Today's Cool Discovery. Backing up for a second, check out the Hebrew meanings of the 10 generations in Genesis 5. I have taken it from El Shaddai Ministries, but Wikipedia concurs:
- Adam = Mankind
- Seth = Appointed To
- Enos = Feeble, Frail, Mortality
- Cainan (Kenan) = A Fixed Dwelling Place
- Mahalaleel = God Who Is Praised
- Jared = Comes Down, Descend
- Enoch = To Instruct, Train Up
- Methuselah = A Man Sent Forth
- Lamech = To Be Beaten, Smitten, And Tortured
- Noah = To Bring Rest, A Quiet Peace
All together now: Mankind / is appointed to / a feeble, frail, mortality / in a fixed dwelling place. /God who is praised / comes down / to instruct / as a man sent forth / to be beaten, smitten and tortured /bringing rest, a quiet peace.
Chapter 16 is a good example of what happens when we try to get ahead of God. When we're waiting on an answer to prayer, or we believe He has made a promise to us, we must be patient and allow Him to answer in His own time and way. It's usually not the way we expect, and it often requires that we grow in our faith to receive it. Here's a lighthearted look at what happened when I got ahead of God while pursuing a romantic relationship several years back. Let's just say the results brought a residual, permeating stink into my life.
16:12 This son of yours will be a wild man, as untamed as a wild donkey! He will raise his fist against everyone, and everyone will be against him. Yes, he will live in open hostility against all his relatives.
Commentary (vs. 9-12): God has great things for Hagar's child. He will become a great nation. Indeed, Ishmael will become the father of all the Arabic peoples. Today's battle between Jew and Arab is nothing new. Both Jews and Arabs are descended from Abram by two half-brothers: Ishmael and the son to come later from Abram and Sarai, to be named Isaac. The entire conflict can be traced back to Abram's decision to "help God out" in the flesh, both when he agreed to inseminate Hagar, and when he went to Egypt to begin with. Who knows how far reaching the effects of our sin may be?
17:4 "This is my covenant with you: I will make you the father of a multitude of nations!" This verse is very significant to us. It's a promise that includes non-Jews, a.k.a. Gentiles (us), into God's family from the beginning with Abraham being our spiritual father.
17:10-11 This is the covenant that you and your descendants must keep: Each male among you must be circumcised. You must cut off the flesh of your foreskin as a sign of the covenant between me and you. The physical practice of circumcision was established as an outward symbolic sign of cutting ourselves away from our flesh in order to be set apart for God, as Romans 2:29 explains: "No, a true Jew is one whose heart is right with God. And true circumcision is not a cutting of the body but a change of heart produced by God's Spirit."
17:13-14 "All must be circumcised. Your bodies will bear the mark of my everlasting covenant. Any male who fails to be circumcised will be cut off from the covenant family for breaking the covenant." The mark we bear today of the everlasting covenant is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Those who do not bear this mark of "circumcision" will be cut off from the covenant family of God.
18:1 When Abraham saw 3 men, one was apparently the Lord (vs. 13), and the other two were likely angels. We can assume this is the Lord Jesus Christ, appearing to Abraham before His incarnation and birth at Bethlehem, because no one has seen God the Father at any time (John 1:18). There are many such physical visitations of God to men in the Old Testament, and I believe each time it is Jesus interacting with the human race.
Note in today's reading that everyone was at fault, living with the consequences of their sins (Sarai encouraged her husband to sleep with another woman to "force the hand" of producing offspring, Abram complied (imagine that?!), displaying his lack of faith in God as well, and Hagar allowed herself to get sucked into a love triangle. Understand that adultery had not been acknowledged yet because the law had not been given. But it's no wonder Hagar and Sarai were at odds.
So here's the lesson: In spite of their human failures, God redeemed their mistakes and even turned them into blessings. Not because they deserved it, and not because He excused their sin, but because of His faithfulness and on the basis of the promise He had given, just as 2 Tim. 2:13 reminds us, "Though we are faithless, He remains faithful." We don't read whether they were repentant or not, but a guaranteed fact with God is that no matter how badly we mess up, when we acknowledge and turn away from our sin, He will miraculously redeem our mistakes (bring good out of them). Feel the relief!
6:7 NASB says, "And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words." God does not want us to use repetitive, ritual, or memorized prayers. He wants fresh words and expressions from our hearts.
6:16: "And when you fast..." Fasting was never done away with Biblically. Why is it not spoken of very often in our churches or times? It is still necessary and expected, and we miss a whole realm of power in prayer without it. A great book I read on the topic is "God's Chosen Fast," by Wallis. I also have a whole section on my website devoted to the topic.
6:21 Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be. What do you treasure in this world? Investing in any type of treasure is the catalyst for our hearts to follow. If we treasure our bank account, toys, or financial security, that is where our desires will center. If we invest in God's work, our desires will center there. This verse teaches that feelings follow action. Instead of passively using the majority of our money and resources to gratify our fleshly desires or temporal pleasures, we must reverse the cycle. When we begin investing in eternal treasures as an act of the will, our hearts and desires will follow. A good example is when I began investing in missions, I eventually had more desire to learn about and invest more in missions. That led to going on missions and even getting more passionate about investing in them.
Proverbs 2:1-5 How does one find the wisdom of God?
Questions for personal reflection:
What unpleasant consequences have you brought upon yourself for getting ahead of God's timing? Did you see God bring good out of it later? How?
When others look at your life, do they observe a person who has been set apart for God?
Have you ever considered incorporating fasting prayers into your life?
In what specific and practical ways are you investing in eternal treasures with your money, time, talents, or prayers?