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God’s Mercy Through Suffering

Today’s reading: Genesis 12:10-16:16

If you read my comments on this passage in Cover to Cover, you may have noticed that there is an important principle of biblical interpretation here. [1] God sent “great plagues” on Pharaoh and his family because, not knowing she was really Abram’s wife, he had taken Sarai into his house. I drew the lesson that we are not to “lean to our own understanding” but to be obedient to God even though we think it may put us in jeopardy.

In this case, God providentially intervened in the situation. He got Abram and Sarai out of the mess they had gotten themselves into by sending the plagues on Pharaoh.

I closed out the devotional with this: “… do not presume that [God] will always rescue us from the immediate consequences of leaning to our own understanding.”

Here’s the important principle I alluded to: do not use narrative passages as normative for every situation. In other words, God dealt in a certain gracious and merciful way with Abram and Pharaoh at that point in history. That does not provide a basis to conclude that whenever we sin, lie, or deceive (as Abram did), God will intervene and rescue us from the consequences. Usually, He will let us reap the full rewards of our bad sowing (Galatians 6:7-8).

Learn to interpret God’s word correctly and faithfully and beware of using narrative passages for normative doctrine.

NOTE: Your thoughtful comments and respectful criticisms are welcome below. Please allow a day or two for approval to see your reply on line.

[For more reflections on today’s passage see the January 5 reading in Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days]

[1] The study of biblical interpretation is called hermeneutics.

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