Tag Archives: Abram

Genesis 23 – Dust

From ashes to ashes; from dust to dust.  Her time had come, and Sarah was no more.  After everything that has happened, it’s hard to imagine Sarah (Sarai) no longer being in the picture.  It’s also a signal that though one main character may be gone (and another nearing the end of his journey); a story may take a pause, but history stops for no one.

Life must go on, and Abraham has a responsibility to care for his deceased.  Even in a time of mourning, the work is never done.  Abraham sets about getting the appropriate final resting place for his wife and family.  He already knows what he wants and is looking for.  So he goes to make the transaction and we yet again see his mentality that he will not take what is not his.  He is offered the land and cave that he wants free of charge, but he insists that he will only take what he has rightfully paid for.  Its value resides in what its value is to the one who owns or is seeking it.  If a man is not willing to pay fair price for it, is it worth owning?

 

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Genesis 21 – Promises

What is it about promises?  We make them.  We take them.  We keep them.  We break them.  How much do they really mean?  What are they really worth?

For instance, God made a promise towards Abraham and Sarah that they would have a son.  He fulfilled it, and at the time that He said that He would as well.  Sarah finally received the fulfillment of God’s promise with the birth of Isaac.  Hagar also had received, and receives again a promise that Ishmael would become a great nation.  In this chapter God provides for her and Ishmael, taking a step towards the fulfillment of His promise towards them.

At the same time, other promises are, and are not made.  Abimelech, seeing that God blesses everything that Abraham does comes to Abraham seeking a promise.  He reminds Abraham of his kindness to him in regards to the incident with Sarah.  Abimelech had been righteous in his actions and dealings, so God had prevented him from sinning by sleeping with Sarah and he acted righteously towards Abraham.  So, knowing that God blesses all that Abraham does, he comes to Abraham seeking a promise that Abraham and his descendants will never deal falsely with Abimelech and his descendants.  Together, Abraham and Abimelech make a covenant with each other that neither would deal falsely with the other.  So the promise is made.  At the end of the chapter, we see just who Abimelech is.  He is a Philistine king.

We know, especially from Judges and Kings, that this promise is not kept.  The Philistines are the primary antagonists to the Israelites in Judges and Kings.  They attempt to make the Israelite people their slaves.  They even steal the Arc of the Covenant.  Their promise has no lasting value.

What’s more, is the promise that they didn’t make.  They made a promise with Abraham, whom God was blessing, but they never pursued a promise with the God of Abraham.  They were more focused on the things of the world that they ignored the very source of Abraham’s blessings.  They never pursued the true God.  That was a promise lost.

In looking at the promises and fulfillments; I suppose that the value of a promise is very much dependent upon who is making what promise, to whom, and why?  What promises have we made, and to whom?  Are we fulfilling our promises?

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Genesis 18 – Responding

I’m finding, as i do this project, that things that i have previously learned and assumed don’t always work out the way i expected them to. For instance, over the previous chapters we have been looking at the life and times of Abram. Now i know this story well, and i know that Abram becomes Abraham. I have heard and read it since i was a child. However, in spite of the fact that the transition occurred yesterday (Chapter 17), i am having a very difficult time making that transition in my mind and writing. I have gone to write Abraham, and i keep writing Abram. It’s very annoying. It’s just after having spent so much time writing Abram, it’s difficult to make the transition even though i have been prepping myself for it since i uncomfortably started writing Abram instead of Abraham.

That having been said, i was also very perplexed in part of this chapter. In Chapter 17 God tells Abram, to be called Abraham, that he will have a son through Sarai, now to be called Sarah. He tells Abram that this will occur in the same season in the next year. Now, God tells Abraham that within a year Sarah will be holding her baby, and Sarah laughs? She already knows that this is supposed to happen. Hence she has been being called Sarah instead of Sarai. So why is she surprised by the idea that she could/will be holding her new baby within a year?

Finally, i was trying to process the relationship between Abraham and God. Abraham is bold enough to question God and His decisions. He is confident enough to stand in the face of God and say, “You’re THE Judge. You aren’t actually thinking of destroying Sodom if there are 50 righteous people in the city. That would just be unjust and wrong!” Then God turns, actually takes the comment seriously, and makes clear his plans.

To me, it’s interesting the ways that God’s people respond to the things He says to and about them. How do we respond when God speaks to and about us? Do we laugh and doubt Him? Do we confront Him and seek / demand clarification? Do we even hear or acknowledge that He is speaking to us? Do we even recognize the freedom we have in our relationship with God?

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Genesis 17 – Abraham

To some extent, i really don’t understand this chapter. It just seems like a repetition of previous chapters with some more clarification. It doesn’t seem like there is too much of a need for it. God has already made these promises to Abram, but it almost seems as though He is making the promises all over again. Like somehow the first time didn’t matter.

I believe that this was just a reminder and clarification for Abram’s sake. After so much time had gone by (~23 years) it would be easy to lose sight of the promise and it’s promised fulfillment. So God took it a step further. He not only reminded Abram of the promise, He made it even more real.

God gave Abram a new name. Abram went from “exalted father” to Abraham “father of nations”. Sarai went from “leader / head / director” to Sarah “Princess”. The promise became even more real with the promise that Sarah would bear a son in approximately one year, and that God would continue to bless Ishmael. Of course, there was still the issue of circumcision, the outward expression of the covenant. The physical expression that would forever stand as a physical representation of the promise between God and man.

So, the question comes; have we lost focus of God’s promise for us? Is there something that God has told you that you have lost due to the busyness of life? What do we need to be reminded of?

Worthy of note as well, this is the first appearance of the name God Almighty (El-Shaddai).

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Genesis 16 – Whose Promise?

Genesis 16 is a lesson to us all. God had made a promise to Abram. That promise was going to take a miracle. There was no way it was humanly possible for Sarai to have a baby at her age. Yet God had told Abram that he would have a son. This could be seen as an opportunity, rejection, or false promise.

It could be a false promise (or disillusion) in that either God did say or Abram only thought He said, and that there was no real plan for the fulfillment of the promise.

It could be that God was going to bring it to fulfillment, and simply had not yet (which we know to be the truth). However, that seemed less and less likely every day.

Finally, it could be a rejection. God could have been making the promise to Abram while rejecting Sarai. This was likely the struggle that Sarai was going through. She was past the age of child birth, but Abram was not. She could not have children, but her husband still could. The promise had been made to him and not to her. He needed an heir, and she couldn’t provide it. So she did what she felt needed to be done to fulfill God’s promise for Him… and it was the wrong thing.

In Sarai’s defense, as far as we know, there had never been a single woman past the age of childbearing who had miraculously conceived. It was unheard of. Is that a valid excuse? No, not really, but it does explain her decisions. She knew what her husband and family needed. She knew she couldn’t provide it, so she did what she thought was the only feasible solution… and it backfired on her.

It also wasn’t fully her fault either. Abram listened to the voice of Sarai. He accepted her assessment and solution.

Ultimately though, the question comes back to us. What promises that God has made to us are we trying to fulfill of our own power? Are we trying to “help” God fulfill His promises, or are we resting in the promises of the God who promises and fulfills?

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Genesis 15 – Covenant

Everything changes… again.  God has taken the promise that He made to Abram and has taken it a step further.  This is not God’s first promise, nor even His last.  God has made many promises throughout the scriptures and in individual lives, and He always fulfills them.  But this is a bit different.

A promise is something that you make to someone.  It is a fact; “I will… to/for you.”  The honoree honors his promise because he made it.  It becomes valid due to the validity of the name and honor of the one who makes the promise.  If it is broken, it destroys the honor, name, and respect towards the one who made the promise.   Ultimately, a promise is a one-way street.  Two people may make promises to one another, but those promises are both one-way.

A covenant, on the other hand, is something you make WITH someone.  It is a relationship; “I desire… with you.”  The covenant maker honors his covenant because of the relationship.  It becomes valid due to the other person, and the validity of the relationship.  If it is broken, it destroys not only the honor, name, and respect towards the one who made the promise, but also the trust and relationship between the people and thereby the relationship with the self.  Ultimately, a covenant must be a two-way street.  A covenant broken not only destroys the relationship with the other, it also destroys the relationship with the self.

Covenant’s should never be made lightly, and the breaking of a covenant will always do as much (if not more) damage to the self as to the other.  At the same time, a covenant is the fulfillment of what it means to be a man (or woman).  We were formed and created for relationship.  We were designed for covenant.  In our very nature and purpose is a desire and need for covenant.  Covenant with God, but also with other people: “It is not good for man to be alone.”

Are we people of promise, or of covenant?  Do we exist for our relationships, or do our relationships exist for us?  God made covenant with Abram, and Abram with God.  We are a people of that covenant when we pursue (and are pursued by) God.  Have you pursued God today?

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Genesis 14 – Abram

So who is Abram, and what makes him so special?  This chapter, while mostly not about Abram, gives us a great picture of who he is and what makes him so different.

The majority of this chapter is all about politics.  Five kings came up in battle against four.  One king Chedorlaomor had subjugated numerous other nations for 12 years, these other nations ended up rebelling, a bunch of other stuff happened, and there was a battle.  Five kings came up in battle against four.  In the end, the kings and armies of Sodom and Gomorrah fled.  When that happened, the enemies of these kings came and took spoils of war.  As part of those spoils, they kidnapped Lot, his family and things, and a bunch of other people and goods.

Needless to say, Abram was not too pleased with this turn of events, so he set out to resolve the issue.  So he took 318 men born in his house and pursued the victors.  He got back Lot and all that was his, as well as the other spoils taken from Sodom and Gomorrah.

I found it interesting that through much of this chapter, Abram does what he can to avoid the politics of the day.  He remains neutral in any way he can.  He does not take part in the fight.  In fact, it appears that he avoids it.  He is not interested in getting involved in petty disputes.  However, when it hits home (Lot is taken) then he turns around, takes a group of men (much smaller than the armies he is pursuing), attacks and drives off the victors.  Then, not only does he not desire reward from those he helps, but he refuses to take anything apart from the food that his people ate (after he pays tithe to the King of Salem, priest of the Most High God no less).  Why?  Because he does not want the other kings to be able to turn around and say, “Look, I made Abram rich.”  He is not interested in politics and trading favors.  He is interested in what is just, righteous, and holy.  Are we more interested in what is right, or what we can get out of a deal?

Also of note in this chapter:  We see El-Elyon (God Most High) and YHWH El-Elyon (YHWH God Most High) used what appears to be for the first time in this chapter.  We see the Melchizadek king of Salem referred to as the priest of El-Elyon, and Abram tells the king of Sodom that he has sworn to YHWH (the LORD) El-Elyon, possessor of heaven and earth that he would not take even a thread from the spoils.

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