Sermons on Genesis
Gen 29:31 – 30:24 The subject of this week’s text is children. The promise of children was a significant driving force in God’s covenant to Abraham, especially when given to barren women like Sarah and Rebekah. What follows is a very surprising birth narrative of Jacob’s twelve children, and with it we discover how two wounded women learn to connect with God. These two sisters give voice to the question, “Can children make you happy? At what price?” After we examine this question we will address the theme of children in the context of the New Covenant.
Gen 29:15-30 Anyone who is married knows it doesn’t take long to wake up from the dream-like world of the honeymoon and discover you married a sinner. For some, the revelation of these changes can be so dramatic that they may even question the sanctity of the marriage. No one woke up to the fact that he had in fact married the wrong girl as quickly as Jacob. Can you imagine the initial shock to wake up after your wedding night only to find the bride’s sister in your bed? The question our text addresses is, “Can we be blessed by God if we are seemingly trapped in an unhappy marriage?”
Gen 29:1-20 Jacob’s heavenly encounter with God and angels at Bethel has energized him as he journeys to Haran with eager anticipation of what God might have in store. Approaching the city, he encounters a beautiful girl by a well, a typical scene in the Bible that initiates a betrothal. The story strikes a resonant chord in every man, who wants to be a “prince charming”, and every woman who longs to be a beauty worth searching for. But deeper still, the story speaks to the longing of our hearts to be sought and courted by God.
Gen 28:10-22 We come to place in the Jacob story that is every parent’s nightmare, when a son or daughter goes off into exile. The conditions are anything but ideal. “The security of the sun has been replaced by the dangers of night. The comfort of his parents’ tents has been replaced by a rock. Behind him lays Beersheba, where Esau waits to kill him; ahead of him is Haran, where Laban waits to exploit him. He is situated between a death camp and a hard-labor camp” (Bruce Waltke). Though terrifying, exile can be a place of profound transformation. When we are offstage in extreme loneliness, we are better to hear the tender voice of God pursuing us. Once Jacob hears God’s word, his ordinary journey is transformed into a holy pilgrimage. May it be true of us as well.
Gen 27:1-29 In this week’s text we are drawn into the intimacies of a sacred meal where the patriarchal blessing, with all its eternal promises, will be passed down from one generation to the next through the chosen son. Sadly however, the sanctity of the occasion is crushed by dysfunctional family dynamics, where each party serves their personal interests through deceit, blasphemy, manipulation, and a literal “coverup.” How will God intervene to further his kingdom when the chosen family has all but denied God’s presence? There is so much in this text that speaks to family dynamics, birth order, competition, favoritism and the “coveted blessing” we all long for. I wish I had three weeks to tease our all of its implications.
Gen 25:19-34 This week we begin a new series on the Life of Jacob: Encountering God in the ordinary and often messy stuff of life. Paul Stevens writes, “As we travel through all the stages of Jacob’s life we discover that God is with Jacob in every aspect of his journey. The Bible is not an instruction manual that contains principles of spirituality. It is a story, a story about God in search of humankind and his progressive establishment of his kingdom on earth. And the amazing thing about this God is that he condescends to come right into the midst of our mundane, messy worlds of home, work and play as the stage where this ‘holy’ work occurs.” Each week we will discover how God is at work forging Jacob’s identity in the midst of a very dysfunctional and fragmented family, one that may be strikingly similar to our own.
Genesis 22 This week we come to the climax of the Abraham and Sarah story. In what has been called the most difficult passage in the entire Bible, we come to the binding of Isaac. Way back in chapter 12, God calls Abraham and Sarah to cut themselves off from their past. Here in chapter 22, God calls them to cut themselves off from the future. It’s a monstrous test from God to Abraham, one in which we struggle to find the words to understand. But, could it be that through this uncomfortable, even horrific test, we make the ultimate discovery about God?
Genesis 21 Do you live a life of wonder and amazement at God’s great gifts? Is anything too wonderful for the Lord? After a long 25-year wait, the promised baby finally arrives and, wonder of wonders, it’s a boy! Sarah responds in wonder and amazement at God’s great gift. However, not everyone is happy with the new baby. But even in the turmoil and conflict we discover another wonder-ful attribute of God – he hears all our prayers. Wonder upon wonder and every wonder true! Come this Sunday full of wonder at God’s great gifts, then share them during our time of body life.
Genesis 19 Genesis 19:1-29 Last week we saw that God came down to investigate whether Sodom was indeed wicked. On his way to Sodom, he stopped to see Abraham and Sarah. And, we saw Abraham’s hospitality on full display. In chapter 19, the two angels arrive at Sodom, and they find the people of Sodom not very hospitable. In fact, they are very wicked and depraved. They are living by the motto: No one tells us how to live our lives. So, God judges them. However, within God’s judgment, we find deliverance. Lot is delivered for the sake of Abraham. The story ultimately reminds us today of our deliverance from sin, evil and death through Jesus Christ, who gave his life as a ransom for all (1 Timothy 2:6).
Genesis 18 After God’s promises to Abraham last week, we expect chapter 18 to be the birth of Isaac. But, it is not. Lot enters the picture again and will be the main focus of the next two chapters. (Remember he has moved into the wicked city of Sodom.) But God, in his great love and mercy, initiates contact again with Abraham and Sarah. They’ve done nothing to deserve all this attention. Yet, God continues to initiate. And, in this week’s text, he initiates contact disguised as strangers, even angels. How will Abraham and Sarah respond this time? Both of their responses become quite instructive for us. But, through it all, we continue to learn about God and his character.
Genesis 17 This week we return to the covenant. God had already entered into a covenant with Abram in chapter 15. Chapter 17 completes it. God wants Abram and Sarai to be active partners with him in his work. But, what does it look like to be an active partner with the living God? In other words, what marks us out who partner with him by faith? (Here’s one hint – this is baptism Sunday.) What is amazing is that this chapter stands alone in the Old Testament as containing five long and elaborate speeches by God himself.
Genesis 16 God made extraordinary promises to Abram and Sarai, but it has been ten long years and still no hint of fulfillment. They have grown weary of the wait. They are desperate people in a desperate situation, and they do what desperate people do in desperate situations. They act! But, they act without consulting God, which ultimately sets in motion the most hostile conflict in world history. But, within all the brokenness and fear and pain of not waiting (in trust), we still find hope. We find a “God who sees.”