Beersheba — The Well and the Tree — Genesis 21:22-34

Posted by on Dec 7, 2017 in Christian | Comments Off on Beersheba — The Well and the Tree — Genesis 21:22-34

Beersheba — The Well and the Tree — Genesis 21:22-34

This short little paragraph speaks to the beauty of expositional preaching.  As a preacher who makes it his practice to systematically work through an entire book of Scripture, I found that my thought patterns in approaching today’s text track exactly along the same lines of those of a fellow expositor Brian Borgman.  I listened to his sermon and marveled at how our minds go down the same path.  My first decision is how big of a chunk to tackle in a given message.  So last week it made sense to contrast the Promised Seed Isaac with the Seed of the Flesh = Ishamel.  It is also obvious that Chap. 22 with the offering up of Isaac stands by itself.  So what do we make of this little section (21:22-34) in the middle?  Most expositors would just skip over it … but I can’t do that.  God has it here for a specific purpose.

1)  Land Promise — Remember Gen. 12:1-3 and the initial promise which consisted of a seed promise and a land promise.

Bruce Waltke: This second conflict with Abimelech creates a bracket around the Isaac birth narrative. Whereas the first conflict, Scene5 ( Genesis 20:1-18), concerned jeopardy of the seed, the second conflict, Scene7 ( Genesis 21:22-34), concerns jeopardy of the land (i.e, well rights).

2)  Participation in Blessing Via Abraham — You can also draw some interesting contrasts between the way in which Ishmael rejected co-existence with Abraham and Isaac by mocking Isaac – thereby alienating himself from the promised seed (even though God continued to show kindness in the form of common grace to Ishmael and his descendants); while Abimelech chose the opposite course of seeking a way to embrace the blessing of Abraham and come to a treaty of peaceful co-existence.  Here you have a Gentile king in a pagan land experiencing God’s grace via his association with Abraham.

3)  New Covenant Symbolism — From Paul’s commentary in Gal. 4 we know that the casting out of Hagar and Ishmael represents the transition from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant.  So it is not surprising that in this section we learn valuable lessons about the covenant motif.

So what lesson are we to draw from this section?


[motif = theme, dominant feature]

God sovereignly directing the whole event that happens here between Abraham and Abimelech


Child of Promise . . . Child of Flesh — Genesis 21:1-21

Posted by on Nov 26, 2017 in Christian | Comments Off on Child of Promise . . . Child of Flesh — Genesis 21:1-21

Child of Promise . . . Child of Flesh — Genesis 21:1-21

For those that find the doctrine of the sovereignty of God distasteful or offensive (due to their understanding of free will or what they think is fair), this passage will be unsettling.  To say that God determines the destiny of the elect is quite a theological mountain to climb.  But to add to that conviction, the understanding that God also determines the destiny of the non-elect is more than many Christians are willing to swallow.  Yet, as we have taught before, “a God who does not control everything, cannot control anything.”  It is an all-or-nothing proposition.

We have already witnessed God’s sovereign choice in these early chapters of the first book of the bible:

  • Remember God being pleased with the sacrifice of Abel but not of Cain – then we have the designation of the descendants of both Seth, the favored line, and Cain
  • Remember the choosing of Noah and his family as the only ones to enter the ark; Then we have the descendants that flow from the 3 sons of Noah with the line of Shem being singled out

Parunak: Genesis is a history of successive election, as God repeatedly distinguishes between the chosen line and those not chosen.

  • 11:27, God chooses Terah from the other descendants of Noah.

  • 12:1, God chooses Abraham from the family of Terah. Abraham’s nephew Lot comes along, and it seems as though he might become the heir of the childless patriarch.

  • 13:11, Lot departs, leaving Abraham.

Now in our story for today, we see the favor shown to Isaac over Ishmael.

Yet we also see that God controls the destiny of both individuals, despite their contrasts – which the Apostle Paul developed in his commentary in Gal. 4 as a description of an allegory describing two very different people groups.



The Treadmill of Besetting Sin — Genesis 20

Posted by on Nov 19, 2017 in Christian | Comments Off on The Treadmill of Besetting Sin — Genesis 20

The Treadmill of Besetting Sin — Genesis 20

We have been tracking Abraham in his journey of faith.  We have seen him rise to great heights – such as when he manifested such a magnanimous spirit in Chap. 12 to give his nephew Lot the choice of where to live; or when the Lord used him in Chap. 14 to deliver Lot and the residents of Sodom from the confederacy of invading kings; or when he interceded on behalf of Lot and his family despite the wickedness around them in Sodom and Gomorrah.  But we have also seen surprising lapses in his dependence on God – such as when he passed off Sarah as his sister back in Chap. 12 as a means of self-preservation.  Here again we see that same sin revisited.  It is as if Abraham is on some type of treadmill of besetting sins – repeating the same unwise behavior over and over so that he fails to make any progress.

Yet we are struck by the mercy and power of God who intervenes to still protect Sarah and Abraham and accomplish the fulfillment of His covenant promise.  What an embarrassment it must have been for Abraham to have been rebuked by this pagan king who was filled with moral shock and indignation at the outrageous behavior of his guest that had endangered the royal family.  How could Abraham have so blatantly repeated the same moral blunder?  Yet that is true for all of us.  We each have particular sins that might not seem so threatening to others, but seem to enslave us in a grip that we have trouble breaking.  Abraham was a giant when it came to trusting God.  But in certain types of pressure situations he still resorted to his own human scheming and patterns of deception to try to help God out and preserve his life.   This in spite of God’s clear promises of what he would accomplish in the lives of Abraham and Sarah; this in spite of God’s demonstrated faithfulness over and over in proving His greatness (there is nothing too difficult for God) and His goodness (Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is right?).



Legacy of a Loser — Genesis 19:30-38

Posted by on Nov 13, 2017 in Christian | Comments Off on Legacy of a Loser — Genesis 19:30-38

Legacy of a Loser — Genesis 19:30-38

Today’s sordid text paints the last chapter in the life of worldly Lot and his dysfunctional family.  This is how Lot ended up.  This is the legacy of a loser.  All of the small compromises he made with worldliness have compounded and ended up in this ultimate end game of degradation and shame.  We know from the NT that Lot was actually a believer – in a covenantal relationship through faith in a God who had provided him with every opportunity to enjoy God’s blessings.  But time after time Lot made sinful choices that led to tragic consequences.

This text has been avoided by many well-known commentators because of its lurid content:

the old set of Calvin’s commentaries translated by the old Calvin Translation Society last century, when they get to Genesis 19, verse 31 they stop translating. They say now this passage just shouldn’t be in Calvin’s commentaries, just shouldn’t be read. They don’t even give you the Latin text. They leave it out and they move on to Genesis 20. H.C. Leupold in his commentary on Genesis (after making his few observations) says, “This is a text that should never be preached.”

What a warning to believers today.  Are we truly seeking first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness or are we pursuing a life of pleasure and possessions and worldly praise and worldly lusts?  Look at how Jesus described the type of culture that will exist in the last days right before His final revelation and return to Judge the world – Luke 17:20-37.

Who claims Lot was a righteous man?

  • Peter
  • Abraham

More than just in a forensic sense of justification

Parunak: This section is here for two reasons.

1. Though the chiasm has finished, this section still recalls Noah, whose final days were marred with intoxication and sexual impropriety. Like that section, it sounds the warning that when God brings judgment and delivers a remnant, sin still lives in the flesh of that remnant, and arises again to repeat the cycle of rebellion.

2. One important function of Genesis is to show how the nation Israel originated in the context of its neighbors. Two important neighbors are Moab and Ammon, and this story describes their origin and relation to Abraham.


How did it end for Lot?


Stench of Sodom — Genesis 19:1-29

Posted by on Oct 29, 2017 in Christian | Comments Off on Stench of Sodom — Genesis 19:1-29

Stench of Sodom — Genesis 19:1-29

Be in the World . . . But Don’t Let the World Be in You

Illustration: W. H. Griffith Thomas: Like Lot, much of the American church has moved into downtown Sodom. We’re so surrounded by its stench that we don’t notice it any more. A ship in the water is perfectly right, but water in the ship would be perfectly wrong. The Christian in the world is right and necessary, but the world in the Christian is wrong and disastrous.

Not arguing for a separate class of “carnal believers”; yet in this story we see a man – Lot –  whom the Scriptures characterize as “righteous” involved in a life of compromise with moral depravity.  The bad life choices that Lot has made are now going to come home to roost.  Earlier we saw some of the consequences as Abraham had to rescue Lot and the inhabitants of Sodom from the attack by the coalition of kings in chap. 14.  Now we see more of the tragic consequences of his conformity to the world.



Live Out Your Theology — Genesis 18

Posted by on Oct 23, 2017 in Christian | Comments Off on Live Out Your Theology — Genesis 18

Live Out Your Theology — Genesis 18

What is your concept of the person of God?  What do you know of His attributes?  How orthodox is your theology?  Satan has a pretty good understanding of who God is … but it doesn’t benefit him.   Sometimes our intellectual understanding of who God is doesn’t benefit us either.

Helpful when God is the one teaching us theology and answering our questions.

How do we interact with God’s Revelation???   Communicating Theology – Truths about the Person of God

Parunak: This chapter is a hinge between 17 (the promise of Isaac) and 19 (the destruction of the cities of the plain). Its own cohesiveness comes from the focus on the three visitors who come to Abraham’s camp.





El Shaddai Makes It Happen — Genesis 17

Posted by on Oct 15, 2017 in Christian | Comments Off on El Shaddai Makes It Happen — Genesis 17

El Shaddai Makes It Happen — Genesis 17

Our faith in God’s ability to bless us and carry out His promises to us always needs strengthening.  We are no different than the disciples whom Jesus patiently trained – as Jesus lamented over and over again – “O Ye of little faith.  How long Have I been with you and you still struggle with completely trusting Me.” How easily we grow impatient when God’s timetable does not correspond to our expectations.  How easily we doubt despite all of the times God has proved to us His power and His faithfulness.  How fragile is our faith when it should be robust and a shield against the darts of Satan.  How easily our failures and our sins drag us down.

We are no different than Abraham who tries to play God and take matters into his own hands and makes a mess of things as we saw in Chap. 16.  He first tried to put forth his servant Eliezer as the one through whom God could fulfil His promises.  Then he and Sarah resorted to having a child through her hand maiden Hagar.  But this Ishmael was a child of the flesh – not the child of promise.  Against all odds; despite the impossibility of the situation – God is going to accomplish His program His way.  He will always keep His covenant promises to His people.

Chap. 17 offers great encouragement to our faith.  Because


Here God presents Himself as El ShaddaiGod Almighty – the one who makes it happen for His people.



The God Who Sees — Genesis 16

Posted by on Oct 9, 2017 in Christian | 1 comment

The God Who Sees — Genesis 16

Easy to go down the wrong trail when studying the Scriptures.  We are warned against twisting Scripture to suit our own purposes – politicians quote the Bible this way all the time –

For example, our Big Idea today could be: “Never listen to the counsel of your wife” – but that would be way off base …  definitely chauvinistic … definitely contradicted by my own personal testimony of a multitude of excellent counsel I have received from my wife …

So what is God communicating in this text?

1) Don’t give in to the temptations of:

  • Presumption (look at the scheming of Sarah = playing God) and
  • Passivity (look at how Abram fails to take the leadership in his home)

Abraham is not as mature in the faith as we might expect him to be at this point

2) Don’t turn and run when the pressure is on or imagine that you are outside the scope of God’s deliverance and mercy – story of Hagar

Hughes: first marital triangle in biblical history.  Here we have the multiplication of rejection, anger, hurt, jealousy, and vicious cruelty.  Life complicated itself exponentially, and there was no resolution.

S. Lewis Johnson: Refutes philosophy: God will help those who help themselves

Sarah and Abram tried to help God and help themselves; took matters into their own hands; didn’t turn out well; didn’t advance God’s agenda at all

Two Scenes to this Narrative:

  • Interaction between Sarah and Abram – impacts Hagar
  • Interaction between Hagar and the Angel of the Lord


The Angel of the Lord is the only hero in this story


Don’t Fear … Don’t Doubt … Don’t Quit — Genesis 15

Posted by on Sep 17, 2017 in Christian | Comments Off on Don’t Fear … Don’t Doubt … Don’t Quit — Genesis 15

Don’t Fear … Don’t Doubt … Don’t Quit — Genesis 15

Remember that it was said of the Lord Jesus as He became incarnate and emptied Himself of the manifestation of His glory and limited Himself to walking around on earth in a human body: “He was tempted in all respects like all of us and yet He never sinned.”  If that was true of our Lord, think of how it was true of Abraham. 

  • He was tempted to fear his many enemies; he could have given in to any number of insecurities – think of the odds he had just faced in rescuing Lot and his family from Ched’s Cohorts – the alliance of 4 powerful kings. Abraham didn’t make any friends there.  Think of how fearful he was down in Egypt where he had fled to escape the famine in the land – that was a failure of faith that exposed Sarah to the indignity of being snatched into Pharaoh’s harem.
  • He was tempted to doubt God’s promise – where was this seed that would bring so much blessing? Much less innumerable descendants?  He must have had confidence issues.  Think of the discussions that must have gone on between him and his barren wife.  He was driven to seek fleshly alternatives to try to help God with this seemingly impossible expectation.
  • He was tempted to give up since the possession of the promises was in the unforeseeable future. Yet Hebrews 11:8-12 tells us that …

Were God’s Promises to him real and tangible and solid or mere Pipedreams??

Abraham is known as a man of faith because that is the defining characteristic that is the antidote to all of these temptations – to fear, to doubt, to quitting.

These are the same temptations that each of us faces today.

  • What are your insecurities regarding the future? Centered around finances, around health, around how your kids will do in the future …
  • What are your doubts …
  • Where are you tempted to throw in the towel and give up?

How are we doing in Believing God?



Divine Deliverance Via a Courageous Man of Faith – Gen. 14

Posted by on Sep 11, 2017 in Christian | Comments Off on Divine Deliverance Via a Courageous Man of Faith – Gen. 14

Divine Deliverance Via a Courageous Man of Faith – Gen. 14

Last week in chap. 13 we looked at the Contrasting Choices made by Abram and Lot – the contrast between big-hearted generosity on the part of Abram and selfish worldliness on the part of his nephew Lot.  Our choices have consequences . . . and this week in chap. 14 we see some of the consequences of those choices.  Abram chose to walk by faith and God blessed him greatly.   Lot was absorbed into the worldly culture of Sodom and Gomorrah and was almost wiped out – needing to be rescued by his courageous uncle.

Jack Arnold: This chapter was one of the beachheads where the higher critic made his attack upon the integrity of the Book of Genesis. The kings mentioned here could not be found in secular history for a long while. Archeology has changed all this and the kings can be identified and this particular battle has become a fascinating subject for historians.

Deffinbaugh: title for chap. 13 – ‘‘Abram had a Lot to Lose.” Chapter 14 could then be, “Abram had a Lot to Gain.” Perhaps chapter 15 would be, “Abram had a Lot to Learn.”

Some of our biggest challenges come right after God gives us a dramatic victory – a victory against all odds; a victory that demonstrates God’s awesome grace and power; a victory that we could not have accomplished in the flesh.  How will we respond?  The temptation is to allow others to praise us and become dependent on us.  But we must strive to always give God the glory He deserves.