Sunday, September 24, 2006

The Patriarchs - Week 2 Day 1

One of my favorite stories in the Bible is the story of Abraham and Sarah. It's a love story...the love between a husband and wife and the love of God for His people. It's a story that I can relate to even today, some 3000 years later. It has drama. It has a cliffhanger. And above all else, there is a reason and purpose for the things that happen in Abraham's life. Had it not been for God's calling and Abraham's obedience to leave his homeland, God's redemptive plan would not have existed. For it is through Abraham, that the geneology of Christ begins and so begins our hope in Christ.

I've always wondered if Abraham truly believed that God was going to bless him like he said he would. True, Abraham left his home in Ur but he left because he thought he was going to get his inheritance (Hebrews 11:8). What exactly did he think that was? Where did Abraham get his faith? Surely he must have had days of doubt. His home country practiced the notion of "many Gods" and Beth Moore points out in her study that "out of the practice of many, God was going to teach Abraham the many faces of the one true God." He promised Abraham three times in the book of Genesis that he would "be the Father of many nations." Many, many years had passed between the first and third promise.

Abraham's mistake of going to Egypt during the famine cost his family dearly (Genesis 12:10-20). For it was there, that Sarah (who ended up in the Pharaoh's harem...I told you there was drama) picked up a servant girl named Hagar. I did a character study of Hagar a few years ago when I was teaching a "Bad Girls of the Bible" Bible Study and for some reason, I liked Hagar. Maybe it was because even in her most desperate time, God "found her" (Genesis 16:7) just when she needed him most. Maybe it was because I felt sorry for her that Sarah (who obviously had to be out of her mind to let her maid conceive a child with her husband!!) treated her so badly. But what I learned in this study today, was that Hagar, the Egyptian maidservant, was the only person in the entire Bible who gave God a name. Before this, God had revealed himself to Abraham as "El Elyon" (God Almighty); and "Adonai" (Master), but it was the lowly servant that gave God the name "El Roi"---The God who sees. God saw Hagar at her lowest point and gives her the promise of hope (Genesis 16:9-12). No place is beyond the presence, guidance, and protection of God.

Bible study is almost "study" without some sort of application. What I valued most today was that God truly sees. In all His glorious mastermind of the earth and His sovereign involvement with all that goes on in a single day, God sees. He sees me. He sees my circumstances. He sees my tears. He sees my joys and my weaknesses. He sees how others treat me and how I treat them. There is not a single thing He misses. He doesn't need bi-focals or x-ray binoculars or contacts to see me.

In closing, Beth brings up Exodus 33:20-23, when Moses was on the mountain and he asked God, "Show me your glory." But God told Moses that no one could look upon the Lord and live. So he placed Moses in the cleft of the rock and covered him with his hand as the Lord passed by. What Moses saw was the "back of God." Beth ends today's lesson with this: "Sometimes we don't realize we've encountered God until our vision clears. Maybe that's what seeing His back means." I cried when I read that because I thought about the times when I truly had seen the back of God. He is always there....looking, watching, and waiting.

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