Genesis 20:1-22:24 ~ Matthew 7:15-29 ~ Psalm 9:1-12 ~ Proverbs 2:16-22
Today is the 9th day of January. Welcome to the Daily Audio Bible. I’m Brian. It is awesome to be here with you today for the next step forward in our adventure through the scriptures this year, and right now in the Old Testament we are tracking the story and getting to know Abraham and Sarah, Abraham being a very pivotal and important person in the Bible whose legacy endures until today. So from The Common English Bible, Genesis chapter 20, verse 1 through 22, verse 24.
Okay, there is so much to talk about today, so many sights and sounds along the path of the scriptures that we walked today. Let’s go to Abraham and Sarah.
So they’ve come back to the region that they were dwelling in and they go to a city named Gerar. This trick that Abraham had pulled in Egypt saying that Sarah is his sister, they did this again in Gerar. So Gerar is a place that still exists today. It’s just a mound. It’s only been mildly excavated, but it has been found and identified and that is where this takes place. So King Abimelech of Gerar runs the region that Abraham is trying to settle in. Because it’s a transition zone. It’s not like full-blown, barren, desolate wilderness, but it’s not rainy and wet and fertile either, it is like in this in-between zone, Abraham, having been a Bedouin, basically a desert person, is settling at least partially in a terrain that he understands.
So this “she is my sister” trick gets Abraham some more wealth. He’s become very wealthy on this, but the outcome is a treaty with the power of the region that Abraham can live wherever he wants to live. So Beersheba is settled with the digging of a well. Beersheba exists until today as a modern city, but the ancient ruins of Beersheba exist until today. Both of these places you can see in the Promised Land Films. Those of you who were just with us, my gosh, it seems like a long time ago, but just like a month ago when we were in the land of the Bible, you’ll remember being in Beersheba. This is where we’re talking about and it is from here that Hagar and Ishmael are sent away into the wilderness of Beersheba where God protects them and sustains them. It’s kind of from this Beersheba, this area that so much of world religion today, two-thirds or more of all world religion’s origin traces to this place through Ishmael, through Isaac, definitely tracing back to Abraham, the God of Abraham. So definitely an important geographical location on the map of the Bible.
But this promised child to Sarah and Abraham is born and he is named Isaac and he is the son of promise because he was a promised son. But there is a pretty difficult twist in the story that we find today because God comes to Abraham and invites him to take a little trip with his son where the end will be that his son becomes a sacrifice to God. Pretty difficult stuff, right? So you are 100 years old, you have had a son in your old age, the son is promised to be the father of many nations and through Isaac will be a blessing to all and yet this God who gave you this son is asking you to give him up as a sacrifice, which is ironic and certainly counterintuitive at best. Abraham, who has come into and become a part of a covenant with God, cannot and will not withhold anything from God. That is the deal. That is still the deal. But we’ll get to that in a minute.
So Abraham and Isaac, they do go toward Moriah which is now the place where the Temple of God would one day stand and the Temple Mount in Jerusalem now stands. So to contextualize this and put this firmly on the geography, this is where the Dome of the Rock is in Jerusalem, the big gold-domed building. Underneath that building is the bedrock of this mountain where Muslim people would argue that Ishmael was nearly sacrificed. Jewish people and Christian believers would argue that Isaac was nearly sacrificed because of what is spoken here in the Bible. So a holy site for sure and a contentious one at that.
The story itself is disruptive, because as parents, those of us who are parents, we can’t even imagine something like this. But Abraham obeys God and he brings Isaac. Isaac is starting to figure out like “okay, we have everything we need to do this except for the animal. How is this going to work?” By the time that Abraham ties up his son and lays him down on the altar that they’ve built together, I’m sure Isaac has figured out how this is potentially going to work. The only thing Abraham says is “God will provide.” And of course he does.
We can look at this story as kind of harsh, very disruptive, one of these points we can look at God and kind of see his ways as difficult and harsh and we can put ourselves in Abraham’s position as a father and it just kind of messes with us because it is supposed to. Because Abraham and God are in covenant with each other and they will withhold nothing from each other. What God has asked Abraham to do, even though he is calling the whole thing off, even though Isaac is never in danger, Abraham believes he is giving up his most valuable possession. The thing is, God calls it off for Abraham and then has to endure it himself. This is how our salvation is born because God did not withhold his son as a sacrifice for the human race.
So we can read a story like this and it can estrange us from God when its purpose is to allow us to see into the heart of God. We can imagine through Abraham what this must have felt like and how difficult a story like this would be which allows us to look into the heart of God and see just how profoundly he would not surrender his image, his creation to the darkness that they were creating for themselves and we begin to see the cost of this rebellion, the price of introducing sin into the human narrative, something that was never supposed to be a part of our story.
We all get the opportunity to be a part of this story, this covenant, this intimacy, this collaboration with God. But it is an all or nothing proposition. It’s not a partial thing. You can’t be partially in this with God. Just like you can’t be partially married. When you marry before God, you enter into a covenant with your spouse that you will give all of who you are to them and they to you and withhold nothing from one another and remain loyal and faithful to one another. And when that covenant is broken (some of you know this story really well) when that covenant is broken, then that covenant is broken. And although things can be repaired and restored, it’s broken. It gives us an opportunity to look at our own lives right now. This idea of a bond, of an agreement, of a covenant, something that is deeper than the paper that it is written on, something that is written upon our hearts and irreversible is something that God brings into our story.
So when we move into the New Testament reading today and Jesus is finishing up the Sermon on the Mount, we see him saying something really interesting. He says “people will come before me on the day of judgement and they’ll be like ‘Lord, Lord, look at all the stuff we did. It’s so good to be here. Look at what we did. We cast out demons in your name. We healed people in your name. Look at all of the stuff we did for you.’” And Jesus says “I’ll look at them and say ‘you’re going to have to go away. Depart from me. I never knew you.’” Which helps us understand that this relationship with God is exactly that. It’s not enough to know about God. We have to actually know God. This is how relationships are shaped, to know and be known. So Jesus is effectively saying yeah, you ran around and did a bunch of stuff in my name, but we didn’t know each other. It’s not enough to know a lot about your spouse from a distance and do things in your spouse’s name. You have to know one another. That is how relationships are shaped. That is what a covenant looks like, to withhold nothing from one another, to give all that we are and receive all that they are.
As the story of the Bible begins to unfold before us, we will see that God has withheld absolutely nothing from us. We are created in his image. We are here because of him in the first place and he has done nothing but continue to be involved in our story relentlessly. So one of the major things that we have to do as we take this journey is to examine our own lives and the places in our lives that have estranged us from God. Why would God let this or that thing happen? At the base of all that, the fundamental question is: Is God trustworthy and good? Or is he not? Because he’s one or the other. His heart is either good toward us or not. So there can be plenty of things that happen in life that we do not exactly understand in the immediate moment which invites us to ask ourselves, do I believe God’s heart is good toward me? Do I trust God? Am I really all in on this relationship? If we can answer the question and say yes, in spite of anything that I may be feeling at this moment, God’s heart is good toward me, I know that, then it brings up the secondary question: Is my heart good toward him? Because this is the nature of relationship.
So through the story of Abraham and Isaac and through the Sermon on the Mount we begin to see this relational language begin to take form and shape in the story of mankind and God. May we examine ourselves right here at the beginning of the year. Are we really all in or have we come here to find out more information about God rather than knowing God intimately?
Father, we come into your presence and we believe your heart is good toward us. We ask your forgiveness for the ways in which our hearts have not been good toward you. All of a sudden so many things snap into place because we see the ways we’ve been blaming you for everything and not owning our part of the relationship. We want to be known by you. Jesus, we want to come into your presence and say Lord, Lord, and you say welcome home, I know you, I’ve known you for a long time. Come Jesus, we pray. We open ourselves and invite your Holy Spirit to root out and bring up anything that you need to bring up in the ways we’ve perceived you and misunderstood you and your activity in our lives. Come Holy Spirit. We ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Www.DailyAudioBible.com is the website. It’s home base. It is certainly where you find out what is going on around here. The Prayer Wall is there. Resources are there. A great resource that goes along with the things we were talking about today would be a book that is in the Daily Audio Bible Shop called Reframe – From the God We’ve Made to God With Us, where we take a deep dive in what it actually means to be in a relationship with God, that makes that no longer a theological concept but actually fleshes it out where we live, what it actually looks like to be all in and in a relationship with God. So you may want to check that out. Check out the other resources that are available there.
If you want to partner with the Daily Audio Bible in keeping everything spinning and moving every day, then www.DailyAudioBible.com is the place to go to. There is a link on the home page. Thank you deeply and humbly for those who have clicked that link. If you’re using the Daily Audio Bible App, you can push the More button in the lower right-hand corner. Or, if you prefer, the mailing address is P.O. Box 1996, Spring Hill, TN 37174.
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And that’s it for today. I’m Brian. I love you and I’ll be waiting for you here tomorrow.
Community Prayer Requests and Praise Reports
Hi Dabbers, as Becky from Philly calls us and I’ll get to that in a second. My name is Easy Cleghorn and I just wanted to take a moment and introduce myself to the whole family. I’m 30 years old. I am totally blind. I’m an educator living in Georgia and I’ve just had the most wonderful couple of days and I’ve gotten into the rhythm of being part of the Daily Audio Bible family. It’s just amazing the way that Brian runs this. I’m just so grateful and so at peace every time I listen. Back to Becky from Philly, I heard the message yesterday and it just broke my heart and I just wanted to say, and I said this on the Facebook page as well, that you don’t have to go through anything alone and there are always going to be those of us who you can reach out to. If you want to find that post on the page and message me directly, I will leave you contact information day or night. You can text or call or whatever. That goes to any of the members of our wonderful new family that I’ve just discovered in the last couple of days. There are people that are here. I’m always here. I can always be reached and I will always pray for you guys. I love you all very, very much and it’s just an honor to take this journey.
Hello, my name is Lisa H. I’m a first-time caller. I’ve listened to the Daily Audio Bible for about five or six years and I’m in desperate need of prayer. Thursday night, early Friday morning my house burned to the ground. I’ve lost everything. I’m a single mom with two children, but I know that God is still on the throne. I need your prayers for God to guide me and to tell me what I’m supposed to do and pray that my insurance pays the maximum amount. I thank God for this program and I’m reaching out now in desperate need of prayer. God bless you all. Thank you.
Good morning family. This is Cherry C., Cherry Pie. I just wanted to welcome all the new callers, let you know that you came to the right place at the right time and that you’re step has been ordered. So welcome to the family. Biola, I just heard your message and I was so happy to hear from you because I was just thinking about you and then as I was thinking about you, you popped up on the message. And I was like, this is great! I wanted to hear you and now I did, so that’s great. I want everybody to have a blessed day. I want to tell you guys I love you guys and this year I’m going to do something new. I’m just going to try to always think positive, speak positive regardless of my heart time and my hard situation I’m going through. I’m going to push through like I’m birthing a baby. Like I’m having a baby. So I’m just going to birth through and give God the praises and let everything else try to wash over my head. I love you guys. You have a great day and I hope your New Year’s was great and bright and I did want to call New Year’s Day and say do you know what today is? It’s my anniversary. It’s my anniversary. But the 1st went by, I didn’t get a chance to do it, so it is my anniversary on the 1st. I’ve been listening to the Daily Audio Bible for seven years. Whoever thought? Seven years straight. You guys have a blessed day. I love you. C’mon callers, the new callers, call in. You need us? We’re here for you. Love you guys.
Hello DAB family. This is Chante calling from Detroit. Happy New Year everybody. But really I’m calling in today in response to Sam from Australia. You basically called in with a plea for us to fast for those less fortunate, for those who may have not had a Merry Christmas or a Happy New Year because they are in places that are dealing with war like Aleppo or they are just in less fortunate circumstances where maybe they don’t have a roof over their head or food to eat. You didn’t put it quite that way, but generally that is how I understood it. To pray for those who are just basically less fortunate. So to let you know that I have joined you in a day of fasting and let’s just pray right now. Dear Lord, we thank you, O God, for all your blessings, O Lord, that you’ve given us, Lord. But we want to take some time, Lord, to pray for those, to lift those up, Lord God, that need your mercy, Lord God, that need you, that need to know you, Lord God, that need hope, Lord. We lift up those that are in war-torn areas, Lord God, especially the children, Lord. We are praying, O God, that you will send peace, Lord, that you will send a lasting ceasefire, Lord, and that these areas can be rebuilt on the stable foundation of peace and on your word, Lord. We’re praying, Lord God, that you would strengthen missionaries already there and send more missionaries there to provide food and clean water and medicines. We’re praying for just the homeless in general, Lord.
Hi, this is Lisa the Encourager. It’s getting easier and easier now that I’m getting a little bit of a pattern, so that maybe encourages you to call too. Anyway, I’m calling today for two things. I would like to encourage those that maybe listened to all last year and were not able to give or haven’t given to the Daily Audio Bible. I would like to encourage you to give just as a little challenge. I listened all last year and then I was blessed at the end of the year and was able to share some of that blessing with the Daily Audio Bible. So I would just like to encourage you to give back to this wonderful mission of delivering the Bible to all of us. And then my last bit of encouragement is to pray for those that have family members that are suffering with addiction, so we pray for them right now. Dear Heavenly Father, I would like to pray for those families that have members of their family that are addicted to either drugs or alcohol or they are suffering with problems and addiction, Lord. I just pray, God, that you will help them to be able to understand that they can’t necessarily be the solution but they can rely on you, to just be able to trust you in the situation, that it is not something they can control or that they can change but you can. I just pray for those that are in the situation, Lord, that they will just be able to have refuge in you, God. I thank you so much for all your many blessings and I pray for all the individuals out there in the Daily Audio Bible and the families of the Daily Audio Bible. Alright, have a great day. Bye.
Hi, this is Steve from New Hampshire and I want to say again how much I appreciate the Daily Audio Bible and the family that we have here. I’ve joined in many prayers for people who have called in. This is actually my first-time calling in to request prayer. We, my wife and I have been in a financial issue for a long time. Some of it is some bad choices that I made, but we also have several thousand dollars in medical bills and we seem to be just living paycheck to paycheck, trying to figure out how to pay the mortgage and the electric and oil and all that. I’m late on most of my bills and just need some wisdom and also some increased income as well. I have a business and I would like to just ask God to bless that to bring in more provision through that or whatever, but we’re looking to the Lord to provide and we just ask the body to join us in prayer for God’s breakthrough, for God’s wisdom. Thank you so very much. God bless all of you in 2017.