Having overcome Laban, Jacob prepares for his next obstacle on his way back home, his scorned brother Esau. On his way, the angels of the Lord met him and for some reason, Jacob saw it fit to rename that place Mahanaim, meaning two camps, one for him and one for God and his angels.
Jacob finally had enough of his uncle Laban’s attitude and after a message from God, finally got the nerve to return to his hometown and face his brother. He met with his wives privately in the fields to plan his exit strategy. He put forward his case in front of Laban’s daughters, pointing out how badly their father had treated him and let them in on his dream, that he thought was from God, asking him to go back to his homeland.
Jacob finally arrived in the land of the eastern People and met few shepherds who were waiting to water their sheep near a well. This could have very well been the same well where Eliezer, Abraham’s servant met Rebecca almost a century ago….
Jacob did not know God or the plans He had for him. Maybe that is why he was afraid of the dream he saw. The only way to know the heart of God is to have regular fellowship with Him. That was missing in Jacob’s life and truth be told, in most of our lives today.
The the chosen family became the fractured family where none of the four (Isaac, Rebecca, Esau & Jacob) trusted God to carry out his will but rather tried to intervene in every possible way to ensure their own will be accomplished. That might as we be the summary of our own walk with Jesus.
The age old saying that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree holds true as we see Isaac introducing Rebekah as his sister to Abimelek.
The two brothers who could not be more different from each other. One was a ladies’ man while the other was a lady like man. Esau was a hairy individual who loved the outdoors while Jacob was content managing the household chores. But Jacob was chosen by God to continue the lineage leading to Jesus while Esau had to be content with his bowl of soup.
Rebecca replaces Sarah as the leading lady of this story and we see God leading this family even while they are making seemingly arbitrary choices, regarding a burial site and perhaps a not so arbitrary choice in finding a life partner for Isaac.
Abraham saw a ram caught in a thicket and that ram replaced his son as the burnt offering. Just like that ram replaced Isaac on the alter, Jesus replaced all of us when he died for our transgressions. Perhaps this was the symbolic gesture that God was giving us through this example of a father sacrificing his son.
We saw in the last chapter that God had enabled everyone in Abimelek’s household to conceive again but Sarah was still kept barren. Abraham had laughed at the very thought of Isaac being born to Sarah, Sarah now has joyous laughter that God came through for her despite her disbelief and then there is Ishmael who is mocking his new younger brother. The Hebrew texts quite aptly say that Ishmael was laughing at Isaac. That captures the sentiment of everyone involved in this saga.
After experiencing close communion with God (Chapter 18) and seeing the destruction of the twin cities (Chapter 19), one would assume that Abraham would definitely be closer to God than ever before. But he was in fact back to his old ways. Moving to a land without God’s leading, we don’t see him building any altars or even praying to God, giving Sarah to be married to the ruler of that land by letting everyone believe they are siblings again and in the end profiting off of the ruler’s guilt, again!
It’s D day for Lot as the two angels reached the entrance of the twin cites. They are met by Abraham’s nephew lot at the city gate who much like his uncle, insists that they stay with him. But unlike with Abraham the Angels refused to stay with lot and would rather spend the night in the town square. Reluctantly they went with Lot but were greeted by the town welcoming committee in the most horrific manner.
God lets Abraham in on his plan to destroy the twin cities of Sodom and Gomorrah resulting in Abraham blatantly pleading for his nephew Lot. The pleading turns into negotiations with God agreeing to all of Abraham’s changes to the clauses but Abraham himself knew that his negotiations will not be able to save his nephew.
So we can finally start calling Abram as Abraham, as in this chapter, God renames Abram (exalted father) to Abraham (father of many). Seems like a cruel joke to rename a guy who is about to turn 100 and whose wife is on the verge of turning 90. But when God renames someone, it is far from a joke, but rather an assurance of the fulfillment of the promise he had made to Abram almost a quarter of a century ago.
I like the NIV heading as it doesn’t mention Abram or Sarai and just reads ‘Hagar and Ishmael’. Not surprising, given that this chapter reveals more details about the chosen family that we generally would not associate with the father of faith.
Chapter 15 starts off with God renewing his promise to Abram with the words “I am your shield, your very great reward”. That is what God was offering Abram. In a sense offering himself through the birth of Jesus the snake crusher.
But Abram misconstrues this to mean that God will bless him with great wealth and land and quickly speaks his mind saying that the inheritance that God is promising him in the future is of no use to him without a legal heir. He will surely not be alive to enjoy it and since he does not have any sons (not yet) his servant Eliezer’s family would reap the benefits.
Today we are looking at chapters 13 & 14 and in particular the relationship between Abram and Lot. We know very little about Lot up to this point. We know he accompanied Abram to Egypt and came back but apart from that the author of genesis has not revealed anything about Lot. Lot did not have a father and Abram did not have a son so it’s safe to say that Lot saw Abram as a father figure given that he also left his hometown to follow Abram. And Abram would have seen lot as his son and his presumed heir.
One day, Abram heard a voice asking him to leave his father’s household and go to the land of Canaan. Several years later, Abram listens to the voice and sets out from his hometown to the land that God had promised him.
This marked the beginning of the nomadic life for the chosen family and would be the first of their many travels. Much like this initial expedition, Abram’s spiritual journey was also in its infancy which can be clearly seen in today’s passage.
In the last chapter we saw God using a rainbow to remind us of his covenant with us but the incomplete tower of Babel will be forever a sign of our rebellion against Him.
This week we are discussing the Sunday school favorite story of Noah and the ark and see how God showed His grace upon Noah and his family and how Noah reciprocated by obeying God’s voice to the letter.
We are looking into genealogies this week, specifically the genealogies of Cain and Seth and see how God’s faithfulness is not dependent on ours.
The fall of man continues through the next generation as we see Cain not taking heed to God’s warning regarding the ‘crouching tiger’ and commits the first murder.
We discuss the first sixteen verses of Chapter 4 (Genesis 4:1-16) and see how man’s rebellion against God is prevalent even today.
Genesis Chapter 3 starts off by introducing us to a new creature, the serpent, the craftiest of all wild animals that God had made. We discuss the impact of that infamous conversation between man and the Serpent and how God planned to redeem us through the Snake Crusher. (Genesis 3:15)
Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. The second chapter of the book of Genesis starts off with that line and goes into the details of how God created the first humans and placed them in this delightful garden where all their needs were provided.
We start our Series on the first book of the Bible, Genesis, which tells us about God’s wonderful creation, our subsequent fall and God’s plan for our redemption. Chapter one tells us how it all began and quite aptly the very first line of the bible is In the beginning.
We discuss the final two chapters of the book of Genesis and saw how Jacob and Joseph both desired to go back to the promise land during their final breaths.
Here’s the recording from last night’s Bible Study. We saw how God brought Jacob’s entire family to Egypt and provided the very best land for them.
Recording from Thursday’s Bible Study where we talked about how Joseph brought Egypt out of the famine straight but into slavery, eventually saving the entire country of Egypt and both his families from starvation.