Sabbatical 2017

Sabbatical 2017
Arc de Triomphe

Friday, January 6, 2017

Canonical Reading Plan for Jan 7, Gen 22-24

Today's readings were Gen 22-24.

Notice a few things as we go through Abraham's story. 

First, for all the false accusations we hear about the God of the Old Testament (OT) being angry and the God of the New Testament being about love, we see incredible grace exhibited by God toward Abraham. God chooses Abraham and makes a covenant with him. Disregarding Abraham's long line of stumbles and failings, God remains true to His word and blesses Abraham, time and time again.

Second, ever since he was chosen, Abraham was the instrument of either God's blessings or His curses. God either blesses those who bless Abraham or curses those who oppose him. God is setting another pattern in place. Those who accept and bless His people will be blessed. Those who oppose and oppress them will fall under judgment.   

In the scenario of sacrificing Isaac in Gen 22:1-14, Abraham finds out his commitment to God must be total and without reservation. God must occupy the highest priority in Abraham's life, even higher than that of the fulfillment of the promise! Abraham must trust God implicitly, even when things don't make sense, even when following His commandments may be extremely difficult. Ultimately, Isaac is spared but only at the last moment. Abraham learns that God does not want his son but his trust. In trusting God completely, Abraham receives God’s fullest blessing.

The sacrifice takes place in the land of Moriah on the “mount of the Lord” (Gen 22:15). This may well be Mount Moriah in Jerusalem, the future site of the temple. The first time we hear about this mountain, it involves a story about a man willing to sacrifice his son, the son of promise.

Sarah dies and Abraham buys burial land in Canaan (Gen 23), insisting on paying the price for it. This has a long-term impact as well. Now Abraham has a valid, documented claim to land in the Promised Land. This gives his descendants a right to be there. God's promise is legally and forensically fulfilled. (Gen 12:7; 13:14-17; 15:18-21). Still, Abraham considers himself a foreigner in a foreign land (Gen 23:4). He realizes he has a claim to the land but he and his people do not yet possess all of it, not to the extent that has been promised.

In Gen 24, we see a stunning example of God's sovereign influence on human events in the story of how Isaac gets a wife. Abraham's servant is supernaturally guided over 500 miles (about a month's journey) to Rebekah in Nahor, a city in Haran. Note that the servant places his trust in God to show him the right woman for Isaac (Gen 24:13-14). This man is in a strange land among people who do not know him. He must find a bride for a young man who is not with him then take that young woman away to a foreign land. Wisely, he asks God to help him. God leaves no doubt as to the woman He has chosen for Isaac’s bride.

Interestingly, there is not courtship, no dating, no time of seeing if they’re compatible. The relationship between Isaac and Rebekah will be totally based on God having sovereignly placed them together. God gives them the foundation. They work through the joys and trials of building a relationship together.



Isaac's marriage is an important one. He will be responsible for the bloodline of Abraham's descendants. It is crucial that he not marry a Canaanite, a wicked people, who may influence Isaac’s offspring to worship other gods. Rebekah’s people revere God and trust Him (Gen 24:50-51).

As the history of Israel develops, we’ll see that they fall on hard times whenever they yoke themselves to ungodly people. Rather than being a godly influence, in the clear majority of cases, they become the influenced. They are never prohibited from doing business or associating with ungodly people. The caution is always not to be seduced away from God and His ways by their association. God is always the priority. To avoid falling away, they are not to be united to unbelievers, not to be intimately involved. Abraham is aware of the dangers and wants his son to be married to someone who fears God.

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