Friday, October 11, 2013

An international Sunday school lesson commentary

For Sunday October 13, 2013

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(GOD fulfills HIS promises in surprising ways)
(Genesis 17:15-17, 18:9-15, & 21:1-7)

In Genesis 15:1-6, we saw Abraham accepting GOD’s divine promise of a son, to be born of his flesh, even though it seemed physically impossible for him and Sarah in their old age (100 years old and 90 years old respectively). Also, in this passage, one should note that, at this time, Abraham had not yet been circumcised as a sign of his covenant with GOD, and the Law, which was delivered by Moses, was still some 400 years away. Therefore, neither circumcision, nor, Abraham’s strict obedience to the law, accounted for GOD’s declaration of Abraham’s righteousness (Genesis 15:6). It was his trusting faith in GOD that afforded him with the gift of Salvation.
In the Old Testament Hebrew, the word used for “covenant” is “briyth” (ber-eeth), and specifically, it is a compact made by passing between two pieces of flesh, in the same sense as “cutting” with a knife. We saw in Genesis 15, verses 9-10, GOD making a covenant with Abraham by ordering him to bring to HIM, a three-year old heifer, a three-year old female goat, a three-year old ram, a turtledove, and a young pigeon, all except the birds, to be cut down the middle, and the halves laid side by side, as a sign of that covenant.
Here in Genesis 17, GOD now reveals to Abraham, more details of that previously promised covenant (Genesis 12:1-3 & Genesis 15). Here GOD tells Abraham, who was to this point, still called “Abram”, to serve HIM faithfully and live a blameless life, and HE, in return, would make a covenant with him that would guarantee to make him father of a mighty nation, and in fact, HE would make him “father of many nations”.
After hearing this, Abram knelt down prostrate, face to the ground. It was then and there that GOD informed that HE was changing his name to “Abraham”, which means “father of many nations”. And so, from that day on, every time Abraham heard his name called, he was reminded of GOD’s covenant promise with him.
In Genesis 17:9-14, GOD reveals yet another confirming sign to Abraham, only this one was to apply not only to him, but in fact, was to apply to all males who share the Jewish promise of the everlasting covenant. Here GOD Almighty institutes the ancient ritual of “circumcision” into the Jewish doctrine. Circumcision involves the cutting away of the foreskin from the tip of a male’s penis. This procedure was to be performed on every Jewish male child on the eighth day of his life. It is intended;
·         To serve as an everlasting reminder, from generation to generation, of GOD’s sacred covenant with HIS chosen people.
·         It would also serve as a “cutting” reminder (if I may pun on words) that symbolized how GOD wished for them to lay aside the impurity of their nature, and remain loyal to the family of GOD.
·         It would serve to remind them that all mankind is dependent upon GOD for the reproduction of life.
·         And that anyone who refused to be cut in this way would be cut off from his people, because of his disobedience to GOD’s command.
Sarai, Abraham’s wife, also underwent a name change, as well as a life change, and her name was changed by GOD, to “Sarah”, as she would become “the mother of many nations”. At the ripe old age of 90, she gave birth to Abraham’s son, who would be heir to the promise.
Scripture tells us that Abraham laughed to himself in disbelief when GOD informed him of this miraculous deed that would befall he and Sarah, and when Sarah later heard the news, she too, laughed in disbelief. And to show you that GOD too, has a sense of humor, HE instructed the aging couple to name their son “Isaac”, which means, “He laughs”. It would serve as a lasting reminder that they laughed at the Word of GOD.  
In Genesis 18:9-15, we see the appearance of a “Theophany” (an appearance of GOD to man) to Abraham, that is believed by most Theologians, to be CHRIST HIMSELF, with two of HIS angels. This time HE gives Abraham and Sarah a precise time frame for the birth of their son Isaac, and HE reminded them, while Sarah laughed to herself, that nothing is impossible for GOD. GOD works with us and our limitations and imperfections when we have faith in HIM, and, believe in HIM, to a point of knowing.
And finally we see in Genesis 21:1-8, GOD’s promise to this faithful couple, being realized at the appointed time. And Sarah’s laughter, that resulted from her once, unbelieving spirit, is now turned into “a laughter of joy”, that can be shared by her friends and family. It was made possible, because she finally, in her old age, turned herself over to GOD, through faith. This story serves to remind and assure each of us, that, the seemingly impossible things in life, are put there, only to serve as proof that all things become possible for those who believe in the SOVEREIGN GOD, WHO created and controls, all things.
GOD knew that Sarah was barren, when HE made the promise to her and Abraham, that “a countless number of descendants would be theirs”. But Sarah chose not to wait on that promise, and decided to take matters into her own hands. She displayed an “inadequate view of GOD”, and therefore, had to learn the lesson that all Christians, sooner or later, must learn. That we must wait on GOD to fulfill HIS promises, no matter how long we think it should take. GOD has no respect for “time”, as we understand “time”. To GOD, time is irrelevant, because HE is the master and owner of all “time”, and therefore, has all the time in the world to do HIS bidding, and HE also understands that we don’t. We must have faith that GOD will do for each of us, what HE promises HE will do, and HE will only do it when the time is exactly right for us to receive, and maximize, HIS wonderful blessings.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander

                                           LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website
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