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

Negotiating terms

 

15 negotiating terms

The visitors finished the food that had been prepared by their gracious host, and then stood to leave Mamre Oaks. Gazing out over the distant waters toward the fertile plain of Sodom, the Master asked, “Should I hide what I’m about to do from you, my chosen one?”

The sun began its early evening descent, and a warm breeze wafted through the encampment.

“You’ll be a great and mighty nation,” the Master said, his eyes meeting Abraham’s. “Every nation will be blessed because of you. I’ve chosen you to teach your children and their children to keep my ways, to walk justly and uprightly. This is the way of the promise.”

The Master turned again toward Sodom. “Sodom and Gomorrah have brought their wickedness to new levels. I’m going down to see just how bad it has become.”

The two men traveling with the Master began their way toward Sodom, but Abraham stood on the path, the words of the promise echoing in his ears.

Then he asked, “Master, will you destroy the good with the bad? What if you find fifty good people in Sodom. Will you still destroy the entire city? In other words, would the Judge of all the world do what’s unjust?”

The Master said, “If there are fifty good people in Sodom, I’ll spare everyone.”

Abraham then asked, “Who am I to press the issue, but what if you only find forty-five good people? Will you still spare the whole city?”

The Master answered, “For forty-five, I’ll spare both Sodom and Gomorrah.”

Abraham continued, “Forgive me for asking, but what if there are only thirty good people in Sodom? What then?”

The Master said plainly, “I won’t destroy the city if there are thirty good people living there.”

Again, Abraham spoke. “What if you find twenty?”

“Then I’ll spare the city.”

“Ten?”

The Master put a hand upon Abraham’s shoulder and smiled. “For the sake of ten good people, I will spare the entire city.” Then he set out for Sodom.

Abraham went into his tent and slept soundly.

Inspiration: Genesis 18

Promise confirmed

14 promise confirmed

The glory of God appeared to Abraham one afternoon as he sat expectantly at the entrance of his tent at Mamre Oaks. Looking up, Abraham saw three men standing near, so he ran to them and knelt at their feet.

“Master,” Abraham said, “if you please, allow your servant to bring water for your feet and bread for your hunger. Rest under the shade tree awhile before continuing your journey.”

The men nodded. “Very well.”

Abraham called to Sarah and said, “Hurry, make three cakes with the good flour.” Then he ran over to his stockyard, took a tender calf from the herd, and gave it to a servant for preparation.

He served his guests roasted calf and cakes with butter and milk, and he stood by, serving them as they ate under the shade tree.

As they ate, the men asked, “Where’s Sarah?”

Abraham answered, “She’s in the tent.” He realized these strangers knew him and his family.

One of the men said, “I’ll be back when the time is right, and she will have a son.”

Hearing her name, Sarah put her ear closer to the entrance of the tent, and she laughed under her breath. She thought, Imagine an old woman and her lord having a child at our age.

The Master said to Abraham, “Why’d your wife laugh? Is anything too difficult for the Master?”

Abraham’s face grew solemn. He had heard this promise before and realized his guests perceived Sarah’s doubting. At that moment, he knew he was in the presence of heavenly beings on a mission to confirm the way of the promise.

“When the time is right, I’ll return. Your wife will have a child.”

Sarah came out of the tent and blurted, “I didn’t laugh.” She was noticeably shaking with fear.

The Master closed the case, saying, “Yes, you did.”

Inspiration: Genesis 18

God’s promise

11 gods promise

After Abram’s conquest and victory over the king of Elam, he stirred sleeplessly in the night, fearing retaliation.

“Don’t be frightened, Abram.” God appeared in a vision and spoke as if in the flesh. “I’m your protection, and your reward will be significant.”

Abram remembered the promise God had made when he called Abram out of Ur, so he answered, “But what will you give me? I’m childless, and my heir is my adopted son and servant Eliezer of Damascus.”

God’s voice was clear. “Eliezer won’t be your heir. Your own flesh and blood will pave the way of my promise.”

God led Abram outside of his tent and said, “Count the stars if you can. Your sons and daughters will be as many.”

Abram believed God’s promise, so God declared him righteous.

“I’m God. I took you from Ur to give you everything as far as the eye can see.”

Abram faltered. “How can I be sure it’ll be mine?”

God answered, “We’ll make a pact. Bring me a heifer, a female goat, and a ram, all of them three years old. Also bring a turtledove and a pigeon.”

Abram did as he was instructed, bisected them, and stacked each half onto the other. The birds he left whole. Abram guarded the sign of God’s promise against birds of prey, driving them from the pyre until he grew weary.

At sunset, Abram fell asleep and descended into a terrifying nightmare. The vultures circling overhead turned into captors of his future offspring, and he saw them carried off to a strange land for four hundred years. God said, “Your descendants will be slaves, poorly treated and beaten down, but I will punish the nation responsible. In the end, they will be adorned with great riches.” Then he said, “Abram, you’ll die at a ripe old age and will be buried in peace.”

Abram’s night terrors subsided, and he began to breathe easier. God appeared once more and said, “Your offspring will come back here and take the land in the fourth generation. That’s when the Amorites will have come to ruin because of their evil practices.”

The sky was black when a vision of a smoking firepot and a lighted torch passed between the carcass halves. He said, “I give this land to your blood relations, from the Nile to the Euphrates.”

The embers smoldered and the presence of God lingered into the next morning.

Inspiration: Genesis 15

Mythos rising

01 mythos rising

God’s Spirit brooded over the empty darkness. Then the first words, a simple command, vibrated the air.

“Be light.”

Light ignited the darkness, illuminating the vast and shapeless nothing.

God fashioned the skies out of the welling fountains below. This great atmospheric complex, not yet pregnant with its first rains, separated the earth from the outer heavens.

God formed lands and seas, and he caused fruits, vegetables, and other seed-bearing plant life to sprout from the ground. In the east, a lush garden called Eden flanked both sides of a rushing river. This river divided into the Pishon toward gold-laden Havilah, the Gihon of Cush, the Tigris around Assyria, and the Euphrates. Two large trees stood on either side in the middle of Eden, dwarfing all other vegetation. These were the Life Tree and the Knowledge Tree.

God made the sun, moon, and stars. He created sea creatures, land creatures, sky creatures, and he caused them to multiply across the earth. God then made a peculiar creature like himself and placed him in the garden. Like the animals before them, Adam, “Man From Dirt,” rose out of the earth. But unlike other creatures, he was given a spirit, animated by the very breath of God.

God gifted his crowning achievement with the freedom and directive to rule over the kingdoms of earth and all their inhabitants. Adam named the animals, counted the stars, tilled the land, and established order, but something was still missing. Noticing this, God caused him to fall into a deep sleep, took material from Adam’s body, and fashioned with it a suitable helper.

Upon waking, the man delighted in God’s gift. “You’ve taken from my own flesh and breathed life into another. I’ll call her woman.” For this reason, those who follow the Way of the Promise customarily join themselves in marriage, so that two rule together as one.

God blessed everything he created, and then he rested. For this reason, those who follow the Way of the Promise observe a day of rest and worship on the weekend.

Inspiration: Genesis 1-2