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Secondhand Faith

April 6th, 2008

“If the God of my father, the God of Abraham and the fear of Isaac,
had not been on my side…”

(Genesis 31:42)

E. Stanley Jones sees in Genesis 31:42 a generational progression away from God. “The thing that has happened to this generation has happened to the three generations of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Jacob could say, “my father’s God, the God of Abraham, the Awe of Isaac” (Genesis 31:42, Moffatt). God was God to Abraham; he had ventured forth with him, his “Friend”; He was intimate firsthand and real. But in the next generation God was not “the God of Isaac,” but only the Awe of Isaac.” He had faded and become secondhand. Still Isaac stood in “Awe” of his father’s God. In the third generation—in Jacob—the result of this gradual fading of God began to shown in the decaying morals of Jacob; moral rottenness appeared. He stole his brother’s birthright. He was ready to take the main chance without regard to God.

Jones goes on to say that we also, like Jacob, often involve ourselves in a secondhand type of faith. “We have lost God…[but] Jacob met God on Jabbok’s banks in his midnight wrestle and emerged a new man. Unless we, like Jacob, find a moral renewal in finding God [afresh, RMH], we are done for” (“God Fading Out,” Abundant Living (New York: Abingdon Press, 1952), p. 3).

Still, God was on Jacob’s side. But, things were scary for a time. Will you yourself find God afresh in your own life? Can you say this is “the Lord my God”?

– Robert M. Housby

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