Sister to Sister: The Prayers of the Patriarchs

modern-ten-commandments-prayer-quotesJust Noticing: Glenn and I are in Oxford, Mississippi this week and it’s quite the thing around town, of course, to hear ‘smack talk’ about Bama. Just not a great week for Bama fans to be hanging around Oxford. The shirt in the window of the sports store says “Hotty Toddy-Gosh A’ Mighty-We Beat Bama!” There aren’t too many phrases that are more insulting to me than “We Beat Bama!” But the one just preceding it on that shirt definitely is. Just saying…no matter how commonplace the euphemisms for the Lord’s name become, their use should still hurt us, as Christians (Ex. 20:7). Sadder still, it seems the rest of the Rebel chant is even harder on the ears of a Christian.

Also Just Noticing this: Some have mentioned that you are studying premillennialism with friends or family, particularly relating to the new movie, “Left Behind”. I am very happy to announce that last Sunday’s lesson at West Huntsville was a very clear overview of the doctrine upon which that movie is based, Biblically answering many questions that you may be encountering. It can be accessed here: http://new.livestream.com/whcoc/worship….Just click on the am service for October 5th. It will do your soul and your studies good! Audio should be up shortly, as well.

I hope you are well into the Digging Deep study for October. Personally, I have got to get busy on it. I want to leave you with some final thoughts today from the Genesis study. I promise I’ll move on after this post, but a few things are worth a final mention just to put a bow on the September study and then, it’s yours.

  1. 1. I love the way that God answered the servant’s prayer even as he was speaking it in Genesis 24. Sometimes I can very much relate to that. I am sure God knows our legitimate needs before we ask (Matthew 6:8), so, if we are asking appropriately, I believe he can know the answer before we ask. Sometimes, when I am asking for certain blessings, His Word on the particular problem or challenge I’m praying about comes to mind and gives me the very answer for which I seek. I believe when we remember, because of our knowledge of the Word, relevant answers or ideas regarding problems about which we pray, this is one sense in which our prayers are answered even as we pray. This is not miraculous revelation, but it’s just that as I am praying, my heart is naturally open to His will, my spirit is calm and thoughtful and it is a prime time for His Word that I have studied to emerge in my thoughts with answers from the wisdom of God, Himself.
  2. Everything about positive answers to prayer is not always positive. Isaac prayed for Rebecca to conceive (Genesis 25), but, in the end, the grief quota from the birth of his twins was huge. When you pray for that job, that house, that relocation, that marriage, or those children—remember that much of the blessing or curse that comes with the answer lies in your stewardship of the blessings given. The prodigal son in Luke 15 is demonstrative of this: He asked the father for the blessing and it was given, but his poor use of the blessing took him to the pig pen.
  3. In Genesis 28, Jacob made some big promises as he prayed. I have promised things to God in prayer. I have vowed to serve Him all of my days. I have prayed for a loved one to be safe when I feared the worst and promised God that, should that loved one safely return to me, I would do all that I could to make my relationship with that person what God wanted it to be. I was recently speaking with a faithful preacher’s wife about our vows to God and she related to me that her husband never vows to God because he is afraid he will not keep the vow. As I thought about this, it occurred to me that there is a real sense in which we all vow to God as we enter the waters of baptism. It is a serious thing to vow to God (Deut. 23:21-23).
  4. One lady asked, “When Jacob vowed to give a tenth of all he had to God in Genesis 32, where, exactly, did the stuff he gave go?…I mean there was no treasury during the patriarchal age, so where did offerings end up?” Well, I had never thought about that question and I do not definitively know the answer, but I believe Jacob was promising prophetically; that is, I believe he was promising/prophesying  that the nation of Israel would be a tithing nation. Notice this commentary on the passage by Adam Clarke:

“Jacob seems to make this vow

rather for his posterity than for himself, as we may learn from

Gen. 28:13-15; for he particularly refers to the promises which

God had made to him, which concerned the multiplication of his

offspring, and their establishment in that land. If, then, God

shall fulfil these promises, he binds his posterity to build God a

house, and to devote for the maintenance of his worship the tenth

of all their earthly goods. This mode of interpretation removes

that appearance of self-interest which almost any other view of

the subject presents. Jacob had certainly, long ere this, taken

Jehovah for his God; and so thoroughly had he been instructed in

the knowledge of Jehovah, that we may rest satisfied no reverses

of fortune could have induced him to apostatize: but as his taking

refuge with Laban was probably typical of the sojourning of his

descendants in Egypt, his persecution, so as to be obliged to

depart from Laban, the bad treatment of his posterity by the

Egyptians, his rescue from death, preservation on his journey,

re-establishment in his own country, 

exodus of his descendants, their travels in the desert, and

establishment in the promised land, where they built a house to

God, and where, for the support and maintenance of the pure

worship of God, they gave to the priests and Levites the tenth of

all their worldly produce. If all this be understood as referring

to Jacob only, the Scripture gives us no information how he

performed his vow.”

5. Finally, a comment about how prayer helps us when our families are experiencing strife or division: It is often the case that our family members are those with whom we share our heart’s most intimate concerns. What happens when we have lost the close communion of our former family confidants? In times like these, I believe we can grow to appreciate the blessing of always having the confidence of our God even more than ever. I can always tell God anything and know that He is hearing and that He cares (I Peter 5:7). Secondly, as stated in #1 above, I can get the best ideas for solving family problems when my heart is open and my mind is eased in the hour of prayer. Thirdly, I can count on the gift of wisdom in dealing with difficult family situations as I ask for it (James 1:5). Finally, when I cannot, by my actions, bring peace to my family, I can, by praying and by giving the problem to God, bring peace to my own soul. I can go to sleep knowing I have truly done all that I can do. Prayer sometimes changes things. Prayer always changes me.

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