In these four chapters we find three whole generations present. Abraham, Ishmael & Isaac, Jacob & Esau.
Here’s what I find interesting about these chapters, and it is just one of many things that are interesting in these chapters. From Genesis 12 to Genesis 24 there is this huge build-up from the call of Abram to the birth if Isaac. The Abrahamic Covenant, the name changes of Abraham and Sarah, the promises to both of them about the birth of Isaac. But after Isaac is finally born, he plays kind of an insignificant part in the whole story. He really only appears as the main personality in chapter 26 (when he deceives Abimelek the same way Abraham does in Genesis 20). In chapters 25 and 27 he appears as a minor characters as the entire focus of the Genesis account focuses on Jacob.
While I was ministering at a small church in Eau Claire (Ontario) I was really struggling with the meaning of ministry and whether or not I had been “successful” in my ministry there. That can be a very dark place for a pastor to be by the way. The world around us measures success by numbers and statistics and “results”. If you begin to look at ministry that way, it can be very dangerous because God measures success in terms of faithfulness to the call. I was talking with the President of the EMCC Phil Delsaut, who reminded me that my ministry in Eau Claire may just have boiled down to one child who showed up to one Vacation Bible School program, and in that program that child heard about Jesus and began a walk that would change his/her life and the lives of everyone around them.
As I was reading these chapters about Isaac, I was reminded about that truth. Isaac was God’s way to Jacob; and Jacob was God’s way to Joseph; and Joseph was God’s way of providing a safe and plentiful place (Egypt) for the 12 sons of Israel to grow, multiply and become the 12 tribes of Israel. Sometimes you and I are merely a stepping stone that God is using toward a bigger end and a bigger blessing. That is very humbling. We believe so strongly that we each matter to God more than can be expressed; and this is true. Please don’t misunderstand me. But our value in God’s eyes does not necessarily mean that we are all going to be Josephs or Martin Luther Kings or C.S. Lewis’. But we may teach the person who becomes those people, or we may be the one to introduce them to Jesus.
- What was familiar from this passage of scripture? What was something I already knew?
- What was new from this piece of scripture? What was something that really stood out for me that I have never paid attention to before?
- Does Jesus appear in this passage of scripture?
- How does this passage apply to my life, here and now? Do I need to do anything about it?
- What prayer would I offer up to God after reading this piece of scripture?
Tomorrow’s Reading: Genesis 30-31