Showing posts with label Isaac. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Isaac. Show all posts

November 23, 2019

Jacob’s vow: making a deal with God

In times of uncertainty or doubt, many of us have prayed, “Lord, IF You will ___(fill in the blank), THEN I will ___(fill in the blank.)” That’s what Jacob did.

This son of Isaac and twin brother of Esau didn't know if God would be with him the way He had been with Jacob’s grandfather Abraham. He’d undoubtedly heard his family’s stories of faith, but maybe he thought that tricking his brother and his father had put him on the outs with God.

Now on the run from his brother’s wrath, Jacob fled toward his mother’s family many, many miles away. Alone and in new terrain, he made a vow to God in this prayer:

Genesis 28:20-22
from the King James Version of the Bible
the Book of KJV prayers

And Jacob vowed a vow, saying,
If God will be with me,
and will keep me in this way that I go,
and will give me bread to eat,
and raiment to put on,
So that I come again
to my father's house in peace;
then shall the Lord be my God:
And this stone,
which I have set for a pillar,
shall be God's house:
and of all that thou shalt give me
I will surely give the tenth unto thee.

Genesis 28:20-21
paraphrase of Jacob’s prayer-vow

Lord God, if You will be with me
watch over me wherever I go
provide me with necessities
get me safely home,
You will be my God.

God did indeed take care of Jacob, whom He later renamed "Israel" and blessed with twelve sons who became the tribal chiefs of the Twelve Tribes of Israel.


March 17, 2012

Blessing, vow, pledge, and promise

“Isaac called for Jacob, blessed him, and said, “Do not marry a Canaanite woman but hurry to the house of your grandfather in Paddan-aram and marry one of your uncle Laban’s daughters. May God Almighty bless you with many children, and may your descendants become many nations. May God pass on to you and your descendants the blessings promised to Abraham, and may you possess this land where you now live as a stranger, for God gave this land to Abraham,” Genesis 28:1-4.

After getting the family blessing he had deceptively wangled from his twin brother Esau, Jacob obeyed his father and set off on a journey of a few hundred lonely miles to find a wife.

And so, “Jacob left Beersheba and traveled toward Haran. Before sunset he arrived at a good place to stop for the night and set up camp. When he found a stone for a pillow, Jacob lay down to sleep, and as he slept, he dreamed of a ladder (or stairway) reaching from earth to heaven with angels of God going up and down. At the top of the ladder stood the LORD, Who said, ‘I Am the LORD, the God of your grandfather Abraham and the God of your father Isaac. The ground you are lying on now belongs to you. I Am giving it to you and your descendants, who will be as numerous as the dust of the earth. They will spread in all directions—to west and east, to north and south. And all the families of the earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. More importantly, I Am with you, and I will protect you wherever you go. Someday I will bring you back to this land, but I will not leave you until I have given you everything I promised.’ Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, ‘Surely the LORD is in this place‘," Genesis 28:10-16.

“The next morning Jacob got up early and carefully placed the stone pillow as a pillar to remind him where he had been visited by God. He then poured olive oil over the stone and named the place Bethel (meaning house of God) even though it had previously been called Luz. Then Jacob made this vow, ‘If God will indeed be with me and if He will protect me on my journey, and if He will provide me with food and clothing, and if I get safely back to my father’s home, then the LORD will be my God. And this memorial pillar I set up will become a place to worship God, and I will present to God a tenth of everything He gives me.” Genesis 28:18-22.

Even though Jacob deceived his father (at his mother’s suggestion!) he inherited the blessings God had promised Abraham. God honored this, too, by giving the young man a vision of heaven and by renewing the covenant He had made with Jacob’s family on earth.

As it’s been said, God has no grandchildren. And so, this vision let Jacob see that, like his father and grandfather, he, too, now had a direct relationship with God, even though his ambivalent response did not include worship but wariness.

Question: When you make a promise to God, does it contain contingencies or escape clauses as did the “if’s” of Jacob? Do you think Jacob showed lack of faith by delaying worship and acceptance of the LORD as his God? Or did he believe God meant exactly what He said? After all, God Himself had promised to stay with Jacob until He had fulfilled His promises, which then gave the young man plenty of time to decide!

Prayer: Dear LORD God Almighty, thank You for honoring Your promises whether we deserve such an honor or not! Thank You for Your faithfulness and devotion to us even when our faith ebbs and we put off devoting time to You. Forgive us our uncertainties about You, and help us to worship You in Spirit and in truth – forever but also right now.


© 2012, Mary Sayler, all rights reserved.


Praying for purpose, praying for peace

“This records the family of Isaac, the son of Abraham: When Isaac was forty years old, he married Rebekah, the daughter of Bethuel the Aramean from Paddan-aram and sister of Laban the Aramean. Isaac pleaded with the Lord on behalf of his wife because she had no children. The Lord answered Isaac’s prayer, and Rebekah became pregnant with twins. When the two children struggled in her womb, she asked the Lord why this was happening, and the Lord told her, ‘The sons in your womb will become two rival nations. One nation will be stronger than the other, and your older child will serve the younger,” Genesis 25:19-23.

Questions: With whom or what do you struggle? Is your old self struggling with your new self in God?

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, looking back at old ways and looking forward to new is like carrying twin thoughts that fight within me! Help me, Lord, to move forward into Your plan and purpose for my life with no fears and no regrets. Thank You for giving Your prayers, Your guidance, Your peace to me and all You want me to be.


© 2012, Mary Sayler, all rights reserved.


Getting very specific in prayer

Background: Long after Abraham prayed for God to favor Ishmael, he and his wife Sarah brought up their son Isaac to become the heir whom God had named. Sometime before the young man turned thirty, his mother died and was buried in a cave that Abraham had purchased at full price near Mamre (also known as Hebron) in the land of Canaan. Despite the family ties to that area, Abraham did not want his son to marry a Canaanite woman. He was so adamant in fact that he made his chief servant swear to go to Abraham’s homeland and find Isaac a wife among their own kin.

The servant gave no objection to the request but showed concern for the success of his mission. When he asked Abraham what to do if no woman wanted to come home with him to meet Isaac, his master said, “The LORD God of heaven will send an angel before you,” Genesis 24:7-8. Abraham further assured the man that, if God did not take care of everything, the chief servant would be released from his oath. The man promised to obey his master’s request, and then, with ten camels loaded with gifts, the servant set off in the right direction.

When he reached the town of Nahor, he made the camels kneel near water as he stood to pray:

“’O LORD, God of Abraham, grant me success and show Your kindness to my master. Here I am, standing beside this well where the young women of the town come to draw water. So when I ask someone to let down her jar to give me a drink and she says yes and offers to give water to the camels also, oh, let her be the one You have chosen! This will let me know, too, that You have favored my master with a wife for his son Isaac.’

“Before the servant had finished praying, Rebekah came out with a water jug on her shoulder,”
Genesis 24:12-15.

Questions: Does God ever answer our prayers before we even finish praying? Does God honor specific requests, especially if the answer enables us to do the very thing our Master wants?

Prayer: LORD God, sometimes I think I am the only master of my life! Forgive me, Lord, for treating You as my Servant, ready to do my bidding. Help me to keep my promises to You and anyone else to whom I have made a vow. Give me success, Lord, in obeying You and accomplishing everything You want me to do and be.


© 2012, Mary Sayler, all rights reserved.


God and Abraham pray for Ishmael and Isaac

Background: Again and again, God promised Abram he would become the father of many nations, yet this usually strong man of faith and his wife, Sarai, made their own arrangements in order to make God’s promise come true! As Genesis 16 records the story, Sarai urged Abram to follow the custom of the day and have children with her maid Hagar so the couple would have an heir. When this had been accomplished and Hagar knew she had a child on the way, she began to look down on her mistress, which did not go over too well with Sarai.

In Genesis 17 God gave Abram a new name – Abraham, which means the father of many. God also changed Sarai’s name to Sarah, which, interestingly, means princess. With the blessing of God resting on Abraham, however, God could not and did not forget Hagar.

When Sarah mistreated the servant girl, Hagar ran away until an angel of the Lord came to her and told her to go home and submit to Sarah’s authority.

“And the angel said, ‘You will give birth to a son, and you are to name him Ishmael, meaning God hears, for the Lord has heard your cries. Your son will be as untamed as a wild donkey! He will raise his fist against everyone, and everyone will be against him. He will live in defiance of all his relatives’,” Genesis 16:11-12.

Hagar obeyed God and gave birth to Ishmael. Fourteen years later, God appeared to the 99-year-old Abraham, again promising to be with him and his descendants but with special favor over the child that his wife Sarah would have, despite the impossibility of her age! However…

“Abraham prayed to God, ‘Oh, if only Ishmael could live before You!’

“But God said, ‘No, your wife Sarah will bear a son, and you shall call his name Isaac, and I will establish an everlasting covenant with him and his descendants after him. As for Ishmael, I have heard your prayer. I will indeed bless him and make him fruitful, giving him many, many descendants. He shall become the father of twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation, but I will establish My covenant with Isaac to whom Sarah will give birth at this time next year’,”
Genesis 17:18-22.

Questions: Do people today ever hear God’s promises then run ahead or lag behind God’s timing? Did Abraham and Sarah’s decision to ensure an heir affect only their family, or did their actions have consequences and reverberations still felt today? Does Abraham’s prayer for Ishmael give a different slant to his motivations in the familiar Bible story in Genesis 22 where he offers up his son and heir, Isaac, as a sacrifice to the Lord?

Prayer: Dear LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and, yes, Ishmael, help me to hear You and be ready and willing to wait! Forgive me for the times I have fallen far behind or rushed before You. Thank You for giving me everything I need to obey You and follow Your will even when things look hopelessly impossible.


© 2012, Mary Sayler, all rights reserved.

Bible prayer for the nations

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