Genesis 20:1-22:24, Matthew 7:15-29, Psalms 9:1-12, Proverbs 2:16-22
Today is the 9th day of January welcome to the Daily Audio Bible I am Brianne and it is wonderful to be here squarely in the second week of a brand-new sparkly year. And, so, we are moving through our second full week in the Bible. And as I was…was yesterday I was thinking…was talking about looking back and seeing just how far we’ve come already and how much the Bible has already begun to touch the places in our lives and give us clarity and direction. And, so, grateful that we can be here together today around the Global Campfire and take the next step forward together. Our next step leads us back into the book of Genesis and back into the story of Abraham. Today, Genesis chapters 20, 21 and 22.
Okay. So, in the book of Genesis today as we continue with the story of Abraham and we remember he was Abram and his name became Abraham when he entered into a covenant with God. His wife was called Sarai and her name was changed to Sarah and they were promised a child in their old age, a child between the two of them. Abraham had already had a son, Ishmael, with his wife’s handmade who had been given to Abraham as a wife. Her name was Hagar and she and Ishmael get sent away today. Sarah’s got a son now and she doesn’t want anybody sharing anything with what is hers now. And, so, she’s gotten quite territorial. These people are the patriarchs of the Hebrew people. Like, this story of Abraham shapes the rest of the Bible including the New Testament including the stories of Jesus. And, so, we can look back at the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and go well, they had to be like one rung below Jesus. They had to be like extraordinary people who were pretty well righteous and pretty well blameless and pretty much didn’t make any miscues or missteps or mistakes. What we’re seeing though, and we need to see is that that’s not true. They were human beings who made colossal mistakes. And God did not abandon them, but kept coming to like right the ship, correct the way, correct to the trajectory, keep things moving forward because He was inviting Abraham into a collaboration that would grow to eventually bless the entire world. And while God is perfect people aren’t. And God continues to work with whoever will work with Him. And this is Abraham. And, so. we see all kinds of human things, like Abimelech, the king of Gerar come and want a treaty and then some negotiations over wells. And who dug this well and then whose servants came and took over this well and this kind of territories. But then Abraham gets an invitation to do something that is kind of unthinkable - take your son, go to a place that I will show you. And we remember, this is how God called Abraham in the first place - go to a place that I will show you, a place that you haven’t been before. And, so, God is inviting Abraham again to a place that he will be shown. But the mission that he is on is to…is to sacrifice the child of promise, Isaac, which would have been disconcerting at the least. We put ourselves in this position, where Abraham and God are now in covenant with one another and because of the covenant nothing can be withheld from one another, and God is asking for the son that he gave Abraham and Sarah. And Abraham gets up to obey. And this is a super-duper famous story and generally the way the story was handed to me like down all the way from Sunday school was that the objective in this story to look at is the faith of Abraham, and that is right and good and appropriate. For Abraham to have entered into a covenant with the most-high God and for the most-high God to say, okay I want you to give your son back to me and for Abraham to get up the next morning and told the parts in obedience, believing that the Lord would provide some way, somehow. Even if he had to slay Isaac, God would give him back. This was the promise. There was a promise. And, so, to trust in the promise and continue forward in faith believing that this is going to be okay somehow, in the end would’ve taken a remarkable amount of faith indeed. And when we read through the text, it does seem like that’s where Abraham…that’s what he’s trusting in, that somehow there is the missing piece to the story. Somehow, he’s just got to continue to walk in faith and obedience and watch the rest of the story unfold. And that is indeed how the story plays out. Let’s step back for a second, though, and at least acknowledge the reality of what we are discussing here, which is the sacrifice of Isaac on an altar to God at the hands of Abraham, Isaac’s father. So, as they’re going to this place that they’re going to be shown and Abraham has a sense of what his objectives are…I don't…I mean…I don’t even know how to think about it. That would’ve been quite a bit of wrestling. And this story actually is here for us to wrestle with and invite ourselves to consider what we are withholding that we think is more precious to us than our intimacy in union with God. But it’s not just Christian people who would wrestle with the story. Jewish people have been wrestling with this story for thousands of years. There is a tradition that interprets the story as not so much the faith of Abraham, but the faith of Isaac, that Isaac is the one who has to die, that Isaac has the faith in this story and the trust in the promises of God that he is willing to submit himself to being tied up and laid down on an altar, expecting that he is going to die when the Angels come for the rescue. And, so, the faith of Isaac is to be considered in this story, that he is willing to submit himself to death to honor God, which certainly does resemble Jesus. I’ve heard another tradition that it…that tells of Abraham actually sacrificing Isaac and Isaac…Isaac is dead and three days later is resurrected. Obviously, that is a Hebrew tradition, but it certainly does resemble Jesus. Obviously, those details are not in the text. This is just the ongoing rabbinical wrestling with what is…what is the purpose, what is the meaning what is the depths of this story, what are we supposed to get from this story that changes us? And the reason for this particular kind of imagining or considering of the story is that it doesn’t seem like Isaac came back down the mountain after this event. Actually, from the text the angel of the Lord calls to Abraham and says don’t do this, I see where your hearts at. You will be blessed. All of your offspring will be blessed. And then…and then as far as like coming down from the summit of this mountain, the Bible says, then Abraham returned to his servants, and they set off together for Beersheba and Abraham stayed in Beersheba. There’s no more mention of Isaac being with Abraham. There’s another tradition that says that Isaac was like traumatized by this experience, this near-death experience, traumatized enough to that it changed him, and he didn’t come back with his father. In fact, as we will see in the days ahead Isaac goes to live somewhere else. After this he goes to a place called beer-lahi-roi. And, so, rabbis and scholars have wrestled with how this all works and allows us to kind of look at it from a number of different angles - the faith of Abraham to believe in the promise of God, the faith of Isaac to submit and believe and trust even in the face of death, and even submitting to death to trust in the promise of God. But also, we do go through things that change us and are difficult and are hard to understand if there is no wrong view. If we’re just trying to make sense of what has blown up in our face and try to make some sense of it without believing that the story, the promise is true, is good. I have to keep going. I have to keep moving forward in order for this all to start to make sense. We can look at this from any number or all of these ways because they all apply to our own journey of faith. And we will not be able to escape references to the faith of Abraham on our journey both through the old and the new Testaments. And, so, wrestling with or observing or paying attention to what’s going on here is going to help us as we continue our journey through the Bible and allow the Bible to get inside of us and transform us.
Father, we thank You for Your word. We thank You for the comfort of it. We also thank You for the disruption of it. We don’t like being disrupted. We don’t like it when things don’t go exactly as we wanted them to go. And yet life is shaped that way, and we deal with these things all of the time. And, so, we thank You that Your word also agitates and shakes us, shakes things loose, forces us to stay mobile, forces us to stay alert and aware and vigilant. And, so, Holy Spirit come and plant what we’ve read from the Scriptures today into the soil of our lives and may yield fruit, the fruit of the Spirit for Your kingdom, we pray. In the name of Jesus, we ask. Amen.
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And that’s it for today. I’m Brian and I love you and I’ll be waiting for you here tomorrow.
Community Prayer and Praise: