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Friday Digest: BSF’s Study of Genesis Lesson 15

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN GENESIS CHAPTER 24:

  • We should all serve God like the servant served Abraham
  • Seek God in all things in your life through prayer and guidance
  • All true Christians are led by the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:14).
  • Ask, seek, and you shall find with prayer and petition (Matthew 7:7)
  • Pray for God’s will in Jesus’ name. Then expect God to show up.
  • “I will go” should be your answer once you receive confirmation of God’s will

Take Away: When you have a servant’s heart and seek God’s will in your life, He will answer.

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BSF Study Questions Genesis: Lesson 15, Day 5: Genesis 24:52-67

Summary Genesis 25:52-67:

The servant showered the entire family with precious and costly gifts for the dowry. The next morning Laban and Bethuel tried to delay the trip, but they left immediately on Rebekah’s acquiescence. The family blessed Rebekah and sent her on the long journey to Canaan.

Isaac had come from Beer Lahai Roi. He, whom we can assume had been praying for a wife as well, greets the return party, hears the tale of the servant, and marries Rebekah.

BSF Study Questions Genesis: Lesson 15, Day 5: Genesis 24:52-67

13) The servant wants to hurry back so that his task can be completed and so that God’s will to make Abraham’s descendants into a great nation can be fulfilled. Rebekah, who will most likely never see her family again, agrees to go right away, knowing this is God’s will, too.

14) Personal Question. My answer: Moving a lot has cost friendships and connections, as well as a lost church family. Truly, in the grand scope of things, God has it, and it all works out in the end.

15) Personal Question. My answer: Isaac obeyed God too in knowing this was the wife He chose for him. God’s timing is not our own, and if we are patient, God does bring great things.

Conclusions BSF Study Questions Genesis: Lesson 15, Day 5: Genesis 24:52-67

It’s surprising that they left the decision up to Rebekah whether to leave right away since she’s a woman who in ancient times had no say.

End Notes BSF Study Questions Genesis: Lesson 15, Day 5: Genesis 24:52-67

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After a long journey, most of us just want to get home as soon as possible. The servant knew that Abraham was old and perhaps in ill-health, so he was hoping to get back in time in order for Abraham to know he had succeeded. Rebekah showed remarkable faith and strength to leave the only things she ever knew and to probably never see her family again to follow God’s will.

Rebekah covers herself with a veil as was customary until she was married.

We have been nothing about Isaac since his near death experience at the top of Mount Moriah. (Genesis 22:19) Presumably, he was growing strong in the Lord.

Here, in Isaac and Rebekah, we can see this as a picture of Jesus as the bridgroom and us as the people.

  • God chose a wife for his Son (the people)
  • The son died and was resurrected for them
  • A servant, or God’s helper, was the mediator
  • The bride (us) were called and cared for until the wedding day
  • The bride (us) were loved by the bridegroom (Jesus)

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Note that this marriage was an arranged one that God arranged through prayer. Modern-day love is important, but it’s not the end-all, be-all.

Last go-around in BSF’s study of Genesis, we were asked how this passage relates to God, Jesus, and us. Here was my response:  A father desires a bride for his son.  Abraham for Isaac.  God for us.  A son was dead and then raised from the dead.  Isaac and Jesus.  The bride is chosen for marriage before they knew it (Ephesians 1:3-4).  Rebekah and us.  The bride is divinely chosen, called, and then lavished with gifts. (Revelation 19:7-8)  Rebekah and us.  She is entrusted to the care of the servant before she meets her bridegroom.  Rebekah and us.

Note how God had a plan for Rebekah from the beginning  (Ephesians 1:3-4) for His eternal purpose (Ephesians 3:10-11). She shared in the glory of the son because of her faith (John 17:22-23). She was loved. Just like the church.

Isaac and Jesus were both promised, born from a miracle, sacrificed, resurrected, and prepared a place for the bride for eternity.

Fun fact: Isaac was 40 when he married.

Love came last here, after marriage.

Good read on Bride of Christ HERE

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BSF Study Questions Genesis: Lesson 15, Day 4: Genesis 24:28-51

Summary of Genesis 24:28-51:

Rebekah ran home and told all what had happened. Laban, Rebekah’s brother, ran out to the servant to bring him to their house. So the servant, his men, and his camels were brought to Rebekah’s house and provided for. Before he ate, the servant told them his story, how he came there seeking a wife for Abraham’s son, and how Rebekah had been the girl to answer his prayer to God.

Laban and Bethuel agreed that this was God’s will so they let Rebekah go.

BSF Study Questions Genesis: Lesson 15, Day 4: Genesis 24:28-51

9) Laban addresses the servant as one being blessed by the Lord upon seeing the gold offerings he gave to Rebekah (Verse 31). They believed the servant’s story and let Rebekah go as the Lord has directed.

10) The servant was to find a wife amongst Abraham’s father’s clan and one who was not a pagan. God grants the servant’s request for the sign exactly and grants him success.

11) He says that God is the one who will grant him success (verse 42). He praised God who led him on the right road to Rebekah (verse 48). He prayed ahead of time for the one instead of choosing himself, and he recounts the story with God first.

12) Isaiah 48:11 says God does not yield his glory to another. 1 Corinthians 1:27-31 says how no one can boast before God. God rewards those who humble themselves. God rewards the faithful like He did Abraham. He wants to guide us and lead us. All we have to do is ask.

Conclusions BSF Study Questions Genesis: Lesson 15, Day 4: Genesis 24:28-51

Just as key as the servant’s humble attitude is the belief of Laban and Bethuel in God to let Rebekah go. This would have completely changed history if they had refused.

End Notes BSF Study Questions Genesis: Lesson 15, Day 4: Genesis 24:28-51

Note that Laban was generous after he saw the gold Rebekah had received.

Fun Fact: the word master occurs 22 times in this chapter alone. Eliezer is determined to let it be known that he is working for his master who is the one God has blessed. He is filling in Abraham’s brother on how he’s doing after so many decades. He says that Isaac is the only heir, which is probably so that the family would know that Rebekah would be taken care of.

There seems no hesitancy on the part of Rebekah’s family. They knew this would be a good match for her and that this was indeed God’s will.

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BSF Study Questions Genesis: Lesson 15, Day 3: Genesis 24:15-27

Summary of Genesis 24:15-27:

Rebekah was the daughter of Bethuel son of Milcah who was the wife of Abraham’s brother Nahor. She was beautiful and a virgin. She had gone down to fill her jar with water. Eliezar approached her and asked her for a drink. She gave him one and offered to water his camels, too. After the camels had drunk, Eliezar asked Rebekah if he could stay at her father’s house. He offered gold as payment. She said they have plenty of room. Eliezar praised God for His faithfulness to Abraham with this sign and for leading him to the house of his master’s relatives.

BSF Study Questions Genesis: Lesson 15, Day 3: Genesis 24:15-27

6) Rebekah offered him a drink and offered to water all of his camels when asked, which was the sign Eliezar asked for.

7) Personal Question. My answer: Our new house, new career, new direction in life, new connections

8 ) Personal Question. My answer: Immediate prayer and gratitude by the servant. A serving heart and open heart by Rebekah.

BSF Study Questions Genesis: Lesson 15, Day 3: Genesis 24:15-27

God answers reasonable prayers to show his guidance. The best part of this story is the heart of the servant. I would wager he was probably treated well by Abraham but servants in ancient times had extremely rough lives and had no social status nor class. They were nothing in the eyes of many. So the willingness of this servant to serve his master is a great picture of how we are to serve the Lord. Everything is credited to God. The servant is merely the instrument in God’s work. This is how we need to approach life.

BSF Study Questions Genesis: Lesson 15, Day 3: Genesis 24:15-27

God knows our needs before we do and sometimes answers before we even know it.  Isaiah 65:24

Rebekah was the granddaughter of Abraham’s brother, Nahor. When the Bible says she was beautiful, she most definitely was. Other women the Bible says are beautiful include:

The servant made sure Rebekah was a woman of her word and finished the job of watering his camels and did not give up half-way through. Then he knew God had answered his prayers. He offers gifts to Rebekah, thanked God for answering his prayers.

BSF Study Questions Genesis Lesson 15, Day 5: Genesis 17:9-27

Summary of passage:  God tells Abram and his descendants to keep his covenant and the covenant of circumcision as a sign of the covenant.  Every male that is 8 days old must be circumcised including foreigners and adopted.  This is to be an everlasting covenant. Any male who is not circumcised will be cut off from his people.

God renames Sarai “Sarah” and says he will bless her with a son and she will be the mother of nations and kings will come from her.  Abraham laughed (who would laugh at God?  Don’t think God appreciated this) and questioned God (again) since he and Sarah are so old.

God calls the son Isaac, meaning ‘he laughs’ and says He will establish His covenant with Isaac.  And He will bless Ishmael as well who will be the father of 12 rulers and will be a great nation.

But Sarah will have a child by this time next year.  Then God left.

Abraham circumcised all the males in his household, including himself who was 99 and Ishmael who was 13.

Questions:

11)  Deuteronomy 30:6:  God will circumcise our hearts so that we may love him with all our heart and soul and live.

Ezekiel 44:7:  People who are uncircumcised in heart and flesh desecrate God’s temple.

Romans 2:28-29:  Paul explains that what matters is the heart.  Circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, and not by laws.

12a)  You are circumcised when you accept with faith in Jesus and accept what he did on the cross for our sins.  For Christ took our sinful nature to the grave for us and we were raised anew with Jesus though our faith in the power of God.  We are now alive with Christ and free.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  To fully trust in God and give Him the control over my life.  To listen more and truly hear Him when He speaks.  To quit holding things back from Him.  Attribute:  Faith.

13)  Verse 21 “…by this time next year.”  Abraham circumcised all males in his household as God had commanded.

Conclusions:  Admittedly, I didn’t even read the passage until question 13 where we were asked about the passage.

Faith made you part of the covenant but circumcision was an outward sign of this covenant and if you rejected it, you rejected the covenant.  Cutting away of the flesh reminds those that they should put no trust in the flesh.  Baptism is the same thing: an outward sign that your heart belongs to Jesus.

Rejecting both is not necessarily rejecting God for all we need is faith.  But when we truly believe, our actions reflect our beliefs.

Sarai means “my lady or my princess.”  Sarah means “a lady or princess” so now she is princess to the world.

Incredible that in Chapter 18 we see Sarah laughing as well at God and then she denies it! Good thing God is so merciful and gracious not to get angry about this lack of faith and stuck to His plan!

Interesting to ponder:  God blessed Ishmael because Abraham asked him to and Abraham asked him to because Abraham didn’t have faith enough to believe there would be another child.  I wonder how the world would be different today if Abraham hadn’t of asked God to bless Ishmael.

We as men have no idea how much our decisions and consequences of those decisions can affect others, do we?  Great lesson here for us all.

BSF Study Questions Genesis Lesson 15, Day 4: Genesis 17:1-8

Summary of passage:  God appeared to Abram when he was 99 and said He was going to confirm His covenant with him.  Abram fell face down and God told him he would be the father of many nations.  God renamed Abram Abraham, which means father of many. God will make Abraham fruitful and kings will come from him.

This covenant will be between Abraham, God, and all of Abraham’s descendants and God will give Abraham and his descendants Canaan forever and God will be our God.

Questions:

9a)  Personal Question.  My answer:  No.  I think it means to be blameless/perfect before God, which we achieve when we repent of our sins and God forgives us.  We are then righteous in His eyes through Jesus Christ our Savior and the Holy Spirit.

One commentary said the word blameless here means “whole” so God wanted all of Abram, a total commitment to Him like God was giving to Abram (and to us).

b)  Walk before God, which means to know God and who He is.

10a)  Abraham will be the father of many nations; he will be fruitful; kings will come from him.  God gives Abraham the whole land of Canaan to him and to his descendants and this covenant God makes with Abraham’s descendants as well.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  God clarifies by saying in verse 8, “The whole land of Canaan, where you are now an alien, I will give as an everlasting possession…”  This would be the land Abram is occupying now and possession is something you hold physically.

c)  Forever

Conclusions:  I’m not sure what to conclude nor am I sure what to get out of this besides God confirming His covenant YET AGAIN with Abraham.  I guess this speaks to man’s unending wavering, self-doubt, low self-esteem, and need for confirmation and affirmation.

Sometimes I just wish God would have created us a bit stronger.

Yet it had been 13 years since God had spoken to Abram so at times he surely must have thought God had forgotten so here God is again giving a powerful reminder with a new name.

I’m still waiting for my reminder…

BSF Study Questions Genesis Lesson 15, Day 3: Genesis 16:7-16

Summary of passage:  Hagar ran away and the angel of the Lord found her near a spring in the desert.  The angel asked Hagar what she was doing.  She replied she was running away.  The angel told her to go back to Sarai and submit to her and that he would increase her descendants infinitely.  He told her she would have a son and she was to call him Ishmael (God hears) for God has heard of her misery.  Your son will live in hostility against his brothers.

Hagar tells the angel that he is the God who sees her and she has now seen Him.  Hagar returned and had Ishmael.  Abram was 86 years old at the time.

Questions:

5a)  For many reasons.  Probably because she was forced to bear a child for Abram and Sarai and give the child up.  Then she probably had an attitude afterwards either out of anger or superiority towards Sarai over the whole thing so she began to despise Sarai.  Sarai in turn mistreated her.

b)  This question is speculation in my view.  We are not told specifics here.  In fact, I tend to think the opposite.  I imagine when she returned home and submitted, she was treated better, especially after she told Abram she had just spoken to Jesus!  I would hope at least Abram would step up here and realize God has a plan and a heart for Hagar so he should as well.

I believe God stepped in BEFORE her problems increased.  I believe had she kept going she would have had problems like I mention in part c.  She could have ran out of water in the desert, ran into some thugs, turned away from God, or even died.  But God did not allow this.

c)  Abram’s blessing on Ishmael who pleaded with God to bless him (Genesis 17:18).  As a result, God made Ishmael too into a great nation.  Also, God.  She might have lost God if He had abandoned her instead of gently guiding her back.  She might have fallen in with the unbelievers like Lot did.  She could have lost her life as well in the desert.  When we flee from God, we pay the ultimate price–death.

6)  Jesus for Hagar says “You are the God who sees me” and in Isaiah it was the “angel of his presence”.  We know it is not God because we are told no one has ever seen Him (John 1:18; 1 Timothy 6:16) so it makes sense it would be Jesus.

7a)  We are called to submit to others out of reverence for Christ for when we do our sanctification is increased  (see post HERE where I posted on this last year).  For it’s not our circumstances God wants to change.  It’s our heart.

b)  Personal Question.  My response:  These kind of questions annoy me, mainly because my answer is “I don’t know.”  I believe the goal of studying the Bible is to internalize Truths, God’s word, and Him more and more every day.  But the results of this is often so subtle to be unseen (especially by our critical selves!).

It’s insanely hard to self-evaluate because I for one always lean towards the negative.  I just always think I can do better.  But I know God sees me through His eyes and I’m infinitely better than I am through my eyes.

So my answer:  these passages haven’t affected me THIS week.  But I don’t feel bad about that.  For I am in this world for the long-term, not the short-term.  And I know I will be changed.  I just can’t see it.  But God can.

8a)  86

b)  10 years

c)  To “help” God out.  We get impatient and do things on our time instead of on God’s time so we do things we shouldn’t which can yield disastrous results as with Ishmael.  It can hurt those around us instead of help.  It shows God that we don’t trust Him enough to act and it pains His heart.

d)  Personal Question.  My answer:  First, to not do anything immoral.  Abram’s actions was borderline immoral I believe. Just because it’s okay in the culture to do something doesn’t mean you should.  Just because it was okay to have a substitute wife didn’t mean Abram should have.

Second, to not be so easily influenced by others ideas with a desire to please them. Abram should have exerted his authority here and he didn’t.  He allowed Sarai to make the decisions.  And we see the results.

Lastly, to not try to circumvent God and help Him out for the last thing God needs is our help.  To have the trust and the faith that He will do it.  He is the Alpha and the Omega. We are merely an epsilon or a phi.

Fun Fact:  This is the first time in the Bible where someone (Ishmael) is given a name by God before birth.

Musings:  I am wondering here what the repercussions would have been had Hagar been caught and it had been discovered she was a servant.  I’m wondering if she was considered property of Abram like slaves were and if she could have faced death or execution or her hand cut off or some other punishment that we would consider cruel nowadays.  Did she even have the freedom to run away?

We are told Hagar is a maidservant so I’m unsure if that would be the equivalent of a slave and property.

But in Genesis 21:10, Sarah calls her a “slave” woman and scholars say when Abraham sent her away he was giving her her freedom and also disavowing her of any claim to his inheritance under Mesopotamian law.

One law of Hammurabi states that if a runaway slave is caught out in the open then the captor is entitled to a reward upon return of the slave.  But it appears from my readings that slaves were not treated as harshly as say slaves were in America.  They were merely returned.  They might have been marked in some way as well.

Fascinating study on Hagar HERE.  Some Jews believe Hagar was Pharaoh’s daughter and some Muslims believe she had royal blood as well.  For me, all speculation since we are not told.  But interesting nevertheless.

P.S.  Could you tell I had fun here?

Conclusions:  I just want to re-emphasize my point from 7b.  Seven days is a short time to have a specific situation arise where you submitted or any other question that asks how you have applied something from the Bible THIS week.  Granted, I believe we submit every day.  We submit to God’s will and not ours as well as submitting in our human relationships.  If you are married, you probably submit in some way every day. Even if it’s as simple as you putting the kids to bed instead of your spouse when all you want to do is go to bed yourself.

I’m gonna make a confession:  I usually never answer the Sixth Day’s questions.  Why? Because I don’t like them.  They always ask what I have learned this week and how did I apply it or how can my group pray.  Usually, I just can’t form this into words.  I know I have learned but what exactly I’m usually not sure.  And how does it apply?  Sometimes I don’t know.  I just don’t know God’s word in-depth enough to think of concrete examples.

And how can my group pray?  Sometimes I don’t even know how to pray!

But like I said, I know I have soaked something into my core, a little more of God, a little more Truth, a little more of Jesus and I know I will apply this throughout my daily life. It’s just specifics I usually can’t give.

I just pray and pray generally, something like God, do your will or God, mold me or God, let these passages sink into my core and change me.

For in my heart I know God’s big enough to take care of the specifics.

BSF Study Questions Genesis Lesson 15, Day 2: Genesis 16:1-6

Summary of passage:  Since Sarai had had no children, she told Abram to sleep with her Egyptian maidservant, Hagar, so she could have a family through her (as was the custom the child would be considered Sarai’s).  Abram agreed and after 10 years of living in Canaan after Egypt Hagar conceived.

Hagar began to despise Sarai (perhaps resentment or now she wants to usurp Sarai’s position since she is carrying an heir or pain that the child will not be considered hers) and Sarai (like woman do) blamed her husband.  Sarai says let God be the judge.

Abram tells Sarai that she can do what she wants with Hagar since Hagar is her servant. Sarai, acting out of her anger and not God’s love, mistreated her and Sarai fled.

Questions:

3a)  Since she herself couldn’t have children she offered her maidservant, Hagar, to stand in her place and give Abram the promised children from God.

b)  Genesis 15:4:  “This man will not be your heir, but a son coming from your own body will be your heir.”

c)  Their faith was in they believed Abram would have a legitimate heir from his body but their unbelief came in believing Sarai would be the mother.  Based on both Sarai’s and Abram’s actions, neither believed Sarai could have a child.

4a)  Immediate:  the dissension, anger, contention, and mistrust that arose between Sarai and Hagar so much so that Hagar fled.

Long-term:  Hagar’s son, Ishmael, would be the father of the Arabs–those that surround Israel today and are the founders of Islam (Genesis 16:15).  After Isaac was born, the true son of Sarai, Sarai became jealous of Ishmael and drove both Hagar and Ishmael (Genesis 21:8-20).  Ishmael’s daughter would marry Abram’s grandson, Esau (Genesis 36:3).

Today:  Ishmael is the father of all Arabs so the entire conflict in the Middle East and elsewhere stems from this one sin where Abram and Sarai tried to help God out, resulting in “sibling rivalry” between Jews and Arabs all throughout history and to this day.

b)  In the same way as Sarai and Abram did and Jacob did when he stole Esau’s blessing and Moses did when he murdered the Egyptian.  We come up with human solutions that are often sinful (taking another woman outside of the covenant of marriage even though it may be accepted by society) that we think will yield God’s promised results.  And they never do.

Faith is all that is required.  And patience for God to work.  If we remember God doesn’t need our help, we’d all be better off.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  This is a hard one because I cannot see the long-term effects of my choices it seems.  I do know I am very impatient and very opinionated and most of the time I speak before I should when I get angry when it would have been better if I had said nothing at all.  Or I act hastily and then regret my decision.  This is seen in the little things of my life.

Conclusions:  Do you think Sarai wondered if she were good enough to have a son?  She obviously had low self-esteem or not enough faith (probably both) in order to offer up her maidservant to her husband.  Yet it shows the love she must have had for Abram; she loved him enough in order to give him a promised child not through her.  How many of us women would do that today?

This mistake I think we all make:  we get impatient and don’t trust God enough to set things right (or we have a mistaken idea of what ‘right’ is).  In this instance though, it was a grave mistake.  A child is a human being and messing around with God’s HUGE promise of creating nations had ramifications that changed history and last until this day.

Personal sin always affects those around you (and others not so close) and invades your relationships.  The profound consequences of the sin here of Abram and Sarai should be a lesson for us all.

End Note:  Apparently, back then Hagar would actually have sat on Sarai’s lap as Abram inseminated her to symbolically show that the child would be Sarai’s upon its birth and that Sarai was only the surrogate mother.  No wonder Hagar was upset!

I was appalled when Sarai blamed Abram for her “suffering” in verse 5.  It was her idea, not Abram’s!  He was probably only trying to appease her!  Which was true:  Abram did appease Sarai–the problem was he shouldn’t have.

As the man and head of the family, Abram should not have agreed to Sarai’s plan so in some sense she does have a right to blame him.  He should have been “logical” when Sarai was “too emotional” to think straight.  (Sound familiar?)  He should have had the faith to wait on God when she didn’t.

Same goes for allowing Sarai to mistreat Hagar (verse 6).  I totally disagree with this.  As the head, Abram should have dealt with Hagar since Sarai was blinded by emotion. Again, Abram deferred to his wife, which only caused more conflict and strife.