December 20, 2019 ● 19-38
For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
I recently preached on Genesis 19 which records the story of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and the subsequent sin of the daughters of Lot. There are books and chapters of books in the Bible that are easy to read through and understand the meaning, and there are books and chapters in the Bible that are difficult to read through and understand the meaning. Genesis 19 is one of the more difficult chapters to read through and gain an understanding because of the subject matter. The issue with me was not that I did not understand what was going on, I understood clearly why God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah and I understood clearly the sin of Lot’s daughters. My challenge was to preach this chapter in a way that the Bible study group, and myself, could be encouraged and learn from it.
Paul wrote a great truth in Romans 15:4 : God’s Word has been given to us for several reasons:
- Perseverance in our faith;
As I read, prayed through, and studied Genesis 19 my goal was to find what was encouraging in that dark and sinful story. God showed me where the encouragement of Genesis 19 is:
God’s justice encourages me;
God’s Word encourages me;
God’s promise encourages me;
God’s love encourages me.
Paul, writing to the young pastor Timothy, stated the Word of God is, “inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work (2 Tim. 3.16-17).” God has given us His Word, not just for information, but for the purpose of spiritual transformation. When I read God’s Word I am taught, I grow, I am trained in the ways of God, and if necessary, I am corrected.
Sometimes I read God’s Word and say, “amen!”; other times I read God’s Word and say, “Oh my!” Stories such as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the sin of Lot’s daughters are difficult to read and even harder to find any encouragement or, “grist for the growth mill.” It is the Holy Spirit of God that helps me not just understand God’s Word, but also to gain clarity for application.
God’s Word, God’s justice, God’s promise, and God’s love all encourage me. I can skim over or skip stories such as found in Genesis 19 and I would miss what God would have me learn. The road to spiritual growth and maturity may not always be smooth but it always leads to a greater understanding and greater love, not only for the Word of God, but more importantly, the God of the Word.