In a recent sermon at our church the preacher gave an excellent message on Genesis 22:1 – 24, which is primarily the story of Abraham and Isaac. The preacher’s insights were profound and timely for our culture and our current circumstances. (You can listen to it on Faith Community Church’s page on Facebook, if you wish). But it was at the very end of his sermon that I sat up and paid attention. Not that I wasn’t already, but I resonated deeply with his comment on verses 20-24.
Those last few verses aren’t about Abraham. They’re about his brother, Nahor.
We all know the story of Abraham, how God promised he would have descendants more numerous than the sands on the seashore and that all nations would be blessed through him. But Abraham and Sarah reached old age without having even one child. Sarah laughed when a stranger told her she was about to bear a son and Abraham went along with her when she told him to take her servant to bed. Logic said that was a reasonable thing to do. But then Isaac was born and they learned the faithfulness of their God.
Abraham’s obedience when God told him to take his son up onto a high place and sacrifice him as a burnt offering has long been a source of astonishment to me. That he would even consider saying yes to that command makes my jaw drop. But it was through that obedience that Abraham learned something about himself and his God, something he could have learned no other way. God is not only faithful to fulfill His promises, no matter how impossible they seem, He also cares deeply about those to whom He has made those promises. God wasn’t just concerned about the future plans that would unfold through Abraham, He was concerned about Abraham and Isaac, then and there.
Then we come to those verses about Nahor. They are in fact a genealogy of Nahor’s children – all twelve of them! The preacher did not dwell on how that fact must have rubbed Abraham the wrong way, but I could well imagine. Because I’ve been there. Perhaps you have too.
He’s the neighbour with the bigger house or fancier car. He’s the colleague who gets the promotion. He’s the man who reaches old age without having gone through a single medical crisis. He’s the one who publishes a single book but gets invited to speak around the world. He’s the author whose books hit the best seller’s lists even though the writing is mediocre at best.
Yes, those last two have been all too real for me.
So I sat up and took notice when the preacher said that after Abraham’s time on that mountain “he looked at his brother and all his children and then he looked at Isaac and smiled. It was Abraham who was given the greater portion.” It was Abraham whose progeny would bless the world. With just one son.
It is a lesson I must repeat to myself over and over again. God has a plan for my life and my work. Trusting Him with my life, even when it seems the blessings are flowing in other directions, will bring a lasting smile to my face. Trusting Him with my work, even when it seems it’s swimming in a very small pond, will bring a lasting peace and the knowledge that striving for what is fleeting is pointless if God is not directing it.
“The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance. (Psalm 16:6, ESV).
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