Selected verses from Genesis 22
Abraham was told by God to sacrifice his son – the son of promise – the dear child Abraham and Sarah had waited a century to have. It was this very son, Isaac, whom Abraham was to take to the mountaintop and sacrifice – to kill.
As Abraham and Isaac approached the fateful place, Isaac looked around, saw the fire and wood, but no animal for the offering. “…Where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” Isaac asked his father.
“Abraham answered, ‘God himself will provide…’” And he did. We know the story well. As Abraham prepared to sacrifice his son, the Lord stopped him, and provided a ram to take Isaac’s place. God provided.
The Lord tested Abraham to see if he feared God (vv. 1, 12). A test from God is designed to move you forward in faith. The purpose of Satan’s temptations is to trip you up so you will fall backward. This was a test. And Abraham passed. He was blessed accordingly (verses 15-18). Why the blessing? Because God is gracious and Abraham obeyed God (verse 18).
This is part of our covenantal relationship with God. If we obey God and the conditions of his covenant, God promises blessings (because he graciously sets the terms of the covenant, not because he must). If we disobey, he promises curses. What either of those may look like is not so clear. That God promises to work this way is very clear.
I wonder what blessings God desires to pour out upon us for our faithfulness today. Deeper faith maybe? More influence for the Kingdom perhaps? Greater responsibility? God specifically said Abraham’s descendants would be blessed through his faithfulness. Might our obedience now impact our children and our children’s children later? I believe the answer is “yes” to all those questions.
If God chooses to bless us in material ways, that’s fine. (Of course, we ought to thank God every day for the many “material” blessings we have already received from him.) But shouldn’t the blessings we desire be things like, “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is heaven”? And shouldn’t the provisions we hope God will bestow upon us be along the lines of an ever-increasing knowledge of and communion with him, a growing conformity to his likeness, and an ever-expanding influence for his Kingdom?
Abraham was faithful and God blessed him. Where is God calling you to greater faithfulness in your life?
1. Do you agree with this devotion? Do you believe God still operates in this same “blessings and curses” motif in the new covenant? Why or why not? What Scripture might you appeal to?
2. Abraham was told to sacrifice the whole world to him – his beloved son. What form of sacrificial living is God calling you to?
3. What is preventing you from trusting God to provide for you?
4. What obstacles are getting in the way of your obedience to God?
5. What do you need to do to help you faithfully respond to God’s call in your life?
6. What are the kinds of things you normally ask God to bless you with?
Genesis 7:1 - The Lord then said to Noah, “Go into the ark, you and your whole family, because I have found you righteous in this generation.
All in the Family
God works through families. He blesses through families. In the Old Testament we learn he even curses through families. This is the covenantal nature of God’s work throughout Scripture.
Noah found favor with God (Gen. 6:8). Noah was found by God to be a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and walking with God (Gen. 6:9). Because God saw Noah in such a condition, Noah’s whole family was blessed – his wife, sons, and daughters-in-law.
We find God’s covenantal faithfulness in the New Testament as well. The Syrophoenician woman’s daughter was possessed by an evil spirit (Mk. 7:25). So the mother went to Jesus and begged him to deliver her daughter from it. After testing her, Jesus rewarded the mother for her persistence and faith by healing the daughter from the spirit (Mk. 7:29). The child was blessed because of the mother’s faith. This is often how God works.
Psalm 128:1-4 reminds us of this.
Blessed are all who fear the Lord,
who walk in his ways.
 You will eat the fruit of your labor;
blessings and prosperity will be yours.
 Your wife will be like a fruitful vine
within your house;
your sons will be like olive shoots
around your table.
 Thus is the man blessed
who fears the Lord.
Noah was blessed in such a way. So was Abraham. So was the Syrophoenician woman, Lydia, and the Philippian jailer.
Dying That Others May Live
If this is how God works, does it not then behoove us to pursue righteousness and blamelessness for all we are worth? Should we not desire to walk with the Lord daily? Wouldn’t fearing the Lord be wise? The personal blessings that would flow from such a sacrificial life seem reason enough. But the covenantal blessings on your children and your children’s children make this both obvious and compelling. Even in the land of rugged individualism, we can grasp this.
In light of this, let us resolve to give our lives for our spouses, our children, and to all to whom we can minister. Our lives for theirs. It is only in this kind of death we will find life – for ourselves and for our families.
What are three ways your faithfulness impacts the life of your family? Your unfaithfulness? There’s an old saying that one’s faith is more often “caught” than “taught.” Pray about how you can start living more faithfully before your family. Call a family meeting and share your ideas with them. Sharing and brainstorming together can be a wonderful time for your family to grow closer to one another.
Grace and Truth,
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