(Attitudes, Guesses, Impressions)
How can we prevent assumptions from becoming dangerous?
1 Now Abraham moved on from there into the region of the Negev and lived between Kadesh and Shur. For a while he stayed in Gerar,
2 and there Abraham said of his wife Sarah, "She is my sister." Then Abimelech king of Gerar sent for Sarah and took her.
3 But God came to Abimelech in a dream one night and said to him, "You are as good as dead because of the woman you have taken; she is a married woman."
4 Now Abimelech had not gone near her, so he said, "Lord, will you destroy an innocent nation?
5 Did he not say to me, 'She is my sister,' and didn't she also say, 'He is my brother'? I have done this with a clear conscience and clean hands."
6 Then God said to him in the dream, "Yes, I know you did this with a clear conscience, and so I have kept you from sinning against me. That is why I did not let you touch her.
7 Now return the man's wife, for he is a prophet, and he will pray for you and you will live. But if you do not return her, you may be sure that you and all yours will die."
8 Early the next morning Abimelech summoned all his officials, and when he told them all that had happened, they were very much afraid.
9 Then Abimelech called Abraham in and said, "What have you done to us? How have I wronged you that you have brought such great guilt upon me and my kingdom? You have done things to me that should not be done."
10 And Abimelech asked Abraham, "What was your reason for doing this?"
11 Abraham replied, "I said to myself, 'There is surely no fear of God in this place, and they will kill me because of my wife.'
12 Besides, she really is my sister, the daughter of my father though not of my mother; and she became my wife.
13 And when God had me wander from my father's household, I said to her, 'This is how you can show your love to me: Everywhere we go, say of me, "He is my brother."'"
14 Then Abimelech brought sheep and cattle and male and female slaves and gave them to Abraham, and he returned Sarah his wife to him.
15 And Abimelech said, "My land is before you; live wherever you like."
16 To Sarah he said, "I am giving your brother a thousand shekels of silver. This is to cover the offense against you before all who are with you; you are completely vindicated."
17 Then Abraham prayed to God, and God healed Abimelech, his wife and his slave girls so they could have children again,
18 for the LORD had closed up every womb in Abimelech's household because of Abraham's wife Sarah.
VERSE: "Well," Abraham said, "I figured this to be a godless place. I thought, 'They will want my wife and will kill me to get her.' " (Genesis 20:11)
Beware of assumptions that lead to disobeying God.
Because Abraham mistakenly assumed that Abimelech was a wicked man, he made a quick decision to tell a half-truth.
Abraham thought it would be more effective to deceive Abimelech than to trust God to work in the king's life.
Don't assume that God will not work in a situation that has potential problems.
You may not completely understand the situation, and God may intervene when you least expect it.
9 So the Reubenites, the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh left the Israelites at Shiloh in Canaan to return to Gilead, their own land, which they had acquired in accordance with the command of the LORD through Moses.
10 When they came to Geliloth near the Jordan in the land of Canaan, the Reubenites, the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh built an imposing altar there by the Jordan.
11 And when the Israelites heard that they had built the altar on the border of Canaan at Geliloth near the Jordan on the Israelite side,
12 the whole assembly of Israel gathered at Shiloh to go to war against them.
13 So the Israelites sent Phinehas son of Eleazar, the priest, to the land of Gilead--to Reuben, Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh.
14 With him they sent ten of the chief men, one for each of the tribes of Israel, each the head of a family division among the Israelite clans.
15 When they went to Gilead--to Reuben, Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh--they said to them:
16 "The whole assembly of the LORD says: 'How could you break faith with the God of Israel like this? How could you turn away from the LORD and build yourselves an altar in rebellion against him now?
17 Was not the sin of Peor enough for us? Up to this very day we have not cleansed ourselves from that sin, even though a plague fell on the community of the LORD!
18 And are you now turning away from the LORD? "'If you rebel against the LORD today, tomorrow he will be angry with the whole community of Israel.
19 If the land you possess is defiled, come over to the Lord's land, where the Lord's tabernacle stands, and share the land with us. But do not rebel against the LORD or against us by building an altar for yourselves, other than the altar of the LORD our God.
20 When Achan son of Zerah acted unfaithfully regarding the devoted things, did not wrath come upon the whole community of Israel? He was not the only one who died for his sin.'"
21 Then Reuben, Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh replied to the heads of the clans of Israel:
22 "The Mighty One, God, the LORD! The Mighty One, God, the LORD! He knows! And let Israel know! If this has been in rebellion or disobedience to the LORD, do not spare us this day.
23 If we have built our own altar to turn away from the LORD and to offer burnt offerings and grain offerings, or to sacrifice fellowship offerings on it, may the LORD himself call us to account.
24 "No! We did it for fear that some day your descendants might say to ours, 'What do you have to do with the LORD, the God of Israel?
25 The LORD has made the Jordan a boundary between us and you--you Reubenites and Gadites! You have no share in the LORD.' So your descendants might cause ours to stop fearing the LORD.
26 "That is why we said, 'Let us get ready and build an altar--but not for burnt offerings or sacrifices.'
27 On the contrary, it is to be a witness between us and you and the generations that follow, that we will worship the LORD at his sanctuary with our burnt offerings, sacrifices and fellowship offerings. Then in the future your descendants will not be able to say to ours, 'You have no share in the LORD.'
28 "And we said, 'If they ever say this to us, or to our descendants, we will answer: Look at the replica of the Lord's altar, which our fathers built, not for burnt offerings and sacrifices, but as a witness between us and you.'
29 "Far be it from us to rebel against the LORD and turn away from him today by building an altar for burnt offerings, grain offerings and sacrifices, other than the altar of the LORD our God that stands before his tabernacle."
30 When Phinehas the priest and the leaders of the community--the heads of the clans of the Israelites--heard what Reuben, Gad and Manasseh had to say, they were pleased.
31 And Phinehas son of Eleazar, the priest, said to Reuben, Gad and Manasseh, "Today we know that the LORD is with us, because you have not acted unfaithfully toward the LORD in this matter. Now you have rescued the Israelites from the Lord's hand."
32 Then Phinehas son of Eleazar, the priest, and the leaders returned to Canaan from their meeting with the Reubenites and Gadites in Gilead and reported to the Israelites.
33 They were glad to hear the report and praised God. And they talked no more about going to war against them to devastate the country where the Reubenites and the Gadites lived.
34 And the Reubenites and the Gadites gave the altar this name: A Witness Between Us that the LORD is God.
VERSE: Phinehas son of Eleazar, the priest, replied to them, "Today we know the Lord is among us because you have not sinned against the Lord as we thought. Instead, you have rescued Israel from being destroyed by the Lord." (Joshua 22:31)
Check assumptions before acting on them.
When the tribes of Reuben and Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh built an altar at the Jordan River, the rest of Israel feared that these tribes were starting their own religion and rebelling against God. But before beginning an all-out war, Phinehas led a delegation to learn the truth.
He was prepared to negotiate rather than fight an unnecessary battle.
When he learned that the altar was for a memorial rather than for heathen sacrifice, war was averted and unity restored.
As individuals, we would benefit from a similar approach to resolving conflicts.
Assuming the worst about the intentions of others only brings trouble.
Israel averted the threat of civil war by asking before attacking.
Beware of reacting before you hear the whole story.
How do assumptions hurt people?
1 "My eyes have seen all this, my ears have heard and understood it.
2 What you know, I also know; I am not inferior to you.
3 But I desire to speak to the Almighty and to argue my case with God.
4 You, however, smear me with lies; you are worthless physicians, all of you!
5 If only you would be altogether silent! For you, that would be wisdom.
6 Hear now my argument; listen to the plea of my lips.
7 Will you speak wickedly on God's behalf? Will you speak deceitfully for him?
8 Will you show him partiality? Will you argue the case for God?
9 Would it turn out well if he examined you? Could you deceive him as you might deceive men?
10 He would surely rebuke you if you secretly showed partiality.
11 Would not his splendor terrify you? Would not the dread of him fall on you?
12 Your maxims are proverbs of ashes; your defenses are defenses of clay.
VERSE: For you are smearing me with lies. As doctors, you are worthless quacks.
Assumptions concerning the lives of others lead to trouble.
Job compared his three friends to doctors who did not know what they were doing.
They were like eye surgeons trying to perform open-heart surgery.
Many of their ideas about God were true, but they did not apply to Job's situation.
They were right to say that God is just.
They were right to say God punishes sin.
But they were wrong to assume that Job's suffering was a just punishment for his sin.
They took a true principle and applied it wrongly, ignoring the vast differences in human circumstances.
We must be careful and compassionate in how we apply biblical condemnations to the lives of others; we must be slow to judge others.
Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council.
2 He came to Jesus at night and said, "Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him."
3 Jesus replied, "Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again."
4 "How can someone be born when they are old?" Nicodemus asked. "Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother's womb to be born!"
5 Jesus answered, "Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit.
6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.
7 You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.'
8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit."
9 "How can this be?" Nicodemus asked.
10 "You are Israel's teacher," said Jesus, "and do you not understand these things?
11 Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony.
12 I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things?
13 No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man.
14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up,
15 that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him."
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God's one and only Son.
19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.
20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed.
21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.
VERSE: After dark one evening, a Jewish religious leader named Nicodemus, a Pharisee, came to speak with Jesus. (John 3:1-2)
Assumptions can make us devalue people.
Are there people you disregard, thinking they could never change and brought to God-such as a world leader for whom you have never prayed or a successful person to whom you have never witnessed?
Don't assume that anyone is beyond the reach of the gospel.
God, through his Holy Spirit, can reach anyone, and you should pray diligently for whomever he brings to your mind.
Be a witness and example to everyone with whom you have contact.
God may touch those you think most unlikely-and he may use you to do it.
1 Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord's disciples. He went to the high priest
2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem.
3 As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him.
4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?"
5 "Who are you, Lord?" Saul asked. "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting," he replied.
6 "Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do."
7 The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone.
8 Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus.
9 For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.
10 In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, "Ananias!" "Yes, Lord," he answered.
11 The Lord told him, "Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying.
12 In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight."
13 "Lord," Ananias answered, "I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your saints in Jerusalem.
14 And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name."
15 But the Lord said to Ananias, "Go! This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel.
16 I will show him how much he must suffer for my name."
17 Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, "Brother Saul, the Lord--Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here--has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit."
18 Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul's eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized,
VERSE: "But Lord," exclaimed Ananias, "I've heard about the terrible things this man has done to the believers in Jerusalem!"
Assumptions can make us give up on people.
"Not him, Lord, that's impossible. He could never become a Christian!"
This was the essence of Ananias's response when God told him of Paul's conversion.
After all, Paul had pursued believers to their death.
Despite these understandable feelings, Ananias obeyed God and ministered to Paul.
We must not limit God. He can do anything.
We must obey, following God's leading even to difficult people and places.