Sunday, July 26, 2009

Sarah Day 3: Sleeping and Dreaming

...scientists believe decreased dopamine levels might mean certain people can't learn to do right after they've done wrong.

As believers, we know why people make the same mistakes again and again: sin.

The scripture for today's lesson comes from Genesis 20:1-7.

1. Look back to Genesis 17:1, 17:17, and 18:1, and recount Abraham's and Sarah's ages and place where they lived at this time.

In Gen. 17:1, Abraham was 99 years old, therefore Sarah is 89 years old. They were then living between Kadesh and Bered.

In Gen. 17:17, Abraham is 100 years old. Sarah is 90 years old. I believe they were still in the same location between Kadesh and Bered.

In Genesis 18:1, God appeared to Abraham at the Oaks of mamre. I think that they were the same ages as in 17:17.

2. In today's text we see the transitional word And to bring us here. Describe where Abraham journeyed. How do you think the phrase,"to the South," might be interpreted in Scripture?

I think that here, and is used as a 'in addition to what has been said before' type of connection. The NIV uses the connecting word 'now' instead of 'and', and this indicates that some time has passed.
Abraham went South from where he had been, again to stop near Kadesh. A footnote that accompanies the Amplified Bible says that references to the south, north, east, etc. are ways that would have been familiarly used in Abraham's time. A sidenote with this study says that they might have had to have traveled south again because of famine.

3.a. What happened to Sarah?

Abraham again claimed her only as his sister, not his wife. The king of Gerar then claimed her and wanted to take her to bed with him, but God intervened with him in a dream so that he did not.

b. How were Sarah and Abraham complicit in allowing this to happen?

They knew that this had caused trouble in the past, but did not learn from their previous mistake.

c. Describe how God intervened to protect Sarah.

God supernaturally withheld him from sleeping with Sarah since he did not know she was a married woman. If he had not done so, he explained that he would have been a dead man. God came to him in a dream and explained these things to him.

4. How did Abimelech explain himself to God?

He defended himself by saying that he thought that Sarah was 'fair game', only Abraham's sister, not his wife. He claimed to be righteous since he didn't have all the proper information to make such a judgment against.

5. Explain why God wanted Abimelech to restore Sarah to Abraham.

God had promised that Sarah would bear a great nation for Abraham. He explained to Abimelech that Abraham was a prophet in order for Abimelech to see that he was an important man with a relationship to God.

6. What would the consequences be for Abimelech and his people if he did not send Sarah back to Abraham?

They would all be put to death if he did not return Sarah to Abraham.

7. God spoke to Abimelech in a dream. In the columns below list some of the ways God speaks to you. Beside each column, describe how you know it is God and not an imposter speaking to you.

God can communicate to me through song, scripture, others, and sometimes through my thoughts. The way I know it is Him is that it falls within His will and will not harm me or anyone else. If it makes me feel guilty, I know it is not the Lord speaking, but the imposter.

8. Sarah again conspired with Abraham to lie about their relationship as husband and wife. You might call lying Sarah's "besetting sin." Examine your heart for a pattern of sin that keeps repeating itself in your life. Then confess it to God, and ask Him to help cleanse you of it once and for all.

Father God, I know that I sometimes have the sin of putting my own selfish needs and desires over serving You and others. Please help me overcome this, Lord. I know what You desire me to do, and I always feel so much better once I do these things. Please create in me an overwhelming desire to do these things, Lord, instead of those that I have fallen into the habit and routine of doing instead.

9. In the book of Esther, King Ahasuerus asked Queen Vashti to do something against her conscience.

a. Read Esther 1:10-19, and recount what happened to this queen because of her refusal to obey her husband.

Queen Vashti was banished from King Xerses' presence permanently. Her position would be given to another woman who 'knew her place.'

b. Though Queen Vashti was not a believer, she is a good example of following conscience rather than the dictates of an ungodly husband. Read Acts 5:26-32, and talk about how one might respond to authority when asked to do something that goes against God's principles. Do you think this extends to the marriage relationship? Why or why not?

I believe that we answer to a higher calling and authority than that of our country. If we prayerfully ask God about whether or not something should be obeyed and feel in our heart of hearts that He says it should not, I believe we need to follow that more than the law of the land.
An example: the law of the land is that I am not to say anything about Christ or His Father in my classroom. However, I feel strongly that if I am answering the question of a child, I must answer truthfully and according to my faith. I have prayed and thought seriously about this, and feel as though if I were to lose my job for NOT denying Christ and my relationship with Him, I would still be in the right in God's eyes.

Whether or not this applies to the marriage relationship also must go along the lines of conscience. If the wife/husband has prayerfully sought God's counsel and believes that the given situation goes against the Lord's teachings and will for their family, then it might need to be an area of disagreement, and possibly for pastoral or other Christian counseling. Yes, the man is to be the head of the household of faith, but if he is leading the family away from the Lord, this is not to be the case, at least in my opinion and interpretation of the Word.

One reason why Judaism, and Christianity which sprang from it, were so much an advance on pagan religions is that they attached comparatively little importance to dreams...As Daniel told Nebuchadnezzar, only God discloses the secrets of dreams...The message of the Bible is that God regards dreaming as a secondary mode of communication.
(Paul Johnson)

The closing quote by John Bunyan, is very thought-provoking:

Our heart oft-times wakes when we sleep; and God can speak to that, either by words, by Proverbs, by Signs and Similitudes, as well as if one was awake.