GENESIS 16:1-18:15; MATTHEW 6:1-24; PSALM 7:1-17; PROVERBS 2:1-5
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Abram’s saga continues with the account of his wife Sarai trying to carefully arrange things. The result of this is Ishmael being born to Sarai’s handmaid, Hagar and Abram. The pronouncement that the angel of the Lord makes to Hagar in her time of trouble is a strange one; it almost sounds like it is a half-blessing and a half-curse.
The covenant of circumcision is then established between God and Abram, and furthermore, there is a change of names. Abram is now Abraham and Sarai is Sarah. This is a new beginning of sorts. And God reiterates His covenant yet again.
He says: 7 I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. 8 The whole land of Canaan, where you now reside as a foreigner, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God.”
As for Sarah, God says about her to Abraham: 16 I will bless her and will surely give you a son by her. I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her.”
And when Abram openly laughs in God’s face about how incredulous a notion this is– the fact that he is 100 years old, and Sarai 90, God reassures Abram and says to him: 21 But my covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you by this time next year.”
It takes several tellings and reminders for something like this to sink in. And the three visitors that arrive one day are angels incarnate come to remind Abraham of God’s promise. This is also a fine example of how significant it is to minister to those who might be strangers because we just might be receiving angels unawares.
The chapter ends with a very amusing account of God sparring with Abraham! Oh, and the meaning of Isaac is laughter. Because Sarah also laughed at the notion that she would bear a child at her age!
Turning next to our reading of Matthew, we continue with the account of Jesus’ preaching. Jesus talks specifically about not showing off about your acts of giving, fasting and praying. Do it discreetly, he says. And as for some guidance on praying, Jesus gives us a template:
“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.’
Finally, Jesus talks about money. Don’t obsess about it, he says. You can’t take it with you when you go. And you certainly won’t find it in heaven let alone worship it there. So, what are you doing worshiping it here? In fact, you can’t do both: you either worship God or money. That’s just how it is. By no means is Jesus asking that you take on a vow of poverty; but he is saying that money is not to have an elevated position in your life.
Our Psalm for the day is penned by David, the warrior. There are images of warfare throughout the passage. Here is a set of verses that contains a nugget of wisdom. David says:
14 Whoever is pregnant with evil
conceives trouble and gives birth to disillusionment.
15 Whoever digs a hole and scoops it out
falls into the pit they have made.
16 The trouble they cause recoils on them;
their violence comes down on their own heads.
David’s faith is an unwavering one. May it be that like him, we might also say:
17 I will give thanks to the LORD because of his righteousness;
I will sing the praises of the name of the LORD Most High.
Many years later, David’s son King Solomon also offers words of wisdom in these verses:
1 My son, if you accept my words
and store up my commands within you,
2 turning your ear to wisdom
and applying your heart to understanding—
3 indeed, if you call out for insight
and cry aloud for understanding,
4 and if you look for it as for silver
and search for it as for hidden treasure,
5 then you will understand the fear of the LORD
and find the knowledge of God.
May God bless the reading and reflection of His Word. Amen.