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

Ishmael’s bio

20 ishmaels bio

Just as God had promised, and when Abraham was a hundred years old, Sarah bore him a son. Abraham named him Isaac, meaning, “He Laughs,” and circumcised him at eight days old.

“God made me laugh,” Sarah exclaimed with joy, “and everyone who hears our story will laugh too.”

Isaac began to grow, and Abraham hosted an elaborate feast on the day he was weaned from his mother’s breast. Sarah saw Ishmael laughing at little Isaac’s expense at the celebration, so she told her husband, “Get this slave woman and her son out of our lives. That child will never share in Isaac’s blessing.”

This made Abraham sad, because he loved his son Ishmael.

God said, “Don’t worry, Abraham. Do whatever Sarah says, because it will be through Isaac that your name will be carried. But because Ishmael is your son, I’ll make a nation through him, too.”

Abraham got up early the next morning, packed bread and water, and sent Hagar and Ishmael away. They wandered in the wild deserts of Beersheba, but they soon ran out of water. Hagar placed a dehydrated Ishmael under a shade tree to die of thirst. She walked about a hundred yards away, so she didn’t have to watch him suffer, and she wept in grief.

God heard Ishmael wailing for his life, and an angel spoke to Hagar from the spiritual realm. “What’s wrong, Hagar?” the angel asked. “Don’t worry about your son, because God heard his cry. Go to your son and lift him from the ground. I’ll make him a great nation.”

God led her to a well of water. She ran over, filled the water skin, and brought it to her son to drink.

God remained near as the boy grew into a man. He was an expert bowman and lived in the wilderness of Paran. Hagar found him a wife from Egypt, and Ishmael had twelve sons, who became twelve tribal kings. Ishmael lived a hundred and thirty-seven years.

Inspiration: Genesis 21, 25

Cruel mistress

12 cruel mistress

Abram and Sarai had no children of their own. Sarai wanted to pave a way for God’s promise to be fulfilled for Abram, so she suggested that Abram sleep with her Egyptian slave, Hagar.

“Since God has prevented me from giving you children,” she reasoned, “perhaps I can have a child through her.”

Abram considered this, and after they had lived in Canaan for ten years, Sarai brought Hagar into Abram’s bed. When Hagar got pregnant, she hurled insults at Sarai and behaved with an air of superiority.

Sarai lit into her husband. “May the tables turn on you! I offered you my slave as a second wife, and she became a monster. May God be the judge between us.”

Abram deflected. “She’s your slave. Take care of the situation however you wish.”

On that very day, Sarai’s treatment of Hagar became so unbearable that the slave escaped and ran away into the wilderness.

An angel of God approached Hagar as she trudged along a spring toward Egypt. “Hagar, where’d you come from?” the angel asked. “And where are you going?”

Continuing along the path undeterred, she answered, “I’m getting away from my cruel mistress.”

The angel stepped in front of Hagar, stopping her in her tracks. “Turn around,” the angel said. “Go back and submit to Sarai. As a reward, I’ll give you more descendants than a census can track.”

Hagar dropped to her knees and held her belly. How could she go back to that abusive woman?

The angel of God knelt beside her and said, “Your son will be named Ishmael, because God hears your pain. However, Ishmael will make an ass of himself and will have enemies all around him, including his own family.”

“And I’ll call you Elroi,” Hagar answered in astonishment, “because you’ve apparently seen God and live to tell about it.”

After the encounter, the well of the spring was called “Beerlahairoi” or “Well of the Living One Who Sees Me.”

Hagar returned to her mistress, bore Abram a son, and named him Ishmael. Abram was eighty-six years old.

Inspiration: Genesis 16

Dragon’s deception

02 dragons deception

The serpentine dragon cradled its head on the bough of  the Knowledge Tree and reasoned with Eve. “You look hungry. I heard you aren’t allowed to eat from any of Eden’s varieties. Is this a joke?”

Eve bristled. “We can eat anything except for Knowledge.” She pointed to the tree from which the forbidden fruit and the dragon’s tail dangled. “We can’t even touch that one or we’ll die.”

The dragon laughed. “Do I look dead?” He dropped to the ground and slithered toward her. “Don’t you want to know good from evil? That’s what happens when you eat from Knowledge. You become just like a god.”

Eve regarded the ample fruit sagging from the lowest limb. It looked vexingly desirable to eat.

“God knows that Knowledge makes you just like him.” The dragon’s voice trailed off as he slithered away. “God lied to you, friend.”

The woman plucked the fibrous orb and its limb snapped back. No sooner had she and Adam bit into it that each noticed the other was naked. Hastily sewing fig leaves together, they fashioned clothes to cover themselves.

God came to visit in the garden that evening, but Adam and Eve hid from him.

“Where are you?” God asked.

Adam answered, “I was naked and afraid, so I hid.”

“How’d you know you were naked unless you took from the Knowledge Tree?”

Adam admitted his disobedience but blamed his wife, saying, “I was content with figs.” Eve, her face downcast, blamed the dragon who happened to be slinking along the path at that moment.

God seized the dragon by its throat and said, “You’re cursed to crawl and eat dirt from this day forward! Humankind will despise you, and although you’ll strike him, he’ll eventually crush you.”

God turned to Eve and said, “Now that your eyes are open to good and evil, you’ll feel pain during childbirth. You’ll want to please your husband, but he’ll dominate you.” To Adam he said, “The ground itself is cursed since its simple provisions didn’t satisfy your lusts. You’ll bleed, sweat, and cry for your bread, ever wanting more, until you return to the dirt from whence you came.”

God’s countenance then softened. He brought out animal skins for them to wear, to shield them from the unforgiving elements that would soon befall them.

God’s beloved children had just experienced a most unfathomable blow. For their safety, he removed Adam and Eve from the vicinity of the Life Tree. If consumed straight from the branch, it would have caused them to live in misery for eternity. For extra measure, he stationed a host of armed spiritual guardians to block the way to Life near the east of Eden.

As the exiled family fled from the lush country, dejected and estranged, the dragon, having already consumed Knowledge and Life, followed closely by the light of a fallen moon.

Inspiration: Genesis 3