February 2, 2015: Daily Bible Reading with Commentary for Genesis 20-23
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Context: Abraham and Sarah have an encounter similar to the one they had in Egypt (Genesis 12:10-20). We are not told why Abraham and Sarah refrain from telling the truth, however, we see God's protection in these verses. Sarah does not appear to be pregnant in this chapter. If she had laid with the foreign king even once, the paternity of her future child would have been in question. God protected her and Abraham from this potential dilemma. The birth of Isaac is rather anticlimactic when considering the struggle and trials Abraham and Sarah went through to have a child. The simplicity with which the birth is recorded should give the reader pause to consider the true marvel of Isaac's birth. Following the birth, Hagar and Ishmael are sent away, at the request of Sarah. God protects Hagar and Ishmael, who eventually fathers a nation. Abraham's near sacrifice of Isaac shows tremendous faith in the Lord. First, Abraham had three days to consider God's demand, to try and rationalize it, understand it. While the text does not describe Abraham's emotions, it is hard to imagine that Abraham would not have been emotional. After all, Isaac was the one through whom God would fulfill the covenant! Abraham's faith in the Lord was rewarded; Isaac was spared and Abraham's descendants are too numerous to count. With Sarah's death, Abraham purchased land for her burial. Interesting to note is that Abraham has, as far as we are told, not purchased land for himself, or taken it by conquest. He is content to wait for the Lord to deliver the land which the Lord had promised him. Abraham only purchases what he must. Do you demonstrate such complete faith in the Lord?
World History: The Xia Dynasty came to power in China around this time. The Egyptian Old Kingdom collapses around this time, giving rise to the Middle Kingdom. Ziggurats were being built in Mesopotamia.