Vs 1: Abraham was advanced in age… He was around 137 years old.
Abraham was a blessed man… No longer does the author write that God was going to bless Abraham he says he was blessed. God has kept his promise and Abraham gained wealth, land and a descendant. God had shown favor to Abraham.
Vs 2 – 4: Abraham has a servant (who is unnamed) and he gives him one of the most important jobs a servant could do. His mission was to find a wife for Abraham’s son Isaac. It was imperative that Isaac be married and to have children to continue with the promise of God. “Put your hand under my thigh” – this is the sign of an oath. This was an ancient custom of the orient and “placing a hand under Abraham’s thigh made an intimate association with some fundamental religious ideas.”
The servant was given specific instructions and he was to swear by the God of Heaven and earth that he would find a wife for Isaac (specifically not a Canaanite woman) from Abraham’s clan or kindred from his original country.
Vs 5 – 8: The servant was unsure of the success of his journey so he asks the obvious question, “What if I find the girl and she won’t come back with me? Should I then bring Isaac to her?” Was it more important for Isaac to marry or for him to stay in the land of promise? Abraham makes it very clear that under no circumstance is Isaac to leave the Promised Land. He assures the servant that the same God who called Abraham from his father’s house and who made a covenant with him regarding his offspring would guide him in the process.
“(God) will send his angel before you, and you shall take a wife for my son from there.” In his advanced years Abraham’s faith is not wavering. He knows that God will guide the servant in this process. Time and time again God has provided for Abraham.
If the woman will not go with the servant then he is released from the oath/covenant.
Vs 10: The servant took ten camels and all sorts of gifts. Camels were rare in these days and having ten of them was a sign of great wealth. Camels could be synonymous to Cadillac’s or BMWs. They were certainly a status symbol. The servant was bringing the camels, gold and silver as betrothal gifts and he went to Mesopotamia or more specifically Nahor. Abraham sent his choice gifts for his son’s future wife and family. He was sparing no expenses. He wanted only the best for his son.
Vs 11 – 14: The journey was long (about 500 miles and approximately 20 + days) and the servant and his companions were tired. They went to the well where the women draw water. As he arrives he inquires (prays) of the Lord for wisdom and favor. He prays for success (that he might find a wife for Isaac) and guidance. He prays a specific prayer so that he will know for certain that God is the one orchestrating and ordaining. The servant makes his request to the LORD and if things go the way he prays then he will know that God has shown him favor. We now know that the servant is praying for a specific woman who is appointed by God to be Isaac’s wife.
Vs 15 – 21: Before he even finished his prayer, Rebekah (Isaac’s future wife) enters the picture. The servant does not know she is the one yet but clearly the author of the story is telling it with this information in mind. Actually the woman who enters the scene is MUCH more than what the servant had prayed for. Isn't that just like God? He gives more than what is asked for. Rebekah is a cousin (the daughter of Abraham’s brother) to Isaac, she was a woman most likely under the age of 40 (but could have been as young as a teenager), a virgin and beautiful.
The servant approaches her and she fulfills all the requirements that the servant requested of God. The amount of time and the hard work it took to water ten camels was great; and yet Rebekah did take care of them. During this time the servant watched and discerned whether God had given him success or not.
Vs 22 – 28: Evidently the servant knew that God had answered him as he gave her a gold ring and bracelets and asks her who her father is and if he and his caravan could spend the night with them. She agrees and the servant worshiped God because he has shown himself faithful by showing favor to him and his master Abraham. It is apparent the servant now knows this is the woman God has chosen for Isaac’s wife.
Vs 22 – 33: Rebekah’s brother Laban runs out to meet the servant. His enthusiasm is either motivated by hospitality or greed. He does not know who the servant is or why he is coming but he does know that he is a wealthy traveler and Laban wants to accommodate. Laban calls the servant “blessed of the Lord” because riches were a sign of divine blessing.
After the camels were taken care of and the servant and his clans’ feet were washed, food was set out before them. The servant has an urgent message and he will not eat before he speaks the purpose of his journey.
Vs 34 – 49: The servant tells Laban and the family the details of his journey.
Vs 50 – 61: After hearing from the servant Laban and Bethuel grant the servant his desires to take Rebekah back to Isaac to be his wife. Upon hearing this once again the servant bows and worships the Lord for blessing him. The servant begins his quest with prayer and worship and ends his search with prayer and worship. He gives Rebekah jewelry and garments as gifts and he also gave costly ornaments to Laban and his mother as a dowry. Typically this would be about 50 shekels and was equivalent to many years’ wages for paid labor. Eventually the dowry (or bride money) was given to the bride when she was married. After some time Rebekah is blessed by her family and they let her go with the servant to be married to Isaac.
Vs 62 – 65: As Isaac was going to meditate he saw the servant and his entourage returning. When Rebekah saw Isaac in the distance she asked if Isaac was the one she was marrying? He said yes, so she covered her face with a veil. The bride was always veiled at the wedding. It is implied that Rebekah left her veil on until her wedding day.
Vs 66 – 67: We are not sure how much time passes from the moment the servant arrives to the time of the wedding. We are only told that Isaac and Rebekah were married and he loved her. Ironically in arranged marriages love came after the marriage where today in traditional marriage loving the future spouse comes first and then comes marriage.
At this point the story reaches its climax and conclusion. Abraham’s wishes had been carried out, the servant did his job, God faithfully kept his promise and now Isaac could continue the family line and receiving the blessings of God.
I realize I have quickly commented on this passage (as there is a lot I could have talked about) but there are a few things that caught my attention in the passage that I would like to conclude with. I know the crux of this story focuses on the servant finding a wife for Isaac and I believe the actions and deeds of this servant are noteworthy and could be most beneficial in putting into practical application for us today.
 Wenham, G. J. (1998). Vol. 2: Genesis 16 - 50. Word Biblical Commentary (141). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.
We now come to a pivotal point in the life and story of Abraham. From the moment God calls him from the land where he lived to a place He will show him up to the birth of Isaac, Abraham has shown himself faithful and obedient to God. The last 40 or so years of his life have not been easy and certainly the man has had his faith tried, tested and confirmed. It is at this point in Chapter 22 that we read the details of God telling Abraham to do something that many cannot fathom. Not only do we see the faithfulness and obedience of Abraham in this account but we also get a glimpse of God’s plan of redemption. What is fascinating to me is that although this is an Old Testament passage that gives account of an old man in a crisis situation the Gospel message is present and the finger print of Jesus is evident in this chapter.
Vs 1 – “After these things” some versions of the Bible translate this opening verse as “Some time after these things”. This suggests that a period of time has passed from the events of Chapter 21 (the birth of Isaac and treaty with Abimelech) to what we are about to read in chapter 22. Many (including Martin Luther) believe it was a significant amount of time and that Isaac is now a grown young man or a teenager.
“God tested Abraham” – We see from an outsiders perspective that this is a test but for Abraham this request that God is about to make was a reality. This was a test of faith and obedience.
Vs 2: “Take your son… whom you love” – God acknowledges that Abraham has a great affection for his son. We can assume by God stating that Isaac was the son who is loved is his way of stating that this was not going to be an easy task for Abraham. He was to go to the land of Moriah to a place where God would show him. Eventually he ended up in the mountain area (Mt. Moriah which was the place where Abraham went) and is the place where Solomon built the Temple of God. “One of the mountains” – In biblical accounts the mountains were places where people went to meet with God.
It is in this verse that God makes a huge demand of Abraham. He tells him to take his son and offer him as a sacrifice to God.
“Offer him as a burnt offering” – This was a common sacrifice where a whole animal was cut up, placed on the altar and completely consumed by the fire. This kind of a sacrifice was a symbolic gesture where one was offering oneself to God completely (In the New Testament it would be synonymous of Romans 12:1 & 2 and the animal that was offered served as atonement for the person’s sin. The blood of the animal would cover the sins of the worshiper until the next time he came in to offer a sacrifice..
Vs 3 – 4: Abraham was faithful and obedient. He did what God told him. I can’t help but think, “What was going through his mind at this time? How did he feel?” I think sometimes we lose fact that he was in fact a human with emotions and he a father to Isaac and this request must have crushed him. He had waited over 100 years for this promised son and now God is telling him to sacrifice him. His emotions must have been all tied up.
To make matters worse he travels for 3 days to get the location… I cannot imagine the burden he carried for three days knowing what he knew and what he had to do. Three days signifies the time it takes to prepare for something important and this was certainly an important thing. “Abraham lifted his eyes and saw the place from afar.” This is very dramatic and the reader is left to imagine what is going through Abraham’s mind.
Vs 5: “I and the boy” - Lad – Same word used for Ishmael (probably an older teenager or a young man.
“Will go and worship” – Abraham tells his men that he and Isaac are going to worship (bow down) God. He tells them they will return –
“God will provide for himself a lamb…” The faith of Abraham is made evident and in the same sense he speaks a prophetic statement that God will provide himself a lamb for sacrifice… Once again this is deep with symbolism of Jesus Christ.
Vs 9: “Bound Isaac” - What is interesting here is that not only is Abraham obedient in doing what God is telling him to do but Isaac was obedient as well even to the point of potential death. I think it is important to note that Abraham was over 100 years old and Isaac was probably a young man. Abraham was most certainly not in his prime health and Isaac was probably at his most healthy. I am certain Isaac could have overpowered his father and outrun him, but he does not.
Vs 11 – 12: God intervenes. God has an Angel of the Lord to call down to stop what was happening. The calling out from heaven shows a sense of urgency. In this Abraham is shown to be faithful.
Vs 13 – 14: What Abraham proclaimed to Isaac does indeed come to pass. God provided a ram and Abraham was reminded that God provides. In fact he names the place “The Lord will provide” or “Jehovah Jireh”.
Vs 15 – 18: Because of Abraham’s obedience and faithfulness God confirms his promise. “All Nations shall be blessed because of his obedience.
This is not an easy passage to digest. I have met people who turn to the Bible for answers to life’s questions only to come away with many more questions and this is one passage that often confuses people. I admit there are a slew of questions I have when I read this passage. I don’t understand why God told Abraham to do what He did, but we do know that all along the intent was not to sacrifice Isaac. It was a test. I do believe questions are a good thing to enhance our faith but I do believe sometimes we get so bogged down with the questions of why that we ultimately miss the forest for the trees. We are reminded continually throughout scripture that God’s ways are not our ways and we cannot fully know the mind of God. Our reasoning and his ways are not the same. Sometimes we need to chalk something up as God did what He did for His purpose and He does not have to give a reason why He does what he does.
Instead of focusing all our attention on the question, “Why did God do what he did?” Let’s look at the real key to this passage…Abraham’s obedience and faith and God’s grace. I know some people read this passage and see God as a big Meany playing a cruel joke on one of his faithful followers but really this whole account is just a prologue to what will happen a couple thousand years later in Jesus Christ. However this time it won’t be a test it will be the real deal.
I mentioned earlier that the Gospel is present and the finger print of Jesus is plastered all over this account. I see so many parallels of the Gospel in Genesis 22 that give us foreshadow of the plan of redemption God has for humanity. Isaac is a type of Christ. He is the beloved son of the Father. Isaac, just like Jesus, was the apple of his Father’s eye. He, like Jesus was the promised one who would be a blessing to all nations. He, like Jesus was to be offered as a sacrifice for the atonement of sins. Except the atonement of Jesus will not be a mere covering that needs to happen yearly; it will be a complete washing away of sin. God, like Abraham willingly gives his one and only son whom He loves (Jesus) as a sacrifice so all that put their faith in his son will be redeemed. This may seem harsh, illogical and mean but I God never asks Abraham (or us for that matter) to do something that he would not or has not already done himself and this is shown in the sacrifice of Jesus. God does provide himself a sacrifice – Jesus was sacrificed in our place so humanity could be redeemed. While the story may seem outrageous and even in some aspects pointless, there are some things we can take with us today.
So what are they?
Genesis 21:12 - 21
Vs 12 – 13: God tells Abraham not to be displeased. Why? Because He has already pre-determined to bless Ishmael in the future regardless. God will make a great nation from Ishmael simply because he is Abraham’s son. Essentially God is saying he will protect and bless the boy for Abraham’s sake. Notice though that God does not extend his covenant promise to Ishmael because that belongs to Isaac.
Verse 14: Early in the morning Abraham prepares to send Hagar and Ishmael off on their journey by giving them basic provisions of a skin of water (about three gallons of water) and bread. Ishmael is called a child and this word means a child from infancy all the way to a grown man. In Genesis it usually refers to a young man capable of taking care of himself (It’s the same word used of 17 year old Joseph). After they were packed they went into the wilderness and wandered. She was probably lost and wasn’t sure where she was or where she was going.
Vs 15 – 19: Eventually the water is gone and she directs the boy to sit under a bush. She is in despair and hopeless. It is inevitable the boy will die if things don’t change soon. She left him and went a good distance away because she thought if she was far enough away the cries of her son wouldn’t be heard as easily and he could die. She and he were essentially lost, hungry, thirsty and ready to die in the desert. She was hopeless, abandoned and alone with her son. God hears the cries of Ishmael and sends an Angel to take care of them. God promised Abraham that he would make Ishmael a great nation and once again God keeps his promise. She has two visits from the Angel of God. The Angel greets her by name and asks, “What troubles you, Hagar? Fear not for God has heard the voice of the boy…” Once again God shows his willingness to rescue Hagar. He commands her to lift the boy up by the hand and then proceeds to disclose the blessing of Hagar. We know that Abraham knew about the blessing but this is the first time the blessing is spoken to Hagar. At this moment God opens her eyes to a well of water so she could fill the skin. God not only assures and protects but he provides for her as well. Hagar and Ishmael in the desert was part of God’s plan and since they were part of his plan he provided for them. God always provides when we are called to be part of his plan.
Vs 20 - 21: “God was with the boy…” These last two verses show that God fulfills his promise to Ishmael. He lives in the wilderness (as a wanderer) and becomes an expert with the bow. This could suggest that he was a great marksman or that he was fond of fighting. We are not told. This is the exit of and the conclusion of the Ishmael account.
As I conclude this devotional today I would like to share some application points or truths that are intended to encourage, equip and strengthen your faith. One thing we should realize is the God who is at work here in Genesis 21 is the same God who is at work in our world today. Thus these points and truths are still relevant and applicable today.
After the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah Lot and his daughters settled in the city of Zoar for a brief time but eventually move to the mountains (Where the Angels told him to go in the first place). More than likely he was afraid the destruction wouldn’t stop with Sodom and that Zoar was next. This shows his lack of trust in God. The Angels told him he would be safe in Zoar but nevertheless he left because he was afraid. They eventually took up residence in a cave. The older daughter devised a plan to get their father to sleep with them so they could have children. Many interpret this deplorable act as a means of trying to remedy the situation because they didn’t think there were any men around for them to marry. There is sufficient evidence to show that even in the ancient Near East incest was wrong. Nowhere does this text or the Bible for that matter show this account or any other acts like this in a positive light. Apparently Lot was not on board with their plan thus he was completely unaware of what they were doing because they had to get him drunk in order to do what they had to do.
The outcome of this incestuous act was two sons.
Moab and Ammon: Both were the patriarchs to the areas named after them. They were not part of the blessing of Abraham but they also were not cursed because of their mothers’ sin. Throughout history both areas had up and down relationships with Israel. Moabites were polytheists and encouraged Israel to partake in worshiping their gods and Ammonites forbid Israel from passing through their land during the Exodus. It is at this point Lot and his family’s story comes to a conclusion.
Genesis 21:1 - 11
Vs 1 - 4: “… The Lord did to Sarah as he had promised.” For decades God has promised He was sending a natural born son to Sarah to be the sole heir of the blessing of Abraham. Finally the promise is fulfilled. Ironically it is with little fanfare. After decades of faith testing, impatience and human interference God does the impossible. Sarah became pregnant and give birth to her first son at the age of 90. This is significant and is a major part of the story because it shows us two things (both of which we already know)…1) God always fulfills his promise. 2) He is a God of miracles. He can and does do the unthinkable and the impossible for his glory. Once the child is born Abraham names him Isaac (which means “He laughs”) and has him circumcised on the eighth day.
Vs 5 – 7: Abraham is a father of a newborn baby boy at the ripe ole age of 100. This is mentioned so we can see that what may have seemed impossible had actually become a possibility. The birth of Isaac was a divine thing. After the birth Sarah proclaims her excitement through laughter as she says, “God has made laughter for me;” If you recall Sarah’s laughter in chapter 18 was in cynicism, unbelief and hopelessness but now merely a year or so later her laughter is one of joy and jubilee. The promised son brings unspeakable joy to Sarah. She then declares that when people hear her story they will laugh with her because God has done the impossible by giving an old woman well past her child rearing age a child of promise. This story will ultimately bring universal pleasure and joy because of what God has done for her. They will hear this story and say, “Who would have thought that such an old couple could or would give birth to a child?”
Vs 8 – 11: Once the child was weaned (probably at the age of three) Abraham had a party to celebrate a momentous milestone in the child’s early life. According to Gordon Wenham this is noteworthy because, “In a society where infant mortality was high, to reach the age of two or three would be regarded as a significant achievement, so this part explains the magnitude of the celebrations. From now on Isaac looks relatively certain to be Abraham’s heir.”
Unfortunately Sarah’s joy was cut short as she hears Ishmael (notice the account does not name him; instead the text refers to him as “the son of Hagar the Egyptian.”) laughing. Some translations say he was “mocking” and others say “scoffing”, “Poking fun” or “laughing”. The word used is the root of the word Isaac but may imply more of jesting, or making a sport of. It is not clear what was actually going on exactly. It is believed he was either mocking or making fun of Isaac or he may have been playing or being playful with Isaac as though they were on equal footing (equal brothers). If he was mocking then we see why Sarah gets mad. However if he was playing or being playful with Isaac it would seem a little harder to understand her reaction until we realize she reacted this way because he was acting like a big brother who would one day inherit the blessing of the father. Her maternal instincts kicked in here for the reason why she wanted Ishmael and Hagar gone. If they weren’t around then there would be no question as to who the rightful heir is.
Sarah demands that Abraham drive out (the same word used for divorce) Hagar and send her and Ishmael off. This displeases Abraham greatly and rightly so. I believe here we get a glimpse of the paternal instincts of Abraham. Ishmael WAS his son regardless of who the mother was. Abraham had strong affections for his son, like any caring father would. So when his wife demands he send them both away this must have broken his heart. Unfortunately in this time of great rejoicing (celebration of weaning) Abraham is quickly met with a time of great despair. This is not uncommon even for us today; to have a mountaintop experience only to find ones self in the valley of despair shortly thereafter.
 Wenham, G. J. (1998). Vol. 2: Genesis 16 - 50. Word Biblical Commentary (81). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.
Genesis 19:12 - 29
Vs 12 – 14: The men now tell Lot what they are about to do. They tell him to get his household ready because destruction was coming swiftly because of the outcry of the city. Remember God said they wanted to go down and check out the city for themselves and they have now seen firsthand the extent of the sin in this city. Lot goes to his son’s in law (they were betrothed to be married; they weren’t actually married yet) and tells them what is going to happen. Their response was laughter and unbelief (much like Sarah’s) but this unbelief would cost them their lives. For one reason or another they thought Lot was joking and did not take him seriously.
Vs 15 – 22: When morning arrived the Angels urged Lot to pack up and leave the city immediately. God is keeping his promise to spare the righteous among the wicked. Surprisingly after all that has been going Lot is reluctant to go; we are told he lingered or hesitated. Why? That is a good question. The two angels grabbed him and told him it was urgent that he leave with his wife and two daughters. The angels have two direct commands…
1. Escape, or leave while you can and go to the hills.
2. As you leave do not look back.
In this rush Lot actually has the audacity to argue with the men because he doesn’t think this is a good idea. He thinks he will die in the hills. He says he will not go to the hills, so would they consider letting him go to the city of Zoar instead? We see in this picture that Lot is going to go but he is going reluctantly. Lot went kicking and screaming. He may be leaving the city physically but part of his heart wants to stay there. The Angels show him mercy and agree to his terms.
Vs 23 – 29: As the sun rose God rained down his judgment on Sodom and Gomorrah with fire and sulfur. Everything was destroyed, the inhabitants and all living things. The city was decimated.
In the fleeing for their lives Lot’s wife stops and looks back and we are told she becomes a pillar of salt (if this is literal or symbolic we are not told. Some have suggested that a strange rock formation around the Dead Sea would have been the reason this story was told this way). All in all it seems kind of harsh doesn’t it? When we look at the literal translation of the words “look back” we get a better understanding as to why things happen the way they did. The NET Bible translates this verse, “Lot’s wife looked back longingly…” Her look was not a curious gaze over the shoulder. It was more of a longing to go back. She turned around and may have begun to literally go back to the city as it was being destroyed. She disobeys a God directed command to not look back. In her disobedience she forfeits her deliverance from destruction and perishes as well. God offered her salvation and she denied it by looking back longingly on the life she left behind. Note the parallel of the Garden of Eden… Disobedience equals death. Instead in this case it was literal death.
There is very little encouragement in this account. It is also very difficult to pull out any practical application for that matter. However difficult it may be it is not impossible and I do believe there are some action steps for us to take home today. In looking at this account we can see just how much sin and compromise can affect our walk with the God. I have three points that I would like to bring to light that we can easily apply to us today.
1) Christians are to be in the world but not of the world. We are told many times in the Bible that we are not to love the world because this world system is not of God. Sin has corrupted this world and thus we are not to love it. This simply means that the world system is a godless system and we are not to allow the world to influence us. Actually we are called to influence (or be witnesses for Jesus Christ) the world. When we allow the world to influence us it changes us and affects our relationship with God. Lot was sitting in the place of authority in a godless city. He was in a position where he could make a difference for the sake of the Kingdom of God but his affection for the city was far greater than his affection for God.
As Christians we are called to the world or to the city or place we live (which is for the most part godless). The question we must ask ourselves is “How can we make an impact on the city for the Kingdom of God instead of the city making an impact on us thus severing or hindering our relationship with God?”
2) Sin bites and it bites hard – When Lot tries to calm the mob they turn on him…The sin he was overlooked, tolerated and maybe even condoned is now working against him. This is what sin does. It may appear to be attractive, appealing, and good but if left unchecked it will eventually turn against you. Sin may seem to bring happiness but ultimately it brings death.
3) When God calls us out of sin do not look back. So many of us (myself included) may tend to look back on our “old lives” with fondness and affection. This is a dangerous place to be. God has called us out from the sin-filled lives we once lived according to and into his glory. God has literally given us heaven and we so often settle for second or third best. We must be reminded (and sometimes daily) that we (who are in Christ) are new creations in Christ Jesus the former ways are gone (they are behind you), behold all things are new. Since this is true let us keep our eyes on God and the path he has called us.
Genesis 19: 1 - 29
Vs 1 - 2: Lot in the gate – When we last saw Lot He settled in the ancient cities of the valley with his tent moved as far as Sodom. As a Bible teacher once told me, “He pitched his tent towards Sodom” which meant he didn’t move to the city but his eyes were on the city. It has been some time later and he is living in Sodom and actually holding a position of authority. The judges and elders of the city always sat in the gate and we see not that Lot was in the city gate.
The men go to the gate and Lot greets them enthusiastically. He does not know they are angels yet but he knows they are men of great authority because he bows to them. He insists that they stay at his house for the evening. He first tells the men to come to his house so he can wash their feet and feed them so they can be on their way. He is showing hospitality like Abraham but instead of wanting them to stay he wants them to leave. He knew the city was wicked. They insisted on spending the night in the Town Square but Lot knew the dangers of staying out in the open. He was well aware of the sin that infested the city. As a judge or person of authority Lot probably encountered these wicked men often and knew how dangerous they were. As an official he also did not enforce morality on the city. Chances are Lot allowed or overlooked the sin in the city but he could not let any harm come to his guests. We see here how the city changed Lot, he had become a man of compromise. He pressed them or insisted that they stay in his home mainly for their safety.
Vs 4 – 5: Lot is the only one in the city who shows hospitality. At nightfall the men of the city come to Lot’s house and surround it. We are told both young and old men come… This goes to show that there were indeed no righteous individuals in the city. The vast majority of men were now at his door seeking to harm his guests. Remember God said he would spare the city if there were ten righteous. Apparently Lot is the only righteous man in the city.
There has been much debate as to what the actual sin of Sodom was. Many say it is the act of homosexuality. Others say it’s because the Sodomites were inhospitable to the strangers/angels. I think it is sin in general which could be a combination of the two and it could be much more than just the two. According to Evangelical author D.A. Carson, “No greater flouting of oriental conventions of hospitality can be imagined than to make guests submit to homosexual rape. Ancient societies often condoned homosexuality between consenting adults, but rape, especially of guests, was always regarded as wrong.” This is not to say that homosexuality was condoned by God, it was just more commonly accepted by the people of the city. Eventually there would be laws forbidding homosexual acts but for now I think the text suggests that the men of Sodom were seeking to forcefully have their way with or rape Lot’s guests.
Vs 6 – 11: Being a good host Lot steps in to protect his guests. He implores the men of this city (of whom he actually calls “my brothers”) to not continue with this heinous act. Imagine these are men that Lot probably sees daily. Some may have even been his friends and colleagues. He wrongly thinks he can step in between the riotous mob and his houseguests. Maybe he thought he could reason with them. Then he does something that even I can’t quite comprehend… He offers his virgin daughters to these lust-filled men of the city. Why would any man do such a deplorable thing? If anything we do see Lot is committed to protecting his guests and no where do we see that God condoned Lot’s reasoning. The answer is not given in the text and we can only assume he did what he did for a reason. One person suggested that Lot offering his daughters was a sarcastic reply to their riotous request, he writes, “It would be sarcastically saying to your mortgage company, ‘why don’t you just take the clothes off my children’s backs and food off of their plates?’ Such a comment is not suggesting that they will really do that. If this is the correct way to read verse 8, Lot’s offer of his daughter’s is intended to prick the conscience of the mob.”
Interestingly enough in Lot’s response to “cool down” the situation he now endangers his own life. The men quickly turn against him. These one time friends and colleagues are now threatening to do worse to Lot than what they had planned for his guests. Lot’s, the man in the place of authority, life is now in jeopardy as the mob presses towards him. It is amazing how quickly they turn against Lot.
It is at this point Lot is now saved by the men he was trying to protect. The men reach out and grabbed Lot and the mob was struck with blindness. Amazingly this was not enough to stop them from pursuing. Why didn’t they stop and just go home? In their continuation we see how deeply rooted their sin was. Their lust and sin was driving them to the point of madness. They had no common sense, reasoning or control. They were not only physically blinded but spiritually blinded as well. Sin has the power to do that, if left unchecked.
 New Bible commentary: 21st century edition. 1994 (D. A. Carson, R. T. France, J. A. Motyer & G. J. Wenham, Ed.) (4th ed.) (74–75). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press.
 The NIV Application Commentary: Genesis, 2001 John H. Walton p. 522. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan
Genesis 18:9 -15
Vs 9: Where is Sarah? This reflects the same questions as Gen 3:9 & 4:9. The question could be similar in how the question was asked. God knew where Sarah was but could he have been asking Abraham, “Where is Sarah spiritually?” Is she on board with this promise? Sarah was in the tent listening to the conversation. She was probably staying out of sight since wives hid themselves when the husband was entertaining.
Vs 10 – 3: God speaks about Sarah giving birth to a son. In fact He is more specific as he tells Abraham she will have a child at this time next year. Sarah’s response is similar to Abraham as she laughs to herself in her heart.
Sarah is well past menopause and she probably had given up hope of ever mothering a son. Her laughter and heart response tell us that Sarah did not believe God was going to follow through with his promise. Her laughter was probably based in hopelessness and cynicism. There is a part of me that is sympathetic towards her. She had been continually told of this promise for years and absolutely nothing has happened. Sarah’s laughter could have been a defense mechanism because she may not have wanted her hopes to get high just to have them crushed if God didn’t do what he said.
The Lord replies in astonishment that Sarah would even consider laughing about his promise. He can’t believe that she would doubt his promise The Lord then rebukes Sarah for her unbelief and she denies that she laughed and doubted.
So as we look at this passage both Abraham and Sarah laugh when told by God she will give birth to a child. However Abraham was not rebuked for his response and Sarah was. Why is this? I think the right response is Abraham laughed out of gratitude, reverence and joy and Sarah laughed out of bitterness, spite and unbelief. Nowhere does it say that Abraham did not believe God was going to fulfill his promise. However Sarah may have refused to believe. It was all a matter of the heart.
Vs 14: The Lord rebukes Sarah and then a question is asked, “Is anything too hard for the LORD?” It is a rhetorical question because the obvious answer is, “NO, nothing is impossible with God”. This question is also a great reminder to us during times when our faith is wavering or our trust in God is waning. Do I and you truly believe nothing is impossible with God?
This was a question my wife and I were forced to ask ourselves early in our marriage. She was told before we were married that having children naturally was something that most likely was not a possibility for us. My wife actually asked me before we were married if I would be ok adopting if we couldn’t conceive?
Once we were married she had a procedure and the doctor told us that IF pregnancy were to occur, there was a small window of opportunity and that time was now; although nothing was guaranteed. Both of us were not planning on having children this early in our marriage but if we wanted them now was our only possible chance. We Tried many times with no success. There was frustration, questioning and even times of giving up hope.
One day God led me to I Samuel 1 and the story of Hannah, the mother of Samuel. She prayed and asked God for a child and promised to dedicate him to His service. I felt led to do as Hannah did. I prayed and I believed God was able to give us a child because God could do the impossible. As I look at the four children we have today I am happily reminded that NOTHING is impossible with God.
I think many of us can relate to both Abraham and Sarah as they struggled in their faith. Abraham knew his God and he believed God was going to fulfill his promise. Maybe you are facing a situation or have been waiting on the promise of God in your life. You may be feeling a bit hopeless, maybe a bit concerned that God isn’t going to do what he has said or you may even be on the verge of losing faith. But I think it is important to know and understand the process we go through in understanding and trusting God.
For the past several weeks I have been going through the book of beginnings also known as Genesis. It has been my continual prayer that as we go through this book you would encounter God. I pray your encounter would help you grow in your walk with God and you would hunger for his Word thus falling more and more in love with him daily. My purpose and goal for this study is not only to encounter God but also to prayerfully discern how to apply what we learn together into our everyday lives. The way this happens will be different for each person because we are all in different stages of our lives and in our walks with God. God is faithful to meet you where you are right now so that ultimately he can lovingly lead you to the place where He is at work and so you may be in His will and walk according to his plan and purpose.
Genesis 18:1 - 8
In chapter 18 the scene now changes to Abraham at the Oaks of Mamre which we are told in 13:18 is where he settled after separating from Lot. The LORD appears once again to Abraham (Theophany – God appears). This time He is with two other men, probably angels. These men are considered by Abraham to be important because he responds by running to meet them and falling down before them. However it is not implied that Abraham knows just yet that this is a divine encounter with God.
Vs. 2 “He lifted up his eyes” - Abraham may have been sleeping during his mid day nap in front of his tent and awoke to see these men on the horizon. It is also possible that they may have just appeared out of nowhere. We are not told.
Vs 3 - 8: He pleads for the men to stay with him. He shows them hospitality by offering them bread, water and a feet washing. It is clear that Abraham wants to be a hospitable host. I find it interesting that Abraham offers a snack to the visitors but he prepares a royal meal for them.
Abraham’s offering (whether he knows it or not) is indeed proper and true worship to God. His actions show that he is giving God his best. He is holding nothing back. This meal certainly was costly, the preparation was time consuming and a lot of hard work but completely worth it to Abraham.
He had Sarah take 3 seahs of fine flour which is about 7 quarts to make cakes.. He picks a calf and slaughters it after he made curds and milk. Abraham made a feast literally fit for a king and a crowd.
As I read this account it makes me wonder how often I or we do just the opposite with God. We offer or promise to give our best to Him (proper worship) but ultimately we end up giving him a morsel of bread and a sip of water. It is clear in the both the Old and New Testament that God does not want just a portion of us; he wants us completely and Abraham displays this perfectly. God is worthy of our best and so often we give him a portion of our leftovers. Our days are filled with activities that consume us and if time permits or we actually remember we may carve out a small time to spend with Him. We may conduct our daily affairs in our own power, completely disregard God in our decisions and daily life but when things go awry we quickly call him to bail us out. God does not desire to ride in the passenger seat of our lives; He wants to be the one in charge. May God help me and you to always give to God completely everything and this means everything that we have and let him to be LORD of it all.
What could that look like for you today?
Genesis 17:6 - 14
Vs 6: “I will make you exceedingly fruitful…” Notice this is a divine act. God will make Abraham fruitful. The child and descendants to follow will not be accomplished by natural means. Abraham will have a child and many descendants to follow and it will be done supernaturally. “Abraham will be given divine power to achieve this fertility…” God will make him fruitful. God will intervene. God will make Kings come from Abraham. We continually see that it is God who is going to make all this happen. This is a great reminder and example for you and me. Healthy growth in ones life and multiplication (in nations, families and churches) comes from God.
Vs 7: God now declares the covenant will be extended to Abraham’s descendants (Israel). The covenant is eternal; it will never expire and as a result God will be their God throughout the generations and for all eternity.
Vs 8: The promise of land is not new. However God specifically states he will give Abraham the land of Canaan. It is probable that Abraham lived in Canaan but he is not established there. God is going to give him the land of his sojourns. The land that Abraham roamed will all be his and his descendants one day.
Vs 9 - 14: God has stated his promise. God’s required response from Abraham and his clan is circumcision. Every male whether born into the clan or bought must be circumcised from this point on and in future generations. Circumcision must be performed on children 8 days old.
Circumcision will serve as a reminder of God’s covenant. It is as verse 11 states, “A sign of the covenant.” Not only is it a reminder but it is also a requirement that marks one a member of the descendants of God. Anyone refusing circumcision will be cut off from the blessing. God commands Abraham and his descendants to observe his covenant which results in the act of circumcision. Failure to be circumcised is in fact doing the opposite of observing it is breaking the covenant.
What does all this mean to us today? How can a story about an ancient patriarchal promise to an old guy with no kids who was told to circumcise the men of his clan apply to us today?
Good question. May I suggest some keywords that caught my attention they may help us apply this message today? They are sovereignty, walking before God, and circumcision. I believe one of the most important truths about today’s passage is to know and understand that God is sovereign. God is in control. A.W. Pink wrote, “To say that God is Sovereign is to declare that God is God. To say that God is Sovereign is to declare that He is the Most High, doing according to His will in the army of Heaven. To say that God is Sovereign is to declare that He is the Almighty, the Possessor of all power in Heaven and earth, so that none can defeat His counsels, thwart His purpose, or resist His will (Psa. 115:3). To say that God is Sovereign is to declare that He is “The Governor among the nations” (Psa. 22:28), setting up kingdoms, overthrowing empires, and determining the course of dynasties as pleases Him best. To say that God is Sovereign is to declare that He is the “Only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords” (1 Tim. 6:15). Such is the God of the Bible.” Since God is sovereign we are called to walk before God or pattern our lives around him. It is to live Romans 12:1,2: “Therefore, I urge you brothers, in view of God’s mercy to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
We no longer live for self or the world but we live and walk before God in an upright manner. As a reminder of God’s covenant we remember circumcision. Not necessarily the physical act but the spiritual act Paul talks about in Romans 2:28, 29, “For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God” and Colossians 2:11 – 14, “In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.”
The physical act of circumcision is no longer a requirement to be a recipient of the promise of life. However when you became a follower of Jesus you have received a circumcision of the heart. The flesh that you once walked according to has been cut off and buried. Then you have been resurrected by the power of God through the Holy Spirit and have been forgiven of sins and made alive in Christ. You no longer need to do in order to belong to God, you just need to receive. Faith, grace and submission is sufficient to have abundant life now and eternal life in the future. Isn’t God wonderful?
 Wenham, G. J. (1994). Vol. 2: Genesis 16–50. Word Biblical Commentary (7). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.
Genesis 17:1 - 5
In Genesis 12 God makes a promise to Abram and God is always faithful to keep his promises. God can and will accomplish what He promises regardless of the circumstances. In the case of Abram and Sarai we see that their circumstances seemed hopeless and in their hopelessness they decided God needs a helping hand in accomplishing what He has set out to do. We are not unlike them. We intervene and try to fix what we think God has broken or maybe even forgot about. Certainly Abram and Sarai felt the need to assist God in accomplishing his promise and as we saw; when humans begin to meddle with God’s plans things can go awry and become a big mess very quickly.
Vs 1 - 3: We are told in verse 1 that Abram is 99 years old. This is significant because it shows us (the reader) how amazing the promise of God is that He made to Abram many years prior. We are reminded that nothing is impossible with God… even at the ripe old age of 99 God is still going to keep his promise of a child to Abram no matter the circumstances. His age is also significant because it also informs us that thirteen years have passed between chapters 16 & 17. One can assume that Abram had not heard from God for 13 long years. Maybe Abram’s patience was wearing thin because it has been 24 years since God made the initial promise to him to bless him with a child and give him land. I wonder if Abram’s faith was shaken... Is it possible that he resigned himself to the fact that Ishmael was going to be the chosen son? God told him 13 years ago that Ishmael was not so it is possible he is beginning to wonder if God is going to pull through for him on this one. We are not told right now how Sarai is feeling during this time? Had she given up hope as well?
The Lord appears to Abram. In this encounter we see a sequence of events.
Vs 4 – 5: God’s covenant with Abram results in name change. Abram means “exalted father” but Abraham means “father of multitudes.” I have mentioned on occasion that names in the Bible have significance. In modern times names can be no more than two parents coming up with a name that they think no one else will come up with. In some cases a child may be named after a parent or relative. However in biblical times a name expresses the character or the perceived parental destiny of the child. Of course children are always named at birth and rarely would someone have a name change mid life and even more rare to change a name at this late stage of life. Thus this name change is more than a hopeful destiny of Abraham. His name change is a divine guarantee of Abraham’s future. The name change was not made by his human parents but by the divine Father. God basically says, “Your parents named you ‘exalted father’ but I am renaming you ‘Father of multitudes.’” His name change would serve as a reminder of God’s covenant. Every time Abraham spoke or heard his name He would be reminded of the promise of God to make him the Father of a multitude of people.
Jeff has been in ministry for well over two decades. He currently serves as Campus Pastor at West Bradenton Baptist Southside Campus in Bradenton, Florida.
Jeff Has authored an Advent Devotional (The Advent of Jesus) and a devotional on the book of James (James: Where Faith and Life Meet). Both are available on Amazon.
He is married to Carrie and they have four children, Micaiah, Gabe, Simon, and Berea.
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