Sunday, 17 July 2011

Abraham and sons...

So trawling through Gen 17-22 and a mix of strange and significant stories. Firstly, covenant of circumcision is introduced and Abraham and his 13 year old son are circumcised - ouch! I guess for them its something they would never forget and also sets the pattern for all the covenant people onwards.

Secondly, Abraham is visited by three mysterious visitors from afar. Unsure whether these are mystics, angels or even perhaps a symbolic picture of trinity? Whatever they are it is clear that they speak authoritatively on behalf of the Lord.

Thirdly, continuing in Gen 18 is a great piece of bartering between Abraham and God. God decrees the destruction of Sodom for awful things but Abraham steps in to convince God to relent a little to satisfy Abraham's sense of moral justice. Abraham's bartering is received positively and God amends His original plans for destruction. Surely, a real encouragement to pray! God's mind can be changed by the intercession of His people. If it works for Abraham then surely it will work for us. Perhaps i am being challenged to pray more directly and specifically for things and then keep badgering until there's a result.

Chapter 19 is rather unpalatable for a number of reasons to do with incest and the exploitation of women, a sexual desperation on a city wide scale expressed through homosexuality before we arrive at Abraham's treaty with Abimelek. It appears at first that Abraham has not learnt the lesson from years before. Perhaps he should have written lines, Bart Simpson style - 'i will not pass of my wife as my sister...' but i guess its really encouraging that a great hero of the faith sometimes doesn't learn overly quickly. It seems i'm in good company. Of course, it appears that through Abraham's scheming - great blessing comes and he receives a prizely sum as part of this treaty.

This seems to be the case so often - and i imagine this is what gives weight to the argument that 'religious writings' are written post the event to justify behaviour. We can see echoes of this as the Moabites and Ammonites, soon to be arch enemies of Israel are those born of incest between Lot and his daughters. Is this written to justify prejudice in later generations?

Then on to the birth of Isaac, the child of promise and to the famous story of his almost sacrifice. Once again a beautiful picture of aspects of the cross. Abraham willingly sacrifices his own son on an altar of wood - the links between Jesus being sacrificed on the 'altar' of a wooden cross are clear.

That concludes my first week through Genesis - quite a winding tale of people and circumstances - what is clear throughout is the theme, however presented, of God's faithfulness and plan working itself out no matter what the characters face or do. How great it is to know, that God does work despite us and with us.

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