Wrestling with God– Genesis 31-32

Reading from Genesis 31, English Standard Version:

 31 Now Jacob heard that the sons of Laban were saying, “Jacob has taken all that was our father’s, and from what was our father’s he has gained all this wealth.” And Jacob saw that Laban did not regard him with favor as before. Then the Lord said to Jacob, “Return to the land of your fathers and to your kindred, and I will be with you.” Genesis 31:1-3 (ESV)

The Lord had enriched Jacob with large flocks and a large family.  He had spent twenty years serving his father-in-law, Laban, after fleeing his twin brother Esau, and had come away from these decades with many blessings.

But Laban had often treated Jacob deceitfully.  After seven years of labor, Jacob was finally given permission to marry his true love, Rachel, but through trickery Laban, forced Jacob to marry her older sister, Leah, first.

As an overflow from God’s many blessings toward Jacob, father-in-law Laban was also enriched, but Laban spent the riches and now wanted more.  As Jacob was beginning to think about returning home to Israel, Laban made it clear that he had no intention of letting him go.  Laban viewed his daughters, grand-children and Jacob’s vast flocks as his own possessions, and now Jacob found himself in a dangerous position.

God warned Jacob that bad feelings and intentions were rising in Laban and told him to return to the land of his father, Isaac.  But that land was also the home of Esau, his twin, who had promised to kill Jacob twenty years earlier, so there was plenty of anxiety on both ends. But God’s voice was clear, as it had been with Abraham many years earlier – it was time to go so go now. Like Abraham before him, Jacob honored God and went, but he did so by sneaking out. He packed up his family and possessions and left while his Laban was still away in the fields shearing his sheep.

Sometimes in our own lives, we need to a make a difficult decision about whether to stay in or to leave a bad situation.  Unlike Jacob, we do not always get a clear word from God about it.  Rarely is the decision an easy one. There is often a list of pros and cons to consider before prayerfully choosing the best course of action.  We pray, analyze, and step out in faith, staying or leaving, believing that the hand of God is guiding us and will gently lead us as we seek to do the right thing by Him.

Returning to Jacob and his journey:

32 Jacob went on his way, and the angels of God met him. And when Jacob saw them he said, “This is God’s camp!”  Genesis 32:1-3 (ESV)

As he departed on his journey, Jacob had the unique experience of glimpsing the angels that God had sent to watch out for him.  Angels are messengers from God, sent by Him to do His work.  There are countless stories of people in modern times who have narrowly avoided harm by the intervention of these heavenly beings.  The book of Hebrews mentions that some of us have entertained angels unaware of who they were.  I have had one or two encounters in my own life that I believe were possibly angelic beings in human form.  

Meanwhile, Jacob was on the move, caught between Laban and Esau, when suddenly he had an encounter with God himself:

24 And Jacob was left alone. And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. 25 When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched his hip socket, and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. 26 Then he said, “Let me go, for the day has broken.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” 27 And he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” 28 Then he said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.” 29 Then Jacob asked him, “Please tell me your name.” But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And there he blessed him. 30 So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered.” 31 The sun rose upon him as he passed Penuel, limping because of his hip.  Genesis 32:24-31 (ESV)

At the climax of his life crisis, Jacob spent an entire night wrestling with God.  This heavenly wrestling match, perhaps done with the pre-incarnate Christ Himself, seems to be the moment when Jacob finally surrendered to God.  He was in a desperate spot, realizing how much he needed God’s help and presence with him from this day forward.  Jacob held on tight to God and refused to let go.  He finally got serious with God.

At this critical moment, the Lord gave Jacob the name, “Israel”, which means “governed by God”.  May we all be governed by His love and will for us today.


What difficult decisions about change have you had to make in life? What decisions are before you today? 

Has there been a time where you think you might have seen angels in your life?  Why might God have put them there? 

Can you think of a time when you “wrestled” with God?  What were the circumstances that brought you to that point?  Is there still some more wrestling to do?

After wrestling with Jacob, God touched him on the hip, creating an infirmity that increased his dependence upon God.  What infirmities or difficulties have caused you to depend more upon God? 

Lord, thank You that You love us so much. Help us to listen to and rely upon You for direction and protection in our life. May I get serious with You as I wrestle with the challenges that lie before me. We ask you blessing and protection in Jesus’ name, Amen.

(Note: One possible angelic incident in my own life involved a traveler named Jerry, who had stopped in at our church’s Wednesday night dinner before we held Bible classes.  He was selling pencil drawings of Jesus for $1 each, and I purchased one (which I still have).  After the group dinner, Jerry attended our small class and had some interesting thoughts on the meaning of certain scriptural passages.  After class ended, he gave the co-instructor and I some insights about a woman attendee who had just left the room.  He said that despite her looking happy, she was having a secret emotional crisis and needed prayer and support.  Then Jerry went on his way, never to be seen again at the church again.  The woman recovered nicely over the following weeks.)

God appears to Jacob – Genesis 28

The Lord was with Jacob as he fled north to escape the wrath of his twin brother, Esau, whom he had enraged by tricking him out of the family blessing.  Along the way on his journey, the Lord appeared to Jacob in a dream:

 11 And he (Jacob) came to a certain place and stayed there that night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place to sleep. 12 And he dreamed, and behold, there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven. And behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it! 13 And behold, the Lord stood above it and said, “I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac. The land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring. 14 Your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south, and in you and your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed. 15 Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” 16 Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.” 17 And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.”  Genesis 28:11-17 (ESV)

This was the first of three times that the Lord would appear to Jacob. Each time, Jacob responded in a more mature, faith-filled way.  His initial response to God’s appearing was not necessarily evident in his behavior, but the hard knocks of life would have a tenderizing effect on both Jacob and his resulting faith.

Our own experiences interacting with God may not be as dramatic or as direct as Jacob’s (though for some they may be), but they can be just as impactful on our lives and in our manner of living.  Our initial response to God’s calling may not be as faithful as we later would have liked, but any positive response we have represents progress and improvement.  It pleases the Lord whenever we seek to change bad direction and begin to follow Him and his ways.

Just as the Lord spoke to Jacob, he speaks to us today:

15 Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go.  Genesis 28:15 (ESV)

As I write this, I am heart-broken because of the loss of a beloved pet.  My head knows that it was God’s appointed time for her to depart, but my heart is struggling and pained by the loss.  She was a tremendous gift of God to our family, and such a blessing to so many who knew her and loved her so deeply.  Yes, it is time to let her go.  And blessings be given to God Most High, who gives us such wonderful gifts, and comforts us when the sword of loss pierces our heart.

The Lord promises that He is and will be with us always, working to guide us and to keep us safe wherever we go.  To another continent as He leads?  Yes.  To a new job site, or working from home, to the unemployment office, to the hospital, or even to the jail if we have made a poor choice? Yes, He is there. Down a road of loss, grief and pain?  Yes.  He will be with us to comfort and keep us in all situations.

God promised Jacob that, through him and his offspring, all the nations of the earth would be blessed (Genesis 28:14). This happen with the birth of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, who brings salvation to all believers worldwide.

All people are being freely offered the love and salvation of Jesus, who appeared through the lineage of Jacob, a person who dreamed of God, a heavenly ladder and a host of angels ascending and descending upon it.  This is also a special calling to you and I – God has a unique plan for each of our lives.  

You are a special creation of God – no one else on earth is like you or is able to do what God has prepared for you to do.  Your personality and experience divinely shapes you to credibly share a message of hope and love in a way that no other person can.  God has a specific purpose for your life.  It may include just being present and compassionate to reflect the grace and love of God to someone at a critical moment in their life. 

As we connect with Jesus, we, like Jacob, are empowered to become a blessing to all the people we encounter on this earth.


Have you ever had a dream that you believe was from God? How did it impact you?

Jacob said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.”  Is there a time or event in your life where you had thought God was not present or had abandoned you?  Looking back in faith, can you now see that He WAS there, and you did not know it?

Lord, thank You for never leaving me. I am grateful for Your loving presence. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

Jacob and Esau – Genesis 25

The New Testament begins this way:

1 The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.   Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers.  Matthew 1:1-2 (ESV)

As we have seen, God began to reveal his plan for the genealogy of Jesus Christ back in Genesis, the first book of the Old Testament. We see Abram, later renamed Abraham by God, being called out of his homeland to follow the path chosen by the Lord to advance His plan of salvation for all people. 

Abraham then waited twenty-five years for his promised son, Isaac.  Next in the chosen line came Isaac’s son, Jacob.  Jacob is a critical member of the genealogy of Jesus Christ.  He is the father of the twelve tribes of Israel, including Judah, the one through whom Jesus would later appear. 

But Jacob was one of the last people we might select for such a position.  Often crafty, manipulative and outright deceptive in his youth, Jacob was one we would probably want to stay away from.  But God saw the potential for great faith in his heart.  Jacob’s hard edges would later be whittled down by another even more cunning and deceitful than himself, his uncle and future father-in-law, Laban. Their relationship would prove to be a humbling challenge for Jacob, bringing him to the point of surrender to a loving God for relief and deliverance.

20 Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah, the sister of Laban the Aramean, to be his wife. 21 And Isaac prayed to the Lord for his wife, because she was barren. And the Lord granted his prayer, and Rebekah his wife conceived.  Genesis 25:20-21 (ESV)

For a time, it seemed like Jacob might never be born.  But God made it clear that He was in the center of this situation.  As Isaac and Rebekah were initially unable to have children, it would take another miracle for the genealogy to continue.  This often seems to be God’s pattern, to show His miraculously role in our lives. Eventually, after a season of prayer, Rebekah conceived.

But this would not prove to be an easy pregnancy for her. Rebekah was carrying twins and it felt as if they were battling one another.  Puzzled as to what was happening, she inquired of the Lord.

23 And the Lord said to her, “Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you shall be divided; the one shall be stronger than the other, the older shall serve the younger.” Genesis 25:23 (ESV)

God thus revealed to Rebekah the situation with her children.  The firstborn, Esau, would become a strong and rugged outdoorsman.  He would go on to be the founder of Edom, a neighboring nation to Israel that throughout their early history would be a thorn in their side.  The younger of the twins, Jacob, would be God’s choice to be father of the twelve tribes of Israel.  He would later be given the name Israel by God. Jacob’s son, Judah, would then further the regal line of kings leading to the Messiah, Jesus Christ, who scripture refers to as the Lion of Judah (Revelation 5:5).

The relationship between twin brothers Esau and Jacob was very contentious.  While Esau was often out hunting and bringing back delicious meals for his father Isaac, Jacob stayed close to home and was a favorite of their mother Rebekah.  Over time, Esau came to hate Jacob.  He believed that Jacob “stole” two things from him, 1) his birthright as the first born and 2) their father Isaac’s spiritual blessing.  This blessing was a major event, and all the family members were aware of its reality and power in God.  God honored the blessing, even though it was acquired by Jacob through deceit rather than faith.

Esau had a decent case to make against Jacob.  In the first instance, though Jacob did not technically “steal” the birthright, he took advantage of Esau’s fatigue, hunger, ignorance, and impulsiveness to make an unfair deal for it, with Esau trading it away for a pot of stew.  In the second case, however, Jacob, at the urging of his mother, used outright deception to steal Isaac’s blessing from Esau.  Perhaps Jacob felt entitled to do so because he was now owner of Esau’s birthright, and the blessing was associated with it. But clearly, Jacob did not consider his brother’s best interest in the matter.  As a result of the deception, Esau was livid and planned to kill Jacob as soon as his father Isaac died, perhaps in part to reclaim the birthright.  Rebekah learned of the plan, and Jacob was forced to flee for what would turn out to be twenty years away from home.

Despite the deception, Isaac blessed Jacob once more before he left, sending him back north to Haran, to Rebekah’s family of origin, to seek a bride.  Esau became even more upset when he learned of Isaac’s second blessing to Jacob, In his resentment, he married two local Canaanite women who did not worship or regard God, which he knew would deeply grieve his parents.   

As the life of Jacob demonstrates, God chooses and uses imperfect people to accomplish His will.  Despite Jacob’s many flaws, God saw something in him that Esau apparently lacked – a potential for faith. The Lord had a plan to extend a blessing to Jacob, even before Jacob stole it. He was God’s choice in the kingly line which would lead to the birth of His people, Israel and the Messiah, Jesus Christ. Jesus brings the gift of eternal life to all in the world who will open their hearts to Him in faith. He is reaching out to all today, if we will invite Him in.


It was clear to Rebekah and Jacob that God intended to bless Jacob rather than his older brother, Esau.  Yet, they still schemed to come up with a deceptive plan when it looked like Isaac was about to give Esau the blessing.  Their plan might have worked, but it brought many negative consequences. 

Where in our lives are we unwisely trying to “help God along” with things that we want Him to do for us?

Father, we bring all of our faults, failures, and shortcomings to the cross of Christ for Your forgiveness and healing. Grant us the faith to trust in You and Your good plan for the things we are waiting for in our lives. Help us to walk with You, now and throughout all of eternity. We ask this in Jesus’ name, Amen.

A Spouse for Isaac – Genesis 24

24 Now Abraham was old, well advanced in years. And the Lord had blessed Abraham in all things. 2 And Abraham said to his servant, the oldest of his household, who had charge of all that he had…swear by the Lord, the God of heaven and God of the earth, that you will not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell, but will go to my country and to my kindred, and take a wife for my son Isaac.”  Genesis 24:1-4 (ESV)

Towards the end of his life, Abraham asked his trusted servant and steward to travel 500 miles (820 km) with a caravan of 10 camels to find a bride for his precious son, Isaac.  Isaac was around forty years old by this time, and Abraham was trusting God to make good on all of His generational promises that would be fulfilled through Isaac.

Abraham had waited twenty-five years just for Isaac to be born.  There had been many trials and faith challenges throughout his wait.  But his journey, like ours, had been truly blessed in all things.  Even the most faithful lives are filled with trials, loss, mistakes and pain.

Our childhood years are times of many fun blessings, but we also learn about hard things like fear, unfairness, and mistreatment.  Our middle years are also filled with good things, but troubles and difficulties, as well. And in our later years, we can look back to see all of the blessings in our life mingled with times of loss and pain.  Along our journey, we may face loneliness, doubt, anxiety, depression or insecurity.  It is easy to lose sight of the positive things that surrounded us because of negative situations or experiences that dominate our attention and feelings.  Only by the grace of a loving God can our hearts continually turn to Him to experience the peace that comes from His presence in our lives.

God is the Potter of Life, and we are His clay.  He decides when and how to bless us. God’s perfect timing does not always meet with our approval.  But He is the Sovereign God. As His clay, we do not have sufficient knowledge or wisdom about His purposes or reasons to argue with the potter (although we are allowed to petition and pray to Him about it).

Despite his own difficulties and occasional failures, Abraham continued to have great faith in God.  He expressed this faith to his servant when sending him off to find a spouse for his son, Isaac:

7 The Lord, the God of heaven, who took me from my father’s house and from the land of my kindred, and who spoke to me and swore to me, ‘To your offspring I will give this land,’ he will send his angel before you, and you shall take a wife for my son from there.  Genesis 24:7 (ESV)

Abraham was correct, the Lord was leading the way for his servant to find Isaac’s bride and life-mate, Rebekah.  By this time, Abraham was well advanced in years, around 140 years old.  He would live for another thirty-five years, but his life-mate, Sarah, was at this point deceased for around three years.  After his own season of grief, Abraham was now focused on finding the right life-mate for his son.  (Abraham would go on to have additional marriages, but little comment is made on these in the scriptures, as they did not contribute to the line of the Jewish people and the genealogy of Jesus Christ).

Abraham’s servant made the trip, and at the end of his journey, God answered the prayer of his heart before he had even finished praying.  The servant described what happened when he reached his destination:

42 “I came today to the spring and said, ‘O Lord, the God of my master Abraham, if now you are prospering the way that I go, 43 behold, I am standing by the spring of water. Let the virgin who comes out to draw water, to whom I shall say, “Please give me a little water from your jar to drink,” 44 and who will say to me, “Drink, and I will draw for your camels also,” let her be the woman whom the Lord has appointed for my master’s son.’

45 “Before I had finished speaking in my heart, behold, Rebekah came out with her water jar on her shoulder, and she went down to the spring and drew water. I said to her, ‘Please let me drink.’ 46 She quickly let down her jar from her shoulder and said, ‘Drink, and I will give your camels drink also.’ So, I drank, and she gave the camels drink also…48 Then I bowed my head and worshiped the Lord and blessed the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, who had led me by the right way to take the daughter of my master’s kinsman for his son. Genesis 24:42-45,46,48 (ESV)

How quickly does the Lord answer our prayers?  Sometimes, as on the journey for Isaac’s spouse, very quickly. Other times, as with Isaac’s birth, He answers very slowly. But He always gives us an answer to our prayers.  The answer may be “yes”, “no”, “not yet”, or some other answer, but there will ultimately be an answer there for us.

At the end of the servant’s journey, Rebekah and her family recognized that this opportunity originated from God.  They all responded positively to it.  This would be the family through which God would continue the lineage leading to Jesus Christ.  It wasn’t a perfect family by any means, as none are.  But it was the chosen one. And though they couldn’t have known where it was headed at the time, they recognized it was a divine calling, and they supported it.

It still required faith for Rebekah to accept and follow the servant back to her betrothed, Isaac.  She was not required to go; it was strictly a voluntary journey of faith.

Isaac and Rebekah play an important role in the genealogy of Jesus Christ.  Abraham’s servant also played a vital role by traveling the 500 miles to seek out the one God had set aside for Isaac.  And Rebekah exhibited her faith by leaving her family and homeland behind to come to Canaan, sight unseen, just as Abraham had done many decades earlier.


What happy times can you remember from your early days as a youth?  What challenges?  How would you characterize your life’s journey so far? Can you see an event in your life that seemed bad at the time but now you see God has used to bring you a blessing?

Just as it took faith for Isaac’s bride, Rebecca, to leave her past and accompany Abraham’s servant to marry Isaac, it takes faith for us to leave our past to join Jesus Christ as part of his bride, the Church.  The rewards of faith in both cases are overwhelmingly good.  Where are you today on your faith journey?

Perhaps you are ready to pray this prayer:

Lord Jesus, I am ready for You to come into my heart today. After years of Your calling, it is time for me to receive You in to my life. Forgive all of my sins and allow the Holy Spirit to come into my heart. We ask this in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Abraham, Man of Faith – Genesis 22

Faith in God is not always easy, even in the best of life’s circumstances.  Sometimes we face trials or hardships that challenge us to the point of requiring more than just basic faith to get by.  Other times, God may ask us to do something uncomfortable or difficult that we do not understand the reason for at all.

For example, in the sixth chapter of the Gospel of John, Jesus told his followers, “I am the bread of life.”  This was easy enough, as he had miraculously fed over 5,000 people from five loaves and two fish the day before.  However, Jesus went on to say that we must eat his flesh and drink his blood, or we will have not life in us.  With the benefit of hindsight, we know that he was talking about Holy Communion, believing in his death on the cross and resurrection from the dead, and how we remember His loving sacrifice for our sins every time we partake.  But those around Jesus at the time did not have the benefit of this context.  When they could not understand what he was saying, many simply chose to leave.

Another example of difficult faith is found in Exodus 14, when God freed the Israelites from Egypt but then led them to the edge of the Red Sea, where they were trapped by Pharaoh’s army of chariots.  As the Israelites now faced “certain” death, they could not know the reason God led them here – to prove to them His glory and faithfulness firsthand by parting the Red Sea and delivering them safely through it.  They would later be able to look back on His deliverance and remember to turn to God whenever they faced a challenge or a threat.

Perhaps the most difficult example of faith is found in Genesis 22.  Abraham had no context in which to understand why God was asking him to do a nearly impossible thing, nor did he have any idea how important his obedience would be to God.  Abraham was to face an extremely difficult decision – to either move forward in faith and obedience to God, or to turn away from Him.

22 After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” 2 He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.”   Genesis 22:1-2 (ESV)

This request was impossible! Unthinkable! That is the reaction these words bring to me, or would to anyone.  What could God possibly be asking here?  Isn’t God loving?  Isn’t God reasonable?  After waiting twenty-five years for their promised, cherished son Isaac, born to Sarah and Abraham beyond her childbearing years, foretold to be the father of so many they could not be counted, now the Lord wants him to be sacrificed as a burnt offering?  Absolutely unthinkable! 

What possible reason could the Lord have for ordering this?  Is this some mad idea?  (Spoiler alert: God stops him before Abraham goes through with it).

Before we totally give up on God’s sanity, there are two clues in these verses.  The first is “mountain I will show you in the land of Moriah.”  The second is “burnt offering.”

Mt Moriah is where the Lord will direct the temple of God to be built many centuries after Abraham.  It is also where God’s only begotten, cherished son, Jesus, will be crucified as an offering for the sins of the world.  It is a very holy place, set apart for God.  It is also, in our future, where the New Jerusalem will serve as the eternal earthly throne of Jesus Christ, future ruler of the entire world, as described in chapter 21 of the book of Revelation.

The second clue in God’s command to Abraham is the phrase “burnt offering.”  A burnt offering in the Old Testament is where one life (an innocent animal) was sacrificed and burned to bear the judgment and punishment for the sins of a person. In God’s holy creation, there must be a penalty paid for all sin or disobedience to God and his law.  And the penalty for sin is death.  Without the shedding of blood, there is no remedy or removal of sin (Hebrews 9:22).  The wages of sin is death, and the wages must be paid for one to be made holy, set apart from sin before God (Romans 6:23).

Initially, innocent animals were sacrificed to temporarily cover the sins of people, but ultimately, God Himself will provide the sacrifice to suffer, die and to pay the penalty for all our sins.  In effect, God is not asking Abraham to do anything that God will not do for us in the future.  The big difference is, God stopped Abraham, whereas Jesus went through with it for us.

God is a loving God, and he is asking Abraham to be willing to share in the pain that God will experience Himself when Jesus is beaten and crucified for our sake. And without knowing the reason or result, Abraham will exhibit an extraordinary willingness to obey God even under this most extreme and mysterious of circumstances.  It was a magnificent demonstration of faith and faithfulness, second only to that exhibited by Jesus Christ when he surrendered Himself for us on the cross.

3 So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac. And he cut the wood for the burnt offering and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. 4 On the third day Abraham lifted his eyes and saw the place from afar. 5 Then Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; I and the boy will go over there and worship and come again to you.”6 And 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, they went both together.7 And Isaac said to his father Abraham, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” He said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” 8 Abraham said, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So, they went both together.  Genesis 22:3-8 (ESV)

It has been noted that for the three days of the journey, Isaac was as good as dead in Abraham’s grieving mind.  This parallels with Jesus being in the tomb until he was raised on the third day.  This span of time also presented Abraham many opportunities to change his mind, waking up each morning anew to the horrible reality he faced.  Yet each day, he marched on in obedience to the Lord.  How challenging an existence, yet what faith he demonstrated!

During these three days, Isaac is apparently unaware of what is about to happen, and his innocence must have added to the burden Abraham felt in his heart.  In like manner, how God the Father must have been deeply troubled as the totally innocent Jesus voluntarily went to his suffering and crucifixion for our eternal well-being and salvation.  The love of God for us exceeded His suffering and grief.  The obedience of Abraham might even have served as an emotional support as Jesus faced the cross because of his love for us.  

9 When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built the altar there and laid the wood in order and bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to slaughter his son. 11 But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” 12 He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” 13 And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son.  Genesis 22:9-13 (ESV)

The ram was substituted as an offering for Isaac just as Jesus was substituted as an offering for us.

14 So Abraham called the name of that place, “The Lord will provide”; as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.” Genesis 22:14 ESV

Jesus provided his sacrifice by being crucified for us on Mount Moriah, the mount of the Lord, on the north side of the temple.

15 And the angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven 16 and said, “By myself I have sworn, declares the Lord, because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies, 18 and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.”  Genesis 22:15-18 (ESV)

God’s testing of Abraham by asking him to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, is perhaps the most challenging chapter in the Bible. The Lord was testing Abraham’s willingness to obey under the most extreme of circumstances.  And God himself would later provide the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus, on the very same mountain.

This “blessing of all nations” because Abraham obeyed God’s voice would happen in the context of the genealogy of Jesus Christ.  Abraham, the first person named in the genealogy, was asked to offer up his precious son, exactly as God the Father willingly did with Jesus Christ over two thousand years later. 

“Because you have done this…in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.”  Genesis 22:16, 18 ESV

Abraham’s demonstration of faith was clearly very important to God.  Because Abraham obeyed, all the nations indeed will be blessed with healing from sin and enjoy eternal salvation through the fruit of his lineage, Jesus Christ.

We experience complete forgiveness when we come to the cross.  Instead of punishment or rejection, we come under the eternal care of a God who loves us.  May we all enjoy His gift today.


What is one of the hardest things God has ever asked you to do? How did you bear up under it?

Do you currently have a loved one in a difficult situation, one that you would willingly take their place in?

Despite many failings in his own life, Abraham is known as a man of faith.  His greatest moment of coming to Mount Moriah despite the most difficult of circumstances was, in a sense, his coming to the cross moment. 

Let us pray:

Father God, we come to the cross of Christ for complete forgiveness and eternal life with You. May we walk with Jesus today with peace and joy in faith, grateful for each blessing You give. Help us to obey Your voice, We ask this in Jesus’ name, Amen.

A Second Chance – Genesis 15

In calling and reaching out to Abraham, God was also reaching out to us, to humanity, for a second time.  The first time God interacted with people, before the judgment of Noah’s flood, we chose to ignore His call and to disregard Him and His words.  The Bible tells us that every imagination of our hearts was evil, and the result was global chaos with rampant violence and bloodshed.  Few on the earth walked with a consciousness of the Lord in their daily lives and most lived only for themselves at the expense of others. 

In the end, only one person, Noah, truly sought the Lord, and as a result he was blessed with God’s divine companionship, forgiveness and fellowship. God began to build a new, eternal community of faith though Noah and his seed, Abraham.

After his calling, Abraham would live in the promised land of Israel.   Eventually, his grandson Jacob’s family would be compelled to move down to Egypt due to a severe famine, and their exile would last for several centuries.  Abraham had been warned by God about this in advance:

12 As the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell on Abram (Abraham). And behold, dreadful and great darkness fell upon him. 13 Then the Lord said to Abram, “Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years. 14 But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions.  Genesis 15:12-14 ESV

God disclosed that Abraham’s descendants would go from living a life of prosperity and blessing to living an oppressed life as slaves in Egypt, all happening over the course of several hundred years.  Then, when God’s timing was right, eighty-year old Moses would be sent to free those descendants from the bondage of Egypt, leading them by divine grace towards the Promised Land of Israel.

Abraham had been personally chosen and called by God, the Creator of the universe.  It was an extreme privilege, but it was not a life of ease and leisure.  Though blessed with many riches, Abraham would live a life of many challenges with strong demands placed upon his faith.  But he would prevail, as noted by the apostle Paul in Galatians chapter 3 where he says that the true sons of Abraham are not necessarily his blood descendants, but those who believe like Abraham, the “man of faith.”

Abraham did have tremendous faith, but he was not perfect.  Consider the case of his promised son.  It had been decades since God promised seventy-five-year-old Abraham that his descendants would become a great nation.  And many years since God said his descendants would be more numerous than the stars in the heavens.  Yet, so far, no child had come along.  After ten years of waiting, Abraham and Sarah came up with their own plan in place of God’s. Using Sarah’s maid as a surrogate mother (Genesis 16), Ishmael was born.  But this did not change God’s mind in the matter of divine lineage, and He did not alter it.  God is sovereign over our lives.  We can pray to Him and ask Him to make changes, but when God’s plan is better for us, He will lovingly and gently say “No”.

The royal line of Christ recorded in the genealogy of Jesus comes through Isaac, who would be born to Sarah on God’s timeline.  No matter how old she was or how unlikely or impossible it appeared to Abraham and Sarah at the time, God fulfilled His word to them and established the line of Christ through Isaac, Sarah and Abraham’s son.


God is calling out to each one of us to give us another chance, be it the second one the hundredth.

Abraham had to wait on God for his promised blessing. What in your life are you are waiting for God to make happen?  Is there something missing that you believe He had promised you?  Something you had earnestly asked for that you have not received? Or is there something you have lost that has produced tremendous grief and perhaps has formed a barrier between you and God? 

The Lord has said, “Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.”  Deuteronomy 31:6, Hebrews 13:5 ESV.  He wants each of us to live a life of peace and joy in Him, despite our circumstances.

Let us pray,

Lord, we lift our burdens, losses and heartaches to you. We ask for Your relief, comfort and grace. Remove also from us the pain of disappointment and regret. Bring us fulfillment and joy in your Presence as we seek another chance to walk with You. We ask this in Jesus’ name, Amen.

We can continually seek God’s help to accept some large obstacle or hole in our life.  The Serenity Prayer can be a great tool to use for this, throughout each day:

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.”  Amen.

God’s Covenant with Abraham – Genesis 15:1-6

15 The word of the Lord came to Abram (Abraham) in a vision: “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.” 3 And Abram said, “Behold, you have given me no offspring, and a member of my household will be my heir.” 4 And behold, the word of the Lord came to him: “This man shall not be your heir; your very own son shall be your heir.” 5 And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” 6 And he believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness.  Genesis 15:1, 3-6 (ESV)

Abram (Abraham) was in a difficult situation. He had been promised an impressive lineage by God, yet he and his wife Sarai were aging, and at this point had no offspring to show for it.  God had blessed Abram and made him wealthy, but none of the promised descendants were yet on the horizon.  And Abram and Sarai were getting more than a little impatient with God.

The Lord responded to Abram, “Trust me.  Don’t fear, I will protect you and bring you descendants as numerous as the stars that I have created above you.”  And Abram believed the Lord, and the Lord counted his belief as righteousness.

Just what is “righteousness?”  Some responses are 1) living a life pleasing to God, 2) honoring God’s commandments and 3) making morally correct choices in God’s eyes.  In all cases, it is a standard of behavior set by God that He wants us to sincerely honor, both within our hearts and with our actions.  The unfortunate situation is that we humans generally do a poor job of this.  That is why Jesus had to come – to personally bear the consequences that we deserve for continually falling short of God’s standard of goodness.  But God offers us a life rope – through faith in Jesus’ suffering, crucifixion, burial and victorious resurrection, we believers are thoroughly cleansed and given the new clothing of God’s righteousness.  God did for us what we absolutely could not do for ourselves.  Furthermore, He continues to extend new mercies to us each day, forgiving us and healing us of our failures and shortcomings. He restores our fallen state to one of righteousness.

God gave Moses the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:2-17) to help define the types of behavior God seeks from us, and Jesus clarified these further in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7).  In fact, Jesus tells us that even having the thought or desire to do wrong causes us to fall short of His will for us. But there is good news. Jesus lived the righteous life that met this godly standard, and because of the sacrificial price He paid on the cross, we are credited with all of the rich benefits and blessings of His righteousness when we open our hearts to receive Him.

The Apostle Paul points to Abraham as a demonstration of how we are saved and made righteous with God through our faith in Christ.

4 What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, discovered in this matter? 2 If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about—but not before God. 3 What does Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” Romans 4:1-3 ESV

Jesus also talks about the basis of eternal salvation in John 5:

24 “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.  John 5:24 ESV

The very act of believing God and receiving His son, Jesus Christ, is a life-giving act of righteousness. 

From this smallest mustard seed of faith, new life is given to us and continues to grow.  As we learn more about Abraham in the book of Genesis, we see that, like us, he was not perfect.  He was a human being with plenty of shortcomings, but his faith pleased God, and God used his faith to credit Abraham with righteousness. 

May our faith be pleasing to God today!


God told Abraham to “Fear not”.  There is a difference between a rational concern about a serious situation and being consumed with fear, worry and anxiety about it.  God wants us to live without crippling anxiety, and to approach Him in prayer about every fear-causing situation.

What is happening, or not happening, in your life right now that is a major concern for you?  Let us bring it before the Lord.

Lord, thank You that You want us to live without fear. Just as Jesus rebuked the raging sea and produced a great calm, we ask You to do this in our own hearts. We ask this in Jesus’ name, Amen.

The Call of Abraham – Genesis 12

12 Now the Lord said to Abram (Abraham), “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. 2 And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”  4 So Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot (his nephew) went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Harran.  Genesis 12:1-4 (ESV)

The call of Abram, later given the name Abraham, was God’s first step in restoring His relationship with people, a relationship that had been broken by sin.  As evidenced by Cain rising up and murdering his brother, Abel, man’s nature has always had a bent towards sin. People are independent thinkers, and often times, we prefer to walk in our own rebellious ways rather than to honor God’s. 

Many of us today have lived our lives far away from God. Some of us were once close to Him and later turned away, while others of us have never given God much of a thought at all. 

Like Abraham, God has called each one of us from wherever we are to begin to or return to following Him.  The loving and holy God wants to be involved in our daily lives, to experience us and to bless us, His creations.

God called Abram out of his comfort zone in the city Ur (in Iraq), through Haran (in Turkey), and into a new land, Israel.  He did this to begin a new type of relationship with people based upon faith. The Lord is reaching out to each one of us, seeking those who are willing to believe in and walk with Him.

Some today believe that God chooses to be far away, distant and aloof, and is not at all interested in participating in our daily lives.  God’s interactions with Abraham and with all his descendants throughout the genealogy of Jesus Christ prove that this is not the case at all.  God loves us and wants to be an intimate part of our daily experiences. He also wants to use us for His good will, to be His “hands and feet”, reaching out to help others to experience the blessings of God.

Consider what the Lord said to Moses, a spiritual leader who came along years after Abraham:

7 Then the Lord said, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings, 8 and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey.  Exodus 3:7-8 ESV

12 Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.”  Exodus 4:12 ESV

God was with Moses, just as He was with Abraham, and is now with us. He cares deeply about each one of us, and also for those around us that He might reach through us.

Abraham was seventy-five years old when God called him to begin a new life in a different land. At that age, he might not have been thrilled about picking up and moving to a new and unknown territory.  But when God reaches out to touch us, His presence provides us with the energy we need.

God warned Abraham that in answering the call, he was going to be a sojourner in a new land, a land currently occupied by others. But God also promised him some incredible things: 1) he would become a great nation, and 2) through his descendants, all the families on the earth would be blessed.  This would ultimately be accomplished through his lineage, which culminated in the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ, who would bring salvation and the Kingdom of God to all believers on earth.

The Holy Spirit is now moving throughout the earth, bringing a blessing to all who would respond to His call. As God had promised Abraham – through him, all the nations on the earth will indeed be blessed.


I have a friend who uses “divine inconveniences” to describe the times when God nudges us to do something while we are busy or focused on doing something else.  Can you recall a time this happened to you?  Where did it lead?

God’s call to Abram led to a major life change for him and his wife, Sarah.  How are you with change?  What change is God calling you to make today?

Lord, thank You for reaching out to me. Please help me to respond positively to Your call today. We ask for Your blessings in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Your Father Abraham – John 8

The first book of the New Testament, Matthew, begins with this:

1 The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.  2 Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers.  Matthew 1:1-2 ESV

Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and his sons are referred to as the Fathers of the Faith or the Patriarchs.  Jesus referred to them often, and his disciples and the crowds He spoke to were well acquainted with them and their importance in the family of God. 

For example, in the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus spoke of their presence at a future heavenly banquet:

11 I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.  Matthew 8:11 ESV

Abraham is mentioned throughout the New and Old Testaments.  Jesus referred to him on multiple occasions, as did Paul in his letters, or epistles.  The writer of Hebrews includes Abraham in the faith “Hall of Fame” in Chapter 11.  Though clearly a person of great prominence in the word of God, many today are not quite sure who Abraham was or why he is so important.

Abraham is significant because he was the first person to be called out to begin the restoration of the family of faith in God. His lineage would become the royal line of Jesus Christ, who saves believers throughout all the world from our sins.  Abraham is the father of all in the family of God.  If you are a Jewish worshiper, you may have a blood connection to Abraham, though the rest of us are spiritually connected to him through our faith.

In the New Testament books of Romans and Galatians, the apostle Paul writes how we are all joined together as one after the Man of Faith, Abraham.  In the next few meditations, we will see how Abraham demonstrated his faith, most notably with his son Isaac at Mt. Moriah.

Abraham also plays a critical role in the ministry of Christ. Jesus had many discussions with opponents who sought to kill him because He “claimed” to be God. He is, but they did not believe or receive Him. One of theIr discussions centered around the person of Abraham:

31 Jesus said… “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” 33 They answered him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?”  34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. 35 The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. 37 I know that you are offspring of Abraham; yet you seek to kill me because my word finds no place in you.  John 8:31-37 (ESV)

Jesus’ opponents were angered by his statements and angrily protested:

53 Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? And the prophets who died! Who do you make yourself out to be?” 54 Jesus answered… 56 Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.” 57 So (they) said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?”  58 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” 59 So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.  John 8:53-57 (ESV)

Jesus claimed both an intimate personal relationship with Abraham and that He existed even before Abraham.  Furthermore, Jesus used the term “I am,” which his audience knew was the name God revealed about Himself to Moses at the burning bush in the desert.  Jesus was referring to himself as God.  Hearing this, those who rejected Jesus were enraged enough to seek to stone him to death.

Later, they would crucify Jesus unto death. But His voluntary sacrifice was an essential part of God’s eternal plan of salvation.  The blood of bulls and goats in the Old Testament Jewish ritual sacrifices were important expressions of obedience and faith, but could not truly atone for the sins of mankind that separate all of us from God.  Only the pure sacrifice of Jesus Christ could fulfill the requirement of holiness needed to remove our separation from God and to make us holy to allow His Holy Spirit to reside within us.  The Holy Spirit cleanses believers daily through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the washing of the word of God.


Jesus said that the truth will set us free if we abide in his word.  To “abide” means to accept, act in accordance with, obey, and remain in. 

What areas of obedience do you struggle with the most?  We ask God to help us. He loves us deeply even when we fail with our word and actions.

Father God, forgive and purify us from the sin we confess to You. Help us to turn away from our sin.  Thank You for not condemning us, and help us to turn to You to become a stronger and more fruitful believer.

The Genealogy of Jesus Christ – Matthew 1

Upon first opening the New Testament, we see in the first chapter of the gospel of Matthew a list of 42 curious names.   This list, referred to as the genealogy of Jesus Christ, is often greeted by the reader with a quick scan, a brief look at some of the unfamiliar names, and a skip ahead to the next section.

Not so fast!  While the first reading may not be the optimum time to delve into the list, there are many benefits to going back and following up on the rich stories behind each individual, as found in the Old Testament.

This genealogy is the royal lineage of the now and eternal king, Jesus Christ.  Jesus is the fulfilment of God’s promise that there will always be a king from the line of David on the throne of Israel into the Kingdom of Heaven (2 Samuel 7).

Here is Matthew’s version of the genealogy of Jesus:

1 The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.

2 Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, 3 and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram, 4 and Ram the father of Amminadab, and Amminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, 5 and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, 6 and Jesse the father of David the king.

And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah, 7 and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asaph, 8 and Asaph the father of Jehoshaphat, and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah, 9 and Uzziah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, 10 and Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, and Manasseh the father of Amos, and Amos the father of Josiah, 11 and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon.

12 And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah was the father of Shealtiel, and Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, 13 and Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, and Abiud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor, 14 and Azor the father of Zadok, and Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliud, 15 and Eliud the father of Eleazar, and Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob, 16 and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ.

17 So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations.  Matthew 1:1-17 ESV (English Standard Version)

The genealogy can be divided into three sections, 1) the early fathers of the Jewish faith in God Most High, known as the Patriarchs, and their descendants up to the time of Israel’s King David, 2) the era of the kings of Israel, from David through Jechoniah, and 3) the governors of Judah, who fill the gap between the kings of Israel and the coming eternal King, Jesus Christ. 

Notice that several women play key roles in the genealogy of the Christ.  These include Rahab, Ruth, Tamar and Mary, Jesus’ mother.  Outside of the genealogy, a queen named Esther played a very key role in the preservation of the holy lineage.

The genealogy is a love story between God and His people. It is a story of blessing and preservation through hardship, of redemption, and an offer of eternal life that is extended to all because of the genealogy and its Fruit.

The format for this study is a series of daily meditations. We invite the Holy Spirit to instruct each of us in the way that He chooses, and to use this all over the globe, bearing fruit until the return of Jesus Christ. Along the way, we ask Him to unlock the treasures found in the lives of the people who make up the genealogy.  Help us to find new gold daily as we sift through Your precious word, and silver as You bring us new truths about Yourself and Your desire to play a role in our daily lives.

I pray that we all find much encouragement and guidance for living as we witness our loving God in action as He leads us on our spiritual journey.


Had you read the genealogy before today?  What is your reaction to it? 

What is one thing you would like to get out of this daily study? 

Heavenly Father, be with us to teach us and guide us as we proceed through Your Word, learning the depths of Your love and wisdom as we follow the genealogy of Jesus Christ. We ask this in Jesus’ name, Amen.