Abraham

    Welcome to a study focused on the life of Abraham, the Promise Believer.

    This “Father of our faith” was called by God and God initiated a covenant with Him whose promises would be forever.  Despite his seemingly impossible circumstances Abraham’s faith in the promises of God remained secure. His faith grew as his relationship with God matured. The more he knew about God, the more he trusted him. The same can be true for us.

    This study provides daily questions, audio and/or manuscript teaching, PowerPoint and handouts. It can be used for individual or group settings. My hope and prayer for you as you read and study is that you will see yourself as part of God's great narrative, His Story of Grace and Redemption. You will identify with the ups and downs of these ancient people of faith, learning to trust and believe in the One True God.

Blessings and love, Dianne

 

Note: The accompanying student study guide for the series may be downloaded to the right. The PowerPoint, Audio, and WordDocs may be downloaded on each page.

/assets/worddocs/dmiller_abraham_questions.zip
Biblical Topics: 

1. Genesis 12

Introduction (slide 1)

How many of you are on Facebook? If Facebook were a country #3 after China and India? Friend me. Imagine being on God’s Facebook page? Abram was…saw in your lesson, “friend of God” I want that said of me, don’t you. Definitely want to be on God’s Facebook page. Starts with a Call:

Outline:

I. The Call of Abram: includes God’s blessings v1-3 (slide 2)

II. The Commitment of Abram: obeys and builds altar v4-9

III. The Crisis of Abram: famine brings testing v10-20

The Call v1-3

We really need to start our story in Gen 11:27,28,31,32 READ. Terah, father, in Ur (MAP slide3) Describe city. Last 150 years great archeological discoveries abt this large city=quarter of million people lived in the district. Worshiped primarily moon god Nannar, remains of pyramid type temple called a ziggurat, beautiful tiered building with terraces and trees, outer courts, inner courts., 75 feet tall. Discovered the royal cemetery where kings, rulers were buried along with gold, silver, personal jewelry as well as chariots, sledges, musical instruments. City was thickly poplulated with private residences, several stories tall, some with 14 rooms, “mansions” marketplaces, trade was carried on by merchants with India, Africa through the Persian Gulf from its canal-basin harbor. Education was valued, circulating libraries, one of the most important, advanced, beautiful cities in the world. N.Y. London, Paris. Abram leaves big city life for a much more primitive culture. Leaving Rome and moving to Siberia, the Sahara desert. Dramatic change. Scripture tells us, Terah takes Abram, Sarai, Lot leave Ur move to Haran. Why do they leave? When does the call come? Acts 7:2-4 READ What we’re sure of is he left Ur, stopped in Haran settled there, don’t know how long Terah died there (slide4)

The Call of Abram is 3 fold: Read v1 leave your country, your people, go to land I’ll show (slide5)

This call to Abram comes with some incredible promises/blessings READ 2-3 (slide 6)

Great nation= God’s people/numerically great

I will bless you (Abram)=friend of God, relationship w/God, blessed materially, heir

Name great= Father Abraham, 3 religions, “elect of God”, prophet, mighty prince, Gal= “Father of the faithful

You will be a blessing=numerous ways household, people surrounding him

Bless those who bless you

Curse those who curse you= became prophetic warning to other nations

All peoples on earth will be blessed through you= ultimately Messiah Jesus Christ came thru

”THESE are big words, big promise, here Abram is given God’s big picture plan- the details will follow; add v7 land = Abrahamic Covenant= Nation, Blessing, Land.

God is beginning a new work with mankind. (slide 7) JEWISH STUDY BIBLE=

Constitutes to a large extent a reversal of some of the curses on Adam and Eve-exile(instead Abram and Sarai are promised a home in Canaan in the land), pain in childbirth (contrast experience the joy of having a child and many descendants are promised), and uncooperative soil (blessings in the land).” This great new work, these promises to Abram, to realize them, Abram would have to pay a price.

Truth: God’s calls are often costly –(slide 8)

Which would have been the hardest for you? Country, family, going not knowing? All were costly. Jesus Luke 14:27,28 Anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple, Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and count the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it?” You need to count the cost because following God is going to cost you something. Paul says it another way cost is simple= die to self, live for God (Romans 6). What has following God cost you? Relationship with family, friends or someone you love? Material, financial, lifestyle that is less than you had hoped for. Maybe the cost is becoming the person he wants you to be, learning new ways to live that please Him not others. Your time- you’re being called to give up some precious personal time.

Truth: God’s calls are often misunderstood by others (Fly in)

Text is silent on what Abram’s extended family thought when he left, but probably there those who thought it was ridiculous to leave the security and safety and accommodations of a large industrious city to go off not knowing where you were going. Just plain dangerous, risky Security and safety often drive our decisions rather than listening to God’s calls, and yet, “safest place in the world is in the center of God’s will” Safety is just one issue, many other reasons God’s calls are misunderstood: financial issues , perhaps call seems to others unrealistic and impractical, too sacrificial, endless how you may be misunderstood.

Ie. Lake Carroll pastor. Years ago, Florida, asked to teach in a para-church ministry, went in to my pastor and asked for his blessing, he told me I shouldn’t teach there but I should teach in my church, first priority. Disappointed w/his response, so I asked him if he would be willing to see me as a missionary to the local community, opportunity to teach some who were not churched, possibly not believers. He didn’t see it that way either, Left sad. Later I remember reading and then writing in my bible: Be willing to be misunderstood for doing God’s will in your life, are you willing?

Truth: God’s calls all His people to walk in faith =(fly in)

Heb 11:1 faith=being sure of what we hope for, certain of what we cannot see

Heb 11:6 without faith it is impossible to please God…

For Abram, God revealed a small portion of His global plan for mankind and said, leave everything you know, most of your family and go to a strange land and I’ll let you know along the way where you’re going, just trust Me, just believe that what I’m telling you is true.

Quote= “Walking in faith requires we accept God’ Word at face value, even when it seems impossible that His promises can come true” Abram was called to walk by faith, and 4000 yrs later you and I have the same call, we too are to walk by faith and not by sight. Starts at the beginning of our relationship w/God.

Our salvation is a walk of faith Eph 2:8,9

By grace you have been saved through faith-and this not of yourselves, it is a gift of God- not by works, so that no one can boast. Faith= believing, trusting though we have not seen , JC is Son of God , died for your sins, buried and 3rd day rose again, coming again soon for us, this faith assures us of the only real security we have= eternal security, life forever with him

Our daily relationship w/God is also a walk of faith Paul =2Cor5:7

We live by faith and not by sight 10:15Our hope is that your faith continues to grow

Gal 2:20 We live by faith in the Son of God Col 1:23 Continue in your faith Peter= IPeter1:21 live holy lives because Our hope and faith are in God John= IJohn5:4 faith in the Son of God overcomes the world.

So what does a walk of faith look like? Different for each of us, but our common characteristic is that we trust God with our lives, the circumstances of our lives. A walk of faith means I believe God’s promises and what the scriptures say about him. I believe God is good and working out my life for good because I belong to him and want His will for my life. Our study is going to see Abraham’s walk of faith, at its high points and its low just like ours

Application: I hope you spent some time on the challenge question= trace your spiritual journey, your walk of faith, if you haven’t done that, ask you’d consider going back completing.

The Commitment of Abram: obeys and builds altar v4-9

The Calls of God present us with choices, as this one did Abram. What will we do? Obey or ignore, or we will outright reject the call? Abram had a call, had a choice, obeyed

READ V4-9 (slide 9) EXPLAIN THE MAP

Abram, Lot, Sarai left Haran and traveled to Shechem (MAP) slide 10, slide 11 “ there were Canaanites in the land” Why is that included? Not clear, perhaps it’s a foreshadow of all the challenges Abram and his descendants would have in possessing the promises of God. We know that the Canaanites were to become a thorn in Israel’s side, their false gods were tempting to the Jews for the next 1500 years. Perhaps also they point out the seeming impossibility of God’s promises to Abram, what was one single man among all these Canaanites, how would they react to his living among them? How would they respond to his belief that the land was given to him and his offspring?

The Canaanites were in the land, they certainly could represent all the challenges a believer who lives by faith not sight encounters.

Abram enters this land having faith in what God has said to him. No different for you and me. Trusting faith in this Word will be what overcomes our obstacles, our opposition.

Right in the midst of the Canaanites God says “this is your land, giving it to your children” v7. Abram believes and worships. Builds an altar in Shechem (MAP) right in front of the Canaanites and then moves to the area between Bethel and Ai and builds another altar and calls on the name of the Lord.

Last lesson we talked about themes in Abram’s life: tents= wanderer, nomad and altars= worshiped God were 2 reoccurring characteristics of his life. Reflected his trust and open expression of faith in God. The Hebrew word translated “called” v8 means to “cry out” or “to proclaim”. We see Abram crying out, witnessing to those around him that this is the true God, there is no other god but him. 500 years later, Moses is given the commandments on Mt Sinai, this will be the first commandment= You Hebrews, you descendants of Abraham, you shall have no other gods before me. Abram had a call, had a choice, obeyed

Truth: Yes is the response of faith from a committed believer to God’s calls (slide 12)

Truth: Worship is the desire of faith from a committed believer (fly in)

Application= no question in my mind that everyone here that is a believer wants to be a committed follower of God. We want to have the faith of Abraham. Question is= will we be willing to respond in faith to our calls, will we prioritize worship, will we live among the peoples of our world as women of faith?

As soon as you sincerely say yes and move out in God’s will, don’t be surprised if you encounter a test of your faith.

The Crisis of Abram v10-20 (slide 13)

READ v10a Famine =reoccurring theme in the bible. Famine in the land that causes Jacob to send his sons to Egypt for food. Famine in the land that causes Naomi and her husband to move to Moab in book of Ruth. Famines produce opportunities to seek God. We’re not told in the text why there was a famine at this time. We remember we live on fallen planet earth where Jesus said “in this world you will have tribulation, troubles” (John16:33) whether you’re in the will of God or not, you are going to face famines which God says are opportunities to trust His care of you. The disciples went out in the boat at night because they were in the will of God, Jesus had told them to go, storm came up that threatened to kill them, their opportunity to trust God.

Truth: Famines produce opportunities to seek God. (slide 14)

Something is missing here in our story.

But we don’t see Abram seeking God here, text is silent. It is just like God to let us make our own choices, our own decisions, try to work things out ourselves, and forget God in the process. This famine produced the opportunity to seek God, the testing of Abram: Would he pray? ask God what to do? Would he trust God to provide? Would he believe the promises God had made him? What was God’s will for him?

Truth: God uses the circumstances of our lives, both good and bad, to lead us to His will for us. (fly in)

Read v10b-13 “beautiful woman” (slide 15) Abram fears that Sarai’s beauty will mean that men will want to take her from him. She is late sixties- ok lives to 127 middle aged, “foxy forty” hard to imagine her competing with 20 year olds. Ie 40’s my middle son about 10 came home from a friend’s house, carpooled with, mom, Mrs looks so young, do you think she uses Oil of Olay? Power of advertisement. Sarai, was it her regal demeanor, kept her youthful figure, was she just plain gorgeous, some women just don’t age quickly, Sarai was more than attractive, she was beautiful.

This causes a problem for Abram, fears for his life, so he asks her to tell a half truth. She was his half sister, they had the same father, Terah different mothers. Half-truths are usually whole lies. Abram was so afraid for his own life that he put Sarai’s life in danger. Look at the consequences of his fears.

READ V14-15

Truth: Fears cannot co-exist with faith. Opposites. Fears lead to doubt not faith (slide 16)

All throughout scripture God calls to us and says, don’t be afraid, don’t fear, I will take care of you, I will be there for you. Yet all of us know the emotion of fear, how easily it can consume us, paralyze us, defeat us.

ie watershed time in my life. Skiing in Aspen, leaving to go home, blizzard closed airport, my husband another wonderful totally inexperienced man decided to rent a car drive to Denver, interstates closed, drove on, throwing up in the bathroom because of so afraid my children would be orphans, fear paralyzed me, prayed out loud in the back seat 10 drive. I hated that feeling, confess no trust in my husband or God to get us home. 3 weeks later I’m in the hospital with a blood clot in my leg from a skiing accident – doctor says if you get of bed to go to the bathroom the clot could break and go to your heart and die, don’t move, hospital 3 weeks – every 6 hours thin my blood and watch to make sure I didn’t hemorrhage, again I thought my life was threatened, but this time, I prayed God I don’t want to ever feel that afraid again, would you exchange my fear for your peace, I trust you that whatever happens to me you will take care of my kids, often nights I prayed that over and over again- God gave me peace – Jesus says is our inheritance because we belong to Him.

Application: Is there a circumstance is causing fear in your life right now? Threatens your fellowship with God? Troubles in your marriage, pregnant or rebellious teenager, maybe you know of someone who is cheating in business or on their husband, pending financial reversal that means bankruptcy, What makes you afraid?

Truth: Fears cannot co-exist with faith.(fly in)

Text is silent about what is happening to Sarai in the king’s harem. She had to be battling with fear too. Would she have to sleep with the king? Would he hurt her? Would Abram’s God help her?

That’s exactly what happens. God in his mercy and grace protects her and Abram READ v16-20

God intervenes and rescues Abram and Sarai and sends them home. This is the first time the promise is threatened but it won’t be the last, even in Abram’s lifetime.

God’s faithful and will protect his covenant with Abram, over and over in scripture God is faithful even when we are not.

I don’t know how God will come into your life and work through your fearful circumstances. Don’t know how, but I know He will if you trust him, if you live by faith, even if your situation doesn’t change, you can have peace, don’t have to be afraid. Promise, Abraham=Promise Believer

Choose to be a woman of faith, choose to follow God’s call on your life, choose to trust him.

http://feeds.bible.org/dianne_miller/abraham/dmiller_abraham_lesson1.mp3
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Biblical Topics: 
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2. Genesis 13

Introduction: Personal ?Did anyone in your family have an argument this past week? Maybe it wasn’t you, but did you get pulled in to resolve it? (all mothers can yes) Maybe it hasn’t yet come to the surface, conflict is brewing, but you can see it coming. Maybe you are still recovering from Christmas and the conflicts that happen when family gets together. Conflicts, whether family, friends, workplace, neighbors, conflicts happen, seem to be inevitable. Our lessons speaks to those times of conflict also to the times when we need to make choices, decisions that direct the paths of our lives. REVIEW:

Lot is Abram’s nephew, son of A’s brother Haran, who had died years before back in Ur. When Abram left Ur, Lot went too. When Abram left Haran, Lot went too. When Abram left Canaan and went to Egypt, Lot went too. Chapter 13 opens up with the men traveling back to Canaan.

Outline:

I. Circumstances lead to Conflict Gen 13:1-7 (slide2)

II. Choices reveal Character Gen 13:8-13 (Abram/Lot)

III. Covenant is Claimed Gen 13:14-18

Circumstances lead to Conflict

READ Gen 13:1-7

Conflict=a difference that prevents agreement

Merriam-Webster’s Learner’s Dictionary (slide3) (slide4)

A. Conflict inevitable: Abram and possibly Lot had prospered materially in Egypt. Wealthy in livestock and silver and gold, servants. Wealth in cattle demands land for grazing, water for all animals. Question became: whose flocks would have choice pasture? Whose would be the first at the wells for water? What would happen to sheep that strayed away into other folds? Petty quarreling over resources between the servants would inevitably affect Abram and Lot’s relationship. We know from chapt14 that Abram had 300+ trained men in his household, Lot probably had a significant # too. We can see the possession of wealth showing its ugly side- the side that tends to divide families, isolate brothers, embitter friends, conflict of material possession.

Ie. Growing up my sisters and I often heard our mother say ‘ I won’t fight over anything, if any sibling wants something, give it to them, there’s nothing worth a relationship.” She had witnessed two of her uncles fight over money and stop speaking, even to the point of one refusing to go to the other’s funeral, affected their children, her cousins, grieved her. We grew up hearing: Nothing, not money or stuff is worth that”

Right after Gen 13:7a =7b “the Canaanites, Perrizzites were also living in the land at that time”

B. Conflict observed:. Wonder why they’re mentioned here again? Possible reminder to us that whenever we are at odds, conflict, strife, dissention- there is someone watching.

1. Waiting to see if this quarreling might be an opportunity for them to move in. Limited resources in the land.A family feud that might lead to war between the 2 men could be a chance for them to step in, conqueror one or both, take the wealth and livestock, people into captivity.

2. Watching their testimony. They might have said “these 2 men refused to worship our gods, they’ve said they worship the one true living God, created all earth, above all gods, they serve this God-and they’re fighting over their animals? Can’t even get along with each other. This little sentence= reminds us how people are watching how we handle conflict in our churches, also how we resolve conflict in our homes. “She supposed to be a Christian and she can’t get along with her mother-in-law, I thought Christians were supposed to love everybody? Or she fights all the time with her husband and she wants to tell me about peace with God?”

Truth: Conflict is inevitable and there will always be someone watching how you handle it. (slide5)

Application: Are you involved in some unresolved conflict? Husband,disagreeing and pulling in different directions? Way money is spent, how kids are disciplined, tension is building up, children watching you. Volunteer work, school, crisis center= can’t believe it, giving your time, faithful for years, new person comes in and takes your little corner, desk, phone, work space is gone, card table in the hall, people are watching. Work, unreasonable boss=never sure exactly what will please them, or a difficult co-worker who you really don’t trust but you find yourself side by side 8-9 hrs/day, people are watching. People are watching, someone is watching=how will you handle this? ENCOURAGE YOU to use the Peacemakers materials, Language alone gives you tools to discuss how you can/do handle conflict. Book. Peacemakers team at church help you.

How you handle this, what behavior choices you make reveal something about you.

Choices reveal Character Gen 13:8-13 (slide6)

A.Abraham READ Gen 13:8,9

1. Direct- Abram faced the situation, not in denial, knows there’s a problem. Break had to come, they needed more space, outgrown staying together, surely this parting could be done peacefully, resolve to solve this conflict.

2. Discernment, wisdom- We’re brothers, the relationship we share is far more important than our possessions.

3. Dignity and generosity- “please no more quarreling, you choose first, I’ll take what you don’t want” We know that Abram is Lot’s senior, his uncle, Abram should have the prior claim, stronger, leader of the households, spiritually=heir to God’s promises. He let Lot choose first because his strong desire is to make peace Mt 5:9 Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall see God. World says you’re a fool if you let someone else take advantage of you, God says you are blessed if you give up your rights for another.

4. Faith- Hadn’t God promised to take care of him, bless him w/and inheritance. Hadn’t God taken care of him in Egypt, wouldn’t he continue to be true to His word? (slide7)

F.B.Meyer “The man who is sure of God can afford to hold very lightly the things of this world. God Himself is his heritage and in having God, he has all.”

If God gave him things, he would hold them as a steward, in trust for God. If God took them away, that was fine too. Abram’s relationship w/God was primary and everything else was secondary. He sacrificed his own “rights” to make peace w/his nephew, He chose second because he trusted God first.

Truth: When you are trusting God to take care of you, you can relinquish your “rights” for the sake of the Kingdom of God on earth. (slide 8)

Life of faith like Abram is a life of reversed values. Jesus would tell us the same thing= Beatitudes= You think blessings come in being wealthy and powerful, but I tell you it’s in being poor in spirit; you think you should love your neighbor and hate your enemy, I tell you love both your neighbor and your enemy; you think if someone wants you to go a mile for them, I tell you go 2…and on and on. Living reversed values can only be real if you’re walking in faith and trusting God. When you do, you reflect the Kingdom on earth, you incarnate Jesus Christ.

Application: What personal right have you been willing to give up for sake of God’s peace on earth? Is there someone you need to go to and end a strife even if it means a personal sacrifice? Sacrifice of your pride, hurt, anger. This is not doormat peace= peace at any price, this is intentionally, willingly, purposefully seeking peace to please God first. Lot’s choice also reveals his something of his character, contrast to Abram.

B. Lot READ Gen 13:10-13 slide9

“Lot lifted his eyes”=his eyes were the binoculars of his heart

1. Self-focused – life is about me. When Abram offered the choice, if Lot had truly been a righteous man he would have deferred and said “no uncle, you must choose first, I’ll take what you don’t prefer” That’s not what happened. Lot snapped up the offer. In his spiritual nearsightedness he chose what looked good even though he knew v13 the men of Sodom were wicked before the Lord. Ez 16:49-50..”arrogant, overfed, unconcerned, did not help the poor and needy, haughty, did detestable things before God.”

2. Superficial- Gen 13:10-Put yourself in the picture, standing on the heights of Bethel, looking over the land of Promise. On 3 sides not much to attract you, business of raising sheep, hills all around. But to the southeast, broad valley, waters of the Jordan spread out, green, luxurious. Text tells us, it looked like Garden of the Lord, Eden, or the land of Egypt, maybe it reminded Lot of Egypt. Cities of this plain were large and wealthy, land of opportunity, you could get rich quick in the right kind of business. Perhaps Lot saw this as an opportunity to leave raising cattle and livestock, that’s exactly what happens. In time, he would live to regret his decision.

3. Independent of God - Gen 13:11 “He chose for himself”. No mention of prayer, asking God. Like Abram he has flocks, herds, tents, but no altars are mentioned in Lot’s life, he makes decisions for himself, based on what he thinks is best, what he can see. He doesn’t ask “Is this right for my family? Is this a good place to raise a family? Is this a place where we can worship God freely?” God is not involved in his decision, “MY WAY”

Truth: Our choices must not be based only on our desires but on divine guidance. (slide10)

Our eyes, feelings, our goals alone are not to be trusted. “The heart is deceitful and wicked and who can trust it” Me, without God, is very me first then you. I desperately need God’s divine guidance is what is truly best for me and others around me.

Also, we belong to a God who has told us he has a plan for our lives, Romans 12:2 “perfect, good, acceptable”- I want that kind of life don’t you? He says seek My guidance, seek My direction, seek Me.in sincerity, You must be real, honest, authentic when you ask God’s guidance because He may lead you away from what you think is good, pleasing, self satisfying, to the ultimate good, his good for your life.

So how to you discern God’s will, His plans for you?

Premise: He wants you to know His will, doesn’t want to trick you, confuse you.

Ps 32:8 I will guide you.

Times when God’s will is more clear than others “God the best I understand I believe this is your will, please stop me, re-direct if I’m reading you wrong”

Bible= supreme source of guidance. “everything for life and godliness”

Circumstances=ask do they match up w/scripture, never conflict w/biblical truths

Counsel of godly people= Prov 27:17 As iron sharpens iron so one man sharpens another

Peace= Inner peace, if there’s no peace, stop, wait, pray some more

All 4 together are pieces of one puzzle that we have to discern God’s will for our lives.

Application: Think of the decision or choice that you are making right now, big or small, what is it? How are you deciding what to do? After this lesson, none of us want to be like Lot. Danger of becoming like Lot is that you can get there slowly by degrees. Not one big bad choice, series of little choices, made w/o God, one after another in the wrong direction. Lot began as a decent man who ended in disaster in an environment that he chose for himself and his family. Looked at his “little choices”

“Looked” toward Sodom Gen 13:10 not just looking w/eyes, Abram also looked, heart.

Wasn’t responsible for existence, was resp for the appeal he let the city have over him

“pitched” his tents near Sodom Gen 13:12

“living in” Sodom Gen 14:12 tents are gone, he lives in the house in the city,

“sat in the gateway” in Sodom Gen 19:1,7,9..made it, climbed social ladder, leader of a corrupt, wicked city, compromised his integrity, moral standards, godly witness. How did it happen? Series of little wrong choices made w/o God.

Covenant is claimed Gen 13:14-18

Painful to see Lot pack up and move away, together a long time. Yes they had problems, yes Lot took the best land, but they were family and Abram would miss him. God comes to Abram, reassures him of promises READ Gen 13:14-17 (slide11) Abram, this is your land to your descendants, not Lot’s, I’m giving this land to you forever.

Not sure, but it’s possible that God wants Abram to experience this promise, not just believe in his heart, walk it with his feet, enjoy it, travel through it, look on this land, receive it with eyes of faith.

This is exactly what God wants for us: Possess the Promises

POCKET PROMISES-These are God’s promises for his children, but they really aren’t yours until you personally possess them, apply them to your life.

Application:

How many of God’s promises can you claim because you’ve walked through them? What verses have you memorized, they are written on your heart? Do you have them posted in your car, kitchen? HAND: I WILL NEVER LEAVE YOU…

READ Gen 13:18 moved his tents to oaks of Mamre near Hebron, 19 miles SW Jerusalem, builds an altar. Mamre=fullness, Hebron=fellowship w/Lord= describes Abram.

Conflicts, choices, we have them too, we live in the same fallen world. We too have a short time here to make our life investments. Chose like Lot, do our own things, grasp for the pleasures of this world, give God the leftovers, or we can chose like Abram to make our life choices, our life direction based on God’s Word to us, trusting that his way is best. Choose to be a woman of faith.

http://feeds.bible.org/dianne_miller/abraham/dmiller_abraham_lesson2.mp3
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Biblical Topics: 
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3. Genesis 14

Introduction= Exciting time to be studying Genesis, all the current events in Middle East, Egypt..esp chapt 14= within the last 90 years many of the cities mentioned in this war has been excavated. We have historical proof we are dealing with real places, real war, terrible destruction, many captives, and unbelievable yet successful rescue. Our study centers on the role played by one man- Abram. He is a man strangely aloof from the world, yet caring deeply for his own. When he finds out the situation, there is no hesitation in going to save Lot. After the battle, there is no hesitation in refusing to accept part of the spoils.

Outline:

I. Abram rescues Lot Gen 14:1-16 (slide2)

A. Inevitable War Gen 14:1-12

B. Invaluable Friend Gen 14:13-16

II. Abram receives Blessing Gen 14:17-24

A. King of Salem Gen 14:18-20

B. King of Sodom Gen 14:17,21-24

A. Inevitable War Gen 14:1-12.

1. Wealth from the plain of Jordan that attracted Lot also attracted foreign invaders. The text tells us that the original invasion of this territory 14 years previous to our story. For 12 years the people of this area paid tribute $ to Chedorlaomer (ked-aur-LAY-oh-mur) king of Elam (map slide 3).

Verse one=4 Kings from: Shinar= Babylon (Ur); Ellasar=Haran; Elam= Southwest Persia/Iran; Goiim=nations=Syria

Verse two=5 Kings from Sodom; Gomorrah; Admah; Zeboiim; Bela(Zoar)

No small battle

13th year, the kings of the plains rebelled, wanted their freedom. Chedorlaomer was considered the Napoleon of his age, mighty warrior, determined to conqueror and rule other nations. He heard of their revolt and was compelled to squash it and regain his power in the area. He forms a coalition w/3 other Eastern Kings v1 plans to ravage the whole country. Follow the map (slide 4) This is what most all scholars believe to be the route Transjordan Hwy; defeating their enemies as far as El Paran, then swing northwestward into the Negev highlands defeating the Amalekites, turn east defeating Amorites. One after another city falls to them, but the 5 Kings of the plains determine to join together to stand against them.

2. Battle v8-11 v8 Battle is in the Valley of Siddim = by Moses’ Day called the Salt Sea =Dead Sea today. Archeologists believe that during the centuries between Abram/Moses Dead Sea rose up submerging Sodom /other cities of the plain. But in Abram’s day this area, Valley of Siddim was full of slime pits, tar pits. As the Kings fled, some fell in them, others escaped to the hills, others were taken as prisoners along with their possessions.

3. Reason this battle is in Genesis =v12

Last time we saw Lot, just left Abram, living in the Valley of the Jordan, “pitched his tents” toward Sodom. Now “living in Sodom” Wonder as he was being carried off if he is any way regretted his decision to live in Sodom? Wonder if he asked “what am I doing here?”

Do you ever do that? I wish I hadn’t said that, I wish we’d never gone there. If only I hadn’t, I know you can’t go back, can’t change history, but I wonder when we’re going forward, making decisions, how deeply we think through our choices? We know our choices have consequences. We know when we make our choices w/o God’s direction we suffer our own consequences.

Picture yourself as Lot. Carried off by enemy warriors, captive, mistreated, little food, little water, probably a life of slavery ahead, maybe death. What would you be feeling/ thinking? Would it be: I deserve this, this is my fate, too bad, but here I am. Or would you be saying: Help, God save me, get us out of here, rescue me quick. I would!

We sing song “I called, you answered, you came to my rescue and I want to be where you are”= that’s grace, that’s God. Lot really needed some grace, need to be rescued.

I know there are times that real love means tough love, but it should never come with the “you deserve it” attitude, Instead, it should be I’m so sorry you’re in this hard place, I’m sorry these are the consequences, it breaks my heart.

Really enjoyed the discussion on the question “how do we decide when to rescue a family member?” First, that decision needs much prayer! Asking questions “Would helping continue enabling bad behavior? Do they want help? If you don’t would they die?” Remember: God wants to give wisdom when we seek Him,

James 1:5-6a - If you don't know what you're doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You'll get his help, and won't be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought. (MSG)

God wants to help us determine what to do, He knows what’s best: when to rescue and when to allow the consequences to be fully experienced.

In this case, potentially life or death situation, there is a rescue, Lot has an invaluable friend in Abram.

B. Invaluable Friend Gen 14:13-16

Abram heard READ Gen 14:13. Abram, the Hebrew. First time this word is used in scripture. Root word = “passed over”. Septuagint (Greek translation of the Hebrew bible dates to 325BC used worldwide until the Vulgate =Latin translation in the 4thC) translates the Hebrew as “the passenger” The first application of this name is Gen 10:24,25 “Shelah was the father of Eber”, Eber was an ancestor of Abram. Abram is still living near Hebron (Gen 13:18), become friendly with his neighbors, Mamre, Eschol, Aner, his allies.

Abram has basically two choices, two options: 1. Isolate 2. Get involved.

1. isolate=He could have argued for staying out of the situation: They’ve passed me by, I’d better stay home and protect my family because they are my first responsibility, I’m not going to put my family in danger. Or, God allowed this to happen, I’m not going to interfere with what God wants to do with Lot. Or “One things sure, you reap what you sow”, Lot chose to live with those foolish people, he probably deserved getting captured. I don’t see where I need to get involved.

This is not what we read…

2. Gen 14:14 READ. “he called out his trained men” Lot had been foolish, but he was “flesh and blood” and who among us hasn’t made a mistake? Most likely his life was at stake, as well as his wife and children. Abram prepared to go to battle, already trained his men to fight, ready, 318 plus his allies MAP

Quickly he covered 120 miles from Hebron to Dan to intercept the enemy. Commentators feel they probably could not have walked, too slow, mules would not have made the trip, possible they rode camels. When he got to Dan, made a surprise night attack, dividing his troops to appear to have greater numbers than they did. After the attack, he pursued the shaken and fleeing enemy to Hobath, north of Damascus. Then they circled back, collecting all the goods, all the people, including Lot, came home.

Abram took a great risk and rescued Lot, invaluable friend, we all want friends like Abram, who care deeply for us, there when we need them- but also we all need to be friends like Abram to others. Good definition of an invaluable friend=:

An invaluable friend discerns your greatest need and risks all to meet it.

Abram gave up any bitterness or resentment he might have felt toward Lot, he refused to stand off and let Lot suffer the consequences of this capture, instead he gave his all, his time, his energy, his money, potentially his very life for Lot, invaluable friend.

Are you this kind of person? Are you an invaluable friend to anyone? When you hear someone is hurting, in trouble, do you get involved or isolate, hoping someone else will take care of the situation. I know we need God’s wisdom and direction in our helping others, but if God asks you to risk something, give up something to help another person, would you? Be prepared to help others in life’s battles like Abram

Abram receives Blessing Gen 14:17-24

Time of great success is often the signal for great temptation to follow. Abram in returning from the battle would face all the temptations of success that comes after winning big. He has a new, growing reputation among the people in this area, jubilant to be released, he is the local hero.

King of Sodom who was hiding in the hills heard about Abram, went out to meet him in the King’s Valley READ Gen 14:17. However before they meet, the King of Salem appears.

King of Salem READ V18-20

Melchizedek. Meet him briefly here, next time=1,000yrs later Ps 110:4 Messianic psalm, “You, Messiah, are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek” we wait another 1,000yrs writer of Hebrews speaks of him again, this time further comparisons with Jesus the Messiah.

Who was he? Name= “King of Righteousness” was the King of Salem=peace

Ancient Jewish interpreters thought he was Shem (Gen 11) lived 600 yrs possible still living same time as Abram. Early church father Origin thought he was an angel. Ambrose =pre-incarnate Jesus Christ, MOST probable that he was a “type of Christ”= Heb 7:3=”like the Son of God” handout, chart comparing the two. His identity = “remains an enigma” we just don’t know exactly who he was.

Meeting- Melchizedek brought out bread/wine to refresh and strengthen these weary

Warriors. Hard to overlook the symbolism here= very elements of communion. Bread= symbol of life, John 6:50= he is the bread of life. Wine is symbol of joy (Ps 104:15) I Cor 11:24-26 we are to eat bread and drink the wine in remembrance of Christ’s life and death for us- for believers taking communion is one of the most intimate times of fellowship with God. Melchizedek comes to physically and spiritually strengthen Abram, turning his thoughts toward God. READ Gen 14:19,20.

Melchizedek challenges Abram to give all the glory to the one God, God Most High =El ELYON, one sovereign God, who was creator of all the universe.

He tells him: This has to be a “God thing” you overcame all odds, miracle win.

Abram’s reaction v20b is he responds as a faithful, humble, servant, presents a

Tithe, tenth of all. Interesting looking back with 21st century eyes, the first time we hear of the tithe is 500 years before Moses and the Law. Some Christians don’t tithe because they say we aren’t under law anymore but grace= Abram wasn’t under the law, it wasn’t even given yet, he was under grace-he gave a tenth. In giving the tithe he not only acknowledges Melchizedek as minister of God, but he also gives glory to God for his success.

King of Sodom – great contrast in the 2 kings and Abram’s response v21-24

Text seems to infer these events are happening back to back, as Abram is giving to King of Salem, the King of Sodom arrives. Sodom lost everything to Eastern Kings who then lost them to Abram. Now he wants them back READ Gen 14:21. Deal, I’ll take people, u=stuff.

Real temptation to Abram. New reputation as a mighty warrior, if he gave back the people (captives)=merciful, kept the goods=he would be rich. See his answer READ Gen 14:22-24. Abram knew that if he kept even a small part of the possessions from Sodom, he would never be able to say his sole dependence was on God. Later he might hear, “Oh yeah I know Abram’s rich, prosperous, has land, but remember he took all the spoils from that battle years ago” Abram said “I lifted my hand, I made an oath to God I wouldn’t take profit, nothing from this victory”

Two different Kings with two different perspectives on Abram’s success. King Melchizedek reminds Abram, God did this for you, all glory goes to him. King Sodom tempts him to take the spoils and compromise his oath. Abram who had eaten bread and wine with Melchizedek was strong in the strength of the Lord and kept his oath and refused the spoils.

Truth: Acknowledging God and expressing gratitude to Him for our successes gives Him glory in a watching world.

I’m reminded of athletes who are interviewed after a “win”- some say, I give God all the credit, thank Him for helping me, field goal and then a point to the sky. Heard people criticize=does God care who wins? Don’t know, but when an athlete thanks God for giving him the strength, ability, he’s acknowledging God and expressing gratitude. It’s easy for us, here in a bible study to be verbal in our thanks to God, but it takes boldness to publicly say I couldn’t have made it, done it, I wouldn’t have this success without God’s help. Is it hard for you? At work? At your children’s school? In your neighborhood?

Abram gave God the glory for his success. But he did not force his standards on others

READ Gen 14:24

Choice of following God is voluntary. We cannot force that decision on another, cannot make someone walk in faith. Individual choice. Those who have walked longer with the Lord should not force or expect younger Christians to live by standards they haven’t attained or experienced or have been taught. Years earlier, Abram himself didn’t take this public stand when he was in Egypt. Bible tells us it's the Holy Spirit's job to guide and teach us in truth. We need to be concerned with our own commitment, our own example to others, pray God will use us to affect other’s lives.

Are you ready to rescue others if God calls? Will you be faithful in giving God the glory when you have successes?

Prayer

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4. Genesis 15

Introduction

Have you ever made a covenant with someone? Definition =”solemn, binding agreement, pledge” Marriages are covenants, buying a house is a kind of covenant you make with a lending institution, becoming a church member is a covenant we make with a local church. In Genesis 15 God uses the customs of the day and “cuts a covenant” with Abram, makes a solemn, binding pledge to him. God repeats and clarifies His promises to Abram and in response, Abram believes God, believes what God has said to him and God then declares that Abram is “righteous”, “in right standing with God”, in God’s eyes he is righteous.

Outline:

I. Covenant Heir will be Abram’s son Gen 15:1-6

A. Promise

B. Predicament

C. Pledge

D. Position

II. Covenant confirmed by sacrifice Gen 15:7-11

A. Reminder

B. Request

C. Requirement

D. Response

III. Covenant reveals prophecy and land boundaries Gen 15:12-21

A. Prophecy

B. Presence

C. Promised land

Covenant Heir will be Abram’s son Gen 15:1-6

A. God’s promise to be shield and reward READ Gen 15:1.

1. “After this” After the battle, after the four kings from the north came to squash rebellion, victorious and took POWs including Lot, after Abram, his men and allies stages successful rescue, brought home people and goods, after he met Melchizedek, was blessed by him, gave him a tenth of everything, after he refused King Sodom’s offer of gain. NOW Abram is back home pondering what has just happened. Lot has left, Kings have left, friends (allies) have left and gone home with their rich profits- Abram is alone. Perhaps he’s thinking, would the armies come back? Was the King of Sodom offended? Would we be able to protect ourselves if they come? Maybe he was thinking about seeing Lot again, his wife, his children, his family- he questioned would he ever have a family of his own?

2. “The Word of the Lord” (first time in the bible the phrase is used) came to Abram in a vision with special words of reassurance, calls him by his name “Abram, don’t be afraid” first time in bible but there are 180 more times God says “Fear not”= all those things you’re worrying about, retaliation, being childless, lonely, don’t be afraid.

a. shield “broad piece of defensive armor that protects or defends us” ie Star wars ship Enterprise, protective shield. God’s shield doesn’t mean that we won’t have troubles in our lives it just means that when we do we can be assured that God is right there, He is with us in the battles of life, He will not let anything ultimately destroy us, eternally secure.

b. great reward = “given in return for a deed done”. Abram would learn If God is your reward it will more than compensate for any loss or loneliness you are feeling. God as his reward is really the core of all the promises to Abram- a relationship with God was so much more than descendants and land and blessings-

Don’t be afraid, I’m your God.

Where in your life do you need God to say this to you? Can you name the thing that causes you to be afraid? Do you think about it all the time? Relationship-child or husband, fear that your marriage won’t last through this year. Finances, job that is turning south for you or your spouse. Illness-that fear has captured you. Give God that fear. You can’t carry it alone without it paralyzing you. Over and over scripture tells us “don’t be afraid” handout

B. Abram’s Predicament READ Gen 15:2,3

Abram was a godly man but completely human. Been in the land about 10 yrs, 85 yrs old, promised that God would make thru him a great nation, all the families of the world be blessed thru his descendants, but he didn’t have any children. Did God mean for him to adopt one of his servants? Lot had left, no longer part of his household, common practice to adopt an heir if you were childless (part of adoption contract required the child to take care of the parent in their old age). Was adoption God’s plan?

Lesson here in the nature of Abram’s faith: he trusts God but he has elements of fear, doubt, uncertainty so he asks God what’s on his heart. Seems from God’s response that He welcomed Abram’s question, God saw his sincere desire to understand and to do God’s will and he responds with a gracious answer. The application to us is that We too can bring our questions and doubts to God in prayer. He looks at our heart’s condition when we ask. We don’t always get immediate answers like Abram, in fact, sometimes they are never clearly answered at all but we can bring our honest questions to God. I often say “God, I don’t understand what’s happening here, am I off track? Praying wrong about this? Show me your will.

C. God’s pledge Gen 15:4,5

a. this heir will be your own biological child b. your descendants would be as numerous as the stars (new imagery, dust=13:16 if you could count them) God is talking, right here, Moses takes a break and says “Abram has faith and that makes him right w/God” Pay attention reader, this is IMPORTANT.. READ v6

D. Abram’s position Gen 15:6 Abram’s a believer, believed God counts him righteous= Abram has saving faith, justifying faith

What did he believe? 1. God’s promise to be a shield and a reward. 2. Heir would be his biological child. 3. Numerous descendants. 4. Gen 12 blessings of land, great name, great nation- he believed God’s words to him. Verse quoted 3 times in NT (Romans 4:3;Gal 3:6; James 2:23). In Romans & Galatians Paul presenting a fact, Abram was saved, righteous not for his good works, not merited, before he was circumcised so it wasn’t because he kept any rituals-solely because he believed God, he had faith in God. That is the gospel=good news= saved by faith, not works, but belief. James tells us that true faith will result in good works of obedience because we love God and want to please him, not that we are earning his favor. Our righteousness before God today is the same-one difference=we believe God has given us His Son, the Messiah, the one prophesied, the Savior he has come. When we put our faith in his death on the cross for our sins, the power of the resurrection =we are made right with God. The Promises of eternal life are ours by faith.

Clarify word belief=sure when we share with others they understand, it’s more than an intellectual that there is one God James 2:19 demons also believe, shudder. Righteousness comes from a personal, heart belief. Not only did Jesus come for the sins of the world, he came for my sins- some point in your life, you say “Jesus, I am a sinner, I do believe you are the promised savior, I want/need your forgiveness, I have faith that your death on the cross covered my sins. I know I can never be good enough, but just like Abram I believe in your Word, by faith I’m trusting that is enough. Faith in the Word of God, the Word became flesh dwelt among us, beheld his glory, glory of the only begotten, full of grace and truth.

Truth= God counts us righteous solely on the basis of our faith in Him.

This can be hard for us to really accept, because in this world=nothing is free, you have to earn it, or work for it, achieve it, be good enough for it, we think we have to do something to earn favor with God, that’s not what verse 6 says, it says he believed, had faith. Jesus would say the same thing. READ John 6:28,29. We think we have to do something so God will love us, he says just believe me, trust me, listen to me.

Application= on your spiritual journey chart, when did you say you trusted God? What date did you say was the time when Jesus became your personal lord and savior? If you didn’t have a date, did you have a season when you can look back and say, that’s when I started trusting Christ? If not, why not? What do you think keeps you from a commitment of faith?

Many if not most of you have put your faith in Christ, settled for you, but could you explain to someone else how to be like Abram, right with God? If you had the chance would you be willing to talk about why Abram was credited as righteous? Could you put your faith into words? At work? With a neighbor?

God continues to talk to Abram, reminds him READ Gen 15:7

Covenant confirmed with Sacrifice Gen 15:7-11

A. Reminder Gen 15:7

I’ve done this, I’ve brought you here, not to wander aimlessly, but to settle, stay, possess this land, your land,

B. Request Gen 15:8

Abram says ok, but how can I know for sure? He questions God.It’s true that our faith is often mixed with doubt. Lord I believe, help my unbelief. God replies I’m going to make a covenant with you.

C. Requirement Gen 15:9

Today in our courts, when we want to take an oath, we raise our right hand, swear to tell the truth. President takes oath of office, puts his hand on the bible, raising his right hand, swears to uphold the Constitution and his office. That’s our culture. Islamic nations men swear to an oath by the beard of Mohammed. In ancient days when written agreements were rare, men would bind their contracts with solemn religious ceremonies. Two parties would take animals, slay them, divide in two, then walk between symbolizing that they themselves would rather be torn in two like the animals rather than break their agreement. God uses this human ritual to confirm to Abram that His word is true, binding. He swears by Himself these promises are real. God cuts a covenant with Abram. Unconditional, nothing is required of Abram for this covenant to be valid. Tells Abram go get the animals, heifer, goat, ram, dove pigeon, interesting these are very same animals that would later be required in the law for sacrifices , that would be given to Moses 500 later.

D. Response of Abram Gen 15:10,11

Abram is obedient, prepares the animals, sat down to wait and watch, birds above smelled dead animals, Abram had to drive them away, eventually he got sleepy and “fell into a deep sleep”

Covenant reveals prophecy and promised Land Gen 15:12-21

A. Dream Gen 15:12

Worn out from a long day of talking to God preparing the sacrifices, keeping birds away, “darkness fell upon him”- nightmare in his heart. God unfolds the future to him, clear picture of Exodus.

B. Prophecy Gen 15:13-16

Descendants are strangers, foreigners in another land not this land. Slaves, afflicted 400 years, nation they served will be judged, your offspring will come out of that slavery with great possessions. Abram you will be spared, die in peace, fourth generation will return to Canaan when the sin of the Amorites (collective term for all the people groups in Canaan) reaches full measure.

I wonder in this dream, this “dreadful darkness” did Abram see a vision of his people in bondage? Did he imagine how terrible it would be for them? Did he see the whips and slavemasters, mothers trying to hide newborn babies? It said it was a “dark dream” yet after this darkness there would be light, they would return to this land, it would be their land.

Abram sees manifestation of God’s presence READ Gen 15:17,18a a smoking firepot, blazing torch. I read this week that this imagery was “like God’s signature signed to the contract” his presence passed between the pieces and he said

C. Promised land READ Gen 15:18b-21

Land boundaries are disputed, even among Jewish scholars. Does the river of Egypt mean the Nile or the Wadi–el-Arish (between the Negev and Sinai)? All agree that these boundaries have not yet been completely fulfilled, closest was during King Solomon but even then much of the territories were not under his central command although they may have paid tribute to him. Maybe the Time is ahead, perhaps it will be when Messiah Jesus returns.

Genesis 15: God’s covenant with Abram. What do you think this meant to him, this sealing of the covenantal promises? Surely it calmed his fears, grew his faith, gave him hope, courage for the future. The very same is true for us as daughters of Abraham as we too believe in the Lord of the Promise. I want to assure you that God’s covenant with us today, the new covenant through Jesus Christ is his promise to us of His presence, his peace, confidence that our righteousness is also based on faith, our promised land in eternity with him is our inheritance, and that as heirs of the covenant, God is our shield and our very great reward.

Prayer:

God, our Sovereign Lord,

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5. Genesis 16, 17

Introduction

Did you get a chance to see the Nicole Kidman story in People magazine? She and her husband just went public about their new baby born Dec 28, 2010 by a surrogate mother. Article said very excited, love their new baby. Nicole, at 43 and having had several miscarriages, chose to have another woman carry her child for nine months, give birth to her baby. In our culture, with choices of invitro and adoption, surrogates are somewhat rare and expensive I’m sure. 20+ years ago Baby M made national news. As it became medically possible for one woman to carry another woman’s baby we entered into all kinds of new legal dilemmas. For baby M there followed numerous court battles to determine who should have custody and what were the surrogate’s rights? Heartache over infertility and the consequential choices we make are as old as Abram’s day. I told you when we started this study, we get to look in on Abram’s dysfunctional family which looks a lot like our families, this week snapshot of reality in his household. This week we get to see Sarai, brokenhearted, wanting a child so badly she resorts to second-best surrogate mother Hagar. Abram, longing for an heir, agrees. The trouble that resulted from this poor decision could only be worked out by an intervention from God. We’ll see too that God desires the people of the Promise to be set apart from others, they are to be covenant keepers, and they must be circumcised.

Outline

I. Sorrows result from Sarai’s suggestion Gen 16:1-6

II. Submission to God brings birth of Ishmael Gen 16:7-16

III. Sign of the Covenant is circumcision Gen 17:1-27

Sorrows result Gen 16:1-6

A. Situation READ Gen 16:1. Sarai was childless, must have bothered her greatly. She knew the promises that God had made-Abram must have told her. This latest revelation from God =Abram would be the biological father-set her mind spinning. He’s father, but who’s the mother? Sarai became focused on finding a way this prophecy could be fulfilled. So she makes a suggestion to Abram READ Gen 16:2.

B. Suggestion Common custom as you read in the Code of Hammurabi. When a wife was barren she could provided her husband w/a concubine or slave or servant that belonged to her-for the purpose of childbearing. Surrogate mother. When the child was born, legally the child would belong to the wife and an heir of the husband. Jacob, Sarai’s grandson had 4 of his 12 children born to concubines. But however common it was, it was not God’s way, not God’s plan. Gen 2:24 =a man will leave his mother/father, united to his wife, they will become one flesh. Sarai’s motives may have been really good (to provide an heir of the promise for her husband) but it’s not enough to have good motives, our methods must be right too. Age old lesson: the end never justifies the means. Sarai had grown impatient of waiting (does that describe you?) Instead of praying, seeking God’s counsel, she decided she would help Go out but she was WRONG. 1. wrong against God-we will see it was not His will or His timing. 2. wrong against Abram- leading him away from trusting God for this provision. 3. wrong against Hagar-Sarai saw her as a way to solve their problems, she was used without any regard for her feelings. 4. wronged herself- she was to be robbed of the great privilege of giving Abram his first born son. 5. wrong against the child- he could never be the heir, born of a “bondswoman”.

Warning: Never promote the cause of God by manipulation. We bring upon ourselves complications, heartaches, and sorrows God never intended us to have.

Application: Who among us hasn’t tried? Who among us hasn’t tried to help God out in some way? We have loved ones, our children, husbands, parents we want “saved”, want them to get right w/ God. So we think if they just “hear” the right preacher, go to the “right” counselor, attend the “perfect” conference, then they’ll change, we use every little method we can think of to get them there. The right school for your child- nothing you wouldn’t do to make sure they’re with the perfect teacher, best classroom. These are great motives but watch out for the wrong methods. When we try to manipulate open doors that God has shut we’re really saying God, I can’t trust You to make the best happen here, so I’m going to help You out. Sounds ridiculous doesn’t it and yet it’s a temptation we all face.

C. Abram agreed READ Gen 16:2b and he never should have. Why? He had just made a covenant with all powerful God, he had a vision and a dream of his future. Why didn’t he seek God’s counsel? Why didn’t he go to his altar and ask God?

“No perfect feet walk the path of faith” W.H.Griffith Thomas

This walk of faith is like being a toddler, take a few steps, fall down, few more, slip again. No matter how spiritually mature we are, we can always slip.

D. Success READ Gen 16:3,4a Hagar probably was brought from Pharaoh’s court when they went to Egypt during the famine (Gen 12). She’s pregnant, imagine Abram’s excitement at last he would have a child.

E. Struggle READ Gen 16:4b Lived in close quarters, everyone knew Hagar was pregnant with Abram’s child. Maybe this pregnancy made Hagar think she was now equal w/Sarai, no longer her servant, perhaps even superior, Abram might love her because h the child. Result was inevitable: conflict in the house. When I really need to understand a biblical passage=go to the Children’s bible. One children’s version of story= “One day Hagar did not behave toward Sarah like she was supposed to. She disobeyed God-she stopped being loving and kind to Sarah, began to make fun of Sarah for being old. She “Ha,ha, I’m going to have a baby and you can’t. You’re too old.” Sarah said “be quiet Hagar, you’re just a servant” READ Proverbs 30:21-23Pretty easy to understand the mess this household had become. Sarah’s pride, jealousy, hurt caused her to turn against Abram, she blamed him for everything. READ Gen 16:5. Abram is in a bad spot, Hagar did belong to Sarah, so he takes the passive way out- seems indifferent to the conflict, says you handle it, she’s your servant, surrenders to her his position as head of the household. Sarah takes advantage – treats Hagar so harshly that she fled, she ran away.

Truth: Conflict always results from manipulation.

Whether it’s conflict among different people, or inner conflict, when we try to make things happen, work things out our way, stop waiting on God start manipulating our lives, we are headed for problems. And then when things go wrong, things don’t turn out the way we hoped, we often blame God or someone else. Sarah got what she suggested, she’s the one who offered Hagar to Abram for a baby, she got what she had wanted, but it turned out awful- how did this good idea turn out so bad? Somehow it must Abram’s fault.

I don’t think there’s a woman alive who doesn’t understand Sarai or relate to her in some way. My husband laughingly says the secret to our 42 yr old marriage is he gets up each day and says “I’m sorry”… he doesn’t necessarily know why he’s saying it, but he does. I own there is something in my sin nature that wants to blame others, he’s the closest, for my own behavior.

Application: is there conflict in your life right now because you have tried to run ahead of God? Is there a prayer God hasn’t answered and you’re losing your patience in waiting for something to happen?

I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD Psalms 27:13,14

Submission to God brings about the birth of Ishmael Gen 16:7-16

A. Hagar fled Gen 16:7 traveled quite far, wilderness of Shur (Northern part of Sinai Peninsula) probably on her way back to Egypt. No telling how this story might have ended if God hadn’t intervened.

B. Angel of the LORD found her. Many people believe this was a:

Theophany=visible manifestation of God

why? 1. Gen 16:10 “I will so increase your descendants” First person, speaking w/attributes of divinity. Hagar says Gen 16:13 “You are the God who sees me” This is a characteristic of the God of the scriptures who identifies w/outcasts, victims of sin, mistreated. In John 9 story of the blind man who no one seemed to care that he was healed, could see, he testified that Jesus must have been from God to be able to work that miracle, the religious rulers, threw him out. Just like God, just like Jesus, to show up when everyone else leaves Ps 27:10 “Though my father and my mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me” Hagar is found by God not because she is looking but because she is in need.

God never fails to see what is going on and He is vitally interested in everything that touches one of His creatures. We may attempt to run away from things that happen to us, but we cannot get beyond God. Our God seeks to save the lost. Donald G. Barnhouse

C. Question Gen 16:8 Where have you come from and where are you going? Interesting that Hagar’s name=stranger or flight. Isn’t that what want to do when things get tough? We want to flee, leave. We live in a world that encourages it. Marriages= if this doesn’t work out, don’t worry, there’s someone else for you, in fact let’s sign a pre-nuptial agreement to split our stuff when we divorce even before we marry. Parents= if it gets too much, one of you could leave too. Life is full of demanding positions, sometimes it’s God’s will we move on from a job that is too tough for our physical and mental health, but we need to make sure God is leading. In our story, God leads by giving her a command and a prophecy

D. Command Gen 16:9=Go back and submit to her mistress, return not as Abram’s concubine but as Sarai’s servant. How hard that must have been. When we run away, we never want to go back. That’s how we start over, returning to the point where we’ve gone wrong, make things right.

Prophecy READ Gen 16:10-12= Ishmael name means “God hears” God was telling Hagar He hears the cry of the afflicted, the needy, the lonely, He heard her as she cried at night.

Prediction has come true: 1. “Wild donkey” in that culture not a derogatory term, free nomad, Bedouin Arabs who wanted to dwell in the wilderness, loved the freedom of living in tents, hated settled communities, adventuresome spirit, Ishmael became the father of these nomadic people of the desert.

2. “strife” We know there has been much “in-fighting” among this people group, it’s one of the reasons why there has been such challenges to truly unifying the Arab nations, history of strife.’

E. Hagar’s belief Gen 16:13,14. This young Egyptian girl realized it is God Himself, the God of Abram who has been speaking to her, believes because she has had a personal encounter with the True God. Not only did you hear me, you saw me. EL ROI- You saw my struggle my pain, rebellion, yet you still loved me and cared for me.

Application: You and I need to hear this too, that God loves us, He knows the hurts we’ve had, disappointments, mistakes we’ve made, He hears, He sees, He cares, He loves us too.

F. Hagar’s obedience Gen 16:15,16 Hagar goes home a changed woman. How do we know? Accepted back into the family. Abram allows the child to be named by her as God had instructed. Her behavior revealed that she had seen God and trusted the God of Abram.

Application: Can you trust God to make something good out of the turmoil of your life? When Hagar stopped running, started submitting, God was able to bless her. Are you willing to use God’s way to solve your problems-even if it means wait, trust, submit, obey?

Sign of the Covenant is Circumcision 17:1-27

A. 13 YEARS pass, Ishmael is growing up, Abram is loving him, perhaps pouring his life into him for surely he is the son of the promise. Must be, at 99 Abram’s body (Romans 4:19)is as “good as dead” as far as fathering a child. Lord has reasons for all his delays.

Truth: God not only does right, He does right in the right time, and His delays are not His denials.

God has allowed Abram to get too old for it to seem possible to father a child so He can show Himself as El-Shaddai, God Almighty is a new name in Genesis for God, already had Elohim, Jehovah, Adoni (LORD), El Roi, now El Shaddai= All sufficient Power.

B. Walk before Me and be blameless Gen 17:1,2. Blameless, “perfect” = Hebrew word “tamin” 44x =w/o blemish, complete, full, sincerely sound, upright, whole. We will never be sinless as long as we are human, but we can be blameless, that kind of life is assured by a close walk with God, a walk of faith.

C. Two new aspects of the Covenant in 1. Name changes. Your name Abram from “Exalted Father” to “Father of a multitude. Sarai’s name from my princess to “princess”. 2. You’re going to have a baby by Sarah, call him Isaac. When God said that Abraham fell on the floor laughing, 100 yrs old, Sarah is 90. Then it hit him, what about Ishmael, oh I love him so much-can’t he be the one, can’t he be the son of the promise? God says Ishmael is not the heir, but there is a blessing for him too, he will be fruitful Gen 17:20. Make no mistake this covenant will go through Isaac, not Ishmael.

D. Sign of this covenant for you and all your descendants will be circumcision= circum=around, cise= cutting, Cutting around the male foreskin.

Surrounding Canaanites did not practice this ritual, but other people groups did circumcise. Egyptians circumcised young males as they entered the priesthood and other groups circumcised as a rite into adulthood, but no community administered it to all males at birth. This everlasting Gen 17:13 rite would be a sign to all peoples that the community of Hebrews were to cut away from the things of the world that would hinder them from their allegiance to God, sign of commitment and surrender, it had no saving merit, but it was an act of obedience that signified an internal faith.

D. Abraham Gen 17:23-27 “On that very day”, Abraham had his whole household circumcised. He obeyed w/o hesitation what God commanded.

Example to us. We learn from his mistakes and his successes. Not perfect, but he is blameless and obedient. Promise believer.

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6. Genesis 18, 19

Introduction

Do you ever feel your life is full of contrasts? I mean, some days are just great, everything clicks, and other days everything seems to go wrong? One day you wake up feeling great, optimistic, ready for life. Other days you don’t even get out of bed and you know you’re in a bad mood, going to get worse. Sometimes we’re completely satisfied and others we’re starving, so hungry. One day we rejoice at a wedding and the next we cry at a funeral. Life is like that, we understand life is full of contrasting emotions, events and experiences. Our lesson is a study of contrasts, tremendous contrasts. Not by accident that Gen 18 is placed beside Gen 19, and when we study them back to back the contrasts are striking, most important of all, difference between a walk of faith and a walk of the world, walking by faith in God and walking saturated by the values of the world.

In Gen 18, the divine guests are graciously welcomed; in Gen 19 their very lives are threatened. In Gen 18, an obedient, covenant making household is blessed, in Gen 19 a degraded, vile community is destroyed. In Gen 18 a man of faith shines as an example to us, while in Gen 19 a man of the world falls as a warning to all who will listen.

Outline:

I. A Divine Meal (Gen 18)

A. Abraham entertains 3 guests Gen 18:1-8

B. Sarah is told the fulfillment of the promise Gen 18:9-15

C. Abraham intercedes to save the righteous Gen 18:16-33

II. A Divine Destruction and Deliverance (Gen 19)

A. Lot escapes the destruction of Sodom Gen 19:1-29

B. Lot’s daughters incestuously produce heirs Gen 19:30-38

I. A Divine Meal

A. Abraham entertains 3 guests Gen 18:1-8

1. READ Gen 18:1,2 The LORD – appeared, 3 men. Real visitation, not a dream, not a vision, who were these 3 men? Two main interpretations:

1. God himself and 2 angels. God appearing in human form (Theophany) Text says its’ “the LORD” = Jehovah, Yahweh, Gen 18:1,13,17,20,26,33. Learn in Gen 19 that 2 angels enter Sodom and perhaps they were 2 of the “men” that Abraham entertained.

2. Another view= The three men were a threefold manifestation of God himself=Trinity. Rubelov’s Trinity Icon= world’s most famous Russian icon

This view has been held by the Orthodox church for almost 2000 years. We do see a switch from singular Gen 18:1 the LORD to plural Gen 18:2 3 men, they washed their feet, ate, rested, they asked Gen 18:9 where is Sarah, singular Gen 18:10 the LORD…

“Whatever is going on here is complicated, and Scripture doesn’t give us enough information to be sure we have it all straightened out. This much we can rely on: The three men, or angels, who appeared to Abraham are a visitation by the Lord, God appeared in the form of three persons.” Frederica Mathewes-Green

2. WELCOME Gen 18:2-8

Picture the scene, Abraham is sitting in shade of tent trying to get an afternoon breeze, probably hot, looks up, surprised to see 3 strangers. Gets, up and hurries, he ran to them, bowed down, greeted them warmly. Hard to know if he recognizes their divine nature at this point because a generous reception was common in the Orient at this time. Please stay and they agree-excitement builds, he starts hurrying around and gets everyone else running too. Sarah, Gen 18:6 hurry up, quick starts baking, Gen 18:7 runs to pick out the best calf- to the servant –hurry up and cook it. When the meal is ready, and they start eating, Abraham stands off the side ready to serve them. Cultural custom that Sarah would not be present during the meal, she was secluded, but right behind the tent’s curtain Sarah has her ear right up to the door, listening.

B. Sarah is told the fulfillment of the promise Gen 18:9-15

The appearance of the 3 men, the meal, everything that has happened so far has all been building up to the purpose of the visit READ Gen 18:9..this trip is all about Sarah. God is on his way to judge the wickedness of Sodom, but this visit to this household is about an announcement. READ Gen 18:10 When Sarah heard that he immediate reaction was the same as Abraham’s= she laughed (17:17) but her laughter was seemingly skeptical, as if she was thinking “come on, you’ve got to be kidding, that’s not going to happen” because READ Gen 18:13-15 definitely busted, even her cover-up was exposed.

We know that Sarah believed in the promise of a child, even gave Hagar to Abraham to accomplish the promise, and that’s what everyone believed at this point, Ishmael was the heir, but that she would get pregnant? That she at her age would have a baby? How could the promise include her? READ Gen 18:14 is there anything too hard for the LORD?

One of the great questions of the bible.

I am the LORD, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me? Jeremiah 32:27

For nothing is impossible with God. Luke 1:37

Jesus looked at them and said, With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible. Matthew 19:26

This question, is anything too hard for the Lord, demands a personal response because it’s true that:

God expects his people to believe his promises because nothing is too difficult for Him.

Application: I don’t know what your impossible situation is: shaky marriage, you have no relationship with your parents, siblings, impossible to meet your financial obligations, habit that seems too hard to break, job that causes you stress and grief but there seems no way out. Is God asking you this same question? READ Gen 18:17 Most of us have a high view of God, He’s all powerful but do your words and your behavior agree?

Ie My husband is a developer, fall of 2009 fully in the recession; money became “tight” became evident that his job would be ending soon. We began praying for that next job. I prayed Phil 4:19 My God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.

Husband needs to work, too young to retire; I tell him that all the time… I also prayed there would be no transition between jobs. Feb 2010 finished one job on Friday and started another on Monday. I knew God would somehow meet our needs, never really believed He would answer the “no transition” part, I asked but didn’t have faith. I think perhaps God graciously wanted to remind me He could do the impossible, it’s not a matter of can He do this? Is it His will and purpose? Is it what He has promised?

God wanted Abraham and Sarah to believe His promises; He wanted the child of the promise to be a supernatural gift, important that he and she believed in a God that can do the impossible.

C. Abraham intercedes to save the righteous Gen 18:16-33

Guests start to leave, Abraham walks out with them. Tradition: top of the hills that overlook a long ravine leading to the Dead Sea. God contemplates Gen 18:17-19 shall I tell Abraham, my friend what is going to happen? Yes, because I can trust him to faithfully tell others about Me, My ways, my judgments. Trust is the foundation of all our intimate relationships. Abraham had to know the reason for the destruction so he could explain and warn his children, to tell their children. READ Gen 18:20 what was the “sin” of Sodom?

CHART (listing all biblical references to Sodom’s sin)

These cities had been miraculously rescued by God through Abraham from death and captivity; they had heard the testimony of Melchizedek of “Most High God” given light about the one true God, rejected the way of Abraham, turned back to a wicked, evil lifestyle. When the Lord said “I will go down and see for myself” perhaps Abraham thought Lot lives in Sodom, not only Lot but all those people I met years ago, surely they are not all wicked, surely there are some good people down there. Would God sweep away the righteous with the wicked? What kind of justice is that? God wouldn’t do that, would he? Abraham begins to intercede for primarily for Lot but he is asking in this conversation some big questions about the character and nature of God. Begins asking the lord “would you really destroy the whole city if you found 50 righteous people? READ Gen 18:25 No, how about 45? No, 40? No, 30? 20? Just one more 10? No if there are 10 I won’t destroy. Either Abraham dared not go further and test God’s patience or he thought that surely there were 10 righteous people in Sodom, conversation ends. Lord leaves, Abraham goes home but he has learned

The Lord responds to intercession on behalf of the righteous

You can be assured God hears and invites your prayers for others.

Throughout this questioning and answering Abraham has been probing to find out what is divine justice and will God preserve the righteous as He deals with wickedness?

God, the Judge of all the earth, does right: ultimately the righteous are spared and the ungodly are judged.

That is a comforting and convicting truth. One day all the evil: the sex trafficking, the murders, rapes, child abuse, the tortures will be judged by God- He will do right. He will also save the righteous remnant.

“Israel would continue to believe that God is a righteous Judge that righteousness exalts a nation, and that righteous people preserve society” Allen Ross

This is the convicting part= you and I are called to live as righteous people, Jesus would save live as “salt and light” in a dark world. We are to teach righteousness to our children so that they will be “salt and light” in their world, so that the world might know God, the Judge of all the earth, does right.

A Divine Destruction and Deliverance Gen 19

A. Lot escapes Gen 19:1-29

1. City Gen 13:10- beautiful city, luxurious, most likely cultured in the arts of that day, know they were wealthy in business but in God’s sight they were self-indulgent and perverted. They flaunted their sin and were ripe for God’s judgment.

2. READ Gen 19:1-3 Lot knew if these angels were to spend the night in the square they would probably be killed. Sodom by day seemed peaceful but the nights were dangerous.

3. Men of the City Gen 19:4-11 surround the house. Little doubt what the men of Sodom had in mind, the kind of sexual activity which has given its name. Lot’s offer of his daughters to the men to gang rape them instead seems incredible to us- but it’s a confirmation of the perversion of their minds and values to think that this would be an acceptable, to substitute his virgin daughters, God said “enough is enough”, there is a limit to the evil I can stand.

4. Angel’s warning Gen 19:12-13 angels tell him to warn his family to get out of the city, destroyed. Imagine this scene: middle of the night, crowd outside, blinded disperse, Lot goes out back door, runs over to his extended family’s house, gets them up, you’ve got to flee, leave the city, quick, run, it’s going to be destroyed- they laughed at him. He’s had too much to drink, go back home, sleep it off- No one believes him-why should they? He had long ago disqualified himself to be a spokesman for God, they way he lived.

People lose respect for those who compromise their beliefs

They never listen to those whose walk doesn’t live up to their talk. Lot’s trying to tell his family about God, his judgment on sin, no one believes him.

5. Lot hesitated Gen 19:16 Left to himself, he probably would have perished too. This is where intercessory prayer comes in READ Gen 19:29 The angels had to literally drag Lot and family out of the city.

6. Instructions Gen 19:17 Escape, don’t look back, don’t in the valley, go to the mountains.

7. Lot reluctant Gen 19:18-22 Tries to compromise, not content on escaping with his life, he wants to choose where to go, remarkable the angels agree, lot escaped to Zoar.

8. Destruction Gen 19:24,25 Archeologists tell us this valley was probably full of combustible material, great quantities of asphalt and sulfur even are found in the Dead Sea region. Possible that a great earthquake occurred, accompanied by lightning setting fires and explosions containing burning sulfur and rocks that would have indeed looked like rain from heaven. Massive shaking of this region may have depressed the cities allowing the waters of the Dead Sea to flow over them.

9. Lot's wife looked back Gen 19:26 word really translates she stopped, turned around, looked intently, gazed hard at what she was leaving. She deliberately disobeyed God’s instructions when everything depended on believing and obeying them. Possibly explosions threw great quantities of salt deposits on her and buried her. Jesus would use her as an illustration “Remember Lot’s wife? Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it” (Luke 17:32) Her heart was attached to Sodom and she lost her life, She died, what a tragedy, but it’s not over yet, the last of the story is the worst.

B. Lot’s daughters Gen 19:30-38

1. Lot spent the last of his days in a cave in the mountains. Far cry from the tents of Uncle Abraham. Sad ending to a sad life resulting from a series of little wrong choices.

He lost his home, possessions, career, reputation, wife, strength, saved as by fire.

2. Daughters lost all true respect for their father. He had protected their virginity in Sodom, until last night, offered them to the crude crowd. Now, they were isolated from the world, the world as they knew it was destroyed, how could they ever marry and have their own families? Die childless in the cave. Unless…their proposal just proved how the sexual perversion of Sodom had permeated their thinking. They devise a plan to get their father drunk and sleep with him thus perpetuate their family’s line. There’s no shame, no sorrow, no sense of sin, no concept of the holiness of God, they were only living out the moral standards that they had grown up with. How tragic and how convicting thinking of our children growing up in our culture in our times.

3. Result: Moab and Ammon were born, from them 2 nations who became bitter and persistent enemies of Israel.

What a story of contrasts: First you have a man of faith who believes God for the impossible situations of his life, shares his faith w/his household, prays for others, who is on the brink of the greatest and most fulfilling part of his life-compared to a man of the world who has compromised his stand as a believer in the one true God, chose the pleasures of the world over the peace of God, who was saved out of destruction but sacrificed all he held dear, his treasures were earthly, corruptible, temporary. These same choices are before you and me too. Jesus said, Remember Lot’s wife, Remember Abraham.

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7. Genesis 20, 21

Introduction

What would you grab and take out of your house if it caught on fire? Staggering statistics for women that say- family photo album. All your memories, your celebrations, your holidays, your parents, your siblings, your spouse, your children captured in the photos. Step back pick the most important of those photos, probably the birth of a baby, whether it’s your baby, grandbaby, your niece, nephew, godchild-baby pictures are so precious. Here are some of our new babies that have been born recently during our study this year. That day, that day the baby is born, nothing like it, excitement, the joy, the pride, the long waiting is over and the dream of the future begins. A new baby is just magical. I want you and I to capture that emotion, height of that feeling, because that’s exactly what happens in our lesson today. We have other snapshots of this family to look at today but they take backseat to the birth of Isaac, the laughter, the joy, the total happiness that this baby brought to Abraham and Sarah- the son of the promise is born. This lesson is also about God and His interventions into our lives and the lessons we can learn about His character and His promises.

Outline:

I. Preservation of the Promise in Gerar Gen 20

II. Promised Son Isaac is born Gen 21:1-7

III. Expulsion of Hagar and Ishmael Gen 21: 8-21

IV. Peaceful treaty at Beersheba Gen 21:22-34

I.Preservation of the Promise in Gerar

A.Setting READ Gen 20:1 MAP Gerar. Why did he move? Not sure, possible depletion of grazing lands in Hebron area, exact location of Gerar is in doubt, but we believe it’s about 40 miles southwest of Mamre, 11 miles southeast of Gaza. Moving south, it is still within the land that has been promised to Abraham, new city, new place but Abraham reverts to old ways of handling danger- he lies about Sarah, he she’s my sister.

There’s a sense of déjà vu here, haven’t we read this before? The details are so different we know this is another story than what we read back in Gen 12. But after all that Abraham and Sarah had been through, their maturing walk of faith, learning to trust and believe in the power of God, it seems Abraham would know not to pass her off as his sister again. But that’s exactly what he does, and then the king sends for her she is taken into his harem. She’s 89, maybe she’s just plain ageless and beautiful or perhaps this would be a political marriage, marriage of alliance- by now Abraham is quite wealthy powerful, but whatever the reason for the king taking her, this situation is a threat to the promises of God. Once more, to protect Abraham and the promise.

B. God intervenes and in a dream alerts Abimelech that he has taken another man’s wife and he is good as dead. Look at Abimelech’s response READ Gen 20:4 I’m not guilty God says I know I have kept you from sleeping with her, but now return her to her husband and if you don’t you’ll all die.

C. Early next morning Abimelech confronts Abraham in front of all his officials. Talk about “coverup blown” READ Gen 20:9,10 Abraham tries to defend himself= I was sure this was a godless place and you would have killed me because of my wife, listen she is really is my half-sister, we made this deal, prove your love for me, if you go along with this plan, just say you’re my sister.

Derek Kidner observes “ on the brink of Issac’s birth-story here is the very Promise put in jeopardy, traded away for personal safety”

The king gives Sarah back to Abraham with parting gifts, and the catastrophe is prevented. Don’t you love the ironic humor READ Gen 20:16 “brother”.

Despite this situation Abraham, the prophet, is called on to pray for God mercies on behalf of Abimelech and his Kingdom. God miraculously restored gift of fertility.

Certainly this is a story of Repeated Sin and we all can relate to making mistakes, sinning the second time around. Not only that but we see in the Life of Abraham that

Our foolish acts can have great impact in the lives of others, especially those watching our witness.

This story is another warning to us of how seriously we need to avoid repeated sins and how carefully we need to act around others especially unbelievers.

But I think this story also teaches about God and His involvement in our lives.

God honors and fights to preserve purity in marriage

Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure Heb 13:4

God kept Abimelech from sinning against Sarah and Abraham’s marriage, wants to protect our marriages too.

God intervenes to preserve His purposes in our lives

Ps 139 God created us, knew us even in the womb, all our days on earth are pre-ordained by Him, Jeremiah 29:11 He has a plan and a purpose for our lives. Jesus tells us God knows all about us, even the number of hairs on our head. We are personally known by God. There are Stories after stories in bible, this is one of them, where God steps in to the story and protects, defends, changes the direction of the storyline to fit His plans. Why would it be different today? You and I need to see the “stops” and “starts” of our lives as potentially God interventions, maybe these seemingly tough circumstances are God protecting His purposes for us.

When you think back on your life, can you see when and where God has intervened?

II. Promised Son Isaac is born Gen 21:1-7

25 YEARS have passed since Gen 12:1,2 and we READ Gen 21:1-5 The laughter of

skepticism had been turned to the laughter of pure joy and happiness. This birth fulfills God’s Word, confirming that He is trustworthy and true, fulfills His promise of a child to Abraham and Sarah even in their old age. See how Sarah gives God the glory READ Gen 21:6,7. She has that same joy we saw in the faces of the mothers and fathers new baby. As we celebrate with her, we learn:

God fulfills His Promises in His Time

This is what we see God doing, but we have to ask is there some participation on our part to realize and experience His promises. Do they just drop down from heaven? God part/is there an “us” part?

Question: What does it take to inherit a promise of God?

Scriptures teach us, the life of Abraham teaches us, 3 things essential to realizing, appropriating the promises of God.

Faith, Patience, Perseverance.

We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised. When God made His promise to Abraham, since there was no one greater to him to swear by, he swore by Himself, saying “I will surely bless you and give you many descendants. And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised. Heb 6:12-15

So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. Heb 10:35,36

The incredible joy at the birth of Isaac, the wonder and mystery of the miracle came at a price: faith, patience, perseverance.

Are you believing in faith, waiting in faith, persevering in faith, trusting, that God is good, His promises are true, He has a plan and a purpose uniquely designed for you and He will fulfill it. Living a life characterized by patient and persistent waiting is a choice that demands a decision accompanied by great courage. After 25 years Abraham would say its worth it to trust God.

Our scene shifts from celebrating Isaac’s birth to celebrating his weaning, bless her heart, Sarah at 92,93 has been nursing this boy for a couple years, big day. Now weaned, probably potty trained too, time to celebrate, they throw a party.

III. Expulsion of Hagar and Ishmael Gen 21: 8- 21

A. READ Gen 21:8,9 We’re not exactly sure what is meant by the word “mocking” because in the Hebrew it can mean ridiculing or playing with. Either way Sarah didn’t like it and saw Ishmael as a threat to her son and she demands Abraham banish them. For her there could be no rivals to her son’s inheritance.

2000 years later Paul would look back on this story of separation and see in it a foreshadowing of the difference between the slavery of the law and the freedom of the Gospel. Galatians 4:31 contrasts the two and states “We are not children of the slave woman but of the free woman” he agrees with Sarah, they cannot co-exist.

This divine approval of sending away Hagar and Ishmael was a sign not of divine abandonment of Ishmael but of protection for Isaac Allen Ross

B. Can you imagine how broken hearted Abraham must be, this is his son, first born, how could he send him away? Here God intervenes and tenderly reminds him that Isaac is the son of promise but he also reassures Abraham of His promise to take care of Ishmael, to make his son into a great nation.

C. Next day READ Gen 21:14-16

Seem that instead at attaching themselves to a caravan, they just stayed together and got lost in the relatively uninhabited northern Negev where water is scarce. Their provisions were gone, looked like the end had come, Hagar pushed or pulled this boy under a bush to protect him from the broiling sun and because she couldn’t stand to watch him die she went a “bowshot” distance away, that’s 100 yards, that’s a football field away, sat down she started to cry, I would too, wouldn’t you?

D. And God heard Gen 21:17 comforting 3 words. Angel of God called to her and reminded her of God’s promises= “I will make him a great nation” he can’t die, he will live” water is provided for them. READ Gen 21:20 God keeps His promise, He was with Ishmael as he grew up, living in the desert of Paran MAP..east central region of the Sinai peninsula and the area south of the Dead Sea.

God protects and provides for those in the wilderness

Scriptures are clear that God’s heart is for the poor, needy, disadvantaged, abused, weary, broken, downcast, those whose lives are desperate for Him to intervene. How many different ways we find ourselves in the wildernesses of life: broken relationships, financial basements, physical and emotional illnesses, job distresses, old fears that take new shapes. What a comfort to think of the God that hears, of the God that heard Hagar a football field away. He heard a young boy under a bush, He hears you and me when we cry out for He protects and provides for those in the wilderness.

The truly good news is that God is not a distant God, a God to be feared and avoided, a God of revenge, but a God who is moved by our pains and participates in the fullness of the human struggle Henri Nouwen

IV. Peaceful treaty at Beersheba Gen 21:22-34

In our narrative we see a shift from the focus on the child of the promise to the land of the promise as Abraham makes a treaty with Abimelech and acquires the rights to a well that he has dug.

READ Gen 21:22-24 Abimelech has been watching Abraham and has observed that God seemed to prosper him in everything he did. Since Abimelech is a God-fearer he wants to protect himself and his people he asks Abraham to make a treaty of friendship, Abraham agrees but before they conclude the covenant Abraham brings up a problem that has arisen over a well that his people have dug but Abimelech’s servants had seized. We know in the desert that wells, water is essential to survival. When Abimelech said he didn’t know anything about it, Abraham took steps to resolve this issue. He gave him sheep and cattle and added 7 ewe lambs that were intended to verify the fact that Abraham’s servants had dug the well and they now belonged to him. The site of the treaty became known as Beersheba= name= “well of seven” or “well of the oath” Abimelech goes home but Abraham stays READ Gen 21:33 Planting of the tree assumed that there would be water provided the area and it indicated that he was going to stay for a long time, which he did. He called on the name of the LORD, the Eternal God= Everlasting God= EL OLAM.

Abraham the promise believer was also Abraham the peacemaker.

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone Romans 12:19

Make every effort to live in peace with all men Hebrews 12:14

Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called the children of God Matt 5:9

How are you doing in making peace in your family, your neighborhood, your world?

Scriptures tell us there is a time or season for everything.

A time to weep and a time to laugh. Ecclesiastes 3:4

For Abraham the birth of his son Isaac brought both. Finally the son of the promise was born, no greater joy could that bring. He and Sarah laughed and laughed over this impossible birth. God fulfilled his promise.

But we see too that Isaac’s birth meant Abraham would have to say goodbye to Ishmael for these two sons could not live together. But greater than weeping and laughing was the undergirding FAITH in a God who is trustworthy to keep His Promises, an unswerving trust in a God who is eternal, a total dependence on the God who is always with us.

Prayer: God Most High we worship you today, you created the heavens and the earth and are Sovereign over all things including our lives. You have shown us how you are a shield and a reward, you protect us and guide us. You are truly the God who sees us in our need and meets us right where we are. How grateful we are that You keep Your promises to us, never leave us or forsake us. We continually ask that You make us your women of faith, promise believers for Your glory. Amen.

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8. Genesis 22, 23

Introduction

Do you remember your last test? Was it in school? Some license you wanted and you had to take a test? Training at work? Maybe your last test was from God? On God’s test: How did you do? Maybe you say you haven’t one of those recently- oh yes you have. Our lives are full of tests, not always recognizable. God is continually sending us tests, He does that to provide opportunities for our faith to grow

God’s tests are opportunities for our faith to grow

Our lesson describes Abraham’s faith tests of two of the greatest crisis of his entire life. He must learn lesson of “letting go” to the 2 most important people in his life. In chapt 22 =Isaac, in chapt23=Sarah. We learn from the life of Abraham and his tests, how to please God instead of ourselves, how to be obedient when nothing makes sense, how to be submissive to God’s will not our own, How to trust God’s promises when you can’t see His purposes.

Outline:

I. Test #1:The Severe Sacrifice: Abraham puts God first in his life Gen:22

Akedah= “The binding”= Jewish name of this event

A. God’s Command Gen 22:1,2

B. Abraham’s Obedience Gen 22:3-10.

C. God’s Approval Gen 22:11-24

II. Test #2: The Sad Farewell: Abraham buries Sarah in Promised Land Gen 23

A. Abraham’s Grief Gen 23:1,2

B. Sarah’s Grave Gen 23:3-20

Severe Sacrifice

A. God’s command READ Gen 22:1a

1. “God tested Abraham” We need to make a clear distinction between our temptations and our testings. Satan and perhaps some people tempt us so that we fail, fall, the evil in us comes out. Remember

When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone. James 1:13

God tests us for the opposite reason. His tests are designed to mature our faith,grow us.

The testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking in anything James 1:3,4

Testing helps uncover our true motives, clarifies deep loyalties, reveals deceit and encourages true faith.

God knew how Abraham would respond to this test, but Abraham had to know that he did love God even more than his dearest possession. Father of the nation needed to know God must come first. This test touched Abraham’s tenderest, most vulnerable, most precious place. READ Gen 22:1b

2. "Abraham" "Here I am" = Hebrew phrase= hineni only used a few times in Scripture

There is really no equivalent in English.

This term indicates readiness, alertness, attentiveness, receptivity and responsiveness to instructions. Jewish Study Bible

Abraham is ready to listen to God. Wouldn’t that be wonderful if that could be said about us? That we are ready, alert, willing to be responsive to God’s calls on our lives? Even if

3. Command READ Gen 22:2

Abraham is familiar with God’s voice, this is no mistake. Possible that Abraham was accustomed to pagan human sacrifices of the Canaanites around him, may have even witnessed some. No doubt this command pierced the deepest part of his heart. “whom you love” This would not have been much of a test if Abraham had not deeply loved his son, but he did, “only son”= only son of the promise, only son through whom God would make a great nation, only son through whom the world would be blessed. What a dilemma for Abraham: The Promise of God required that Isaac live but the Command of God required that Isaac die. Part of this trial was that God seemed to be contradicting God. Have you ever experienced that? What is going on in your life seems to contradict what you know of God? It’s a hard place to be. Unbelievers, or those weak in their faith stumble over such challenges. As you mature, walk w/God, you may still hit those places where you don’t understand God at all, but after a time, when you look back, you know, you believe God reveals Himself to be good and His purposes are for your good and His glory. Maturing faith waits to see how the wisdom of God will be revealed. The waiting can be painful, may seem very long, many abandon their faith because of God’s testing. Not Abraham. He locked into the truth that God is faithful, God is able to do the impossible, God’s purposes will not be thwarted. This is His faith.

B. Abraham’s Obedience Gen 22:3-10

1. What a night he must have had. Soren Kierrekgard commenting on this says he probably got up early because he didn’t sleep at all that night. Haven’t you had nights like that, the night before you took a big exam, or went to court, or did anything really difficult? We know that Abraham regardless of what was going on in his mind and heart, chose to obey immediately READ Gen 22:3,4 Region of Moriah, tradition says it was one of the NE hills of Jerusalem- spot where David would buy the threshing floor from Araunah (uhROOnuh) to build an altar, later Solomon would build the Temple, later the area where Jesus would sacrifice his life. It would take about 3 days to travel the 50 miles from Beersheba to Jerusalem. Physically, emotionally exhausting for Abraham. Finally they reached the place, Abraham leaves the servants behind telling them “we will worship and return to you” . Question is: Is he covering his secret or making a statement of his faith?

By faith Abraham when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son even though God had said to him “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned. Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking he did receive Isaac back from the dead. Hebrews 11:17-19

We will return= Abraham believed in the Resurrection. Is there anything too hard for God, He expected God to do a miraculous thing.

2. That kind of faith is infectious, extremely inspiring, causes us to wonder if Isaac caught this spirit of total trust. Isaac is a na’ar= young man perhaps a teenager which makes his question even more poignant READ Gen 22:7 (where is the lamb)Imagine how that question pierced Abraham’s heart. Spoke with confidence Gen 22:8 God will provide.

3. Gen 22:9 Abraham prepared the altar. At some point Isaac had to be told. Picture the scene, after the altar was built, wood arranged, Abraham turned to Isaac with tears running down his face, heartbroken, explained to Isaac God’s command. Isaac, old enough to carry wood, also old enough to run away, but there is no hint of resistance, he becomes a willing participant in his sacrifice. Glimpse of Isaac’s faith: 1. Faith in the love of his father Abraham. 2. Faith in the Covenant- how many times has he heard he was the heir of the promises, of a great nation, too numerous to count, thru his descendants all nations would be blessed, he would inherit the land. Believing somehow this still was all true, Isaac put himself on the altar was bound, blade of the knife was lifted to cut his throat…when God called READ Gen 22:11-12

C. God’s approval Gen 22:11-24

1. Abraham you’ve passed the test. STOP. I never wanted Isaac’s life, I wanted your total devotion, now I know that you fear God. Because Abraham’s life was characterized by listening to God, he heard God at the most critical time. hineni =Here am I ready to listen, ready to obey. God provides another –a ram caught by its horns in the bushes- was sacrificed instead of Isaac and once again God re-iterates His Covenant with Abraham “I swear”….Gen 22:15-18. So many lessons for us

Holding things loosely

The first commandment is that we are to have no other gods before Him. God is first, #1. Everything and everyone else is second. We must hold loosely to things that are temporal, but also to people. Chuck Swindoll says “the greater the possessiveness the greater the pain of turning loose, letting go” Letting go of unrealized dreams, letting go of grown children, letting go past relationships, letting go of trinkets and treasures, holding loosely to everyone and everything except God.

I was truly convicted weren’t you to fill in the chart ranking the hardest and easiest things to give God:

Family members, children, old pictures, home, car, job/career, financial security, food, friends, my Bible, my understanding of God’s will, health, church, possessions, TV education

Application: can you do that? Hold loosely to those things to be sure that if God calls you can trust Him and surrender all? Are there any of God’s gifts you love more than God? If they were taken away, would you be mad at God? Is God testing you in any of these areas right now? How are you doing with the test? What are you learning about God?

Doctrine of Substitution: life can be preserved only at the cost of life given.

The substitution of a male sheep for the first born son foreshadows the Passover in Exodus when substitutionary blood of the lamb was put on the doorposts so that the death angel would Passover that house. Passover lamb foreshadowed the substitutionary death of Jesus Christ- the Lamb that was slain for our sins (I Peter 1:19) “precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished, spotless, the blood of Christ:

Picture of Calvary:

1. Place = Gen 22:3 Moriah Luke 23:33 “the place”

2. Wood= Gen 22:6 Issac carried his own wood John 19:17 “carrying his own cross”

The image of Isaac’s carrying the wood on which he is to be burned adds enormous power to the story. A midrash relates this to a Roman (not Jewish) method of execution that was sometimes used on Jewish martyrs “It’s like a person who carries his cross on his own shoulders” Jewish Study Bible

3. Submission= Gen 22:9 John 10:18 “I lay it down on my own initiative” John 18:11 “ The cup which the Father has given me, shall I not drink it?”

4. Provision= Gen 22:8,13 John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, He gave His only Son…”

5. Sacrifice accepted= Gen 22:12 Mt 28:6 The Empty Tomb, The Resurrection

God will provide- Jehovah Jireh, Adonai Yireh

Now Abraham truly understands the meaning of his words to Isaac Gen 22:8. He gives this place the name Gen 22:14. Later generations would use this as a proverb “On the mountain of the Lord it shall be provided”.

This story of the sacrifice of Isaac helped Israel as a nation in later difficult times to understand and have confidence in God when he seemed to be contradicting His own words and works. It can help us today too to face the sacrifices God calls us to make, remembering when God allows us to be tested, it’s not for His benefit, but ours. Abraham learned he loved God more than anything or anyone and we really won’t learn that unless we’re ready to completely surrender our all. Only after you and I have climbed the mountain of sacrifice, only when we’re willing to give up the “Isaac” in our lives, do we find the provision God has for us. I pray God will give us all the grace and the willingness to be obedient to his testings. Look at the text, seems out of place, next

2. Genealogy Gen 22:20-24

Wonder why is it tacked on to the end of this story? There is a purpose. God is telling us He has spared Isaac’s life for a reason, He has a plan. 100’s of miles away, he is preparing Rebekah, getting her ready to share Isaac’s life, getting her ready to be one of the mothers through whom the covenant will be passed. Foreshadowing of Gen 24.

ears pass between Gen 22 and 23 and Abraham has another test ….

II. Second Test: Sarah’s death, sad farewell Gen 23

Test: How would a man of faith cope with one of the greatest challenges of life- death of a deeply loved and cherished spouse? Some of you have faced that test, I have not.. yet, but I’ve watched my dad the last 3 years since my mother died…and I know that going on living without her has been his hardest test.

A. Abraham’s grief READ Gen 23:1,2

Sarah was 127, meant Abraham is 137, married over 100yrs. She was younger than him, so perhaps a surprise she died first. He grieved, he wept over her. This was his life partner, only link with the home of his childhood, she understood when he talked about his dad, she knew his brothers, shared his call to leave and go not knowing where they would live, she bore the hardships, joys, she sacrificed and supported him- as he knelt before her those memories surely flooded his heart, she had been a good and faithful wife and mother. His grief was real, bitter, painful, bible tells us he wept. Deep grief demands tears, his tears were the empty feeling he had from the loss of her presence, not longer would they walk together, no longer would he hear her voice instructing the servants, no longer would he see her kiss their son. We know by his actions Abraham was a man of faith believed in the promises of God and in the resurrection of the dead (Heb 11:13-16 LB) Abraham believed she had gone to that better country. He grieved but he grieved with HOPE (I Thes 4:13) Hope is what comforts. Death is not enemy 4 be

Death is not extinguishing the light, it is only putting out the lamp because the Dawn has come. Tagore

Sarah had been born in pagan Ur but she left there, God of Abraham had become her God, she had faith in the Covenant, died, believing in the land of the Promise. Abraham desired to bury Sarah in this land as a testimony of God’s love and His faithfulness beyond death. “To your descendants I will give this land” 12:7. That surely motivated him to purchase a burial place for Sarah. It would be a pledge, earnest down payment of his inheritance.

B. Sarah’s grave Gen 23:3-20

Example of Oriental Bargaining. Since he was “an alien, stranger” v4 he probably needed the approval of the people in the area to actually purchase any land. He asks to buy land and the men reply sure, none of us will refuse you, you’re a mighty warrior. So Abraham says he wants the Cave of Machpelah, pay full price. The owner says “oh no, I’ll give you the cave and the field” Gen 23:10,11. Don’t be confused his offer to “give” was just the middle eastern way of bargaining, he had no intentions of giving anything away and Abraham knew it insists on paying full price, most likely overpaid and then buried Sarah there. Only real estate in the Promised Land he ever legally owned. I wonder if at the end of his life he looked back and asked “is this all” Probably not because thru the tests of his life he came to know the priorities of his life, true meaning of life is not acquiring possessions/people but the maturation of the soul. He spent his life getting to know God

Being devoted to Him, obedient, trusting God to develop his faith,

Is that what the tests of your life are doing for you?

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9. Genesis 24, 25

Vela Tomba, pastor's wife, mother and Bible teacher at Northwest Bible Church substitute teaches for Dianne Miller in Lesson Nine. Her lecture manuscript and audio are included in the study.

Introduction

Staying in my hula hoop.

Doing what God has called me to do in my hula hoop.

Not meddling in other people’s hula hoops.

As I have been studying the life of Abraham this semester I have seen a lot of the same things: people staying or not staying in their hula hoops.

I am going to define a hula hoop as something that indicates a border or limits. Now an astute observer would say that this is a boundary but hey- hula hoops are so much more colorful and fun!

Staying in my hula hoop means accepting God’s limits for who I am, where I end and another person starts. Doing what He has called me to do inside my sphere of influence—inside my hula hoop and not meddling in someone else’s hula hoop.

I can most easily stay in my hula hoop when I have the right understanding of who God is, when I trust Him, when I know Him, when I trust His lovingkindness for me.

So we have been studying the life of Abraham and sometimes he did a great job staying in his hula-hoop. He obeyed God; he followed God to the land of Canaan. Then he wandered out a bit of his hula-hoop and headed to Egypt. He even interrupted in Pharaoh's hula-hoop and got Sarai mixed up in the whole harem’s hula-hoop. He got into that disastrous Hagar hula hoop and suffered for it. But a lot of times he stayed true to what God called him to do. He trusted God and believed God’s promise for him. He trusted in God’s loyal love, God’s lovingkindness, hesed.

This chapter shows us how the Lord demonstrates his lovingkindness to Abraham, to his servant, to Isaac, to Rebekah and even to us by being intimately involved and orchestrating even the small circumstances of our lives.

There is a word used several times in this chapter and it is the word “Hesed.” The NAS translates it as “lovingkindness.” It also means loyal love, a love that is not lost due to the current feeling or circumstance. It is God’s kind of commitment to Abraham, to Isaac, and to us.

Trusting in God’s faithful love, His lovingkindness enables me to stay in my hula-hoop.

God is faithful to keep His promises to Abraham. God is faithful to keep His promises to us.

Some questions I think God is asking me are:

Will you trust Me?

Will you stay in your hula-hoop and trust Me?

Will you stay with a right perspective of who I am and who you are?

Will you trust Me to take care of stuff that is outside of your hula-hoop?

How am I going to respond when I am really believing that God is loving, kind, faithful?

I believe that when you trust in God’s lovingkindness, you can stay in your God-given hula-hoop.

So here is our outline:

I. A Bride for Isaac Gen 24

A. The Charge Gen 24:1-9

B. The Search Gen 24:10-61

C. The Success Gen 24:62-67

II. Another Bride for Abraham Gen 25:1-11

A. The charge - Abraham charges his servant to find a bride. Gen 24:1-9

We begin this story by reading that Abraham is an old man and the Lord had blessed him in every way.

As our chapter opens we read

v. 1 Abraham was now very old, and the LORD had blessed him in every way.

He is about 138 years old. He must be feeling like he is near the end of his life but will read later he still has some kick in him. He has another 37 years to go. But the Lord had blessed him in every way. He has one thing on his mind. The promise. He has the son of the promise but for the promise to continue the son has to have a son so he needs a bride. He is absolutely determined that Isaac will have the bride of God’s choosing so he calls his most trustworthy servant. Many commentators say this is Eliezer who was mentioned earlier in Gen 15. It would help me out to have a name for this guy since he is a main character but since it isn’t in the text I just am going to go with “the servant.”

2 He said to the senior servant in his household, the one in charge of all that he had, “Put your hand under my thigh. 3 I want you to swear by the LORD, the God of heaven and the God of earth, that you will not get a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I am living, 4 but will go to my country and my own relatives and get a wife for my son Isaac.”

I love that the servant is not willing to enter into this agreement lightly. He is a faithful servant and is committed to doing what Abraham asks so he needs some clarification. Besides that this kind of oath sounds pretty serious. Basically he is agreeing that Abraham’s children would hunt down and take care of his servant of he didn’t act faithfully in this matter. He knew the God Abraham served. He has seen His mighty acts. He knows he can do it. So the servant is careful to make sure he gets all the rules straight before he promises.

5 The servant asked him, “What if the woman is unwilling to come back with me to this land? Shall I then take your son back to the country you came from?”

Abraham in no uncertain terms says “NO WAY!”

6 “Make sure that you do not take my son back there,” Abraham said. 7 “The LORD, the God of heaven, who brought me out of my father’s household and my native land and who spoke to me and promised me on oath, saying, ‘To your offspring I will give this land’—he will send his angel before you so that you can get a wife for my son from there. 8 If the woman is unwilling to come back with you, then you will be released from this oath of mine. Only do not take my son back there.” 9 So the servant put his hand under the thigh of his master Abraham and swore an oath to him concerning this matter.

Abraham is in his hula hoop right now. He knows it isn’t his place to go get a bride for Isaac. He knows the Lord is going to take care of the details and send His angel before the servant. He has seen the Lord provide. Abraham knows He will provide a wide of His choosing.

The truth here is that: When you trust in God’s lovingkindness, you don’t have to see the end because you already know the ending.

B. The Search - The faithful servant searches for a bride. Gen 24:10-61

So off our servant goes to look for a bride. He loads up the camels with lots of gifts and treasures for the bride-to-be. He is riding in style. Camels were very rarely used at that time so it is a further indication of how wealthy Abraham is. He takes ten from his masters’ camels. Abraham has more! The thirsty camels prove important later so it is an interesting element that God tucks in.

He travels 450 miles to Mesopotamia to the town of Nahor. (You’ll recall that we learned last week that Abraham had gotten word that his brother Nahor did indeed have a family—a fine family of 8 sons

(plus a few by a concubine)-- so he is expecting there will also be a daughter for Isaac to marry.)

The servant sets this up as a theatrical production. He has the camels kneel down by the well. They are looking thirsty and he hopes really cute and irresistible. This reminds me of the ploy guys have when they go to a park, chicks dig guys with dogs, preferably cute puppies. And so our servant brings camels. I thought camels were foul tempered and spit a lot but if you can believe the internet, they actually are pretty even tempered and only spit when provoked and that is usually at another camel.

So we have adorable camels looking thirsty hanging around the well.

Enter the village maidens because it is watering time.

He prays and asks the Lord to guide him to the right woman for Isaac.

12 Then he prayed, “LORD, God of my master Abraham, make me successful today, and show kindness to my master Abraham. 13 See, I am standing beside this spring, and the daughters of the townspeople are coming out to draw water. 14 May it be that when I say to a young woman, ‘Please let down your jar that I may have a drink,’ and she says, ‘Drink, and I’ll water your camels too’—let her be the one you have chosen for your servant Isaac. By this I will know that you have shown kindness to my master.”

He went to the city of Nahor so finding a relative is not going to be such a stretch. He is a stranger at a well and all the maidens are coming to draw water so again finding a girl willing to give him a drink would be an expected display of Eastern hospitality. But that is where what could be expected ends. To meet a young lady who offers to draw water for ten thirsty camels is quite another story. That’s where the servant’s faith comes in and God shows up in a clear way.

Ten camels after that long trek would drink somewhere between 140 and 250 gallons of water. I read that it could be estimated that Rebekah would have made 80- 100 trips to the well to water these thirsty dromedaries. That is a lot of work in anyone’s book.

Even before the servant has finished asking God for this unique sign, along comes Rebekah. Rebekah enters into her place in the history of God’s chosen people carrying a water jar and having a heart ready to serve and show kindness.

Thought: Who might God want you to serve today?

To top it off, she is very beautiful.

The servant is amazed and waits to see if the LORD had made his trip successful. We had a question about signs (that generated some lively discussion in our leaders’ group) and about circumstances and whether we though they were enough to determine God’s will. The Lord was gracious and used the servant’s request for help. And we even read how the Lord was gracious and answered when Gideon asked for a sign. In the New Testament Jesus had some very strong words against people looking for signs. I think the bottom line is God knows your heart. I do want to add that we have the Word of God and as believers have the Holy Spirit of God living within us. But believers have struggled with determining the will of God for years (over 7 million google hits) and I am not going to be able to put that issue to rest with a few pat answers. (That would be outside of my hula-hoop!)

We can know that God is willing to guide us as we seek His will to obey it-- not just to know it but to do it.

He knows our hearts.

But we CERTAINLY can be assured that circumstances alone are not enough to determine God’s will. Even the servant did not think so. He is waiting because he asked the Lord that the young woman who did this would be the one He had chosen for Isaac but he is not presuming upon the Lord here. He doesn’t know yet if she is from Abraham’s family or, furthermore, if her family will give their consent to the marriage.

The text tells us that he waits in silence for the completion of his requested sign. Again we see that he is waiting patiently.

(Staying in your hula hoop requires patience.)

The truth we see here is: When you trust in God’s lovingkindness, you can wait patiently for His answer.

However she has pulled off an amazing feat and he is feeling pretty confident as he pulls out some nice jewelry – a nose ring and several bracelets—very expensive stuff

(ten shekels—average annual wage was 10 shekels of silver—10 shekels of gold—much more valuable) and gives them to her as he asks

“Whose daughter are you? Please tell me, is there room in your father’s house for us to spend the night?”

24 She answered him, “I am the daughter of Bethuel, the son that Milkah bore to Nahor.” 25 And she added, “We have plenty of straw and fodder, as well as room for you to spend the night.”

Then we see the response of a faithful, humble, God-fearing man.

26 Then the man bowed down and worshiped the LORD, 27 saying, “Praise be to the LORD, the God of my master Abraham, who has not abandoned his kindness and faithfulness to my master. As for me, the LORD has led me on the journey to the house of my master’s relatives.”

This is always the right response to seeing the Lord’s hand in your life: worship.

The truth here is that

When you trust in God’s lovingkindness, you can worship and thank Him spontaneously.

Rebekah is quite amazed by all the servant has said and runs ahead and tells all her family about what has happened.

Fascinating insertion of a brief character comment about Laban. When her brother Laban sees the jewelry and hears the story he is ready to meet this guy.

28 The young woman ran and told her mother’s household about these things. 29 Now Rebekah had a brother named Laban, and he hurried out to the man at the spring. 30 As soon as he had seen the nose ring, and the bracelets on his sister’s arms, and had heard Rebekah tell what the man said to her, he went out to the man and found him standing by the camels near the spring. 31 “Come, you who are blessed by the LORD,” he said. “Why are you standing out here? I have prepared the house and a place for the camels.”

The Jewish listeners knew this guy! It is the same Laban who Jacob is going to have lots of trouble with later. Love that when you know the story and you see the author (in this case, God) add a detail that is a clear foreshadowing of future events.

The head servant and the other men with him go to Rebekah’s home, unload the camels, wash their feet and prepare to sit down to eat when our servant stops and says,

“I will not eat until I have told you what I have to say.”

Again demonstrating his commitment to the completion of his task. He is willing to be patient even when he is hungry.

Laban says “tell us” and so he does. He retells the story of his commission from the blessed and very wealthy Abraham to get a wife for his rich young son from Abraham’s family back east. He is careful in his retelling of the story to not insult Rebekah’s family. He omits the detail of the “don’t you dare take Isaac to that land!!” knowing that might be offensive to them. He says he gave her the jewelry after she told him who her family was. To give essentially betrothal gifts would have been presumptuous.

The servant is clear in his telling of who has led him so far on the journey and who has given him the success. It was the LORD. He refers to the LORD several times in just a few paragraphs.

He ends with a recounting of his sincere praise of the LORD:

“Then I put the ring in her nose and the bracelets on her arms, 48 and I bowed down and worshiped the LORD. I praised the LORD, the God of my master Abraham, who had led me on the right road to get the granddaughter of my master’s brother for his son.

And asks them if they are going to cooperate and give him Rebekah to take back to Isaac. He asks them using the covenantal language of the earlier discourse with Abraham.

49 Now if you will show kindness and faithfulness to my master, tell me; and if not, tell me, so I may know which way to turn.”

50 Laban and Bethuel answered, “This is from the LORD; we can say nothing to you one way or the other. 51 Here is Rebekah; take her and go, and let her become the wife of your master’s son, as the LORD has directed.”

I find it interesting that Laban would agree so readily to marry off his sister Rebekah. He has different ideas when it relates to his daughters as you can read about in succeeding chapters. Here Laban is almost nonchalant about it. The phase “nothing one way or the other” is too close to “whatever” for my taste.

We do read in this passage that Laban makes several references to the Lord but there is no good way to know whether he was actually a believer.

Our servant is not one to quibble about responses. He heard a “yes” and he bows to the ground before the LORD.

When you see the LORD’s hand, stop and worship.

Then he and the other men with him get to eat. Whew!

The next morning he is ready to depart and Laban starts being his old self…,

“Let the young woman remain with us ten days or so; then you may go.”

A commentary I read said the ten days might have actually indicated ten months so Laban would have been asking for something more like a year for a betrothal time. In any case, our faithful servant will have no delays at this point. He was not authorized to stay on a holiday—even for a week and a half. He was eager to get back to his master Abraham with the chosen bride.

Laban says , “Let’s ask Rebekah and see if she will go.” Maybe as a typical older brother, he knows his sister is one who cannot get ready that fast and she will want the ten days to pack.

God has been working behind the scenes and Rebekah says, “I will go.” Even Rebekah gets into the right mindset. Already from what she has heard about the Lord and how He has been working, she chooses to throw her lot in with this family immediately. The Lord has moved her heart to trust Him.

When you trust in God’s lovingkindness, you can step out in faith.

C. The Success - The faithful servant brings the bride to Isaac. Gen 24:62-67

Meanwhile back at the ranch, we learn that Isaac has come home from Beer-lahai-roi,

I can imagine that she was by his side most of the trip with questions about this man and family she is about to join. So here comes another question,

62 Now Isaac had come from Beer Lahai Roi, for he was living in the Negev.

(the “well of the living One who sees me” which is the place where Hagar met the LORD when she was fleeing Sarah the first time in Genesis 16.)

63 He went out to the field one evening to meditate, and as he looked up, he saw camels approaching.

We read in the text that Isaac went out into the field to meditate and looked up and saw the camels. He has been waiting. Of course he knew what the servant had been doing. He was coming toward them to see the provision of the Lord. Do you think for one second that Isaac has any doubt that the servant has met with success? This is the same Isaac who last week consented to be bound and have a knife poised over him and then saw the Lord’s provision. He knows the Lord will come through for him. He is the child of the promise and he knows it.

He trusts God’s lovingkindness.

He has been waiting patiently in faith for God’s answer.

Isaac has been staying in his hula hoop like no one’s business.

…and as he looked up, he saw camels approaching.

64 Rebekah also looked up and saw Isaac.

(God put in another stroke of drama for us to enjoy!)

She got down from her camel and asked the servant, “Who is that man in the field coming to meet us?”

“He is my master,” the servant answered. So she took her veil and covered herself.

66 Then the servant told Isaac all he had done. 67 Isaac brought her into the tent of his mother Sarah, and he married Rebekah. So she became his wife, and he loved her; and Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.

II. Another Bride for Abraham - Gen. 25:1-11

There is some discrepancy about when Abraham married again. But the verb “took” and the adjective “another” (–and I am supposing this is from a thorough study of Hebrew by the commentator) by the tense it is suggested that it occurred after Sarah’s death but there are differing opinions. In any case, Abraham definitely had a different body clock than people do these days. So Abraham marries again at some point and has at least 37 years to have six sons with his new bride Keturah. The important thing here is that Abraham knows just what he needs to do BEFORE he dies. He knows that it is his responsibility to insure the promise continues through Isaac so he makes sure to set Isaac up well. Before he dies, he gives gifts to all the other sons and sends them away to live in the land of the east—his old land. I think we can understand this to mean that he also gave gifts to Ishmael because it says he gave gifts to all the sons of his concubines—everyone who was not Sarah. They were not to be around after he died and get into any property battles with Isaac. Abraham left Isaac in a good position to be the sole heir of his stuff and especially his blessing.

When you trust in God’s lovingkindness, you do your God given job and leave the rest to God. (You can be faithful to stay in your hula-hoop.)

7 Abraham lived a hundred and seventy-five years. 8 Then Abraham breathed his last and died at a good old age, an old man and full of years; and he was gathered to his people.

The NAS reads- “a ripe old age, an old man and satisfied with life”

Thankfully there is no showdown at the funeral. We have all read or maybe even been a part of family feuds that come to a head once the patriarch is gone. But in this case, Ishmael and Isaac come together to bury Abraham. I think that is a testimony to the love Abraham had for both of them.

Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave where he had buried Sarah.

And finally we see not the end of the story but just the beginning of the next chapter…

11 After Abraham’s death, God blessed his son Isaac, who then lived near Beer Lahai Roi.

The truth is that we can trust God’s lovingkindness, we can trust His loyal love. We can know that He is faithful to fulfill His promises to us.

He was faithful to Abraham. He was faithful to the servant. He was faithful to Isaac. He will be faithful to you and to me.

Stay the course. Stay in your hula-hoop.

When I was working on this lecture, I ran right into the truth of my lack of hula hoop care! Natalie my middle daughter … harp issues. Failed her pre-recital jury. Postponed her recital. Graduation in jeopardy.

I sat all Friday afternoon and evening ostensibly working on this message. Instead I actually just fretted and worried that Natalie had gotten such a bad response from Mrs. Fedson that she couldn’t even call. She finally called at 9:30 and said, “No, it went fine. She’ll have it… blah blah…” Oh my phone was on silent.

Do as I say not as I do. Stay in your hula hoop! Trust God’s incredible and wonderful lovingkindness. He loves you and me. He has great things for us—and we can experience them if we just stay in our hula hoop!

http://feeds.bible.org/dianne_miller/abraham/dmiller_abraham_lesson9.mp3
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