followers are treated, or with those who are just plain wicked in their dealings with others in our world, but I do pray for God’s justice in our wayward world, (Psalm 10:15) and I do call upon God to intervene. 

I will continue to question God but hopefully it will be like David, without the pride of thinking I could do better or know all the answers. God is not accountable to me. He is not obliged to answer my prayers in my way. He does promise justice in His time, not mine. 

THE LOVE OF CHRIST

I am called to be an instrument of His love in an unloving world, not just someone who gripes about the world. Loving your enemies is not agreeing with their behaviour. Turning the other cheek is not being a doormat but taking a choice not to allow evil to think that it is winning. How do I intervene with God’s love in an evil world?

Psalm 10:3-4 (NLT) says, “For they brag about their evil desires; they praise the greedy and curse the Lord. The wicked are too proud to seek God. They seem to think that God is dead.”

Is it pride and independence from God that feed evil desires? Why would you be too proud to even seek God? One man recently said to me, “I don’t need some divine spirit telling me what to do.” This, of course, is his choice. A commentary sums up this sentiment, however. “Pride says, “I don’t need God or anyone else. I know it all. I have arrived. Pride is impatient with a rival. It hates a superior and cannot endure a master. Pride spurns law and authority and seeks “self-authority.”” Accountability is a questionable concept apparently.

Isaiah 53:6 (NLT2) says, “All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on Him (Jesus) the sins of us all.”

For David, there is a lawlessness in his society where open violence, robbery, and murder are all too common. Self-authority taken to its logical conclusion. David doesn’t over or under expose the photograph of his culture. Strange how it still looks so much like ours. 

Who are the victims? “the innocent”; “the helpless”; “the poor” (Psalm 10:2, 8 NLT). Certainly not the Wicked. David is all for breaking the arms of the wicked (Psalm 10:15). This of course is poetic language. He doesn’t ask the Lord to kill them, but he does want God to break their arms ie to render them powerless in carrying out their evil desires.

David says, “Let them be caught in their own traps” (Psalm 10:2 NLT). There are examples of this in the Bible. Haman tried to hang Mordecai on a gallows and Haman ended up being hung upon it. Those who  tried to destroy Daniel in the lion’s den ended up being thrown in the lion’s den themselves. 

HOW DOES EVIL PERPETRATE A SOCIETY.

It starts off as an evil desire, divorced from any authority but its own. Such desires once brought the judgment of God in the form of a world-wide Flood. Genesis 6:5-6 (NLT2) says, “The Lord observed the extent of human wickedness on the earth, and He saw that everything they thought or imagined was consistently and totally evil. So the Lord was sorry He had ever made them and put them on the earth. It broke His heart.” This verse helps us with anthropopathisms (ascribing human emotions to God) in order to understand as best we can about God’s response to wickedness. Notice that the best way to describe God’s response in human terms is a regret and a broken heart. But even a world-wide flood won’t do it. It merely stays the hand of God for another time when He came into the world as a human being to deal once and for all with our sin.

Romans chapter 1 speaks of the road to wickedness and once again God’s response:

… because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, … 

Does God get His revenge? Does God immediately judge? No. God still allows us to choose and to go our own way to give us time to repent. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.” 

It’s easy to ascribe these characteristics to other countries but aren’t all these characteristics readily apparent in our own society where-ever you go, from domestic violence in the home, to abuse on the internet, to the glorification of human hunting in the movie theatres, to the millions of abortions in our world each year, people choosing who is qualified to live? 

A PERSON, NOT A SET OF RULES

All of this is very easily justified, but without an absolute gauge there is only Nihilism.  For a Christ follower the gauge is not a set of rules and regulations either, but a person. Jesus Christ.

David describes the wicked as predators; human hunters (Psalm 10:2). He speaks about how God’s warnings of judgment are ridiculed (Psalm 10:5-6, 11, 13,). How do I live as a Christian? Not sit around while the doors and wheels fall off? I can let God examine my own life for egotism and arrogance and conceit, pretentiousness, smugness and pride, insincerity, and deception. These things are not part of my relationship with Christ. They are throwbacks to “self-authority” that no longer has a place in my life. This year, this decade (2020) all I know is that I can trust God to work out His purposes in a sin-torn world, and the closer I am to Him, the more my life will align with His purposes for me and I will make a difference for Him, before the wheels fall off.

Philippians 1:20-26 (NLT) expresses it well for me. “For I fully expect and hope that I will never be ashamed, but that I will continue to be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past. And I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die. For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better. But if I live, I can do more fruitful work for Christ. So I really don’t know which is better.” 

Pastor Ross

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Dispatch bag – adjusted by Ross Cochrane

Psalm 4:2 – I ADVISE YOUR UNCONDITIONAL SURRENDER

The High Commander dictated the letter for immediate despatch. Not wanting to be misunderstood, his words were measured and strong.

To The Commanding General of the Opposing Army

Based on the spirit of grace, I have the authority to present this note to you advising you to surrender unconditionally.

My concern is for your Army, which now stands isolated from any reinforcements, and remains therefore unaided.

You have many fierce and gallant men and officers; all fine warriors in their own right. It would be of no benefit to continue plying them with false hopes of victory or seeking to undermine our reputation as a worthy enemy. How long can you continue?

The implementation of our strategies in this war has already sealed the fate of your forces, and a continuation of hostilities would only serve to decimate your Army.

I expect that you, accepting my advice, will give up this meaningless and desperate attempt to gain victory and promptly order the entire front to cease hostilities.

If on the contrary you should reject my advice and present an escalation of hostilities I shall be obliged, though reluctantly, to order my army to attack and defeat your forces with no quarter given.

Expecting your reply within the hour

Signing and sealing the letter, he placed it carefully in a leather dispatch bag and after signaling for safe passage for the messenger across enemy lines, it was transported to the general of the opposing forces.

The purpose of a letter of surrender?

TO OFFER TIME TO RECONSIDER

Obviously, David has enemies. His own son, Absalom, has turned once trusted associates against him. This is a time of rebellion against him and against God.

This Psalm could virtually be used as a message to the opposing army advising them to reconsider the serious nature of what they were doing. David is giving Absalom and his henchmen time to reassess their position and repent.

“How long will you people ruin my reputation? How long will you make groundless accusations? How long will you continue your lies? Interlude” (Psalm 4:2 NLT)

When first I read this verse from Psalm 4:2, I wondered who was speaking. Was it David or God? As God declares David innocent (Psalm 4:1), David declares his opposition guilty.

It seems David and God speak in unison.

Reading the newspaper today reminds me that there are many in the world who oppose Biblical standards and the values of Jesus. I find myself asking, “Do I have a reputation for being someone who honors God and His Word? Is it confronting to those in this generation, enough for them to pay attention? Does what I stand for matter to anyone particularly? Does the impact of my reputation and influence make a difference in the world?”

The Answer is “Yes”. Imperceptible in the scheme of things, maybe. It may not survive to be written in books or make front-page news, perhaps. But it makes a difference because it reflects God’s purposes. It is stamped with God’s character in light, and so it will only add to the godly glow of generations of believers gone before and hopefully provide a well-lit path for those to come.

It occurs to me that David mirrors the sentiments of his descendant, Jesus. Such words could easily have been spoken to the religious leaders; the High Priest or the Sanhedrin. How long do you think you will be able to continue with such wickedness?

And I believe God is asking this question to this generation; to those who don’t follow Christ, but unfortunately also to many who do. How long will you continue …?

It continues to amaze me how many people who claim to be followers of Christ are willing to abandon or ignore Biblical principles and values. God is asking educators and politicians and religious leaders who inflict their distorted values upon others .., “How long will you people ruin My reputation? How long will you make groundless accusations? How long will you continue your lies?”

I find myself translating David’s words into our culture. David writes words to his own son and to any who are willing to ask, “How long will I continue to speak with amoral deceitfulness, an anesthetized conscience, and ill-considered agendas? How long will I continue to destroy the reputation of those who seek the absolutes of God’s Word with my ridicule, accusations, and lies? How long will I continue to be unwilling to reconsider what I am doing and look beyond my own selfish ambitions and schemes?”

Hebrews 6:4-6 (NLT) speaks of those who have tasted the goodness of Christ but in the end have denied him authority in their lives and … “by rejecting the Son of God, they themselves are nailing Him to the cross once again and holding Him up to public shame.” How long?

After opening the dispatch and reading the letter, the Commanding General breathed a sigh of relief and wrote back …

To the High Commander

Having reconsidered my position and the precarious nature of my circumstances, I am proposing the capitulation and submission of my forces. I am willing to enter into terms of unconditional surrender if such can still be attained.

I thankyou for the grace with which you have offered this course of action to me. I propose an immediate cessation of hostilities for the purpose of discussing how best to proceed.

Signed by the Commanding General

Christ has written a letter asking for unconditional surrender. The question remains, “How long?” How long will it take for a world gone crazy to respond to His gracious invitation, to reconsider their precarious position and surrender their lives to Christ?

How long will it take for you to accept such an invitation, to acknowledge and build your life on the Way, the Truth and the Life and the absolutes of His Word?

Pastor Ross

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Seared Conscience © by Ross Cochrane

Genesis 34:5-6 – CAUTERISED

“Soon Jacob heard that Shechem had defiled his daughter, Dinah. But since his sons were out in the fields herding his livestock, he said nothing until they returned” (Genesis 34:5 NLT). 

How did Jacob hear about his daughter being raped by a pedophile? Perhaps it was community gossip, or from some of Dinah’s friends. Genesis 34:5 describes rape and pedophilia as Defilement (Genesis 34:5,3,27), and normally Judgment would be expected for the perpetrator for perverting the act of sex designed for marriage. Later, this would be defined in the Mosaic law.

Jacob doesn’t say or do anything until he sees his sons. Has he delegated his responsibility as a father to Dinah’s brothers?

I raise this because later, when Joseph, his favorite son is missing, assumed killed, Jacob is distraught. Is Jacob less concerned about his daughter being raped by a Paedophile and held captive in his home? He doesn’t go immediately and insist on her return but wants to wait and involve his sons.

JACOB, if only …

Is it because Dinah is the child of his least loved wife, Leah? Leah is the mother of many of Jacob’s sons but not the wife of his heart. In her loneliness, God answers her prayer for children including a daughter (Genesis 30:21). Leah calls her Dinah.

It seems neither Leah nor Dinah is loved by Jacob, and they are therefore vulnerable to the weeping wounds of such loss as he all too often neglects them for Rachel.

In my ministry, I meet many people who experience times when they feel unwanted, excluded, unloved, or even neglected. Times when they feel misjudged or overlooked; times when they know an aching emptiness as they see those they care for or love withdraw, reject and ignore them.

Does this story of rape, pedophilia and child marriage have its starting place with a lonely young girl, who feels unloved by her father, running away from home to her neighborhood friends for some support? Jacob, if only …

Jacob may have done nothing, but Hamor, the father of the pedophile, instigates action to alleviate any animosity that may result from his son’s actions. He considers Child Marriage to be the answer and custom dictates that marriage, even child marriage, be negotiated by parents. Unbelievable!

HAMOR, if only …

“Hamor, Shechem’s father, came to discuss the matter with Jacob” (Genesis 34:6 NLT). Notice, there is no record of Hamor rebuking or disciplining his son for rape, pedophilia or kidnapping. There are no consequences in a court of law. There is no record of Hamor apologizing for his son’s actions. There is no talk of immorality, evil, shame, remorse or even asking humbly for forgiveness for this crime.

Were women in Canaanite culture treated like sexual objects so often that rape was accepted? Were there leaders so corrupt that no-one was willing to recognize and do something about a culture of rape, pedophilia, and kidnapping? Was it accepted that a man of power, a prince, could have sex with anyone he wanted? For that matter, had sex outside of marriage, as in our times, become the normal cultural practice where even children are sexualised? Hamor, if only…

Jacob is no better. Even now Jacob seems to keep his peace and does nothing. Jacob’s attitude and actions are in stark contrast to the response of his sons (see next post).

Genesis 34 is so much a mirror of the culture in which I live and Ephesians 4:18-19 (NLT) does not water down describing those who ignore God’s purposes for our world. It speaks of those whose “minds are full of darkness; they wander far from the life God gives because they have closed their minds and hardened their hearts against Him. They have no sense of shame. They live for lustful pleasure and eagerly practice every kind of impurity.” 

1 Timothy 4:1-2 (AMP) speaks of people whose “… consciences are seared (cauterized)”. Isaiah 5:20 (NLT) says, “What sorrow for those who say that evil is good and good is evil, that dark is light and light is dark,…” 

Genesis 34 is, therefore, an invitation to recognize evil for what it is, not to cauterize my conscience by being conformed to a culture of sexual deviancy. Lord, help me to speak and take appropriate action when needed.

Pastor Ross

Genesis 30:4–8 – WHEN LIFE SEEMS BARREN, AVOID THE CIRQUE DE LA CULTURE! 

Roller Coaster Merry-go-round. Image created by Ross Cochrane using Morguefile photos and Paint.net

WELCOME TO THE CIRQUE DE LA CULTURE. Does Jacob have dementia? He’s in his 90’s, doesn’t seem to remember God’s promise of blessing and he seems to have given power of attorney to his wives. It seems he is running away from home to join the Cirque de la Culture (the Circus of Culture).

MERRY-GO-ROUND. He is insecure, unable to make decisions for his own life and family. Jacob seems to listen to everyone else’s blueprint for his life, submissively complying with his wife’s plan, just as he had to his mother’s plan years before. He has already submitted to Laban’s proposal by working for another 7 years in exchange for marrying Rachel. He is obeying everyone but God, ignoring what God has established for a healthy marriage and conforming himself to the behaviour and customs of those around him.

ROLLER COASTER. Rachel’s plan, born of envy and jealousy, may have tempted him into immorality, but this could have been an opportunity for Jacob to do the right thing. Instead, sin is a roller coaster ride with this family, plunging them from soaring heights and turning their lives upside down. The Circus theme park they have entered has no safety standards and leaves behind a string of damaged lives.

CHAMBER OF HORRORS. Rachel’s plan is for Bilhah, her servant/slave, to become a surrogate mother. No choice. Just given. We are not told, but for Bilhah, the abuse must have been frightening, the loss of respect must have been humiliating, and when she becomes pregnant to Jacob and bears a son, the grief of losing him must have been traumatic. Bilhah presents him to Jacob because he legally belongs to Rachel and Jacob (at least she is able to remain with him as her son is raised by his adopted family). Rachel, not Bilhah, names him Dan. Bilhah has no rights even to name her own child.

HOUSE OF MIRRORS.Rachel names Bilhah’s child Dan, meaning “Vindication”. Rachel says, “God has vindicated me! He has heard my request and given me a son.” It seems, in Rachel’s distorted thinking, that God has judged her by not giving her children, but now He is vindicating her to be worthy of children through her surrogacy parenting plan? Do I really expect God to agree with my plans when I violate His? Is she praying or trying to manipulate God, Jacob and Bilhah? There has been no mention up until this time that Rachel has even acknowledged God’s part in her life. Now she dishonours Him by saying that He favours her sin. This mirror is totally distorted!

STRONG WOMAN. Few people have heard of Katie Brumbach.Katie was a circus performer with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus for many years and could easily lift her husband above her head with one hand. Katie’s father offered one hundred marks to any man in the audience who could defeat her in wrestling. No one ever succeeded.

Rachel is also a strong woman wrestler. Jacob submits to Rachel’s skill at manipulation concerning her plans for Bilhah. Bilhah has another son with Jacob. Again she must give him away to Rachel. Rachel names him Naphtali, which means “Wrestlings.” She says, “I have struggled hard with my sister, and I’m winning!” Here is the root of Rachel’s motivation; having children is a wrestling match with her sister. Is this about having children or winning at any cost?

God has already promised Jacob descendants. Perhaps what drives Rachel’s plan is that she wants to be included in God’s promise. Unfortunately it prompts her to act recklessly and attribute the results to God. It is our faith and trust in God that pleases Him, not ill-conceived presumption and certainly not trying to attach God’s name to our sin. Hebrews 11:6 “… it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to Him must believe that God exists and that He rewards those who sincerely seek Him.” 

Who is the Ringmaster of this circus? When my life seems barren, my circumstances present to me an opportunity for me to trust in God for fruitfulness. He is not a genie in a bottle giving us whatever we request. He is the Ringmaster, not of the cirque du soleil (the Circus of the Sun) but the Cirque du Fils (The Circus of the Son) and the Cirque de la Foi (the Circus of the faith). As Ring-master He co-ordinates the various events of my life with incredible skill. I need His help to juggle my time on earth successfully. 

Fortunately, God hasn’t finished with Jacob and Rachel yet. Or with me. He is able to turn cursing into blessing, to forgive sin and enable me to have eternal life with Him as I trust in Christ and a fulfilling life on earth as I serve Him (John 10:10). He is able to use your gifts, motivations, abilities, personality and experiences to the full, not to please the crowd, but because you were created for such a time as this. 

Pastor Ross

Genesis 25:21-23 – CAN OF WORMS!

Can of Worms

Some of the questions addressed in the TV show called “CAN OF WORMS” are “Is porn a normal, healthy part of adult life?” 52% of Austalians said “No!” “Is marriage necessary anymore?” 78% of Australians said “Yes!” and 68% said that gay people also have a right to marry.

Three guests, a studio audience and people from all over the world find out what Australia really thinks, especially controversial subjects such as political correctness and personal values. “Do Australians swear too much? Is the burqa out of place in Australia? Is it OK to spy on your kids online?” Each question is designed to open up a CAN OF WORMS. No absolute values. No right or wrong answers.

To open a can of worms means “to inadvertently create a host of new problems while trying to solve one.” The idea is that once you open a can of worms it is impossible to stop them from trying to escape.

Way back in Genesis 3, when Adam and Eve sinned they OPENED A CAN OF WORMS. Their actions released a host of IRREVERSIBLE PROBLEMS and COMPLICATIONS into the world that only God could resolve. As long as the “can” remained sealed through obedience to God, there was no harm, but once it was opened it set off a chain reaction of events with totally unexpected and complex consequences that irrevocably changed our world. It’s called SIN.

For 20 years Isaac and Rebekah have prayed for children and the Lord answers their prayers (Genesis 25:21). But in a sinful world, it seems that prayer always stirs things up spiritually.

Rebekah has an abnormally tough pregnancy. She prays “Why is this happening to me?” The Lord answers Rebekah directly somehow. Does she get a prophetic word from an angel? Does her answer come through a dream or a sign? Does God show up personally like He did with Abraham? Here is where I would like to know the details, but somehow God is more interested in telling me WHAT He said rather than HOW He said it. Is it just me that gets so interested in the MIRACULOUS that I miss the MESSAGE? Lord, help me focus on what is RELEVANT, not just on what is REMARKABLE.

The Lord tells her she is having twins, but reveals to her some rather unexpected twists that will take place in their lives. Something spiritually will be stirred up by the birth of these sons. The trouble Rebekah is experiencing is used as a picture of things to come.

“They will be RIVALS! One will be STRONGER! The older will SERVE THE YOUNGER!” (Genesis 25:23). This is all upside down and inside out and it only COMPLICATES things! It’s not POLITICALLY CORRECT! It messes with the CULTURE of the time. For this to happen the inheritance and blessing from Isaac will have to come to the youngest son and not the oldest. This is NOT DONE! When God answers prayer in a sinful world it can stir up a CAN OF WORMS.

Does Rebekah mention this Word from the Lord to Isaac? Is she going to try to manipulate things to help God along with this promise?

Will I try to adjust the plans of God in my life? Prayer releases the promises of God, but am I really willing for God to answer the deepest prayers of my life when I don’t know WHERE IT WILL LEAD? Who knows what could happen? UNEXPECTED CONSEQUENCES that only He can foresee, IRREVOCABLE PROBLEMS and COMPLICATIONS that only He can resolve? A MINE FIELD to navigate where only He can lead?

Just because God answers my prayers doesn’t mean I won’t experience difficulties or that I won’t feel out of my depth. Everytime I pray, something in the spiritual atmosphere of this world is STIRRED UP as God intervenes to deal with the CAN OF WORMS created by our sin.

The believing line of descendents from Abraham carry the promises of the Covenant. The Messiah Jesus will come from this line, and in fulfilling this promise the world will be IRREVOCABLY CHANGED. A battle begins, and is waged in the hearts of men and women to this very day.

Romans 8:28 (NLT) assures me “that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.” When prayer stirs up a can of worms, I am unable to deal with it, BUT GOD CAN. He can sort out the mess.

Somehow only the Lord Jesus Christ can deal with the consequences of my sin, no matter how complicated, twisted and out of control things have become. It may mean He does things a little differently to our expectations and it may cut across our cultural norms and look totally upside down to us, but He knows what He is doing. He is the only WAY, TRUTH AND LIFE (John 14:6). The invitation is always to TRUST in Him.

Pastor Ross

Genesis 24 – TAKE AN OATH AND PLACE MY HAND WHERE? – Part 4

Oath on Bible – Photo created by Ross Cochrane using photos from MorgueFile.com

SUBPOENA AD TESTIFICANDUM. Ordered by writ of the court to testify. The maintenance man drove us in his van to the courthouse. Two young women, both relatively new to Australia had been issued with subpoenas. They had never testified before and for them going to court implied that they were going to be convicted, or at least have their reputations ruined by their association with another persons guilt. As their Pastor and Chaplain, I was there to support them. They would make AN OATH ON THE BIBLE and would be constrained by that oath to tell the truth.

In Genesis 24:2-9 (NLT) Abraham subpoenas his oldest and most trusted servant “TAKE AN OATH BY PUTTING YOUR HAND UNDER MY THIGH. Swear by the Lord, the God of heaven and earth, that you will not allow my son to marry one of these local Canaanite women. Go instead to my homeland, to my relatives, and find a wife there for my son Isaac.” Abraham says “Be careful never to take my son there. For the Lord, the God of heaven, solemnly promised to give this land to my descendants.” So the servant takes the oath by putting his hand under the thigh of his master, Abraham and swears to follow Abraham’s instructions. He is constrained by that oath to fulfil Abraham’s requests.

Strange way to take an oath. What is this “place your hand under my thigh” business? If someone told me to do this I would say “You want me to place my hand where?” I certainly wouldn’t go telling anyone today to place his hand under my thigh and take an oath. He’d hit me! Perhaps this is why the Bible discourages the making of oaths (James 5:12)!

It is clear that this is not your normal “swear to tell the truth by placing your hand on the Bible” oath. Many commentators agree that the servant probably kneels before Abraham and places his hand between Abraham’s thighs (the thighs symbolise power and strength), under his genitals, because that’s where he bore the MARK OF CIRCUMCISION, the sign of God’s covenant concerning a great nation.

This oath to find the right girl for Isaac as a wife is related to the COVENANT PROMISES God has made to Abraham concerning his descendents who would come from the “loins” of Abraham.

Today such an oath would almost look like a homosexual act, but it has nothing to do with homosexuality. In fact just the opposite. It is related more to the marriage of a man and woman and procreation. (Mind you, if it had been me, I’d make sure no-one was around when this kind of oath was made. It wouldn’t look right).

But the idea of this oath is to have integrity about the things you say you are going to do based on the things that God has said He would do concerning descendents. You will notice this oath even has an escape clause. If the girl didn’t come with the servant he would be free of the oath.

From my point of view as a Westerner it is a repulsive way of making an oath. Imagine if we used this method in court today? I’m glad it’s not a ritual like Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. But if I am not careful I can miss the real emphasis of these verses in the Bible because I am looking at it through the eyes of my culture.

The invitation is to see BEYOND THE METHOD of making the oath to the commitment that is being made to God and the fulfilment of the covenant promises He makes. The servant is to “Swear by the Lord, the God of heaven and earth, …” (Genesis 24:3 NLT) that he will find the right girl for Isaac to marry, so that the promises a great nation through Abraham will be realised.

As I commit my life completely to the Lord Jesus Christ I am saying that God is my Lord and has authority over my life. He is my God, the God of heaven and earth. His authority is well beyond anything that I can imagine. I am asking that Heavens purposes be fulfilled on earth. I am agreeing that His promises and purposes be accomplished and that I am willing to co-operate with Him.

Pastor Ross