Chapter 16 – CONSEQUENCES … all actions have consequences. Sir Isaac Newton (is said to have been an Anglican theologian in his day but known for his scientific studies) said: “Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.” Some consequences (outcomes) are positive, some are negative. We are about to witness some powerful consequences of doing things in our own reasoning, in our own way, in our own timing. Yep.. I’ve been there and in some areas… still am.. but continue to surrender each area to HIM.
Sarai and Abram had been living in Canaan 10 years at this time (verse 3). It had been 10 years since God first told him at the age of 75 “to your offspring I will give this land.” In Genesis 15:4 God clarifies for Abram that his son would be coming from “your own body.” However, the Scripture does not say that God specifically stated that Abram’s son would be coming from Sarai’s body…. yet.
Some special things to note are:
Genesis 2:23-24 (NIV) states:
The man said,
“This is now bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called ‘woman,’
for she was taken out of man.”
24 That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.
- This Scripture makes it abundantly clear that God’s plan from the beginning was for ONE man to marry ONE woman. Polygamy was never part of HIS design.
- In Chapter 16, there is NO indication that Abram and Sarai PRAYED about Hagar or specifically ASKED if Sarai would have Abram’s son. However, Abram had a close relationship with God. He had to know that God’s perfect plan would NOT be for him to have a child with another woman. I have also read commentaries that state something similar to — whenever God promises a husband something it is also intended/extended to the wife since they ARE ONE FLESH. Remember in Job that his wife was not killed? Some scholars believe the reason she was not killed was because God told satan he could NOT end Job’s life which through marriage (one flesh) extended to his wife.
- Since Sarai could see NO humanly possible way that she could conceive a child (but this is why Isaac is compared to the “new life” we receive as Christians because without God, Sarai could NOT have had Isaac). Back to Sarai.. she could not logically figure out a way for this to happen, so she thought she would “help” God along (can anyone else relate to Sarai???)
- Enter Hagar, Sarai’s Egyptian maidservant …. NOW Sarai saw a way for Abram to have an offspring from his own body. Custom of the day was if the wife could not conceive a child then it was common practice for the wife to offer up her maidservant. BUT… “Common practice” does NOT mean it is God’s will, or that it is right, or even that it is moral. So…. Sarai encourages Abram to sleep with Hagar and he didn’t fight it. Now, you got it…..I can hear Abram singing… “having my baby…” a baby was conceived!!
- NOW…. There is a “whole lotta shaking going on”. Abram is going to have a son, just not the one God intended … but again.. they had no prayer time with God to see what he thought about Hagar. When Hagar knew she was pregnant the first thing that happens is in verse 4 “she began to despise her mistress” (probably because of jealousy in that she was not Abram’s wife). REMEMBER HAGAR’S REACTION FOR THE FUTURE HERE *** IT IS MOST IMPORTANT. Remember, God sees our hearts. Sarai in addition to being beautiful, and head strong, is rather smart and picks up quickly on Hagar’s ill feelings towards her.
- Sarai BLAMES Abram. (Didn’t Adam blame Eve, and Eve blamed the serpent? And God didn’t even bother to ask the serpent ..HE simply cursed him because HE KNEW what had happened.) Abram tells Sarai to do whatever she pleased with Hagar (ummmmm…. Not being a leader in that moment or when Sarai told him to lay with Hagar… but we ALL sin so don’t be too harsh on any one as you read this. Soooooooo Sarai mistreated her so much that Hagar ran away.
- The action — lack of TRUST in God, impatience, human reasoning. The Consequences — in this case were negative — Hagar became pregnant with Abram’s baby boy when Abram was 86 (again he was 75 in Gen 12:4 ….so 11 years later) when the boy was named Ishmael is conceived. THIS was not God’s perfect plan for any of them. But, God did not abandon Ishmael or Hagar did HE? He heard Hagar’s prayer and made and kept promises HE made to her. However, THERE ARE MORE CONSEQUENCES TO COME … EVEN TO THIS DAY … JUST LOOK AT EVERY THING HAPPENING BETWEEN ISRAEL AND THE ARAB NATIONS SURROUNDING THEM TODAY!!! …. Oye Vey!!
Even when we repent, we still have to live out the consequence of our actions. For 13 years, as Ishmael grew, Abraham THOUGHT he had filled God’s promise by bringing forth a son for generations to come. Another CONSEQUENCE is seen when the angel of the Lord advised Hagar to return to Sarai and submit to her (ouch!!). In Gen 16: 11-12 (NIV) look at what the angel of the Lord says another consequence would be in reference to Ishmael’s CHARACTER:
He will be a wild donkey of a man;
his hand will be against everyone
and everyone’s hand against him,
and he will live in hostility
toward all his brothers.”
Write in your Bible: the birth of Ishmael is the Arab Nation Beginning
I have to admit I still have some questions in reference to Abram, Sarai, Hagar, and Ishmael. However, God is revealing things to me each time I read it. I bet many of you are thinking this is not fair, right? I mean Hagar was the servant and she was doing what she was told to do. Ishmael was a result of Hagar following her masters’ commands. Why didn’t Abram and Sarai suffer? Why couldn’t Ishmael be “the chosen one”? And to be quite honest.. I certainly don’t have all the answers. The ONE thing I do know is that Hagar’s reaction of hate towards Sarai when she became pregnant says a lot about her character. And in future chapters we will learn about Ishmael’s character too. The only thing I can say is look at the BIG picture… which is first to truly consider that our personal sins will affect generations to come, just as Abram and Sarai’s did. And remember too that The Lord’s ways are not our ways. Also remember in the big picture, God uses this as an example to us of Ishmael being like our “old nature” once we give our lives to Christ and Isaac is like our “new nature”. Ishmael was born of natural, carnal events. Isaac was a supernatural birth born to two people WAY beyond their child bearing years.
“The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation.” (Exodus 34:7-7)
Chapter 17 — The Lord changes the name of Abram (meaning exalted father) to Abraham (father of a multitude or chief of multitude), and Sarai (meaning princess) to Sarah (noblewoman). We also read about Circumcision. The Lord commanded Abraham to have all his men and boys circumcised as a sign of the Covenant. It will represent their obedience, as an acknowledgement of the Covenant of His people. It is also a sign of being separate from others (the Lord knows what is coming ahead for his people). In these times of Abraham, there are already many other religions (take a look at what was happening in Sodom and Gomorrah in Chapter 18). Abraham’s own dad, Tereh, worshiped many gods (stated in Joshua, which I believe is one reason God called Abraham to LEAVE everything he knew). It is a symbol of being on the team.
Is anybody using the BLB, or other good source to look up any of the names of people, places, rivers, or trees in Hebrew? (It is Hebrew because the Old Testament was written in Hebrew.) Look at this one:
Look at 17:17 AT the idea of a son “he laughed”, then look at 18:12 at the idea of a son “She laughed”. Ummmmm… maybe Isaac means “laugh”???
In verses 15-22 this is the first time that God states that Sarai your wife will give you a son by her. Abraham laughed to himself at the thought of this impossible idea. Abraham also asks “if ONLY Ishmael might live your blessing”. God tells Abraham that Sarah will bear him a son, he would name him Isaac. Isaac would be the one HE would establish his covenant with and all the descendants after him. God answers Abraham about Ishmael by saying … BUT my covenant I will establish with Isaac whom Sarah will bear to you by “this time next year” (at which time Abraham will be 100 and Sarah will be 90). God also tells him that he has heard his requests and he will bless Ishmael by making him fruitful and he will greatly increase in numbers. Abraham is saddened that Ishmael will not carry the covenant; after all it is his son. God went up from him, then Abraham took Ishmael and they were circumcised on the same day (Abraham was 99 and Ishmael was 13). I’m not even a guy and I still say .. that had to hurt at their ages!!
Circumcision was a commandment for Abraham and all the men around him. However, once Jesus Christ came the law was fulfilled and we are no longer under the law. Are men still circumcised, absolutely? In the Jewish faith, since they do not believe the Messiah has yet come, they still follow the law and the eight day rule for baby boys. Other men are circumcised for reasons of hygiene. However, as followers of Jesus Christ our circumcision is of the heart and we have the Holy Spirit who becomes our “identifying mark”. HE is given as a seal to all who trust Jesus as their personal Savior, see Ephesians 1:13-14. And, we will be known by our fruit (of the Spirit) that shines in our lives.
Chapter 18 – Verse 1 – The Lord appeared to Abraham, then in verse 2 it says Abraham looked up and saw three men standing nearby. Abraham was entertaining The Lord and two angels!! He asks them: “IF I have found FAVOR in your sight, please do not pass Your servant by.” And boy did he know how to show the hospitality…. Water for them to drink, wash their feet, and rest under the tree… fresh baked bread by Sarah… a choice calf, milk, and curds. In our day and time it still would take me several hours to bake bread, thaw some meat and cook it…. It had to take them all day to prepare the food for the guests so they had to have “hung” around awhile. Can’t you just imagine this scenario???
The three men asked Abraham where his wife Sarah was and he said in the tent. The LORD said he would return this time next year and Sarah your wife will have a son. WELLLLL… Sarah was listening and laughed to herself because she stated she was worn out and her master was old. In others words.. “HOW CAN I, ME, Sarah, beyond child bearing years have a baby???” The LORD asked why she laughed and she DENIED laughing because she was afraid and probably ashamed for being caught. He KNEW she laughed. This gentle rebuke is how Sarah KNEW He was God and that she would indeed have a son in the next year.
I love verse 14: “Is anything too hard for the Lord?”
Then comes Abraham’s conversation with the Lord about Sodom. Abraham asks God if He will sweep away righteous with the wicked. Abraham begins by asking God what if there are 50 righteous people there, will “you still sweep it away”? The Lord tells him if HE finds 50 righteous people HE will not sweep it away. Abraham knows Lot is there and wants to protect him. Abraham keeps lowering his numbers from “what if there are 50 righteous people there” all the way down to “what if there are 10” and God agreed if He found 10 righteous people there He would not destroy it. CAN YOU IMAGINE this conversation? How comfortable Abraham was with GOD ALMIGHTY!! How much he TRUSTED Him!! How he showed NO inhibition about asking these questions to God…. Just another awesome conversation with God.
You and I can have these conversations with God today because the Holy Spirit lives in each of us who have asked him into our hearts. He is waiting to speak directly to your heart… be patient.. follow His leading… be humble… sing Him praises, give Him thanksgiving… read His Word… and He will speak.
If you have the chance, look up the word “Theophany” — use a dictionary and share the meaning on the blog 🙂
Sharing HIS love,