Abraham called out of Ur of the Chaldeans to go to Canaan, there to found a great nation, a blessing to all peoples. Isaac, Abraham’s son, taken to be sacrificed by his father, until God provided a substitute. Jacob, Isaac’s son, the schemer who cheated his older brother of his birthright, whose thigh (and heart) was broken as he wrestled all night with God’s messenger. Joseph, Jacob’s son, the dreamer sold into Egypt by his brothers, who meant it for evil while God meant it for good.
These are the patriarchs whose stories are told in Genesis 12–50. Why have these accounts been preserved? What importance do they have in the development of Israel’s understanding of God? What message from them does God have for us today? Joyce Baldwin skillfully weaves her answers to these questions, bringing the history of an ancient people to bear on our lives.
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“Though he could not know it, Joseph was going through an experience which was to become a major theme of the Bible. The godly Servant was despised and rejected, only to become the rescuer of those who abused him (Is. 53:3–6); the Lord’s shepherd was underrated (Zc. 11:12–13), was struck down and his sheep scattered, but the ‘sheep’ found they were the Lord’s people (Zc. 13:7–9); the way of the cross involved for Jesus betrayal by a friend, as well as agony and death, but it was the way to life for all believers.” (Page 160)
“Though you and I do not ‘see the Lord’, he still deals with us personally, breaks down our defences, and moves us to return to him in repentance so that we may receive the blessing he has for us.” (Page 139)
“His lifetime’s struggle against allowing the God of his fathers to hold the reins of his life had at last come to an end.” (Page 138)
“The return journey brought Abram into the south of Canaan, but he was not content to stay there, for he had a mind to head for Bethel and Ai, ‘where he had made an altar at the first’ (13:4). Instinctively Abram sensed his need of forgiveness, cleansing and renewal, and he sought them at the place where he had already owned and worshipped the Lord. It is important to notice that he came back, that the way was open for him to come back, and that the Lord received him back, as the continuing story proves.” (Page 39)
“Abram was learning the basic lesson that every believer in turn has to learn, namely that God’s delays are not denials.” (Page 51)