Genesis 20 (Advent 3)

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Intro --
Brennan Manning, The Ragmuffin Gospel, Multnomah, 1990, pp. 91-2
“A story is told about Fiorello LaGuardia, who, when he was mayor of New York City during the worst days of the Great Depression and all of WWII, was called by adoring New Yorkers “The Little Flower' because he was only five foot four and always wore a carnation in his lapel. He was a colorful character who used to ride the New York City fire trucks, raid speakeasies with the police department, take entire orphanages to baseball games, and whenever the New York newspapers were on strike, he would go on the radio and read the Sunday funnies to the kids.
One bitterly cold night in January of 1935, the mayor turned up at a night court that served the poorest ward of the city. LaGuardia dismissed the judge for the evening and took over the bench himself. Within a few minutes, a tattered old woman was brought before him, charged with stealing a loaf of bread. She told LaGuardia that her daughter's husband had deserted her, her daughter was sick, and her two grandchildren were starving. But the shopkeeper, from whom the bread was stolen, refused to drop the charges.
"It's a real bad neighborhood, your Honor." the man told the mayor. "She's got to be punished to teach other people around here a lesson." LaGuardia sighed. He turned to the woman and said "I've got to punish you. The law makes no exceptions&md;ten dollars or ten days in jail." But even as he pronounced sentence, the mayor was already reaching into his pocket. He extracted a bill and tossed it into his famous sombrero saying: "Here is the ten dollar fine which I now remit; and furthermore I am going to fine everyone in this courtroom fifty cents for living in a town where a person has to steal bread so that her grandchildren can eat. Mr. Baliff, collect the fines and give them to the defendant."
So the following day the New York City newspapers reported that $47.50 was turned over to a bewildered old lady who had stolen a loaf of bread to feed her starving grandchildren, fifty cents of that amount being contributed by the red-faced grocery store owner, while some seventy petty criminals, people with traffic violations, and New York City policemen, each of whom had just paid fifty cents for the privilege of doing so, gave the mayor a standing ovation.”
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That standing ovation, that recognition of grace, is what the Bible tells us will resound forever when God completes salvation.; In fact, we are told in Ephesians that such was the intent.
Ephesians 1:3–14 ESV
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.
As we continue our series “the Gospel According to Genesis” I wanted us to look this morning at because here we learn about the grace of God, which is a main component in the engine that drives salvation history.
“The setting of this narrative is Jacob’s deception to receive the blessing, Esau’s plan to kill Jacob, and Rebekah and Isaac sending Jacob to Haran (27:1–28:5). The conflict begins when Jacob is about to leave the Promised Land: “Jacob left Beersheba and went toward Haran” (28:10). After all his plotting and lying to receive God’s promise of the land of Canaan, Jacob is leaving the land, and Esau remains behind in the Promised Land. Has Esau won out after all? “Jacob is a fugitive now outside all the protections of conventional meanings and social guarantees.”

Grace Comes at God’s Initiative —

The ladder connects heaven and earth, with angels ascending and descending. God is not absent from this earth (as in deism); God is connected with his creation. The ladder is a symbol of this connection.
The Hebrew of “resting on the earth’ is literally “placed toward the earth.” This should bring to mind the Tower of Babel. God’s initiative is the difference and the hope.

Grace Comes in the form of Promises —

The ladder connects heaven and earth, with angels ascending and descending. God is not absent from this earth (as in deism); God is connected with his creation. The ladder is a symbol of this connection.
God is connected with his creation and is determined to bless it.
God’s initiative is our hope.
John 15:16 ESV
You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.
1 John 4:18–19 ESV
There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us.
Philippians 1:6 ESV
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
God’s initiative should give us hope. If God began it he will complete it. If you have had a genuine saving experience of God’s grace, then you can rest in the fact that He will bring your salvation to pass.

Grace Comes in the form of Promises —

This is where God’s grace invites us in to participate in what He is doing with his grace.
2 Peter 1:3–4 ESV
His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.

Grace Comes and Changes Us (Slowly) —

And jof all that you give me I will give a full tenth to you.

“and of all that you give me I will give you a tenth.” (28:22)

Grace Comes Most Fully in Jesus Christ —

John 1:43–51 ESV
The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” Jesus answered him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.” And he said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”
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