Devotional on Genesis

2022 – Dickinson, TX

The curtain rises and there stands God
Genesis 1: First this: God created the Heavens and Earth.
Genesis is the book of beginnings. Here I’m told how the world began: light and sky and life. In Genesis I see the first sunrise and meet the first man and woman. Of course, I see the first sin and the first death here, but I also see the first act of redemption, hear the first prayers prayed, and encounter the first man known for his faith and friendship with God. The big omission of a “first” happens in chapter one, verse one. As the curtain lifts I find One Being already standing at center stage. There’s no prelude and no introduction. I start reading and even though there’s nothing to be seen, there He is. It’s staggering isn’t it! The first thing that ever happens is when God steps out into nothingness and begins doing something. Right off I know he’s the Creator and right off I know there’s no hope of my ever fully comprehending him.
Take away: I can know this eternal, Creating Being.

Devotional on Genesis

2014 – Dead Horse Point State Park, UT – glorious sunset

The Who, How, and What of Creation
Genesis 1: It was so good, so very good!
The account of Creation is a lot more about “who” than it is about “how.” When the story begins its God who begins it. He speaks and things happen. There’s no doubt that he’s in charge and the account of Creation is all about what the Creator does. On the other hand, there’s no more effort made to tell me “how” it happened than there is to explain God, himself. If I want to know the composition of light, I’ll have to look elsewhere because the Bible doesn’t tell me. If this is a poetic description of a “big bang” it’s okay with me so long as I can believe that God is the one who creates and directs the energy of it in the first place. So, as I read these opening pages of the Bible, I immediately encounter the “Who” of it all and I immediately find that this Creator isn’t all that interested in satisfying my curiosity of “how.” However, there is one thing he wants me to know: that’s “what” he has done. He declares to me that it’s “very good.” I know “Who” did it but I don’t know “how” he did it. Still, I know that “what” he did is “so good!” As I read this account I’d better concentrate more on what I’m supposed to know and less on what the Lord doesn’t bother to tell me about it.
Take away: I need to focus on the Creator and not get too wound up in how he created.

Devotional on Genesis

Rocky Mountain National Park

Elephants and Monkeys and Kangaroos
Genesis 2: Whatever the Man called each living creature, that was its name.
God gets the ball rolling: sun, moon, stars, plants, animals, and humans. It’s all his handiwork. The crowning act of creation is humanity. The Lord, himself, breathes life into man, who has been made in his own image. Unlike other elements of creation, this creature has something of God inside. He also has free will. At this point the Creator stands back to watch his masterpiece in action. The Lord wants to see what man will name the animals. Right off the Almighty gives up some of his authority to his Creation. Whatever Man names an animal will stand. It doesn’t sound like much but it’s a significant moment. God, the Decider, decides not to decide. Rather, this new creature, this man, will decide. Also, a theological concept is introduced: God, who has all authority, agrees ahead of time to let decisions made by a human being stand. Will Adam do a good job in naming the animals or will he come up with some stupid names? The Lord, no doubt, is interested in what this unique being will do of his own free will. This pretty much overlooked event is actually filled with drama.
Take away: Having free will is part of my being created in the image of God.

Devotional on Genesis

Rocky Mountain National Park

Come out, come out, wherever you are
Genesis 3: God called to the Man: “Where are you?”
I’m created for fellowship with God. Somehow, in ways beyond my comprehension, God desires a relationship with me. God, you see, is all about relationships. In the Creation he seeks relationships so much that he creates beings with free will. Only such creatures can genuinely connect with him. In the Garden Adam and Eve enjoy the fellowship with God, functioning as they’re created to function. When they sin, they break that fellowship and distance themselves from God. What will he do? Will he press the “reset” button on Creation and give it another try? No, instead, we see the Almighty’s commitment to us. According to the Apostle Paul, that commitment was made before the first act of Creation. Adam and Eve don’t have to sin. They’re created to live forever and to enjoy constant fellowship with their Maker. However, before the very first “Let there be light” words are spoken the Lord has considered the possibly that if he makes beings with free will that that they might just reject him. What will he do if that happens? Out in pre-creation eternity the Lord decided that, no matter what happens, he’ll remain committed to his Creation. Before the first moment of time, he has a plan to “seek and to save that which was lost.” When we hear him calling “Where are you?” we’re witnessing the very first step in that plan to restore the broken relationship that now exists between God and humanity. It’s the first step, and in the distant future, we see a cross.
Take away: God wants more than obedience from me…more, he wants to be in a relationship with me.

Devotional on Genesis

2010 – Goose Island State Park, TX

Sin, murder, and grace
Genesis 4: Sin is lying in wait for you…you’ve got to master it.
The first children are born to the human race, two boys. These boys become men and these men are worshipers of God. One is a dirt farmer and the other raises livestock. These two worshipers of God bring sacrifices to the Lord. To Cain’s dismay God likes his brother’s offering better than his own. I’ve heard a few sermons on the reason why. In fact, I’ve attempted to deal with the topic myself. Some people think it’s the lack of blood in Cain’s offering. Others pounce on the “firstborn” aspect of Abel’s offering and the writer of the book of Hebrews focuses in on the faith aspect of it. Deciding why one offering is more acceptable than the other is a hard call. After all, Cain brought from what he had, just as Abel did. Of course, we know that this passage isn’t here to elevate one type of offering over the other. This account is about sin, murder, and grace. When Cain’s angry with God about his brother’s offering the Lord warns him that he’s skating on thin ice. Being disappointed with God, apparently, isn’t sin in itself; but such an attitude attracts sin. The Lord speaks to Cain like a father talking to his son, warning him that it’s a dangerous road he’s traveling. This situation has potential for Cain to be humbled. If he responds to the Lord by asking for an explanation concerning why his offering is inferior to Abel’s we won’t have the mystery concerning it. Instead, Cain proves God right by doing the wrong thing. At this point, the score is Sin: one, Cain: nothing.
Take away: Some things that aren’t quite sin, can, if I’m not careful, open that door.

Devotional on Genesis

2013 – Great Smoky Mountains National Park

On being my brother’s keeper

Genesis 4: How should I know? Am I his babysitter?
An interesting thing about the Lord’s exchange with Cain is that they both know the answer to the question that’s asked. Obviously, the Lord knows what has happened. Of course, Cain knows where Abel is, after all, he’s his murderer. Cain’s response: “Am I my brother’s keeper?” has become one of many famous one liners from the Bible. This murderer not only pretends he doesn’t know about Abel, but that, even if he does know, it isn’t his responsibility to take care of him. On a very specific level, I agree with Cain’s statement. As creatures with free will we’re not responsible for what others do. As a pastor of several years of experience, I’ve heard plenty of excuses from people who place the blame for their failure on someone, anyone, else. Because of that, I agree with Cain on at least one level. However, Cain’s suggestion that he operates solo and isn’t accountable for his brother’s whereabouts is a pitiful failure on his part. Even (and that’s a mighty big “even” in this situation) – even had he not killed his brother, and had poor Abel just wandered off in search of one of his sheep and gotten lost, in God’s eyes, Cain has a certain amount of responsibility for him. Our lives are connected at many points and the Lord expects our behavior to reflect this. Many years down the road, Jesus will help me understand this better in the parable of the Good Samaritan and even better when he takes personal responsibility for my lost condition.
Take away: I’m not responsible for what others do of their own free will, but I am accountable before God to show compassion to them.

Devotional on Genesis

2013 – Watkins Glen State Park, NY

Mercy’s Mark
Genesis 3: God put a mark on Cain to protect him.
The murderer has been confronted and has confessed. The sentence is banishment to a hostile world. From now on he’ll be an outsider, apart from the family (it’s not a nation yet) God claims as his own. Cain is crushed by this sentence and already feels the icy grip of loneliness on his life. Not only that, but he knows he’s getting off with a sentence lighter than he deserves. He senses that the proper penalty for murder is death. In addition, he realizes that other people know it too. God may be banishing him, but he imagines other men hunting him down and taking his life that justice might be done. What the Lord does in response is, at the same time, one of the great mysteries of the Bible and also one of many great acts of mercy. Cain’s marked in some way that says to all he encounters “This man is under God’s protection, leave him alone.” I have no idea of what that mark is, in fact, I can’t imagine how it works. However, I do know it’s a mark of mercy and I have a very good idea of what mercy looks like. It looks like the Lord forgiving me of my sins rather than condemning me as I deserve. It looks like hope instead of fear. It looks like Jesus on the cross of Calvary.
Take away: Thank God for the “mark of mercy!”

Devotional on Genesis

2013 – Watkins Glen State Park, NY

Something new: prayer!
Genesis 4: That’s when men and women began praying and worshiping in the name of God.
Things are really messed up. The human race is fallen. The Garden is gone. The first murder has taken place. It’s all falling apart. This “free will” thing isn’t working out very well. Eve has another son and names him Seth. Seth has a son and names him Enosh. Then a wonderful thing happens: people start praying and worshiping. I wonder how that came about. Is Seth so thankful for the gift of a son that he decides to start worshiping God? Is it Enosh who has a hunger for God and introduces praying and worshiping? I don’t know the answer but I do see here a change for the better; one that brought hope to a hopeless situation. So what does it take in my life? Does it take tragedy…or some great blessing? Does it take someone else finding the way and showing it to me? What does it take to turn me from a life being lived for self to one being lived in fellowship with God?
Take away: Prayer and worship is an “important discovery” for every person to make.

Devotional on Genesis

2013 – Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania

He died before his time
Genesis 5: Adam lived a total of 930 years. And he died.
I’ve heard that the very long lives of people mentioned in the first pages of Genesis are the result of someone’s counting the seasons as years or something like that. While I have no authority to say it, I’ll say it anyway: I think that’s silly. Based on the Creation story, I think the Lord designed human beings to live forever. It’s their disobedience that brings death into the world. In fact, this very moment the only man already possessing a resurrection body is still alive 2000 years down the road. He’s physically at the right hand of his Father right now. Sin short-circuited the “forever aspect” of human life and it’s Jesus who redeems, not just the souls of people, but our bodies as well. At this point, Jesus is the only man to experience the redeemed body, but judging from his post-resurrection appearances the new body is a fascinating mix of familiar (eating) and unfamiliar (appearing and disappearing). Now, back to Adam. I think his extremely long life is a residue of his original design. If you think about it, his body was designed for eternity and he “only” lived 930 years. Soon, God will move to further limit life spans, not once, but twice. The original limitation, though, is the big one. Because of sin, life expectancy is throttled back from forever to under 1000 years. For a creature intended to live forever that’s like dying in infancy.
Take away: Jesus redeems us entirely, body and spirit.

Devotional on Genesis

2013 – Watkins Glen State Park, NY

Those mysterious sons of God
Genesis 6: The sons of God noticed that the daughters of men were beautiful.
What’s going on here? Who on earth (or beyond this earth) are these sons of God? Do we have some angels coming to earth and being attracted to our women? Now that would make for some juicy sermon material! Alas, I don’t think it will work. We don’t find any evidence in the Bible of angels being called “sons of God.” Still, the writer of Genesis says that the result of the union of these mysterious sons of God and the daughters of men is a race of giants: big, aggressive, and conquering. I think the best way to work on this passage is to read it backwards. That is, the result of all this is that God concludes that “human evil is out of control.” The rebellion that started with Adam and Eve has gotten progressively worse to the point that humanity is focused on evil all the time. A branch of the human race has sprung up that threatens God’s plan to redeem human beings. The part about sons of God is how the writer introduces this accelerating fall of humanity. Now, having put it into perspective, the identity of these sons of God isn’t quite as important as it was. It’s just the set up describing why God is about to take drastic action against humanity. It may be that the writer is simply giving us a poetic view of how a race of “mighty men” who have no fear of God came dominate the earth. I do have a theory that I’ll share with you, but its pure speculation. I think the sons of God are the descendants of Seth. It’s through him that the Son of God will trace his lineage. It’s Seth’s offspring who are listed as living those extremely long lives in the previous chapter. I also think the “daughters of men” are the offspring of Cain. That murderer was driven out and is no longer counted as one of God’s people. Just because Cain and his descendants are considered to be outsiders doesn’t mean they fade to nothing. In fact, it’s just the opposite. They’re building cities, developing the arts, and bringing the world into the Bronze Age. You might say that humanity has forked into two distinct groups: those who worship God (sons of God) and those who advance humanity apart from God. When the God-worshipers start intermarrying with these humanists the Lord decides he must act aggressively to save humanity. At least that’s my take on it all.
Take away: God will act aggressively to redeem humanity…that’s true in broad terms, but also at the personal level as well.

Devotional on Genesis

2013 – Niagara Falls

One man

Genesis 6: God was sorry that he had made the human race in the first place; it broke his heart.
Human beings have been removed from the Garden but they take their sin with them. Immediately, grace begins to flow, an unending river of good will toward these broken creatures. Sadly, the response is to reject the grace and push the Grace-Giver away. The crowning achievement of all God made has degenerated into a self-absorbed, God-ignoring shadow of what might have been. This “free-will” business isn’t working out and like radical surgery is sometimes needed to battle cancer, the Lord makes the painful decision to prune away all the foulness so that humanity will get another chance. For centuries the number of people who chose to respond to God’s grace has dwindled. Now, one righteousness man is left. If humanity is to be saved, it’ll be through him. The focus of the universe is on righteous Noah. We won’t see everything depending on just one man again until the Lord unleashes the eternal solution to the fallen condition of humanity. That will involve a willingness, not to build an ark, but to go to a cross.
Take away: The story of Noah is more about humanity getting a second chance than it is about judgment.

Devotional on Genesis

 

2013 – Tompkins Campground – ACoE – Lawrenceville, PA

Fighting the right battle

Genesis 6: Noah did everything God commanded him to do.
We Christians sometimes rush out to fight the wrong battles. When I read the story of Noah and the flood I’m not supposed to come away with a scientific understanding of how the flood happened. I’m not supposed to whip out my calculator and try to figure out how many animals and provisions the ark would carry or study geology to prove there was really such a flood. Instead, I’m to see that God has a plan to redeem humanity and that he’ll go to whatever extreme is necessary to get that done. I’m also to appreciate Noah’s obedience in spite of the seeming unreasonableness of his task and his being alone in accomplishing it. Now, that isn’t to say this event is to be filed under the heading of “parable.” Just the details of the construction of the ark and the clear references to locale mark this as a historical event. The take away, though, isn’t my charging off to prove the story is true or sharpening my debate skills so I can conquer the “unbelievers” with stories of gopher wood on Mount Ararat. Instead, I’m to see God at work, redeeming humanity. I’m to be impressed at what the Lord can do with just one obedient person and be challenged to obedience in areas of my life that are beyond my understanding. Rather than fighting battles on the scientific front, a wiser use of my energy is to deal with the eternal spiritual issues of this event.
Take away: It’s easy to get caught up in battles and miss the main points.

Devotional on Genesis

2013 – Chesapeake Bay Thousand Trails – GLoucester, VA

God’s promise
Genesis 8: I’ll never again kill off everything living as I’ve just done.
The flood abates and Noah, his family, and the animals depart the ark. Life on earth gets a fresh start. God’s promise that this will never be repeated is intended to be a source of comfort to us when disasters come our way. God caused the flood with the express purpose of purging the earth. The deaths are his doing, according to his plan. Now, the Giver of Life certainly has the authority to be the Taker of Life, so I have no argument at this point. However, the Almighty knows that unless he assures us otherwise every major disaster will cause people to fearfully look to heaven, wondering if this is the beginning of another purge. After all, it’s not as though we don’t deserve whatever God sends our way. In mercy the Lord promises that the Flood is a once-in-history event that will never be repeated. Because of this promise, we understand that other big disasters are simply the result of living in a world where bad things sometimes happen. The Lord doesn’t want human beings fearing that this is “another end of the world” in the face of every hurricane or volcano eruption or earthquake. Instead, he wants us to live in fellowship with him, trusting him to be with us even in the disasters of life.
Take away: Don’t treat every unwelcome event with a fresh round of self-doubt.

Devotional on Genesis

2002 – Boston, MA

Genesis 11: Let’s build ourselves a city and a tower that reaches Heaven.
God’s plan, in this case, is to break up relationships
The Flood purges the earth of a humanity that’s fully committed to evil. Now, through Noah, human beings are given a second chance. He and his family come out of the ark and life springs forth. Children are born, have children of their own, and, within a few hundred years the one family becomes many. The Flood washed away the dominant evil, but it didn’t wash away the stain of sin on their hearts. Hundreds of years pass and Noah’s descendants decide to build a city with a great tower that will reach to Heaven. The idea of having a humble walk with God doesn’t occur to them. Instead, they will, of their own wisdom and strength, climb up to him. Hundreds of years earlier, Adam and Eve were tempted to eat of the forbidden fruit and thus, be like God. Now we see humanity trying a different approach to achieve the same goal. It’s plain that, unless something happens, this is going to be a continuing problem. People need to be dispersed — spread out. Otherwise, they’ll continue to be a bad influence on each other and maybe, as they cooperate in disobedience to God…well, who knows what might happen. The Lord’s solution is both simple and complex. In a moment, he gives different languages to the different people groups. Suddenly, a fellow asks for another brick to use in construction, and his partner can’t understand what he said. Chaos ensues. As people realize they can only understand what their near kin are saying, they group together and move off to get away from the “babble” of their proposed city. Never again will the entire of humanity cooperate in any venture. This doesn’t solve the problem of people having a broken relationship with God, but it does help on the other side of things: it breaks their relationship with one another.
Take away: Sometimes God separates people for their own good.

Devotional on Genesis

2010 – Near Lamar, CO

Road trip!
Genesis 12: God told Abram, “Leave your country, your family, and your father’s home for a land that I will show you.
When I was younger there was nothing I liked better than taking a trip and our young family often hopped in the car to go and see something new. Then, I ended up traveling for a living, sometimes being gone weeks at a time. That, for me, cured my wander-lust and when that period of my life ended I emotionally overcompensated and became a homebody for several years. These days, I’m back to traveling again, but I confess that I still like the comforts of home.  I’ve come to realize that it’s possible to be too comfortable. Sometimes, God has things he wants to do in my life: transitions he wants to take me through. He has something better for me, yet I hesitate. “Lord, it isn’t all that bad right here – if it is all the same to you, I think I’ll just settle down here in this place of comfort.” It makes perfect sense to me – but to fail here is to miss something much better he has for me. When Abraham obeys the Lord in the call to begin a journey into the unknown, he’s about to leave the comfort of home and set out on a decades-long journey. There are going to be some big bumps in the road but the destination the Lord has in mind for him is going to make it all worthwhile. What’s true for this, the first Patriarch, is true for you and me too: God initiated trips are always worth taking.
Take away: Don’t get too comfortable and miss out on something better the Lord might have in store.

Devotional on Genesis

2013 – Watkins Glen State Park, NY

In Transit
Genesis 12: So Abram left…He moved on…Abram went down…So Abram left.
I imagine there was a lot of excitement in that first “so Abram left” moment. The Lord had directed him to go and now, Abram, his family, and his belongings were moving out to a promised and glorious unknown place. That first step goes off without a hitch and in a relatively short time the travelers find themselves in the Promised Land of Canaan. That’s when things get complicated. Canaan’s already occupied and there’s no place for Abram and family. He moves on and settles down, at least until a famine hits the area. He moves again, relocating to Egypt. Abram and company are now as far to the southwest of Canaan as he had been to the northeast when his journey began. In a few years they’re all kicked out of Egypt and end up back in Canaan. However, even now they’re outsiders and aren’t really accepted as residents. What started out as an exciting relocation to the Promised Land has become an uncertain life with no permanency for Abram and his family. Years have passed since that original exodus and they’ve become a tribe of nomads rather than possessors of a land to call their own. If Abram had known this journey would fill the most of his life I wonder if he would have left in the first place. Being the hero he is my guess is “yes.” However, when I internalize his story, I wonder how I’m doing in the similar circumstances of my life. Years ago, the Lord called me to follow him. He promised that he’s building a city and has a place in it just for me. As I travel through life, I tend to treat each step as though it’s permanent. I amass possessions, settle down, and behave as though I’ve arrived at the destination promised me at the beginning of the journey. It took Abraham a lifetime to actually arrive. Everything else was “in transit.” So it is in my life. I want to appreciate the moment; after all, God’s good to me. However, I also want to remember that, like Abraham, I’m also “in transit.”
Take away: Appreciate the moment, but don’t forget this is just a part of a great journey.

Devotional on Genesis

2013 – Watkins Glen State Park, NY

The mystery man of the Bible
Genesis 14: Melchizedek, king of Salem…blessed him.
I’ve always thought of Abraham’s rescue of Lot as a fairly localized situation and that their enemy was a neighboring warlord. However, I’ve just realized that Kedorlaomer and his allies were a big deal: a conquering army from Babylon; a world power. The Canaanite rulers didn’t have a chance against them. When Abram hears what’s happened, he mounts a rescue effort with just 318 people. Years before Gideon’s 300 will win a battle against an insurmountable force Abraham mounts an amazing rescue by the authority of God. As he returns from that battle the Canaanite kings salute him and tell him to keep the spoils of his unprecedented victory, but Abraham turns them down, commenting that he doesn’t want people to think it was the Canaanites who made him rich. Then, out of nowhere, the mysterious Melchizedek, King of the town named Peace (or Salem) makes an appearance. He comes to bless Abraham and to praise God for what he’s done. In turn, Abraham recognizes this hitherto unknown man as a spiritual authority and gives him a tithe of all the plunder. I’m sure we’re talking about wagon loads of stuff here. In centuries to come both the Psalmist and the writer of Hebrews revisit this incident. They remind us that, even for the Jewish people, not all spiritual authority is based on lineage. In fact, the highest authority is when the Lord grants it in a direct way. I’m not ready to get bound up in whether or not Melchizedek is Jesus making an Old Testament appearance, but he does become the poster boy for God’s granting direct authority to the person of his choosing, credentials or not. That’s real important in our understanding how Jesus is the High Priest of Christians through the ages.
Take away: As we read our Old Testaments it isn’t unusual to find God preparing the way for his Son, Jesus, to come to the world.

Devotional on Genesis

2014 – Horsethief Campground – Moab, UT

Abraham and Sarah and Hagar
Genesis 16: You’re the God who sees me!
The story of Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar is such a sad one. While I know that I’m reading an event from long ago that took place in a culture very different than mine, the way Hagar is treated is pitiful. Sarah, who’s childless, sees that those in the culture around her have a sort of solution for the problem. They use a slave girl as a surrogate. Apparently, giving one’s servant to one’s husband is less humiliating in that culture than being childless. Hagar has no say in the matter and Abraham docilely goes along Sarah’s foolish plan. When the girl gets pregnant by Abraham the already horrible situation begins to unravel further. Hagar, who has never had much of a chance in life, decides to run away from the people who’ve abused her. My belief is that her choice to run is probably the right one. However in this case and in this day and culture, there are extenuating circumstances. As she flees, she encounters the God she’s heard Abraham and Sarah talk about. To her amazement, God not only knows about Abraham and Sarah, he knows her name too. This God cares about her and gives her a promise similar to the one he gave Abraham years earlier. Hagar connects with the Lord and calls him El Roi – the “God who sees.” As I read this incident and then of Hagar’s second encounter with El Roi a few pages over, I’m reminded that God sees the plight of the outcasts of the world. He sees and he cares about their lives. Since I’m a worshiper of this seeing God my values ought to reflect his values. I’m to show compassion on those who are mistreated by society. As I’m able, I’m to help lift their burden. Whether I can do that or not, I’m to value them as people the God I worship, El Roi, sees and cares about.
Take away: God cares about the abused and the outcasts. I’m to do the same.

Devotional on Genesis

2013 – Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania

Sarah laughed
Genesis 18: Sarah laughed within herself.
It’s been a long journey not only in distance but also emotionally and in time. When Abraham says he’s heard from God and that they’re to relocate Sarah’s likely both concerned and excited. The promise of bearing a son fills this barren woman with sweet anticipation. The journey has taken much longer than she ever thought it would. Twenty-five years have passed and the excitement and anticipation has given way to weariness and disappointment. Now Abraham has the nerve to tell her he’s heard from the Lord again and that the promised child will be born in about a year. She laughs and it isn’t the laughter of joy. Instead, we hear a hard, brittle laugh – laughing at the impossible. This, though, isn’t the last time we hear laughter from Sarah. A year later, we hear her laughing again and this time it’s the laughter of one who’s had a miracle of God happen in her life. This is such a happy occasion that the miracle baby is named “To Laugh” or “Isaac.” Here we see that God loves surprise endings, jokes with good punch lines. And his laughter is not silliness or useless. God loves to bring about happy endings. What laughter does he want to produce in my life today? As I trust him and cooperate with him, he’ll accomplish good things and bring a smile to my face.
Take away: The Lord delights in surprising us with good things.

Devotional on Genesis

2013 – Shenandoah National Park, VA – Skyline Drive

Shocking intercession
Genesis 18: Abraham stood in God’s path, blocking the way.
I can’t imagine a more shocking description of how Abraham begins his intercession for the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah than this statement. I’ve read this passage countless times and never realized what it meant for Abraham to, in the language of the NIV, “Stand before the Lord.” The Almighty has graced Abraham with a unique visitation. The Lord has made a wonderful promise to him. Now, he’s honored him by giving him advance knowledge of what he’s about to do. As the Lord prepares to depart on this mission, Abraham stands before him, ready to plead for mercy in one of the best known prayers of intercession in the Bible. It’s pretty clear that the Lord welcomes Abraham’s involvement in this. For one thing, had the Lord not told Abraham what’s about to happen, he would have found out about it after the fact like everyone else. For another, when Abraham stands in God’s path it’s akin to my going out to the interstate and “standing in the path” of a Mac truck. The only way Abraham survives this shocking event is that the Lord allows it. As I look for an application to my life from this passage I don’t want to go overboard here. I need to remember that Abraham’s pleading a case and not insisting that things go his way. Still, it’s enlightening for me to realize that the Lord sometimes welcomes me into the conversation about what he’s doing in the world. It seems to me that this is the key is the Lord’s informing Abraham of his intention. In that, I get the feeling that Abraham’s being given permission to respond from his own perspective. When the Lord gives me a burden, or even a unique insight into something, I can take that as being granted permission to respond in prayer from my own perspective and maybe to even “stand in God’s path” in a reverent and respectful way as Abraham did.
Take away: As amazing as it is, sometimes God welcomes me into a conversation concerning his intentions.

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