Monthly Archives: August 2013

Gen. 17

6/26/10 When Abram was 99 years old the Lord appeared to him. Later he went up from Abram at the end of their conversation, so by the sounds of it this could easily have been an physical meeting between the two.

God first announced himself, “I am God Almighty.” Then his instructions: “Walk before me and be blameless.” Abram already did this, but he could always grow. It was always a goal to strive for. The resulting promise would be, “I will give you my covenant and multiply you.” Then Abram fell on his face before God and God changed his name to Abraham, which means father of a multitude.

In NASB God’s words switch from poetry to prose at this point. God expanded on the details of what the covenant would look like and what the multiplication would look like. The covenant sign was to be circumcision. The multiplication would be nations and kings of peoples. To reflect this, God also changed Sarai’s name to Sarah. Changing a woman’s name is unprecedented anywhere else in the Bible.

In response to all of this Abraham fell on his face again, which means that he must have risen from before. But this time he fell down laughing. However, his laughing wasn’t a reaction of disbelief but of joy and incredulity over God’s ways of making impossibilities into realities.

Abraham, then, true to form, asked something more of God. He asked that Ismael might also walk before him. God did not change his original plan to not incorporate Ismael into his covenant blessing with Isaac, but he did promise to bless him and also to make of him a mighty nation. Isaac’s line, though, would be a pure line leading up to the Messiah.

In complete obedience Abraham circumcised himself and his household.

Find devotional commentaries on other books of the Bible at Also find information about my book on Revelation.

Leave a comment

Posted by on August 31, 2013 in Uncategorized


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Gen. 16

6/25/10 Sarai had a bright idea. Maybe God wanted Abram’s offspring to come through someone else. So Sarai considered her maid, Hagar. Perhaps Sarai felt herself to be pretty humble and sacrificial in this thought, but it was wrong, and it created plenty of misery in their home and beyond.

Abraham listened to his wife. These are the same words connected with the first sin in the Garden of Eden, “Because you listened to the voice of your wife…”

It’s not that Abram was going against a clear, “Thus saith the Lord,” in marrying Hagar. He wasn’t. And as far as we know God didn’t show any disapproval for Abram’s action. Still, it was a lack of faith on Abram’s part along with some hormones, maybe, and some spinelessness.

As soon as Hagar conceived she became a better wife than Sarai, so far as she was concerned, anyway. Her attitude toward Sarai changed and there was war. Sarai blamed Abram for the whole mess and even invoked God’s judgment between them. This was clearly unreasonable on her part, but reality nonetheless.

So Abram told Sarai to do with Hagar whatever she felt like doing. From a husband’s point of view perhaps he had some responsibility for protecting Hagar, but he didn’t attempt to.

Sarai, then, mistreated Hagar so badly that Hagar ran away. Then something absolutely remarkable happened. God sent an angel to Hagar out in the desert. First he told her to go back and submit to Sarai as a good servant should. That would be a hard pill to swallow, but Hagar did it. She did it out of reverence. She was astounded that God would be interested enough to speak to her. This gave her strength to return to her life with Sarai.

The other remarkable thing that happened was that God made a similar promise to Hagar as he had made to Abram. It was that from her would come a might nation that he would bless. This promise was different, though, in that her son was not to be the child of promise that God had made with Abram.

The boy was to be named Ishmael and God predicted his future relations in the world would be tumultuous in spite of God’s blessing.

Leave a comment

Posted by on August 30, 2013 in Uncategorized


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Gen. 15

6/24/10 This chapter is deep with allusion and clues about all sorts of things. After Abram had conquered the five kings, God came and siad, “Don’t be afraid.” Afraid of what? Perhaps he was fearing the future because he had no heir, which was pretty important in those days. That’s what the discussion that follows is about. “Do not fear, I am a shield to you; and your reward shall be very great.” What a promise! The more faithful we are to God the more he is able to make the same promise to us.

Abram couldn’t understand why God was waiting so long to fulfill his promise of an heir. How else could God make a great nation of him? But God assured Abram that he would have an heir from his own body. And Abram believed God and God counted that to him as righteousness.

God could have easily told Abram when this would happen, but obviously God withheld that information purposely. The only reason for that can be that God was using these circumstances to increase Abram’s faith. His faith was already strong. After all he picked up and moved away from home without knowing where he was going. His faith was strong, but God was taking him to a new level, just as he did later when he asked Abram to sacrifice Isaac. God never says that our faith is finally strong enough. We must constantly increase it through trials.

God didn’t tell Abram how he would fulfill his covenant, but did make his promise in terms that Abram could understand. Apparently this way of cutting animals in two and passing lamps through them was a solemn way of covenant-making in the ANE.

As the sun went down Abram fell asleep and terror and darkness came upon him. I presume the terror was because the presence of the Lord drew near. The darkness would have removed any distraction from the voice of God.

God then proceeded to give Abram the details of the situation of the Hebrews in Egypt. They would be there for 400 years until God would judge Egypt for its cruelty and abuse of his people, and then he would bring Israel out of Egypt and back to the land where Abram now lived. This land would be given to them, but not before it was time.

The Canaanites, wicked as they were, had not reached the level of wickedness necessary yet. Necessary for what? For everyone to recognize the justice of God’s judgment. Sin must be allowed to run its full course in order to demonstrate its true nature. God is proving a point to the universe. When the direction of the Amorites would become unmistakable to all, then God could allow them to be destroyed without damage to his own character.

Leave a comment

Posted by on August 29, 2013 in Uncategorized


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Gen. 14

6/23/10 Abraham was living near Mamre when five kings of the North warred against four kings of the South and conquered. They took Lot and his family. Someone told Abram, and he took 318 of his trained servants to battle.

The fact that they were trained in such things tells us some interesting things about Abram and his situation. For the times his was a force to be reckoned with. Plus, three other kings and allies of Abram joined him. Abram was living among the people as a misfit and yet he had friends and allies.

They marched quickly and caught the complacent kings, confuse them so much that they dropped everything and ran. Abram pursued them more than 150 miles from Hebron to beyond Damascus. On his return the king of Sodom met him. Although ruler of a wicked city, Abram treated him well, not taking anything. Abram would not have anyone but God receive the credit for his prosperity.  Melchizedek, king and priest of Salem, also came out and blessed Abram, and Abram tithed the possessions, which were his right as victor. Although he didn’t take any possessions for himself he did say that those who accompanied him, the kings and his allies, should take their share. Abram’s relationship to his Canaanite neighbors was one of teamwork, abiding by customs when not against God, friendship, fellowship, and respect.

Leave a comment

Posted by on August 28, 2013 in Uncategorized


Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Gen. 13

6/22/10 By the time Abram left Egypt he had become even more wealthy than before. He moved back to the place between Bethel and Ai where had built an altar once before and there he worshiped God.

Lot had also grown wealthy and the two of them were so numerous that they got in each other’s way and their servants began to quarrel. So Abram suggests that they part ways, and he gives Lot his choice of where to go. Lot chose good land near Sodom and moved there.

We often think that Lot was being selfish by taking the better land, which may have been the case, but the text doesn’t reveal his motivations. Still, all the land was good back then, and Abram had plenty of pasture land. He relocated to the oaks of Mamre.

What is clear from the passage is that Lot moved closer to wicked men while Abram remained separate and away from them. Lot eventually lost his family because of that decision. Lot himself remained virtually untouched and righteous, at least for all we know. But his wife and daughters were not untouched.

After they separated God told Abram that all the land would one day belong to his descendants. When he moved to Mamre he once again built and altar to the Lord. For Abram, whom he worshiped was foremost in his mind, life, and actions, and he displayed this publicly.

Leave a comment

Posted by on August 27, 2013 in Uncategorized


Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Gen. 12

6/21/10 Abram was living in Haran, but God wanted him to go all the way to Canaan. So God told Abram to move on. If Abram would obey then God promised to make him into a great nation and to protect him. Through him the entire world would be blessed because through him Jesus would come. So Abram obeyed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness, we find in Gal 3.

At Shechem, where so much would later happen, God made a promise to Abram to give him all of this land. Abram built and altar and worshiped there. Then he moved on to a place between Bethel and Ai, and there built another altar.

A famine came that was severe, so Abram moved temporarily to Egypt. Fearing for his life because of Sarai’s beauty, Abram lied. He asked Sarai to join him, which she obediently did. Sure enough, she quickly attracted the attention of Pharaoh and he took her and enriched Abram because of her.

But God wouldn’t let his promise die because of Abram’s lack of faith. He struck Egypt with plagues. Pharaoh, this time, recognized and obeyed God and returned Sarai to Abram.

Leave a comment

Posted by on August 26, 2013 in Uncategorized


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Gen. 11

6/20/10 First creation, then the flood, and now Abraham. Three of the four mighty acts of God that have far reaching implication for the rest of the Bible and of God’s way of dealing with the problem of sin.

Everyone “was of one lip” and used “one set of words.” They wished to stay together so they found the plain of Shinar and settled there and began to build a city and a tower. Their goal: make a name for themselves. Their thoughts were not of God but of themselves. However, we can’t be sure that all sons of Noah were involved since it was Nimrod who apparently was the ruler of this group of “sons of men,” (Gen 10:9-10). Perhaps the name they wanted to make for themselves was a name greater than the “sons of God” from the descendants of Shem and Japheth.

So God took their project and proclaimed that their unity would give them the ability to do anything, which presumably God understood would lead them away from him. So God introduced disunity by changing their languages.

It’s possible God changed just the language of the descendants of Ham, which would easily account for the number of languages in Africa and the Middle East. Perhaps some of the descendants of Shem and Japheth were with them and had their language changed, or perhaps they had them changed elsewhere in another context. We can’t be sure. But the building stopped and the people scattered.

Shem lived to about 600 years old, and if I’m not missing something, even though the generations after the flood began to rapidly decline in the length of their lives, Shem and all of his descendants to Abram at least were all alive together. Abraham could have easily known Shem personally if they happened to ever cross paths.

Abram’s father, Tarah, is given the credit here for taking Abram from Ur to Haran, but Hebrews says that this was Abram’s answer to God’s call to leave his country. And thus begins God’s process of making for himself a special people.

Leave a comment

Posted by on August 25, 2013 in Uncategorized


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,