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Extreme Heat. God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac. What would be the modern equivalent to that test? Or is there one?

For Discussion:

  1. Genesis 22: Abraham and Isaac. Is there a modern equivalent to this famous test? Or would it not apply at all in our day? What was God’s purpose in testing Abraham in this way?
  2. Hosea 2: Unfaithful Gomer, Hosea’s wife. Through the figure of his dealings with Hosea’s unfaithful wife, God sought to illustrate how he intends to deal with his people. And God used two dramatically different motivations, one negative, the other positive. First he took away everything from Gomer in an attempt to bring her back home. But when that didn’t work, he then showered her with gifts and favors. How can we evaluate the use of these dramatically different methods in our dealings with others and in evaluating events in our own lives? Is it appropriate to see everything good as well as everything evil as coming directly from the hand of God? Does the fact that God showered Gomer with gifts when she was still unfaithful suggest that we should be careful in interpreting the meaning of God’s blessings in our own lives? In other words, if we are being blessed materially, should we assume that we are healthy spiritually?
  3. Job 1-2: Faithful Job. When Job’s family, wealth, and health were all taken away from him, he continued to worship God: “The Lord has given, the Lord has taken away.” Yet beginning with Job 3, the erstwhile model of patience erupted in anguished complaint and accusation, even against God. Does the fact that Scripture includes both of Job’s reaction suggest that God is willing to honor both humble submission and anguished complaint as appropriate responses to suffering?
  4. 2 Cor 11:23-29: Paul’s troubles. In 2 Corinthians Paul lists an astonishing number of troubles that he experienced in connection with his mission work. Several questions come to mind: What motivated Paul to go through so much trouble? What might have been God’s purpose in allowing such things to happen to Paul?
  5. Isaiah 43:1-7: Promises versus reality. In Isaiah 43, the prophet declares that major disasters will not touch God’s people: waters, rivers, fire. What is the appropriate response from a believer when such promises are not fulfilled, as was the case (for example) for many in the crisis in Rwanda? Does it help to think of such promises as “testimonies” rather than as promises?

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