There is one terrifying human experience we all share: bereavement. And whenever that pain is fuelled by regret, it can become, humanly speaking, unbearable. I spent some time reflecting upon a relatively short passage in the Genesis account, because these experiences are timeless and transcend culture.

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There are passages of the Bible which come alive and speak to all the senses. This is one such! Perhaps it is the renaissance art I’ve admired over the years or perhaps its the heart cry of one very flawed father to the perfect Father. But when I read of the sacrifice of Isaac, I see the dagger Abraham holds over his son and the glint of the sun as it catches the blade and travels 2000 years through time to bring light upon the darkness when a spear was thrust in the side of another Son on this spot. It is with relief I hear the Angel of the Lord cry out, and turn with Abraham to see not a glorious angel but an ensnared lamb. He has done it. Isaac is saved by the lamb. As am I. As are you. It is finished. www.biblenovels.com
 

 

It was worth the wait. It’s taken 30+ podcasts to reach this point but yes, it was worth it. This podcast tells of a father who is prepared to sacrifice his son on a hill overlooking a city we’ll come to know as Jerusalem, and of a son who entrusts his life to his father. And it all took place a thousand years before Christ went to the cross on this very spot. If it was a Hollywood script it would be written off as corny. And yet it is history. His story: As the Father gives us a glimpse of what Christ’s death would cost both of them. Every time I read the story, faith rises in my heart. It is the glory of scripture. May faith rise in your heart too. www.biblenovels.com

 

 

It’s worth saying at the outset of this podcast, that I did my research and consulted some Biblical experts, before daring even to intimate that Abraham and Sarah were in any way estranged. But it seems that for a season at least that possibly was the case. Later the fact Abraham wasn’t present when Sarah died and had to travel some distance to attend to her funeral suggests this estrangement could even have been permanent. It shouldn’t surprise us given these are very human characters and the pressures they were under were so immense. But all the same it is on the one hand sad and shocking. On the other hand there is an encouragement here, because whether estranged or not, this wasn’t the end of the story for either of them. God didn’t give up on them, nor were their journeys of faith over. In fact Abraham’s greatest faith triumph was still to come. Be encouraged!

 

 

Anyone who has had a family celebration go bad, will relate to this podcast. What should have been a celebration turned into a nightmare. In fact it was so bad, we’re still talking about it, 4000 years later! Now that’s what I call a bad party! Family dysfunction does that. Unless dealt with, it lies dormant beneath the surface ready to erupt without a moment’s notice. Class, culture, and sadly often even faith doesn’t mitigate the pain and damage done; though of course in the case of faith it could and it should. It’s worth reflecting as you listen what could have been done to prevent the blow up, and then ask what do you need to do to prevent your potential blow up! 

 

 

One story, three players. It is fascinating to reflect upon what was going through the minds of each, as the scene unfolds in this part of the story. We’re all on  journey of faith. All of us, from the apparently secular or pagan, to the evidently Godly. It is true we can remain unmoved by God by what we experience in life, and sadly often do. Worse still it is possible to regress, and slip and slide backwards. But then even the greatest challenges can provoke, inspire and move us, regardless of who we are and where we’re at. In deed the greater the challenge, the greater the opportunity to move ahead in our understanding of God. In my reflection of this part of the story: Abraham struggles, Sarah blossoms and Abimelech, the pagan king, surprises us all. Each day, every experience is an opportunity for you and me to move on. Let’s take this opportunity.

 

 

Well done for sticking with this story! it doesn’t make easy listening! But then we don’t live in the small small world of Disney. We live in a hugely complex world in which we need to make decisions with significant consequences not only for ourselves but those we love. And to make matters worse we only get one shot at life. Blow this one and there is no rewind button. What we do have though is a Father in heaven to whom we can turn for guidance through those decisions and help to navigate the messes when we get them wrong. The Bible and stories like that of Abraham reveal something of His heart and mind and teach us how best to respond in our culture and context

 

On the face of it this isn’t the most uplifting of episodes. Desperation and doubt, failure and fear: all lead to a series of poor and at times quite hideous decisions. We’ve just seen how absolute God’s judgment is. And yet here, as everyone tries to get on with life in the aftermath of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, we see how low life can get without Him. Ordinarily both God’s presence and His absence is a fearful thing, albeit for very different reasons. But in Christ, we can know Him in all holiness and beauty, both intimately and safely. And then life has a purity and purpose again. There is one character in this episode who foretells something of the promises of life in all its fulness that we find in Jesus; it’s joys and hopes despite our circumstances. For Sarah her dreams are about to come true, albeit in the context of being badly let down by her husband again!

 
 

 
 
The aftermath of God’s judgment on Sodom was desperate. Lot was broken by it. And Abraham sets out on the road again, with more tragic consequences. Was he running away? Well you couldn’t blame him. All he could see was what lay in front of him and it was awful. I’m reminded once more, as so often with Abraham’s story, of the cross of Christ. How terrible was the darkness the morning after Christ’s crucifixion. Again the scene of God’s judgment, this time focused on His Son. The horror, confusion, and utter abject loss. Never was a darkness quite so dark. And yet it was not the end. Light would shine in darkness, hope would spring again and eternally. In fact it is in walking through the valley of death that we know and learn to appreciate His presence. As the hymn writer says t is as we trace the rainbow through the rain, we know the promise is not vain: that morn shall tearless be. You can find free daily bible reading notes on the story of Abraham at biblenovels.com
 
 

 
 
If you’re listening from a western context at least, you’re likely to find this podcast pretty counter-cultural. It deals with God’s judgment on the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, and we’re simply not used to judgment these days. To judge is to imply you and your opinions are superior to others and you have the right to impose them upon others. This we see as arrogant and presumptuous. We judge those who judge severely! And yet, the Christian gospel is one of judgment. It tells of a holy God who demands perfection. Our failure to live up to expectations is punished most severely. And yet our God of perfect holiness is also the God of perfect love, and He takes that punishment on Himself so we can go free, forgiven, absolved absolutely.  To miss or underplay this truth is to cut the very heart out of the gospel and it’s glorious impact upon our lives. To understand it fully, we need to read and reflect upon passages like this. It is though our privilege to do so through the lens of the cross of Christ, and in so doing the we grasp that bit more of the wonder of the cross of Christ. biblenovels.com