In the beginning, Adam produced three sons: Cain, Abel, and Seth.
Cain murdered his brother Abel and then produced a line of corrupt and violent kings who conquered the rest of mankind and used them as slave labour to build cities centered around the worship of themselves. Things went from bad to worse very quickly.
But God was not going to let them get away with that forever. So, out of the midst of all that tyranny and abuse, God chose to preserve one family, the family of Seth. He made a promise — through Eve’s prophecy at the end of Chapter 4 — that one day the family of Seth would produce a saviour who would rescue mankind from the tyranny of Cain’s sons, from the tyranny of the serpent.
And this ancient prophecy finally began to be fulfilled at the end of Genesis, Chapter 5: a child named Noah was born.
And then Moses pointed out, very briefly, that Noah also produced three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth.
Now, God did keep his promise: he wiped out the sons of Cain with a flood, while preserving the sons of Seth through Noah, their saviour.
But we very quickly found out that the serpent had survived the flood and had poisoned one of Noah’s three sons: Ham tried to murder his father’s reputation — and then he went on to produce a line of corrupt and violent kings who decided that they were going to conquer the rest of mankind and use them as slaves to build cities centered around the worship of themselves.
But this time God put an end to their plans before they could really get started. And that’s what we looked at last week.
Today we are going to see that, out of that wreckage, out of all that tyranny and abuse, God has chosen to preserve one family: the family of Shem. He has already made a promise — through Noah’s prophecy at the end of Chapter 9 — that one day the family of Shem will produce a saviour who will rescue mankind from the tyranny of Ham’s sons, from the tyranny of the serpent.
Today we are going to see this prophecy begin to be fulfilled: a child will be born who will turn out to be very significant.
So let’s get started!
 This is the account of Shem’s family line.
And right away we realize we have heard Moses use this phrase before. Every time Moses begins a sentence with “this is the account of…” it is his way of saying, “This is the beginning of the next book, the next chapter, of Genesis.”
So, technically, according to Moses, this is the beginning of Book 6.
Now, for a brief review: Book 1 was the introduction, which told us how God assembled and consecrated the universe as a temple over the course of 7 days.
Book 2 was the account of Adam’s garden.
Book 3 was the account of Adam and his sons, which ended with a story about the complete corruption of Cain’s civilization in the east.
Book 4 was the account of Noah’s ark.
Book 5 was the account of Noah and his sons, which ended with a story about the complete corruption of Ham’s civilization in the east.
So there’s a clear pattern going on.
Which means that — if the pattern holds true — Book 6 should be similar to Book 4 which was similar to Book 2. Book 6 should be about the building of a garden or an ark or some other sacred space.
So let’s find out if it’s true:
Two years after the flood, when Shem was 100 years old, he became the father of Arphaxad.  And after he became the father of Arphaxad, Shem lived 500 years and had other sons and daughters.  When Arphaxad had lived 35 years, he became the father of So-and-So, and then he lived such-and-such years and had other sons and daughters —
We have seen this pattern before, haven’t we?
Back in Book 3, the written account of Adam’s family line. That’s Chapter 5 in our modern bibles. And when we look back at Chapter 5 — sure enough — we find this same pattern of a genealogy with ages and sons and other sons and daughters etc etc…
But there are two key differences here:
First, back in Chapter 5 everyone lived a lot longer: most for more than 700 years. But here, in Shem’s line, we’re seeing a drastic drop in age.
Second, back in Chapter 5, Moses was careful to end every sentence with “and then he died”. But here, in Shem’s line, he does not say that.
Now, what do these two differences mean?
Well, for Moses, this gradual drop in average age is meant to be a bit of a sad thing. We are meant to compare Shem’s line with Adam’s line, and we are meant to feel like something great is being lost. Shem’s descendants are not as great as Adam’s were.
However, the fact that Moses does not end every sentence here with “and then he died” is meant to foster a sense of optimism in us. Adam brought death to mankind, and Moses highlighted that reality in his genealogy. But Shem’s family is going to bring life back to mankind — and so Moses is highlighting that reality by leaving out all mention of death here.
So as we read this we are supposed to experience a bit of, “Oh.” And a bit of, “Oh!” A bit of depression about the past, and a bit of hope for the future.
Now, let’s pick up the story in verse 16: When Eber had lived 34 years, he became the father of Peleg.  And after he became the father of Peleg, Eber lived 430 years and had other sons and daughters…
Ah: Peleg! We’ve been waiting for this!
Remember how two weeks ago Moses told us that Eber had two sons: Peleg and Joktan? And he told us that Peleg was named Peleg because, during his time, the earth was divided — and the name “Peleg” means Division. So apparently Peleg was named after some terrible divisive event.
But then Peleg disappeared from the story, and we wondered where he went. We heard all about Joktan though: how he produced 14 nations and eventually moved to the eastern hill country of Canaan.
Then, last week we found out why the 14 Joktanite nations moved. We found out what that big divisive event was: God broke the alliance that was forming between the Canaanites, the Shemites, and Nimrod’s people. He destroyed Babylon’s centralized power and scattered the people in every direction.
Well now — finally! — we get to find out what happened to Peleg’s side of the family:
 When Peleg had lived 30 years, he became the father of Reu.  And after he became the father of Reu, Peleg lived 209 years and had other sons and daughters.  When Reu had lived 32 years, he became the father of Serug…
And as we read through these verse we see each generation’s life expectancy gets shorter and shorter, until we get to verse 24:
 When Nahor had lived 29 years, he became the father of Terah.  And after he became the father of Terah, Nahor lived 119 years and had other sons and daughters.  After Terah had lived 70 years, he became the father of Abram, Nahor and Haran.
And this is the end of Moses’ Book 6 of Genesis.
A little underwhelming, isn’t it?
But the truth is: this is the elect line. Shem’s family is the family that God has chosen to preserve from judgement. This is the family that will produce a saviour who will rescue mankind from the tyranny of Ham’s sons, ultimately from the tyranny of the serpent.
And Moses makes this clear in several different ways. We have already noticed that Shem’s line was designed to be compared with Adam’s line in Chapter 5, and that Shem’s line has a more hopeful tone to it.
Moses also makes it clear that Terah, the last man in the list, is pretty special.
For instance, this last underwhelming sentence tells us that after Terah was 70 years old he became the father of Abram, Nahor and Haran. Not very exciting — until we look back at the last sentence of Adam’s line in Chapter 5 and notice that it tells us that after Noah was 500 years old, he became the father of Shem, Ham and Japheth.
Hm! So Adam produced three sons: Cain, Abel, and Seth. Then Noah produced three sons — Shem, Ham, and Japheth — which gave us a hint that Noah was a kind of “new Adam”. Now, this man Terah has produced three sons: Abram, Nahor, and Haran.
Does this mean that Terah is some kind of “new Noah”, a second “new Adam”?
But that’s not all: when we look back at Adam’s line in Chapter 5, and we count carefully, we discover that Moses deliberately structured his narrative so that Noah was born exactly ten generations after Adam. And during that sermon we discussed what significance this might have.
Well, guess what: now when we look at Noah’s line, and we count carefully, we discover that Moses has deliberately structured his narrative so that Terah is born exactly ten generations after Noah.
So…it sure looks like Terah is some kind of “new Noah” — some kind of saviour for mankind.
And at this point we can’t stand the tension anymore, so we do what my wife always does when a book gets too interesting: we read ahead to find out what happens next.
And sure enough, when we read the first sentence of the next book — Book 7 — we discover that it says: this is the account of Terah’s family line!
So Book 7 is going to be the account of Terah and his sons, just like Book 5 was the account of Noah and his sons, and Book 3 was the account of Adam and his sons — this is so cool!
— but wait a minute! It’s even cooler when we realize that the account of Terah and his sons is Book Number Seven in Genesis. That has also got to be significant! Because by this point we know that Moses’ does not play-play with the number seven!
So…yeah! This man Terah must be the prophesied saviour who will rescue mankind from the tyranny of Ham’s sons: Moses is using every rhetorical device at his command to highlight Terah’s name and point to him and say, “Pay attention! This guy is important!”
But how is Terah supposed to rescue mankind from the tyranny of Ham’s sons?
Because this book, Book 6, was supposed to be like Book 4 and Book 2, remember? It was supposed to be about the building of a garden or an ark or some other kind of sacred space. But there is no building going on here! There is no garden, there is no ark, there is no sacred space here! — just a genealogy, which we find quite boring.
Ah, but see: a genealogy can be a kind of sacred space also. A family can be a kind sacred space. Actually, in this case, it is one particular name that is the sacred space Terah is supposed to help build.
And it’s okay for us to have missed this concept of a name being the sacred space. We miss it because the wordplay is in Hebrew, which we don’t speak.
This is how the wordplay works: see, the name “Shem” is the Hebrew word for “name”. Shem’s name is “Name”. Which is funny to us. But it’s even more funny when we remember what Nimrod’s people were trying to do last week: they were building a sacred center, a sacred city, in order to give themselves a great name.
The irony in this whole story is that they did not need to do this, because God had already given them a great name: the name of Shem. God had already promised that through Shem — through “Name” — salvation would come to mankind. God had already told them that by calling upon the name of Shem — by calling upon the name of “Name” — they could come and live in the shelter of his tents and be saved from judgement. The name of Shem — the family of Shem — was the sacred center that God had already given to mankind.
Nimrod’s people did not listen, of course. They wanted to build their own name, not join someone else’s. They wanted to be the sacred center of the world, for all the reasons we discussed last week. And so God descended in judgement, and scattered them.
What we are seeing here is that Terah’s whole job as saviour of mankind is to lead his family out of Babylon, and to build Shem’s family line — Shem’s name — by having at least one son. Which he has more than accomplished, because he has produced at least three sons.
So the point of this book, Book 6, is to show us that God has preserved the name of Shem, even in the midst of the confusion of judgement. He has preserved this one family line, this one thin thread of redemption. God has been keeping this family safe all the way down through the generations until exactly the right moment.
That moment has now arrived. Before the flood, God drew one man and his family out of the ruins of the city of Cain. Now, after the flood, God is about to draw one man and his family out of the ruins of the city of Babylon.
So what we are seeing here is that, actually, Book 6 is not underwhelming, it ends on a world-changing cliffhanger!
Moses designed Book 6 to catch his readers’ attention. He is pointing back strongly to the events of the past, and then using those events as a springboard to create anticipation for what is going to happen next, in Book 7 — the central and most important section of Genesis.
And — by the way — that is not the end of the number games in this genealogy. For instance, several sermons ago we noticed that Enoch was the seventh from Adam: very significant, especially since Enoch turned out to be a prophet. Well, today we could notice that Eber is 14th from Adam: very significant, especially since Eber turns out to be the father of the ‘Eberews, the Hebrews.
We’ve also already noticed that from Adam to Noah is ten names, and from Noah to Terah is ten names. But, if you begin with Adam and you count straight through, the 20th name on the list is not Terah’s: it is Abram’s.
Now, does that mean this guy Abram is important?
I don’t want to spoil anything for anyone here. But…
In the story of Adam, his son Seth turned out to be important. In the story of Noah, his son Shem turned out to be important. Now, in the story of Terah, could his son Abram turn out to be important?
Adding to this, there is another interesting number thing that happens around Abram’s name. See, the ancient Greek translation of Genesis has an extra name on this list. And that Greek translation is what the New Testament writer Luke used when he copied down this genealogy. Which means that if you turn to the Gospel of Luke, Chapter 3, and count the names, Abram is the 21st from Adam. 21 is a factor of seven. Enoch, number 7…Eber, number 14…Abram, number 21!
Very, very interesting. It seems that certain writers and scribes came to think that this dude Abram is actually more important than his father Terah, even though Book 7 is technically the story of Terah’s family…
But again: I don’t want to spoil anything. So we’ll just revisit that question next week.
So…what does this mean? What was Moses trying to say to his people, the ancient people of Israel?
Well, on a meta-narrative level, Book 6 here is the end of Part 1 of Genesis. The first six books of Genesis have covered the truly ancient universal history of mankind, from Adam to Terah. The last six books of Genesis — Part 2 — will zoom in on a more focused history of Shem’s people. So Moses is getting his people ready for this transition from ancient history to more contemporary history.
But…Moses is a shepherd, a pastor, not just a historian. He is not just giving his people interesting head-knowledge, he wants to change their hearts. And he knows that the only way to change people’s hearts is by giving them Good News. So this is the Good News he wants his people to understand:
Judgement Day is coming upon the cities of Ham. But everyone who has the name of Shem will be saved.
This is the point that Moses has been working towards since he began the book of Genesis. Two times now we have seen mankind set up their own sacred centers, cities dedicated to the worship of themselves. Two times now we have seen God put an end to their plans. And two times now we have seen God call his people out of those cities just as judgement fell. Two times now we have seen God save one particular family, known by one particular name.
The first family God saved — the one he saved from Cain’s cities — was the family of Seth, because Seth’s family called upon the name of the Lord.
The second family God saved — the one he saved from Ham’s cities — was the family of Shem, because Shem defended his father’s reputation as the last son of Seth’s family.
So for Moses, Part 1 of Genesis — the first six books — was really the story of how Seth’s people escaped from God’s flood judgement upon the cities of Cain. All that was a set up for Part 2 — the next six books — which is the beginning of the story of how Shem’s people are going to escape from God’s scattering judgement upon the city of Babylon.
But why would Moses want to talk about Shem’s name and Shem’s people to the ancient people of Israel?
This is why: because the people of Israel are Shem’s people. They are Shemites. Even today Jewish people are known as “Semitic people”. When we talk about “anti-semitism” — anti-Jewishism — we are talking about anti-Shemitism. The people of Israel are the people of Shem; they are the people of the Name that saves people from judgement.
And really, seriously, the rest of the Book of Genesis — actually, the whole rest of the bible — is the story of how God saves Shem’s people — the people of Israel — from the scattering curse of Babylon, from the tyranny of the cities of Ham.
That is why Moses is writing all of this: he wants his people to know that they are being saved from the judgement on Babylon.
Of course, we know that at the time Moses wrote this the people of Israel did not have a problem with Babylon; their problem is with Egypt and with the Canaanites.
And that is true. But if we look back at Moses’ story of the 70 nations, we realize that both Egypt and the Canaanites are sons of Ham. So the cities of Egypt and the cities of Canaan are also the cities of Ham. And really, God has already rescued his people from the judgement that came upon the cities of Egypt!
— but now they are facing the cities of Canaan. And they are wondering what is going to happen next.
Moses is telling them, again, that what is going to happen next is the same thing that has happened before: God is going to bring judgement upon all those who have rebelled against him. He is going to bring an end to all tyranny and slavery. And he is going to save all those who are the people of the Name, all those who call upon the name of Shem’s God.
Now that really is Good News for the people of Israel! And Moses is writing this because he wants his people to be encouraged: their covenant-keeping God is going to save them because they belong to him, they are called by the name of his son Shem.
But this is not just an encouragement, it is also a warning. Because Moses knows that in the years to come there will be a danger that his people could forget this Good News and end up joining the people of Canaan.
Allow me to explain:
By this point in history Moses has already told his people how God is going to bring judgement upon the cities of Canaan: he is going to use a plague of hornets to scatter them. Uncomfortable, but true! God judged Cain’s people with a flood; he judged Babylon’s people with confusion; he is going to judge Canaan’s people with hornets. In essence, the environment — the land itself — is going to turn against the Canaanites and drive them out.
“But,” God has said, “I will not drive them out in a single year, because the land would become desolate and the wild animals too numerous for you. Little by little I will drive them out before you, until you have increased enough to take possession of the land.”
Now, what this means, friends, is that over the next generation or so, as the people of Israel move into the land, they are going to find themselves living with Canaanites nearby. The people of Israel have been called to take over the Canaanite cities one by one, cleansing them and re-centering them around the worship of the true God. But the next city in the next valley will still be a Canaanite city, centered around the worship of fertility, wealth, power, success. And Moses knows there will be a tremendous temptation for his people to go and visit, and see, and reach out, and take what is not meant for them. Moses knows that, under those conditions, his people could forget that there is a judgement coming upon the cities of Canaan, and that God has called them out of those cities.
Moses is offering his people an encouragement, and a warning. He is calling his people to live outside the cities of Canaan. To wait patiently for each city to be properly cleansed before they move in. He is calling them to remember who they are: the sons of Shem. Shem’s family has a distinct role to play among the nations: they are going to one day lead all people into true worship of the true God. But in order to do this, they must remain distinct. Because, obviously, if they become exactly like all the other nations, how will all the other nations ever learn what true worship looks like?
These are the questions the rest of the Book of Genesis is designed to answer: what does it look like for Shem’s family to interact with the nations around them? How can Shem’s family protect the purity of their people and their worship, while also remaining open enough to bless other people?
It all begins here, with Terah and his three sons crawling out of the wreckage of Babylon.
So what does this mean for us, then?
Well, on a meta-narrative level, the purpose of Book 6 has not changed: we are supposed to understand this section as the transition point from ancient universal history to Israel’s specific history.
For the ancient people of Israel, this created a sense of anticipation for the next part of the story. For us, this creates a sense of relief! — because, so far, understanding Genesis has been a pretty serious mental exercise.
And that’s because these first six books of Genesis have been a special genre of writing we could call “Theological History” — history told from God’s perspective. And we’ve talked before about how God deliberately lowered his language into a form that Moses and his people could understand, which meant talking about the earth as if it were flat and things like that.
And that has been tough for us! Because we have been taught by our culture that history has to be literally, scientifically true in order for it to be “true history”. So we have had to work pretty hard to create a new category in our minds for this “Theological History” to fit into.
But from this point on Genesis will be more “conventional” history. It will still be Theological History told from God’s perspective; but it will include more and more human eye-witness accounts, which will be a relief for us.
But all this is not meant to be just interesting head-knowledge. It is supposed to change our hearts. And our Father knows that the only way to change our hearts is by giving us Good News. So this is the Good News he wants us to understand:
Judgement Day is coming upon the cities of Ham. But everyone who has the name of Shem will be saved!
But how does this Good News apply to us? We are not Shemites, we are not Israelites, we are not people of the Name!
— or are we?
See, this concept of “the people of the Name” is going to be developed over the next 1500 years. Actually, it has been developing almost since the beginning of Genesis:
At first, God said the saviour will come from one of Eve’s sons: Cain, Abel, or Seth. Then we discovered that the chosen son was Seth. So you had to be a Sethite to be saved.
Then God said that the saviour will come from one of Noah’s sons: Shem, Ham, or Japheth. Then we discovered that the chosen son was Shem. So you had be be a Shemite to be saved.
Next, we are going to find out that the saviour will come from one of Terah’s sons: Abram, Nahor, or Haran. We will find out next week which son is the chosen son.
But the refining process will not stop there. Over the rest of Genesis we will discover that the chosen son is Isaac, not Ishmael; Jacob, not Esau; Judah, not Reuben or Levi or Joseph or Ephraim.
And over the rest of the Old Testament the chosen name will be refined even further: the chosen son will be David, not Saul; Solomon, not Amnon or Absalom.
And when we get to the New Testament, we find out that the saviour will be one of Mary’s sons: Jesus, James, Joseph, Simon, or Judas. And then we discover that the chosen Son is Jesus.
Jesus, descended from Shem, is the Name through which Shem’s people are saved from the scattering curse of Babylon!
But again: how does this apply to us? We are not Shem’s people!
This is where the Good News for Shem’s people becomes the Good News for all people: because Jesus’ name is now the Name through which people are saved, we do not need to become Shem’s people anymore, we only need to become Jesus’ people. We do not need to be called by Shem’s name, we need to be called by Jesus’ name if we want to escape from the tyranny and slavery and confusion of Babylon.
And this is made very very clear in the New Testament, Book of Acts, Chapter 2. On the Day of Pentecost, God poured out his Holy Spirit upon Jesus’ disciples.
And three things happened:
First, God’s people, God’s Church, became the new sacred center of the world where God would live with his people forever. That is what we talked about two weeks ago.
Second, the confusion of Babel was reversed. It was proven that the nations do not need to learn God’s language, because God speaks to each nation in its own language! That is what we talked about last week.
And third, the offer to escape from God’s judgement upon Babylon was given to all people.
It was the Apostle Peter who stood up and explained this offer to everyone who was there that day. This is what he said:
“In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people…I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below…the sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the great and glorious day of the Lord…
“And everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.”
— we actually read this offer for our call to worship today. So if you want to read it again for yourself, it is right here on page one of your worship guide.
So: what was Peter saying with all this?
Peter was really repeating the same Good News that Moses had preached to his people 1500 years earlier: Judgement Day is coming, but everyone who accepts the name of Jesus the Shemite will be saved.
But Peter changed it slightly. He did not say Judgement Day is coming. He said Judgement Day has already arrived. Judgement on Babylon began that day, 2000 years ago, and it has been picking up speed ever since.
But at the same time, ever since that day, God has been calling his people out of Babylon, just as he called Terah’s family out of Babylon more than 4000 years ago. Basically, everyone who receives the Holy Spirit is, from that moment, rescued from the judgement that is coming upon Babylon, and is gathered into a new city, an eternal city.
And the way we receive the Holy Spirit is by calling upon the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.
So if you are here today and you have not yet done this…then do so! The tyranny and slavery and confusion of Babylon has consumed your life. I know you know this in your heart. You know that if you are not one of the tyrants of this world then you must be one of the slaves. You know that in order to succeed in this world system you have to dehumanize yourself piece by piece; but if you decide not to dehumanize yourself then you will not succeed! And if you do not succeed then you will fall into slavery to those who are successful — and they will dehumanize you in the end anyway. You know that, whether you are a tyrant or a slave, you deserve judgement for the way you are devaluing yourself and those around you.
But there is an escape from this pattern: everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved. No matter how high you are, no matter how low you are: take the name of Christ upon yourself. Be baptized into his Name, into his family, and you will find yourself lifted up out of the wreckage of Babylon and carried to safety by the Father who has loved you from the beginning.
Now, what about the rest of us? We are the people of the Name of Christ: we are Christians. But how does all this apply to our daily lives? We don’t have any issues with the city of Babylon!
— or do we?
Well, just as the concept of “the Name” was developed throughout scripture until it pointed to Jesus Christ, so also the concept of “Babylon” continues to develop until it points to every city in the world that is obsessed with wealth and power and success. And that is every city in the world.
And this becomes clear in the last pages of the bible, in the Book of Revelation, Chapter 18, when Jesus himself speaks and says, “Come out of her, my people! Come out of Babylon so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues!”
So we are living in Babylon right now. Right here in Kuala Lumpur we are living in Babylon. And Jesus is calling us out of this city because he wants to give us a better city, an eternal city.
So, in obedience to Christ’s command I have already put my house on the market, I hope each of you will follow my example…
Just kidding. Because where are we going to move to? Another city? — another Babylon? Or maybe we’re supposed to all move to a kampung somewhere?
Or — wait! — maybe we’re supposed to start a Christian city? Maybe even a Christian country?
No! No…No. Definitely not that. The history of Europe and America has shown us that that is a very very bad idea…
No, just like ancient Israel, as Christians we are supposed to live with Canaanites as neighbors.
See: God’s judgement is in progress. It is picking up speed. And one day it will come to an abrupt and unmistakeable end. But just as God took his time to clear out the land of Canaan — giving those people every chance to repent — so also God is taking his time now, giving people from every nation a chance to repent. And this is why we are not called to physically leave the cities of this world!
We are actually called to live among them and lead them into the true worship of the true God.
But, practically speaking, how are we supposed to leave Babylon without leaving Babylon?
This is how: we are called live according to different values, the values of Christ’s eternal city, the New Jerusalem. The values of Babylon are ambition and aggression and consumption. But the values of the New Jerusalem are submission and humility and faith that our Father will give us everything we need for this life and the one to come.
And Jesus himself embodied these values in his own death: even though he was the king, he let himself be driven out of the city of Jerusalem, he let himself be crucified on a hill beside the highway, a spectacle for all the passing traffic.
And the author of the Book of Hebrews in the New Testament told us that we are called to imitate him in this: let us, then, go to him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace he bore. For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come.
This is our calling: to put aside the values of Babylon and live as the children of God in the midst of Babylon. And we are going to be talking a lot more about what this is supposed to look like as we get into Genesis, Part 2, Book 7.
But let me finish with this final encouragement: our salvation does not come from how well we manage to live according to the values of our New Jerusalem. Our salvation comes from the fact that we are the people of the Name. We have already been rescued from Babylon; we already live in the New Jerusalem. The journey of the Christian life is nothing more than learning how to live as good citizens of the new city we already live in!
Now, some Christians have had a lot of practice, and they are going to be “better citizens”, in a way. Some Christians are just getting started. Some Christians are working against special handicaps, which means they might have to work harder and make slower progress at first. But even so, we are all equal members of our Father’s household. We are all known by the same Name. We do still live amidst the wreckage of Babylon — but actually we are the citizens of an eternal city.
Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise — the fruit of lips that openly profess his Name.