Genesis 20:1-18

It was interesting that a whole chapter in the book of Genesis was dedicated to a lie and the surprised blessing that followed. God does not condone lying, and this chapter does not justify occasional sins for the greater good. But it does present the assurance that even in moments of our weaknesses, when we confess them before the Lord, He is more than able to turn it around for good. Furthermore, God’s grace is tenacious, and He will continue to use us even when we falter. Having said these, it is important to clarify that God’s blessing to Abimelek was not the result of Abraham’s lie. So what did Abimelek do that made God bless him and his household?

1. Abimelek feared the Lord.

Abraham made an erroneous judgement when he thought that there was no fear of God in the city (v11). Abimelek did fear the Lord and maintained a clear conscience before God (v6). Because God knew, He sovereignly kept Abimelek from the actual act of sin (v6).

2. Abimelek had faith in the Lord.

Faith is believing and acting in accordance to God’s word. And Abimelek did just that. Abimelek honoured Abraham as God’s prophet and extended great generosity and grace, even though Abraham had earlier on put Abimelek and his nation in a dire state. The actions of Abimelek showed that his determination to trust God and His word before his own emotion.

3. Abimelek made peace with those he offended.

Even though Abimelek did not finally touched Sarah, the very act of taking Sarah into his chamber would have damaged Sarah’s chastity to a degree. For that account, Abimelek gave Abraham 1000 shekels of silver and vindicated her of her reprove. By doing so, Abimelek made peace with Sarah and those who were with her.

It was for the reasons above that God acceded to Abraham’s prayer, and healed Abimelek, his wife and their female slaves of barrenness. God blessed them with posterity and a future. Today, may we too learn to fear the Lord, have faith in God’s words and instructions, and do our best to live in peace, or make peace, with people around us. When we do that, God showed that He is merciful and gracious to heal, restore and pour His blessings onto our lives. No matter what kinds of falls we’ve had in our lives, God can indeed turn our lives around, and work all things for good for those who loved Him and called according to His purposes (Rom 8:28).

Genesis 19:1-38

Righteous Lot, sitting at the gateway of the sin city of Sodom at the evening time. Why did Lot sat there by himself when all other men would have returned home by then? What was Lot waiting for? Did he have a premonition that the judgement of the Lord is near? Did God spoke to Lot the way He confided with Abraham?

Whatever the case, when the two angels arrived at Sodom, Lot’s fear for the fate of the city was imminent. What did Lot do?

First, he tried to derail the angels from their course. He insisted them to spend the night in his own house (v2a) instead of the city square. He suggested for them to leave the city first thing in the morning (v2b), which was rather unlike of basic Jewish hospitality that welcomed guests to stay as long as they wish. It appeared Lot was trying to ‘hide’ the angels from the men of Sodom. Or perhaps, more likely, he was trying to hide Sodom’s vile from the angels of the Lord! Yet the determination of the angels’ mission and the deterioration of the city’s moral ensue what is to follow. Lot may have succeeded in getting the angels off the city square, but evil encroached at the door of Lot’s abode. The depravity was intense and unimaginable. “All the men from every part of the city of Sodom, both young and old, surrounded the house.” (v4) Ripped with evil, there was not a single righteous left in Sodom for God to display mercy except for those within Lot’s house. In the end, Lot was unable to influence the city towards good as much as he had wished. (v9)

When fleeing from the destruction of Sodom and the surrounding plains, Lot found a way to bargain with the angels. He asked to flee to Zoar, a very small town, instead of the mountains. Lot pled for the town to be spared even though this intercession may have came out of self-preservation. Yet God granted his request. It was interesting that what Abraham did not do, Lot ‘did’ it by appealing to God’s mercy and grace, to have God withhold His hand of justice for a moment longer. For the case of Zoar, the Lord’s mercy continued even after Lot and his family had left (v30).

There was no one righteous like Abraham, who walked so closely with the Lord, and considered everything unworthy compared to the will of God. Hence, the outcry against the Sodom and Gomorrah demanding for the justice of God was imminent and must come to pass. Abraham embraced this, just as he will embrace God’s command to sacrifice his own son Isaac on a mountain in Moriah later in chapter 22. Lot’s righteousness, on the other hand, was credited unto him for his appeal to God’s mercy while considering everything as worthless compared to the grace of God. Hence, his attempt to thwart the judgement of God and his decision to sacrifice his own daughters were justified by his deep sympathy and love for the people of Sodom.

It is a lesson to learn. God made all of us differently. God speaks to us variously, revealing His will to us in ways that makes sense to us. God is much bigger than any one personality types. While the eternal truth of God never changes, hence, what is right will always be right, and what is evil will never be considered right no matter the context. Yet in the mysteries of God’s mind, one can never be too sure to have comprehended the full will of God. As we are entitled to pursue the part of God’s will that we have perceivedly received from the Lord, let us then, in humility and love, allow others to pursue God’s destinies for them. I guess when we all come together one day, we shall see the beauty of the master conductor, bringing every note unto one magnificent symphony that glorifies the majestic and sovereign love of the Father, the Creator of all the universe. And that is why, the more we know about God, the more we know how small we are, and the more we are grateful that God chose us to love Him and serve Him for the rest of our lives.

Genesis 20

Currently in Thailand having a tons of fun shopping and feasting with my hub a.k.a. BFF. Had some time this morning to read and chill.  

As I read through Genesis 20, I wonder: “What kind of husband will do what Abraham did?”  On one hand, what he said was true, Sarah was his half sister from a different mum (guess couple thousand years ago it was ok).  On the other hand, it was only half the truth, Sarah was also his wife!  Abraham was constantly in delimma over fear for his life because beautiful Sarah seemed to be courting suitors wherever they go.  When Abraham would fight enemies over his nephew’s safety, he would resign and surrender his wife to protect his life (and his clan).  

I won’t attempt to understand Abraham’s mind over this, but what God did on his behalf was truly amazing.   God’s was true to His word and promise to make Abraham a father of nations through Sarah alone.  Once again He stretched His hand to strike Abimelech and household (with barrenness and potential death).   God continued to protect His people despite of their foolishness and mistakes.   

I felt this to be assuring and liberating. I think we should have and be wise, but in our moments of weakness that cripples our judgement, God is still there to hold us up, because He cannot turn against His own or word.  Perhaps Abraham regretted and prayed, who knows?  But God certainly came to His aid and turn the situation around.   We may be imperfect, but God is always perfect.

I am so blessed!

Lilian

Genesis 19

Oh my word, Genesis 19 gives me a lot to ponder on.

It is not exactly the kind of chapter I like to read, too much “gross” which reveal the dark side of humanity, but at the same time we see the light of God shining forth through the dense darkness.

Reading it this morning, 3 words came to mind – Depravity;  Redemption;  Commitment.

Depravity – from verses 1-11, we witnessed the grotesque depraved state of men in Sodom (where the word “sodomized” comes from).   We see the uprising of lust over the presence of the new found visitors (really angels of God) which resulted in massive violence at Lot’s residence.  If the angels had not struck them blind, they would have done unthinkable acts of violence even against Lot himself.  What stood out to me is to see Lot and his family losing it and deteriorated as he lived in such a place, with Lot offering his daughters in exchange for the safety of his guests, and later Lot’s daughters committed incest with their father (verses 30-36).

As we moved into the end of times, we know that state of men (me included) will not get any rosier.  Through social media, there is now a barrage of bombardment that threaten to break down the very fabric of society – divorces, gender confusion, unconventional relationships.  What is most alarming is the justification of such to make it a norm in our culture.  We found ourselves gradually resigning and accepting such “norms”.

May we be ever so vigilant and on our guard from the infusions of the world around us, remember 1 John 15-17 “Do not love the world or the things in the world…….”.  May we take time to consider this and not be lulled into a state of apathy, but instead cling on to the principles of God’s word as the rule and truth within our lives.

Redemption – Verse 27-28 is one of the most refreshing and beautiful part of this chapter:

27 And Abraham went early in the morning to the place where he had stood before the Lord. 28 Then he looked toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the plain; and he saw, and behold, the smoke of the land which went up like the smoke of a furnace. 29 And it came to pass, when God destroyed the cities of the plain, that God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow, when He overthrew the cities in which Lot had dwelt.

Abraham’s intercession and his friendship with God brought about redemption to Lot and his family again, without which they would be doomed.  God’s mercy prevailed, such that in the midst of the most intense darkness and sin, He is able to find that reason to save even just one, if there were others interceding on their behalf.

I hesitated to use the word “worthy” in this case for Lot, because I am not certain he is.  However, we know that God redeemed him nevertheless and in spite of.  Such is the power of prayer of a righteousness man or woman.  We are righteous through the sacrificial atonement of Christ, and likewise if we pray and not give up on our family or children, I believe God will be able to rescue and redeem them who are lost.  Even in darkness God’s redemption will prevail.  Amen.

Commitment – Did you hear what happen to senior Mrs Lot and their sons-in-law?

They perished (verses 14-15, 26)!   Lot’s sons-in-law thought that Lot was joking (verse 14, 15) and the angels left them behind.  Lot’s wife looked back (become pillar of salt) when angels expressly told them not to (verse 17).  The lack of commitment, due to unbelief, indifference, curiosity, had led to their destruction.  In the context of Lot’s situation, looming destruction on 2 cities were happening, and extreme measures were needed for extreme circumstances.

Under the grace of God, we had not witnessed such vast intensity yet during our time.  But I believe the time will come, either in our generation or our children’s, that the goats will be separated from the sheep, when light and darkness will be clearly defined, when our faith will be tested beyond measure.   My question to us is “Is our faith solidly based on sound doctrine and principles that we will not waver in commitment when we are tested/tempted?”

Drawing it closer to home, have we taken time to examine our commitment to the Lord, whether we are able to stand firm, when situation around us is screaming for us to compromise, to give in, to lie or just live a little?

I had stumbled many times, and if not for the grace of God, I would have fallen flat on my face and unable to recover.  My prayer is that I will be stronger so that when the next situation calls for it, I will be stable as a rock.  It’s a process of making right choices that pleases God and align with His word.  Let’s nurture our heart and be renewed in our mind with God’s word, so that we can withstand the times of testing and not compromise in our commitment to the Lord.

Lilian

A cataclysmic “civilization-ending” “conflagratory” (fiery) “heat event” that reduced Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes, making the area uninhabitable for 600 years. That’s no ordinary fire. Not even a volcanic eruption would do that.  (http://fellowshipoftheminds.com/2012/07/29/archeologists-find-evidence-of-the-obliteration-of-sodom-gomorrah/)
A cataclysmic “civilization-ending” “conflagratory” (fiery) “heat event” that reduced Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes, making the area uninhabitable for 600 years. That’s no ordinary fire. Not even a volcanic eruption would do that. (http://fellowshipoftheminds.com/2012/07/29/archeologists-find-evidence-of-the-obliteration-of-sodom-gomorrah/)

Genesis 18

This is a very interesting chapter.  It marks 3 things that will be pivotal to Abram’s life.

1.  Name change

Right from the beginning of the chapter, Abram is no longer called that name, but now “Abraham” = “father of a multitude” or “chief of multitude”.  This was even before the physical evidence were present to mark him as the father of nations.

Names are significant in the bible, often, people live up to their names, whether good or bad.

Likewise, Abram’s – now Abraham’s – name change signified a change of the season when he would step into the fulfillment of God’s promise.  He was no longer just the revered, exalted father figure, but a father of nations, multitude.  His influence expanded beyond his clan.  However, this was indeed a step of faith, for can you imagine going around being called “Hey, father of nations/multitude, how are you?” but having no children to show?

Yet, in the heart of Abraham, I believed he had come to accept God’s word and what he could not see as reality and truth.  Abraham rested his faith and trust wholly in God.

2.  Promise takes Patience

From Genesis 18:1-15, it accounted for the visitation of the divine beings with Abram.  They disclosed the fulfillment of God’s promise is near, the nature of it (a son), and a definite timing (appointed time of the Lord).

Promise takes Patience.  Both P’s go hand in hand.  For Abraham, it took another good 25 years before he finally see a glimpse of the tip of the iceberg. Even that, Abraham did not actually get to see the full actualization of the promise, witnessed by many generations down the road (Hebrews 11:39).

If you are going through a long season of waiting, just like me until recently, I encourage you not to be disheartened, as the economy of God is different from men.   Let’s hang in there as we are exhorted in Hebrews 11:1-3, and look forward to what the Lord had in store for us.

3.  Friendship with God

From Genesis 18:16-33, we see the confidential disclosure from the Lord to Abram to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah.

16 Then the men rose from there and looked toward Sodom, and Abraham went with them to send them on the way. 17 And the Lord said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am doing, 18 since Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? 19 For I have known him, in order that he may command his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of the Lord, to do righteousness and justice, that the Lord may bring to Abraham what He has spoken to him.” 20 And the Lord said, “Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grave, 21 I will go down now and see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry against it that has come to Me; and if not, I will know.”

From the above verses, we have to assume that God may not have intended to tell Abram, but touched by Abram’s righteousness, He decided to tell Abram what He intended to do.  We know why, as Abram’s nephew, Lot, and his family were living in the city and the destruction would be impending for them as well.

This is the kind of relationship that Abraham has with God, such intimacy that God could not hide His plans from him.  If an Old Testament character had such close fellowship with God, how much more should we desire the same under the new covenant through the blood of Christ.   God’s commendation about Abraham were:  Keeping the Lord’s ways, doing righteousness and justice.  Let us take time to meditate on these, and learn to draw close to God through faith, as well as works and integrity, that pleases God.

Lilian

Genesis 18:1-33

There is a part of us that wished we have the privilege to host the presence of God Himself. When the Lord came in the form of a human, accompanied by two heavenly angels, Abraham was surprised beyond words. How will we have responded?

Will the Lord’s visit be met with questions buried deep in our hearts through all the years? Or will we be earnestly raising unnumbered petitions to the Lord? Will we be like the millions who settled with waiting and watching for God’s next miracle?

Abraham’s response can be summed in one word: Worship. The presence of the imminent God always calls out worship from within true believers. Because when God reveals Himself, nothing else matters. Yet, Abraham’s worship did more than pleased the Lord, though that would have been sufficient for him. What followed was two amazing incidents that determined the course of nations.

The first was the revelation of a timeline. Up till now, God had kept Abraham in the dark on when His promises will be realised, as if the Lord is waiting for the right moment. It is in this chapter that God revealed somewhat of an end point to Abraham’s waiting – “about this time, next year” (v10) was the word of the Lord. Finally, Abraham will see the beginning of a long awaited fulfilment, to be the father of nations.

The second was the revelation of God’s plan. “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do?” (v17) For some reasons, God let Abraham into a divine secret mission. Why? God always have a purpose in what He does. I can’t help but wonder if it was God’s intent all along to involve Abraham, once again, in the saving of his nephew Lot from disaster. God scripted the conversation and let Abraham bemused himself as the pseudo director. Perhaps that is why it was God who chose when and how the conversation will end (v33).

When we become impatient with God’s timeline or confused with His mission for us, when months and years have passed us by and the promise of God was yet to be realised, we begin to wonder. We wonder if we have heard wrong, if we have done wrong, or if we have believed the wrong God. Today, may we learn from the account of Abraham and follow his example as instructions for what we ought to do: To come into God’s presence and worship Him. One of the greatest differences between the Old and the New Testament was with Christ’s new covenant of grace where all believers now we have the privilege of God’s presence any time, any day. God is waiting and willing. He is inviting and prompting us to come. When we respond with worship, we allow God to renew our faith and strength in Him. Bearing in mind that that worshipping Him alone is the purpose in itself and not for the sake of creating a condition where we can then question or raise our petitions to God. God has the prerogative to choose whether or when to reveal His timeline or divine mission to us.

Genesis 17: 25 years onwards

In Genesis 12, God visited Abram with His promise to make him a great nation, Abram was 75 years.

In Genesis 16, we see that Abram remained child-less.  As a result of that, Abram and Sarai “concocted” their own plan to have children through a surrogate, Hagar.

In Genesis 17, God affirmed His promise to Abram again, this time with with a sign – circumcision, and emphasizing that the heir will come from Sarai, whom He renamed Sarah, mother of nations (17:15, 19).

25 years later, Abram was still child / heir-LESS!

I don’t know about you, but if I’m Abram, I would probably have thrown in my towel, and walked away from the whole hopeless situation.  At least, in my eyes, it looks hopeless.

With Abram nearing 100, and Sarah 90 years, the chances of child bearing seem next to none.

Even Abram had his moment of doubt, and laughed (secretly) over the thought.  But being the sneaky guy as he was (lied to save his skin, remember), he disguised his disbelief with his own interpretation of God’s promise in 17:17:

17 Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed, and said in his heart, “Shall a child be born to a man who is one hundred years old? And shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?” 18 And Abraham said to God, “Oh, that Ishmael might live before You!”

How God replied to Abram was totally awesome and straightforward, and sounded like impossible to accomplish, leaving a million and one question marks ???.   Personally, I was floored by it:

19 Then God said: “No, Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his descendants after him. 20 And as for Ishmael, I have heard you. Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly. He shall beget twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation. 21 But My covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this set time next year.” 22 Then He finished talking with him, and God went up from Abraham.

God basically called out Abram’s unbelief, addressed it point-blank (NO, its Sarah, not Hagar/Ismael), and left after finished talking.

Leaving Abram with no room to bargain, negotiate, clarify, review, whatever we will do these days in a negotiation.

God made it simply impossible for Abram to say no, or “buts”, you know, our favorite word these days, yes with a “but”.

So Abram obeyed, set apart his tribe via circumcision of the males (8 years and above) in observance and confirmation to God’s covenant with him.

God’s ways are easy but narrow (Matthew 7:13,14):

1.  Simply believe in Him and His word.  Don’t try to go by an alternate route.  God’s ways does not go with situational ethics.  His word remains unchanged forever.

2.  Stepping out and up in obedience:  No more excuses.  When we know what God’s words says about His ways, promises, let’s step up and obey.

3.  Trust and wait:  As lame as it sounds, there are seasons when time must run its course.  God’s timing is often not ours, what we deem late, He said it is just on time.  He is all knowing, all encompassing, who sees the beginning and the end.  However, waiting is tough.  I encourage us to take time to meditate on the word of God and ponder on His attributes.  I encourage us to hang in and let our character built and be formed.  Let faith take root to see God’s plans and purposes come to pass.

And when it does, our joy shall be full, as it is mine.

Believe.

Lilian