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Abrahamâ€™s Faith Tested
22Â Some time later, God tested Abrahamâ€™s faith. â€œAbraham!â€ God called.
â€œYes,â€ he replied. â€œHere I am.â€
2Â â€œTake your son, your only sonâ€”yes, Isaac, whom you love so muchâ€”and go to the land of Moriah. Go and sacrifice him as a burnt offering on one of the mountains, which I will show you.â€
3Â The next morning Abraham got up early. He saddled his donkey and took two of his servants with him, along with his son, Isaac. Then he chopped wood for a fire for a burnt offering and set out for the place God had told him about.Â 4Â On the third day of their journey, Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance.Â 5Â â€œStay here with the donkey,â€ Abraham told the servants. â€œThe boy and I will travel a little farther. We will worship there, and then we will come right back.â€
6Â So Abraham placed the wood for the burnt offering on Isaacâ€™s shoulders, while he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them walked on together,Â 7Â Isaac turned to Abraham and said, â€œFather?â€
â€œYes, my son?â€ Abraham replied.
â€œWe have the fire and the wood,â€ the boy said, â€œbut where is the sheep for the burnt offering?â€
8Â â€œGod will provide a sheep for the burnt offering, my son,â€ Abraham answered. And they both walked on together.
9Â When they arrived at the place where God had told him to go, Abraham built an altar and arranged the wood on it. Then he tied his son, Isaac, and laid him on the altar on top of the wood.Â 10Â And Abraham picked up the knife to kill his son as a sacrifice.Â 11Â At that moment the angel of theÂ LordÂ called to him from heaven, â€œAbraham! Abraham!â€
â€œYes,â€ Abraham replied. â€œHere I am!â€
12Â â€œDonâ€™t lay a hand on the boy!â€ the angel said. â€œDo not hurt him in any way, for now I know that you truly fear God. You have not withheld from me even your son, your only son.â€
13Â Then Abraham looked up and saw a ram caught by its horns in a thicket. So he took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering in place of his son.Â 14Â Abraham named the place Yahweh-Yireh (which means â€œtheÂ LordÂ will provideâ€). To this day, people still use that name as a proverb: â€œOn the mountain of theÂ LordÂ it will be provided.â€
15Â Then the angel of theÂ LordÂ called again to Abraham from heaven.Â 16Â â€œThis is what theÂ LordÂ says: Because you have obeyed me and have not withheld even your son, your only son, I swear by my own name thatÂ 17Â I will certainly bless you. I will multiply your descendantsÂ beyond number, like the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will conquer the cities of their enemies.Â 18Â And through your descendants all the nations of the earth will be blessedâ€”all because you have obeyed me.â€
19Â Then they returned to the servants and traveled back to Beersheba, where Abraham continued to live.
20Â Soon after this, Abraham heard that Milcah, his brother Nahorâ€™s wife, had borne Nahor eight sons.Â 21Â The oldest was named Uz, the next oldest was Buz, followed by Kemuel (the ancestor of the Arameans),Â 22Â Kesed, Hazo, Pildash, Jidlaph, and Bethuel.Â 23Â (Bethuel became the father of Rebekah.) In addition to these eight sons from Milcah,Â 24Â Nahor had four other children from his concubine Reumah. Their names were Tebah, Gaham, Tahash, and Maacah.
The Burial of Sarah
23Â When Sarah was 127 years old,Â 2Â she died at Kiriath-arba (now called Hebron) in the land of Canaan. There Abraham mourned and wept for her.
3Â Then, leaving her body, he said to the Hittite elders,Â 4Â â€œHere I am, a stranger and a foreigner among you. Please sell me a piece of land so I can give my wife a proper burial.â€
5Â The Hittites replied to Abraham,Â 6Â â€œListen, my lord, you are an honored prince among us. Choose the finest of our tombs and bury her there. No one here will refuse to help you in this way.â€
7Â Then Abraham bowed low before the HittitesÂ 8Â and said, â€œSince you are willing to help me in this way, be so kind as to ask Ephron son of ZoharÂ 9Â to let me buy his cave at Machpelah, down at the end of his field. I will pay the full price in the presence of witnesses, so I will have a permanent burial place for my family.â€
10Â Ephron was sitting there among the others, and he answered Abraham as the others listened, speaking publicly before all the Hittite elders of the town.Â 11Â â€œNo, my lord,â€ he said to Abraham, â€œplease listen to me. I will give you the field and the cave. Here in the presence of my people, I give it to you. Go and bury your dead.â€
12Â Abraham again bowed low before the citizens of the land,Â 13Â and he replied to Ephron as everyone listened. â€œNo, listen to me. I will buy it from you. Let me pay the full price for the field so I can bury my dead there.â€
14Â Ephron answered Abraham,Â 15Â â€œMy lord, please listen to me. The land is worth 400 piecesÂ of silver, but what is that between friends? Go ahead and bury your dead.â€
16Â So Abraham agreed to Ephronâ€™s price and paid the amount he had suggestedâ€”400 pieces of silver, weighed according to the market standard. The Hittite elders witnessed the transaction.
17Â So Abraham bought the plot of land belonging to Ephron at Machpelah, near Mamre. This included the field itself, the cave that was in it, and all the surrounding trees.Â 18Â It was transferred to Abraham as his permanent possession in the presence of the Hittite elders at the city gate.Â 19Â Then Abraham buried his wife, Sarah, there in Canaan, in the cave of Machpelah, near Mamre (also called Hebron).Â 20Â So the field and the cave were transferred from the Hittites to Abraham for use as a permanent burial place.
A Wife for Isaac
24Â Abraham was now a very old man, and theÂ LordÂ had blessed him in every way.Â 2Â One day Abraham said to his oldest servant, the man in charge of his household, â€œTake an oath by putting your hand under my thigh.Â 3Â Swear by theÂ Lord, the God of heaven and earth, that you will not allow my son to marry one of these local Canaanite women.Â 4Â Go instead to my homeland, to my relatives, and find a wife there for my son Isaac.â€
5Â The servant asked, â€œBut what if I canâ€™t find a young woman who is willing to travel so far from home? Should I then take Isaac there to live among your relatives in the land you came from?â€
6Â â€œNo!â€ Abraham responded. â€œBe careful never to take my son there.Â 7Â For theÂ Lord, the God of heaven, who took me from my fatherâ€™s house and my native land, solemnly promised to give this land to my descendants.Â He will send his angel ahead of you, and he will see to it that you find a wife there for my son.Â 8Â If she is unwilling to come back with you, then you are free from this oath of mine. But under no circumstances are you to take my son there.â€
9Â So the servant took an oath by putting his hand under the thigh of his master, Abraham. He swore to follow Abrahamâ€™s instructions.Â 10Â Then he loaded ten of Abrahamâ€™s camels with all kinds of expensive gifts from his master, and he traveled to distant Aram-naharaim. There he went to the town where Abrahamâ€™s brother Nahor had settled.Â 11Â He made the camels kneel beside a well just outside the town. It was evening, and the women were coming out to draw water.
12Â â€œOÂ Lord, God of my master, Abraham,â€ he prayed. â€œPlease give me success today, and show unfailing love to my master, Abraham.Â 13Â See, I am standing here beside this spring, and the young women of the town are coming out to draw water.14Â This is my request. I will ask one of them, â€˜Please give me a drink from your jug.â€™ If she says, â€˜Yes, have a drink, and I will water your camels, too!â€™â€”let her be the one you have selected as Isaacâ€™s wife. This is how I will know that you have shown unfailing love to my master.â€
15Â Before he had finished praying, he saw a young woman named Rebekah coming out with her water jug on her shoulder. She was the daughter of Bethuel, who was the son of Abrahamâ€™s brother Nahor and his wife, Milcah.Â 16Â Rebekah was very beautiful and old enough to be married, but she was still a virgin. She went down to the spring, filled her jug, and came up again.Â 17Â Running over to her, the servant said, â€œPlease give me a little drink of water from your jug.â€
18Â â€œYes, my lord,â€ she answered, â€œhave a drink.â€ And she quickly lowered her jug from her shoulder and gave him a drink.19Â When she had given him a drink, she said, â€œIâ€™ll draw water for your camels, too, until they have had enough to drink.â€Â 20Â So she quickly emptied her jug into the watering trough and ran back to the well to draw water for all his camels.
21Â The servant watched her in silence, wondering whether or not theÂ LordÂ had given him success in his mission.Â 22Â Then at last, when the camels had finished drinking, he took out a gold ring for her nose and two large gold braceletsÂ for her wrists.
23Â â€œWhose daughter are you?â€ he asked. â€œAnd please tell me, would your father have any room to put us up for the night?â€
24Â â€œI am the daughter of Bethuel,â€ she replied. â€œMy grandparents are Nahor and Milcah.Â 25Â Yes, we have plenty of straw and feed for the camels, and we have room for guests.â€
26Â The man bowed low and worshiped theÂ Lord.Â 27Â â€œPraise theÂ Lord, the God of my master, Abraham,â€ he said. â€œTheÂ LordÂ has shown unfailing love and faithfulness to my master, for he has led me straight to my masterâ€™s relatives.â€
28Â The young woman ran home to tell her family everything that had happened.Â 29Â Now Rebekah had a brother named Laban, who ran out to meet the man at the spring.Â 30Â He had seen the nose-ring and the bracelets on his sisterâ€™s wrists, and had heard Rebekah tell what the man had said. So he rushed out to the spring, where the man was still standing beside his camels.Â 31Â Laban said to him, â€œCome and stay with us, you who are blessed by theÂ Lord! Why are you standing here outside the town when I have a room all ready for you and a place prepared for the camels?â€
32Â So the man went home with Laban, and Laban unloaded the camels, gave him straw for their bedding, fed them, and provided water for the man and the camel drivers to wash their feet.Â 33Â Then food was served. But Abrahamâ€™s servant said, â€œI donâ€™t want to eat until I have told you why I have come.â€
â€œAll right,â€ Laban said, â€œtell us.â€
34Â â€œI am Abrahamâ€™s servant,â€ he explained.Â 35Â â€œAnd theÂ LordÂ has greatly blessed my master; he has become a wealthy man. TheÂ LordÂ has given him flocks of sheep and goats, herds of cattle, a fortune in silver and gold, and many male and female servants and camels and donkeys.
36Â â€œWhen Sarah, my masterâ€™s wife, was very old, she gave birth to my masterâ€™s son, and my master has given him everything he owns.Â 37Â And my master made me take an oath. He said, â€˜Do not allow my son to marry one of these local Canaanite women.Â 38Â Go instead to my fatherâ€™s house, to my relatives, and find a wife there for my son.â€™
39Â â€œBut I said to my master, â€˜What if I canâ€™t find a young woman who is willing to go back with me?â€™Â 40Â He responded, â€˜TheLord, in whose presence I have lived, will send his angel with you and will make your mission successful. Yes, you must find a wife for my son from among my relatives, from my fatherâ€™s family.Â 41Â Then you will have fulfilled your obligation. But if you go to my relatives and they refuse to let her go with you, you will be free from my oath.â€™
42Â â€œSo today when I came to the spring, I prayed this prayer: â€˜OÂ Lord, God of my master, Abraham, please give me success on this mission.Â 43Â See, I am standing here beside this spring. This is my request. When a young woman comes to draw water, I will say to her, â€œPlease give me a little drink of water from your jug.â€Â 44Â If she says, â€œYes, have a drink, and I will draw water for your camels, too,â€ let her be the one you have selected to be the wife of my masterâ€™s son.â€™
45Â â€œBefore I had finished praying in my heart, I saw Rebekah coming out with her water jug on her shoulder. She went down to the spring and drew water. So I said to her, â€˜Please give me a drink.â€™Â 46Â She quickly lowered her jug from her shoulder and said, â€˜Yes, have a drink, and I will water your camels, too!â€™ So I drank, and then she watered the camels.
47Â â€œThen I asked, â€˜Whose daughter are you?â€™ She replied, â€˜I am the daughter of Bethuel, and my grandparents are Nahor and Milcah.â€™ So I put the ring on her nose, and the bracelets on her wrists.
48Â â€œThen I bowed low and worshiped theÂ Lord. I praised theÂ Lord, the God of my master, Abraham, because he had led me straight to my masterâ€™s niece to be his sonâ€™s wife.Â 49Â So tell meâ€”will you or wonâ€™t you show unfailing love and faithfulness to my master? Please tell me yes or no, and then Iâ€™ll know what to do next.â€
50Â Then Laban and Bethuel replied, â€œTheÂ LordÂ has obviously brought you here, so there is nothing we can say.Â 51Â Here is Rebekah; take her and go. Yes, let her be the wife of your masterâ€™s son, as theÂ LordÂ has directed.â€
52Â When Abrahamâ€™s servant heard their answer, he bowed down to the ground and worshiped theÂ Lord.Â 53Â Then he brought out silver and gold jewelry and clothing and presented them to Rebekah. He also gave expensive presents to her brother and mother.Â 54Â Then they ate their meal, and the servant and the men with him stayed there overnight.
But early the next morning, Abrahamâ€™s servant said, â€œSend me back to my master.â€
55Â â€œBut we want Rebekah to stay with us at least ten days,â€ her brother and mother said. â€œThen she can go.â€
56Â But he said, â€œDonâ€™t delay me. TheÂ LordÂ has made my mission successful; now send me back so I can return to my master.â€
57Â â€œWell,â€ they said, â€œweâ€™ll call Rebekah and ask her what she thinks.â€Â 58Â So they called Rebekah. â€œAre you willing to go with this man?â€ they asked her.
And she replied, â€œYes, I will go.â€
59Â So they said good-bye to Rebekah and sent her away with Abrahamâ€™s servant and his men. The woman who had been Rebekahâ€™s childhood nurse went along with her.Â 60Â They gave her this blessing as she parted:
â€œOur sister, may you become
61Â Then Rebekah and her servant girls mounted the camels and followed the man. So Abrahamâ€™s servant took Rebekah and went on his way.
62Â Meanwhile, Isaac, whose home was in the Negev, had returned from Beer-lahai-roi.Â 63Â One evening as he was walking and meditating in the fields, he looked up and saw the camels coming.Â 64Â When Rebekah looked up and saw Isaac, she quickly dismounted from her camel.Â 65Â â€œWho is that man walking through the fields to meet us?â€ she asked the servant.
And he replied, â€œIt is my master.â€ So Rebekah covered her face with her veil.Â 66Â Then the servant told Isaac everything he had done.
67Â And Isaac brought Rebekah into his mother Sarahâ€™s tent, and she became his wife. He loved her deeply, and she was a special comfort to him after the death of his mother.
Teaching about Money and Possessions
19Â â€œDonâ€™t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal.Â 20Â Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal.21Â Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.
22Â â€œYour eye is a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is good, your whole body is filled with light.Â 23Â But when your eye is bad, your whole body is filled with darkness. And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is!
24Â â€œNo one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.
25Â â€œThat is why I tell you not to worry about everyday lifeâ€”whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isnâ€™t life more than food, and your body more than clothing?Â 26Â Look at the birds. They donâ€™t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And arenâ€™t you far more valuable to him than they are?Â 27Â Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?
28Â â€œAnd why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They donâ€™t work or make their clothing,Â 29Â yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are.Â 30Â And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?
31Â â€œSo donâ€™t worry about these things, saying, â€˜What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?â€™Â 32Â These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.Â 33Â Seek the Kingdom of Godabove all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.
34Â â€œSo donâ€™t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Todayâ€™s trouble is enough for today.