The Lord Is a Refuge for the Oppressed, A Stronghold in Times of Trouble

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GENESIS 20:1-22:24 | MATTHEW 7:15-29 | PSALM 9:1-12 | PROVERBS 2:16-22

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The passage for the day starts out with a strange account of Abraham and Sarah’s experiences with the king Abimelek.  Here is yet again another example of Abraham’s humanity lest we think of him as being infallible and perfect.  He was only human, and in his great desire for self-preservation, he lies to the king about his wife, Sarah. 

And what was Sarah thinking?  She too didn’t speak up when the king decided he wanted to take her for his wife.  I suppose her faith had wavered as well, and she probably wondered if all that talk about having a child wasn’t just talk.

At any rate, both Abraham and Sarah blatantly lie to the king in order to gain protection and favor, but God is an amazing God, and despite our failings and weaknesses looks upon us with mercy, and acts towards us in amazing grace.  That is just what happens, and Abraham and Sarah are given a talking-to by both the king and God, and are sent on their way.

But if Sarah’s faith had faltered, it was soon restored.  God reminds her of the promise he has made to her, and gives her a son whom she names Isaac, which means laughter. 

Sarah says:  6 “God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.” And she adds, “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.”

The story of Ishmael, Abraham’s other son by the slave-woman Hagar, takes an interesting turn.  Turned out of Abraham’s house, the mother and son wander in the desert, but God’s grace is offered to them as well.  Ishmael is to become the father of the Arab nations.

The story of Abraham’s obedience to God in being willing to give up his much-loved son Isaac as a sacrifice is quite the story of being passed through a fire and coming out unscathed.  The courage and confidence it must have taken to even agree to this request is nothing short of supernatural. 

But Abraham must have known deep down in his heart that there was going to be a way out — why else would he have told his young son that God will provide the sacrificial animal? 

Abraham’s faith was strong when it really mattered, and he comes out of this terrible test with his son intact. 

God says to hm:  16 …because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, 18 and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.”

This is also a foreshadowing of the plan of salvation that is to come to us when God gives up his only son as the perfect sacrifice for us.

Turning now to the passage in the Book of Matthew, we continue to read of Jesus’ preaching to the public.  Among other things, Jesus tells them about the wise and the foolish builders, and exhorts each one of us to build our house/faith upon solid ground, not upon the sand. 

Jesus says, 24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.

Turning next to our Psalm for the day, we find this is one in which David reiterates the many strengths of the Lord.  He says:

7 The LORD reigns forever;
   he has established his throne for judgment.
8 He rules the world in righteousness
   and judges the peoples with equity.
9 The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed,
   a stronghold in times of trouble.
10 Those who know your name trust in you,
   for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.

Finally, we find in the Book of Proverbs, Solomon, the wise king of Israel, exhorting his reader to continue in the ways of Wisdom.  By doing so, this will be the good outcome:

20 Thus you will walk in the ways of the good
   and keep to the paths of the righteous.
21 For the upright will live in the land,
   and the blameless will remain in it;
22 but the wicked will be cut off from the land,
   and the unfaithful will be torn from it.

May God bless the reading and reflection of His Word.  Amen.

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