Teaching Series
Simply Complex
Thursday—Complex Faith

Series: Simply Complex
Message: Complex Faith
Preacher: Japhet De Oliveira
Daily Walk: Japhet De Oliveira

Refresh: Open with prayer. Ask God for the understanding through the Holy Spirit.

Read: Genesis 21–22 (ESV). As you read the English Standard Version, note 1–3 insights or questions. 

Reflect: We have waited so long for this moment. To see the fulfillment of the promise given to Abraham and Sarah. To sense the joy of this couple realizing that their legacy would continue as promised. To sit back now and bask in that moment would be perfect, but that is not the point of the story! In fact, more time was dedicated to Ishmael’s start than to Isaac’s. The story is brought to abrupt end with a cryptic reference to Sarah’s gaze.
    But Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, laughing (Genesis 21:9).

In that moment, we are drawn from the joy of the promise fulfilled to the tragedy that will unfold and to the inevitable test of character and faith that will be put to Abraham. Tangled inside this story and not to be forgotten is that Abraham was once expelled by the Egyptians (Genesis 12:18-20), and he is now expelling Egyptians himself. Not too far in the future, his descendants will become slaves of the Egyptians. Despite Abraham’s choice, it turns out that the name Ishmael means “God hears,” and from the cry in the wilderness they were rescued. 

No sooner are both futures secured than we find ourselves on the top of Mt. Moriah. A few weeks ago, I received an anonymous Biblical enquiry that led the individual to use this story as their example of how God asks us at times to do things that are wrong  (the Duplo approach to the story). The Technic view is that it was a common cultural practice at that time to offer thanks or a sacrifice to a deity. The items offered varied depending on how serious the matter was. Genesis 17:1-2 states that Abraham was supposed to walk blameless before God after the renewal of the covenant. We have just seen that his faith was indeed complex. So for the first time, God put a test before Abraham, and when He asked him to take his son, to sacrifice him, this would not have been a great shock. What is a shock is that God stopped it! Unlike all the other other deities of this time, this One stopped the sacrifice. This One actually provided the sacrifice. This One blesses everyone, even those who don’t understand. This One embraces those who don’t follow Him. This One simply needs us to trust Him. That is why the Bible is simply complex.

Recalibrate: ​​​How can you grow to trust God more today?

Respond: Pray for complex faith.

Research: What is the significance of “laughter” in Genesis 21:9 when compared with the other instances in the story of Abraham.

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