Bible Challenge: Day 6

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Bible Time Period: Patriarchs

In the time of the Patriarchs, you called Abraham and promised his children land, a royal kingdom, and worldwide blessing: Help me to trust in your promises today.

Reflection

Have you ever waited a long time for something? Today’s reading begins with a long-awaited birth: “The LORD visited Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did to Sarah as he had promised.”  The promised son, Isaac, arrives, and Abraham passes a dramatic test.  Notice the paradox:  It is only by giving up his son that Abraham can become the father of the nation that will bless the world.

The promises that God makes to Abraham in Genesis 12, 15, 17, and 22 and that He confirms by means of a binding covenant can be summarized as follows:
1.  God will give Abraham many descendants and the land of Canaan to live in
2.  God will build from them a royal nation (kingdom)
3.  Abraham’s descendants will be the source of blessing to the entire world.

The rest of the Bible is in essence the unfolding of these promises under God’s faithful and loving care.

Today’s Reading

Genesis 21-24

Today’s Question

Name some of the things people trust God for in these chapters.  Can you trust God? How do you know?

Join the discussion below!

About the Author

Sarah Christmyer

Sarah Christmyer is a Catholic Bible teacher, author, and speaker and the co-developer with Jeff Cavins of The Great Adventure Catholic Bible Study Program. She is editor of The Great Adventure Bible Study series , author or co-author of several Great Adventure studies, and author of The Bible Timeline Guided Journal. A Bible study teacher since 1999, Sarah helped launch Catholic Scripture Study (CSS) for Catholic Exchange and is co-author of two Bible studies on Genesis, published by Emmaus Road. She lives near Philadelphia with her husband, Mark, and their four children.

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  • http://twitter.com/BrianPeltier1 Brian Peltier

    Abraham’s only son to be sacrificed was the test of all tests in trusting God.
    The servant trusted in God regarding Isaac’s wife . Through prayer I speak
    to God and He answers me when I least expect it.

  • Mike S

    Things people trusted God on these Chapters: (1) Birth, namimg and circumcision of Isaac (God delivers promise and Abraham obeys God’s will) , (2) Abraham banishing Hagar and Ishmail, (3) Abraham obeying God to sacrifce his only son, Isaac (the Big Test; parallel with how God gave us his only Son), (4) Abraham forbidding servant to allow Isaac to return to his ancestoral lands (maintain original covenant with God), (5) servant praying to God for blessings when found Rebekah.

    I do trust God for so many reasons. My trust and belief is primarily due to God’s grace and the interior help of the Holy Spirit.

  • Gayle K.

    Sarah Christmyer’s “The Bible Timeline Guided Journal” is a perfect companion for this study. I use it every day.

  • BJR

    Being obedient to the point of being willing to sacrifice his son–the longed for and long awaited heir! That is the ultimate surrender and trust that the Lord will always guide and provide for our needs. I do trust in the Lord, and pray daily for that level of obedience. But it is a struggle, and I’m not sure I will ever be able to empty myself and totally surrender.
    On a side (and really random note!) I’ve often wondered what Sarah’s reaction was when they returned from their little trip and Isaac told her what happened….maybe it was like that commercial that’s running right now–”Don’t tell mom!”

  • pat g

    Eliezer’s faith struck me today. He, who would have been heir to all Abram possessed, travels to get a bride for Isaac. Not only is he faithful to his master, but he devises a plan, trusting in “the God of my master, Abraham” to get the best possible outcome. He is completely without self interest in this whole endeavor. What an example to me, who is seldom in the limelight, but a helper to those who are.
    Bless you for sending the daily reading assignment for those of us who are up early! I have the syllabus from facilitating the class, but others don’t.

  • Victor

    I think there was a lifelong heartache in Abraham for Ishmael, somehow things just weren’t quite right so to speak. Never the less life goes on, trust in The Lord is paramount, love the spouse, love the child, love the kin, love the neighbor as best as you can

  • Eagle Driver

    Gn 22:7-8 NABRE – “Isaac spoke to his father Abraham. “Father!” he said. “Here I am,” he replied. Isaac continued, “Here are the fire and the wood, but where is the sheep for the burnt offering?” “My son,” Abraham answered, “God will provide the sheep for the burnt offering.”

    Gn 22:7-8 RSVCE – “And Isaac said to his father Abraham, “My father!” And he said, “Here am I, my son.” He said, “Behold, the fire and the wood; but where is the lamb for a burnt offering” Abraham said, “God will provide himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.”"

    Another great example to show the differences in translation. Interesting how the RSVCE (more literal translation of the original text) uses “lamb” instead of “sheep,” and in both bibles in v.13 God provides a “ram,” not a lamb. On the surface it doesn’t appear to be that big of a deal, I mean really, who cares? Sheep/Lamb, aren’t they close enough to the same thing? (Spoiler Alert) I guess we’ll just need to see if God will eventually “provide himself the lamb.”

  • Ginny Yates

    There is something so profound in the testing of Abraham. It almost goes beyond my concept of faith and trust. It says that Abraham told his servants “We will worship and then come back to you.” There is a sense of inner peace and the conviction that all would be well.
    I picture myself as Abraham. First I would say that God would be breaking His covenant with me so I didn’t have to do it. If, by God’s grace, I got past that, I would use my Sodom strategy and try to talk God down from death to maybe a scraped knee. If that didn’t work, on the way up the hill I would be naturally hysterical and having a nervous breakdown so by the time I actually tried to tie up Isaac and light a fire under him, he would overpower me and run away. (I picture him as a teen, not a small child) This way I could say I tried to do God’s will but I am an old, weak man who was no match for my son. In no scenario can I picture picking up that knife let alone using it. God help me.

  • mlk of minnesota

    Truly amazing stories of faith, trust, and hope. Each day we too are called to live this faith, trust, and hope – the genius of Catholicism. Beginning each morning with a walk through the Bible has been a great blessing. Personal observation: I have a grandson named Isaac – he has a perpetual smile and now I know why. I have a granddaughter named Rebecca – studing to become a teacher and a truly remarkable young woman. They both have role models that will propel them to great heights.

  • Carol J

    Abraham and his people trusted God in providing everything they needed, descendents, food, land, wealth, just as God promised. Abraham never questioned God’s commands nor ever doubted the covenant between he and God would be kept. Both he and God kept their promise to each other. .. no matter how long it took. Abraham waited it out… for years and years….knowing that God would fulfill his promises in God’s own time.
    I trust God, but I am limited in my human nature. I was diagnosed with Stage 4 metastatic breast cancer about 18 months ago. I became stable in April after chemo, and it recurred last month, growing again on my liver. Yet, I trust that God will take care of me… and that I will be okay. This trust didn’t happen overnight, but it’s been growing by the grace of God. I don’t know what “okay” is in God’s perspective, but I have no choice but to trust that I will be. There have been times this past year when I feel like God touched my very soul, speaking words of comfort and hope to me. I pray for more faith to trust, without any doubt, that I will be okay and live a long, long life… cancer free through God’s healing power, yet my human nature allows doubt, “Why would I think God would cure me when I’ve been told I’m incurabe and that I have limited time?’ Why would God spare my life when so many others ask for the same thing?” So, I trust that God will take care of me, my family, and all of those He has put in my path this past year. There was no coincidence in the people He put on my path. The people HE put in my path were all strong believers, ever faithful, and powerful witnesses to God’s power and grace. Sometimes, I think that I’ve been ‘blessed’ with this illness to teach me that the only one I can truly depend on is God… to become closer to Him and trust in Him. Ironic, and maybe a stretch, but that’s how I feel sometimes. Even with this recurrence so soon, I trust Him and pray for more faith and stronger trust.

  • Bob S

    Regarding the attempted sacrifice of Isaac, There are parallels here to the sacrifice of Jesus. Jesus and Isaac were first born sons, they both carried wood to their sacrifice, and there are more. This story becomes a type for the sacrifice of Jesus. Jesus is the Lamb of God and as such when the sacrifice of Isaac was stopped a lamb could not be substituted so a ram was provided.

    Also, the ancient Hebrew language did not have punctuation marks. Imagine how the meaning of “:: God will provide himself a victim for an holocaust, my son. ” would change if the punctuation were changed to this: “: God will provide himself, a victim for an holocaust my son.” By positioning the comma after “himself” we learn that God will be the victim that is sacrificed in the form of his only son Jesus.

  • Shannon J

    In Genesis 21-24 we see several people placing immense trust in God. Abraham trusts in the Lord to provide descendants and also shows incredible obedience when he is asked to sacrifice the son he waited so long to receive. Abraham’s servant displays trust in the Lord to find a spouse for Isaac and Rebekah places her trust in the Lord’s decision to leave her family, even when her brother & mother wanted to her to stay a bit longer.

    I do trust God, but it’s definitely something I have to constantly work at. Even though I know that God’s plan is infinitely greater than mine, its still a struggle to submit my plans to His.

  • Diane

    Thank you for sharing your story of trust and faith Carol. What an example for all of us! I believe God is using you for all of us readers as an example of how to let go and let God handle life’s situations. I am deeply humbled by your courage and strength. I think I speak for all of the readers to say we will keep you in your prayers.

  • Ann

    Abrahams complete trust has always been starling to me. No question, no whys, no wouldnt this be better, no well if this happens too, no i dont think i can stand it. Just trust. Just handing his greatest treasure over to God, his son, to be killed. Through trials with my children I learned to have that trust. When I had tried every avenue and every thing failed I slammed down my hands and said, “It’s Yours. U can have it. ” Of course I had to try to control the situation first. The peace I received afterwards was amazing though and I really didn’t want to control it any more . Will I always remember that lesson? Being human I doubt it. Isn’t that why God gives us trials to learn lessons that need to be taught? My thoughts that I don’t want to go through the trials, but I wouldn’t give up the lessons I learned from them for anything! Even if it means heart ache and pain. For I have seen the reward!

  • CarmenB

    Thank you for your (humorous) honesty! I question my surrender as well. Maybe at the end of the 90 days we will be stronger, more faithful individuals. :)

  • CarmenB

    Funny! We’re on a journey. Hopefully good things await us.

  • Mrsfitz

    Awesome point, Bob. What an insight!

  • BJR

    Thank you for pointing this out! I look to St. Andrew, Peter’s brother for those same reasons.

  • BJR

    I understand exactly what you mean about serious illness being a blessing. Will add you to my prayer list.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/George-Alexa/1179451874 George Alexa

    Carol,

    My wife and I are both in the program here and we particularly enjoy reading all the comments. What makes Carol’s “story” meaningful to us is that my wife was recently diagnosed with Stage 4 metastatic breast cancer and on Tuesday (Jan 8) she gets her first dose of chemo…and your words sounds beautiful to us. Thank you.

  • Ginny Yates

    You said exactly what I was feeling. I just didn’t know how to put it in words. Thank you.

  • Diane K

    I wonder what was going through Abraham’s head as he was about to sacrifice his son. Maybe something like: “I guess God will provide another heir for all his promises”. Amazing faith

  • Nancy..

    Carol, your words are powerful and they have touched my heart:
    “Sometimes, I think that I’ve been ‘blessed’ with ____ to teach me that the only one I can truly depend on is God… to become closer to Him and trust in Him.” Filling in the blank, I realize the eternal wisdom in your words.Thank you, and God bless you.

  • Ginny Yates

    For all of you facing a serious illness I want to be sure you have received the Anointing of the Sick. The catechism, beginning at 1499, gives a beautiful description of this tremendous sacrament. I have seen first-hand its benefits, encompassing the physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual and I thank God for providing it to us.

  • Kristy

    So true. Thank you for reminding us al of the power of this Sacament.

  • Victor

    God’s Goodness to you and your family, been there

  • john

    This goes back to my sharing in day 5. I first had to get God’s gifts of faith hope and love. Only through the Holy Spirit we can receive such Grace. I chose to believe in God’s love not only for my son, but me also (love). Despite all the negative Mri’s, xrays and doctors diagnosis, I continued to pray to God for a miracle (faith and hope). God heard not only my prayers, but prayers from many other people whom I have come to love. In times of trials and tribulation I call upon the Lord, not to remove my crosses, but help me to carry my crosses. God wants us to be totally dependent upon him. I have a16 year old daughter whom I would do anything to help her through life. She sometimes get upset at me and tells me she’s not a baby anymore. I tell her no matter how old she is, I will always be there for her trying to help her live a good life. So when we turn from God and try to do things our way I can understand how God must feel. I trust in You Lord!

  • Laureen

    Thank you for sharing this program!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Doming-Litong/1507205220 Doming Litong

    Carol,
    Thank you for sharing with us your story. Blessings come in many forms, and yours is one of them. Trust Him.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Doming-Litong/1507205220 Doming Litong

    Ginny, you got a company here. :)

  • Peggy S

    Your story is a perfect example of showing trust. May our Lord bless you! Keeping you in my prayers.

  • Peggy S

    Trust is certainly hard to come by… but the first step is to step out in faith. Can I trust God? Absolutely. How do I know? b/c I’ve tried. I’ve stepped out in faith and He gave me His trust. Although, my ways may not be His, I know that He will provide for us.

  • Peggy S

    The hardest thing is to give up control…. But the reward is sweet once we do!

  • Mike

    The story of Abraham teaches us to trust in God and he will provide. I have never found many who are materially blessed by trusting God. Rather the mor one believes in God the more one is tested like job.

  • donna g

    What struck me most about today’s reading was not only how Abaham trusted God and obeyed him but also how he treated those that God put in his life with justice, respect, compassion and caring. Thus, he was highly regarded. No wonder his servant was faithful when he was asked to find a bride for Isaac his master’s son. The servant learned well from his Master Abraham.Today’s reading not only challanges me to trust God more but also look at how I treat those that God has placed in my life.

  • Mary

    I also like reading parts of the bible each morning. For the last several years I have been getting MAgnificat with the Liturgy of the Hours

  • Mary

    I trusted God with whether or not to marry my husband. I trusted God when agreeing to teach religious Ed with no experience or ability. Both of those are working out marvelously well!

  • jw

    Carol, I am 7 yrs. cancer free after prostate cancer. While I have not gone through what you are, I can appreciate where you are at. I am pasting a link of another cancer survivor and his journey as posted on YOU TUBE http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&v=NEuOA_llfHE&feature=fvwp

    God Bless,

  • tamara

    These chapters do demonstate Abraham’s limitless trust. I only hope that I will learn to trust God that deeply. In today’s society we seem to put our trust in too many other things!!

  • osusanha

    Donna, thank you for that comment.. So very insightful!

  • Deb

    My dad was diagnosed in October with Stage IV lung cancer and has had radiation and is now having chemo treatments. In the past few months, he has returned to his faith in an even stronger way, and has been extremely concerned about all of us (his six children) and our faith lives. He’s made a good confession and spent many hours in prayer, saying the rosary, and attending daily Mass with my mom. He’s 76 years young and is so very strong but is losing weight and has no appetite, but through it all, Dad’s faith is solid. I know that I can trust God because my own father is showing me how to do that. How much more can my heavenly Father be trusted! I, too, trust God to take my father on this journey of faith…

  • dew of the sea

    Prefiguring of Christ’s passion: Abraham, Father – God, The Father/ Mt. Moriah – is Calvary/ the wood for the fire – the wood for the cross/ God, himself, will provide – God himself, will provide/ the lamb is the sacrifice – the Lamb of God is the sacrifice/ the ram caught by the horns in the thicket – Christ crowned with thorns/ Isaac the son not withheld – Jesus the son not withheld/ Isaac didn’t struggle – Jesus didn’t struggle/ Obedience of Abraham – the obedience of Jesus.

  • Mac

    I apologize for being a day behind and please Forgive me if this is obvious and I have missed something somewhere. I was very confused by the readings today.
    We read in chapter 17:24-27 of Abraham and Ishmael’s circumcisions, at which point Ishmael is 13yrs old. Then we read today in chapter 21:9-21 that Sarah sent Hagar and her son away because “No son of that slave is going to share the inheritance with my son Isaac!…Early the next morning Abraham got some bread and a skin of water and gave them to Hagar. Then, placing the child on her back, he sent her away…”
    If Ishmael is 13+ years old I don’t quite see Abraham strapping him to Hagar’s back. Is this another child by Hagar and if so why does she seem to have reserve with this child and not Ishmael???

  • Maquits

    We have to trust in oulife without reservation;For better or for worst for God knows want is best for us
    God Bless you

  • Mo

    I have always thought about that. And what were those who accompanied them thinking? “Are you kidding me!” But on serious side – WOW – what trust and blind unquestioning obedience! I learned that letting God drive is so much easier and the outcome so much better…

  • Mo

    I saw that but couldn’t figure out what it was. Is it a book?

  • Katrina pratt

    I love this story… it really is very well written in so many ways. But of course the incredible trust of Abraham…. well that’s why it is in the bible for us to learn from!

    I have a few thoughts on this… my teenage niece, who sadly has not had a lot of Christian education, came to the “Catholic Guy” mission at our Church one night (Australian man who visits different churches and has a television show). This was the story he read and my niece was intrigued – “I can’t believe someone could do that… why? That’s amazing.” It made me realise how unbelievers would look at this… without the faith that Abraham had this situation looks crazy, horrific and immoral – who would risk their own child? However to those of use with faith in Christ, while we are amazed that Abraham would do this, it is not just because of the horrific nature but because of the strength of his faith. It certainly makes us realise that while people may make false promises to us and we can’t always trust them, God’s promises are always sincere… what other promises has God made to us that we can trust in based on this evidence?

    Additionally I would like to add a small bit on my personal story… I have had 2 devastating times in my life which have left me in a dark, depressing heap. However, given my time again, I would go through them over and over as they are the times God has been most obvious in my life and even to the point where I am sure he has spoken to me and used these times to allow some of the most important people in my life appear. I am now far more receptive to God’s words to me… the scripture readings that I have seen at just the right time, the people who have said/done just the right thing when needed…. I thank them for letting God work through them, but I also thank God for lifting me at these times and showing me the rewards of my faith. I may not bear nations (actually none as I am single!) but I have the promises of Christ of eternal life with Him.

  • http://ascensionpress.com/ Ascension Press
  • L.Truong

    Abraham trusted God by take his only son issac to sacrificed . Rebecca trust the tail of Abraham messenger to follow him to to be Isaac wife even though she did not know Isaac.

  • L.Truong

    I trust in God by to continue taking more and more classes from the church, every time they offer. Tonight is beginning a new class. It calls Cathechism. Will see how is turn out. I just finished James before Christmas.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dking59 Debbie King

    It is as if we are seeing a spiritually mature Abraham – his trust is complete as we watch him in the request that he sacrifice his son – complete trust – not questioning. I can trust God – yet I also know that there are times when I should trust him more. When I can lay it all on the altar as Abraham did . . .

  • Ginny Yates

    This is why we need footnotes or just try to follow the main story. It is the same Ishmael. There are different traditions worked into the stories. Ch 21:9-21 uses the Elohist story with Ishmael as a little boy. The footnote is long and confusing but I’d be happy to give you all of it if that would be helpful.

  • http://www.facebook.com/luis.abola Luis E. Abola

    I hope that you will be able to place all of these in a site so that we can go back to this journey.

  • Tom

    Dear Carol. You have been touched deeply by God. I can tell by your words. Few would ever have the understanding as you do. May God Bless all your days.

  • Tom

    I have to admit I was going back and forth to confirm my thought that Rebekah was Abrams’ brothers’ sons’ daughter. Right? Back then this was common?
    Sorry I have joined the timeline late. I have done this a few years back and am excited doing it again!

  • Tom

    LMBO!

  • Tom

    Great catch! I missed that all together.

  • Mandi

    Abraham and Sarah should have waited to bore a son because that was what God’s plan for both of them. God wanted to reveal to His people that he can perform a miracle for others to see and beloieve, however, Sarah did not want to wait, instead of that, she pushed her slave, Hagar, onto Abraham to bear a son. Hagar bore Ishamel (who later would live in Arabia), Abraham and Sarah, bore a son named Issac because Sarah laughed at God when He revealed to Abraham that Sarah will soon be bearing a son. She defiled at God by laughing at him which is not good way to do. (FYI it is like an insult to your own face if you said something like that to sombody close to you – that is how God felt!) Issac meant laughter.
    Anyway after Abraham sent Hagar and Ishamel out of their land on the request of his wife, Sarah because she didn’t want her son, Issac, to lose his inheritance rights to another son, Ishamel.

    God wanted to test Abraham’s faith and trust by ordering him to sacraifice his son, Issac which later in NT also reflects the way both have done. Abraham sent his son up the mountain to make the sacrifice by making his son, Issac, carrying the woods for the offering to God. Jesus also carried the cross (made out of wood) to sacrifice himself on the altar just like Abraham did. God gave up His Son, so did Abraham whose also gave up his son for sacrifice on the mountain.

    What will this do for me with things that I trust God for? I would put my faith and trust in God, even though if it is not what I wanted to do like Abraham but knowing God for He is alimighty and I will do the same. That is how I trust God with everything I have now.

    Oh, Ishamel lived in Arabia and Arabs called God “Allah” because they view Him as a Master and themselves as slaves because of the relationship between Abraham and Ishamel while the relationship differs between Abraham and Issac which God and His children as Abraham is father and Issac is son. Arabs continued to fight with Jews from that time in Genesis all the way to today’s, they all are still fighting over everything. You need to watch how that folds out all because of Abraham and Sarah’s mistake for not waiting on God’s promise to bore a son. :(