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Genesis 27:30-36

Monday, January 27, 2020

“Now it came about, as soon as Isaac had finished blessing Jacob, and Jacob had hardly gone out from the presence of Isaac his father, that Esau his brother came in from his hunting. Then he also made savory food, and brought it to his father; and he said to his father, 'Let my father arise and eat of his son’s game, that you may bless me.' Isaac his father said to him, 'Who are you?' And he said, 'I am your son, your firstborn, Esau.' Then Isaac trembled violently, and said, 'Who was he then that hunted game and brought it to me, so that I ate of all of it before you came, and blessed him? Yes, and he shall be blessed.' When Esau heard the words of his father, he cried out with an exceedingly great and bitter cry, and said to his father, 'Bless me, even me also, O my father!' And he said, 'Your brother came deceitfully and has taken away your blessing.' Then he said, 'Is he not rightly named Jacob, for he has supplanted me these two times? He took away my birthright, and behold, now he has taken away my blessing.' And he said, 'Have you not reserved a blessing for me?'”

---End of Scripture verses---

“As soon as Isaac had finished blessing Jacob...Esau his brother came in from his hunting.” (verse 30) “The Narrator's skill is seen here at its best. No sooner does the tension relax and Jacob withdraw from the stage, than it reaches a new pitch of intensity with Esau's reappearance on the scene. There is no doubt where the author's sympathy likes. Esau is the innocent victim of a cruel ruse. This rough fellow, the hardy hunter, is utterly crushed when he discovers what happened. He sobs convulsively.” (Nahum Sarna)

“Let my father arise and eat of his son’s game, that you may bless me.” (verse 31) Esau enters the room and the scene completely unaware that he has been defrauded by his younger brother. Much to his surprise, his father greets him with a peculiar response: “Who are you?” (verse 32) Isaac was absolutely convinced that he had just blessed his beloved son Esau mere minutes before, and now someone expectantly requests and awaits his further blessings. Both father and son are completely flummoxed by this puzzling conversation. “I am your son, your firstborn, Esau.” But how can that possibly be?

“Then Isaac trembled violently...” (verse 33) Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers has an interesting perspective that we certainly desire to be true: “This was not from mere vexation at having been so deceived, and made to give the blessing contrary to his wishes. What Isaac felt was that he had been resisting God. In spite of the prophecy given to the mother, and Esau’s own irreligious character and heathen marriages, he had determined to bestow on him the birthright by an act of his own will; and he had failed. But he persists no longer in his sin. Acknowledging the Divine purpose, he has no word of blame for Rebekah and Jacob, but confirms to him the possession of the birthright, and declares, 'Yea, he shall be blessed.'”

“Yes, and he shall be blessed.” (verse 33) “'Now he must remain blessed,' Isaac is overwhelmed with consternation but then realizes that, irrespective of the circumstances, the blessing he has uttered is beyond recall. According to the conception of the times, it now has a potency and dynamism all its own, and the destiny that has been solemnly conferred upon his younger son is irrevocable (v. 37). For this reason, Esau does not ask his father to rescind the blessing, only to bless him as well.” (Nahum Sarna)

“Bless me, even me also, O my father!” (verse 34) Esau is overcome by bitter grief and desperation upon the realization of his loss and begs for a blessing of his own. “Your brother came deceitfully and has taken away your blessing.” (verse 35) Isaac had one paternal benediction to pass along to his posterity, and could not indiscriminately invoke God's great blessings upon whomever he pleased. What was done could not be undone. What had been given could not be given again. Whether the blessing had been “deceitfully...taken away” or willingly given fully and freely, the past could not be changed. This is always the case in human affairs. No matter how greatly we desire to shield our children from negative situations and bail them out of woeful predicaments, we have to help them deal with the unpleasant realities of life.

“Is he not rightly named Jacob, for he has supplanted me these two times?” (verse 36) “In his misery, Esau resorts to bitter sarcasm that expresses itself in word plays. He reinterprets the name Jacob (ya'akov) as deriving from the stem '-k-v, meaning 'to supplant,' and he puns on bekhorah,'birthright,' and berakhah, 'blessing.' In echoing his father's use of 'took away,' Esau may also be engaging in double entendre, because the Hebrew stem l-k-h can mean both 'to take away' and 'to purchase.' In his anguish, he blurts out the fact of his foolish sale of his birthright, something apparently unknown to Isaac.” (Nahum Sarna)

Please read Genesis 27:37-40 for tomorrow.

Have a great day!

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 27:27-29

Sunday, January 26, 2020

“So he came close and kissed him; and when he smelled the smell of his garments, he blessed him and said, 'See, the smell of my son Is like the smell of a field which the Lord has blessed; Now may God give you of the dew of heaven, and of the fatness of the earth, and an abundance of grain and new wine; may peoples serve you, and nations bow down to you; be master of your brothers, and may your mother’s sons bow down to you. Cursed be those who curse you, and blessed be those who bless you.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“So he came close and kissed him; and when he smelled the smell of his garments, he blessed him...” (verse 27) “The clothes of the shepherd reek of the flock and the herd, whereas the hunter's emit the odor of the field, which Isaac relishes more. Now fully convinced that Esau stands before him, Isaac proceeds to communicate the decisive blessing, which really relates to national destiny rather than to the fate of an individual. It is composed of three parts and contains assurances of fertility of the soil, of political and military preeminence, and of God's consummate protection. This blessing is unique in the patriarchal narratives thus far in that it contains no promises of progeny or land.” (Nahum Sarna)

“See, the smell of my son Is like the smell of a field which the Lord has blessed.” (verse 27) When Jacob came close enough to give his father a deceitful kiss, the smell of his favorite son's clothing carried Isaac mentally and emotionally into the open field of the hunter. This was not the stale odor of the barnyard but the fresh fragrance of the open meadows of Palestine carpeted with wildflowers and thickets and aromatic herbs. The scent of the fertile earth which “the Lord has blessed” provided powerful conviction that this was indeed the elder son that Isaac longed so greatly to bless. To Jacob's surprised relief, the hoax had actually worked!

“Now may God give you of the dew of heaven...” (verse 28) “Dew in the Bible is a metaphor of abundance and reinvigoration, a symbol of God's beneficence. Throughout most of the rainless summer months, dew provides a major source of irrigation for crops in many places in the Land of Israel. The westerly and northwesterly winds that blow in from the Mediterranean Sea carry moisture overland. When the air is saturated with water vapor, the cool night temperatures cause the vapor to condense into a heavy mist.” (Nahum Sarna)

“And of the fatness of the earth, and an abundance of grain and new wine.” (verse 28) “The dew of heaven” was God's blessings from above, to douse the ground and produce His bounty on the earth. The “fatness” of the land was the abundant, life-sustaining crops of “grain” and fruits and vegetables and herbs. The “grain and new wine” were “the two most typical illustrations of agricultural wealth; cf. Exodus 22:5; Numbers 20:17” (Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges), and emblematic of all the abundance of God's blessings from the soil.

“May peoples serve you, and nations bow down to you...” (verse 29) “Fulfilled in the discomfiture of the hostile tribes that opposed the Israelites in the wilderness; and in the pre-eminence and power they attained after their national establishment in the promised land. This blessing was not realized to Jacob, but to his descendants; and the temporal blessings promised were but a shadow of those spiritual ones, which formed the grand distinction of Jacob's posterity.” (Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary) “Be master of your brothers, and may your mother’s sons bow down to you.” “ The phrases 'thy brethren' and 'thy mother’s sons' include all nations sprung from Abraham, and all possible offshoots from Isaac’s own descendants.” (Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers)

“Cursed be those who curse you, and blessed be those who bless you.” (verse 29) “This is a special portion of the blessing given to Abraham (Genesis 12:3); but Isaac stops short with this, and does not bestow the greater privilege that 'in him should all families of the earth be blessed' (Genesis 12:3; Genesis 22:18; Genesis 26:4). The reason for this may be that it was a blessing which God must grant, and not man; or he may have had misgivings that it was more than Esau was worthy to receive; or, finally, his whole conduct being wrong, he could see and value only the earthly and lower prerogatives of the birthright. Subsequently he bestows the Abrahamic blessing upon Jacob in general terms (Genesis 28:4); but this, its highest privilege, is confirmed to Jacob by Jehovah Himself (Genesis 28:14).” (Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers)

Please read Genesis 27:30-36 for tomorrow.

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 27:20-26

Saturday, January 25, 2020

“Isaac said to his son, 'How is it that you have it so quickly, my son?' And he said, 'Because the Lord your God caused it to happen to me.' Then Isaac said to Jacob, 'Please come close, that I may feel you, my son, whether you are really my son Esau or not.' So Jacob came close to Isaac his father, and he felt him and said, 'The voice is the voice of Jacob, but the hands are the hands of Esau.' He did not recognize him, because his hands were hairy like his brother Esau’s hands; so he blessed him. And he said, 'Are you really my son Esau?' And he said, 'I am.' So he said, 'Bring it to me, and I will eat of my son’s game, that I may bless you.' And he brought it to him, and he ate; he also brought him wine and he drank. Then his father Isaac said to him, 'Please come close and kiss me, my son.'”

---End of Scripture verses---

“'How is it that you have it so quickly, my son?” (verse 20) Isaac was old, his health was in decline and his eyes had dimmed, but he was not a moron. He was aware that the timing just didn't add up. Esau had been gone for far too short a time to have already arrived with the food fully prepared and ready to serve, and the patriarch wanted an explanation. Jacob stooped to new depths by weaving the name of the Lord into his web of deceit. “Jacob actually invokes God's name in an outright lie! There may be an underlying idea that he really spoke better than he knew, for the hand of Providence was indeed at work.” (Nahum Sarna)

“'Please come close, that I may feel you, my son, whether you are really my son Esau or not.” (verse 21) “Deprived of his eyesight, Isaac summons to his aid the remaining senses of hearing, touch, taste and smell.” (Nahum Sarna) His ears had not failed him because he recognized clearly “the voice of Jacob,” but the deceiver passed the touch test with his goat-skin covered extremities feeling just like “the hands of Esau” (verse 20). The deceiver's timing was off and his voice was wrong but his physical disguise made the impression that his mother thought it would. If she had prepared the meal just exactly the way Isaac liked it the deal would be cinched.

“He did not recognize him, because his hands were hairy like his brother Esau’s hands; so he blessed him.” (verse 23) This verse tells us that the hairy hands had convinced Isaac to go through with the blessing, but it had not been given just yet. There was still a moment of wavering doubt that prompted the question: “Are you really my son Esau?” (verse 24) Can it truly be? Then, “Bring it to me, and I will eat my son's game, that I may bless you.” (verse 25) Jacob passed the touch test, now the stew that his mother had prepared must pass the taste test.

“Please come close and kiss me, my son.” (verse 26) Jacob would have to come close enough to pass the smell test as well to finally push Isaac's senses past the limits and acquire the greatly coveted final, patriarchal blessing. Tomorrow we will see that the overpowering aroma of Esau's clothing draped across Jacob's flesh was too much for Isaac to resist. Far too often we human's allow our five senses to override our intellect when we know that things just aren't right. The way that things and people make us feel frequently gets us into a world of trouble and prompts us to make the most foolish decisions. Jacob was a phony. Isaac was a fool. The Lord's will would prevail just the same.

Please read Genesis 27:27-29 for tomorrow.

Have a great day!

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 27:14-19

Friday, January 24, 2020

“So he went and got them, and brought them to his mother; and his mother made savory food such as his father loved. Then Rebekah took the best garments of Esau her elder son, which were with her in the house, and put them on Jacob her younger son. And she put the skins of the young goats on his hands and on the smooth part of his neck. She also gave the savory food and the bread, which she had made, to her son Jacob. Then he came to his father and said, 'My father.' And he said, 'Here I am. Who are you, my son?' Jacob said to his father, 'I am Esau your firstborn; I have done as you told me. Get up, please, sit and eat of my game, that you may bless me.'”

---End of Scripture verses---

“So he went and got them, and brought them to his mother...” (verse 14) In compliance with his mother's autocratic commands, Jacob quickly went to the flock and selected “two young choice goats” and presented them to Rebekah (verse 8) “The Hebrew has a staccato succession of three short verbs: 'He went, he took, he brought.' The effect is a picture of Jacob performing the unpleasant deed with nervous haste.” Then Rebekah promptly prepared the “savory food such as his father loved.” It is terribly reprehensible to present a cherished gift to a “loved one” only to undermine and wound them with it. This act of “love” was a kiss on the cheek from Judas.

“Then Rebekah took the best garments of Esau her elder son...” (verse 15) “These were probably reserved for festal or ceremonial occasions.” (Nahum Sarna) Esau's “ordinary” clothing would not have been kept in Rebekah's tent, so she grabbed the garments most easily accessible to her that were rife with the scent of her older, rugged, virile son. She then “put them on Jacob her younger son.” I get this mental image of a pushy mother looming over the figure of her fragile child and bundling him up in clothing that swallowed him whole before sending him out to play in the snow. It must have been a comical sight to see the garments of the muscular Esau dangling from the narrow frame of a homebody like Jacob.

“And she put the skins of the young goats on his hands and on the smooth part of his neck.” (verse 16) I think Jacob would have won the prize for worst costume at a Halloween party, hands down. “Not European, but Oriental camel-goats, whose wool is black, silky, of a much finer texture than that of the former, and sometimes used as a substitute for human hair.” (Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges) King Solomon dreamily described his love in the following way: “How beautiful you are, my darling, how beautiful you are! Your eyes are like doves behind your veil; your hair is like a flock of goats that have descended from Mount Gilead.” (Song of Solomon 4:1) If Jacob had to cover his arms, hands and neck in a mess of glossy goat hair to trick his father, what a hairy beast of a man this Esau must have been!

“My father.” (verse 18) These are the only words that the timid and tentative Jacob could initially choke out of his mouth to grab his father's attention. From Jacob's opening statement Isaac good reason to be skeptical and filled with suspicion about the true nature of scenario that was unfolding before his failing eyes. When Esau finally returned from the field with the meat he had prepared, he spoke in his usual forward and fulsome way: “Let my father arise and eat of his son’s game, that you may bless me.” Isaac should have trusted his doubting ears. But, then again, God's will would prevail in spite of all the human sinfulness and foolishness.

“Who are you, my son?” (verse 18) The moment of truth. “Jacob said to his father, 'I am Esau your firstborn...'” (verse 19) A boldface lie. Inexcusable. And to his father of all people. The one who he should have respected and honored above all mortal men. In my estimation, these words comprise the lowest and saddest point of this whole sordid charade. “But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” (Revelation 21:8) There is no turning back now for Jacob. He has committed himself to seeing this whole perverse absurdity through to the end.

Please read Genesis 27:20-26 for tomorrow.

Have a great day!

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 27:5-13

Thursday, January 23, 2020

“Rebekah was listening while Isaac spoke to his son Esau. So when Esau went to the field to hunt for game to bring home, Rebekah said to her son Jacob, 'Behold, I heard your father speak to your brother Esau, saying, “Bring me some game and prepare a savory dish for me, that I may eat, and bless you in the presence of the Lord before my death.” Now therefore, my son, listen to me as I command you. Go now to the flock and bring me two choice young goats from there, that I may prepare them as a savory dish for your father, such as he loves. Then you shall bring it to your father, that he may eat, so that he may bless you before his death.' Jacob answered his mother Rebekah, 'Behold, Esau my brother is a hairy man and I am a smooth man. Perhaps my father will feel me, then I will be as a deceiver in his sight, and I will bring upon myself a curse and not a blessing.' But his mother said to him, 'Your curse be on me, my son; only obey my voice, and go, get them for me.'”

---End of Scripture verses---

“Rebekah was listening while Isaac spoke to his son Esau.” (verse 5) This appears to be more than a mere happenstance overhearing of a private conversation, although it could have possibly been unintentional. But whether Rebekah had been eavesdropping as her mother had notoriously done (Genesis 18:10), or she was just in incidental earshot, it is what she did with the information that is significant.

“Bless you in the presence of the Lord...” (verse 8) Rebekah underscored the fact that this blessing was more than a mere embellishment of love upon a favorite son from a doting father. This was no less than a divine endowment of favor “in the presence of the Lord.” “Esau...cared for his father’s blessing, partly from natural affection, but chiefly because of the temporal benefits connected with it. To Jacob its value consisted in the covenant between Jehovah and the family of Abraham.” (Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers)

“Now therefore, my son, listen to me as I command you.” (verse 8) Jacob is remembered as “the deceiver” but Rebekah was truly the “schemer” in this whole unfortunate affair. She seized control of the situation like a ferocious lioness jealously pouncing to protect her precious cub. She quickly and effortlessly formulated a strategy of deception to dupe her sightless husband and defraud her own flesh-and-blood. She snapped Jacob to attention and forestalled any resistance or hesitation on his part by demanding his completely compliance to her every command.

“Go now to the flock and bring me two choice young goats from there, that I may prepare them as a savory dish for your father, such as he loves.” (verse 9) The young goats would provide a dual purpose in her subterfuge. The meat of the two small animals would roughly produce the equivalent of a large animal caught in the wild. The coat of the goats, which were course and shaggy, would roughly reproduce the feel Esau's furry arms.

“Perhaps my father will feel me, then I will be as a deceiver in his sight...” Jacob was more worried about getting caught than about doing a dastardly thing. Stealing his father's final blessing was not beneath him in the slightest, he just didn't want to “appear” to be a “deceiver” in his enfeebled father's “sight”. He also shuddered at the thought of suffering future catastrophic consequences if the whole thing went awry—“I will bring upon myself a curse and not a blessing.” Even no blessing at all was much more desirable than a curse!

“But his mother said to him, 'Your curse be on me, my son; only obey my voice, and go, get them for me.'” (verse 13) Mom was not about to take “No” for an answer from her weak-kneed whippersnapper in such a monumental moment as this with her whole world at stake! “Rebekah confidently brushes aside Jacob's fears because she remembers the oracle she received that the older son was destined to serve the younger.” (Nahum Sarna)

“Rebekah knew that the blessing was intended for Jacob, and expected he would have it. But she wronged Isaac by putting a cheat on him; she wronged Jacob by tempting him to wickedness. She put a stumbling-block in Esau's way, and gave him a pretext for hatred to Jacob and to religion. All were to be blamed. It was one of those crooked measures often adopted to further the Divine promises; as if the end would justify, or excuse wrong means. Thus many have acted wrong, under the idea of being useful in promoting the cause of Christ. The answer to all such things is that which God addressed to Abraham, I am God Almighty; walk before me and be thou perfect.” (Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary)

Please read Genesis 27:14-19 for tomorrow.

Have a great day!

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 27:1-4

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

“Now it came about, when Isaac was old and his eyes were too dim to see, that he called his older son Esau and said to him, 'My son.' And he said to him, 'Here I am.' Isaac said, 'Behold now, I am old and I do not know the day of my death. Now then, please take your gear, your quiver and your bow, and go out to the field and hunt game for me; and prepare a savory dish for me such as I love, and bring it to me that I may eat, so that my soul may bless you before I die.'”

---End of Scripture verses---

Today's verses set the stage for the Jacob's purloining the family blessing from his older brother, Esau. Nahum Sarna makes the following excellent observations by way of introduction to Genesis chapter 27:

“In an earlier narrative we were told that Esau sold his birthright for a bowl of lentil stew. After satisfying his hunger, he not only showed no regret but also displayed a careless indifference to the sacred institution. The statement at the end of chapter 26 regarding Esau's intermarriage with Hittite women served to reinforce the impression of Esau's unworthiness to be the father of the future chosen people. Now Esau is about to be deprived of the final paternal blessing, sacred words intended to seal the destiny of their recipient. His mother conspires with Jacob, her favorite son, to bring this about.

“The action in its entirety covers 27:1-28:5 and unfolds in seven scenes. All four members of the family participate, but only in parts. Neither Jacob and Esau nor Rebekah and Esau appear together; they dare not confront each other. Each pair moves to the center of the stage twice, save mother and father who meet but once, and that briefly. The strong-willed, artful Rebekah prefers to hover inconspicuously in the background, manipulating the situation. She approaches her husband only when matters threaten to get out of hand.

“All the action and the dialogue is directed toward the dominant, recurring theme of the entire episode: the father's final blessing. The Hebrew noun berakhah occurs seven times and its verbal form exactly twenty-one times. The birthright is not an issue here, and its relationship to the blessing is unclear. Apparently, they were separate institutions. Nothing is said about the disposition of property, and it is striking that Esau expected to receive the blessing even though he admitted to having lost the birthright.”

“Now it came about, when Isaac was old and his eyes were too dim to see...” (verse 1) At this time Isaac would have been 137 years old according to the prevalent tabulations of his age. But it was his failing eyesight that Rebekah and Jacob shamelessly took advantage of to secure the aged patriarch's blessing and all its attendant benefits. Of course, some have argued, since God's endorsement had been upon the younger son's place of prominence since before his birth, that Isaac's machinations were completely justified. It's a very hard sell, however, that the Lord would approve of such treacherous trickery, and the two subsequent decades of dirty dealings suffered at the hands of his despicable father-in-law were just punishment and difficult, necessary lessons learned.

“He called his older son Esau...” (verse 1) “The Narrator studiously avoids calling Esau the 'first-born' because the term carries with it social and legal implications that he wishes to avoid since Esau had sold his birthright.” (Nahum Sarna) “Behold now, I am old and I do not know the day of my death.” (verse 2) It seems obvious that, even though Isaac was ignorant of the time of his soul's departure, he felt that it was more likely to happen sooner than later. He would actually live another 43 years to see his 18thdecade of life (Genesis 35:28), but he was ready to bestow his richest blessings upon the son that he loved the most while he was still physically and mentally capable of doing so.

“Hunt game for me; and prepare a savory dish for me such as I love...” (verses 3-4) Isaac had more on his mind than just satisfying his appetite for the tasty spread that Esau was noted for whipping up. This meal would serve as an integral part of the procedure for passing on the coveted pastoral blessing. “'That I may eat, so that my soul may bless you before I die.'” “Literally, 'that my being (Heb. Nefesh) may bless you.' This formulation which appears again three times, is clearly of great importance to the understanding of the blessing. We see from verse 28 that the source and sanction of the blessing is not man but God. Isaac summons from the very depths of his own soul all the vitality and energy at his command in order to invoke God's blessing upon his son. He communicates the blessing to his offspring by virtue of his own special relationship with God and by dint of his power and authority as patriarch.” (Nahum Sarna)

Please read Genesis 27:5-13 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed day!

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 26:32-35

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

“Now it came about on the same day, that Isaac’s servants came in and told him about the well which they had dug, and said to him, 'We have found water.' So he called it Shibah; therefore the name of the city is Beersheba to this day. When Esau was forty years old he married Judith the daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and Basemath the daughter of Elon the Hittite; and they brought grief to Isaac and Rebekah.”

---End of Scripture verses---

““Now it came about on the same day...” (verse 32) Very shortly after the Lord had appeared to Isaac with comforting words of assurance that He was with him and there was no reason to fear, and in the very same day that he had sealed a peace deal with Abimelech and his advisors when they had visited him in Beersheba, “Isaac’s servants came in and told him...'We have found water.'” To say that Isaac's life was taking a turn for the better and that his prospects for the future were looking up would be an understatement. He and his family had weathered some prolonged storms, but, with patient endurance and much help from the Lord, they had come through high and dry and with new promise and hope.

Again quoting from my favorite Psalm: “The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous and His ears are open to their cry. The face of the Lord is against evildoers, to cut off the memory of them from the earth. The righteous cry, and the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.” (Psalm 34:15-19)

“We have found water.” (verse 32) It was with a cry of relief and rejoicing that the servants brought these words to Isaac's ears. Water was, and still is, such a precious commodity, and especially in the often arid climates that the patriarchs of our faith shepherded their flocks. Please do not take for granted the precious gifts of the readily available, clean, hot and cold running water that is piped right into our kitchens and bathrooms. We grow so accustomed to merely turning on a faucet and fresh water always flowing forth that we rarely stop to thank the Lord for it. Numerous people in the world do not share this precious blessing with us, and we are not guaranteed that it will always be so easily accessible to us in the future.

“So he called it Shibah...” (verse 33) “This word, denoting 'oath-taking' or 'swearing,' is here given as the explanation of the name 'Beer-sheba.'” (Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges) “Like other wells Abraham had digged, this new well was named by one of the names that Isaac's father had used for a well. As Keil expressed it, 'As this treaty made on oath between Abimelech and Isaac was only a renewal of the covenant made before with Abraham (and Abimelech I), so the name Beersheba was renewed by the well Sheba. The reality of this occurrence is supported by the fact that the two wells are still in existence!'” (James Burton Coffman)

“When Esau was forty years old he married Judith the daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and Basemath the daughter of Elon the Hittite.” (verse 34) Like Isaac, Esau married when he was forty (25:20). Unlike Isaac, he did not use good discretion in how and who he married. “The intrusive material here is a literary device to supply essential data that is preparatory to developments in a subsequent narrative. The information given here lends intelligibility to Rebekah's stratagem for saving Jacob from Esau's anger, as told in 27:42-46. At the same time, the passage reinforces the idea of Esau's unworthiness to be Isaac's heir, for he commits a threefold offense: breaking with social convention by contracting the marriage himself rather than leaving the initiative to his parents; abandoning the established practice of endogamy by marrying outside the kinship group; and violating the honor of his clan by intermarrying with the native women.” (Nahum Sarna)

“And they brought grief to Isaac and Rebekah.” (verse 35) “Both Hittites, the worst of the Canaanites, Ezekiel 16:3; which, from his grandfather Abraham’s severe charge, Genesis 24:3, he must needs know would be highly displeasing both to God and to his parents.” (Matthew Poole's Commentary) Abraham had sternly warned his servant to not select a wife for Isaac from among the natives of Canaan. “Abraham said to his servant, the oldest of his household, who had charge of all that he owned, 'Please place your hand under my thigh, and I will make you swear by the Lord, the God of heaven and the God of earth, that you shall not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I live, but you will go to my country and to my relatives, and take a wife for my son Isaac.'” (Genesis 24:1-3) Not only had Esau selected a wife from the daughters of the Canaanites, he chose two! And, unless Genesis 36:2 uses different names for the same women, possibly more! It was certainly a selfish move to knowingly exasperate his parents by such defiant choices! While we shouldn't allow other people to control our lives, we must be aware that our choices either bless or bruise the ones closest to our hearts! Please choose wisely!

Please read Genesis 27:1-4 for tomorrow.

Have a great day!

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 26:26-31

Monday, January 20, 2020

“Then Abimelech came to him from Gerar with his adviser Ahuzzath and Phicol the commander of his army. Isaac said to them, 'Why have you come to me, since you hate me and have sent me away from you?' They said, 'We see plainly that the Lord has been with you; so we said, “Let there now be an oath between us, even between you and us, and let us make a covenant with you, that you will do us no harm, just as we have not touched you and have done to you nothing but good and have sent you away in peace. You are now the blessed of the Lord.”' Then he made them a feast, and they ate and drank. In the morning they arose early and exchanged oaths; then Isaac sent them away and they departed from him in peace.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“Then Abimelech came to him from Gerar with his adviser Ahuzzath and Phicol the commander of his army.” (verse 26) This event is reminiscent of the episode in Genesis chapter 21 between Abraham and Abimelech. “Now it came about at that time that Abimelech and Phicol, the commander of his army, spoke to Abraham, saying, “God is with you in all that you do; now therefore, swear to me here by God that you will not deal falsely with me or with my offspring or with my posterity, but according to the kindness that I have shown to you, you shall show to me and to the land in which you have sojourned.” (Genesis 21:22-23)

Since the current incident is several decades removed from the prior, it is highly likely that both Abimelechs and Phicols were different individuals, and there names were merely titles or family names handed down from previous generations. Abmilelech also brought along his “adviser Ahuzzath” when he sought out Isaac in pursuit of peace negotiations. The word “adviser” is “Hebrew mere'ehu, literally 'his friend.' The 'king's friend' belonged to one of the highest offices in the royal administration. It is devoid of emotional connotation and signifies that its bearer was a counselor to the king in matters of state. The king thus brought along his chief civilian and military officers.” (Nahum Sarna)

“Isaac said to them, 'Why have you come to me, since you hate me and have sent me away from you?'” (verse 27) Caught off guard by this unexpected visit, Isaac unleashed an emotional response obviously prompted by the unpleasant memory of his objectionable expulsion from Gerar at the behest of the Philistine king. It is difficult to not take it personally when someone treats us unfavorably, and easier still to equate their desire for separation with hatred. But Abimelech's actions were likely not motivated by malice. In all likelihood he had been seeking out the best interests of his people, even though the pain from the way the shepherds of Gerar had abused Isaac over the wells he had dug no doubt still lingered in his mind. “They envied his prosperity, and hated him on that account, and therefore expelled him their country, or at least would not suffer him to dwell among them; and still more glaring proofs were given of the hatred of the men of Gerar to him, not only by stopping up his father's wells, but by striving and contending with him about those he dug in the valley after he was gone from them; one of which he called 'Sitnah', from their hatred of him.” (Gill's Exposition of the entire Bible)

“We see plainly that the Lord has been with you...” (verse 28) We must give credit to whom it is due. Even this heathen king recognized that God Almighty continually prospered Isaac, even in the face of continued adversity from natural disasters such as famine, and human hostilities in the case of the shepherds of Gerar. He clearly recognized the wisdom and benefits of being on the good side of one so greatly favored by God. If the Lord loved Isaac so very much it was a no-brainer that he should seek out the friendship with the friend of God! Abimelech knew his kingdom would never be in a position of strength if he allowed himself to be on bad terms with someone so greatly favored by the Lord! “Let there now be an oath between us, even between you and us, and let us make a covenant with you.” The king sought from Isaac an oath and a covenant that there would be peace between the two of them.

“That you will do us no harm, just as we have not touched you and have done to you nothing but good and have sent you away in peace.” (verse 29) Isaac was now the greater and stronger of the two and Abilemech wanted a non-aggression pact with “The blessed of the Lord,” as the previous Abimelech had reached with Abraham. He reminded Isaac that he had done him no harm when He had asked him to leave his borders, and that he had actually sent him away in peace. “You are now the blessed of the Lord.” “Regarded by some as an instance of adroit and pious flattery, these words are perhaps better understood as explaining either why Isaac should overlook the injuries which they had done to him (Calvin, Bush), or why he should grant them the oath which they desired (Ainsworth), - he requiring no guarantee of safety from them, since Jehovah was on his side (Murphy), - or why they had been stirred up to seek his favor and alliance (Rosenmüller).” (Pulpit Commentary)

“In the morning they arose early and exchanged oaths; then Isaac sent them away and they departed from him in peace.” (verse 30) “Isaac's sending them away, although expressed similarly, was a far different thing to Abimelech II's sending Isaac away, mentioned earlier. This was 'in peace' and was no doubt accompanied by all of the formal expressions of peace and good will which the occasion demanded. Such a progression of events must have been supremely satisfying to Isaac. Under pressure, and perhaps even fear, he moved to Beersheba. God appeared to him in a comforting and encouraging vision that same night. Then Abimelech II unexpectedly visited him, requesting a treaty of peace. The treaty was celebrated with a great feast. The king departed in peace.” (James Burton Coffman)

Please read Genesis 26:32-35 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed day!

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 26:23-25

Sunday, January 19, 2020

“Then he went up from there to Beersheba. The Lord appeared to him the same night and said, 'I am the God of your father Abraham; Do not fear, for I am with you. I will bless you, and multiply your descendants, for the sake of My servant Abraham.’ So he built an altar there and called upon the name of the Lord, and pitched his tent there; and there Isaac’s servants dug a well.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“Then he went up from there to Beersheba.” (verse 23) “Isaac finally abandons the region of Gerar and returns to Beer-sheba, where he had gone to live with his father following the episode in which he had nearly been sacrificed. The place already had sacred associations for him in that Abraham had planted a terebinth there and had invoked ‘the name of the Lord, the Everlasting God.’ Now, echoing the pattern of the Abraham stories, Isaac, after exposure to trial and danger, receives assurances of divine protection and reaffirmation of the promises. He builds an altar, thereby establishing Beer-sheba as a cult site with which his name become closely associated. Many years later Jacob stops there on his way to Egypt and offers sacrifices ‘to the God of his father Isaac.’” (Nahum Sarna)

“The Lord appeared to him the same night…” (verse 24) We are not told the duration of Isaac’s previous stay on the outskirts of Gerar, but when he pulled up stakes and settled in at Beersheba, that very night the Lord encouraged the harried pilgrim. “Do not fear, I am with you.” Maybe Isaac was fearful of a future famine like the one that had driven him southward, or of returning to an uncertain reception by the inhabitants of beer-sheba and the possibility of unwarranted hostilities. For some reason Isaac had a sense of dread and the Lord “appeared to him” and comforted and reassured him. Perhaps God visited him in a vision as he did the Apostle Paul several centuries later.

In a welcomed divine visitation when Paul was hampered by fear in the city of Corinth, we read the following: “And the Lord said to Paul in the night by a vision, ‘Do not be afraid any longer, but go on speaking and do not be silent; for I am with you, and no man will attack you in order to harm you, for I have many people in this city.’ And he settled there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.” (Acts 18:9-11) Fear can be an overpowering and immobilizing emotion, and even this typically unflinching stalwart of our faith was silenced for a while, and needed the Lord’s provocation to continue preaching the Gospel of truth.

Time and again we are encouraged by Scripture to “fear not”. The most obvious reason for these recurrent reminders is that all human beings are susceptible to anxiety, and God’s people are not excluded nor does He insulate us against fear-inducing trials and situations. As long as we remain obedient and faithful through all of life’s ebbs and flows and summits and chasms, all will be well and end well, and He will carry us through our most abysmal moments. “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful. You heard that I said to you, ‘I go away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved Me, you would have rejoiced because I go to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.” (John 14:27-28)

No matter where Isaac chose or was forced to travel, the Lord assured him, “I am with you.” If you have the Lord God as your Father you have much more and better than anything than this world can offer, and you have the assurance that you will never be alone. “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:31-32) “The Lord is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” (Deuteronomy 31:8) “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change and though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea.” (Psalm 46:1-2)

“I will bless you, and multiply your descendants, for the sake of My servant Abraham.” (verse 24) “Here, for the first time, we encounter the notion that the righteousness of ancestors creates a fund of spiritual credit that may sustain their descendants.” (Nahum Sarna) This is the first time in Scripture that God uses the term “My servant,” and He does so in reference to Abraham. To be called a servant of the Lord by the Lord is the highest of all callings and is the greatest of all honors. Later in the Bible, God would refer to such distinguished and righteous individuals as Moses (Numbers 12:7), Caleb (Numbers 14:24), king David (2 Samuel 3:18), Job (Job 2:3), Isaiah (Isaiah 20:3) and Zerubbabel as “My servant”. These were great men of faith who realized that they would be less than nothing without the blessing, presence, guidance, power and salvation that only the Almighty can supply. Every person to ever live is someone's servant, even if they fail to realize it or admit it. Most people choose to serve themselves and their own misdirected desires and dispositions, which invariably leads to disappointment, frustration and a sense of meaninglessness and emptiness. Wisdom dictates that the only trustworthy Master is the All-powerful Perfect One who loved us enough to create us, sustain us, direct us and save us for all eternity.

There is another, who is the ultimate, example and paragon of faithful servitude in the Bible that the Father has named “My Servant”. It was prophetically depicted in Isaiah 53:11 that Jesus would be the “Suffering Servant,” and that “By His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, as He will bear their iniquities.” (See also Isaiah 42:1; Zechariah 3:8 and Matthew 12:18) Jesus, our Creator and Master, condescended to earth from heaven's perfection in a menial, human birth, to humble Himself to the point of death on a wooden cross, and to serve His creation and not to be served by them.

Through faith in Jesus alone resides the hope and blessing and privilege for God to call you and me “My servant”. In Isaiah 65:15, God looked several hundred years into the future and declared, “My servants shall be called by another name.” It is through that beautiful name of Christ Jesus worn exclusively by His humble servants that new life and hope and salvation reside. “If anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name.” (1 Peter 4:16) “He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal. If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.” (John 12:25-26) To enthrone the Lord upon our heart and to cede our will to His is to faithfully follow in the steps of His servant Abraham.

Isaac “built an altar there and called upon the name of the Lord...” (verse 25) “At Beersheba, where his father Abraham had planted a grove before, and very probably had built an altar also...and called upon the name of the Lord; and gave him thanks for all his mercies to him; for the care he had taken of him, and provision he had made for him and his during the time of famine; and for the protection and preservation of him in Gerar; and for his deliverance of him out of the hands of envious, malicious, and unreasonable men; as well as prayed unto him for present and future mercies, for providential care of him and his; and for communications of special grace, and for meetness for eternal glory; all which every good man daily prays to God for.” (Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible) “And pitched his tent there; and there Isaac’s servants dug a well.” With a heart filled with belief and trust in the Lord's promises, Isaac abandoned his fear and sunk his tent stakes in the soil of Beer-sheba.

Please read Genesis 26:26-31 for tomorrow.

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 26:18-22

Saturday, January 18, 2020

“Then Isaac dug again the wells of water which had been dug in the days of his father Abraham, for the Philistines had stopped them up after the death of Abraham; and he gave them the same names which his father had given them. But when Isaac’s servants dug in the valley and found there a well of flowing water, the herdsmen of Gerar quarreled with the herdsmen of Isaac, saying, ‘The water is ours!’ So he named the well Esek, because they contended with him. Then they dug another well, and they quarreled over it too, so he named it Sitnah. He moved away from there and dug another well, and they did not quarrel over it; so he named it Rehoboth, for he said, ‘At last the Lord has made room for us, and we will be fruitful in the land.’”

---End of Scripture verses---

“Then Isaac dug again the wells of water which had been dug in the days of his father Abraham…” (verse 18) “Isaac…moves his family and belongings beyond the recognized urban limits of Gerar to the same region in which his father had once made a prolonged stay (21:34). Abraham’s sojourn could not have been accomplished without the digging and maintenance of several wells. In order to establish clear proprietary rights, each well would be given an identifying name. Since Abraham’s death the Philistines had blocked them up. Isaac now restores them and revives their original names so as to make his ownership incontestable.” (Nahum Sarna)

“But when Isaac’s servants dug in the valley and found there a well of flowing water.” (verse 19) “In the course of this work his men unexpectedly uncover an old well fed by a subterranean spring. A well of this type was especially valuable; when originally excavated, it would have been lined with stone. Since a memory of its existence has not been preserved, it is ownerless and ought to belong to the finder. Nevertheless, the shepherds of Gerar lay claim to it.” (Nahum Sarna)

“The herdsmen of Gerar quarreled with the herdsmen of Isaac, saying, ‘The water is ours!’” The shepherds of Gerar never lifted a shovel or a finger in the digging of this well, yet they laid claim to the possession of it. They likely viewed the foreigner as having no rights to something valuable in the land of their nativity, even though they would have had no access to the well had not Isaac’s men uncovered it. Human nature hasn’t changed in the slightest over the long epochs of time. The world is never without a large chunk of the population that demands the proceeds of what other people have earned by their own ingenuity and hard work. “So he named the well Esek, because they contended with him.” “Esek” is Hebrew for “Contention”.

“Then they dug another well…” (verse 20) Instead of standing up and fighting back and demanding his rights and the bounty of his labor, Isaac merely packed up his family and staff and belongings and settled in another location. Sometimes the aggravation is too much to deal with and the potential for loss is just too substantial to take a risk, so some things are just not worth fighting for. If there had been no place left to turn and no hope for sustenance elsewhere it would have been different. But as it was, there were ample opportunities elsewhere for prosperity and peace, and you just can’t put a price tag on peace! Walking away is not a sign of weakness in most cases. Usually it is an indication of great wisdom!

“And they quarreled over it too…” (verse 21) It would have been completely understandable if this second skirmish had gotten Isaac all up in arms. He had just recently pulled up his roots and transplanted his family in a new location. He had put in the time and considerable effort to claim a new stake, dig another well and make a fresh start. And yet again, the shepherds of the region demanded that he give up that which he had rightfully worked for and deserved. But Isaac once again proved himself to be a model for patience, meekness and generosity. Instead of blowing a fuse and striking back he merely packed up and moved on again. “Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.” (Romans 12:17-18) “To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing.” (1 Peter 3:8-9) “So he named it Sitnah.” Strike two—“Sitnah” means “hostility”.

“He moved away from there and dug another well, and they did not quarrel over it…” (verse 22) Peace at last. It is a tremendous blessing to live in harmony with your neighbors. Finally Isaac found a place he could call “home” for a while. His hard work, patience and trust in the Lord paid off, as it always does for God’s people. “So he named it Rehoboth…” “Which signifies broad and spacious, places, enlargements.” (Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible) “At last the Lord has made room for us, and we will be fruitful in the land.” Isaac wisely waited on the Lord to make a way for him. He trusted in God to resolve his problems without sitting idly by in the interim. Appropriately, he gave the Lord all the credit for his current and future prosperity.

Please read Genesis 26:23-25 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed day!

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 26:12-17

Friday, January 17, 2020

“Now Isaac sowed in that land and reaped in the same year a hundredfold. And the Lord blessed him, and the man became rich, and continued to grow richer until he became very wealthy; for he had possessions of flocks and herds and a great household, so that the Philistines envied him. Now all the wells which his father’s servants had dug in the days of Abraham his father, the Philistines stopped up by filling them with earth. Then Abimelech said to Isaac, ‘Go away from us, for you are too powerful for us.’ And Isaac departed from there and camped in the valley of Gerar, and settled there.’

---End of Scripture verses---

“Now Isaac sowed in that land and reaped in the same year a hundredfold.” (verse 12) According to H. M. Morris, “This is the first mention of seed-sowing in the Bible.” Of course, after the universal flood, the Bible tells us that “Noah began farming and planted a vineyard.” (Genesis 9:20) The Author is careful to point out that this happened “in the same year.” So, when Isaac planted his crop and reaped that windfall, it was on the same year that the drought was prominent and the famine was severe in the land of Canaan. This stresses the point that “the Lord blessed him” with this tremendous increase and it was not because of his green thumb or fabulous farming skills. The Lord had promised Isaac that if he remained in the land and trusted Him that He would be with him and bless him greatly (verses 2-3). Once again, as in each and every instance, God proved himself truthful and faithful.

There is a great spiritual parallel and application for sowing and reaping a magnificent harvest with the help of the Lord. In the Parable of the Sower (or Parable of the Soils), when the good-hearted person receives the seed of the word implanted within him, he “indeed bears fruit and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.” If our heart is good, and the powerful word of God is firmly lodged within, it will produce a spiritual crop and increase abundantly in proportion to the trust and faith that we place in God to give the increase. “So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth” (1 Corinthians 3:7). “Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20-21)

“The man became rich, and continued to grow richer until he became very wealthy” (verse 13). Isaac was the kind of person that everything he touched seemed to turn to gold. Even his small-scale, likely brief venture into farming blossomed into an agricultural bonanza during a drought. “He had possessions of flocks and herds,” much of what was, no doubt, inherited from his father, but that the Lord most certainly increased considerably. As is the case with all exceptionally successful and prosperous people, Isaac became the target of jealousy, and “the Philistines envied him.” “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man.” (Mark 7:21-23) “A sound heart is life to the body, but envy is rottenness to the bones.” (Proverbs 17:30)

“Now all the wells which his father’s servants had dug in the days of Abraham his father, the Philistines stopped up by filling them with earth.” (verse 15) Motived by hearts filled with envy and resentment for Isaac and his blessings from the Lord, saboteurs engaged in a bit of “domestic terrorism”. “The digging of wells or cisterns, usually in the dry beds of rivers, streams, and brooks, was essential to the pastoralist’s survival. Because the winter floods would silt them up and obliterate them, the wells were frequently lined with stone, or the cisterns were actually hewn out of rock. They would have to be cleaned out after the floods subsided. The Philistines spitefully and deliberately refilled them with dirt.” (Nahum Sarna)

“Then Abimelech said to Isaac, ‘Go away from us, for you are too powerful for us.’” (verse 16) Either Abimelech felt the tensions would only escalate between Isaac’s people and his people, or he felt inadequate to provide sufficient protection for Isaac, or Abimelech was motivated by envy himself. Whatever the case, he deemed it time for Isaac to depart, so he suggested or asked or ordered Isaac to vacate his domain. “And Isaac departed from there…” (verse 17) He offered no resistance—“Isaac’s attitude is one of concession and compliance towards the people among whom he sojourns.” (Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges) “And camped in the valley of Gerar, and settled there.” “‘Valley,’ means a narrow defile through which a summer torrent flows. In the bed of these streams water can generally be found by digging, and Isaac hoped that he was far enough from the city for the enmity to cease. But he was mistaken, though he seems for a short period to have been left in peace.” (Ellicott’s Bible for English Readers)

Please read Genesis 26:18-22 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed day!

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 26:6-11

Thursday, January 16, 2020

“So Isaac lived in Gerar. When the men of the place asked about his wife, he said, ‘She is my sister,’ for he was afraid to say, ‘my wife,’ thinking, ‘the men of the place might kill me on account of Rebekah, for she is beautiful.’ It came about, when he had been there a long time, that Abimelech king of the Philistines looked out through a window, and saw, and behold, Isaac was caressing his wife Rebekah. Then Abimelech called Isaac and said, ‘Behold, certainly she is your wife! How then did you say, “She is my sister”?’ And Isaac said to him, ‘Because I said, “I might die on account of her.”’ Abimelech said, ‘What is this you have done to us? One of the people might easily have lain with your wife, and you would have brought guilt upon us.’ So Abimelech charged all the people, saying, ‘He who touches this man or his wife shall surely be put to death.’

---End of Scripture verses---

“So Isaac lived in Gerar.” (verse 6) Because of the famine in Canaan Isaac travelled to the land of the Philistines in his search for greener pastures. As we noted yesterday, he was likely on his way to Egypt but the Lord prohibited him from going there. “Gerar was probably a commercial town trading with Egypt, and therefore Isaac's needs during the famine are here supplied.” (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible) “In response to divine bidding, Isaac stays in Gerar. However, his feeling of security is undermined when the local menfolk begin to show an interest in his beautiful wife.” (Nahum Sarna)

“‘She is my sister,’ for he was afraid to say, ‘my wife,’” (verse 7) This apple didn’t fall far from the tree from which it grew. Like his father before him, Isaac’s fear for his life motivated him to cover his hide in a most unrighteous manner. Unlike Abraham, whose wife was also his half-sister, Isaac’s lie was not a stretching of the truth or even a half-truth. “But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death” (Revelation 21:8). This sin is inexcusable, even though, on occasion, all people fold to the pressures of prevarication. “Let God be found true, though every man be found a liar” (Romans 3:4). Praise be to the Lord that He stands willing and ready to forgive us of even our worst transgressions.

“The men of the place might kill me on account of Rebekah, for she is beautiful.” (verse 7) Like her beautiful mother Sarah, Rebekah had held her age very well. It has been estimated that she would have been married to Isaac for at least 40 years at this time, so that made her sixty years old or close to it. When she entered the city “the men of the place asked about” her because her physical form was so pleasing to the eye. There are some authorities, however, who believe that this event actually took place when Rebekah was much younger, before the birth of her twin sons, because they are not mentioned in the narrative and they would have been a dead giveaway that she was married. But it is not unreasonable to conclude that Jacob and Esau were grown men by this time and either stayed behind or travelled in different directions.

“Abimelech king of the Philistines looked out through a window, and saw, and behold, Isaac was caressing his wife Rebekah.” (verse 8) This event occurred after Isaac and Rebekah had dwelled among the people of Gerar for “a long time.” “The account suggests that Isaac and Rebekah were in the courtyard overlooked by the king’s residence.” (Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges) As Abimelech was glancing out the window, he caught sight of Isaac “caressing” or “fondling” his would-be sister! The word for “fondling” is the Hebrew word metsahek. “Hebrew metsahek is a word play on the name Isaac (yitshak).” (Nahum Sarna) This was not a display of affection between siblings but the romantic embrace of smitten paramours!

“Behold, certainly she is your wife!” (verse 9) Isaac was so busted! “The sins of some men are quite evident, going before them to judgment; for others, their sins follow after” (1 Timothy 5:24). “Be sure your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23)! Abimelech was completely aware of the story that Isaac had been telling the men of his domain and he was mortified! “What is this you have done to us?” (verse 10) Isaac put the people of Gerar in a precarious predicament with his prevarication! “One of the people might easily have lain with your wife…” (verse 10) “In reproving Isaac, the king inferentially confirms the patriarch’s assessment of the low moral standards of the local inhabitants.” (Nahum Sarna) Fortunately for Rebekah and by the grace of the Lord, even though she and her husband had lived in Gerar for “a long time,” no one had attempted to lay a hand on her!

“You would have brought guilt upon us.” (verse 10) Even this heathen king knew right from wrong when it came to the sin of adultery! “Probably it might be fresh in his memory how sorely God had punished his predecessor and all his family in the days of Abraham (chap. 20.) for only an intention of adultery. It is very observable here, that Abimelech takes it for granted, that their ignorance of Rebekah’s being Isaac’s wife would not have been a sufficient excuse for their sin.” (Benson’s Commentary) “So Abimelech charged all the people, saying, ‘He who touches this man or his wife shall surely be put to death.’” (verse 11) Even though the men of this realm lived by much less than rigid moral standards, there was still a safeguard in place for the sanctity of the marriage bonds, and the enforcement for violation was no less than the pain of death! Would to God that His own people would take the marriage covenant so seriously!

Please read Genesis 26:12-17 for tomorrow.

Have a great day!

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 26:1-5

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

“Now there was a famine in the land, besides the previous famine that had occurred in the days of Abraham. So Isaac went to Gerar, to Abimelech king of the Philistines. The Lord appeared to him and said, ‘Do not go down to Egypt; stay in the land of which I shall tell you. Sojourn in this land and I will be with you and bless you, for to you and to your descendants I will give all these lands, and I will establish the oath which I swore to your father Abraham. I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven, and will give your descendants all these lands; and by your descendants all the nations of the earth shall be blessed; because Abraham obeyed Me and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes and My laws.’”

---End of Scripture verses---

“Now there was a famine in the land…” (verse 1) “The sharp contrast between God’s promises for the future and the threatening reality of the present is a recurring theme in the patriarchal narratives.” (Nahum Sarna) “Note that this famine, coming nearly a hundred years after the one in Abraham's day, was in the same weather pattern that meteorologists have frequently mentioned, and which even insurance companies take into consideration, ‘The hundred year flood plain’ of a river system is definable. The same is true of drought patterns, a drought apparently having been the cause of the famine mentioned here.” (James Burton Coffman)

“So Isaac went to Gerar, to Abimelech king of the Philistines. “ (verse 1) This is, no doubt, a different Abimelech than the one that Abraham encountered over three quarters of a century earlier. “Abimelech” was likely either a title, such as “Pharaoh” or “Caesar,” or a recurring “royal name” such as “Louis” or “Charles,” kings of France. It appears that Isaac had actually set out for Egypt as his father had done previously during a similar time of famine (Genesis 12:10). On a purely pragmatic basis, the sizeable, largely populated, well politically organized capital of the region was a logical destination during a time of famine to acquire ample nourishment.

“The Lord appeared to him and said, ‘Do not go down to Egypt…’” (verse 2) The Lord did not divulge His reasons for this prohibition, but repeating our commentary from Genesis 12:10—Very little good ever comes from God's children descending into Egypt during times of distress. It started out well for Joseph and his brothers, but soon their descendants were enslaved. God's people were forbidden to return to Egypt during the days of Jeremiah by fear of punishment and death, but they did so anyway. “The Lord has spoken to you, O remnant of Judah, 'Do not go into Egypt!'...clearly understand that you will die by the sword, by famine and by pestilence, in the place where you wish to go to reside.” (Jeremiah 42:19, 22) Of course, they foolishly went anyway! Once you turn your back on the wicked ways of the world to follow the Lord Jesus, never turn back to a life of sin and evil and error. There's nothing waiting for you in spiritual “Egypt” that's worth going back to!

“Sojourn in this land and I will be with you and bless you…” (verse 3) It was God’s desire and command for Isaac to remain within the confines of the Land of Promise, so in reminiscence of another one of his father’s prior forays, Isaac sojourned in the land of the Philistines for a while and perpetrated some Abrahams’ same offenses. “For a pastoralist to stay in the land in time of famine means courting hunger and the loss of precious livestock.” (Nahum Sarna) Remaining in Canaan during the drought required a good bit of faith on Isaac’s part, so praise should be given to whom praise is due. But, whether in Egypt or Gerar, he would buckle to the pressures of fear as his faithful but fallible father had done before him.

“To you and to your descendants I will give all these lands, and I will establish the oath which I swore to your father Abraham.” (verse 3) “Here in Gerar, God affirms to Isaac the covenant He had made with Abraham. His initial revelation to the father bade him to the land; this first communication to the son exhorts him not to leave it.” (Nahum Sarna) “I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven, and will give your descendants all these lands; and by your descendants all the nations of the earth shall be blessed.” (verse 4) God’s plan of salvation would not be thwarted by the passions of heathen monarchs or the missteps of His fragile followers. Through the lineage of Isaac the Savior of the world would come forth and bless “all nations of the earth.”

“Because Abraham obeyed Me and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes and My laws.” (verse 5) “Those who fancy that Abraham was saved by ‘faith only’ should read this verse. God's fulfillment of his promise to Abraham was here said to have been ‘because,’ that is, as a result of, Abraham's OBEDIENCE. The sequence here is not that God saved Abraham, and then Abraham obeyed because God saved him, but that Abraham obeyed, and because he did so, God saved him and fulfilled his promise.” (James Burton Coffman) Of course neither Abraham nor Isaac obeyed God perfectly, and His covenant and promises would not be stymied by the fallibility of the Lord’s patriarchs or people.

Please read Genesis 26:6-11

Have a great day!

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 25:28-34

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

“Now Isaac loved Esau, because he had a taste for game, but Rebekah loved Jacob. When Jacob had cooked stew, Esau came in from the field and he was famished; and Esau said to Jacob, ‘Please let me have a swallow of that red stuff there, for I am famished.’ Therefore his name was called Edom. But Jacob said, ‘First sell me your birthright.’ Esau said, ‘Behold, I am about to die; so of what use then is the birthright to me?’ And Jacob said, ‘First swear to me’; so he swore to him, and sold his birthright to Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew; and he ate and drank, and rose and went on his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“Now Isaac loved Esau, because he had a taste for game, but Rebekah loved Jacob.” (verse 28) The sibling rivalry that appeared to have originated even from the womb was actually fomented by the foolish inclinations of mom and dad. Verse 27 tells us that Jacob was a “peaceful man, living in tents.” He led a simple, cerebral, domestic type of life that made him more of a momma’s boy. The fact that he stayed home, dabbling in the culinary arts and tending to his sheep appealed more to the tastes of his doting mother.

Isaac loved Esau more than he loved Jacob, not only because he was his firstborn son, but because he fancied the meat that the mighty, manly hunter was more than willing and able to capture and prepare for him. “Isaac, himself so sedate, loves the wild, wandering hunter, because he supplies him with pleasures which his own quiet habits do not reach.” (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible) It seems obvious that this love was not merely altruistic but self-serving to a great degree. Isaac loved Esau for who he was, but also for what he could do for dear ole dad.

There can be no doubt that some people are easier for us to love than other people are, and even within our own households we make emotional connections more effortlessly with some loved ones than with others. But one of the glaring messages that really leaps off the text here is—Don’t play favorites! It only leads to resentment, disappointment and disorder! This tendency was passed on to Jacob and his favoritism toward Joseph produced tons of trouble for his disjointed, discontented, dysfunctional family!

“Please let me have a swallow of that red stuff there, for I am famished...” (verse 30) One day Esau came home from the “field” (verse 29), exhausted and hungry after a hard day’s work, and implored his brother to share some stew with him. Now, who among us would have answered anything short of, “Of course! Sit down brother and help yourself!”? But Jacob, unmoved by compassion or concern, saw his brother’s predicament as an opportunity for the extortion of the flesh and blood companion of his own mother’s womb! Friends, by anyone’s standards, and no matter what unsavory a fellow Esau may have been—That’s hardcore!

“Therefore his name was called Edom.” (verse 30) Esau was so hungry and the food smelled so good, he didn’t know what it was or what to call it, and he didn’t care. Whether it was lintels or blood broth or something else, Esau just called it “red stuff” and that was good enough for him. The name “Edom” means “red” just like the ruddy pigment of his newborn body (verse 24). “There is no discrepancy in ascribing his name both to his complexion and the color of the lentil broth. The propriety of a name may surely be marked by different circumstances." (Pulpit Commentary)

“First sell me your birthright.” (verse 31) “Which had many privileges annexed to it, as honour and authority in the family next to parents; a double portion of inheritance; some say the exercise of priesthood, but that is questioned; the parental blessing, and especially in this the promises of the Messiah, and of inheritance of the land of Canaan, and which was typical of the heavenly inheritance: all which Rebekah knew by the divine oracle were designed for Jacob, and which no doubt she had acquainted him with, and advised him to deal with his brother about parting with his birthright as he had opportunity; and very likely they had talked together about it before in a distant manner, and Esau had shown some indifference to his right, and made no great account of it; and now, an opportunity offering to get him in the mind to part with it, he takes it, and moves for a sale of it immediately, at once, without any more delay…” (Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible) “Jacob exploits his brother’s misery in order to gain what he thought an accident of birth denied him.” (Nahum Sarna)

“Esau said, ‘Behold, I am about to die; so of what use then is the birthright to me?’” (verse 32) Of course we have all felt like we were about to starve to death a time or two in our lives. But there is no doubt that Esau overstated the catastrophic malnourishment he claimed and even felt that he had been overcome by. New Testament inspiration distinctly expresses that this was a foolish bargain on his part. “See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled; that there be no immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal.” (Hebrews 12:15-16) The clear implication is that his was not a life-or-death situation, but in a moment of reckless passion, he exchanged a thing of immense value for something trivial.

Verse 34 expresses essentially the same sentiment—“Thus Esau despised his birthright.” “Our sympathy with Esau is somewhat dissipated when the Narrator describes his inner feelings. Having finished the broth, Esau does not quarrel with Jacob but goes indifferently about his business, with no apparent regard for the sacred institution of the first-born. On the other hand, it is highly significant that the text only mentions Esau’s sale of the birthright but does not state that Jacob bought it… The omission in the present story is another way of dissociating Jacob’s eventual ascendancy from the means he adopted.” (Nahum Sarna)

“No one can read this simple account without pitying the foolish and reckless son who bartered the incredible blessings of his birthright for a mess of pottage (a single meal). But let all men feel pity also for themselves when tempted to barter life's treasures for a moment of indulgence or pleasure. How strongly do sensual appetites assert their influence over us! The N.T. tells us that Esau was a ‘profane person and a fornicator,’ which, of course, only fills in the picture of the man controlled and dominated by his appetites. There can be no doubt that the Bible, both O.T. and N.T., places the greater blame for what happened here upon Esau. Nevertheless, there is something also very unlovely in what Jacob did. Knowing his brother's weakness, coldly calculating how he might take advantage of it, and mercilessly insisting that his brother ‘swear away’ his birthright, are traits that make the heart sick to contemplate. However, one should not fault the Divine judgment. God's Chosen People could not have been developed through a man like Esau; it was difficult enough for God to do so through Jacob; but it would have been impossible through Esau. Regarding this sordid sale, Jamieson commented: ‘Never was any meat, except the forbidden fruit, so dearly bought, as this broth of Jacob!’” (James Burton Coffman)

Please read Genesis 26:1-5 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed day!

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 25:24-27

Monday, January 13, 2020

“When her days to be delivered were fulfilled, behold, there were twins in her womb. Now the first came forth red, all over like a hairy garment; and they named him Esau. Afterward his brother came forth with his hand holding on to Esau’s heel, so his name was called Jacob; and Isaac was sixty years old when she gave birth to them. When the boys grew up, Esau became a skillful hunter, a man of the field, but Jacob was a peaceful man, living in tents.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“When her days to be delivered were fulfilled, behold, there were twins in her womb.” (verse 24) Rebekah survived the painful pregnancy that pushed her to her limits and wit's end. Sometimes we have to trudge through very dark and difficult days when the pain seems interminable and the end looks unreachable. But the Lord is always faithful and merciful to carry us through the dismal hours and brighten our lives with fresh hope and new reasons to press onward. God delivered Rebekah from her predicament with the delivery of her children. Behold! Two babies to love! Double the pleasure, double the joy, double the work!

“Now the first came forth red...” (verse 25) Baby Esau came out red or ruddy all over. “Hebrew 'admoni is also used—admiringly—of David in 1 Samuel 16:12 and 17:42. The term, therefore, is not likely to mean redheadedness, which was popularly associated with the sinister and dangerous. More likely, a ruddy complexion is intended... here is an undoubted implicit word play between 'admoni and Edom, which is another name for Esau...” (Nahum Sarna)

“All over like a hairy garment.” (verse 25) Like many of the words and phrases used in this passage, this detail is revealed to signify momentous events that would play out in the future interactions of these two brothers. It was the hairy arm of Esau that Rebekah and Jacob would exploit to deceptively steal away Abraham's final blessing from the elder Esau (Genesis 27:1-29). “And they named him Esau.” Because he was so “well developed” at his birth, “The Jewish commentators form this name from the verb to make, and render it well-made; but the usual explanation is hairy, from a word now extant only in Arabic.” (Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers)

“Afterward his brother came forth with his hand holding on to Esau’s heel...” (verse 26) Some commentators see this as a mere figure of speech depicting Jacob's birth coming immediately, “on the heal” of Esau's delivery, with little or no intervening time. But, like the hairiness of Esau, the heal-grabbing of Jacob was literal and foreboding of future affairs. While the newly born Jacob was pure and innocent and incapable of underhanded ambitions, in foretelling fashion, it seemed as though he was trying to pull his brother back and take the place of preeminence. The prophet says as much in Hosea 12:3—“In the womb he took his brother by the heel, and in his maturity he contended with God.”

“So his name was called Jacob.” (verse 26) “That is, One that takes by the heel or supplants. The Heb. for 'heel' is ‘âḳêb, and the name 'Jacob' was popularly regarded as having been derived from the same root, with the meaning of 'one who seeks to trip up or supplant'; compare the use of the word; 'supplant' in Jeremiah 9:4.” (Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges) Nahum Sarna also had this to say about the name “Jacob”: “By folk etymology, the name is derived from Hebrew 'akev, 'heel.' In reality, Hebrew ya'akov stems from a Semitic root '-k-v, 'to protect.' It is abbreviated from a fuller form with a divine name or epithet as its subject. Ya'akov-'el, 'May El protect,' is a name that has turned up several times in cuneiform texts over a wide area. The name Jacob is thus, in origin, a plea for divine protection of the newly born—most appropriate for the one who was to live his entire life in the shadow of danger.”

“Esau became a skillful hunter, a man of the field...” (verse 27) “The two lads pursued incompatible vocations and lifestyles. The description of Esau as a hunter and as 'one who lives by the sword' (27:40) reflects a very early stage in the history of Edom, the time when the tribe was still engaged in hunting as an economic necessity and had not yet become a settled monarchy... the national Edomite god Qaus, whose name is Arabic for 'bow'...was originally the god of hunting and warfare. Hunting as a way of life was held in low esteem in Israel. The only hunter, other than Esau, mentioned by name in the Bible is Nimrod, in 10:9.” (Nahum Sarna)

“But Jacob was a peaceful man, living in tents.” (verse 27) “Quiet or harmless, Lat. Integer. 'Plain,' in Old English, is used for 'simple,' 'honest'... The meaning seems to be that of a solid, simple, home-abiding man. Dwelling in tents, Cf. Genesis 4:20. The life of Jacob, the herdsman and the shepherd, is contrasted with that of the fierce and roving huntsman. The ideal patriarchal habit of life seems to be pastoral.” (Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges)

Please read Genesis 25:28-34

Hae a blessed day!

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 25:19-23

Sunday, January 12, 2020

“Now these are the records of the generations of Isaac, Abraham’s son: Abraham became the father of Isaac; and Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah, the daughter of Bethuel the Aramean of Paddan-aram, the sister of Laban the Aramean, to be his wife. Isaac prayed to the Lord on behalf of his wife, because she was barren; and the Lord answered him and Rebekah his wife conceived. But the children struggled together within her; and she said, ‘If it is so, why then am I this way?’ So she went to inquire of the Lord. The Lord said to her, ‘Two nations are in your womb; and two peoples will be separated from your body; and one people shall be stronger than the other; and the older shall serve the younger.’”

---End of Scripture verses---

“Now these are the records of the generations of Isaac…” (verse 19) This is “toledot” number 8 in Genesis, the “generations” of Isaac. What follows is not the typical genealogy but it simply serves to mark a shift from the previous context back to a patriarchal narrative. “Nothing is recorded of the first twenty years of Isaac’s marriage. Only a few isolated events in his life are preserved in the literature, where he is eclipsed by the towering figure of his father Abraham and overshadowed by the dynamic, forceful personality of his son Jacob. Yet Isaac is more than a mere transition between Abraham and Jacob, and the biblical account does contain unmistakable elements of individuality. Isaac’s name, uniquely bestowed by God, is not changed…he alone remains monogamous; he is the only patriarch to engage in agriculture and the only one never to leave the promised land.” (Nahum Sarna)

“Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah…to be his wife.” (verse 20) People have made wild speculations about Rebekah’s age at the time of her marriage, some even insisting that she was only three years old! While that is patently preposterous, it seems highly likely that she was quite a bit younger than her forty-year-old husband. Exactly how much would be impossible to conclude with precision, but she was definitely old and strong enough to fetch water from a well and carry the filled water jugs, likely on her shoulder, to refresh parched animals (Genesis 24:15-20)

“Isaac prayed to the Lord on behalf of his wife, because she was barren; and the Lord answered him and Rebekah his wife conceived.” (verse 21) As with his father before him, Isaac’s wife struggled to conceive a child. Many of us know how troubling and discouraging it can be for a couple to be unable to have children when they really want them. This was especially true in this time and culture when bearing children was a mark of honor and a necessity for the family’s livelihood. Of course, the ability to reproduce was even more critical with this particular couple for the perpetuation of the line of Abraham to produce the Christ. “This is one of a number of interesting parallels between the lives of Isaac and Abraham. Things never run smoothly for God's elect. There will always be problems and trials that discover and test faith in the Lord. We may readily believe that both Isaac and Rebekah sought the prayers and counsel of the mighty Abraham who lived for another sixteen years after Rebekah's conceiving twins.” (James Burton Coffman)

“But the children struggled together within her…” (verse 22) Unfortunately the difficulties didn’t subside with the conception of Jacob and Esau—the struggles had just begun! “Rebekah experiences an unusually difficult pregnancy. Instead of the normally gentle quickening, the fetal movements are spasmodic and she has fears of miscarrying. Not only is the report of the difficult pregnancy unique in the biblical literature, but the Hebrew also uses an unusual verb (va-yitrotsetsu), which literally means ‘they crushed, thrust, one another,’ and which foretokens the future hostile relationship between the children who are about to be born.” (Nahum Sarna)

“And she said, ‘If it is so, why then am I this way?’” (verse 22) After all the longing and fretting and praying to become pregnant, afterword Rebekah wondered within herself it if was really worth it! It is possible that her pregnancy was so extremely difficult that she despaired of her life! The Complete Jewish Bible translates her words as follows: “If it is going to be like this, why go on living?” She made a similar statement when she desired a wife for Jacob in Genesis 27:46—“Rebekah said to Isaac, ‘I am tired of living because of the daughters of Heth; if Jacob takes a wife from the daughters of Heth, like these, from the daughters of the land, what good will my life be to me?’”

“So she went to inquire of the Lord.” (verse 22) This time more than prayer was involved in dealing with her dilemma because the text says she “went” and actually made an inquiry from the Lord. The unanswered question is just exactly how she went about doing that. Again, much speculation has been made about her method. Some suggest that she went to an “oracle” or a “medium” to do this, but I don’t believe the Lord would have answered her through such a pagan practice. Others surmise that she went to the well at Beer-lahai-roi where the angel of the Lord spoke to Hagar about the child in her womb (Genesis 16:11-14). I believe the simplest and safest answer is that Rebekah visited her godly father-in-law, Abraham, who inquired of the Lord for her about the matter. He was both the founding patriarch of the family and the nation of Israel, as well as being a prophet of the Lord according to God’s own declaration (Genesis 20:7).

“The Lord said to her, ‘Two nations are in your womb; and two peoples will be separated from your body; and one people shall be stronger than the other; and the older shall serve the younger.’” “Rebekah is informed that she carries twins, that each will be the progenitor of a people, that the movements in her womb result from sibling rivalry for priority of birth, and that physical strength would be decisive; ultimately, however, hegemony would belong to the loser in the uterine struggle. In historic terms, the seniority of Esau is reflected in his having achieved a settled kingdom earlier than Israel, as noted in 36:31; the supremacy of Jacob found expression in David’s crushing victories over Edom.” (Nahum Sarna) “The offspring of Esau, the eldest, should become tributary to the posterity of Jacob, the younger; which was verified in the times of David, when the Edomites were subdued by him, 2 Samuel 8:14.” (Gills Exposition of the Entire Bible)

Please read Genesis 25:24-27 for tomorrow.

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 25:12-18

Saturday, January 11, 2020

“Now these are the records of the generations of Ishmael, Abraham’s son, whom Hagar the Egyptian, Sarah’s maid, bore to Abraham; and these are the names of the sons of Ishmael, by their names, in the order of their birth: Nebaioth, the firstborn of Ishmael, and Kedar and Adbeel and Mibsam and Mishma and Dumah and Massa, Hadad and Tema, Jetur, Naphish and Kedemah. These are the sons of Ishmael and these are their names, by their villages, and by their camps; twelve princes according to their tribes. These are the years of the life of Ishmael, one hundred and thirty-seven years; and he breathed his last and died, and was gathered to his people. They settled from Havilah to Shur which is east of Egypt as one goes toward Assyria; he settled in defiance of all his relatives.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“Now these are the records of the generations of Ishmael…” (verse 12) This is the seventh usage of the Hebrew word “toledot” (“generations”), and introduces the genealogy of Abraham’s first child. “These seven verses are all that are devoted to Ishmael's posterity, the chief focus of the sacred narrator's concern being, not the posterity of Ishmael, but that of Isaac, to which he turned at once. The information here was given to show how God fulfilled His promise to Abraham that Ishmael would be blessed, and even that he would dwell ‘over against,’ that is, adjacent to the Israelites, a phenomenon that has continued to the present day.” (James Burton Coffman)

“These are the names of the sons of Ishmael…” (verse 13) “Whereas the decendants of Keturah include three generations, reflecting a complicated history of tribal relationships, the line of Ishmael comprises only ‘sons,’ which suggests a very powerful primary confederation of tribes. Some of these are also mentioned in extrabiblical Near Eastern sources; others are known only from other biblical texts, while two—Hadad and Kedmah—are not otherwise identifiable.” (Nahum Sarna)

“It is hardly profitable to follow each of these names into the racial history that followed. As a matter of fact, Morris correctly discerned that: ‘Through millennia of migrations and intermarriages, it seems likely that all of these peoples, the descendants of Keturah, together with the descendants of Ishmael, Lot, and Esau, along with earlier descendants of Shem, and, in some cases, Ham, have gradually merged and become the modern day Arabic peoples.’” (James Burton Coffman)

“These are the years of the life of Ishmael, one hundred and thirty-seven years…” (verse 17) Ishmael’s length of days fell short of that of his father Abraham and his brother Isaac, but he was still blessed with a long life, especially for “a wild donkey of a man” who had “everyone’s hand…against him” (Genesis 16:12)! “And he breathed his last and died, and was gathered to his people.” The same statement was made about Abraham (verse 8) with the accompanying implications of life eternal, but I don’t believe the same conclusion can be necessarily drawn about Ishmael. Unless his “wildness” subsided considerably in his later years, and unless more of his righteous father’s goodness was transferred to him than has been revealed, this statement likely means that his friends and family had gathered around him at his death.

“They settled from Havilah to Shur which is east of Egypt as one goes toward Assyria…” (verse 18) “The territorial boundaries of the Ishmaelite confederation, or the geographic limits of their settlement and migration patterns, are now given. The tradition derives from the period prior to the rise of the Amalekites, for by the days of Saul this people had occupied the identical area, according to 1 Samuel 15:7, and had apparently displaced the Ishmaelites. The location of Havilah is uncertain because there was more than one site of this name… Shur muse certainly be the line of Egyptian fortifications in the eastern Delta discussed in connection with 16:7. Asshur cannot be Assyria but, rather, some place in the northern Sinai desert—if it is not a variant of Shur.” (Nahum Sarna)

“He settled in defiance of all his relatives.” (verse 18) This appears to be stated in reference to the prophecy made to Hagar in Genesis 16:11-12. “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. 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.”

Please read Genesis 25:19-23 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed day!

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 25:7-11

Friday, January 10, 2020

“These are all the years of Abraham’s life that he lived, one hundred and seventy-five years. Abraham breathed his last and died in a ripe old age, an old man and satisfied with life; and he was gathered to his people. Then his sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah, in the field of Ephron the son of Zohar the Hittite, facing Mamre, the field which Abraham purchased from the sons of Heth; there Abraham was buried with Sarah his wife. It came about after the death of Abraham, that God blessed his son Isaac; and Isaac lived by Beer-lahai-roi.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“These are all the years of Abraham’s life that he lived, one hundred and seventy-five years.” (verse 7) “As Abraham was seventy-five years of age when he left Haran (Genesis 12:4), his sojourn in Canaan lasted just a century, one quarter of which was spent in the long trial of his faith before Isaac was granted to him. As, however, Esau and Jacob were born when Isaac was sixty years of age (Genesus 25:26), they would be fifteen at Abraham’s death, and probably had often seen their grandfather, and received his blessing.” (Ellicott’s Commentary for English readers)

“Abraham breathed his last...” (verse 8) Like all people eventually will and must do—rich or poor, young our old, male or female, wise or foolish. It has been estimated that the average person breathes about 8,400,000 breaths per year. This means that Abraham inhaled an astonishing 147,000,0000 times in his life, but he eventually exhaled for the final, fatal time and he expired. The King James Version says that he “gave up the ghost.” When Abraham breathed his last, his spirit (ghost) departed from his body and went back to the Father who gave it (Ecclesiastes 12:7) The most important thing that Abraham did, or anyone could ever hope to do, was have his life right with God before the time of that great partition.

“And died in a ripe old age…” (verse 8) Abraham’s life was “full” of days and years, but more importantly than that, his days and years were filled with life and as he lived life to the “fullest”. He worked hard, loved intensely, touched lives deeply and served God ardently, and the Lord blessed him with, among other things, a good, long life. This was in fulfillment of God’s promise: “As for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you will be buried at a good old age” (Genesis 15:15). Abraham died “an old man and satisfied with life.” He had nothing left to accomplish, nothing more to prove, and only a few truly regrettable incidents in his 175 years on planet Earth.

“And he was gathered to his people.” (verse 8) “This phrase is constantly distinguished from departing this life and being buried. It denotes the reunion in Sheol with friends who have gone before, and therefore presupposes faith in the personal continuance of a man after death. Unger pointed out this expression is used of only six persons: Abraham (Genesis 25:8); Ishmael (Genesis 25:18); Isaac (Genesis 35:29); Jacob (Genesis 49:29-33); Aaron (Numbers 20:24); and Moses (Deuteronomy 32:50).” (C.F. Keil, Commentary on the Old Testament Volume 1)

“Then his sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah…” (verse 9) Brothers are still brothers, even if they are half-brothers and even if they have had a history of hostility. Isaac and Ishmael reunited amicably, at the very least, out of love and respect for their venerated father. “Isaac was now seventy-five years of age, and Ishmael eighty-nine, and the two old men, with their enmity long over, met as friends at their father’s burial. While Keturah’s sons were apparently sent far away into Arabia, Ishmael at Paran (Genesis 21:21) would be at no very great distance from the well Lahai-roi, which was Isaac’s favourite residence.” (Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers) The burial place at the cave of Machpelah became a family tomb as the body of Abraham was reunited with the body of Rebekah.

Please read Genesis 25:12-18 for tomorrow.

Have a great day!

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 25:1-6

Thursday, January 09, 2020

“Now Abraham took another wife, whose name was Keturah. She bore to him Zimran and Jokshan and Medan and Midian and Ishbak and Shuah. Jokshan became the father of Sheba and Dedan. And the sons of Dedan were Asshurim and Letushim and Leummim. The sons of Midian were Ephah and Epher and Hanoch and Abida and Eldaah. All these were the sons of Keturah. Now Abraham gave all that he had to Isaac; but to the sons of his concubines, Abraham gave gifts while he was still living, and sent them away from his son Isaac eastward, to the land of the east.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“Now Abraham took another wife...” (verse 1) As the author of Genesis wraps up the account of the remarkable life of this extraordinary man of excellence, faith and accomplishment, he includes this abbreviated and challenging history of a separate and undocumented life. Commentaries are divided in their judgment as to whether Abraham took Keturah to wife before or after the death of Sarah. Nahum Sarna observed the following: “Over forty years earlier the patriarch had judged himself to be too old to sire children; it is hardly likely that he had six sons after the age of one hundred and forty. Hence, the present report does not relate to a time subsequent to Sarah's death and Isaac's marriage, but to many years before. That is why verse 6, like 1 Chronicles 1:32, refers to Keturah as a 'concubine,' not a wife.”

That is a strong argument and there is even greater evidence still to suggest that Abraham may have had this otherwise unknown concubine during the lifetime of his “primary” wife. But there are convincing arguments on the other side as well and some biblical statements that make it difficult to support the position that Abraham had children with Keturah while married to Sarah. When Abraham was 75 years old he lamented to the Lord that the only member of his household qualified to be his heir was a servant named “Eliezer of Damascus?” (Genesis 15:2) At the age of 85, and still childless, Ishmael was born to Abraham by Hagar. “As Abraham was 137 years of age at Sarah’s death, and lived to be 175, it is quite possible that, left solitary by Isaac’s marriage, he took Keturah to wife, and had by her six sons.” (Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers) I personally favor this view, and as we know, all things are possible with God!!!

“Whose name was Keturah.” (verse 1) “The name 'Keturah' is obviously related to Hebrew ketoret, 'spices.' There was a universal and sustained demand in the ancient world for frankincense, myrrh, and other aromatic resins and gums. These were needed for the requirements of the cults, for the manufacture of medicines, and in the preparation and preservation of food. The prime source and producer was southern Arabia, especially the Hadramaut region, which is modern Yemen...the most fertile part of the Arabian Peninsula. Because of her name, it is reasonable to assume that the key factor behind the organization of the Keturah tribes was the spice trade—the production, shipment, and distribution of this precious commodity. It so happens that both biblical and Assyrian sources mention many of the names here listed as those peoples or localities involved in this particular branch of international commerce.” (Nahum Sarna)

“She bore to him Zimran and Jokshan and Medan and Midian and Ishbak and Shuah.” (verse 3) “Of the six names listed, the first three have not been identified with any degree of confidence, but they most likely refer to peoples or oases along the international trade routes. The least three are well documented. Zimran may be the Arab tribe of Zamareni mentioned by Pliny the Elder... Jokshan is otherwise unknown. Medan may be a variant of the place-name Badana, situated south of Tema, which is mentioned in the Annals of Tiglath-pileser... The Midianites were traders in frankincense according to the testimony of Isaiah 60:6.... This people was hostile to Israel during the wilderness wanderings; its fertility cult proved to be a provocative and corrupting influence; it engaged in a bloody clash with Israel, and in the time of the Judges, it exerted hegemony over the Israelites, who fought a war of liberation under Gideon to rid themselves of the yoke of the hated oppressor... The story of Moses' flight from Pharaoh to Midian, where he found refuge and intermarried with the priestly family, corroborates the inference of an earlier record of amicable relationships between Israel and Midian.” (Nahum Sarna)

“Now Abraham gave all that he had to Isaac.” (verse 5) The author leaves no doubt to the most favored status of the son of promise, who was Abraham's sole, legitimate heir to his entire estate. But that is not to insinuate that Abraham left his other children unloved or unprovided for. “But to the sons of his concubines, Abraham gave gifts while he was still living.” (verse 6) Abraham was a very powerful and influential man of significant property and wealth, and he shared his blessings generously with the beloved members of his household. But, to distinguish and insulate Isaac, Abraham “sent them away from his son Isaac eastward, to the land of the east.” “That they might not be troublesome to him and his family; and that there, might be no contention among them about inheriting the land of Canaan given to him and his seed: and this Abraham did while he yet lived; or otherwise after his death a separation would not have been easily made; but his authority had weight with them: and they were sent by him eastward, into the east country; into Arabia, and the parts thereabout, which lay east from the place where Abraham was; these are the children of the east, mentioned along with the Midianites, who sprung from Keturah, Judges 6:3).” (Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible)

Please read Genesis 25:7-11 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed day!

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 24:62-67

Wednesday, January 08, 2020

“Now Isaac had come from going to Beer-lahai-roi; for he was living in the Negev. Isaac went out to meditate in the field toward evening; and he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, camels were coming. Rebekah lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac she dismounted from the camel. She said to the servant, ‘Who is that man walking in the field to meet us?’ And the servant said, ‘He is my master.’ Then she took her veil and covered herself. The servant told Isaac all the things that he had done. Then Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah’s tent, and he took Rebekah, and she became his wife, and he loved her; thus Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“Now Isaac had come from going to Beer-lahai-roi…” (verse 62) “According to 16:14, this is the name of a well situated in the Negeb. It was probably part of an oasis to which sheep-breeders seasonally repaired for water and pasturing. Isaac later settled there (25:11).” (Nahum Sarna) This was the place, “in the wilderness…on the way to Shur” (16:7) where the angel of the Lord visited the pregnant Hagar after she had run away from her barren “mistress,” Sarah because of the tension that had arisen between the two women. The name means, “Well of the Living One that Sees Me.” “The oasis round it became Isaac’s favourite residence (Genesis 25:11), and was in the neighbourhood of Beer-sheba, where Abraham was dwelling when Sarah died at Hebron (Genesis 23:2).” (Ellicott’s Commentary for English readers)

“Isaac went out to meditate in the field toward evening…” (verse 63) “To meditate – Many Jewish commentators translate to pray, and derive one of the three Jewish forms of prayer from this act of Isaac. But though the verb is rare, the substantive is used in Psalm 104:34 of religious meditation; and this sense well agrees with the whole character of the calm, peaceful Isaac, already marked out as the type of the Lamb dumb before His slayers (Genesis 22:7).” (Ellicott’s Commentary for English readers) The text does not reveal the nature of his ruminations. Maybe he went to reflect on memories of the beautiful mother that he dearly missed. Perhaps he was contemplating the success or failure of his servant’s mission to secure for him a wife. Or maybe He truly was convening with His Creator in solemn, solitary prayer. Perhaps all of these things and more.

I love the perceptual image that these verses paint in the mind of Isaac strolling through a field, deeply and silently in thought and prayer, as the sun was slowly setting in the sky. This is such serene and picturesque imagery and a blessed practice that is worthy of our appreciation and imitation. It was the frequent habit of Jesus to take time to separate himself from the throngs at evening and unite with His Father in isolated prayer. “In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there.” (Mark 1:35). “It was at this time that He went off to the mountain to pray, and He spent the whole night in prayer to God.” (Luke 6:12) “But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray.” (Luke 5:16) Please avail yourself of quality alone time with your loving Father. It refreshes the soul in a profound and singular way.

“And he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, camels were coming.” More captivating imagery. Isaac, the lonely bachelor moseying in the meadow at eventide being aroused from his contemplations by the distant sight of the caravan of camels that conveyed to him his beautiful bride-to-be. “Rebekah lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac she dismounted…” “The Hebrew text employs the identical phraseology for the actions of Isaac and Rebekah, thus conveying an impression of simultaneity. Their eyes met in instant recognition; each knew instinctively who the other was.” (Nahum Sarna) If that doesn’t send a bit of a chill up your spine and a touch of a thrill in your heart you need to be checked for a pulse!

“Then she took her veil and covered herself.” (verse 66) When Rebekah knew for certain that the man she had locked gazes with was her husband to be, she covered her face. “There is evidence…that the veiling of a bride was part of the marriage ceremony. In Akkadian the bride on her wedding day is called kallatu kutumtu ‘the veiled bride,’… The Middle Assyrian laws make the raising of a concubine to the status of a wife contingent upon her being veiled in the presence of the court. In light of all this, Rebekah’s veiling herself has both symbolic and socio-legal significance. It is an unspoken signal to Isaac that she is his bride.” (Nahum Sarna)

“Then Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah’s tent, and he took Rebekah, and she became his wife, and he loved her…” (verse 67) “By this act, Rebekah formally becomes the successor to Sarah the matriarch. The continuity is assured… The first reference to love in the Bible (22:2) concerned the tie between parent and child; this, the second, relates to the bond between husband and wife.” (Nahum Sarna) “Thus Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.” “Which was three years ago…and had made such impressions upon his spirit, that at times he was very sorrowful, and much distressed on that account; but now being blessed with so agreeable a yokefellow, his sorrow for his mother subsided, and he became cheerful and comfortable.” (Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible)

Please read Genesis 25:1-6 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed day!

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 24:52-61

Tuesday, January 07, 2020

“When Abraham’s servant heard their words, he bowed himself to the ground before the Lord. The servant brought out articles of silver and articles of gold, and garments, and gave them to Rebekah; he also gave precious things to her brother and to her mother. Then he and the men who were with him ate and drank and spent the night. When they arose in the morning, he said, ‘Send me away to my master.’ But her brother and her mother said, ‘Let the girl stay with us a few days, say ten; afterward she may go.’ He said to them, ‘Do not delay me, since the Lord has prospered my way. Send me away that I may go to my master.’ And they said, ‘We will call the girl and consult her wishes.’ Then they called Rebekah and said to her, ‘Will you go with this man?’ And she said, ‘I will go.’ Thus they sent away their sister Rebekah and her nurse with Abraham’s servant and his men. They blessed Rebekah and said to her, ‘May you, our sister, become thousands of ten thousands, and may your descendants possess the gate of those who hate them.’ Then Rebekah arose with her maids, and they mounted the camels and followed the man. So the servant took Rebekah and departed.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“When Abraham’s servant heard their words, he bowed himself to the ground before the Lord.” (verse 52) It was obviously this man’s habitual manner of life to methodically pause, thank, praise and glorify the Lord for every good gift He bestowed upon him. I think that if most of us had the meek and grateful heart of this humble servant we would spend the majority of our waking hours with our face planted to the ground for all the wonderful ways that the Lord has blessed us. Unfortunately we all too often allow ourselves to focus on and lament over the relatively few things that disappoint or discourage us instead of filling up our minds with a ready awareness of the manifold graces of God.

“The servant brought out articles of silver and articles of gold, and garments, and gave them to Rebekah; he also gave precious things to her brother and to her mother.” (verse 53) “The servant’s first act is to ratify the betrothal by making the betrothal gifts to the bride. Oriental custom required that, at the betrothal, gifts should be made to the parents or nearest representative relations of the bride. Mention of marriage gifts (mohar) to the bride’s family is found also in Genesis 34:12; Exodus 22:16-17; Deuteronomy 22:19; 1 Samul 18:25… In this verse, the ‘precious things,’ given by the servant to Rebekah’s brother and mother, constitute the customary mohar to the bride’s family. This custom is also mentioned in the Code of Hammurabi, §§ 159–161.” (Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges)

“Then he and the men who were with him ate and drank and spent the night.” (verse 53) Okay let’s eat! Abraham’s servant insisted that he would not dine until his master’s business was settled (verse 33). Now that all the jots and tittles had been situated, it was time to enjoy a meal and acquire refreshment. The Lord really appreciates those of His people who keep their priorities in order and deal with the most pressing matters before indulging the desires of the flesh. Jesus often delayed meals in favor of the prospect of winning souls. “Meanwhile the disciples were urging Him, saying, ‘Rabbi, eat.’ Jesus said to them, ‘My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work.’” (John 4:31, 34) Oh that we would hunger and thirst for righteousness and that our strongest yearnings would be to please God and put Him first!

“But her brother and her mother said, ‘Let the girl stay with us a few days, say ten; afterward she may go.’” (verse 55) Scholars disagree as to just how long a period of time Laban actually attempted to impede the progress of God’s plans. Some translate the text to read a whole year and ten days, but ten minutes would have been too long! A little more than a week to say goodbye to a beloved sister and daughter would certainly not have been an unreasonable request to make. But Abraham’s servant was not about to dawdle for days and give her loved ones opportunity to reconsider, or give Laban a chance to spin an elaborate web of deceit! “He said to them, ‘Do not delay me, since the Lord has prospered my way. Send me away that I may go to my master.’” (verse 56) His were not merely selfish motives. There was not doubt in the servant’s mind that the Lord desired them to make haste!

“We will call the girl and consult her wishes.” (verse 57) “This is the only free choice in the matter that seems to be given to Rebekah. Her consent may have been modestly indicated, before her family ratified the contract. It is plain, however, that it was thought proper that the parents should receive and decide upon a proposal of marriage. The extent to which the maiden's inclinations would be consulted would depend very much on the custom of the country, and the intelligence and good feeling of the parents... Rebekah's decision shows that she concurred in the consent of her relatives.” (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible) Even though she knew she might very well never see her family again, “she said, ‘I will go.’” (verse 58) Brave girl! Keen perception! Strong faith!

“May you, our sister, become thousands of ten thousands, and may your descendants possess the gate of those who hate them.” (verse 60) “A million was a number which at this early period the Hebrews had no means of expressing. The blessing contains two parts: the first, the hope of fruitfulness founded on the primæval command (Genesis 1:28): the second, that of victory in war (see Genesis 22:17).” (Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers) “Be thou the mother of thousands of millions; as she was, the Edomites and Israelites both springing from her… And let thy seed possess the gate of those that hate them; exercise dominion and authority over their enemies: let them not only be numerous, but powerful and victorious, as both the nations were at times, and especially the latter; and particularly this had its accomplishment in Christ, who sprung from her in the line of Jacob…” (Gill’s Expository of the Entire Bible)

Please read Genesis 24:62-67 for tomorrow.

Have a great day!

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 24:42-51

Monday, January 06, 2020

“'So I came today to the spring, and said, “O Lord, the God of my master Abraham, if now You will make my journey on which I go successful; behold, I am standing by the spring, and may it be that the maiden who comes out to draw, and to whom I say, 'Please let me drink a little water from your jar'; and she will say to me, 'You drink, and I will draw for your camels also'; let her be the woman whom the Lord has appointed for my master’s son.” Before I had finished speaking in my heart, behold, Rebekah came out with her jar on her shoulder, and went down to the spring and drew, and I said to her, “Please let me drink.” She quickly lowered her jar from her shoulder, and said, “Drink, and I will water your camels also”; so I drank, and she watered the camels also. Then I asked her, and said, “Whose daughter are you?” And she said, “The daughter of Bethuel, Nahor’s son, whom Milcah bore to him”; and I put the ring on her nose, and the bracelets on her wrists. And I bowed low and worshiped the Lord, and blessed the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, who had guided me in the right way to take the daughter of my master’s kinsman for his son. So now if you are going to deal kindly and truly with my master, tell me; and if not, let me know, that I may turn to the right hand or the left.' Then Laban and Bethuel replied, 'The matter comes from the Lord; so we cannot speak to you bad or good. Here is Rebekah before you, take her and go, and let her be the wife of your master’s son, as the Lord has spoken.'”

---End of Scripture verses---

As the servant recounts the details of the Lord's providential intercession, we will notice that what he relates is not an exact, word-for-word repetition of the statements recorded in verses 10-27. This is ever the way with human recitation of previous words and events. If you were to ask me to repeat with exactness something I had previously done and said, invariably their would be at least slight variation in the retelling. If Abraham's servant had retold the story with faultless precision we would rightly suspect scribal duplication and not a genuine reiteration from the original speaker. The same is true with disparities of details in stories that the writers of the Gospel accounts shared in common, and also in other reiterated events in the Bible. Slight variations promote confidence and not suspicion that the report is accurate and authentic.

“Before I had finished speaking in my heart...” (verse 45) This is a detail that could be easily overlooked but we would do ourselves no favors in discounting it. First of all, it demonstrates clearly that a prayer need not be audibly vocalized for our all-knowing, all-seeing and all-hearing God to discern it, understand it and respond to it. The Lord God Almighty knows and hears the thoughts of our hearts as fully and clearly as He does our loudest and most ardent verbal cries and supplications. Secondly, it was wise for Abraham's servant to convey that his prayer was silent and not uttered so that no one would suspect that Rebekah had heard his words and merely responded accordingly. The events that had transpired were not the contrivances of a man or the aspirations of a woman but the will of Almighty God!

“I put the ring on her nose, and the bracelets on her wrists.” (verse 47) Well here it is, the always enchanting and captivating nose ring (please note intended sarcasm). While I do not find it particularly appealing or attractive to see a stone glistening from the flare a young woman's nostril, nose jewelry was obviously held in high esteem in certain cultures and even appears to have the divine seal of approval in Holy Scripture. “The word occurs again in Ezekiel 16:12, where it is rendered jewel, and again is placed 'on the nose'... It was hung not from the central cartilage of the nose, but from the left nostril, the flesh of which was pierced for the purpose; and such rings are still the usual betrothal present in Arabia, and are commonly worn both there and in Persia, made not only of gold and of silver but of coral, mother-of-pearl, and even cheaper materials.” Unfortunately for me, my mind's eye is always drawn to the image of a swine's snout when I see one (Proverbs 11:22)!

“I bowed low and worshiped the Lord, and blessed the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, who had guided me in the right way...” (verse 48) Friends, if we make it our heart's primary ambition to love and obey the Lord and please Him in all respects, He will always guide us in the right way! He will never lead us into temptation but will always deliver us from evil if our desire is to do what is right and avoid all forms of wickedness. The Lord God will never lead us astray but always guide us on the blessed path that leads to heaven, and we will never look back in regret for having chosen to give our lives to the One who Created us and loves us most and only wants what is the very best for us! “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” (Psalm 23) Thank you Lord!!!

“So now if you are going to deal kindly and truly with my master, tell me; and if not, let me know, that I may turn to the right hand or the left.” (verse 49) “The servant directs himself to more than one, to the whole family, especially to Laban and Bethuel; if you will do my master a kindness, and grant him the favour he requests, that a damsel of this family may be given for a wife to his son; and, if you are hearty and sincere in granting this, tell me at once... If you do not choose to gratify my master, and are not hearty in this matter, let me know: that I may turn to the right hand or to the left; look out elsewhere among the daughters of some of the other sons of Nahor; for he had seven more which Milcah bare to him besides Bethuel, as well as four others by a concubine, Genesis 22:20.” (Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible)

“Then Laban and Bethuel replied, 'The matter comes from the Lord; so we cannot speak to you bad or good.'” (verse 50) “It is not only strange that Laban takes precedence over his father, but also that the father plays no further role in the proceedings. In verse 53 he is not listed among the recipients of gifts, and in verse 55 it is Laban and his mother who carry on the negotiations. The conclusion that Laban occupies a special position in the family is inescapable and is confirmed by 25:20, where in addition to being described as the 'daughter of Bethuel,' Rebekah is also listed as being 'the sister of Laban.' Radak suggests that the father was too enfeebled and incompetent to act, other than to indicate his assent to his son's statement of agreement in principle.” (Nahum Sarna)

Both Laban and Bethuel concede that neither of them, nor anyone else in the family, has a right to choose either way because “the matter comes from the Lord.” It was obvious even to the loathsome Laban that the Highest Power had already settled this matter once and for all, and that he could not speak either “bad or good,” yea or nae, one way or another. Of course, that did not mean it would be beneath him to try and make a profit from the Lord's definitive decision! But alas, poor Laban would have to wait to more fully exploit a member of Abraham's family at a later date!

Please read Genesis 24:52-61 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed day!

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 24:34-41

Sunday, January 05, 2020

“So he said, 'I am Abraham’s servant. The Lord has greatly blessed my master, so that he has become rich; and He has given him flocks and herds, and silver and gold, and servants and maids, and camels and donkeys. Now Sarah my master’s wife bore a son to my master in her old age, and he has given him all that he has. My master made me swear, saying, “You shall not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, in whose land I live; but you shall go to my father’s house and to my relatives, and take a wife for my son.” I said to my master, “Suppose the woman does not follow me.” He said to me, “The Lord, before whom I have walked, will send His angel with you to make your journey successful, and you will take a wife for my son from my relatives and from my father’s house; then you will be free from my oath, when you come to my relatives; and if they do not give her to you, you will be free from my oath.”'”

---End of Scripture verses---

The group sat down to a nice meal, but before they began to eat, Abraham's servant was given the opportunity to explain his mission, and he did so with great length and attention to detail. He began by clearly identifying himself as “Abraham's servant” (verse 34). Still no mention is given of his name, and even when giving a proper introduction of himself, his focus was to draw attention to his master. His humility and unassuming nature are admirable qualities for God's anointed ones to appreciate and emulate. Hopefully the same can be said of us, that the name of our Master takes precedence over our own and that we gain our truest and noblest identity from that great name of Jesus, by whose blood we have been bought and through whom we have access to the Father in heaven.

“The Lord has greatly blessed my master, so that he has become rich...” (verse 35) There can be little doubt that at this statement the ears of the unscrupulous Laban had attentively perked right up! And while Abraham's wealth served as a great enticement and assurance that Rebekah would be well provided for throughout her life, the servant appropriately drew attention to the One responsible for Abraham's great blessings and riches. I cannot help but believe that Rebekah was equally or more impressed by how prominently the Lord's presence and providence played out in the lives of Abraham and his loyal servant, and presumably in Isaac's as well.

“Now Sarah my master’s wife bore a son to my master in her old age...” (verse 36) This is obviously an additional implication of the Lord's blessings and favor presiding over the family that Rebekah would potentially be marrying into. “And he has given him all that he has.” Not only were the circumstances of Isaac's birth remarkable and even miraculous, he is also the sole heir to the family's substantial fortune! It matters not whether Abraham had already legally transferred all his possessions to his son or not for all that Abraham possessed equally belonged to his son. The same is true with our loving, generous Father in heaven: “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:32)

“My master made me swear, saying, 'You shall not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites...'” (verse 37) “Mention of the oath demonstrates the great seriousness of the matter at hand, which is a delicate form of flattery to the bride and her family. So is the reference to the rejection of a Canaanite wife, which also happens to explain why Isaac has not yet married.” (Nahum Sarna) Abraham was extremely selective about the choice of a wife for his son, and for very good reason. God intends marriage to be a covenant for life and the type of person you marry will greatly influence your relationship with the Lord for better or for worse. It is better to let people accuse you of being “too picky” than to settle for a spouse that will not set helping you and your children get to heaven as their top priority!

“But you shall go to my father’s house and to my relatives, and take a wife for my son.” (verse 38) Of course the servant was wise enough to keep silent about the fact that Abraham prohibited Isaac from going to Rebekah's house if she refused to come to his. “Then Abraham said to him, 'Beware that you do not take my son back there! But if the woman is not willing to follow you, then you will be free from this my oath; only do not take my son back there.'” (verses 6 and 8) Yep, probably best to not share that part of the story!

“The Lord, before whom I have walked, will send His angel with you to make your journey successful...” (verse 40) Yes friends, if you choose to walk before the Lord in all faith and trust and righteousness and integrity, He will make your life's journey a complete success! Abraham fully trusted that the Lord's will would be done, whether his servant returned with a wife for his son or not, and he would rest satisfied with the Lord's answer (verse 41). “The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him, and rescues them. O taste and see that the Lord is good; how blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him! O fear the Lord, you His saints; for to those who fear Him there is no want.” (Psalm 34:7-9)

Please read Genesis 24:42-51 for tomorrow.

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 24:28-33

Saturday, January 04, 2020

“Then the girl ran and told her mother’s household about these things. Now Rebekah had a brother whose name was Laban; and Laban ran outside to the man at the spring. When he saw the ring and the bracelets on his sister’s wrists, and when he heard the words of Rebekah his sister, saying, 'This is what the man said to me,' he went to the man; and behold, he was standing by the camels at the spring. And he said, 'Come in, blessed of the Lord! Why do you stand outside since I have prepared the house, and a place for the camels?' So the man entered the house. Then Laban unloaded the camels, and he gave straw and feed to the camels, and water to wash his feet and the feet of the men who were with him. But when food was set before him to eat, he said, 'I will not eat until I have told my business.' And he said, 'Speak on.''”

---End of Scripture verses---

“The girl ran and told her mother's household about these things.” (verse 28) As Abraham's servant was still bowed in thankful prayer, Rebekah ran home to acquaint her family with the situation that was currently unfolding. It is a curiosity that the reference would be to “her mother's household” and not to that of her father. It is possible that her father, Bethuel, was already deceased at this time. If that was the case then the Bethuel who responded in verse 50 was actual Rebekah's brother and her father's namesake. Another possibility was that her father was feeble in body and mind at this point, and that explains why her brother Laban played the prominent role of leadership and Bethuel only spoke sparingly and in consort with his son after the servant had finished his story (verses 50-51).

“Now Rebekah had a brother whose name was Laban; and Laban ran outside to the man at the spring.” (verse 29) “Hebrew lavan, meaning 'white.' The feminine form levanah, 'the white one,' is a poetic term for the moon. This association is in keeping with other names in Abraham's family that have a connection with the lunar cult, such as Terah, which has been connected with yareah, 'moon'; Sarah, the Hebrew form of Akkadian sarratu, 'queen,' used of the consort of the moon-god Sin; and Milcah, from Akkadian malkatu, 'princess,' the name of Sin's daughter.” (Nahum Sarna)

“When he saw the ring and the bracelets on his sister’s wrists...” (verse 30) In this, our first encounter with Rachel's brother Laban, he appears to be equally as kind and hospitable as his lovely sister. But we know better from his future false dealings with Rebekah's son, Jacob, to be fully exposed in chapters 29 and 30. The author exposes Laban's ulterior, greedy motives by the revelation that his “magnanimity” was prompted only after “he saw the ring and the bracelets on his sister's wrists.” His deceptive contrivances and penchant for manipulation are fully uncloaked in chapter 29, but we get a glimpse of his delay tactics and double dealings by his expressed desire to hold Rebekah back for “a few days, say ten; afterward she may go” (verse 55). There can be little doubt that his intentions were to extort more valuables for himself out of the bargain for his sister's hand in marriage.

“'Come in, blessed of the Lord! Why do you stand outside since I have prepared the house, and a place for the camels?” (verse 31) Knowing Laban's true (lack of) character, his feigned bigheartedness is enough to make you want to wretch! He recognized that the Lord had greatly “blessed” Abraham's righteous servant, and he was fully prepared to exploit the man's favored status to his full advantage. This pattern would be repeated in Laban's treacherous dealings with Jacob: “But Laban said to him, 'If now it pleases you, stay with me; I have divined that the Lord has blessed me on your account.' He continued, 'Name me your wages, and I will give it.' (Genesis 30:27-28) In Laban's mind, every man had his price, and he would stoop to any depths necessary to ensnare him by it to his own person profit.

“When food was set before him to eat, he said, 'I will not eat until I have told my business.'” (verse 33) All the niceties were pleasantly appreciated, but Abraham's servant was all business, and he was ready to get down to it. The mission was the most important thing in his mind by far, and especially due to the fact the Lord's hand and will played prominently into the undertakings “Oriental politeness deferred the interrogation of a guest till after he had supped... but Abraham's servant hastened to communicate the nature of his message before partaking of the offered hospitality - an instance of self-forgetful zeal of which Christ was the highest example...Mark 6:31; John 4:34.” (Pulpit Commentary)

Please read Genesis 24:34-41 for tomorrow.

Have a great day!

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 24:22-27

Friday, January 03, 2020

“When the camels had finished drinking, the man took a gold ring weighing a half-shekel and two bracelets for her wrists weighing ten shekels in gold, and said, 'Whose daughter are you? Please tell me, is there room for us to lodge in your father’s house?' She said to him, 'I am the daughter of Bethuel, the son of Milcah, whom she bore to Nahor.' Again she said to him, 'We have plenty of both straw and feed, and room to lodge in.' Then the man bowed low and worshiped the Lord. He said, 'Blessed be the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, who has not forsaken His lovingkindness and His truth toward my master; as for me, the Lord has guided me in the way to the house of my master’s brothers.'”

---End of Scripture verses---

“The man took a gold ring weighing a half-shekel and two bracelets for her wrists weighing ten shekels in gold.” (verse 22) “Partly in return for her self-imposed, arduous labors, and partly to win her good will and to impress her family, he lavishes rich gifts upon the girl” (Nahum Sarna) It is intriguing that the servant would give Rebekah the gifts before asking “Whose daughter are you?” (verse 23) It is possible that he was already completely convinced of the success of his mission and of God's positive response to his prayer. But, when recounting the story to her family in verse 47 he said he asked whose daughter she was before giving her the jewelry. It is more likely, then, that in verse 22 he merely “took” these gifts in his hands before asking who her father was, and then gave them to her only after she responded in the way that he anticipated she would.

“Whose daughter are you? Please tell me, is there room for us to lodge in your father’s house?” (verse 23) “By her answer to this he would know whether her family was wealthy, and so fit to be in connection with his master's; and besides, if she appeared to be the person he hoped she was, he was desirous of lodging in her father's house, that he might have the better opportunity of managing the affair he was come about.” (Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible)

“She said to him, 'I am the daughter of Bethuel, the son of Milcah, whom she bore to Nahor.'” (verse 25) “Rebekah mentions her father’s mother to show that she was descended from a highborn wife; but the servant would welcome it as proving that not only on the father’s side, but also on the mother’s, she was Isaac’s cousin, Milcah being the daughter of Haran, Abraham’s brother. And when thus he knew that she fulfilled all the conditions, he gave her the jewels which he was holding in his hand, and bowed the head, and gave thanks.” (Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers)

“We have plenty of both straw and feed, and room to lodge in.” (verse 25) Not only was there room in her father's house for Abraham's servant and his men, but they had more than enough bedding and food to accommodate the ten camels in his caravan, which was the more difficult issue that the stranger had to deal with. “Then the man bowed low and worshiped the Lord.” (verse 26) Isaac's advocate had every reason to believe at this point that the Lord God had answered his prayer favorable and had blessed him in his endeavors on behalf of Abraham's Son. And, following the godly example of his old master, at a moment's notice he was poised and ready to humbly bow in reverential worship to his Lord and Provider for all the rich benefits He bestowed upon him and his family.

“He said, 'Blessed be the Lord, the God of my master Abraham...'” (verse 27) “He does not call the Lord his God, though no doubt he was, since he appears throughout the whole to be a good man; but the God of Abraham, because God had often manifested and renewed his covenant with Abraham in an eminent manner, and had bestowed many favours upon him, and admitted him to much nearness and communion with him; and it was not on his own account, but on his master's business he now was.” (Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible)

“Who has not forsaken His lovingkindness and His truth toward my master; as for me, the Lord has guided me in the way to the house of my master’s brothers.” (verse 27) The thoughts that Abraham's servant harbored in his heart for God, and expressed with the praise of His lips, echoed that of great psalmist in many of his psalms. Actually, David echoed this unnamed godly man's thoughts and prayers because his came first! “O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly; my soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, in a dry and weary land where there is no water. Thus I have seen You in the sanctuary, to see Your power and Your glory. Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, my lips will praise You.” (Psalm 63:1-3) “Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, for His lovingkindness is everlasting” (Psalm 107:1)!!!

Please read Genesis 24:28-33 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed day!

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 24:15-21

Thursday, January 02, 2020

“Before he had finished speaking, behold, Rebekah who was born to Bethuel the son of Milcah, the wife of Abraham’s brother Nahor, came out with her jar on her shoulder. The girl was very beautiful, a virgin, and no man had had relations with her; and she went down to the spring and filled her jar and came up. Then the servant ran to meet her, and said, 'Please let me drink a little water from your jar.' She said, 'Drink, my lord'; and she quickly lowered her jar to her hand, and gave him a drink. Now when she had finished giving him a drink, she said, 'I will draw also for your camels until they have finished drinking.' So she quickly emptied her jar into the trough, and ran back to the well to draw, and she drew for all his camels. Meanwhile, the man was gazing at her in silence, to know whether the Lord had made his journey successful or not.'”

---End of Scripture verses---

“Before he had finished speaking...” (verse 15) Even as the prayer was rolling off the servant's tongue, the Lord had not only heard, but was in the process of answering in the affirmative. “The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous and His ears are open to their cry.” (Psalm 34:15) And even though the Lord does not always answer our prayers in such an immediate fashion, or in the exact manner that we would prefer, He does always hear and He does always answer in ways that are in our best interests and according to His perfect will. “We know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is God-fearing and does His will, He hears him.” (John 9:31) “Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight.” (1 John 3:21-22)

“Rebekah who was born to Bethuel the son of Milcah, the wife of Abraham’s brother Nahor, came out with her jar on her shoulder.” (verse 15) The granddaughter of Nahor, Abraham's brother, was precisely at that time, coming to the well to fetch some water. “Her full genealogy is given because, as related in 22:20-24, Nahor also had children from a concubine. The child of a chief wife enjoyed higher social prestige. The relationship to Abraham is given in order to emphasize the providential nature of what occurred.” (Nahum Sarna) Rebekah, “Who, in all respects, answered the characters he wished for in the woman that was to be his master’s wife; handsome and healthful, humble and industrious, courteous and obliging to a stranger. And Providence so ordered it, that she did that which exactly answered his sign.” (Benson Commentary)

“The girl was very beautiful, a virgin, and no man had had relations with her; and she went down to the spring and filled her jar and came up.” (verse 16) The girl was very beautiful to look upon, which is always gratifying to the eyes and heart of the man blessed enough to win the hand of such a looker. But more important than physical beauty to the Lord and to the success the long-term covenant of marriage that normally outlasts the duration of the outward attractiveness, she was full of virtue and moral excellence and inner loveliness. “Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.” (Proverbs 31:30) Rebekah was not just another pretty face in the crowd. She possessed a vibrant spirit, and an inner strength that emanated from her beautiful soul that continues to shine through the telling and retelling of this story and lives on in eternity with her Creator.

“Then the servant ran to meet her...” (verse 17) “He did not stop her as she went to the well, but stayed till she had been there and filled her pitcher, and then he made all the haste he could to meet her, in order to have the sign and token answered he had requested, which could not be done until she returned.” (Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible) “She quickly lowered her jar to her hand, and gave him a drink.” (verse 18) “She quickly emptied her jar into the trough, and ran back to the well to draw, and she drew for all his camels.” (verse 20) The beautiful Rebekah not only replied favorably and with the desired responses, she hospitably served this strange with great eagerness and enthusiasm.

“Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ. But the greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.” (Matthew 23:10-12) “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:5-8) “Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’” (Matthew 25:34-40)

“Meanwhile, the man was gazing at her in silence...” (verse 21) He gazed in wonderment at this bubbling, busy, big-hearted beauty, the very first girl he had the pleasure to encounter, even before finishing his prayer. “The servant, we may well believe, was astonished at the exactness and quickness with which his prayer was being answered, but this is not the point to which the rest of the verse refers; rather, it sets him before us as keenly observing all she said and did, and carefully coming to the conclusion that the comely and generous maiden was the destined bride of the son of his lord.” (Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers) He was wondering “whether the Lord had made his journey successful or not.” And from all indications, that which seemed too good to be true was in actuality, true. But such is often the way with the Lord and His faithful servants. Do not be overly surprised when God answers your prayers affirmatively and gives you the desires of your heart, for nothing shall be impossible for Him. But do be filled with adoration and thanksgiving for the benevolence He regularly bestows upon His beloved.

Please read Genesis 24:22-27 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed day!

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 24:10-14

Wednesday, January 01, 2020

“Then the servant took ten camels from the camels of his master, and set out with a variety of good things of his master’s in his hand; and he arose and went to Mesopotamia, to the city of Nahor. He made the camels kneel down outside the city by the well of water at evening time, the time when women go out to draw water. He said, 'O Lord, the God of my master Abraham, please grant me success today, and show lovingkindness to my master Abraham. Behold, I am standing by the spring, and the daughters of the men of the city are coming out to draw water; now may it be that the girl to whom I say, “Please let down your jar so that I may drink,” and who answers, “Drink, and I will water your camels also”—may she be the one whom You have appointed for Your servant Isaac; and by this I will know that You have shown lovingkindness to my master.'"

---End of Scripture verses---

“Then the servant took ten camels...and set out with a variety of good things...” (verse 10) Proverbs 31:10 states that, “An excellent wife, who can find? For her worth is far above jewels.” Abraham understood the value of a good and virtuous wife for his son because he was blessed with one of his own for the greater portion of his life. He spared no expense in showering lavish gifts upon Isaac's future Jewel, not to dazzle her eyes and purchase her love, but because he knew that she would be a treasure far more precious in comparison. It was very important, however, to make a persuasive first impression upon the woman and her family, and to demonstrate that she was in suitable company and well-provided for to make the long journey back to her new home as safely and comfortably as possible.

“He made the camels kneel down outside the city by the well of water at evening time...” (verse 11) “It was natural for a newly arrived stranger to head for the public wells. He could replenish his water supplies and at the same time cull much valuable information about the town and make useful contacts, for the well served as a meeting place for the townsfolk and shepherds. Jacob, too, gravitated at once toward the well on arriving at Haran in 29:2, and Moses did the same thing when he fled to Midian in Exodus 2:15. In each case the encounter at the well eventuated in betrothal. The three scenes share a number of features in common... At evening time when the chores are done, and the sun-baked day was cooled, the young women who go out to draw water can dawdle over the task and engage in leisurely conversation.” (Nahum Sarna)

“He said, 'O Lord, the God of my master Abraham, please grant me success today, and show lovingkindness to my master Abraham.'” (verse 12) It is interesting, remarkable and powerful to learn that the first person in the Bible to pray to the Lord for direction and intervention at a pivotal juncture is this unnamed, unassuming servant. The Almighty God was and is personally accessible to the humble, righteous and reverent, not just to men of great stature such as Abraham. What this godly man uttered from his mouth was an honest outpouring of his heart, and an articulation of cognizant and complete dependence upon the Lord and His providential “lovingkindness”. He doesn't ask God for a miracle but that He demonstrate His divine approval by eliciting a favorable response from the preferred woman at the right place and time.

“'Drink, and I will water your camels also'—may she be the one whom You have appointed for Your servant Isaac...” (verse 14) “The criteria that the servant establishes are aspects of nobility and character. The ideal wife must be hospitable to strangers, kind to animals, and willing to give of herself to others. The grueling nature of the prescribed test can be appreciated only if it is realized that a single camel—and here there were ten!—requires at least twenty-five gallons of water to regain the weight it loses in the course of a long journey. It takes a camel about ten minutes to drink that amount of water.” (Nahum Sarna)

“This water test would be all that was needed to identify the bride. Of course, it was a strenuous and demanding test. Drawing water for ten camels, especially when the animals are tired and thirsty, borders on the heroic.

THE WATER TEST FOR THE BRIDE OF CHRIST

However people may resent it, there is surely also a water test for the Bride of Christ: 'Except a man be born of water and Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God' (John 3:15). As Christ himself stated it, 'He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved' (Mark 16:16).” (James Burton Coffman)

Please read Genesis 24:15-21 for tomorrow.

Happy New Year! Have a blessed day!

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 24:1-9

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

“Now Abraham was old, advanced in age; and the Lord had blessed Abraham in every way. Abraham said to his servant, the oldest of his household, who had charge of all that he owned, 'Please place your hand under my thigh, and I will make you swear by the Lord, the God of heaven and the God of earth, that you shall not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I live, but you will go to my country and to my relatives, and take a wife for my son Isaac.' The servant said to him, 'Suppose the woman is not willing to follow me to this land; should I take your son back to the land from where you came?' Then Abraham said to him, 'Beware that you do not take my son back there! The Lord, the God of heaven, who took me from my father’s house and from the land of my birth, and who spoke to me and who swore to me, saying, 'To your descendants I will give this land,' He will send His angel before you, and you will take a wife for my son from there. But if the woman is not willing to follow you, then you will be free from this my oath; only do not take my son back there.' So the servant placed his hand under the thigh of Abraham his master, and swore to him concerning this matter.'”

---End of Scripture verses---

After performing his duty to his deceased wife, Abraham now tends to the needs of his living son. Isaac was forty years old and a suitable bride had not yet been found for him. Parents arranged marriages for their children in this culture, so Abraham sent his oldest and wisest servant to Mesopotamia to find Isaac a wife from among his relatives. It was a long journey with an uncertain outcome, but Abraham trusted that God would provide in this matter as He had done in all others (verse 7) Abraham placed three stipulations upon his servant for selecting a bride for his son: 1) She must not be taken from the daughters of the Canaanites (verse 3); 2) She must come from among Abraham's own relatives (verse 4); 3) It was imperative that Isaac not go and live among the relatives of Abraham (verse 6).

“Now Abraham was old, advanced in age...” (verse 1) He was pushing 140 years of age and he felt the pressure of providing for the perpetuation of God's promises through his posterity. “Abraham's awareness of his extreme old age lends urgency to his quest for a wife for his son. That is why he extracts an oath from his servant when a simple order normally would have sufficed. The servant's query in verse 5 assumes the possibility of the patriarch not being alive by the end of his mission. Significantly, the only other instance of the particular form of oath described in verse 2 occurs in a deathbed scene, 47:29.” (Nahum Sarna) “And the Lord had blessed Abraham in every way.” The Lord had greatly blessed Abraham in the spiritual, physical and material realms, but His faithfulness in blessing Abraham with an abundance of material wealth qualified him to secure a wife for his son and bring her to him from a long distance away.

“Please place your hand under my thigh.” (verse 2) “For this symbolical act, compare the request made by Jacob in Genesis 47:29, where, in the expectation of death, he binds Joseph by the solemn pledge of this sign. Presumably Abraham is expecting his death; and he causes his servant to swear in the most solemn way that he will carry out his master’s wish. The words 'under my thigh' probably contain a survival of a very ancient piece of symbolism. The word 'thigh' is rendered 'loins' in Genesis 46:26, Exodus 1:5. The phrase here seems to refer to the organs of generation, and also, possibly, to the covenant rite of circumcision. The appeal is made to those who hereafter should be born, on the one hand, to attest the oath, and, on the other, to avenge its violation.” (Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges)

“I will make you swear by the Lord, the God of heaven and the God of earth...” (verse 3) What a solemn, somber and serious situation the selecting of a spouse for his son was for Abraham! That he would “make” his servant swear by the sacred name of Jehovah God—the Lord of all tribes, races, nations, and realms, whether terrestrial or celestial! Would to God that all of the Lord's people would take the sacred covenant of marriage so seriously and diligently pursue the right type of person to attach oneself to intimately, exclusively, permanently before even considering invoking their solemn vows! It was with great wisdom that God left godly parents in charge of initiating marriage contracts!

“You shall not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites...” (verse 3) “The Canaanites were not only gross idolaters and heinous sinners, for so many others were; but that they were a people under God’s peculiar curse, Genesis 9:25, and devoted to extirpation and utter destruction, which was to be inflicted upon them by Abraham’s posterity; and therefore to marry his son to such persons had been a high degree of self-murder, whereby the holy and blessed seed had been in danger of great infection from them, and utter ruin with them.” (Matthew Poole's Commentary)

“You will go to my country and to my relatives, and take a wife for my son Isaac.” (verse 4) “The family of Nahor his brother, which now dwelt at Haran in Mesopotamia, called the city of Nahor, Genesis 24:10; see Genesis 29:4; of the increase of whose family Abraham had heard a few years ago, Genesis 22:20... and take a wife to my son Isaac; from among them, who though they were not clear of superstition and idolatry, yet they worshipped the true God with their 'idols': and a woman taken out of such a family, and removed at a distance from it, it might be reasonably concluded would be brought off of those things, and adhere to the pure and undefiled religion; and the rather this family was chosen, not only because related to Abraham, but because it had sprung from Shem, who was blessed of God, and whose God the Lord was; nearness of kin was no objection and hinderance to such a marriage, the laws relating to marriage not being given till the time of Moses.” (Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible)

“Suppose the woman is not willing to follow me to this land; should I take your son back to the land from where you came?” (verse 5) This was a logical question and a legitimate concern for Abraham's unnamed servant. And who could blame a woman for not wanting to return to a faraway foreign land with a total stranger to marry a man that she had never before laid eyes on?! But, as reasonable as such a question and concern might have been, Abraham demanded in no uncertain terms, “Beware that you do not take my son back there!” (verse 6) Isaac's proper place was in the Land of Promise, where God had led Abraham to enter and dwell, and not back in Haran (or Ur) from whence the Lord had called him out of (verse 7)! Away from his family who were idolaters, and likely a greater danger for negative influence than the heathens of Canaan whom Isaac would know to keep at an arm's distance.

“He will send His angel before you, and you will take a wife for my son from there.” (verse 7) There were times in Abraham's odyssey of faith that he did not fully depend upon the trustworthiness of the Lord to pull him safely through times of uncertainty. And especially while traveling outside the Land of Promise, to Egypt and to Gerar, where he jeopardized Sarah's safety and sanctity. But now, in his old age, and after God had proven Himself trustworthy time and time again, he completely trusted the Lord to make good on His word and provide a wife for Isaac to produce an uncountable posterity and bless the whole world through his sacred Seed. Even though it be from a land hundreds of miles away, from a family he had not seen in decades, and from a maiden required to trust a complete stranger, He knew the Lord would provide, the Lord would deliver, the Lord would keep His promises against all merely human odds. Friends, you can depend on the Lord God Almighty, even when you can trust in no one else, including yourself.

Please read Genesis 24:10-14 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed day!

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 23:17-20

Monday, December 30, 2019

“So Ephron’s field, which was in Machpelah, which faced Mamre, the field and cave which was in it, and all the trees which were in the field, that were within all the confines of its border, were deeded over to Abraham for a possession in the presence of the sons of Heth, before all who went in at the gate of his city. After this, Abraham buried Sarah his wife in the cave of the field at Machpelah facing Mamre (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan. So the field and the cave that is in it, were deeded over to Abraham for a burial site by the sons of Heth.'”

---End of Scripture verses---

“So Ephron’s field, which was in Machpelah, which faced Mamre...” (verse 17) The field in Machpelah which once belonged to Ephron, but now was the rightful possession of Abraham, “faced” or was positioned to the east of Mamre, adjacent to Abraham's Hebron settlement. “This and the following verses contain, in language of legal minuteness, the description of the purchase. The sentence probably represents the form of a deed of sale, such as was included in Hebrew contracts. Similar minute details are found in Babylonian legal deeds of sale. Notice the particular mention of 'the field,' 'the cave,' 'all the trees,' 'all the border,' 'made sure,' 'in the presence of,' 'all that went in at the gate of his city.'” (Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges)

“Some have marveled that so much is made of this in the Bible, but the importance of it lies in the fact that this was the only part of the literal land of Canaan that Abraham ever owned. Also, his purchase of it at such an exorbitant price showed his faith that God in time would indeed drive out the Canaanites and give the land to the children of Abraham. That Abraham insisted on buying the place, when free burial grounds were offered, stems from the implications that might have accompanied such a gift. That which God had sworn to 'give' Abraham, he would not, under any circumstances, accept as a 'gift' from the Canaanites. It was a similar attitude on Abraham's part that caused him to reject the spoils tendered to him by the king of Sodom. Abraham did not wish to appear OBLIGATED to pagans. Did Abraham believe in the resurrection of the dead? Certainly, only his absolute confidence in the resurrection enabled him to offer Isaac (Hebrews 11:17-19). 'Therefore, we may conclude, that in depositing the body of his beloved wife in the grave, Abraham trusted her soul to God, and looked for a joyful resurrection.'” (James Burton Coffman)

Please read Genesis 24:1-9 for tomorrow.

Have a wonderful day!

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 23:10-16

Sunday, December 29, 2019

“Now Ephron was sitting among the sons of Heth; and Ephron the Hittite answered Abraham in the hearing of the sons of Heth; even of all who went in at the gate of his city, saying, 'No, my lord, hear me; I give you the field, and I give you the cave that is in it. In the presence of the sons of my people I give it to you; bury your dead.' And Abraham bowed before the people of the land. He spoke to Ephron in the hearing of the people of the land, saying, 'If you will only please listen to me; I will give the price of the field, accept it from me that I may bury my dead there.' Then Ephron answered Abraham, saying to him, 'My lord, listen to me; a piece of land worth four hundred shekels of silver, what is that between me and you? So bury your dead.' Abraham listened to Ephron; and Abraham weighed out for Ephron the silver which he had named in the hearing of the sons of Heth, four hundred shekels of silver, commercial standard.'”

---End of Scripture verses---

“Now Ephron was sitting among the sons of Heth...” (verse 10) Abraham had his sights set on a certain cave in the in the field of Machpelah as a burial plot for his dearly departed wife, and it was owned by a man named “Ephron the son of Zohar” (verses 8-9) “The Bible rarely records the father's name in the case of a non-Israelite. The present exception suggests that Ephron was a man of nobility.” (Nahum Sarna) “Note that Ephron refers to 'my people,' and that the city is called 'his city' (Genesis 23:10,11). Ephron must be understood as one of the city fathers.” (James Burton Coffman)

The Cave of Machpelah – “That is, the double cave, consisting probably of an outer and an inner compartment. As the land around is also called 'the field of Machpelah' (Genesis 49:30; Genesis 50:13), some imagine that it was the valley that was double; but more probably it took its name from the cavern.” (Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers) “Machpelah, which seems to be the proper name of the place, Genesis 23:17,19, so called from its duplicity, because the cave was double, either one for men, and another for women; or the one served only for an entrance into the other, which was the burying-place.” (Matthew Poole's Commentary)

“'No, my lord, hear me; I give you the field, and I give you the cave that is in it.” (verse 11) Ephron, out of respect for Abraham or as a means to open up the bargaining process, offered to give the patriarch not only the cave as a burial site for Sarah, but also the field in which it was located. “And Abraham bowed before the people of the land” (verse 12), most likely as a gesture of mutual respect and great appreciation for the generous offer.

“He spoke to Ephron in the hearing of the people of the land...” (verse 12) This transaction was not only witnessed by the whole community, but they actually participated in the proceedings. The selling or exchange of a plot of land directly impacted the surrounding community, and especially when the recipient was a foreigner such as Abraham was. “At work there is a profound and complex emotional attachment to the estate, an emotion that is shaped by a powerful feeling of continuity with one's forebears and a compelling sense of responsibility toward one's family, clan, and posterity. The land is looked upon as an ancestral trust. All this is reinforced by the strong influence of communal solidarity, the consciousness that disposal of real estate to an alien may upset the local demographic balance, impair social cohesion, and weaken the community in its relationship with neighboring cities and tribes.” (Nahum Sarna)

Verses 13-15 – “Abraham wishes to ensure that his purchase is final and irrevocable, his ownership absolute and incontestable. For these reasons, he refuses a gift: donations are notoriously insecure in law. They may be challenged by heirs or by other members of the family or community, or even by the donor himself should his goodwill wane. Only a payment that is manifestly accepted by the seller of his own volition ensures the unchallengeable nature of the transaction. This is why Ephron, not Abraham, must first state the price and why, once that is done, there is no further bargaining.” (Nahum Sarna)

“Abraham weighed out for Ephron the silver which he had named in the hearing of the sons of Heth, four hundred shekels of silver, commercial standard.” (verse 16) Ephron said to Abraham concerning the price he offered in a nonchalant way, “what is that between me and you” (verse 15). Even if this amount had constituted a large sum of money, it was of no great significance between two distinguished, wealthy and influential men such as these two princely figures and friends. The shekel was a unit of weight and not a specimen of coinage, so Abraham weighed out the silver in accordance with the standardized weight for typical business transactions carried out at that particular place and time. The great matriarch of our faith now had a suitable burial sight for a woman of her stature and significance, and Abraham now had a personal and private stake in the promised land and a foothold for future generations of God's people to rightfully expand upon. This episode provided for a burial and so much more! This seemingly insignificant event was a pivotal procedure in the implementation of God's greater plans for all humanity!

Please read Genesis 23:17-20 for tomorrow.

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 23:1-9

Saturday, December 28, 2019

“Now Sarah lived one hundred and twenty-seven years; these were the years of the life of Sarah. Sarah died in Kiriath-arba (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan; and Abraham went in to mourn for Sarah and to weep for her. Then Abraham rose from before his dead, and spoke to the sons of Heth, saying, 'I am a stranger and a sojourner among you; give me a burial site among you that I may bury my dead out of my sight.' The sons of Heth answered Abraham, saying to him, 'Hear us, my lord, you are a mighty prince among us; bury your dead in the choicest of our graves; none of us will refuse you his grave for burying your dead.' So Abraham rose and bowed to the people of the land, the sons of Heth. And he spoke with them, saying, 'If it is your wish for me to bury my dead out of my sight, hear me, and approach Ephron the son of Zohar for me, that he may give me the cave of Machpelah which he owns, which is at the end of his field; for the full price let him give it to me in your presence for a burial site.'”

---End of Scripture verses---

Now Sarah lived one hundred and twenty-seven years...” (verse 1) This is the first time in the Bible that the age of a woman is specified at her death, indicating the extreme importance of Sarah in the history of God's people, in the inspired annals of Holy Scripture and to God himself. Galatians 4:26 demonstrates Sarah as a type of the New Jerusalem, and 1 Peter 3:5-6 presents Sarah as the example for all women in Christ to model their lives after. Hebrews chapter 11 portrays her as one of the heroes of our faith. “As 17:17 and 21:5 make clear, the matriarch was 90 years old when she bore Isaac. Since she was 127 at the time of her death, she died three years before Isaac's marriage at the age of 40 (25:20). This sequence of events is further confirmed by the statement that, in taking Rebekah to wife, Isaac 'found comfort after his mother's death' (24:67).” (Nahum Sarna)

“Sarah died in Kiriath-arba (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan...” (verse 2) “This was a very ancient city, built seven years before Zoan in Egypt (Numbers 13:11), probably by a tribe of Semites on their way to the Delta. It lies upon the very border of the Negeb of Judah, about twenty-two miles south of Jerusalem. Originally it was named Kirjath-arba, and though Arba is called 'the father of Anak' (Joshua 15:13), yet the literal meaning City of Four (arba being the Hebrew numeral four), coupled with the fact that Hebron means alliance (Genesis 13:18), suggests that its building was the result of the union of four families; and afterwards, from the name of the city, Arba may have been often used as a proper name.” (Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers)

“Abraham went in to mourn for Sarah and to weep for her.” (verse 2) It appears that Abraham was not with Sarah for some reason when she died. Maybe he was making final arrangements in Beersheba for a permanent move to Hebron, or maybe he was out doing business or tending sheep in the field. There is no way to know for certain. But the indication that he was away for some reason suggests that her death happened quickly and unexpectedly. Mourning for the death of a loved one is an appropriate and necessary means of coping with tremendous loss and recovering from the mental and emotional blow delivered by the chill hand of death. This is especially true and important for the loss of a spouse of several decades and the severance of a union so intimate and sacred as the covenant of marriage.

“Then Abraham rose from before his dead...” (verse 3) The fact that Abraham “rose” illustrates the prostrated position that he chose to grieve and morn over the loss of his better half. But, as important and necessary as mourning the loss of a spouse is, it is not a good and healthy thing to grieve forever. Life goes on the the living must keep on living. There are duties to perform, responsibilities to take care of and service to perform for God. One of the important obligations that Abraham needed to carry out was the arrangement of a proper burial plot for his beloved wife. And not in the land of their ancestors but in the Land of Promise where the future lie for the living family and coming posterity that would arise from the sacred union of Abraham and Sarah.

“I am a stranger and a sojourner among you; give me a burial site among you that I may bury my dead out of my sight.” (verse 4) The flesh of her who was once so beautiful to behold and desirable to foreign kings even at an elderly age, was now, sadly, returning to the dust from which all humanity originated. Death is truly the great equalizer and brings to similitude both the rich and the poor, the young and the old, the wise and the foolish, the beautiful and the ordinary. “The wise man’s eyes are in his head, but the fool walks in darkness. And yet I know that one fate befalls them both. Then I said to myself, 'As is the fate of the fool, it will also befall me. Why then have I been extremely wise?' So I said to myself, 'This too is vanity.' For there is no lasting remembrance of the wise man as with the fool, inasmuch as in the coming days all will be forgotten. And how the wise man and the fool alike die!” (Ecclesiastes 2:14-16)

Verses 5-9 – “The account of the purchase of the Cave of Machpelah is extraordinarily detailed, indicating the importance that the episode had assumed in the consciousness of Israel. There are several possible reasons for this emphasis. Not only is it the first recorded death and interment in the history of the Jewish people but it also concerns none other than Sarah, the first matriarch. Abraham's actions are indicative of the great respect for the dead and of the importance of proper burial that remain a characteristic of the Jewish faith. Machpelah is the first piece of real estate in the promised land secured by the founding father of the nation, and its acquisition presages the future possession of the entire land. Since all three patriarchs and three of the matriarchs eventually were interred in the cave, it most likely enjoyed popular veneration as a shrine and as a symbol of national and social unity. This may well have influenced David's choice of Hebron as the first capital of Israel. Finally, the narrative in a very real sense presents another mute affirmation of Abraham's faith... His insistence on acquiring the estate in perpetuity is an expression of faith that his descendants would indeed inherit the land.” (Nahum Sarna)

More on the acquisition of a proper burial sight for Sarah tomorrow, Lord willing

Please read Genesis 23:10-16.

Have a blessed day!

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 22:20-24

Friday, December 27, 2019

“Now it came about after these things, that it was told Abraham, saying, 'Behold, Milcah has borne children to your brother Nahor: Uz his firstborn and Buz his brother and Kemuel the father of Aram and Chesed and Hazo and Pildash and Jidlaph and Bethuel.' Bethuel became the father of Rebekah; these eight Milcah bore to Nahor, Abraham’s brother. His concubine, whose name was Reumah, also bore Tebah and Gaham and Tahash and Maacah.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“Milcah has borne children to your brother Nahor.” (verse 21) We learned from the genealogy of Genesis 11 that, “Abram and Nahor took wives for themselves. The name of Abram’s wife was Sarai; and the name of Nahor’s wife was Milcah, the daughter of Haran, the father of Milcah and Iscah.” (Genesis 11:29)

“This paragraph has only one significance, namely, that of disclosing the family connection of Rebekah, whose marriage to Isaac was about to be related. In those days, there was not much travel between various parts of the Mid-east, and Abraham evidently learned for the first time, through chance passers-by of the children of his brother. Some of these names are the same or similar to others recorded elsewhere in Genesis, but this means nothing at all. Many names were used over and over in successive generations as the mere reading of such a genealogy as that in Luke 3 reveals.” (James Burton Coffman) It seems obvious that there was a secondary reason for the names in this section in that Aram is singled out along with Rebekah as a “grandchild” of significance.

“The lowly status of Aram as a 'grandson' tribe through the third-born means that, at the time of the origin of the list, this people had not yet risen to power. By contrast, the genealogy of Genesis 10 prestigiously has Aram as the son of Shem... That list reflects a later historic reality than this and derives from a time when Aram had overwhelmed the Uzzites and incorporated them into its tribal league. Furthermore, the depiction of Aram as part of the wider family of Abraham, in keeping with the consistent traditions about the close patriarchal associations with that people, must stem from before the Davidic period when Aram became the inveterate enemy of Israel and so remained for hundreds of years.” (Nahum Sarna)

“Uz his firstborn and Buz his brother...” (verse 21) “In Genesis 10:23...Uz is the firstborn of Aram. Uz, as a locality in the Syrian region, is mentioned in Assyrian inscriptions. It may denote a branch of an Aramaean tribe, the Uṣṣâof Shalmaneser II. It appears as the birthplace of Job (Job 1:1). Whether it is the same Uz as is mentioned in Jeremiah 25:20, Lamentations 4:21, is doubtful. Another, Edomite, Uz is mentioned in Genesis 36:28. Buz] See Jeremiah 25:23, where the mention of Buz with Dedan and Tema seems to point to the borders of the Arabian desert. Elihu, the friend of Job, is a native of Buz (Job 32:2). (Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges)

“Chesed and Hazo and Pildash and Jidlaph and Bethuel.” (verse 22) Nahum Sarna maintains that 'the name Chesed...is doubtless the supposed ancestor of the Chaldeans (Heb. Kasdim).” But the Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges disagrees: “Presumably, not to be confounded with the ancestor of the S. Babylonian people, the Chasdim, or 'Chaldees,' mentioned in Genesis 11:31... More probably, the Bedouin tribe, mentioned in 2 Kings 24:2, Job 1:17, as 'the Chaldeans,' quite distinct from the Chesed of Arpachshad (Genesis 10:22).”

“Bethuel became the father of Rebekah” (verse 23) “Ribkah; captivating, ensnaring (Furst); 'a rope with a noose,' not unfit as the name of a girl who ensnares men by her beauty (Gesenius). Rebekah was the child of Isaac's cousin, and being the daughter of Nahor's youngest son, was probably about the same age as her future husband.” (Pulpit Commentary) “ These eight Milcah bore to Nahor, Abraham’s brother.” It is interesting to note that Nahor's concubine Reumah bore him four more sons (verse 24), for a total of twelve—a great symbolic number of power, completion and significance used repeatedly in the Bible: 12 sons/tribes of Israel, 12 princes of Ishmael, 12 scouts spied out the Promised Land, 12 Apostles, and 12 gates of pearl in Revelation just to name a few uses of this number.

Please read Genesis 23:1-9 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed day!

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 22:15-19

Thursday, December 26, 2019

“Then the angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven, and said, '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. In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.' So Abraham returned to his young men, and they arose and went together to Beersheba; and Abraham lived at Beersheba.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“Then the angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven.” (verse 15) “Abraham has demonstrated his willingness to forfeit his posterity in obedience God's will. It is fitting, therefore, that all previous promises be now reaffirmed. The formulation features several unusual elements. All previous blessings are pure acts of divine grace; now, for the first time, these are presented as a reward for Abraham's devotion to God. For the first time, too, they are introduced by a solemn oath, with God swearing by His own Being, and they are prefaced by the prophetic formula, 'The Lord declares'....” (Nahum Sarna)

“By Myself I have sworn...” (verse 16) The Hebrews writer displayed God's oath to Abraham as the basis and motivation for followers of Christ to show diligence and patience in our service to the Lord fully to the end life's journey so that we can in “the full assurance of hope,” inherit the sure promises of Abraham (Hebrews 6:11-12). “For when God made the promise to Abraham, since He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself, saying, 'I will surely bless you and surely multiply you.' And so, having patiently waited, he obtained the promise. For men swear by one greater than themselves, and with them an oath given as confirmation is an end of every dispute. In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us.” (Hebrews 6:13-18)

“Because you have done this thing and have not withheld your son, your only son.” (verse 16) Of course, strictly speaking, Isaac was not Abraham's only son because he was father to Ishmael as well. But in a special and exclusive way, Isaac was Abraham's singular son. Isaac was the son that Almighty God had purposed for and promised to Abraham from the very beginning. Isaac was the son of promise through which God would fulfill all of the promises that He reiterated to Abraham in this passage. He was the son that God provided through Abraham's covenant wife, Sarah, thereby qualifying him as the only “legitimate” heir to the estate of Abraham and the promises of God.

The Lord was particularly impressed and pleased by the fact that Abraham had not “withheld” this extraordinary, privileged, beloved son from Him in demonstration of his love for Him and obedience to His will. What are you withholding from the Lord today? Are you holding back a portion of your heart from Him? Are you refusing to “offer up” a favorite sin that keeps you at arm's length from Him. Are you “holding out” on Him when the collection plate is passed on the Lord's Day? Are you withholding your best effort, your valuable time, your diligence in study of his word and service to His church? Abraham held back nothing from the Lord that was valuable to him and offered God the very best that he had to give. This is why the Lord was pleased with him, and blessed Him greatly in the material and spiritual realms, and greatly blessed the world through his righteous and faithful life.

“I will greatly bless you, and I will greatly multiply your seed...” (verse 17) “Both his natural seed, descending from him in the line of Isaac, and his spiritual seed, both among Jews and Gentiles, that tread in his steps; see Genesis 13:15.” (Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible) “And your seed shall possess the gate of their enemies.” “'Gate' for 'gates', where courts of judicature were held, and which are the security of cities and put for them, and which also include the whole country round about: so that this phrase is expressive of an entire jurisdiction and dominion over them; and was literally fulfilled in the times of Joshua, David, and Solomon; and spiritually in Christ, Abraham's principal seed, when he destroyed Satan and his principalities and powers; overcame the world; made an end of sin and abolished death; and delivered his people out the hands of all their enemies; and in all Abraham's spiritual seed, who are made more than conquerors over them, through Christ that has loved them.” (Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible)

“ In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed...” (verse 18) To where the word “seed” was plural in the previous verse, here in verse 18 it is “seed” in the singular sense, indicating the coming of the promised Messiah. The sacred “seed” that God prophesied would crush the serpent's head in Genesis 3:15, is here vowed to be a blessing to all people of all nations of all the earth who would willingly receive and embrace Him. “Hereby we know the loving-kindness of God our Saviour towards sinful man, in that he hath not withheld his Son, his only Son, from us. Hereby we perceive the love of Christ, in that he gave himself a sacrifice for our sins. Yet he lives, and calls to sinners to come to him, and partake of his blood-bought salvation.” (Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary)

Please read Genesis 22:20-24 for tomorrow.

Have a great day!

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 22:9-14

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

“Then they came to the place of which God had told him; and Abraham built the altar there and arranged the wood, and bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 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.' Then Abraham raised his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him a ram caught in the thicket by his horns; and Abraham went and took the ram and offered him up for a burnt offering in the place of his son. Abraham called the name of that place The Lord Will Provide, as it is said to this day, 'In the mount of the Lord it will be provided.'”

---End of Scripture verses---

“Abraham built the altar there...” Abraham was a man of worship and reverence for Almighty God, and he had built many altars in the places that he had traveled throughout the Promised Land. He built an altar at Shechem (Genesis 12:6-7), at Hebron (Genesis 13:18) and in other locations recorded implicitly in the Scriptures. “It has been said of Abraham that one could trace his paths by the altars he built.” (Norman E. Fultz, Truth Magazine, Abraham's Altars) But never in his deepest dread could he ever have imagined that one day he would be building an altar to sacrifice his own, beloved son upon! It was with a heavy heart and the greatest faith that he built this altar and “arranged the wood” upon it.

“And bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar...” “Every precious word here is loaded with eternal truth. The Son of God, his great Antitype, would also be bound and brought before the Sanhedrin, before Annas, before Caiphas, and before Pilate!... Isaac consented to this... Even if it should be allowed that Isaac was only twenty-five, it is obvious enough that an old man of that age plus a full century, unaided, would have been unable to subdue Isaac and compel his obedience. Hence, the conclusion that Isaac willingly consented to be bound and to submit to the death which Abraham was ready to inflict. All this, to be sure, is exactly in keeping with the submissiveness of Christ. In both cases, the father offered up the only begotten son, but in neither is the son forced to yield, but yields of his own accord. In neither case is the life taken away by the violent action of the father. 'Isaac yielded himself to the knife; Jesus laid down his life for the sheep.'” (James Burton Coffman)

“Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son.” (verse 10) According to Nahum Sarna, this would have been “a large and heavy implement...and not an ordinary knife.” He went on to write, “The detailed, laconic description of the various preparatory procedures conveys something of the eternity of that terrible moment in time before the angelic voice was heard. Once again, not a word escapes the father's lips. Isaac too is speechless. The intensity of the anguish is beyond the ability of words to express.” Abraham stands poised and armed to strike down his cherished child, and Isaac lies still and silent prepared to absorb the fatal blow from his precious parent. Until the deafening silence was shattered by the urgent angelic imploring...

“Abraham, Abraham!” (verse 11) “Abraham’s act is arrested at the last possible moment. The sacrifice of Isaac was practically completed, when the hand of Abraham raised the knife over his son. The moral surrender had been complete.” (Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges) “'Do not stretch out your hand against the lad, and do nothing to him...” (verse 12) Human sacrifice was and is detestably wicked in the eyes of the Lord and is a perversion of worship that He would and could never receive or require. This was only a test. And Abraham passed this test with unwavering faith.

“Now I know that you fear God...” (verse 12) “As Ramban points out, it is not that God's foreknowledge is wanting but that, for Abraham's sake, the quality of character that now exists only potentially must be actualized. In the biblical view, the genuinely righteous man must deserve the status through demonstrated action. Henceforth, Abraham is the incontestable paradigm of the truly 'God-fearing' man, one who is wholehearted in his self-determined, disinterested, self-surrender to God's will. It is not important that the act was unfulfilled, for the value of the act may lie as much in the inward intention of the doer as in the final execution.” (Nahum Sarna)

I have often stated that we must love God before all others and all things, including our husband or wife, mother or father, son or daughter. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” (Deuteronomy 6:5) Abraham left no doubt whatsoever that he loved the Lord more than he loved his own son. “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it.” (Matthew 10:37-39) I praise the Lord that He does not require such extreme measures from us to prove our unmatched love for Him. But He still demands the foremost place of importance in our hearts.

“Then Abraham raised his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him a ram caught in the thicket by his horns.” (verse 13) It seems obvious to Abraham that this entangled animal is no mere coincidence, but a gift of providential replacement from the Lord, so the grateful father “offered him up for a burnt offering in the place of his son.” “ Abraham called the name of that place The Lord Will Provide...” “'Jehovah-jireh...' means 'The Lord will provide,' and has a double meaning: (1) that of providing a substitute for Isaac, and (2) that of providing a substitute for all people, upon Calvary.” (James Burton Coffman) The Lord will provide for and take care of any and all people that commit their lives to Him in loving, trusting, obedient faith!

Please read Genesis 22:15-19 for tomorrow.

Have a wonderful day!

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 22:1-8

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

“Now it came about after these things, that God tested Abraham, and said to him, 'Abraham!' And he said, 'Here I am.' He said, 'Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you.' So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him and Isaac his son; and he split wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. On the third day Abraham raised his eyes and saw the place from a distance. Abraham said to his young men, 'Stay here with the donkey, and I and the lad will go over there; and we will worship and return to you.' Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son, and he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So the two of them walked on together. Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, '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?' Abraham said, 'God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.' So the two of them walked on together.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“Now it came about after these things...” (verse 1) The text does not tell us how long after the events of chapter 21 that “God tested Abraham,” but Isaac is now strong enough to carry a load of wood a great distance and sufficiently mentally developed to hold an intelligent conversation with his father. The Bible teaches that God allows all of His people to undergo trials and tribulations in order to test the metal of their faith. “In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 1:6-7) Be that as it may, God has never put any other person to the test in such a demanding, disturbing, gut-wrenching way shy of Jesus Christ Himself!

“And he said, 'Here I am.'” (verse 1) Abraham was not merely responding to the Lord's calling by acknowledging that he was present and listening. When he replied to God's call by saying, “Here I am,” Abraham was standing at attention and expressing his desire to do the Lord's bidding, whatever it was that he may have been called upon to do. It is reminiscent of the great prophet Isaiah's response to the Lord's call in Isaiah 6:8. “Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, 'Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?' Then I said, 'Here am I. Send me!'' Abraham and later Isaiah were both called upon to perform very great and difficult tasks, but none more burdensome than that of the great patriarch.

“'Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering...” (verse 2) “The shocking intensity and impact of this divine command are seen in the cumulative effect of the designations for Isaac: 'thy son ... thine only son ... whom thou lovest ... even Isaac!' 'This is the first mention of love in the O.T.'... Oddly enough, the first mention of love in the N.T. ('This is my beloved Son …' Matthew 3:17) refers to Christ, of whom Isaac was a type.” (James Burton Coffman) According to 2 Chronicles 3:1, there was a Mount Moriah located in Jerusalem, the place where “Solomon began to build the house of the Lord.” The connections between Abraham offering up Isaac and the heavenly Father offering up His Son Jesus are many and profound and astonishing.

James Burton Coffman offered the following commentary on “Isaac as a Type of Christ: The birth of Isaac was supernatural, as was Christ's. Both were sons of 'promise.' Both were called 'the only begotten son.' Both carried the 'wood' up Calvary. Both Isaac and Jesus consented to suffer death. Both consented to be 'bound.' Both were laid 'upon the wood.' Both were 'offered' by their fathers. Both 'sacrifices' occurred on the same hill. Both were in the prime and vigor of life... Both were 'dead' three days and nights, Christ literally, Isaac in a figure. Both lived again after the 'offering,' Christ literally, Isaac 'in a figure.'” While it may be a stretch to maintain that Isaac was led up the exact same Hill of Calvary as Christ was, the fact that it is within the realm of possibility because it was located in the same vicinity is astonishing to think about.

“So Abraham rose early in the morning...” I could have probably thought of a million reasons to delay this trip and falter at this unimaginable test. But then again, there is a good reason (or several) why Almighty God chose Abraham to be the paragon of faith for all generations after him and forever more. When the Lord told Abraham to do something, He simply, promptly and completely obeyed. There have been many suggestions given as to why the Lord required this test at this time from this man. The two great obvious purposes were to demonstrate, through God's testing and Abraham's obedience, that the patriarch possessed the kind of humble, submissive and obedient faith that would qualify him to be man through whom God would implement His great scheme of redemption. And also to manifest by way of foreshadowing and prefigurement just how that great plan would finally be fulfilled through Abraham's physical and spiritual Seed, Jesus the Christ.

“We will worship and return to you.” (verse 5) “This is a classical definition of worship. Worship does not mean feelings of ecstasy, for Abraham's heart was breaking. Worship does not mean 'communion with God.' Worship is not some kind of a subjective attitude. Worship is DOING what God commands.” (James Burton Coffman)

“Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son...” (verse 6) “And laid it upon Isaac his son: who was a grown man, and able to carry it: in this also he was a type of Christ, on whom the wood of his cross was laid, and which he bore when he went to be crucified, John 19:17; and this wood may be also a figure of our sins laid on him by his Father, and which he bore in his body on the tree, 1 Peter 2:24; and which were like wood to fire, fuel for the wrath of God, which came down upon him for them.” (Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible)

“Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, 'My father!' And he said, 'Here I am, my son.'” (verse 7) How this father's heart must have come near unto bursting with grief and anguish at the trusting query of his beloved son, yet he answered his question resolutely. “Where is the lamb for the burnt offering?' Abraham said, 'God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.'” (verses 7-8) Did Abraham answer his son evasively believing that God had already provided the sacrifice in Isaac himself? That is a possibility since, 'He considered that God is able to raise people even from the dead, from which he also received him back as a type” (Hebrews 11:19).

But I believe it is more likely that he still held out great hope and trust in the Lord that He would provide a substitutionary sacrifice and spare his son's precious life and his own breaking heart. Once again, Abraham said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey, and I and the lad will go over there; and we will worship and return to you.” (verse 5) It seems to me that Abraham fully expected to return back to his servants with his son's life still fully within him, even though he was more than ready to do the unthinkable if God refused to change His mind. Either way it went, he trusted the Lord to do what was right and to keep all the promises He had made to him through the son of promise.

Please read Genesis 22:9-14 for tomorrow.

Have a joyful day!

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 21:27-34

Monday, December 23, 2019

“Abraham took sheep and oxen and gave them to Abimelech, and the two of them made a covenant. Then Abraham set seven ewe lambs of the flock by themselves. Abimelech said to Abraham, 'What do these seven ewe lambs mean, which you have set by themselves?' He said, 'You shall take these seven ewe lambs from my hand so that it may be a witness to me, that I dug this well.' Therefore he called that place Beersheba, because there the two of them took an oath. So they made a covenant at Beersheba; and Abimelech and Phicol, the commander of his army, arose and returned to the land of the Philistines. Abraham planted a tamarisk tree at Beersheba, and there he called on the name of the Lord, the Everlasting God. And Abraham sojourned in the land of the Philistines for many days.”

---End of Scripture verses---

Nahum Saran commented about the use symbolism contained in today's verses: “The narrative provides folk etymology for the name Beer-sheba and an explanation of its origin as a cult center in Israel.... Each of the names of the two principal characters, Abraham and Abilemech, occurs exactly seven times; there are seven ewe lambs; both the verb 'to swear' (vv. 23f.) and the name Beer-sheba contain the same Hebrew stem as the word for 'seven' (sh-v-').”

“Abraham took sheep and oxen and gave them to Abimelech, and the two of them made a covenant.” (verse 27) “In gratitude for former favours he had received from him, in token of the friendship that subsisted between them, and for the confirmation of it; and to show that he was fully satisfied with Abimelech's answer to his complaint...” (Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible) “If the animals given to Abimelech simply reciprocate the king's earlier gift to Abraham (20:14), then the absence of slaves is significant. The patriarch does not deal in this kind of human traffic. It is also possible that the beasts are part of the pact-making ceremony...” (Nahum Sarna)

“You shall take these seven ewe lambs from my hand so that it may be a witness to me, that I dug this well.” (verse 30) “The word in Hebrew for swearing is a passive verb, literally signifying 'to be sevened,' that is, done or confirmed by seven. In this ancient narrative we see a covenant actually thus made binding. Seven ewe lambs are picked out and placed by themselves, and by accepting these Abimelech bound himself to acknowledge and respect Abraham’s title to the well. Apparently this manner of ratifying an oath was unknown to the Philistines, as Abimelech asks, 'What mean these seven ewe lambs?'” (Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers) “Seven is the number of sanctity, and therefore of obligation.” (Barnes' Notes on the Bible)

“Therefore he called that place Beersheba, because there the two of them took an oath.” (verse 31) The name Beersheba means “the well of oath” or, alternately “the well of seven”. The very name (names) of the well signified the transaction that took place, the oath that was sworn, and the covenant that was entered into by both parties, and served as witness to Abraham's ownership of the well (wells). A similar pact will be entered into by Abraham's son, Isaac and Abilemech in Genesis 26:23-33.

“Abraham planted a tamarisk tree at Beersheba...” (verse 33) “A tall, shady tree that grows deep roots, requires little water, and is particularly suitable to the sandy soils of the northern Negeb area. We are not told why Abraham planted the tree. It may have been to memorialize the pact... More likely, it is linked to the act of worship. There is no suggestion that the place has any prior sanctity.” (Nahum Sarna)

“There he called on the name of the Lord, the Everlasting God.” (verse 33) “Heb., on the name of Jehovah, El ‘olam... In Genesis 14:22, Abraham claimed for Jehovah that he was El ‘elyon, the supreme God; in Genesis 17:1, Jehovah reveals Himself as El shaddai, the almighty God; and now Abraham claims for Him the attribute of eternity. As he advanced in holiness, Abraham also grew in knowledge of the manifold nature of the Deity, and we also more clearly understand why the Hebrews called God, not El, but Elohim. In the plural appellation all the Divine attributes were combined. El might be ‘elyon, or shaddai, or ‘olam; Elohim was all in one.” (Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers)

Please read Genesis 22:1-8 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed day!

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 21:22-26

Sunday, December 22, 2019

“Now it came about at that time that Abimelech and Phicol, the commander of his army, spoke to Abraham, saying, 'God is with you in all that you do; now therefore, swear to me here by God that you will not deal falsely with me or with my offspring or with my posterity, but according to the kindness that I have shown to you, you shall show to me and to the land in which you have sojourned.' Abraham said, 'I swear it.' But Abraham complained to Abimelech because of the well of water which the servants of Abimelech had seized. And Abimelech said, 'I do not know who has done this thing; you did not tell me, nor did I hear of it until today.'”

---End of Scripture verses---

“Abraham's encounter with Abimelech is reported with such an economy of detail that the background is obscure. Clearly it is told not for its own sake but for other reasons. It projects a fresh image of the patriarch. Now that his life's dream is fulfilled and his posterity assured, he possesses a new sense of confidence. No longer does he exhibit timidity and evasiveness in dealing with royalty; he negotiates as an equal. Moreover, Abraham reaches a new stage in relationship to the promised land. He makes his first acquisition—a well at Beer-sheba—and his rights are acknowledged and guaranteed by the king.” (Nahum Sarna)

“Abimelech and Phicol, the commander of his army, spoke to Abraham...” (verse 22) King Abimelech of Gerar brought his chief military commander and advisor with him to have an official consultation with Abraham in Beer-sheba. “Abraham's increasing power and prosperity had evidently raised a certain fear in the mind of Abimelech that future conflict might develop between them. Therefore Abimelech sought by honorable and peaceful means to guard against any such possibilities.” (James Burton Coffman). “God is with you in all that you do.” Abimelech astutely comprehended that any dispute between Abraham and himself would actually be a conflict with God Almighty, and he wanted no part of that.

“Swear to me here by God that you will not deal falsely with me...” (verse 23) Abraham had previously “dealt falsely” with Abimelech when he had given his wife into the king's harem claiming that she was his sister. “You have brought on me and on my kingdom a great sin... You have done to me things that ought not to be done.” (Genesis 20:9) But Abimelech was seeking more than just future truthfulness from the powerful patriarch. He sought a mutual, nonaggression pact—that Abraham and his posterity would live peaceably among the people of Abimelech's realm and not initiate any form of conflict or military offensive. He requested that Abraham swear to him by God: “By the true and living God, by whom only an oath is to be taken, who was Abraham's God, and whom Abimelech seems to have known and to have been a worshipper of; and therefore moves for an oath to be taken by him, which he knew would be sacred and binding to Abraham...” (Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible)

“Abraham said, 'I swear it.'” “Abraham promptly took the requested oath, remembering, no doubt, that Abimelech had indeed granted manifold favors to him, including the rich gifts upon the occasion of his intended marriage to Sarah. Abraham seized upon the occasion to resolve a conflict over possession of a well which had been claimed by some of Abimelech's servants.” (James Burton Coffman) “Abraham complained to Abimelech because of the well of water which the servants of Abimelech had seized.” (verse 25) This was the perfect occasion to address and rectify his issue with the aggression of Abilemech's servants in “seizing” the well that Abraham himself had dug (verse 30) Wells were enormously valuable to the inhabitants of arid lands, and especially the possessors of considerable herds and flocks. If Abimelech was serious about keeping his end of the nonaggression pact than he would promptly deal with the conflict over the proper ownership of this well or series of wells.

“I do not know who has done this thing; you did not tell me, nor did I hear of it until today.” (verse 26) Abimelech claimed ignorance of Abraham's current crisis, and there is no good reason to doubt his sincerity. He didn't even know who the perpetrators were, therefore he could not be expected to confront them. Furthermore, the patriarch had not previously informed him of this dilemma so this was the first he had ever heard of it. He suggested that the complaint was invalid and turned it around on him by maintaining that Abraham was actually at fault for not telling him sooner. I can't help but admire this Philistine king for his keen sense of logic, wisdom and shrewdness in negotiations. In his encounters with Abraham he taught him the value of honesty, directness and promptness. Lessons that are valuable for all of us to learn!

Please read Genesis 21:27-34 for tomorrow.

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 21:15-21

Saturday, December 21, 2019

“When the water in the skin was used up, she left the boy under one of the bushes. Then she went and sat down opposite him, about a bowshot away, for she said, ‘Do not let me see the boy die.’ And she sat opposite him, and lifted up her voice and wept. God heard the lad crying; and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, ‘What is the matter with you, Hagar? Do not fear, for God has heard the voice of the lad where he is. Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him by the hand, for I will make a great nation of him.’ Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water; and she went and filled the skin with water and gave the lad a drink. God was with the lad, and he grew; and he lived in the wilderness and became an archer. He lived in the wilderness of Paran, and his mother took a wife for him from the land of Egypt.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“When the water in the skin was used up…” (verse 15) Had Hagar not lost her way and wandered around aimlessly in the wilderness, she would not have exhausted her provisions. But as it was, she felt like she and her son were dying from thirst, and she had given up all hope. “She left the boy under one of the bushes.” “The act was one of despair. Ishmael, though seventeen years of age, had not yet come to his strength, and at a time when human life was so prolonged that forty was the usual age for marriage, was probably not as capable of bearing fatigue as a young man nearly grown up would be in our days. He thus became exhausted, and apparently fainted; and his mother, after trying in vain to support him, cast him down in anguish, and abandoned herself to her grief.” (Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers)

“Then she went and sat down opposite him, about a bowshot away…” “About as far off from him as an arrow can be shot, or is usually shot out of a bow; according to the Jews this was about half a mile, for they say two bowshots make a mile; here she sat waiting what would be the issue, whether life or death, which last she expected.” (Gill’s Exposition of the entire Bible) Hagar’s strength had held out longer than Ishmael’s, and the distraught mother simply could not bear to watch her young son die. “Do not let me see the boy die.” It seems obvious that Hagar was not simply speaking her words into the air but was pleading with the Lord to save her boy’s life. “And she sat opposite him, and lifted up her voice and wept.” In her grief-stricken despair, Hagar lifted up her voice in loud lamentation.

“God heard the lad crying…” (verse 17) It was not Hagar’s intense mourning that grabbed the Lord’s attention but Ishmael’s pitiable puling. “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:18) The Lord had mercy on the pathetic cries and the deplorable condition of these two exiles. And God undoubtedly interceded as much for righteous Abraham’s sake as He did for their own, and heard his intercessory pleas as the patriarch prayed for the safety of his loved ones night and day. “The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous and His ears are open to their cry. The face of the Lord is against evildoers, to cut off the memory of them from the earth. The righteous cry, and the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.” (Psalm 34:15-17)

“The angel of God called to Hagar from heaven…” (verse 17) “Both the sons of Abraham are saved at a critical moment by an angelic 'voice from heaven' (cf. 22:11) Nahum Sarna) “What is the matter with you, Hagar?” These were meant to be words of comfort and not a query about her condition, about which the angel of the Lord knew far too well. “Do not fear, for God has heard the voice of the lad where he is.” “The voice God heard was that of the lad. He had pity on the anguish, and gave ear to the cry, of the child. Once more we have a play upon the name of Ishmael with its meaning of ‘God heareth.’ Cf. Genesis 16:11.” (Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges)

“Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him by the hand…” (verse 18) “As Jerome remarks, the boy thus going hand in hand with his mother must have been her companion in her journey, and not a burden upon her shoulder. We must add that the words do not refer to what she was to do immediately, but to the future. She was not simply to lead him to the water, but to be his brave and faithful protector, such as we learn that she really became.” (Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers) “for I will make a great nation of him.” “Which is a renewal of a promise before made both to her and to Abraham, Genesis 16:10: and by this Hagar is assured that he would recover and live, and become a man and the father of children, who in time would become a great nation… this shows that the Angel of God here speaking is God himself...since none but he could make him a great nation.” (Gill’s Exposition of the entire Bible)

“Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water; and she went and filled the skin with water and gave the lad a drink.” (verse 19) Sometimes the best place to hide something from me is to place it right before my eyes. Hagar was finally made aware of that which she had not previously been able to see. So often when we are frantically searching for something dear to us, we do not realize that it has always been near to us. This is especially true in the spiritual realm: “And He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children.’” (Acts 17:26-29)

"He lived in the wilderness and became an archer." (verse 20) “The tradition that the Ishmaelites were professional marksmen is preserved in Isaiah 21:17, which speaks of the bows of Kedar’s warriors. Kedar is a son of Ishmael in the list of Genesis 25:13.” (Nahum Sarna) "His mother took a wife for him from the land of Egypt." (verse 21) "On a father's death, the mother looks out for a wife for her son, however young; and as Ishmael was now virtually deprived of his father, his mother set about forming a marriage connection for him, it would seem, among her relatives." (Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary)

Please read Genesis 21:22-26 for tomorrow.

Have a great day!

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 21:8-14

Friday, December 20, 2019

“The child grew and was weaned, and Abraham made a great feast on the day that Isaac was weaned. 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.’ The matter distressed Abraham greatly because of his son. But God said to Abraham, ‘Do not be distressed because of the lad and your maid; whatever Sarah tells you, listen to her, for through Isaac your descendants shall be named. And of the son of the maid I will make a nation also, because he is your descendant.’ So Abraham rose early in the morning and took bread and a skin of water and gave them to Hagar, putting them on her shoulder, and gave her the boy, and sent her away. And she departed and wandered about in the wilderness of Beersheba.’”

---End of Scripture verses---

“The child grew and was weaned, and Abraham made a great feast on the day that Isaac was weaned.” (verse 8) “The age at which infants are weaned varies in different societies. In Egypt and Assyria breast-feeding often lasted three years; similarly in Israel, at least in Second Temple times (2 Macc. 7:27)… Weaning marked the completion of the first significant stage in the life cycle of the infant and was therefore a festive occasion.” (Nahum Sarna) Unfortunately the festivities were short-lived and family strife reared its ugly head. Skirmishes among siblings is as old as humanity (consider Cain and Able), but when you throw polygamy and children from different mothers living in the same household into the mix, conflicts have a tendency to go nuclear. “Abraham and Sarah were then reaping the bitterness created by themselves when they chose to introduce a slave girl into Abraham's bedchamber as his wife.” (James Burton Coffman)

“Now Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, mocking.” (verse 9) Sometime after the weaning of Isaac, Sarah saw the teenage son of her servant and rival taunting her young son of promise. If this event occurred shortly on the heels of the preceding recorded events, Ishmael would have been about seventeen years old and Isaac around three. It may seem like an overreaction when Sarah said to Abraham, “Drive out this maid and her son” (verse 10), but she was completely justified and well within her rights and responsibilities to do so. Galatians 4:28 tells us that this was not merely child’s play or typical masculine behavior. The Apostle Paul wrote, “at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit.” Even though we are not given the details, Ishmael’s behavior was nothing short of persecution and abuse. And that from a nearly grown man against an innocent, helpless three-year-old. Maybe Ishmael was insanely jealous because his younger half-brother was getting loads of attention with the celebration associated with his weaning.

“The son of this maid shall not be an heir with my son Isaac.” (verse 10) This hits at the heart of the issue. Ishmael was Abraham’s firstborn son and considerably older than Isaac and he likely felt entitled to the place of preeminence in the family and the lion’s share of the inheritance. And his mother, Hagar, no doubt was instrumental in this fueling mentality. “The situation was absolutely impossible. Under the laws of the times, Ishmael was indeed an heir of Abraham, and, although he was not on a parity with Isaac, due to the secondary status of his mother, he would nevertheless have been one of the heirs. However, ‘There was a legal tradition that stipulated that a son of a slave woman could forego his inheritance claim in exchange for freedom,’ and that was exactly the option that Sarah determined to force upon Hagar and Ishmael.” (James Burton Coffman)

“The matter distressed Abraham greatly because of his son.” (verse 11) Abraham loved his son Isaac dearly, so it was understandable that Sarah’s demands greatly disturbed him. But the Lord intervened for Sarah and Isaac, and set Abraham’s heart at ease. “God said to Abraham, ‘Do not be distressed because of the lad and your maid; whatever Sarah tells you, listen to her…” (verse 12) “He gives his consent reluctantly and only at the behest of God. Abraham’s action is warranted only because of God’s extraordinary intervention for his own historical purposes; otherwise, it would be immoral… God prompts Abraham to agree. The Narrator feels it necessary for God to justify His actions so as to remove any suggestion of moral taint. He does so on two grounds: The line of Abraham is to be continued solely through Isaac; Hagar and her son will not be left to an uncertain fate in the wilderness, for a great future awaits Ishmael. There is a delicate shift here from Sarah’s motivation to God’s. Her sole interest is to safeguard her son’s inheritance. God is concerned with the question of posterity and His ultimate purposes.” (Nahum Sarna)

“Through Isaac your descendants shall be named.” (verse 12) The King James Version says, “in Isaac shall thy seed be called.” James Burton Coffman wrote the following about this statement:

“There are no less than five definite meanings of this term in the Bible:

I. ‘In Isaac shall thy seed be called’ (Genesis 21:12), is a reference to the select Hebrew line, through whom the Messiah would be born, and it did not include Ishmael.

II. ‘I will make (Ishmael) a nation, because he is thy seed,’ stands for the fleshly posterity of Abraham as distinguished from the line of Isaac.

III. Also, there are those among the true line of Isaac who were distinguished from the racial Jews of both the lines of Isaac and Ishmael, because they were persons of like faith and purpose of Abraham. In this sense, Zacchaeus was called by Jesus, ‘a son of Abraham,’ (Luke 19:9); but the Pharisees, of exactly the same racial extract, were called ‘sons of the devil’ (John 8:44).

IV. In the specific and ultimate sense, Christ is the ‘Seed Singular’ of Abraham, being called THE SON OF ABRAHAM in the first verse of the N.T. That this meaning is the true one in certain O.T. passages is evident from Paul's words: ‘Now to Abraham were the promises spoken, and to his seed. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, and to thy seed, which is Christ’ (Galatians 3:16).

V. But there is even a more general meaning, having no racial overtones whatever. ‘And if ye are Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, heirs according to the promise’ (Galatians 3:29).”

“Abraham rose early in the morning…” (verse 14) It may seem that the great patriarch was anxious to carry out the task of sending his son and “wife” away, but this was just Abraham’s way. He “arose early in the morning” with the same sense of vigor and prompt obedience to God and His commands, when he prepared to do the unthinkable and offer Isaac on the altar of sacrifice (Genesis 22:3). But he most definitely prepared to carry out both difficult burdens with a heavy heart. “And took bread and a skin of water and gave them to Hagar…” (verse 14). This does not imply a bare minimum of provisions, but enough to eat and drink to nourish Hagar and Ishmael until they arrived safely at their destination, and not so much as to weigh them down and impede their progress.

“And she departed and wandered about in the wilderness of Beersheba.” (verse 14) “This was southward from the home of Abraham in the direction of Egypt, which had been Hagar's home before Pharaoh had given her to Abraham. It was only natural that she should have attempted to go back home. One has to be without pity to view the narrative here without sorrow and concern for this woman and her son so suddenly thrust out of the affluent circumstances to which they were accustomed.” (James Burton Coffman) Somewhere along the journey to Egypt they must have lost their way in “the wilderness” and ended up “wandering about” aimlessly. But Hagar and Ishmael’s expulsion and misadventure led to a life-changing, redemptive and empowering encounter with God himself!

Please read Genesis 21:15-21 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed day!

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 21:1-7

Thursday, December 19, 2019

“Then the Lord took note of Sarah as He had said, and the Lord did for Sarah as He had promised. So Sarah conceived and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the appointed time of which God had spoken to him. Abraham called the name of his son who was born to him, whom Sarah bore to him, Isaac. Then Abraham circumcised his son Isaac when he was eight days old, as God had commanded him. Now Abraham was one hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him. Sarah said, ‘God has made laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh with me.’ And she said, ‘Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.’”

---End of Scripture verses---

“Then the Lord took note of Sarah as He had said, and the Lord did for Sarah as He had promised.” (verse 1) When the Lord says He is going to do something, He always does it. When the Lord makes a promise, He always keeps it. It had been 25 years since God’s initial promise to Sarah and Abraham to bless them with posterity (Genesis 12:2; 15:4), and one year since God had specifically told Sarah she would conceive and bear a child (Genesis 18:10, 14). But the Lord had not forgotten about Sarah, even though it must have seemed to her like He had. God “took note” of Sarah as He would Hannah much later (1 Samuel 2:21), and “did for” her “as He had promised.” Abraham and Sarah grew discouraged and impatient and made several missteps and poor decisions in the interim, but that did not deter the Lord from making good on His promises. “For as many as are the promises of God, in Him they are yes; therefore also through Him is our Amen to the glory of God through us.” (2 Corinthians 1:20) “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.” (Hebrews 10:23) For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.” (Hebrews 10:36)

“For when God made the promise to Abraham, since He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself, saying, ‘I will surely bless you and I will surely multiply you.’ And so, having patiently waited, he obtained the promise. For men swear by one greater than themselves, and with them an oath given as confirmation is an end of every dispute. In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.” (Hebrews 6:13-20)

“Abraham called the name of his son… Isaac.” (verse 3) “‘Isaac ...’ means laughter, memorializing Sarah's laughing incredulity at the time of God's promise, and also, in a wider context, appropriately referring to the joy that would come to all people through that ‘Seed singular,’ who in the fullness of time would be delivered through the posterity of the same Isaac. (James Burton Coffman) “Sarah said, ‘God has made laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh with me.” (verse 6) Many hearts rejoice with the mother who, after long years of yearning for and discouragement over not having a child, finally announces, “I’m pregnant!” We weep with them when they weep and we rejoice when they rejoice (Romans 12:15). Many burst into joyous laughter with Sarah at the announcement and arrival of her son, and we all rejoice with her still today because of Isaac’s descendant, the Son of God, through whom He blessed “all the families of the earth” (Genesis 12:3)

“Then Abraham circumcised his son Isaac when he was eight days old, as God had commanded him.” (verse 4) The Lord had commanded Abraham, “every male among you who is eight days old shall be circumcised throughout your generations” (Genesis 17:12), and so, Abraham obeyed the Lord at His word. Of course, in our covenant with God through Christ Jesus, “circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but what matters is the keeping of the commandments of God.” (1 Corinthians 7:19) So, obviously, circumcision is not a covenant commandment for the Lord’s people today. Having said that, circumcision did not suddenly become a bad thing at the dawning of the current era in Christ, and it is still a tradition that has strong ties back to our spiritual moorings and, I believe, should not be easily abandoned.

“Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children?” (verse 7) “Sarah's speaking of Isaac here as ‘children’ is significant. Willis was doubtless correct in the observation that, ‘Passages such as this show that a man with one child is suitable to serve as an elder, if his spiritual qualities are on a high godly plane (1 Timothy 3:4; Titus 1:6).’” (James Burton Coffman)

“Now Abraham was one hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him.” (verse 5) He was truly a man “in his old age” (verse 8). “By faith even Sarah herself received ability to conceive, even beyond the proper time of life, since she considered Him faithful who had promised. Therefore there was born even of one man, and him as good as dead at that, as many descendants as the stars of heaven in number, and innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore.” (Hebrews 11:11-12) From all human appearances, Abraham was about as likely to have a son that late in life as a dead man would have been. But, let the immortal words of Jesus never be forgotten: ““With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26)

Please read Genesis 21:8-14 for tomorrow.

Have a great day!

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 20:14-18

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

“Abimelech then took sheep and oxen and male and female servants, and gave them to Abraham, and restored his wife Sarah to him. Abimelech said, ‘Behold, my land is before you; settle wherever you please.’ To Sarah he said, ‘Behold, I have given your brother a thousand pieces of silver; behold, it is your vindication before all who are with you, and before all men you are cleared.’ Abraham prayed to God, and God healed Abimelech and his wife and his maids, so that they bore children. For the Lord had closed fast all the wombs of the household of Abimelech because of Sarah, Abraham’s wife.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“Abimelech then took sheep and oxen and male and female servants, and gave them to Abraham…” (verse 14) Even though Abimelech maintained his integrity and innocence in the matter (verse 6), and the Lord acknowledged his integrity as well, Abraham still received compensation as the injured party. But then again, Abimelech was in no position to protest about his predicament, and it was obvious that Abraham and his wife/sister were both highly esteemed and cherished by the Almighty God of heaven. So the reeling monarch lavished gifts upon the great patriarch as an honored guest and “restored his wife Sarah to him,” while simultaneously venerating the Lord who protected them.

“Behold, my land is before you; settle wherever you please.” (verse 15) Consider how differently Abimelech treated Abraham as compared to Pharaoh in the very same situation. Pharaoh gave Abraham gifts in return for Sarah’s hand (Genesis 12:16), while Abimelech gave the patriarch presents upon returning her to her rightful place. Abimelech allowed Abraham and his family to live safely in his kingdom as a citizen in good standing, saying, “Behold, my land is before you; settle wherever you please.” While Pharaoh chastised Abraham and summarily dismissed him saying: “‘Why did you say, “She is my sister,” so that I took her for my wife? Now then, here is your wife, take her and go.’ Pharaoh commanded his men concerning him; and they escorted him away…” (Genesis 12:19-20) I can certainly understand Pharaoh’s vexation, but he did not express proper submissiveness and reverence to God as Abimelech did when he honored and blessed the people who the Lord obviously esteemed and supported. It seems obvious that Abimelech feared God Almighty and Pharaoh did not.

“To Sarah he said, ‘Behold, I have given your brother a thousand pieces of silver…” (verse 16) Abimelech either called Abraham Sarah’s “brother” as a bit of a sarcastic barb, or maybe as a backhanded attempt to maintain his innocence as one who had been deceived. There is no way to determine the current value of the silver given, but it was no doubt a handsome sum. “It is your vindication…” (verse 16) “Hebrew kesut ‘einayim, literally ‘a covering of eyes,’ is a unique phrase of uncertain meaning. Taken literally, it could be a recommendation that in the future Sarah should not appear in public with uncovered face so that her beauty will not be a temptation to men. Interpreted figuratively, the phrase tells us that the payment is a recognition that Sarah’s honor was not violated, and so the eyes of others are henceforth closed to what has occurred and she will not be an object of scorn.” (Nahum Sarna)

“Abraham prayed to God, and God healed Abimelech and his wife and his maids, so that they bore children.” (verse 17) Abimelech, no doubt, had besought Abraham to pray for him as the Lord had revealed must take place in his divinely induced dream (verse 7). “For the Lord had closed fast all the wombs of the household of Abimelech…” God had likely stricken Abimelech and his harem with an ailment of the reproductive organs. Maybe this was how the Lord had prevented Abimelech from “touching” Sarah (verse 6). The Lord had afflicted “Abimelech because of Sarah,” in order to protect her and the promised, sacred seed that would come forth from her blessed womb.

One practical lesson we can learn from this whole sad affair is how to properly deal with a situation gone awry, whether by our own making or caused by someone else. Abraham assumed that the people of Gerar were godless lowlifes who would kill him and take his wife, so he used deception to fend off a potential threat. It turns out that he was greatly mistaken in this regard. When he realized his mistake (sin) he did right by the people that he sinned against. Abimelech found himself in a perilous predicament that, for the most part, was not his fault. When he learned that he had greatly displeased the Lord God Almighty, he committed straight away to setting things right. He defended himself to be certain, but he did so in a dignified way, and then treated the people who defrauded him with respect and kindness. More importantly, he never blamed God for his dilemma and showed Him honor and reverence by humbly obeying Him at His word. Sometimes we can learn a great deal from people we would least expect to. Sometimes we can learn how not to behave from the poor examples of even the heroes of our faith.

Please read Genesis 21:1-7 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed day!

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 20:8-13

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

“So Abimelech arose early in the morning and called all his servants and told all these things in their hearing; and the men were greatly frightened. Then Abimelech called Abraham and said to him, ‘What have you done to us? And how have I sinned against you, that you have brought on me and on my kingdom a great sin? You have done to me things that ought not to be done.’ And Abimelech said to Abraham, ‘What have you encountered, that you have done this thing?’ Abraham said, ‘Because I thought, surely there is no fear of God in this place, and they will kill me because of my wife. Besides, she actually is my sister, the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother, and she became my wife; and it came about, when God caused me to wander from my father’s house, that I said to her, “This is the kindness which you will show to me: everywhere we go, say of me, ‘He is my brother.’”’”

---End of Scripture verses---

“So Abimelech arose early in the morning…” (verse 8) We’ve all likely had nightmares that woke us up early and would not permit us to get back to sleep easily. When the terror-stricken king awoke from his dream, that was no mere dream but a direct, divine revelation from Almighty God, he jumped right out of bed and got busy. He “called all his servants” together “and told all the things” that had happened and that the Lord had told him would happen if things were not swiftly rectified. Understandably “the men were greatly frightened” at the prospect of an angry God with the power to close women’s wombs (verses 17-18), to kill the king and his family (verse 7), and even destroy their entire nation as He had done to Sodom and Gomorrah and the other cities of the plain!

“What have you done to us? And how have I sinned against you, that you have brought on me and on my kingdom a great sin?” (verse 9) “Literally, ‘a great sin,’ a phrase that reflects ancient Near Eastern legal terminology found in Akkadian documents from Ugarit and in Egyptian marriage contracts. The ‘great sin’ is adultery. All four other biblical occurrences of the term appear in reference to idolatry (Exod. 32:21,30f; 2 Kings 17:21), for which the text often uses the metaphor of marital infidelity.” (Nahum Sarna) It is disgraceful that a heathen king exhibited higher moral standards than the paragon of biblical faith, at least in this instance. Even king Abimelech, who Abraham feared would have him murdered in order to “legally and morally” take his wife, understood that Abraham did “things that ought not to be done.”

“‘What have you encountered, that you have done this thing?” (verse 10) Abimelech wanted to know exactly what led Abraham to believe that he needed to do such a despicable thing in order to find peace and safety within the boundaries of his dominion. “The meaning of this is ambiguous and uncertain. Unger thought he meant, ‘Did you see any of my people committing adultery or murder?’ Speiser translated it, ‘What did you ... (fore)see?’ and gave the meaning as, ‘What ... was your purpose?’” (James Burton Coffman) In our English vernacular Abimelech was essentially asking, “Abraham, what were you thinking?!”

“Because I thought, surely there is no fear of God in this place, and they will kill me because of my wife.” (verse 11) In short, Abraham was scared. I can’t think of any factor other than raw lust that can provoke us to commit sin like fear can. You would think that the fear of God would be a stronger motivation to avoid sin and God’s righteous wrath for the Lord’s people. But, unfortunately, during moments of distress and anxiety, we often have a hard time seeing past the here and now. “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.” (Matthew 10:28-31)

“Besides, she actually is my sister…” (verse 12) Abraham had a built-in loophole that he often used to his advantage, even though it was only a half-truth spoken with the clear intention to deceive. “Everywhere we go, say of me, ‘He is my brother.’” (verse 13) It seems obvious from this statement that Abraham and Sarah told this “technical truth” on more occasions than two. “It was a habit of long standing, doubtless practiced over and over again throughout many years, and the indication in this is that Abraham was merely pleading that, ‘I, or we, always do this when we are traveling in strange territory.’ Inherent in such an admission is that Abraham had totally failed to learn the lesson he should have learned on that other occasion in Egypt when such a habit had involved him in serious trouble.” (James Burton Coffman)

Never justify doing or saying something with underhanded motives just because it might be “technically” true. You will never fool God or win His favor by a sly technicality. “O Lord, who may abide in Your tent? Who may dwell on Your holy hill? He who walks with integrity, and works righteousness, and speaks truth in his heart. He does not slander with his tongue, nor does evil to his neighbor, nor takes up a reproach against his friend; in whose eyes a reprobate is despised, but who honors those who fear the Lord; he swears to his own hurt and does not change.” (Psalm 15:1-4)

Please read Genesis 20:14-18 for tomorrow.

Have a great day!

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 20:1-7

Monday, December 16, 2019

“Now Abraham journeyed from there toward the land of the Negev, and settled between Kadesh and Shur; then he sojourned in Gerar. Abraham said of Sarah his wife, ‘She is my sister.’ So Abimelech king of Gerar sent and took Sarah. But God came to Abimelech in a dream of the night, and said to him, ‘Behold, you are a dead man because of the woman whom you have taken, for she is married.’ Now Abimelech had not come near her; and he said, “Lord, will You slay a nation, even though blameless? Did he not himself say to me, ‘She is my sister’? And she herself said, ‘He is my brother.’ In the integrity of my heart and the innocence of my hands I have done this.’ Then God said to him in the dream, ‘Yes, I know that in the integrity of your heart you have done this, and I also kept you from sinning against Me; therefore I did not let you touch her. Now therefore, restore the man’s wife, for he is a prophet, and he will pray for you and you will live. But if you do not restore her, know that you shall surely die, you and all who are yours.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“Now Abraham journeyed from there…” (verse 1) The text does not tell us why Abraham chose to depart from his encampment at Hebron near the oaks of Mamre (Genesis 18:1). But he journeyed “toward the land of the Negev,” that is to say, the southland, to the southernmost reaches of Canaan in the vicinity of Beersheba, “and settled between Kadesh and Shur,” near the border of Egypt. “Then he journeyed” back northward into the Philistine land of “Gerar.”

“Abraham said of Sarah his wife, ‘She is my sister.’” (verse 2) For all of Abraham’s godliness and righteousness, he still was a flawed human being like we all are. Like his nephew Lot, he was driven by fear into self-preservation mode, at least while outside the confines of the Promised Land. Just as he had done with Pharaoh in Egypt (chapter 12), Abraham lied to Abimelech to save his own hide instead of just trusting in God to deliver on His promises. “The story is strongly reminiscent of the couple’s earlier encounter with Pharaoh in Egypt. Here it serves to complete a literary framework. The first kidnapping of Sarah occurred after receiving the initial divine promise of posterity. The second takes place after the last such promise.” (Nahum Sarna)

“So Abimelech king of Gerar sent and took Sarah.” (verse 2) It is amazing to think that Sarah was now nearly 90 years old and monarchs still desired to take her into their harems! Some have opined that Sarah had long outlived her beauty at this point in her life, and that this arrangement was entered into by Abimelech purely for political benefits of aligning himself with an influential person such as Abraham. I personally believe that since the Lord had to intervene to not allow the king to “touch her” (verse 6) that strongly suggests she was still a very beautiful woman to behold. Just like two plus decades earlier in Egypt, Abraham likely feared that he would be killed if anyone knew that Sarah was his wife, and she would be taken because she was “a beautiful woman” (Genesis 12:12-13) Besides, Abraham told Abimelech the reason for his “half-truth” was “because I thought, surely there is no fear of God in this place, and they will kill me because of my wife.(verse 11)

“'Abimelech'…was a common Philistine designation, having significance, not as a personal name, but as a title used by Philistine kings. Incidentally, there are three ancient kingly titles that all have the same meaning: Abimelech, meaning 'Father-king,' (Philistine), Padi-shah, meaning 'Father-king,' (Persian), Pharaoh, meaning 'Father-king,' (Egyptian)." (James Burton Coffman)

“The chapter as a whole is closely connected with the preceding…the maltreatment of the alien, characteristic of the Sodomites, is feared to prevail at Gerar as well; the willingness to trade a close female relative in desperate bid for physical safety is a motif common to both stories; the questioning of the nature of divine justice is the theme of Abimelech’s dialogue with God as it was with Abraham’s. And, just as Lot was saved by the merit of Abraham, so is the king of Gerar. The Patriarch plays the role of intercessor in both narratives.” (Nahum Sarna)

“But God came to Abimelech in a dream of the night...” (verse 3) Sometimes our dreams can really deceive us. They can seem so realistic and often either very thrilling or extremely disturbing, and only upon awakening do we come to realize that it was only a dream and nothing more. I can't tell you how many times I've had horribly upsetting dreams and was so very relieved to wake up and discover that none of it had actually happened! But it was obvious to Abimelech that this dream was genuine, direct communication from Almighty God and not merely another upsetting dream disturbing his mind and his sleep.

“Behold, you are a dead man because of the woman whom you have taken...” Verse 17 says that “God healed Abimelech” because of Abraham's intercessory prayers on his behalf. It may be, then, that the Lord had already stricken him with some deadly plague or disease that made him “as good as dead” already. Or Abimelech was only “a dead man” if he laid a hand on Sarah, and whatever the Lord had stricken the king and his household with only affected their ability for bearing children (verses 17-18).

“For she is married.” (verse 3) Notice now, Abimelech was near unto “sinning against” God (verse 6) and a “dead man” because Sarah was married. Not just because she was married to Abraham. Not just because God would soon bless Abraham and Sarah with the child of promise. Not just because it would be through Sarah that the Lord would bless the whole world through Abraham's Seed, Jesus the Christ. The Lord was appalled at the prospect of another man taking Sarah as his wife because she was married! Period! If only the Lord's people could understand how holy and sacred He has made this sacred covenant and the sanctity that He has placed upon that holy bonds of marriage! “So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate” (Matthew 19:6) Or violate! Or invalidate (sabotage, undermine)!

“Lord, will You slay a nation, even though blameless?” (verse 4) As Abraham had done before the destruction of Sodom, Abilelech called into question the justice of the Lord. He feared for the welfare of his whole nation if the royal family suffered an untimely doom. “He probably referred to the late destruction of Sodom and the cities of the plain, which, no doubt, must have caused great consternation, if not also some degree of reformation, in that neighbourhood. As Abimelech’s plea was not rejected by the Lord, there is reason to hope that both he and his subjects were not only free from the abominations of Sodom, and from the reigning idolatries of Canaan, but that the fear of God, and some remains of true religion, were found among them.” (Benson's Commentary)

“In the integrity of my heart and the innocence of my hands I have done this.” (verse 5) Abimelech's defense was that Abraham had deceived him into believing that Sarah was only his sister, and that he had not touched her in any manner that might be construed as sinful. The Lord informed the frightened, affected, defensive petitioner that He actually prevented that from happening. “I also kept you from sinning against Me; therefore I did not let you touch her.” (verse 6) Friends, when we mistreat, coerce, deceive or exploit another human being, we actually sin against the Lord himself. He takes a thing like that very personally!

“Now therefore, restore the man’s wife...” (verse 7) The proof of Abimelech's “integrity” and “innocence” would be positively demonstrated by returning Abraham's wife to him promptly and unscathed. The remedy for his household's afflictions would not only be to “restore the man's wife,” but also to have Abraham “pray for” him. “The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” (James 5:16) Abraham was not a perfect man, he sometimes demonstrated himself to be a weak and misguided and fearful man. But in God's eyes he was still a righteous man because he lived his life in accordance with the Lord's desires and directives in trusting, loving, obedient faith.

“For he is a prophet...” (verse 7) “Hebrew navi' is used here in the Bible for the first time... The form navi' in Hebrew could either signify 'one who receives the (divine) call;' or 'one who proclaims,' a 'spokesman.' The last meaning is favored by such texts as Exodus 4:15f. And 7:1, and generally by the prophetic role as described in the Bible. The prophet is the spokesman for God to man; but intercession before God in favor of man is also an indispensable aspect of his function. Moses frequently acts in this capacity, and so do Samuel, Amos, and Jeremiah. It is primarily in this sense that Abraham is here designated 'a prophet' (cf. Pss. 105:15). He has already demonstrated his intercessory role in the case of Sodom. In addition, like the later prophets, he has been made privy to God's purposes (18:17ff.; cf. Amos 3:7).

Please read Genesis 20:8-13 for tomorrow.

Have a great day!

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 19:30-38

Sunday, December 15, 2019

“Lot went up from Zoar, and stayed in the mountains, and his two daughters with him; for he was afraid to stay in Zoar; and he stayed in a cave, he and his two daughters. Then the firstborn said to the younger, ‘Our father is old, and there is not a man on earth to come in to us after the manner of the earth. Come, let us make our father drink wine, and let us lie with him that we may preserve our family through our father.’ So they made their father drink wine that night, and the firstborn went in and lay with her father; and he did not know when she lay down or when she arose. On the following day, the firstborn said to the younger, ‘Behold, I lay last night with my father; let us make him drink wine tonight also; then you go in and lie with him, that we may preserve our family through our father.’ So they made their father drink wine that night also, and the younger arose and lay with him; and he did not know when she lay down or when she arose. Thus both the daughters of Lot were with child by their father. The firstborn bore a son, and called his name Moab; he is the father of the Moabites to this day. As for the younger, she also bore a son, and called his name Ben-ammi; he is the father of the sons of Ammon to this day.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“Lot went up from Zoar, and stayed in the mountains, and his two daughters with him; for he was afraid to stay in Zoar…” (verse 30) At first Lot didn’t want to go into the mountains of Moab because it was too difficult and he was afraid he would not make it (verse 19). In this verse he was afraid to stay in Zoar so he went up into the mountains of Moab. Lot seems to be a person who was very much driven by fear, and that is understandable given the extreme trauma he had recently experienced and all the loss he was forced to endure. “He stayed in a cave, he and his two daughters.” Since he had very recently become a widower, it was just him and his two girls roughing it in a cave. You can’t help but fill pity for the poor fellow and his daughters.

“There is not a man on earth…” (verse 31) “Their notion that not a man on the earth was left was unjustified. They had only recently left the populous city of Zoar; and their allegation that their father only, of all the men on earth, was left had no foundation in fact and appears here more as an excuse for what they wanted to do than as any heroic deed on their part to preserve humanity… This tragic, pitiful episode stands here as awesome proof that Lot and his family had been in Sodom too long. They had indeed been delivered OUT OF Sodom, but Sodom was still IN them to a certain degree.” (James Burton Coffman)

“Come, let us make our father drink wine, and let us lie with him…” It is obvious that Lot’s daughters knew this was a sinful thing to do because they knew their father would never have willing gone along with it if he were sober. And I wonder where they got the wine from. They had recently fled for their lives from the destruction of Sodom to the city of Zoar, and then from Zoar to the mountains of Moab. If they took it with them from Zoar, it makes you wonder if they had this episode planned out from the start. Or maybe Lot and/or his daughters really liked their wine and didn’t want to leave home without it. Either way you look at it, this is just further proof (if we really need any more) that no good thing comes from drinking alcohol, and when intoxicants are used, only foolish, sinful and harmful things happen. “That we may preserve our family through our father.” Maybe their idea was to preserve their father’s name and not repopulate the whole earth.

“So they made their father drink wine that night…” (verse 33) Something tells me that they didn’t have to twist his arm to drink the wine. “He did not know when she lay down or when she arose.” (verses 33 and 35) It requires a startling level of drunkenness for somebody to be completely oblivious to having intercourse with another person, let alone being entirely unware that they entered and exited the occupancy of their bed. “Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has contentions? Who has complaining? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes? Those who linger long over wine, those who go to taste mixed wine. Do not look on the wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it goes down smoothly; at the last it bites like a serpent and stings like a viper. Your eyes will see strange things and your mind will utter perverse things. And you will be like one who lies down in the middle of the sea, or like one who lies down on the top of a mast. ‘They struck me, but I did not become ill; they beat me, but I did not know it. When shall I awake? I will seek another drink.’” (Proverbs 23:29-35)

“The firstborn bore a son, and called his name Moab; he is the father of the Moabites to this day. As for the younger, she also bore a son, and called his name Ben-ammi; he is the father of the sons of Ammon to this day.” “The names Moab and Ammon are apparently symbolic: Moab (Genesis 19:37) closely resembles the Hebrew [~me'ab], meaning ‘from a father’; and Ben-ammi signifies ‘son of my kinsman.’ Thus, the degrading circumstances of their birth were memorialized by the Moabites and Ammonites themselves, and it is most illogical to blame Israel in any manner with the charge that they ‘invented’ this account to discredit those peoples.” (James Burton Coffman)

“It is true that long afterward both nations became bitter enemies of Israel, both politically and religiously. It will be recalled that the king of Moab hired Balaam to curse Israel, and that through Balaam's suggestion, the whole nation of Israel was seduced by the licentious devices of the Moabites at Baal-Peor (Numbers 25), resulting in the whole nation's rejecting God and becoming attached to Baal… ‘Solomon built a high place for Molech, the god of the Ammonites, and burned incense and sacrificed to this god (1 Kings 11:5; 7:8).’ Molech was the horrible fire god. His image was a huge ugly statue with a hollow belly containing a furnace to heat his brazen arms, into which children were cast as sacrifices. Some of the kings of Israel, notably Solomon and Ahaz, as did also Manasseh, caused their sons ‘to pass through the fire’ to go to Molech. As Morris pointed out, however, not all of those people were evil. Ruth the Moabitess was honored with one of the O.T. books relating how she became one of the ancestresses of Jesus our Lord. Naamah, an Ammonite woman, was one of Solomon's wives, and the mother of king Rehoboam.” (James Burton Coffman)

“The two sons are born, and nothing more is heard of Lot. His story ends on an inglorious and ironic note. At the beginning of the chapter he was willing to let the virginity of his daughters be forcibly defiled, without even informing them, in order to save lives. Now in order to ‘maintain life,’ his daughters have lost their virginity by forcing themselves upon him without his knowledge.” (Nahum Sarna)

Please read Genesis 20:1-7 for tomorrow.

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 19:23-29

Saturday, December 14, 2019

“The sun had risen over the earth when Lot came to Zoar. Then the Lord rained on Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven, and He overthrew those cities, and all the valley, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground. But his wife, from behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt. Now Abraham arose early in the morning and went to the place where he had stood before the Lord; and he looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the valley, and he saw, and behold, the smoke of the land ascended like the smoke of a furnace. Thus it came about, when God destroyed the cities of the valley, that God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow, when He overthrew the cities in which Lot lived.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“Then the Lord rained on Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven.” (verse 24) After “the sun had risen over the earth” and “Lot” and his family had come safely “to Zoar” (verse 23), the Lord executed His judgment and dispensed His righteous wrath upon the wicked peoples of Sodom and Gomorrah and “all the valley.” “Sulfur is Latin for ‘burning stone,’ or ‘brimstone’ in Old English. The fire here, like the water in Noah’s day, may have a symbolically purgative function as it does in the narrative of Numbers 16:35 and in the law of Numbers 31:23. It may also be a metaphor of divine anger, as in Deuteronomy 32:22 and Isaiah 65:5.” (Nahum Sarna)

“Brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven.” (verse 24) Many have sought to explain the destruction by “sulfur and fire” in natural terms and by extraordinary but not supernatural means. For example, the James-Fausset-Brown Commentary states: “He effected the overthrow of the cities of the plain…by a volcanic eruption. The raining down of fire and brimstone from heaven is perfectly accordant with this idea since those very substances, being raised into the air by the force of the volcano, would fall in a fiery shower on the surrounding region.” While this is within the realm of possibility, the wording of the text indicates that this was the Lord’s doing. He rained the fire and brimstone down from heaven, personally, effusively, supernaturally. And, while He could have used a volcano if He had chosen to, He certainly did not need any earthly means to assist Him in affecting this destruction.

“He overthrew those cities…and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground.” (verse 25) This language indicates absolute and comprehensive destruction. He “overthrew” or literally “turned over” those cities in utter destruction, along with all the people and animals, all the way down to all the plants which “grew” out of “the ground”. Utter and absolute wickedness is deserving of complete and absolute destruction. The New Testament sets the ruination of Sodom and Gomorrah as a type of the eternal punishment that awaits the grossly immoral. “Just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire.” (Jude 1:7)

James Burton Coffman quoted Henry Morris: “‘Archaeological explorations within the last decade have shown that at the time of Abraham there were five large cities on the eastern side of the southern portion of the Dead Sea.’ The names of these were Sodom, the southernmost, Gomorrah, Zoar, Admah, and Zeboiim in order toward the north. This sheds light on Jude 1:1:7, where these other cities are the subject of the clause stating that they too had given themselves over to fornication, etc., ‘in like manner’ to Sodom and Gomorrah. See also Deuteronomy 29:23, and Hosea 11:8.”

“But his wife, from behind him, looked back…” (verse 26) This action of Lot’s wife seems to be much more than a mere glance over her shoulder to see what was going on behind her. Jesus used this event as a warning for the prophesied attack of the Roman armed forces against Jerusalem that took place in 70 A.D. “It was the same as happened in the days of Lot: they were eating, they were drinking, they were buying, they were selling, they were planting, they were building; but on the day that Lot went out from Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. It will be just the same on the day that the Son of Man is revealed. On that day, the one who is on the housetop and whose goods are in the house must not go down to take them out; and likewise the one who is in the field must not turn back. Remember Lot’s wife.” (Luke 17:28-32) The Lord warned His audience to not return to the city or come down from the rooftop to retrieve valuables, but just to run for their lives when they saw the armies surrounding the city (consider Luke 21:20-24). He then compared that to what happened to Lot’s wife. She either stopped short and looked back to Sodom with a yearning heart, or she actually turned around and started walking back.

“She became a pillar of salt.” (verse 26) “The tradition, preserved in Deuteronomy 29:22, describes ruination of the soil by sulfur and salt (cf. Zeph. 2:9). Radak notes that Lot’s wife would thus have suffered the same fate as the other inhabitants. ‘She wholly disappeared in a blanket of salt; yet popular notion has her body turning into salt and still recognizable,’ writes Bekhor Shor. This idea must have been suggested by some grotesque salt-rock formation in the vicinity of the Dead Sea. The pre-Christian book, The Wisdom of Solomon (10:4), says, ‘A pillar of salt stands as a memorial to an unbelieving soul’; and Josephus (Ant. 1.203) claims to have seen it in his day.” (Nahum Sarna)

“It is a mistranslation to make this read, ‘She was changed into a pillar of salt.’ Such a rendition turns the event into a vengeful retribution executed upon this poor woman, but it was no such thing. God was doing everything He could to save her, even sending angels to take her by the hand and lead her out of the place… Lot's wife entered the disaster zone contrary to the will of God and against His specific commandments…as a result of her own rash decision to enter the disaster zone… We believe Keil's analysis of this is correct: ‘Lot's wife, having been killed by the fiery and sulfurous vapour with which the air was filled, was afterward encrusted with salt, resembling an actual statue of salt; just as, even now, from the saline exhalation of the Dead Sea, objects near it are quickly covered with a crust of salt.’” (James Burton Coffman)

“Remember Lot’s Wife (Luke 17:32)

I. She is a warning to all who are tempted to sacrifice their safety in order to win or keep more of this world's goods.

II. If we strive to possess the best of both worlds, we are likely to lose both.

III. She is a reminder that being ‘near safety’ is not enough.

IV. She is a warning that having begun to follow the Lord's Word, one may still turn back from the way and be lost.” (James Burton Coffman)

Verses 27-29 – “The previous narrative about Abraham, interrupted by the events at Sodom, now resumes. His dialogue with God having ended on an uncertain note, Abraham now hastens to his vantage point (18:16) to learn the outcome of his intercession. Alas, Sodom could not boast of ten righteous souls.” (Nahum Sarna) “God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow.” It seems that the Lord spared Lot and his family more for Abraham’s sake than because of Lot’s righteousness. Yet again, we see Lot reaping benefits and blessings because of his position in the life of his righteous uncle. Sometimes family members can pull us out of tight spots of our own making here on earth, but we will stand or fall on our own merits when appear before the great Sovereign and Judge at the end of all things.

Please read Genesis 19:30-38 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed day!

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 19:17-22

Friday, December 13, 2019

“When they had brought them outside, one said, ‘Escape for your life! Do not look behind you, and do not stay anywhere in the valley; escape to the mountains, or you will be swept away.’ But Lot said to them, ‘Oh no, my lords! Now behold, your servant has found favor in your sight, and you have magnified your lovingkindness, which you have shown me by saving my life; but I cannot escape to the mountains, for the disaster will overtake me and I will die; now behold, this town is near enough to flee to, and it is small. Please, let me escape there (is it not small?) that my life may be saved.’ He said to him, ‘Behold, I grant you this request also, not to overthrow the town of which you have spoken. Hurry, escape there, for I cannot do anything until you arrive there.’ Therefore the name of the town was called Zoar.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“Do not look behind you…” (verse 17) “This was not merely to prevent delay, but also showed that God demanded of them a total abandonment in heart and will of the condemned cities, and hence the severity with which the violation of the command was visited.” (Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers) When the Lord tells us to leave (the world, a sinful situation or relationship), we should not look back with uncertainty, longing, regret or even curiosity. This is a test of obedience and loyalty as much as it is anything else. “Another also said, ‘I will follow You, Lord; but first permit me to say good-bye to those at home.’ But Jesus said to him, ‘No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.’” (Luke 9:61)

“Escape for your life!” (verse 17) Or Literally, “Escape for your soul!” And it is for certain that Lot’s spiritual life was as much at stake as his physical flesh was. This serious situation was so far beyond urgent that the time for deliberation was nonexistent. Sometimes we find ourselves in (spiritual) life and death situations and we must run away and escape for our lives! Don’t flirt around with sin dear friends. “Sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than you want to pay.” In fact, it will cost you much more than you can ever imagine—nothing short of heaven itself! “Escape to the mountains…” This refers to the mountains of Moab, but our mountain of escape is Zion above—“But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than the blood of Abel.” (Hebrews 11:22-24)

“I cannot escape to the mountains…” (verse 19) He feared that his own strength now spent would cause him to falter, or his wife and daughters would not be able to keep up, or some other excuse of purely human reasoning and fear instead of just trusting that the Lord would make a way for him. “Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable. He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power. Though youths grow weary and tired, and vigorous young men stumble badly, yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.” (Isaiah 40:28-31)

“Is it not small?” (verse 20) “It is a ‘small’ concession to grant; or a ‘small’ distance to go. Evidently a play on the pronunciation of the word Zoar. Lot’s entreaty that he may take refuge in Zoar causes the exemption of that city from the catastrophe.” (Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges) “Therefore the name of the town was called Zoar.” (verse 22) “Hebrew mits‘ar is a play on tso‘ar(Zoar) in verse 22. It is intended to explain, by popular etymology, the change in place-name from the original Bela (14:2).” (Nahum Sarna)

“Behold, I grant you this request also, not to overthrow the town of which you have spoken.” (verse 21) The Lord was exceedingly longsuffering with Lot and all of his poor judgment, feeble reasoning and periodic, outright cowardice, and I for one am certainly glad that He was. This gives me great hope that the Lord God Almighty will not easily abandon or discard me for all of my recurrent weakness of the flesh and sinful thoughts and actions. I far too frequently require His forgiveness, and I am so very thankful that He abundantly and willingly pardons upon my confession and repentance. “If You, Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with You, that You may be feared.” (Psalm 130:3-4)

Please read Genesis 19:23-29 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed day!

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 19:12-16

Thursday, December 12, 2019

“Then the two men said to Lot, ‘Whom else have you here? A son-in-law, and your sons, and your daughters, and whomever you have in the city, bring them out of the place; for we are about to destroy this place, because their outcry has become so great before the Lord that the Lord has sent us to destroy it.’ Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who were to marry his daughters, and said, ‘Up, get out of this place, for the Lord will destroy the city.’ But he appeared to his sons-in-law to be jesting. When morning dawned, the angels urged Lot, saying, ‘Up, take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away in the punishment of the city.’ But he hesitated. So the men seized his hand and the hand of his wife and the hands of his two daughters, for the compassion of the Lord was upon him; and they brought him out, and put him outside the city.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“‘Whom else have you here? A son-in-law, and your sons, and your daughters…?” (verse 12) It appears that Lot and his wife had some unnamed sons and possibly other daughters besides the two mentioned in this account. If that was the case, sadly they had become so comfortable with the corrupted Sodomite culture that they could not be extracted and saved. Sadly, the wicked city had already “swept away” a portion of Lot’s family even before the Lord rained down “brimstone and fire…out of heaven” (verse 24). If we do not make a deliberate and determined effort to shield our children from the worldly culture in which we bring them up, they will more than likely be corrupted and consumed by it just like “victims” of Sodom.

“Bring them out of the place.” (verse 12) If only Lot had had the foresight to get them out of that place at the first notice of danger, or even if he had never set foot in that dreadful place to begin with, how much better their lives and destinies would have been. But he didn’t heed the warnings. “‘Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate,’ says the Lord. ‘And do not touch what is unclean; And I will welcome you. And I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to Me,’ Says the Lord Almighty.” (2 Corinthians 6:17-18) “Have mercy on some, who are doubting; save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh.” (Jude 1:22-23)

“We are about to destroy this place…” (verse) The time for negotiation and longsuffering had reached its end, and the moment for action was “about” to happen. It was time for the Lord, through the agency of His angelic emissaries, to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities for their abhorrent, incessant wickedness. “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9) But God’s patience is not without its limits, and it is obvious to Him when hardened hearts are beyond the point of contrition. “Because their outcry has become so great before the Lord that the Lord has sent us to destroy it.” The abomination was equivalent to the outcry, and it was time for the punishment to fit the crime.

“Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law…” (verse 14) And it was no doubt done with a sense of earnestness and urgency, but even so, “he appeared to his sons-in-law to be jesting.”“Their fault lies not in their disbelief but in their lack of seriousness, which reveals their insensitivity to the enormity of the moral evil about them.” (Nahum Sarna) Let this serve as a stern warning to us. As the Lord’s evangelist bond-servants rebuke, reprove and exhort us from the pulpit each Lord’s Day about the seriousness of sin and the eternity of destruction, do not pass the warnings off as mere preacher talk and dismiss their concern as a simple overreaction. “They thought perhaps that the assault which the Sodomites had just now made upon his house had disturbed his head, and put him into such a fright that he knew not what he said. They that made a jest of every thing made a jest of that, and so perished in the overthrow. Thus many, who are warned of the danger they are in by sin, make a light matter of it; such will perish with their blood upon their heads.” (Benson Commentary)

“When morning dawned…” (verse 15) When the day of reckoning dawned, neither the residents of Sodom, nor Lot and his family were ready to flee the impending destruction. The Lord did not visit His retribution upon them like a thief in the night, but at the dawning of a new day preceded by ample warnings, and Lot’s unwarranted lack of preparation would have been his own undoing had not the Lord shown “compassion” for him. The Lord’s angels exhorted Lot, “Up, take your wife and your two daughters who are here.” Get out while you still can! Run like your life depends on it! Because it certainly does!

“But he hesitated.” (verse 16) Before we are too quick to criticize, let’s take a moment to empathize with this pitiful man. When the angels urged him to take his two daughters “who are here,” his broken heart likely ached for the daughters who were not there with him, still in the midst of the city doomed to destruction. In spite of the wickedness of the city’s inhabitants, he still considered those doomed fools his friends and “brothers”. All his worldly possessions, his numerous herds, all the wealth he had garnered by his partnership with his righteous uncle Abraham, would be left behind and reduced to cinders.

But, before we “hesitate” to leave the world, its carnal occupants and the lust for earthly wealth behind to follow Jesus all the way to heaven, let’s consider the Lord’s admonitions. — “Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.” (1 John 2:15-17) — “Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company corrupts good morals.’ Become sober-minded as you ought, and stop sinning; for some have no knowledge of God.” (1 Corinthians 15:33-34) — “But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment. For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content.” (1 Timothy 6:6-8)

“So the men seized his hand and the hand of his wife and the hands of his two daughters…” (verse 16) They snatched them out of the fire, or more literally, in anticipation of the fire. Who knows how many times the Lord has saved us from misery by keeping us from the things we desired to do and have and the consequences that would have ensued? But, be that as it may, as compassionate as the Lord is for the ones that He loves, He will not drag us out of the world kicking and screaming, and into the safety of the fold of our Lord Jesus Christ where His good will abides. If we find our way to heaven’s glory it will be because we willingly and knowledgably chose to do so. And if we descend into the fire of Hell’s eternal torment it will be because we personally neglected our own soul’s eternal security. Don’t do that!

Please read Genesis 19:17-22 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed day!

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 19:6-11

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

“But Lot went out to them at the doorway, and shut the door behind him, and said, ‘Please, my brothers, do not act wickedly. Now behold, I have two daughters who have not had relations with man; please let me bring them out to you, and do to them whatever you like; only do nothing to these men, inasmuch as they have come under the shelter of my roof.’ But they said, ‘Stand aside.’ Furthermore, they said, ‘This one came in as an alien, and already he is acting like a judge; now we will treat you worse than them.’ So they pressed hard against Lot and came near to break the door. But the men reached out their hands and brought Lot into the house with them, and shut the door. They struck the men who were at the doorway of the house with blindness, both small and great, so that they wearied themselves trying to find the doorway.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“Please, my brothers, do not act wickedly.” (verse 8) No matter how much Lot chose to delude himself with his Sodomite “brothers,” their wickedness was not an “act”. They were thoroughly imbued with malevolence from head to toe. And furthermore, after urging THEM to not act wickedly, Lot proceeded to talk out of both sides of his mouth by immediately offering his two virgin daughters to these lust drenched reprobates to “do whatever” they desired! Lot justified this proposition by claiming that his two guests were under the protection and “shelter of” his “roof”. But, no matter how highly esteemed hospitality was in the ancient, Near Eastern culture and even is to God Almighty, that does not validate Lot’s corrupted compromise and complete cowardice in offering his innocent and defenseless daughters. As a father, one of his foremost duties was to provide for and protect his own, vulnerable flesh and blood, and not offer them up to an unruly mob to be devastated!

“This one came in as an alien, and already he is acting like a judge; now we will treat you worse than them” (verse 9). “His uncle having recently rescued the whole city from plundering by the eastern invaders, and having restored their king to his throne, Lot was evidently enjoying a certain degree of popularity in Sodom, but oil will not mix with water. The events of the dark night proved that Lot did not belong in Sodom. As is always the case, any respect or popularity that sinful men may give to the followers of the Lord is always tentative and uncertain and sure to disappear on the slightest pretext.” (James Burton Coffman) And if you think that the mournful cry, “Don’t judge me!” is a 20th and 21st century phenomenon, you would be greatly mistaken. It is ever the complaint of smug sinners that God’s people criticize them too harshly for merely engaging in activities that they treasure and enjoy, regardless of how sinful and harmful they might be.

“So they pressed hard against Lot and came near to break the door.” (verse 9) The muscle of mob rule can be an overwhelming force for evil, save for God and His divine interference. And, had God’s powerful angels not intervened, there is little doubt that these sin-crazed maniacs, who vowed to treat Lot “worse,” would not have stopped until he was dead. “But the men reached out their hands and brought Lot into the house with them, and shut the door.” (verse 10) “I sought the Lord, and He answered me, and delivered me from all my fears. They looked to Him and were radiant, and their faces will never be ashamed. This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him and saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him, and rescues them.” (Psalms 34:4-7)

“They struck the men who were at the doorway of the house with blindness…” (verse 11) “Blinding light—Hebrew sanverim occurs again only in 2 Kings 6:18 in a similar context. The Aramaic Targums understand it to mean a dazzling brightness. The people of Sodom did not suffer the usual kind of sightlessness (ivvaron) but a sudden, immobilizing, blazing flash of light.” (Nahum Sarna) Yet, even through their befuddling blindness, the demented multitude still groped recklessly, frantically trying to locate the entryway to Lot’s house and the targets of their repulsive yearning. Evil is not easily discouraged, and those overwhelmed by it doggedly persist in their pursuit of power and despicable pleasure. “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your [e]brethren who are in the world.” (1 Peter 5:8-9)

Please read Genesis 19:12-16 for tomorrow.

Have a great day!

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 19:1-5

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

“Now the two angels came to Sodom in the evening as Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them and bowed down with his face to the ground. And he said, ‘Now behold, my lords, please turn aside into your servant’s house, and spend the night, and wash your feet; then you may rise early and go on your way.’ They said however, ‘No, but we shall spend the night in the square.’ Yet he urged them strongly, so they turned aside to him and entered his house; and he prepared a feast for them, and baked unleavened bread, and they ate. Before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, surrounded the house, both young and old, all the people from every quarter; and they called to Lot and said to him, ‘Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may have relations with them.’”

---End of Scripture verses---

“Now the two angels came to Sodom in the evening…” (verse 10) Two of the three “men” who appeared at Abraham’s tent in Hebron “in the heat of the day” (Genesis 18:1-2), are here clearly identified as angels. They had been sent by the Lord to “investigate” whether Sodom had “done entirely according to its outcry,” so that He would “know” if their “sin” was as “exceedingly grave” as the “outcry” indicated (Genesis 18:20-21). If they did so “in the evening” of the same day that they had departed from Abraham, then their travel time was miraculous in nature. “Speiser tells us that the ‘normal traveling time from Abraham's tent to Sodom was about two days,’ that is, some thirty-five or forty miles.” (James Burton Coffman)

“As Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom.” (verse 1) “The gate of a large city usually comprised towers and guardrooms and a large area where people could sit… The gate area in an ancient Near Eastern city served as a civic center where the affairs of the community would be conducted in full view of, and with full participation of, the citizens. Here gossip would be exchanged and disseminated, business transacted, and justice dispensed. (Nahum Sarna) “We agree with Leupold that Lot's presence here in the gate of Sodom, ‘constitutes a reproach,’ to this otherwise good and ‘righteous’ man. In fact, despite the fact of Peter's reference to the righteousness of Lot, we must definitely understand it in a relative, not an absolute, sense. Compared with Sodom he was righteous; or, as said of Noah earlier in Genesis, ‘He was righteous in his generation.’” (James Burton Coffman)

“When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them and bowed down with his face to the ground.” (verse 1) As his uncle Abraham had done before him, Lot warmly greeted his otherworldly guests by prostrating himself at their feet and presenting himself as their humble servant. He extended the same heartfelt hospitality, begging them to rest for the night under the shelter of his own roof and offering to refresh them by washing their feet. He also “prepared a feast for them, and baked unleavened bread, and they ate” (verse 3). Lot seems to have sensed the danger posed to these two travelers by not only urging them to not spend the night in the open “square” (verse 2), but by also strongly imploring them to “rise early and go on” their “way” before they caught the attention of the cities wicked natives. The angels were obviously not fearful for their own personal safety, and likely wanted to remain out in the open to determine whether the Sodomites’ reputation for wickedness was indeed warranted.

Lot prevailed upon the two angels by his insistent urging and they graced his Home with their presence. But, “before they” had the chance to pillow their heads for the evening, “the men of Sodom, surrounded the house, both young and old, all the people from every quarter” (verse 4). This wording demonstrates that the wickedness of Sodom was, indeed, totally pervasive. “People from every quarter,” that is to say, from one end of town to the other, from all classes of people, to the very last person. Aside from Lot and his family, not a single righteous person could be found among the whole lot of them, let alone ten righteous people. They shouted through the door to Lot, “Bring them out to us that we may have relations with them.” (verse 5) “The sin here euphemistically referred to (cf. Judges 19:22) was exceedingly prevalent among the Canaanites (Leviticus 18:22) and other heathen nations (Romans 1:27). Under the law of Moses it was punishable by death.” (Pulpit Commentary)

Lot was eager to show the two strangers hospitality, but the wicked men of Sodom, conversely, only wanted to abuse and defile them. “Bring them out unto us, that we may know them; not who they were, and from whence they came, and what their business was; nor did they pretend anything of this kind to hide and cover their design from Lot, but they were open and impudent, and declared their sin without shame and blushing, which is their character, Isaiah 3:9; their meaning was, that they might commit that unnatural sin with them, they were addicted to, and in common used...” (Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible)

Please read Genesis 19:6-11 for tomorrow.

Have a great day!

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 18:22-33

Monday, December 09, 2019

“Then the men turned away from there and went toward Sodom, while Abraham was still standing before the Lord. Abraham came near and said, ‘Will You indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city; will You indeed sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous who are in it? Far be it from You to do such a thing, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous and the wicked are treated alike. Far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?’ So the Lord said, ‘If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare the whole place on their account.’ And Abraham replied, ‘Now behold, I have ventured to speak to the Lord, although I am but dust and ashes. Suppose the fifty righteous are lacking five, will You destroy the whole city because of five?’ And He said, ‘I will not destroy it if I find forty-five there.’ He spoke to Him yet again and said, ‘Suppose forty are found there?’ And He said, ‘I will not do it on account of the forty.’ Then he said, ‘Oh may the Lord not be angry, and I shall speak; suppose thirty are found there?’ And He said, ‘I will not do it if I find thirty there.’ And he said, ‘Now behold, I have ventured to speak to the Lord; suppose twenty are found there?’ And He said, ‘I will not destroy it on account of the twenty.’ Then he said, ‘Oh may the Lord not be angry, and I shall speak only this once; suppose ten are found there?’ And He said, ‘I will not destroy it on account of the ten.’ As soon as He had finished speaking to Abraham the Lord departed, and Abraham returned to his place.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“This introduces the great Intercessory Scene in which Abraham pleaded for God to spare the execution of the wicked cities. Note that the two angels are sent on their way to Sodom, but that Jehovah himself remained and heeded the plea of Abraham. The reception that the angels received in Sodom is recorded in the next chapter. The great intercession that Abraham made, and which is next recorded, is, ‘the sublimest act of human intercession, of which Scripture preserves a record.’” (James Burton Coffman)

In this amazing dialogue between the Lord and His righteous servant, many suppose that Abraham is appealing on behalf of total strangers, therefore it speaks even greater to his sense of love and compassion for all humanity. While this is possible, it is very likely that he at least knew of the people in the city of Sodom, and had even seen some of them face to face when he delivered them from the abduction of the coalition of Eastern Kings and returned them safely to their homes as recorded Genesis 14:1-16. Either way you look at it though, his love and compassion and earnest prayers for even the ungodly people of Sin City is exemplary! "But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous" (Matthew 6:44-45)

“Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?” (verse 25) The Lord of the Universe, even though His is God Almighty and the Judge over all His creation, allows himself to be examined and challenged by His lowly creatures. He is not whimsical in His treatment of humanity as the false pagan deities are depicted to be, and He allows His righteousness and justice to be called into question. It is actually Abraham’s belief in God’s justice that prompts his encounter with the Almighty.

But Abraham doesn’t merely call into question the Lord’s justice in His pronouncement of the destruction of Sodom, he also appeals His mercy by begging for the acquittal of the whole city for the righteousness of a small minority. It should be obvious to us, however, that our loving Lord did not need His arm to be twisted into dealing compassionately. “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)

“Far be it from You!” (verse 25) This calls immediately to my mind the Apostle Peter’s castigation of the Lord in Matthew 16:22, after Jesus informed the Twelve that He must soon suffer and be killed at the hands of the hypocritical religious leaders in Jerusalem: “Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, 'God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You.'” But the Lord does not tell Abraham to “Get behind Me, Satan!” as Jesus told Peter. The difference is that Abraham didn’t “rebuke” the Lord as much as He respectfully appealed to Him in all humility and reverence. The difference is conspicuously evident: “I have ventured to speak to the Lord, although I am but dust and ashes.” (verse 27) “Oh may the Lord not be angry…” (verse 30).

From fifty to ten: While it is possible that Abraham had in mind from the very beginning that he would continue to push for a sweeter deal, I doubt that was the case. When he observed how willingly the Lord granted each of his requests, it probably caused Abraham’s faith in the divine justice to grow stronger, and made it that much easier for Abraham to appeal to the Lord’s mercy and compassion for a more lenient number. We see clearly demonstrated here the truth of James 5:16—“The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” I can’t help but wonder if this righteous servant’s further appeals could have brought that number even lower still. But having pressed the Lord six separate times, maybe he didn’t desire to push his luck another inch and tempt the Lord past His breaking point. Besides, surely in such a large place Sodom ten righteous people could be easily found, right?!

"One deduction that must be made from this passage is that Sodom did not have ten righteous people in it; for God judged them and destroyed the city the very night following this intercession. The next chapter will begin with the experience of the two angels who had proceeded on to Sodom with a view to spending the night there." (James Burton Coffman)

Please read Genesis 19:1-5 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed day!

- Louie Taylor

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