Article copyright by Bob Rogers
God does not call us to withdraw from our problems or our culture; He calls us to live in the world, without letting the world live in us.
Devotional | Genesis 26:2-5
Often, our instinct is to flee from our problems. When there was a famine in the land, Isaac, son of Abraham, considered moving south to Egypt, just as his father Abraham had done during a previous famine. Isaac got as far as Gerar, when the Lord appeared to him and said, “Do not go down to Egypt… stay in this land as an alien, and I will be with you and bless you” (Genesis 26:2-3). Why would God tell him to stay in such a difficult situation? Why does God sometimes tell us to hang in there?
Years before, Isaac’s father Abraham had also fled from the famine, only to get into worse problems. He lied about his wife Sarah, saying she was his sister. When Pharaoh took Sarah into his harem, God struck the Egyptians with plagues. Eventually, Pharaoh drove Abraham out of Egypt in disgrace. During this time in Egypt, there is no record of Abraham calling on the Lord in prayer, although he had before (see Genesis 12:10-20).
Isaac needed to learn a spiritual lesson from his father. Running from our problems can create new ones. Quitting school or giving up on a job or marriage may seem the easy way at the time, but it often leads to greater problems. Staying in a relationship and seeing a difficult job to the end can be rough, especially if those around us are hostile to our faith. Yet the rewards can be tremendous.
The Lord repeated to Isaac the same promises of blessing that He had promised to Abraham: “I will make your offspring as numerous as the stars in the sky, I will give your offspring all these lands, and all the nations of the earth will be blessed by your offspring” (v. 4; compare Genesis 13:16; 15:5). Thankfully, Isaac learned the right lesson from his father Abraham. Instead of following Abraham’s bad example of running away, he followed Abraham’s good example of faith. Verse 6 says that Isaac stayed where he was in Gerar. Likewise, Jesus told us to shine our light to the world (Matthew 5:14), and He prayed that we would remain in the world, but not be of the world (John 17:15-16). In what ways is God telling you to hang in there and engage your culture for the gospel, rather than “fleeing the famine”?
Copyright by Bob Rogers.
Are you from Mississippi? Then you should know the following:
- A “pack of Nabs,” is a package of crackers (as in “Nabisco”) in a wrapper.
- Kosciusko is pronounced Causey-ES-ko.
- When you need a shopping cart at Wal-Mart, you ask for a “buggy.”
- When you say you’re “fixin’ to git a coke,” you may be about to purchase a Pepsi, and if you’re “fixin’ to cut out the light,” you are about to turn off the light switch.
- Biloxi is pronounced bill-UX-ee. If you say bill-OX-ee, you are a Yankee.
- When you’re going to visit your parents, you say, “I’m gonna see mom and ’em.”
- The noon meal is dinner, especially if it is on Sunday at mom and ’ems.
- When you see a mother pushing a baby stroller, you tell her she has “precious cargo.”
- Saucier is pronounced SO-sher, but Gautier is pronounced GO-shay.
- You love to eat fried catfish with hush puppies and ketchup.
- Pecan is pronounced puh-CAHN. (If you say PEE-can, you are either a Yankee or from southern Georgia.)
- You take a pecan pie to dinner on the grounds at church after revival meeting, and to the family meal at church after a funeral, and to mom and ’ems for Sunday dinner.
- BONUS: You pronounce it: Miss-IPPI.
Millions of people gather around their television sets to watch sports championship games. Some will be very happy after the game, and others will be very disappointed. But in the end, it really doesn’t matter.
Philippians 2:10-11 says that in the end, “At the name of Jesus every knee will bow… and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.”
In the end, it will not matter what team you follow, but it will matter whether or not you followed Jesus. In the end, it will not matter what nation you lived in, but it will matter whether you were you in the kingdom of God. In the end, it will not matter what terrorists you feared, but whether you feared God. In the end, it will not matter which church you attended, but whether you were part of the body of Christ.
In the end, it will not matter what your political affiliation was, but whether your affiliation was with Jesus. In the end, it will not matter where you worked, but whether you served Jesus. In the end, it will not matter what family or culture you were born in, but whether you were born again into the family of God. Because in the end, what will matter is not whether you got your name in the history books, but did you get your name in the Lamb’s Book of Life?
Hey Brother Bob! I wanted to get your opinion. We were discussing whether or not it is a sin to get a tattoo. One of the verses brought up was about keeping your body holy and the thought process was that any permanent markings (piercing of any kind, tattoos, etc) was making the temple unholy. Another thought process put on the table was that tattoos were ok except memorial tattoos because that is specifically what Leviticus said the pagans did to mourn their dead and we shouldn’t do that. Another thought was even Christian tattoos (i.e. crosses, Jesus fishes, etc) weren’t cool because its too much like trying to be like the world. The other thought was that as long as it was easily coverable (so as not to offend and turn off the lost), you didn’t do it because everyone else was or it became an obsession and it was something you really thought about and talked to God about, it was ok. Lastly, the thought that it was just like picking out clothes, not that big of a deal and no need to even consult Scripture… I just wanted to ask you how Scripture spoke to this issue…
On the subject of tattoos, I would basically agree with the second view, that “memorial tattoos” violate Leviticus 19:28: “‘Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the LORD.”
We have to be careful about projecting our cultural viewpoint on this issue, and make sure that we are following scripture, not tradition. The views that permanent markings make the temple of your body unholy, or that it is too much like trying to be like the world, are viewpoints that make an assumption that all tattoos are unholy and worldly. What evidence is there that all tattoos are unholy and worldly, other than tradition and personal preference? Similarly, some would point to Leviticus 19:28 and say the Bible says not to put tattoo marks on yourselves, but if you read the context, it is referring to tattoo markings as a memorial to the dead in pagan practice, just as you mentioned in your email. If someone insisted on a blanket ban on all tattoos based on Leviticus 19:28, to be consistent he would also have to ban all haircuts based on the previous verse, which says “do not cut off the hair at the sides of your head…” Without looking at the background, one might assume this forbids haircuts, but from Leviticus 21:5, 1 Kings 18:28 we can determine that this was a pagan practice, and the concern was to avoid a pagan practice.
Most people would agree that haircuts are permitted, but if there was a haircut commonly done to worship some false god, then we should avoid that. For example, Christians in Thailand would want to avoid getting haircuts that look like Buddhist monks.
If you apply this same logic to Leviticus 19:28, then you would have to say that the Bible is not necesssarily banning all tattoos, but it is warning against pagan tattoos. Deuteronomy 14:1-2 and Jeremiah 48:37 also refer to cutting of the body as common in pagan religion, so it would appear that this was the problem with tattoos in Leviticus 19:28. So basically, I would agree with the second viewpoint in your email.
Two other points to consider about tattoos:
1) Tattoos should be done by a professional, to avoid health risks. (Remember, the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit.)
2) Tattoos should not be placed on private body parts (breast, buttocks, etc.) by a person of the opposite sex, as this is immodest and sexually provocative contact between the sexes.
3) Remember that scripture teaches us not to do something which would cause your brother or sister in Christ to stumble (see Romans 14, especially verse 21.) That’s why, in my personal opinion, tattoos that can be covered by normal clothing are preferable. In a follow-up email with the student, I discovered that this subject came up because of a desire to put a tattoo on the foot with the words “Send Me” as a reminder to go where God would send, based on Romans 10:15. Certainly a tattoo like this that reminds a person of his or her calling and is covered and does not call attention to oneself cannot be said to be unholy. In fact, its very holy, indeed!