Strange

Have you ever had life not make sense? A series of events and then some time and nothing. We process life as it comes and here on the heels of incredible despair, stress riddled days turn to months or even years and you are still wondering. This is Abe. I know it is Easter and our savior has risen, but even in the Old Testament, way back before Isaiah said a son is born to us, named: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6) Predating even the law, a promise was made and two sons rivaled his heart only to send one and later required to give one. Ishmael is sent away by the Lord in Genesis 21. For close to a decade Abe has mulled over in tranquil peace, his relationship with Jehovah Olam, the Everlasting God. As his relationship has grown, apparently his love and affection for Isaac as grown as well. 

Last week’s episode shared how Abe learned that he could trust God and that the Lord would do as He has said. Has life ever moved swimmingly with all the fluidity of your hopes and dreams only to awaken from your watery dream with and question? No ordinary ask, this was more than a mustard seed moment and made even less sense because of the series of events that brought you here. When life seems Strange and doesn’t make sense, we need to do three things: Go, Trust and Reside.

Go where the Lord guides (Genesis 22:1-8). With Abe’s child of problem and promise, Ishmael sent away, the stage is set for the father of all faith tests. Here is the passage’s context. Genesis 22:1~Some time later God tested (נָסָה nacah) Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!” (ESV). (נָסָה nacah) means to tempt or to test, so this story of Abe and Isaac, a boy and his father on a journey to answer the question of what is your greatest love is a test of Abe’s faith. It reminds us a growing faith requires testing. When God tests our faith, it stretches and grows. God is now going to ply Abe’s faith with maximum tension. Do you remember growing pains? Aching legs needing to be rubbed, as parents employ soothing words which often failed in comfort. If only Abe could have read James 1:3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (NIV) Maturation in life and faith isn’t an easy process. 



Everlasting Father

In Abimelech’s eyes, Abe has gone from despicable to respectable. Father Abe is over his entangling sin of intimidation by powerful men and complains to Abimelech that his servants have seized one of the wells he dug. The importance of wells in that desert area can’t be overstated. When we were missionaries, we lived on the provision of God, who sent us the rains and filled our cisterns. No rain meant that we were without water. So, no bathing, cooking, or cleaning. Water is a very precious commodity. Throughout history, it has been used as a weapon to cut off cities and open gates. General William T. Sherman’s memoirs contain an account of Confederate soldiers poisoning ponds by dumping the carcasses of dead animals into them. Water is valuable to all life.

Genesis 21:25-26~When Abraham reproved Abimelech…Abimelech said, “I do not know who has done this thing; you did not tell me, and I have not heard of it until today. (ESV) Abe said we had a contract, you and I. Acceptance of the lambs is lasting proof Abimelech acknowledges the well belongs to Abe. Abraham names the place in Genesis 21:31~ Therefore that place was called Beersheba (בְּאֵר שֶׁבַע Bĕ’er Sheba`) because there, both of them swore an oath. (ESV) Beersheba, which means the well of a sevenfold oath. It stands as a lasting memorial that this well is his and brings peace between Abe and Abimelech. Abe, he could have just demanded the well, but he goes the extra mile to keep the peace. Demonstrating Romans 12:18~If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. (NIV) What are you doing to keep the peace? This is not about letting the pot rumble until an explosion, it is about processing life as it comes, knowing the things that stir us up and navigating the moments that would spew onto others.

Genesis 21:33~Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba and called there on the name of the Lord, the Everlasting God (יְהֹוָה Yĕhovah עוֹלָם `owlam). (ESV) This is the first time this name for God appears in the Bible. (יְהֹוָה Yĕhovah עוֹלָם `owlam) is the everlasting God, he is eternally the same. Places change, cultures change, people change, but God is immutable; He never changes because there is nothing in Him that can be improved He is perfect.

Our Takeaway: Have you called on the Everlasting God? (יְהֹוָה Yĕhovah עוֹלָם `owlam)He desires to move in your life today. It has taken Abe a long time to get here, a place where like Hagar, his eyes are open to God and His provision. Psalm 32:7~You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance. (NIV) Defeating despair requires that Walls are Torn Down by Remembering God can do anything, Refocus on obedience, as we Depend on God’s direction, and Rest in God’s protection. Why not open your eyes to the goodness of God in Jesus Christ.



Rest in His love

Have you ever looked up and had your eyes open to the answer of God’s provision? God spoke to Hagar through an angel in heaven, but most often God speaks to us today through His Word as the Holy Spirit stirs us. Therefore, when we read God’s Word or hear it taught, especially in our darkest days, we should pray the prayer of Psalm 119:18~Open my eyes to see the wonderful truths in your instructions. (NLT) God didn’t create a well of water; He simply opens up Hagar’s eyes so she could see what was already there. When we are in despair, we often do not see what God is doing or has done. Often we discover that God does not create something new to deliver us. Rather, He simply opens our eyes to the resources that are already available to us. 

Hear me, this doesn’t mean that miracles don’t happen, because they do. Yet, some of the best miracles that happen in our lives are when God opens our eyes to see that this moment, that was so long in making, was already seen by God who directed our path to His divine providence. Saints, God sees it all! As we read or hear God’s Word, He often simply opens our eyes to resources we do not see. When we are in despair and tearing at the walls we need to remember God’s truth in Psalm 145:16~ You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing. (NIV)

Genesis 21:20~And God was with the boy, and he grew up. He lived in the wilderness and became an expert with the bow. (ESV) Now he has twelve sons Genesis 25:16~These were the sons of Ishmael, and these are the names of the twelve tribal rulers according to their settlements and camps. (ESV) His descendants live as nomads in the deserts of northern Arabia and become known as the Arab people. The Arab, Muhammad, founder and chief prophet of Islam, claimed descent from Ishmael. The animosity today between Israelis and Arabs can be traced back to Isaac and Ishmael. Thank you, Abe, for not trusting. Arabs believe God’s promise to Abraham was fulfilled through Ishmael and his 12 tribes, while the Jews believe it was fulfilled through Isaac and his 12 tribes. Both recognize Father Abe as the father of their race. Walls Torn Down: is about defeating despair in our lives and it requires that we Remember God can do anything, that we Refocus on obedience, that we are diligently Depending on God’s direction, and that we Rest.

Rest in God’s protection (Genesis 21:22-34). The news of Isaac’s birth apparently reaches Abimelech, whom Abe deceived in chapter 20 by telling him Sarah was his sister. Knowing God was with Abe and would bless him, Abimelech makes a covenant for a harmonious relationship between them. Genesis 21:22-24~At that time Abimelech and Phicol, the commander of his army said to Abraham, God is with you in all…therefore swear to me…by God that you will not deal falsely with me or with my descendants or with my posterity…Abraham said I will swear. (ESV)