Posts Tagged ‘hagar’

Genesis 48

11 Israel said to Joseph, “I never expected to see your face again, and now God has allowed me to see your children too.”

15 Then he blessed Joseph and said,
   “May the God before whom my fathers 
  
Abraham and Isaac walked faithfully,

the God who has been my shepherd 
  
all my life to this day,

16 the Angel who has delivered me from all harm 
  
   —may he bless these boys.

May they be called by my name 
  
and the names of my fathers Abraham and Isaac, 
and may they increase greatly 
  
on the earth.”

Genesis is a beginning.  Literally.  Genesis opens with the phrase “In the beginning,” or “At first.”  But as is often the case the beginning is … just the first thing in a series of many things.  So Genesis is a beginning, and it’s a journey- a middle.

We’ve met lots of people- Adam and Eve, Cain, Abel, Seth, Noah, Abram, Sarai, Lot, Lot’s daughters, Isaac, Isaac’s servant, Jacob, Esau, Laban, Rachel, Leah, Rueben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, (and Tamar), Zebulun, Issachar, Dan, Gad, Asher, Naphtali, Joseph and Benjamin.  We’ve met Potipher, the Egyptian Royal captain, and his cougar-wife.  We’ve met a royal baker, and a royal cup-bearer.  Pharaoh himself.  But he’s not the first king- we’ve also met the mysterious Malchizekek.

But we’ve also met somebody else.  Creator God, who speaks and creates, and hovers over unformed things.  Creator God who builds and creates and proliferates LIFE.  God, who walks in the garden in the cool of the afternoon relishing what He finds to be very good.  An all-powerful God who creates a community to spend time with, and enjoy.  An all powerful God who makes us free to love Him back, or … not.

The God who sews garments to cover up something He made good, because of the fear that sin created.  The God who, when disobeyed, rather than retaliate and answer in wrath, promises to set things right, and keeps things from getting any worse.  The angel with the sword flashing back and forth between us and the Garden of Eden.

We meet his presence in angels- messengers.  Messengers who come to break through the barriers and communicate God’s promises, over and over.  Despite rebellion.  Despite disbelief.

And we meet God, a shepherd.

As Israel lays in his bed, he places himself in the role of a sheep- and tells Joseph that God has been his shepherd.

After all the things Israel has experienced, after all the different ways He has experienced God, and God’s presence in his life, this is how he describes God.  A shepherd.

The lasting words of God reverberate in that description: I will be with you.

God is introducing himself to you, right now, today.  Not as somebody who will shepherd you.  But as somebody who always has.  God is a shepherd.  He is guiding you to safe places to lie down.  He is choosing ripe, green grass for you.  He finds a place where you can wade in the water and drink without fear of predators, without fear of drowning.  You may wander out of sight, and get lost, get stuck, get tired.  But he is the Good Shepherd and He will come out, leaving the flock to find you.  You will hear his voice, and call to him, and he will pull you from the mud, pull you from the briar- and return you on his shoulders to where you are safe.

This is the God of Genesis.  He’s a fixer.  He’s a lookout.  He’s a shepherd.

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Names

Posted: August 29, 2011 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

I’ve been thinking about names recently.  Now, don’t jump to conclusions, we’re not having a baby.

I’ve been thinking a lot about names because it seems to be that people who claim to follow Jesus as Lord seem pretty hung up on his name.  And for good cause.  I mean how many big time evils have been committed by people who claimed to speak for God?  For Jesus?  But absolutely did NOT represent who God and Jesus evidenced themselves to be?

So we want specifics.  Do you believe in God?  Which God?  What’s His name?  Can you point out evidence that you and I believe in the same God?  Maybe if you would tell me your political views?  Or perhaps if I could just peek at your bank statements, and see how you spend your money?  Or look at your web-browsers history folder?  How do I know you and me are talking about the same thing?

There’s a guy on the internet that I used to follow.  He is a very prolific writer, and the way he seems to universalize Buddhism and Christianity and Islam mystifies me.  It’s perplexing to me, because when I read his posts it seems like he talks about Jesus so much, but when he talks about things Jesus said or did as recorded in a particular passage of scripture he seems to lift it straight up out of the story and allegorize it to the point that it wouldn’t drop back into the same spot and make sense anymore with his translation.  So who is he talking about?  How can I tell if he’s talking about the Jesus I know?

It occurred to me the other day- I was reading over the story of Hagar.  When Sarah and Abraham couldn’t have any children, Sarah invited her husband to sleep with her servant, Hagar, and have a child by her.  But then when Hagar conceived and gave birth to a son, Sarah grew spiteful, and sent her away.

Hagar wandered in the desert 3 days, but when she could go no further, set the baby under a bush and walked a short distance off.  And God came to her.  Rescued her.  Sent her back.  Hagar named her newfound God “The God who Sees Me.”

Abraham plants a tamarisk tree to mark an agreement with his nephew Lot.  It serves as a memorial and a witness- a physical reminder of the divine witness that God plays- a crucial part of in any oath between men, and Abraham and Lot agree and part ways, witnessed by “Everlasting God.”

God is referred to by many, many names.  “God who provides,” “God who heals us”.

So who exactly are we talking about?  Hagar comes up to Abraham and says, “Hey- my God is the “God who sees Me.”  And Abraham says, “Oh yeah?!  Well MY God is “Everlasting God.”

You and I know they are the same.  But how do Hagar and Abraham get to that?

God’s Names are always attached to an action.  There is physical evidence of who God is.  That is how I’ll know.  Where the spirit of God is, there is Freedom.  The fruit of the Spirit of God is known by action.  If these things are present, Jesus is also there.  Maybe, Jesus is waiting for someone to recognize him and name him.

Can I bring Jesus somewhere?  Can I put him someplace he has never been?

I see now that I cannot.  Jesus is shown in scripture to be the Word that was with God, and is himself God, from before eternity.  He is the end of all things- all things are made by him, and for him, and indeed held together by him.  If there is someplace where he hasn’t been- well, it’s not a place.  It’s not there.  He holds all things.

So if I identify truth, or justice, mercy, sacrifice, if I find people who value and uphold justice, humility, and self-lessness, I see the Spirit of Jesus present and at work.  I need only identify him.  And identify with him.  I suppose that’s how they’ll who I am, and who I am talking about.