Following the footsteps of the Patriarchs

Module 1 – Google Maps Tour of the Bible by Johann Quisumbing

In this module, we will visit the Bible sites significant to the book of Genesis – mostly the sites where God impacted the lives of Abraham, Jacob, Joseph and other patriarchs.

Take note: the order of sites we visit will not always be in chronological order.

So, let us start where Abraham first hailed from.

“I am the LORD who brought you (Abraham) out of Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land (Canaan & more) to possess it.” Genesis 15:7

1 – UR, the land of the Chaldeans

Click LINK 1 – UR

What you are looking at is the satellite view of the ruins of Ur which can be found in modern day Tall al-Muqayyar, Iraq. Unfortunately, Google Maps did not have any 360 degree views here. However, you can click on any of the castle-tower-icons which will open a side panel on the left side of the window screen and you can view numerous photos of the site. During Abraham’s early time, Ur was an important city of ancient southern Mesopotamia. The image below is a rendition of what Ur may have looked like

In antiquity the Euphrates River ran much closer to the city; the change in the great river’s course had left the ruins in a desert that once was irrigated and fertile.

Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country, And from your relatives And from your father’s house, To the land which I will show you; And I will make you into a great nation, And I will bless you, And make your name great; And you shall be a blessing… And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.” Genesis 12:1-3

Why did God have Abraham leave the country of his birth and yes, even from his father’s house?

Joshua gave us the reason when he said, ‘Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, “From ancient times your fathers lived beyond the River, namely, Terah, the father of Abraham and the father of Nahor, and they served other gods”’ (Joshua 24:2). For Abraham to become a great blessing to all mankind, God had to separate him from the cultural influence of IDOLATRY.

To see museum artifacts from Ur, you are welcome to take this optional side trip: A walk through the Exhibition of Ur Artifacts @ British Museum at London

2 – Harran

Now Terah took his son Abram, and Lot the son of Haran, his grandson, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, his son Abram’s wife, and they departed together from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to the land of Canaan; and they went as far as Haran and settled there. Genesis 11:31

Abram, Sarai and his entire clan more than likely followed a well known trading route which followed the Great Euphrates River to the northwest. From Ur to Harran, it would have been about a 600 mile journey… and travelling by camels, it would have taken close to a year to get there.

Click LINK 2 – Ruins of Harran*

*LINK 2 was shot by a drone

The ruins of Harran is located in southeastern modern day Turkey. It was also known as Carrhae and was a major ancient city in Upper Mesopotamia. It was also a commercial, cultural, science and religious center. Harran, being a smaller version of Ur, probably reminded Terah and the rest of Abram’s kin that it was almost like their home. So, they settled there (Gen 11:31).

Harran also was site when…

Gen 24: About 70 years later, a very old Abraham sent his trusted servant to search out a wife for his son, Isaac, among the relatives in Harran. God led him to Rebekah, the daughter of Laban who was Abraham’s nephew.

Gen 28-30: Another 60 years later than that, Jacob, who was the Abraham’s grandson, was sent by Rebekah, his mother to Laban (his uncle) to escape a reprisal from his twin brother, Esau. Laban tricked Jacob into 20 years of service. It was also here that Jacob sired 11 out of the 12 sons the made up the future 12 tribes of Israel.


3 – Mt Ararat

Since we are in the neighborhood of Turkey, we might as well take a quick detour to about 400 miles northeast from the ruins of Harran to where Abraham’s Great, great… (plus 10 other Greats after that)… Grandfather safely made landfall with the only remnants of humanity and the remnants of the animal kingdom (that we see today) after spending 150 days in big a wooden ark during the great flood that covered all the earth. His name was NOAH.

Genesis 6-9: Noah’s Ark & the Flood

When the deluge stopped and the flood started to recede, the ark landed on a rocky outcrop jutting out of the water. That place was…

Click LINK 3 – MT ARARAT

You are standing on the southern slope of Mt Ararat. Imagine Noah peering out the window of the ark from this vantage point as he watched the flood waters drain away. Imagine him breaking open the side of the ark to release the animals to scatter unto the four winds. Imagine him building a stone altar on those very slopes and offering a sacrifice of thanksgiving to the Lord. Then, he was given a colorful surprise… a rainbow… a visual promise from God that never again will a great flood cover the earth.

Some archaeologists found another possible site of the ark’s final resting place some 20 miles south of the mountain. They based their claim on the boat-shape contour formed on the rock terrain. The discovery was made in what is known as the Durupinar site. Click here to view photos of DURUPINAR.


Let’s get back to Abraham.

Though his clan settled in Harran, God moved the heart of Abram to leave there and go south almost 400 miles into the land of…

4CANAAN

These are the sites we will see.

What does the Bible say about the inhabitants of Canaan?

Genesis 10 (background)

Now these are the records of the generations of the sons of Noah: Shem, Ham, and Japheth; and sons were born to them after the flood. [vs1]

The sons of Ham were Cush, Mizraim, Put, and Canaan. [vs6]

Canaan fathered Sidon, his firstborn, and Heth, the Jebusite, the Amorite, the Girgashite, the Hivite, the Arkite, the Sinite, the Arvadite, the Zemarite, and the Hamathite; and afterward the families of the Canaanite were spread abroad. [15-18]

The territory of the Canaanite extended from Sidon going toward Gerar, as far as Gaza; and going toward Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboiim, as far as Lasha. [19]

Important note: God had destined the Canaanites to lose this land to the descendants of Shem… the descendants of Abraham.

So Noah said, “Cursed be Canaan; A servant of servants he shall be to his brothers.” He also said, “Blessed be the LORD, the God of Shem; And may Canaan be his servant.” Genesis 9:25-26

5 – SHECHEM

Abram’s first stop was…

Click LINK 4 – SHECHEM

Link 4 is a 360 degree view of the valley where Shechem was located. What you see below, from the vantage point of Mt. Gerizim, is the modern town of Nablus.

What happened here?

Genesis 12:6-7

Abram passed through the land as far as the site of Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. Now the Canaanites were in the land at that time. And the LORD appeared to Abram and said, “To your descendants I will give this land.” So he built an altar there to the LORD who had appeared to him.

Other biblical occurrences:

Genesis 33:18-20
Now Jacob came safely to the city of Shechem, which is in the land of Canaan, when he came from Paddan-aram (Harran), and camped before the city. He bought the plot of land where he had pitched his tent from the hand of the sons of Hamor, Shechem’s father, for a hundred pieces of money. Then he erected there an altar and called it El-Elohe-Israel (the mighty God of Israel).

Jacob also dug a well here that was the scene where a Samaritan woman will meet One who promised ‘Living Water’ for all.

Genesis 34 – The slaughter of the men of Shechem by the hands of Jacob’s sons.

Genesis 35:1-4
It was said that at this same oak of Moreh that Jacob buried his household’s “foreign gods” (idols) when God commanded him to proceed to Bethel for purification and dedication.

From here, let us take a detour and go East across the Jordan River to an important site.

6 – PENIEL

Click LINK 5 – Peniel

What you are looking at is the Zarqa River in the modern day country of Jordan. This river, during Jacob’s day, was once called the Jabbok River which flowed into the Jordan River just a couple of miles west from here. Somewhere in this vicinity, Jacob had a hand to hand encounter with God.

In Genesis 32, Jacob had just escaped from 20 years of unjust servitude to his uncle Laban at Paddan-aram (Harran). When reaching the hill country of Gilead (East of the Jordan River) at the Jabbok River, he sent his entire household across the river.

That night, he encountered a being and wrestled with Him. It was here that God reiterated the changing of Jacob’s name to Israel. Jacob named the place Peniel, for he said, “I have seen God face to face, yet my life has been spared.”

7 – BETHEL

Let us go back in time again to Genesis 12, Abram traveled about 19 miles south from Shechem to…

Click LINK 6 – Bethel

You’re on a hill designated as an archaeological site. If you look north on another hill, you can see the modern day town of Biet-el.

Bethel, during the time when Abraham first set his tents near here (Gen 12:8) & where he also parted ways with Lot (Gen 13), was originally called ‘Luz‘.

How did Bethel get its name?

Bethel got it’s name later in Genesis 28.

Jacob (Abraham’s grandson) had departed from Beersheba and was on his way to Haran to avoid a violent altercation with his angry twin brother, Esau.  As he laid his head to sleep…

And he had a dream, and behold, a ladder was set up on the earth with its top reaching to heaven; and behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. Then behold, the LORD was standing above it and said, “I am the LORD, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and to your descendants. Your descendants will also be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, and to the north and to the south; and in you and in your descendants shall all the families of the earth be blessed. Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” Genesis 28:12-15

Jacob then called this place, BETHEL, which means the “House of God”.

Let us go farther south to…

8 – HEBRON

The Oak of Mamre

Click LINK 7 – The Oak of Mamre

The Oak of Mamre is also called the Tree of Abraham or Shajr-e Ibrahaim in Arabic. This tree, where Abram pitched his tent, is located on the outskirts of Hebron. Today, the remnant of the tree used to stand on the grounds of the modern Russian Orthodox Monastery of the Holy Trinity.

The Oak of Mamre.
This old tree is supported by beams in order to prevent it from falling.

The old tree fell in 2019, but there are plans to preserve its trunk and sustain the growth of the young shoot. It is believed that it was over 5000 years old. It withered in 1996 from time and age however two new trees sprouted the following year from the dried-up oak that still had life in its roots underground.

Biblical Occurrences:

Genesis 13:18 – Abram moved his tent from the Negev after Lot (his nephew) had separated from him, and came and lived by the oaks of Mamre, which are in Hebron; and there he built an altar to the LORD.

Genesis 15 – Abram was promised a Son… God gave him a vision.

Important note – Abram was declared righteous for his faith.

Genesis 16 – It was also in this same place that Abram’s wife, Sarai, mistakenly passed her slave Hagar to him from whom Ishmael was born .

Genesis 17 – Years later, he was visited by 3 angels… Here, God changed Abram’s name to Abraham and the Covenant of Circumcision was established.

Genesis 18:1… – When Abraham turned 99, the Lord came and visited him. He was told that Sarah will give birth to Isaac in her old age.

Genesis 18:22… – Abraham pleaded with God for Sodom & Gomorrah.

In another part of Hebron, let us go to another site.

The Cave of the Patriarchs

The Cave of the Patriarchs, known to the Jews as the Cave of Machpelah and to the Muslims as the Sanctuary of Abraham, is a series of burial caves holy to them as well as to Christians. Over the caves stand a large rectangular enclosure which is divided into both a synagogue and a mosque.

Click LINK 8 – Cave of the Patriarchs

You are virtually standing between the entrances into the caverns where Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebekah and Jacob were buried.

Biblical Occurrences:

Genesis 23 – Abraham’s wife Sarah died in Kiryat Arba near Hebron in the land of Canaan at the age of 127. Abraham came to mourn for her. After a while he stood up and spoke to the sons of Heth. He told them that he was a foreigner in their land and requested that they speak to Ephron the Hittite, the son of Zohar, who lived in Mamre and owns the cave of Machpelah which he was offering to buy for “the full price”. Ephron sold the entire field for four hundred shekels of silver and Abraham agreed to the price without any further bargaining. Abraham then buried his beloved wife Sarah there. [Wikipedia data]

Genesis 25 – Isaac and Ishmael buried Abraham who passed at the age of 175 in the cave of Machpelah…

Genesis 49 – Jacob gave his account to his family that when Isaac died at the age of 180, he and Esau buried him in Machpelah. Rebekah (his mother) as well as his wife Leah were buried there too.

Genesis 50 – Joseph, who was then the prime minister of Egypt, had his physicians embalm his father Jacob, who died at the age of 147. They then removed him from Egypt to be buried in the cave of the field of Machpelah.

9 – SODOM, GOMORRAH & LOT

Click LINK 9 – Dead Sea

You are looking at a 360 degree aerial view of the southwestern side of the Dead Sea. Archaeologists had pinpointed that the notoriously sinful cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, from the book of Genesis, were located in those areas. Both cities were completely destroyed by “sulfur and fire” because of their wickedness (Genesis 19:24).

Click to watch –
Sodom & Gomorrah Location,
New Archaeological Discoveries

2 Sites to see:

Click LINK 10 – Lot’s Wife

This rocky figure of a woman can be seen from Highway 65 on the Jordan side of the Dead Sea. Of course, it is not really Lot’s wife turned to salt. But it does make a fun background to tell the story of Genesis 19.

Genesis 19:15-26
When morning dawned, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Up, take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away in the punishment of the city.” But he hesitated. So the men grasped his hand and the hand of his wife and the hands of his two daughters, because the compassion of the LORD was upon him; and they brought him out and put him outside the city. When they had brought them outside, one said, “Escape for your life! Do not look behind you, and do not stay anywhere in the surrounding area; escape to the mountains, or you will be swept away.”

The sun had risen over the earth when Lot came to Zoar. Then the LORD rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah from the LORD out of heaven, and He overthrew those cities, and all the surrounding area, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground.

But Lot’s wife, from behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.

Click LINK 11 – Lot’s Cave

Lot’s Cave, which is a stiff 10-minute climb up a steep flight of steps, is surrounded by the ruins of a small Byzantine church (5th to 8th centuries), a reservoir and some mosaics, which were excavated by the British Museum. The cave is 2km northeast of Safi and well signposted from the Dead Sea Highway. Look for the circular museum building on the hillside.

Lot, the nephew of Abraham, features repeatedly in the colourful annals of the Dead Sea’s southern shores. Lot’s Cave, just past the Lisan Peninsula, is where he and his daughters are said to have lived after fleeing the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.

In an eyebrow-raising incident that’s remarkable even for the Bible, it’s written in Genesis 19:30-38 that Lot’s two daughters spiked their father’s drink, had intercourse with him and then nine months later gave birth to his sons of incest, Moab and Ben Ammi, the forefathers of the Moabite and Ammonite peoples.

[excerpt from Lonely Planet website]

10 – BEERSHEBA [Beersheva]

Beersheba is located on the north section of the Negev desert. It got its name from Genesis 21:31 when Abraham and Abimelech took an oath of witness that the former had dug the well and seven ewe lambs were offered in sacrifice. Speaking of wells…

Click LINK 12 – Abraham’s Well

Unfortunately, this Google Map street view of Abraham’s Well leaves much to be desired. However, if you pan a little to the left, you may want to order a slice or so. I hear that camel took the place of pepperoni. Kidding aside, turn back to Abraham’s Well. Go ahead and click on the green circle with the camera icon to view photos of what’s inside.

What happened here?

Genesis 21:1-7 – Birth of Isaac as promised by God.

Genesis 21:9-19 By God’s encouragement, Abraham sent Hagar and Ishmael away into the Negev wilderness. When close to dying of thirst, an angel provided for them and Hagar was reassured that Ishmael will become a great nation.

11 – MT MORIAH

Now it came about after these things, that God tested Abraham, and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” Then He said, “Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you.” So Abraham got up early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him and his son Isaac; and he split wood for the burnt offering, and set out and went to the place of which God had told him. (Genesis 22:1-3)

Mt Moriah is about 45 miles from Beersheba.

Click LINK 13 – MT MORIAH TODAY

This is the Dome of the Rock and it is an Islamic shrine located on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem. It was built over the original site of Mt. Moriah.

What happened here during Abraham’s time?

And Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and laid it on his son Isaac, and he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So the two of them walked on together. Isaac spoke to his father Abraham and said, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” And he said, “Look, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”


We end module 1 with a final visit to…

12 – EGYPT

After all, the book of Genesis do end here in the land of the pharaohs and pyramids. I refer to Jacob, when he uprooted his entire family including all of their households and herds, then trekked almost 240 miles to Egypt.

Jacob’s route into Egypt

Genesis 46 – Jacob (aka Israel) moved to Egypt when he found out that his favorite son, Joseph, who he believed was killed by an animal (Gen 37:31-35), was not only alive but was also the second highest ruler of the kingdom of Lower Egypt.

So, Jacob, with the blessings of Pharaoh, settled in this area of Goshen.

Click LINK 16 – GOSHEN

As you can see, Goshen is quite fertile even today. It was perfect to raise herds of sheep and other livestock. For 400 years, the patriarch’s clan of 75 people grew into a nation of 12 tribes of about 2 million people.

Before we leave our tour, I felt it right that we play the tourist as we visit the…

Click LINK 17 – PYRAMIDS OF GIZA

As you look around the great pyramids of Giza, allow me to end this tour with the final blessings of Jacob concerning the futures of his sons. [You can read the entire text here in Genesis 49.] For our purposes, we will focus on one particular blessing that have so much significance in regards to the promise given to Abraham about his future offspring.

Genesis 49:8-12

“Judah, your brothers will praise you. You will grasp your enemies by the neck. All your relatives will bow before you.

Judah, my son, is a young lion that has finished eating its prey. Like a lion he crouches and lies down; like a lioness—who dares to rouse him?

The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from his descendants, until the coming of the one to whom it belongs, the one whom all nations will honor.

He ties his foal to a grapevine, the colt of his donkey to a choice vine.

He washes his clothes in wine, his robes in the blood of grapes.

His eyes are darker than wine, and his teeth are whiter than milk.

What made this blessing so important? It points to our…

MESSIAH


Epilogue:

The Old Testament of the Bible always point to the ultimate saving grace of the Gospel. As your tour guide to the virtual sites of the Bible, I invite you to watch this 6 minute video.


This ends our tour of Module 1. Thank you for joining me in Following the Footsteps of the Patriarchs.

Click here to go to MODULE 2 – A Walk through the Wilderness

Sketching HIStory #25

Genesis 24 – Servant’s Journey to Find Wife for Isaac

1 Abraham was now a very old man, and the LORD had blessed him in every way. 2 One day Abraham said to his oldest servant, the man in charge of his household, “Take an oath by putting your hand under my thigh. 3 Swear by the LORD, the God of heaven and earth, that you will not allow my son to marry one of these local Canaanite women. 4 Go instead to my homeland, to my relatives, and find a wife there for my son Isaac.”

5 The servant asked, “But what if I can’t find a young woman who is willing to travel so far from home? Should I then take Isaac there to live among your relatives in the land you came from?”

6 “No!” Abraham responded. “Be careful never to take my son there. 7 For the LORD, the God of heaven, who took me from my father’s house and my native land, solemnly promised to give this land to my descendants.a He will send his angel ahead of you, and he will see to it that you find a wife there for my son. 8 If she is unwilling to come back with you, then you are free from this oath of mine. But under no circumstances are you to take my son there.”

9 So the servant took an oath by putting his hand under the thigh of his master, Abraham. He swore to follow Abraham’s instructions. 10 Then he loaded ten of Abraham’s camels with all kinds of expensive gifts from his master, and he traveled to distant Aram-naharaim. There he went to the town where Abraham’s brother Nahor had settled. 11 He made the camels kneel beside a well just outside the town. It was evening, and the women were coming out to draw water.

12 “O LORD, God of my master, Abraham,” he prayed. “Please give me success today, and show unfailing love to my master, Abraham. 13 See, I am standing here beside this spring, and the young women of the town are coming out to draw water. 14 This is my request. I will ask one of them, ‘Please give me a drink from your jug.’ If she says, ‘Yes, have a drink, and I will water your camels, too!’—let her be the one you have selected as Isaac’s wife. This is how I will know that you have shown unfailing love to my master.”

15 Before he had finished praying, he saw a young woman named Rebekah coming out with her water jug on her shoulder. She was the daughter of Bethuel, who was the son of Abraham’s brother Nahor and his wife, Milcah. 16 Rebekah was very beautiful and old enough to be married, but she was still a virgin. She went down to the spring, filled her jug, and came up again. 17 Running over to her, the servant said, “Please give me a little drink of water from your jug.”

18 “Yes, my lord,” she answered, “have a drink.” And she quickly lowered her jug from her shoulder and gave him a drink. 19 When she had given him a drink, she said, “I’ll draw water for your camels, too, until they have had enough to drink.” 20 So she quickly emptied her jug into the watering trough and ran back to the well to draw water for all his camels.

21 The servant watched her in silence, wondering whether or not the LORD had given him success in his mission. 22 Then at last, when the camels had finished drinking, he took out a gold ring for her nose and two large gold braceletsb for her wrists.

23 “Whose daughter are you?” he asked. “And please tell me, would your father have any room to put us up for the night?”

24 “I am the daughter of Bethuel,” she replied. “My grandparents are Nahor and Milcah. 25 Yes, we have plenty of straw and feed for the camels, and we have room for guests.”

26 The man bowed low and worshiped the LORD. 27 “Praise the LORD, the God of my master, Abraham,” he said. “The LORD has shown unfailing love and faithfulness to my master, for he has led me straight to my master’s relatives.”

28 The young woman ran home to tell her family everything that had happened. 29 Now Rebekah had a brother named Laban, who ran out to meet the man at the spring. 30 He had seen the nose-ring and the bracelets on his sister’s wrists, and had heard Rebekah tell what the man had said. So he rushed out to the spring, where the man was still standing beside his camels. 31 Laban said to him, “Come and stay with us, you who are blessed by the LORD! Why are you standing here outside the town when I have a room all ready for you and a place prepared for the camels?”

32 So the man went home with Laban, and Laban unloaded the camels, gave him straw for their bedding, fed them, and provided water for the man and the camel drivers to wash their feet. 33 Then food was served. But Abraham’s servant said, “I don’t want to eat until I have told you why I have come.”

“All right,” Laban said, “tell us.”

34 “I am Abraham’s servant,” he explained. 35 “And the LORD has greatly blessed my master; he has become a wealthy man. The LORD has given him flocks of sheep and goats, herds of cattle, a fortune in silver and gold, and many male and female servants and camels and donkeys.

36 “When Sarah, my master’s wife, was very old, she gave birth to my master’s son, and my master has given him everything he owns. 37 And my master made me take an oath. He said, ‘Do not allow my son to marry one of these local Canaanite women. 38 Go instead to my father’s house, to my relatives, and find a wife there for my son.’

39 “But I said to my master, ‘What if I can’t find a young woman who is willing to go back with me?’ 40 He responded, ‘The LORD, in whose presence I have lived, will send his angel with you and will make your mission successful. Yes, you must find a wife for my son from among my relatives, from my father’s family. 41 Then you will have fulfilled your obligation. But if you go to my relatives and they refuse to let her go with you, you will be free from my oath.’

42 “So today when I came to the spring, I prayed this prayer: ‘O LORD, God of my master, Abraham, please give me success on this mission. 43 See, I am standing here beside this spring. This is my request. When a young woman comes to draw water, I will say to her, “Please give me a little drink of water from your jug.” 44 If she says, “Yes, have a drink, and I will draw water for your camels, too,” let her be the one you have selected to be the wife of my master’s son.’

45 “Before I had finished praying in my heart, I saw Rebekah coming out with her water jug on her shoulder. She went down to the spring and drew water. So I said to her, ‘Please give me a drink.’ 46 She quickly lowered her jug from her shoulder and said, ‘Yes, have a drink, and I will water your camels, too!’ So I drank, and then she watered the camels.

47 “Then I asked, ‘Whose daughter are you?’ She replied, ‘I am the daughter of Bethuel, and my grandparents are Nahor and Milcah.’ So I put the ring on her nose, and the bracelets on her wrists.

48 “Then I bowed low and worshiped the LORD. I praised the LORD, the God of my master, Abraham, because he had led me straight to my master’s niece to be his son’s wife. 49 So tell me—will you or won’t you show unfailing love and faithfulness to my master? Please tell me yes or no, and then I’ll know what to do next.”

50 Then Laban and Bethuel replied, “The LORD has obviously brought you here, so there is nothing we can say. 51 Here is Rebekah; take her and go. Yes, let her be the wife of your master’s son, as the LORD has directed.”

52 When Abraham’s servant heard their answer, he bowed down to the ground and worshiped the LORD. 53 Then he brought out silver and gold jewelry and clothing and presented them to Rebekah. He also gave expensive presents to her brother and mother. 54 Then they ate their meal, and the servant and the men with him stayed there overnight.

But early the next morning, Abraham’s servant said, “Send me back to my master.”

55 “But we want Rebekah to stay with us at least ten days,” her brother and mother said. “Then she can go.”

56 But he said, “Don’t delay me. The LORD has made my mission successful; now send me back so I can return to my master.”

57 “Well,” they said, “we’ll call Rebekah and ask her what she thinks.” 58So they called Rebekah. “Are you willing to go with this man?” they asked her.

And she replied, “Yes, I will go.”

59 So they said good-bye to Rebekah and sent her away with Abraham’s servant and his men. The woman who had been Rebekah’s childhood nurse went along with her. 60 They gave her this blessing as she parted:

“Our sister, may you become the mother of many millions! May your descendants be strong and conquer the cities of their enemies.”

61 Then Rebekah and her servant girls mounted the camels and followed the man. So Abraham’s servant took Rebekah and went on his way.

62 Meanwhile, Isaac, whose home was in the Negev, had returned from Beer-lahai-roi. 63 One evening as he was walking and meditating in the fields, he looked up and saw the camels coming.

64 When Rebekah looked up and saw Isaac, she quickly dismounted from her camel. 65 “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. 66 Then the servant told Isaac everything he had done.

67 And Isaac brought Rebekah into his mother Sarah’s tent, and she became his wife. He loved her deeply, and she was a special comfort to him after the death of his mother.


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Sketching HIStory #24

Genesis 23 – Death and Burial of Sarah

1 When Sarah was 127 years old, 2 she died at Kiriath-arba (now called Hebron) in the land of Canaan. There Abraham mourned and wept for her.

3 Then, leaving her body, he said to the Hittite elders, 4 “Here I am, a stranger and a foreigner among you. Please sell me a piece of land so I can give my wife a proper burial.”

5 The Hittites replied to Abraham, 6 “Listen, my lord, you are an honored prince among us. Choose the finest of our tombs and bury her there. No one here will refuse to help you in this way.”

7 Then Abraham bowed low before the Hittites 8 and said, “Since you are willing to help me in this way, be so kind as to ask Ephron son of Zohar 9 to let me buy his cave at Machpelah, down at the end of his field. I will pay the full price in the presence of witnesses, so I will have a permanent burial place for my family.”

10 Ephron was sitting there among the others, and he answered Abraham as the others listened, speaking publicly before all the Hittite elders of the town. 11 “No, my lord,” he said to Abraham, “please listen to me. I will give you the field and the cave. Here in the presence of my people, I give it to you. Go and bury your dead.”

12 Abraham again bowed low before the citizens of the land, 13 and he replied to Ephron as everyone listened. “No, listen to me. I will buy it from you. Let me pay the full price for the field so I can bury my dead there.”

14 Ephron answered Abraham, 15 “My lord, please listen to me. The land is worth 400 pieces of silver, but what is that between friends? Go ahead and bury your dead.”

16 So Abraham agreed to Ephron’s price and paid the amount he had suggested—400 pieces of silver, weighed according to the market standard. The Hittite elders witnessed the transaction.

17 So Abraham bought the plot of land belonging to Ephron at Machpelah, near Mamre. This included the field itself, the cave that was in it, and all the surrounding trees. 18 It was transferred to Abraham as his permanent possession in the presence of the Hittite elders at the city gate. 19 Then Abraham buried his wife, Sarah, there in Canaan, in the cave of Machpelah, near Mamre (also called Hebron). 20 So the field and the cave were transferred from the Hittites to Abraham for use as a permanent burial place.

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Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation.

ADVENT Story Revealed part 6

Christmas in the Tent of Abraham

We now have enough dark background on the reason for Christmas. And there is nothing more darker than the fact of eternal doom hanging over the heads of all mankind because of SIN. By themselves, mankind is powerless to escape. Fortunately, the Lord God is there.

Deuteronomy 4:31
For the LORD your God is a merciful God; He will not abandon you or destroy you or forget the covenant with your fathers, which He swore to them by oath.
Nehemiah 9:31
But in Your great compassion, You did not put an end to them; nor did You forsake them, for You are a gracious and compassionate God.

Because of God’s compassion and grace, He set into motion a plan. “The Plan!” The plan for mankind’s salvation. And an intricate part of that plan involved a most unusual birth which took place in the beginning of the New Testament. But before that fantastic event, God decided to do… sort of… a dress rehearsal, so to speak. Let us go back to the book of Genesis.

God’s plan was to choose a specific family line of whom will be instrumental in the salvation of mankind. Following 24 generations in the line of Seth (a son of Adam), we come to Abram who would later be renamed Abraham.

Abram was given a very important promise.

Genesis 12:3b
And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.
Genesis 22:18
“In your seed (offspring) all the nations of the earth shall be blessed…”

But Abram had a problem. His wife Sarai (Sarah) was barren. Does this sound familiar?

Then when Abram turned 99 and Sarai was 90, way way beyond childbearing years…

Genesis 17:1-5; 15-19
Now when Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am God Almighty; Walk before Me, and be blameless. I will establish My covenant between Me and you, and I will multiply you exceedingly.”
Abram fell on his face, and God talked with him, saying, “As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, and you will be the father of a multitude of nations. No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; For I have made you the father of a multitude of nations.”
Then God said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. I will bless her, and indeed I will give you a son by her. Then I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her.”
Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed, and said in his heart, “Will a child be born to a man one hundred years old? And will Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?” And Abraham said to God, “Oh that Ishmael might live before You!” But God said, “No, but Sarah your wife will bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; and I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him.”

Weeks later, the Lord came to Abraham again.

Genesis 18:9-15
Then they said to him, “Where is Sarah your wife?”
And he said, “There, in the tent.”
He said, “I will surely return to you at this time next year; and behold, Sarah your wife will have a son.”
And Sarah was listening at the tent door, which was behind him. Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in age; Sarah was past childbearing. Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I have become old, shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?”
And the LORD said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh, saying, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, when I am so old?’ Is anything too difficult for the LORD? At the appointed time I will return to you, at this time next year, and Sarah will have a son.”
Sarah denied it however, saying, “I did not laugh”; for she was afraid.
And He said, “No, but you did laugh.”

Sure enough, when Abraham turned 100…

Genesis 21:1-8
Then the LORD took note of Sarah as He had said, and the LORD did for Sarah as He had promised. So Sarah conceived and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the appointed time of which God had spoken to him. Abraham called the name of his son who was born to him, whom Sarah bore to him, Isaac. Then Abraham circumcised his son Isaac when he was eight days old, as God had commanded him. Now Abraham was one hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him.
Sarah said, “God has made laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh with me.” And she said, “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.”
The child grew and was weaned, and Abraham made a great feast on the day that Isaac was weaned.

Merry Christmas Abraham and Sarah

Sketching HIStory #23

Gen 22 – God tested Abraham

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Some time later… probably when Isaac was a pre-teen… God tested Abraham.

He said to him, “Abraham!”

“Here I am,” he replied.

Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.” [Gen 22:1-2]

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Where is Moriah?

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Note: This mountain is the future place of Solomon’s Temple.

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Early the next morning Abraham got up and loaded his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. [Gen 22:3]

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On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.”

Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?”

“Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.

“The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”

Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together. [Gen 22:4-8]

gen-22-abraham-offers-isaac.jpg

When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”

“Here I am,” he replied.

“Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.” [Gen 22:9-12]

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Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.”

gen-22-crimson-thread-w

The angel of the Lord called to Abraham from heaven a second time and said, “I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.”

Then Abraham returned to his servants, and they set off together for Beersheba. And Abraham stayed in Beersheba. [Gen 22:13-19]

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What was in Abraham’s heart as he was about to plunge the knife?

By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death.

Hebrews 11:17-19

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Sketching HIStory #22

Gen 21 – Isaac is born & the fate of Ishmael

gen-21-birth-of-isaac-w.jpg
Now the Lord was gracious to Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did for Sarah what he had promised. Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the very time God had promised him. Abraham gave the name Isaac to the son Sarah bore him. When his son Isaac was eight days old, Abraham circumcised him, as God commanded him. Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him.

Sarah said, “God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.” And she added, “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.” [Gen 21:1-8]

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crimson-thread-w

CRIMSON THREAD

Luke 3:23,34

Now Jesus himself was about thirty years old when he began his ministry. He was the son, so it was thought, of Joseph… the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham…

Another Christmas parallel:

In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah… and his wife Elizabeth… Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly. But they were childless because Elizabeth was not able to conceive, and they were both very old.

Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John.”

After this his wife Elizabeth became pregnant … [Luke 1:5-7; 11-13; 24]

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gen-21-ysmael-mocking-w.jpgThe child grew and was weaned, and on the day Isaac was weaned Abraham held a great feast. But Sarah saw that the son whom Hagar the Egyptian had borne to Abraham was mocking… [Gen 21:9]

gen-21-hagar-castout-w.jpg

…and she said to Abraham, “Get rid of that slave woman and her son, for that woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with my son Isaac.”

The matter distressed Abraham greatly because it concerned his son. But God said to him, “Do not be so distressed about the boy and your slave woman. Listen to whatever Sarah tells you, because it is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned. I will make the son of the slave into a nation also, because he is your offspring.”

Early the next morning Abraham took some food and a skin of water and gave them to Hagar. He set them on her shoulders and then sent her off with the boy. [Gen 21:10-14]

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promise-coin-w

God’s Promise Connection

 

vs 12  – “…it is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” 

Gen 12:3   “…and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”

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gen-21-hagar-desert-w.jpg
She went on her way and wandered in the Desert of Beersheba.

When the water in the skin was gone, she put the boy under one of the bushes. Then she went off and sat down about a bowshot away, for she thought, “I cannot watch the boy die.” And as she sat there, she began to sob.

God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation.”

Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. So she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink.

God was with the boy as he grew up. He lived in the desert and became an archer. While he was living in the Desert of Paran, his mother got a wife for him from Egypt. [Gen 21:14-21]

Sketching HIStory #21

Gen 18,19 – God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah

gen-18-3visitors-4-w

When the men got up to leave, they looked down toward Sodom, and Abraham walked along with them to see them on their way. [Gen 18:16]

gen-18-sodom-gemorah-w.jpg
Then the Lord said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do? Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him. For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just, so that the Lord will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him.”

Then the Lord said, “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know.”

The men turned away and went toward Sodom, but Abraham remained standing before the Lord. Then Abraham approached him and said: “Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked? What if there are fifty righteous people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not spare e the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people in it? Far be it from you to do such a thing—to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?”

The Lord said, “If I find fifty righteous people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake.”

Then Abraham spoke up again: “Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, though I am nothing but dust and ashes, what if the number of the righteous is five less than fifty? Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five people?”

“If I find forty-five there,” he said, “I will not destroy it.”

Once again he spoke to him, “What if only forty are found there?”

He said, “For the sake of forty, I will not do it.”

Then he said, “May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak. What if only thirty can be found there?”

He answered, “I will not do it if I find thirty there.”

Abraham said, “Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, what if only twenty can be found there?”

He said, “For the sake of twenty, I will not destroy it.”

Then he said, “May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak just once more. What if only ten can be found there?”

He answered, “For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it.”

When the Lord had finished speaking with Abraham, he left, and Abraham returned home.  [Gen 18:17-33]

gen-19-sodom-gate-w.jpg
The two angels arrived at Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gateway of the city. When he saw them, he got up to meet them and bowed down with his face to the ground. “My lords,” he said, “please turn aside to your servant’s house. You can wash your feet and spend the night and then go on your way early in the morning.”

“No,” they answered, “we will spend the night in the square.”

But he insisted so strongly that they did go with him and entered his house. He prepared a meal for them, baking bread without yeast, and they ate. [Gen 19:1-3]

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How did Lot (Abraham’s nephew) end up in Sodom?

Back in Gen 13, Lot separated from Abraham when Lot’s flock of sheep became so large that the land they both grazed in could not sustain both their flocks. When given a choice, Lot chose to bring his entire household and flocks down to the fertile valley around the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Then in Gen 14, after he and his family became prisoners by a marauding army and then being saved by his uncle Abraham, Lot chose to reside inside the city of Sodom for better security.

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gen-19-men-of-sodom-w.jpg

Before they had gone to bed, all the men from every part of the city of Sodom—both young and old—surrounded the house. They called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them.”

Lot went outside to meet them and shut the door behind him and said, “No, my friends. Don’t do this wicked thing. Look, I have two daughters who have never slept with a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do what you like with them. But don’t do anything to these men, for they have come under the protection of my roof.”

“Get out of our way,” they replied. “This fellow came here as a foreigner, and now he wants to play the judge! We’ll treat you worse than them.” They kept bringing pressure on Lot and moved forward to break down the door.

But the men inside reached out and pulled Lot back into the house and shut the door. [Gen 19:4-10]

gen-19-men-of-sodom-2-w.jpg

Then they struck the men who were at the door of the house, young and old, with blindness so that they could not find the door. [Gen 19:11]
The two men said to Lot, “Do you have anyone else here—sons-in-law, sons or daughters, or anyone else in the city who belongs to you? Get them out of here, because we are going to destroy this place. The outcry to the Lord against its people is so great that he has sent us to destroy it.”

So Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who were pledged to marry his daughters. He said, “Hurry and get out of this place, because the Lord is about to destroy the city!” But his sons-in-law thought he was joking.

With the coming of dawn, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Hurry! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away when the city is punished.”

When he hesitated, the men grasped his hand and the hands of his wife and of his two daughters and led them safely out of the city, for the Lord was merciful to them. As soon as they had brought them out, one of them said, “Flee for your lives! Don’t look back, and don’t stop anywhere in the plain! Flee to the mountains or you will be swept away!”

But Lot said to them, “No, my lords, please! Your servant has found favor in your eyes, and you have shown great kindness to me in sparing my life. But I can’t flee to the mountains; this disaster will overtake me, and I’ll die. Look, here is a town near enough to run to, and it is small. Let me flee to it—it is very small, isn’t it? Then my life will be spared.”

He said to him, “Very well, I will grant this request too; I will not overthrow the town you speak of. But flee there quickly, because I cannot do anything until you reach it.” (That is why the town was called Zoar.)  [Gen 19:12-22]

gen-19-sodom-destructn-w.jpg

By the time Lot reached Zoar, the sun had risen over the land. Then the Lord rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah—from the Lord out of the heavens. Thus he overthrew those cities and the entire plain, destroying all those living in the cities—and also the vegetation in the land. But Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt. [Gen 19:23-26]

gen-19-sodom-n-gem-destroye.jpg

Early the next morning Abraham got up and returned to the place where he had stood before the Lord. He looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah, toward all the land of the plain, and he saw dense smoke rising from the land, like smoke from a furnace. [Gen 19:27-28]

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What happened to Lot later?

After Lot and his daughters survived the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, they eventually ended living like hermits in a cave somewhere in the mountain range east of the Dead Sea. Because of their isolation, Lot was tricked by his daughters to have incest intercourse with them. The result was he siring Moab and Ben-Ammi who became the fathers of the Moabites and the Ammonites. Both people will later be a factor in Abraham’s descendants’ destiny.

Sketching HIStory #20

Gen 17, 18 – Covenant of Circumcision
                       Child of Promise

When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty; walk before me faithfully and be blameless. Then I will make my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers.”

ABRAM > ABRAHAM

promise-coin-wAbram fell facedown, and God said to him, “As for me, this is my covenant with you: You will be the father of many nations. No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations. I will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you. I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. The whole land of Canaan, where you now reside as a foreigner, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God.” [Gen 17:1-8]

gen-17-abraham-w.jpg
covenant-coin-w.jpgThen God said to Abraham, “As for you, you must keep my covenant, you and your descendants after you for the generations to come. This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you, the covenant you are to keep: Every male among you shall be circumcised. You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you. For the generations to come every male among you who is eight days old must be circumcised, including those born in your household or bought with money from a foreigner—those who are not your offspring. Whether born in your household or bought with your money, they must be circumcised. My covenant in your flesh is to be an everlasting covenant. Any uncircumcised male, who has not been circumcised in the flesh, will be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.”

SARAI > SARAH

God also said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you are no longer to call her Sarai; her name will be Sarah. I will bless her and will surely give you a son by her. I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her.” [Gen 17:9-16]

What about Ishmael? You can read about it HERE.

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The Lord appeared to Abraham near the great trees of Mamre while he was sitting at the entrance to his tent in the heat of the day. Abraham looked up and saw three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he hurried from the entrance of his tent to meet them and bowed low to the ground.

He said, “If I have found favor in your eyes, my lord, do not pass your servant by. Let a little water be brought, and then you may all wash your feet and rest under this tree. Let me get you something to eat, so you can be refreshed and then go on your way—now that you have come to your servant.”

“Very well,” they answered, “do as you say.” [Gen 18:1-5]

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So Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah. “Quick,” he said, “get three seahs of the finest flour and knead it and bake some bread.”

Then he ran to the herd and selected a choice, tender calf and gave it to a servant, who hurried to prepare it. He then brought some curds and milk and the calf that had been prepared, and set these before them. While they ate, he stood near them under a tree.

“Where is your wife Sarah?” they asked him.

“There, in the tent,” he said.

Then one of them said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son.” [Gen 18:6-10]

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Now Sarah was listening at the entrance to the tent, which was behind him. Abraham and Sarah were already very old, and Sarah was past the age of childbearing. So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, “After I am worn out and my lord is old, will I now have this pleasure?”

Then the Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Will I really have a child, now that I am old?’ Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return to you at the appointed time next year, and Sarah will have a son.”

Sarah was afraid, so she lied and said, “I did not laugh.”

But he said, “Yes, you did laugh.” [Gen 18:10-15]

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After the meal, the visitors got up to leave and Abraham walked along with them to see them on their way. Then, two of them parted ways leaving Abraham with the Lord.

Where are they going? We will find out in our next post.