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Genesis 21:8-23:20; Genesis 11:32; Genesis 24:1-67
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In Genesis chapter 21 we read about Sarah joyfully giving birth to Isaac when Abraham was 100 years old! Isaac's name means "he laughs" - which in part came from when Sarah laughed when God told Abraham she would have a son a year prior. We also read about Hagar and Ishmael being sent away. Verse 13 stands out when God is speaking to Abraham, as he was upset about having to send Ishmael away: "But I will make a nation of the descendants of Hagar's son because he also is your son."" Ishmael does later become the ruler of a large tribe in Paran and the Desert of Sinai, south of Israel. Then, one of Ishmael's daughter's marries Esau, Ishmael's nephew. From here the lineage of Esau becomes Arabic peoples and eventually the Muslim religion comes from this lineage. It is said that Abraham is the father of the world's three major monotheistic faiths - Jewish, Christian, and Muslim faiths. Below is an oil on canvas painting by the Spanish artist Giovanni Battista Tiepolo from 1732 titled "The Angel Succoring Hagar":
In Genesis chapter 22 Abraham's faith and obedience is tested in what most see as the climax of our readings about Abraham in Genesis. Some interesting things to note about this chapter. It is said that much of this chapter foreshadows what happens with Jesus. A father is called to sacrifice his one and only son - a son he loves so very much. The son is taken to a mountain to be sacrificed. On the mountain a "lamb" is sacrificed - a ram in place of Isaac's life - and Jesus as the "lamb" in place of our lives. Hebrews 11:19 has an interesting point to make about these readings in Genesis 22 today: "Abraham assumed that if Isaac died, God was able to bring him back to life again. And in a sense, Abraham did receive his son back from the dead." Below is Rembrandt's famous painting from 1635 of the angel, Abraham and Isaac on Mount Moriah titled "The Sacrifice of Isaac" (this is a powerful painting - many commentators call Isaac a prefiguration / type of Christ, which I think this painting can help us visualize):
In verse 14 we read about the mountain where Isaac was taken and the altar was built - Mount Moriah. Mount Moriah was about 48 miles north of Beersheba, where Abraham and Isaac began their journey - so a 3 day journey at that time makes sense. Some scholars believe that Mount Moriah is the Temple Mount area of Jerusalem, where the first and second temples were located - and also where the Dome of the Rock mosque, built in 691 A.D., is now located.
Bob Deffinbaugh from bible.org has yet another amazing article, this time on Genesis Chapter 22 - which goes into The Command, Abraham's Obedience, God's Provision, and God's Promise. Take 10 minutes if you can and check out this great article on this chapter titled "Final Exams" at this link here. Below is a painting of "Abraham Sacrificing Isaac" by the famous French baroque classical painter Laurent de La Hire from the year 1650:
Today in Genesis chapter 23 we read about the burial of Sarah. I think an amazing thing to note in this chapter is that Abraham is determined to bury Sarah in Canaan, based on God's promise (Gen 15:9-21) to Abraham that Canaan would be his and his descendant's homeland. Verse 4 stands out in this chapter and I think can speak for us today as well: "Here I am, a stranger in a foreign land, with no place to bury my wife." We will see this type of phrase throughout the Old Testament - the idea of being an alien and a stranger. In Abraham's case, he was literally living in a tent - a very temporary structure. But yet, Abraham was confident in God's promise of the Promised Land. And for us today - we are called to be "in the world, but not of the world". In a sense, we are also aliens and strangers. The question we might need to ask ourselves - are we acting like we are aliens and strangers in this world? Are we awaiting our promised land with God in heaven? Or, are we maybe getting a bit too comfortable in this world? And maybe even loving the material things of this world - more than eternal things? And maybe are we forgetting sometimes about the amazing promised land God has in store for us? Below is a painting by American artist Tom Lovell from 1967 titled "The Burial of Sarah" that I think corresponds nicely with verse 19: "So Abraham buried Sarah there in Canaan, in the cave of Machpelah, near Mamre, which is at Hebron."
Genesis chapter 24 is a just a wonderful narrative story about Abraham sending his servant Eliezer to find a wife for Isaac! What I like a lot about this chapter was how God was honored by Abraham, and by the servant at the well, and by Laban and Bethuel at the end of today's readings. It was evident that everyone was making their plans and prayers based on God! And not based on their own ideas or will power. God was being consulted. The last half of verse 7 stood out to me: "He will send his angel ahead of you, and he will see to it that you find a young woman there to be my son's wife." What I noticed about this verse, is that we didn't read about Abraham praying to God that an angel would go ahead of the servant - nor did we read about God telling Abraham this would be the case. Perhaps one of these two things happened outside of the text. But, what struck me was that maybe Abraham had been walking with God for so long now, that he may have been in such close relationship with God that he may have just somehow knew this angel would go ahead - and he wouldn't of said it otherwise. I just wonder if we are obedient to God and walk with God for a good portion of our lives, as Abraham did, if the will of God and God's works just become more and more evident in our lives? I'm kind of just thinking out loud here... :) Hopefully this makes sense. I do believe that as we go forward in our spiritual walk, God will continue to share more and new insights with us. Which is great news! Our walk with God will not be boring! Even in the midst of trials and hardships, I believe if we are faithful and obedient and continually seek God's will in our lives, we will come to know Him more and more - and, like Abraham, come to know more and more of the Peace that surpasses all understanding. I love this image below of Abraham in his later years...
Verse 15 stands out in this chapter: "As he was still praying, a young woman named Rebekah arrived with a water jug on her shoulder. Her father was Bethuel, who was the son of Abraham's brother Nahor and his wife, Milcah." As the servant was just finishing his prayer, God was answering it! Have you ever had this experience? I am not 100% sure that I have, but I think I have. I think maybe sometimes God encourages us to pray and sometimes he immediately delivers on that prayer - just so it becomes clear that what happened was the work of God, and not our own work. Now, don't get me wrong - sometimes we pray for something specific, and God does not answer immediately. Or... perhaps that's the answer in and of itself - no answer. It's a mystery - but an adventurous mystery to be sure! What a great thing to experience though, as this servant did, when a prayer is immediately answered. Below is 19th century American stained-glass artist John La Farge's "Rebekah at the Well":
I love the very opening verse 52 in Genesis chapter 24 today: "At this reply, Abraham's servant bowed to the ground and worshiped the LORD." This just made me think - when was the last time that I actually bowed to the ground and worshiped the Lord? I have to confess it was a long time ago. This may sound strange, but one time I was listening to the David Crowder song "Deliver Me" and for some reason I literally fell to the ground, bowed, and worshiped God. It was an experience that's hard to forget. But why is it so hard for me to get back down on the ground and worship God once again? When was the last time you bowed to the ground and worshiped the Lord?
Rebekah and Isaac meet and marry in today's readings! Below is Italian painter G.B. Castiglione's oil painting titled "Meeting of Rebekah and Isaac" circa 1640:
Worship God: Today's readings in Genesis reminded me of Phil Wickham's song, "This is Amazing Grace:"
Have you received Grace? Click here and be Amazed!
Please join us in memorizing and meditating on a verse of Scripture today: "Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son." Genesis 22:12 NIV
Prayer Point: Pray that you fear God. Pray that you won't ever withhold anything from Him that stands in the way of your relationship to Him.
Comments from You and Question of the Day: What was your reaction to reading about Abraham's testing by the near sacrifice of his son, Isaac? Also, what verses or insights stand out to you in today's readings? Please post up by clicking on the "Comments" link below!
p.s. I would greatly appreciate it if you would pray for this Chronological Bible Blog ministry today. Thanks!