Abraham, a true friend of God. My friend too!

"Count the stars, Abraham. That's the number of your descendants!"
“Count the stars, Abraham. That’s the number of your descendants!”

My name is Abidah. Believe it or not, I have been a servant of Abraham for over 100 years now. No one has been with Abraham as long as I have been, not even his wife Sarah.

He was a wealthy, wealthy man. Always has been as long as I’ve worked for him. He hired me when we left Haran. I was number 1 of 318 servants. It was a joy to serve this great, great man.  You know, he had more sheep and cattle and camels than anyone in the entire region, maybe more than anyone on earth. Of all his possessions, he truly cherished one thing more than anything else: the gift of his son Isaac.

He made sure everyone knew that God made a promise to him. The promise went like this: God said “I’ll make you a great nation and bless you. I’ll make you famous, you’ll be a blessing. I’ll bless those who bless you; those who curse you I’ll curse. And all the families of the earth will be blessed through you.” Abraham always told us stories of his personal encounters with God. I don’t know anyone who knew God like Abraham knew God. And everywhere we went, he built an altar to the Almighty.

Yet, early on, while Abram owned many things, I would hear him arguing with God. “What good are all these things if I don’t have any children to pass them down to?” he’d say shaking a fist at the heavens.  And I’d say Abram had every right to question God’s promises, as he was an old man, and Sarai’s womb was closed.

One night, the Almighty took Abram outside and said to the man: “Look at the sky. Count the stars. Can you do it? Count your descendants! You’re going to have a big family, Abram!” And the man believed. He believed God. And because he believed, God called him his friend. My master? A true friend of God! Amazing!

Yet even though he was God’s friend, Abram’s troubles didn’t magically cease. Ten years after we left the Land of Ur, Abram and Sarai were still childless. They decided God might need man’s help in bringing to fruition all these “star children.” So Abram slept with the much younger, and much more beautiful Hagar, Sarai’s servant. It was Sarai’s suggestion. Can you believe it? And Hagar gave birth to a son. They called him Ishmael.  But God wasn’t too pleased and Ishmael caused more problems than Abram ever dreamed of. Even though he sinned, Abram still had this tight relationship with the Father.

Thirteen years later Abram is out tending the sheep when God shows up in power. The way Abram tells the story, one more time God reminds the man of the Almighty’s promises and tells him that he’ll have a huge family. Abram says he fell flat on his face. The next day he announces that we are all to start calling him Abraham. No longer is he merely “Father,” he is “Father of Many Fathers.” We joked with him, because by this time he was 99 years old! And Sarai, who we were to now call Sarah, was 90!

While we laughed, something about Abraham changed. He set a covenant between God and himself… and all of us male servants were dedicated to God that very day!

And just as God promised, about a year later, little Isaac was born. Isaac. The name means “laughter.” And we all laughed with his new parents, for they were so old.

While this was a joyous time, it wasn’t the end of Abraham’s struggles… but he remained faithful to God. Oh so faithful. No one in all the land was as faithful as this man. Sarah died some 27 years later.  And that old man? He passed away a few weeks ago at the age of 175. He lived a long, joyful life! We just came back from burying him next to Sarah in the land of the Hittites. He has seven children. 13 grandchildren so far. All those star children are just getting started!

Abraham. The father of many fathers. A friend of God. He was my master and my dear friend as well.

 

My interpretation of some of the key points of Genesis, Chapters 12-25, the life of Abraham.

(c)2015. Rich Ronald.
Advertisements

Christmas Devotional Book. 25 Days. 25 Gifts.

No trips on donkeys. No angels singing. Not even a baby in a manger. Yet, there are still 25 gifts God wants to give you for Christmas. And they are found in a little six chapter book half way through the New Testament.

Rich Ronald uncovers The Greatest Gifts as they are revealed in Ephesians. 25 Days. 25 encouraging Gifts. 25 devotional messages, along with a prayer and a place to write your own prayers, comments and thoughts each day.

Along the way you’ll find the gift of love, the free gift of salvation, the gift of unity and many more. Prepare your heart in a special way this Christmas season by receiving, and giving, God’s greatest gifts.

Now available in paperback or Kindle.

http://bit.ly/GreatestGifts

 

When we worship, God fights on our behalf!

When the Shofars blew, the enemy was defeated and the walls fell down.
When the Shofars blew, the enemy was defeated and the walls fell down.

The story of Joshua and the fall of the walls at Jericho.

I’m a minister in the Tabernacle, a priest. My grandfather was Aaron. My name is Phineas. I was born in the Wilderness. Growing up we heard great stories of God. How He was with our people during the Exodus. How He parted the Red Sea. How He gave Moses the Law. But, honestly, we feel more like nomads instead of a “chosen people.” We are a people without a homeland.

That all changed recently, however. We’ve just entered the Promised Land. What an experience! Moses died a couple of months ago and had appointed Joshua to take us into this place that flows with milk and honey.  We had all just been consecrated to the Lord and it was the end of Passover. Joshua told us to get ready for a great battle, and that God Himself would be the Captain of our Army!

Yes, we’ve conquered a few lands east of the Jordan, but, we all grew up in the Wilderness. We’re learning to be warriors, but we are mostly shepherds. Except for the 40,000 trained soldiers from the tribes of Reuben, Gad and Manasseh.

God has gone before us. God has defeated our enemies. I’m thankful Joshua knew what to do, although, I’m certain it’s not the way other armies would do battle. He says that God kept telling him to “be strong and courageous.” Looking back, I can see why.

Just ten days ago we crossed the Jordan River on dry ground as our ancestors had crossed the Red Sea. I was fortunate to be chosen as one of priests who blew the ram’s horn, with the procession of the Ark of the Covenant. It was amazing! This rushing, flowing river, stopped immediately as our feet entered the water. It was our generation’s miracle. And everyone crossed on dry land.

We were camped just outside the fortress city of Jericho. It was going to be our first stop – and our first conquest — in this New Land. God told us this land was now ours, all we had to do was go and get it. “Go and get it?” But, by force. As in, a battle? Some of us would probably die.

Joshua, our Commander, lined us all up… 600,000 men, plus the women and children.  The strategy was to surround the city of Jericho with people. It was only about a half a mile around, so that meant that the line only needed to be a half mile long.  Picture this: each row was 1,000 people wide, shoulder to shoulder.  The line was almost half a mile wide!  And guess who was at the front? I was. Yep! This huge mass of people. And at the very front, an armed guard. Then all of us priests. Some of us were part of the worshippers, blowing the Shofar. Other’s carried the Ark.  Joshua put my people up front! As I said, we are of the tribe of Aaron. My work in the tabernacle is to blow the trumpets and encourage all of the children of Israel to gather together in singing praises to the Almighty. When we heard the news that Joshua would put us up front, I must admit, I was frightened and worried. I’m not a student of battle strategy, but I kept wondering, “don’t those who lead up front get killed first?”

It was early in the week and we marched, over a million pairs of feet, around these massive city walls. The line was so immense, when those of us in the front had finished the circle, we met those from the back of the line who were just getting started. We had fully surrounded the city.  I’m sure the people inside Jericho were confused at our actions. We had heard they were afraid of us before we ever got here. Many wondered why we didn’t just attack the citadel once we had it surrounded.  But we listened and followed Joshua. He kept telling us of this face-to-face meeting he had with the one he called “The Captain.” How God said that He would go before us into battle. That He promised the victory! All we, the descendants of Aaron, were to do was lead the people in worship and walk around the city.

Once we had circled back around to where we began, we went back to our encampment and spent the night there. Early the next morning we did the same thing we did the day before.

And this continued. Day 3. Day 4. There was no one visible any longer on the city ramparts. We guessed they were filled with great fear by now. And we, soldiers in training, were looking for a fight.  And yet, we weren’t fighters.

Day 5. Day 6. “Forgive me, Joshua, but what’s the strategy here?”

Day 7. Would today be just another of the same thing? “No. Today would be different,” Joshua told us. We lined up as usual, but today the march would be quiet. Only the priests were to blow their shofars. No noise from any of the rest of the people of Israel. When we concluded our trip around Jericho, Joshua ordered us to go around again. And again. And again. This was taking all day and we were tired! Something big was about to happen. Our heart rates increased. There was lots of nervous energy. Finally, as we concluded the seventh circuit Joshua told us to blow the ram’s horns with all our might. And he told the people to shout! To scream. To cry out to God. To worship! Previously it was ominously quiet. Now, it was raucous! The din of the shouts of praise to the Almighty was deafening.

And then the ground underneath our feet began to shake, and the dust began to boil. The walls of the city shook as first one stone, then another fell from its mooring in the rock. Our people shouted louder and louder. We sang “Hallelujah!” to our King! We blew the trumpets until our cheeks hurt and we were spitting everywhere. And in a matter of seconds the city walls came crashing down. Waves of dust and dirt blew everywhere with great force. We were covered from head to toe. But the walls, the walls, they fell in a manner as to make ramps up into the city. Our brave soldiers charged forward and destroyed everything and everyone, except for one lone family who had sheltered some of our advanced spies earlier in the week.

It’s truly amazing what God did as we obeyed and worshipped Him. He assured us He would fight on our behalf. And oh, how He did! It was His victory as we worshipped and entered the Promised Land with shouts of great joy!

My interpretation of Joshua, Chapters 1-6.

(c) 2015 Rich Ronald.