“In his book An Unstoppable Force, Erwin McManus shares the story of how prayers resulted in what can only be called a miraculous re-creation.
While ministering in South Dallas, McManus's small congregation began to grow. Looking for a place to build a larger church building, the leadership spotted an acre of land for sale. Given its location near downtown Dallas, it seemed strange that the property was available. Excited at their good fortune, this small group of people—many on welfare—began to pray that the site would soon be theirs. Eventually, they were able to purchase the property after receiving financial help from an association of churches.
As the congregation began the process of obtaining building permits, they discovered the property had been declared "unbuildable." The acre of land in a prime location was nothing more than a worthless landfill. McManus grieved over this waste of precious time and money. He writes:
We had bought an acre of garbage. Several core samples were taken. From what I understood, they went at least twenty-five feet deep and found nothing but trash…All I could do was ask our congregation to pray with me and believe that God was with us and that he would even use the worst of human mistakes to perform the greatest of miracles.
After months of prayer, a woman from the congregation told McManus that since they had asked God to turn the land into something useful, surely it had been taken care of. Feeling God's confirmation of her words, McManus asked for more core samples to be taken. This time the researchers found soil. McManus writes:
How did this happen? Was it because the core sample was in a different part of the land? Or could it be that God had actually performed a miracle and changed the landfill to good land? What I do know is that the same realtor who sold the property to me came back and offered me three times the amount he had sold it for once he heard the clearance to build had actually come through. What I do know is that the previous owners could not build on the property, but we could. What I do know is that we were told the property was worthless and unusable. What I cannot tell you is what happened beneath the ground at 2815 South Ervay Street. All I can tell you is what I know—and that is that God took my failure and performed a miracle. Today Cornerstone worships on that acre of land in a sanctuary built by our own hands.”
Source: Erwin McManus, An Unstoppable Force (Group, 2001), pp.151-153
Judy and I had just moved to Florida and gotten our apartment all set up
Judy was ready to start her first day of teaching Kindergarten when the news came that Hurricane Andrew was going to make landfall in southern Florida the night before her first day
We prepared our apartment for the impending hurricane and then left with some friends to go to her parents’ house an hour further north and inland
Hurricane Andrew did make landfall in the middle of the night and I remember looking outside and seeing the palm tree in the front yard almost horizontal with the ground (we were two hours north of the eye)
We had no idea what we would find when we got back to our apartment, but everything was fine
I can’t think of a better example of an unstoppable force that I have experienced personally
Our new dog, Red
We recently got a new dog (he is a Redbone Coonhound and is super strong and powerful)
I’ve been walking him in the orchard every morning (rather he’s been walking me in the orchard)
The entire time we’re walking, he has his nose to the ground and is picking up different scents
There are times when I get pulled along and have to start running to keep up with him as he pulls on the lease
We’re learning together
The other morning, I slipped on the wet grass as we were coming down the steep grade out of the orchard
He basically pulled me down the hill
This winter should be fun, especially if we get snow, because I have a sled that I would like to ride while he pulls me through the orchard
Red is a powerful dog and his hunting and tracking instinct is almost unstoppable
What unstoppable forces have you all experienced?
Pastor Marc mentioned last week that the narrative about the Tower of Babel actually occurred prior to the genealogy found in Genesis 10:1-32. The question that arises is why have the genealogy in chapter 10, then the narrative about the Tower of Babel, and then another genealogy. Why not have the Tower of Babel and then the complete genealogy? I’m glad you asked. Shem’s line through Joktan and then the narrative of the Tower of Babel show the sinfulness of humanity and the need for revelation/redemption. Shem’s line through Peleg to Abram shows that “human sin . . . cannot undermine the determined progress of God’s salvation for His people.” [Mathews, The New American Commentary, Volume 1A, Genesis 1-11:26, 489]. What we learn through this second genealogy of Shem is that . . .
BIG IDEA – God’s plan of salvation is unstoppable.
GOD (Genesis 11:10-26)
Toledot (v. 10a)
This is the fifth of the ten toledot statements (the history of/the generations of/the account of/the origins of . . .)
The account of the line of the heavens and the earth (2:4-4:26) – transition (4:25-26)
The account of Adam’s line (5:1-6:8) – transition (6:1-8)
The account of Noah’s line (6:9-9:29) – transition (9:18-29)
The account of the line of Noah’s sons (10:1-11:9) – transition (11:1-9)
The account of Shem’s line (11:10-26) – transition (11:26)
Next week we will begin a much larger account that will extend from Genesis 11:27-25:11 [The account of Terah’s line (11:27-25:11) – transition (23:1-25:11)]
Shem’s Line (vv. 10b-26)
We’re given the timeframe of when Arphaxad (ar-pak-shad’/air-pak-shad’) is born – two years after the flood
When we look back at Genesis 10:22 we see that Arphaxad is third in line, so perhaps Elam (ay-lawm’) and Asshur (ash-shoor’) were born within the two years prior to Arphaxad’s birth
One other important note is the formula used in announcing each father and son
The father’s name is mentioned and his age when the son was born
Next, we’re told how long the father lived after the birth of the son
Finally, it’s mentioned that the father had other sons and daughters
This formula is very similar to the one used in Genesis 5:1-32 where we saw the genealogy from Adam to Noah (both genealogies end with three sons mentioned)
The only differences are that the genealogy in Genesis 5 lists the total number of years that each father lived and it mentions that they died
This sets the stage for the account of Shem
Shem, 100 years old, lived another 500 years, other sons and daughters
Arphaxad, 35 years old, lived another 403 years, other sons and daughter
Shelah (sheh’-lakh), 30 years old, lived another 403 years, other sons and daughters
Eber (ay’-ber/a’-ver), 34 years old, lived another 430 years, other sons and daughters
Peleg (peh’-leg), 30 years old, lived another 209 years, other sons and daughters
Reu (reh-oo’), 32 years old, lived another 207 years, other sons and daughters
Serug (ser-oog’/say-roog’), 30 years old, lived another 200 years, other sons and daughters
Nahor (naw-khore’), 29 years old, lived another 119 years, other sons and daughters
Terah (teh’-rakh/teh’-rack), 70 years old
Three sons are listed under Terah, just like three sons were listed under Noah in Genesis 5:32
Terah’s three sons were Abram (ab-rawm’/ab-raw-hawm’), Nahor (naw-khore’), and Haran (haw-rawn’)
All three of these men will have prominent roles in the continuing story of God’s salvation
Abram will be the father of the chosen family [Keil & Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, Volume 1, The Pentateuch, 114]
Nahor is the ancestor of Rebekah, which will be Isaac’s wife, and mother of Jacob and Esau (Isaac is the chosen line from Abraham) [Keil & Delitzsch, 114]
Haran is the father of Lot [Keil & Delitzsch, 114]
We’re not told how long Terah lived after having his three sons
It is also not mentioned that he had other sons and daughters, but it’s probable that he did
PRINCIPLE #1 – God is sovereign and keeps His promises!
One of the striking differences between the genealogy found in Genesis 5 and this one in Genesis 11:10-26 is the shortened lifespans of the patriarchs
In the line from Adam to Noah we see most of the patriarchs living well over 500 years’ old
In the line from Noah to Abram, Shem is the only patriarch that lives over 500 years’ old
Nahor and Terah live almost to 150 years’ old
What we see happening is the Lord keeping His promise about numbering humanity’s days
Genesis 6:3, Then the Lord said, “My Spirit will not contend with man forever, for he is mortal; his days will be a hundred and twenty years.”
Genesis 6:5, The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.
God had not forgotten His promise to limit humanity’s lifespan to 120 years
He was allowing it to happen naturally over many generations
Factors in the shortening of humanity’s lifespan
Sin – “This the author implies is the consequence of encroaching human sin. Granted, sin has not altogether derailed creation’s promise of procreation, but it has altered the power of life so as to diminish its longevity.” [Mathews, 493]
Environmental conditions – the flood altered the climate of the earth [Keil & Delitzsch, 113]
Human behavior – the separation of the human race into nations changed the habits of men [Keil & Delitzsch, 113]
God certainly kept His promise about shortening humanity’s lifespan, but He has also made a promise about giving individuals a long life
God’s promise of long life
Old Testament – The Ten Commandments
Exodus 20:12, “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.”
Deuteronomy 5:16, “Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the Lord your God is giving you.”
Ephesians 6:1-3, Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” – which is the first commandment with a promise – “that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”
Honoring our parents
To honor our parents means to respect and love them
It’s different than obeying them, which means that we do what we’re told
Honoring our parents continues into adulthood and even after they pass away – it is a lifetime commitment and command from the Lord
How do we honor our parents?
Speaking well of them
Speaking politely to them
Acting in a way that shows them courtesy and respect
Providing for them in times of financial need
Providing for them when they are ill or unable to care for themselves
Passing on their godly values to our children, grandchildren, other family members, and individuals
#1 – My Next Step Today Is To: Claim God’s promise of a long life, by honoring my parents.
#2 – My Next Step Today Is To: Worship the Lord for being sovereign and keeping His promises.
PRINCIPLE #2 – Human sin cannot stop God’s plan of salvation.
“The important thing about this genealogy is that it records the faithfulness of God in watching over His people and fulfilling His promises. What to us is only a list of names was to God a ‘bridge’ from the appointment of Shem to the call of Abraham.” [Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, Pentateuch, 63]
“Hence, while the threats of the flood and Babel are alarming, the return to the predictable pattern of genealogical descent after each (9:29; 11:10-26) shows that God’s purposes for humanity are back on course. Human sin, despite its damaging severity, cannot undermine the determined progress of God’s salvation for his people.” [Mathews, 489]
God’s plan of salvation is unstoppable.
Struggling with sin
Perhaps there is someone here today who is struggling to embrace and believe that God’s plan of salvation is unstoppable
We all probably have individuals we are praying for about salvation, but those individuals continue to pursue sin and the things of this world
When we think about those individuals and the many prayers we have offered up on their behalf, we wonder if God is listening or even cares
I’m here to remind us that God does care and He is listening
He is all-knowing and all-powerful
2 Peter 3:8-9, But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
Isaiah 55:8-9, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
The sins that our loved ones are pursuing right now will not stop God’s plan of salvation, because His plan is unstoppable
Keep praying, keep sharing, keep loving
#3 – My Next Step Today Is To: Embrace the truth that God’s plan of salvation is unstoppable, by continuing to pray for, talk with, and love those I live, learn, work, and play with.
You and I serve a sovereign God who keeps His promises and that should cause us to rejoice!
You and I worship a Savior whose plan of salvation is unstoppable and that should encourage us to press on!
God has commanded every believer to help Him share the plan of salvation where we live, learn, work, and play
Who, in your sphere of influence, needs to hear the good news of salvation?
“During the troubled years of the Second World War, the Italian forces were driven out of Eritrea in North Africa. In an effort to make the harbor unusable to the Allies, the Italians took great barges, filled them with concrete, and caused them to be sunk across the entrance to the harbor. When the Allies entered, their problem was to remove those barges in order that the harbor might become usable.
They did so in a very ingenious way. They took great gas tanks—not the kinds of tanks we have on our cars or in our homes, but those huge tanks that hold hundreds of thousands of gallons of fuel in great oil refineries. They sealed those tanks so they would float, and they caused them to be floated over the place where the barges were below. When the tide was out, they chained the tanks to the barges. When the tide came in, the barges were lifted by the tanks floating with the tide. The barges were pulled from the sucking sand at the bottom of the bay. It was then a relatively easy matter to remove them and make the harbor usable again.
Think of the power in that! The barges were chained to the tanks. The tanks were dependent upon the tides. The tides were pulled by the gravitational attraction of the moon, and the moon was moving in accord with the whole cosmos, the great sidereal system. Tremendous, unimaginable, dynamic power belongs to the tides.”
Bruce Thielemann, Tide Riding, sermon on Matthew 26:36-46.