“He replied, ‘As you enter the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him to the house that he enters, and say to the owner of the house, “The Teacher asks: where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?” He will show you a large room upstairs, all furnished. Make preparations there.’ They left and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover.” – Luke 22:10-13 NIVUK
This is a beautiful example doing ministry Jesus’ way, i.e. the natural and the supernatural completely interwoven.
- Jesus obviously talked to the people who owned the house previously about celebrating the Passover in this location. This shows that there are things we have to do in the natural to prepare for future ministry. However, we need to trust Jesus to help us make the right connections. The disciples meeting the man with the jar is evidence that He is God since only God can orchestrate such “coincidence”.
- Jesus is making preparations for us to serve Him in ministry. We need to listen to Him and act in faith. If we do, we will “things just as Jesus tells us”.
This historical account is reminiscent of Genesis 27. However, there is a major difference between the two accounts: in Genesis 27 Isaac is deceived by Jacob, and Jacob, the youngest son, gets the blessing usually reserved for the older son. In this account Ephraim, the younger brother, gets the blessing that should be given to the older brother with the full knowledge of Jacob. The Bible doesn’t tell us exactly why Jacob does this. Looking at how Jacob gives glory to God in the blessing that he pronounces over Joseph’s sons, I propose that God might have spoken to him about it. But again, we don’t know that for sure.
It is interesting to note that Jacob, the youngest, was appointed over his brother Esau; Joseph, the youngest, was the leader of his older brothers; Ephraim, the youngest, was appointed over Manasseh. All of these appointments were counter-cultural, i.e. culture assigned seniority according to age, not by wisdom, experience, or ability. Perhaps there is a practical application for us in this: when God calls us, He might ask us to do something that is Scripturally sound but counter-cultural – He will probably do it because He has gifted you in this area. We must be careful to limit what we can do for God by allowing ourselves to be bounded by cultural expectations. I realize that this is a dangerous statement, and that is why I mentioned before that you have to be a 100% sure that what God is calling you to do is Scripturally sound.
It is interesting to see where Jacob is in his relationship with God. In the blessing he pronounces over Joseph’s sons he says, ‘the God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, the God who has been my shepherd all my life to this day, 16 the Angel who has delivered me from all harm’. What a wonderful declaration of faith?! Our God is unchanging and He transcends time; He is one who goes ahead of us, and decides what is the best road to take, where we can find the best pasture, and where is the most secure watering hole; He is our protection.
I admire Abraham for the example he sets in this passage. Like many fathers who have read this account over the centuries, I am not sure whether I would have been able to do what he has done. However, it does show us that Abraham’s faith in God is God-sized. He had no hesitation to do what God had asked him to do, because if God could give him a son in his old age, God could certainly raise Isaac from the dead – something only God could do. Sometimes I wonder how big my faith in God is. Do I really believe that ‘nothing is impossible with God’ (Luke 1:37, NIV)?
We also get to see the kind of devotion God requires of us. We can’t claim ownership of anything we have or accomplish. Everything is a gift from God. God’s grace makes us who we are. May the Lord grant us the ability to understand this, and never to forget it either.
The chapter ends on a strange note, talking about the children Abraham’s brother has been blessed with. However, it is painting the backdrop of what is going to happen in the chapters to come: the search for a wife for Isaac.
The ‘Call of Abram’ is a famous passage in the Bible, and it is quoted a few times. I think the recollection of this account in the New Testament book of Hebrews is the most striking. The author of Hebrews write,
“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.
By faith Abel offered God a better sacrifice than Cain did. By faith he was commended as a righteous man, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith he still speaks, even though he is dead.
By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death; he could not be found, because God had taken him away. For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.
By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. By faith Abraham, even though he was past age—and Sarah herself was barren—was enabled to become a father because he considered him faithful who had made the promise. And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.” (emphasis mine)
I love it when the Bible explains itself, and when it does, I believe that we are supposed to pay attention to the passage emphasized. I am NOT saying that we don’t have to pay attention to other passages that are not ‘as well’ explained. I just believe when an idea is repeated in the Bible, it is important for us to pay attention to it. Hebrews 11 shows us what Biblical faith is. May we be inspired to have this kind of faith.
One of the great things about this chapter is that it shows us the difference between doing things God’s way and doing things our way. God tells Abram to leave his country, people and his father’s household, i.e. basically all worldly security in that period of history, for a destination God will reveal to him. This was a really tough call, but Abram responds in humble obedience by going to this unknown destination.
Now God did give us good minds to think things through, so when Abram is confronted with famine in Canaan, He decides to temporarily relocate to Egypt until the famine is over. On a side note, since God led him here, I guess you could argue that he should have waited for God to tell him where to go to next. Then, out of fear for his life, he takes matters in his own hands, and decides to try his hand at deception. It works until Pharaoh and his household get sick because Pharaoh has unknowingly taken Abram’s wife to be his wife.
When Pharaoh discovers Abram and Sarai’s deception, he expels them from the land, defeating the purpose from coming to Egypt in the first place. One can only wonder how the story would have turned out if Abram waited on God’s instructions in this difficult situation.
I think sometimes our life’s journey takes strange detours because we don’t wait on God to direct our path. May the Lord help us to be patient, and wait on Him. He is faithful, and His timing is perfect, although it often is not our timing.