Food for the Soul
Food for the Soul
30 When Rachel saw that she was not bearing Jacob any children, she became jealous of her sister. So she said to Jacob, “Give me children, or I’ll die!” 2 Jacob became angry with her and said, “Am I in the place of God, who has kept you from having children?” 3 Then she said, “Here is Bilhah, my servant. Sleep with her so that she can bear children for me and I too can build a family through her.” 4 So she gave him her servant Bilhah as a wife. Jacob slept with her, 5 and she became pregnant and bore him a son. 6 Then Rachel said, “God has vindicated me; he has listened to my plea and given me a son.” Because of this she named him Dan. 7 Rachel’s servant Bilhah conceived again and bore Jacob a second son. 8 Then Rachel said, “I have had a great struggle with my sister, and I have won.” So she named him Naphtali. 9 When Leah saw that she had stopped having children, she took her servant Zilpah and gave her to Jacob as a wife. 10 Leah’s servant Zilpah bore Jacob a son. 11 Then Leah said, “What good fortune!” So she named him Gad. 12 Leah’s servant Zilpah bore Jacob a second son. 13 Then Leah said, “How happy I am! The women will call me happy.” So she named him Asher.
Jealousy and comparison can often make us do strange things!
This passage shows us just how jealousy can have an impact on family and relationships, with Rachels servant bearing two sons for her with her husband Jacob as she is barren. Rachel does this as her sister Leah has children and she has none, making her jealous and angry with her own situation. When Leah see’s this, she does the same thing with her servant!
In verse 13 Leah says, ‘How happy I am! The women will call me happy’. This makes me wonder, would Rachel have been truly happy within this situation? Competing with your own sister and allowing your servant to sleep with your husband to give you children doesn’t make for the happiest of circumstances to me. Instead of turning to God while feeling overlooked, Rachel took matters into her own hands to satisfy her wants.
I wonder how many times we have done something out of jealousy, to present ourselves to the world as ‘happy’? How many times have we changed our situation, so other’s will look at us and think we have our lives sorted, are on top of everything, and have it all under control?
It’s always a challenge, but I am reminded from this passage it is important to turn to God, pray in the midst of what we might be going through, and trust that he in control, as He has a plan for everything.
Lord, help me to continue to rely on You. When I am jealous, or start comparing my life to someone else’s, remind me that You have a unique plan and purpose for my life. Remind me You are in control even when I can’t see it and help me to always trust in You.
Written by Rachel Tomc
31 When the Lord saw that Leah was not loved, he enabled her to conceive, but Rachel remained childless. 32 Leah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Reuben, for she said, “It is because the Lord has seen my misery. Surely my husband will love me now.” 33 She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “Because the Lord heard that I am not loved, he gave me this one too.” So she named him Simeon. 34 Again she conceived, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “Now at last my husband will become attached to me, because I have borne him three sons.” So he was named Levi. 35 She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “This time I will praise the Lord.” So she named him Judah. Then she stopped having children.
Appreciate Leah’s concerns and respect her response. She feels unloved, left out, without a future and without value. God is the God who notices the unloved, God notices the fringe dwellers, God is kind and compassionate to the outsider. The children Leah has she names according the story that God is shaping in her life and these names also echo the themes of the grand history that God is creating for Abraham’s descendants. They are not only answers to Leah’s prayers but also answers to Abraham’s prayers. Leah’s boys are the tender and direct response of God to the cry of her heart.
Remember today God’s attentive gentleness towards you, especially in the midst of feeling unloved and alone. Pour out your heart to God in prayer. Be patient – the answers to Leah’s prayers were not instantaneous, but were worked out gradually over the course of years. Leah is a spiritual ancestor to us and her story has become our story through Jesus. The pattern of Leah’s story carries over into our lives for hope in any number of situations and challenges. Where are you feeling forgotten and alone?
Jesus, I bear my heart to you – I hold nothing back. I don’t hide from you and I want to patiently wait for your answers to my prayers. Sustain me as I wait. Fill me with your joy, even in the tough times. Amen
Written by Sam Stewart
After Jacob had stayed with him for a whole month, 15 Laban said to him, “Just because you are a relative of mine, should you work for me for nothing? Tell me what your wages should be.” 16 Now Laban had two daughters; the name of the older was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. 17 Leah had weak[a] eyes, but Rachel had a lovely figure and was beautiful. 18 Jacob was in love with Rachel and said, “I’ll work for you seven years in return for your younger daughter Rachel.” 19 Laban said, “It’s better that I give her to you than to some other man. Stay here with me.” 20 So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her. 21 Then Jacob said to Laban, “Give me my wife. My time is completed, and I want to make love to her.” 22 So Laban brought together all the people of the place and gave a feast. 23 But when evening came, he took his daughter Leah and brought her to Jacob, and Jacob made love to her. 24 And Laban gave his servant Zilpah to his daughter as her attendant. 25 When morning came, there was Leah! So Jacob said to Laban, “What is this you have done to me? I served you for Rachel, didn’t I? Why have you deceived me?” 26 Laban replied, “It is not our custom here to give the younger daughter in marriage before the older one. 27 Finish this daughter’s bridal week; then we will give you the younger one also, in return for another seven years of work.” 28 And Jacob did so. He finished the week with Leah, and then Laban gave him his daughter Rachel to be his wife. 29 Laban gave his servant Bilhah to his daughter Rachel as her attendant. 30 Jacob made love to Rachel also, and his love for Rachel was greater than his love for Leah. And he worked for Laban another seven years.
I take a few lessons from this passage of scripture.
The first lesson is that I can avoid some major regrets in life simply by avoiding drinking too much alcohol. Many biblical characters were either fooled or made grave mistakes while drunk.
Second, it is amazing how fast time flies when we have purpose, hope and a vision. Jacob was able to work so long for Laban because he had his heart set on marrying Rachel. If my heart has no investment in my work, this is a danger sign… I am probably going to get sick of my work in the very near future. I need a heart connection, a sense of purpose, hope and vision in the work I do, otherwise I will find the work drudgery. This phenomena is a little like a double edged sword, because if my end goal and hope is not of God, I could quickly spend many years of my life fully engaged doing something of no eternal value.
Finally, I see how easy it is for us to be hypocrites. Jacob had ripped off his own brother of his birth-right as the firstborn son, he deceived his own father in order to do this (Genesis 27). Now, Laban deceives Jacob, and Jacob is indignant. In reality Jacob had no righteousness of his own to stand on when he complained to Laban. Ironically, Jacob used deception to claim a birth-right that was not his to claim, and now Laban uses deception to enforce the birth-right tradition onto Jacob by tricking him into marrying Leah, his first born daughter.
Lord I thank you that your Holy Spirit reveal lessons for life and knowing you. May your Word and your Spirit have priority in my life. Amen.
Written by Andrew Mellor
29 Then Jacob continued on his journey and came to the land of the eastern peoples. 2 There he saw a well in the open country, with three flocks of sheep lying near it because the flocks were watered from that well. The stone over the mouth of the well was large. 3 When all the flocks were gathered there, the shepherds would roll the stone away from the well’s mouth and water the sheep. Then they would return the stone to its place over the mouth of the well. 4 Jacob asked the shepherds, “My brothers, where are you from?” “We’re from Harran,” they replied. 5 He said to them, “Do you know Laban, Nahor’s grandson?” “Yes, we know him,” they answered. 6 Then Jacob asked them, “Is he well?” “Yes, he is,” they said, “and here comes his daughter Rachel with the sheep.” 7 “Look,” he said, “the sun is still high; it is not time for the flocks to be gathered. Water the sheep and take them back to pasture.” 8 “We can’t,” they replied, “until all the flocks are gathered and the stone has been rolled away from the mouth of the well. Then we will water the sheep.” 9 While he was still talking with them, Rachel came with her father’s sheep, for she was a shepherd. 10 When Jacob saw Rachel daughter of his uncle Laban, and Laban’s sheep, he went over and rolled the stone away from the mouth of the well and watered his uncle’s sheep. 11 Then Jacob kissed Rachel and began to weep aloud. 12 He had told Rachel that he was a relative of her father and a son of Rebekah. So she ran and told her father. 13 As soon as Laban heard the news about Jacob, his sister’s son, he hurried to meet him. He embraced him and kissed him and brought him to his home, and there Jacob told him all these things. 14 Then Laban said to him, “You are my own flesh and blood.”
The customs of the Old Testament are a far cry from ours today. Most Australians live in cities and the sheep we see is at the butcher. Jacob has to move the stone from the well so as Rachel can water her sheep, we just turn on a tap. Yes the Old Testament seems miles away from our existence today, Yet … what we see is devotion to family, which is common enough in our context today. Devotion you ask… the stone was very large – you did not move a large stone away unless there was a reason and here the reason is family, devotion to family. Emotion was high as well, Jacob kisses Rachel, he weeps, Laban embraces Jacob and kisses him – and yes these may be normal customs of the middle east, but weeping was a strong show of emotion. I wonder why. Was it just the sense of family and devotion or was there more. Was there the pent up emotion of seeing the Lord at work in miraculous ways and the relief that God really was answering prayer. I like that thought. I have often felt a surge of emotion as I realise God is answering my prayers. And I have learnt not to be embarrassed by it. Seeing God at work should impact us emotionally.
Father help me to see your hand at work in my life and help me to respond with the full range of emotion as I see your miracles, deliverance, healing, salvation…
Written by Ps. Richard Botta
18 Early the next morning Jacob took the stone he had placed under his head and set it up as a pillar and poured oil on top of it. 19 He called that place Bethel, though the city used to be called Luz. 20 Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear 21 so that I return safely to my father’s household, then the Lord will be my God 22 and this stone that I have set up as a pillar will be God’s house, and of all that you give me I will give you a tenth.”
Just the night before, Jacob had an intimate and powerful encounter with the God of the universe. The weight of this glorious interaction is still on him the next morning. So he decides to mark that moment and that place as a turning point in his life, from this point forward he desires to worship God alone.
God had already promised to be with Abraham and his descendants forever, God renewed that promise to Abraham’s son Isaac. Now the next generation had to make their choices. Abraham’s two grandchildren have taken different paths, Esau is deliberately disobeying Isaac in spite of him. Here, by grace, Jacob is responding to God with faith, little faith, but faith nonetheless. He tithes, just as Abraham did, and he commits to following the Lord.
Lord, every generation must make their own choice, to trust you or not. You are faithful and your promises never fail. Teach me to play my part, to let others play theirs. Help me to instruct, but teach me that I cannot control, it is yours to reveal yourself and it is the choice of others in how they respond. Teach me to be accountable for my response to you.
Written by Andrew Mellor
10 Jacob left Beersheba and set out for Harran. 11 When he reached a certain place, he stopped for the night because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones there, he put it under his head and lay down to sleep. 12 He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. 13 There above it stood the Lord, and he said: “I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. 14 Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. 15 I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” 16 When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.” 17 He was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven.”
This is an intriguing story and is the origin of the sayings ‘Jacob’s Ladder’ and ‘stairway to heaven’. The imagery describes a bridge between two realms, the realm of man and the realm of God. It is the stuff of movies like Raiders of the Lost Ark with an appeal that touches deep desires.
It is not until John 1:47-51 we discover the bridge is not a place but a person. It’s Jesus.
However, for me the most striking aspect of this passage is that until it was revealed to Jacob, he had no idea he was standing on Holy ground. This has left me wondering how often I am standing on Holy ground and don’t know it. Many times, I have faced difficult situations that have later turned out to be the provision of God. If Romans 8:28 is true, then much of our life we are walking on Holy ground without realising it. Do you agree?
Lord, I ask you to help us see how great an influence you have in our life and through us others may know your presence in their lives.
Written by David Newton
6 Now Esau learned that Isaac had blessed Jacob and had sent him to Paddan Aram to take a wife from there, and that when he blessed him he commanded him, “Do not marry a Canaanite woman,” 7 and that Jacob had obeyed his father and mother and had gone to Paddan Aram. 8 Esau then realized how displeasing the Canaanite women were to his father Isaac; 9 so he went to Ishmael and married Mahalath, the sister of Nebaioth and daughter of Ishmael son of Abraham, in addition to the wives he already had.
In the middle of a narrative about Jacob we get a small aside about Esau. Esau is reeling from loosing his fathers blessing but has heard that Jacob has been told not to marry Canaanite women rather marry a relative on his mothers side. Possibly Esau is trying to win back some favour and so goes and marries another wife from his fathers side of the family.
The expression ‘too little to late’ comes to mind for Esau, though what also comes to mind is my ability to also quickly cast off my God given gifts and position in His family. How many times have I not walked in, lived out or taken hold of the authority and inheritance He has given to me through my faith in Jesus? (Gal 4:6). I can be quick to dismiss Esau but I think I maybe more like him than I realise.
Father forgive me for all times I have not lived in or stepped up to the life, inheritance & blessing that you have freely given to me through my faith in Jesus. I pray that I would be a better steward of the inheritance You have so freely given to me.
Written be Suzie Hodgson
41 Esau held a grudge against Jacob because of the blessing his father had given him. He said to himself, “The days of mourning for my father are near; then I will kill my brother Jacob.” 42 When Rebekah was told what her older son Esau had said, she sent for her younger son Jacob and said to him, “Your brother Esau is planning to avenge himself by killing you. 43 Now then, my son, do what I say: Flee at once to my brother Laban in Harran. 44 Stay with him for a while until your brother’s fury subsides. 45 When your brother is no longer angry with you and forgets what you did to him, I’ll send word for you to come back from there. Why should I lose both of you in one day?” 46 Then Rebekah said to Isaac, “I’m disgusted with living because of these Hittite women. If Jacob takes a wife from among the women of this land, from Hittite women like these, my life will not be worth living.” 28 So Isaac called for Jacob and blessed him. Then he commanded him: “Do not marry a Canaanite woman. 2 Go at once to Paddan Aram, to the house of your mother’s father Bethuel. Take a wife for yourself there, from among the daughters of Laban, your mother’s brother. 3 May God Almighty bless you and make you fruitful and increase your numbers until you become a community of peoples. 4 May he give you and your descendants the blessing given to Abraham, so that you may take possession of the land where you now reside as a foreigner, the land God gave to Abraham.” 5 Then Isaac sent Jacob on his way, and he went to Paddan Aram, to Laban son of Bethuel the Aramean, the brother of Rebekah, who was the mother of Jacob and Esau.
I love that the Bible tells it like it is. Family intrigue, jealousy, scheming parents, scheming children you name it the Bible’s got it.
You would expect some sanitisation but God is more than happy to show humanity as we really are. Why? Because we need a Saviour and the great narrative of the Bible shows us for who we are our best and our worst.
Father, as I read your Word I am reminded of the depths of my sinfulness. May I never lose sight of the depth of my need of salvation as Your Holy Spirit brings conviction and I cry out for Your mercy, cleansing and salvation.
Written by Ps. Richard Botta
30 After Isaac finished blessing him, and Jacob had scarcely left his father’s presence, his brother Esau came in from hunting. 31 He too prepared some tasty food and brought it to his father. Then he said to him, “My father, please sit up and eat some of my game, so that you may give me your blessing.” 32 His father Isaac asked him, “Who are you?” “I am your son,” he answered, “your firstborn, Esau.” 33 Isaac trembled violently and said, “Who was it, then, that hunted game and brought it to me? I ate it just before you came and I blessed him—and indeed he will be blessed!” 34 When Esau heard his father’s words, he burst out with a loud and bitter cry and said to his father, “Bless me—me too, my father!” 35 But he said, “Your brother came deceitfully and took your blessing.” 36 Esau said, “Isn’t he rightly named Jacob? This is the second time he has taken advantage of me: He took my birthright, and now he’s taken my blessing!” Then he asked, “Haven’t you reserved any blessing for me?” 37 Isaac answered Esau, “I have made him lord over you and have made all his relatives his servants, and I have sustained him with grain and new wine. So what can I possibly do for you, my son?” 38 Esau said to his father, “Do you have only one blessing, my father? Bless me too, my father!” Then Esau wept aloud. 39 His father Isaac answered him, “Your dwelling will be away from the earth’s richness, away from the dew of heaven above. 40 You will live by the sword and you will serve your brother. But when you grow restless, you will throw his yoke from off your neck.”
Verse 37 fascinates me. Isaac’s blessing of Jacob is definite. What Jacob has pronounced will come to pass – Jacob will be Lord over Esau, with all his relatives his servants, sustained with grain and new wine. In this passage there is a serious and significant power to the spoken word, especially from Isaac. It’s a great contrast to our modern day experience with words. Words are cheap, and there are lots of them in circulation no matter where you turn.
This passage causes me to reflect on the use of my words – if my words had the power to create such life-giving blessing (or otherwise create the opposite), how would I choose to speak? The truth is, the bible does elsewhere say my words have the power of life and death. I must choose to bring life, give life, and sustain life in those I speak to.
Lord, I need your help to keep speaking life-giving blessing through my words. Let my words carry such power from you, amen.
Written by Ps. Rob Waugh
5 Now Rebekah was listening as Isaac spoke to his son Esau. When Esau left for the open country to hunt game and bring it back, 6 Rebekah said to her son Jacob, “Look, I overheard your father say to your brother Esau, 7 ‘Bring me some game and prepare me some tasty food to eat, so that I may give you my blessing in the presence of the Lord before I die.’ 8 Now, my son, listen carefully and do what I tell you: 9 Go out to the flock and bring me two choice young goats, so I can prepare some tasty food for your father, just the way he likes it. 10 Then take it to your father to eat, so that he may give you his blessing before he dies.” 11 Jacob said to Rebekah his mother, “But my brother Esau is a hairy man while I have smooth skin. 12 What if my father touches me? I would appear to be tricking him and would bring down a curse on myself rather than a blessing.” 13 His mother said to him, “My son, let the curse fall on me. Just do what I say; go and get them for me.” 14 So he went and got them and brought them to his mother, and she prepared some tasty food, just the way his father liked it. 15 Then Rebekah took the best clothes of Esau her older son, which she had in the house, and put them on her younger son Jacob. 16 She also covered his hands and the smooth part of his neck with the goatskins. 17 Then she handed to her son Jacob the tasty food and the bread she had made. 18 He went to his father and said, “My father.” “Yes, my son,” he answered. “Who is it?” 19 Jacob said to his father, “I am Esau your firstborn. I have done as you told me. Please sit up and eat some of my game, so that you may give me your blessing.” 20 Isaac asked his son, “How did you find it so quickly, my son?” “The Lord your God gave me success,” he replied. 21 Then Isaac said to Jacob, “Come near so I can touch you, my son, to know whether you really are my son Esau or not.” 22 Jacob went close to his father Isaac, who touched him and said, “The voice is the voice of Jacob, but the hands are the hands of Esau.” 23 He did not recognize him, for his hands were hairy like those of his brother Esau; so he proceeded to bless him. 24 “Are you really my son Esau?” he asked. “I am,” he replied. 25 Then he said, “My son, bring me some of your game to eat, so that I may give you my blessing.” Jacob brought it to him and he ate; and he brought some wine and he drank. 26 Then his father Isaac said to him, “Come here, my son, and kiss me.” 27 So he went to him and kissed him. When Isaac caught the smell of his clothes, he blessed him and said, “Ah, the smell of my son is like the smell of a field that the Lord has blessed. 28 May God give you heaven’s dew and earth’s richness— an abundance of grain and new wine. 29 May nations serve you and peoples bow down to you. Be lord over your brothers, and may the sons of your mother bow down to you. May those who curse you be cursed and those who bless you be blessed.”
What a scripture! A soap opera of alliances, deceptions, crimes and lies, that lead to a family divided and in danger.
Why do they choose this avenue? They have seen, throughout the generations, Gods provision and God’s promises fulfilled. But they struggle, in their situation to trust in God’s providence and ability to come through on his words. They take the situation into their own hands and they don’t use Godly ways to turn this situation around. And it goes wrong.
It can be hard to trust God and wait for Him to change situations. Doing things without manipulating situations or people. It can be hard not to take back control. But taking back control and living in this way has consequences. Here we see ever increasing lies, stealing and deception that leads to a family divided, resentment and bitterness, and a brother in significant danger.
In this passage we don’t get to see the end. But SPOILER ALERT God forgives their wrong actions, he keeps his promises and turns their situation around. Why? Because of His loving faithfulness and enduring kindness.
Thankyou God that we can trust you. That you turn situations around. Help us to live with integrity trusting you. And when we fail to do so, to come to you for your forgiveness. Thankyou you love us with a never-ending faithful love.
Written by Ps. Zoe Stewart
27 When Isaac was old and his eyes were so weak that he could no longer see, he called for Esau his older son and said to him, “My son.” “Here I am,” he answered. 2 Isaac said, “I am now an old man and don’t know the day of my death. 3 Now then, get your equipment—your quiver and bow—and go out to the open country to hunt some wild game for me. 4 Prepare me the kind of tasty food I like and bring it to me to eat, so that I may give you my blessing before I die.”
Isaac is feeling close to death. He is virtually blind and dependent on others. He asks Esau to prepare him his comfort food as an act of love (see Gen 25:27-28 their special bond was over hunting & food.)
Is that all that’s going on? Perhaps there is a component of testing Esau, that he might receive his father’s blessing, the bestowing of his inheritance? Is Isaac testing Esau’s devotion and love? If so, I imagine these could have evoked feelings of guilt in Esau over his actions recorded in Gen 25:29-34, when he gave away his birthright for a meal. Perhaps Isaac knew about that incident and had reservations about Esau’s worthiness to be his heir? Esau was entitled to his inheritance, but I can’t help but feel he may of had to prove he was worthy of his father’s love and blessing.
If my worth comes from what I do, it is only temporary. If it comes from success, or wealth it is vulnerable and hollow. My worth comes from being a child of God, known by him. It is founded in a relationship with the God who made and sustains everything. I was not worthy of his love and redemption, yet he sealed his love for me at an incredible cost – the death of his own son, Jesus. I don’t have to earn his blessing. All I can do is believe and trust in him.
Dear God, I have no doubt of my worth to you, because you sent Jesus to die for me. There is nothing I can add to that salvation, freely given. Thank you so much, always. Amen.
Written by Claire Moore
17 So Isaac moved away from there and encamped in the Valley of Gerar, where he settled. 18 Isaac reopened the wells that had been dug in the time of his father Abraham, which the Philistines had stopped up after Abraham died, and he gave them the same names his father had given them. 19 Isaac’s servants dug in the valley and discovered a well of fresh water there. 20 But the herders of Gerar quarreled with those of Isaac and said, “The water is ours!” So he named the well Esek, because they disputed with him. 21 Then they dug another well, but they quarreled over that one also; so he named it Sitnah. 22 He moved on from there and dug another well, and no one quarreled over it. He named it Rehoboth, saying, “Now the Lord has given us room and we will flourish in the land.” 23 From there he went up to Beersheba. 24 That night the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am the God of your father Abraham. Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bless you and will increase the number of your descendants for the sake of my servant Abraham.” 25 Isaac built an altar there and called on the name of the Lord. There he pitched his tent, and there his servants dug a well. 26 Meanwhile, Abimelek had come to him from Gerar, with Ahuzzath his personal adviser and Phicol the commander of his forces. 27 Isaac asked them, “Why have you come to me, since you were hostile to me and sent me away?” 28 They answered, “We saw clearly that the Lord was with you; so we said, ‘There ought to be a sworn agreement between us’—between us and you. Let us make a treaty with you 29 that you will do us no harm, just as we did not harm you but always treated you well and sent you away peacefully. And now you are blessed by the Lord.” 30 Isaac then made a feast for them, and they ate and drank. 31 Early the next morning the men swore an oath to each other. Then Isaac sent them on their way, and they went away peacefully. 32 That day Isaac’s servants came and told him about the well they had dug. They said, “We’ve found water!” 33 He called it Shibah, and to this day the name of the town has been Beersheba. 34 When Esau was forty years old, he married Judith daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and also Basemath daughter of Elon the Hittite. 35 They were a source of grief to Isaac and Rebekah.
God is always about fresh water – or fresh encounters with the Spirit of God.
In this passage Isaac, his family, his servants and his livestock have a nomadic life that revolved around the caring for their sheep and livestock. In this travelling and setting up their “Homes – tents” they would come across other communities doing the same. In this passage we see that they had to keep moving until the “altercations over water (wells dug)” finished.
Five wells are shown in this passage and each are named:
First wells were his Father’s Wells reopened by Isaac – reopened after the enemy (Philistines) had filled them in.
Second & third wells discovered by servants Named: “argument” & “hostility”
Fourth well dug by Isaac – with no dispute – Rehoboth – “open space for us to prosper in this land – by the Lord’s creation”
Fifth well – they moved again to Beersheba – Isaac meets with God, He gives him a promise, a well is dug. Beersheba means “well of the oath”.
They finally settle in Beersheba – this well is called “well of the oath”. Interestingly in this journey of their lives, the King (Abimelech) comes to see them and observes – “We can see plainly that the Lord is with you”.
A few thoughts from this passage:
Lord I pray that you would help me to understand you in a deeper way. Help me to continue to dig my own well of understanding. May my life reflect so that others can see that you are with me.
Written by Ps. Sue Botta
6 So Isaac stayed in Gerar. 7 When the men of that place asked him about his wife, he said, “She is my sister,” because he was afraid to say, “She is my wife.” He thought, “The men of this place might kill me on account of Rebekah, because she is beautiful.” 8 When Isaac had been there a long time, Abimelek king of the Philistines looked down from a window and saw Isaac caressing his wife Rebekah. 9 So Abimelek summoned Isaac and said, “She is really your wife! Why did you say, ‘She is my sister’?” Isaac answered him, “Because I thought I might lose my life on account of her.” 10 Then Abimelek said, “What is this you have done to us? One of the men might well have slept with your wife, and you would have brought guilt upon us.” 11 So Abimelek gave orders to all the people: “Anyone who harms this man or his wife shall surely be put to death.” 12 Isaac planted crops in that land and the same year reaped a hundredfold, because the Lord blessed him. 13 The man became rich, and his wealth continued to grow until he became very wealthy. 14 He had so many flocks and herds and servants that the Philistines envied him. 15 So all the wells that his father’s servants had dug in the time of his father Abraham, the Philistines stopped up, filling them with earth. 16 Then Abimelek said to Isaac, “Move away from us; you have become too powerful for us.”
What an action packed 10 verses! We have obedience in that Isaac remained in Gerar and didn’t go to Egypt in a time of famine. He trusted God for his safety and livelihood but perhaps not his relationships as he lied about Rebekah being his sister instead of his wife. In time he is found out, Abimelech offended and possibly angered but orders a decree to leave the couple alone or face death. Isaac and Rebekah are left to live in peace and not only become successful but incredibly wealthy under God’s hand of blessing. Isaac may have been fearful of the Philistines to begin with but in the end the Philistines became jealous and fearful of him and moved him on.
It’s hard to get past Isaac harvesting a hundred times more grain than he planted, for the Lord blessed him. What a return! It goes onto say that he became a very rich man, and his wealth continued to grow. God clearly didn’t have a problem with blessing his children. God’s blessing upon Isaac and Rebekah was evident to all. Sometimes it’s good just to pause and know that God wants to bless his children and to be comfortable in that knowledge. It’s an understanding that can be contested even by ourselves as believers! It’s good to regularly reflect on God’s willingness to bless his children.
Dear God, thank you that you are a God that abundantly blesses his children in many ways across the generations. Amen
Written by Ps. Ainslie Woods
26 Now there was a famine in the land—besides the previous famine in Abraham’s time—and Isaac went to Abimelek king of the Philistines in Gerar. 2 The Lord appeared to Isaac and said, “Do not go down to Egypt; live in the land where I tell you to live. 3 Stay in this land for a while, and I will be with you and will bless you. For to you and your descendants I will give all these lands and will confirm the oath I swore to your father Abraham. 4 I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and will give them all these lands, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, 5 because Abraham obeyed me and did everything I required of him, keeping my commands, my decrees and my instructions.”
This passage starts quite bleakly – a famine has struck the land and Isaac is looking for relief for him and his family. The benefit of hindsight is that things quickly seem to work out alright; but we can only imagine the fear, the questioning and the doubt that could have arisen due to the famine.
But God’s response is direct and powerful. He says for Isaac to stay and live in Gerar. God says He will bless Isaac and his descendants. He says that He will confirm the oath He made to Isaac’s father Abraham, because Abraham was obedient and did everything God required of him.
I’m struck by the truth that blessing follows obedience. We don’t obey in order to get something good out of the situation – we obey because we know and love God. But we can be confident that just like Abraham and Isaac, blessing follows our obedience.
Lord, please speak clearly to us this day. Help us to hear You and to obey. Thank You that blessing pours out of who You are. We ask that we may humbly live in Your blessing as we continue to obey and follow You.
Written by Ps. Matt Samperi
29 Once when Jacob was cooking some stew, Esau came in from the open country, famished. 30 He said to Jacob, “Quick, let me have some of that red stew! I’m famished!” (That is why he was also called Edom.) 31 Jacob replied, “First sell me your birthright.” 32 “Look, I am about to die,” Esau said. “What good is the birthright to me?” 33 But Jacob said, “Swear to me first.” So he swore an oath to him, selling his birthright to Jacob. 34 Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and some lentil stew. He ate and drank, and then got up and left. So Esau despised his birthright.
My first response to this passage has always been ‘Seriously??’ That must have been great stew! Clearly the lesson here is never make big decisions on an empty tummy! But on reflection I am challenged to consider the consequences of my own choices, especially when I am distracted or impulsive. Because it seems here that the direction of Esau’s life was changed by the seemingly small choice (I need something to eat NOW) as much as I might have been by a big choice (eg- what career should I follow/ who should I marry etc).
So I am challenged to make sure I am focused on what’s important. Am I too busy thinking about my own comfort to consider the impact my choices might have? (Thinking fair trade/environmental impact) I am reminded not to trade off long-term consequences for short-term gain. God did not step in like a parent and say to Jacob – ‘give that back you tricked him’, or say to Esau ‘it’s ok don’t do it again’. Both players here had to deal with the consequences of this incident for the rest of their lives. I am challenged to check my attitude, think about what I say and do, and make the best decisions I can.
Father God I thank you for my ability to make my own choices. Help me Father to keep my eyes on you and make good decisions. Help me to not become distracted by my own comfort and to bring Glory to you. I pray this in Jesus name. Amen
Written by Christine Knight
19 This is the account of the family line of Abraham’s son Isaac. Abraham became the father of Isaac, 20 and Isaac was forty years old when he married Rebekah daughter of Bethuel the Aramean from Paddan Aram and sister of Laban the Aramean. 21 Isaac prayed to the Lord on behalf of his wife, because she was childless. The Lord answered his prayer, and his wife Rebekah became pregnant. 22 The babies jostled each other within her, and she said, “Why is this happening to me?” So she went to inquire of the Lord. 23 The Lord said to her, “Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you will be separated; one people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger.” 24 When the time came for her to give birth, there were twin boys in her womb. 25 The first to come out was red, and his whole body was like a hairy garment; so they named him Esau. 26 After this, his brother came out, with his hand grasping Esau’s heel; so he was named Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when Rebekah gave birth to them. 27 The boys grew up, and Esau became a skillful hunter, a man of the open country, while Jacob was content to stay at home among the tents. 28 Isaac, who had a taste for wild game, loved Esau, but Rebekah loved Jacob.
In this passage (verses 20-21) we learn that Isaac married Rebekah when he was forty years old. It says that Isaac prayed to the Lord on his wife’s behalf as she was childless, and God answered his prayer and she became pregnant. It sounds as if the events happen in quick succession – they get married, they discover she is barren, Isaac prays, God answers, Rebekah becomes pregnant and then has two sons… but we read in verse 26 that Rebekah give birth when Isaac was 60 years old, meaning these events happened over a 20 year period.
Rebekah was childless for almost 20 years, and I imagine that Isaac was praying for most of this time. It is interesting how the verse simply says Isaac prayed and God answered. There is no sense of the time lapse; the waiting, the wondering, the yearning and the disgrace. The fact remains the same though, that Isaac prayed and God answered, though it may have been an answer that did not come for 20 years.
I wonder, did being ‘Isaac’ – the miracle child born to an elderly couple – help him to trust God through this period of time? No doubt his parents had told him many times of the story of his birth, so had it filled him with faith? If God had done it for his parents, surely God could and would do it again? How precious that Isaac and Rebekah had their own story of waiting and seeing God make a way where there was no way.
God, please help me to draw courage from Abraham and Isaac’s story – to ask and keep on asking, and to trust and keep on trusting. Thank you that you are still in the business of answering prayers in miraculous ways. Amen!
Written by Ps. Bethany Waugh
12 This is the account of the family line of Abraham’s son Ishmael, whom Sarah’s slave, Hagar the Egyptian, bore to Abraham. 13 These are the names of the sons of Ishmael, listed in the order of their birth: Nebaioth the firstborn of Ishmael, Kedar, Adbeel, Mibsam, 14 Mishma, Dumah, Massa, 15 Hadad, Tema, Jetur, Naphish and Kedemah. 16 These were the sons of Ishmael, and these are the names of the twelve tribal rulers according to their settlements and camps. 17 Ishmael lived a hundred and thirty-seven years. He breathed his last and died, and he was gathered to his people. 18 His descendants settled in the area from Havilah to Shur, near the eastern border of Egypt, as you go toward Ashur. And they lived in hostility toward all the tribes related to them.
In Genesis 15 we read that God had given a promise to Abraham in his old age that he would have a son. The fulfilment of this promise was obviously not coming quickly enough for Abraham’s wife Sarah, so she decides to take matters into her own hands.
In Genesis 16 we read that Sarah tells Abraham “The Lord has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my slave; perhaps I can build a family through her.” And the result is a son named Ishmael.
Ishmael is not the son that God has promised Abraham, but eventually the promised son Isaac is born, and the blessing of God rests on Isaac and his offspring.
As I read this passage here today, I noticed that Ishmael had 12 sons (a favourite biblical number) -12 tribal rulers. But as for these 12 sons- though their names are carefully listed here, apart from this listing, their names are now long forgotten to us.
This reminds me that when I try to do things my own way, not God’s way, the results are temporal without lasting value.
1 Cor. 3:12 -14 “For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.
If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw,
their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work.
If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward.”
May I walk in step with God’s plans and set my mind on the things above, not merely my temporal needs and plans.
Written by Shelley Witt
25 Abraham had taken another wife, whose name was Keturah. 2 She bore him Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak and Shuah. 3 Jokshan was the father of Sheba and Dedan; the descendants of Dedan were the Ashurites, the Letushites and the Leummites. 4 The sons of Midian were Ephah, Epher, Hanok, Abida and Eldaah. All these were descendants of Keturah. 5 Abraham left everything he owned to Isaac. 6 But while he was still living, he gave gifts to the sons of his concubines and sent them away from his son Isaac to the land of the east. 7 Abraham lived a hundred and seventy-five years. 8 Then Abraham breathed his last and died at a good old age, an old man and full of years; and he was gathered to his people. 9 His sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah near Mamre, in the field of Ephron son of Zohar the Hittite, 10 the field Abraham had bought from the Hittites.[a] There Abraham was buried with his wife Sarah. 11 After Abraham’s death, God blessed his son Isaac, who then lived near Beer Lahai Roi.
This is a great picture of the end of life for a man who was beloved by his family and God. He made arrangements for all of his family. Gifts to the newer members and help to go to another place where they would have room to succeed without competing with Isaac. Inheritance for Isaac as per Jewish tradition. The family took him and buried him next to his wife just as had been planned. God looked after Isaac.
Having such an end to life would be wonderful.
Lord God help each of us to live a life of blessing on those around us – our families and friends. Help us to stay connected with You and to follow the path You have set for us. Amen.
Written by Therese Manning
62 Now Isaac had come from Beer Lahai Roi, for he was living in the Negev. 63 He went out to the field one evening to meditate, and as he looked up, he saw camels approaching. 64 Rebekah also looked up and saw Isaac. She got down from her camel 65 and asked the servant, “Who is that man in the field coming to meet us?” “He is my master,” the servant answered. So she took her veil and covered herself. 66 Then the servant told Isaac all he had done. 67 Isaac brought her into the tent of his mother Sarah, and he married Rebekah. So she became his wife, and he loved her; and Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.
This is the result of both Abraham’s obedience to and hope in the promises of God.
God’s promise was not only to Abraham but to his descendants. At this time Abraham only had one descendant – Isaac. After Sarah died, there would be no other heirs to the promise.
If Rebekah had not agreed to leave her family, then Abraham’s servant was released from his task.
The result was not only did God maintain his promise but Isaac was comforted by Rebekah.
Whatever God has promised will bring comfort when there might seem to be none. Our part is to not give up on what God has spoken over us. Even when it looks like it won’t happen or that there is no comfort from our troubles or sorrows, hope in God.
Trust him, his plans are not only for you, but also for the people that he “causes to work for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” – Rom 8:28.
Father, I thank you for always keeping your promises to me. Thank you for the comfort those promises can bring. I will again trust you in all things.
Written by Andrew Martin
50 Laban and Bethuel answered, “This is from the Lord; we can say nothing to you one way or the other. 51 Here is Rebekah; take her and go, and let her become the wife of your master’s son, as the Lord has directed.” 52 When Abraham’s servant heard what they said, he bowed down to the ground before the Lord. 53 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. 54 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.” 55 But her brother and her mother replied, “Let the young woman remain with us ten days or so; then you[a] may go.” 56 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.” 57 Then they said, “Let’s call the young woman and ask her about it.” 58 So they called Rebekah and asked her, “Will you go with this man?” “I will go,” she said. 59 So they sent their sister Rebekah on her way, along with her nurse and Abraham’s servant and his men. 60 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.” 61 Then Rebekah and her attendants got ready and mounted the camels and went back with the man. So the servant took Rebekah and left.
Over the years preceding this passage, God has been speaking to Abraham, making promises to him and gradually fulfilling them. Abraham has, after several hiccups along the way, grown in his faith and come to trust in God’s word and promises to him.
And now it is Rebekah’s turn!
Although we may look at these marriage arrangements and feel uncomfortable, we know that they were quite normal for the culture of the time. That’s not to say it would be easy. Rebekah is a valuable member of her family, who is a hard worker, strong, honourable, and hospitable. She commands the respect of her family members, males included, and makes the decision to leave immediately herself, despite the family’s wishes to delay for 10 days (presumably to prepare well, become accustomed to the idea and to say their final farewells).
It would require an enormous amount of courage to leave your family just one day after a stranger asks you to leave with him to marry a man you’ve never met, move to a land you have not seen, leaving behind your home, family and community. In fact, it would require more than courage ….it would require great faith. Faith that God has planned and will use her for his purposes, for his glory.
I wonder if we are this available to God. When a challenging way of serving him is presented to us, are we prepared to jump straight in and follow his lead? Or do we require “10 days” to process it, assess the pros and cons and tidy up loose ends?
Dear Lord, Please help us to trust you wholeheartedly, to search you out and be ready and willing to respond when we hear you calling. Amen
Written by Jocelyn Petschack
28 The young woman ran and told her mother’s household about these things. 29 Now Rebekah had a brother named Laban, and he hurried out to the man at the spring. 30 As soon as he had seen the nose ring, and the bracelets on his sister’s arms, and had heard Rebekah tell what the man said to her, he went out to the man and found him standing by the camels near the spring. 31 “Come, you who are blessed by the Lord,” he said. “Why are you standing out here? I have prepared the house and a place for the camels.” 32 So the man went to the house, and the camels were unloaded. Straw and fodder were brought for the camels, and water for him and his men to wash their feet. 33 Then food was set before him, but he said, “I will not eat until I have told you what I have to say.” “Then tell us,” Laban said. 34 So he said, “I am Abraham’s servant. 35 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. 36 My master’s wife Sarah has borne him a son in her old age, and he has given him everything he owns. 37 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, 38 but go to my father’s family and to my own clan, and get a wife for my son.’ 39 “Then I asked my master, ‘What if the woman will not come back with me?’ 40 “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. 41 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.’ 42 “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. 43 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,” 44 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.’ 45 “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.’ 46 “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. 47 “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, 48 and I bowed down and worshiped the Lord. I praised the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, who had led me on the right road to get the granddaughter of my master’s brother for his son. 49 Now if you will show kindness and faithfulness to my master, tell me; and if not, tell me, so I may know which way to turn.”
In this passage, Abraham’s servant is giving an account of what took place between him and Rebekah. What stands out to me most is verse 48, where the servant says, “I praised the Lord… who had led me on the right road”. He recognised that it was by God’s leading that he met the woman for Isaac. His response to ‘walking the right road’ was praise and worship.
This causes me to reflect on the ways in which God leads my life. I am reminded that God goes before me and makes my path straight when I follow and trust Him. My response to His leading should be daily praise, because He is always with me.
Thank You God, for always going before me and leading me on the right road. Please help me to look to You afresh and follow the path You have for me. May I take the time to stop and praise You today as You answer my prayers, because You are always faithful.
Written by Ps. Laura Samperi
10 Then the servant left, taking with him ten of his master’s camels loaded with all kinds of good things from his master. He set out for Aram Naharaim and made his way to the town of Nahor. 11 He had the camels kneel down near the well outside the town; it was toward evening, the time the women go out to draw water. 12 Then he prayed, “Lord, God of my master Abraham, make me successful today, and show kindness to my master Abraham. 13 See, I am standing beside this spring, and the daughters of the townspeople are coming out to draw water. 14 May it be that when I say to a young woman, ‘Please let down your jar that I may have a drink,’ and she says, ‘Drink, and I’ll water your camels too’—let her be the one you have chosen for your servant Isaac. By this I will know that you have shown kindness to my master.” 15 Before he had finished praying, Rebekah came out with her jar on her shoulder. She was the daughter of Bethuel son of Milkah, who was the wife of Abraham’s brother Nahor. 16 The woman was very beautiful, a virgin; no man had ever slept with her. She went down to the spring, filled her jar and came up again. 17 The servant hurried to meet her and said, “Please give me a little water from your jar.” 18 “Drink, my lord,” she said, and quickly lowered the jar to her hands and gave him a drink. 19 After she had given him a drink, she said, “I’ll draw water for your camels too, until they have had enough to drink.” 20 So she quickly emptied her jar into the trough, ran back to the well to draw more water, and drew enough for all his camels. 21 Without saying a word, the man watched her closely to learn whether or not the Lord had made his journey successful. 22 When the camels had finished drinking, the man took out a gold nose ring weighing a beka and two gold bracelets weighing ten shekels. 23 Then he asked, “Whose daughter are you? Please tell me, is there room in your father’s house for us to spend the night?” 24 She answered him, “I am the daughter of Bethuel, the son that Milkah bore to Nahor.” 25 And she added, “We have plenty of straw and fodder, as well as room for you to spend the night.” 26 Then the man bowed down and worshiped the Lord, 27 saying, “Praise be to the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, who has not abandoned his kindness and faithfulness to my master. As for me, the Lord has led me on the journey to the house of my master’s relatives.”
The Old Testament has lots of stories about what God says and how he acts in his world and amongst his people. It has even more stories about what people say and do. How God responds to the sometimes good, but more often foolish or evil things his people do tell us a lot about his character.
The servant’s way of finding a wife for Isaac is his idea and isn’t one to copy. But his faith that God will answer when he calls out for help is. That God does answer in the middle of this crazy match making scheme tells me some important things about God.
It speaks to me about God’s faithfulness. Not only is he faithful in fulfilling his covenant with Abraham to bless all people (including us) through his family and specifically through Isaac, he’s also faithful in speaking into, and intervening in the situations that are just plain too hard for us.
It also says to me that he does care about our families too, including who we marry and how we live in our families. It tells me that taking God with you on the date isn’t an awkward threesome. It’s the key to the richest human relationship of all. God has lots of things to say about how marriages should work well, but I’ve found that sharing a love for God is the key to growing into the marriage and family that has been an enormous blessing to me.
I think it’s significant too, that although Rebekah was “very beautiful”, it was her generosity of spirit that marked her out as the right one. That the servant hurried to meet her perhaps suggest he was hoping it would be her, but he still allowed room for God to say “no”.
Lord, thank you that you care about me and that you care for my family. Be part of all my decisions today – especially part of my foolish plans that need correction.
Written by David Cornell
24 Abraham was now very old, and the Lord had blessed him in every way. 2 He said to the senior servant in his household, the one in charge of all that he had, “Put your hand under my thigh. 3 I want you to swear by the Lord, the God of heaven and the God of earth, that you will not get a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I am living, 4 but will go to my country and my own relatives and get a wife for my son Isaac.” 5 The servant asked him, “What if the woman is unwilling to come back with me to this land? Shall I then take your son back to the country you came from?” 6 “Make sure that you do not take my son back there,” Abraham said. 7 “The Lord, the God of heaven, who brought me out of my father’s household and my native land and who spoke to me and promised me on oath, saying, ‘To your offspring[a] I will give this land’—he will send his angel before you so that you can get a wife for my son from there. 8 If the woman is unwilling to come back with you, then you will be released from this oath of mine. Only do not take my son back there.” 9 So the servant put his hand under the thigh of his master Abraham and swore an oath to him concerning this matter.
This passage paints such a strong image of a good father’s desire to provide for his child. We see this as Abraham desires to provide for his son Isaac, but also in the way Abraham was provided for as a child of God.
Abraham is coming to the end of his days, and he is aware of the need to help secure a wife for his Isaac.
However not just any wife will do – Abraham instructs his servant to make an oath with him that he will find Isaac a wife from Abraham’s own people. When his servant has questions, Abraham is so confident that the Lord will provide guidance by way of an angel so that the servant will know which woman is right.
Abraham wants Isaac to have a wife from his own people that will be a blessing to him in marriage, because he is a good father who wants to provide well for his son.
He knows that the Lord will provide guidance here because He himself has been the recipient of the blessings of God – the best father. In fact, this passage tells us that God had blessed Abraham in every possible way!
I love Abraham’s confidence in God’s ability to provide. He has seen God at work so many times in his life, that he can speak with such faith that God will continue to provide for his son Isaac. May we also live with the same faith, trusting God to provide for all our needs.
God, thank you that you are a good father. Thank you that you love to provide for us, your children. Help us today to live in faith, remembering all the ways you have provided for and blessed us. We thank you for all that you do in our lives. Amen.
Written by Ps. Madelaine Tarasenko
23 Sarah lived to be a hundred and twenty-seven years old. 2 She died at Kiriath Arba (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan, and Abraham went to mourn for Sarah and to weep over her. 3 Then Abraham rose from beside his dead wife and spoke to the Hittites. He said, 4 “I am a foreigner and stranger among you. Sell me some property for a burial site here so I can bury my dead.” 5 The Hittites replied to Abraham, 6 “Sir, listen to us. You are a mighty prince among us. Bury your dead in the choicest of our tombs. None of us will refuse you his tomb for burying your dead.” 7 Then Abraham rose and bowed down before the people of the land, the Hittites. 8 He said to them, “If you are willing to let me bury my dead, then listen to me and intercede with Ephron son of Zohar on my behalf 9 so he will sell me the cave of Machpelah, which belongs to him and is at the end of his field. Ask him to sell it to me for the full price as a burial site among you.” 10 Ephron the Hittite was sitting among his people and he replied to Abraham in the hearing of all the Hittites who had come to the gate of his city. 11 “No, my lord,” he said. “Listen to me; I give you the field, and I give you the cave that is in it. I give it to you in the presence of my people. Bury your dead.” 12 Again Abraham bowed down before the people of the land 13 and he said to Ephron in their hearing, “Listen to me, if you will. I will pay the price of the field. Accept it from me so I can bury my dead there.” 14 Ephron answered Abraham, 15 “Listen to me, my lord; the land is worth four hundred shekels of silver, but what is that between you and me? Bury your dead.” 16 Abraham agreed to Ephron’s terms and weighed out for him the price he had named in the hearing of the Hittites: four hundred shekels of silver, according to the weight current among the merchants. 17 So Ephron’s field in Machpelah near Mamre—both the field and the cave in it, and all the trees within the borders of the field—was deeded 18 to Abraham as his property in the presence of all the Hittites who had come to the gate of the city. 19 Afterward Abraham buried his wife Sarah in the cave in the field of Machpelah near Mamre (which is at Hebron) in the land of Canaan. 20 So the field and the cave in it were deeded to Abraham by the Hittites as a burial site.
How far do I go to convince someone?
I love this passage of scripture but isn’t it just so awkward to read?!
This is bargaining over payment of a funeral!
And it just seems to go on and on and on and on.
Both parties seem to be unable to move from their position, both wanting the upper hand in honour.
If I genuinely believed the right thing to do was to give someone money that they didn’t seem to want to accept, I wonder how hard I would try to convince someone to let me pay them.
Beyond this, todays passage reminds me of the circumstances around Jesus’ betrayal and burial:
Jesus was betrayed for only 20 pieces of silver, but Judas tried to return the money.
Joseph of Aramathea owned a freshly excavated burial plot but gave it to Jesus without charge.
Without knowing, Abraham was foreshadowing the coming of Jesus.
I wonder whether my actions reflect Christ to other people?
Lord, help me to be a person of integrity who reflects Christ to the world.
Written by Ps. Justin Ware
15 The angel of the Lord called to Abraham from heaven a second time 16 and said, “I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 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, 18 and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.” 19 Then Abraham returned to his servants, and they set off together for Beersheba. And Abraham stayed in Beersheba. 20 Some time later Abraham was told, “Milkah is also a mother; she has borne sons to your brother Nahor: 21 Uz the firstborn, Buz his brother, Kemuel (the father of Aram), 22 Kesed, Hazo, Pildash, Jidlaph and Bethuel.” 23 Bethuel became the father of Rebekah. Milkah bore these eight sons to Abraham’s brother Nahor. 24 His concubine, whose name was Reumah, also had sons: Tebah, Gaham, Tahash and Maakah.
God’s promise to Abraham was to bless him and give him a secure future yet in this passage we find Abraham being tested with the very thing God had promised: his son.
When I am tested with the promises God gives me – when circumstances seem opposite to how I think it will be fulfilled or when an opportunity presents itself for me to make sure I get what I’m after – how do I respond? By not withholding Isaac, we see Abraham fully trust the Father to provide and fulfil His promise. Abraham did not worry about missing out or losing.
Can I do the same? Which do I hold more tightly to – the promised result or my relationship with my Heavenly Father? Am I more interested in receiving things that secure my future or am I more interested in the one who holds my future?
Only the testing will reveal my heart.
Father, again I am reminded that You are for me and want to bless me. Help me not to be so focused on outcomes and promised results but more on You.
Written by Gab Martin
9 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. 10 Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. 11 But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied. 12 “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.” 13 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. 14 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.”
I don’t like this story – got to be honest. I don’t like that God would put Abraham in that position. I get it that Abraham was the Father of Faith – the guy clearly had great faith and confidence in God. I get the author of Hebrews’ angle too – that God would raise the boy back to life (see Hebrews 11:17-19). But still – why would God test Abraham in that way? What if God tests me in that way?
Honestly, these questions are too big for me and I don’t have an answer. But one thing I do see – the obvious prophetic nature of the whole event. The clear pointing to a time still to come when a Father would offer His son as a sacrifice for me – in my place. And at that moment – that future sacrifice – there would be no reprieve. Jesus would take the full penalty of my sin – without any last-minute rescue.
Oh, the love and grace poured out for me that caused you, Heavenly Father, such immeasurable pain. And Jesus, for willingly taking all my sin upon yourself. What can I say – what can I do – but to offer my whole life in surrender and worship.
Written by Boudy Van Noppen
22 Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied. 2 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.” 3 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. 4 On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. 5 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.” 6 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, 7 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?” 8 Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together.
As I read this story about Abraham and Isaac I cringe. I think how could a father do this? It’s not right. How could he obey in this situation? How could God ask it of him? What sort of God is this? Why is this story told?
Then I am hit with this phrase..
“God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering.”
Jesus was a man. A real man. As real as Isaac. He was a son. A real son. A one and only Son. Just like Isaac. He was obedient. He carried his own wood for the offering. Like Isaac. But for Jesus (and for his Father, God) there was no other lamb. He, Jesus, was the lamb that God provided.
God did not and will not ask of any other father to do this. No father is to sacrifice his son. For no other son is perfect. No other son is unblemished. No other son could take upon himself the sin of the world. Only Jesus. Gods one and only son. The perfect man. The perfect son.
This is a prophecy. A prophetic story. A story told before Jesus came. A story to tell of Him, the Son of God who will come as a man and carry his own wood and hang on it himself as an offering for all. Taking away the sins of all, so that they might be set right with God and know Him. This is a prophetic promise story.
Thank you God for providing the lamb. Thank you for sending your one and only Son Jesus to die for me. Thank you for taking my sin. Thank you for making me clean. I believe in you. Thank you, that I now have eternal life because of all you have done for me.
Written by Ps. Zoe Stewart
22 At that time Abimelek and Phicol the commander of his forces said to Abraham, “God is with you in everything you do. 23 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.” 24 Abraham said, “I swear it.” 25 Then Abraham complained to Abimelek about a well of water that Abimelek’s servants had seized. 26 But Abimelek said, “I don’t know who has done this. You did not tell me, and I heard about it only today.” 27 So Abraham brought sheep and cattle and gave them to Abimelek, and the two men made a treaty. 28 Abraham set apart seven ewe lambs from the flock, 29 and Abimelek asked Abraham, “What is the meaning of these seven ewe lambs you have set apart by themselves?” 30 He replied, “Accept these seven lambs from my hand as a witness that I dug this well.” 31 So that place was called Beersheba,[a] because the two men swore an oath there. 32 After the treaty had been made at Beersheba, Abimelek and Phicol the commander of his forces returned to the land of the Philistines. 33 Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba, and there he called on the name of the Lord, the Eternal God. 34 And Abraham stayed in the land of the Philistines for a long time.
Abimalech, King of Gerar, was keen to make a treaty with Abraham. He has seen firsthand the way that God has protected Abraham and Sarah (in Gen 20) and also provided for them (Gen 21:1-7). It is clear to Abimalech that Abraham is living under the blessing of God. He can see the strength and power that such an allegiance provides and feels the threat that Abraham now brings to him and his people.
Abraham is not afraid to make a promise to Abimalech to deal honestly and kindly with him and his people. He also is confident that he is living under the blessing of a good God. He knows God has made promises to him and will fulfil them.
Am I that bold? Am I unafraid? Am I confident to step into situations because I know I am living under the blessing of a good God? Do I trust His promises to me?
What are God’s promises to me? God promises that He is good, that he is with me and goes before me, that He will strengthen me and give me rest, that He has a good plan for me and will provide for me, that he hears my prayers and gives me eternal life. The list goes on.
Now I just need to expect to see them come to pass.
Lord you are good to me in so many ways. May my heart be full of hope and expectation as I set out into this day. Give me eyes to see your blessings in my life and lips to tell of your praises.
Written by Jocelyn Petschack
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Carlingford High School Hall,
547 North Rocks Rd, Carlingford
NSW, Australia 2118