Be gracious to me, O Lord. (Psalm 6:1a, 2a)
Reflection on Genesis 13:5-15:21
"After these things..." I looked back to see what these things had been. They include the rescue by Abraham (He's still called Abram at this point) of his nephew Lot who had been captured by an army in their sack of Sodom. The kings in the area, including Melchizedek who was also a priest, had blessed Abraham in recognition of his defeat of their shared enemies. The king of Sodom had tried to reward Abraham but he refused taking anything that would make him seem a beneficiary of those powers (14).
Abraham is there because the Lord had told him to move to this place (12:1-3). When they had arrived in Canaan, the Lord had informed Abraham that although the land currently belonged to the Canaanites, in the future it would belong to Abraham's descendants (12:4-7). Before there were any descendants, though, Abraham allowed his wife, Sarah (whose name has not yet been changed from Sarai), to be taken into the Pharaoh's harem. The Lord intervened, and Abraham got his wife back (12:10-20).
But still no children by Sarah.
In a vision, the word of the Lord came to Abraham. First, the Lord reassures Abraham then tells him he will be rewarded very well. Protection right now and, later, rewards to come.
Abraham does not respond immediately with awe and gratitude. Rather, he reminds the Lord that the previous promise of descendants had not even begun to be fulfilled.
Can Abraham believe the shield part if he doesn't believe the rest of the promise? Remember, he has moved his family a large distance because he had believed what the Lord had told him.
When Abraham doubts, he expresses those doubts openly and directly.
The word of the Lord comes to Abraham. "Look at the sky and count the stars. There are too many to count. That's how many descendants you are going to have."
We are told that Abraham believed the Lord.
Side points: The commentary to verse 6 in the New Interpreter's Study Bible points out that the word translated as "believe" also means "trust" and that the New Testament authors interpreted this verse in contrasting ways:
The apostle Paul, in his explanation of God's inclusion of the Gentiles into the kingdom of God, later interpreted this verse to mean that faith apart from the works of the Law, is the ultimate basis for salvation. By contrast, the Letter of James interprets this verse to mean that works must accompany faith.
Abraham had heard promises, had responded to them, but Abraham had doubt. In his doubt, the Lord came to him in a vision and spoke to him, renewing the promise of a son. We have heard the promises, but we are living with the realities. Sometimes, we doubt. Sometimes, we despair.
Reflection on Matthew 5:27-48
Then he makes this pronouncement, "Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you."
Being a Christian would be really hard if we actually tried it.
Because they hated knowledge
and did not choose the fear of the Lord,
30would have none of my counsel,
and despised all my reproof,
31therefore they shall eat the fruit of their way
and be sated with their own devices.
32For waywardness kills the simple,
and the complacency of fools destroys them;
33but those who listen to me will be secure
and will live at ease, without dread of disaster.” [Common English Bible]
Prayer for Today: Lord God, you have already provided us with many gifts. Increase our trust in your offerings. Increase our confidence that we will have the ability to use those gifts as you would wish. Increase our faith that you will continue to care for us and for those who come after us. Amen.