January 7

Read Genesis 19 -- 21

In Today's Reading:

Sodom destroyed; Lot and his daughters; birth of Isaac; Hagar and Ishmael; agreement between Abraham and Abimelech.

Lot soon had a prominent position in Sodom since he was sitting at Sodom's gate where business and legal matters were conducted (Genesis 19:1) Lot associated with the people of Sodom even though he was distressed by (their) unrestrained . . . immoral . . . deeds he saw (II Peter 2:7).

The Scriptures denounce homosexuality for which Sodom was known. Since homosexuality is so detestable in the eyes of God, we should pray for the sinner that he will repent and forsake sin (I Corinthians 9:11). The law grouped homosexuality with incest and bestiality (Leviticus 18:22-30; 20:13; Romans 1:24-27 ).

Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the appointed time God had told him (Genesis 21:2).

Isaac, the miracle child of promise, entered the family life of Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar the bondwoman. Hagar's son Ishmael soon revealed his true character through his contempt for Isaac. In the New Testament we read that Abraham had two sons. . . . the women represent . . . two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai and bears children into slavery — this is Hagar. . . Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise. But just as then the child born according to the flesh persecuted the one born according to the Spirit, so also now (Galatians 4:22,24,28-29).

These two sons, Ishmael and Isaac, illustrate the nature of our lives. We are first born of the flesh (John 3:6), symbolized by Ishmael. When the people on the day of Pentecost asked: "What do we do?" Peter said to them: Repent . . . and be baptized . . . and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38). The believer then becomes the possessor of the nature of God and the new life in Christ which is symbolized by Isaac, the child of faith (Romans 10:9-10; I John 3:1-2; 4:15).

Ishmael's hatred for Isaac is symbolic of the world and its hatred of Christ and His followers. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires (Galatians 5:24).

Christ Portrayed:

By Isaac, the promised son of God's covenant (Genesis 21:12) — in contrast to Ishmael, son of a bondwoman (Gal. 4:22-31). Life in Christ sets us free from bondage of the Law because God made a new covenant through Christ's blood (Matt. 26:28; Mark 14:24; Luke 22:20; I Cor. 11:25; see also Heb. 12:24).

Prayer Needs:

Government Officials: Rep. Loretta Sanchez (CA) and Rep. John Thune (SD) · Country: Latvia (3 million) on the eastern coast of the Baltic Sea in northeastern Europe · Major languages: Latvian and Russian · Religious freedom · 20% Protestant; 20% Roman Catholic; 15% Russian Orthodox; 1% Jewish · Prayer Suggestion: Ask the Lord to forgive your sins (Psalms 25:11).

Optional Reading: Matthew 7

Memory Verse for the Week: Matthew 5:3