June 2-8

 This week’s memory verse:

Galatians 3:7-9
Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

This week’s Scripture Readings:

Genesis 12 – The Call of  Abram
Genesis 15 – God’s Covenant with Abram
Genesis 21-22- – Issac’s Birth and “Sacrifice”
Genesis 27-28 – Jacob and Esau Compete
Genesis 32-33 – Jacob and Esau Reconcile

Day 1

The Call of Abram – Genesis 12 

Genesis 12 is something of a new start in scripture as we begin the story of Abraham. Abram is commanded to leave the homeland of his father and go to a new land. God intends to make Abram a great nation and a blessing to those around him. However, we see that God’s promise is not dependent on Abram’s faithfulness. Abram is told to leave the land and his kin, yet he bring’s along his nephew Lot. When a famine comes to the land, he fears that he won’t be provided for and heads into Egypt. Though God blessed and protected Abram even in Egypt, he came away with excess baggage and a rebuke from a pagan king. Harm came. Abraham’s story will be a continued drama of the tension between an unfaithful servant and a faithful God.

However, the promises of Genesis 12 are vital to understanding the scope of scriptures story. The Old Testament scriptures show how the family became the nation of Israel and how God blessed this unique people to be a blessing to other nations. The prophets continue to look for the promised Son who would bless all peoples! This son is named in the New Testament as the Lord Jesus Himself, and Paul would say in Galatians 3 that all of those who trust in Christ are blessed as children of Abraham!
Day 2

God’s Covenant with Abram – Genesis 15 

The chapter begins with God reassuring Abram that he will be his shield and the source of his reward. It’s understandable that Abraham is nervous, he just defeated an army and probably expected a counter attack ( hope you read the last chapter! ). Abram, however, is more worried that the descendant he was promised has not come. God reassures Abram by telling him the descendant will come from his own body and that his descendants will number the stars.

Abram believed and it was counted to him as righteousness. This isn’t a pretend righteousness. God does not account to us a pretended righteousness, but a real one in Jesus Christ. However, Abram wanted to know how he would know! Thus, this covenant scene where the animals are split as the smoking torch passed through. What is happening here?

To Abraham, this was a familiar was of ratifying an agreement where two parties would walk through carcasses together to symbolically say, “If I break my promises to you, then I expect what happened to these animals happens to me!” Here, God goes through death alone. Therefore, the certainty of the covenant God makes with Abram is based on who God is, not on who Abram is or what Abram does. This covenant cannot fail, because God cannot fail. God walked through the death in the broken body and shed blood of Jesus to establish His covenant with us! He will die to keep His promises to us!
Day 3

Issac’s Birth and “Sacrifice” – Genesis 21 and 22 

The child of promise is finally born, but what should have been a joyous season of life, quickly becomes one of strife and jealousy. The child of the flesh (Ishmael) scoffs at this “second son.” This leads Sarah to call for Hagar and Ishmael to be cast out. The Lord then instructs Abram to do just that. Maybe Abraham could not bring himself to part with Ishmael. Maybe the thought crossed Abraham’s mind that if something were ever to happen to Issac, there would always be Ishmael. Whatever Abraham may have thought, the Lord is clear that Ishmael and Hagar must go.  This seems harsh. This is a slave and her disowned son. These are two people who would have been seen very negatively. Yet, the Lord cares and provides for them. The Lord is not against Ishmael, as seen in his promise to this “son of the Flesh.”

The scene quickly shifts to Abraham and Abimelech making a treaty. Abimelech, and his army commander Phicol see that the Lord’s favor is on Abraham. They want to make peace. Abraham is willing to make this covenant, but brings up the matter of a well that had been seized by some of Abimelech’s servants. The matter is soon resolved, a peace treaty is made, and the location becomes known as Beersheba. Whether it is conflict in his own family, or conflict with his surrounding neighbors, Abraham is determined to do as the Lord commands, no matter how difficult it may be. This faith will serve him well in what God calls him to do next.  

After sending away Ishmael and navigating conflict, Abraham is commanded by God to take his son, Issac, and offer him up as a sacrifice. Abraham immediately does as God commanded. How different is this level of faith that is revealed here than what we have? Instead of questioning, instead of holding back until he understands, Abraham does as he is commanded. Why? Because he knows what God has promised. God said from the line of Issac the promises would be fulfilled. God is faithful and will never be a liar. If he made a promise he will keep it. Thus, Abraham probably thinks that God will either raise his son from the dead once he is offered as a sacrifice, or some other way will be made. We know that other way is made with the ram in the bushes. When God asked Abraham for the ultimate demonstration of love and commitment, He asked for Abraham’s son. When the Father wanted to show us the ultimate demonstration of His love and commitment to us, He gave us His Son. We can say to the LORD, “Now I know that You love me, seeing You have not withheld Your Son, Your only Son from me.”

Day 4

Jacob and Esau Compete – Genesis 27 and 28 

There is so much deception and distrust in this passage. Issac secretly requests for Esau to go out, hunt, and make a stew so that Issac can give him his birthright. This is the same birthright that God said would be Jacob’s, and the same birthright Esau had already given away. God, in his sovereignty, chose to use the line of Jacob to bring Christ, the Savior, into the world (Romans 9). While we may not understand his decision to choose a trickster over a fornicator, we can trust he knows better than we and that his ultimate purpose will not be thwarted. Rebekah goes on to convince Jacob to deceive Issac in order to ensure he receives the blessing. Instead of waiting on God to fulfill the promise he made, Rebekah and Jacob scheme in the flesh. Jacob probably used the promise and calling of God as an excuse for sin; he justified it to himself by saying his sinful conduct was fulfilling the promise of God. How often have we tried to do the same? Issac blesses Jacob and Esau becomes furious. This isn’t a righteous anger by Esau. He had no concern for a birthright a few chapters back, but, now that he thinks he can gain something, his self-promoting priorities change. Thus, Rebekah sends Jacob away so that Esau will not kill him. There is no trust in this family.

Upon leaving, Jacob arrives at Bethel where he has a dream. In Jacob’s dream, he sees a ladder that reaches from the earth all the way into the heavens. Jacob sees angels ascending and descending on this ladder. Then, Jacob hears the voice of God. God tells Jacob that he is the God of his ancestor Abraham, that He will give this land to Jacob, and that He will be with Jacob until these things are accomplished. Jacob wakes, is amazed by the Lord’s promise, and then makes an incredibly self-centered vow (If God will be with me, keep me, the way I am going, give me bread and clothing, etc.). Despite all of their selfish efforts to take matters into their own hands, God overruled these things to fulfill his purpose in and through this family.  Yet, as we will see, there are still consequences for those involved.
Day 5

Jacob and Esau Reconcile – Genesis 32 and 33

Again, Jacob is motivated by fear. He sends messengers and gifts to Esau, showing his intentions and possibly trying to win good favor. He splits his possessions up as a defensive measure. He is functioning in his own strength and thought and not trusting God’s power. It’s in his own strength that Jacob has this infamous wrestling match.

This “Man” is the pre-incarnate Christ. So, Jacob is strong enough to wrestle God in flesh? It may look like he is hanging in this fight, but truly it’s in appearance only. It often looks like we are in control when we operate in our own strength, but that is an illusion too. At some point, God will conquer our self-reliance and pride. This is what happens to Jacob. Few of us will walk with the Lord unless we walk with a limp.

Critically, as his self-reliance is conquered, he is given a new name, Israel. His name changes from “deceiver” to “God rules.” We have to be conquered by the true Israel, Jesus. When we are found in him, when we are submitted to him, we too are given a new name. We are no longer called “lost” or “sinner,” but instead, known as “Son” or “Daughter.”

As we might expect, Jacob is having a hard time living up to his new name. He is going out to meet Esau, and unlike before, he is at the beginning of the procession. To his relief, Esau greets him with a hug and a joyful attitude. They cry and are reconciled to one another. Yet, Jacob doesn’t want to be close to his brother. His brother invited him to Mount Seir in the south and Jacob tells him to go ahead. Then, Jacob goes to Succoth in the north. Ultimately, this is not where Jacob was supposed to go. God told Jacob to go to Bethel (Gen. 31). This is a good reminder for us. We have to be conquered by God. We saw that in chapter 32. Do not think that it is a one-time thing. Without constantly submitting our live to the will of the Father, we will try to take up that old name. We must constantly rely on Christ, and the power of the Holy Spirit, to stay in submission and obedience and not return to our old ways.