Tuesday, 7 January 2014

(8) January 8: Genesis 20-22 and Matthew 7

Ask God to open your mind, heart and will to understand, delight in and obey what you read.

To discover:
As you read note how God continues to fulfil his promises to Abraham.

To ponder:
About to reach the summit of his faith, Abraham stumbles. Like us he repeats his sin. Abimelech’s character (a Philistine) contrasts those in Sodom and Gomorrah. 20v4 echos Abraham’s plea in chapter 18. God will not destroy these people. However, they are still reliant on the man he has chosen. The events point them to God if they are to have mercy and Abraham as his representative. And again, despite his sin, Abraham is blessed with wealth.
            21v1 reminds us why: This couple are under grace. Finally then, God fulfils his promise in pregnancy. “At the very time” stresses it is no coincidence, and Isaac’s circumcision shows Abraham’s continuing disposition of true (and therefore obedient) faith. Patterning our faith in resurrection Abraham believed that God could bring the life of this birth from the death of he and Sarah’s aged bodies (Rom 4v19-25). With that faith proved justified, Sarah’s laughter is no longer unbelieving.
            It is Christ we appeal to when facing the anger of God. And it is he who prays for us to receive mercy (Heb 7v25). Yet through him, we can intercede for unbelievers too. When mercy comes and God gives spiritual life to the dead, Sarah’s delight should be our own.
            Ishmael displays the animosity often directed to those God chooses by those he doesn’t (21v9). It highlights a wider divide in humanity (Gal 4v21-31). Nevertheless, again God cares for Hagar. He is not just the one who sees (16v13), but who hears (21v17). And for Abraham’s sake Ishmael is also blessed.
            Chapter 22 is the high point for Abraham. He is “tested” - as we are whenever called to costly faith. His example challenges us: His obedience is immediate (v3) and full of faith in God to provide (v8). God has promised offspring through Isaac. So Abraham knows Isaac will not die. He therefore assumes God would raise him from the dead (Heb 11v17-19). But God provided a substitute. And because of Abraham’s obedient faith gives the most solemn oath to bless him. This same oath guarantees all we await from his covenant (Heb 6v17).
            The event rightly shocks us. But it brings home the wonder that God would do what he didn’t require of Abraham in the end. Millenia later, his Son carried wood, arguably to the very same spot, and to become our substitute. God did not hesitate to send him. How much we should be prepared to offer our bodies to him as living sacrifices (Rom 12v1-2).

Praying it home:
Praise God with joy (even laughter?) for the utter certainty of what he has promised - because he has sworn by himself. Praise him for his great love in giving his one and only Son. Pray for non-Christians you know, and for an opportunity to tell them you have been praying for them.

Thinking further:
None today. This will only be included where an issue needs further explanation. Instead, if you haven’t yet done it, browse the links in the footer of the website: bible2014.blogspot.co.uk You will find Bible maps annotated according to whatever passage you are reading, introductions to each book of the Bible and much more.

If you receive this post by email, visit bible2014.blogspot.co.uk and make a comment.


Post a Comment