Monday, June 30, 2014

Monday, June 30-by Pamela

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is 1 Chronicles 19-20, Psalm 119:81-88, Romans 12
Today's scripture focusGenesis 18

A Son Is Promised to Sarah

18 The Lord appeared again to Abraham near the oak grove belonging to Mamre. One day Abraham was sitting at the entrance to his tent during the hottest part of the day. He looked up and noticed three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he ran to meet them and welcomed them, bowing low to the ground.
“My lord,” he said, “if it pleases you, stop here for a while. Rest in the shade of this tree while water is brought to wash your feet. And since you’ve honored your servant with this visit, let me prepare some food to refresh you before you continue on your journey.”
“All right,” they said. “Do as you have said.”
So Abraham ran back to the tent and said to Sarah, “Hurry! Get three large measures[a] of your best flour, knead it into dough, and bake some bread.” Then Abraham ran out to the herd and chose a tender calf and gave it to his servant, who quickly prepared it. When the food was ready, Abraham took some yogurt and milk and the roasted meat, and he served it to the men. As they ate, Abraham waited on them in the shade of the trees.
“Where is Sarah, your wife?” the visitors asked.
“She’s inside the tent,” Abraham replied.
10 Then one of them said, “I will return to you about this time next year, and your wife, Sarah, will have a son!”
Sarah was listening to this conversation from the tent. 11 Abraham and Sarah were both very old by this time, and Sarah was long past the age of having children. 12 So she laughed silently to herself and said, “How could a worn-out woman like me enjoy such pleasure, especially when my master—my husband—is also so old?”
13 Then the Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh? Why did she say, ‘Can an old woman like me have a baby?’ 14 Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return about this time next year, and Sarah will have a son.”
15 Sarah was afraid, so she denied it, saying, “I didn’t laugh.”
But the Lord said, “No, you did laugh.”

Abraham Intercedes for Sodom

16 Then the men got up from their meal and looked out toward Sodom. As they left, Abraham went with them to send them on their way.
17 “Should I hide my plan from Abraham?” the Lord asked. 18 “For Abraham will certainly become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth will be blessed through him. 19 I have singled him out so that he will direct his sons and their families to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just. Then I will do for Abraham all that I have promised.”
20 So the Lord told Abraham, “I have heard a great outcry from Sodom and Gomorrah, because their sin is so flagrant. 21 I am going down to see if their actions are as wicked as I have heard. If not, I want to know.”
22 The other men turned and headed toward Sodom, but the Lord remained with Abraham. 23 Abraham approached him and said, “Will you sweep away both the righteous and the wicked? 24 Suppose you find fifty righteous people living there in the city—will you still sweep it away and not spare it for their sakes? 25 Surely you wouldn’t do such a thing, destroying the righteous along with the wicked. Why, you would be treating the righteous and the wicked exactly the same! Surely you wouldn’t do that! Should not the Judge of all the earth do what is right?”
26 And the Lord replied, “If I find fifty righteous people in Sodom, I will spare the entire city for their sake.”
27 Then Abraham spoke again. “Since I have begun, let me speak further to my Lord, even though I am but dust and ashes. 28 Suppose there are only forty-five righteous people rather than fifty? Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five?”
And the Lord said, “I will not destroy it if I find forty-five righteous people there.”
29 Then Abraham pressed his request further. “Suppose there are only forty?”
And the Lord replied, “I will not destroy it for the sake of the forty.”
30 “Please don’t be angry, my Lord,” Abraham pleaded. “Let me speak—suppose only thirty righteous people are found?”
And the Lord replied, “I will not destroy it if I find thirty.”
31 Then Abraham said, “Since I have dared to speak to the Lord, let me continue—suppose there are only twenty?”
And the Lord replied, “Then I will not destroy it for the sake of the twenty.”
32 Finally, Abraham said, “Lord, please don’t be angry with me if I speak one more time. Suppose only ten are found there?”
And the Lord replied, “Then I will not destroy it for the sake of the ten.”
33 When the Lord had finished his conversation with Abraham, he went on his way, and Abraham returned to his tent.

God always keeps his promise. Nothing is impossible with God. We can't hide from God. These are truths that we know in our head but all too often doubt in our heart.

"I will never leave you or forsake you" we know it but when tough times come or when things seem out of control. We've read about miracles and heard of miracles but sometimes things seem too big and our faith wavers and we doubt that "all things are possible". Sometimes the darkness of sin makes us believe that we can hide from God. But we can't.

Sarah didn't believe God could do something so big even if it was promised. She did believe in God's plan, she was doing what she was supposed to be doing as a wife, but she didn't think that her desire to be a mom would ever be realized.She couldn't fathom the possibility and then she laughed at its absurdity.

Matthew Henry says:

Where is Sarah thy wife? was asked. Note the answer, In the tent. Just at hand, in her proper place, occupied in her household concerns. There is nothing got by gadding. Those are most likely to receive comfort from God and his promises, who are in their proper place, and in the way of their duty, Luke 2:8. We are slow of heart to believe, and need line upon line to the same purport. The blessings others have from common providence, believers have from the Divine promise, which makes them very sweet, and very sure. The spiritual seed of Abraham owe their life, and joy, and hope, and all, to the promise. Sarah thinks this too good news to be true; she laughed, and therefore cannot as yet find in her heart to believe it. Sarah laughed. We might not have thought there was a difference between Sarah's laughter and Abraham's, 17; but He who searches the heart, saw that the one sprung from unbelief, and the other from faith. She denied that she had laughed. One sin commonly brings in another, and it is not likely we shall strictly keep to truth, when we question the Divine truth. But whom the Lord loves he will rebuke, convict, silence, and bring to repentance, and if they sin before him.
How often do we doubt the things of God's promise just like Sarah did. We just think it is impossible. We laugh. We doubt. We lie about our laughter and doubt. 

And yet, even with our laughter and doubt, God continues to shower on his grace. Even with the evilness of Sodom, God showers his grace even if there are just a few believers in the whole place. Abraham begged for the people of Sodom. He pleaded with God. Do we plead with God for the grace against our friends and family that do not know Him. Do we believe that our prayers make a difference or do we believe it's just too big for God? Do we laugh? Do we doubt?

Matthew Henry thoughts:
Here is the first solemn prayer upon record in the Bible; and it is a prayer for the sparing of Sodom. Abraham prayed earnestly that Sodom might be spared, if but a few righteous persons should be found in it. Come and learn from Abraham what compassion we should feel for sinners, and how earnestly we should pray for them. We see here that the effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. Abraham, indeed, failed in his request for the whole place, but Lot was miraculously delivered. Be encouraged then to expect, by earnest prayer, the blessing of God upon your families, your friends, your neighbourhood. To this end you must not only pray, but you must live like Abraham. He knew the Judge of all the earth would do right. He does not plead that the wicked may be spared for their own sake, or because it would be severe to destroy them, but for the sake of the righteous who might be found among them. And righteousness only can be made a plea before God. How then did Christ make intercession for transgressors? Not by blaming the Divine law, nor by alleging aught in extenuation or excuse of human guilt; but by pleading HIS OWN obedience unto death.
God always keeps his promise. Nothing is impossible with God. We can't hide from God. May we learn and believe these truths. 

Tomorrow's scripture focusGenesis 19:1-29
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: 1 Chronicles 21-22, Psalm 119:89-96, Romans 13

Friday, June 27, 2014

Friday, June 27th

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is 1 Chronicles 13-14; Psalm 119:73-80; Romans 11
Today's scripture focus is Genesis 17

Genesis 17 

English Standard Version (ESV)

Abraham and the Covenant of Circumcision

17 When Abram was ninety-nine years old the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless, that I may make my covenant between me and you, and may multiply you greatly.” Then Abram fell on his face. And God said to him, “Behold, my covenant is with you, and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations. No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham,for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make you into nations, and kings shall come from you. And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you.And I will give to you and to your offspring after you the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession, and I will be their God.”
And God said to Abraham, “As for you, you shall keep my covenant, you and your offspring after you throughout their generations. 10 This is my covenant, which you shall keep, between me and you and your offspring after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised. 11 You shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and you. 12 He who is eight days old among you shall be circumcised. Every male throughout your generations, whether born in your house orbought with your money from any foreigner who is not of your offspring, 13 both he who is born in your house and he who is bought with your money, shall surely be circumcised. So shall my covenant be in your flesh an everlasting covenant. 14 Any uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin shall be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.”

Isaac's Birth Promised

15 And God said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. 16 I will bless her, and moreover, I will give you a son by her. I will bless her, and she shall become nations; kings of peoples shall come from her.” 17 Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed and said to himself, “Shall a child be born to a man who is a hundred years old? Shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?” 18 And Abraham said to God, “Oh that Ishmael might live before you!” 19 God said, “No, but Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his offspring after him. 20 As for Ishmael, I have heard you; behold, I have blessed him and will make him fruitful and multiply him greatly. He shall father twelve princes, and I will make him into a great nation. 21 But I will establish my covenant with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this time next year.”
22 When he had finished talking with him, God went up from Abraham. 23 Then Abraham took Ishmael his son and all those born in his house or bought with his money, every male among the men of Abraham's house, and he circumcised the flesh of their foreskins that very day, as God had said to him. 24 Abraham was ninety-nine years old when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. 25 And Ishmael his son was thirteen years old when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. 26 That very day Abraham and his son Ishmael were circumcised. 27 And all the men of his house, those born in the house and those bought with money from a foreigner, were circumcised with him.

Accompanying Bob Deffinbaugh sermon: Grasping the Great Truth of God
Accompanying Ray Pritchard sermon: God of the Impossible

It's been 13 years since Abram stepped out in disobedience, following the advice of his wife to produce an heir through her maidservant.  13 long years where Abram learned the consequences of disobedience.  This time of waiting also intensified the impossibility of Abram and Sarai every having a child naturally, without divine intervention.

Finally, God broke His silence with Abram, reestablishing the covenant and requiring Abram to walk blamelessly.  He reiterated that Abram would become a great nation, changing his name to Abraham which means "father of a multitude".  Abraham would be the father of kings, and God would be his God and the God of his descendants.

At this point, God required Abraham and his whole family to be circumcised, symbolically putting away the flesh.  This sign would be a personal daily reminder of what God required in order to enjoy the blessings of the covenant, and that they were set apart to be different from those around them.

Pritchard: Of all the questions we might like to ask about this, two stand out and deserve special attention. First, why did God ask for this particular sign? Presumably he could have asked for any sign he wanted. Why pick something like circumcision? I think the answer goes something like this. Circumcision by its nature touches the very core of what it means to be a man. In his most intimate and personal moments each Jewish male would forever be reminded that he was a holy Son of the Covenant and that he belonged to God. No one else might know it but once he was circumcised, he could never forget it.

That leads to the second question. Why did God choose a sign that applied only to the men? I think the answer is that God was reminding Abraham that he was the head of his own household, and as such he had to answer to God for what happened in his own family. Circumcision meant accepting your place God’s appointed spiritual leader in your own family. It’s like a father giving his daughter away at a wedding. He stands and speaks on behalf of the whole family. The circumcised man was saying to God, “I accept the covenant you have made.” In
Joshua 24:15 we have this idea expressed in a very similar fashion when Joshua exclaims, “As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

God also gave specific promises to Sarai.  Her name was changed to Sarah which means Princess (fitting for the mother of a great nation), she would soon give birth to a son through whom she would become the mother of many nations, and great rulers would descend from her.  Such an amazing demonstration of God's grace.  Sarah's faith to this point has been very weak.  We've seen her take matters into her own hands out of desperation (you'd have to be desperate to purposefully send another woman into your husband's arms), and then be cruel to Hagar when she got the results she had intended. But the amazing thing is, that so often God blesses us, and works through us, in spite of ourselves.

We immediately see Abraham's doubts spring up in laughter - which is a very natural/human response when we are promised the impossible.  We also see his love for Ishmael in this passage, as he indicates that he's perfectly fine to have Ishmael be the one through whom God's blessing will come.  There's no way God can allow that.  The spiritual blessing could never come through disobedience, and had to come through God's purposes alone.  But God does bless Ishmael, promising that he too would be a great nation with rulers as his descendants.  But God would establish His covenant with Isaac, not Ishmael.

At the end of our passage we see Abraham's immediate obedience.  He, and all the males of his household, were circumcised on that very day, just as God had instructed.

Pritchard: Here is proof of Abraham’s faith: A few minutes ago he had been laughing in disbelief. Now he is circumcised to seal his dedication to God and his Word. Doubting is no sin, so long as your doubts don’t keep you from obeying God.

God's name is still El Shaddai - He is still the God of the impossible - as we witnessed personally with the miraculous healing of our nephew Baret from death's door.

Sometimes God's call may require obedience that doesn't make sense to us (as I'm sure circumcision didn't make sense to Abraham), but faith required obedience anyway.

We all need to be circumcised today - a circumcision of the heart.

We all need to be circumcised today. But the circumcision God requires is the circumcision of the heart. That’s what Romans 2:28-29 clearly teaches. “A man is not a Jew is he is only one outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a man’s praise is not from men, but from God.”

Note this carefully: Circumcision—although it was a physical mark on the body—was never meant to be an end in itself. The physical mark was meant to be accompanied by a deep spiritual commitment to God. Where commitment was absent, circumcision soon degenerated into ritualism....

Although some may find this entire discussion academic, it has an incredibly relevant application to modern American church members. Many of us regard our baptism in much the same way the Jews regarded circumcision. Some churches even teach that baptism saves from sin and guarantees entrance into heaven.....Let us be clear on this point. All religious ritual is worthless unless something has already happened in the heart!

Baptism, church attendance, communion, tithing - none of that can save us.  Trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ to bridge the gap between us and heaven is the only thing that can save us.  And no one else can believe for you.  God has no spiritual grandchildren.  But He stands willing to adopt all as His child, if only we believe in Jesus Christ.

Deffinbaugh makes another good point to end his sermon.  It took Abraham a lifetime to understand the few verses of Genesis 12:1-3.
If it took Abraham a lifetime to grasp three verses of Scripture, how long will it take us to fathom the depth of the riches of His grace (cf. Romans 11:33-36)?

This passage helps me come to grips with the desire to learn ‘new’ truths for my own life and for my preaching. God is not so interested in us knowing new truth as He is in us grasping the few great truths of His word. How easy it is to think that we have learned some truth, only to pass on to another. In Abraham’s life, God revealed a truth, then continued to return to it, testing him, and then revealing more of that truth than he had known before. Which one of us can say that we have come to fathom the doctrine of the grace of God or of the atonement? Who would be willing to claim that he had seen all of its implications? I believe that, like Abraham, we can expect God to be at work in our lives, expanding and expounding upon the few great and central truths of Christianity.

The more I study the life of Abraham, the more I see that his was a relationship of growth. He came to learn more and more about the God Who called him. He came to a deeper and deeper understanding of the meaning of God’s Word. As he did so, he invariably drew nearer and nearer to God. There was not only a growth in Abraham’s knowledge, but in his intimacy. At first, God only spoke to Abraham (12:1). Twenty-four years later He revealed Himself to Abraham and spoke with him. Abraham, for the first time, communed with God and interacted with Him. Later, he would be called the friend of God.

Monday's scripture focus: Genesis 18
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: 1 Chronicles 15-16
Sunday's passage: 1 Chronicles 17-18
Monday's passage: 1 Chronicles 19-20, Psalm 119:81-88, Romans 12

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Thursday, June 26th ~ Miriam

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is 1 Chronicles 11-12; Psalm 119:65-72; Romans 9
Today's scripture focus is Genesis 16

Now Sarai, Abram’s wife had borne him no children, and she had an Egyptian maid whose name was Hagar. 2 So Sarai said to Abram, “Now behold, the Lord has prevented me from bearing children. Please go in to my maid; perhaps I will obtain children through her.” And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai. 3 After Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, Abram’s wife Sarai took Hagar the Egyptian, her maid, and gave her to her husband Abram as his wife. 4 He went in to Hagar, and she conceived; and when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress was despised in her sight. 5 And Sarai said to Abram, “May the wrong done me be upon you. I gave my maid into your arms, but when she saw that she had conceived, I was despised in her sight. May the Lord judge between you and me.” 6 But Abram said to Sarai, “Behold, your maid is in your power; do to her what is good in your sight.” So Sarai treated her harshly, and she fled from her presence.

7 Now the angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, by the spring on the way to Shur. 8 He said, “Hagar, Sarai’s maid, where have you come from and where are you going?” And she said, “I am fleeing from the presence of my mistress Sarai.” 9 Then the angel of the Lord said to her, “Return to your mistress, and submit yourself to her authority.” 10 Moreover, the angel of the Lord said to her, “I will greatly multiply your descendants so that they will be too many to count.” 11 The angel of the Lord said to her further,

“Behold, you are with child,
And you will bear a son;
And you shall call his name Ishmael,
Because the Lord has given heed to your affliction.
12 “He will be a wild donkey of a man,
His hand will be against everyone,
And everyone’s hand will be against him;
And he will live to the east of all his brothers.”
13 Then she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, “You are a God who sees”; for she said, “Have I even remained alive here after seeing Him?” 14 Therefore the well was called Beer-lahai-roi; behold, it is between Kadesh and Bered.

15 So Hagar bore Abram a son; and Abram called the name of his son, whom Hagar bore, Ishmael. 16 Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore Ishmael to him.

Boy, what a mess.  Sarai didn't believe that all things are possible with God, assumed that she would never be able to bear a child of her own, presumed on Hagar to give her to Abram, and then mistreated her after she got the result she wanted so that Hagar would leave.  Nice.

Abram went ahead and followed Sarai's bad judgement call.  Now men can be weak when it comes to women, and I think there are probably quite a few men who would have gone along with a plan where they were allowed to sleep with another woman, especially since this was culturally acceptable at the time when it came to having children.  If the wife couldn't have a child, it was acceptable to have a slave have a child for her.  But still.  Come on, Abram.  If you had thought it through more carefully, you might have realized that wouldn't be the way God would go about things.

Hagar really had no rights in this, and I can't be too hard on her for obeying her mistress and then being angry with her when she got pregnant.

I really liked this excerpt from Ray Pritchard's Abraham series:

... Abraham is no longer living by faith. Both he and Sarah have decided “help God out” by concocting this scheme. But 2 Corinthians 5:7 tells us that “we walk by faith not by sight” This week I ran across a wonderful definition that applies to this story: “Faith is living without scheming” That’s good, isn’t it?
In his commentary on this passage, Warren Wiersbe shares four signs you are walking by faith:

1. Willing to wait

2. Concerned for the glory to God

3. Obeying God’s word

4. Peace and Joy within

Abraham and Sarah failed on all four counts. They weren’t willing to wait, they weren’t concerned for God’s glory, they weren’t obeying God’s Word, and they had no peace and joy within.

At first it may have seemed that their plan worked. But in the end, whatever we do on our own must come to a bad end eventually. Scottish novelist George McDonald put it this way: “In whatever man does without God, he must fail miserably, or succeed more miserably.” Abraham is about to miserably succeed.


Happy Thursday!

Tomorrow's scripture focus:  Genesis 17
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage:  1 Chronicles 13-14; Psalm 119:73-80; Romans 11

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Wednesday, June 25th

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is 1 Chronicles 9-10; Psalm 119:57-64; Romans 9
Today's scripture focus is Genesis 15

Genesis 15

English Standard Version (ESV)

God's Covenant with Abram

15 After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.” But Abram said, “O Lord God, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” And Abram said, “Behold, you have given me no offspring, and a member of my household will be my heir.” And behold, the word of the Lord came to him: “This man shall not be your heir; your very own son shall be your heir.” And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”And he believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness.
And he said to him, “I am the Lord who brought you out from Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to possess.” But he said, “O Lord Godhow am I to know that I shall possess it?” He said to him, “Bring me a heifer three years old, a female goat three years old, a ram three years old, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.”10 And he brought him all these, cut them in half, and laid each half over against the other. But he did not cut the birds in half. 11 And when birds of prey came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away.
12 As the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell on Abram. And behold, dreadful and great darkness fell upon him.13 Then the Lord said to Abram, “Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years. 14 But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions. 15 As for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried in a good old age. 16 And they shall come back here in the fourth generation, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.”
17 When the sun had gone down and it was dark, behold, a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch passed between these pieces. 18 On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, “To your offspring I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates, 19 the land of the Kenites, the Kenizzites, the Kadmonites, 20 the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, 21 the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites and the Jebusites.”

Accompanying Ray Pritchard sermon: How to Overcome Fear
Accompanying Bob Deffinbaugh sermon: The Focal Point of Abram's Faith

Somebody pointed this out to me, and now every time I read it in the Bible I notice it as well......
Virtually every time the Bible says "do not fear" it is followed by the reason we should not fear - "God is with us", or in our text today "I am your shield".  This doesn't mean God will always protect us from our fear becoming reality, but He will be with us and help us endure.  God is a shield around us - nothing will happen to us that is not first filtered through His hands.  Pritchard pointed out a quote that is very true - “A Christian is immortal till his work on earth is done.” God's purpose for our life will not be thwarted.  Our trials and, eventually, our death will not come as a surprise to Him.

We're not totally sure what Abram feared at this point - it could have been retaliation for the fight he just had with the kings in his quest to rescue Lot, or, more likely, it was his fear over never having his own child to fulfill the promise God had made to him years ago.

But God's timing is always right.  Pritchard notes many reasons that God may delay answering our prayers - to strengthen our faith, to develop perseverance, so no one but God can get the glory when the answer finally comes, so no one can doubt the miracle involved, and to give hope to everyone who has prayed for years and years with only silence as the answer.

Truly God Himself if the answer to every fear.  In today's passage He says I am your shield.
But it can be so many other things depending on our needs.
I AM.... your strength, courage, help, hope, supply, defender, deliverer, forgiveness, joy, future - your everything!

The covenant we see in this passage is confusing to us in the west, but very clear to those in the east.  The process, called cutting a covenant, involved two parties who, after coming to an agreement on the terms, would cut animals in half and then take turns walking in the middle through the blood to seal the covenant, and to signify that if they broke the covenant they would pay with their life.

But, in this particular covenant, God walks through the blood both times, as symbolized by the smoking fire pot and a flaming torch, taking Abraham's place.

Pritchard and Deffinbaugh both come to the conclusion that this was a unilateral covenant, that God made the covenant with Himself and that it was unconditional.

Ray Vanderlaan comes to a different conclusion.  From 15:6 and 17:1-2, we see that Abraham's side of the covenant required his faith and his obedience - something that would impossible to do perfectly. Abram knew that he could never keep his end of the covenant - which would explain why he experienced such a dreadful and great darkness, a Hebrew colloquialism that means dreadful fear.  He knew that if put so much as one toe in that blood, he was as good as dead.  Instead, we see God Himself take responsibility for Abram's portion of the covenant and in that instant, Jesus Christ was sentenced to death.  He would pay the price for Abram's (and our!) failure to keep the covenant.  All the sacrifices instituted by Moses were to be a constant reminder, to the people and to God, of God's promise.  Those sacrifices were made every day at 9 and 3.  It comes as no surprise that Jesus Christ's death occurred at exactly 3pm.  The final sacrifice had been made, God had kept the covenant.  Amazing grace.

Tomorrow's scripture focus: Genesis 16
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: 1 Chronicles 11-12, Psalm 119:65-72, Romans 9

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

June 24 - Tuesday - Tiffany

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is 1 Chronicles 7-8; Psalm 119:49-56; Romans 8
Today's scripture focus is Genesis 14

Abram Rescues Lot

14 In the days of Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of Goiim, these kings made war with Bera king of Sodom, Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar). And all these joined forces in the Valley of Siddim (that is, the Salt Sea). Twelve years they had served Chedorlaomer, but in the thirteenth year they rebelled. In the fourteenth year Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him came and defeated the Rephaim in Ashteroth-karnaim, the Zuzim in Ham, the Emim in Shaveh-kiriathaim, and the Horites in their hill country of Seir as far as El-paran on the border of the wilderness. Then they turned back and came to En-mishpat (that is, Kadesh) and defeated all the country of the Amalekites, and also the Amorites who were dwelling in Hazazon-tamar.
Then the king of Sodom, the king of Gomorrah, the king of Admah, the king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar) went out, and they joined battle in the Valley of Siddim with Chedorlaomer king of Elam, Tidal king of Goiim, Amraphel king of Shinar, and Arioch king of Ellasar, four kings against five. 10 Now the Valley of Siddim was full of bitumen pits, and as the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, some fell into them, and the rest fled to the hill country. 11 So the enemy took all the possessions of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their provisions, and went their way. 12 They also took Lot, the son of Abram's brother, who was dwelling in Sodom, and his possessions, and went their way.
13 Then one who had escaped came and told Abram the Hebrew, who was living by the oaks[a] of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol and of Aner. These were allies of Abram. 14 When Abram heard that his kinsman had been taken captive, he led forth his trained men, born in his house, 318 of them, and went in pursuit as far as Dan. 15 And he divided his forces against them by night, he and his servants, and defeated them and pursued them to Hobah, north of Damascus. 16 Then he brought back all the possessions, and also brought back his kinsman Lot with his possessions, and the women and the people.

Abram Blessed by Melchizedek

17 After his return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him, the king of Sodom went out to meet him at the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King's Valley). 18 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. (He was priest of God Most High.) 19 And he blessed him and said,
“Blessed be Abram by God Most High,
    Possessor[b] of heaven and earth;
20 and blessed be God Most High,
    who has delivered your enemies into your hand!”
And Abram gave him a tenth of everything. 21 And the king of Sodom said to Abram, “Give me the persons, but take the goods for yourself.” 22 But Abram said to the king of Sodom, “I have lifted my hand[c] to the Lord, God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth, 23 that I would not take a thread or a sandal strap or anything that is yours, lest you should say, ‘I have made Abram rich.’ 24 I will take nothing but what the young men have eaten, and the share of the men who went with me. Let Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre take their share.”

Bob Deffinbaugh has a lot (hehehe) of good things to say about Genesis 14:1-16 here.  My focus when I read this chapter is always Melchizedek. He is just fascinating.
Abram defeats these kings, saves everyone, and out of nowhere comes Melchizedek, king of Salem - king of Peace - the priest of God Most High.
And this mysterious king blesses Abram, and Abram gives Melchizedek a tenth of everything.
Who on earth is this Melchizedek?!
Hebrews 7 gives us more insight: He is first, by translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then he is also king of Salem, that is, king of peace. He is without father or mother or genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but resembling the Son of God he continues a priest forever.
Following in chapter 7, Jesus is compared to Melchizedek. I have heard arguments that Melchizedek WAS Jesus, just as some speculate that whenever an angel of the Lord appears in the old Testament that it is actually Jesus.
Whoever Melchizedek was, he was important. And Abram realized this. He gave away a tenth of his gain from defeating the kings, and would take nothing from the king of Sodom.
Tomorrow's scripture focus: Genesis 15
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: 1 Chronicles 9-10; Psalm 119:57-64; Romans 9