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

Eternal contract

13 eternal contract

When Abram was nearly a hundred years old, God appeared and said, “I’m God Almighty. Walk before me and be perfect. I’ll make my promise between us, and I’ll make you abundant.”

Abram fell on his face.

God continued, “Here’s the promise: I’m making you the father of many nations. Your name is hereby changed to Abraham, “Father of Nations.” Even kings will come from you. This promise is established forever through your generations. I’ll give you and your offspring this foreign land, that is, all of Canaan forever, and I will be their God.”

Abraham remained prostrate on the ground with his forehead down in the dirt.

“As for you and your side of the promise,” God said, “you and every male among you, through every generation, will cut off their foreskin. This is the way of the promise. When each baby boy is eight days old, including slaves born in your house or any other male purchased with money, they will be circumcised. Why? For the promise to be irrevocable, it must cut into the flesh. Anyone who has not had his foreskin cut off will himself be cut off from your people, because he will have broken the promise.”

Abraham remained still and silent before God.

“As for Sarai,” God continued, “she is now Sarah, and she will give you a son. I will bless her, and from her womb will come nations and kings.”

Abraham couldn’t contain a sudden fit of laughter. He muttered under his breath, “We’re too old to have children, and my wife is barren.” He lifted his head. “Bring Ishmael into the blessing.”

God answered, “Sarah will bear you a son next year, and you’ll call him Isaac. Through him my eternal promise will be secured, not with Ishmael. As for Ismael, I will bless him for your sake and give him a large family. He will be a great nation, the father of twelve kings.”

When God ascended, Abraham took his son, Ishmael, and all the male slaves born or purchased in his house, and he cut off their foreskins. Then he had someone cut his own foreskin.

Ishmael was thirteen years old when his foreskin was cut off.

Inspiration: Genesis 17

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

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