Daily Devotion for March 7, 2012
Mosaic of scenes from the life of Abraham, Basilica di San Vitale, Ravenna, Italy.
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.
Prayer for the Morning
Dear Lord, I give you my hands to do your work; I give you my feet to go your way; I give you my eyes to see as you see; I give you my tongue to speak your words; I give you my mind that you may think in me; I give you my spirit that you may pray in me. Above all, I give you my heart that you may love in me. I give you my whole self, Lord, that you may grow in me, so that it is you who lives, works and prays in me.
Prayer for Purity of Thought
Almighty God, who alone gave me the breath of life, and alone can keep alive in me the holy desires your Spirit brings; I pray to you, in the name of your infinite compassion, to sanctify my thoughts and endeavors this day; that I may not begin to act without a pure intention or continue it without your blessing. And grant that, having the eyes of my mind opened to behold things invisible and unseen, I may in heart be inspired by your wisdom, and in work be upheld by your strength, and in the end be accepted by you as your faithful servant; through Jesus Christ our Savior.
Now to Him who has given me grace in accordance with His gospel, in keeping with the revelation of the mystery hidden for many ages past, but now revealed and made known by the command of the eternal God, so that all mankind might find the obedience that comes from faith; to the only God, the God of wisdom and truth, be glory forever through His only son, Jesus Christ.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
But envy is rottenness to the bones.
Genesis 24:1-9 (ESV)
The Story of Abraham  - Rebekah
Now Abraham was old, well advanced in years. And the Lord had blessed Abraham in all things. And Abraham said to his servant, the oldest of his household, who had charge of all that he had, "Put your hand under my thigh, that I may make you swear by the Lord, the God of heaven and God of the earth, that you will not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell, but will go to my country and to my kindred, and take a wife for my son Isaac."
The servant said to him, "Perhaps the woman may not be willing to follow me to this land. Must I then take your son back to the land from which you came?"
Abraham said to him, "See to it that you do not take my son back there. The Lord, the God of heaven, who took me from my father's house and from the land of my kindred, and who spoke to me and swore to me, 'To your offspring I will give this land,' he will send his angel before you, and you shall take a wife for my son from there.
But if the woman is not willing to follow you, then you will be free from this oath of mine; only you must not take my son back there." So the servant put his hand under the thigh of Abraham his master and swore to him concerning this matter.
Notes on the Scripture
The chapters of Genesis, more than most of the books of the Bible, indicate important breaks. Here we have again both skipped a period of time and truly started a new "chapter" in Abraham's life.
We learned much earlier in Abraham's story that, if he had not had a son, his inheritance would have passed to the senior responsible person in his household; his household has many aspects that are more tribal than familial. It is an independent unit, and leadership would pass to someone within the unit. The situation is very different from our modern lives, in an established state, where his property would pass to a close (or even distant) family member living elsewhere.
But Abraham does have an heir, and he does not want to mingle his bloodline with the hodgepodge of peoples between Iraq and Egypt, whom he collectively calls Canaanites. He has a special reason to avoid assimilation; Isaac is to father an entire nation, which is to possess all of Canaan. To accomplish this, he must keep his bloodline clearly distinguished. But Isaac is a solitary Chaldean, surrounded by a multitude of Canaanites, and assimilation will be quite difficult to avoid.
Abraham is, in other words, the first Jew.
To accomplish his mission, he turns to his senior servant. Speaking again in terms of a "tribe", this servant isn't like a butler; he is like a steward or chief officer of the household, a second-in-command, the person who is first in line to inherit the household if Abraham did not have a son.
Abraham is fairly confident that God's angel will guide his servant to the right woman, who will return with him. But notice, under no circumstances is Isaac to return to Ur. The fundamental and primary mission, under the covenant between Abraham and God, is for Isaac to inhabit and populate Canaan with his offspring.