9 January 2018 Bible Reading
Our capacity for self destruction is limitless, frustrating, and something we don’t deal with honestly enough.
We understand very well the consequences of drugs and alcohol, although we do the most damage to our bodies by simply eating too much food (causing far more problems than drugs and alcohol ever could). But our inability to control our sexual urges is probably the most self destructive thing of all… ruining relationships and lives on a regular basis. God created sex and intends for it to be a pleasurable, healthy, and regular part of our lives, but not in a way where we allow reason to be overrun by hormones and emotions.
The reading from Proverbs warns men against the temptations associated with beautiful women, but the inverse can surely apply for women who look too hard and long at a good looking guy.
The reading from Genesis touches on the same problem, but from a different perspective. This lie had serious consequences for Sarah, Abraham, Abimelech and his household. God’s intervention eliminates any doubt as to the father of the son soon to be born to Sarah.
20 Abraham traveled from there toward the land of the South, and lived between Kadesh and Shur. He lived as a foreigner in Gerar. 2 Abraham said about Sarah his wife, “She is my sister.” Abimelech king of Gerar sent, and took Sarah. 3 But God came to Abimelech in a dream of the night, and said to him, “Behold, you are a dead man, because of the woman whom you have taken. For she is a man’s wife.”
4 Now Abimelech had not come near her. He said, “Lord, will you kill even a righteous nation? 5 Didn’t he tell me, ‘She is my sister?’ She, even she herself, said, ‘He is my brother.’ In the integrity of my heart and the innocence of my hands have I done this.”
6 God said to him in the dream, “Yes, I know that in the integrity of your heart you have done this, and I also withheld you from sinning against me. Therefore I didn’t allow you to touch her. 7 Now therefore, restore the man’s wife. For he is a prophet, and he will pray for you, and you will live. If you don’t restore her, know for sure that you will die, you, and all who are yours.”
8 Abimelech rose early in the morning, and called all his servants, and told all these things in their ear. The men were very scared. 9 Then Abimelech called Abraham, and said to him, “What have you done to us? How have I sinned against you, that you have brought on me and on my kingdom a great sin? You have done deeds to me that ought not to be done!” 10 Abimelech said to Abraham, “What did you see, that you have done this thing?”
11 Abraham said, “Because I thought, ‘Surely the fear of God is not in this place. They will kill me for my wife’s sake.’ 12 Besides, she is indeed my sister, the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother; and she became my wife. 13 When God caused me to wander from my father’s house, I said to her, ‘This is your kindness which you shall show to me. Everywhere that we go, say of me, “He is my brother.”’”
14 Abimelech took sheep and cattle, male servants and female servants, and gave them to Abraham, and restored Sarah, his wife, to him. 15 Abimelech said, “Behold, my land is before you. Dwell where it pleases you.” 16 To Sarah he said, “Behold, I have given your brother a thousand pieces of silver. Behold, it is for you a covering of the eyes to all that are with you. In front of all you are vindicated.”
17 Abraham prayed to God. God healed Abimelech, and his wife, and his female servants, and they bore children. 18 For Yahweh had closed up tight all the wombs of the house of Abimelech, because of Sarah, Abraham’s wife.
21 Yahweh visited Sarah as he had said, and Yahweh did to Sarah as he had spoken. 2 Sarah conceived, and bore Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him. 3 Abraham called his son who was born to him, whom Sarah bore to him, Isaac. 4 Abraham circumcised his son, Isaac, when he was eight days old, as God had commanded him. 5 Abraham was one hundred years old when his son, Isaac, was born to him. 6 Sarah said, “God has made me laugh. Everyone who hears will laugh with me.” 7 She said, “Who would have said to Abraham, that Sarah would nurse children? For I have borne him a son in his old age.”
8 The child grew, and was weaned. Abraham made a great feast on the day that Isaac was weaned. 9 Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, mocking. 10 Therefore she said to Abraham, “Cast out this servant and her son! For the son of this servant will not be heir with my son, Isaac.”
11 The thing was very grievous in Abraham’s sight on account of his son. 12 God said to Abraham, “Don’t let it be grievous in your sight because of the boy, and because of your servant. In all that Sarah says to you, listen to her voice. For your offspring will be accounted as from Isaac. 13 I will also make a nation of the son of the servant, because he is your child.” 14 Abraham rose up early in the morning, and took bread and a bottle of water, and gave it to Hagar, putting it on her shoulder; and gave her the child, and sent her away. She departed, and wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba. 15 The water in the bottle was spent, and she cast the child under one of the shrubs. 16 She went and sat down opposite him, a good way off, about a bow shot away. For she said, “Don’t let me see the death of the child.” She sat over against him, and lifted up her voice, and wept. 17 God heard the voice of the boy.
The angel of God called to Hagar out of the sky, and said to her, “What ails you, Hagar? Don’t be afraid. For God has heard the voice of the boy where he is. 18 Get up, lift up the boy, and hold him in your hand. For I will make him a great nation.”
19 God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water. She went, filled the bottle with water, and gave the boy drink. 20 God was with the boy, and he grew. He lived in the wilderness, and became, as he grew up, an archer. 21 He lived in the wilderness of Paran. His mother took a wife for him out of the land of Egypt.
22 At that time, Abimelech and Phicol the captain of his army spoke to Abraham, saying, “God is with you in all that you do. 23 Now, therefore, swear to me here by God that you will not deal falsely with me, nor with my son, nor with my son’s son. But according to the kindness that I have done to you, you shall do to me, and to the land in which you have lived as a foreigner.”
24 Abraham said, “I will swear.” 25 Abraham complained to Abimelech because of a water well, which Abimelech’s servants had violently taken away. 26 Abimelech said, “I don’t know who has done this thing. You didn’t tell me, and I didn’t hear of it until today.”
27 Abraham took sheep and cattle, and gave them to Abimelech. Those two made a covenant. 28 Abraham set seven ewe lambs of the flock by themselves. 29 Abimelech said to Abraham, “What do these seven ewe lambs which you have set by themselves mean?”
30 He said, “You shall take these seven ewe lambs from my hand, that it may be a witness to me, that I have dug this well.” 31 Therefore he called that place Beersheba, because they both swore there. 32 So they made a covenant at Beersheba. Abimelech rose up with Phicol, the captain of his army, and they returned into the land of the Philistines. 33 Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba, and called there on the name of Yahweh, the Everlasting God. 34 Abraham lived as a foreigner in the land of the Philistines many days.
22 After these things, God tested Abraham, and said to him, “Abraham!”
He said, “Here I am.”
2 He said, “Now take your son, your only son, whom you love, even Isaac, and go into the land of Moriah. Offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains which I will tell you of.”
3 Abraham rose early in the morning, and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son. He split the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went to the place of which God had told him. 4 On the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place far off. 5 Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey. The boy and I will go yonder. We will worship, and come back to you.” 6 Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son. He took in his hand the fire and the knife. They both went together. 7 Isaac spoke to Abraham his father, and said, “My father?”
He said, “Here I am, my son.”
He said, “Here is the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?”
8 Abraham said, “God will provide himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So they both went together. 9 They came to the place which God had told him of. Abraham built the altar there, and laid the wood in order, bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar, on the wood. 10 Abraham stretched out his hand, and took the knife to kill his son.
11 Yahweh’s angel called to him out of the sky, and said, “Abraham, Abraham!”
He said, “Here I am.”
12 He said, “Don’t lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him. For now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.”
13 Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and saw that behind him was a ram caught in the thicket by his horns. Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 Abraham called the name of that place Yahweh Will Provide. As it is said to this day, “On Yahweh’s mountain, it will be provided.”
15 Yahweh’s angel called to Abraham a second time out of the sky, 16 and said, “I have sworn by myself, says Yahweh, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 that I will bless you greatly, and I will multiply your offspring greatly like the stars of the heavens, and like the sand which is on the seashore. Your offspring will possess the gate of his enemies. 18 All the nations of the earth will be blessed by your offspring, because you have obeyed my voice.”
19 So Abraham returned to his young men, and they rose up and went together to Beersheba. Abraham lived at Beersheba.
20 After these things, Abraham was told, “Behold, Milcah, she also has borne children to your brother Nahor: 21 Uz his firstborn, Buz his brother, Kemuel the father of Aram, 22 Chesed, Hazo, Pildash, Jidlaph, and Bethuel.” 23 Bethuel became the father of Rebekah. These eight Milcah bore to Nahor, Abraham’s brother. 24 His concubine, whose name was Reumah, also bore Tebah, Gaham, Tahash, and Maacah.
15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravening wolves. 16 By their fruits you will know them. Do you gather grapes from thorns, or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree produces good fruit; but the corrupt tree produces evil fruit. 18 A good tree can’t produce evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree produce good fruit. 19 Every tree that doesn’t grow good fruit is cut down, and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them. 21 Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven; but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will tell me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name, in your name cast out demons, and in your name do many mighty works?’ 23 Then I will tell them, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you who work iniquity.’
24 “Everyone therefore who hears these words of mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man, who built his house on a rock. 25 The rain came down, the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat on that house; and it didn’t fall, for it was founded on the rock. 26 Everyone who hears these words of mine, and doesn’t do them will be like a foolish man, who built his house on the sand. 27 The rain came down, the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat on that house; and it fell—and great was its fall.”
28 When Jesus had finished saying these things, the multitudes were astonished at his teaching, 29 for he taught them with authority, and not like the scribes.
For the Chief Musician. Set to “The Death of the Son.” A Psalm by David.
9 I will give thanks to Yahweh with my whole heart.
I will tell of all your marvelous works.
2 I will be glad and rejoice in you.
I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.
3 When my enemies turn back,
they stumble and perish in your presence.
4 For you have maintained my just cause.
You sit on the throne judging righteously.
5 You have rebuked the nations.
You have destroyed the wicked.
You have blotted out their name forever and ever.
6 The enemy is overtaken by endless ruin.
The very memory of the cities which you have overthrown has perished.
7 But Yahweh reigns forever.
He has prepared his throne for judgment.
8 He will judge the world in righteousness.
He will administer judgment to the peoples in uprightness.
9 Yahweh will also be a high tower for the oppressed;
a high tower in times of trouble.
10 Those who know your name will put their trust in you,
for you, Yahweh, have not forsaken those who seek you.
11 Sing praises to Yahweh, who dwells in Zion,
and declare among the people what he has done.
12 For he who avenges blood remembers them.
He doesn’t forget the cry of the afflicted.
16 To deliver you from the strange woman,
even from the foreigner who flatters with her words;
17 who forsakes the friend of her youth,
and forgets the covenant of her God:
18 for her house leads down to death,
her paths to the departed spirits.
19 None who go to her return again,
neither do they attain to the paths of life:
20 that you may walk in the way of good men,
and keep the paths of the righteous.
21 For the upright will dwell in the land.
The perfect will remain in it.
22 But the wicked will be cut off from the land.
The treacherous will be rooted out of it.