God provides

22 God provides

God commanded Abraham, “Take Isaac, whom you love, and offer him as a human sacrifice on a mountain I’ll show you in Moriah.”

Abraham got up early from a restless night’s sleep, saddled a donkey, and cut up some wood for the burnt offering. He took a couple of servants with him and headed for Moriah with his son. After three days of travel, he looked out and saw the place God had designated for the altar.

“Stay here with the donkey and supplies,” Abraham told his servants. “Isaac and I will go up, worship, and then return.” Abraham gave the wood to his son, while he carried the lighted firepot and the knife. They walked together up the steep hill to the place of worship.

“Father,” Isaac called out as they walked along. “We have fire and wood, but where is the lamb for our offering?”

“God himself will bring the lamb, son,” Abraham said, a lump welling in his throat. They continued to walk on together.

When they reached the right spot, Abraham built an altar and arranged the wood accordingly. Next, he bound his son and lifted him up onto the altar.

As Abraham brought the sharp knife close to the boy’s throat for a quick, clean cut, and with burning tears pouring down his face, an angel from God called out from the spiritual realm. “Abraham!”

Abraham halted the tremoring knife. “Here I am,” he ejaculated.

“Don’t harm the boy in any way,” he answered. “I know now that you fear God, since you’ve withheld nothing you treasure.”

Abraham cut the cords that bound his son and wiped the tears from his bloodshot eyes. He looked up and spotted a ram, its horns tangled in a thicket. Taking the ram, he put it onto the woodpile in place of his son and offered it up as a sacrifice of worship to God.

Abraham named the area, “God Provides.”

Once again, the angel called out. “God promises by his own name that because you’ve been obedient and not withheld your treasure from me, I will absolutely bless you and make your family members as numerous as the stars in the sky and sand on the beach. They will conquer their enemies, and by them, all nations will be blessed.”

Abraham and Isaac returned to the servants who were camping below. In the morning they got up and traveled down to Beersheba.

Abraham settled there, and word reached him that his brother Nahor became the father of eight sons, of whom, Bethuel became the father of a little girl named Rebekah.

Inspiration: Genesis 22

Parting ways

09 parting ways

Leaving Egypt, Abram had more gold, silver, and livestock than he needed. He and Sarai, along with his nephew Lot, journeyed on until they reached the place where Abram first invoked the power of God. To the west was an area later named Bethel, and to the east was Ai. The altar he had built remained, so he invoked the divine power again by calling on the name of God.

Lot was also a wealthy man, and soon the land couldn’t support both estates. Their respective shepherds often bickered amongst themselves, but when they started a turf war, Abram decided something had to be done.

Abram went to his nephew and said, “Look, I’m not going to fight with you, and I’m certainly not going to allow our herders to go to blows. We’re all family here.”

Abram put his arm around Lot’s shoulder. “All this land is ours,” he said, making a sweeping gesture across the vast horizon. “Let’s agree that if you go east, I’ll go west. If you go west, I’ll go east.”

Lot looked around. To the east, he saw that the plains of Jordan were lush and fertile. Their natural irrigation systems were reminiscent of Eden and its cascading rivers.

“I’ll go east,” Lot decided, and he spread his estate among the cities of the plains. He personally pitched his tent at Sodom, a town known for its wickedness against God.

Abram moved westward, bringing his people and possessions to settle in Canaan.

One day God said, “Abram, look up from the spot you’re standing on. Look north, south, east, and west. Everything you see will be yours and your family’s forever. I’ll make your children as numerous as the stars.”

Abram took up his tent, settled down south at Mamre Oaks in Hebron, and built an altar to God.

Inspiration: Genesis 13

Abram’s call

07 abrams call

From Shem’s family line, the Semites, came a man named Abram of Ur in Babylonia. He and his wife, Sarai, lived with his father’s tribe in Haran.

God told Abram to leave his father’s family and to head south. He said, “You’re going to be a great nation. You’ll be blessed, renowned, and you’ll be a blessing. Anyone who blesses you will be blessed, and anyone who curses you will be cursed. Because of you, every family in the world will have reason to celebrate.”

Abram took God at his word. When he was seventy-five years old, he packed his bags and loaded up his household, his nephew Lot, their livestock, and all the servants they had acquired in Haran.

Traveling through Canaan, they stopped at Moreh Grove in Shechem. God appeared to Abram and said, “This will be the land of your children.”

Abram had no children and knew his wife was barren, but he believed the promise and built an altar to God anyway.

Abram moved on a little further south into the hill country and pitched a tent. He built another altar and called on the name of God. From there, he and his small band of travelers continued due south.

Inspiration: Genesis 10-12; I Chronicles 1

Sea sick

05 sea sick

Noah let fly a raven through an access hatch he had installed before the flood, but the waters continued to swell for another five months. The raven, finding no place to land, returned to Noah and the rest of earth’s inhabitants.

Seven months after it all started, the mammoth vessel with its living, breathing cargo lodged itself cleanly in a cleft on Mount Ararat, and for three months the waters continued to drain outward into the seas.

After spending nearly a year on the vessel, Noah released a dove, but it too returned. He released the dove again seven days later, and this time it brought back a green olive leaf in its beak. After another seven days, he released the dove for a third time. It was never seen again.

Noah and his family lived in the floating house for a year and two months. Although the ground was still somewhat sludgy, they’d all had enough, so they exited and led the animals, birds, and other creatures out upon the sun-kissed mountainside.

Noah built an altar and gathered the seven pairs of split-hooved animals, as well as the seven pairs of birds. He slayed them and burned them up on the altar as a sacrifice to God. This gesture so pleased God, that he said, “I’ll never again curse the earth or destroy all creatures because of humankind. The human heart is inclined to do evil from a very young age. May the seasons endure as the earth endures.”

Then God made a new promise between himself and humankind. “Multiply yourselves and populate the whole earth. From this day, the animal kingdom will fear you, for they are now yours for food. I gave Adam and Eve the gardens; I now give you everything. However, do not eat the blood of animals. Blood is life. For this reason also, whoever causes human bloodshed will pay with his own blood. The image of God is encoded in human blood.”

Then God ordained a sign of his promise: “Whenever you see a rainbow, remember I’ll never again destroy the earth because of human evil.”

Inspiration: Genesis 7-9