Tag Archive for Abraham

Personal Encounters in Genesis

from the devotional book, PICTURES OF GOD
Read Genesis 4:1-15

The book of Genesis begins with Adam and runs through Joseph. In that span of time, consider the various people to whom God revealed Himself in a personal way.

  • Adam and Eve (Genesis 1:27-30; 3:8-19) – Even though they had disobeyed God and rejected His wisdom, He spoke to them person-to-person, revealing not only judgment but eventual salvation.
  • Cain (Genesis 4:2b-15) – Cain was a murderer, yet God conversed with him, listened to him, and acted to meet his concerns.
  • Noah (Genesis 6:7-14) – In a day when the human race had gone entirely wrong, God was pleased with Noah and saved our entire race on account of him and through him.
  • Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3; 15:1-9) – Abraham’s story takes up chapters 11-25. What an amazing odyssey of tested faith and gracious blessing!
  • Hagar (Genesis 16:7-13) – Hagar was an Egyptian slave who had run away from problems she had helped cause. Yet the living God came to her personally in her darkest moment.
  • Rebekah (Genesis 25:21-23) – When she became concerned about her unborn twins, God gave her a glimpse of the larger drama in which she was playing a part.
  • Isaac (Genesis 26:1-6) – God assured Isaac that as He had been with his father Abraham, He would be with him as well. God’s promises would prove sure generation after generation.
  • Jacob (Genesis 28:10-22) – Like Hagar above, Jacob was running from family problems he had helped to create. But God met Him personally in a way that would shape his entire life.

These encounters paint a picture of an Almighty God who delights to introduce Himself to all types of people, one-on-one. He reveals His wisdom for their situations, speaking demands and promises, comfort and challenge, providing both details and overall perspective. But the most striking aspect of His revelations is not the information He imparts, but the stunning reality of His presence. We human beings are given the great privilege of interacting with the Creator God person-to-person.

Abraham’s Sacrifice

from the devotional book, PICTURES OF GOD

Read Genesis 22:1-19

I am deeply challenged by the faith of Abraham. What raced through his mind when God told him to offer Isaac as a burnt offering? What filled his thoughts and emotions?

  • Surely he thought of his son’s face, his eyes, his mannerisms; how he looked when he slept; his simple, unquestioning trust in his father.
  • How could he possibly tell Sarah? She had endured so much for so long to finally get this child as a precious gift from God. How could he take Isaac from her?
  • Without Isaac, how could God ever fulfill His promise to make his descendants as the sands of the sea?
  • How could he do it? How could he plunge the knife into his son’s chest? How could he light his body on fire?

But Abraham didn’t let his own fears or desires stop his obedience to God. He didn’t let the concerns of those around him affect his decision. Whether he understood or not, He would obey Almighty God because he feared Him and trusted Him.

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

For all of us, our greatest testing comes from those blessings that are dearest to us. In fact, it seems that every new blessing from God comes with new challenges as well. Those challenges are part of the blessing, for they exercise our faith. That faith is the substance of our relationship with the unseen God, and that relationship is the most precious gift in all creation. Our loving Father will do anything to strengthen His bond with us and draw us closer to Himself.

God stopped Abraham’s sacrifice at the last moment. It became only a foreshadowing, a dress rehearsal for another Father who would sacrifice His only Son on a nearby hill centuries later.

Listen and sing:
Hymn: Genesis 22
Printed Music & Lyrics

Abraham and Ishmael

from the devotional book, PICTURES OF GOD

Genesis 16; 21:9-21

God’s blessings don’t just come to picture-perfect families. God also blesses in those families filled with conflict and turmoil.

For Sarah, the pain of her childlessness was so great that she was willing to give her husband to another woman – her maid, Hagar. But this didn’t bring Abraham his heir, and it brought only trouble to the family. When Hagar conceived by Abraham, the relationship between Hagar and Sarah was strained to the breaking point. The pregnant Hagar fled and ended up alone in the wilderness. Only the intervention of God’s angel brought her back to Abraham’s household.

Once Isaac was born to Sarah, the conflict between the two wives boiled over again. Sarah demanded that Abraham drive out Hagar and her son, Ishmael. Imagine the inner turmoil that Abraham must have experienced. Both women were his wives. Both boys were his sons. But God came to Abraham and gave him the assurance and direction he desperately needed:

  • “Do whatever Sarah tells you. She is right – your descendants will come through Isaac, not Ishmael.”
  • “I will take care of Ishmael and will make him a great nation as well, simply because he is your son.”

Through this difficult circumstance, God proved Himself faithful, not only to Abraham and Sarah but also to Hagar and Ishmael. They were soon alone in the wilderness without food and water. Hagar was so desperate that she left the boy by himself simply because she couldn’t bear to watch him die. But “the God who sees” came to her rescue again, as He had when she fled years before.

True to His promises to Abraham and Hagar, God made of Ishmael a great nation. He is considered the father of the Arab peoples. Thus God made Abraham the father, not just of one great nation, but of two – Israel and the Arab peoples. And in Christ, Abraham became the father of an even greater nation – the “holy nation” of all those saved by faith in Christ (1 Peter 2:9). “All those who believe are children of Abraham” (Galatians 3:7).

God’s blessings are real and His promises prove true even in the most troubled situations.  The darkness of human distress can never snuff out the light of God’s love.

Abraham: God’s Promises

from the devotional book, PICTURES OF GOD

Genesis 12:1-7

God blesses His people. The same sovereign God who spoke the universe into existence also speaks all His best into the lives of those who trust Him.

There is no better example of that blessing than the story of Abraham. Read it all in Genesis 11:26 – 25:11.

According to Genesis 11, Abraham was the ninth generation after Shem, the son of Noah. When the Bible first introduces him, his name is still Abram (meaning, “the father is exalted”), and he is part of his father Terah’s household in Ur of the Chaldeans (in present-day Iraq). He moves with his father to Haran (in present-day Turkey), and there his father dies.

There also the Lord speaks to Abram, asking him to follow Him to a land He will show him. If Abram obeys, God promises him a number of magnificent blessings:

  • God will make him a great nation.
  • God will both bless him and make him a blessing. In fact, all the families of the earth will be blessed through him.
  • God will bless those who bless Abram, and curse those who curse him.

One might think that one so richly blessed by the Sovereign God would have an easy life. And indeed, God does lavish great material wealth on Abram. But like us, Abram was called to trust a God whose plan is sometimes mysterious and whose sense of timing is far different than our own.

  • The man who was to have descendants numerous as the stars of the heaven and the sand of the sea had no heir until he was 100 years old.
  • Though God had promised him that his heirs would possess the land of Canaan, Abram lived his entire life as nomad, living in tents, owning no land but a small burial plot.
  • Though God promised to stand up for Abram in all his disputes (blessing those who blessed him, cursing those who cursed him), the disputes and dangers just kept coming.

The God who blesses us does not promise a life of ease, but a journey of faith. That journey has a wonderful end for those who patiently endure.