Old Testament – Genesis 16 and 17
Today we see God begin to put his plan into action. Abram was waited about 23 years for the son promised to him by God. Now God changes his name to Abraham, which means “the father is exalted”. This has a double meaning, in that Abraham is always seen exalting God the Father and doing his will. Second, he will become the father of the people of God and be considered highest among the patriarchs.
My favorite part is what happens when God tells Abraham that it is time for him to have the promised son. Abraham is 99 years old. He literally falls on his face with laughter that a husband and wife so old might have children. Here’s the verse:
And God said to Abraham,
“As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. 16 I will bless her, and moreover, I will give you a son by her. I will bless her, and she shall become nations; kings of peoples shall come from her.” 17 Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed and said to himself, “Shall a child be born to a man who is a hundred years old? Shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?”
God, ever patient with the faithful Abraham, responds is a remarkable way. God says,
God said, “No, but Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his offspring after him.”
Issac is the Hebrew word for laughter.
New Testament – Matthew 7
In the New Testament reading we read three passages that might sound surprising to our modern ears. Matthew relates to us the teaching of Jesus, in which Jesus clearly delineates that entrance into Heaven is not based on your faith alone but what you DO once you’ve come to faith.
A Tree and Its Fruit
15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.
I Never Knew You
21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name? ‘ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness. ‘
Build Your House on the Rock
24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”
What is particularly remarkable about these are verses 21-23. There people who prophesied, drove out demons and did mighty works in Jesus’ name STILL don’t get into Heaven. One must presume that these people had at least some faith to do these things. What does this important example teach us? Jesus tells us the answer in the first verse of the example, line 21. Those who will enter the kingdom or those that “do the will of the Father.” This is more than the outward appearance of faith. It is also more faith alone. It is those that take the time to discern what the will of the father is. Those that with open minds and open hearts, take the time to pray and study and discern what the will of the Father for their lives is and then go out and do that. Notice how this ties back into Abraham, who both has faith and always seeks to do the will of the Father.