“And He Appeared”
Torah: Genesis 18:1–22:24
PROPHETS: 2 Kings 4:1–37
APOSTOLIC WRITINGS: Luke 1:26–38; 24:36–53
These devotionals are designed to supplement, not replace, your Bible reading.
Torah 1 and 2
Shortly after undergoing circumcision, Abraham has unexpected guests.
Abraham’s hospitality is impeccable and they host a feast for the visitors.
God then makes a hilarious promise to this elderly couple. Is the promise of a son coming from their own bodies a new promise or the reiteration of covenant promises made to Abraham earlier in his life? (cf. 15:4 and 17:16, 19)
Sara’s Unbelief and Abrahams Minyan
Sarah misrepresents herself out of fear but God knows her actions and sees her inmost thoughts (v. 13; cf. Jeremiah 17:9-10).
Upon departure (v. 16) God reaffirms His promises (vv. 17–19; cf. 12:2-3). According to Gal.3:29, are you included in the ones written of in v. 19?
God then announces His plan to purge certain land of unrighteousness.
Two of the visitors leave while One stays behind. Were the departing visitors men or angels (cf. Heb.13:2)? According to v.1, who stayed behind with Abraham?
Finally, negotiations between God and man end with a minyan (quorum of 10 people needed, according to Jewish tradition, for corporate prayer) qualifying to save the city. Sarah’s disbelief does not thwart God’s ability to fulfill His promises.
God’s promise to raise us up after we die and live eternally in His Presence is as hard to believe as an elderly couple with a newborn baby! Look in your own heart… how certain are you of these “hoped for” things (cf. Hebrews 11:1)? Meditate on the fact that your disbelief will not thwart God’s ability to fulfill His promises either! How freeing!
Torah 3 and 4
Lot hospitably receives the visitors and insists that they do not remain in the inhospitable town square overnight.
Lot tries negotiating with the crowd but to no avail.
The unrighteous are blinded and will eventually be swept away in God’s wrath.
Partly because Lot demonstrated a love for God even over his own family (cf. v. 8) and definitely because of Abraham’s faithfulness (cf. v. 29), God saves Lot.
Lot, however, has his eye on a small, nearby town.
Lot Survives But Abraham Thrives
When permission is granted, Lot immediately goes and arrives there at dawn.
With Lot safely out of the way, God’s judgment falls on Sodom. Just as the unrighteous are swept away in Sodom & Gomorrah through fire and brimstone, so too did God’s judgment sweep away the unrighteous in Noah’s day through flood waters. Did you know that God’s judgment is coming again? Read Matthew 24:36–51 and Luke 17:26–37. How does this coming judgment compare to God’s earlier judgments? How does anticipating this judgment affect the way you live today? What changes would you to make in your life right now if you knew this judgment was coming for certain next year? What about next week?
Unfortunately, Lot’s wife’s unbelief carried a death sentence.
Abraham views the destruction from a safe distance.
Lot’s daughters continue the line of Abraham’s brother (cf. 11:27), which is the “back-story” for two of Israel’s future neighbors the Moabites and Ammonites.
Abraham’s sojourn in Gerar has many parallels to his earlier sojourn in Egypt (cf. 12:10–20) and foreshadows future interactions between the king of that land and both Abraham (cf. 21:22–34) and Isaac (cf. Chapter 26).
Miraculously, God fulfills His covenant promise for a son (cf. 17:19).
Faithfully, Abraham fulfills his covenant obligations of circumcision (cf. 17:11-12).
Stepping back, we can see a larger pattern in the r’vi’i (4th section of the Torah portion) whereby there is a contrast between Lot’s line illustrating human effort and Abraham’s line illustrating divine blessing. Lot is really only spared because of Abraham (19:21-29, esp. v.29, cf. Noah in 8:1) and Lot’s line is only preserved by the unthinkable acts of his daughters (19:30-38). Abraham’s story, on the other hand, is marked by the blessings of God’s protection and faithfulness to covenant promises. Sarah is spared because of Abraham (20:1-18; especially vv. 3, 6–7) and Abraham’s promised son finally arrives (21:1-4)!
torah 5 and 6
Isaac Versus Ishmael
The promised arrival of the promised son at the “appointed time” !
While the parents find joy in Isaac (vv. 6–8), there is distress because of Ishmael (vv. 9–11).
God presents His solution by instructing Abraham to listen to his wife, reminding Abraham through which son will come the promised line, and assuring Abraham that his other son will remain within God’s loving care.
Heeding Sarah’s earlier request, Ishmael and his Egyptian born mother go out from Abraham but remain within God’s loving care.
Abraham Versus Abimelech
Abraham is a man truly blessed by God and surrounding peoples begin to recognize it (what a witness!). King Abimelech is one such person. As a result, this king seeks his own welfare through an agreement with Abraham.
This ancient “Mid East peace process” almost gets “derailed” over water wells but a peace treaty is finally “signed.” Just as with today’s “Peace Process,” however, whether any treaty can be trusted to endure is a dubious matter (cf. Isaac’s trouble after his father dies, 26:12–33).
Having made peace with his neighbors for now, Abraham lifts up his heart in worship and lays down roots in the land. In what ways does Abraham’s promised son follow in his father’s footsteps according to 26:23–25? “Calling on the name of the Lord” is the heritage of God’s children.
It’s so easy to go through our day without reference to God. How can you call on Him even as you go about your busy day? In what ways can you be a witness to those around you like Abraham was?
torah 7 and
Abraham’s Faith-Walk on a Tightrope
Our Jewish sages summarize the various ways that Abraham’s faith was tested seven times, whereby he was required:
1. To leave his land, birthplace, and father’s house (Genesis 12:1–3)
2. To give up land that resembled Gan Eden [Garden of Eden] (Genesis 13:5–11)
3. To fight the international empire (Genesis 14)
4. To relinquish the spoils of war to an evil king (Genesis 14:21–23)
5. To expel his concubine and son (Genesis 16:5–6)
6. To circumcise himself and his household (Genesis 17:23–27); and [now] most climactically
7. To bind his only son (Genesis 22:1–3, 9–10) (Feinberg, J. Walk Genesis!, 1998, p.76)!
God gives His instructions (22:1–2) and just like the beginning of his “faith-walk” (cf. 12:1-3) Abraham faithfully follows God (vv. 3–6).
Isaac’s question could have wreaked havoc (father could have lied or son resisted) but “faith” carried the moment.
This “faith-walk” comes to the very brink!
God’s provision arrives according to His perfect timing (vv. 11–14) and again, God reaffirms His promises (vv. 15–19).
Future Wife of the Prized SOn
Why do you think the final section summarizes the family line of Abraham’s brother; Consider who is introduced in v. 23 that will play a special role in the life of the promised son who has just been miraculously saved from the knife, cf. 24:15, 67)? According to Hebrews 11:17–19, how was Abraham able to do the unthinkable and give up his precious and promised son to God?
What are you holding onto in your life that you need to give up to God? Pray and ask God to show you and then act. Step out in faith for the One who wants our whole lives given up for Him and given over to doing His will!
Raise Up the Son
2 Kings 4:1–37
Elisha inherited the prophetic ministry after being discipled by Elijah. With parallels to the Torah portion, sons are miraculously saved. God uses Elisha to save the widow’s sons from slavery (vv. 1–7) and the Shunammite’s son from death (vv. 8–37).
Steep yourself in the story and prayerfully read it, seeking the face of our merciful and all-powerful Heavenly Father. By identifying with each of the different characters, how can you draw out different applications of this story to your life? What can you learn by relating to the parents who have received mercy through a demonstration of God’s power? How can you relate to the blessing of being a child who is snatched from the grips of suffering through slavery to men and slavery to death? Finally, how can your “faith-walk” be steeped in more of God’s power by reading the story and identifying with the man of God who is equipped with the Spirit of God to witness to the glory of God? (Survey the story repeatedly, viewing it from these three different angles, to glean more of the knowledge of God and cultivate intimacy with Him.)
Raise Up Yeshua
Luke 1:26–38; 24:36–53
The B’rit Chadashah portion is like “bookends” on Yeshua’s earthly ministry: His announced coming (1:26-38) and observed departure (24:36-53). In Him, the sons and daughters of God are miraculously saved. Let’s keep lifting Him up and He will draw all people to Himself (John 12:32). Praise the Lord!
Rest. Fellowship. Discussion.