Gen devos 21-25

Daily reading: Read Genesis chapter 21
Food for Thought: The moment we’ve all been waiting for…
I know we are only 21 chapters into the book of Genesis, but ever since Gen 12 and the call of Abram, and the blessing promising descendants we have been waiting to see the fulfillment of this promise. Abraham’s call comes in Gen 12 and he is 75 years old, now in chapter 21 at the age of 100 (Gen 21:5) we read these words, “Now the Lord was gracious to Sarah as he said, and the Lord did for Sarah what he promised. Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the very time God had promised him” (Gen 21:1-2). Of course you already know the name of the child of promise, Isaac (21:3), and we know that his name means “he laughs.” For indeed the arrival of Isaac has brought laughter to Abraham’s household. Whoever would have thought that a man and a woman aged 100 and 90 would or could have children. This sort of thing was apparently marvelously strange in Abraham’s day as well.
But, not all of Abraham’s household was laughing! Hagar and Ishmael were not fans of Isaac’s arrival. In the grand scheme of things they had a lot to lose. Ishmael was after all the firstborn. The firstborn son was usually given the father’s inheritance, and now with the arrival of Isaac, Abraham and Sarah’s own flesh and blood, Ishmael was relegated from prince to pauper, so to speak. Abraham is made to kick out Hagar and Ishmael, and know this that this decision pained Abraham greatly (21:11). But the Lord wasn’t abandoning Ishmael. Even though the pain of eviction was fresh in Abraham’s mind, notice the Lord promised to bless Ishmael, “I will make the son of the maidservant into a nation also, because he is your offspring” (21:13).
Hagar was no stranger to deserts and deportation. Here she is again with her son, wandering in the wilderness and once again when the going gets to tough, she gives up. The Lord shows up in a powerful way once again to bless her, and comfort her and her son. In a powerful moment, sobbing and preparing for death, the Lord hears the boy crying (remember Ishmael, the “Lord hears,”) and speaks from heaven to remind Hagar of Ishmael’s future, for God promised to “make him into a great nation” (21:18).As if his voice, and comfort, and his promise weren’t enough, the Lord provides for Hagar and Ishmael. He opens Hagar’s eyes to a well (21:19). Remember our key word of “seeing.” Here Hagar’s eyes were opened, and she sees a well. When I read this little story, I am reminded that God is our provider. He knows what we need before we ask, and that even in the desert times in our lives, he is present. As Christians, we also can relate to this story of Hagar, Ishmael and the well. For Jesus himself is our living water. He refreshes us, pursues us, and doesn’t give up on us. So, let me ask you today, as you think about how God blesses you daily, what areas of your life are you most thankful for? Or maybe you feel you are in a desert time in your life? Ask God to open your eyes to his refreshing in your life. If he did for a slave woman, won’t he do it much more for descendants of the promised child?
Reflection:
1. What stood out to you today?
2. What is one thing you can take away from this chapter?
Prayer:
Daily reading: Read Genesis chapter 22

Food for Thought: The craziest chapter in the Bible…?
I think Genesis 22 is one of the craziest chapters in the Bible. Please don’t think I am demeaning the Word of God. I am not. It is powerful, effective, life-changing, alive and active. But, just bear with me for a few minutes… Abraham has waited 25 years for this child of promise, and now the Lord asks him to take him to the region Moriah and offer him as a sacrifice on one of the mountains the Lord will designate (22:2). Wow! What is more incredible, is that Abraham jumps up the next morning and begins to head that way with his son, his one and only son. This would have been a tough time for Abraham, he just lost Ishmael in chapter 21, and now the Lord is asking for the one thing that he has been waiting for 25 years. If you are a parent, imagine for just a moment about having to kick out one of your kids, and then you are told your time with your youngest is limited and that you would have to give him up too!
I love the tension here in the story. Abraham takes two of his servants with him, and his son Isaac and they set off for the region of Moriah. I wonder as Abraham is cutting the wood for the sacrifice what his thoughts were (22:3)? A three day journey later, and Abraham sees (22:4) where they are going. He tells his servants to stay put. Pay attention to his words, especially in light of a couple of things: First, Moriah contains the root word ra’ ah, or “to see,” so we should be clued into the thelogical implications of what may take place, also, the author here mentions that Abraham “sees” the place God told him about, and third, Abraham speaks of his and his son’s eventual return after they go and worship God (22:5). Even though God was asking Abraham for his most precious item, Abraham believes that both of them would come back!
More tension in the story is introduced, as dad and son hike together to the place the Lord had told him about, Isaac does what any of our kids would do, ask questions. Isaac doesn’t ask, “are we there yet?” But he is observant, “um dad, the fire and the wood are here, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” (22:7) You know Abraham had a lump in his throat when he answers, “ God himself will provide.” They finally arrived at the place for the sacrifice, and Abraham builds an altar, arranges the wood on it, and then places his son on the altar grips his knife, raises his hand and before he comes down with the knife, the Lord intervenes and halts the sacrifice. Look at v. 12, “Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son” (22:12). After the dramatic sparing of his son, Abraham notices a ram caught in the thicket and Abraham names that place “the Lord will provide” (22:14). In Hebrew literally, we would read, Abraham names that place, “the Lord will see to it.” Did you catch that, Moriah is the mountain of provision, or the Lord will see to it! By the way, this place will be the site of Solomon’s temple (cf. 2 Chronicles 3:1). How cool is that?
Reflection:
1. What stood out to you today?
2. What is one thing you can take away from this chapter?
Prayer:
Daily reading: Read Genesis chapter 23
Food for Thought: More loss for Abraham…
I know Abraham is far from perfect. As a matter of fact, his life is messy. He hasn’t always made the right choice, and yet somehow he is remembered as the father of the faith (cf. Heb 11). I think it is important to remember that journeying with God through life isn’t always going to go smoothly. My goodness, remember after Abraham received his call from the Lord in Gen 12 he was told to give up family and familiarity to go to a place the Lord would tell him to go. Once he gets to Canaan, he is told that one day his descendants would possesses this land, then there is a famine and departs Canaan for Egypt. But, in spite of the ups and downs of Abraham’s journey, he clung to the promises of God. And now he is seen some of these things come to fruition, he experiences more loss. In chapter 21 he is forced to evict Ishmael, in chapter 22, he faces the daunting challenge of sacrificing his son, and now in chapter 23 his beloved wife Sarah has died at the age of 127 (Gen 23:1). Abraham loved her dearly, and we see him weeping and mourning for his beloved. She has been a constant companion, friend, co-traveler with him all these many years.
I think chapter 23 is important in the portrayal of Abraham as man, as a husband, and a great lover of his wife. Notice, that he is concerned to provide an adequate place of burial for his beloved. He is able to broker a deal with the Hittites for the cave and the field of Machpelah near Mamre in the land of Canaan (23:20). This piece of ground was the first piece of ground that truly belonged to him in the promised land. Yes, Abraham set up his tents in several locations, dug wells and built altars to the Lord signifying the Lord’s reclamation of the land for his purposes, the bless the world through Abraham, but this place is the first place that truly belongs to Abraham. It is a place of significance and a symbol of the future promise that one day Abraham’s seed/descendants would possess the entire land.
I am also reminded that grief and loss are a part of life as much as joy and celebration. We are given but a few days on this earth, and my prayer is that we would have the attitude of Abraham here in chapter 23:4, “that I am an alien and stranger…” here on this planet. Let us remember that this old world isn’t our home. May we not get to comfortable and cozy here. Let us long for our future home, “for here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come” (Heb 13:14).

Reflection:
1. What stood out to you today?
2. What is one thing you can take away from this chapter?
Prayer:

Daily reading: Read Genesis chapter 24
Food for Thought: Isaac gets a wife…
This scene in chapter 24 is a type scene in Hebrew narrative, or what is referred to as a betrothal journey narrative. When these moments occur in Scripture they occur at a well, and there are number of similar features. The account in John 4 with Jesus and the Samaritan woman fits this same type of narrative motif (For in John’s gospel, Jesus is the bridegroom) And while there isn’t a marriage in the physical sense, what we read in John four is the messianic banquet. We, as the church are the bride of Christ. Let me share some of some of the narrative features:

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Usually a traveler, is a potential bridegroom. In this case the servant is looking for a wife for Isaac. The traveler travels to a foreign region, which in this case is the land of Abraham’s extended family. The traveler sits down by a well, and in this case, the servant of Abraham sits down by a well, and offers up a quick detailed prayer. Rebekah arrives, and is the ideal bride, and fulfills the specific prayer request of the servant. In these type scenes, the woman will offer water, which indeed Rebekah does. After the offer of water comes the revelation of the identity of the suitor, then the woman runs to get her kinfolk, there is a betrothal meal and a hopeful acceptance of the betrothal offer.

Isaac is the recipient of the Abrahamic blessing and for our purposes the continuation of the unfolding plot to bless the whole world, numerous descendants and the possession of the promised land. It is important for us to remember that through the seed of the woman (Gen 3:15) and the child of promise (Gen 17, 18, 21) that God has launched his plan to undo the fall and to reclaim his land and his people for his purposes.

Reflection:
1. What stood out to you today?
2. What is one thing you can take away from this chapter?
Prayer:

Daily reading: Read Genesis chapter 25
Food for Thought: the death of a patriarch…
Abraham dies in chapter 25. He was 175 years old when he died (Gen 25:7). His boys buried him. Before Abraham dies, he marries again. His new wife’s name is Keturah and together they have six sons. Notice, that Isaac is unashamedly the one through whom the blessing to Abraham would continue. Abraham sends his other sons away to, but doesn’t leave them empty-handed. And the story of the continuation of the blessing of Abraham of descendants is furthered with the news of the arrival of Rebekah’s twin sons Esau and Jacob.
An important element in the Jacob and Esau narrative is their conflict they have with each other. This conflict starts in the womb is seen in full force with the squabbling over the birth right of Esau. Esau is the firstborn, and as the oldest is set to be the recipient of the blessing of his father. But, in the economy of God, things birthright isn’t always important for the younger son would get the blessing and the older will serve the younger (Gen 25:23). What does it say about Esau though that for a bowl of stew he would be willing to give up his birthright?
Did you also notice the mentioning of Ishmael’s descendants? He is 12 sons, and true to the Lord’s word Ishmael’s descendants do indeed become a great nation. His 12 sons become the rulers of 12 tribes.
Just a quick review so far of Genesis or at least a review of how the book is sort of divided: Gen 1-11 is the primeval section (creation, fall, flood, nations); Gen 12-25 is the Abraham cycle; up next here in 25-26 is the Jacob cycle, and chapters 37-50 is the Joseph narrative. As you read Genesis take special attention to how these stories unfold. There are common elements throughout all these sections. The Lord is present from the beginning, in the lives of the patriarchs, and as Genesis comes to a close and as the story of the Exodus is preparing to begin, we see God working in the life of this one family Israel, but also having larger concerns (remember Abraham was to be a blessing to world), we also see the continuation of God’s plan to undo the fall by using Abraham’s descendants to be his agents for the good of the world. Remember, you are a part of this great story. God’s unfolding drama is a marvelous story. Are you a part of that story? If so, rejoice. Continue to let God write you into his story! If you aren’t a part of that story yet, it is not too late for you!

Reflection:
1. What stood out to you today?
2. What is one thing you can take away from this chapter?
Prayer:

About Jason Retherford

The random musings of a youth minister.
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