Tag: gold

Story 40: Rebekah Comes Home

Genesis 24:28-67

 

Abraham sent his chief servant to find a wife for Isaac. It was important that Isaac’s wife come from the same family… those who God had set apart in a covenant in order to bless the world.  The servant travelled back to the land that Abraham and Sarah had left behind so many years before.  The Lord guided him to a beautiful young virgin named Rebekah as she took water from the village well.  He knew she was the one for Isaac, and so he gave her bracelets of precious gold and asked to be taken back to her home.  She ran ahead and told her mother everything that had happened during her time at the well.

Rebekah’s brother, Laban, heard what happened, too.  He saw the expensive gold bracelets and the nose ring, and he knew that this stranger was a making a serious marriage offer for his sister.   He went out to meet Abraham’s servant at the well.  “‘Come, you are blessed by the Lord,’” he said.  “‘Why are you standing out here?  I have prepared the house and a place for your camels.’”

Nahor’s family treated Abraham’s chief servant very well.  They brought him into the house and washed his feet and the feet of his men.  As they set supper out for him to eat, he stopped them and said, “‘I will not eat until I have told you what I have to say.’”  The importance of this meeting was too great!  He did not want to wait another minute until he had settled everything.

 

“‘The LORD has blessed my master abundantly, and he has become wealthy.  He has given him sheep and cattle, silver and gold, menservants and maidservants, and camels and donkeys.  My master’s wife Sarah has borne him a son in her old age, and he has given him everything he owns.  And my master made me swear an oath, and said, ‘You must not get a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, in whose land I live, but go to my father’s family and to my own clan, and get a wife for my son.’”

“‘Then I asked my master, ‘What if the woman will not come back with me?’

“‘He replied, The Lord,  before whom I have walked, will send His angel with you and make your journey a success, so that you can get a wife for my son from  my own clan, you will be released from my oath even if they refuse to give her to you-you will be released from my oath.’

 

Then the servant told them how he had come into their town.  He told how he had prayed that God would show him who the right girl was by having her offer not only to give him a drink of water, but by offering to water his camels.  He explained how that was exactly what Rebekah did.  God had answered his prayer very clearly.  And after journeying for days over many miles, the girl the LORD had brought him was the granddaughter of Abraham’s brother!

Abraham’s servant told the whole story, making sure they understood how God had guided him to Rebekah.  Then he said, “‘Now if you will show kindness and faithfulness to my master, tell me; and if not, tell me, so I may know which way to turn.’”

Laban and Rebekah’s mother Bethuel said, “‘This is from the LORD, we can say nothing to you one way or the other.  Here is Rebekah, take her and go, and let her become the wife of your master’s son, as the LORD has directed.’”

When the servant heard that he would be allowed to bring this beautiful, chosen daughter to be Isaac’s wife, he bowed down before the LORD, rejoicing at His goodness.  This was all the work of God, who designed everything with such care for His chosen ones.

The servant got up from his praise to the LORD and began to celebrate by bringing out the great riches given to him by Abraham to pour out on Rebekah, the bride, and her family.  Rebekah was given treasures of gold and silver jewelry and beautiful clothes to wear as the wife of Isaac.  Her family received lavish and beautiful gifts as well as they prepared to say goodbye to their beloved child and sister.

The next morning, Abraham’s servant asked to leave and return to Abraham with Isaac’s new bride.  But they did not want to see her go so soon.  They knew they would probably never see her again.  “‘Let the girl remain with us ten days or so; then you may go,’” they said.

But the servant was ready to return.  “‘Do not detain me, now that the LORD has granted success to my journey.  Send me on my way so I may go to my master.’”

They said, “‘Let’s call the girl and ask her about it.’”  They called for Rebekah and asked her if she would go with Abraham’s servant right away or not.

Rebekah said, “‘I will go.’”  Wow.  What stunning faith!  While her family was reluctant, she was bold.  And so they sent her on her way.  The nurse that had raised her since she was a little girl went along with her, as did several other maidservants from the house.  She was not alone as she journeyed towards the home of Abraham and Isaac.  As she left, her family said;

 

“‘Our sister, may you increase

to thousands upon thousands;

may your offspring possess

the gates of their enemies.’”

 

Consider the courage of Rebekah!  She left everything she knew to go with a host of strange men to marry a groom she had never met!  On and on they journeyed across wilderness and desert through regions Rebekah had never seen before.  One evening, as the caravan of Abraham’s servant was getting close to home, Isaac was sitting out in the middle of a field.  It was evening, and he was meditating.  Out in the distance, he saw camels coming towards him.  It was a caravan.  He got up and started walking towards it.  Rebekah was on one of those camels, and as they crossed the field, she looked up and saw a man standing there.  It was Isaac.  She climbed down from her camel and said, “‘Who is that man in the field coming the field.’”

The servant answered, “‘He is my master.’”

Rebekah  realized that this was the man she was about to marry.  She covered her face with a veil.

The servant told Isaac all that had happened.  Isaac took her into his tent.  He married Rebekah and lifted her veil to look upon the girl that God had prepared just for him.  The Bible says: “‘She became his wife, and he loved her; and Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.’”

 

Story 24: Melchizedek

Genesis 14

In the dead of night, Abraham and his men went after the four kings. The kings had decimated the corrupt cities of the Jordan River Valley, and now they had taken his own nephew captive.  It was time to act.  Under the cover of darkness, Abram divided his soldiers into two groups and attacked the four kings from two directions.

Imagine Abram’s men moving in deft silence, sneaking up on the clueless soldiers. Imagine the cry of attack and the roars of Abram’s men as they descended on the armies of the four kings.  How terrifying their fury must have been.

Abram’s men utterly defeated Kedorlaomer and his allies that night.  They claimed Lot’s freedom along with all of his possessions.  They also brought back all of the men, women, and children from the five kingdoms that had been plundered.  They had rescued them all from abject poverty and enslavement.

Abram and his men were the great heroes of the entire region.  They had utterly saved the day.  And because they were the ones who won the battle, all of the booty that was taken now belonged to Abram.  According to the rules of their day, all of the animals and gold and silver and even the people that the four kings had captured were now Abram’s.  What would he do with this lavish new wealth?  Would he use this turn of events to rule over the region?  Would he grasp for power or trust the Lord?

The King of Sodom came out to meet with Abram along with a man named Melchizedek.  Melchizedek’s name meant “my king is righteous.” He was the king of Salem, a region that would one day become the home of another great city:  Jerusalem.  He was also a priest of the Most High God.  When the Bible tells of this mysterious and righteous man, it is the first time a priest is mentioned.  He had come to bless Abram for the wondrous victory he had brought to the people of the land.  He had come to celebrate the warrior who fought by faith.  He said:

 

“‘Blessed be Abram by God Most High,

Creator of Heaven and earth.

And blessed be God Most High,

Who delivered your enemies into your hand.’”

Genesis 14:19-20

Let’s stand here for and think upon this high and holy moment.  Here was a man whose position before the LORD was so great that he could bestow blessings down upon Abram, God’s chosen servant!  This priest of God came to place the name of God on Abram.  We might be in danger of thinking that this blessing was just a polite way to honor Abram.  It was much, much more than that.  This blessing was powerful and potent to effect the life of Abram and to cause great good to move forward into his future.  God’s blessings move in history and make things happen.  God was moving in power to take the divine blessings that Noah had blessed on Shem’s line and focus them in on Abram and his descendants!  The line of Japheth would one day find salvation through Abram’s descendants.  The line of Ham through the Canaanites would one day become Abram’s slaves.

These blessings were from the one true God, the Creator, who made all the wondrous things of the entire universe burst out in a dazzling array by speaking words.  He is the one that continually brings life and newness to the hours of each day by His powerful Word.  God’s Words are a magnificent, effective force, and now His Word was being spoken through Melchizedek.  He declared that Abram had the blessing of God.  The same God Who made heaven and earth promised before kings that His creation power would move on Abram’s behalf.

After Melchizedek’s splendid blessing, Abram gave him a tenth of all the plunder.   This priest was a king to his Lord, and he would pay him his dues.  What a meeting of greatness this was!  These were two men of incomparable honor and nobility, and they stood together in the midst of the cursed and chaotic world with the dignity and blessings of God’s divine hand.

But the king of Sodom was an entirely different story.  He ruled over a land of wickedness and horrific sin, and Abram would have nothing to do with him.  This contemptible king came to Abram with a command.  His entire city had been plundered in the war.  His cowardly men had run from the battle scene and allowed an army to invade their city.

By the courage of his men and the work of his God, Abram brought all of those things back, including the men, women, and children of Sodom.  He saved them all.  He was their true hero.  But the king of Sodom did not come with a grateful attitude or a humble spirit.  He came with arrogant demands.  It would have been right for him to wait and listen to Abram, the man to whom he owed so much.  Instead, he jumped in and told Abram that he could keep all of the plunder, but asked him to return his citizens to him.  He had no right to give any instructions, it was not his role to tell Abram what he could keep or not.  He had lost the privilege of rule.

Abram looked at the despicable king and said, “‘I have raised my hand to the LORD, God Most High, Creator of Heaven and Earth, and have taken an oath that I will accept nothing belonging to you, not even the thread of a thong of a sandal, so that you will never be able to say, “I made Abram rich”’” (Gen. 14:22-23).

Wow. Abram knew that the King of Sodom was not a man of honor.  This king’s promises meant nothing; only a fool would trust him.  He was a ruler who led his own people into filth and shame.  Abram wanted to make sure that the glory of all his victories and his wealth went to the LORD.  This horrific man would have no chance to take credit.  Abram was willing to give up any fortune or wealth to protect the honor and image of God.  The blessing of Melchizedek was worth far more than the gold and silver of Sodom!

Abram’s righteous life would continue to reflect the strength and character of God to all the nations that knew his name.  By now, every city and nation of people far and wide would have heard of the righteousness of God’s servant.  Their eyes would have been watching his life.  They would have known his ways.  God was giving the wicked nations of Canaan a bright example of His goodness in Abram.  Would they turn from their wickedness and sin?  Would the king of Sodom think twice about the violence and perversion of his city?  Would Abram’s rebuke cause him to repent and change?  Or would the rebellion continue?

Story 17: Strange Tales: The Honored Ones of God

Matthew 2:1-12

Three wise men

When Prince William and his bride had a baby, it was on the cover of every newspaper and magazine.  The fame and glamour of the royal couple  make them fascinating.  What is interesting is that they don’t actually have a lot of real power or influence.  They are figureheads that represent a fading monarchy. If the Bible is at all true, and I believe it is, the way the all-powerful God of the universe works is very different.   When His Son was born, it was to a blue collar family living in a village.  And to reduce the situation even more, He orchestrated the events of history so that Joseph and Mary would have His child in a stable, far from their home and family.  No palace, no glamour, no accolades from the world.  Yet full of the beauty, humility, and dignity of a loving couple dedicated to protecting their precious newborn.  These are the values of the Lord.  And the Most High God sent His angels into the night sky to declare the wonder and goodness of this amazing new stage in God’s plan to rescue humanity from our terrible devastation.

When the census was over, Mary and Joseph decided to stay in Bethlehem with their infant child instead of returning to Galilee. They found a regular home to live in and began their lives as a young couple. Imagine those first two years as they held and fed and burped and changed the Son of God. The deepest mystery in history joined with the simplest delights of life.

Meanwhile, the ruthless King Herod was reigning in Jerusalem only a few miles away. He ruled over the whole region of Judea. He was not the rightful king of Israel. He did not come from the line of David. He kept his power by pleasing the leaders of Rome who dominated the Jewish people through their military might. Herod often secured his grip of power over them through cruel force and oppression. His evil thirst for control was so thorough and malicious that he killed one of his own wives and their two sons. He was so famous for his brutality that Caesar Augustus himself said, “I would rather be Herod’s pig than his son.” The Jewish people saw and heard rumors of these horrors and shivered. How unlike their God! Everything about Herod violated the good, protective laws of their Lord’s perfect Word. How unlike the coming Messiah was he!  The righteous of Israel cried out for and awaited their deliverance more intensely as Herod continued his evil rule.

One day, a strange caravan of men descended on the city of Jerusalem. They were a group of Magi, members of a priestly caste in the land of Persia. They carried themselves well with the stately dignity and honor of nobility. Jerusalem was a thousand-mile journey for them and by the time they arrived, they had traveled for many months. They brought servants and guards and attendants with them, along with supplies of food and treasure. Their arrival made all of the elite men and women of Jerusalem take notice. Imagine how intrigued they were to learn that the noble men had come on that long, arduous journey to ask a question of King Herod.

For you see, the Magi were great scholars. They studied the stars and science and medicine, and probably magic, too. Many months before when they were still far off in their homeland they had seen a new star rise in the night sky. Its coming told them that a mighty king had been born to the Jewish people. So they went to the king who ruled Israel and asked him where this Child could be found. The Magi had journeyed all those miles to worship Him.

Imagine! The nations were already seeking to bow down before this Savior, this Lord and King! Would the king of Israel do the same?

The Magi assumed that Herod would know who the Baby was. But angels and dreams and revelations had not come to this terrible man. They came to virgin girls and carpenters and widows who prayed. The heralds of the true King of Israel came to poor shepherds and devoted old men. They were the honored ones of His kingdom. And now the message of the Messiah’s coming had appeared in a star to foreigners from a distant land. It was to people such as these that the Messianic King was revealed in glory, not to wretched rulers who oppressed their people.

The news of a newborn king made Herod worry. This Child was a threat to his power! When word spread among the people of Jerusalem about the One the Magi were looking for, they were troubled, too. For you see, the religious leaders and priests were not on the same search as the Magi. They had no real interest in the King of God’s great promises. They had made themselves friends with King Herod. In turn, Herod had rebuilt their Temple. Their positions of control and influence depended on his favor, and they had put their trust in it. They knew that if King Herod fell to another King, they might go with him.

The coming of the Magi could have been a great awakening for these religious leaders. Just as wise old Simeon and Anna rejoiced at the sight of the Savior, they could have been filled with joy at the unfolding of God’s plan. It could have called them back to the great hope of their Scripture. It could have sent them on a great search for their Messiah! Would they realign themselves with God? Would they seek His favor above all else? Or would they continue in their alliance with Herod’s corruption and greed? The silence of Scripture is deafening. It says nothing of anyone in Jerusalem joining the Magi on their quest.

Herod was not even remotely faithful to the Lord, either. But he knew there were prophecies in Scripture that told about a coming Messiah who would reign as King. Could the Child the Magi were looking for be the One? Herod called together the chief priests of the Temple and the teachers who knew the law of God. He asked them where the Christ Child was supposed to be born. They told him that He would come to Bethlehem in Judea, just six miles away from the walls of Jerusalem. Then they quoted verses from the prophet Micah:

“‘But you Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,

are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;

for out of you will come a ruler

who will be the shepherd of my people Israel’”

 The Magi had their answer. They knew exactly where to go.   The only problem was that Herod knew, too! He didn’t like the idea of this Child Ruler, so he came up with a diabolical plan. He called the Magi back to him in secret and asked them when the star had first appeared. He wanted to know how old the Child might be. Then he sent them to Bethlehem to find the boy. He said, “‘Go and make a careful search for the Child. As soon as you find Him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship Him.’” How gentle and reverent this Herod must have seemed! But in his heart he was bent on destroying this Messiah, who the prophets said would sit on the throne of David in Jerusalem.

Did he really believe he could stop the prophecies of God from coming true? Herod was a fool, but he was a dangerous fool. Would the wise men find the Child? Would they lead this evil king to His doorstep?

Imagine the dark night as the Magi made their way down the slopes of the hills that surround Jerusalem. As they drew nearer to the small town of Bethlehem, the star they saw in the east reappeared and went before them as a guide. They rejoiced at the return and reassurance of this brilliant, cosmic sign. God was ordering the universe to point the way to this Child!

The star stopped just above the place where Jesus lived. What must it have been like when they came into Joseph’s humble house and saw the Child with Mary. Finally they had found the One they had come so far to see! Were they filled with overwhelming delight and fierce joy? Here was the One they had travelled so far to see! In their rapturous excitement, they bowed down and worshipped Him. Then they began to unpack their beautiful presents of kingly treasures. It was far more than anything Mary or Joseph had ever been given or even seen before! The Magi presented them with gifts befitting a royal child, the Son of the High King of Heaven. They brought out shimmering gold and the richest incense and myrrh. They were absolutely certain that this Child was the King they were searching for!

Yet the Magi had changed their minds about another king. They had been warned in a dream of Herod’s treacherous ways. They would not tell Herod what they had found in Bethlehem! Imagine their shock when they realized what they had already told Herod!  They knew they could not go back to Jerusalem, so they stole away by another route.  What discussions they must have had about their remarkable quest as they slowly made their way home.  And what they must have told their people about the place the star lead them, the evil king, and the Heir to the throne.

We Three Kings

 

 

 

 

 

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