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God was faithful to Abraham throughout Abraham’s life and, like Jesus, he lived a life of service. In being buried in the Promised Land Abraham trusted God’s promise to give the land to his descendents, and we can look back and see how God was faithful after Abraham’s death.
Abraham makes plans for Isaac in line with the promises he received from God and has been living with. The first thing his servant does on arriving at his destination is to pray. Isaac’s love for Rebecca reflects Christ’s love for the church.
Abraham mourned the death of Sarah. It is appropriate to grieve. Like Abraham and Sarah, we are aliens in the world who do not really belong anywhere. We are citizens of heaven - it is important to remember where we’re from and where we’re headed.
Unbelievers may think this passage shows a cruel God, but they are missing the bigger picture. Abraham may not have been angry with God, but he would have experienced emotional turmoil, and yet he obeyed God. It was God who miraculously gave Isaac to Abraham in the first place. God did not withhold his only Son. Isaac lived because a ram died in his place; we live because the Lamb of God died in our place.
God makes specific promises to individuals. God provides for us whether we are like Hagar and Ishmael who have reached the end of their resources or whether we are like Abraham who is distressed for others. Abraham entrusts Ishmael’s life to God, just as he later entrusts Isaac’s life to God.
Jesus is transfigured as he prays. Moses and Elijah, both men of prayer, represent the Law and the Prophets, the whole of the Old Testament, and they discuss Jesus’ departure, the cross, the fulfilment of all God’s promises. Peter had an old way of thinking, but the Father tells him and us to listen to Jesus. We are also being transfigured into his likeness.
God speaks because he wants to relate to us, not because we’ve earned this but because of his grace. He fulfils what he says, even with flawed human beings. And God makes us laugh - we can revel in our weakness because it shows God’s strength and power.
We can look at Lot’s life and think “Why did God save him?” But if we do that then we also need to ask “Why did God save me?” It was because of his grace and love. We need to live by faith rather than fear, and live God’s way rather than the ways of the world.
We might be shocked at what the men of Sodom wanted to do and what Lot suggested doing and even what God is prepared to do. But we should take this passage as a warning and example of what God will do when he ultimately destroys the wicked. There are different ways of responding - like Lot’s sons-in-law, who saw judgement as a joke, or like Lot, who hesitated when urged to escape, or like Lot’s wife, who looks back. We have a chance to repent and escape judgment, but that this opportunity will end.
Like Abraham, as chosen people we can have a relationship with God. We can see Abraham’s heart for the strangers, the alien, the lost and the outsider, and we can see the mighty sovereignty and graciousness of God, and so we can trust him as Lord of all.
God’s covenant is a binding and contractual promise between God and Abraham. There are many blessings promised to Abraham, and all Abrham has to do is to walk with God faithfully and blamelessly and to circumcise all males. Abraham’s ultimate response is obedience. Physical circumcision is no longer required but circumcision of our hearts is required.
Abraham and Sarah got tired of waiting for God’s promise to be fulfilled and tried to take control. They began to focus on themselves, they stopped caring for others, such as Hagar. But God cared for her, and unlike Abraham and Sarah, calls her by her name.
When God makes his covenant with Abraham, he makes his promises on his own terms, and he kept his promises when the Israelites came out of Egypt. We too have promises from God, and just as the promises to Abraham weren’t fulfilled for 400 years, we also have to wait for our promises to be fulfilled. In the meantime, what steps of faith is God calling us to take as individuals?
Abraham believed God, not just as a cold hard fact but in a personal relational sense. Like Abraham, we can trust God when we can’t see the way out of our situation and are tempted to try to find our own way out. We are considered righteous by God’s grace through faith, not through our works or our efforts.
It can sometimes look as if worldly powers are king, but the Bible says that we reign in life. Abraham recognised Melchizedek as greater than he himself was, and Melchizedek points to Jesus. Jesus is king. We say that with our mouths, but is he really king over our lives? Do we really submit our entire lives to him?
The women physically looked up and saw the stone was rolled away. We can figuratively look up and see Jesus. We are all searching for different things, but the women were searching for Jesus. What are we chasing after?
How do we get back on track with God? By repenting and putting God first, by being willing to make hard decisions rather than drifting when we meet with challenges and by walking by faith like Abraham, rather than walking by sight like Lot.