Monday, February 27, 2017

Day 26: A Wife for Isaac and Strange Things

Genesis 23, 24 and Matthew 17

In these passages we learn of a wife being chosen for Isaac. We also hear of some strange things happening on a mountainside with Jesus.

Gen 23:

Sarah dies at the age of 127. Abraham goes and buys the land to bury her. This is important. This is the first piece of land Abraham actually owns in the Promised Land. Abraham has continued to be a nomad, taking his flocks where there is food and water. He has not settled down anywhere. He buys the land so that he will be allowed access to it to be buried there himself.

Gen 24:

This chapter deals with finding a wife for Isaac. This is a BIG DEAL! Abraham knew that without a wife for his son the line would not continue. He wanted Isaac to marry one of his kinsmen, not someone from a local tribe. This was Abraham’s way of assuring that Isaac would continue to walk in the way of God and not fall to the temptation of worshipping local idols.
I don’t really understand ancient promise making, but this hand under the thigh business seems odd. It would put the promise maker and promise receiver in a vulnerable position to say the least.
There is an interesting focus on the young woman’s choice to come with the servant or not. Typically this choice would be made by the family, but it is clear here that the woman will be allowed to speak for herself. Under no circumstance is Isaac to go to the land of Abraham’s relatives. He does not want Isaac to settle there because it would be abandoning God’s Promised Land.
We meet Rebekah who gives amazing hospitality, watering not only the servant, but his 10 camels. The servant sees this as an answer to prayer and seeks to learn more about her and her willingness to marry. When all is arranged, the servant thanks God publicly for God’s actions.
How often do we publicly thank God for what we have received?
Strange Things are happening in the beginning of Matthew 17. The first 9 verses give us the Matthew account of the Transfiguration. You can find Sunday’s sermon on this passage HERE.
After the Transfiguration, Jesus is brought a boy with epilepsy that his disciples could not cure. Jesus’ response is to cure the boy, but also to cry out in exasperated tones about this corrupt generation. This is not the first, not the last time Jesus in Matthew will make such comments. The people have clung to the version of faith they have been taught, a version that has been corrupted by those in power.
Jesus gives the famous Mustard Seed comparison. Faith will produce fruit, and more fruit then is expected. As if to illustrate this point, Jesus and Peter have a chat about money. Temple tithes were due and Jesus and Peter had not paid them. Jesus points out that as the son of God he shouldn’t have to pay. But, because those in charge don’t understand that point, they will pay. And God will provide. He sends Peter fishing and tells him that in the mouth of the first fish he catches will be a coin that is exactly the cost of two temple dues. God provides what you need when you need it.

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