Several chapters back in Genesis we read the story of the birth of Jacob and Esau. We heard God saying to Rebekah that Esau would serve Jacob, that Jacob would be the stronger and Esau would be the weaker. The reversal of the birth order would happen. This was a blessing upon Jacob that he would receive while still in the womb of his mother. What precipitated this blessing? Nothing but divine prerogative.
Then Jacob and Esau grew up and Jacob preyed on the weakness of his brother to get the birthright. Years later, Jacob lied to his father, pretended to be Esau, and managed to secure Isaac’s blessing and the conferral of the promises of Abraham to himself. And we are left thinking. Is God going to give him all these things and let him get away with all his deception and lies?
Then we see Jacob having to leave everything to leave home. A small setback because on the way God appears to him in a vision and encourages him and confirms the fact that he is the chosen one. Then he arrives and Rachel almost literally falls into his lap and he falls in love. Did God care about Jacob’s sin? Is he being rewarded for evil? Are there consequences for his sin? That’s what we find in the story today.
We look at our Western culture and we see the approval of sin that once was frowned upon. The sin was happening but it was more or less hidden. The culture decades ago, in general, said that what is happening today was immoral. And now they feel that they are throwing off the shackles of a backward and oppressive morality and are stepping into a more enlightened era. But is this true? Has culture evolved to a higher standard? No, that is foolishness.
The world has and always will be evil. The standards they live by, unless they coincide with God’s, are evil. And even living by God’s standards apart from faith in God is meaningless for it is only by faith that you can please God. Whether sin is practiced openly or in the closet, whether sin is given a month of national recognition or is still taboo to the culture matters little to the judge who sits on his throne and whose eye sees all.
Thankfully, for the child of God, he does not tread out his wrath on us, but he does discipline us as the unruly children that we are. Today we are going to see the Answer to Sin in verse 21-30 and the Blessing Amidst the Discipline in verses 31-35.
This week we begin a new study. Yes, we are still in Genesis but the main character that the Bible points us to is changing. Abraham is still alive and still has a role to play in the remaining years of his life. Abraham remains a background character for the rest of Scripture. He never completely leaves the story of the Bible. But the focus of God’s word does shift from Abraham to follow his descendants. Abraham is an old man now and his life is drawing to an end. The question remains: What will happen to the promise of God concerning the multitudes of descendants after Abraham is dead and gone? Will the covenant that God made with Abraham stand? We’ve seen threats made against the covenant. How will God see this through? Will God see this through?
Many months ago we saw the beginning of the promise that developed into the covenant that God made with Abraham. In Genesis 3:15 we heard it. “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head.” That’s the promise and the forerunner of the covenant of Abraham. We’ve seen the promise work its way through history. We saw how God ordered history and protected his promise. This is what we call divine providence.
I’ve mentioned it before and will continue to do so as we go through Genesis. Divine providence is a key theme throughout this book. What is this great doctrine of Divine Providence? People used to know and believe it. The signers of the Declaration of Independence said they were relying upon the protection of divine Providence as they defied the tyrant king. What is this great doctrine of providence? Charles Spurgeon said, “Blessed is that man who is done with chance, who never speaks of luck—but believes that from the least, even to the greatest, all things are ordained by the Lord. We dare not leave out the least event! The creeping of an aphid upon a rosebud is as surely arranged by the decree of Providence—as the march of a pestilence through a nation! Believe this, for if the least thing is omitted from the supreme government, so may the next be, and the next—until nothing is left in the divine hands. There is no place for chance, since God fills all things.” Matthew Henry said, “God who feeds the sparrows—will not starve His saints! God controls all the concerns of His people, even of those that are most minute, and least regarded. This is an encouragement to live in a continual dependence upon God’s providential care!”
The story we have before us is one of providence, the fulfilling of a promise, and steadfast love. We are going to look at the story over two weeks. This week we find Abraham commissioning his servant and declares his faith in Providence in verses 1-9 and then we’ll see the journey of this servant as he obeys his master and trust in the Lord and his steadfast love and faithfulness toward Abraham in verses 10-27.
The chapter before us breaks down into two main scenes. In the first we find the promise and the struggle to believe in verses 1 -15. We have already seen God giving Abraham assurances of the promises and bolstering his faith and here we find God doing the same for Sarah. Then in the second scene we find the plan and the intercession. God has a plan, which included Abraham and his prayers for the lost.
And now we arrive again at one of those moments in Abram’s life where his feet almost slip. And why? It’s not because his enemies are gathering around him. It’s not because he is an enemy of God. It’s because of his own doing. Let’s look at what happens and as we do I want to ask four questions. Do we trust enough? Who is good? Does God care? Can we wait?
Many of the stories we read in Genesis are about the choices humans make. God providentially brings about a crossroads and those involved have to decide which way they will take. Will they follow God and goodness or will they choose their own path and evil?
This is a tale of two believers in God who have two very different outcomes in life. Abram who becomes the friend of God and Lot who is, as Peter tells us, a righteous man, make two different choices. What sets these men apart?
The important events that Moses records for us in Genesis are events that we all live with the ramifications. Obviously, creation but also the fall and the flood are events in history that impact our daily lives. The historical account of the tower of Babel is another one of those events that we still feel the consequences today.