ISAAC AND REBEKAH (JANUARY 20, 2021)

One evening as he was walking and meditating in the fields, he looked up and saw the camels coming. When Rebekah looked up and saw Isaac, she quickly dismounted from her camel. “Who is that man walking through the fields to meet us?” she asked the servant. And he replied, “It is my master.” So Rebekah covered her face with her veil. Then the servant told Isaac everything he had done. And Isaac brought Rebekah into his mother Sarah’s tent, [he married her] and she became his wife. He loved her deeply, and she was a special comfort to him after the death of his mother.

ISAAC AND REBEKAH (JANUARY 20, 2021)

Genesis 22:1–25:18, CEB

After these events, God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!”

Abraham answered, “I’m here.”

God said, “Take your son, your only son whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah. Offer him up as an entirely burned offering there on one of the mountains that I will show you.” Abraham got up early in the morning, harnessed his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, together with his son Isaac. He split the wood for the entirely burned offering, set out, and went to the place God had described to him.

On the third day, Abraham looked up and saw the place at a distance. Abraham said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey. The boy and I will walk up there, worship, and then come back to you.”

Abraham took the wood for the entirely burned offering and laid it on his son Isaac. He took the fire and the knife in his hand, and the two of them walked on together. Isaac said to his father Abraham, “My father?”

Abraham said, “I’m here, my son.”

Isaac said, “Here is the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the entirely burned offering?”

Abraham said, “The lamb for the entirely burned offering? God will see to it, my son.” The two of them walked on together.

They arrived at the place God had described to him. Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He tied up his son Isaac and laid him on the altar on top of the wood. Then Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to kill his son as a sacrifice. But the Lord’s messenger called out to Abraham from heaven, “Abraham? Abraham?”

Abraham said, “I’m here.”

The messenger said, “Don’t stretch out your hand against the young man, and don’t do anything to him. I now know that you revere God and didn’t hold back your son, your only son, from me.” Abraham looked up and saw a single ram caught by its horns in the dense underbrush. Abraham went over, took the ram, and offered it as an entirely burned offering instead of his son. “Abraham named that place “the Lord sees.” That is the reason people today say, “On this mountain the Lord is seen.”

The Lord’s messenger called out to Abraham from heaven a second time and said, “I give my word as the Lord that because you did this and didn’t hold back your son, your only son, I will bless you richly and I will give you countless descendants, as many as the stars in the sky and as the grains of sand on the seashore. They will conquer their enemies’ cities. All the nations of the earth will be blessed because of your descendants, because you obeyed me.” After Abraham returned to the young men, they got up and went to Beer-sheba where Abraham lived.

After these events, Abraham was told: “Milcah has now also given birth to sons for your brother Nahor. They are Uz his oldest son, Buz his brother, Kemuel the father of Aram, Chesed, Hazo, Pildash, Jidlaph, and Bethuel.” Bethuel became the father of Rebekah. These are the eight Milcah bore for Nahor, Abraham’s brother. His secondary wife’s name was Reumah, and she gave birth to Tebah, Gaham, Tahash, and Maacah.

Sarah lived to be 127 years old; this was how long she lived. She died in Kiriath-arba, that is, in Hebron, in the land of Canaan; and Abraham cried out in grief and wept for Sarah. After he got up from embracing his deceased wife, he spoke with the Hittites: “I am an immigrant and a temporary resident with you. Give me some property for a burial plot among you so that I can bury my deceased wife near me.”

The Hittites responded to Abraham, “Listen to us, Sir. You are an eminent man of God among us. Bury your dead in one of our own select burial sites. None of us will keep our own burial plots from you to bury your dead.”

Abraham rose, bowed to the local citizens the Hittites, and spoke with them: “If you yourselves allow me to bury my dead near me, listen to me and ask Ephron, Zohar’s son, to give me his own cave in Machpelah at the edge of his field. Let him give it to me for the full price, to be witnessed by you, as my own burial property.”

Now Ephron was a native Hittite. So Ephron the Hittite responded to Abraham publicly in order that the Hittites and everyone at his city’s gate could hear: “No, Sir. Listen, I will give you the field, and I will give you the cave in it. In front of my people’s witnesses, I will give it to you. Bury your dead!”

Abraham bowed before the local citizens and spoke to Ephron publicly in the presence of the local citizens: “If only you would accept my offer. I will give you the price of the field. Take it from me so that I can bury my dead there.”

Ephron responded to Abraham, “Sir, what is four hundred shekels of silver between me and you for the land so that you can bury your dead?” Abraham accepted Ephron’s offer and weighed out for Ephron the silver he requested publicly before the Hittites: four hundred shekels of silver at the current rate of exchange.

So the field of Ephron in Machpelah near Mamre—the field and the cave in it, and all the trees within the field’s boundaries—was officially transferred to Abraham as his property in the presence of the Hittites and of everyone at his city’s gate. After this, Abraham buried his wife Sarah in the cave in the field of Machpelah near Mamre, that is, Hebron, in the land of Canaan. The field and the cave in it were officially transferred from the Hittites to Abraham as his burial property.

As the days went by and Abraham became older, the Lord blessed Abraham in every way. Abraham said to the oldest servant of his household, who was in charge of everything he owned, “Put your hand under my thigh. By the Lord, God of heaven and earth, give me your word that you won’t choose a wife for my son from the Canaanite women among whom I live. Go to my land and my family and find a wife for my son Isaac there.”

The servant said to him, “What if the woman doesn’t agree to come back with me to this land? Shouldn’t I take your son back to the land you left?”

Abraham said to him, “Be sure you don’t take my son back there. The Lord, God of heaven—who took me from my father’s household and from my family’s land, who spoke with me and who gave me his word, saying, ‘I will give this land to your descendants’—he will send his messenger in front of you, and you will find a wife for my son there. If the woman won’t agree to come back with you, you will be free from this obligation to me. Only don’t take my son back there.” So the servant put his hand under his master Abraham’s thigh and gave him his word about this mission.

The servant took ten of his master’s camels and all of his master’s best provisions, set out, and traveled to Nahor’s city in Aram-naharaim. He had the camels kneel down outside the city at the well in the evening, when women come out to draw water. He said, “Lord, God of my master Abraham, make something good happen for me today and be loyal to my master Abraham. I will stand here by the spring while the daughters of the men of the city come out to draw water. When I say to a young woman, ‘Hand me your water jar so I can drink,’ and she says to me, ‘Drink, and I will give your camels water too,’ may she be the one you’ve selected for your servant Isaac. In this way I will know that you’ve been loyal to my master.” Even before he finished speaking, Rebekah—daughter of Bethuel the son of Milcah wife of Nahor, Abraham’s brother—was coming out with a water jar on her shoulder. The young woman was very beautiful, old enough to be married, and hadn’t known a man intimately. She went down to the spring, filled her water jar, and came back up.

The servant ran to meet her and said, “Give me a little sip of water from your jar.”

She said, “Drink, sir.” Then she quickly lowered the water jar with her hands and gave him some water to drink. When she finished giving him a drink, she said, “I’ll draw some water for your camels too, till they’ve had enough to drink.” She emptied her water jar quickly into the watering trough, ran to the well again to draw water, and drew water for all of the camels. The man stood gazing at her, wondering silently if the Lord had made his trip successful or not.

As soon as the camels had finished drinking, the man took out a gold ring, weighing a half shekel, and two gold bracelets for her arms, weighing ten shekels. He said, “Please tell me whose daughter you are. Is there room in your father’s house for us to spend the night?”

She responded, “I’m the daughter of Bethuel, who is the son of Milcah and Nahor.” She continued, “We have plenty of straw and feed for the camels, and a place to spend the night.”

The man bowed down and praised the Lord: “Bless the Lord, God of my master Abraham, who hasn’t given up his loyalty and his faithfulness to my master. The Lord has shown me the way to the household of my master’s brother.”

The young woman ran and told her mother’s household everything that had happened. Rebekah had a brother named Laban, and Laban ran to the man outside by the spring. When he had seen the ring and the bracelets on his sister’s arms, and when he had heard his sister Rebekah say, “This is what the man said to me,” he went to the man, who was still standing by the spring with his camels. Laban said, “Come in, favored one of the Lord! Why are you standing outside? I’ve prepared the house and a place for the camels.” So the man entered the house. Then Laban unbridled the camels, provided straw and feed for them and water to wash his feet and the feet of the men with him, and set out a meal for him.

But the man said, “I won’t eat until I’ve said something.”

Laban replied, “Say it.”

The man said, “I am Abraham’s servant. The Lord has richly blessed my master, has made him a great man, and has given him flocks, cattle, silver, gold, men servants, women servants, camels, and donkeys. My master’s wife Sarah gave birth to a son for my master in her old age, and he’s given him everything he owns. My master made me give him my word: ‘Don’t choose a wife for my son from the Canaanite women, in whose land I’m living. No, instead, go to my father’s household and to my relatives and choose a wife for my son.’ I said to my master, ‘What if the woman won’t come back with me?’ He said to me, ‘The Lord, whom I’ve traveled with everywhere, will send his messenger with you and make your trip successful; and you will choose a wife for my son from my relatives and from my father’s household. If you go to my relatives, you will be free from your obligation to me. Even if they provide no one for you, you will be free from your obligation to me.’

“Today I arrived at the spring, and I said, ‘Lord, God of my master Abraham, if you wish to make the trip I’m taking successful, when I’m standing by the spring and the young woman who comes out to draw water and to whom I say, “Please give me a little drink of water from your jar,” and she responds to me, “Drink, and I will draw water for your camels too,” may she be the woman the Lord has selected for my master’s son.’ Before I finished saying this to myself, Rebekah came out with her water jar on her shoulder and went down to the spring to draw water. And I said to her, ‘Please give me something to drink.’ She immediately lowered her water jar and said, ‘Drink, and I will give your camels something to drink too.’ So I drank and she also gave water to the camels. Then I asked her, ‘Whose daughter are you?’ And she said, ‘The daughter of Bethuel, Nahor’s son whom Milcah bore him.’ I put a ring in her nose and bracelets on her arms. I bowed and worshipped the Lord and blessed the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, who led me in the right direction to choose the granddaughter of my master’s brother for his son. Now if you’re loyal and faithful to my master, tell me. If not, tell me so I will know where I stand either way.”

Laban and Bethuel both responded, “This is all the Lord’s doing. We have nothing to say about it. Here is Rebekah, right in front of you. Take her and go. She will be the wife of your master’s son, just as the Lord said.” When Abraham’s servant heard what they said, he bowed low before the Lord. The servant brought out gold and silver jewelry and clothing and gave them to Rebekah. To her brother and to her mother he gave the finest gifts. He and the men with him ate and drank and spent the night.

When they got up in the morning, the servant said, “See me off to my master.”

Her brother and mother said, “Let the young woman stay with us not more than ten days, and after that she may go.”

But he said to them, “Don’t delay me. The Lord has made my trip successful. See me off so that I can go to my master.”

They said, “Summon the young woman, and let’s ask her opinion.” They called Rebekah and said to her, “Will you go with this man?”

She said, “I will go.”

So they sent off their sister Rebekah, her nurse, Abraham’s servant, and his men.

And they blessed Rebekah, saying to her,

“May you, our sister, become

thousands of ten thousand;

may your children possess

their enemies’ cities.”

Rebekah and her young women got up, mounted the camels, and followed the man. So the servant took Rebekah and left.

Now Isaac had come from the region of Beer-lahai-roi and had settled in the arid southern plain. One evening, Isaac went out to inspect the pasture, and while staring he saw camels approaching. Rebekah stared at Isaac. She got down from the camel and said to the servant, “Who is this man walking through the pasture to meet us?”

The servant said, “He’s my master.” So she took her headscarf and covered herself. The servant told Isaac everything that had happened. Isaac brought Rebekah into his mother Sarah’s tent. He received Rebekah as his wife and loved her. So Isaac found comfort after his mother’s death.

Abraham married another wife, named Keturah. The children she bore him were Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak, and Shua. Jokshan became the father of Sheba and Dedan. Dedan’s sons were Asshurim, Letushim, and Leummim. Midian’s sons were Ephah, Epher, Enoch, Abida, and Eldaah. All of these were Keturah’s sons. Abraham gave everything he owned to Isaac. To the sons of Abraham’s secondary wives, Abraham gave gifts and, while he was still living, sent them away from his son Isaac to land in the east.

Abraham lived to the age of 175. Abraham took his last breath and died after a good long life, a content old man, and he was placed with his ancestors. His sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave in Machpelah, which is in the field of Zohar’s son Ephron the Hittite, near Mamre. Thus Abraham and his wife Sarah were both buried in the field Abraham had purchased from the Hittites. After Abraham’s death, God blessed his son Isaac, and Isaac lived in Beer-lahai-roi.

These are the descendants of Ishmael, Abraham’s son, whom Hagar the Egyptian, Sarah’s servant, bore for Abraham. These are the names of Ishmael’s sons, by their names and according to their birth order: Nebaioth, Ishmael’s oldest son; Kedar; Adbeel; Mibsam; Mishma; Dumah; Massa; Hadad; Tema; Jetur; Naphish; and Kedemah. These are Ishmael’s sons. These are their names by their villages and their settlements: twelve tribal leaders according to their tribes. Ishmael lived to the age of 137. He took his last breath and died, and was placed with his ancestors. He established camps from Havilah to Shur, which is near Egypt on the road to Assyria. He died among all of his brothers.

Job 8:1–22, MEV

Then Bildad the Shuhite answered:

“How long will you speak these things,

and the words of your mouth be like a strong wind?

Does God pervert judgment?

Or does the Almighty pervert justice?

If your children sinned against Him,

He cast them away for their transgression.

If you yourself would seek God earnestly,

and seek favor from the Almighty,

if you were pure and upright,

surely now He would rouse Himself on your behalf,

and He would prosper your righteous dwelling.

Though your beginning was small,

your end will increase greatly.

“Please, ask the former generation,

and prepare yourself for what their fathers searched out;

for we were born but yesterday and know nothing,

because our days on earth are a shadow.

Will they not teach you, and tell you,

and bring forth words out of their heart?

Can the papyrus grow up without a marsh?

Can the reed grow without water?

While it is yet green and not cut down,

it withers before any other plant.

So are the paths of all who forget God;

and the hypocrite’s hope will perish,

whose confidence will be cut off,

and whose trust will be a spider’s web.

He will lean upon his house, but it will not stand;

he will hold it fast, but it will not endure.

He is green before the sun,

and his branch shoots forth in his garden.

His roots are wrapped around the rock heap,

and he sees the place of stones.

If he is uprooted from his place,

then it will deny him, saying, ‘I have not seen you.’

See, this is the joy of his way,

and out of the ground others will grow.

“Surely, God will not cast away a perfect man,

nor will He strengthen the evildoers,

until He fills your mouth with laughing,

and your lips with rejoicing.

Those who hate you will be clothed with shame,

and the dwelling place of the wicked will come to nothing.”

Isaiah 10:5–11:16, NLT

“What sorrow awaits Assyria, the rod of my anger.

I use it as a club to express my anger.

I am sending Assyria against a godless nation,

against a people with whom I am angry.

Assyria will plunder them,

trampling them like dirt beneath its feet.

But the king of Assyria will not understand that he is my tool;

his mind does not work that way.

His plan is simply to destroy,

to cut down nation after nation.

He will say,

‘Each of my princes will soon be a king.

We destroyed Calno just as we did Carchemish.

Hamath fell before us as Arpad did.

And we destroyed Samaria just as we did Damascus.

Yes, we have finished off many a kingdom

whose gods were greater than those in Jerusalem and Samaria.

So we will defeat Jerusalem and her gods,

just as we destroyed Samaria with hers.’ ”

After the Lord has used the king of Assyria to accomplish his purposes on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, he will turn against the king of Assyria and punish him—for he is proud and arrogant. He boasts,

“By my own powerful arm I have done this.

With my own shrewd wisdom I planned it.

I have broken down the defenses of nations

and carried off their treasures.

I have knocked down their kings like a bull.

I have robbed their nests of riches

and gathered up kingdoms as a farmer gathers eggs.

No one can even flap a wing against me

or utter a peep of protest.”

But can the ax boast greater power than the person who uses it?

Is the saw greater than the person who saws?

Can a rod strike unless a hand moves it?

Can a wooden cane walk by itself?

Therefore, the Lord, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies,

will send a plague among Assyria’s proud troops,

and a flaming fire will consume its glory.

The Lord, the Light of Israel, will be a fire;

the Holy One will be a flame.

He will devour the thorns and briers with fire,

burning up the enemy in a single night.

The Lord will consume Assyria’s glory

like a fire consumes a forest in a fruitful land;

it will waste away like sick people in a plague.

Of all that glorious forest, only a few trees will survive—

so few that a child could count them!

In that day the remnant left in Israel,

the survivors in the house of Jacob,

will no longer depend on allies

who seek to destroy them.

But they will faithfully trust the Lord,

the Holy One of Israel.

A remnant will return;

yes, the remnant of Jacob will return to the Mighty God.

But though the people of Israel are as numerous

as the sand of the seashore,

only a remnant of them will return.

The Lord has rightly decided to destroy his people.

Yes, the Lord, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies,

has already decided to destroy the entire land.

So this is what the Lord, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, says: “O my people in Zion, do not be afraid of the Assyrians when they oppress you with rod and club as the Egyptians did long ago. In a little while my anger against you will end, and then my anger will rise up to destroy them.” The Lord of Heaven’s Armies will lash them with his whip, as he did when Gideon triumphed over the Midianites at the rock of Oreb, or when the Lord’s staff was raised to drown the Egyptian army in the sea.

In that day the Lord will end the bondage of his people.

He will break the yoke of slavery

and lift it from their shoulders.

Look, the Assyrians are now at Aiath.

They are passing through Migron

and are storing their equipment at Micmash.

They are crossing the pass

and are camping at Geba.

Fear strikes the town of Ramah.

All the people of Gibeah, the hometown of Saul,

are running for their lives.

Scream in terror,

you people of Gallim!

Shout out a warning to Laishah.

Oh, poor Anathoth!

There go the people of Madmenah, all fleeing.

The citizens of Gebim are trying to hide.

The enemy stops at Nob for the rest of that day.

He shakes his fist at beautiful Mount Zion, the mountain of Jerusalem.

But look! The Lord, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies,

will chop down the mighty tree of Assyria with great power!

He will cut down the proud.

That lofty tree will be brought down.

He will cut down the forest trees with an ax.

Lebanon will fall to the Mighty One.

Out of the stump of David’s family will grow a shoot—

yes, a new Branch bearing fruit from the old root.

And the Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—

the Spirit of wisdom and understanding,

the Spirit of counsel and might,

the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.

He will delight in obeying the Lord.

He will not judge by appearance

nor make a decision based on hearsay.

He will give justice to the poor

and make fair decisions for the exploited.

The earth will shake at the force of his word,

and one breath from his mouth will destroy the wicked.

He will wear righteousness like a belt

and truth like an undergarment.

In that day the wolf and the lamb will live together;

the leopard will lie down with the baby goat.

The calf and the yearling will be safe with the lion,

and a little child will lead them all.

The cow will graze near the bear.

The cub and the calf will lie down together.

The lion will eat hay like a cow.

The baby will play safely near the hole of a cobra.

Yes, a little child will put its hand in a nest of deadly snakes without harm.

Nothing will hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain,

for as the waters fill the sea,

so the earth will be filled with people who know the Lord.

In that day the heir to David’s throne

will be a banner of salvation to all the world.

The nations will rally to him,

and the land where he lives will be a glorious place.

In that day the Lord will reach out his hand a second time

to bring back the remnant of his people—

those who remain in Assyria and northern Egypt;

in southern Egypt, Ethiopia, and Elam;

in Babylonia, Hamath, and all the distant coastlands.

He will raise a flag among the nations

and assemble the exiles of Israel.

He will gather the scattered people of Judah

from the ends of the earth.

Then at last the jealousy between Israel and Judah will end.

They will not be rivals anymore.

They will join forces to swoop down on Philistia to the west.

Together they will attack and plunder the nations to the east.

They will occupy the lands of Edom and Moab,

and Ammon will obey them.

The Lord will make a dry path through the gulf of the Red Sea.

He will wave his hand over the Euphrates River,

sending a mighty wind to divide it into seven streams

so it can easily be crossed on foot.

He will make a highway for the remnant of his people,

the remnant coming from Assyria,

just as he did for Israel long ago

when they returned from Egypt.

Matthew 7:21–8:4, The Bible for Everyone: A New Translation

‘Not everyone who says to me, “Master, Master” will enter the kingdom of heaven; only people who do the will of my father in heaven. On that day lots of people will say to me, “Master, Master—we prophesied in your name, didn’t we? We cast out demons in your name! We performed lots of powerful deeds in your name!”

‘Then I will have to say to them, ‘ “I never knew you! You’re a bunch of evildoers—go away from me!” ’

‘So, then, everyone who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. Heavy rain fell; floods rose up; the winds blew and beat on that house. It didn’t fall, because it was founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and doesn’t do them—they will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand. Heavy rain fell; floods rose up; the winds blew and battered the house—and down it fell! It fell with a great crash.’

And so it was, when Jesus finished these words, that the crowds were astonished at his teaching. He was teaching them, you see, on his own authority, not like their scribes used to do.

When Jesus came down from the hillside, large crowds followed him. Suddenly someone with a virulent skin disease approached, and knelt down in front of him.

‘Master,’ he said, ‘if you want, you can make me clean!’

Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him.

‘I do want to,’ he said. ‘Be clean!’

At once his disease was cured.

‘Take care’, Jesus said to him, ‘that you don’t say anything to anyone. Instead, go and show yourself to the priest, and make the offering which Moses commanded. That will be a proof to them.’

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