Sunday, July 09, 2006

These All Died in Faith (Genesis 23-25)

Sarah dies in Hebron, at the ripe old age of 127. After all this time Abraham is still just a drifter in Canaan: he doesn’t even own a plot of ground to burry his wife. Rather than bury her back in Heran, he buys a cave near Hebron and buries Sarah there. This in itself is an act of faith – that God will give to his descendents the land of Canaan. To the end of his life Abraham only owns this tiny little plot, but he holds onto God’s promise.

Abraham is old now, and he sends his servant back to his relatives to look for a wife for Isaac. Abraham is vehement both that Isaac not marry a Canaanite, and that he not settle outside of Canaan. Both of those options would undermine the promise. To this end, his servant sets out for Mesopotamia to find a girl for Isaac.

The servant sets out a sign for the Lord: the girl that waters his camels without being asked is the one for Isaac. As in Sodom, the key test of righteousness is hospitality. Rebekah is the one. The servant negotiates with her father, with her brother Laben, and (shockingly) he even asks Rebekah. She agrees, and, the very next day, leaves her family and all she knows to marry a man she’s never met living in a land where he himself is a foreigner. Rebekah’s attitude reminds me a bit of Abraham. The Lord knows what he likes, and Isaac doesn’t complain. He loves Rebekah, and is “comforted after his mother’s death.”

Then Abraham goes and marries another wife, bears a bunch of children, and sends them eastward to be away from Isaac. How strange! Why add to the promise after all that has happened? Some of the names, like Midian and Asshurim, have an ominous tone.

Finally Abraham dies, and Isaac and Ishmael burry him with Sarah east of Mamre (where he met the angel of the Lord). Though he leaves Isaac with all he has, Abraham dies with no more of the land in his possession than the cave he lays in. What has this giant of a man to show for after his long life? What has he accomplished? The birth of a son? That’s been done before. Abraham’s great accomplishment is an unwavering trust in God to be faithful to his promise, even after he himself is dead and gone.

Thanks for your devotion and posting. At your request, I added your site to my list of devotionals. In fact, the idea for creating a list of devotionals sprung from the comment that Joe Carter made about how blogging was natural for devotionals on Evangelical Outpost. I read your site after following your link in the comment to the post on Evangelical Outpost. Thus, your site was part of the inspiration for me starting a devotional and trying to maintain a list of sites that are doing the same.

Again, keep up the good work, and made you enjoy God's blessings.

Well gosh, Doug, thanks! I must say this Bible-blogging is probably a bit dangerous...creating the illusion that I actually know what I'm talking about and foisting that impression onto the web. But I hope you can sift some good stuff from my posts. Just be sure to call me on stuff if I'm outa line. I need the accountability (and, to be fair, love the discussion).

This isn't really the "right" place to post this, but here's a sermon that does much of what you're trying to do...regarding an Abram story. Thought you might like it...

That's really good, Catherine. More than I could deduce from the story of Abram and Sarai in Egypt, but definately along the same lines. By the way, if you want to post a link, just put it inside an "a" HTML tag using the "href" attribute.

Interesting remark, that the mark of righteousness was hospitality. Maybe we need to take that to heart.

I always appreciated Rebekah's willingness to leave everything and go with the servant. She seems like a woman with spunk and faith and guts.

I've always been a bit mystified about Abraham remarrying after Sarah's death, and the resulting nations which ended up being enemies of Israel. Would have been better if he had just lived out his old age in celebesy. Israel's worst enemies in OT times and now, are the result of Abraham's weakness.

"We have met the enemy, and he is us."

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