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Genesis chapter 16


SCRIPTURE: Genesis 16
AUTHOR:  Jeremy Witt

One of the most difficult things we struggle with is patience.  Whether it be waiting on a phone call that is expected, waiting to hear if you got the job, waiting on your spouse to go somewhere, waiting to hear God respond to urgent prayer, or just simply waiting for direction from the LORD, waiting is difficult on us.  Abram and Sarai have been promised a son, but in their case, God was not moving at their pace.  One of our biggest temptations when waiting on God is to take matters into our own hands.  Have you ever done this?  This failure to wait is exactly what Sarai does.   Have you ever thought about why she did this?

In this time period, the woman’s primary role was to have children.  When a woman couldn’t have children, they were made fun of by other women and viewed as next to worthless.  In order to stop this, a married woman could not have children, she would offer a servant or 2nd woman to bear children for her.  The children born to the servant woman would be considered children of the married woman in that culture.  Sarai’s action here was commonplace for that culture, and Abram agreeing to do so fell in line with the cultural norms.  However, their actions demonstrated a lack of faith in God.  Humanly speaking, we might defend Abram, especially in our “right now” mentality today.  “If momma ain’t happy, no one is happy” might be another defense for Abram.  We see man’s weakness in Abram as was Adam’s weakness in the garden with Eve.  He did what she suggested instead of doing what he knew to be right.  This is one of the male gender’s weaknesses with his wife, he will submit to her wishes over what the LORD calls him to be.  The fault was not solely Sarai’s but it was also Abram’s for not trusting on God and waiting as he was promised.

Usually, when we take matters into our own hands, we regret the results.  They are not what we expected and we realize our wrongs.  Sarai does this at the end of verse 4 and then blames Abram for doing what she asked.  Then in verse 6, Sarai takes it out on Hagar and Hagar runs away from Sarai.  What we read in verses 7-16 is that an angel of the LORD looks after Hagar and gives her instructions to go back to Abram and Sarai.  The angel tells her that she will have a son, tells her what to name the boy and foretells the kind of man he will be.  This group of people from Ishmael will become a nation and their dislike and hate toward the Israelites continue to this day.  I have always wondered how things might have been different had Sarai trusted God rather than taking matters into her own hands.

In this story, we have 3 individuals who make mistakes.  Sarai takes matter into her own hands.  Abram goes along with her in this plan despite the promise from God.  Abram refused to get in the middle between Sarai and Hagar despite Hagar carrying his child.  Hagar runs from her problems and the angel of God tells her to return, provides for her and tells her of her son’s future.  Despite all of this, God will use these mistakes for His good.  Romans 8:28.  The promised son will arrive 14 years in chapter 21. 

God is faithful.  God provides and fulfills His promise to Abram despite this failure.  God is true to His Word.  No problem is too big for God if we are willing to let God help us.  He took care of Hagar and Ishmael despite their difficult situation.  God will take care of us despite our difficult circumstances if we will let Him. 

Trust in the Lord.  Wait on Him and do not take matters into your own hands.  Be faithful even when God seems silent and you are tired of waiting.  He will answer and He will be true to His Word.  We all need to remember these things.

For extra credit only if you wish, I have given some extra information on Ishmael and the result of Sarai’s lack of trust and patience on God.

*I will point out that those of the Islamic faith switch the stories of Ishmael and Isaac and claim that Isaac was the child neglected and that Ishmael was the one who was blessed.  Should you get into a conversation with a Muslim, they believe that they are the descendants of the Promise from Abraham, not Isaac and the Israelites.  I will also point out that Muslims believe Jesus was a Prophet too.  Muhammed, their prophet, took some things from Judaism, Christianity, and even some of the pagan faiths when he created Islam.  It is an interesting study for those who wish to investigate for the purposes of sharing Jesus with a Muslim.

*For further Biblical study on Ishmael.  Ishmael and his descendants continue to appear throughout Scripture in 1 Chronicles 5:10; Psalms 83:6, Isaiah 13:20 (Hagarites, Hagerenes, Arabians are other names given to Ishmael’s descendants.)  They were divided into 12 tribes in Genesis 25:16.  They were governed by kings, rich in cattle, and lived in tents as in Jeremiah 25:24, Isaiah 13:20, 1 Chronicles 5:21.  They were merchants of the East and traveled in caravans (Gen 37:25; Job 6:19).  They robbed travelers as in Jeremiah 3:2.  They harassed Israel under Gideon overcame them in Judges 8:10-21.  They were more peaceful towards Israel under Solomon’s reign and even brought gifts to him and to King Jehosophat in 1 Kings 10:15 and in 2 Chronicles 17:11.  However, some of Ishmael’s descendants fought against King Uzziah in 2 Chronicles 26:7

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Genesis chapter 15


SCRIPTURE: Genesis 15
AUTHOR:  Jeremy Witt

In Genesis 12, we read of God’s first promise to Abram that he would be blessed, his name would be great, and that he would impact the nations through his family.  Yet Abram had no children.  In Genesis 15, God continues to speak to Abram and promises him an heir, and that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars in the sky (verse 5).  Genesis 15:1-6 is an important passage of Scripture that Paul uses to show that Abram was justified by God through faith.  Let’s look at this in more depth.

The Apostle Paul uses Abraham’s example in Romans 4 to show that he was made just or right with God by faith, not by works or deeds.  His faith was in the future promise that God would give him an heir.  That was not humanly possible as Abram and Sarai both knew that they could not have kids.  They had tried.  They knew it wasn’t possible.  Yet God said it, and Abram believed. 

Let’s clarify this a bit.  Abram was believing that God would give him an heir which meant a son due to the cultural context that the heir was typically the first-born son.  Abram was also believing that his descendants would be as numerous as the sand of the seashore or stars in the sky.  Yet that was not the entire promise.  Let’s go back to Genesis 12:3, how would Abram’s descendants’ impact “all the families of the earth?”  Go back to 15:1.  How would Abram’s reward be great?  God made Abram a promise.  It should also be noted that Abram has not been circumcised yet.  Why is this important?  Jews hold circumcision as the symbol that makes them right with God.  Jews in the New Testament would make circumcision necessary for salvation, and Paul will use Abram as the example that circumcision is not part of salvation (justification) in Romans 4 and multiple other places.

In Genesis 12, Abram left his country, friends, and all his family except his father, brother, nephew, and wife.  He left it all behind trusting in a God who spoke to him.  In Genesis 15, God promises a son who will be his heir and his son’s heir would impact all the nations.  But how would this be possible?  You are probably already there to where I am headed.  A descendant of Abram would die on the Cross in our place to pay the ransom for our sins.  Jesus is the ultimate fulfillment of all the Abrahamic Covenant.  He is the way that Abram or Abraham’s descendants would impact all the families of the world.  Abram was ultimately trusting in Jesus hundreds of years before His life, death, and resurrection.  He was trusting that God would give him a son.  As it states in verse 6, his faith or belief was credited to him as righteousness or being right with God.  He was saved by his faith, not his actions.  His actions were a demonstration of his faith in the LORD or evidence of what God had done.  The same is true for us.  It is by faith that we are saved, and our actions are evidence of what has already taken place. 

When we come to verses 13-16, the LORD God gives Abram the prophecy of upcoming events with his descendants.  “Strangers in a land that is not theirs” refers to the time in Egypt.  The land that was promised was Canaan or Israel.  God tells Abram in his dream/vision that they will be enslaved for 400 years.  That is specific in detail but not specific.  In Exodus12:40-41, we are told the captivity was 430 years.   but in verse 14, God tells him that they will come out of the bondage with “many possessions.”  In verse 15, God tells Abram that he will die in peace and then in verse 16, God tells him that his descendants will finally come to this Promised Land in the 4th generation or 4 lifetimes. 

Abram believed and was faithful.  God had promised him a land, but Abram would never see it in his lifetime.  Yet he believed.  God promised an heir, yet it seemed impossible to Abram and Sarai.  Yet Abram believed.  God told him the near future of his offspring and their descendants which seemed unlikely based on his circumstances.  Yet Abram believed in faith. 

What an example Abram/Abraham is for us.  That is why he is in Hebrews 11 in the chapter of the faithful.  May we learn from his example.  May we be faithful despite the circumstances.  May we trust our LORD regardless of our understanding.  May we honor the LORD and be faithful in belief as well as by our actions.  For His glory, honor, and praise, may we grow to become more like Him.

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