October 22, 2015


Genesis 15:7 He also said to him, “I am the Lord, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to take possession of it.”

This is one of the foundational incidents of the entire Biblical narrative, and verse 6 is foundational to the New Testament as well, so it’s very important to put it all into context. I think this verse does that, in a way that seems jarring to us today. The thing is, throughout much of Genesis the people were not particularly monotheistic, if at all. They didn’t necessarily see Yahweh as the only God, just as the best one, their God. That’s why they were so easily enticed to worship various other gods. Here, Yahweh is making sure Abram understands that He is the same being who spoke to him back in Ur, and not some other deity. We really have trouble wrapping our minds around that idea! What strikes me is that God doesn’t require perfect theology, He asks for faith and commitment. I think we will be very surprised at some of the people we find in heaven. In The Last Battle, the last book of the Narnia series, C. S. Lewis says that true worship can only be received by the true God. That might be dangerously close to Universalism, which is certainly in violation of Scripture, but the Biblical evidence is that most of the litmus tests we apply to see if someone is saved are probably not valid. What we believe is certainly important, but Who we believe is most important. That’s what this passage is talking about. Abram knew very little about God, really, but he knew that God had spoken to him, and he believed God.

This is of extreme relevance to me as I minister in Japan. I have had people say they really love Jesus, but they can’t accept that He’s the only God. I cannot say they are saved, but neither can I say they are worse off than many of the people in the Bible. Japan has a long and deep tradition of animism, essentially worshiping any impressive natural feature, with the sun as the supreme goddess. That has resulted in them referring to Japan as “the land of 8 million gods,” but the total is quite probably even more than that. Monotheism is a real stretch! At the same time, Shinto, the system for appeasing/not offending this pantheon, has no moral content at all, so people are left without an absolute moral anchor. You could say the Japanese invented situational ethics! That makes the challenges to presenting the Gospel in Japan immense. I like the tactic that has been advanced by a recent translation of the Bible of using “the Creator” instead of “God” in talking about Him, because the word that I grew up using in Japanese applies to all those 8 million gods, and therefore can lead to more confusion. However, habits die hard, and saying “the Creator” can seem very cumbersome. Once again I am back to realizing that I am not up to the task. However, God can use even me, so I must not draw back. I am not to judge people, but I am to present an uncompromised Gospel as clearly as possible, under the guidance and anointing of the Holy Spirit, and let God perform all that He desires by the words that He speaks through me.

Father, thank You for calling me back to my central task. Personal considerations have really consumed my attention recently, and this is a very needed counter to that. Help me stay focused as You desire and intend, not taking those personal issues lightly but keeping them in perspective, indeed seeking first Your kingdom and Your righteousness, so that all the devil’s schemes may be defeated and You be glorified. Thank You. Hallelujah!

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About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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