Let’s play a little game of biblical word association. I will mention a word (person, place or thing) and you say what comes to your mind. First word – Moses. Now remember what you thought of first. Second word – Samson. Again, remember what you thought of first. Third word – Jared. The same drill applies; remember your first thoughts.
Chances are when I mentioned Moses, you thought of the Ten Commandments, or the Crossing of the Red Sea, two prominent events in the life of Moses. Was that about right? Secondly, when I mentioned Samson, did you think of his extraordinary strength, or the long hair that was the secret of his strength? Chances are good that these were in your thoughts. Now, for the third word, what came to mind when I mentioned Jared? Hmmmm…! Quite frankly, I wouldn’t be surprised if not much of anything came to mind other than wondering who he was! I will admit that he is not a famous biblical character, but he has quite a distinction attached to his biblical history.
Okay, let’s try one more word – Methuselah. Now I would be tremendously surprised if almost everyone did not immediately think of the Bible’s oldest man. According to the Genesis record, Methuselah lived to be a whopping 969 years old. Now, lest you think that was tremendously different than others of this era, Noah lived to be 950 years old and Adam lived to the ripe of old age of 930. Now, back to the third word of our little game, Jared; he lived to be 962 years of age according to our focus text. This makes Jared the second oldest man in the Bible. So, you have heard of Methuselah and know his claim to fame; now you know of Jared, the gerontological runner up to Methuselah. His life span was truly phenomenal, but his name is hardly even recognized unless it is by someone who knows the Book inside and out. This simply goes to prove a point – second place sometime is like not even being in the race!
I remember some lessons I heard a few years ago about second place. Except, the one in second place was not Jared; it was Jesus Christ. Specifically, the series was entitled, When Christ Comes Second. The force of the lessons was to demonstrate the effects upon the Church and upon society when Christ occupies second place in the hearts of men. After all, Jesus demands that He either come first in affection, or He has no place at all. There will be no second place ribbons handed out in heaven. Unlike horseshoes and hand grenades, ALMOST simply does not count at all when it comes to our responsibilities as believers. Almost is nothing!
Jesus said it this way: “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” (Matthew 6.33). “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.” (Matthew 13.45-46). “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16.25-26). If one's heart does not belong to God above all else, then nothing that a person has belongs to God. Such love is shown by actions and not words. It was this fact that caused John to write, “My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.” (1 John 3.18).
Second place? Don't bother when it comes to God. Its all or nothing!
1. Is there anything in the context of Genesis 5 to indicate that the years under consideration were anything other than normal solar years?
2. RESEARCH: What relationship, if any, was Jared to Methuselah?
3. What is the meaning of the word first in Matthew 6.33? Is the concept difficult to understand? Is it difficult to apply?
4. During what era of man's existence did God start demanding first place in our heart?
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