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Soldier4Christ
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« on: December 27, 2007, 10:56:42 PM »

Creation - How the World Was Made
Genesis 1:1 - Genesis 2:7

THIS GREAT WORLD in which we live did not always exist. The broad expanse of sky, which smiles upon us when days are fair, and frowns and weeps when days are foul, did not always form an arch above our earth-home. Long, long ago there was no world at all. There was no sun to shine, there were no stars to twinkle, nor moonbeams to play through the night shadows. But even then there was God; for he ever has been and always shall be the same unchanging Divine Being.

       Then, away back in that long ago, at the very beginning of time, God made the world. Not as we see it today, for at first water covered everything, and all was darkness everywhere. What a strange, unfriendly world this must have been, for no living creature could dwell in it! But God planned to make it beautiful, so he caused the light to shine. This light he called Day and the darkness he called Night. And then the evening and morning of the first day of time passed by,

       On the second day God made the beautiful blue sky, and placed above the water-covered earth clouds to carry the sky-moisture. He called the sky Heaven. On the third day he caused the waters to flow together in wide, deep places, and he called them Seas. Dry land then rose up, and this he called Earth. But as yet there were no grasses, flowers, nor trees-the whole earth was barren and desolate. So God caused a carpet of grass to grow upon the bare ground and beautiful flowers to spring up from the earth. The trees and herbs also he made to grow at his will. When God beheld all these things he saw that they were good.

       On the fourth day appeared the great lights which we see in the sky-the sun, the moon, and the stars. These he made to divide the day from the night.

       After these things were made, God began to create living creatures. He made fishes of all kinds and sizes to swim about in the seas and birds of every description to fly about above the water and land, just as we see them doing today. Thus the world continued to become more delightful, and the fifth day of the first week of time passed by.

       On the sixth day God made all the animals, great and small, and every creeping thing. Then there was life abounding in the woods and on the plains, as well as in the air and in the sea. What a beautiful world! Still what a strange world, for there were no people in it! Not a home anywhere-not a man, woman, nor little child to be seen. What a very strange world indeed!

       But God had not yet finished his work of creation, for he wished to have people live in the wonderful world he had made. They could enjoy its beauties and take care of it as no other living creature could do. And more, they could know who had made all these great things, and knowing God they could love and worship him. So it was that God made the first man. Out of the dust of the ground he made the man's body, then he breathed into that body with the breath of life and man became a living soul.

       This first man God called Adam, and to Adam he gave the power to rule over all the other living creatures. These animals and birds he brought to Adam, and Adam gave each of them a name. But not one of them did Adam find suitable for a helper, and because he needed a helper very much God made for him a woman. This woman became Adam's wife, and he loved her very much. He called her name Eve.

       When the sixth day ended God had made the world and had placed everything in it just as he wished, therefore on the seventh day he rested from his work.
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« Reply #1 on: December 27, 2007, 10:57:33 PM »

Eden - The First Earth-Home
Genesis 2:8 - Genesis 3:24

GOD HIMSELF MADE for Adam and Eve their first earth-home. And a beautiful home it was. We shall call it a garden-home. God chose a place from which four rivers flowed and there he planted a large garden. We do not know the many kinds of trees and flowers and vegetables and grasses that he caused to grow in this garden. But we are sure that no park which man has made could be so lovely as was the Garden of Eden. In the midst of this garden God planted a wonderful tree, called the tree of, life. Whoever might eat of the fruit of this tree would live on and on forever.

       Adam and Eve were very happy. God had given them good things to enjoy, and they knew nothing about evil and wrong-doing. They often talked with God and listened to his voice as he walked and talked with them in the cool of evening time.

       God wanted Adam and Eve to prove their love for him, and for this reason he planted in the beautiful garden one test-tree, called the tree of knowledge of good and evil. "Of the fruit of every other tree in this garden you may eat," God had told them "but the fruit of this test- tree you must not taste. If you do, you shall surely die."

       We do not know how long Adam and Eve enjoyed their beautiful garden-home, but we do know that one day a sad thing happened. Sin crept slyly into this lovely place. It came first to Eve. She heard a voice and saw a serpent talking to her. She was not afraid, because she had never known fear. So she listened. "Has God said that you must not eat the fruit of every tree in this garden?" the serpent asked.

       "We may eat of every tree except one," Eve answered. "God has told us that we must not eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, lest we die."

       "That is a mistake; you will not surely die," the serpent replied. "God knows that if you eat fruit from this tree you will become wise to know good and evil, as he is wise, therefore he has forbidden you to eat of it."

       Until this time Eve had not touched the forbidden tree, but now she looked at its fruit and thought that if it really would make her wise, like God, she wanted to taste it. Soon she yielded to the temptation and plucked the fruit, and then she gave some to Adam, and he too ate of it.

       At once Adam and Eve knew what a dreadful thing sin is. They knew they had disobeyed God. A strange something stole into their hearts; it was fear. How afraid they were to meet God! They had never been afraid before, but now they tried to find a hiding-place among the beautiful trees in the garden. Their hearts had become wicked.

       Soon a voice called, "Adam, where are you?" and the frightened man answered, "Lord, I heard your voice and I was afraid, therefore I hid myself." "Why should you be afraid to meet me?" God asked "Have you eaten of the forbidden fruit?" Then Adam told God that Eve had given him some of the fruit and he had eaten it.

       "What is this you have done?" God questioned Eve. And she told him what the serpent had said. "I listened to the tempter and then ate of the fruit and gave it to my husband," was her sorrowful confession.

       God was grieved because Adam and Eve had failed to obey him. Now he knew they could no longer enjoy his presence with them, because sin had spoiled their lives. They were no longer fit to live in the beautiful garden home he had made for them. So he sent them away out into the world to make a home for themselves. And he placed an angel at the gate of the garden to prevent them from coming back to eat of the fruit that grew on the wonderful tree of life.

       To Eve, God said, "Because you listened to the tempter's voice and disobeyed me, you shall have pain and trouble all the days of your life."

       Adam also received a sentence of punishment from God. No longer should the ground yield freely of the fruits and vegetables which Adam and Eve ate for food; now Adam must work hard to keep these things growing. And he would find that weeds and thorns arid thistles would grow in his fields to make his work even harder. Then by and by he should grow old and feeble, and then he should die and his body would again become dust as it was before God created him. All these sorrows came because of sin.

       But while God drove Adam and Eve out of the beautiful garden, he at the same time gave them the promise that he would send a Savior to make all men free from sin and death.
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« Reply #2 on: December 27, 2007, 10:58:31 PM »

Cain and Abel - The First Children
Genesis 4

AFTER SIN CAUSED God to shut Adam and Eve out of the beautiful home that he had made for them, they built a home for themselves somewhere outside the garden gate. Here they began to feel more and more the punishment which their sin had brought upon them. Adam had to toil hard and long to secure food for himself and for Eve. No doubt his hands and feet were sometimes bruised and torn by thistles and thorns. Eve too learned the sad meaning of pain and sorrow. Her home was not so happy as it had been before she listened to the tempter's voice, and chose to disobey God.

       But all the while God loved Adam and Eve. We can not know how great was his grief when they sinned. No longer could he walk and talk with them as he had done before. Now sin, like a great, black monster, had stepped in and spoiled their friendship, and where sin dwells God will not go. No doubt Adam and Eve were sorry, too. No longer could they have God's presence in their home because sin had fastened itself in their hearts.

       But because God loved them still, he gave Adam and Eve a promise of a Savior. And because they believed the promise, hope came into their hearts again. Although they could not talk to God as they had done in their garden-home, now they confessed their sins to him, and it appears certain that they brought gifts which they offered upon altars. These altars they built by piling up either stones or earth, making a flat top, and placing on the top some wood, all cut and ready to be burned. Next they laid their offering upon the wood, then set fire to the wood, and that burned up the offering.

       We are sure that Adam and Eve must have felt lonely, with no friends in all the big, wide world. But God planned that there should be more people, and so one day he gave Adam and Eve a little child-a baby boy. This baby they named Cain. How they must have loved him! After a while God gave them another little boy, and they named him Abel.

       When Cain and his little brother Abel grew old enough to understand, Adam and Eve told them about the great God, and how they themselves had disobeyed him before Cain and Abel were born. They wanted their sons to love this God and try to please him. But alas! sin, like a tiny seed, was already buried in the hearts of these little boys, causing them to think naughty thoughts, or say unkind words, or do wrong deeds, just as little boys and girls are tempted to do today. Abel wanted to please God and he was sorry because he sinned; but Cain allowed the tiny sin-seed to grow and grow until his heart became very wicked.

       By and by Cain and Abel became men, like Adam, and Cain worked in the fields raising grain and fruits, while Abel took care of a flock of sheep. These brothers built altars, upon which they offered their gifts to God, as their parents did. Cain brought for his offering fruit from the field where he had labored, and Abel brought a fat lamb. But Cain's offering did not please God. When he saw that God was displeased, he became very angry. God talked to him. He warned him of the harm that might come if he should continue to be angry instead of becoming sorry for his sins. But Cain was not willing to listen; he was not sorry for his sins.

       Abel believed the promise which God had given to his parents, and when he offered his gift he prayed and asked God to forgive his sins. God was pleased with Abel's offering.

       One day while the brothers were together in the field, Cain quarreled with Abel. Now, we are sure that nothing good can come of quarrels, because they are so wrong. This quarrel ended dreadfully. Cain grew so angry with Abel that he killed him. What an awful deed!

       God spoke again to Cain, and asked, "Where is Abel, your brother?"

       Cain replied, "I know not. Am I my brother's keeper?"

       Wicked Cain did not know that God had seen all he did. And now for a punishment God told Cain that he must leave his old home forever.

       Now at last Cain felt sorry, but he was sorry only because he was to be punished for his sin. He thought God was punishing him more than he could bear. Then God placed a mark upon him that all could see, and by that mark they would know that God did not want them to kill Cain.

       After this Cain wandered far away into a land called Nod. There he lived for many long years.

       Adam and Eve lived a long time, and God gave them other children besides Cain and Abel. Then the time came at last when their bodies grew feeble with age and they died, as God had said they should when they ate the forbidden fruit.
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« Reply #3 on: December 27, 2007, 10:59:19 PM »

Noah's Ark - And Why It Was Built
Genesis 5:1 - Genesis 9:17

THE CHILDREN OF Adam and Eve lived to be very old. Their children also lived for several hundreds of years. And so it was that grandsons became grandfathers before their own grandfathers died. Thus several generations lived and worked together. After a while there were many people living in the world.

       We do not know very much about those people of long ago except the fact that many of them were very wicked. Among them was one man, however, who, like Abel, tried to please God. This man's name was Enoch. The Bible tells us that Enoch walked with God. We understand that he loved God better than he loved anything else, and talked to God and listened when God talked to him. Finally Enoch became an old man. At last, when he was three hundred and sixty-five years old, one day God took him away from earth to heaven, and he did not die. Enoch had a son whom he named Methuselah. This man lived for nine hundred and sixty-nine years, until he was older than any other man had ever been. Then he died, like all other people had done except his father Enoch.

       By this time there were many, many people living in the world. And their hearts were so full of sin that their thoughts and words and deeds were all very wicked. They did not try to please God at all. They did not love him. They did not thank him for the blessings of food and shelter and sunshine which he gave to them. They did not teach their children to love good, pure things, but allowed them to grow up and become evil men and women like themselves. What a sad world this was! for sin was everywhere.

       Finally God planned to destroy all the people because they were no longer fit to live. He felt sorry that he ever had made man. He thought he would destroy everything-people, animals, and every other creature that lived on the earth. He would cause a great flood of water to cover the earth.

       Then God remembered Noah. Here was a man who had tried to do right regardless of all his wicked surroundings. And he had taught his sons to do right also. God was pleased with Noah and with his sons. Sometimes he talked to Noah. Now he told him about his plan to destroy the world. But because Noah and his family had been trying to do right and trust in the Lord, God promised that they should not be destroyed with the wicked people.

       "Get ready to build an ark," God told Noah, "and then when it is finished you and your wife, your sons and their wives may go into this ark and live there until the flood is ended."

       Now that God decided to save a few people he also arranged to save a pair of each kind of animal and of bird and of every living thing on the earth that breathed. These creatures were to be housed in the ark, too, while the flood should last.

       Noah believed God and made ready to build the ark. God had told him how it should be built. For a long time, while others went their wicked way, he and his sons worked, sawing boards and hammering nails, and making every part of the ark just exactly as God had said it should be made. Then by and by every nail was driven securely into its place, the inside walls were finished, and every part was ready for the purpose it should serve. What a queer-looking building now stood before them-a very large boat-like house three stories high, away out on dry land! Doubtless the people laughed much at faithful old Noah and his three sons. Perhaps they thought that only feeble-minded folk could believe that there ever would be such a thing as a flood. Still Noah continued to warn them that they should repent of their sins lest God destroy them.

       One day, when the ark was completed and everything else was in readiness, God called Noah and told him to bring his wife, his three sons and their wives, and come into the ark. And the animals and birds and creeping things God caused to come also, two and two of every kind; and of those animals which man should need after the flood, and birds, seven pairs of each kind came. When they were all inside the ark God himself shut the door.

       After a few days the rain began to fall. And such a rain! Great sheets of water poured down from the clouds as if windows in the sky had been opened and water was flowing through them. Soon the tiny streamlets were raging torrents and the rivers were overflowing their banks. People began to forsake their homes and rush to the hills for safety. Animals, too, ran pell-mell everywhere, trying to find a place of refuge and shelter from the storm. But still it rained, and higher and higher the waters rose until every one believed at last that Noah had told the truth. But now it was too late to repent and seek refuge in the ark, for God had shut the door. And so when the waters crept up to the tops of the hills and mountains and finally buried them out of sight, every living creature on the face of the earth was drowned. Those in the ark were the only ones left alive.

       For forty days and nights the downpour of rain continued; but Noah and his family were safe. When the waters rose high enough they lifted the ark off the ground, and it began to float about like a great ship on the top of the flood. For six months and more it floated high above the water-covered earth. Then one day it came to a standstill. God had caused a wind to blow over the waters to dry them up, and as the flood-tide became gradually lower, the ark had found a lodging-place on the top of a mountain. Here it rested for two months, and all the while the water-mark continued to drop lower down the mountainsides.

       After waiting for some time, Noah opened a window, which must have been very high up, near the roof. He allowed a bird called a raven to fly out of the window. Now, the raven has strong wings, and this bird flew to and fro until the waters had gone down. After some days, Noah sent out a dove; but this bird could not find a place to build her nest, so she soon returned again to the ark. Another week of waiting passed, and Noah sent the dove out once more. She stayed longer this time; and when evening came she flew back to Noah, bringing a green olive-leaf in her mouth. At this Noah and his family knew that the waters were returning to the rivers and the seas, and that the land again was becoming green and beautiful. One more week they waited, and now when Noah sent out the dove she flew away and never returned.

       Now Noah believed that the time had come when he might uncover the roof and look out upon the earth. How glad he must have been to see dry land again; for more than a year had passed since God had shut them inside the ark. And God said to him, "Come out of the ark, with your wife and your sons and their wives, and every living thing that is with you in the ark." So Noah opened the great door, and he and his family stepped out upon the dry ground. All the animals and the birds and the creeping things came out also, and began to live upon the earth as they had done before the flood.

       Noah was thankful to God because his life and the lives of his family had been saved when all other people had perished from off the earth. He built an altar as soon as he came out of the ark, and brought his offering to God. Because Noah had been obedient, God accepted his offering and was pleased with his household.

       God then promised that never again would he send another flood to destroy every living creature, and that as long as the earth should remain there would be summer and winter, springtime and autumn, and day and night. And because God wanted mankind to remember always the promise that he would never again destroy the earth with a flood, he placed in the sky a sign of his promise. That sign was a beautiful rainbow. Have you ever seen that rainbow-sign? It is God's promise to all mankind-to you and to me as well as to Noah and his children.
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« Reply #4 on: December 27, 2007, 11:00:10 PM »

The Tower of Babel - And Why It Was Never Finished
Genesis 9:18 - Genesis 11:9

A  CLEAN, NEW world lay before Noah and his three sons when they stepped out of the ark. Now there were no wicked neighbors to mock at them when they built altars to worship God. Even the wicked works of those wicked people had been swept away out of sight. Everything was ready for a new beginning.

       Noah and his sons set to work and made new homes. Noah's sons were named Shem, Ham, and Japheth. After a while God gave them children. These children grew up and made homes for themselves. Then there were other children; and so it came about that the number of people grew and grew until the earth became as full of people as it was before the flood.

       From the mountain of Ararat, where the ark lodged when the waters went down, the human family went into the south country. Later they moved east, into the valley of Mesopotamia, and there they lived on a plain in the land of Shinar.

       "Let us build for ourselves a city," said the people some time after they reached Shinar, "and let us make a tower so great and high that its top will reach up to the sky. Then we shall not be scattered over the face of the earth, and separated from one another." And so the people set to work.

       In this land of Shinar the soil is such that bricks can be made of it, and soon many bricks were made and ready for use. What a busy people! Some were making brick, others were mixing mortar, and still others were carrying brick and mortar to the workmen who were building the city and the tower. Everything was moving fast and everybody was thinking that some day their city and their wonderful tower would be finished.

       Then something happened that the people had not expected to happen at all. God came to see the city and the tower. He did not talk to the builders, and very likely they did not know he had been there to look upon their work. But God was not pleased with what he saw. He knew that men would become more sinful if they should finish that great tower. Already they were thinking more and more about their own work and less and less about the God who gave them strength with which to labor. Soon they might forget God entirely and worship the work their own hands had made. So God planned to stop their building.

       Until this time all the people in the world spoke one language. Now God caused them to speak different languages. The people of one family could not understand what their neighbors were talking about. Neither could their neighbors understand what they were saying. Such a great change caused the people to become restless, and all those who spoke one language moved into neighbor-hoods by themselves. They could no longer go on with their great building, either, because the workmen could not understand one another's language; and so at last they quit trying to finish the tower whose top they had planned should reach the sky. And the name of the city was called Babel.

       Soon the people of one language gathered together their possessions and moved away from Babel. Others did the same. Across the plains they journeyed and over the mountains into strange lands where men's feet had never walked before. They built cities and planted fields and vineyards, and their number grew until they became strong nations.

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« Reply #5 on: December 27, 2007, 11:01:01 PM »

Abraham - A Man Who Heard And Obeyed God's Call
Genesis 11:27 - Genesis 12:20

THE PEOPLE WHO moved away from Babel into different parts of the world did not pray to God. Their hearts were sinful, and they shrank away from the purity of God, as Adam and Eve did when they tried to hide from God's presence in the Garden of Eden. But we find that the people prayed to something. In every country where they went they had some kind of worship. Many of them worshiped things that God had made, such as the sun, the moon, and the stars. Afterward they also worshiped rivers and mountains and hills. They made images of wood and of stone to these things which they worshiped, and called the images gods.

       Not far from the city of Babel, where the tower was left unfinished, another city was built. This city was called Ur of the Chaldees, because it was built in the home country of the Chaldean people. These people worshiped the moon-god, Ur, and when they built their great city they named it in honor of their god.

       On the plains near Ur lived an old man who was a shepherd. He tilled the soil and also raised large flocks of sheep and herds of cattle. His name was Terah. He had three grown sons named Abram, Nahor, and Haran. They were also shepherd-farmers. Haran did not live to be very old. When he died he left a son named Lot.

       Now, Abram the son of Terah was a good man. He did not worship the moon-god as did his neighbors. He believed in the true God. He built altars and worshiped God just as Abel and Noah had done long years before. His offerings pleased God, and his prayers were heard.

       One day Abraham heard the voice of God calling to him. He listened. God told him to gather together his family and his flocks and herds, bid farewell to his neighbors and friends, and start out on a long journey. God promised to lead him to a land far away, where he would bless him and make his name great. Through his family God promised to give a blessing to all families in the world.

       Perhaps Abram did not understand the meaning of all God's promise. He did not know that in the years to come a Savior should be born among the people of his own family, who would then be called the Jews. This Savior, we know, is the blessing which God promised to give to all families in the world, if Abram would obey his voice.

       Although Abram did not know these things, nor even the country to which God wished to lead him, he was not afraid to go. So he took all his family-his wife, whose name was Sarai, his aged father, Terah, his brother Nahor and his wife, and the young son of his dead brother Haran. They and their servants Abram urged to start out with him on his journey. And they took all their possessions too-the tents in which they lived, and the large flocks of sheep and herds of cattle.

       Day after day they journeyed up the great River Euphrates until they came to a place called Haran. Here they stopped to rest, and here Abram's aged father died and was buried. Even before that God spoke to Abram and urged him to continue his journey. But Nahor, Abram's brother, was unwilling to go farther, so he remained at Haran and made his home at that place.

       After this Abram made a second start. Now he took only his wife, Sarai, his nephew Lot, and their servants. Driving their flocks and herds before them, they turned away from the great river and journeyed southwest, toward the land of Canaan. On one side of them the mountains rose wild and high, while on the other side, as far as they could see, the barren desert stretched away toward the south. On and on they traveled-across rivers, through valleys, over hills-each day farther from their homeland and nearer to the land which God had promised. We do not know how many days and weeks and months passed by before they came to the plain of Moreh, where God spoke again to Abram. "This is the land," God told him, "that I will give to you and to your children." And Abram built an altar there and worshiped God.

       Now, this land of promise was called Canaan, because the Canaanite people lived in it. These people had been there for a long time and had built some towns and cities. Abram did not live among the Canaanite people, but pitched his tents out on the hills or plains, wherever. he could find grass for his cattle and sheep to eat and water for them to drink. All the while his flocks and herds grew larger, until finally Abram became very rich.

       Then there came a famine in the land. The grass failed and the waters of the brooks dried up. Nowhere could Abram find pasture, go he moved away from Canaan into the country called Egypt. Here he saw the great River Nile, and possibly even the pyramids and the sphinx. But he did not remain long in Egypt, because God did not want him to dwell there. When the famine ended in Canaan, he returned again to that country.
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« Reply #6 on: December 27, 2007, 11:01:46 PM »

How Abraham Ended a Quarrel
Genesis 13

AFTER ABRAM RETURNED from Egypt, he and Lot journeyed to the place where they had first pitched their tents in Canaan. There Abram had built an altar to worship God. At the very same place he now sacrificed another offering, and again talked to God.

       Abram was now a very rich man. Not only did he possess many servants, flocks, and herds, but he also possessed much silver and gold. And we find that his nephew Lot owned many servants and sheep and cattle too.

       Wherever these men and their servants pitched their tents, the place looked like a tent-town. And the country all around them would be dotted with cattle and sheep.

       After some time trouble arose between the servants of Abram and Lot. Some of Abram's servants were caretakers of his cattle and sheep. They and the servants who cared for Lot's flocks quarreled. Abram's servants wanted the best pasture-land for Abram's flocks, and Lot's servants wanted that same land for their master's flocks. And so the trouble grew. By and by news of the quarrel reached the ears of Abram.

       He looked out over the crowded country and saw how hard it must be for the servants. How could they always find Places near by where tender grasses grew and where water was plentiful' He saw, too, the villages of the Canaanites not far away, and he knew there was not room enough in that part of the country for all to dwell together peaceably.

       So Abram called Lot and said, "Let there be no quarrel between us or between our servants. There is not room enough for both of us to dwell together with our flocks and herds. But see, the whole land lies before us. Let us separate. If you choose to go to the west country, then I shall journey east; but if you desire the east country, then I shall go west."

       From the height upon which Abram and Lot stood to view the country they could see far to the east and to the west. Because Abram was the one to whom God had promised all this land he could have chosen the better part, or he could have sent Lot and his servants away out of the land altogether. But Abram was not selfish.

       He kindly offered Lot the first choice. And Lot, forgetting the kindness of his uncle, thought only of his own interests and chose the east country, through which the Jordan River flowed.

       "I can always find plenty of grass and water there," he reasoned, "and my flocks and herds will grow in number until soon I shall become very rich, too."

       After Lot departed with his possessions, God spoke again to Abram. Perhaps God saw that Abram felt lonely. So he comforted him by reminding him of the promise that the whole of Canaan's land should belong to him and to his children.

       As yet Abram and Sarai had no children, but God said that some day the children of their grandsons and great-grandsons should be many. And Abram believed God. God also told Abram to journey through the length and breadth of Canaan's land to see how large a country it was.

       So Abram moved away from the place where he and Lot had lived together for the last time, and came to a plain called Mamre. Here he pitched his tents under the oak-trees near the city of Hebron, and then built another altar to worship God.

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« Reply #7 on: December 27, 2007, 11:02:34 PM »

Lot's Choice, And How It Brought Trouble
Genesis 14

WHEN LOT SELECTED the fertile plains of Jordan for his share of Canaan's land, he thought he was making a wise choice. He saw in the distance the large cities of the plain, called Sodom and Gomorrah. He knew that in those cities he could sell sheep and cattle from his flocks and herds, and soon have much silver and gold. So he moved toward Sodom. After a while he pitched his tents still nearer the city walls, and finally he moved his family inside the gate.

       Now, Sodom was not a nice place for good people to live. The people of Sodom cared nothing about God. Some of them were very rich, and perhaps they had beautiful homes. But they had unlovely hearts.The Bible tells us that the men of Sodom were wicked and great sinners in God's sight. But in Lot's sight they were rich men, and clever, and so he brought his family to dwell among them. This was a sad mistake.

       One day trouble came upon Sodom. There had been war in the land and the kings of Sodom, Gomorrah, and three other cities had gone out to battle. The army against which they fought defeated them. Then the conquering soldiers entered the gates of Sodom and of Gomorrah, crowded through the streets, and pushed their way into rich men's houses, taking everything that they could find to carry away. They even took people and led them away to become slaves. And Lot with his wife and children were taken with the others.

       One of the captured men escaped and fled across the country to the place near Hebron where Abram lived. He told about the battle and what had happened to Lot. When Abram heard of Lot's trouble, he took three hundred and eighteen of his men servants and, with some friends, hurried in pursuit of the captives. After a long, hard march across the country they came upon the enemy's camp at a place in the north of Canaan, called Dan. It was night, and the unsuspecting enemies lay asleep. Abram and his men rushed upon them and frightened them. They thought a great army had come to fight against them, and they were not prepared for a battle. So they rose up in haste and ran away, leaving behind their tents and all the goods and the people which they had taken away from Sodom and Gomorrah.

       This was a great victory for Abram. The people of Canaan honored him for his courage, and the king of Sodom went out to meet him. He offered Abram all the gold and silver and food and clothing that he had taken away from the enemy's camp, and asked only that the people be returned again to Sodom. But Abram would not accept any reward from the king, because he had promised God that he would not keep anything for himself. And so all the people and their possessions were again returned to their homes.

       Another king also came out to meet Abram. His name was Melchizedek, and he was king of Salem, a place which was later called Jerusalem. Melchizedek was different from the other people of Canaan because he loved the true God and worshiped him. He was a priest of God. When this king met Abram he brought food for him, and then he asked God to bless Abram. He also thanked God for giving Abram such a great victory.

       Because Melchizedek was a priest of the true God, Abram gave him a tenth of all the goods he had taken from the enemy's camp.

       After this experience, Lot took his wife and children and went back again to live in wicked Sodom; but Abram returned to his quiet tent-home under the oak-trees near Hebron.
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« Reply #8 on: December 27, 2007, 11:03:28 PM »

Hagar, Ishmael, And God's Promise To Abraham
Genesis 15 - Genesis 17

ABRAM WAS NOW growing old. Although he had great riches and many servants, yet he had no children. One night while he lay asleep in his tent-home, God appeared to him in a vision. "Do not be afraid," God told him, "for I will protect you, and will give you a great reward because you are faithful."

       "What will you give me for a reward ?" Abram asked. And God answered that some day Abram should have a son. Then, at God's bidding, Abram rose up and went outside his tent door and looked up at the starlit heavens. "The children of your family," God told Abram, "shall some day be as many as the stars-so many that no one can count them." Abram understood by this that God was speaking of the people who should some day possess Canaan's land, for they should be Abram's descendants. And he believed in the Lord, although he could not see even the beginning of that great family of promise.

       God also caused Abram to understand that there would be a time when the children of his family should become slaves in a strange land, and should dwell there for four hundred years. After that they should again return to Canaan, and possess the land for their own. We shall see in later stories how this came to pass.

       We remember that at one time Abram and his household journeyed into Egypt, during a famine in the land of Canaan. When they returned to Canaan they brought with them an Egyptian servant-girl named Hagar. They taught Hagar to know about the true God and to listen if he should speak to her. And they expected her to work faith-fully for them, a.s good servants should.

       One day Hagar did not please her mistress, Sarai. This was wrong, and Sarai punished her severely. Hagar became very unhappy, until finally she decided to run away.

       Now, running away is never an easy thing to do, and as Hagar hastened along the sandy, desert road she grew very tired. So she stopped to rest by a fountain of water along the roadside. In this lonely place, in the deep wilderness, some one found her. It was an angel of the Lord.

       "Hagar, Sarai's maid, where did you come from? and where are you going?" the angel inquired.

       "I am fleeing from my mistress," Hagar replied, "because I am unhappy."

       "Return again," the angel said, "and try to please Sarai. After a while God will give you a little son. He shall grow up to be a strong man, and he shall be called Ishmael."

       Hagar knew it was a messenger from God who spoke to her. And she knew now that she could never run away from God, because he had seen her all the while. So she obeyed the angel's word and returned again to her mistress. Afterward that fountain of water in the wilderness where the angel found her was called Beerlahairoi, a word w means, "A well of the Living One who sees me."

       So after Hagar returned to Sarai's tent-home, God gave her the child he had promised. Abram named him Ishmael, which means, "God hears." And Hagar remembered that this was the name by which the angel had said the child should be called. Abram loved Ishmael; but Ishmael was not the child that God had promised to give to him. We shall learn more about Hagar and Ishmael by and by.

       The years passed on until Abram was nearly one hundred years old. Then God spoke to him again. Abram fell on his face and listened. God said, "I will make a covenant with you." Now, a covenant is a promise between two persons, each one agreeing to do something for the other. In this covenant God promised to give Abram a son and Abram promised to serve God faithfully. Then God said, "Your name shall no more be called Abram, but Abraham, which means, 'The father of many,' and your wife, Sarai, shall be called 'Sarah,' which means, 'Princess.'"

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« Reply #9 on: December 27, 2007, 11:04:23 PM »

Abraham Gets Strange Visitors
Genesis 18

IT WAS NOONDAY, and everywhere the sun shone hot upon the plains. But Abraham sat in the cool shade of his tent door, beneath a tree. Presently three strange men drew near. They did not look like other men, and Abraham knew they were from a far country. He hurried to meet them, and, bowing low toward the ground just as he always when greeting a friend or a visitor, he urged them to rest for a while in the cool shade. This they were quite ready to do.

       Now we shall see how Abraham entertained his guests. First he merit for water to wash their feet. This was not unusual because people wore sandals in that long-ago time and it was customary for them to remove their sandals and wash their feet whenever they sat down to rest and visit. Next, Abraham told his wife to make ready and bake some barley cakes upon the hearth, while he should prepare some meat, for his guests. Then he ran out to his herd and selected a young calf, which he gave to a servant to dress and cook. When all was ready, he brought the food to his guests, and they ate while he stood under a tree near by. Abraham was glad to serve these strangers because he was kind to every one.

       When the meal was ended, the men arose to continue their journey. Abraham walked with them for a little way. By this time he knew they were not like other men, but they were heavenly beings. Two of them were angels. The other one was the Lord. And Abraham felt that he was unworthy to entertain such wonderful visitors. But because he was a good man the Lord loved him.

       "Shall I hide from Abraham this thing which I do"? the Lord asked his companions. "I know that he will teach his children to keep my ways and to do right."

       Then, turning toward Abraham the Lord said, "I am going to visit Sodom and Gomorrah to see if these cities are as wicked as they seem, for the cry of their sins has reached me."

       The two men hurried on; but Abraham detained the Lord a while longer, because he wanted to talk to him. He knew the Lord would destroy the cities if he found them to be as wicked as they seemed, and he thought of Lot. Now, we remember that Lot had gone back to live again in Sodom after Abraham and his servants had rescued him and his family from the enemy's camp. Abraham knew that Lot too might perish if the cities should be destroyed. And he loved Lot. He wished once more to try to save him, so he said, "Will you destroy the righteous persons in the city, will you not spare the lives of all for their sake'?" And the Lord promised to spare Sodom if he could find fifty righteous persons in it.

       Abraham feared that there might be less than fifty. And he was troubled for Lot's safety. So he spoke again. "I know that I am but a common man, made of dust," said he, "yet I speak to the Lord. If there should be only forty-five righteous persons living in Sodom, will you spare the city ?" And the Lord said he would spare the city for the sake of only forty-five righteous persons.

       Still Abraham felt troubled. He feared there might not be even forty-five. So he asked if the city might be spared for the sake of forty. The Lord knew it was Abraham's love for the people which to plead so earnestly for Sodom, and he promised to spare the city for the sake of forty.

       "What," thought poor, distressed Abraham, "if there should not be even forty righteous persons found in Sodom?" And once more he spoke. "0 Lord, be not angry with me," he said, "but if there are only thirty righteous persons, will you spare the city for their sakes. And the Lord promised to spare the entire city if only thirty people could be found in it. Abraham continued to plead until he had asked the Lord if he would spare the city if only ten righteous persons were found, and the Lord promised to spare Sodom if he could find only ten. Then the Lord passed on, and Abraham returned to his tent.
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« Reply #10 on: December 27, 2007, 11:05:11 PM »

Sodom And Gomorrah, And What Happened to Them
Genesis 19

THE LONG SHADOWS of evening-time were stealing over the through the valleys, and everywhere people were hurrying home. Soon the city gates would be closed, and the wise men who sat there during the daytime to judge the people would be turning homeward, too.

       Among the wise men who sat in Sodom's gate was Lot. On this evening he saw two strangers approaching, and he greeted them with a low bow, just as Abraham had greeted these same men earlier in day. For they were no other than the angels who had dined with the Lord at Abraham's tent. Lot invited them to his home to spend the night, but they said they would stay out in the streets. Now, Lot knew the wicked men of Sodom would try to harm them if they remained in the streets, so he urged them to come with him. Finally they consented.

       Here again the angels were entertained with hospitality, which may have reminded them of Abraham's kindness, for Lot brought water to wash their dusty feet and prepared good things for them to eat. Possibly Lot did not yet know that they were heavenly beings; but he thought they were strangers unlike the wicked men who lived in that city.

       Soon the news spread all over Sodom that Lot had two strange-looking visitors at his home, and men came hurrying from every part of the city to see them. They planned to hurt them. But when Lot refused to let them see his guests, they pushed him aside and tried to break open the door. At this the angels drew Lot quickly inside, and then smote the men with blindness.

       Now Lot knew that his visitors were angels, and that they had come to destroy Sodom because it was such a wicked place. He went out to the homes of his sons-in-law, two men of Sodom, and told them that the Lord was going to destroy their city. But they would not believe his words. And they would not listen when he told them to hurry and escape for their lives. So the night passed by.

       When the early morning came, before the sun lightened the earth, the angels urged Lot and his wife and their two daughters to make haste and flee out of the city lest they also be destroyed. How hard it seemed for Lot to leave his home and his riches to be destroyed! God was merciful to him, and the angels seized him and his family and dragged them outside the city. Then they bade them flee to the mountains for their lives, and not even pause long enough to take a backward glance toward their old home, because God would soon destroy the cities of that rich valley, and unless they hurried away they too should perish. But Lot's wife did not obey the angel's words. She looked back, and her body became changed into a pillar of salt.

       Poor, unhappy Lot! fear now tormented him from every direction. He thought his life would not be safe even in the mountains, for wild animals might devour him there. So he prayed to God to spare a small city near by and allow him and his daughters to enter that place. God heard his prayer and granted his request, so they fled into that city. That place was called Zoar, which means little.

       Just as the sun rose, Lot and his daughters entered the gate of. Zoar, and at that time God sent a great rain of fire and brimstone upon Sodom and Gomorrah and all the neighboring cities. So terrible was the fire that it completely destroyed the cities and all the wicked people near by. Lot and his daughters feared that their lives were not safe in Zoar, so they hurried to the mountains, where God had first told them to go. There they lived in a cave-home, far away from other people. After this time we hear no more about Lot, the man whose home and riches were destroyed because he chose to live among wicked people who hated God.
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« Reply #11 on: December 27, 2007, 11:05:58 PM »

Ishmael - The Little Boy Who Became A Great Hunter
Genesis 20 - Genesis 21:21

AFTER THE DESTRUCTION of Sodom and the other cities of the plain, Abraham moved away from Hebron. He journeyed south and west, into the land of the Philistines, near the Great Sea, and made his home in a place called Gerar. Here he lived only a short when God gave to him and Sarah the child of promise. Abraham named the child Isaac (a word meaning, in his language, "laughing") because both he and Sarah had laughed when God told them that they should have a son in their old age.

       When the baby Isaac grew old enough to toddle about his tent-home, and to lisp words, his father Abraham made a great feast for him. Perhaps many friends were invited, and every one knew that Isaac's parents thought he was a very wonderful little boy indeed. Before the day passed, however, something happened which brought sadness to the kind heart of Abraham.

       You remember that Ishmael, the son of Hagar, Sarah's maid, also lived in Abraham's tent. These two boys, Ishmael and Isaac, may have played together sometimes, although Ishmael was much older than Abraham's little son. On this feast-day, when everybody else was happy, Ishmael was unkind to Isaac. Perhaps he felt jealous of the honor that Isaac was receiving from so many people.

       When Sarah heard how unkindly Ishmael had treated her little boy she became angry, and called Abraham. "You must send Ishmael and his mother away," she told him, "for I do not want our little boy to grow up with such a rude companion." Now, Abraham loved Ishmael too, and he felt sad to hear that the boy had mistreated his son. He thought that Ishmael might learn to be kind; but God told him to send the boy and his mother away, just as Sarah had said.

       So the next morning Abraham called Hagar and told her that she must take Ishmael and go away. He gave her food for the journey and placed upon her shoulder a bottle filled with water. This bottle was not made of glass, but of the skin of an animal; for people used skin-bottles in that long-ago time. Then Abraham bade them good-by, and perhaps he watched them as they started toward the land of Egypt, where Hagar used to live when she was a little girl.

       The road to Egypt led through the same desert where the angel spoke to Hagar when she had run away from Sarah's tent. On this second journey Hagar missed the road and wandered off into the trackless wilderness. She did not know which way to take; and after a while there was no more food in her basket nor water in the bottle which Abraham had given. And the hot sun beamed down upon the dry, burning sand all day, until Hagar and Ishmael grew so thirsty, faint, and weak that they could go no farther. Then Hagar laid her suffering boy beneath the shade of a little bush, and went away. "I can not bear to see him suffer and die," she said, and then she wept.

       But God had not forgotten about Hagar and her boy. Just as he had seen her on her first journey into the wilderness, so he could see her now as she sat weeping all alone. And soon she heard a voice calling to her out of heaven, "What is the cause of your sorrow, Hagar? Do not be afraid, for God has heard Ishmael's cry of pain, and he will save his life and make of him a great nation. Go, now, and lift him up." Then Hagar saw a spring of water which God caused to bubble out of the dry ground near by, and she quickly filled her empty bottle and gave Ishmael a drink.

       After this Hagar and Ishmael did not journey on to Egypt, but made their home in the wilderness, far from other people. God cared for them, and Ishmael grew to be a strong, wild man. He became a hunter, and used a bow and arrow. His children also grew up in the wilderness, and were wild and strong like their father. They finally were called Arabians, and even today their descendants live in the desert and wander about wherever they please, just as Ishmael, their forefather, did so long ago.
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« Reply #12 on: December 27, 2007, 11:06:47 PM »

How Abraham Gave Isaac Back to God
Genesis 22:1-20

IT IS GOD'S will that people show their love for him by what they do. You remember how God wished to have the first man and woman show their love for him. He planted in their garden-home a test-tree, the fruit of which he commanded them not to eat. And you remember also how they failed to obey his command, and so failed to show their love.

       Abraham always listened to God's voice and obeyed. He left his own people and his homeland to journey into a country that he did not know, because God called him. And in our last story he sent Ishmael and Hagar away because God told him to do as Sarah had said. Even when it did not seem easy to obey, Abraham was always ready to do God's bidding.

       After the baby Isaac came into Abraham's life, God saw that Abraham's love for the little boy was very strong. And the passing years increased this love, because Abraham knew that Isaac was the child God had promised, and he loved Isaac as a gift from God. He looked forward to the time when Isaac should become a man and should have children also, and he knew that these children should grow up and become the fathers of more people, because God had told him these things. And so whenever he looked upon Isaac and thought about these things, he knew that in this child were bound up all the promises of God for the coming years.

       By and by the time came when Isaac grew far away from baby-hood into youth. Abraham had taught him to know about God and to worship him. Perhaps he had taken Isaac with him when he offered gifts upon the altar, and he had told Isaac that God would accept the gifts and hear his prayers if he would try to do right. And Isaac loved his father Abraham, and was obedient to. him.

       When God saw how dearly Abraham loved his son, and how obedient and loving Isaac was toward his father, he thought, "I must prove Abraham this once more, and see whether he loves me better than he loves the gift-child I have given." So he called to Abraham one day, and Abraham answered, "Behold, here am I." Then God said, "Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love so much, and go into the land of Moriah. There give him back to me as an offering upon an altar, which you must build at the place I will show."

       Abraham did not know the reason why God should ask him to give Isaac back as an offering. He could not understand how the promises concerning Isaac would be fulfilled if now he must offer Isaac upon an altar, just like the lambs which he had given to God at other times. But Abraham believed that God understood why, and so he was not afraid to obey.

       The land of Moriah was some distance from Abraham's tent, and the journey there would require a few days' time. Abraham knew this, and he prepared to start at once. He called two young men servants and Isaac, then saddled his donkey, and they started away. They took wood and fire with which to burn the offering, and traveled on and on for two days, sleeping at night under the trees. On the third day Abraham saw the mountain where God wanted him to build the altar and offer his gift. He left the servants with the donkey to wait by the roadside, while he and Isaac should go on alone. Isaac carried the wood upon his shoulder, and Abraham took the vessel containing the fire.

       As they climbed the mountain-side together, Isaac began to wonder why his father had forgotten to bring a lamb for an offering. He did not know what God had asked Abraham to give. He did not understand why they were going so far from home to build the altar. So he said, "My father, see, here is wood and fire for the altar, but where is the lamb for an offering?" Abraham replied, "God will provide himself a lamb."

       When they reached the place God had appointed, Abraham built an altar, laid the wood upon it, and then bound Isaac's hands and feet and placed him upon the wood. Next he took his knife, and was about to kill Isaac when a loud voice called to him out of the sky, "Abraham! Abraham!" The old man stopped to listen, and the angel of God said to him, "Do not harm Isaac. Now I know that you love God even better than you love your child. Untie his hands and his feet, and let him go." At this Abraham saw a ram caught by its horns in a thicket near by. He took this animal and offered it instead of his son Isaac.

       Afterward the angel called to Abraham from the sky again, and said, "Because you have not withheld your dearly loved child from me, I will surely bless you and will cause your descendants to be as many as the stars in the heavens and as the sands upon the seashore. And I will bless all the nations of the earth through your descendants, because you have obeyed my voice."

       No doubt it was a happy father and son who walked down the mountain-side together; for now Abraham knew that he had surely pleased God, and Isaac knew that his life was precious in God's sight. Abraham called the name of the place where he built the altar, Jehovah Jireh, which means in his language, "The Lord will provide." Then they returned to the young men servants who were wait-ing by the roadside, and then journeyed on to their home at Beersheba., where Abraham had planted trees and digged a well some time before this story. Here Abraham lived for many years.
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« Reply #13 on: December 27, 2007, 11:08:07 PM »

How Abraham Found a Wife For Isaac
Genesis 23:1 - Genesis 25:18

WHEN SARAH, ISAAC'S mother, was one hundred and twenty-seven years old, she died. Abraham had no place to bury her, so he bought a field containing a cave,, and Abraham buried Sarah in this cave. The field and the cave were called by the name of Machpelah.

       After Sarah's death, Abraham and Isaac felt lonely. Isaac was now grown to manhood, and Abraham thought he was old enough to be married. The parents usually choose wives for their sons, and husbands for their daughters, in those countries, and Abraham wished to choose a good wife for Isaac. He knew that the women who lived in Canaan were idol-worshipers, and that they would not teach their children to love the true God. Because he wanted Isaac's children to serve God, he would not choose a woman of Canaan to be Isaac's wife.

       Then Abraham remembered the news that had come to him from his brother Nahor, who lived at Haran, the place in the country of Mesopotamia where his aged father had died. Nahor was now the father of twelve sons. "Perhaps I can send back to my own people at Haran," thought Abraham, "and find a wife for Isaac." So he called his trusted servant,Eliezer, and asked him to journey back to Haran and try to find a God-fearing wife for Isaac.

       Eliezer knew that such a journey would require many days' time and would be attended by many dangers along the way. He knew, too, that Abraham's people might not be willing to send a daughter so far from home to become the wife of a man whom they had never met. But because he was a faithful servant Eliezer said, "I will go."

       Then the long journey began. Eliezer took with him ten camels, several attendant servants, and many valuable presents. For days and days they traveled, crossing valleys, hills, and rivers, and edging alongside the great, lonely desert. By and by they came to the northern part of Mesopotamia, and then at last their tired camels stopped outside the city of Haran and knelt down near a well.

       It was evening time, and the women of the city were coming to this well to fill their pitchers with water. Eliezer had learned to trust in Abraham's God, and now he lifted up his heart and prayed that God would send out to this well the young woman who would be suitable for Isaac's wife. "Let it come to pass, 0 Lord," he prayed, "that the young woman of whom I shall ask a drink may offer to draw water for my camels also. By this sign I shall know that she is the one whom you have chosen, for Abraham's sake, to he the wife of Isaac."

       While Eliezer was praying, a beautiful young woman approached, with an earthen pitcher upon her shoulder. Eliezer waited until she had filled the pitcher with water, then he asked for a drink. Although he was a stranger, she spoke kindly to him and said she would draw water for his camels also. Again and again she filled her pitcher and poured its contents into the trough that the thirsty animals might drink. When she had done this, Eliezer gave her some of the beautiful presents that he had brought, and asked whose daughter she was and whether her people could supply lodging for him and for his camels. At her reply that she was the granddaughter of Nahor, Abraham's brother, Eliezer knew that his prayer had been answered, and he bowed his head and worshiped God. Then Rebekah-for this was the young woman's name -told Eliezer that there was plenty of room in her father's house to lodge them all, and she hurried to tell what had happened at the well and to show the beautiful presents that Eliezer had given her.

       When her brother Laban heard her story and saw the costly ornaments which Eliezer had given to Rebekah, he ran eagerly to meet the strangers at the well and to invite them to come in. "We have room for you and for your camels," he told them, and they went with him into the city. Laban now showed the same kindness to his guests that Abraham and Lot had shown to their angel visitors. He first brought water to wash their feet and then set food before them.

       But Eliezer could not eat. "First let me tell why I have come," he said. "I am Abraham's servant, and God has blessed my master greatly, giving him flocks and herds, silver and gold, and many servants, besides camels and asses. God also gave to him and Sarah a son in their old age, and now Abraham has given all his great riches to his son. But as yet this son, Isaac, has no wife, and Abraham will not take a wife for him from the daughters of Canaan, because they worship idols. He has sent me, therefore, to you, to find a wife for Isaac." Eliezer told also how Rebekah, in answer to his prayer, had offered drink to him and to his thirsty animals.

       Rebekah's father and brother Laban were willing to let her go back with Eliezer because they believed that God had sent him. And Rebekah, too, was willing to go. Eliezer was grateful to know of their willingness, and he bowed his head once more to worship the great God who had helped him on his journey. Afterward he enjoyed the feast which Rebekah's people had prepared for them. That same night he gave other presents of silver and gold and beautiful clothing to Rebekah, and to her mother and brother.

       The next morning Eliezer said, "Now let me return to my master." Laban and his mother did not want to let Rebekah leave them so soon. "Can you not stay for a few more days?", they asked. But when Eliezer insisted that he must go at once, they called Rebekah, and she said, "I will go." So they bade her good-by and sent her away with her nurse and other attending maids.

       On the homeward journey Rebekah and her maids rode the camels, and Eliezer led the way to Canaan. Very likely they traveled the same road that Abraham had traveled many years before, when he went with Sarah and Lot to the land that God had promised. At last they drew near to the place where Abraham and Isaac now lived. The evening shadows were stealing through the trees, and Isaac was out in the fields alone, thinking about God, when he saw the camels coming. He hurried to meet them, and Rebekah, seeing him, asked who he was. "This is my master, Isaac," Eliezer replied, and Rebekah alighted from her camel and covered her face with a veil.

       When Isaac met them, Eliezer told how God had answered his prayers and had sent Rebekah to him. Isaac took her to his mother's tent, and she became his wife. He loved her, and did not grieve any more because of his mother's death.

       The time passed on, and finally Abraham died, too. He had reached the age of one hundred and seventy-five. Ishmael heard of his death and came to help Isaac bury his father. They placed his body in the cave where Sarah had been buried.

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« Reply #14 on: December 27, 2007, 11:09:30 PM »

The Story of Jacob
Genesis 5:15 - Genesis 27:41

AFTER ABRAHAM DIED, his son Isaac lived in the land of Canaan. Like his father, Isaac had his home in a tent; around him were the tents of his people, and many flocks of sheep and herds of cattle feeding wherever they could find grass to eat and water to drink.

       Isaac and his wife Rebekah had two children. The older was named Esau and the younger Jacob.

       Esau was a man of the woods and very fond of hunting; and he was rough and covered with hair.

       Jacob was quiet and thoughtful, staying at home, dwelling in a tent, and caring for the flocks of his father.

       Isaac loved Esau more than Jacob, because Esau brought to his father that which he had killed in his hunting; but Rebekah liked Jacob, because she saw that he was wise and careful in his work.

       Among the people in those lands, when a man dies, his older son receives twice as much as the younger of what the father has owned. This was called his "birthright," for it was his right as the oldest born. So Esau, as the older, had a "birthright" to more of Isaac's possessions than Jacob. And besides this, there was the privilege of the promise of God that the family of Isaac should receive great blessings.

       THE SALE OF A BIRTHRIGHT

       Now Esau, when he grew up, did not care for his birthright or the blessing which God had promised. But Jacob, who was a wise man, wished greatly to have the birthright which would come to Esau when his father died. Once, when Esau came home, hungry and tired from hunting in the fields, he saw that Jacob had a bowl of something that he had just cooked for dinner. And Esau said:

       "Give me some of that red stuff in the dish. Will you not give me some? I am hungry."

       And Jacob answered, "I will give it to you, if you will first of all sell to me your birthright."

       And Esau said, "What is the use of the birth-right to me now, when I am almost starving to death? You can have my birthright if you will give me something to eat."

       Then Esau made Jacob a solemn promise to give to Jacob his birthright, all for a bowl of food. It was not right for Jacob to deal so selfishly with his brother; but it was very wrong in Esau to care so little for his birthright and God's blessing.

       Some time after this, when Esau was forty years old, he married two wives. Though this would be very wicked in our times, it was not supposed to be wrong then; for even good men then had more than one wife. But Esau's two wives were women from the people of Canaan, who worshipped idols, and not the true God. And they taught their children also to pray to idols; so that those who came from Esau, the people who were his descendants, lost all knowledge of God, and became very wicked. But this was long after that time.

       Isaac and Rebekah were very sorry to have their son Esau marry women who prayed to idols and not to God; but still Isaac loved his active son Esau more than his quiet son Jacob. But Rebekah loved Jacob more than Esau. Isaac became at last very old and feeble, and so blind that he could see scarcely anything. One day he said to Esau:

       "My son, I am very old, and do not know how soon I must die. But before I die, I wish to give to you, as my older son, God's blessing upon you, and your children, and your descendants. Go out into the fields, and with your bow and arrows shoot some animal that is good for food, and make for me a dish of cooked meat such as you know I love; and after I have eaten it I will give you the blessing."

       Now Esau ought to have told his father that the blessing did not belong to him, for he had sold it to his brother Jacob. But he did not tell his father. He went out into the fields hunting, to find the kind of meat which his father liked the most.

       Now Rebekah was listening, and heard all that Isaac had said to Esau. She knew that it would be better for Jacob to have the blessing than for Esau; and she loved Jacob more than Esau. So she called to Jacob and told him what Isaac had said to Esau, and she said:

       "Now, my son, do what I tell you, and you will get the blessing instead of your brother. Go to the flocks and bring to me two little kids from the goats, and I will cook them just like the meat which Esau cooks for your father. And you will bring it to your father, and he will think that you are Esau, and will give you the blessing; and it really belongs to you."

       But Jacob said, "You know that Esau and I are not alike, His neck and arms are covered with hairs, while mine are smooth. My father will feel of me, and he will find that I am not Esau; and then, instead of giving me a blessing, I am afraid that he will curse me."

       But Rebekah answered her son, "Never mind; you do as I have told you, and I will take care of you. If any harm comes it will come to me; so do not be afraid, but go and bring the meat."

       Then Jacob went and brought a pair of little kids from the flocks, and from them his mother made a dish of food, so that it would be to the taste just as Isaac liked it. Then Rebekah found some of Esau's clothes, and dressed Jacob in them; and she placed on his neck and hands some of the skins of the kids, so that his neck and his hands would feel rough and hairy to the touch.

       Then Jacob came into his father's tent, bringing the dinner, and speaking as much like Esau as he could, he said:

       "Here I am, my father."

       And Isaac said, "Who are you, my son?"

       And Jacob answered, "I am Esau, your oldest son; I have done as you bade me; now sit up and eat the dinner that I have made, and then give me your blessing as you promised me."

       And Isaac said, "How is it that you found it so quickly?" Jacob answered, "Because the Lord your God showed me where to go and gave me good success."

       Isaac did not feel certain that it was his son Esau, and he said, "Come near and let me feel you, so that I may know that you are really my son Esau."

       And Jacob went up close to Isaac's bed, and a Isaac felt of his face, and his neck, and his hands, and he said:

       "The voice sounds like Jacob, but the hands are the hands of Esau. Are you really my son Esau?"

       And Jacob told a lie to his father, and said, "I am."

       Then the old man ate the food that Jacob had brought to him; and he kissed Jacob, believing him to be Esau; and he gave him the blessing, Saying to him:

       "May God give you the dew of heaven, and the richness of the earth, and plenty of grain and wine. May nations bow down to you and peoples become your servants. May you be the master over your brother, and may your family and descendants that shall come from you rule over his family and his descendants. Blessed be those that bless you, and cursed be those that curse you."

       Just as soon as Jacob had received the blessing he rose up and hastened away. He had scarcely gone out, when Esau came in from hunting, with the dish of food that he had cooked. And he said:

       "Let my father sit up and eat the food that I have brought, and give me the blessing."

       And Isaac said, "Why, who are you?"

       Esau answered, "I am your son; your oldest son, Esau."

       And Isaac trembled, and said, "Who then is the one that came in and brought to me food? and I have eaten his food and have blessed him; yes, and he shall be blessed."

       When Esau heard this, he knew that he had been cheated; and he cried aloud, with a bitter cry, "0, my father, my brother has taken away my blessing, just as he took away my birthright! But cannot you give me another blessing, too? Have you given everything to my brother?"

       And Isaac told him all that he had said to Jacob, making him the ruler over his brother.

       But Esau begged for another blessing; and Isaac said:

       "My son, your dwelling shall be of the riches of the earth and of the dew of heaven. You shall live by your sword and your descendants shall serve his descendants. But in time to come they shall break loose and shall shake off the yoke of your brother's rule and shall be free."

       All this came to pass many years afterward. The people who came from Esau lived in a land called Edom, on the south of the land of Israel, where Jacob's descendants lived. And after a time the Israelites became rulers over the Edomites; and later still, the Edomites made themselves free from the Israelites. But all this took place hundreds of years afterward.

       It was better that Jacob's descendants, those who came after him, should have the blessing, than that Esau's people should have it; for Jacob's people worshipped God, and Esau's people walked in the way of the idols and became wicked.

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Joh 9:4  I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.
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