Notes: Genesis 22-23

English Language Bible Study Guide for January 31, 2008

Genesis 22

A.  The Testing of Abraham’s Faith (1-10)

1: God never “tempts” anyone to sin (James 1:13)

2: Isaac was the only son that counted in the house of Abraham

3: Abraham rose early to begin a most difficult job

5: Confidently Abraham expected that both he and Isaac would return from worship

6-7: Abraham appeared fully prepared; but Isaac noticed that the sacrificial animal itself was missing

8: Abraham trusts that God will provide a lamb

10: Abraham raised the knife to sacrifice his son


B.  The Victory of Abraham’s Faith  (11-14)

12: The Lord interrupted the motion that would end Isaac’s life; and He announced that Abraham had passed the test with flying colors

13: Abraham sees that the Lord had indeed provided himself a lamb for the sacrifice

14: Abraham’s name for the place would ever be Jehovahjireh


C.  The Reward of Abraham’s Faith  (15-19)

15: When the Lord speaks a second time, it is to set a “gold sticker” onto Abraham’s report card

16: The Lord “swears” to tell the truth

17: The promise of innumerable descendants is repeated


D.  The Successor with Abraham’s Faith (20-24)

Someone, at some time later, brings Abraham news of the brother he had left back home


Meditation Points:

  1. Job was tested severely, but he had no choice in the death of his children; Abraham was asked not only to consent to the death of his beloved son, he was asked to be the instrument of that death.
  2. Abraham believed either that God would prevent the sacrifice or that God would raise Isaac from the dead in order to fulfill His covenant.
  3. God did provide a lamb for the sacrifice then–and God provided the Lamb for the sacrifice at Calvary.
  4. The chapter break which we observe in English might better have been placed before verse 20 for the first 19 verses stand together; and the last 5 which announce the birth of Rebekah, the future bride of Isaac, go better with the events of chapters 23 and 24.

Genesis 23

Sarah dies, and Abraham secures a burial place for her.

1: Sarah is the only woman whose age (127) is recorded in the Bible.

2: Even the most faithful, the most severely tested, may mourn

3-4: Abraham declares his desire to procure a burial place for his wife

5-6: His neighbors kindly offer him the choice of any of their sepulchres

7-9: Abraham appreciates their offer, but asks that instead they arrange for the sale of the cave of Machpelah

10-11: The owner of the cave offers the property for free

12-13: Abraham insists upon paying for the cave

14-15: A value of 400 silver shekels is set forth

16-18: Abraham pays the agreed upon sum, in the presence of many witnesses; and he secures ownership of the property for generations to come

19-20: With ownership of the land duly transferred to Abraham, then he proceeds to bury Sarah


Meditation Points:

  1. Sarah was 90 years old when Isaac was born, and she was 127 when she died. That would make Isaac 37 years old at her death. Rebekah (22:23), granddaughter of Isaac’s uncle, would most likely be of a similar age.
  2. Abraham mourned for Sarah. Sorrow without sin, not as those who have no hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13).
  3. Abraham was highly regarded by his neighbors.
  4. Abraham’s almost rude insistence upon paying for the burial ground is a puzzle. Perhaps we should remember that Abraham also refused reward from the king of Sodom lest the king say that he had made Abraham rich (Genesis 14:22-23). Elijah may take nourishment from the unclean birds, but no believer wants the unsaved to glory in doing God’s job of caring for His child.



Notes: Genesis 20-21

English Language Bible Study Guide for January 30, 2008

Genesis 20

Twenty-four years earlier Abraham and Sarah kept their marriage secret from the Egyptians, and brought a plague upon Pharaoh’s house. Now we find them lying again; and this time they bring God’s wrath upon Abimelech, Philistine king of Gerar, and his household.

1-2: Why Abraham moved from Hebron to the southern portion of the promised land is unknown. Whether the recent destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and uncertainty about Lot’s fate were influential in his decision is purely conjecture.

3-7: Though Abraham and Sarah declared otherwise, God informed Abimelech that the two were indeed married; and Abimelech pleads ignorance of the fact.

8-13: Abraham confesses to the ruse and explains his reasons for it.

14-18: God restores Abimelech and his household to health

Meditation Points:

  1. Sin can become so habitual that we don’t even consider not doing it
  2. God’s wrath against sin, even sins of ignorance
  3. God’s ability to prevent us from sinning
  4. 7: Abraham is a prophet who will pray for Abimelech(‘s restoration)
  5. 8: When others learn what we know about God, and how they fear Him, too
  6. 10: Why would you do such a thing?
  7. 11: Surely the fear of God is not in this place, or so Abraham thought
  8. 12: Marrying your half-sister. When a half-truth is a lie.
  9. 16: In what sense could Sarah’s husband be a covering for her? (1 Corinthians 11)
  10. 18: How long must Abraham and Sarah been in that land?

Genesis 21

1-8: Isaac is born and circumcised.

9-10: Sarah notices Ishamel’s attitude toward his little (half-) brother; and she doesn’t want Hagar’s son around any longer.

11-13: The Lord instructs Abraham how to cope with the situation.

14-21: Hagar and Ishmael, cast out by Abraham and Sarah, are delivered by the Lord.

22-34: Abraham makes a peace treaty with the Philistines; and he continues in that land for many days.

Meditation Points:

  1. 1: God kept His promise to Abraham, and Isaac was born of Sarah
  2. 4: The rite of circumcision is continued
  3. 9: Sarah doesn’t want Ishmael to take away any of Isaac’s inheritance
  4. 11: Like Joseph (Matthew 1:19), Abraham struggles with what to do.
  5. 14: The bondwoman and her son are sent away
      Galatians 4:21 Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law?
      22  For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman.
      23  But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise.
      24  Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar.
      25  For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children.
      26  But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.
      27  For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband.
      28  Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise.
      29  But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now.
      30  Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.
      31  So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free.
  6. 22: When others see God’s hand of mercy upon us, they often want to be our friends
  7. 33: Abraham planted a grove, and called upon the name of the Lord there. This may be innocent agriculture; but elsewhere in the KJV where we read the word “grove” as the translation of an entirely different Hebrew word, idolatry and not innocence is the case.
      Exodus 34:13  But ye shall destroy their altars, break their images, and cut down their groves:
      Deuteronomy 7:5  But thus shall ye deal with them; ye shall destroy their altars, and break down their images, and cut down their groves, and burn their graven images with fire.
      Deuteronomy 12:3  And ye shall overthrow their altars, and break their pillars, and burn their groves with fire; and ye shall hew down the graven images of their gods, and destroy the names of them out of that place.
      Deuteronomy 16:21  Thou shalt not plant thee a grove of any trees near unto the altar of the LORD thy God, which thou shalt make thee.
      Judges 3:7  And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and forgat the LORD their God, and served Baalim and the groves. (…and many more references)


Notes: Genesis 18-19

English Language Bible Study Guide for January 29, 2008

Genesis 18

God announces the birth of Isaac and the destruction of Sodom

1-8: The Lord, along with two angels, visits Abraham; and Abraham and Sarah prepare a meal of cakes, butter, milk and beef

9-15: When the Lord tells Abraham that the promised child will be born of Sarah, she laughs within herself; but the Lord knows what she’s thinking.

16-22: The Lord tells Abraham that Sodom and Gomorrah will be destroyed.

23-33: Abraham negotiates for leniency on behalf of the cities; if only 10 righteous people can be found in them, the Lord will spare the entire population.


Meditation Points:

  1. 1-8: Sitting in the shade when the sun is hot
  2. When the Lord visits
  3. Running to meet the Lord
  4. Serving the Lord and His servants
  5. Hospitality and entertaining strangers
  6. 9-15: Are we ever too old for God to use us?
  7. Laughing at God’s predictions and plans for our lives
  8. God knows our innermost thoughts
  9. Is anything too hard for the Lord?
  10. Telling lies to save ourselves from embarrassment
  11. 16-22: God gives us a glimpse of the future
  12. The good father leads his family to obey God
  13. Widespread sin gets God’s attention
  14. 23-33: Knowing that God will not destroy the righteous with the wicked
  15. Presuming to get God to change His mind–negotiating and praying
  16. Interceding for others


Genesis 19

Sodom and Gomorrah are destroyed

1-3: With insight like his uncle’s, Lot welcomes the heavenly visitors into his home.

4-11: When Lot’s life is threatened by the wicked, male mob, the angels strike the sinners with blindness and pull Lot into the safety of his house.

12-14: Lot, hearing of the impending doom of the city, tries unsuccessfully to persuade his sons-in-law to join the group that is fleeing the wrath to come.

15-23: Mercifully the angels lead Lot and his wife and their two daughters out of the city, and allow Lot to choose sanctuary in the city of Zoar.

24-26: When the Lord rains fire and brimstone upon the wicked cities, Lot’s wife, contrary to the express command of the angels, looks back to see.

27-30: For Abraham’s sake, Lot is saved. Lot fears for his life in Zoar, and moves to the mountain that was first proposed by the angelic deliverers.

31-38: Lot’s daughters plot between themselves to have an incestuous relationship with their father; and the nations of Moab and Ammon are born.


Meditation Points:

  1. 1-3: Sitting in the gate of the city was an activity of public officials. See verse 9.
  2. 4-11: Who cannot see that our word "sodomy" finds its origin in this Bible passage?
  3. Sin entwines young and old alike
  4. Lot offers to sacrifice the virginity of two daughters to preserve the safety of the angelic visitors
  5. Judicial blindness. Not all blindness is the result of sin (John 9), but some is.
  6. Judgment strikes young and old alike
  7. 12-14: Abraham had negotiated for 10, but 10 righteous people could not be found.
  8. It’s not strange that Lot’s sons-in-law thought he was kidding
  9. 15-23: Lots longest day
  10. Lot lingered in the face of impending doom. Why do we procrastinate when God’s warnings are so clear?
  11. If the angels had not taken Lot and his family by the hand, Lot et al. would have been destroyed, too
  12. Lot fears for his life. How foolish! Would God who saved him from Sodom and Gomorrah lead him to his death?
  13. Judgment on the wicked is withheld until the righteous are saved.
  14. 24-26: Fire and brimstone from the Lord.  This is NOT a case of permissive will; this is God’s active will at work.
  15. The instructions were short and plain (verse 17): "look not behind." But Lot’s wife did look back, and was immediately turned into a pillar of salt.  Remember Lot’s wife (Luke 17:32).
  16. 27-30: Benefiting from God’s favor to others
  17. Foolish fears and phobias–when faith fails
  18. 31-38: Between Noah’s drunkenness and Lot’s and the resulting sins, we ought to learn to avoid drunkenness
  19. Sarah tried adultery to gain a child; Lot’s daughters chose incest. Are there no limits to the sins that women will engage in to have children?
  20. The nations of Moab and Ammon will be seen often in Biblical history as opponents of God’s chosen nation.
  21. God said that Abraham would lead his family aright; Lot’s daughters forsook whatever religious training they had received at home



Notes: Genesis 16-17

English Language Bible Study Guide for January 28, 2008

Genesis 16

"Call me Ishmael." Was Herman Melville thinking about Abram, Sarai and Hagar when he penned these opening words to his now famous Moby Dick?

1-3: After 10 years in the land of Canaan without a child and with no visible prospects of having God’s covenant promises fulfilled, Sarai conceives a solution to her barrenness. Abram agrees.

4-6: Hagar, Sarai’s personal servant, does become pregnant; and the relationship between her and Sarai becomes strained.

7-12: The angel of the Lord speaks to the outcast and expecting Hagar; and he tells her to return to Sarai’s employ with the assurance the child to be born will be the first of a long line of descendants, but with the sad news that he shall be a social outcast.

13-14: Hagar has special names for the one who spoke to her and for the place where they met.

15-16: She returns to Abram and Sarai; and Ishmael is born (and named) as the angel had instructed.


Meditation Points:

  1. Employer-employee relations
  2. Foreign workers
  3. Mistreating domestics
  4. The extremes to which some go in their desire to be a parent
  5. Trying to fulfill prophecy on our own
  6. Blaming others for our sins
  7. Listening to the bad advice of those we love
  8. Continuing the pregnancy when we know that the child will be born with problems


Genesis 17

Thirteen years later, God speaks again of His covenant to Abram.

1-3: God introduces Himself as God Almighty, El-Shaddai. Abram, now age 99, is told to walk before God and be perfect.

4-6: God changes Abram’s name to Abraham to signify that he will be the father of many nations and kings.

7-14: God instructs Abraham concerning circumcision, which is to be a token of God’s covenant.

15-22: God clearly states that the covenant child will be the son of Abraham and Sarah (her new name from God); Ishmael will be blessed, but Sarah’s child, to be born within a year and named Isaac, will be the child of the promise.

23-27: Abraham obeys and sees that all the males of his house over 8 days old, whether born into Abraham’s household or bought, are circumcised.


Meditation Points:

  1. God works in and with older people, too
  2. Omnipotence, found only in God
  3. God’s one-sided covenant
  4. Falling/bowing/humbling ourselves before God
  5. God’s name for His chosen ones
  6. The significance of names–what do names mean?
  7. Circumcision–for whom and why?
  8. The consequences of disobedience: what is it to be cut off from God’s people?
  9. When God rejects our efforts to help His cause
  10. Believers who laugh at God’s promises
  11. Obeying God, even when it hurts