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Tag Archives: Devotionals

Positioned To Hear From God

“It came about after the death of Abraham, that God blessed his son Isaac; and Isaac lived by Beer-lahai-roi. (Genesis 25:11)

In Genesis 24:62 and in Genesis 25:11, we are told that Isaac lived near Beer Lahai-roi, or the Well of Him that lives and sees. He lived in the “South Country”, or what is referred to as The Negev. This section of Southeastern Palestine was a desolate and arid region (Negev literally means “Dry”). It bordered on the Arabian Desert. So why of all places was Isaac living here?

Beer Lahai-roi was undoubtedly a special place for the people in Abraham’s household. The first instance where we are told about the Well is when the Angel of the Lord appears to Hagar after she flees from her mistress, Sarah (Gen. 16:7-16). It was there that Hagar had a revelation of the love and concern that God has for even the outcast and broken-hearted. It was at this spot that Hagar heard the voice of God speaking to her.

Obviously, the relationship between Isaac, the son of Sarah, and Hagar, his father Abraham’s concubine, was not the most amicable. But it seems that Hagar must have shared her account of what happened at Beer Lahai-roi that day since the Well came to be commonly known by the name she had given it. Perhaps Isaac was so impressed by what had happened that he headed for that very spot when he set out on his own.

What better place is there to go than that place where God has spoken? What destination is preferable to that where the Lord has revealed Himself? We know that God is not bound by the confines of any particular location; He is omnipresent. But we are wise to look for Him where we know He has been and to seek Him in the last place we saw Him. So often we plead with God to go with us to where we are moving when we would do better to go where He already is. Isaac did just that. Eager to have the hand of God leading his own life, as He had led Abraham’s, Isaac went to the place where God had moved before.

To Jesus Christ goes all glory. In service to Him,

Loren

loren@answersfromthebook.org

[This post was originally published May 1, 2010]

[If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ or you are not certain where you are headed when this life ends, I invite you to read the article “Am I Going To Heaven?“]

**Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) © The Lockman Foundation and are used by permission.

Scriptures marked (CSB) are taken from the Christian Standard Bible  (CSB) Copyright © 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible®, and CSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers, all rights reserved.

Scriptures marked (NLT) are taken from the New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible,New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Scriptures marked (KJV) are taken from the King James Version of the Holy Bible, Public Domain.

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Three Perspectives Atop Mt. Moriah – Abraham

Then Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey. The boy and I will go over there to worship; then we’ll come back to you.”  Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and laid it on his son Isaac. In his hand he took the fire and the knife, and the two of them walked on together. (Genesis 22:5-6 CSB)

There were but three individuals who were present atop Mt. Moriah when Abraham offered up his son Isaac. Abraham, Isaac, and God. There were no other witnesses present when this occurred. Each of the three had a very different perspective on what was planned to happen, and even a very different amount of insight as to what was going to actually transpire. God had revealed to Abraham what he was asking Him to do, but He obviously did not tell him that His commandment was a test, the which He had no intention of Abraham carrying out to completion. Isaac had been told by his father that they were going far off from home to make a burnt-offering to the Lord, but Abraham did not divulge all of the Lord’s instructions until they arrived at their destination. All three of these individuals came at this crossroads from a different perspective. Let us now consider the first of these: Abraham’s.

I cannot imagine any commandment coming from God to Abraham that could have seemed more puzzling than what he is instructed to do in Genesis 22:2. When we consider all that has happened leading up to and even after the birth of Isaac, it is hard not to imagine Abraham’s utter perplexity over what God was now asking of him. God had repeatedly promised that through Isaac Abraham would become a father of many descendants (e.g., Gen. 17:19, 21:12), yet now God was asking him to put the young man to death himself, before Isaac had fathered a single child!

What a great difference we see between Abraham’s response here in Chapter 22 and that of Chapter 18: when God told him how he intended to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham knew with all certainty that the “Judge of all the Earth would do right.” We have no record here of Abraham pleading with God, bargaining with God, or even questioning God. His faith at this point has reached the level that he could say: God has promised that Isaac would have children to my posterity, yet now He is asking me to put my son to death. I know not how God will make good on His promises after Isaac is dead, but I know that He shall!

By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was offering up his only begotten son;  it was he to whom it was said, “In Isaac your descendants shall be called.” He considered that God is able to raise people even from the dead, from which he also received him back as a type.”  (Hebrews 11:17-19)

Many centuries later, the writer to the Hebrews gives us a commentary providing insight into what Abraham was thinking as he and Isaac climbed up the mountain. So often the picture is painted of an angry, resentful Abraham reluctantly trudging up the mountain; uncertain whether or not he should go through with this. But this doesn’t really seem to be the idea that Scripture is giving us at all. Verse 3 of Genesis 22 says that Abraham got up early, there was no hesitation on his part. And then, he tells his servants in Verse 5 that he and Isaac both will return from the mountain. Someone might suggest: Well, Abraham probably knew deep inside that God would stay his hand and keep him from taking Isaac’s life, but there is certainly no indication of that. What Abraham was counting on is actually much more remarkable. He believed that God would raise Isaac back to life, resurrecting him after the sacrifice was made! Those of us living today might not believe that God is still in the “business of miracles”, but Abraham sure had no problem believing it.

We have seen several events up to this point of Genesis where Abraham’s faith either failed or was very shaky, to say the least. But here atop Mt. Moriah, his faith was as pure as refined gold. The idea that is so often taught in Sunday School classes about this incident is that the underlying lesson is that Abraham was willing to follow God’s instructions, even when they were “unreasonable and cruel.” But we see so much more about the fiber of Abraham’s faith here than just “blind obedience.” Abraham had learned enough about the character of God to realize that God will make good on His promises no matter what. Abraham was not hoping for a miracle to bring Isaac safely through this event, he was counting on one!

So often we limit God in what He is able to do and question every instruction that He gives us. We ourselves seek to rectify the seeming paradoxes of His commandments rather than trusting Him to do so. We attempt to take into account all things in order to determine if we can safely obey what He is leading us to do, so as not to overturn some other area of our life. But Abraham knew better. God had promised that Isaac would have children and would carry on Abraham’s lineage, yet He also commanded Abraham to offer Isaac up as a sacrifice before a single offspring had been born. Abraham did not know exactly how God would harmonize these two statements, but he knew that He would. Even if it took a miracle.

To Jesus Christ goes all glory. In service to Him,

Loren

loren@answersfromthebook.org

[This post was originally published February 24, 2010]

[If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ or you are not certain where you are headed when this life ends, I invite you to read the article “Am I Going To Heaven?“]

**Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) © The Lockman Foundation and are used by permission.

Scriptures marked (CSB) are taken from the Christian Standard Bible  (CSB) Copyright © 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible®, and CSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers, all rights reserved.

Scriptures marked (NLT) are taken from the New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible,New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Scriptures marked (KJV) are taken from the King James Version of the Holy Bible, Public Domain.

Seeing Jesus In The Life Of Isaac – Part 2

Yesterday, we looked at six parallels between the lives of Isaac and the Lord Jesus Christ. Today, we will consider four more:

Obedient Unto Death

Both Isaac and Jesus submitted to the will of their Fathers, even to the point of their own deaths:

“And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood.” (Genesis 22:9)

“And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” (Philippians 2:8)

Heirs Of All Things

Both Isaac and Jesus were Heirs of all things that their Fathers possessed:

“And Abraham gave all that he had unto Isaac.” (Genesis 25:5)

“Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;” (Hebrews 1:2)

Bridegrooms Who Loved Their Brides

Both Isaac and Jesus were presented with brides whom they loved:

“But thou shalt go unto my country, and to my kindred, and take a wife unto my son Isaac…And Isaac brought her into his mother’s tent, and took Rebekah, and she became his wife; and he loved her…” (Genesis 24:4, 67 a)

“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;” (Ephesians 5:25)

Both Were Made Alive From That Which Was Dead

Isaac’s birth is an illustration of resurrection, that is, life coming from death:

“And being not weak in faith, [Abraham] considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah’s womb:” (Romans 4:19)

“I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.” (Revelation 1:18)

These are just ten of the major similarities between the life of Isaac and the life of the Lord Jesus Christ. We will notice more of them as we go into the life of Isaac in more detail.

To Jesus Christ goes all glory. In service to Him,

Loren

loren@answersfromthebook.org

[This post was originally published February 16, 2010]

All Scripture quotations in this post are taken from the King James Version (KJV) of the Holy Bible

[If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ or you are not certain where you are headed when this life ends, I invite you to read the article “Am I Going To Heaven?“]

Letting Go Of The Backup Plans

“And it came about, when God caused me to wander from my father’s house, that I said to her, ‘This is the kindness which you will show to me: everywhere we go, say of me, “He is my brother.” (Genesis 20:13)

In Genesis 12:1, God told Abraham to leave the land in which he lived and go to the place that He would show him. We looked at the fact before that Abraham decided to bring Lot, his nephew, along even though God had told him to leave his kindred behind. Now, in Chapter 20, we see another area where Abraham was reluctant to put his entire trust in what God had told him. By his own admission, Abraham had conspired with Sarah to deceive those who lived in the lands wherein God would lead them by telling them that Sarah was merely his sister, not his wife.

“Abraham said, “Because I thought, surely there is no fear of God in this place, and they will kill me because of my wife.” (Genesis 20:11)

When confronted by the King of Gerar, Abraham offers up these words as his reasoning: I assumed that you were all a bunch of lawless, wicked heathens who would  kill me so you could have my wife. His concern was that a reverence for God was not in that place and that the people of that land would act according to their basest desires. Abimilech did prove to be a man of integrity (v.5-6), but even if he had not been, Abraham was wrong to use deception in order to protect himself. Even if the fear of God had been absent from the hearts of the people of Gerar, God Himself was able to protect Abraham and his wife. God is not dependent on the behavior and actions of others in order to bring His plans to fruition. Even if others are disobedient to the Lord and wish His people harm, this does not make Him unable to protect and defend His own. God may not be honored and respected in the places where we go, but we can be assured that He is in the particular spot where we stand. Even if God’s manifest presence is not already in a place, we know that He is once we arrive, if we have brought Him with us.

Abraham relied on a number of “backup plans” in his walk with God. Without a doubt, this great man of faith trusted God in a way that we can only hope to emulate. Yet we know that his faith grew over time as God stripped away more and more of these backup plans to the point that he had nothing else on which to rely but God Himself. Abraham’s faith in God would reach the point that when his son Isaac asked him as they climbed Mt. Moriah where the lamb was for the sacrifice, his response was: “God will provide Himself a Lamb” (Genesis 22:8). Abraham had attempted to use a backup plan to bring about the birth of a promised son, he had used a backup plan to ensure his safety in the lands through which he traveled, but when it came time to obey the Word of God and offer up his own son, he and Isaac went to the place of sacrifice alone. This incident in Gerar was a turning point in the life of Abraham after which he would trust in God’s provision alone.

And what of our own lives? Is our faith so deeply invested in the providence of God that, should He fail to deliver on His promises, we would have no other recourse? Or have we built a network of our own backup plans on which we rest comfortably should the power of God “fail?” Are we relying on Him or are we relying on our own resources, skills, and ingenuity? If so, we know that God will bring it to the surface, just as He did with Abraham. Will we put our faith in Him or in ourselves?

To Jesus Christ goes all glory. In service to Him,

Loren

loren@answersfromthebook.org

[This post was originally published February 11, 2010]

**Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) © The Lockman Foundation and are used by permission.

[If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ or you are not certain where you are headed when this life ends, I invite you to read the article “Am I Going To Heaven?“]

Abraham In Gerar

“Abraham said of Sarah his wife, “She is my sister.” So Abimelech king of Gerar sent and took Sarah. (Genesis 20:2)

I still remember how horrible I felt that night when I was a young Christian, as the preacher related his stories at the close of the sermon. He had been talking about the Lord’s ability to instantly free the believer from sin’s hold on their life. He told us story after story of people who had been in bondage to all sorts of sinful behaviors who, upon coming to the Lord Jesus Christ, were immediately freed from even the faintest yearning for what they had recently been so passionate toward. “That man had smoked for over 30 years”, this preacher proclaimed, “And when he came to Christ, he NEVER had the desire for a cigarette again!” The boisterous “Amens!” and “Hallelujahs!” that filled the sanctuary after these words were spoken led me to believe that maybe I was the only person in the entire congregation who still struggled with sinful desires!

Many of us have heard accounts of people getting saved and being instantaneously delivered from an addiction or sinful desire that they have had most of their lives. I have no doubt that this does sometimes happen (I must confess that I personally have never met such an individual, but I take the stories told to me in good faith), but it seems to me that this is not the normal way that the Spirit of God operates in the lives of His people. The record of Scripture as well as the everyday experiences of those Christians who have confided in me enough to be completely candid about such matters testify to the fact that true holy living is usually something that takes place over time. When we come to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, the guilt of our sin is immediately wiped away and our position with God is changed in a single instant. But the ability to break some of our stubborn sinful habits is something that only just begins at that point.

I believe that the preacher who talked about those people instantaneously freed from their sinful desires that night was intending to do nothing but glorify the mighty ability of our precious Savior to free those who will put their trust in Him. But it made me seriously wonder why God would do that for some folks while others of us continued to struggle and flounder with the same sins over and over. Many students of God’s Word have been puzzled by the 20th Chapter of Genesis, asking why in the world is it even in the Bible? It looks so much like the events recorded back in Chapter 12, when Abraham and Sarah were in Egypt, and is so similar to what is later described in Genesis 26:6-16, that some scholars have suggested that the three accounts are all based on a single event and that a scribal error explains the redundancy. But when we truly understand mankind’s fleshly nature, there really is no puzzle at all. Honestly, I am glad that this chapter is in the Book of Genesis because it tells us that even Abraham was not beyond repeating the same sin more than once. We may not all have been instantly freed from our sinful desires when we received Salvation, but we are certainly in very distinguished company.

Abraham’s deception of Abimilech in Gerar is recorded right before the conception of Isaac (Genesis 21:2). It was necessary for Abraham to deal with this sin and get it out of his life before he could receive all that God planned for him to have. We may take comfort in the fact that Abraham apparently did not learn from his sin the first time in Egypt; in fact, we see that this ruse was a common practice that he and Sarah engaged in as they traveled about (v.13). But we must also realize that the time came for them to deal with this sin and get it out of their lives before God’s plan for them could go forward. So it is with us. We may struggle with the same sins again and again, and God is merciful to forgive us when we confess them to Him. But until we deal with them and trust in Him to free us from those sins, we will never receive all that He has intended for us.

To Jesus Christ goes all glory. In service to Him,

Loren

loren@answersfromthebook.org

[This post was originally published February 10, 2010]

**Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) © The Lockman Foundation and are used by permission.

[If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ or you are not certain where you are headed when this life ends, I invite you to read the article “Am I Going To Heaven?“]

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