Old Testament Reading Guide -February 6-12, 2012

How do I use this reading guide?

Genesis 19:1-29            Judgment Comes to Sodom & Gomorrah    

What does Lot do that mimics what Abraham had done when visited by three strangers?
[“… he got up to meet them and bowed down with his face to the ground.” (v. 19:1 NIV)   He then urges,  or rather insists, that they spend the night at his house where he can prepare a meal for them and give them refreshment.]

What demand is made of Lot by the men of the city of Sodom?
(v. 19:5)

What bargain does Lot try to make with the men of Sodom in exchange for his visitors?
[Lot offers his two virgin daughters to the depraved men of Sodom only to protect his visitors.  Lot does “a shocking, cowardly, and inexcusable act (even if he intended this only as a bluff, or expected the offer to be rejected).  The reaction of the crowd only confirms the truly evil nature of their intentions.” (From the ESV Study Bible notes p. 83)

What charge do the men of Sodom bring against Lot?
[“This fellow came here as an alien, and now he wants to play the judge!” (v. 19:9 NIV)

What do Lot’s visitors do to the men of Sodom in retaliation?
[They reached out and pulled Lot back into the house and struck all the men outside with blindness. (v. 19:10)]

What is the mission of Lot’s two visitors?
[“… we are going to destroy this place.  The outcry to the LORD against its people is so great that he has sent us to destroy it.” (v. 19:13 NIV)

What do we learn about Lot’s two virgin daughters in verse 14?
[We find out that they are engaged (betrothed).]

Lot tries urgently to warn his prospective sons-in-law about the destruction about to be visited on Sodom.  What is their reaction to the news?
(v. 19:14)

The visiting angels are fierce in their mission to save Lot and his family.  What do they do to hurry Lot’s departure from Sodom?  Why?
[“When he {Lot} hesitated, the men grasped his hand and the hands of his wife and of his two daughters and led them safely out of the city, for the Lord was merciful to them.” (v. 19:16 NIV)]

What is the parting warning given to Lot by the visiting angels?
[“Flee for your lives!  Don’t look back, and don’t stop anywhere in the plain.  Flee to the mountains or you will be swept away!” (v. 19:17 NIV)  The command “Don’t look back…” will be crucial in a few verses to follow.]

Verses 19:18-22 speak of a bargain of sorts that Lot makes with the angels.  Lot thinks that he is unable to make it to the mountains before the judgment befalls Sodom, and so suggests that he be allowed to go to “Zoar” (meaning “small”) to wait out the planned calamity.  Here the angels tell him that he must hurry “because I cannot do anything until you reach it.” (v. 19:22 NIV)  That begs the question: why would Lot not have enough time to get to the mountains?  The angel was going to wait anyway…  (I don’t know the answer to that one. j.t.)  So the LORD rains down destruction on both Sodom and Gomorrah and wipes out every form of life there.

What was Mrs. Lot’s fatal mistake?
[“But Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.” (v. 19:26 NIV)  Jesus refers to Lot’s wife in Luke 17:30-32.]

Abraham sees the destruction from afar and from his perspective it is like dense smoke as from a furnace.  The important phrase in verse 29 is “he [God] remembered Abraham…”

Genesis 21:1-21             The Birth of Isaac (“God has brought me laughter”)

Speaking of “remembering Abraham” it is now about a year later and…  What promise was fulfilled?
[“Now the LORD was gracious to Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did for Sarah what he had promised.  Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the very time God had promised him.  Abraham gave the name Isaac to the son Sarah bore him. (v. 21:1-3 NIV)

Keep in mind that names were very significant in biblical times.  What does “Isaac” mean?
[From the footnotes in the NIV we learn that Isaac means “he laughs”.]

What is significant about Isaac’s name?
[Way back in Chapter 17 the LORD announced to Abraham that he would have a son by Sarah.  Abraham prostrated himself in homage to the Lord but while in that position he sniggered thinking, “Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old?” (v. 17:17 NIV).  Abraham denied laughing but thought the notion of having a baby at age 100 ludicrous.  Interestingly, and unaware of what Abraham had done, once Sarah had heard this good news her reaction was very much the same as her husband’s.]

Sarah and Hagar go head-to-head once again but this time Sarah has a bargaining chip.  What does Sarah demand of Abraham and what promises does the Lord make to him (two promises)?
[Sarah demands that Abraham send Hagar and Ishmael away; the Lord reiterates that “it is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned”; and “I will make the son of the maidservant into a nation also, because he is your offspring.” (vv. 21:12-13 NIV) emphasis added]

So, the next morning, Abraham sends Hagar and Ishmael off with some provisions and “a skin of water”.  The two wander in the desert until the water was gone and then they sat down to die.  She saw a “bowshot” away from her son because she could not watch the boy die.  What happens next?  What is the significance of “bowshot”?
[Hagar and Ishmael were not present when the LORD had promised Abraham that he would make of Ishmael a great nation for they were despondent.  An angel of the LORD opened Hagar’s eyes to reveal a well of water.  The LORD, at that time, made to Hagar the same promise regarding Ishmael as he had made to Abraham.  The “bowshot” is significant because in time Ishmael will become an archer. (v. 21:20)]

Genesis 22:1-18              Isaac’s Life on the Line

What great demand does the LORD make of Abraham?  Considering the demand, what must Abraham believe the LORD will do?  What very innocent question does Isaac raise?  What is Abraham’s answer to this?
[The LORD demands (asks) Abraham to take his only son and offer him as a burnt offering.  While the Bible does not tell us this, it is reasonable to assume that Abraham must have believed that the LORD would raise his son from the dead after the sacrifice if the LORD were to be true to his promises.  Isaac: “The fire and wood are here, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” (v. 22:7 NIV)  Abraham: “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering.” (v. 22:8)

What is the LORD’s response to Abraham’s obedience? 
[“… the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, ‘Abraham! Abraham!’  ‘Here I am,’ he replied. ‘Do not lay a hand on the boy,’ he said.  ‘Do not do anything to him.  Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son. … ‘I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore….’ (vv. 22:11-12; 16-17 NIV)]

Christians can easily see a parallel between this event and the event of Jesus’ death with one major difference.  While God stayed Abraham’s hand as he was about to offer his son on the altar, the LORD did not stay his own hand from offering his son, his only son on Calvary.  Interestingly enough, these two events, though separated by hundreds of years, occur in virtually the same place.  It is believed that the Temple (The Dome of the Rock) was built on the very place where Abraham was to offer up Isaac.

Genesis 23:1-20          The Death and Burial of Sarah

How old was Sarah when she died?  (How old then was Isaac?  How old was Abraham at this time?)
[Sarah was 127 years old when she died.  Isaac then would have to be thirty-seven years old.  Abraham would be been 137 years old.)

Notice the deference that Abraham displays as he buys the property he needs in order to bury Sarah.  How do the Hittites view Abraham?

How much money does Abraham pay for the land?
[Abraham paid four hundred shekels (or about ten pounds) of silver for the land.]

Genesis 24:1-27           Isaac and Rebekah

Isaac was pushing forty and Abraham was “now old and well advanced in years” and he reckoned that it was time to find a bride for Isaac.  One cannot have a great nation if one does not have children.  A wife comes in handy when it comes to child-bearing.  Abraham enlists the aid of his chief servant in this endeavor and makes him take an oath.  What is the unusual nature of this oath (unusual to us, that is)?
[Abraham makes the servant put his hand under Abraham’s thigh to swear.  He promises not to find a wife from among the Canaanites, but to go to Abraham’s ancestral homeland to search.]

Why is Abraham so adamant about Isaac’s not going back to the land of the Chaldeans (Abraham’s ancestral home)?
[“The LORD … will send his angel before you so that you can get a wife for my son from there.” (v. 24:7)  I think it may have to do with “going backwards”.  Remember Lot’s wife who looked back.  The Lord called Abraham out of Ur (of the Chaldeans) and brought him to Canaan with the promise that one day his posterity will possess that land.  He didn’t want to “go back”. – j.t.]

Once the servant enters the town of Nahor (in the land of Abraham’s birth) what does he pray?
[“Then he prayed, ‘O LORD, God of my master Abraham, give me success today, and show kindness to my master Abraham.  See, I am standing beside this spring, and the daughters of the townspeople are coming out to draw water.  May it be that when I say to a girl, “Please let down your jar that I may have a drink,” and she says, “Drink, and I’ll water your camels too” – let her be the one you have chosen for your servant Isaac.  By this I will know that you have shown kindness to my master.’” (v. 24:12-14 NIV)]

As it happens Abraham’s servant stumbles right in the middle of Abraham’s distant family.  Rebekah is the girl who happens to be drawing the water that evening.  She is granddaughter to Nahor (who, if you remember, is Abraham’s brother – still confusing).

What does Abraham’s servant do to Rebekah?
[He gives her a gold nose ring and a couple of bracelets.  This amounted to engagement by proxy.  He was making a pledge for Isaac to Rebekah.  Now all he needed her to do was to accept.]

Genesis 24:28-51            The Engagement is Finalized

Hospitality is shown to Abraham’s servant (quite unlike the kind of hospitality we are accustomed to today).  The servant then replays the events that had just happened outside.  Whom do we meet for the first time?
[We meet Rebekah’s brother Laban.  He will be instrumental in the story of Jacob many years later.]

What is Laban and Bethuel’s response to the servant’s offer of Isaac as husband to Rebekah?
[“Laban and Bethuel answered, ‘This is from the LORD; we can say nothing to you one way or the other.  Here is Rebekah; take her and go, and let her become the wife of your master’s son, as the LORD has directed.’” (v. 24:50-51 NIV)]

Genesis 24:52-67            Rebekah Leaves for Her New Home.

Abraham’s servant then showered Bethuel and Laban with the riches Abraham had sent along.  Kind of like sealing the deal.

The next morning Abraham’s servant was fully prepared to return to Abraham.  What was Bethuel and Laban’s delay?
[Bethuel and Laban wanted Rebekah to remain at home another ten days.]

The servant of Abraham has a sense of urgency in his departure. I think that he may be afraid that Bethuel and Laban may change their minds, or worse, that Abraham may die in the meantime.  The truth is the scripture does not tell us.

Who gets the final decision?
[Rebekah had the final say.  I think that that was unusual.  In a patriarchal society (such as that one) the women very rarely had any say over their futures.]

How does this story culminate?
[There was Isaac meditating in the field and he notices camels afar off approaching.  He then goes out to meet the small caravan.  Rebekah asks Abraham’s servant who is approaching and he tells her that it is Isaac (the son of) his master.  She covers her face with a veil and then goes off with Isaac into Sarah’s tent and Isaac then marries Rebekah.  The bible tells us that Isaac was then comforted after his mother’s death.]


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