The angel of the LORD called to Abraham a second time from heaven, and said, “By myself I have sworn, says the LORD: Because you have done this, and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will indeed bless you, and I will make your offspring as numerous as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of their enemies, and by your offspring shall all the nations of the earth gain blessing for themselves, because you have obeyed my voice.” (Genesis 22:15-18)
The passage is the culmination of the Abraham and Isaac story. Abraham was tested when God requested that Abraham make a sacrifice of his only son, Isaac. Abraham must have been confused. God had established a covenant with Abraham. He had said that he would “make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great so that you will be a blessing” (Genesis 12:2). Why had God requested that Abraham sacrifice the one and only son that could continue this legacy?
At the last possible minute, the angel of the Lord arrives and lets Abraham know that he does not need to kill his son. God reiterates his promise to Abraham. Because he was willing to sacrifice his one and only son, he will be blessed.
This story foreshadows the ultimate sacrifice that Christ made for us. Centuries prior to Jesus’ arrival on earth, a similar scenario had occurred. Abraham, Isaac’s father, did not have to sacrifice his only son. By contrast, God paid the ultimate sacrifice for us all through Jesus’ sacrifice.
During this season of Advent, we anticipate and prepare for Christ’s arrival on earth. However, this was only the beginning of the story. Christ came to earth ultimately to serve as the sacrifice for us. Through this sacrifice, we are blessed.
Thank you, Lord, for blessing us beyond measure. We are grateful for your coming to earth and paying the ultimate sacrifice for us. Amen
God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: I have set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. (Genesis 9: 12-15)
These verses reveal the first rainbow God ever created. This was, of course, a great surprise to Noah and his family. As for me, whenever I see a rainbow, I am overcome with a pleasant excitement. For most of us, I believe, seeing a rainbow is a lovely and rare surprise that can lift a mood instantly. I like to think of this as God’s way of using nature to brighten our days and give us something to be happy for.
Another less obvious surprise in this text, that I personally had never noticed before, is that God says that when he sees the rainbow in the sky he will remember the covenant made to us. I had always thought the purpose of the rainbow was to remind us of the covenant, but God made it as a reminder of his promises for himself! This is something I encourage you all to ponder anytime you see a rainbow, rare as they are.
Dear God, We thank you for sending us such a beautiful message as a reminder of the covenant you made with us, for not only you, but for us. Thank you for using your creation to bring us joy, and for loving us unconditionally. Help us to be reminded of your love and to be grateful to you every day, rain or shine, whether or not the reminder of your love is in the sky. Ame
Welcome to your daily advent devotion from Grace Lutheran Church in River Forest, IL Our theme for Advent is Surprise! God has been surprising humanity since Genesis. In these devotions we explore a variety of surprises throughout scripture, seeing how our generous and loving God has and continues to show up in surprising and unexpected ways. May your journey to the manger be filled with surprise and wonder!
Rev. Troy Medlin
And the Lord God made garments of skins for the man and for his wife, and clothed them. (Genesis 3:21)
It does not take long for sin to enter the human story. Just three chapters in, we see humanity’s intrinsic pull towards ourselves and away from God and one another. We know this is true. This is not all that surprising. We know that like Adam and Eve we oftentimes feel shame and guilt. We know we have not lived up to our own standards we set for ourselves. This truth is familiar to us. As familiar as an old and worn sweater. It fits snug and we cannot seem to get rid of it.
What is surprising, though, about God, and the story that unfolds in scripture is what God’s response to our shame, guilt and sin is. After the initial consequences of sin are laid out God does something else. Just 21 verses later God comes to them. God comes to them and responds with kindness, and mercy. God clothes Adam and Eve. In the midst of alienation, shame, vulnerability, and loss. God clothes them. This is an act of pure grace.
In places of alienation, shame, vulnerability, loss, and even death God will continue to come to us in surprising ways offering good news and promise throughout this season of waiting. All of it pointing to the one who will clothe us with himself. The one who in baptism has become our clothing, our covering, and our salvation. Clothed with Christ we are free from sin and death. Alienated no longer we are covered in the warm blanket of God’s own presence both now and forever. This surprising promise comes just three chapters in. Warm and welcomed we wait for all the surprises God still has in store.
God of promise, give us eyes to see the surprising ways you come to us again and again. May we know that we are covered by you and safe forever. Fitted with the garments of salvation that will never wear out. May they be as familiar as an old and worn sweater. It fits snug and we cannot seem to get rid of it. Amen.
Welcome back to Grace Devotions!
Sunday, November 28th marks the first Sunday in Advent. If you are receiving this notice, you have already signed up for our daily devotions from Grace Lutheran in River Forest, IL. Your first devotion will arrive on the 28th.
Our theme for Advent is Surprise! God has been surprising humanity since Genesis. We explore a variety of surprises throughout scripture, seeing how our generous and loving God has and continues to show up in surprising and unexpected ways.
Feel free to forward this message to family and friends who might appreciate this daily devotion for Advent. All are welcome to sign up! If you want to know more about Grace Lutheran, check out the website (www.graceriverforest.org) and/or leave a comment in the comments section!
May your journey to the manger be filled with surprise and wonder!
Thank you for being part of our journey.