Hello friends! If you missed it yesterday, the Introduction to a new Bible study written to prepare our tour group for a trip to Israel posted yesterday. The study is 4 weeks long, each containing 5 lessons. I hope you will study along with us, then keep an eye here on this blog for live updates from Israel as we tour.
Here is Week 1, Lesson 1:
What keeps you awake at night? What challenges in life seem insurmountable? Do the worries of this world tug at your thoughts and emotions? Are you willing to identify things in which you desire to see God’s faithfulness? Pause here and take a moment to consider some concerns in which you would like to see God’ faithfulness prevail.
We are setting out on a journey to discover new depths of God’s faithfulness. We will dig into His Word, then He will reaffirm His unimaginable faithfulness as we travel to Israel and see clear evidence of it with our own eyes! If you are studying along with us, but not taking the physical journey to the land of Israel, stay tuned to Looking4theBlessedHope.com, where you can access live content from Israel, February 17 – March 1, 2023.
Week 1, Lesson 1: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob: A Unique Calling
When it comes to God’s faithfulness, there seems no better example than God calling a unique people group into being. Not that God had ever lacked faithfulness before, but He was about to faithfully bring the vehicle of world redemption (the Jewish people) into existence! Consider this: there were no Jews when God created the world, or when He destroyed it in the flood then repopulated it. It was only after God called a pagan, idol-worshipping Gentile to drop everything and go to a distant land that God began the task of creating for Himself a special and unique people. Look at Genesis 12:1-9.
God first gave Abram a command, mentioned in verse 1, then followed it by promises in verses 2-3. What are those promises, and how did Abram immediately respond in verses 4-6? (By the way, note Abram’s age in verse 4. It will come into play later.)
The land of Canaan is modern-day Israel and when we gaze upon the land, we see the evidence of God’s fulfilled promises! But let’s go a step further with Abram because it only gets better! Please read Genesis 15:7-18 and ponder the details of how God’s covenant with Abram came to be.
Aren’t you glad God’s Word records the actual Abrahamic covenant? There is far too much in that passage to unpack here and now but take note of this: Verse 12 indicates “a deep sleep fell upon Abram,” meaning God initiated the covenant and took all the action to enact it. Covenants are two-way streets, yet God knew of Abram’s inability to uphold his side of the bargain, and it was much too important in God’s master plan, so He took on full responsibility.
Isn’t that what God did for you at salvation?
As we read in Genesis 12:1-7, God’s all-important promise to Abram was to give him land and descendants but having “dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan” (Genesis 16: 3), it seemed absolutely impossible that Abram and Sarai could conceive. (Remember how old Abram was when he left Haran to follow God’s call? Now tack on the 10 years in Canaan!) At that age, we likely have some understanding why Abram and Sarai decided to “help God out” by sending Sarai’s handmaiden in to sleep with Abram. But that wasn’t God’s plan! Ishmael was born but he was not the son of promise.
Have you ever given up on God’s faithfulness to a promise and resorted to “helping God out?” Oh, how foolish we are to lay aside God’s faithfulness to strike out on our own. But God’s faithfulness does not turn off just because we are faithless! Read about God’s response to Abram in Genesis 17:1-8 and pay particular attention to God’s restated promises.
Again…land and descendants! God’s promises did not change, but Abram and Sarai’s names did! Abram became Abraham, meaning “father of many nations,” and Sarai became Sarah. Read what God has to say about her in Genesis 17:15-16. What must Sarah have thought!
So, at 100 years of age, Abraham and his 90-year-old wife, Sarah, bore the son of promise. (Genesis 21) His name was Isaac, and God’s faithfulness shown through him in undeniable ways. Pick up the account in Genesis 22:1-18.
Ponder verses 1-2 a moment by putting yourself in Abraham’s shoes. Would God’s faithfulness be enough to enable Abraham to act in obedience? Of course, we know the answer to that question because we read the passage but note how God put His faithfulness on display in verses 12-18.
This account has so many similarities to the crucifixion of Jesus:
- They were on a mountain in the land of Moriah. Many believe that is the vicinity of Golgotha, where Jesus was crucified. (Yes, we will see this place.)
- Isaac carried the wood for his own sacrifice just as Jesus carried His own wooden cross.
- Isaac went willingly to the sacrifice. (Isaac was a young man and Abraham was 100 years his senior. Surely Isaac could have overpowered or outran his father if he were so inclined. Likewise, Jesus could have called 10,000 angels, but instead was “led as a lamb to the slaughter…silent,” just as Isaiah 53:7 prophesied.)
- God “provided for Himself the lamb.” Jesus was the sacrificial Lamb of God.
- The ram was caught in (crowned by) a thorny thicket by its horns. Jesus wore a crown of thorns.
Abraham and Isaac knew the faithfulness of God and were, therefore, faithful in obedience. In response, God doubled down on His promises. Meditate on verses 17-18. What promises did God reconfirm?
True to God’s promise, Isaac went on to begat Jacob, and after significant history of his own and a wrestling match with the angel of the Lord, an interesting thing occurred. What happened in Genesis 32:28?
So, through the faithfulness of God, Abraham became father of the Jews, God reconfirmed the covenant with Isaac and Jacob to begin the line of descendants promised by God, and Jacob’s new name would represent the nation that would soon be populated by the descendants God promised!
- In obedience, have you ever left something or somewhere to follow Him?
- Have you ever faced the impossible, only to have God show up in a powerful way?
- Have you ever gained maturity in your spiritual life after wrestling with the Lord?
If so, you have experienced God’s faithfulness in powerful ways! There are new depths that God desires us to go, so as we gaze upon places where Abraham, Isaac and Jacob experienced God’s faithfulness, my prayer is that your faith will be bolstered as well!
PS: If you want each week’s study all in one shot, click on the “Bible Studies” tab above!