Posts Tagged ‘Abraham’

I became a police officer in 1981. I came to faith in 1984. Young, stupid, and un-discipled, I eventually fell back into my old, sinful ways. I did not yet understand the spiritual principle regarding holiness — the notion of being set apart for God and endeavoring to make it known, perpetually.
I attempted to share my faith, but rapidly succumb to the ridicule of both criminal and coworker. I blame neither for my downward spiral – – the fault was my own. I was like the seed that sprang up quickly and the one that fell among the thorns: shallow roots growing amongst weeds. In other words: I was not growing in my faith and I was not practicing holiness (set-apartness).
It reminds me of Lot.
Consider one of the most disturbing portions of Scripture:
“Behold now, I have two daughters which have not known man; let me, I pray you, bring them out unto you, and do ye to them as is good in your eyes: only unto these men do nothing.” (Genesis 19:8)
For centuries scholars have debated why a man would make such a despicable offer. Some have even attempted to defend Lot’s action. The truth be told, the deed is indefensible. We can however surmise that Lot got to this horrendous condition through a lack of spiritual growth and a lack of holiness.
Sodom was a vile place, replete with depravity, perversion, and sexual sin. Why Lot chose to live in such a place we may never know, but we can speculate that on day one, week one, or even year one of living in Sodom, Lot would not have offered his daughters up to be raped. However, after 25 years of living there, he was worn down by the continual vice, brutality, and materialism. Two and a half decades of compromise, turning a blind-eye, cowering in fear, and concealing his faith brought Lot to this place. It did not happen overnight. Shallow roots among thorns have little chance.
On the other hand, consider Abraham. While not a perfect man, he was a faith-filled man, a man who grew in his knowledge of the Lord and exercised holiness, opting to remain untethered to the world as a nomadic tent dweller. Sodom essentially lay at his doorstep, but he was not of Sodom. He was free to engage with the world on his terms and not on theirs. As a result, he was used mightily by God.
As with Lot, God did not abandon me, He rescued me. Like Lot, my salvation was secure because by faith I believed. But in those days, I was not of much use to God. Thankfully our Lord is both gracious and merciful, and remains faithful when we are not. He restores what the locust devours, that is if we allow Him to.
Study the word, be in prayer, and be ye holy.

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The Lord shall send the rod of Your strength out of Zion…The Lord has sworn And will not relent, “You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek.” Psalm 110:2a + 4

No Justice–No Peace

noWhile No justice, no peace! is a nice sentiment, and it sounds marvelous when you get a couple hundred people to chant it in harmony, it is not a solution that works towards true peace, at least not in the context it is being used here, It doesn’t work because in order for ‘justice to be just’, it must be applied to everyone. In other words, if you’re demanding justice in a particular situation, then you yourself must be subject to justice in every situation. That’s true justice.  I for one am not ready for that. All things considered, I will choose God’s mercy over His justice any day of the week.

How Then Do We Achieve Peace

The answer is revealed in God’s promise and oath recorded in Psalm 110 (above). The short-answer is Jesus, but why; why is Jesus the solution to warfare, strife, and dissonance?

Consider Melchizedek

For this Melchizedek…first being translated “King of Righteousness, ” and then also king of Salem, meaning “king of peace.” Hebrews 7:1-2

Melchizedek is the high priest who met Abraham after he and 318 servants fought and won a decisive battle against Chedorlaomer and his huge army. Many believe (as I do) that Melchizedek was in reality a Christophany, or an appearance of our Lord Jesus. Regardless what you believe about Mel, the passage from Hebrews 7:1-2 answers the question (in part) as to why Jesus is the only way to everlasting peace.

First Things First

It tells us that Melchizedek means, ‘King of Righteousness,’ and then afterwards, he is called ‘King of peace.’ In this we see that there is an order; righteousness comes before peace. It must! The Psalmist reminds us that Jesus is coming in the order, or ‘style’ of Melchizedek. Jeremiah 23:6 builds on the doctrine similarly:

In His days Judah will be saved, And Israel will dwell safely; Now this is His name by which He will be called: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.

C. H. Spurgeon put it this way:

“First, King of righteousness.” How early that “first” was, I cannot tell you. “In the beginning was the Word,” but when that beginning was, who knows?—for is He not, indeed, without beginning? First and firstborn, from everlasting You are God, O mighty Son of Jehovah! First, King of Righteousness, and then afterwards, when men fell, when rebellion, strife and war had sprung up—then He came to heal the mischief and become, “King of Peace.” He comes Himself as the Divine Ambassador, our Peacemaker and Peace. He comes here into this place even into the midst of His Salem, into the midst of His people, and gives us, now, as He has long given, the vision of peace—opening up before the eyes of faith the completeness, the sureness and the delight of perfect peace in Himself.”

Only One King of Righteousness

We are not righteous; no man can be unto himself; a quick review of the Ten Commandments will drive that point home. Our righteousness is His righteousness. Christians are clothed in His garment; we are, as Philippians 3:9 declares:

Found in (Jesus), not having (our) own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith

noOnly perfect and true righteousness leads to perfect peace and why Hebrews 6:20 rightly identifies Jesus as our ‘Forerunner’.  This state of being cannot be accomplished on our own. Jesus must lead the way, otherwise we cannot be seen by the Father as righteous, and therefore we cannot attain peace. We can almost picture the football team bursting through the paper banner with Captain Jesus leading the charge, but better yet, we can envision the Temple veil being rent in two after Jesus finished the work on the cross.

No Jesus, no peace,

Know Jesus, know peace.

Jesus be with you,

Peace be with you.


Believe it or not; like it or not, God loves the Syrian people. He loves them so much that He sent Jesus to die for their sins, just like He did for you in I. Pray that the Gospel message is going out in Syria and that they will take heed and take hold of the promise. Also pray for our nation and our president. The United States does not have to be the ones to fulfill this Bible prophecy. Pray for the unsaved souls and pray for nominal Christians you need revival. Pray that Christ’s righteousness will be the garment of choice so that peace can follow.

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And Abraham said, “My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering.” So the two of them went together…Then Abraham lifted his eyes and looked, and there behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up for a burnt offering instead of his son. And Abraham called the name of the place, The-Lord-Will-Provide; as it is said to this day, “In the Mount of the Lord it shall be provided.” Genesis 22:8, 13-14
Jehovah Jireh = The LORD Will Provide

As I have shared before, I use both the New King James and the King James versions of the Bible for my study. The NKJV is easier to read, but occasionally the KJV provides a better translation and although I have quoted the NKJV above, today’s Bible passage in the KJV correctly omits the word ‘for‘ and simply reads, “God will provide Himself.”  That might not seem like a big deal initially, but may you come to realize the huge significance it has both symbolically and doctrinally.

What Does God Provide?

Fact: this Isaac incident is a symbolic, albeit real, depiction of what God the Father and Jesus the Son will later do on Calvary. It’s born out in the text above; God declares that He will provide a surrogate for Isaac in the form of a lamb, but then a ram is produced.

Did God make a mistake or was He making a statement?

Since we know that God cannot a blunder make, we know that latter to be true. God is saying in no uncertain terms, ‘I will not provide a lamb, but the Lamb in the form of Myself.’

Make no mistake about it; the ram is not a lamb on purpose.

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! John 1:29

The Lamb Becomes a Worm

The Lamb Becomes a Worm,’ is the first teaching I ever heard Pastor Jon Courson teach and every time I have heard it since it never fails to give me a spiritual shiver. Most of us acquainted with Jesus and the Bible know that when Christ calls from the cross, “My God, why have you forsaken Me,” He is in fact quoting Psalm 22, which speaks prophetically of Himself. If you did not realize that, read through Psalm 22 with that understanding.

Now consider this verse…

But I am a worm, and no man; A reproach of men, and despised by the people. Psalm 22:6

What on Earth Does That Mean?

The Hebrew word for worm is ‘towla’ and while it is literally translated to mean worm, it also means scarlet. There is in reality a towla worm and back in the day these worms were ground-up to produce the color scarlet, hence the double meaning. What is incredibly interesting about this worm is that as part of the reproduction process, it affixes itself to a tree where it ultimately dies. In due time, the young then feed on the flesh. When the experience is over, all that remains is a crimson stain on the wood. Almost miraculously, in a few days the scarlet spot dries up and flakes-off like snow. I am not surprised that God employed this seemingly bizarre imagery to illustrate what His Son would ultimately do for us on the cross.

Come now, and let us reason together, ” Says the Lord, “Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool. Isaiah 1:18

What Happens to Isaac?

So Abraham returned to his young men, and they rose and went together to Beersheba; and Abraham dwelt at Beersheba. Genesis 22:19

It is quite clear that Isaac’s life is spared, but what happens to him in the Bible text? One moment God steps in and saves his life and the next we see Abraham walking off with the two servants, with no mention of Isaac. Amazingly, God is providing yet another symbol. The next Genesis passage bears witness to that as we learn of Nahor’s descendants. At first the genealogy seems out-of-place, but then we recognize a familiar name in verse 23…

And Bethuel begot Rebekah.

“So what,” you say?

  1. Like Jesus, Isaac rises from his symbolic death on the third day (he and his dad journeyed three days to reach this place).
  2. Like Jesus, Isaac is mysteriously absent after the resurrection. We know Jesus ascended into Heaven to, among other things, prepare a place for His Bride. Where does Isaac go?
  3. Like Jesus, Issac returns for his bride (Rebekah). She is as much a picture of the church as Isaac is a picture of Jesus.

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Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Romans 5:1-2

What Promises?

I’m talking about the promises from God as a result of having been justified by our faith in God and the resurrection of His Son. In the precious light of the fabulous news the Apostle Paul reveals to us in Romans chapter four, we have peace with God, access to God, and joy in God.

We are at peace with the Father because we believe what Jesus accomplished on the cross was sufficient appeasement for our sin. By that same faith we have been given access to the Father by the power of His Holy Spirit. And finally, we rejoice because we know by faith our Heavenly hope is a sure guarantee; a done-deal. Fundamentally, the war with God is over—He is not angry, annoyed, or disappointed in us, for having been justified, He sees us in our glorified state.

How Can That Be?

This doctrine is vitally important towards the serenity and sanity of every believer, so pay attention. ‘How can the Lord see us in our glorified state when we have not yet received our glorified bodies? Let’s go back to Genesis and Abraham for that answer.

(As it is written, “I have made you a father of many nations”) in the presence of Him whom he believed–God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did… Romans 4:17

When the Lord told Abraham these things they had not yet happen, but He makes the statement in a tense that implies the event already was. In other words, Abraham at age 100 has yet to father a child, but God talks about him as if these countless nations already were.

(I know that whatever God does, It shall be forever. Nothing can be added to it, And nothing taken from it. God does it, that men should fear before Him. That which is has already been, And what is to be has already been… Ecclesiastes 3:14-15a

God has essentially told Abraham, “That which is has already been, and what is to be has already been.” It is an incredible premise and only one that God could accomplish—not only can God see the beginning from the end, He is able to operate in both realms simultaneously. Only God can give a future promise and then proclaim it as if it has already occurred. Think about that the next time you pray for a healing of some kind.

(For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. Romans 8:29-30

God can, in a sense, see the entire parade as if viewing it from the Goodyear blimp. Although the analogy is flawed, it loosely demonstrates how He can see the beginning and the end concurrently and how He is able to forecast with perfect accuracy to the person below what lies ahead. God can say, “You have seen the Underdog balloon,” before we have seen it, because He knows it is only a matter of time before we do. From our limited perspective we can only realize that which is directly in front of us, but by faith we are able to take God at His word. When we do, we are justified, and when we are justified, we are seen by God as glorified. If you believe that by faith, it should bring you much peace, access, and joy!

(Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good testimony. By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible. Hebrews 11:1-3

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What then shall we say that Abraham our father has found according to the flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt. Romans 4:1-4
If it’s True it’s Not New
Building on the divine standard pronounced in the previous chapter, the Apostle Paul brings us way back to the Old Testament to emphasize that justification by faith alone is nothing new. Using Abraham to demonstrate his point, the passage reveals that his righteousness was accredited to him based solely on his faith and not by his efforts. If Abraham did achieve righteousness by his works he could have sung his own praises, but that was not the case . Abraham was a saved-man before he set out from Ur and before he brought Isaac to the mountain sacrificially; he was saved when he simply believed the Lord and took Him at His word.

Now to him who works…wages are not counted as grace but as debt. Romans 4:4

Romans 4:4 is an incredibly significant doctrine and one that many born-again believers quickly forget. Many Christians comprehend that salvation is not something that can be earned and that it is a free gift from God that we receive by faith—at least initially. The mistake we often make is after we are saved; after we have freely received this gift of grace and buy into a false teaching.

By grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8)

God Owes Us Nothing

For whatever the reason, it is not unusual for the born again Christian to initiate works in order to earn God’s blessings. It’s often what’s being taught (the false prosperity gospel) and then erroneously enforced when we misinterpret the blessings the Lord bestows before, during, and after we work.

“I tithed, ” we might say, “and this is the reason God blessed me.”

That is wrong theology.

The Lord’s blessings do not cease or increase based upon any work we do. His blessings flow continually. Whether or not we are receiving them is based on positioning, not propositioning. We cannot approach our Lord and proclaim, “Ok Lord, I’ve prayed, I’ve fasted, I’ve poured through the Bible, and gone to church, now how are you going to bless me today?”

These are things that we get to do because it is our desire. If someone tells you that these are things you must do in order to gain or maintain your salvation, call him a liar and run away.

Just teasing.

Tell him the truth. Tell him that to assume God owes us anything is likely the most ridiculous concept we could harbor, for God is a debtor to no man. Any work we do should be a gracious response to what the Lord has done, is doing, and will continue to do regardless of our efforts. It is that faithful model that keeps us close to the spout where His blessings pour out.

He brings the princes to nothing; He makes the judges of the earth useless. Scarcely shall they be planted, Scarcely shall they be sown, Scarcely shall their stock take root in the earth, When He will also blow on them, And they will wither, And the whirlwind will take them away like stubble. “To whom then will you liken Me, Or to whom shall I be equal?” says the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high, And see who has created these things, Who brings out their host by number; He calls them all by name, By the greatness of His might And the strength of His power; Not one is missing. Why do you say, O Jacob, And speak, O Israel: “My way is hidden from the Lord, And my just claim is passed over by my God”? Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, The Creator of the ends of the earth, Neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable. Isaiah 40:23-28

  1. What do these passages say about God?
  2. What do they say about us?
  3. What should we consider doing?

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Sacrifice and PraiseSo Israel took his journey with all that he had, and came to Beersheba, and offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac…Then he sent Judah before him to Joseph… Genesis 46:1 & 28

It Seemed Like the Right Thing to Do

I can scarcely begin to tell how many times I have advanced a decision to do something based exclusively on the notion that it seemed like the right thing to do. By God’s grace, not every choice was dreadful; sometimes things turned out well and other times, not so well. Our Father would rather our movements be in harmony with His and so, through His servant Israel He provides instruction, that if pursued will facilitate discerning His will before we leap haphazardly.

Digging Up the Past

Israel is about to enter Egypt and he stops. I suppose his memory drifts back to the days of his grandfather Abraham who found himself in a similar predicament—there was famine in the land and he too went to Egypt for resources. At the time, to Abraham it must have seemed like the right thing to do, but his grievous error was in not seeking God’s will. Despite the fact he returned a wealthy man, part of his yield included a slave girl named Hagar, who would bear him a son named Ishmael, the likes of which the world still struggles today.

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. Romans 12:1-2

Israel is unquestionably anxious to see his son Joseph and to obtain provision for his family, but he stops just short of entering in and inquires of God. While impatience, eagerness, and enthusiasm are my customary stumbling blocks, Israel demonstrates that selfishness will not stand between him and his relationship with his Father. Subsequently, God honors that sacrifice by authorizing and confirming Israel’s entry into Egypt.

“I am God, the God of your father; do not fear to go down to Egypt, for I will make of you a great nation there. I will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also surely bring you up again; and Joseph will put his hand on your eyes.” Genesis 46:3-4

Ready, Set, GO!

Not so fast. This is the stage where many of us would proclaim, “Gentlemen, start your engines!” as we geared-up to move forward with God’s blessing, but Israel’s reaction is quite different. Relaxed and poised he selects his son Judah to go before him and to greet Joseph. Why Judah? Because the name Judah (in Hebrew) means praise—Israel moves forth with praise and praise leads the way! Let us by sacrifice seek His will and then proceed with our praises toward Him.

Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. Psalms 100:4

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And the Lord said to her: “Two nations are in your womb, Two peoples shall be separated from your body; One people shall be stronger than the other, And the older shall serve the younger.” Genesis 25:23A Picture of You

It is a true saying that for every New Testament principle, there is an Old Testament picture. Abraham is a picture (or type) of Father God, Isaac is a picture of Jesus, Rebekah is a picture of the church (the Bride of Christ), and Esau and Jacob are pictures of you and I. At the very least they are symbolic representations of the two entities that continually war within us: flesh and spirit. This enduring conflict (in my opinion) is the prevalent woe of the Christian church today.

The War Within

For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. Galatians 5:17

We are familiar with the old aphorism that tells us the dog who wins the fight is the one we feed the most—it is a model we can understand. The same principle holds true in regard to our flesh and our spirit—the one that develops and thrives is the one which is fed the most. It stands to reason that if we are miserable ~or~ if we want to feel miserable, then feed them both.

So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. Revelation 3:16

Misery is Contagious

When we feed both the spirit and the flesh, we make ourselves miserable and in turn we make Jesus nauseous. In this verse from Revelation, Jesus is not telling us (as Christians) that He is disgusted with us, but rather that our miserable condition pains Him internally. If you have ever felt sick over a loved one’s destructive behavior, then perhaps you can commiserate with Jesus—in these situations there is little to do except ache and pray. When the victim is us we have one other option.

The Remedy

Jesus said His yoke was easy and His burden is light, therefore it stands to reason that a difficult yoke and heavy burden belongs to someone else. It really all comes down to one decisive problem—there are just some things we do not want to give up. Our salvation is not in question necessarily, but rather the choice to be miserable. The Jesus-solution is simple and straightforward…

Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve…put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts…For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Joshua 24:15, Romans 13:14; 8:6

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Then Abraham stood up from before his dead, and spoke to the sons of Heth, saying, “I am a foreigner and a visitor among you. Give me property for a burial place among you, that I may bury my dead out of my sight.” Genesis 23:3-4In the World…

Imagine your dad has given you a beautiful and luxurious new car. You then take that car, drive it over to the local new-car dealer, and park it directly in front of the showroom window. You exit the car, walk over to the first salesman you see and announce to him, “I want to buy that car!” As peculiar as this might seem, in a sense this is what Abraham has done in our story.

“I am a foreigner and a visitor among you…”

Abraham proclaims to these locals after the death of his wife Sarah. At first it doesn’t seem that odd a statement; he is sojourning with his wife, she dies, and he needs a burial site for her—it’s not that unusual. But then we remember that Abraham already owns all this land.

…The Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying: “To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates— the Kenites, the Kenezzites, the Kadmonites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites, and the Jebusites.” Genesis 15:18-21

Abraham is asking to purchase that which already belongs to him. The question is why and it is an answer we discover in the Book of Hebrews. While it is true we learn (in Hebrews) that Abraham’s greatest asset is his faith, we also gain some insight to Abraham’s mindset as it pertains to the things of this world.

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance… (but) he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God. Hebrews 11:8 + 10

What’s Really Going On

Abraham, in his grief, chooses to be a witness to those around him; his behavior a living testimony to his God. The demonstration cries out to the world, “This is not my home; my home is with the Father!” In Abraham’s case, the heathen world took notice, even though it was not very long before some would take advantage. In spite of that, Abraham stands firm through this devout pursuit, opting to pay any price rather than sellout on principle.

Whose Image Are You

It is not an accident that Abraham acted as he did, nor is it an accident that these events are recorded for our consumption, but make no mistake about it, Abraham’s manner is so much more than a pattern for sinful man to follow. The concealed message is not where we are going, but by what means we are to arrive. When Jesus asks His disciples whose image and inscription was on a coin, the implication was whose image do we reflect—do we look like the world or do you look like Him?

Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone… Ephesians 2:19-20

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Now it came to pass after these things that God tested Abraham, and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” Then He said, “Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” Genesis 22:1-2Could You Do as Abraham Did?

I could not, but that is only because God has not prepared me to do what Abraham has done; God is preparing me to do something else and He is preparing you to do something else. We would recall that God commenced His work in Abraham when he was seventy five years old and does not ask him to sacrifice Isaac until fifty seven years have elapsed. In other words, God had invested over fifty years of spiritual preparation in Abraham and perhaps more importantly, Abraham submitted himself to it.

Are You Submitted

We can admit it. So many of us will not tender ourselves to God because we fear that He might ask us to do something we aren’t prepared or willing to do. The old cliché, “God never gives us anything we can’t handle, ” just doesn’t seem to ring true for us. Well, that’s a good thing, because that little chestnut is erroneous. A proper adage would declare that God never gives us anything He can’t handle—God makes our way, not the other way around.

No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. 1 Corinthians 10:13

From Comfort to Completion

Hopefully the truth of 1 Corinthians soothes you, but you might wonder why a Christian would want to be positioned similarly to Abraham. Of what benefit could it possibly be? We do not know if Abraham fully understood the implications at the time, but we have the advantage of being able to examine the entire sequence of events permitting us to see the bigger picture…a picture perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. James 1:2-3

Starting With Faith…

This is exactly where Abraham started his expedition. The Book of Hebrews reminds us that by faith Abraham obeyed. Faith always comes first and it can only ripen as it steeps in blind submission. Compliance of that sort looks like this:

…He was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. Hebrews 11:8

Drawing on Hope…

When it was revealed to Abraham that he and his matured wife would bring forth a nation from a yet conceived child, he chose hope in a seemingly hopeless situation. ‘Hope’ is an oft misused word in today’s culture, but as applied by Abraham, it came with the notion that he absolutely expected fulfillment of God’s promise. Only active faith gives birth to that kind of hope.

Abraham, who is the father of us all…who, contrary to hope, in hope believed, so that he became the father of many nations, according to what was spoken, “So shall your descendants be.” Romans 4:16 + 18

Maturing in Love…

You might find this incredible, but we see God using the word ‘love’ for the very first time in the Bible in this passage about Abraham and Isaac. It is not an accident. God has fundamentally waited twenty-two chapters to introduce us to this word and when He does, it is within the context of a father’s love for his son.

Then He said, “Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love… Genesis 22:2

Have you ever wondered why? Well it certainly is true that what God is asking Abraham to do with Isaac is a symbolic depiction of what He would later do Himself on Calvary with His Son Jesus, but that’s not the entire story. It is here where God essentially declares to Abraham; ‘Love me more than that which you love the most.’ This is the place God desires to bring us! In this position we fully realize it has never, ever been about us, but it has always been about Jesus. That is why it is a journey worth taking and why an intelligent person goes.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16

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So Abraham rose early in the morning, and took bread and a skin of water; and putting it on her shoulder, he gave it and the boy to Hagar, and sent her away. Then she departed and wandered in the Wilderness of Beersheba. And the water in the skin was used up, and she placed the boy under one of the shrubs. Then she went and sat down across from him at a distance of about a bowshot; for she said to herself, “Let me not see the death of the boy.” So she sat opposite him, and lifted her voice and wept. Genesis 21:14-16

What’s Wrong with This Picture

There is something bizarre going on here. Previously we learned that Isaac was born to Sarah. When Isaac was about three years old, God tells Abraham to send his other son Ishmael away. Abraham obeys and sends Ishmael and Hagar off into the desert—with a loaf of bread and a bottle of water. The question is, ‘Why would Abraham, a wealthy man, send away Ishmael (who he loved dearly), with such meager provisions? It does not make sense.

Perhaps Abraham was merely demonstrating his faith by trusting in God for His provision rather than trying to do a work in his own flesh…again. Maybe Abraham was taking God’s promise at face value and saw no need to panic. It could also be that Abraham fully recognized that Ishmael was a work of his flesh and was prophetically illustrating this New Testament precept from Romans 13:14…

Make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.

Maybe Abraham somehow knew that Ishmael and Hagar (his mom) would come to symbolize the Law and bondage associated with Mount Sinai (where the Law was given to Moses) and that he was to reckon himself dead to the law. It could be these things or it could just be that Abraham was oblivious to them and was just responding to what he did know.

What Abraham Knew

And it came to pass at that time that Abimelech and Phichol, the commander of his army, spoke to Abraham, saying, “God is with you in all that you do. Now therefore, swear to me by God that you will not deal falsely with me, with my offspring, or with my posterity; but that according to the kindness that I have done to you, you will do to me and to the land in which you have dwelt.” And Abraham said, “I will swear.” Then Abraham rebuked Abimelech because of a well of water which Abimelech’s servants had seized. Genesis 21:22-25

When I first read this interaction between Abraham and King Abimelech, I was confused. Why was it here? Then it clicked—the fact that Ishmael almost died in the desert was not Abrahams fault, but Abimelech’s. Abraham had not sent his son into the desert to die, but with ample provision, for he knew there was a wellspring there (that he owned). What he did not know [then] was that Abimelech stole it.

Now it makes sense why Abimelech comes to Abraham with flattery and an agenda. He obviously learned that God spoke to Hagar from Heaven and about the promise He made to her regarding Ishmael and the great nation he would become. Knowing that he had seized Ishmael’s (Abraham’s) well must have sent an icy shiver down his spine. This is why Abimelech can say with confidence, “God is with you in all you do, ” and also why Abraham can see right through his ploy.

Righteous Abraham

This is precisely the point where I would have likely blown it. Abraham, having the upper hand, has an occasion to prosper on the heels of Abimilech’s error, but instead chooses the higher road. Abraham opts for humility and rather then glory in Abimelech’s downfall, he exhibits both wisdom and charity, creating an original way to worship his Everlasting God, El Olam.

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