Two things hit me about these four chapters:
1) God telling Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. This used to seem to me to be one of the coldest, most heartless acts of God in all the Bible. Obviously God was testing Abraham, but did it need to be so extreme? Many people view this as a test of Abraham's priorities, whether or not God was the first priority in Abraham's life. I really don't think that's what God was testing. I think God was testing Abraham's faith in the promise. God had promised that from the offspring of Abraham a mighty nation would be born. Isaac was more than a son--he was the embodiment of that dream. If this nation was to come, Isaac was a pretty important component of that dream.
I believe down deep inside Abraham knew that Isaac would come through this test just fine. His reply to Isaac's question about the lack of a sacrificial animal says it all.
Genesis 22:7-8 (ESV)And Isaac said to his father Abraham, "My father!" And he said, "Here am I, my son." He said, "Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?" Abraham said, "God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son." So they went both of them together.
Abraham knew God would be faithful to his promises. Sometimes we feel life leads us off course of God's promises or plans for our lives. Stay faithful. If God promised it, you can bank on it!
2) A family becoming a movement. I like reading this part of Israel's history. It was the beginning stages of a dream and a promise. A promise from God that from one family would come a blessed nation--a chosen people. But for now, they're still just a family trying to be faithful and looking ahead to the promise. I think of Living Hope Church when I read these chapters. I believe God has great things in store for us. I believe God wants us to be a church with a global influence! As I look ahead to what can be, I'm reminded that it all starts with a family. Our church feels an awful lot like a family right now. I want to challenge all you Living Hopers to live in anticipation of the promise, but enjoy our LHC family right now, too.