Lucia's Blog: December 2013
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Isaiah 55:8-9

Isaiah 55:8-9

Thursday, December 26, 2013

BANKRUPTCY OF THE SOUL - A MODERN DAY PLAGUE





"Know well the condition of your flocks, and pay attention to your herds."  Proverbs 27:23

Many people today including Christians seem to live healthy, fine and normal lives to all appearances.  From an outward point of view, they seem to have achieved success, praise, happiness, and fun.   In other words, the American dream.  They don't seem to be suffering from want or neglect.  Their children seem to be doing fine; they're well cared for; they're  well dressed; attending the best schools.  They are definitely enjoying the fruits of their labor.  Sadly, they are spiritually bankrupt.   Their inner heart and soul are malnourished, neglected, lonely, empty and unfulfilled.  Obviously, their souls are crying out and declaring a form of bankruptcy.

"As I live, declares the Lord GOD, surely because My flock has become a prey, My flock has even become food for all the beasts of the field for lack of a shepherd, and My shepherds did not search for My flock, but rather the shepherds fed themselves and did not feed My flock."  Ezekiel 34:8

Unfortunately, beneath all that outward success there is the inner man who is unsuccessfully fulfilled and satisfied.  His inner life with His Creator is a total failure leading to a devastating bankruptcy of the soul.  Let's never forget that God sees and weighs the hearts of men.  The way He measures growth and success is very different than how we measure it.  He does not count or consider our possessions, material achievements and success as His sole norm of achievement for us. 

"For the shepherds have become stupid and have not sought the LORD; therefore they have not prospered, and all their flock is scattered."  Jeremiah 10:21

God wants us, his children, to place Him above all else.  He wants first place in our heart, mind and soul.  He is a jealous God who hates to be replaced by anything else.  We must be careful not to let our lives and hearts become bankrupt before God.  He knows when we lay up treasures inside ourselves.  He sees when we are storing away riches in our soul for His kingdom's sake.

"In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields, and keeping watch over their flock by night."  Luke 2:8

Again, as I mentioned before, we can be very successful and be puffed up in our ego or self esteem and become very proud of our outward success, but be completely bankrupt in our souls.  Do we know the state of our flocks, that is our children, our spouses, our brethren and other special people God has placed in our lives to watch over?   Do we care if they know God and His plan to save men?  Do they know us for being the salt and light of this world?  Are we reflecting Christ in our lives, letting our light shine before men?  Are we using the riches God has provided for us such as our children and families?  Did you know that teen depression along with loneliness are at an all time high among those that seem to have it all?  More often than not it is the affluent children that are the most neglected and lonely.  These children long for something more: a satisfied and fulfilled soul.  There are no gadgets, nice cars or perfect image that will take the place of the riches of our souls.  Parents, we must be aware and pay attention to the state of our flock, our children.  We must not go astray; we need to make sure that our flock, our children, remain together.  It is our duty to be truly shepherds who watch over our flock by night.

"WOE to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of My pasture! declares the LORD."  Jeremiah 23:1

Pursuing only our goals of achievement and success, wrongly thinking that it is for the welfare of our families, even though it might be well intended, is bankruptcy of the soul.  It is total failure!

"I shall also raise up shepherds over them and they will tend them; and they will not be afraid any longer, nor be terrified, nor will any be missing, declares the LORD."  Jeremiah 23:4

True happiness is not the pursuit of outward success only.  Our main priority should be that of the needs of our souls as well as the souls of families and neighbors.   Let's be wise and not be fools and not pursue the wrong things, goals and interests and neglect our flocks.  Let's make it our main goal before our Father in heaven to pursue our flocks' success; to be with them and spend time with them; to watch over our God given riches, our flocks, more than our earthly success.  What godly legacy are we leaving behind for generations to come?

"I am the good Shepherd; the good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep."  John 10:11

May we always remember to store up riches in the bank account of our souls in heaven; the only one we truly are going to be able to take with us.  May we and our children never have to suffer from bankruptcy of the soul and lose our souls for eternity.

Luci

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

GOD MEANT IT FOR GOOD




"And as for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive...." Genesis 50:20-21

Joseph had to endure many injustices at the hands of his brothers who were jealous of him because he was his father's favorite.  His father gave him a special coat of many colors which provoked anger among the other siblings.  As a result of this jealousy, Joseph had to endure betrayal and suffering.  Worse yet, Joseph's dreams made them hate him even more.

As a consequence of this jealousy, Joseph was sold to the Ishmaelite traders as a slave.  These slavers sold him to Potiphar, one of Pharaoh's officials.  In spite of the circumstances, Joseph served as a faithful servant, winning trust and esteem for 7 years. Then everything fell apart for him again.  Potiphar's wife tried to seduce him.  When Joseph refused her, she accused him of taking advantage of her.  Potiphar ended up throwing Joseph into his prison where he had to endure injustice for another seven years.

It is amazing to me that all these injustices were the result of the envy and hatred caused by his brothers.  Do you think that's fair?  In my opinion, if anyone had reason to be bitter, Joseph did.  Finally, after two more years of bondage, he was called before Pharaoh to interpret a dream that he had about a great famine that was going to happen throughout the land.  The extraordinary thing is that Joseph did not mention a word about his injustices, but pointed the Pharaoh to God alone.  It would seem to me that that was his great chance for revenge.  Because of God's favor in his life and his love for God, he was exalted and made second in command in all of Egypt.  He was to be the one in charge of all the food supply and storage for the coming famine.

After 21 years, his brothers heard of the supply of food down in Egypt in the midst of such famine.  Then, Jacob sent the brothers down to Egypt to bring back food.  Eventually, they stood before Joseph not recognizing who he was, because he was dressed like a king.  A lot had changed here.  This was Joseph's big chance to "set things right" and take full revenge.  What would you have done?  Would you, had you been Joseph, have thrown them into prison to let them have a taste of what you had to suffer at their hands?  So often, I hear of  Christians, who have been wronged saying, "I will forgive you, but I will NEVER forget!"

How moving to me are Joseph's words to his brothers when he finally decided to reveal his identity to them.  His words showed the deep and precious work our God had done in his heart through all the years of suffering.  When his brothers finally realized who he was, they panicked.  But to their surprise and relief, Joseph's touching and precious words reassured them of his love for them, "And as for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good...." Genesis 50:20-21.  What wonderful, moving and precious words these are!   These are words that proceeded from a broken heart, which suggest that all of life's injustices, struggles and sufferings work toward some greater good, for those who love the LORD and are called according to His divine purpose, "And we know that God causes all things to work together for GOOD to those who love God, to THOSE who are called according to His purpose."  Romans 8:28.  Can it be that even the greatest sorrows in our lives can bring goodness or be messengers of GOOD?  As difficult as it might seem, this was a great lesson that Joseph had  to learn through his many, many wounds.  So, let's always keep in our minds and hearts that though men might intend to do evil to us, God means it for good.  He is using all of these wounds, sufferings, injustices and evil to bring us into the perfection of His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, "For those whom the LORD loves He disciplines, and He scourges every son whom He receives."  Hebrews 12:6

So with this in mind, let us always remember that until we see God's hands in our sufferings, we are going to be fleshly, pointing at and blaming our persecutors and offenders, for the wrongs they have done to us.  For those who are not walking according to the likeness of God, there can be no room for pain, discipline and value in wounds.  For them, pain is met with resentment and wounding with retaliation.  This is sad, since there can be no healing until we stop assigning blame and allow God to heal our wounds.  Until we come to realize that "God meant it for good."  We are just never going to be able to forgive our brethren and neighbors UNTIL we come and taste of the goodness of God and His wounds at the cross, Hosea 6:1-3.  Without the wounds of restoration, healing and a renewed heart, there would be no desire to follow God and His marvelous light.  UNTIL we see and come face to face with a realization that the wounds that others have inflicted upon us are not the wounds of our enemies, but of a loving Father, we can never be free of bitterness and resentment.  Not, UNTIL we can honestly say from a sincere heart, "God meant it for good....Faithful are the wounds of a friend,"  we will resist God's love for us through His blows and stripes.  God's wounds are for our healing!  They are for good!  "Blows that hurt cleanse away evil, as do the stripes of the inner depths of the heart."  Proverb 20:30.  There is a parallel here with Isaiah 53:5 "by His stripes we are healed."  It is the Father who controls the scourge. 

Another who had to suffer and was deeply wounded was Paul.  He suffered enormously at the hands of his brethren.  He had every right to be bitter.  However like Joseph, Paul decided to see beyond his wounds and those who afflicted him with suffering.  He understood very well, that the real reasons for his scars, "On my own body are scars that prove  I belong to Christ."  Galatians 6:17.  He saw the stripes that were inflicted upon him, not as evil but as GOOD.  A proof of Christ's ownership, II Corinthians 11:24.  Do you doubt that Paul was bitter about the unfairness and injustice he was treated with?  NOT AT ALL!  "For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my BRETHREN, my kinsmen according to the flesh.  Romans 9:3  Let's make it our ambition to have the heart of Paul and Joseph who sacrificed in order to let those who persecuted them be blessed.  Let us all first search our hearts and be at peace with all men as we go forth proclaiming the Good News of salvation to all men!  

May our Lord help us to have the heart of Paul and Joseph who died to themselves in order to bless those who have wronged them.  May we always remember that no matter how much others have hurt us, wounded us, hated and caused deep pain in us, GOD MEANS IT FOR OUR GOOD.  May we always have a sincere heart that is willing to taste of His goodness and His wounds at the cross  in order to forgive those who have wronged us and be able to be free from bitterness and resentment.

Luci

Friday, December 13, 2013

HAMMURABI AND ISAAC - PART II





HAMMURABI - 1792 BC -  The HAMMURABI CODE 

Ancient Babylon is about 55 miles south of today's Baghdad in Iraq.  King Hammurabi inherited Babylon from his father in 1792 B.C.  This king began to expand his kingdom by taking the city of Kish along with other small neighboring cities.  He built up his army, expanded his kingdom and was able to take control of a vast area stretching from Mari to Ur in southern Mesopotamia.

The Code of Hammurabi managed his vast kingdom by controlling trade routes along the rivers and into the Persian Gulf.  He developed a well-known book of laws called the Code of Hammurabi to maintain order.  This code contained 282 laws and was written in Akkadian, the common language of his people.  This was written on 12 tablets and was carved into an eight foot high black stele, a large stone monument.  The Code was then displayed in public for everyone to see.  At the top of this stele was a carving that depicted Hammurabi justice.  Did you know that the early founders of our country chose to include a depiction of Hammurabi along with twenty-three other lawgivers on several U.S. government buildings, including a marble base and the frieze on the Supreme Court Building?  This was done because of Hammurabi's well known focus on law.  This stele had been taken from Babylon in a battle against the Elamites and was therefore lost centuries.  It was rediscovered in Iran in 1901, and is now in the Louvre Museum in Paris.

Hammurabi's laws were sorted into groups:  laws to govern business, labor, personal property, real estate, and family life.  These laws were strict and harsh.  They placed responsibility for crimes not only on the criminals, but also on anyone who might possibly have prevented a crime.  The code was very specific, especially in the areas of punishment.  The death sentence required a trial before a group of judges.

The code of Hammurabi divided the population into three classes:  the awilum(the king and his court, landowners, high officials, craftsmen and professionals), the muskingum(those who owned no property, the beggars) and the wardum(slaves).  Penalties for offenses were less severe for the awilum class.

The following are some of Hammurabi's Laws:

1.    If any one steals the property of a temple or of the court, he shall be put to death as well as the one who receives the stolen thing.  They were both supposed to be put to death.
2.    If any one receives into his house a runaway male or female slave of the court, or a freedman, and does not bring it at the public proclamation of the major domus, the master of the house shall be put to death.
3.    If fire breaks out in a house, and some one who comes to put it out casts his eye upon the property of the owner of the house, and takes the property of the master of the house, he shall be thrown into that self-same fire.
4.    If any one be too lazy to keep his dam in proper condition, and does not so keep it; if then the dam break and all the fields be flooded, then shall he in whose dam the break occurred be sold for money, and the money shall replace the corn which he has caused to be ruined.
5.   If any one fails to meet a claim for debt, and sells himself, his wife, his son, and daughter for money or gives them away to forced labor:  they shall work for three years in the house of the man who bought them, or the proprietor and in the fourth year they shall be set free.

Apparently, after the Babylonian captivity, the Jews began using the Babylonian names for the months of their calendar, sometime after 600 BC.  The Babylonian calendar was based on 12 lunar months, each named for a different god.  The year began in the Spring and was divided into three sections:  beginning, middle and end.  As with the Jews, the Babylonians began their day at sunset rather than midnight.

A consideration of Babylonian history shows us the impact of Babylonian influence in the lives of the ancient Israelites.

Luci



ISAAC - PART I


 "Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son.  But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, 'Abraham, Abraham!' And he said, 'Here I am.' He said, 'Do not stretch out your hand against the lad, and do nothing to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.'''' 
Genesis 22:10-12


GIANTS OF THE FAITH:  ISAAC

When Abraham was 100 years old, Sarah bore him a son whom they named Isaac, meaning laughter.  On the day that Isaac was weaned, possibly at the age of three to eight years old, Abraham threw a party, Genesis 21:1-21.  "Weaning" is of course the end of a child's nursing stage, but in the Ancient Near East, this was more than just that; it was a milestone in a child's life.  It was a cause for joy in those days since many children died in infancy.  Weaning feasts were very common in those days.  At the party, Sarah saw Ishmael mocking Isaac, "Now Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, mocking.  Therefore she said to Abraham, 'Drive out this maid and her son, for the son of this maid shall not be an heir with my son Isaac.'"  Genesis 21:9-10.  She asked Abraham to get rid of the boy and his mother.  What exactly caused Sarah's anger is unclear.  But, the fact is that Sarah wanted it to be clear that Isaac was the favored son who would receive the inheritance.  We read from Galatians 4:29 that Ishmael persecuted Isaac.  Sadly, Abraham had to send Ishmael and his mother away.

After some time had passed, The LORD appeared to Abraham telling him to take Isaac to the region of Moriah to sacrifice Isaac as a burnt offering (the location is unknown, but the name means "ordained by God,").  "And He said, 'Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah; and offered him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you.'"  Genesis 22:2.  The burnt offering consisted of cutting up the entire animal into pieces allowing it to be consumed by fire.  God's request might have seemed shocking to some; even outrageous!   Abraham seemed to be familiar with the idea of human sacrifice from his time in Ur.  Again, we see an Abraham used to facing difficult tasks which demanded a great FAITH.  Remember, he obeyed God when He asked him to leave his family to go into an unknown country.  He sent away his first-born son Ishmael--but this task was far from the hardest and most dreadful of all.

Abraham's GREAT FAITH is remarkable and we can see it emphasized in the story.  His FAITH is so GREAT that he offers no OBJECTION or remark, but simply sets out to OBEY.  This is beyond words.  In genuine OBEDIENCE he and Isaac set off the next morning with a donkey and two servants.  He offers no explanation to his servants or to Isaac.  After three days of traveling, they finally approach the mountain that God had designated for the sacrifice.  Here is what Abraham tells his servants, "Stay here with the donkey. and I and the lad will go yonder; and we will worship and return to you."  Genesis 22:5.  He is implying that he and Isaac will return when Isaac won't.  He says nothing about a sacrifice, despite having gathered wood for the burnt offering.  When Abraham and Isaac are alone, Isaac asks his father the obvious question:   "My father!"  And he said, "Here I am, my son."  And he said, "Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?"   And Abraham said, "God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son."  

When they finally reached the site, Abraham builds the altar arranging the wood for fire.  Then he binds his son Isaac and lays him on the altar.  Notice, no words are exchanged and there is no evidence of any struggle at all.  What an emotional moment this is!   Here we see an Isaac who is TRUSTING his father and an Abraham who is TRUSTING his God.  As Abraham was raising his knife and preparing to kill Isaac, and angel of the LORD cries out from heaven saying:  "Abraham!  Abraham!"  And he said,  "Here I am.'"And he said, 'Do not  stretch out your hand against the lad, and do nothing to him; for now I KNOW that you FEAR God, since you have not withheld your SON, your only SON, from me."' Genesis 22:10-12.

Then Abraham raised his eyes, probably weeping for joy, and sees a ram behind him, caught in the thicket by his horns.  He offers it up as a burnt offering to the LORD in place of Isaac.  He names that mountain "The LORD Will Provide" because God did indeed provide the sacrifice, just as Abraham had told Isaac.  Abraham's GREAT FAITH is AMAZING.  His FAITH has survived God's testing, and God is immensely PLEASED with Abraham.  Then the angel of the LORD called to Abraham a second time from heaven, saying "By Myself I have sworn, declares the LORD, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son, indeed I will GREATLY bless you and I will GREATLY multiply your SEED as the stars of the heavens, and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your SEED shall possess the gate of their enemies."  Genesis 22:15-18.  Abraham's OBEDIENCE to God is our best example and motivator!  We need to be like Abraham who placed his life in God's hands, trusting God's judgment more than his own.  Abraham placed his utmost FAITH in God believing with all his heart that God is Master of life and death, and that God is ALMIGHTY able to do the impossible.  Did you know there are similarities between Abraham's near sacrifice of Isaac and God's REAL SACRIFICE of His own Son, Jesus Christ?

After Abraham's FAITH is tested, Sarah dies at the age of one hundred twenty-seven and he buries her in a cave he had bought from the Hittites, Genesis 23.  It is then that Abraham realizes that his life is coming to an end and doesn't want his son Isaac to marry a Canaanite.  So, he sends his servant on a quest for a match for Isaac.  Abraham's servant was trusted to find an acceptable match for Isaac in another country where he knew no one.  What a tremendous responsibility this servant was given!  Apparently, this servant had full knowledge of Abraham's affairs.  He showed loyalty to Abraham as if he were his own brother.  He certainly shared Abraham's FAITH in God.  This is demonstrated in his prayers and deeds throughout the story.

The servant promised to find a suitable wife for Isaac from Abraham's own family back in Mesopotamia.  Abraham made him seal his promise in a very personal way; he, the servant had to place his hand above his thigh.  By placing his hand on this area and by swearing in the name of God, the servant was binding himself to Abraham's God.  Notice, that the lands where his servant was traveling were filled with the gods of those lands.  Abraham wanted to be assured that his servant was not going to turn aside from the true God.  The servant promised that he would not let Isaac marry a Canaanite, but that he would find a suitable wife from Abraham's family.  Also, Abraham wanted to be assured that his son Isaac and his seed were not going to be corrupted.  Abraham set a standard that was going to be upheld years later when Joshua led the Israelites into the promise land.  This is what we read:  "Lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land and they play the harlet with their gods, and sacrifice to their gods, and someone invite you to eat up his sacrifice; and you take some of his daughters for your sons, and his daughters play the harlet with their gods and cause your sons also to play the harlet with their gods."  Exodus 34:15-16.

The servant sets out with 10 camels and great quantities of supplies and gifts.  When he reaches Northern Mesopotamia he stops near a well.  Both he and his camels are in need of water from the well.  It was common in those days for young unmarried women to draw water in the evening.  He is hoping to meet Isaac's match.  He prays to the LORD to show him which girl he should choose for Isaac according to what he asked for.  He will ask an unmarried girl at the well to give him a drink from her jar.  The chosen girl must not only give him a drink, but his camels also.  In this way, he would know the Lord's choice for Isaac.  It was not customary for young unmarried girls to speak to men outside of their home, much less a foreigner. Nevertheless, Rebekah fulfills all of the prayer's requirements.  She draws water for the servant and offers water to the camels until they are full.  She is also part of Abraham's family.  Another requirement she fulfills. She is unmarried and beautiful.  God goes beyond the servant's request in such a bountiful way that the servant has to bow down and worship.  What an amazing God we have!  When he realizes that Rebekah is the one, he gives her gold bracelets for her arms and a ring for her nose.  This is a sign of a marriage arrangement.  The servant gets invited by Laban her brother to dinner.  He tells Abraham's story to Laban and her father, Bethuel.  After hearing the story, both Laban and her father agreed that Rebekah would be a good match for Isaac.  Rebekah is not consulted about her own marriage, which was normal for a patriarchal culture.  When the deal is made, the servant then takes Rebekah and returns to Abraham, but Laban and her mother ask him to delay, "But her brother and her mother said, 'Let the girl stay with us a few days, say ten; afterward she may go.'"  Gen. 24:55.  The family consults Rebekah and she agrees to go with the servant immediately.

When Rebekah and the servant arrived in the Negev,  Isaac sees them from afar.  When she sees Isaac approaching, she finds out he is her intended husband, she veils her face.  Isaac and Rebekah are married in Sarah's tent.  What a  beautiful "fairy tale" love story!

The following are some parallels between the Genesis stories of Ishmael and Isaac:

Gen. 21:12
God orders Ishmael to leave
Gen. 22:2
God orders Isaac's sacrifice
Gen. 21:14
Leave in the morning with supplies
Gen. 22:3
Leave in the morning with supplies
Gen. 21:16
Ishmael is about to die
Gen. 22:10
Isaac is about to be sacrificed
Gen. 21:17
Angel calls to Hagar
Gen. 22:11
Angel calls to Abraham
Gen. 21:18
Ishmael will be a great nation
Gen. 22:17
Isaac's descendants will be innumerable
Gen. 21:19
God provides a well
Gen. 22:13
God provides a ram


May our Lord help us to have Abraham's OBEDIENCE.  His obedience to God is our best example and motivator!   May we be like Abraham, who placed his life in God's hands, trusting God's judgment more than his own.  

Luci

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

ABRAHAM THE PATRIARCH - PART II



After 10 years of God's promise to Abram about a son, Sarai's desperation reached a peak.  She offered her Egyptian maid Hagar to Abram hoping that she would bear him a child in her place.  This was a common practice in those days.  It is found in the Sumerian law code from around 1800 B.C. and an Old Assyrian Marriage contract from around the same time.  According to their customs, the child born this way would belong to Abram and Sarai and not the servant.  Hagar became pregnant. She began to look with contempt, Genesis 16:4.   It was then that Abram gave Sarai permission to do with Hagar as she wished, "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."  Genesis 16:6.  Sarai dealt harshly with Hagar, and she fled from her.  An angel of the LORD appeared to Hagar as she was resting beside a spring in the desert.  Did you know this is the first appearance of an angel in Scripture?  Here, we see a loving God who cares for the weak and helpless.  The angel told Hagar to return to Sarai and SUBMIT to her, but at the same time comforted her with the promise that she would bear a son named Ishmael and his descendants would be too numerous to count.  Hagar gave birth to Abram's first son.  His name was Ishmael, chosen by the Lord, meaning "God hears."  Abram was  86 years old when he was born.

Thirteen years passed and Sarai was still childless.   Abram was 99 yrs. old when an angel of the LORD appeared to him a sixth time.  He commanded Abram to "walk before me and be blameless"  Genesis 17:1 and reaffirmed his covenant with Abram.  He also changes Abram's name to Abraham, which means "father of a multitude of nations."  Sarai's name was changed to Sarah, meaning "princess".  She also received God's blessing.  As a sign of the covenant God commanded Abraham and all the males of his household to be circumcised. Abraham as always obeyed God.  And from that time forward Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac and all Jewish males bore the mark of "circumcision."

In a seventh encounter with God, Abraham and Sarah were visited by three men, Genesis 18. These men were angels who told Abraham that Sarah would have a child.  When Sarah heard this, she laughed, perhaps in both joy and disbelief.  Abraham was 100 years old when Sarah had a son whom they named Isaac, meaning "laughter." Genesis 21:1-7.

Ishmael was 13 years old when Sarah bore Isaac, the true son of God's promise. Although Sarah had born a son to Abraham, he always retained a special place for his first born son, Ishmael. Here jealousy begins to resurface.  Sarah demanded that Abraham send Hagar away so that Ishmael could never share Isaac's inheritance.  Although, Abraham was upset, since he cared for his son Ishmael, God promised that He would take care of Ishmael.  So, he sent both Hagar and Ishmael away with a small supply of food.  When the food supply ran out, Hagar laid Ishmael beside a bush to die. Ishmael cried out, and God heard his cry.  An angel of the LORD spoke words of comfort to Hagar, repeating the promise that a great nation would rise from Ishmael.  What an amazing God we have! God cared for Hagar and Ishmael.  Ishmael grew into manhood becoming an expert archer .

What an awesome God we have!  God's ability to fulfill His promise to Abraham is a great testimony of His power over human life.  He proved that He can do the impossible.

Luci

ABRAHAM THE PATRIARCH - PART I



The following is a summary of what my children and I learned on Ancient History about Abraham:

Abraham's father Terah was from the line of Noah's son Shem.  The name "Terah" was associated with the moon, "yareah" and thus the moon god.  Terah did not have any children until he was 70 years old.  He had 3 sons,  Abram, Nahor and Haran.  Terah's son Haran died early leaving behind his own son, Lot, who was Abram's cousin.  Sarai was the daughter of one of Terah's many wives.  Abram later married Sarai who was his half-sister.  Intermarriage between family members was very common in those days.  Extended families were closer-knit than they are today; husbands often had many wives which meant that half-brothers and half-sisters often grew together;  language barrier was common with people outside the family group.  There were cultural and religious differences outside the circle of family members.  Abram's father, Terah was an idol worshiper and an idol merchant.  We read of this in Joshua 24:2, "And Joshua said to all the people, thus says the LORD , the God of Israel, from ancient times your fathers lived beyond the River, namely, Terah, the father of Abraham and the father of Nahor, and they served other gods."  Abram did not learn about the One True God from his father.  The Sumerian of Ur believed that their purpose on earth was to serve their gods.  They considered their kings to be gods. They made human sacrifices when a king died.  This was their final worship service to their god-king.  This system made the death of a king a terribly sad occasion.

Abram received a call from God about leaving his hometown Ur and set out to Haran, "Now the LORD said to Abram,  go forth from your country, and from your relatives and from your father's house, to the land which I will show you; and I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and so shall you be a blessing; and and I will bless those who bless you and the one who curses you I will curse.  And in you ALL the families of the earth shall be blessed."  Genesis 12:1-4; Acts 7:2-4.  It must have been difficult for Abram to leave behind everything that he owned and knew to build a new home in an unknown and unsettled country.  When God called Abram to leave his country, his people and his father, He didn't tell Abram where he was going.  The following are 7 elements of God's call to Abram:

1.  "I will make you into a great nation."  From Abram's seed would come a great nation.
2.  "and I will bless you."  Abram was going to enjoy material prosperity.
3.  "I will make your name great."  Abraham's name would be renowned beyond his lifetime.
4.  "and you will be a blessing."  God was going to bless Abraham and his seed.
5.  "I will bless those who bless you."  God was going to bless those who blessed Abraham and his seed.
6.  "and whoever curses you I will curse."  God was going to punish those who cursed Abraham and his seed.
7.  "and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you."  It was through Abraham's seed that God was going to provide a future blessing to all, the Messiah.

Abram's amazing faith is a great example to us.  He obeyed God by taking his family and his brother's son Lot and set off to an unknown land.  It was at Shechem that God suddenly appeared to him promising him all of the land around him.  There he built an altar for the Lord as worship.  It took a lot of faith for Abram to do what God told him to do.  He did so believing God's promises, "Then he believed in the LORD, and He reckoned it to him as righteousness." Genesis 15:6; Hebrews 11:8-12.


Luci