Monday, November 4, 2013


"And Bethuel begot Rebekah"
Genesis 22:23

You know what's a weirdly placed bit of Scripture? 

Well, I mean, at first glance.... to human eyes.... 

it's perfectly logical to Him who wrote it, after all...

Genesis 22, verses 20-24.  

It's all genealogy.  Which is fine.  God likes genealogy, so He puts it here and there in His Word.  But this portion seems out of place, because it immediately follows the powerful account of Abraham and Isaac on Mount Moriah.

But then I look backward, and then forward, and I realize the perfect placing.  

First of all, I look backward to the verses that came before ~ 1-19 of Genesis 1.  After the nearness of Abraham's losing Isaac, the son of the promise, we get a glimpse of what's to come.  Cuz all mixed up in those somewhat unpronounceable names, (at least to me) like Chesed, Jidlaph and Reuman, is the name Rebekah.  The woman who would one day be Isaac's wife.  So not only does Isaac not die that day on Moriah, he's got a future.

Next thing I do is look forward, to chapter 23, which is about Abraham's wife, and Isaac's mother, Sarah.  I mean, it's about her death, and burial, but it's still about her. 

And reading these verses, in this place, gives us a glimpse into the Lord’s love for Sarah.  Think about a wedding.  There are preparations and plans and decisions, but also a need for support, approval and guidance.  Sarah was not going to have any part of that in the marriage of her only son.

Now, I know things were done differently in those days, but still I think this might have been a disappointment for Sarah.  She was a hands-on woman; opinionated, and strong-willed, particularly when it came to her son.  And I love that God shows us that before she died, He had already taken care of Isaac’s marriage.  Verse 20 says “it came to pass after these things” meaning the testing of Abraham, that Abraham and Sarah were informed of Nahor’s offspring.  The wording is right before Sarah’s death, but the events are not.  This notification is as much as ten years before Sarah’s death.  

It is significant that in chapter 24, when we see Abraham choosing a wife for Isaac, he does not choose a Canaanite woman from the land in which they are living.  Abraham makes the decision that his daughter-in-law must come from within the family, and I think Sarah was a part of that decision.  And we will see, when Isaac and Rebekah are married, that his love for her is a comfort to him after the loss of his mother.  This woman that can fairly be viewed as controlling or domineering left a deep impression in Isaac’s life.  And is there a better legacy for a mother to leave, than in the heart of her child?  

A study on Sarah reveals several somewhat contrary qualities.  Submissive, but impulsive.  Courageous, but skeptical.   Barren, and then Mother.  A woman so beautiful that in her late 60’s and again in her late 80’s, kings  who could choose from any woman in the land, wanted her in their harem.  Jewish Rabbinic literature says of her, “She was so beautiful that all other persons seemed like apes in comparison.”

But when you think about her beauty, think also about what Peter said his epistle:  “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes.  Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.  For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful.  They were submissive to their own husbands; like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her master.  You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.” (1 Peter 3:3-6)

Sarah was far from perfect.  She went along with her husband’s lies about their marriage, but God used it to bless them, as He had promised to.  She irrationally demanding that Ishmael be cast out, but God used it to make sure there was no confusion about which child was the child of the promise.  She is survived by descendants as numerous as the stars of heaven, and the sand on the shore, and Peter tells me I am one of her daughters...  Throughout her life, God used Sarah's strengths and weakness for His plan.  I just love knowing He does the same with us. 

~ "Sarah shall have a son...
   Is anything too hard for the Lord?" ~
Genesis 18:14 

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