I knew we would take two weeks to go through the story of Abraham – he is probably the second most important human being in the Bible. It was a really good two weeks on this story (we’ve been on the Patriarchs since Monday). We stuck to the Old Testament, covering Genesis 12-22 (I wish we had spent at least some time talking about him from the New Testament).
From Genesis 12 we focused on God’s grace in choosing Abram. We thought together about the blessings God has given and how we, like Abram, are called to be a blessing to others. We also thought about Abram’s sinfulness – despite being chosen by God and being a man of faith, he lied and was a coward in the face of the Egyptians.
From Genesis 13 we thought about Abraham’s faith. Trusting God to provide for him freed Abram to give the choice to Lot of which land he would take. The boys liked the story of Abram rescuing Lot in Genesis 14. We talked a little bit about why Abram refused to accept booty from King of Sodom (he wanted his wealth to come from God alone so only God would get the glory). We talked very briefly about Melchizedek, simply noting that he must be greater than Abram if Abram gave him tithes and offerings.
From Genesis 15 we talked quite a bit about the idea of covenant and how we can trust God’s promises, even when we don’t understand how he will accomplish them. The self maledictory oath of God in this chapter shows how firm his promises to us are. Despite the solid promises of God, even the best of us find it hard to trust God sometimes, as evidenced by Abram’s taking of Hagar. It always has disastrous consequences when we fail to trust God, as we see in the birth of Ishmael and the pain it caused Abram and Sarah and the subsequent history of Ishmael.
We continued to talk about the idea of covenant in Genesis 17 – focusing on the idea that God lays down the terms (so in this sense, it’s one sided), yet we have a role to play also (ie. keeping the covenant of circumcision). The boys got a kick out of circumcision – they’re in that phase that they like ‘gross’. This chapter and chapter 18 also emphasizes that God is the God of the impossible – that’s an important lesson to learn early!
We skipped over the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, not because I’m afraid to teach my boys about the content, but because it’s not vital to the story line of the Bible. We are trying to stick to those stories that advance the history of redemption significantly. We glance at Genesis 20 and how Abraham’s faith falters yet again, then turned quickly to Genesis 21 to see how God is faithful despite Abraham’s failures. The birth of Isaac is confirmation of God’s faithfulness and commitment to his plans, purposes and people. We also thought about the fate of Hagar and Ishmael. Genesis 21 shows that God shows compassion even to those who are outside his covenant.
We spent a lot of time one evening on Genesis 22 talking about the faith of Abraham and how it has grown as he’s seen God’s faithfulness, drawing somewhat on Hebrews 11:17-19. We really zoomed in on the fuller meaning of Abraham’s statement from Genesis 22:8, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering”. Added to this is the beautiful reality that God did what Abram ultimately didn’t have to do – he offered his only son, whom he loved, up as a sacrifice (see Genesis 22:2 and 22:12). While it’s tempting to see Isaac as a parred to Jesus, the real parallel is the ram in the thicket who is sacrificed.
During these two weeks we were not very creative. Unfortunately that’s a recurring theme in our family devotions. We did have fun teaching them the song “Father Abraham” and the significance of it. We also sang together ‘For all the Saints’, ‘My Hope is Built on Nothing Less’, ‘My Jesus I Love Thee, as well as ‘Silent Night’ (Luke wants to sing this every night – he has since Christmas).
I absolutely love these times of devotion I get with the boys – and I love that at this point in their life they look forward to it and really get upset if we miss it for a day.