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bible reading day 15

Bible reading for Jan 15: Genesis 16; Matthew 15. 

So she called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, "You are a God of seeing," for she said, "Truly here I have seen him who looks after me."  (Genesis 16:13 ESV)

Then Jesus answered her, "O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire." And her daughter was healed instantly.   (Matt 15:28 ESV)

A God who sees.  In today's passages we meet two Gentile (non-Jewish) women who were in desperate need, vulnerable, who nonetheless respond in faith toward the Lord. They join the ranks of other great women of faith, some oppressed and marginalized, others with more advantage, but remarkable for their faith and their contribution to the biblical story. Women like Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Deborah, Bathsheba, Mary the mother of Jesus, Mary Magdalene, Dorcas, Lydia, and Priscilla, to name a few.     

Hagar (Gen 16).  God's people are capable of behaving badly. We see Abram at a high point of faith (Gen 15) and then he and Sarah agree to use Hagar as a surrogate mother (concubinage was accepted in the ancient world, especially when it came to raising up an heir), in order to "help" God fulfill the promise of a child.  It's a bit of replay of Genesis chapter 3 where the husband is passive and goes along with the wife's plan.  It's a bit ironic that it is not the patriarch (a man) who instigates the abuse of this Egyptian servant girl, but rather, it is another woman, his wife who plans it.  Abram nonetheless should have protected the purity and dignity of Hagar.  As is often the case, breaking God's pattern for marriage ends up breaking other relationships, as well. 

The kindness of God.  This poor, foreign woman is the first person in the Bible story to encounter "the angel of the Lord". She is given promises regarding her future and the future of her son, Ishmael. She has, in a very real and literal sense, an epiphany (theologians also call this a theophany, a visible appearance of God).  She realizes that God, the Lord of all, sees her and cares for her!  She manifests her faith by returning to Abraham's family and serving them until the day she and Ishmael will strike out on their own.

The Canaanite woman (Matt 15). This is another heroine of faith.  Again, this is a woman and foreigner in desperate need, with a demonically oppressed daughter. At first reading it seems the Lord Jesus is hard on herBut he does not send her away like the disciples want him to do.  He's testing her, something which he also did with his disciples (see, for example, John 6:6).  She is humble, persistent, and uses to her advantage the metaphor of the family dogs eating the crumbs dropped from the table.  How much she loved her daughter!  How bold she was in approaching Jesus!  She must have had complete confidence that Jesus could heal her daughter.  And look what a happy outcome...

Then Jesus answered her, "O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire." And her daughter was healed instantly. (Matt 15:28 ESV)

Image above, "The Angel Appearing to Hagar", the School of Rembrandt (ca. 1658–59), at the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool.


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