Food for the Soul
Food for the Soul
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
8 The child grew and was weaned, and on the day Isaac was weaned Abraham held a great feast. 9 But Sarah saw that the son whom Hagar the Egyptian had borne to Abraham was mocking, 10 and she said to Abraham, “Get rid of that slave woman and her son, for that woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with my son Isaac.” 11 The matter distressed Abraham greatly because it concerned his son. 12 But God said to him, “Do not be so distressed about the boy and your slave woman. Listen to whatever Sarah tells you, because it is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned. 13 I will make the son of the slave into a nation also, because he is your offspring.” 14 Early the next morning Abraham took some food and a skin of water and gave them to Hagar. He set them on her shoulders and then sent her off with the boy. She went on her way and wandered in the Desert of Beersheba. 15 When the water in the skin was gone, she put the boy under one of the bushes. 16 Then she went off and sat down about a bowshot away, for she thought, “I cannot watch the boy die.” And as she sat there, she began to sob. 17 God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. 18 Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation.” 19 Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. So she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink. 20 God was with the boy as he grew up. He lived in the desert and became an archer. 21 While he was living in the Desert of Paran, his mother got a wife for him from Egypt.
This passage always makes me feel sorry for Abraham. He is torn between Sarah and Isaac and Hagar and Ishmael, both are his sons. Sarah had some issues and this poor slave woman is thrown out of the house with her son and sent off to Beersheba. She feels at the end of herself and close to death for both her and her son. God hears her son’s cry. God speaks to her and gives her son a prophetic word “I’m going to make of him a great nation”. He speaks to both their futures in this desert. Here she is rejected by “her family” but God hears her. God is close to the broken hearted (Psalm 34 v 18). He miraculously ‘provides’; she miraculously ‘sees’. She and her son are saved from death and it goes on to say he is married.
Sometimes we have circumstances in our lives that are not kind, but God hears our cry. He provides in strange ways that we may not quite understand but one day all will be revealed and we will see things from a different perspective.
Lord I thank you that you also hear our cry. Lord no matter where we find ourselves, thank you that you have never left us and continue to provide and care for us. Help us to trust you and believe that there is a bigger picture to all that we see at this moment. Help us to be brave and stand on your word.
Written by Ps. Sue Botta
21 Now the Lord was gracious to Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did for Sarah what he had promised. 2 Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the very time God had promised him. 3 Abraham gave the name Isaac[a] to the son Sarah bore him. 4 When his son Isaac was eight days old, Abraham circumcised him, as God commanded him. 5 Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him. 6 Sarah said, “God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.” 7 And she added, “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.”
The promise of God to Abraham and Sarah is at last fulfilled! Such joy! You can sense the amazement of Sarah at the blessing of becoming a mother, especially as she is 90 (see Chapter 18 v 11-12). Sarah acknowledges God’s blessing in verse 6 and I like to think she meant to tell everyone who hears about it that this was of God.
I wonder why God waited until Abraham and Sarah were too old that they needed a miracle to have a child. There are likely many reasons but some of the most important for us are the timing was for his glory and to show his faithfulness. Abraham and Sarah couldn’t take the glory for the birth of a son at their advanced age – it had to be God. God was finally bringing about his purpose to make Abraham and Sarah the parents of many descendants. (It was promised that Sarah would be the mother of nations, that kings of people will come from her – Ch 17 v 16).
This all happened in God’s perfect timing. God’s promises are not diminished by us having to wait. One reason for God delaying the birth of Isaac may have been to teach Abraham and Sarah to rely on him through the waiting.
God’s promises are not always brought to reality fast. In the waiting I learn to trust in Him, to rely on his love and perfect timing.
Ultimately, Isaac’s birth shows the grace of God – it was not because of any thing Abraham and Sarah did, in fact despite many things they did! Jesus’s birth encapsulates God’s grace towards me. He was born in God’s perfect timing and not because of anything I had done.
Dear Lord, despite my ignoring and dishonouring you, you sent Jesus to save me. I am so grateful and always will be. Amen
Written by Claire Moore
20 Now Abraham moved on from there into the region of the Negev and lived between Kadesh and Shur. For a while he stayed in Gerar, 2 and there Abraham said of his wife Sarah, “She is my sister.” Then Abimelek king of Gerar sent for Sarah and took her. 3 But God came to Abimelek in a dream one night and said to him, “You are as good as dead because of the woman you have taken; she is a married woman.” 4 Now Abimelek had not gone near her, so he said, “Lord, will you destroy an innocent nation? 5 Did he not say to me, ‘She is my sister,’ and didn’t she also say, ‘He is my brother’? I have done this with a clear conscience and clean hands.” 6 Then God said to him in the dream, “Yes, I know you did this with a clear conscience, and so I have kept you from sinning against me. That is why I did not let you touch her. 7 Now return the man’s wife, for he is a prophet, and he will pray for you and you will live. But if you do not return her, you may be sure that you and all who belong to you will die.” 8 Early the next morning Abimelek summoned all his officials, and when he told them all that had happened, they were very much afraid. 9 Then Abimelek called Abraham in and said, “What have you done to us? How have I wronged you that you have brought such great guilt upon me and my kingdom? You have done things to me that should never be done.” 10 And Abimelek asked Abraham, “What was your reason for doing this?” 11 Abraham replied, “I said to myself, ‘There is surely no fear of God in this place, and they will kill me because of my wife.’ 12 Besides, she really is my sister, the daughter of my father though not of my mother; and she became my wife. 13 And when God had me wander from my father’s household, I said to her, ‘This is how you can show your love to me: Everywhere we go, say of me, “He is my brother.”’” 14 Then Abimelek brought sheep and cattle and male and female slaves and gave them to Abraham, and he returned Sarah his wife to him. 15 And Abimelek said, “My land is before you; live wherever you like.” 16 To Sarah he said, “I am giving your brother a thousand shekels of silver. This is to cover the offense against you before all who are with you; you are completely vindicated.” 17 Then Abraham prayed to God, and God healed Abimelek, his wife and his female slaves so they could have children again, 18 for the Lord had kept all the women in Abimelek’s household from conceiving because of Abraham’s wife Sarah.
For such an unusual story I found this passage quite convicting. Like Abraham not revealing his true relationship to his wife I don’t always declare my Christian beliefs to those non-Christians who are influential in my life.
Abrahams behaviour was driven by the fear of the king Abimelech, but what is surprising was the pagan king Abimelech’s behaviour was driven by the fear of God.
Abraham’s assumption that ‘there is no fear of God in this place’ was a rush to judgement, and although it’s true people often don’t have a fear of God, God’s response to our fear of speaking out can be seen in God’s vision to the Apostle Paul in Corinth;
9 One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Keep on speaking. Don’t be silent. 10 I am with you. No one will attack you and harm you. I have many people in this city.”
So, the question is, are you silent when you should be a witness for God?
Lord, help us in our fear and weakness to be more open and honest about our beliefs when speaking to non-Christians.
Written by David Newton
30 Lot and his two daughters left Zoar and settled in the mountains, for he was afraid to stay in Zoar. He and his two daughters lived in a cave. 31 One day the older daughter said to the younger, “Our father is old, and there is no man around here to give us children—as is the custom all over the earth. 32 Let’s get our father to drink wine and then sleep with him and preserve our family line through our father.” 33 That night they got their father to drink wine, and the older daughter went in and slept with him. He was not aware of it when she lay down or when she got up. 34 The next day the older daughter said to the younger, “Last night I slept with my father. Let’s get him to drink wine again tonight, and you go in and sleep with him so we can preserve our family line through our father.” 35 So they got their father to drink wine that night also, and the younger daughter went in and slept with him. Again he was not aware of it when she lay down or when she got up. 36 So both of Lot’s daughters became pregnant by their father. 37 The older daughter had a son, and she named him Moab; he is the father of the Moabites of today. 38 The younger daughter also had a son, and she named him Ben-Ammi; he is the father of the Ammonites of today.
What a messy recount this is. As real as it is unfortunate. What different decisions could Lot have made as a father in his earlier days that would have resulted in a much healthier set of events than the ones that transpire here?
The truth of it is my decisions can and will have messy consequences if I’m not careful. I’m sure Lot would have shuddered at the thought had he been exposed in his imagination to seeing these events as the future consequence of his decision making process at that earlier time.
I must learn the wisdom that is offered in this part of the scripture that comes in the form of a stark retelling of a sad episode in Lots life. My decisions now will have future consequences. Especially the more significant ones I choose to make or not to make.
I must learn to make these decisions with a clear sense of reliance upon and fear of God (reverence), as well as with a clear as possible awareness of the people I will impact in the making of these decisions.
God, grant me your wisdom and grace I pray, amen.
Written by Ps. Rob Waugh
14 So Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who were pledged to marry[a] his daughters. He said, “Hurry and get out of this place, because the Lord is about to destroy the city!” But his sons-in-law thought he was joking. 15 With the coming of dawn, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Hurry! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away when the city is punished.” 16 When he hesitated, the men grasped his hand and the hands of his wife and of his two daughters and led them safely out of the city, for the Lord was merciful to them. 17 As soon as they had brought them out, one of them said, “Flee for your lives! Don’t look back, and don’t stop anywhere in the plain! Flee to the mountains or you will be swept away!” 18 But Lot said to them, “No, my lords, please! 19 Your servant has found favor in your eyes, and you have shown great kindness to me in sparing my life. But I can’t flee to the mountains; this disaster will overtake me, and I’ll die. 20 Look, here is a town near enough to run to, and it is small. Let me flee to it—it is very small, isn’t it? Then my life will be spared.” 21 He said to him, “Very well, I will grant this request too; I will not overthrow the town you speak of. 22 But flee there quickly, because I cannot do anything until you reach it.” (That is why the town was called Zoar.) 23 By the time Lot reached Zoar, the sun had risen over the land. 24 Then the Lord rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah—from the Lord out of the heavens. 25 Thus he overthrew those cities and the entire plain, destroying all those living in the cities—and also the vegetation in the land. 26 But Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt. 27 Early the next morning Abraham got up and returned to the place where he had stood before the Lord. 28 He looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah, toward all the land of the plain, and he saw dense smoke rising from the land, like smoke from a furnace. 29 So when God destroyed the cities of the plain, he remembered Abraham, and he brought Lot out of the catastrophe that overthrew the cities where Lot had lived.
So often I’ve read this passage as one about God’s judgement. The cities of Sodom and Gomorrah had become so evil in God’s sight that He could not even find ten righteous people in them (Gen 18:32), so He destroyed them.
But today I’m struck by God’s mercy. For the sake of Abraham He saved Lot and his daughters. But Lot did not respond to this saving mercy instantly. He had to be told repeatedly by the angels to flee. When he still hesitated he had to be physically led out of the city. Once out, he begged not to have to go too far from his old life, asking to stay in a nearby town instead. Despite all this his wife still looked back as they fled, back to her old life, becoming a pillar of salt in the process.
So often I’m like Lot. I get stuck in thought patterns that I know are destructive to myself and aren’t glorifying to God. Yet despite knowing this I repeatedly return to these old habits and still sometimes need to voice my thoughts to someone I trust to have them pull me out of them, pointing me back to Jesus.
Reading this passage today I praise you God that you are merciful and so patient with me. Help me to respond to you when you first call, loving the life you call me to more than the one I’ve left behind.
Written by Rhiannon Mellor
19 The two angels arrived at Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gateway of the city. When he saw them, he got up to meet them and bowed down with his face to the ground. 2 “My lords,” he said, “please turn aside to your servant’s house. You can wash your feet and spend the night and then go on your way early in the morning.” “No,” they answered, “we will spend the night in the square.” 3 But he insisted so strongly that they did go with him and entered his house. He prepared a meal for them, baking bread without yeast, and they ate. 4 Before they had gone to bed, all the men from every part of the city of Sodom—both young and old—surrounded the house. 5 They called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them.” 6 Lot went outside to meet them and shut the door behind him 7 and said, “No, my friends. Don’t do this wicked thing. 8 Look, I have two daughters who have never slept with a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do what you like with them. But don’t do anything to these men, for they have come under the protection of my roof.” 9 “Get out of our way,” they replied. “This fellow came here as a foreigner, and now he wants to play the judge! We’ll treat you worse than them.” They kept bringing pressure on Lot and moved forward to break down the door. 10 But the men inside reached out and pulled Lot back into the house and shut the door. 11 Then they struck the men who were at the door of the house, young and old, with blindness so that they could not find the door. 12 The two men said to Lot, “Do you have anyone else here—sons-in-law, sons or daughters, or anyone else in the city who belongs to you? Get them out of here, 13 because we are going to destroy this place. The outcry to the Lord against its people is so great that he has sent us to destroy it.”
In the previous chapter we have Abraham bartering with the Angels/God for the lives of at least 10 righteous people in the cities of Sodom & Gomorrah, although we are not told the reason for the pending destruction. In this passage we get the description of why, its raw & blunt; homosexuality of the men of the city.
Today this lifestyle is socially, legally & politically acceptable & charged with emotion. So what do I take from this passage?
I see Abraham in the previous chapter interceding with hope & believing the best in both people & God, I see Lot acting in protection, care & hospitality & I see God merciful yet acting in righteous judgement.
Lord may I be like Abraham & Lot being hopeful for your mercy in every situation, offering protection, care & kindness and leave any judgement to You who sees all our hearts through the cross of Jesus. Amen
Written by Suzie Hodgson
22 The men turned away and went toward Sodom, but Abraham remained standing before the Lord. 23 Then Abraham approached him and said: “Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked? 24 What if there are fifty righteous people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people in it? 25 Far be it from you to do such a thing—to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?” 26 The Lord said, “If I find fifty righteous people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake.” 27 Then Abraham spoke up again: “Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, though I am nothing but dust and ashes, 28 what if the number of the righteous is five less than fifty? Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five people?” “If I find forty-five there,” he said, “I will not destroy it.” 29 Once again he spoke to him, “What if only forty are found there?” He said, “For the sake of forty, I will not do it.” 30 Then he said, “May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak. What if only thirty can be found there?” He answered, “I will not do it if I find thirty there.” 31 Abraham said, “Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, what if only twenty can be found there?” He said, “For the sake of twenty, I will not destroy it.” 32 Then he said, “May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak just once more. What if only ten can be found there?” He answered, “For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it.” 33 When the Lord had finished speaking with Abraham, he left, and Abraham returned home.
Undoubtedly Abraham was aware what an appalling place Sodom was (his nephew, Lot, was living there). Chapter 19 leaves us in no doubt either. And yet he intercedes boldly for them with God.
I’m guessing this exchange is recorded here because I should pay attention to what Abraham is doing. Intercession for the people was one of the roles of a priest. Jesus (our ultimate high priest) intercedes with God for us (Hebrews 7:25). As a result, we become members of his modern kingdom of priests: we also have the role of interceding for people. Paul urged Timothy to intercede with God for some church members who had been expelled because their “faith has been shipwrecked” and they continued to speak against God (1 Timothy 2:1).
God’s response is significant here too. His anger does not burn against Abraham. He willingly receives his intercession. His judgement is not indiscriminate or unjust. But it can’t be dismissed: It’s an implicit part of his holy nature that loves justice. Sin can’t simply be tolerated. That is why Jesus had to take my place in judgement so that I could come into my place as God’s child.
The other side of interceding to God for people is to speak to people for God. ‘And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. 20 So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!”’ (2 Corinthians 5:18-20).
Jesus, speak into the appalling things in my life; and the appalling things in my world. Give me your compassion to speak, together with you, for and to those who still reject you.
Written by David Cornell
16 When the men got up to leave, they looked down toward Sodom, and Abraham walked along with them to see them on their way. 17 Then the Lord said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do? 18 Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him. 19 For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just, so that the Lord will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him.” 20 Then the Lord said, “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous 21 that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know.”
I find it interesting that even though Abraham lives close to Sodom and Gomorrah, even though he had (family) connections there, he is still set apart from that place. Sodom and Gomorrah are marked as places of sin ruled by rampant human nature at its worst. Abraham is called by God, marked as His, with a destiny that goes into future generations.
The parallel to my own life is clear. As a believer I am marked by Christ with a destiny set before me by the Father. Although I live along side the world , I need to be separate from the sin and degradation found there. That doesn’t mean I have no concern for those in the world- Abraham went on to plead for the righteous of those cities. I too can love and lift before God those who are in the world. But I need to be careful to keep my eyes on the path that God has set before me. In the world but not of the world, with a heart of compassion for the lost.
Heavenly Father help me to stay true to your calling on my life. Help me Lord to always honour you above all else. Help me to love those around me, to have a heart for the lost. In Jesus Name I pray. Amen
Written by Christine Knight
9 “Where is your wife Sarah?” they asked him. “There, in the tent,” he said. 10 Then one of them said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son.” Now Sarah was listening at the entrance to the tent, which was behind him. 11 Abraham and Sarah were already very old, and Sarah was past the age of childbearing. 12 So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, “After I am worn out and my lord is old, will I now have this pleasure?” 13 Then the Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Will I really have a child, now that I am old?’ 14 Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return to you at the appointed time next year, and Sarah will have a son.” 15 Sarah was afraid, so she lied and said, “I did not laugh.” But he said, “Yes, you did laugh.”
The birth of Isaac is connected with laughter. In fact, the name “Isaac” means “laughter.” Abraham had laughed in joyful faith when he heard the news that God would give him a son (17:15–18), but Sarah laughs in unbelief. Why should we doubt the promises of God? “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” Mary’s, Jesus’ mother, expressed faith in Luke 1:34, when she asked, “How shall this be?” Here, Sarah is saying, “How can this be?”
What happens when God promises something to you. Do you laugh in incredulity or in amazed faith? When Isaac was born Sarah did laugh in faith and joy (21:6–7) which suggests here repentance and growth. So even if we ‘miss’ it at the beginning, we can repent and receive God’s blessing with joy.
Father help me to hear and respond to your promises with faith – even when they are beyond my wildest dreams!
Written by Ps. Richard Botta
18 The Lord appeared to Abraham near the great trees of Mamre while he was sitting at the entrance to his tent in the heat of the day. 2 Abraham looked up and saw three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he hurried from the entrance of his tent to meet them and bowed low to the ground. 3 He said, “If I have found favor in your eyes, my lord, do not pass your servant by. 4 Let a little water be brought, and then you may all wash your feet and rest under this tree. 5 Let me get you something to eat, so you can be refreshed and then go on your way—now that you have come to your servant.” “Very well,” they answered, “do as you say.” 6 So Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah. “Quick,” he said, “get three seahs of the finest flour and knead it and bake some bread.” 7 Then he ran to the herd and selected a choice, tender calf and gave it to a servant, who hurried to prepare it. 8 He then brought some curds and milk and the calf that had been prepared, and set these before them. While they ate, he stood near them under a tree.
What amazing hospitality Abraham shows his guests. It says he was resting in the shade in the heat of the day, but after the guests arrive he is on a mission. The word ‘hurried’ is used three times, as well as ‘quick’ and ‘he ran to’. Abraham treats the needs of his guests as an urgent priority and so communicates to these guests that they are supremely important. He serves the guests his best – bread from the finest flour, curds and milk (at that time much more generous and desirable than water) and freshly cooked meat.
Am I hospitable like Abraham? Am I prepared to be interrupted, to be uncomfortable and give my best to others? Do I see it as an incredible opportunity to serve others? Do I catch Abraham’s sense of urgency and excitement? Do I employ my thinking and resources to ensure the comfort and refreshment of others?
God, please help me to be like Abraham. Help me to see the opportunity to serve and show hospitality as a privilege. Where I have underestimated the significance of caring for people’s needs please lift up my eyes again. Abraham was serving God and he did not know it, but may I serve people knowing that as I love others I am serving and loving you. Amen.
Written by Ps. Bethany Waugh
15 God also said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you are no longer to call her Sarai; her name will be Sarah. 16 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.” 17 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?” 18 And Abraham said to God, “If only Ishmael might live under your blessing!” 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. 20 And as for Ishmael, I have heard you: I will surely bless him; I will make him fruitful and will greatly increase his numbers. He will be the father of twelve rulers, and I will make him into a great nation. 21 But my covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you by this time next year.” 22 When he had finished speaking with Abraham, God went up from him. 23 On that very day Abraham took his son Ishmael and all those born in his household or bought with his money, every male in his household, and circumcised them, as God told him. 24 Abraham was ninety-nine years old when he was circumcised, 25 and his son Ishmael was thirteen; 26 Abraham and his son Ishmael were both circumcised on that very day. 27 And every male in Abraham’s household, including those born in his household or bought from a foreigner, was circumcised with him.
“What’s in a name?” Shakespeare famously asked. Apparently quite a lot in God’s eyes, as He makes a very specific point to change Sarai’s name to Sarah here.
Sarai is translated “my princess” (over a specific family), whereas Sarah may be translated as “Princess” in general, or “Princess over many”, indicating the new role that God was assigning her.
As a little girl I grew up being very aware that I was my daddy’s little princess. But I have a very clear memory from when I was about 20 years old and received the revelation that God called me a Princess – a daughter of the King of Kings. It revolutionised the way that I viewed myself, my destiny and my purpose in life.
I grew up in a small town, and my vision for my life was not much bigger than my own small community. But when I received this revelation of my high calling, I could see that God’s purposes for me were so much bigger than just the family I grew up in, or the town where I lived. God has called me to build His Kingdom and called me to the whole world.
What an honour to be part of God’s Kingdom and His plan. May I leave behind small mindedness and live according to His destiny for my life.
Written by Shelley Witt
9 Then God said to Abraham, “As for you, you must keep my covenant, you and your descendants after you for the generations to come. 10 This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you, the covenant you are to keep: Every male among you shall be circumcised. 11 You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you. 12 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. 13 Whether born in your household or bought with your money, they must be circumcised. My covenant in your flesh is to be an everlasting covenant. 14 Any uncircumcised male, who has not been circumcised in the flesh, will be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.”
God has just finished telling Abram all the wonderful things that he was going to do for him, and it’s not a small thing either to be the father of a mighty nation. But in this passage, God then tells Abram what his part is going to be and in the NLT it says that “Your part of the agreement is to obey the terms of the covenant. You and all your descendants have this continual responsibility.”
Obedience is not just a once off event, like a box to be ticked. God’s requirement of us is not just to say that we have obeyed him, but to say that we are obeying him. Obedience to God is meant to be continual, a lifestyle. This is what sets us apart as God’s people.
God takes it a step further. If anyone does not bear the mark, in other words refuses to be obedient they will be cut of from the covenant family. That is what our obedience means to God. To obey God is to be a part of his family. Jesus said in John 15:15 if you love me you will obey me. Our obedience to God, is proof that we love God, and means that we are a part of his family.
How do I make sure that I always obey God? As David said, by keeping his Word in my heart (Ps 119).
Father I thank you for all the wonderful things that you have promised for me. I choose to be obedient and to keep your Word in my heart always.
Written by Andrew Martin
17 When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty; walk before me faithfully and be blameless. 2 Then I will make my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers.” 3 Abram fell facedown, and God said to him, 4 “As for me, this is my covenant with you: You will be the father of many nations. 5 No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations. 6 I will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you. 7 I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. 8 The whole land of Canaan, where you now reside as a foreigner, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God.”
As I read this passage, I have just been reflecting on one of the sessions from the C3 Presence conference.
In the session, Chris Hodges from a church in America, was sharing on 4 things that will grow me closer to God. They were:
1) Get connected to God (salvation)
2) Get free from slavery (sanctification)
3) Connect with others (church and connect group community)
4) Make a difference (service)
He promised that these 4 steps are found right throughout scripture and I was surprised to find them here in this passage!
1) I AM the LORD almighty
2) walk beside me faithfully and with righteousness
3) I will make you the father of many nations
4) There will be an everlasting covenant between you and your descendants (that you will need to maintain)
Also under point 4 from a different passage is the promise that all nations on earth will be blessed because of the blessing that is on Abraham.
Lord, I praise you today because you have made a way for Abraham and a way for me to live a life that has an incredible relationship with you.
Written by Ps. Justin Ware
16 Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian slave named Hagar; 2 so she said to Abram, “The Lord has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my slave; perhaps I can build a family through her.” Abram agreed to what Sarai said. 3 So after Abram had been living in Canaan ten years, Sarai his wife took her Egyptian slave Hagar and gave her to her husband to be his wife. 4 He slept with Hagar, and she conceived. When she knew she was pregnant, she began to despise her mistress. 5 Then Sarai said to Abram, “You are responsible for the wrong I am suffering. I put my slave in your arms, and now that she knows she is pregnant, she despises me. May the Lord judge between you and me.” 6 “Your slave is in your hands,” Abram said. “Do with her whatever you think best.” Then Sarai mistreated Hagar; so she fled from her. 7 The angel of the Lord found Hagar near a spring in the desert; it was the spring that is beside the road to Shur. 8 And he said, “Hagar, slave of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?” “I’m running away from my mistress Sarai,” she answered. 9 Then the angel of the Lord told her, “Go back to your mistress and submit to her.” 10 The angel added, “I will increase your descendants so much that they will be too numerous to count.” 11 The angel of the Lord also said to her: “You are now pregnant and you will give birth to a son. You shall name him Ishmael, for the Lord has heard of your misery. 12 He will be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers.” 13 She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.” 14 That is why the well was called Beer Lahai Roi; it is still there, between Kadesh and Bered. 15 So Hagar bore Abram a son, and Abram gave the name Ishmael to the son she had borne. 16 Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore him Ishmael.
This is just a bad idea. What was Sarai thinking?! She suggested that her husband sleep with her maidservant, Hagar, in order to produce an heir, yet when this plan works and Hagar is pregnant, Sarai is upset. What did you think would happen Sarai?? This is so messy. You wanted an heir but at what cost?
What was Sarai motivated by? Was it out of guilt and shame because she was barren? Did she want to help her husband “save face” amongst society? Did she want to secure their livelihood/future by having children? Whatever the reason, Sarai seemed ruled by her fears.
So while this may obviously seem like a bad plan, I wonder how often am I motivated by my own feelings and self-preservation? What “reasonable” plans am I blinded to because I am motivated to take care of something to make sure it happens?
Lord, may I not make hasty decisions in order to make dreams and plans happen as I think they should. May I seek wise counsel and Your guidance. Lead me Lord, I pray.
Written by Gab Martin
7 He also said to him, “I am the Lord, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to take possession of it.” 8 But Abram said, “Sovereign Lord, how can I know that I will gain possession of it?” 9 So the Lord said to him, “Bring me a heifer, a goat and a ram, each three years old, along with a dove and a young pigeon.” 10 Abram brought all these to him, cut them in two and arranged the halves opposite each other; the birds, however, he did not cut in half. 11 Then birds of prey came down on the carcasses, but Abram drove them away. 12 As the sun was setting, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a thick and dreadful darkness came over him. 13 Then the Lord said to him, “Know for certain that for four hundred years your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own and that they will be enslaved and mistreated there. 14 But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions. 15 You, however, will go to your ancestors in peace and be buried at a good old age. 16 In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure.” 17 When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking firepot with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces. 18 On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram and said, “To your descendants I give this land, from the Wadi of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates— 19 the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, 20 Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, 21 Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites and Jebusites.”
“He also said…”
What would Abram have missed out on had he not have stayed for the “He also said…” – for the next bit?
Because the bit before was pretty fantastic…
I’m going to give you a son and you’re going to have a huge family!
Awesome! But God continues in verse 7…
“And I’m going to give you this whole land!”
Plus, God gave Abram exact details of what will happen in Egypt, the exodus and God’s deliverance.
Plus, God appeared to Abram with a burning pot and blazing torch and made a covenant with him – a promise, written in blood, to give Abram the land.
And this was a picture of a new covenant that was on its way. It was also written in blood but this time it would be Jesus’. It would be by faith in God just like the first one was with Abram. And it would mean an eternal land for me when I repent of my sin and rest my faith on Jesus. That’s so amazing!
Lord, thank you for this new covenant, written in the blood of Jesus, that saves my life. Help me live every day in the sure hope of your promises that will never be broken. Hope me to stay long enough to hear and receive all you long to tell me. Amen
Written by Boudy VanNoppen
15 After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.” 2 But Abram said, “Sovereign Lord, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?” 3 And Abram said, “You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir.” 4 Then the word of the Lord came to him: “This man will not be your heir, but a son who is your own flesh and blood will be your heir.” 5 He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” 6 Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness.
“After this” – Abram was a busy man, yet the cry of his heart, his unanswered prayer weighs heavy on his heart. I think so often we all feel like that. We have followed and done things for the Lord, and yet we hold these ‘cries in our heart’ for answers to our prayers. We cry out for what is not yet realised. However, God speaks to Abram and His God says to him – “Don’t be afraid”.
As I read this passage, I believe that this is the word for us today. DON’T BE AFRAID. God holds our future – when this becomes our realisation – we can rest in trust. God hears our prayers. We see The Lord speaks to Abram a promise, a vision of the future and a miraculous answer to his prayers. Abram is known as “God’s friend”.
Lord help us to continue to pray, believe and trust for answers to our prayers. May your truth rest on us and may each of us take to heart “don’t be afraid”. We thank you Lord that your love overcomes our fears.
Written by Ps. Sue Botta
17 After Abram returned from defeating Kedorlaomer and the kings allied with him, the king of Sodom came out to meet him in the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley). 18 Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, 19 and he blessed Abram, saying, “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. 20 And praise be to God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand.” Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything. 21 The king of Sodom said to Abram, “Give me the people and keep the goods for yourself.” 22 But Abram said to the king of Sodom, “With raised hand I have sworn an oath to the Lord, God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth, 23 that I will accept nothing belonging to you, not even a thread or the strap of a sandal, so that you will never be able to say, ‘I made Abram rich.’ 24 I will accept nothing but what my men have eaten and the share that belongs to the men who went with me—to Aner, Eshkol and Mamre. Let them have their share.”
This passage is a great reflection on Abram and his character.
Firstly, after returning from rescuing his nephew Lot, he is greeted by Melchizedek who brings him bread and wine and then blesses him. Instead of sharing this experience with others around him, Abram responds by giving him a tenth of everything. This displays the generosity God has placed in Abram’s heart. The passage is not clear what he gave or how much this was, yet it shows that he chose to give back part of what he has been given. This is a good reminder of the importance of tithing. We choose to give back to God what he has blessed us with.
Secondly, Abram displays his devotion and integrity to God by declaring he would rather lose the riches he had been given than make an alliance with the king of Sodom (verse 23-24). This shows his faithfulness, his loyalty and his heart for God and his people.
Father I pray that you continue to teach me about living a generous life. Help me not to hold on tightly to what you have given me, but to use this for your Kingdom and your goodness. May I always stay true to your word and not be focused on the riches of this world, but your eternal glory. Amen
Written by Rachel Tomc
14 At the time when Amraphel was king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Kedorlaomer king of Elam and Tidal king of Goyim, 2 these kings went to war against Bera king of Sodom, Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, Shemeber king of Zeboyim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar). 3 All these latter kings joined forces in the Valley of Siddim (that is, the Dead Sea Valley). 4 For twelve years they had been subject to Kedorlaomer, but in the thirteenth year they rebelled. 5 In the fourteenth year, Kedorlaomer and the kings allied with him went out and defeated the Rephaites in Ashteroth Karnaim, the Zuzites in Ham, the Emites in Shaveh Kiriathaim 6 and the Horites in the hill country of Seir, as far as El Paran near the desert. 7 Then they turned back and went to En Mishpat (that is, Kadesh), and they conquered the whole territory of the Amalekites, as well as the Amorites who were living in Hazezon Tamar. 8 Then the king of Sodom, the king of Gomorrah, the king of Admah, the king of Zeboyim and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar) marched out and drew up their battle lines in the Valley of Siddim 9 against Kedorlaomer king of Elam, Tidal king of Goyim, Amraphel king of Shinar and Arioch king of Ellasar—four kings against five. 10 Now the Valley of Siddim was full of tar pits, and when the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, some of the men fell into them and the rest fled to the hills. 11 The four kings seized all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah and all their food; then they went away. 12 They also carried off Abram’s nephew Lot and his possessions, since he was living in Sodom. 13 A man who had escaped came and reported this to Abram the Hebrew. Now Abram was living near the great trees of Mamre the Amorite, a brother of Eshkol and Aner, all of whom were allied with Abram. 14 When Abram heard that his relative had been taken captive, he called out the 318 trained men born in his household and went in pursuit as far as Dan. 15 During the night Abram divided his men to attack them and he routed them, pursuing them as far as Hobah, north of Damascus. 16 He recovered all the goods and brought back his relative Lot and his possessions, together with the women and the other people.
Abraham’s nephew, Lot was captured during a time of rebellion and war. A time where fighting, invading, capturing, escaping and conquering were aplenty. Fortunately for Lot, Abraham was able to rescue him and other captives as well as recovering their possessions.
What strikes me here is that Abram was in a position to rescue his nephew Lot straight away. Men from his own household were already trained, all they needed was to be mobilized. Lot was caught in a predicament through his own foolishness and was wonderfully rescued and restored through the ready actions of his uncle. It’s a picture of God the Father rescuing his children from situations they themselves have engineered. Life is often a battle front but our God is well equipped to reach down and save us from our sins and bring restoration. I love how the Scripture says that in addition to Lot being returned, all goods were recovered and all the women and captives were returned. Victory was complete!
Thank you Lord that your arm is not too weak to save. Thank you for rescuing and restoring my life. You are a good Father. Amen
Written by Ps. Ainslie Woods
14 The Lord said to Abram after Lot had parted from him, “Look around from where you are, to the north and south, to the east and west. 15 All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever. 16 I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth, so that if anyone could count the dust, then your offspring could be counted. 17 Go, walk through the length and breadth of the land, for I am giving it to you.” 18 So Abram went to live near the great trees of Mamre at Hebron, where he pitched his tents. There he built an altar to the Lord.
After giving Lot the first choice of the land in which he will settle, Abram seems to have ended up with the second best – the hill country of Canaan. God however honours Abram, renewing his earlier promise of Chapter 12 v 7. He will bless Abram with multitudes of descendants. I think he was also positioning Abram to be the rescuer of Lot in Chapter 14 and to ultimately stand in the gap for Lot and his family in Chapter 18.
Abram’s response is to act in faith, by choosing Hebron and building a place of worship and sacrifice. This act publicly acknowledges that God is king and is a God to be trusted. His life is lined up with God’s purposes.
My response to God should be the same. Whether there are struggles, blessings or new challenges, my response is to be living by faith, acknowledging publicly that God is my king and my future is with Him.
I am writing this a week after the Sri Lankan church bombings on Easter Sunday. These events challenge my faith. Abram faced difficult events (famine, conflict with Lot, years of wandering in hostile lands, being on the receiving end of Pharaoh’s wrath) none of which seemed to line up with the promise of God that he would be a great nation (Chapter 12 v 1-3). Through it all he continued to worship the Lord. Our response should also be to put our “altar” on the land to show we are his even when others come against us.
Dear Jesus, when I can’t see how events line up with your promises or purposes, I will however, continue to proclaim your love, and trust in you. Amen
Written by Claire Moore
13 So Abram went up from Egypt to the Negev, with his wife and everything he had, and Lot went with him. 2 Abram had become very wealthy in livestock and in silver and gold. 3 From the Negev he went from place to place until he came to Bethel, to the place between Bethel and Ai where his tent had been earlier 4 and where he had first built an altar. There Abram called on the name of the Lord. 5 Now Lot, who was moving about with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents. 6 But the land could not support them while they stayed together, for their possessions were so great that they were not able to stay together. 7 And quarreling arose between Abram’s herders and Lot’s. The Canaanites and Perizzites were also living in the land at that time. 8 So Abram said to Lot, “Let’s not have any quarreling between you and me, or between your herders and mine, for we are close relatives. 9 Is not the whole land before you? Let’s part company. If you go to the left, I’ll go to the right; if you go to the right, I’ll go to the left.” 10 Lot looked around and saw that the whole plain of the Jordan toward Zoar was well watered, like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt. (This was before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.) 11 So Lot chose for himself the whole plain of the Jordan and set out toward the east. The two men parted company: 12 Abram lived in the land of Canaan, while Lot lived among the cities of the plain and pitched his tents near Sodom. 13 Now the people of Sodom were wicked and were sinning greatly against the Lord. 14 The Lord said to Abram after Lot had parted from him, “Look around from where you are, to the north and south, to the east and west. 15 All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever. 16 I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth, so that if anyone could count the dust, then your offspring could be counted. 17 Go, walk through the length and breadth of the land, for I am giving it to you.”
This is a well-known passage in Genesis with a clear message. Lot had a big decision to make and chose based on natural appeal without ‘calling on the name of the Lord’ (v4) for guidance. Lot made his choice on what he ‘saw’ without praying beforehand and although initially positive his decision would later have serious consciences. In fact, Lot’s life and that of his family was ruined by his decision.
More than any other time in history society is asking us to make decisions based on visual appeal or immediate personal gratification. Like Lot we are being offered the abundance of possessions and appealing lifestyle that is like the Jordan river valley.
This has left me wondering how often I have made decisions without praying first. It is sometimes easy to forget when you are under pressure or faced with a very appealing proposition. Sometimes we are careful to pray about our big decisions but not the small ones or we pray and not follow the leading of our convictions.
I have found I am most likely to make the best choices if I carry an awareness of God through each day and that is most likely to happen if I put aside a small amount of time at the beginning of each day in quite prayer.
So, the question remains, how often do you pray before making decisions?
Lord, I ask you to help us to seek you for guidance when important decisions are to be made.
Written by David Newton
10 Now there was a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt to live there for a while because the famine was severe. 11 As he was about to enter Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai, “I know what a beautiful woman you are. 12 When the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife.’ Then they will kill me but will let you live. 13 Say you are my sister, so that I will be treated well for your sake and my life will be spared because of you.” 14 When Abram came to Egypt, the Egyptians saw that Sarai was a very beautiful woman. 15 And when Pharaoh’s officials saw her, they praised her to Pharaoh, and she was taken into his palace. 16 He treated Abram well for her sake, and Abram acquired sheep and cattle, male and female donkeys, male and female servants, and camels. 17 But the Lord inflicted serious diseases on Pharaoh and his household because of Abram’s wife Sarai. 18 So Pharaoh summoned Abram. “What have you done to me?” he said. “Why didn’t you tell me she was your wife? 19 Why did you say, ‘She is my sister,’ so that I took her to be my wife? Now then, here is your wife. Take her and go!” 20 Then Pharaoh gave orders about Abram to his men, and they sent him on his way, with his wife and everything he had.
From this passage we know that famine caused Abram and Sarai to live in Egypt. We also know that Abram truly feared for his life to the point of allowing his beautiful wife to live with Pharaoh. Clearly his fear for his life was very real and I can’t help wonder how Sarai got her head around her new living arrangements! They end up getting kicked out of Eygpt to boot.
Yet the preceding passage of Scripture lists a number of promises God made to Abram concerning his future ie. I will make a great nation of you, I will bless you, I will make you famous, all families of the Earth will be blessed through you etc. Abram was going so well – he’d up and left his family and country in complete faith and obedience to God. What’s happened then?
Famine or the thought of lack has allowed doubt and fear to creep in. Would God truly provide for him and Sarai or would he have to muddle through on his own? It would seem Abram made his own plan and God’s promises seem to have been forgotten in light of the circumstances faced at this moment in time. We see the human side of the “Father of the Faith” and that he was grappling with his faith in God as we all do from time to time. This passage is a reminder that God’s promises remain true regardless of what we face in life.
Dear God, thank you that you are completely trustworthy. Help us to believe the promises in your word. Amen
Written by Ps. Ainslie Woods
6 Abram traveled through the land as far as the site of the great tree of Moreh at Shechem. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. 7 The Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built an altar there to the Lord, who had appeared to him. 8 From there he went on toward the hills east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. There he built an altar to the Lord and called on the name of the Lord. 9 Then Abram set out and continued toward the Negev.
Abraham receives God’s promise of the land he is walking in whilst it is in the possession of the Canaanites. In other words, God’s promise was not in the slightest reflected in Abraham’s real-time circumstances. God’s promises do that – put us in a time-warp. God assures me of my future as if it is present, whilst I’m in a present that looks and feels nothing like God’s future. So would it have been for Abraham, so it is for us. This is the challenge of having faith in God, and gosh I find it a tension quite often in my life.
What Abraham does, though, is inspired. He makes a physical reminder to himself and his family that God really did speak His promise, right there, at the site of the great tree of Moreh at Schechem. Even the next morning, after having God visit him, Abraham (if he’s anything like me) may have had some assurance seeping out of him. But one look at the altar he’d built and an earthy assurance would have begun returning to him.
Here’s to building solid altars of remembrance to help me sustain my belief when my assurance seeps or my mind decides to play tricks on me.
Written by Ps. Rob Waugh
12 The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. 2 “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. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” 4 So Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Harran. 5 He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Harran, and they set out for the land of Canaan, and they arrived there.
Wow! Isn’t that what people want to hear now – that God says He will make you famous. It’s a thing isn’t it, for all of us – that we would like to be blessed and be famous without us putting in the effort to achieve something that is worthy of fame. But it will be good to read the rest of Abram’s story as we go through Genesis – it wasn’t as simple or easy as it sounds here. Abram believed God and was obedient to Him and headed off to Canaan with his family and household team. His life got complex when he did that – there were fabulous times of blessing and there were other times when things
did not go as he wanted – but Abraham’s obedience was a blessing on all the families in the world.
For most of us, we will not always see how people are blessed by our lives just like Abraham didn’t see all that came after. If we are trying to live in accordance with God’s word, we will be a blessing on those around us bringing God’s love and blessing to those around us. Following what God asks of us can be scary or hard work or not convenient but it is always worthwhile even when we can’t see the whole picture.
Thank You Lord that You do bless us – it may not always look like we thought it would – but You do. Help us to trust You Lord that You are trustworthy and that Your BIG picture – the one we only catch glimpses of – is an awesome one – full of love, character, richness, hope, peace. Help us to come to You daily to see what You would have for us to do. Build our faith more and more. Amen
Written by Therese Manning
27 This is the account of Terah’s family line. Terah became the father of Abram, Nahor and Haran. And Haran became the father of Lot. 28 While his father Terah was still alive, Haran died in Ur of the Chaldeans, in the land of his birth. 29 Abram and Nahor both married. The name of Abram’s wife was Sarai, and the name of Nahor’s wife was Milkah; she was the daughter of Haran, the father of both Milkah and Iskah. 30 Now Sarai was childless because she was not able to conceive. 31 Terah took his son Abram, his grandson Lot son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, the wife of his son Abram, and together they set out from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to Canaan. But when they came to Harran, they settled there. 32 Terah lived 205 years, and he died in Harran.
In Seth’s family alone, the knowledge of the true God was preserved and passed on. Ur of the Chaldeans was a centre of lunar worship. Terah’s family no longer worshiped the one true God but worshiped everything as god. This family who carried with them knowledge of who, how, and why the world and inhabitants were created had become idol worshippers.
This passage tells us there seemed to be no foreseeable future for this family. The barrenness of Sarah is an effective metaphor for the spiritual and physical hopelessness that was on these descendants of Seth. But God intervened graciously and there was hope again.
It’s important to not let our faith become subsumed by the culture around us. When this happens we can become barren in our spiritual lives and we can lose hope. We can forget God’s promises.
But remember, we are heirs to God’s kingdom. We are his children. Just as God intervened with Abram, God can intervene in our lives and his grace always brings hope and a life of abundance.
Father, thank you for your covenant of love and grace you have made with me through your son Jesus Christ. I pray that as you call me I will follow you. Amen
Written by Meredith O’Neil
10 This is the account of Shem’s family line. Two years after the flood, when Shem was 100 years old, he became the father[a] of Arphaxad. 11 And after he became the father of Arphaxad, Shem lived 500 years and had other sons and daughters. 12 When Arphaxad had lived 35 years, he became the father of Shelah. 13 And after he became the father of Shelah, Arphaxad lived 403 years and had other sons and daughters.[b] 14 When Shelah had lived 30 years, he became the father of Eber. 15 And after he became the father of Eber, Shelah lived 403 years and had other sons and daughters. 16 When Eber had lived 34 years, he became the father of Peleg. 17 And after he became the father of Peleg, Eber lived 430 years and had other sons and daughters. 18 When Peleg had lived 30 years, he became the father of Reu. 19 And after he became the father of Reu, Peleg lived 209 years and had other sons and daughters. 20 When Reu had lived 32 years, he became the father of Serug. 21 And after he became the father of Serug, Reu lived 207 years and had other sons and daughters. 22 When Serug had lived 30 years, he became the father of Nahor. 23 And after he became the father of Nahor, Serug lived 200 years and had other sons and daughters. 24 When Nahor had lived 29 years, he became the father of Terah. 25 And after he became the father of Terah, Nahor lived 119 years and had other sons and daughters. 26 After Terah had lived 70 years, he became the father of Abram, Nahor and Haran.
I was always confused by these genealogies in scripture because I never knew how to approach them or what I am meant to walk away knowing. However, in reading and researching this particular passage and the power of genealogies I realised that they are crucially important. It’s through Genealogies that God shows us how much he loves history. He shows us how he loves to work through family lines. In this passage it begins with Shem, who is Noah’s son and concludes with Abraham whose line Jesus comes from. I love this because it shows us how all the bible stories we know and live interwork and fit together in order to show us Gods big redemptive plan for humanity. This passage also shows us that God loves to involve every generation and imperfect person within his plan and purposes. We also see that God loves to work through families, which I love because as the Church we are one big family which God intends to work through and we get invited to take part and in his plan and purpose.
As we read this passage consider how crucial it is to God that he includes every generation in his plan, showing us how he loves to work through human beings to bring his plan and purpose to the earth.
Lord, Thank you for your word. Thank you that you are loving, kind and so interested in every detail of our lives. Thank you that through your word you show us how much you love history and love to work through us your sons and daughters, to reveal who You are to the world. Help us today to remember this invitation and step out with boldness and courage to share who you are today through our words and actions. I love you! Amen!
Written by Ps. Annique Botta
11 Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. 2 As people moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there. 3 They said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. 4 Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.” 5 But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower the people were building. 6 The Lord said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. 7 Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.” 8 So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. 9 That is why it was called Babel—because there the Lord confused the language of the whole world. From there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth.
The tower of Babel is an intriguing passage, that has strong relevance to today’s world. In this story, all the people of the world spoke the same language and decided to build a great tower into the sky, to make themselves famous and to unite them. God sees this and is dismayed that their unity will make them too confident in their own strength, so He confuses them with different languages, scattering them all over the world.
At first read, I found this verse confusing – surely God would want people to be strong, unified and capable of anything! It almost sounds like a utopian vision of humanity. That is until you realise that God isn’t in the picture. If the people are so capable of doing whatever they dream of that they don’t need God to help them, then this quickly becomes a very bleak reality. Humanity is designed to be in relationship with God – we need Him in the picture, no matter how good we’re able to design our quality of life. We are also sinful by nature – so being fully unified and capable isn’t necessarily a good thing. Just imagine how corrupt and dark that city could have become if God had not stepped in.
These days, we are seemingly more ‘unified and capable’ than ever. We’re connected across the globe. We have instant access to one another and an increasing comradery around important world issues. We have technology which enables us to do almost anything – soon we may live in a world so automated that many no longer need to work. This could all be seen as a good thing, but only if God is in the picture. No matter how good we have it, we can’t forget where the goodness comes from. We need our Creator.
Lord, help each of us to not rely upon ourselves but to rely upon You. Even when we seemingly have so much of our lives together, help us to see the truth – that You hold the universe together, and it is only by Your grace that we live the lives that we do. May we never forget it. Amen.
Written by Ps. Matt Samperi
10 This is the account of Shem, Ham and Japheth, Noah’s sons, who themselves had sons after the flood. The Japhethites 2 The sons of Japheth: Gomer, Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Meshek and Tiras. 3 The sons of Gomer: Ashkenaz, Riphath and Togarmah. 4 The sons of Javan: Elishah, Tarshish, the Kittites and the Rodanites. 5 (From these the maritime peoples spread out into their territories by their clans within their nations, each with its own language.) The Hamites 6 The sons of Ham: Cush, Egypt, Put and Canaan. 7 The sons of Cush: Seba, Havilah, Sabtah, Raamah and Sabteka. The sons of Raamah: Sheba and Dedan. 8 Cush was the father of Nimrod, who became a mighty warrior on the earth. 9 He was a mighty hunter before the Lord; that is why it is said, “Like Nimrod, a mighty hunter before the Lord.” 10 The first centers of his kingdom were Babylon, Uruk, Akkad and Kalneh, in Shinar. 11 From that land he went to Assyria, where he built Nineveh, Rehoboth Ir, Calah 12 and Resen, which is between Nineveh and Calah—which is the great city. 13 Egypt was the father of the Ludites, Anamites, Lehabites, Naphtuhites, 14 Pathrusites, Kasluhites (from whom the Philistines came) and Caphtorites. 15 Canaan was the father of Sidon his firstborn, and of the Hittites, 16 Jebusites, Amorites, Girgashites, 17 Hivites, Arkites, Sinites, 18 Arvadites, Zemarites and Hamathites. Later the Canaanite clans scattered 19 and the borders of Canaan reached from Sidon toward Gerar as far as Gaza, and then toward Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboyim, as far as Lasha. 20 These are the sons of Ham by their clans and languages, in their territories and nations. The Semites 21 Sons were also born to Shem, whose older brother was Japheth; Shem was the ancestor of all the sons of Eber. 22 The sons of Shem: Elam, Ashur, Arphaxad, Lud and Aram. 23 The sons of Aram: Uz, Hul, Gether and Meshek. 24 Arphaxad was the father of Shelah, and Shelah the father of Eber. 25 Two sons were born to Eber: One was named Peleg, because in his time the earth was divided; his brother was named Joktan. 26 Joktan was the father of Almodad, Sheleph, Hazarmaveth, Jerah, 27 Hadoram, Uzal, Diklah, 28 Obal, Abimael, Sheba, 29 Ophir, Havilah and Jobab. All these were sons of Joktan. 30 The region where they lived stretched from Mesha toward Sephar, in the eastern hill country. 31 These are the sons of Shem by their clans and languages, in their territories and nations. 32 These are the clans of Noah’s sons, according to their lines of descent, within their nations. From these the nations spread out over the earth after the flood.
Verses 1 & 32 tell us that this is the family tree of Noah & his sons. It’s always interesting to me the actual path these genealogies take … and in verse 32 it also says from them nations spread over all the earth.
I think of my own family history & I can only go back 3 or 4 generations that I’m aware of without further investigation. Here for the first time, I’ve realised that I am literally also a descendant of Noah. Genetically somehow I’m a descendant of Noah. All these years I’ve read this as a ‘Bible story’ not really thinking through how this is related to me … verse 32 now gives me a completely different perspective. I may not know all twists and turns of the generations in between, but I am also related to Noah.
God places us in families. We are all apart of the family tree of Noah & his sons. I’m grateful that I have in my heritage, a man that was so completely obedient and faithful to God, we would not be here without him. Father, thank you for Noah’s faithfulness, and for his heritage in my life.
Written by Suzie Hodgson
Phone: +61 2 9875 0300
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Carlingford High School Hall,
547 North Rocks Rd, Carlingford
NSW, Australia 2118