Genesis 20-21 and Early Church Writings [Mathetes to Diognetus] 7-9

Genesis 20 - A doublet of 12:10, but involving not the king of Egypt but the King of Gerar, a kingdom south of Gaza, Abimelech.  Abimelech has a dream from God revealing the truth of what Abraham is doing and he confronts Abraham.  The idea of God’s prophets being favored and being people who can intercede with God for us is reinforced here (20:7). Abraham learns that there is fear and respect for God outside his own people, so at Abraham’s intercession, God does lift the sanction he had imposed on them for their inadvertent violation of his will.

 

Genesis 21 - Abraham, now 100, finally has his son Isaac (meaning ‘God smiled,’ or laughed).  Sarah is also very old.  Ishmael who, by Chapter 16 reckoning would be 15 years old here is pictured as still a child (14)—on his mother’s shoulder. 

 

At Sarah’s request, they are banished (again?).  God promises Abraham to look after them and make a nation of Ishmael as well. This is a kind of an echo or shadow of the promise to Abraham. In the desert Hagar is reassured personally by an angel.  They go to the wilderness of Paran (on the Sinai Peninsula south of the Negev,) and there Hagar gets a wife for her son from Egypt -- remember Hagar might be Egyptian as well.

 

Abimelech and Abraham make a covenant and settle a dispute over a well at Beersheba, just east of Gerar.

 

Epistle of Mathetes [Disciple] to Diognetus

From Christian Classics Ethereal Library - http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf01.html

 

Chapter 7 – “[T]his was no mere earthly invention which was delivered to them, nor is it a mere human system of opinion, which they judge it right to preserve so carefully, nor has a dispensation of mere human mysteries been committed to them, but truly God Himself, who is almighty, the Creator of all things, and invisible, has sent from heaven and placed among men, [Him who is] the truth, and the holy and incomprehensible Word, and has firmly established Him in their hearts.”

 

“As a king sends his son, who is also a king, so sent He Him; as God He sent Him; as to men He sent Him; as a Savior He sent Him, and as seeking to persuade, not to compel us; for violence has no place in the character of God. As calling us He sent Him, not as vengefully pursuing us; as loving us He sent Him, not as judging us. For He will yet send Him to judge us, and who shall endure His appearing?”

 

They are exposed to wild beast yet they are not overcome. They are punished but their punishment leads them only to have greater numbers. “This does not seem to be the work of man; this is the power of God.”

 

Chapter 8 – Who of us “understood before His coming what God is?” Some said God was fire and others said water. No man has ever “seen Him or made Him known”; he has revealed himself “through faith.”

 

“But after He revealed and laid open, through His beloved Son, the things which had been prepared from the beginning, He conferred every blessing all at once upon us, so that we should both share in His benefits, and see and be active [in His service].”

 

Chapter 9 – “As long then as the former tie endured, He permitted us to be borne along by unruly impulses, being drawn away by the desire of pleasure and various lusts . . so that being convinced in that time of our unworthiness of attaining life through our own works, it should now, through the kindness of God, be vouchsafed to us; and having made it manifest that in ourselves we were unable to enter into the kingdom of God, we might through the power of God be made able.”

 

“He Himself took on Him the burden of our iniquities, He gave His own Son as a ransom for us, the holy One for transgressors, the blameless One for the wicked, the righteous One for the unrighteous. . . . O sweet exchange! O unsearchable operation! O benefits surpassing all expectation! That the wickedness of many should be hid in a single righteous One, and that the righteousness of One should justify many transgressors!”

 

Having shown us in earlier times that we were not capable on our own of attaining that “life” he intended for us, he revealed to us our Savior so as to “lead us to trust in His kindness, to esteem Him our Nourisher, Father, Teacher, Counsellor, Healer, our Wisdom, Light, Honor, Glory, Power, and Life, so that we should not be anxious concerning clothing and food.”

 

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