I started reading the Bible four chapters a day starting July 1. Today, I’m up to
1) Abraham’s faith is inspiring, but when I read Genesis 21 and 22 I am reminded of Will Willimon’s frequent observation that the Bible is a terrible place to go to learn about good parenting and happy families. In two chapters we have Abraham kicking out Hagar and Ishmael with nothing more than a jug of water and loaf of bread to sustain them in the wilderness and then we have his marching up a mountain with Isaac to sacrifice him. Now, the faithful reading here is that Abraham trusted God to provide and take care of everything. And God did. And I can see this being a very powerful message to people who can’t let go of anxiety about their children. As Ishmael was crying in thirst in the desert and Ishmael was tied to the altar, what did they think about God and their father? When they were saved from their trouble, did those moment become sacred in their memory?
2) I wonder if there is more to the story about Sarah’s burial in Genesis 23 than a little land claim. Is this the Bible laying claim to some real estate? Is there more going on?
3) As the father of a 18-year-old daughter, I confess that the story of Rebekah and Isaac is as challenging to me as the binding of Isaac. The faithful reading of this is that God arranged the match between Isaac and Rebekah, so, of course, it is the right one. I have to resist reading it in purely human terms. Would I rejoice if some guy walked into my house with my daughter saying he spotted her by the well and he was taking her back to get married? Is this story as much about the faith of Rebekah and her father as it is about God’s providence for Isaac?
And God heard the voice of the boy; and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven, and said to her, “What troubles you, Hagar? Do not be afraid; for God has heard the voice of the boy where he is. Come, lift up the boy and hold him fast with your hand, for I will make a great nation of him.” Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. She went, and filled the skin with water, and gave the boy a drink.