The Secret of the Ooze

Have you ever met someone who exuded a strong resemblance to God? Kind of like something that oozed through their pores? You weren’t concerned about being struck dead if you looked the person in the face, but you did sense a strong attraction to be with them and to be like them.

Today, we’re going to look at that ever-evasive quality…and hopefully discuss it!

Today’s reading

Genesis 5:1-7:24
Matthew 3:7-4:11
Psalm 3:1-8
Proverbs 1:10-19

Notes

Genesis 5. The ages of the people in this genealogy seem awfully exaggerated. Do I believe people really lived this long? I’m not sure. Some scholars believe the ages refer to the length of the clan that the person founded. But other scholars suggest the long lifespan of people millennia ago compared to today are evidence of the effect sin has placed on us over time. One other aside: When I was a kid, I calculated that Methuselah died the same year as Noah’s flood. Either his death was an odd coincidence or he was destroyed in the flood.

Genesis 6:1,4. Different theories exist in theological circles about the identity of the Nephilim. Some believe it refers to angels who intermarried with women, but the argument seems hardly plausible. The two prevailing theories suggest that the Nephilim were either heroic warriors or descendents of Cain (who were banished from the descendents of Seth). My best guess is the latter is true—note the difference in the lineages of Cain (Genesis 4) and Seth (Genesis 5).

Genesis 6-8. Many ancient peoples around the world tell the story of a great flood from which one man and his family escaped by building a boat. But looking deeper, in many ways, the flood was God’s act of re-creation. He returned the earth to a state where waters covered the earth. Then, when God remembered Noah, he sent a wind over the earth (Genesis 8:1—this part of your reading comes tomorrow), much like the hovering Spirit of God blowing across the waters in Genesis 1:2. After the dry land and waters were separated, Noah became the new head of the human race, and, like Adam, was told to “Be fruitful and increase in number” (Genesis 9:1).

Psalm 3. The setting for this psalm is 2 Samuel 15:13–17:24.

Matthew 4:1. This passage tells us that Jesus was “led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil.” From the initial appearance, it seems wrong, almost cruel. And besides, James 1:13 says, “When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone.” So how can this be? In the Greek language, “temptation” and “test” share the same words. This was Jesus’ testing. So why do the translations use the word “temptation”? I don’t know. However, Craig Blomberg in the New American Commentary explains this dilemma this way:

An important interplay between the work of the Spirit and that of the devil appears here. The same Spirit who has anointed Jesus in [Matthew 3:16] now leads him to the place of temptation but does not himself cause the temptation, which is attributed instead to the devil. By this phrasing, Matthew warns against two common errors—blaming God for temptation and crediting the devil with power to act independently of God. In the New Testament, God is always so dissociated from evil that he is never directly responsible for tempting humans (James 1:13). Yet the devil is never portrayed as an enemy equal with but opposite to God; he always remains bound by what God permits.

Matthew 4:1-11. Here’s an explanation that the New Bible Commentary gives about the three “temptations” that Jesus faced:

The three tests examine aspects of that relationship, and the ways in which a misuse of that status could ruin Jesus’ ministry. He must be ready to accept privation in fulfilling his God-given task without ‘pulling rank’ (2–4); to trust his Father’s care without the need to test it by forcing God’s hand (5–7); and to reject the ‘short cut’ to the fulfilment of his mission which would be achieved at the cost of compromising his loyalty to his Father (8–10).

My response

Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him away.

-Genesis 5:24

I get easily mesmerized reading the genealogy in Genesis 5, but Enoch’s story takes a sudden and unexpected departure from the norm because we’re told that he didn’t die. That fact catches my attention, but the reason behind it—Enoch walking with God—really challenges me. More than the desire for people to say, “Wow, look at Michael. He walks with God,”—I really want to walk with God. The appearance of walking with God is much different than actually walking with God.

Author Donald Miller wrote a tribute last week on his blog to his youth pastor, David Gentiles, who recently died. Gentiles impacted Miller so deeply that he dedicated his best-selling book Blue Like Jazz to him.

Reading Miller’s tribute, I realized that I performed a wedding with David Gentiles several years ago. At the time we met, he was unassuming, un-flashy…in fact, he forgot to ask the couple to recite their wedding vows, so I gently interrupted the ceremony to remind him.

In the same way, Donald Miller could only recount one youth sermon he remembered Gentile preaching. Yet he commented,

If it’s true a person’s life is a sermon, David Gentiles preached the best sermon I’ve ever heard. I’ll never forget him, or what he did with his life. David was a rock of a man and his sermon was love…It’s hard to imagine a sermon on love has ever been said better. I learned more about Jesus from David than any other person I know.

People like David Gentiles ooze Jesus from their pores. We want to hang out with them in the hopes that some of it will rub off. But there’s only one way to ooze Jesus—and that’s to walk with Jesus.

Walking with Jesus (or God, take your pick) comes with a price. It means inviting him into every aspect of my day, allowing him to shape it, forgetting about myself (which is really hard for me to do), and inviting him to love through me. It’s more than that, to be sure, so I welcome your insights into this.

By the way, if you have time, here are a few other passages that refer to walking with God:

Genesis 6:9 (Noah walked with God, too!)

Genesis 17:1

Deuteronomy 5:33

Deuteronomy 10:12

2 Chronicles 27:6

Nehemiah 5:9

Micah 6:8

You can also learn more about Enoch in Hebrews 11:5 and Jude 1:14-15.

Let me conclude with this: Anyone can ooze Jesus. It requires no education (Jesus didn’t have one), special ability, or charisma.

Conversation starters

What jumped out at you in today’s reading?

Why would God allow his human race to get so messed up so early on, prompting him to destroy them?

What parallels do you see between Jesus’ temptation and the temptation of Adam and Eve in Genesis 3? How does it parallel your experience?

What does “walking with God” look like in your life?

Describe someone you’ve met who oozed Jesus. What did it look like and what did they do to get it?

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10 Comments

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10 responses to “The Secret of the Ooze

  1. The commentary in my NIV Bible on the temptation of Jesus refers to Deuteronomy 8:1-5, which Jesus quotes in his first response to Satan. According to this commentary,
    “There Moses recalls how the Lord led the Israelites in the desert 40 years ‘to humble you and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands.'” I find that when my heart is tested, I act much more like Adam and Eve and the grumbling Israelites in the desert than I do like Jesus.

    I, too, want to walk with God, but often I feel like my walk looks a lot more like wandering. I walk with Him for a while, and then I get distracted, and then I come back, and then I wander again…and oh, the state of my heart!

  2. Well Mike – it seems these passages of scripture are like eating a steak for every reading – I had to ask the Holy Spirit to help be digest it all today – You gave me a lot to chew on –
    I’m beginning to keep a journal of my own to write my thoughts about these passages – I know I can’t share everything so I’ll just share a little –

    I found it interesting in reading about the flood and when Noah sent out the dove eventually bringing back the olive branch – then in Matt. when Jesus was baptized with water and the Spirit descended upon him like a dove – Would the flood have been a baptism of the earth – the old died, like when we are baptised signifying our old life dies, and then raising up in new life in Christ – new life – after the flood – new life began – thought that was interesting –

    Of course, when God gave the specific details of building the ark – God also speaks to us today and is able to give us specific details about our lives, i.e. strategies, plans, issues, insights etc.

    From the beginning, I believe all that was recorded in the OT points to our need for a Savior. The people who do not choose Jesus will perish, but the righteous (like Noah) will be saved –

    Parallels – Again Satan twist, misuses, and tries to deceive and entrap us using God Word in speaking to Jesus –

  3. Walking with God in my life would be exhibiting the fruits of the spirit – love, joy, peace, goodness, kindness, patience, faithfulness, self-control, gentleness

  4. Deb

    Many times I have read Genesis 6:20, and never saw “….every kind of creature….will come to you to be kept alive”. I hadn’t really given much thought to how the animals/creatures ended up on the ark. Now I see that Noah did his part by building the ark to God’s specifications, and God took care of the details of getting the animals onto the ark. Noah only had to deal with his part, and leave the rest to God.
    Having been laid off recently from a company that I worked at for 30 years, I see that my challenge, while looking for a new job, is to keep within God’s “specifications” and let HIM deal with all the other details. Easier said than done!

    • I just encourage you in your trust and belief in God to open an opportunity for you, thank Him for showing and guiding you where you need to go – be open to all He might have for you now – what would you dream of doing?
      Imagine what you would like to do? What gifts and abilities has God given you – what’s your passion?

      • Deb

        Thanks for the encouragement. Quite frankly I have never taken the time to “dream” of what I could be doing or even what my passions are, I’ve always been caught up in the day to day “stuff”. I do look at being laid-off as a time of assessment/reassessment. Thanks again.

  5. Tony

    “Why would God allow his human race to get so messed up so early on, prompting him to destroy them?”
    I’ve thought about this some in the past. I’m not sure we know how long it had been since man’s creation.
    Perhaps Adam did not begin to age until the fall so that his years were not since his creation.
    Even the amount of time between Adam being formed and Eve being made are not mentioned.
    If men were so close to the fall their intellect may have been extremely high thus their capacity for evil may hve been much greater, even exponentially so.
    The more one knows the quicker one may get into trouble.

  6. Doris

    I thought this was an interesting question. “Why would God allow his human race to get so messed up so early on, prompting him to destroy them?” There isn’t an answer that we can know as far as I can tell. There is the old stand-by of free will. Still the things that come up for me are thoughts of hell versus annihilation. Open theology – did God change his mind? If he is all knowing, he must of known. If he knew – he allowed – if allowed why not save? What about this reveals God’s goodness? What does it say about humanity?

    Finally, it is hard to have “conversations” rather than just plopping some thought out here.

    • Tom Freiling

      Maybe the human race was not so early on by this time. We don’t know how many thousands of years passed from Adam to Noah. Something interesting to think about.

  7. Todd Lowther

    OK, this is weird, ok? Today’s text at Warehouse 242 was Micah 6:8. I wanted to write Mike about it and then I saw that this was an attached text for today’s reading. What if it were reversed? What if God said to love Justice and Act Merciful instead of Act Justly and Love Mercy?

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