Search by Keyword(s):  
Search by Scripture:   [Today's Comments]
Passage: Genesis 16-18

On Monday, January 14, 2019, Yujin wrote,

Friends, we are now just five days into our Bible reading year. I pray God is blessing all of you in this new year in the Scriptures. As you join me on this site, I encourage you to enlist others to join you in this discipline. They don't have to start from Genesis 1:1. They can just jump in, for they will be starting what will hopefully be a lifelong journey through God's Word every year. What's more amazing, when you enlist others to join you, you will only strengthen your own resolve and ensure your success.

Here's a little something I discovered from today's reading passage:

Then Abraham bowed down to the ground, but he laughed to himself in disbelief. “How could I become a father at the age of 100?” he thought. “And how can Sarah have a baby when she is ninety years old?” (Genesis 17:17).

And we read this recount by Paul in Romans:

Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised (Romans 4:18-21)..

When you casually read Paul, it sort of sounds like Abraham had a perfect faith with no doubts whatsoever. Yet, both Abraham and Sarah (Genesis 18:10-12) responded initially with disbelief when they heard God's promise. Remember also that they even tried to "help" God's promise along by involving Hagar (Genesis 16:1-2). Abraham's faith was not as robust from the start as we are sometimes led to believe.

But if we carefully read Paul, we understand that Paul did not present Abraham's faith as that robust either, for he writes in Romans 4:20 that Abraham "was strengthened in his faith." A faith that is already robust needs no strengthening, but one that is weaker would need to be strengthened. God strengthened Abraham's faith. 

Friends, how comforting this knowledge is. Some of us may not have robust faith from the start or even now. We need God's help to make our faith grow stronger. Abraham questioned the feasibility of him and Sarah having children at their advanced age, but their disbelief did not become unbelief because God strengthened their faith. And God will strengthen yours and mine as well. 

Passage: Genesis 16-18

On Monday, January 14, 2013, Yujin wrote,

Now Sarai, Abram’s wife had borne him no children, and she had an Egyptian maid whose name was Hagar. So Sarai said to Abram, “Now behold, the Lord has prevented me from bearing children. Please go in to my maid; perhaps I will obtain children through her.” And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai (Genesis 16:1-2).

Friends, Sarai says "the LORD has prevented me from bearing children..." Thus, she concludes that Abram should have children by her maid. The implication is that the Lord must want Abram to have children by Hagar, Sarai's maid. But is this a right conclusion? Hindsight is always 20-20, and we know the disasterous consequences of this one decision. And these were the days when God directly and supernaturally spoke to His servants, and even visited them in human form. Yet, both Sarai and Abram presumed wrong.

Today, we have an almost epidemic of people making presumptuous claims regarding the will of God. Even in my personal experience no less than two women insisted that it was God's will for me to marry them, and neither of them was my wife. Dr. John Hannah, my seminary professor, shared that someone at Trinity Evangelical Seminary in Chicago insisted that it was God's will that he join their staff, but he simply responded that God told him no such thing.

I recall the incident in Kings of the man of God, whom God commanded not to return to Bethel nor eat or drink there. Yet, an old prophet lied and told him that God told him otherwise. But when the man of God followed the old prophet, God judged him for accepting the words of this lying prophet (1 Kings 13:11-26).

Friends, consider the lesson of these incidents. We have all, especially as believers, been given the Spirit of God. We do not need someone to come tell us what is or what is not God's will for us. God can speak directly to us if He chooses. Unless we are unbelievers or have been stubbornly rebellious against Him, there is no reason for Him to speak to us through another person.

Therefore, if someone comes to you and tells you, "the Lord told me...", and God has not told this to you, I would encourage you to resist the pressure to immediately follow such a pronouncement. Beyond the very great possibility that such prophetic gifts ceased with the foundational apostles and prophets in the first century, you should at least question why God does not speak directly to you. He has given you His Holy Spirit. We are told that we have the mind of Christ (cf. 1 Corinthians 2:15-16). Most likely, God did not tell this other person what they think God told them to tell you. In fact, they are in danger of misrepresenting God and will be judged for it in due course (Matthew 12:36-37). Why should you be judged along with them?!

I bring this up because certain people have been going around at church saying things like , "The Lord told me that you shouldn't say this" or "The Lord told me that you will be healed of that." This is the kind of stuff that I warned you about before, as coming out of ministries like IHOP and from the neo-apostolic & prophetic movement. Consider this warning from the Lord:

“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them...Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ (Matthew 7:15, 21-23).

The fruit that Jesus has in mind here is the fruit of truth, or right doctrine, such that no amount of "wonder-working" should move the believer away from this truth. In the Old Testament God even enabled false prophets to sometimes give true prophecies to test His people, to see if they would remain true to His Word (Deuteronomy 13:1-5). In the last days, the Bible says that this will happen again and many will be deceived and led away from the truth of God's Word (Matthew 24:24). Paul too gives this warning, as even in his day there were false apostles and prophets masquerading as "servants of righteousness":

For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ.And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve (2 Corinthians 11:13-15).

Friends, do not let your presumption or that of others lead you astray with disasterous consequences. Instead, hold steadfastly to the tried and true sufficiency of God's Word.

Passage: Genesis 16-18

On Saturday, January 14, 2012, Misty wrote,

Have you noticed that in these biblical accounts, when the role of the leadership of the man and the woman was confused, dire circumstances occured? Adam let Eve persuade him to take of the fruit, and the course of mankind was altered forever. Sarah told Abraham to go to her handmaid, and Ishmael, the father of the muslim nations, was born. The turmoil that we see in the Middle East today all began from an act of disobedience, where the person was not content to wait on God and his time, and took matters into their own hands.  The fall of mankind rose from disobedience. 

It's easy for me to say that I will be submissive to my husband (if I am ever blessed with one) because I come from a home where the male leadership is strong. I know, however, that there are many cases in Christian marriages where the woman "wears the pants" in the family.  As long as the male is content with that, and I know of a marriage where this is the case, the marriage strangely works, but the successful marriage from this confused personality harmony is a rare animal indeed.

I believe that marriage is a partnership where roles need to be clearly defined before the "I Dos" ever occur. That  is the way God meant it in the beginning, but when Eve challenged her husband's leadership and he backed down, a dangerous pattern was born. As Genesis says, the desire of the woman is to rule her spouse, and American women have this down to an art form, because now society says that a woman has the right to rule her spouse, contradicting the roles we were born to. I'm not saying that we should be chained to the stove, barefoot and pregnant, but we have entire generations of people confused on what makes marriage work. I think that submission to the leadership of the husband is a rare challenge and many women do not have any idea to go about this, because of the way our culture looks down on this traditional role of marriage. It is a matter of prayer and it will be a daily struggle to put aside that need to rule and govern.

Being in this very small catagory of women who are extremely rare dinosaurs in their thinking, I wish that Christian women who constantly fight with and manipulate their spouse would look to these examples in the Old Testament not as subversion of their rights, but the privilege of submission to the lordship of the husband as a ministry in itself. Did I say submission is easy? No, and that is why submission to the leadership of the husband IS a ministry, is a privilege. Because it is a rare animal in this emancipated, liberated American society that has a divorce rate of over 50%.

Passage: Genesis 16-18

On Saturday, January 14, 2012 (Last Updated on 8/20/2016), Yujin wrote,

Friends, there are three men that come to visit Abraham (Genesis 18:2). Who are they? We discover that one is the LORD (Genesis 18:22) and two are angels (Genesis 19:1). It has been postulated that the divine appearances of God and references to "the angel of the LORD" is actually the 2nd person of the Trinity, namely, Jesus Christ. Clearly references to "the angel of the LORD" is to God. A simple concordance search of every occurence of this title (with the definite article "the," not "an") proves this to be so. However, perhaps the strongest argument that specifically Jesus is this angel of the LORD is the conspicuous absence of the title "the angel of the LORD" in the New Testament. Here's a good summary article that discusses this further:

If Jesus is this angel of the LORD, then it was Jesus who tested Abraham in commanding him to sacrfiice Isaac. It was Jesus who spoke to Moses from the burning bush. It was Jesus who confronted Balaam and enabled his donkey to speak. It was Jesus who killed 185,000 of the Assyrians in answer to Hezekiah's prayer. And in a number of other significant places, it was Jesus who is seen advancing the divine plan of God from Genesis to Zechariah. In other words, Jesus does not just come into the picture with his incarnation in the Gospels, he has been actively engaged in fulfilling the purposes of God from the very beginning. As Jesus said to the Jews, "Before Abraham was, I AM" (John 8:58).

Passage: Genesis 16-18

On Wednesday, February 23, 2011 (Last Updated on 1/14/2012), Unmi wrote,
My thoughts on the three visitors and pending judgement on Sodom:
At the end of our reading today, judgement on Sodom is pending and the inhabitants of the city are not even aware. Only Abraham knows what is about to happen....what does Abraham do? He intercedes for them.
Isn't the same situation occuring right now. We live in a wicked and ungodly world. Many are not aware that judgement is coming (or at least they choose not to believe). But we have the word of God and we know that the time of judgment WILL come for all inhabitants of this earth. Just as Abraham, we also need to intercede for the lost, we need to pray for God's mercy and patience.
Yujin adds... One caveat to this is that Abraham likely prayed for Sodom because his nephew Lot was there. This is also why he kept challenging God with the notion of God's destroying the righteous with the wicked. When he keeps asking about how many righteous people would need to be there before God would preserve the city, he was likely trying to guess how many righteous people were in Lot's group. We later discover that God preserves Lot and his immediate family for the sake of Abraham (Genesis 19:29).