This week, we read the next instalment of Abraham’s story in Genesis and then skip ahead to Paul’s encouragements about the new covenant at the start of 2 Corinthians. Reading both of these passages together was a real encouragement to me, as I could clearly see how God does indeed keep his promises to his people and how he is always faithful.
God had promised Abraham that he would be the father of a great nation, but Abraham reached the ripe old age of 99 without any children belonging to him and Sarah. Abraham doubted, Sarah laughed, but God kept His promise and in chapter 21, we read of the birth of Isaac, a miracle child.
Next comes an account of what happened to Hagar, the slave girl who gave birth to Abraham’s son, Ishmael. Sarah felt threatened by Ishmael, afraid that he would take Isaac’s inheritance. But the Lord takes pity upon Hagar and Ishmael; He provides for them and promises to make Ishmael into a great nation. This is a beautiful illustration of the Lord’s faithfulness and compassion, especially to the most vulnerable people in society.
In the passages in 2 Corinthians, Paul paints a glorious picture of the new covenant. In Genesis, God made a covenant with his people based upon the law. Now, in Jesus Christ, the old covenant is taken away and is replaced with a new covenant which allows us to take off the veil over our faces and come boldly into the Lord’s presence.
Paul reminds us that “no matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘Yes’ in Christ” (2 Corinthians 1: 19). Because of the seal of the Holy Spirit, a guarantee in our hearts for what is to come, we can confidently come to our Heavenly Father and know we are welcomed into His family.
Some questions to help your reading:
1. In Genesis, there are a few characters who try to take matters into their own hands instead of trusting God. Is this something you find yourself doing, when things aren’t going how you expected them to?
2. In 2 Corinthians 3: 4-6, Paul reminds the Corinthians that they are not competent in their own strength, but that their competence comes from God. Is this a reminder you need to hear as well?
3. Paul speaks of fixing our eyes on what is unseen, not seen (2 Corinthians 4: 18) and also that we should ‘live by faith and not by sight’ (2 Corinthians 5: 7). Ask the Lord to help you lift your eyes above the earthly, visible things and to fix your eyes on Him.