Wednesday, 8 January 2014

(9) January 9: Genesis 23-24 and Matthew 8

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

To discover:­­
As you read note the different ways trust in God is displayed.

To ponder:
The rapid pace of story and concepts now slows. Again Abraham’s experience patterns ours. He has not yet received the land. Previously he was living outside amongst the Philistines (21v34). Now in the land, he is still an “alien and stranger” (23v4). The discomfort, even loneliness, of not belonging in this world should not surprise us (1 Pet 1v1). We live by faith not sight, not settling here, not adopting the ways of those around us, but looking forward to a “better country” (Heb 11v13-16).
            The site of Sarah’s tomb is given space because it is a key burial place for future characters (49v30-32, 50v13). Abraham’s ownership is stressed as it is the only part of the land he comes to own. This is why Abraham refused to be given it. It was to be God’s gift – bought with the wealth God had given him.
            Finding a wife for Isaac reflected confidence in God’s promise too. There could be no descendents without one! But she mustn’t be from the Canaanites as God promised Abraham’s descendents would usurp them (9v25-27).
God’s ongoing blessing in providing the right wife pervades chapter 24 (v1, 27, 31). Abraham has faithfully taught his household (18v19). So his servant also walks with God. His prayer is wise: Any woman who offers to water the camels displays a kind and serving heart. God’s faithfulness to Abraham is stressed by Rebeka’s immediate appearance, and her being one of his relatives (v27). Moreover, her beauty, purity (v16) and submissiveness (v55-58) are signs that she is God’s blessing to him and Isaac. Verse 60 is important: Rebeka’s relatives bless her prophetically, reflecting her destiny in God’s purposes.
Marriage was not decided amongst these sparse populations with the niceties we enjoy today. But the story ends with romance (v63-67). Believers can appreciate beauty and enjoy romance as God’s gifts. However the great encouragement is to our prayers. God is our God too. He can provide because he governs all things. And experiencing this should cause us to bow before him in humble awe just as Abraham’s servant did (v52). 

Praying it home:
Make 24v27 your own prayer of praise, listing how God has been faithful to you. Pray he would keep you humbly reliant on him as Abraham’s servant was.

Thinking further:
24v40 is not the first mention of angels. To read something brief on angels from Jim Packer’s excellent ‘Concise Theology’ click here.

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