Arguing with God (Genesis 18:22-33)

What is prayer? Does it make any sense to try to change God’s mind?

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What do you do when you’re mistreated? Things get nasty when people take matters into their own hands to enforce their own justice (Genesis 4:23-24). It’s better to appeal to our sovereign’s authority (Genesis 4:26). But that only works if the king does something about the injustice.

Continue reading “Arguing with God (Genesis 18:22-33)”

Friend of the king (Genesis 18:16-21)

Why did God choose Abraham and his family? Were they the only ones to be saved, or what was his election about?

After enjoying Abraham’s hospitality, the king sends his servants on an errand while he himself stays to discuss matters with his governor. Listen to the delight in his voice as the sovereign talks with his friend: Continue reading “Friend of the king (Genesis 18:16-21)”

The king’s visit (Genesis 18:1-15)

Who were the three characters who visited Abraham in Genesis 18?

Genesis 18:1 says “the Lord” turned up at Abraham’s tent door. The next verse says “three men” turned up. When two of these “men” left (18:22), they’re described as “angels” (19:1). Who are these three figures? Men or angels? Perhaps all three are angels, with one of them speaking on God’s behalf? Or is one of these three men/angels actually YHWH in disguise? Read the commentaries on the Bible, and you’ll find a confusing array of opinions over how to understand this narrative.

Continue reading “The king’s visit (Genesis 18:1-15)”

The sign of the covenant (Genesis 17:9-27)

Circumcision was the sign of God’s covenant with Abraham (Genesis 17:9-27). What relevance does it have today?

As God Shaddai establishes his covenant with Abraham for the generations to come, he asks for a response. All the males are to be marked as belonging to him, and it is a very personal marking: circumcision (17:10). It’s the sign of the patriarchal covenant (17:11).

We’ve seen the Hebrew word ʾôṯ (sign) three times: Continue reading “The sign of the covenant (Genesis 17:9-27)”

Ecclesiastes: a meaningless book?

How do you take a book that tells you everything is meaningless?

How would you respond if a mature-aged person told you that everything is meaningless? You might conclude, “Well, I guess the poor cynic is right about himself.”

So, is the book of Ecclesiastes meaningless? Or is it a sharp tool to carve away the meaningless layers and sculpt something of significance from our existence? Continue reading “Ecclesiastes: a meaningless book?”

God’s commitment to rule (Genesis 17:4-8)

The covenant with Abraham is all about God’s reign.

The ruler is establishing his covenant with his nation, as yet unborn. He reveals his name: God Shaddai. He gives his servant a new name, a new identity: he is now Abraham: Continue reading “God’s commitment to rule (Genesis 17:4-8)”

Revealing the ruler: God Shaddai (Genesis 17:1-3)

God revealed himself to Abraham as El Shaddai (Genesis 17:1-3). What does this mean?

Abram has already passed through a covenant ceremony that installed him as the earthly servant of the heavenly sovereign (Genesis 15). Abram and Sarai then tried to establish the family through human means, but ended up oppressing Hagar—as human power tends to do (Genesis 16). Following that diversion, the sovereign resumes the business of establishing his covenant with Abram. Continue reading “Revealing the ruler: God Shaddai (Genesis 17:1-3)”

What about those who’ve never heard the name? (Genesis 16:13-16)

What happens to those who’ve never heard of the Saviour?

YHWH planned to restore the blessing of his reign to the nations by creating his own nation through Abram and Sarai. But Hagar did not see God in their household: what she saw was the abuse of power that is so typical of humanity in rebellion. How will the nations ever see God when his people are so unloving? Continue reading “What about those who’ve never heard the name? (Genesis 16:13-16)”

When God’s people don’t love (Genesis 16:4-12)

We saw that Abram and Sarai were culturally blind to issues like polygamy and slavery. They were still hurt by these issues.

Whenever humans have power over other humans, we end up abusing that power. Watch the power struggles that develop in this story: Continue reading “When God’s people don’t love (Genesis 16:4-12)”