Origins

Covenant Continued

(Genesis 25:1-11)

 

INTRODUCTION

“Witnessing to the holy love of God was always in John Wesley's mind. Even in death.

 

Here was a man who had preached more than 45,000 sermons, traveled (mostly on horseback) a distance equivalent to nine times around the world, written 233 books and pamphlets, and helped with the writing of 100 more.

 

But for Wesley, this was not enough. Even in death he witnessed to the love of God. Among Wesley's funeral instructions was the request that his body be buried in nothing more costly than wool. No silk or satin was to adorn the corpse from which his spirit had fled. And his last will and testament gave final seal to the gospel he had so long and courageously preached. He directed that ‘whatever remains in my bureau and pockets at my decease,’ was to be equally divided among four poor itinerants. He specially requested that neither hearse nor coach take any part in his funeral, and he desired that six poor men in need of employment be given a pound each to carry his body to the grave.”

 

Source: Adapted from J. Wesley Bready, "The Passing of a Prophet," Good News Magazine (July/Aug 1991).

 

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2003/october/14655.html].

 

BODY

  • ME

    • Will, Power of Attorney, and Living Will

        • After having the Life Institute come for the Stewardship Lifestyle Seminar, Judy and I decided that we needed to update our will

        • We did not have a Power of Attorney or a Living Will previously, so we added those to the list

        • Just last week we received the draft by email for our review

        • We are looking forward to having those documents up-to-date

    • Obituary

        • I have not really put any thought into what I would want in my obituary

        • The standard items will probably be there, like who has survived my death, who has preceded me in death, who my parents and wife were, and when and where I died.

        • Perhaps it will have what church I was a member of

        • I would like everyone to know that I was passionate about following Jesus as my Master

        • I would want people to know that I loved my wife, children, and grandchildren will all my heart

        • I would also hope that people would remember me for being passionate about teaching God’s Word and the importance of prayer

 

  • WE

    • We all should have a Will, Power of Attorney, and Living Will – have you all done that?

    • Has anyone thought about his or her obituary?

        • What would you like it to contain?

        • Are you going to write it yourself or leave that responsibility to the Funeral Director and surviving family members?

 

Abraham has lived a good long life and has experienced the faithfulness of God. ​​ Isaac is married to Rebekah and they have twin sons. ​​ In the first eleven verses of Genesis 25, we see Abraham’s last will and testament and his obituary. ​​ Abraham has remained faithful to the covenant that God began with him and instructed him to continue through Isaac. ​​ Abraham establishes that covenant in such a way that no one will question that Isaac is the covenant heir. ​​ Through Abraham’s example, we learn that . . .

 

BIG IDEA – Obedience to God’s covenant brings blessing.

 

Let’s pray

  • GOD (Genesis 25:1-11)

    • The Will (vv. 1-6)

        • Genealogy with Keturah [ket-oo-raw’] (vv. 1-4)

          • Abraham took another wife

            • Scholars are split on whether Abraham married Keturah before or after Sarah’s death

            • Both sides have compelling arguments

              • After Sarah’s death

                • The sentence structure seems to indicate that Abraham married Keturah after Sarah died

                • Abraham lived another 37 years after Sarah’s death, so he certainly could have fathered six more sons during that time

                • God had renewed his vital powers in order to father Isaac in his old age (100 years old), so certainly God could have allowed those vital powers to continue after Isaac’s birth and Sarah’s death

                • If Abraham waited until Isaac was married, to take Keturah as his wife, there would have been 35 years until his death, which would have been plenty of time for the youngest son to be twenty or twenty-five when he is given gifts and sent away (Ishmael and Hagar were dismissed when he was about 15 years old) [Albert Barnes, Barnes’ Notes on the Old Testament, Accordance electronic ed. (Altamonte Springs: OakTree Software, 2006), paragraph 1832.]

              • Before Sarah’s death

                • She is identified as a concubine in verse 6, which could indicate that Abraham took her as another wife while Sarah was still alive

                • The Hebrew word for “took” can also be translated as “had taken,” which could leave room for the possibility that Keturah became his wife while Sarah was still living

                • The narrator has not put everything in chronological order, so perhaps the mention of Abraham taking another wife, happens prior to Sarah’s death

                  • In Genesis 25:19-34 the narrator will share the details of Jacob and Esau’s birth

                  • Abraham is still alive when the twins are born

                  • In fact Jacob and Esau are 15 years old when Abraham dies [Isaac married at 40 (Abraham is 140); Jacob and Esau are born when Isaac is 60 (Abraham is 160); Abraham dies at 175 (Jacob and Esau would have been 15)]

                  • So the narrative about Abraham’s death precedes the narrative about the birth of Jacob and Esau (the narratives are not in chronological order)

            • Fortunately, the main point of this passage does not stand or fall on whether or not we can determine if Abraham married Keturah before or after Sarah’s death

          • Abraham’s sons, grandsons, and great grandsons

            • Sons

              • Zimran [zim-rawn’] = musician

              • Jokshan [yok-shawn’] = snarer

              • Medan [med-awn’] = contention

              • Midian [mid-yawn’] = strife

                • Located east of the Gulf of Aqaba

                • They traded in gold and incense

                • “In the Pentateuch the Midianites initially have neutral standing as the traders who transport Joseph to Egypt, then a favorable standing because Moses marries into the family of the priest of Midian, Jethro. ​​ By the end of the period, however, they are in collusion with the Moabites in the disaster at Baal Peor – an event that places them firmly in the category of antagonists to Israel.” ​​ [Walton, The NIV Application Commentary, Genesis, 533]

              • Ishbak [yish-bawk’] = he releases

              • Shuah [shoo-aw’] = wealth

            • Grandsons

              • Jokshan’s sons

                • Sheba [sheb-aw’/shev-vaw’] = seven or an oath

                • Dedan [ded-awn’] = low country

              • Midian’s sons

                • Ephah [ay-faw’] = gloomy

                • Epher [ay’-fer] = a calf

                • Hanoch [khan-oke’] = dedicated

                • Abida [ab-ee-daw’/av-ee-daw’] = my father knows

                • Eldaah [el-daw-aw’] = God has known

            • Great Grandsons

              • Descendants of Dedan

                • Asshurites [ash-oo-ree’] = steps

                • Letushites [let-oo-sheem’] = hammered

                • Leummites [leh-oom-meem’] = peoples

              • All of these are in the plural, probably referring to people groups

          • PRINCIPLE #1 – God keeps His promises.

            • God had made a covenant with Abraham as we saw in Genesis 17:4-6

              • “As for me, this is my covenant with you: ​​ You will be the father of many nations. ​​ No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations. ​​ I will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you.”

              • The Lord changed Abram’s name to Abraham to reflect this covenant with him

              • What we see with the genealogy through Keturah is God keeping His promise to Abraham

              • These additional six sons and their descendants would be nations of people

              • Obedience to God’s covenant brings blessing.

              • Abraham was experiencing God’s blessing

            • Application

              • God continues to keep His promises today

              • He has not failed to keep every promise that He has made in Scripture

              • There are some promises that are waiting to be fulfilled when Jesus returns a second time

              • How have you seen God keep His promises to you? (take a moment to write those down)

              • Are there some promises, from His Word, that you need to claim for yourself today?

                • Peace (Isaiah 26:3, You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.)

                • Provision (Philippians 4:19, And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.)

                • Protection (Psalm 91:4, He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.)

                • Presence (Deuteronomy 31:6, Be strong and courageous. ​​ Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.)

                • There are many more promises that you can claim from God’s Word

              • #1 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Claim God’s promise of ____________ (peace, provision, protection, presence, etc.) in my life.

          • This genealogy is important because of what happens in verses 5-6

        • Last will and testament (vv. 5-6)

          • Abraham left everything to Isaac

            • This should not come as a surprise to us

            • The narrator already mentioned this in Genesis 24:36, My master’s wife Sarah has borne him a son in her old age, and he has given him everything he owns.

            • While Isaac was not Abraham’s first-born son, he was the first-born son to Abraham and Sarah, which was the covenant couple in God’s eyes

            • As the first-born son of covenant, Isaac receives all of his father’s possessions

              • Genesis 13:2, Abram had become very wealthy in livestock and in silver and gold

              • Genesis 23:6, “Sir, listen to us. ​​ You are a mighty prince among us. ​​ Bury your dead in the choicest of our tomb. ​​ None of us will refuse you his tomb for burying your dead.”

            • This does not mean that Abraham did not love his other sons or provide for them from his wealth

          • He gave gifts to everyone else

            • While Abraham was still alive, he gave gifts to the sons of his concubines

              • The word “concubines” is in the plural

              • To our knowledge, through Scripture, the only two concubines that Abraham had were Hagar and Keturah

                • Hagar is only referred to as a “maidservant” (Gen. 16:2) and a “slave woman” (Gen. 21:10). ​​ Waltke states, “she probably could be designated ‘a concubine.’ ​​ Similarly, Bilhah is called both a ‘maidservant’ (30:3) and ‘concubine’ (35:22).” ​​ [Waltke, Genesis: A Commentary, 338]

                • Keturah is designated as a concubine in 1 Chronicles 1:32 when Ezra lists the ancestry of the nations

              • Neither of these women were the covenant or first wife of Abraham, that honor rested with Sarah

            • Abraham still provided for them

              • When Hagar and Ishmael are sent away they were given some food and a skin of water (Gen. 21:14)

              • My guess, from this passage, is that Abraham provided more than just food and water for Ishmael – perhaps he gave him livestock and flocks, gold, silver, and other possessions

              • Keturah’s sons probably received some of the same kinds of gifts, although, we are not told exactly what gifts were given

          • He sent them away to the east

            • “Abraham recognized his other children by giving them gifts and sending them away, thereby making sure they couldn’t supplant Isaac as the rightful heir.” ​​ [Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, Pentateuch, 115]

            • The imagery of going east, in Genesis, is not only a geographical location, but also the physical separation from God and His blessing

              • Adam and Eve went east when they were evicted from the Garden of Eden

              • Lot went east when he separated from Abraham

              • The inhabitants of Babel had traveled east to build their tower

              • Jacob will flee to the east

              • All of Isaac’s potential rivals are dismissed to the east

              • God has chosen Isaac and his descendants as the covenant people to fulfill His covenant and purpose

              • Jesus will come through the line of Isaac

        • The will has been “executed” prior to Abraham’s death – Isaac gets everything and the other sons get gifts from their father’s estate

        • What comes next in the narrative is Abraham’s obituary

    • The Obituary (vv. 7-10)

        • Age

          • The narrator tells us Abraham’s age when he died

            • He was 175 years old

            • During Abraham’s time period, that was considered old

            • He had lived in Canaan for a century (100 years)

            • Isaac is now 75 years old

            • Jacob and Esau are 15 years old

          • PRINCIPLE #1 – God keeps His promises.

            • This was a fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham

            • Genesis 15:15, You, however, will go to your fathers in peace and be buried at a good old age.

            • Abram was not told at that point what a good old age was, but we know now that it was 175 years old

          • We not only know how old Abraham was, but we also know a little about his frame of mind

        • Frame of mind

          • The phrase “full of years” includes both quantity and quality of life

            • “This obituary notice about Abraham draws attention to the fact that Abraham died not only at an elderly age but in a frame of mind filled with inner shalom and satisfaction.” ​​ [Hamilton, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 18-50, 167]

            • “Several years ago I was talking with some lay people about a problem in one of our American denominations, and I asked why there had not been any progress in a certain area. ​​ One person [Gen, p. 724] replied, ‘There is not going to be any progress until some people die.’ ​​ Later I reflected on how sad it is when someone is such a problem that people actually wait for that person’s death and inevitably greet the news of it with thanksgiving.

              How different with those who have walked close to the Lord, having been a blessing to others by the quality of their life and testimony! ​​ Then, people are thankful for the life and not for the fact that it has ended.” ​​ [
              James Montgomery Boice, Genesis 12–36, vol. 2 of Boice Expositional Commentary. Accordance electronic ed. (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1998), 723-724.]

            • “How few people really experience joy and satisfaction when they reach old age! ​​ When they look back, it is with regret; when they look ahead, it is with fear; and when they look around, it is with complaint.” ​​ [Wiersbe, 113]

            • I am reminded of something my father said several years ago, when he was reflecting on his life. ​​ He told me that he is ready to go home and be with the Lord. ​​ There is not anything else on a “bucket list” or any other thing he needs to accomplish in his life to feel fulfilled, satisfied, or at peace

            • How many of us know of family members who have expressed the same feelings?

            • That was the same frame of mind that Abraham had as he breathed his last

          • PRINCIPLE #2 – Living a faithful, righteous life brings joy and satisfaction.

            • Psalm 92:12-15, The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God. ​​ They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, “The Lord is upright; he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.”

            • Where are you at today?

              • Frame of mind

                • Are you aging gracefully?

                • Are you at peace with God and with other people?

                • Are you looking forward to death with joy?

                • Are you satisfied with how your life has gone?

              • You have a choice!

                • Are you living a faithful, righteous life?

                • That kind of life brings joy and satisfaction

                • You can experience inner peace and satisfaction

                • You can say, like my father and many others, that you are fulfilled, satisfied, and at peace with your life

              • #2 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Strive to live a faithful, righteous life, so that I can experience inner peace and satisfaction, as I grow old.

                • Some of us have more time than others to accomplish this

                • Embrace the time you have to live a life that is faithful and righteous

          • The final part of Abraham’s obituary is the location of his burial

        • Location of burial

          • Isaac and Ishmael come together to bury their father

          • It should not come as a surprise that he is buried in the same location as his wife, Sarah

            • It is the cave of Machpelah near Mamre

            • The cave was part of the field that Abraham had purchased from Ephron son of Zoar the Hittite

        • The final verse of this section transitions us from Abraham to Isaac

    • The Blessing (v. 11)

        • Isaac is living in Beer Lahai Roi, [be-ayr’ lakh-ah’ee ro-ee’] which is where Hagar had fled after being mistreated by Sarah

          • The name of the well there means, “well of the Living One who sees me”

          • That was how Hagar felt after being visited by the Lord at the well (Genesis 16:13-14)

        • God blessed Isaac

          • PRINCIPLE #3 – God blesses His covenant people.

            • Isaac was the covenant son through whom the Messiah would come

            • He and his descendants had been set apart by God

            • As disciples of Jesus Christ, we are God’s covenant people, too

          • Obedience to God’s covenant brings blessing.

            • We can experience God’s blessing when we obey His covenant

            • There is a new covenant that God has given to us through Jesus Christ

              • Read Jeremiah 31:31-34 (also found in Hebrews 8:7-13)

              • We see four promises here [https://www.inversebible.org/assets/inverse/lessons/Covenants/INV-D-2021-Q2-L02.pdf]

                • “He [God] promises that He will write His laws in their hearts (Heb. 8:10), to sanctify them, to make them holy, aligning their hearts and characters with His.”

                • “He [God] promises to be their God and make them His people (Heb. 8:10) to reconcile them to Himself.”

                • “God promises to reveal Himself to the whole world , and He promises that the day is coming when that will not be necessary anymore, because everyone will know Him, from the least the greatest (Heb. 8:11)—the harmony of Eden will be restored.”

                • “God promises to forgive our sins and remember them no more (Heb. 8:12), in order to justify us so that we stand before God as though we had never sinned.”

              • 1 Corinthians 11:23-26, For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: ​​ The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” ​​ In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” ​​ For whenever you this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

                • After Jesus’ death, burial, resurrection, and ascension, He sent the Holy Spirit to live within His disciples

                • That is how we have God’s law in our minds and written on our hearts

                • We have God’s Word, the Bible, so we can know the Lord

                • God has forgiven our wickedness and sin through Jesus Christ

                • John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

              • #3 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Believe in Jesus Christ as my Savior, so I can experience the blessing of eternal life.

            • Obedience to God’s covenant brings blessing.

 

  • YOU

    • Is there a promise from God that you need to claim today?

    • Do you need to strive to live a faithful and righteous life, so you can experience inner peace and satisfaction?

    • Are you ready to experience the blessing of eternal life by believing in Jesus Christ as your Savior?

 

  • WE

    • We can encourage one another to claim the promises of God

    • We need to urge one another on in living a faithful and righteous life

 

CONCLUSION

“Ken Fuson actually wrote his own tribute before passing:

 

Ken Fuson, born June 23, 1956, died Jan. 3, 2020 in a Nebraska Medical Center, of liver cirrhosis, and is stunned to learn that the world is somehow able to go on without him. Ken attended the University of Missouri-Columbia’s famous School of Journalism, which is a clever way of saying, ‘almost graduated but didn't.’ Facing a choice between covering a story for the newspaper or taking his final exams, Ken went for the story. He never claimed to be smart, just committed.

 

In 1981, Ken landed his dream job, working as a reporter for The Des Moines Register. Ken won several national feature-writing awards. No, he didn't win a Pulitzer Prize, but he's dead now, so get off his back.

 

In 2011, Ken accepted a job in the marketing department at Simpson College, where he remained until 2018. He was diagnosed with liver disease at the beginning of 2019, which is pretty ironic given how little he drank. He is survived by his sons who all brought Ken unsurpassed joy. He hopes they will forgive him for not making the point more often. He loved his boys and was (and is) extraordinarily proud to be their father.

Ken had many character flaws - if he still owes you money, he's sorry, sincerely. He prided himself on letting other drivers cut in line. For most of his life, Ken suffered from a compulsive gambling addiction that nearly destroyed him. But his church friends never gave up on him. Ken last placed a bet on Sept. 5, 2009. He died clean. He hopes that anyone who needs help will seek it. Miracles abound.

 

Ken's pastor says God can work miracles for you and through you. Skepticism may be cool, and for too many years Ken embraced it, but it was faith in Jesus Christ that transformed his life. That was the one thing he never regretted. It changed everything. God is good. Embrace every moment, even the bad ones. See you in heaven. Ken promises to let you cut in line.”

 

Source:

Ken Fuson, Des Moines Register (1-8-9-20); Joseph Wulfsohn, Obituary goes viral after journalist pens his own funny, touching tribute,” Fox News (1-10-20).

 

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2020/april/mans-own-hilarious-obituary-points-to-christ.html]

12

 

In Good Hands

You’re in Good Hands with – All State. That’s right, you are in good hands with All State. Probably all of us have seen the commercials for All State with these guys. The “You’re in Good Hands” slogan started in the 1950’s when a general sales manager at the insurance company rushed home after learning his daughter was ill. His wife, comforting him, noted that the girl was “in good hands” with the doctor. The manager recalled the incident at a sales meeting, and the slogan, “You’re in good hands with Allstate” was born. What are the qualities that All State wants their customers to believe they have that means they are in good hands? They want their customers to believe that they are knowledgeable, approachable and leaders in the field of insurance. They also want their customers to believe they are trustworthy, reliable and dependable, that they will take care of them when there is a problem and that there is nothing to worry about if you are insured by them.

Character is defined as attributes or features that make up and distinguish an individual; moral excellence and firmness. Your character, good or bad, is made up of different qualities and we all have the choice as to what our character will be. I think we all probably strive for the same qualities that All State wants their customers to believe they have. Those qualities also remind me of the character of God. God is trustworthy, reliable, dependable, he takes care of us and we have nothing to fear or worry when we are “in his good hands.” As Christ-followers we know from scripture and from our own experiences that we are “in good hands” with God. Psalm 33:4 says, “For the word of the Lord is upright, and all his work is done in faithfulness.” 1 Peter 5:7 says, “Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” Matthew 6:25-26 says, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”

As we think about the character of God, I believe it is important to evaluate our own character. We should ask ourselves: Am I trustworthy, reliable and dependable? Do my loved ones feel cared for by me? Do people feel like they don’t have to worry if they have been placed in my hands or if a task is left in my hands? Do I possess the same character qualities as God? This brings us to the big idea we will explore this morning that God is pleased when we exhibit his character. We want to emulate the character of God. We want to be more like his son, Jesus. I believe that God will use us for his purposes when we exhibit his character and it is important for our witness as Christ-followers that others would say that they are in “good hands” with us.

Two weeks ago, Pastor Stuart, opened up the beginning of chapter 24 to us which tells the story of Abraham sending his servant to Mesopotamia to find Isaac a wife from his family/clan and not from among the Canaanite women. The servant was led by God to find Rebekah, who was the granddaughter of Nahor, the brother of Abraham. When Rebekah tells her family about what the servant had said and done, her brother, Laban, invites the servant into his house, gives his camels a place to stay and be taken care of, and places food before the servant and his men. But the servant would not eat until his story was told and that is where we pick up the passage this morning.

The phrase, “in good hands” will be important as we study this passage and see how the character qualities of the main players fit in with it. Before we begin, let’s pray: Dear Heavenly Father, we praise you for your many attributes. You are trustworthy, reliable and dependable. You care for us and we don’t not need to worry about anything because we are being held in your good hands. Lord, pour out your Holy Spirit upon us this morning. Give us eyes to see and ears to hear what you want us to understand from this passage. Give us opportunities to share your good news with those in our spheres of influence who do not know you as their Lord and Savior. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

There are three points to the message this morning. The first is Witness, this is the witness of the Servant, found in Genesis 24: 34-49. This is what God’s Word says, “So he said, “I am Abraham’s servant. The Lord has blessed my master abundantly, and he has become wealthy. He has given him sheep and cattle, silver and gold, male and female servants, and camels and donkeys. My master’s wife Sarah has borne him a son in her old age, and he has given him everything he owns. And my master made me swear an oath, and said, ‘You must not get a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, in whose land I live, but go to my father’s family and to my own clan, and get a wife for my son.’ “Then I asked my master, ‘What if the woman will not come back with me?’ “He replied, ‘The Lord, before whom I have walked faithfully, will send his angel with you and make your journey a success, so that you can get a wife for my son from my own clan and from my father’s family. You will be released from my oath if, when you go to my clan, they refuse to give her to you—then you will be released from my oath.’ “When I came to the spring today, I said, ‘Lord, God of my master Abraham, if you will, please grant success to the journey on which I have come. See, I am standing beside this spring. If a young woman comes out to draw water and I say to her, “Please let me drink a little water from your jar,” and if she says to me, “Drink, and I’ll draw water for your camels too,” let her be the one the Lord has chosen for my master’s son.’ “Before I finished praying in my heart, Rebekah came out, with her jar on her shoulder. She went down to the spring and drew water, and I said to her, ‘Please give me a drink.’ “She quickly lowered her jar from her shoulder and said, ‘Drink, and I’ll water your camels too.’ So I drank, and she watered the camels also. “I asked her, ‘Whose daughter are you?’ “She said, ‘The daughter of Bethuel son of Nahor, whom Milkah bore to him.’ “Then I put the ring in her nose and the bracelets on her arms, 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. 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.”

The servant is giving witness to Rebekah’s family about everything that has happened from the time that Abraham has commissioned him to find a wife for his son until the present, with a couple variants. There is a lot going on and a lot to notice in this long narrative. The length, the detail and the retelling of the story shows how important this story is to the continuation of God’s promises to Abraham. The servant begins by identifying himself as Abraham’s servant and informing the family of his master’s abundant wealth. He is not modest as he lists all that Abraham owns such as sheep, cattle, silver and gold, etc. This list reflects what Abraham acquired in Egypt and Gerar and is a more comprehensive list of his wealth then we have seen before. He also tells them that Sarah has borne a son to Abraham in her old age and that the ​​ son has been given all that Abraham has. He is enticing Rebekah’s family to agree to allow her to marry Isaac. Why does he begin with Abraham’s wealth? He wants her family to believe that the son of Abraham has the wealth to take care of Rebekah. I also believe that the servant noticed that his gifts to Rebekah brought out the materialistic character in Laban. In verse 30 we notice that as soon as Laban saw the nose ring and bracelets on his sister’s arms and heard her story he makes a great show of hospitality towards the servant. He’s probably thinking there was more where that came from.

The servant twice mentions the oath he took to find a wife from Abraham’s family and not from among the Canaanite women. This shows the importance of finding a wife from Abraham’s family. Baldwin says, “The success of this enterprise was depended on the separateness of the people of God, a necessary condition for developing a counter-culture that would reflect their walk with God.” Notice that servant never mentions that Abraham commanded him not to bring Isaac to Mesopotamia. He probably thought it would give the family the idea they needed to meet the son first before giving their ok.

Up to now the servant has focused on Abraham’s wealth and his kinship with Rebekah’s family. Now he turns to how the providence of God led him directly to Rebekah. He recounts his prayer to God to show him the right woman and how God answered that prayer. The servant knew that God had led him to Rebekah because even before he was done praying she came to the well and gave the servant a drink when he asked her. Then the sign that he was waiting for was fulfilled when she offered voluntarily to water his camels. Further verification came when he asks Rebekah whose daughter she was and she answered that she was the granddaughter of Nahor who just happened to be Abraham’s brother. The servant knew that the Lord had led him to exactly the right place at the right time to find the right woman. He knew God was in control of all that happened and he bowed low and worshipped the Lord. Now the servant asks Laban and Bethuel to show him the same kindness and faithfulness that the Lord showed Abraham’s servant in finding Rebekah in the first place. He wants them to act in good faith the same way the Lord has and make a decision one way of the other. If they say “yes” then he can take her back to Isaac or if they say “no” he can move on to find someone else.

We see certain character qualities in the servant and Rebekah that are the reason why the Lord chose them to play such a huge part in the next installment of the blessing to Abraham and his descendants. The servant was loyal, patient, determined, and humble. He had integrity and a heart for prayer, thanksgiving and praise. He praises and worships God every time he answers his prayers. That brings us to the first next step on the back of your communication card. My next step is to be a person who prays before I act and to praise and thank the Lord for answered prayers. Rebekah was generous, kind, friendly, hospitable, practical and hard working as seen in volunteering to water the servant’s camels. Their character showed that the blessing was in “good hands.” The servant and Rebekah were able to be used by God for his purposes because they exhibited his character and I believe that God will use us as well for his purposes when we exhibit his character in our daily lives. (Big Idea).

Our next point is willingness and we will see this in the willingness of the bride to go back with the servant to Canaan. It is found in Genesis 24: 50-61. This is what God’s Word says, “Laban and Bethuel answered, “This is from the Lord; we can say nothing to you one way or the other. Here is Rebekah; take her and go, and let her become the wife of your master’s son, as the Lord has directed.” When Abraham’s servant heard what they said, he bowed down to the ground before the Lord. Then the servant brought out gold and silver jewelry and articles of clothing and gave them to Rebekah; he also gave costly gifts to her brother and to her mother. Then he and the men who were with him ate and drank and spent the night there. When they got up the next morning, he said, “Send me on my way to my master.” But her brother and her mother replied, “Let the young woman remain with us ten days or so; then you may go.” But he said to them, “Do not detain me, now that the Lord has granted success to my journey. Send me on my way so I may go to my master.” Then they said, “Let’s call the young woman and ask her about it.” So they called Rebekah and asked her, “Will you go with this man?” “I will go,” she said. So they sent their sister Rebekah on her way, along with her nurse and Abraham’s servant and his men. And they blessed Rebekah and said to her, “Our sister, may you increase to thousands upon thousands; may your offspring possess the cities of their enemies.” Then Rebekah and her attendants got ready and mounted the camels and went back with the man. So the servant took Rebekah and left.”

Laban and Bethuel say they realize that the Lord has been at work in this matter and give their consent for the servant to take Rebekah to become Isaac’s wife as the Lord has directed. It is interesting because this part of Abraham’s family was probably not following the one true God as Abraham had been for close to a hundred years. Stenberg says, “The Mesopotamians undergo a process of discovery that brings home to them God’s management of the world.” And Hamilton says, “It is not the servant, Abraham or Isaac, but rather their God that Laban and Bethuel find persuasive.” God was in total control of this situation.

The servant worships the Lord for their. He provides the bride and her family with costly gifts. This would have been seen as the bride price and the “mohar” which would compensate the bride’s family for taking her away from her family. We notice that the servants gives the gifts to Rebekah’s brother and mother and not to the father. It seems that the father may had been ill and only brought out for the initial negotiations with the servant. Or it is also possible that it was normal for the brother and mother of the bride to take the lead in these types of negotiations. Finally, after the servant had recounted the story, after Rebekah’s hand in marriage had been given and the gifts handed out the servant and his men now eat, rest and spend the night knowing that the task was satisfactorily completed.

The next morning the servant announces that he is ready to leave and take Rebekah back to marry Isaac. This seems abrupt but he may have been worried that Abraham would not live long enough to see his new daughter-in-law. The family pushes back wanting Rebekah to stay with them for ten days before leaving. This was probably normal so the woman could spend some final days with her family knowing that they may never see each other again. It would have also made sure that the marriage arrangement was on the up and up. The servant though pushes back as well and plays the “God” card. Now that the Lord has granted him success in his journey he wants them to send him on his way. It was important for the servant to return to his master to report on the success of the mission. We see a determination to finish the task at hand as another of the servant’s character qualities. ​​ 

The family leaves the matter in Rebekah’s hands and without hesitation she says she will go with the servant. Rebekah recognized the will of God for her life and was willing to follow that will wherever it led. Discernment and obedience to the will of God were other character qualities of Rebekah. We also need to be discerning the will of God for our lives and then be obedient to that will. That brings us to the second next step on the back of your communication card which is to listen, discern and obey the will of God for my life. When our character aligns with the character of God, we can be better equipped to listen, discern and obey God’s will for our lives. Once Rebekah has decided to go, her family sends her and her nurse with Abraham’s servant and his men. It is interesting that neither Abraham’s servant nor Rebekah’s nurse is specifically named in this passage. As Pastor Stuart said two weeks ago, Abraham’s servant may have been Eliezer, but we aren’t told for sure. Rebekah’s nurse is named later in Genesis as Deborah. This anonymity may be so we focus on the major characters in this passage which are Rebekah and later on Isaac.

The last thing that Rebekah’s family does is bless her. Notice they did not invoke the name of the Lord with this blessing. They bless her to increase in numbers, to thousands upon thousands, and that her offspring would possess the gates of their enemies, meaning they would conquer their enemies. It is significant that these blessings mirror the blessings that God promised to Abraham. Mathews says, “The author (of Genesis) is declaring Rebekah the divinely chosen instrument who helps realize the promise made to Abraham and his descendants.” Rebekah’s character is equal to Abraham’s and she exhibits the character of God which means the fulfillment of the divine blessing is in “good hands.” After the blessing we see Rebekah, her maids, Abraham’s servant and his men mount their camels and leave for Canaan.

The final point this morning is welcome talking about the welcome of the bridegroom. We see this in Genesis 24: 62-66. This is what God’s Word says, “Now Isaac had come from Beer Lahai Roi, for he was living in the Negev. He went out to the field one evening to meditate, and as he looked up, he saw camels approaching. Rebekah also looked up and saw Isaac. 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. Then the servant told Isaac all he had done. 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.

The narrative now turns to Isaac. It seems since we saw him last he has changed locations from Beer Lahai Roi to the Negev. What has probably happened is that in the time it took for the servant to go to Mesopotamia and back, Abraham has set Isaac up with his own homestead, in the hopes that the servant’s mission is successful. We notice that one night Isaac is out in the fields “meditating.” This word could mean “prayerful” or “contemplative” or even “lamenting.” We can only wonder what is going through Isaac’s mind. He has lost his mother who he was very close to. He is awaiting news of whether the servant has found a bride for him or not. It’s possible that he is lonely in that Abraham has set him up with a home but has not stayed with him there. He is probably regularly calling out to God in the pain of his mother’s loss, in his loneliness and in the uncertainty of what the future holds for his life.

Isaac “looks up” and sees the camels approaching and Rebekah also “looks up” and sees Isaac. To “look up and see” indicates that what is about to be seen is important. What is important is that Isaac and Rebekah get their first glimpse of each other. We are told that Rebekah gets off her camel. It seems in that time and place it was unladylike for a woman to be on a camel in the presence of a strange man. She asks the servant who is the man that is coming to meet them and when he tells her that the man is his master she covers herself with her veil. Notice that the servant now refers to Isaac as his master. We already heard that Abraham had given everything he had to Isaac, and this now includes his servant. She puts on her veil which was a mark of chastity, modesty and submission. Her face would now be covered until their wedding night.

The servant reports to Isaac all that had transpired and a number of things happen as we end the story and the chapter. One, Isaac brings Rebekah into the tent of her mother and marries her. This signified that just as Isaac has replaced Abraham within the blessing, so has Rebekah replaced Sarah. Rebekah now becomes the next mother in line to fulfill God’s promise to Abraham that he will become a great nation. Two, Isaac loved Rebekah. As with any arranged marriage the couple doesn’t start out loving one another but Isaac and Rebekah fell in love with each other and their marriage was more than a marriage of convenience. Lastly, Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death. It is clear that Sarah’s death deeply affected her son. Rebekah’s arrival would prove to be a source of solace and support. There would be a good balance and compliment in their home.

Other character qualities of Rebekah in this section are that she was alert and expectant. She was waiting to see the man whom she would spend the rest of her life with and when she saw him she obeyed God’s will for her and became his wife and a comfort to him after Sarah’s death. She was also chaste, modest and submissive. We also notice some character qualities of Isaac. He had a quiet and patient faith. He was seeking after the Lord as he meditated in the field. He showed grace and humility as he humbled himself to take Rebekah as his wife because the Lord had arranged and ordained it.

In his sermon titled "Think Hard, Stay Humble," Francis Chan told about a man named Vaughn who radiated the love of Christ to everyone around him: There were a couple of guys who came to his church who said they were inspired by their former youth pastor, a guy named Vaughn. The next week another person named Dan told Francis "I know Vaughn. He's a pastor in San Diego now, and he takes people into the dumps in Tijuana where kids are picking through the garbage. I was just with Vaughn in Tijuana. We would walk in the city, and these kids would run up to him, and he would show such deep love and affection for them. He'd hug them and have gifts and food for them. He'd figure out how to get them showers. Francis, it was eerie: the whole time I was walking with Vaughn, I kept thinking, If Jesus was on earth, I think this is what it would feel like to walk with him. He just loved everyone he ran into, and he would tell them about God. People were just drawn to his love and affection." And then Dan said this, "The day I spent with Vaughn was the closest thing I've ever experienced to walking with Jesus." Hearing this made me think, “Would anyone in their right mind say that about me? Would anyone say that about you? … As I thought about all this, I prayed, "Lord, that's what I want. I don't want to be the best speaker in the world. That doesn't matter. I don't want to be the most intelligent person on the planet. That's not what I want to be known for. I want to be known for someone saying, "Wow, he's a lot like Jesus."

God is pleased when we want to and strive to be more like Jesus. He is pleased when we exhibit his character. (Big Idea). Earlier I put forth that each of us need to look into our own hearts and evaluate our character. Does our character fall in line with God’s Word? Do we daily exhibit the character of God in our lives? That brings us to the last next step on the back of your communication card. My next step is to evaluate my character to see if I am exhibiting God’s character in my life. If we are that’s great and we must keep it up. If we aren’t then it is time we make the necessary changes to align our character with his.

As the praise team comes to lead us in a final song, let’s pray: Dear Heavenly Father, help us to be praying people and a thankful people for answered prayer. Help us to listen, discern and obey your will for our lives. And help us to evaluate our character and align it with yours. As we leave this place today give us divine appointments with those who do not know you as their Lord and Savior and use each of us as witnesses to your love, your holiness and your salvation. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

 

Origins

Led by the Lord

(Genesis 24:1-33)

 

INTRODUCTION

“I made my pastoral calls in the county hospital and walked back to my car in the parking lot. Just as I reached out to the car door to get inside, I heard, ‘Go see Bob.’ Bob was a retired fireman, seriously ill with heart problems and confined to a bed because of his ailment. He had recently made a decision to accept Christ and was making wonderful spiritual progress. I took what I heard to be the prompting of the Holy Spirit, but I protested, saying, ‘I was there not long ago. It's not time yet to go back again.’ The prompting persisted, so I got into the car, pulled out of the lot, and headed for Bob's place. It was just a few minutes away, up a rural road winding through beautiful, northern California hills.

 

I came to Bob's house, pulled into the driveway, and looked over to the big front window of the living room where Bob usually lay in a hospital bed.

 

Bob was lying there, but he looked different. I thought to myself, "He looks dead." I hurried to the front door and knocked. Evelyn, his wife, came to the door breathless and distraught. "Oh, I'm so glad you're here. Bob just died a few minutes ago!"

 

We sat together in the kitchen, not saying too much to each other as the man from the funeral home did his work in the other room, getting ready to remove my friend from the home. Quietly, when the time was right, I read from the Scripture, and Evelyn and I prayed, seeking God in the loss of her husband.

 

I've thought back many times to that afternoon, and I am so glad that I followed the leading of the Spirit. I got there just as someone needed me most.”

 

Source: Unknown.

 

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2008/april/10040907.html].

 

BODY

  • ME

    • Divine prompting

        • I have experienced divine promptings throughout my life

        • Most of you know the story about my divine calling to pastoral ministry and how that was confirmed by multiple people in the weeks following that calling

        • There have been times when I have sensed the Lord prompting me to pray for or call certain individuals

          • It’s amazing to hear what those individuals were going through when I was prompted to pray for them

          • It gives me chills when I call someone and they need to talk about a situation they are going through

    • Obedience shows true faith

        • I had befriended another man who worked in the suite beside the one I worked in

        • During a break, one day, he was telling me that he was considering moving in with his girlfriend to save on expenses

        • The Lord prompted me to challenge him not to do that, but I chickened out

        • When I went back to my office, I felt the conviction of the Holy Spirit for not being obedient

        • So, I prayed and asked the Lord to give me another opportunity to challenge this man

        • That opportunity came about a week later

          • We were standing outside chatting and I mentioned his comment about considering moving in with his girlfriend

          • I challenged him to trust God and not move in with his girlfriend

          • His response was something like this, “Thank you, I needed someone to challenge me on that.”

        • He claimed the name of Christ, yet he was considering doing something that he knew would tarnish that claim and witness

 

  • WE

    • Divine prompting

        • As disciples of Jesus Christ we all have probably experienced a divine prompting at one time or another?

        • How do we respond when those promptings come?

    • Obedience

        • Perhaps, like me, we all have experienced the conviction of the Holy Spirit for not being obedient to that prompting

        • Hopefully, we have all experienced the blessing of obedience, too

 

Abraham is getting older and is probably realizing that in order for God’s promise to be fulfilled, his son Isaac was going to have to get married and start having children. ​​ Abraham had a couple of criteria for this bride search that he had his chief servant swear to abide by. ​​ The servant understood the criteria, but asked what he should do if the woman refused. ​​ Abraham reassured him that . . .

 

BIG IDEA – Where God guides, He provides.

 

Abraham’s faith had developed into a strong faith that trusted God to do what seemed humanly impossible.

 

Let’s pray

 

  • GOD (Genesis 24:1-33)

    • Promise (vv. 1-9)

        • Abraham’s state (v. 1)

          • His age

            • The narrator tells us that Abraham is now old

            • Well advanced in years

            • It is believed that Abraham is almost 140 years

            • Isaac would be 40 years

            • Sarah has been gone two or three years

          • His status

            • God has blessed him abundantly

            • “Age and wealth are often signs of a blessed life (e.g., Job 42:12).” ​​ [Mathews, The New American Commentary, Volume 1B, Genesis 11:27-50:26, 326]

            • God had blessed Abraham in every way

              • Long life

              • Flocks and herds

              • Gold and silver

              • Male and female servants

              • Promised covenant son

              • Promise of land (a country)

          • The narrator moves from Abraham’s state to a conversation that he has with his chief servant

        • Instruction (vv. 2-4)

          • Chief servant

            • Most Bible translations have “oldest/eldest servant”

            • From that translation, many scholars believe that it could be Eliezer, who was his most trusted servant and household administrator

            • Genesis 15:2, But Abram said, “O Sovereign Lord, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?”

            • We are not told if it is Eliezer, but if it is, he would also be old and advanced in years

          • Put your hand under my thigh

            • This must have been the customary way for oaths to be sworn in the Ancient Near East

            • The hand would actually be put under the male reproductive organ, since that was the source of life/offspring

            • “Westermann says, ‘The rite of touching the generative organ when taking an oath occurs elsewhere only in Gen. 47:29 where the circumstances are the same, namely, imminent death. ​​ The one who is facing death secures his last will by an ‘oath at the source of life.’’ (Westermann, 384” [Gangel & Bramer, Holman Old Testament Commentary, Genesis, 201]

          • Swear by the Lord, the God of heaven and the God of earth

            • This was not a deity that the Canaanites or Abraham’s relatives in Mesopotamia worship

            • This is the only God who deserves to be called God

            • He is the God of the Creation and the Cosmos

          • Ethnic purity

            • Abraham urges his servant to not choose a wife for Isaac from the Canaanites

            • He instructs him to go back to Mesopotamia to find a wife from among his own relatives

            • NOTE: ​​ Abraham’s relatives were also polytheistic in their beliefs, so perhaps Abraham is more concerned about ethnic purity than religious practice

          • The instructions given by Abraham cause his servant to ask two legitimate questions

        • Question & Answer (vv. 5-8)

          • Questions

            • What if the woman does not want to come back to Canaan with me?

              • Keep in mind that the distance from Canaan to Mesopotamia is around 400 miles

              • It would take about a month for the servant to travel to Abraham’s home area

              • The woman would be leaving everything she knows and embracing her new family

              • There wouldn’t be any weekend trips home to visit her mom and sisters

              • She would be making a life-changing decision to accept the marriage proposal

              • The servant wants to know Abraham’s wishes in case Abraham passed away while he was gone

            • Do you want me to take Isaac back to Mesopotamia?

              • If the woman is unwilling to return with him, do you want me to take Isaac back to Mesopotamia?

              • The servant wants to know which criteria is most important to his master – wife from his own people or remaining in Canaan

            • We see Abraham’s answer to the two questions

          • Answers

            • Don’t take Isaac back to Mesopotamia!

              • God promised to establish my offspring in Canaan

              • Perhaps Abraham was concerned that if Isaac left Canaan that he would never return

              • Abraham believed God’s promise with all of his heart and never looked back

              • PRINCIPLE #1 – “True faith always results in obedience.” ​​ [Wiersbe]

                • It would have been easy for Abraham to abandon Canaan and return to what was familiar, but he held to God’s promise by faith

                • This is true for us as well

                  • When God calls us out of our comfort zone

                  • When He asks us to follow Him to a place that is far away from family and friends

                  • Do we follow in faith or resist in doubt and fear

                  • I declined the offer, twice, to move from Ohio to Missouri, to work at the headquarters of Child Evangelism Fellowship in the USA Ministries department

                  • We did not have any family in Missouri (I did have a cousin and her family in Kansas, but they were not close)

                  • Moving from Missouri to California took us further away from family

                  • We had faith that God was calling us to both of those places, so we obeyed in faith, trusting Him

                  • He blessed us with incredible friends and neighbors who became our surrogate family

                • Is God calling you to obey Him, by faith, in a particular area?

                • Are you resisting that calling?

                • #1 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Obey the Lord’s calling on my life and follow Him by faith.

              • Abraham knew from past experiences that God would provide and so he encourages his chief servant

            • God will provide

              • Abraham reassures his servant that God would send His angel before him to prepare the way for his success

              • Where God guides, He provides.

              • Abraham was confident in God’s ability to transform the heart and mind of a young woman to accept the adventure of a lifetime

              • Abraham then helps to put his servant’s mind at ease

            • Release from oath

              • If the woman is unwilling to come back with you, then you will be released from the oath

              • Abraham reiterates again that he does not want Isaac to go back to Mesopotamia

          • With his questions answered and his mind at ease, Abraham’s servant is willing to swear the oath

        • Oath (v. 9)

          • Abraham’s servant places his hand under his master’s thigh

          • While doing that he promises to find a wife for Isaac from Abraham’s family in Mesopotamia and not to take Isaac back there

        • Once the oath is sworn, it is time to prepare for the trip

    • Preparation (vv. 10-11)

        • Before (v. 10)

          • The servant took ten camels and loaded them down with all kinds of good things (choice things, expensive things)

          • We are not told what these good, choice, expensive things are

          • In verse 22 we find out that there was a gold nose ring and two gold bracelets

          • The narrator leaves us in suspense as to other items that the servant took as a bride price

          • The location in Mesopotamia

            • We are told that the servant goes to the town of Nahor in the region of Aram Naharaim

            • The town of Nahor can either refer to the actual name of the town or to the town where Abraham’s brother Nahor lived (perhaps Haran)

            • Aram Naharaim means “Aram of the two rivers” [Mathews, 332]

              • Northwestern Mesopotamia [northern Syria and Iraq today]

              • The two rivers would have been the Euphrates and its tributary the Habor/Habur/Khabur

          • This was the preparation for the trip

        • PRINCIPLE #2 – God will direct us when we trust and obey His Word.

          • Abraham’s servant has a general idea of where he is supposed to go

            • This is more than Abraham had when he left Haran

            • If this chief servant has been with Abraham since he left Haran, then he would know where to go, but we are not given that information here

            • He has to trust and obey God’s word of guidance as he travels north

            • When we obey God’s leading by faith, He will direct us – where to go and what to do

            • We can claim that truth for our lives today – God will direct us when we trust and obey His Word

          • About one month passes between verses 10 and 11

        • After (v. 11)

          • In verse 11 we see the preparations of the servant after he arrives in the town

          • He has the camels kneel down near the well outside the town

            • This was strategic on the servants part

            • He was preparing to watch the evening trek to the well by the young women of the town

            • What better way to encounter women who could be potential wife material for Isaac

        • There is one more vital part of his preparation – prayer!

    • Prayer (vv. 12-21)

        • Prayer (vv. 12-14)

          • He addresses the Lord

            • Since he is Abraham’s liaison, he addresses the Lord as the God of my master, Abraham

            • This is does not mean that the servant does not have faith in the Lord

          • Requests

            • Give me success

            • Show kindness to my master Abraham

            • The servant needs to know which young woman is God’s choice for Isaac, so he asks for two specific things to identify her

              • First, when I ask a girl for a drink, she will lower her jar and give me a drink

              • Second, without prompting, she will recognize that my camels need water and offer to give them water too

            • He petitions the Lord again to show kindness to his master, Abraham

          • Aren’t you glad that the Lord knows what we need before we ask (Matthew 6:8) and because He knows before we ask, He is already acting on our behalf

        • Answer (vv. 15-21)

          • The Lord had already prompted Rebekah to leave her house and head to the well while Abraham’s servant is praying

          • The narrator gives us some key pieces of information

            • Genealogy

              • He does not keep us in suspense about whether or not Rebekah is part of Abraham’s family

              • While the servant does not know it yet, we are given insider information

              • Rebekah is the daughter of Bethuel

              • She is the granddaughter of Nahor and Milcah, Abraham’s brother and sister-in-law

            • Attributes

              • Rebekah is very beautiful – probably referring to her appearance

              • She is a virgin – in the Ancient Near East it does not necessarily means she has not been sexually active, but rather it means that she is of marriageable age

              • She is pure – no man had ever lain with her (which in our modern culture means she was a virgin, she had not been sexually active)

              • Again, the servant is not aware of these attributes when he sees her

            • At the moment, the servant is relying on the criteria he has asked the Lord about

          • Rebekah went down to the spring, filled her jar, and came up again

          • The servant is hopeful, so he hurries over to meet her

            • I’m assuming that Rebekah is the first woman to come to the well, which is why he hurries over to meet her

              • He is hopeful and enthusiastic about the Lord’s ability to answer his prayer

              • Just imagine if he had already approached multiple women and they had rejected his request for a drink or, if they gave him a drink, but didn’t offer to water his camels

              • I think his demeanor would have been less hurried with Rebekah

            • When he asks her for a drink, she lowers her jar and gives him a drink, then she offers to draw water for his camels until they are satisfied

              • She doesn’t waste time, but empties her jar into the trough

              • Then she ran back down to the well to get more water and continues this process until the camels were taken care of

                • Camels who have not had a drink for a couple of days could consume as much as 25 gallons of water to rehydrate

                • Multiply that by 10 camels and you have 250 gallons of water

                • On average, a water jar in the Ancient Near East, could hold up to 3 gallons

                • That would be a potential of 83 trips down to the well and back – talk about water aerobics

              • “When you see a man or a woman going out of his or her way to minister, you have found someone very special.” ​​ [Courson, Jon Courson’s Application Commentary, Old Testament, Volume 1: ​​ Genesis-Job, 113]

            • While she is serving the needs of the camels, the servant is quietly watching her to discern if the Lord had made his journey a success

        • We can assume that he felt certain that the Lord had made his journey a success by what he does next

    • Presentation (vv. 22-25)

        • Gifts

          • The camels are satisfied and the servant is satisfied

          • So, he takes out a gold nose ring and two gold bracelets

          • It is apparent that he gives these items to her, because in verse 30, Laban saw her wearing them

        • Request

          • He then asks her whose daughter she is and if there was room in her father’s house for he and his companions to spend the night

          • She tells him that she is the daughter of Bethuel, the son of Milcah and Nahor

          • She answers his second request by telling him that they have plenty of resources and space to house them for the night

        • PRINCIPLE #3 – God answers prayer!

          • We see that God answered the prayer of the servant through Rebekah

          • She willingly gave him a drink of water and then offered to water his camels

          • I am a huge proponent of praying specific prayers, because then we know when God answers them

            • I’m not talking about praying specific prayers that try to corner God or prosper individuals

            • I believe we can pray specific prayers according to God’s will and purposes and He will answer

            • Each week we share praise reports for answered prayer

          • We have to remember that God answers prayer in three ways

            • Yes, No, and Wait

            • There are times when we feel like God has not answered our prayers, because we did not get the answer we wanted or hoped for (so we actually missed His answer)

          • How we react to answered prayer is so important

        • That is what we see next in verses 26 and 27

    • Praise (vv. 26-27)

        • The servant bowed down and worshiped the Lord right in front of Rebekah, presumably

        • He again addresses his praise to the Lord, the God of my master Abraham

          • He acknowledges that the Lord has been kind and faithful to Abraham

          • PRINCIPLE #4 – God is faithful!

            • We can trust in the faithfulness of God

            • That is His character and His character never changes

            • How have we seen the faithfulness of God?

              • At Idaville Church, we have seen the faithfulness of God through His provision for our finances, through salvations and baptisms, through spiritual growth, through the revitalization of the church, and so much more

              • Personally, we have seen God’s faithfulness through answered prayer for family members, through God’s provision for us financially, through healings, through His protection, and so much more

              • How have you seen God’s faithfulness in your life? ​​ (take a moment and write a couple of things down)

          • The servant also recognized the Lord’s faithfulness to him

            • He acknowledges that the Lord had led him to the house of his master’s relatives

            • This was Abraham’s nephew’s family that the servant would be staying with

        • PRINCIPLE #5 – Worship is the right response to God’s faithfulness.

          • When is the last time you have bowed down before the Lord and worshiped Him for His faithfulness?

          • In our busyness we may neglect to even thank the Lord for His faithfulness and answers to our prayers, let alone bow down before Him and worship Him

          • #2 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Bow down before the Lord in worship for His faithfulness to me.

          • We are going to give everyone the opportunity to bow down before the Lord in worship during the closing song this morning

        • Rebekah understands the significance of what is taking place, so she runs back to her house

    • Provision (vv. 28-33)

        • Pronouncement (v. 28)

          • Rebekah told her family what had happened when she went to draw water at the well

          • Perhaps they were wondering where she was, since it probably took her a long time to water the camels

          • We learn that Rebekah has a brother named Laban (that name should sound familiar and he will play a significant role with Isaac and Rebekah’s son, Jacob)

        • Hospitality (vv. 29-33)

          • Perhaps Laban was running the household at this point, which is why Bethuel does not go out to greet the servant

          • It is probable that Laban either made preparations prior to going to the spring or gave instructions to the household servants to make preparations for the entourage

          • Laban hurried out to meet Abraham’s servant and invited him to stay with them

          • Perhaps the gifts that he gave Rebekah and his worship of the Lord, prompted Laban to address him as “blessed by the Lord”

          • The servant followed Laban back to Bethuel’s house

          • Hospitality shared

            • The camels were unloaded and given bedding and food

            • Water was brought for the travelers to wash their feet

            • Food was brought out for the men to eat

          • Urgency message

            • Since the Lord had so graciously and faithfully answered his prayer, the servant did not want to eat first

            • He wanted to share the purpose of his trip

            • Laban encourages him to tell them, but that’s a narrative for another time

 

  • YOU

    • Are you ready to obey the Lord’s calling on your life and follow Him by faith?

    • Are you ready to bow down before the Lord, in worship, for His faithfulness to you?

 

  • WE

    • We can encourage those in our congregation by affirming the calling God has place on their lives

    • We can model worship for God’s faithfulness by bowing down before Him

 

CONCLUSION

As the worship team leads us in the closing song this morning, I want to encourage everyone to come forward and bow down to the Lord in worship of His faithfulness.

14

 

Origins

The Deed Dance

(Genesis 23:1-20)

 

INTRODUCTION

Walt Disney made a statement that is the premise behind the animated movie Meet the Robinsons.

 

He said, “Around here, however, we don’t look backwards for very long. ​​ We keep moving forward, opening up new doors, doing new things, because we’re curious . . . and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”

 

BODY

  • ME

    • Moving a lot

        • Since Judy and I have moved around a lot during our 30 years of marriage, we have not really thought about where we would be buried when we die

        • Most people don’t like to talk about death to begin with, much less, about burial plots

        • We have discussed it a couple of times over the past 30 years, but I’m not sure we have settled on anything yet

        • We haven’t purchased burial plots

        • We haven’t met with the funeral home to discuss their services

    • Wills, estates, and burial plots

        • I have started thinking more about it, especially after the Stewardship Lifestyle Seminar and meeting with the lawyer to discuss our will and estate planning

        • My family

          • Salem Cemetery in Chambersburg, PA (Johns and Rife) – my parents will be buried there

          • Browns Mill Presbyterian Cemetery in Chambersburg, PA – behind Rhodes Grove Camp & Conference Center (Hykes and Kennedy)

        • Grove family

          • With Mabel Groves’ funeral this week, I was reminded again that Judy and I do not have burial plots

          • When we had the burial service at Barrens Salem Union Cemetery, the family was showing me the other headstones where extended family has been buried

 

  • WE

    • How about you and your family?

        • Most families have a particular cemetery where most of them have been buried or will be buried

        • This is usually the case with most families

    • Long standing tradition

        • This is not a recent tradition in our lifetime or even the generation before us

        • The idea of a family burial place comes to us from the Patriarchs

        • Abraham was just as concerned about securing a family burial space

        • I’m in good in company, because Abraham did not plan ahead for this either

        • It wasn’t until his wife Sarah’s death that he secured the family burial plot

 

Abraham was fully committed to God’s divine plan for him and his descendants. ​​ Once he entered the Promised Land, he didn’t look back – he kept moving forward. ​​ As we will see in Genesis 23:1-20, today, Abraham doesn’t take Sarah back to Mesopotamia to bury her. ​​ Rather, he purchases property in Canaan. ​​ What we will learn from Abraham’s example is that . . .

 

BIG IDEA – Faith in God’s divine word gives us strength and confidence to keep moving forward.

 

Let’s pray

 

  • GOD (Genesis 23:1-20)

    • Death (vv. 1-2)

        • Sarah’s age

          • Sarah is the only woman in the Bible whose age is revealed

            • Fun note: ​​ perhaps this is why we never ask a woman her age

            • We know she is 127 years old when she dies

          • “All that we know of Sarah’s activities between the age of 90 and 127 is that she gave birth to Isaac and died thirty-seven years later.” ​​ [Hamilton, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 18-50, 125]

          • It is three years before Isaac’s marriage to Rebekah

          • Abraham is 137 years old

          • They have been in Canaan for sixty-two years

        • Where she died

          • Kiriath Arba

            • This would have been the name of the town when Abraham and Sarah lived there

            • The narrator gives the audience the modern city name to help them know where he is talking about

            • Joshua 14:15, (Hebron used to be called Kiriath Arba after Arba, who was the greatest man among the Anakites.)

            • “‘Kiriath Arba’ means ‘city of four’ (qiryat ʾarbaʿ), which may originally have referred to a group of four related cities (Aner, Eschcol, Mamre, and Hebron, see comments on 14:14).” ​​ [Mathews, The New American Commentary, Volume 1B, Genesis 11:27-50:26, 315]

          • In the land of Canaan – the Promised Land

        • Abraham’s grief

          • The passage makes it sound like Abraham was somewhere else when Sarah passed away

          • He was not in Hebron at the time, so where was he?

            • Genesis 22:19, Then Abraham returned to his servants, and they set off together for Beersheba. ​​ And Abraham stayed in Beersheba.

              • This was just after Abraham and Isaac returned from the top of Mt. Moriah, where the Lord tested Abraham by asking him to sacrifice Isaac

              • If you remember, it was a three-day journey from Beersheba to Mt. Moriah (close to Jerusalem) [50-60 miles]

            • Beersheba is 26.4 miles south of Hebron (it would have been about a day and half journey)

              • Perhaps Sarah remained in a clan community in the grove of Mamre near Hebron while Abraham and Isaac helped with the flocks and herds in Beersheba

              • Abraham had dug a well in Beersheba when he and Abimelech struck a contract

              • It would have been a natural place for them to shepherd their herds and flocks, since the well was there

            • Abraham followed the mourning rites of the ancient Near East as he mourned and wept for Sarah

          • Mourning and weeping

            • The mourning rites would have included “loud weeping, tearing clothes, sitting in dirt, wearing sackcloth, and shaving the head.” ​​ [Mathews, 315]

            • Mourning would “involve crying out, exclamations of grief that may be a ritual lament, although not the cries of a formal poetic lament.” ​​ [Mathews, 315]

              • It was not uncommon in Biblical times for the surviving family members to mourn loudly

              • The neighbors would have known immediately that someone had died, because of the loud laments of the family

              • In some cases, there were professional mourners who would join the family in their grief

              • Our grief today is much more subdued, though I have experienced family members who have wept openly and loudly

              • There is certainly nothing wrong with expressing our grief openly and loudly

            • Weeping was how a person would express their grief either over the death of a loved one or a difficult situation – it has the idea of shedding tears

            • Warren Wiersbe relates this encounter, “The late Vance Havner had a wife named Sarah. ​​ Shortly after her untimely death, I was with Dr. Havner at the Moody Bible Institute, and I shared my condolences with him. ​​ ‘I’m sorry to hear you lost your wife,’ I said to him when we met in the dining room. ​​ He smiled and replied, ‘Son, when you know where something is, you haven’t lost it.’” ​​ [Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, Pentateuch, 111]

              • What a great reminder for us today

              • Philippians 1:21-23, For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. ​​ If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. ​​ Yet what shall I choose? ​​ I do not know! ​​ I am torn between the two: ​​ I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far;

              • Read 2 Corinthians 5:1-8

              • Revelation 14:13, Then I heard a voice from heaven say, “Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” ​​ “Yes,” says the Spirit, “they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them.”

              • When our loved ones, who have a personal relationship with Jesus, depart from this world, we can rejoice, because they are not lost – they are with Jesus!

              • #1 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Rejoice over my loved ones who have passed away and had a personal relationship with Jesus, because they are with Him now.

              • This is the hope we have as disciples of Jesus Christ – we will one day be with Him also

              • Read 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

        • As soon as Abraham completes his mourning and weeping, he sets his sights on purchasing a burial location for Sarah

    • Deed (vv. 3-18)

        • This section is broken into three movements that all begin the same Hebrew word, qûm or wayyāqom in the Qal form

          • It is translated “rose” in verses 3 and 7 (arise: after lying down; from bending over the dead)

          • It is translated “was deeded” in verses 17 and 20 (stand: especially figuratively; be established, confirmed, of purchase)

        • First movement (vv. 3-6)

          • It includes the initial round of negotiations with the Hittites

            • Abraham rose (qûm) – he got up from beside Sarah’s body after mourning and weeping

            • Abraham’s request

              • Alien and a stranger

                • Abraham addresses the Hittites (the sons of Heth)

                • “A ‘resident alien’ (gēr; cf. 15:13) is someone who does not belong by right in a place; a ‘settler’ (tûšāb) is someone who is nevertheless staying there semi-permanently.” ​​ [Goldingay, Baker Commentary on the Old Testament, Pentateuch, Genesis, 367]

                • Abraham had tenant status with them, since he had been living among them for years (settler idea)

                • A stranger had some recognition in the community, but could not own property of his own [Kidner cited by Gangel & Bramer, Holman Old Testament Commentary, Genesis, 200]

                • “The truth was that Abraham owned the whole land. ​​ God had given it to him, but there was no way he could convince his neighbors of that.” ​​ [Wiersbe, 111]

                  • Imagine going to the current residents of a home and telling them that God has given you their home

                  • How do you think that conversation is going to go?

                • Instead, Abraham comes humbly before the Hittite people

              • Sell me some property

                • Abraham humbles himself before the Hittites and asks for permission to buy property in their land, which would give him a permanent foothold in Canaan

                • Abraham would no longer be an alien and stranger, but rather a land owner and a permanent part of the community

                • From this little parcel of land, the descendants of Abraham would fill the whole land

                • “The man has no land of his own, but by acquiring Hittite property he demonstrates his reliance on the prior promise of the Lord (cp. Jer 32:6-15).” ​​ [Mathews, 317]

                • PRINCIPLE #1 – God is pleased when we have faith in His divine promises.

                  • Abraham believed God for the birth of Isaac and it was credited to him as righteousness (Genesis 15:6)

                  • Abraham had faith that God would establish his descendants in Canaan and therefore he asked to purchase land in Canaan to bury his dead

                  • God always keeps His promises

                  • He promises to never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5-6; Matt. 28:20)

                  • He promises to always love us (Jer. 31:3)

                  • He promises to forgive our sins when we confess and repent (1 John 1:9)

                  • He promises to provide for us – supply all our needs according to His riches (Phil. 4:19); He will add all these things to us when we seek His kingdom and righteousness first (Matt. 6:33); God, who didn’t spare His own Son, will also graciously give us all things (Rom. 8:32)

                  • There are so many more promises of God found in His Word

                  • Where do we need to exercise our faith in God’s promises?

                  • #2 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Trust by faith that God will fulfill His divine promises in my life.

                • Faith in God’s divine word gives us strength and confidence to keep moving forward.

              • Abraham needed some land with a cave on it to bury his dead

            • Hittites’ response

              • Mighty prince

                • The Hittites recognized Abraham’s status within their community

                • They called him a mighty prince

                  • In Hebrew it means, “a prince with God,” “a prince of God,”

                  • They see Abraham as “God’s elect one” [Hamilton, 129]

                  • They recognized God’s protection and provision for Abraham (He was given animals and slaves from Pharaoh and Abimelech and Sarah received a thousand shekels of silver from Abimelech)

                  • Abraham had defeated the five kings that had attacked the region where Sodom and Gomorrah were located and returned all of the people to that region

                  • Abraham had become very wealthy with silver, gold, and animals

                  • Abraham was well known throughout Canaan

                  • Overall he had a good reputation with the people of Canaan

                • PRINCIPLE #2 – God is glorified when our lives testify about Him.

                  • We have the same opportunity that Abraham did, but in our own communities

                  • Do our lives testify about the Lord’s protection and provision?

                  • Do our lives testify about how awesome God is?

                  • Do our lives show others the transforming power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

                  • #3 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Glorify God by living a life that testifies about Him.

                • Because of Abraham’s reputation in Canaan the Hittites inform him that he can have his pick of any of their tombs

              • Have your choice of our tombs

                • The Hittites offer their choicest tombs to Abraham

                • They are willing to have Sarah buried in any of their tombs

                • Important note: ​​ The offer does not include land ownership, but simply space in their tombs

                  • There was normally a preparation table in each tomb where the bodies were prepared for burial

                  • There were other chambers where the most recently deceased person was laid

                  • Eventually, the remaining bones were piled up in the back of the tomb

                  • So, we see why the Hittites were amiable in offering their tombs to Abraham

                  • Perhaps they assumed that Abraham would take her bones when he moved on [Goldingay, 367]

          • The first movement ends with the offer of any tomb, but Abraham has a specific cave in mind

        • Second movement (vv. 7-16)

          • It includes two additional rounds of speeches

            • First round is addressed to the “people of the land,” but also includes the specific piece of land that Abraham is desiring from Ephron (vv. 7-11)

              • Abraham rose (qûm) – he got up from sitting in the gate of the city (v. 7)

                • Abraham continues to be respectful and humble as he makes his specific request

                • He stands up only to bow down before the Hittite people, in respect

              • Abraham’s request (vv. 8-9)

                • Abraham is still feeling out the situation with the Hittites when he says, “If you are willing to let me bury my dead . . .”

                • He asks the Hittite leaders to intercede on his behalf with Ephron son of Zohar

                • Ephron owns a field that has a cave at the end of it

                  • The cave is named Machpelah

                  • The name actually means “double-cave” or “split-cave”

                  • Perhaps there were to chambers in this cave, either side-by-side or one on top of the other

                • Abraham is only interested in the cave at the end of the field, and is willing to pay the fair market value for it

              • Ephron’s response (vv. 10-11)

                • Ephron was sitting among the Hittites that were gathered

                  • At the end of verse 10 the city is identified as his city

                  • Perhaps Ephron was the main leader of the city where he lived

                • Ephron offers both the field and the cave that is on it to Abraham as a gift

                  • We have to understand that this was the typical bargaining process in the ancient Near East

                  • Ephron was not really offering the field and cave for free

                  • “If Abraham had accepted the land as a gift when it was offered, he would have insulted Ephron, who then would have rescinded his offer. ​​ Many Middle Eastern shopkeepers still follow this ritual with their customers.” ​​ [NIV Life Application Bible, footnote for Genesis 23:10-15]

                  • Had Abraham accepted the free offer, Ephron’s family could potentially come back after his death and reclaim the field and cave

              • Abraham understood the bargaining ritual, so he continues his dialogue with Ephron

            • Second round addresses Ephron directly and the payment for the field and cave (vv. 12-16)

              • Abraham once again bows before the people of the land in respect

              • Abraham offers to buy the field that the cave sits on

              • Ephron continues the bargaining process by stating that the land is worth 400 shekels of silver

                • This was an exorbitant price for the field, especially based on other land transactions found in Scripture

                • “David paid only one-eighth that amount—50 shekels of silver—for the purchase of the temple site from Araunah (2 Sam. 24:24). ​​ Jeremiah paid 17 shekels of silver for his cousin’s field in Anathoth (Jer. 32:9). ​​ Omri paid fifteen times as much as Abraham—two talents of silver (6,000 shekels)—for the large hill of Samaria (1 K. 16:24).” ​​ [Hamilton, 135]

                • Ephron didn’t consider the price exorbitant, because he states, but what is that between me and you?

                • He probably knew how wealthy Abraham was

                • “The custom of the day was to ask double the fair market value of the land, fully expecting the buyer to offer half the stated price.” ​​ [NIV Life Application Bible, footnote for Genesis 23:16]

              • Abraham agrees to the price without haggling and weighs out the 400 shekels of silver, according to the weight current among the merchants

              • The transaction was done in the presence of the people of the land, so that there were plenty of witnesses

          • With the purchase complete, the final movement summarizes everything that just happened

        • Third movement (vv. 17-18)

          • The property and location

            • The field, cave, and trees within the borders of the field

            • Machpelah near Mamre

          • The people

            • Ephron

            • Abraham

              • This is the third time that (qûm) is used

              • Here it is translated as “was deeded,” “made sure,” “established,” “secured”

              • “Literally, the phrase is ‘rose [and went over] to.’ ​​ That is, the deed ‘rose and went to Abraham.’” ​​ [Waltke, Genesis: A Commentary, 321]

            • Plenty of witnesses – all the Hittites that had come to the gate of the city

        • The transaction is complete and Abraham can finally bury Sarah

    • Done (vv. 19-20)

        • I’m sure that Abraham didn’t waste any time in completing the burial process

        • The location of the cave is mentioned again

        • The transfer of ownership is mentioned one last time

 

  • YOU

    • You don’t have to weep like those who have no hope

        • When your family members, who have a personal relationship with Jesus, pass away, you can rejoice, because they are with Jesus

        • They are not lost

    • God keeps His promises

        • He will never leave you or forsake you

        • He will always love you and forgive you, when you repent

        • He will always provide for you, and so much more

        • So, you can trust by faith that God will fulfill His divine promises in your life

    • Glorifying God with your life is an incredible way to testify about Him with others

 

  • WE

    • We can rejoice with friends who have believing family that have passed away, because we know where they are at (we can also mourn with them as they grieve)

    • We can encourage each other with the promises of God, found in Scripture

    • We can urge each other on in living lives that glorify God

 

CONCLUSION

“In November 1858, missionary John Paton landed in the New Hebrides to establish a ministry among the people. ​​ On February 12, 1859, his wife gave birth to a son; and on March 3, his wife died. ​​ Seventeen days later, the baby died. ​​ ‘But for Jesus and the fellowship He gave me there,’ said Paton, ‘I must have gone mad and died beside that lonely grave.’

 

But we do not sorrow as those who have no hope! ​​ We have been born again, ‘to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead’ (1 Peter 1:3, NKJV), and we are ‘looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ’ (Titus 2:13).”

 

[Wiersbe, 113]

11

 

Origins

All In The Family

(Genesis 22:20-24)

 

INTRODUCTION

“My parents, Salvation Army officers, were out on a miserable December night for an open-air meeting. Not another person was around, but my dad said that ‘God didn't need people to be out listening--he only needed us to be faithful.’ So they played a few carols and Dad gave a short message before everyone retreated inside.

 

A few weeks later, Dad was ringing the bell at a mall when a lady asked him if he had been on that street corner two weeks earlier. She explained: ‘My father had been in a coma for six months. We were dreading the holidays since Dad was not really with us. But then we heard the carols, and to our amazement, my father sat up and said, ‘That's God's music.’ And with that he died.’ What an encouraging proof of God's faithfulness to those who are faithful.”

 

Source: Pauline Hylton, Christian Reader, Vol. 33, no. 6.

 

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/1998/september/3989.html]

 

BODY

  • ME

    • God’s provision in FL

        • When we were expecting Wade, we had decided to live off of my income and put Judy’s income into savings

        • So, the last year she taught before Wade was born, we put her income into savings

        • After Wade was born, we moved back to Ohio and it took me several months to get a job

        • I began serving with Child Evangelism Fellowship of Hardin and Hancock Counties

        • Before I began serving with CEF, we were living off of the savings that we had put aside from Judy’s last year of teaching

        • God knew our future and He provided what we needed for the interim

    • God’s provision in CA

        • He did the same thing when I resigned from Every Generation Ministries in CA and we took several months to travel across the country and visit with family

        • We were able to live off of income that we had saved

        • God had prepared us once again for a major transition and had provided

        • God was faithful through our obedience

 

  • WE

    • How have we seen God’s faithfulness when we have been obedient?

        • Take a moment to think about that for yourself

        • When has God asked you to obediently follow Him?

        • Did you listen?

        • What was the result? ​​ How did you experience His faithfulness?

 

Abraham had obediently followed the Lord’s direction in sacrificing his only son Isaac. ​​ We saw last week that God provided a ram as a substitute for Isaac. ​​ In the final five verses of chapter 22, we see the genealogy of Nahor, Abraham’s brother. ​​ God knew just what Isaac would need in the future and He was already preparing the way for him. ​​ Through this short transitional section, we will see that . . .

 

BIG IDEA – God is faithful when we are obedient.

 

Let’s pray

 

  • GOD (Genesis 22:20-24)

    • News from home (v. 20a)

        • Some time later

          • These are the exact same words that are used in Genesis 22:1

          • It simply lets us know that time has passed

          • It is an indefinite amount of time – we do not know how much time has passed

        • Abraham was told

          • In verse 1 we know that God is the one who spoke to Abraham

          • Here in verse 20 we do not know who told Abraham about his brother

          • It is probable that one of Nahor’s children came from the East to visit Abraham and shared the news about his siblings

          • It is all speculation, because God’s Word does not identify who told Abraham

        • What is shared next is Nahor’s genealogy

    • Nahor’s sons (vv. 20b-24)

        • Notes about the genealogy

          • Why is Nahor’s genealogy shared here?

            • “[This] is the start of the narrative’s epilogue (22:20-25:11). ​​ With the question of Abraham’s faithfulness and the identity of the heir settled (22:1-19), the epilogue transitions Abraham’s story to the Jacob narrative (25:19-35:29) by establishing the union of Isaac and Rebekah who parent Jacob and his brother (25:21-26). . . . Reporting the productivity of the Nahor clan after the promise of blessing for ‘all nations’ (v. 18) implies that the Nahor history is part of the beginning fulfillment; . . .” ​​ [Mathews, The New American Commentary, Volume 1B, Genesis 11:27-50:26, 306]

            • “. . . it prepares the way for the history of the marriage of the heir of the promise.” ​​ [Keil & Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, Volume 1, The Pentateuch, 162]

          • The genealogy is important for the narrative that follows in Genesis 24

          • Nahor’s genealogy includes twelve sons by two women

        • Through his wife, Milcah (mil-kaw’)

          • Milcah was Nahor’s niece

            • She was the daughter of Haran, Nahor’s brother

            • She was the sister of Lot

            • [Show the family tree]

            • The intermarrying of family was not considered taboo in the ancient Near East

            • The mention of Milcah also bearing children, perhaps gives us insight into the conversation that Abraham was having with this unidentified individual

              • They were catching up on each other’s lives

              • Abraham had shared about Sarah giving birth to Isaac

              • He probably shared about Hagar having Ishmael

              • This prompted the individual to inform Abraham that Nahor’s wife, Milcah had also borne sons to his brother

            • Who were these sons? [show more of the family tree]

          • Sons by Milcah (mil-kaw’)

            • It begins with a statement about Milcah also being a mother and bearing sons to Abraham’s brother Nahor (opens the inclusio)

            • Uz (oots) “wooded”

              • Firstborn

              • Jeremiah 25:20 and Lamentations 4:21 refer to a city named Uz located in Arabia [Hamilton, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 18-50, 118]

            • Buz (booz) “contempt”

              • “Places or tribes named Buz and Hazo were probably located in the mountainous region of northern Arabia, evidenced by the fact that in Jer. 25:23 Buz is mentioned along with Dedan and Tema, which are Arabian tribes or territories.” ​​ [Hamilton, 118]

            • Kemuel (kem-oo-ale’) “raised of God”

              • Father of Aram

            • Kesed (keh’-sed) “increase”

              • Chesed may represent the Chaldeans of Lower Mesopotamia.” ​​ [Hamilton, 118]

            • Hazo (khaz-o’) “vision”

            • Pildash (pil-dawsh’) “flame of fire”

            • Jidlaph (yid-lawf’) “weeping”

            • Bethuel (beth-oo-ale’) “God destroys” or “man of God” or “dweller in God”

              • Became the father of Rebekah

              • “. . . noting ‘Rebekah’ in the genealogy (v. 23) refers to the future matriarch by whom blessing will occur for Abraham’s family and, ultimately, all nations.” ​​ [Mathews, 306-307]

            • The inclusio is completed/closed with a nearly identical statement about Milcah bearing eight sons to Abraham’s brother Nahor

          • Then the visitor tells Abraham about the sons born to Nahor’s concubine

        • Through his concubine, Reumah (reh-oo-maw’)

          • “A concubine was a secondary wife, whose position was not considered disreputable in the East.” [Albert Barnes, Barnes’ Notes on the Old Testament, Accordance electronic ed. (Altamonte Springs: OakTree Software, 2006), paragraph 1765.]

          • Sons of Reumah [show the rest of the family tree]

            • Tebah (teh’-bakh/teh’-vac) “a slaughter”

            • Gaham (gah’-kham) “burning”

              • Gaham appears on a sixth-century inscription from Arad as one of eight persons from whom grain is either distributed to or collected from.” [Hamilton, 118]

            • Tahash (takh’-ash) “dugong”

            • Maacah (mah-ak-aw’) “oppression”

              • “A place named Maacah is located between Gilead on the south, Bashan on the east, and Mt. Hermon to the north, that is, in southern Syria.” [Hamilton, 118]

          • Not much else is known about the other two sons born to Reumah

        • What can we learn from the passage that applies to our lives?

    • Application

        • PRINCIPLE #1 – “The Lord is faithful to all who love and obey Him from the heart.” ​​ (Boice)

          • We saw last week that Abraham obeyed the Lord by willingly offering his son as a sacrifice to the Lord

            • The Lord provided a substitute for Isaac, so that Abraham’s line would continue through this promised son

            • In this passage we see that the Lord is faithfully preparing the way for Abraham’s line to continue through Isaac and Rebekah

          • As followers/disciples of Jesus Christ and children of God, we can count on His faithfulness also

            • Read Hebrews 11:1-40

            • Abraham and many others obeyed God by faith and while none of them received what had been promised, they knew that God would faithfully complete what He had promised

          • What are you trusting the Lord to faithfully complete?

          • Are you loving and obeying Him from the heart?

          • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Love and obey the Lord from my heart and trust Him to faithfully complete His plan in my life.

        • PRINCIPLE #2 – “God provides for our needs before we even recognize them.” (Wenham)

          • God knew Abraham and Isaac’s need

            • The Lord already knew that Isaac would need a wife

            • The Lord also knew that Abraham would require his chief servant to swear an oath not to get a wife for Isaac from the Canaanites, but rather from his own relatives back east

            • We see in this text that Rebekah is already named as one of Abraham’s relatives

            • The stage is set for Genesis 24

          • God knows your every need

            • He knows about your financial needs

            • He knows about your emotional needs

            • He knows about your physical needs

            • He knows about your spiritual needs

            • “If you let your need drive you to God, God will meet your deepest need.” ​​ [Craig Groeschel, Fight, Study Guide, 48]

            • He knows about the needs you will have in the future

          • God is ready and willing to meet your needs when you seek His face

            • Read Matthew 6:25-34

            • Jesus reminds us that in our greatest need, our first response should be to seek His kingdom and His righteousness

            • Too often we seek the kingdom of this world and our own strength and wisdom

            • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Seek God’s kingdom and His righteousness and trust Him to provide for my every need.

 

  • YOU

 

  • WE

    •  

 

CONCLUSION

“German pastor Martin Rinkart served in the walled town of Eilenburg during the horrors of the Thirty Years War of 1618-1648. Eilenburg became an overcrowded refuge for the surrounding area. The fugitives suffered from epidemic and famine. At the beginning of 1637, the year of the Great Pestilence, there were four ministers in Eilenburg. But one abandoned his post for healthier areas and could not be persuaded to return. Pastor Rinkart officiated at the funerals of the other two. As the only pastor left, he often conducted services for as many as 40 to 50 persons a day—some 4,480 in all. In May of that year, his own wife died. By the end of the year, the refugees had to be buried in trenches without services.

 

Yet living in a world dominated by death, Pastor Rinkart wrote the following prayer for his children to offer to the Lord:

 

Now thank we all our God
With hearts and hands and voices;
Who wondrous things hath done,
In whom this world rejoices.
Who, from our mother's arms,
Hath led us on our way,
With countless gifts of love,
And still is ours today.

 

Source: Harry Genet, "The Unlikely Thanker," Men of Integrity (3-3-00)

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2009/november/3110909.html]

8

 

Jehovah-Jireh

Who thinks about the products you buy before purchasing them? Who checks to see if they are tested for safety or how they will work under extreme conditions? As you probably know most everything is tested in some way, shape or form. It might be cars and planes tested for safety. It might be food tested for taste or quality. It might be cell phones tested for durability. I would bet that some of us just buy things and don’t really worry or seek out the results of the testing done to them. There are four reasons why product testing is important. One, testing gives insight into system level functions. This means each part is checked to make sure it will work properly with the whole. The product is only as good as the sum of all parts working together. Two, testing catches product defects early on. Product defects have the potential to cause serious injury, so, in order to protect users, company reputation and integrity, it is important to minimize the risk of defects by thoroughly testing products before they are sold. Third, testing is important for quality assurance. There are certain standards that products need to meet in order to be distributed and applied which ensures they are safe, reliable and of high-quality. Four, testing is important to find out what the product can endure. Stress testing is important in order to figure out how the product will function under extreme temperature, weather, pressure, or other harmful conditions.

This morning we are going to be looking at another kind of testing – the testing of a human being. We can be tested in many ways and by many things. We go through testing or trials because of the choices we make or the sins we commit. We may be put through tests and trials by the world or by Satan. We may also be tested by God. We should not be surprised that God will test his children. He will test us as a means to reveal our obedience. He will test us so we will “fear” or reverence him in order to keep us from sinning. He will test us to humble us, to know what is in our hearts and whether we will keep his commands. He will test us to bring about our good and he will test us to bring glory to himself. James 1:2-4 says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

God’s purpose for testing us is to bring us to spiritual maturity; a spiritual maturity that brings about obedience, trust and total submission to Him. We must have occasional tests or we will never know if we are maturing spiritually or not. Briscoe says, “Faith is matured through the experience of stressful testing in the same way the cardiovascular system is strengthened through exercise and the muscles are developed by lifting weights. (Faith) often demonstrates itself more fully by its responses to the furnace of affliction than the warm shallow waters of ease and prosperity.” It would be good for us to remember that we are never too old to be tested, that God tests the faithful and that being tested by God is a compliment.

This morning in Genesis 22:1-19, we will see Abraham being tested once again. Weirsbe gives us insight into Abraham’s previous testing: He passed the “family test” when God told him to leave his family and step out in faith to go to a new land. He failed the “famine test” going to Egypt doubting God would provide for him. He also failed by not trusting God to protect Sarah and himself from Pharoah. Abraham then passes the “fellowship test” when he gave Lot first choice of the land. He also passed the “fight test” when he defeated the kings and passed the “fortune test” when he said no to Sodom’s wealth. He failed the “fatherhood test” when he went along with Sarah’s plan to have a child by Hagar. And he passed the “farewell test” when it came time to send Ishmael away even though it broke his heart.

Up to this point, Abraham’s faith has been wishy-washy or timid. Today we are going to see that his faith will be rigorously tested in the most extreme conditions. When we come to the end of this story, we will see that his faith has been transformed into a triumphant faith. His life of testing by God has produced a spiritual maturity of obedience and trust in Him. The question we want to ask ourselves as we study this passage this morning is what does it take to transform our faith from timid to triumphant? How does God require us to respond when he tests our faith? We find the answers in the example of Abraham, which brings us to our big idea this morning which is timid faith, when it becomes tested faith, is transformed into triumphant faith. Before we dive into our scripture this morning, let’s pray: Heavenly Father, pour out your Holy Spirit on us. Help us to open our hearts and minds to your Word. Let us glean your truths from our passage and put us in positions this week to share those truths with those who desperately need to hear them. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Our first point this morning is TEST and is found in Genesis 22:1-2. This is what God’s Word says, “Sometime later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied. Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.”

Our passage begins with “sometime later” and we need to go back to chapter 21 to see what happened before. We see three events happening. One, Isaac is born. Two, Isaac is weaned and there is a great feast. It is at this feast that Ismael was mocking, maybe Isaac. Sarah saw Ishmael as a potential threat to Isaac’s inheritance and she told Abraham to get rid of the Hagar and Ishmael. This greatly distressed Abraham but God told him to do as Sarah had said. Three, we see a treaty being made between Abimelech and Abraham. Abraham now owns a well and settles down in the land of promise. We are told that Abraham stayed in the land of the Philistines for a long time. As chapter 22 opens, most commentators believe that Isaac is now at least a teenager so it is probably ten to fifteen years later.

We are told that God is going to test Abraham. God calls to Abraham and tells him to take his only son, Isaac, whom he loves, and go to the region of Moriah and sacrifice him as a burnt offering. The intensity of this story is seen in two ways. One, the narrator uses the word, God “Elohim” instead of the more personal name “the Lord” to show who is speaking to Abraham. This is the narrator’s way of emphasizing that it is the Most High God, Abraham’s God, the one who gives and takes away who was testing him. There is no doubt as to who is asking this of Abraham. Two, in the original language God says, “please, take your son.” We have seen this before and in each instance he is asking the person to do something extraordinary, something that defies rational explanation or understanding. We can know that God is fully aware of the magnitude of this test for Abraham.

A burnt offering was the language of tabernacle sacrifice. It was a sacrifice where the entire animal was burned on the altar. With this type of sacrifice, the offerer is saying they were completely submitting themselves to the Lord. ​​ We can only wonder what Abraham must have been feeling. It had taken a hundred years for him to have a son born to him by Sarah. And this son was to be the promised son which would give Abraham descendants like the stars in the sky. This is the son through which his descendants would possess the Promised Land. We don’t know what Abraham thought but we do know what he did next.

Our second point this morning is OBEDIENCE and is found in verses 3-10. This is what God’s word says, “Early the next morning Abraham got up and loaded his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.” Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?” “Yes, my son?” Abraham replied. “The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together. When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son.”

The first thing we notice is that “early the next morning,” Abraham got up and prepared to do what God had commanded him. We have seen a couple times as we have studied the life of Abraham that he gets up “early the next morning.” In chapter 19, he gets up “early the next morning” to see if Sodom had been destroyed or not. In chapter 21, he gets up “early the next morning” to send Hagar and Ishmael into to the wilderness. Here Abraham gets up “early the next morning” to set out to sacrifice his son as the Lord commanded. “Early the next morning” means he was resolute, he was decided and his obedience was prompt. His mind was made up that he was going to obey God no matter what. He was going to trust God no matter the outcome.

Next we notice Abraham preparing for the trip. He saddles the donkey, gets the servants and Isaac together and he cuts the wood for the burnt offering. Most commentators feel the order in which he prepared to leave shows a hesitation especially the cutting of the wood for the burnt offering. Normally, if you were traveling to make a sacrifice, you would chop the wood once you got to your destination. You also wouldn’t want to carry all that excessive weight on the journey. But it is also possible that Abraham didn’t want to cut the wood once he got there because any hesitation on that end could cause him to change his mind. I believe everything Abraham did was part of God’s sovereign plan and we will see that later in the story. Next we notice that the journey took three days. Imagine what that must have been like for Abraham. To walk side by side with his only son knowing that when they get to their destination he was going to sacrifice him as a burnt offering. This was God taking Abraham’s timid faith, making it a tested faith, so that it would become a triumphant faith (BIG IDEA).

As they come close to the place God told him to go, Abraham does and says some things that probably seemed strange. He tells his servants to stay with the donkey. He tells them he and Isaac are going to go worship and then “we” will come back to you. He takes the wood that was on the donkey and placed it on Isaac. Again, this begs some questions. Why did he tell the servants to stay back? Why did he say that both of them would return to them after worshipping? Why did he take the wood off the donkey and make Isaac carry it? Maybe he didn’t want to have to worry about the servants trying to stop him from sacrificing Isaac. Maybe he was trying to deceive the servants and Isaac by saying they both would return. Or maybe his faith was so strong that he knew even if he sacrificed Isaac on that mountain God would be able to raise him from the dead and both of them would return to the servants? This is what the writer of Hebrews believed in Hebrews 11:17-19. “By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced 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 even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death.”

We can see Isaac as a type of Christ in this story. Isaac carrying the wood may be seen as the equivalent to Jesus carrying his cross. Or at the very least a picture of Jesus carrying the weight of our sin to the cross. So with the wood being carried by Isaac and Abraham carrying the fire and the knife it says they “went on together.” Again, we can only imagine what is going through Abraham mind as he walks side by side with Isaac. They probably walked in silence most of the way, Abraham thinking about what is to come. Isaac finally asked his father where the lamb was for the burnt offering. Abraham answers his son that God will provide it. And we are again told again they “went on together.” We are reminded with this exchange between “father” and “son” that there is a deep affection and love for each other which makes what Abraham is going to do that much harder. We are also reminded of God, the Father, sending Jesus, his son, to the cross as the perfect sacrifice for our sins.

When they reached the place God had told him about Abraham again didn’t hesitate; he built the altar, put the wood on it, bound his son, Isaac, and laid him on the altar. He then reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. We can notice that it seems Isaac went onto the altar willingly as the burnt offering. Abraham is over 100 years old and Isaac’s a teenager. We have to believe that at some point Isaac must have realized he was to be the offering and could have ran away or overpowered his father and got away. Commentators mention this as a picture of Isaiah 53:7, 10 that talks about Jesus being like a lamb led to slaughter who did not open his mouth and that the Lord made his life an offering for sin. We notice that Isaac exhibits the same qualities of perfection looked for in sacrificial victims. We see why Isaac was seen as a type of Christ.

Our third point this morning is DIVINE PROVISION and is found in verses 11-14. This is what God’s word says, “But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied. “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.” Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.”

Abraham is fully submitted to God’s will and is about to plunge the knife into his son. At the last possible moment the Angel the Lord calls Abraham’s name to stay the execution. God’s timing is never early and never late; it is always perfect. We notice that the name “Lord” is now used. The same Lord, who is our savior, father and friend is “the Most High God” holy, sovereign, and creator God. The God who tested Abraham once again shows himself to be the gracious Lord who keeps his promises. The angel calls his name twice because he urgently needed to get Abraham’s attention. Abraham was to not lay a hand on the boy nor do anything to him. The angel’s “now I know” is an admission that the ordeal was a test and a confirmation of Abraham’s depth of loyalty to God. Then the Angel tells us what triumphant faith is. Triumphant faith is a faith that “fears God” and is willing to give up everything (even an only son) in submissive obedience to the Lord. (BIG IDEA) Ross says, “The fear of the Lord is drawing near to the Lord in love, adoration and reverence but never forgets that the Lord is the most High God and shrinks in fear at such an awesome deity.”

Next, we see the truth of Abraham’s words, “God will provide.” He looks up and sees a ram caught in the thicket. Abraham was surprised and recognized this was a miracle from the Lord; one second there was no ram and the next second there it was. God had truly provided the sacrifice for the burnt offering and Abraham sacrifices the ram as a substitute for his son. Then Abraham does something we have seen him do before. He commemorates the place and calls it, Jehovah-Jireh. Jehovah-Jireh has a dual meaning, which are literally, “The Lord Sees” and “The Lord Will Provide.” He is celebrating that God not only saw him but provided for him. I found something interesting which I only would have found by studying God’s Word in context and verse-by-verse. At the end of chapter 21, when Abraham made the treaty with Abimelech, Abraham planted a tamarisk tree to commemorate that place and he calls the Lord, “El Olam” or “the Eternal God.” Abraham was praising the God of the long-term and of the future. In this chapter when Abraham names this place “Jehovah-Jireh” he is celebrating the God of the short-term; the God of the details of our lives. God will “see” to it that even the littlest details of our lives are cared for. We can trust God for the future but we can also trust him for the here and now.

Our last point this morning is DIVINE BLESSING and is found in verses 15-19. This is what God’s word says, “The angel of the Lord called to Abraham from heaven a second time and said, “I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.” Then Abraham returned to his servants, and they set off together for Beersheba. And Abraham stayed in Beersheba.

The Angel of the Lord called to Abraham from heaven a second time. This tells us that something important is about to be said. God emphatically reiterates the promises he has already made to Abraham. We can notice some interesting things. One, God swears by himself. This is first and only time in Genesis that God does this. There is no one higher to swear by and it affirmed the promises on the integrity of God’s own name and reputation. Abraham could depend on God to keep his promises; he could take these promises to the bank. Two, the reason for the blessings is because he did not withhold his only son from the Lord. He was willing to give up the promised descendants and the Promised Land that they would inherit. He was willing to give up all worldly things including his son for the Lord.

Abraham’s relationship with God was the most important thing to Him and God would “surely” or “really” bless him. These promises were going to be better than all the others. We see in the earlier promises that Abraham’s descendants were compared to “the stars in the sky” but now they are compared to the “sand on the seashore.” His descendants were now promised to “possess the gates of their enemies” meaning they will conquer their enemies’ cities not merely inherit the land. It is promised that through his descendants “all nations on earth will be blessed.” This implies that the world had already been blessed through Abraham but more blessing is to come through his descendants all because of Abraham’s obedience. Imagine how we could bless the people and the world around us today if we would just be obedient.

Finally, as we come to the end of the passage it says that Abraham returned to his servants and they set off together for Beer-sheba where Abraham stayed. Isaac is not mentioned as returning with them but we can surmise that he did. We have seen this before in Genesis as the most important character is mentioned and the secondary ones are not even though we know they are involved. What the narrator wants us to remember here is that Abraham is the central figure. It was Abraham’s faith that was tested and was found triumphant (BIG IDEA). But we should come away from this story more impressed with God’s faithfulness than with Abraham’s compliance.

There are many things we can take away from this passage. What truths does this passage have for our lives today? What next steps can we take? First, I think each of us should evaluate our faith. Is our faith timid? Has our faith been tested? And has our faith been found triumphant or something less? After evaluation if you determine that you have a timid faith it would be important to ask God to move you toward a triumphant faith. But, know that if you ask for a triumphant faith, then your faith will be tested. That is the process we all must go through to mature spiritually and to take our faith from timid to triumphant. So maybe this next step is for you. My next step is to ask God to move me toward a triumphant faith knowing that my faith will be tested by him.

Next, maybe after evaluating your faith, you can say that you’re faith has been tested and found triumphant. Great!!! But we know from Abraham’s life that we are never too old for testing as God wants to continue to mature us spiritually. As long as we live on this earth there is possibility of testing. God wants our faith to keep on growing and that requires testing. There are also times that our faith may waver as hard testing comes and we may fall back into a timid faith. We must be ready and on guard for all the tests and trials that come our way. We must be resolute and decided (just like Abraham was) in how we are going to react to them when they come. Our reaction must be obedience and a complete trust in the Lord. So maybe this next step may be for you. My next step is to be obedient to and completely trusting in the Lord when testing comes so my faith will continue to be triumphant.

Second, I feel this passage is asking us to dwell on a major question this morning. That question is what is your motivation for being a Christ-follower? Why do you love God? Why do you take up your cross daily and follow him? We are promised so much as we follow Christ. Is it because of the promises that God has given you that you follow and serve Him? I would say that this is a wrong motivation for being a Christ-follower. Look again at Abraham. He had been promised many great things for being in obedience to God. And in the end Abraham was totally ready to give up all those promises. Abraham “feared God” and was totally committed to and submitted to God. God was number one in Abraham’s life; not the promises that he was given and not even the child of promise that was given to him in his old age. In the end, the only motivation that Abraham had for following God was to “get God.” To know God more. To surrender to God more. To fall deeper in love with God more.

Andre Crouch wrote a song called, “If Heaven Was Never Promised To Me.” In it he asks “Is it just for heaven’s gain?” “But if heaven never were promised to me; neither God’s promise to live eternally; it’s been worth just having the Lord in my life – living in a world of darkness he came and brought me the light.” The question is would we be willing to give up eternity in Heaven for God? Would we be willing to follow God if there were nothing in it for us? Would we willing to follow God only for the benefit of living a life loving God with all our heart, minds and souls and loving others? This is what Paul is saying in Philippians 3:7-8. I am reading from the Living Bible translation: “But all these things that I once thought very worthwhile—now I’ve thrown them all away so that I can put my trust and hope in Christ alone. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the priceless gain of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. I have put aside all else, counting it worth less than nothing, in order that I can have Christ. This is the place that we need to be as followers of Christ. Every single day of our lives should be in the pursuit of getting more of Christ. That brings us to the last next step, which is to Spend the rest of my life in the pursuit of knowing Christ better every day.

Now lastly, I don’t want to forget another important part of the passage seen in the title I chose for this sermon, Jehovah-Jireh, “The Lord Will Provide.” First, we all have stories of times and ways that God has provided for us all through our lives. The question is: What do we do when God provides for us? Do we even see or acknowledge it? Do we rejoice and praise him for it? Two, we all may have things coming up in your lives that we need God’s provision to get through it? Maybe you need God to provide physical, spiritual or emotional healing for you or a loved one. Maybe it’s your circumstances. Maybe you need God to provide financially for you and your family? You’re struggling to make ends meet and without God’s provision you don’t know what you will do. Maybe you are dealing with fear and/or anxiety and you need God to provide peace and his presence to quiet those fears and anxieties in your heart. We need to go to God in prayer for his provision for whatever struggles we are going through today.

As the praise team comes forward to lead us in a final song I invite and encourage you to come to the altar this morning. Come rejoicing and praising God for his provision in your life or come praying for the provision you need this morning. Coming to the altar is not a silver bullet. You most definitely can do the same where you are sitting. But what coming to the altar does is allows us to rejoice with you and praise God with you for his provision in your life. It also allows us to pray with and for you for the provision you need from God today. Our final song is called “You Always Provide.” As you sing or listen think about the words. Some of it says, “God, you see us every moment” “You always provide every season of our lives” “You always provide every moment every time.” Powerful words that I hope you will take with you this morning and share with those you come in contact with this week.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

In an illustration from Preaching Today called “Fred Rogers Created Rather Than Complained” we read this moving tribute to him by Jonathon Merritt taken from a May 18, 2011 Q Ideas article called "Restoration in the Land of Make-Believe." Here are excerpts from that article.

Jonathon Merritt recounts how Rogers chose to reform society through his gentle and persistent influence on a children's television show. “In 1965, a thin, soft-spoken man sauntered into Pittsburgh's WQED, the nation's first public television station, to pitch a show targeting young children. The concept was simple enough: convey life lessons to young children with the help of puppets, songs and frank conversations. It doesn't sound like much. That is, until you realize that the man was Fred Rogers, and the program was Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. But Rogers was more than a great neighbor or good host; he was a restorer. According to Gabe Lyons in The Next Christians, a "restorer" is someone who views the world as it "ought to be." Faced with the world's brokenness, restorers are "provoked, not offended." They work to make the world a better place by "creating, not criticizing" and by "being countercultural, not relevant." Using this definition, Rogers may be one of the greatest American restorers of the 20th century. Rogers got into television because he "hated" the medium and faced with the decision to either sour on television itself or work to restore the medium, he chose the latter. Fourteen years later, he would create one of the most beloved American television shows of all time, and one that would shape entire generations of children. Rogers was a devout Christian that almost never explicitly talked about his faith on the air, but the way his show infused society with beauty and grace was near-biblical …. "You've made this day a special day by just your being you," he'd famously sign off. "There is no person in the whole world like you, and I like you just the way you are." In many ways, the lasting legacy of Fred Rogers will not be the greater emotional stability of generations of children or even a reinvigoration of imagination. It will be his example of how to restore the world through impassioned creativity and craftsmanship. For nearly four decades, Rogers entered our homes and entered our hearts. And each day without fail, he left our collective neighborhoods better and made our days a little bit more beautiful.

We have been studying Abraham, who has been led by God to the Promised Land for the express purpose of taking ownership of it. Along the way he has had many interactions with the people native to that area. Being a neighbor has not been easy for Abraham and I am sure we all have stories of hard times dealing with our neighbors. But God had blessed Abraham in order to be a blessing to his neighbors and we will see that played out this morning. Everyone that Abraham came in contact with were pagan peoples and he was still called by God to be a blessing to them. We can learn a lot from Abraham in how we should interact with those around us that do not know God.

Today we are going to see a second interaction between Abraham and Abimelech which goes a lot smoother than the last one because this time Abraham is treating his neighbor with respect. We can imagine that he is trying to make his neighborhood a better place by creating and restoring friendships instead of criticizing and deceiving. We will see him return to life as a peacemaker as we saw with Lot earlier in Genesis. Worshiping the one true God was countercultural to the way the Canaanites and other peoples in that land would have been living but Abraham wanted to live in peace and harmony with them. The only reason he was able to live in peace with his neighbors was because he had been blessed by God. We see these words in Genesis 12:2-3: “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”

We’ve talked before about being in the world but not of it. That doesn’t mean we can be disrespectful to those who don’t believe the way we do or criticize them and look down on them. We are called to show the love of Christ to all people and this should especially be true to those who are far away from God. How can we reach the world for Jesus when we are pushing them farther and farther away from Him? We can’t and that is the problem that we have not only individually but also as the church. In Romans 12:14, we are commanded to “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.” And in Romans 12:17-18 we are commanded to, “Never repay evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all people. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all people.” This is what we will see Abraham doing in our scripture this morning and it brings us to our big idea: “When we live at peace with our neighbors God can bless us so we can be a blessing to them.”

Before we look at how God blessed Abraham and how Abraham was a blessing to those around him, let’s pray: Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for your Word given to us to show us how to live on this earth. Give us ears to hear from your Holy Spirit this morning so we can live the way you want us to as we interact with our neighbors especially those who don’t know you as their Lord and Savior. Open our hearts and minds to what you want us to learn that we can share it with those we come in contact with this week. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Our scripture is found in Genesis 21:22-34. There are four points this morning. The first point is Confrontation which is found in verses 22-24. This is what God’s Word says, “At that time Abimelech and Phicol the commander of his forces said to Abraham, “God is with you in everything you do. Now swear to me here before God that you will not deal falsely with me or my children or my descendants. Show to me and the country where you now reside as a foreigner the same kindness I have shown to you.” Abraham said, “I swear it.”

This is the second time we have seen Abimelech. In Genesis 20:1 we saw that Abraham and Sarah were living in Gerar where Abimelech was the king. Abraham and Sarah deceive the king by telling him that Sarah is his sister and the king takes Sarah into his house probably to be one of his concubines. But God intervenes and Sarah is delivered before Abimelech can touch her. Abimelech is not happy with Abraham’s deception and in the end Abraham prays for God to heal Abimelech and his wives and slave girls so they could have children again. We notice that Abraham was not a very good neighbor in that story. He deceived his neighbors and indirectly caused them to incur God’s wrath. That first encounter sets the stage for this one. ​​ 

“At this time” refers to a time after Isaac has been weaned and Hagar and Ishmael were sent away. Abraham and Sarah have probably been living in the area of Beersheba for a number of years. Abimelech approaches Abraham with the commander of his military forces, Philcol. Bringing his military commander with him could indicate a couple of things. First, Abraham may have been a person of some status. He may have had a political or even military presence in the area. Remember back in Genesis 14, Abraham had defeated the four kings with 318 trained men to get Lot back. Abraham probably has an entourage of substantial size and power at his disposal. Abimelech probably considered him a force to be reckoned with, especially with a powerful God on his side. Also, Beersheba was only twenty-five miles from Gerar so maybe there were tensions in the area and Philcol was there in case hostilities broke out. Later in the story we will see that it was possible there were ongoing problems on the border between Abimelech’s men and Abraham’s men.

Abimelech realizes that Abraham is doing well. His herds and flocks are prospering which dominates a lot of land and he now has a son with Sarah in his old age. He would have been seen as being richly blessed. Abimelech realizes this blessing because he says “God is with you in everything you do.” Abimelech has seen firsthand God’s blessing on Abraham and now has seen his continued blessing in the subsequent years since their last encounter. The sentiment that “God is with you” will also be noticed later in Genesis with Isaac and this same Abimelech, with Jacob and Laban and with Joseph and Potiphar in Egypt. This begs a question of all of us. Do people in your neighborhood or in your sphere of influence see your life and say: “God is with you in everything you do.” If not, we need to examine our lives and our interactions with our neighbors because they should be able to notice God’s work in our daily lives. That brings us to our first next step this morning, which is to “live my life in such a way that my neighbors see God at work in my daily life.”

Abimelech realizes that it is in his best interest for his people to live peacefully with Abraham and his people but is not sure if he can trust Abraham on the basis of their previous encounter. He is hoping that Abraham will treat him now the way he treated Abraham before. Ross states, “It is interesting that the two things that Abimelech knew about Abraham was that God was with him and that he could not altogether be trusted.” We may wonder who the superior party is, Abimelech or Abraham? Abimelech acts like Abraham is as he asks for a favor instead of demanding terms. In the previous encounter Abimelech being the king was the superior party who treated Abraham fairly. But now based on what happened before the roles seem reversed. Even though he is the king and commands an army he knows that a powerful God is at work in Abraham’s life. He is asking Abraham to show him the same “loyalty” in a covenant relationship that he showed previously.

Abimelech’s suggestion of an alliance of friendship with Abraham would not only be binding for the present but for their children and descendants as well. Abimelech is hoping that by brokering peace now it will bring lasting peace for his land in the future. Abraham’s response is short. The meaning is “I give you my word”, literally, “I, I swear.” The use of a second pronoun reinforces the certainty of Abraham’s pledge. Here the emphasis is solely on Abraham’s act of swearing but later on we will see that they both mutually swear an oath to live in peace and harmony with each other for generations to come. There is no confrontation or deception with Abimelech who doesn’t believe the same way Abraham does, there is only acceptance. I like what Hamilton says, “That God is with Abraham does not mean that he has a two to one majority over Abimelech. It means that others’ expectations of Abraham now increase.” This is why God has blessed Abraham. So that Abraham will be a blessing to those in his neighborhood around him. He needs to be more respectful, more helpful, more humble, more of a restorer than those around him. Especially those around him that do not know God and are far away from him. This is what it means to be a neighbor in the places God has put us. (Big Idea).

The second point is Complaint and we see this in verses 25-27. This is what God’s word says, “Then Abraham complained to Abimelech about a well of water that Abimelech’s servants had seized. But Abimelech said, “I don’t know who has done this. You did not tell me, and I heard about it only today.” So Abraham brought sheep and cattle and gave them to Abimelech, and the two men made a treaty.”

Abraham swears to deal honestly from now on with Abimelech and his people. But before formally ratifying the treaty, Abraham lodges a formal, legal complaint. It seems that Abimelech’s servants had illegally and violently seized one of Abraham’s wells. Wells were important in a desert climate where water was the difference between the life and death of Abraham’s flocks and herds and the life and death of him and his family as well. Abraham’s claim to the water relied on two factors. One, that Abraham had dug the well and, two, that it was Abimelech who invited Abraham to reside anywhere in the land in the first place (20:15) giving Abraham the right to local pasturage and use of the well’s water.

The Hebrew suggests that Abraham had made this complaint several times with nothing being done about it. Here were the makings of a feud between the two men that had the capability to explode and cause irreparable damage to Abraham’s witness and to his relationship with Abimelech and the people in that region. There needed to be respect and restoration and this was a good test of their relationship in whether this vital resource could be negotiated fairly. We see how this negotiation plays out. They both brought their complaints to each other. They both listened respectfully to what the other had to say and were allowed to respond. Abraham was gauging Abimelech’s response to see if he knew anything about the seizure but seems convinced because he gives Abimelech sheep and cattle in order to formalize the treaty.

The gift of sheep and cattle was to cement their relationship. The act of seizing the well will not be allowed to cause potential unrest. We notice a number of things about this encounter. First, it is Abraham who gives Abimelech the animals, meaning that Abraham was the inferior party even though it was Abimelech who proposed the treaty. The gift was also given to cement a peace treaty between the two men. Abraham takes the higher ground in that he wasn’t going to let the dispute over the well cause hostilities to escalate. Second, this is another example of a “cutting of the covenant” that we saw between God and Abraham in chapter 15. “Cutting the covenant” was a ritual of cutting sacrificial animals in two and placing them in rows so that the two parties involved in the treaty could walk between the animal parts. This signified that whoever broke the covenant could be “cut” in two just as the animals were. Thirdly, we also notice that in neighborly fashion the two parties talk about the offense, give their explanations which are accepted and finalize the treaty to the satisfaction of both parties. The covenant ensured that disputes of this kind would not be repeated by their children and their descendants which would keep peace in the land for generations to come. Similar steps when used wisely today can produce harmony in the place of discord and cooperation where previously there was only confrontation. That brings us to our second next step which is to “strive for harmony and cooperation when conflicts arise with my neighbors.”

The third point is Committed and we see this in verses 28-30. This is what God’s Word says, “Abraham set apart seven ewe lambs from the flock, and Abimelech asked Abraham, “What is the meaning of these seven ewe lambs you have set apart by themselves?” He replied, “Accept these seven lambs from my hand as a witness that I dug this well.”

Abraham wanted to show Abimelech that he was committed to the truth and to dealing honestly with his neighbors. Abraham in addition to giving the sheep and cattle also set apart seven ewe lambs for Abimelech. This must have been a strange act to do in that time because Abimelech questions it. He was probably a little wary of Abraham’s motives because he had been deceived before and it may not have been normal for people to be overly generous within a covenant. These were not for sacrifice but a gift to Abimelech. Abraham wanted something from Abimelech but it was only what he deserved and nothing more. Abraham had dug the well that Abimelech’s servants had seized and the proof was the seven ewe lambs. The lambs would have been vital to propagating his herd and the generous number of seven would have reflected how important the well was to Abraham and his descendants. Abimelech knew that this gift would put him under obligation to accept Abraham’s version of events surrounding the seizing of the well. Being able to supply this number of ewe lambs speaks to Abraham’s wealth and strength of bargaining position. ​​ 

The seven lambs were set aside as a “witness” that Abraham had dug the well and had the rights of ownership to it. It reminds me of someone giving a reward for a lost wallet. When the wallet is returned to the rightful owner the person who returned it might get a reward showing how valuable the returned item is. Just like the well was valuable to Abraham, so is the wallet to the owner. Only the owner of the wallet would be willing to give a reward for its return. The reward would be proof that the wallet really was theirs just like the seven ewes was the proof that Abraham had dug the well and it was his. Only Abraham would be willing to give this valuable gift to get the well back. In accepting this gift, Abimelech was legally acknowledging that Abraham had dug the well, releasing any rights to it and conceding that Abraham was in fact the legitimate owner of the well. This would also hold Abimelech to side with Abraham in any future altercations involving this well. Ross says, “By securing the right to the well Abraham was securing the continued enjoyment of God’s blessing to him, represented by the well. Abimelech gains a pact with Abraham to ensure the future stability between them.”

The last point is Commemoration and we see this in verses 31-34. This is what God’s Word says, “So that place was called Beersheba, because the two men swore an oath there. After the treaty had been made at Beersheba, Abimelech and Phicol the commander of his forces returned to the land of the Philistines. Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba, and there he called on the name of the LORD, the Eternal God. ​​ And Abraham stayed in the land of the Philistines for a long time.”

There is commemoration taking place in a couple of different ways here First, calling the place, Beersheba, where the two men swore the oath to each other. The Hebrew word “to swear” means “to bind by seven things” and the words “swear and “seven” are very similar. Beersheba means “Well of the Sevens” or “Well of the Oath” which fits the story of what happened there exactly. Now this doesn’t necessarily mean that this event caused the place to be named Beersheba. Most commentators believe the city was already named but this event gave it more significance. Beersheba now becomes a place commemorating the treaty. Abraham has prospered under God’s blessing and has agreed to a peace treaty with Abimelech at Beersheba that will bring a peaceful coexistence allowing Abraham to serve God in the Land of Promise. This commemorative naming also preserved for future generations the record of how the property was secured. Once the treaty had been sworn, Abimelech and Philcol returned to their own land, the land of the Philistines. It seems that Abraham was living on the outskirts of the land ruled by Abimelech, but was close enough that Abimelech felt the need to make a peace treaty with Abraham.

The second way that we see commemoration taking place is Abraham planting a tamarisk tree. In the OT, trees were a symbol of life and blessing from God. Abraham has built altars but this is the first time we see him planting a tree. The tamarisk tree grew in sandy soil and was deciduous. It could grow up to twenty feet high and provide much needed shade in the desert. Also, its branches provided grazing for animals. Its leaves excreted salt, its bark was used for tanning and its wood for building and making charcoal. It was considered a holy tree and had purifying qualities. Planting a tree would have had as much significance as building an altar. This tree was a witness to what God had done for him in showing favor with Abimelech. He had been blessed by God and was showing the fruit of being a blessing to his neighbors as God had promised. Trees played an important part in Abraham’s life in the Promised Land. He stopped by a tree in Shechem (12:6), he built an altar by a tree at Mamre (13:18), he lived near trees (14:13) and entertained Yahweh under a tree (18:1). By planting this tree it reinforced his claim to the land. In some interpretations, the word “tamarisk” means “a strip of ground” meaning Abraham didn’t just plant a tree but actually laid out a plot of land. This would make sense in light of verse 34 that he settled down in the land for a long time. This tree was the proof of Abraham’s faith in God for his prosperity and security and the security of his descendants.

Thirdly, we see Abraham calling on the name of the Lord in worship. He is commemorating the way that God has orchestrated this treaty so that Abraham could be a blessing to those in his neighborhood. Now, Abraham legally owns a well in the land of promise and there will be peace and harmony in this land for his children and his children’s children. When Abraham called on the name of the Lord he called him, “El-Olam” or “the everlasting One.” This name for God is used only here in Genesis. God was revealing himself to Abraham in every event that took place in the Promised Land. Abraham knew that everything else would pass away but God would endure for eternity. He knew that God would never change so could cling to the promise that his descendants would one day possess this land just as he was possessing it now. Wenham states, “that after so many delays the promises of land and descendants at last seem on their way to fulfillment.” But now came the responsibility to use this land for the honor and glory of the Lord. This anticipates a peaceful coexistence that the Israelites should have with other tribes who would respond to the message of peace and desire to share in God’s blessing. By living peacefully with its neighbors, the Israelites could more readily become the channel of blessing they were intended to be.

Think about your own life. Can you look back and see God’s sovereign hand at work in your life to get you where you are today? I definitely can. That should cause us to worship our Sovereign Lord. That should cause us to call upon the name of the Lord in praise and worship. That brings us to our third next step which is to “call on the name of the Lord in worship for his sovereign hand at work in my life.”

Finally, we see that Abraham stayed in the land of the Philistines for a long time, maybe for as much as ten to fifteen years. It was probably a great time of peace and happiness for Abraham. Tranquil old age was a sign of God’s blessing. This was going to be Abraham’s neighborhood for a long time and God had blessed him and would continue to bless him so he could be a blessing to those around him. We may ask what was the author’s point in including this story? Walton in his commentary says, “It has to do with covenant roots. Gradually Abraham is establishing roots in the land – digging wells and planting trees. Additionally as relationships are established with the peoples in the land the blessing is taking root. Finally, Abraham’s relationship with God is taking root as land and family become established.”

So how can we be good neighbors that would make not only Fred Rogers proud but more importantly our Heavenly Father proud? We can live into the example of Abraham. First, believers should agree to the request for peaceful relationships. Second, believers should try to restore peace when it is disrupted. Third, believers should strive to ensure that peaceful relationships continue into the future. Fourth, believers must use their peaceful, prosperous life to serve God. God brings us peace and harmony so we can be a blessing to those we come in contact with where we live, work, and play.

The question that again comes to mind after studying this passage is, “Does the world see God in our everyday life?” First, for God’s purpose to be fulfilled through us, the world should see God in us. As Christians we need to be aware that the people in our neighborhoods who don’t know Jesus are watching us to see if we are different than everyone else. They are watching what we say and do and our attitudes toward them. How do we react when mistreated? Do we grumble and complain like everyone else? They are watching us at work, in restaurants and across the street in our yards. Do we work hard or take shortcuts? Are we honest even in the smallest matters? They are watching and they should be able to tell that we are ambassadors of God and followers of Jesus without us saying a word. And when we do open our mouths and witness to the blessing and goodness of God we need to be careful that our words match our actions and vice versa. If we don’t the world will see us as hypocrites and they won’t be able to see God in us at all

Second, for God’s purpose to be fulfilled through us, we have to be walking with God. In spite of Abraham’s past deception, Abimelech recognized God in his life. Why? Because Abraham was a friend of God and walked in daily communion with God. He wasn’t perfect, but he had a reality with God and God’s gracious hand was on him. Abimelech could sense that in spite of Abraham’s previous failure in the incident with Sarah, he was a man who walked with God. As God faithfully provides us protection and our daily needs, and as we walk with Him and give Him the credit for His care for us, as Abraham did, He uses us in the ordinary matters of life to bear witness to a world that desperately needs to turn to Him. When we are faithfully walking with God our neighbors see it and will know that we have something they lack.

If you know the Savior, walking with Him and enjoying His faithful provision, God wants to use the ordinary events in your life to fulfill His purpose of blessing all the nations through the Seed of Abraham, the Lord Jesus Christ. What a privilege to be used by the Eternal God as we live our ordinary lives on this earth!

As Gene and Roxey come to lead us in a final hymn, let’s pray: Lord God, I pray that your Holy Spirit would continually indwell us as we strive to be the kind of neighbors you want us to be in this world that you have placed us in. As we share the good news of Jesus Christ, help us to live in such a way that our neighbors see God at work in our daily lives, help us to strive for harmony and cooperation when conflicts arise with our neighbors and let us remember to call on your name in worship for your sovereign hand at work in our lives. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Origins

Wondering While Wandering

(Genesis 21:8-21)

 

INTRODUCTION

“I did not want to go to prayer service that evening; I wanted to stay home and make a dish of candied fruit from a new recipe. But the recipe called for three oranges, and I had none.

 

Reluctantly, I decided to go to church, thinking that if I got the oranges that night, I could make the dish first thing in the morning. As I drove through the city to church, I stopped at every corner store along the way, looking for oranges. Unfortunately, all the stores I passed were out. I arrived at church feeling disappointed but determined to keep my mind on the service until the end.

 

As I was leaving, a teenaged boy asked for a ride home, and I agreed to take him. When we pulled into the public housing project where he lived, my headlights landed on a loaded pick-up truck. As we drew in closer I shrieked, ‘Oranges!’ There, spotlighted by a street lamp, stood a truckload of oranges, boxes and boxes of large, beautiful oranges.

 

‘Where is the driver?’ I asked aloud.

 

‘Here he comes now!’ replied the teenager. Reaching hurriedly in my purse and finding one dollar, I gave it to the teen and told him to ask the man if I could buy three oranges. He jumped out as I craned my head out the window trying to see around the truck. I was still holding my breath when the boy came around the truck with as many oranges in his arms as he could carry.

 

‘He didn't have any bags!’ called the boy.

 

Awed and overjoyed, I took the fruit, returning several to the grateful teen. That night, I made my candied fruit, knowing I had put God first, and he had met my needs.”

 

Source: Margaret D. Pagan, Baltimore, Maryland.

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2002/october/13938.html]

 

BODY

  • ME

    • Moving from Florida

        • We were living in Florida at the time

        • We were expecting our first child and we decided to live off my income only and save Judy’s income

        • We knew that after the school year was over and our baby was born, that we were going to be moving back to Ohio from Florida

        • The savings we accumulated was just what we needed to survive until I started serving with Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF)

        • It took us a little bit of time to raise our personal finances with CEF

        • God provided for us while we were wandering

    • Moving from California

        • He did the same thing when we moved from California

        • We put everything in storage and started back across the country not knowing that we would finally settle down in Pennsylvania

        • We spent time with Judy’s parents in Florida and my parent’s in Alabama

        • We even spent time with Judy’s grandma in Ohio

        • Eventually, God called us to serve Idaville UB Church in Pennsylvania

        • God had provided the income we needed while we wandered across the country and He provided places for us to stay

        • We knew that He was with us while we were wondering what the next step would be

 

  • WE

    • Wondering while we wander

        • Perhaps each person here today understands what it’s like to wonder while we wander

        • My guess is that we have all seen God provide during a transition

        • Maybe He prepared us ahead of time or provided throughout the transition

        • The great thing is that He was with us the whole time

 

Family tensions came to head at a feast Abraham had held in Isaac’s honor. ​​ The result caused Hagar and Ishmael to wander through the desert with minimal supplies. ​​ God was with them through their wanderings and He provided for them as they wondered what was going to happen to them. ​​ Through this important narrative today, we will learn that . . .

 

BIG IDEA – God is with us even in our wanderings.

 

Let’s pray

 

  • GOD (Genesis 21:8-21)

    • Deride (vv. 8-10)

        • Weaned

          • Approximately three years have passed from verse 7 to verse 8

          • “In traditional societies mothers nurse children for longer than is customary in the West; in 2 Macc. 7:27 a mother refers to having nursed her son for three years.” ​​ [Goldingay, Baker Commentary on the Old Testament, Pentateuch, Genesis, 331]

            • Hannah waited until Samuel was weaned before taking him to the temple to serve for the rest of his life (1 Sam. 1:22-24)

            • Gomer waited until Lo-Ruhamah was weaned before having another son with Hosea (Hosea 1:8)

          • Feast

            • We are not told if Abraham held a great feast for Ishmael when he was weaned

            • In the ancient Near East, it was something to celebrate when a child made it to the age of three, because the infant mortality rate was so high

            • We see here that Abraham prepares a great feast to celebrate Isaac turning three and moving on from milk to solid food

          • Even though Sarah was no longer barren, it appears as though there was still tension between her and Hagar

            • Goldingay highlights the fact that family gatherings have the ability to bring to the surface underlying issues that are not resolved, but are festering [Goldingay, 331]

            • How many of us can relate to that reality?

            • Perhaps yesterday brought some things to light

            • Maybe there was tension during the family Christmas gathering

            • Some of us were probably not looking forward to getting together with our family

            • Can I encourage you, today, to forgive your family members, whether or not they ask for forgiveness?

            • Just tell the Lord, right now, that you forgive them

            • Don’t end 2021 and begin 2022 with a rift behind you and another family member

          • Isaac has been weaned and the family is having a party for him, but Sarah is worried

        • Worried

          • Sarah was acutely aware that Ishmael was actually Abraham’s first-born son

            • Because of the miraculous nature of Isaac’s birth, Sarah is probably guessing that she will not have any more children

            • Imagine how protective she probably was of Isaac

            • She was not going to let anything happen to him, physically

            • She would not tolerate others mistreating him verbally

            • I know how protective I am of my own children, as most parents are

          • Mocking

            • During the celebration for Isaac, Sarah noticed that Ishmael was mocking Isaac

            • The Hebrew root word for mocking means “to laugh” [Waltke, Genesis, A Commentary, 294]

              • Some people believe that Ishmael was just laughing together with Isaac – playful laughing

              • But, it would seem that Sarah would not react the way she does, if they were simply playing together

              • The Apostle Paul perhaps helps us to understand the seriousness of what Ishmael is doing

              • Galatians 4:29, At that time the son born in the ordinary way persecuted the son born by the power of the Spirit.

            • In the Piel form of the verb it means to laugh in bad taste, with the intent to verbally harm

            • Perhaps Ishmael is using Isaac’s name in a way that is making others laugh at him or to ridicule him

            • “Isaac, the object of holy laughter, was made the butt of unholy wit or profane sport. ​​ He [Ishmael] did not laugh, but he made fun. ​​ The little helpless Isaac a father of nations! ​​ Unbelief, envy, pride of carnal superiority, were the causes of his conduct. ​​ Because he did not understand the sentiment, ‘Is anything too wonderful for the Lord?’ it seemed to him absurd to link so great a thing to one so small” (Hengstenberg).” ​​ [Keil & Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, Volume 1, The Pentateuch, 156]

            • As a protective mother and the first wife of Abraham, Sarah will not stand for this

            • She demands that Abraham get rid of that slave woman and her son

          • Drive out

            • Sarah’s demand is not a friendly request

            • “Her entreaty is strongly worded: “get rid” (gārēš) describes the evictions of Adam (3:24) and Cain (4:14), the removal of Moses by Pharaoh (Exod 10:11), and the dispossession of Canaan’s population (e.g. Exod 23:29-30; Josh 24:18).” ​​ [Mathews, The New American Commentary, Volume 1B, Genesis 11:27-50:26, 269]

            • This verb in the Piel form means to “throw out, drive out, get rid of”

            • The same verb in the Qal form means “divorce” [Goldingay, 332]

          • No sharing

            • Sarah does not want anyone to be in competition for Abraham’s inheritance

            • She wants Isaac to be the only heir

            • “According to the legal practices of that time, she [Sarah] had no genuine cause for worry. ​​ The Nuzi documents . . . imply that just as the inheritance rights of a son born to a man and his servant girl take precedence over the rights of an adopted son, so also do the inheritance rights of a son born to a man and his wife take precedence over those of a servant girl’s son. ​​ To summarize the matter in the context of Abraham’s family, just as Ishmael’s rights superseded those of Eliezer, so also Isaac’s rights would supersede those of Ishmael (Youngblood, 181).” ​​ [Gangel & Bramer, Holman Old Testament Commentary, Genesis, 184]

        • ​​ The demand from Sarah, concerning Hagar and Ishmael, is distressing for Abraham

    • Distress (vv. 11-13)

        • Concerned

          • Abraham is emotionally attached to Ishmael – how can he not be, since Ishmael was his only child for around 11-12 years

          • Sarah is demanding that Abraham cut all ties with Hagar and Ishmael

          • There is a high probability that Abraham will never see Ishmael again

          • Distressed

            • The Hebrew word can also be translated as “displeased, very wrong, grievous”

            • “The word translated ‘grievous’ means ‘to shake violently,’ like curtains blowing in the wind.” ​​ [Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, Pentateuch, 102]

            • Abraham is physically upset

          • But the Lord comforts him in his distress

        • Comforted

          • God tells him not to be distressed about Hagar and Ishmael

          • He tells Abraham to listen to what Sarah is telling him

            • Perhaps Abraham is struggling to understand why the covenant cannot come through Ishmael

            • The Lord again reaffirms the fact that Abraham’s offspring will be reckoned through Isaac

            • PRINCIPLE #1 – God is sovereign!

              • “God has determined that Isaac is the one through whom fulfillment will come, through whom Abraham’s offspring will be ‘named’: his genealogical line is the one that will count.” ​​ [Goldingay, 333]

              • “Ishmael will not share in the inheritance with Isaac, but that is not because of Sarah’s pettiness, or jealousy, or skullduggery. ​​ It is because God has decreed that Abraham’s line of promise will be continued through Isaac. ​​ Here is an instance of God using the wrath of a human being to accomplish his purposes.” ​​ [Hamilton, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 18-50, 81]

              • God in his sovereignty chose several second-born children to fulfill his purposes and continue the line to Jesus

                • The Lord accepted Abel’s sacrifice over Cain’s

                • The Lord chose Jacob over Esau (Gen 27:27-29)

                • The Lord chose Ephraim over Manasseh (Gen 48:14)

              • Even when we do not understand God’s plans, we can trust in His sovereignty to accomplish His purposes

            • PRINCIPLE #2 – “The Lord has a word for us even in our severest dilemmas.” ​​ [Baldwin]

              • The Lord can speak to us in various ways

                • Through prayer

                • Through His Word

                • Through a sermon

                • Through other believers

                • Even through unbelievers

              • He can speak to us through difficult circumstances, which is what Abraham experienced

              • Abraham had to be attentive to what the Lord was saying

              • Perhaps someone here today is going through a difficult situation

                • Is the Lord speaking to you through someone else?

                • What He is saying may not be what you want to hear, but God is sovereign

                • It may cause you to shake violently when you think about what has to be done

                • Are you willing to be obedient to what the Lord is saying?

                • #1 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Listen to the voice of the Lord in the middle of the difficult situation I am experiencing.

            • As we will see in just a moment, Abraham obeyed the Lord

            • The Lord not only told Abraham to listen to Sarah, He also reaffirmed His promise concerning Ishmael

          • Promise reaffirmed

            • The Lord promises to make Ishmael into a nation also

            • The reason the Lord gives, is because Ishmael is Abraham’s offspring

            • This again goes back to the promises the Lord gave to Abraham in Genesis 12:2-3, “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. ​​ I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”

            • PRINCIPLE #3 – God keeps His promises!

              • We know that the Arab nations came from Ishmael’s line

              • God fulfilled His promise to Abraham that Ishmael would also become a nation of people

          • The Lord comforted Abraham in the difficult task that lay before him

        • Abraham was obedient as he accomplishes the task early the next morning

        • PRINCIPLE #4 – God is pleased when we obey Him.

          • We fleshed this principle out last week, so we will not spend additional time on it this week

          • It is still an important principle for us to embrace

    • Drift (vv. 14-21)

        • Sent (v. 14)

          • Abraham gives Hagar food and water

            • He does not give her cattle and flocks

            • He does not give her servants

              • “In the Lipit-Ishhtar law code (ca. 1875 B.C.), a clause stipulates that if a slave bears children and the father then grants freedom to her and her children, ‘the children of the slave shall not divide the estate with the children of their (former) master.’” ​​ [Waltke, 294]

              • This is in keeping with the fact that Sarah states that Ishmael will not share in Isaac’s inheritance

            • Abraham gives her the amount of food and water she is able to carry on her own

              • The skin would have held approximately 3 gallons of water (24 pounds) [Waltke, 295]

              • We’re not told how much food she is carrying

          • Separation

            • After supplying her with food and water, Abraham sends her off with Ishmael

              • The Hebrew word for “sent her off” in the Piel form is “another term that can mean divorce.” ​​ [Goldingay, 333]

              • Abraham is making a clean break with Hagar and Ishmael

              • He is setting them free

              • At this point, Abraham has to trust the Lord to provide for Hagar and Ishmael

              • Abraham’s hope and faith are based on the promise that the Lord had given him that Ishmael would also be a nation

              • Abraham could trust in the promise of God, that his son would not die, while wandering in the desert

            • Hagar wanders in the desert of Beersheba

              • [Show map of the desert of Beersheba]

              • The fact that they are wandering is evidence that she and Ishmael are all alone and do not have a place to live [Mathews, 273]

              • They are probably moving from place to place, but have not found a permanent location to call home

              • Imagine being given just enough food and water to carry and then being sent away

              • Everything we have ever known, and the security of a family unit are all gone

              • We have to start all over again

              • The emotions we would be having would be devastating

          • That is exactly what Hagar and Ishmael were experiencing

        • Sad (vv. 15-18)

          • No water

            • “In such wilderness, when your water is finished (v. 15), you are finished, and so is your child.” ​​ [Goldingay, 334]

            • Hagar recognizes that fact, which is why she does what she does with Ishmael

            • Perhaps dehydration has sapped the boy of his strength and ability to walk – he is dying!

          • Sobbing

            • Hagar cannot bear to listen to Ishmael’s cries of suffering

              • She separates herself from him after putting him under a desert bush for shade

              • A bowshot is approximately a half a mile [Goldingay, 334]

              • At this distance, she would not be able to hear Ishmael’s cries, but she could probably still see him

            • If she could provide food and water for him, she would

            • Hagar’s sobbing is without hope

              • She is thinking that she and Ishmael are going to die

              • She has forgotten that God was with her in the wilderness 16 years before

              • He had appeared to her by the spring that is beside the road to Shur (Gen. 16:7-9)

              • God was going to be with her again

            • God is with us even in our wanderings.

              • When we don’t know what to do or where to turn, God is with us

              • When we feel like we are wandering through life’s desert, God is still with us

              • He will take care of us and provide for us

              • We can have hope in His presence with us

              • He promises to never leave us or forsake, so we can say with confidence that the Lord is our helper (Heb. 13:5-6)

            • It appears as though Hagar’s sobbing is simply that – she is feeling sorry for herself and for Ishmael and just sits down and begins to cry

          • God hears and responds

            • God heard Ishmael crying

            • Perhaps Ishmael was crying out to God asking Him for help

            • As God hears Ishmael’s cries, He responds to Hagar

              • He speaks to her from heaven

              • First, He asks her what is wrong

              • Then He encourages her not to be afraid – He has a plan to save them

              • Hagar has to return to where she left Ishmael and help him to stand

              • Finally, God reveals that He will make Ishmael into a great nation

              • They are not going to die, but rather thrive, by God’s grace

            • PRINCIPLE #5 – God is concerned about the outcasts.

              • There are all kinds of outcasts

                • Those who have been alienated from their immediate family

                • Those who have been alienated from their extended family

                • Men and women who have experienced divorce or separation

                • Husband and wives who have lost their spouse to death

                • Children who have lost their parent(s) to death

                • Individuals who have been alienated from a friend group, because of either negative or positive life changes

              • I want you to know, today, that God is concerned about you!

                • He hears your cries for help

                • He knows you are feeling hopeless, anxious, depressed, and like there is nothing to live for

                • He is ready to send someone to help you stand – to support you through this difficult time

                • He is ready to save you

              • #2 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Find hope in the truth that God is concerned about my situation and me.

          • The Lord encouraged Hagar in her seemingly hopeless situation and He provided a way of salvation

        • Saved (vv. 19-21)

          • There the whole time

            • God opened Hagar’s eyes and she saw a well of water

            • She was able to refill the skin and give Ishmael a drink

            • It is amazing that the solution to Hagar and Ishmael’s plight was there the whole time – they were just blind to it

            • How often is that true of us, as well

              • The solution to our problem, to our situation is already at hand, but we cannot see it

              • This happens because we are so consumed with the problem

              • When we step back and turn to the Lord for help, He gives us a new perspective on the situation

              • We can see clearly what we need to do and how to handle the situation

            • PRINCIPLE #6 – God provides for us.

              • I do not know about you, but I’m always blessed when God provides the solution to my problems

              • Our problems are not a surprise to God, because He is all-knowing

              • He already has a plan prepared to help with and provide just what we need

              • We just need to turn to Him and trust Him

              • #3 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Turn to the Lord and trust Him to provide for me.

            • My guess is that the cool drink of water helped to revive Ishmael and Hagar

            • Finally, we see the quick progression of Ishmael’s life from teenager to adult

          • God is with us

            • God was with Ishmael as he grew up

            • This fulfilled the promise God had made to Abraham and Hagar concerning their son

            • He lived in the desert and became an archer

            • His mother obtained an Egyptian wife for him while he was living in the Desert of Paran [show map]

            • God was with Ishmael in his wanderings – it appears as though he never stopped wandering in the desert

            • God is with us even in our wanderings.

 

  • YOU

    • Do you need to listen to the voice of the Lord in the middle of your difficult situation?

    • Find hope in the truth that God is concerned about you!

    • Are you ready to turn to the Lord and trust Him to provide for you?

 

  • WE

    • As a body of believers, we experience difficulties too that require us to listen to the voice of the Lord, find hope in the truth that He is concerned about us, and trust Him to provide for us

 

CONCLUSION

“David Jeremiah wrote a book entitled A Bend in the Road (Word, 2000) that details his struggle with cancer that began in September 1994, when he was diagnosed with lymphoma. He describes the dark days of ‘life’s disruptions’ and reminds us that as the Israelites traveled long distances from their homes to Jerusalem to worship and celebrate the great feasts, they often sang to express their joy and faith in God.

 

We don’t see Abraham singing at any point in Scripture, but he certainly set the foundation for people of faith who want to handle life’s disruptions and struggles with spiritual courage. Abraham exemplified Jeremiah’s emphasis on how to handle the burdens of life, including the conflict with Abimelech and the agony of sending Hagar and Ishmael into the desert. Jeremiah says, ‘When the enemy closes in, we’ll never defeat him using his own weapons. Instead, we load the weapons of our lips, our tongues, our hands, our wills … with the most powerful gun powder that has ever been discharged on earth—worship and praise’ (Jeremiah, 126).

 

Jeremiah survived the first physical struggle, but his cancer reappeared in the fall of 1998. During this time he found great comfort in the Book of Psalms: ‘Whenever I have suffered, the psalms have provided my medicine; when I have been wounded, they have bandaged me and have pointed me toward healing … I’ve drunk deeply of them, bathed in them, and let them wash over me until I’ve felt the dust of the world cleansed away by the hope and peace of God’s presence in the music of the psalms’ (Jeremiah, 141).”

 

[Gangel & Bramer, 189]

14

 

Origins

Le J.I.T.

(Genesis 21:1-7)

 

INTRODUCTION

“JIT is a form of inventory management that requires working closely with suppliers so that raw materials arrive as production is scheduled to begin, but no sooner. ​​ The goal is to have the minimum amount of inventory on hand to meet demand.

 

JIT inventory management ensures that stock arrives as it is needed for production or to meet consumer demand, but no sooner. The goal is to eliminate waste and increase the efficiency of your operations. Since the main objective is often quality and not the lowest price, JIT requires long-term contracts with reliable suppliers.

 

JIT is what’s known as a lean management process. In JIT, all parts of any production or service system, particularly people, are interconnected. They inform each other and are mutually dependent on generating successful outcomes. This practice’s origin comes from Kaizen, a Japanese term meaning “change for the better.” Originating in Japan, the business philosophy looks to continuously improve operations and involve all employees, from assembly line workers to the CEO. Like JIT, the goal is to reduce waste and improve quality.”

 

[https://www.netsuite.com/portal/resource/articles/inventory-management/just-in-time-inventory.shtml]

 

BODY

  • ME

    • Placenta previa

        • We had a miscarriage between our second and third sons

        • Since Judy’s body did not naturally remove the fetus, she had to have a procedure to remove it

        • The procedure created scar tissue, which posed a problem with the next pregnancy – our youngest son

          • It is not uncommon for the egg to implant low in the uterus, because of the scar tissue

          • Early on in that pregnancy, Judy was diagnosed with placenta previa

          • This condition happens when the baby’s placenta partially or fully covers the mother’s cervix – the outlet of the uterus, which leads to the birth canal

          • Natural birth is not an option and delivery requires a C-section

        • During the pregnancy we kept praying that the placenta would move up the uterine wall and not cover the cervix

          • God answered those prayers, and we saw, through various ultrasounds, the movement of the placenta

          • Judy was able to have a natural delivery of our third child

          • We trusted and had faith in God’s power and ability to cause the placenta to move on its own

          • God allowed the placenta to move just-in-time

 

  • WE

    • Just-in-time

        • Every one of us can probably share a time when we experienced God’s power through our faith arriving at just the right time

        • It was not too early or too late

        • We may have felt like it was too late or getting too late, but it was not

          • Perhaps our experience is centered around a medical issue or pregnancy

          • Maybe our experience had to do with finances and God providing at just the right time

          • Some people have experienced God’s perfect timing through relationships

          • Students can attest to the fact that God helped them to complete a paper or project, just-in-time

 

Abraham and Sarah have been living in the Promised Land for 25 years. ​​ Abraham had received a word from God of a promised son. ​​ While he may have thought that Ishmael was that promised son, the Lord reminded him that the promised son would come from him and Sarah. ​​ At just the right time, God fulfilled His promise to Abraham. ​​ God’s promises are Le J.I.T. (legit/legitimate). ​​ Sarah had heard the promise just a year before and had laughed with doubt. ​​ Abraham had also laughed when he heard the promise, but his laughter was filled with faith instead of doubt. ​​ What we will see today in Genesis 21:1-7 is that . . .

 

BIG IDEA – “Faith in God’s promises releases God’s power.” [Wiersbe]

 

Let’s pray

 

  • GOD (Genesis 21:1-7)

    • Obtained (vv. 1-2)

        • Gracious

          • The Hebrew is literally “visited”

            • It meant that God intervened in the affairs of humanity

            • It meant that God supernaturally superseded nature

            • He was concerned about Abraham and Sarah

            • “. . . we have here an instance where visit takes on the connotation of Yahweh mercifully delivering one form an apparently hopeless situation, that is, infertility.” ​​ [Hamilton, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 18-50, 72-73]

          • PRINCIPLE #1 – God keeps His promises!

            • He is never early and never late

            • He keeps His promises in His time and in His way

              • This is especially difficult for us in America, because we are accustomed to instant gratification

              • Most times we do not have to wait for anything

              • Patience is a virtue, but it is one virtue most people in our society lack

              • “Trusting God’s promises not only gives you a blessing at the end, but it gives you a blessing while you are waiting.” ​​ [Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, Old Testament, Genesis-Deuteronomy, 99]

                • Most of us do not recognize the blessing while we are waiting

                • We become frustrated and angry with God

                • We experience dissolution toward God

                • Doubt in God’s ability to do the supernatural begins to creep in, which can breed doubt in His existence, love, compassion, and care for us

                • That doubt can drive people away from a personal relationship with the Lord

              • In the midst of our frustration, anger, dissolution, and doubt, we have to hold on to faith in an all-powerful God who is able to do far more than we can ask or imagine

              • “Faith is a journey, and each happy destination is the beginning of a new journey. ​​ When God wants to build our patience, He gives us promises, sends us trials, and tells us to trust Him.” ​​ [Wiersbe]

                • Is God building your patience right now?

                • What promises has He given to you? (take a moment to write those down)

                • What trials are you experiencing, currently? (take a moment to write those down)

                • Are you trusting the Lord through those trials?

                • James 1:2-8, Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. ​​ Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. ​​ If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. ​​ But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. ​​ That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.

              • God can and will keep His promises to you and me

            • #1 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Patiently wait, through the trials I am experiencing, for God to fulfill His promises to me.

          • Abraham and Sarah had to exhibit a great deal of faith as they waited 25 years for the promise to be fulfilled

        • Promise fulfilled

          • That is what we see in the verse 2

          • Sarah became pregnant and gave birth to a son

          • This happened when Abraham was 100 years old

            • That seems amazing to us, but God is able to do the miraculous

            • God continued to sustain Abraham in his old age, because he remained alive until this promised son grew up to be an adult

            • God’s sustaining power is incredible!

          • Faith in God’s promises releases God’s power!

            • This promised son came at the very time God intended for him to come and according to the promise given the year before

            • God waited for Abraham and Sarah to be “as good as dead” so that their son would be a miracle from Him and not just from a natural process

            • Read Romans 4:17-21

            • Ephesians 4:20-21, Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! ​​ Amen.

        • While we see the faith and patience of Abraham and Sarah, we also see Abraham’s obedience

    • Obedience (vv. 3-5)

        • Abraham names his son

          • NOTE: ​​ “Both Isaac and Jesus were named before they were conceived (Gen. 17:19; Luke 1:31). ​​ Both mothers conceived through God’s supernatural activity. ​​ Both sons fulfilled the Abrahamic covenant.” ​​ [Gangel & Bramer, Holman Old Testament Commentary, Genesis, 183]

          • He gives him the name Isaac just as God had directed him

          • Genesis 17:19, Then God said, “Yes, but your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac. ​​ I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him.

          • The name Isaac means “he laughs”

          • Genesis 17:15-17, God also said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you are not longer to call her Sarai; her name will be Sarah. ​​ I will bless her and will surely give you a son by her. ​​ I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her.” ​​ Abraham fell facedown; he laughed and said to himself, “Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? ​​ Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?”

          • As we saw in Romans 4, Abraham’s laughter was not without faith – he still believed that God was able to accomplish what He had promised

          • “Isaac was designated as the fruit of omnipotent grace working against and above the forces of nature.” ​​ [Keil & Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, Volume 1, The Pentateuch, 155]

          • Abraham not only names his son Isaac, in obedience to the Lord's command, he also circumcises him

        • Abraham circumcised his son

          • On the eighth day, after Isaac’s birth, Abraham circumcised him

          • Genesis 17:10-12, This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you, the covenant you are to keep: ​​ Every male among you shall be circumcised. ​​ You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you. ​​ For the generations to come every male among you who is eight days old must be circumcised, including those born in your household or bought with money from a foreigner – those who are not your offspring.

        • PRINCIPLE #2 – God is pleased when His people obey His commands.

          • Abraham was obedient to the commands of God

          • Are we obedient to the commands of God?

            • This is a question that we need to ask ourselves

            • “There is a simple exercise I walk through with church leaders. ​​ First, I have them list all the things that people expect from their church. ​​ They usually list obvious things like a really good service, strong age-specific ministries, a certain style/volume/length of singing, a well-communicated sermon, conveniences such as parking, a clean church building, coffee, childcare, etc. ​​ Then I have them list the commands God gave the Church in Scripture. ​​ Usually they mention commands like ‘love one another as I have loved you’ (John 15:12), ‘visit orphans and widows in their affliction’ (James 1:27), ‘make disciples of all nations’ (Matt. 28:19), ‘bear one another’s burdens’ (Gal. 6:2), etc. ​​ I then ask them what would upset their people more – if the church didn’t provide the things from the first list or if the church didn’t obey the commands in the second list. . . . God had given clear commands in the Old Testament He expected His people to obey (613 things to be exact). ​​ Then along the way those people created additional traditions God never actually asked them to do but they felt were good ideas. . . . Honoring traditions made the Pharisees feel like they were obeying God when they actually weren’t. . . . Many of us have become so accustomed to various traditions that we genuinely think they are commanded.” ​​ [Francis Chan, Letters to the Church, 46, 48]

            • Francis Chan’s comment hits close to home for many of us

            • Are we more concerned about our expectations being fulfilled and traditions being followed or obeying the commands of God?

            • How are we doing with obeying God’s commands?

            • I know for myself, and I’m guessing the same is true for every one of us, that we can improve in the area of obeying God’s commands

            • That is what pleases the Lord

          • #2 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Choose to obey God’s commands and identify at least one command where I need to improve.

            • Imagine what it will look like when we focus on obeying the commands of God instead of our own expectations and traditions

            • The Lord will be pleased and we will be more unified, holy, and loving

            • What an incredible opportunity we have to continue to develop these qualities as followers of Jesus Christ

        • Abraham obediently followed the commands of God and Sarah worshiped the Lord for His grace extended to her

    • Overjoyed (vv. 6-7)

        • Sarah’s laughter has been transformed

          • Before, she laughed to herself

          • Genesis 18:12-13, So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, “After I am worn out and my master is old, will I now have this pleasure?” ​​ Then the Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Will I really have a child, now that I am old?’”

          • Now, she laughs openly and encourages others to join in her laughter

          • “Sarah credits God with changing her laughter of incredulity (17:17-19; 18:12-15) into joy. ​​ All will now laugh in joy and amazement with Sarah.” ​​ [Waltke, Genesis, A Commentary, 293]

          • Even Sarah’s statement about her nursing a child, shows the joy she is experiencing

        • PRINCIPLE #3 – God is glorified when we rejoice at the display of His sovereign power.

          • The birth of Isaac obviously helped to strengthen Sarah’s faith

          • How often does the display of God’s sovereign power strengthen our faith?

            • When the initial diagnosis says there is something there that needs further investigation, but when the time comes for that appointment, the doctors cannot find what was originally there (our faith is strengthened)

            • The end of the month is coming, but there is not any more money to pay bills and someone anonymously drops off an envelope with money in it (our faith is strengthened)

            • The furnace, air conditioner, or vehicle breaks down and we do not have the money to repair it, but God provides the money through the benevolence fund at church or through other people (our faith is strengthened)

          • Application

            • How have you seen the display of God’s sovereign power in your life?

            • Has it strengthened your faith?

            • Have you taken time to rejoice and thank the Lord?

            • #3 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Rejoice in the Lord for displaying His sovereign power in my life.

          • “Nothing can give such deep, lasting satisfaction as the faithfulness of God, demonstrated in the fulfillment of his promises especially, perhaps, after a long time of expectant waiting.” ​​ [Baldwin, The Bible Speaks Today, The Message of Genesis 12-50, 85]

 

  • YOU

    • Are you waiting patiently for the Lord to fulfill His promises to you?

    • What command of God do you need to improve upon?

    • Do you need to rejoice in God’s sovereign power at work in your life?

 

  • WE

    • God has given promises to His church, so we have to wait patiently for His timing

    • God has given His church commands that we need to be following

    • Corporately, we need to rejoice when we see God display His sovereign power in the life of the church

 

CONCLUSION

“We become so used to reading about miracles in the pages of the Bible that it is easy to lose an appreciation for how startling they are. ​​ In an attempt to recover the wonder, let’s take a moment to observe the response to such an occurrence in a modern medical context. ​​ The details of the following account were reported in the Chicago Tribune, September 8, 1981.

 

A woman whose ovaries ceased to function almost three years ago has given birth to a healthy 9-pound baby girl, baffling doctors at three hospitals. ​​ ‘It is impossible, impossible,’ the 35-year-old woman quoted one of the doctors as saying when he detected a fetal heartbeat. ​​ In effect, the birth took place after the woman . . . had gone through menopause, her doctors said.

 

The woman had been diagnosed with premature ovarian failure and was told she did not have to worry about getting pregnant. ​​ A further complication was that the woman was on hormone medications to ease the symptoms of menopause. ​​ These medications typically serve as effective contraceptives. ​​ Dr. Jerry Rakoff, director of the Scripps Clinic Medical Group’s Fertility Center had confirmed the diagnosis of another physician but was also the one who eventually discovered that the patient was pregnant.

 

Rakoff said neither he nor Dr. John Willens, the University Hospital physician who delivered the baby on August 18, had ever heard of birth by a woman with a well-documented case of premature ovarian failure. . . . Rakoff said that there is no medical therapy to reverse premature ovarian failure. ​​ He said that he and Willens believe an egg may have been left after the ovaries shut down.

 

We can see that even in today’s world of medical sophistication, this is a remarkable obstacle for God to overcome.”

 

[Walton, The NIV Application Commentary, Genesis, 499-500]

 

 

How does all of this tie in with Christmas?

Genealogy

  • Matthew 1:1-17

Jesus came just in time

  • Galatians 4:4-5

  • Romans 5:6-8

8

 

Origins

Unstoppable

(Genesis 20:1-18)

 

INTRODUCTION

“On any given night at a bowling alley in America, you might find someone who has bowled a 300, a perfect game. A good bowler on a hot streak can roll 12 consecutive strikes. For a competitive bowler, however, the "holy grail" night is a perfect series—three consecutive perfect games. A 900. In the history of bowling, there have only been 21 perfect series.

 

And Bill Fong was three rolls away from just that—perfection.

 

On a January 18, 2010, league night at the Plano Super Bowl, Bill Fong had rolled 33 consecutive strikes. The crowd of fellow league members stopped to watch, as on frame 34, Bill Fong gathered his ball, walked up, and rolled another strike.

 

And then he rolled another on frame 35, and the crowd went wild.

 

But something was wrong. Two frames back Bill had begun sweating profusely and feeling dizzy. But he was just one roll away from history. Bill pulled the ball to his chest, took his usual five steps, and released the ball perfectly.

 

People actually started applauding before the ball reached the pins. That's how perfect the roll was. It curved exactly where it was supposed to, made contact with the pins at precisely the right spot. Pins flew, the crowd cheered.

 

And the number 10 pin wobbled, but settled back onto its base. Standing.

 

899. One pin short of perfection.

Heartbroken, Bill headed home.

 

The dizziness that began on frame 34 had not improved. Bill staggered into his bathroom and threw up. The walls continued to spin.

 

Bill was having a stroke. Already struggling with high blood pressure, the events of that Monday evening turned a delicate situation into a deadly one.

 

But Bill never realized he had suffered a stroke until he had another one later. His doctor found scar tissue, and was told about the league night.

 

The only thing that saved Bill on the night of the 899? That number 10 pin staying up. Had that last pin fell, Bill's doctor feels certain that his body, already in the midst of a stroke, would have pushed his blood pressure even higher. That, most likely, would have killed Bill immediately on lane 28.

 

What felt like the worst thing that could have happened turned out to be the very thing that saved Bill's life.”

 

Possible Preaching Angles: (1) Sovereignty of God—Although the article did not mention Bill's faith or lack thereof in Christ, we do know that believers can have confidence in God's good and sovereign plans for their lives despite disappointments, confusion, and failures. God may have a better purpose that we can't imagine with our limited perspective. (2) Success and Failure—Sometimes the success we think we must achieve can actually hurt us. And at times it's the apparent "failures" that actually save us from greater harm.

 

Source: Michael J. Mooney, "The Most Amazing Bowling Story Ever," D Magazine (July 2012).

 

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2012/october/1101512.html]

 

BODY

  • ME

    • Moving to Birmingham, AL

        • Growing up, our family had always lived in a parsonage

        • From the time I was two-years old until age 17, our family had never owned a home

        • When my parents felt the call to plant a church in Birmingham, AL, we had to find a house to live in

        • That was the first time my parents had ever had to buy a home, so everything was new

        • Grace Ministries was the organization that had the vision to plant multiple churches in Birmingham from various denominations

        • That ministry had a real estate agent associated with it that made himself available to the pastors who were moving

        • He asked my parents what kind of neighborhood that were hoping to reach and then showed our family several houses

        • After seeing the one house all five of us said, “That is the house!”

        • My parents have lived in that house for 34 years

    • God’s plan for our family

        • We knew that God had led us to that particular house

        • The previous owners of the house were both doctors

        • So, you probably guessed it, the wife became our family practice doctor for many years

        • God’s sovereignty was evident through our move from Pennsylvania to Birmingham

        • His plans for us never failed

 

  • WE

    • Every one of us probably has a testimony of when God’s plans have succeeded in our lives

        • Perhaps the testimony is about a relationship

        • Maybe it’s about a financial success

        • It could even be about a job or being accepted to a particular college or university

    • As we look back over our lives, we can probably share multiple stories of how God’s plan didn’t fail us

        • We may not have recognized it at the time

        • Time and hindsight give us clarity and a different perspective

 

It would seem as though time and hindsight had not given Abraham and Sarah clarity. ​​ They use a familiar ruse 25 years later with a different ruler and got similar results. ​​ They were still struggling to trust the Lord with their fears about the people of this new land. ​​ What they learned, again, was that even though their fears caused them to mislead another ruler, God’s plan could not be stopped. ​​ This truth is one that we need to learn and embrace. ​​ We will learn today that . . .

 

BIG IDEA – God’s plans never fail.

 

Let’s pray

 

  • GOD (Genesis 20:1-18)

    • Ruse (vv. 1-2)

        • On the move

          • Most scholars agree that Abraham is moving from his current location, near Hebron, by the trees of Mamre

          • He takes his entire family and clan and moves them to the region of the Negev

            • We are not given the exact location, but rather a between two regions

            • They were staying between Kadesh and Shur

            • [Show map]

            • This was the same region where Hagar had fled to after being mistreated by Sarah (Genesis 16:7)

            • It was here that the Lord spoke to Hagar and promised her many descendants (Genesis 16:8-14)

          • Stay in Gerar

            • While his clan remain in the region of the Negev, it appears that, at least, Abraham and Sarah move north and stay in Gerar

            • Abraham probably left his flocks and herds in the care of his servants in the Negev

          • While they are in Gerar, Abraham uses the same half-truth that he used 25 years earlier with Pharaoh in Egypt

        • Half-truth

          • Abraham tells the people of Gerar that Sarah is his sister

          • We already know that Abraham and Sarah had the same father, but different mothers

          • Because of the half-truth, Abimelech, King of Gerar, sends for, and takes Sarah as part of his harem

            • Sarah is now 89 to 90 years old

            • In the Egyptian episode, Pharaoh took Sarah because of her beauty (Genesis 12:14-16)

            • There is no mention of the reason why Sarah is taken by Abimelech

            • It is perhaps based on the desire of Abimelech to forge “an economic relationship with the Abraham clan” [Mathews, The New American Commentary, Volume 1B, Genesis 11:27-50:26, 251]

            • Sarah has described herself as “worn out” in Genesis 18:11-13 [Mathews, 252]

            • All of this played an important role in protecting Sarah and preserving God’s plan for the promised son to come from Abraham and Sarah

            • God’s plans never fail

          • PRINCIPLE #1 – God is patient with His people!

            • We know that God’s plans never fail, but sometimes we, in our humanness, put God through the ringer

              • He has to bring plagues and illness to others in order to preserve His plans

              • He has to threaten death and command that certain things be returned, in order to set things right

            • How have we put God through the ringer as it pertains to His plans for us?

              • I know that, for Judy and I, we moved all over the country and served with various ministries before being obedient to the call to pastoral ministry

              • I know that Judy had to wait 13 years to be a pastors wife (she always thought that was God’s calling for her, when she grew up)

              • What has it looked like for you?

                • What things did you have to go through before submitting to God’s plan for your life?

                • Perhaps you are still putting God through the ringer, because you are resisting His call on your life

                • God’s patience is so amazing!

                  • He is willing to wait on us

                  • He is willing to allow us to go done a different path, until we realize we need to be on His path for our lives

                  • #1 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Thank the Lord for His patience and submit to His plan for my life.

                • God was certainly patient with Abraham and Sarah, even when they used the “sister act” again, 25 years later

          • Their deception had adverse consequences not only for them, but also for others

            • “Charles Spurgeon said, ‘God does not allow His children to sin successfully.’ ​​ When we deliberately disobey God, we suffer both from the consequences of our sins and from the chastening hand of God, unless we repent and submit.” ​​ [Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, Old Testament, Genesis-Deuteronomy, 96]

            • Read Hebrews 12:5-11

        • We see Abimelech’s reaction to this deception

    • Reaction (vv. 3-13)

        • With God (vv. 3-8)

          • God came to Abimelech in a dream (v. 3)

            • Pharaoh was aware of Abraham’s deception because of the serious diseases that he and his household experienced

            • This time, God uses a dream to expose the ruse

              • Dreams were a common form of communication or revelation in the ancient Near East [Walton, The NIV Application Commentary, Genesis, 494]

              • “Dreams were a mode of revelation, even to those outside of the covenant (see 28:12; 31:24; 37:5-9; 40:5; 41:1; Num. 22;9, 20).” ​​ [Waltke, Genesis, A Commentary, 285]

            • God tells Abimelech that he is as good as dead

            • The reason He gives is that the woman he has taken is a married woman

              • Even within the pagan culture, adultery was a serious offense

              • “In Egypt (marriage contracts), Mesopotamia (hymns to Ninurta and Shamash), and Canaan (king of Ugarit extradites and executes his wife), adultery is regularly referred to as ‘the great sin’ and is considered extremely detrimental to society to the extent that it is characteristic of anarchy. ​​ Hittite laws, Middle Assyrian Laws, and the Code of Hammurabi all contain legislation against adultery.” ​​ [Walton, 495]

              • “Mosaic legislation required the death penalty for adultery, both the man and the woman (Lev 20:10; Deut 22:22).” ​​ [Mathews, 252]

                • Leviticus 20:10, “If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife – with the wife of his neighbor – both the adulterer and the adulteress must be put to death.”

                • Deuteronomy 22:22, If a man is found sleeping with another man’s wife, both the man who slept with her and the woman must die. ​​ You must purge the evil from Israel

            • Abimelech realizes the seriousness of God’s revelation to him, and so he pleads his case

          • Abimelech’s plea (vv. 4-5)

            • The narrator tells us that Abimelech had not gone near Sarah, meaning that he had not been intimate with her

            • Abimelech wants to know if God will destroy an innocent nation

              • This is Abimelech’s view of his kingdom

              • But, Abimelech is not saved – he is lost – he is not a follower of God

              • Abraham is a follower of God – he is saved

            • He explains to the Lord that Abraham and Sarah both said that they were brother and sister

            • He confesses that he took Sarah with a clear conscience and clean hands – it was unintentional

            • Abimelech’s sin was one of ignorance and not negligence – there was potential for deliberate action (adultery) without knowledge [Hamilton, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 18-50, 62]

            • God acknowledges Abimelech’s plea

          • God’s reply and command (vv. 6-7)

            • The dream is still taking place

            • God confirms that Abimelech took Sarah with a clear conscience, but He is the One who kept Abimelech from sinning against Him

              • God kept Abimelech from touching Sarah

              • PRINCIPLE #2 – God is sovereign!

                • God’s sovereignty means that He has the right to rule and He rules rightly

                • God was completely in control of the circumstances that Abraham and Sarah had created, which had to potential to mess up His plans for the promised son

                • God’s plans never fail

                • He protected the purity of Sarah, by His sovereign power

                • God, in His sovereignty, is in complete control of the circumstances that we create

                • Those circumstances have the potential to mess up His plans for our lives, but God knows exactly what to do to get us back on track

                  • He may be stopping you from touching something

                  • He may be stopping you from moving

                  • He may be stopping you from taking another job

                  • He may be stopping you from looking at certain things

                  • He may be stopping you from pursuing a particular relationship

                  • He may be stopping you from doing something that will be detrimental to you, physically, financially, emotionally, or spiritually

                • Instead of trying to push forward, we need to thank God for stopping us

            • God commands Abimelech to return Sarah to Abraham

              • Abraham is identified as God’s prophet

                • God calls Abraham His prophet

                  • Abraham’s deception has not negated his salvation or standing with God

                  • His deception has not rendered God’s promise void – that all nations will be blessed through Abraham

                  • God will use Abraham and his prayer to bring healing to Abimelech and his household

                • PRINCIPLE #3 – God uses His people in spite of their failures.

                  • Romans 11:29, for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable

                  • As Christians, we will still choose to sin sometimes

                  • When we choose to sin, God does not take back the spiritual gifts or the calling that He has placed on our lives

                  • He still uses that calling and those gifts in spite of our sin – for His glory!

                  • “. . . I have found that the thing which hobbles so many people in their service for the Lord is thinking, ‘God can’t use me. ​​ God wouldn’t use me. ​​ God won’t use me because I’ve failed so miserably; I’ve botched it so badly.’ ​​ That’s the voice of the enemy, for the voice of the Lord says, ‘Because you didn’t earn the gifts I gave you or the calling I sovereignly placed upon you, there’s no way you can lose them either.’” ​​ [Courson, Jon Courson’s Application Commentary, Old Testament, Volume 1: ​​ Genesis-Job, 84]

                  • Have you been living with the enemy’s lie that God cannot, would not, or will not use you because of your failures?

                  • Today is the day to put that lie in its place, to put that lie to rest

                  • God can, would, and will use your calling and your gifts in spite of your failures

                  • Our testimony and witness may be hurt because of the failures, but our ability to pray for and serve others is not affected

                  • #2 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Reject Satan’s lie and embrace God’s truth that He can, would, and will use me in spite of my failures.

                • God was still going to use Abraham even though he had failed to trust in God’s power to protect him

                • God tells Abimelech the result of not obeying His command

              • Death will be the result of his disobedience

                • If Abimelech refuses to return Sarah to Abraham, he and his household will die

                • That was how serious God was about making sure His plans would not fail

            • Abimelech takes the warning seriously

          • Seeking counsel (v. 8)

            • Abimelech does not waste time seeking the counsel of his officials

            • He is up early and calling his officials together

            • He confides in them about the dream he had

            • His officials took the warning seriously

            • They were very much afraid – they did not want to die because of Abimelech’s ignorance about Sarah

          • We have seen Abimelech’s reaction with God, but we also see his reaction with Abraham

        • With Abraham (vv. 9-13)

          • Abimelech’s questions (vv. 9-10)

            • After consulting with his officials, Abimelech called for Abraham

            • Abimelech peppers Abraham with questions

              • What have you done to us?

              • How have I wronged you that you have brought such great guilt upon me and my kingdom?

              • What was your reason for doing this?

            • Abimelech also scolds Abraham for doing something to him that should not have been done

          • Abraham’s response (vv. 11-13)

            • Assumption

              • Abraham did not consult the Lord concerning the people of Gerar

              • He assumed they were like all the other inhabitants of the land

              • Keep in mind that Abraham just witnessed the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah along with two other cities in the plain, because the Lord did not find ten righteous people there

              • We see Abraham acting independently of the Lord’s guidance and direction, because of fear and a lapse in faith

              • PRINCIPLE #4 – God is pleased when we trust in Him instead of ourselves.

            • Mode of operation

              • From the time that Abraham set out on his own and separated from his father’s household, he and Sarah have been using the “sister-act” as their standard mode of operation when entering new territories

              • It has worked in the past, so they continue to use it (even 25 years later)

              • Abraham pulls the, “if ​​ you love me,” card and asks Sarah to tell everyone that he is her brother

        • Abimelech must have accepted Abraham’s response to his questions, because he provides reparations to he and Sarah

    • Reparation (vv. 14-16)

        • Pharaoh had given Abraham sheep, cattle, donkeys, camels, and servants prior to knowing the truth about Sarah (perhaps as a bride price)

        • Abimelech gives Abraham sheep, cattle, servants, and first choice of land after he finds out the truth about Sarah (this is recompense)

        • Abimelech obeys the command of the Lord and returns Sarah to Abraham

        • Abimelech also gives Abraham 1,000 shekels of silver

          • That is about 25 pounds of silver

          • This is a very generous amount of silver

          • Mathews points out that Abraham paid 400 shekels of silver for the cave at Machpelah where he buried Sarah (Gen. 23:15-16), Jacob purchased a piece of land in Shechem for 100 pieces of silver (Gen. 33:19), and Joseph was sold into slavery for 20 shekels of silver (Gen. 37:28) ​​ [Mathews, 258]

          • Waltke states, “A Babylonian laborer, usually paid a half shekel per month, would have had to work 167 years to earn such a sum.” ​​ [Waltke, 287]

          • The silver was given to Abraham as a way of restoring Sarah’s honor in the eyes of those who knew about Abimelech taking her into his harem [Waltke, 288]

          • It was done to hide Sarah’s shame [Mathews, 258]

          • Abimelech did not blame Sarah, which is what is meant by her being completely vindicated

        • After reparations are made, Abraham prays for Abimelech and his household

    • Restoration (vv. 17-18)

        • Abraham’s prayer released God’s healing power

        • God healed Abimelech, his wife, and his slave girls

          • We are not told what Abimelech needed healing from, but it probably had something to do with him not being to engage in sexual relations

          • We know that God had closed up every womb in Abimelech’s household, so now the woman would be able to conceive again

        • PRINCIPLE #5 – God answers the prayers of His people on behalf of others.

          • It probably took a long time for Abimelech to trust Abraham

          • He was probably cautious whenever Abraham spoke to him

          • Wiersbe highlights what this one lie cost Abraham [Wiersbe, 97]

            • His character

            • His testimony

            • His ministry (instead of a source of blessing, he was the cause of judgment)

            • He almost lost Sarah and Isaac

            • His peace (he watched Isaac repeat the same lie years later, Gen. 26:7-11)

          • Perhaps our lies have cost us some of the same things

            • We may have lost our character, testimony, and ministry to family and friends

            • They don’t want anything to do with Christianity, because of what we have said or done

            • Fortunately, when we repent of our sins, the Lord forgives us and restores us

            • We still have the ability to bless our family, friends, and even our enemies through prayer

              • “When I pray for my enemies, not only does it release blessing upon them, but it keeps me from getting involved in a cycle of bitterness which will only destroy me.” ​​ [Courson, 86]

              • Matthew 5:43-45a, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ ​​ But I tell you: ​​ Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.”

          • #3 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Pray for the healing, prosperity, and well-being of my family, friends, and enemies.

 

  • YOU

    • Do you need to thank the Lord for His patience?

    • Are you ready to submit to the Lord’s plan for your life?

    • Is it time to reject the lie and embrace that God can, would, and will use you in spite of your failures?

    • Whom do you need to pray for today?

  • WE

    • Idaville Church needs everyone to embrace God’s truth that He will use us in spite of our failures – we need everyone to be serving

        • Pastor Marc handed out spiritual gift surveys during the Mission Possible Meeting last week

        • Our hope is that everyone will take the time to complete one of those surveys, so we can serve in our area of giftedness

 

CONCLUSION

“Henri Dunant was a wealthy 19th century Swiss banker. He was sent to Paris by the Swiss government to work on a business deal with Napoleon. He arrived only to be informed that Napoleon was off fighting a war against the Austrians in Solferino, Italy. So Henri Dunant got back into his carriage and set his horses galloping down to the battlefront. He got there just in time to hear the bugles blast and see the thundering charge of Napoleon's troops. Dunant had never before witnessed the ghastly carnage of war. He watched in horror as cannonballs tore through human flesh, and acres of land became heaped with maimed and dying men. Henri Dunant was so devastated that he remained at the front for weeks helping doctors tend to the wounded in churches and nearby farmhouses.

 

After his return to Switzerland, Dunant continued to be haunted by the images of war he had seen in Italy. He could not keep his mind on banking, becoming so distracted that he lost his fortune. Yet even with his career derailed and his plans askew, he had a sense of God's sovereignty in all that had occurred. Of this time he later wrote: ‘I was aware of an intuition, vague and yet profound, that [this was] God's Will; it seemed to me that I had [something] to accomplish…as a sacred duty and that it was destined to have fruits of infinite consequence for mankind.’

 

And indeed it was. Out of his depression and failure—after following the wrong road to Italy—Henri Dunant founded the Red Cross, which has saved millions and millions of lives and given aid to countless victims of war and disaster over the years. For establishing this organization, he received the first Nobel Peace Prize.”

 

Source: Victor D. Pentz, from the sermon "A Hobo's Heart: How Wrong Roads Often Lead to the Right Places."

 

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2004/august/15490.html]

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