So far, reading through the entire Bible together, as a church family, has been awesome! For those who may not know, our congregation recently started a 3-year reading plan with The Bible Project. We are meeting in church members’ homes, sharing a meal, praying with and for one another, and studying the Bible. Be sure to check out the Resources page for the Mosaic Family Bible Reading Plan.
During a recent Community Group night, we talked through our readings and musings from the book of Genesis. We noticed a series of conversations that happen, between Abraham and God, regarding God’s Covenant. Here is a video summarizing that section of scripture.
We first see Abram (later Abraham) and God communicating in the twelfth chapter of Genesis. By this moment, we know that Abram is an adult, has married Sarai (later Sarah) who is, at the time, barren, and has been settled in Haran. In this conversation, God tells Abram to “go...to a land that I will show you”. Abram responds obediently. From chapters 12 to 18, God and Abram/Abraham converse regularly. In each sequential conversation, God reveals more details of His promise to Abram. The conversations held in chapters 12-14 have the following theme: God speaks, Abram responds with an act of obedience. Now, Abram has “called upon the name of the LORD,” but it isn’t until chapter 15 that we read of Abram speaking in response to God speaking.
Prior to this moment, Abram seems to act in faith after each encounter with God, trusting God with each step. Think about it. He leaves his home and journeys through many locations, to reach an unknown destination. He doesn’t argue with God, after God declares a crazy plan to make an old man and his old wife pregnant with a baby who will be the first in a lineage that will, apparently, one day become the rescue of humanity. He just goes and does.
(Just to clarify, I don’t think Abram is this completely sanctified figure, or the ultimate model of faith. Simply read through these chapters in Genesis, and you’ll see that, just like any other human in history, Abram is afflicted with sinful flaws and acts upon them).
In chapter 15, Abram reaches a point where he feels the need to ask.
He has acted obediently for many years, but he, like many of us -- after years of obedience without seeing the fruit of God’s promise -- asks God some questions. His doubt and hesitation are apparent in those questions. We can tell that he wanted to trust God, but his empirical observations, alone, made it seem like things weren’t going to work out the way God said. I know most of us can relate. Perhaps it is a family member or friend you have kept in prayer, yet their situation does not change. Perhaps it is waiting for a good job opportunity to cross your path. Perhaps it is dealing with grief and disappointment that God has not already fulfilled His promises in your life, even though you think they should have been met by now! We all reach that moment, at some point in life, when we can no longer blindly act on faith, but we feel the need to check in with God to make sure He still knows what He is doing!
Anyway, God answers Abram with reassurance and a reminder of the promises He has already given to Abram. Verse 6 says “and he [Abram] believed the LORD.” God continues, in this chapter, to recount the ways in which His faithfulness has been displayed, thus far in Abram’s journey. Chapters 16-17 contain significant moments of conversation between, not only Abram, but Sarai as well. In fact, in chapter 17, God announces the birth of Isaac. God also changes their names to Abraham and Sarah, respectively.
Okay, now I invite you to read the beginning of chapter 18. THIS is where this entire thought process began, for me. Abraham knew that these men were representative of the LORD. He saw them approaching from a distance and immediately jolted out of his chill moment to greet them with as much hospitality as my Latina Mom on Christmas (aka, mucho). He straight up calls for a tamale feast (if you will) to be cooked for them. And those take forever to make!
Side note: Lots of thoughts here about how this visitation from the LORD could be interpreted, whether a theophany, or angels, or something else… but that is for another time, and not the point of this blog post.
I digress. Around verse 16, God initiates a conversation that lets Abraham in on some breaking news. Except that it hasn’t happened yet. God, the Creator of Heaven and Earth (ch. 14:19), willingly tells Abraham about His plans for Sodom and Gomorrah. THEN, beginning in verse 22, Abraham entreats the LORD, boldly but humbly, asking for the righteous to be saved from the destruction to come. WHAAAAAA!!!
This section sent me on a spiral of questions. What kind of relationship does a human have to have with God, for God to speak so freely with said human? For God to reveal things that have yet to pass? How did Abraham have this personal connection with the LORD? How did he get to a place of such familiarity, comfort, and freedom with God, that he could ask Him to consider another perspective in his strategy???
Notice the progression of intimacy with each conversation between Abram and the LORD, throughout these passages.
God initiates conversation with Abram/Abraham (Abe). Abe listens to God.
God initiates conversation with Abe. Abe takes action in obedience to God.
God initiates conversation with Abe. Abe begins to doubt and inquires of God.
God reassures and reminds Abe. Abe believes God is telling the truth.
God shares information with Abe. Abe intercedes on behalf of people and circumstance.
I’d like to summarize my thoughts with three sections that share a bit more about intimacy, in our present context.
Intimacy with Family & Friends
I tend to be the type who has one or two very close friends at a time. My husband, Lee, on the other hand, always has a huge group of friends. In both instances, the relationships are forged and strengthened through a series of conversations. Rarely do we meet a person and, after one conversation, understand the intricate nuances of their personality. Both people must commit time and mental/emotional energy to building the foundation of the relationship. Like the progression listed above, we each take steps of faith when we talk with our friends about vulnerable moments in our lives. Our trust grows, and so does our familiarity. Our vocabulary becomes more casual. We have less inhibition when asking our friends for help, or for their opinion on life matters.
Intimacy with God
Our relationship with God is quite similar. How is God initiating conversation with you, in this season of your life? Are you listening for His voice? Is God asking you to step out in faith? What is seemingly preventing you from doing so? Are there any questions or concerns, emotions or doubts that you need to lift up to the Lord? Are you willing to believe that what God says is true? Will you?
Intimacy as a Church Family
If you are a member of Canal Street Church, then you are a valuable part of the body of Christ here. I ask you, as your sister in Christ, for the edification of the Church, to earnestly practice intimacy with the Lord, by simply having conversations with Him. Practice conversations with God, as you practice conversations with brothers and sisters in your Community Groups. Practice conversations with God, as you practice conversations with family, coworkers, and random people you meet during Mardi-Gras parades.
Perhaps through these conversations, the LORD himself will speak to us in ways that we desperately need. As God shares His truths with you, would you intercede on behalf of our church body?
Thanks for reading, y’all. May the grace and goodness of our Lord be made evident to you, in the simple moments today. -Izabela
Some songs to accompany your journey through Genesis
(rock band pun intended, you’re welcome).
Call on the Name of the Lord - Fred Hammond
Met By Love - United Pursuit
Psalm 46 / Lord of Hosts - Shane and Shane
(Spoiler! We will be singing this during worship services, soon!!!)