|Carel Fabritis, Hagar and the Angel|
1 Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian slave named Hagar; 2 so she said to Abram, “The LORD has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my slave; perhaps I can build a family through her.”
Attempts to take your destiny into your own hands without checking with God are very likely to be disastrous.
But what a hard counsel “Wait and be patient” is.
Oh, this sounds eerily and scarily familiar. Sarah getting impatient. Taking matters into her own hands.
When one has heard from God, the challenge is then to do what you hear him say. Even if all that you can do is wait. And pray.
“They also serve who only stand and wait.” John Milton.
Abram agreed to what Sarai said.
An impatient, dominant female, a pliant male. Patriarchs and matriarchs of the faith. Hope for us all!!
3 So after Abram had been living in Canaan ten years, Sarai his wife took her Egyptian slave Hagar and gave her to her husband to be his wife. 4 He slept with Hagar, and she conceived.
When she knew she was pregnant, she began to despise her mistress.
A woman’s worth equated with her sexuality, fertility (and age?) There is nothing new under the sun.
The human solution to Sarah’s barrenness creates new problems.
5 Then Sarai said to Abram, “You are responsible for the wrong I am suffering. I put my slave in your arms, and now that she knows she is pregnant, she despises me. May the LORD judge between you and me.”
6 “Your slave is in your hands,” Abram said. “Do with her whatever you think best.” Then Sarai mistreated Hagar; so she fled from her.
The weak male, the vengeful female. A mess! A not infrequent state of affairs.
Hagar, both sinner and sinned against. As Sarah was in this case. Be careful before you take sides.
7 The angel of the LORD found Hagar near a spring in the desert; it was the spring that is beside the road to Shur. 8 And he said, “Hagar, slave of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?”
“I’m running away from my mistress Sarai,” she answered.
9 Then the angel of the LORD told her, “Go back to your mistress and submit to her.” 10 The angel added, “I will increase your descendants so much that they will be too numerous to count.”
Take a deep breath, Hagar. You too are under God’s protection and blessing.
The goodness of God is part of his very nature.
A theophany. NIV: “Traditional Christian interpretation has held that this “angel” was a preincarnate manifestation of Christ as God’s messenger-servant.
11 The angel of the LORD also said to her:
“You are now pregnant
and you will give birth to a son.
You shall name him Ishmael,
for the LORD has heard of your misery.
and you will give birth to a son.
You shall name him Ishmael,
for the LORD has heard of your misery.
Ishmael means God hears. God has observed Sarah’s harsh treatment of Hagar.
12 He will be a wild donkey of a man;
God’s promise. Ishmael will be strongly independent. He will not need to submit to masters.
his hand will be against everyone
and everyone’s hand against him,
and he will live in hostility
toward all his brothers.”
13 She gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.” 14 That is why the well was called Beer Lahai Roi; it is still there, between Kadesh and Bered.
The Lord hears. The Lord sees.
There is a lot of comfort in this. The Lord sees, the Lord hears.
Do not be afraid of the desert. You are more likely than not to encounter angels there.
15 So Hagar bore Abram a son, and Abram gave the name Ishmael to the son she had borne. 16 Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore him Ishmael.
1 When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty;
The Hebrew is El-Shaddai, God the Mountain One. The name emphasized God’s power which will enable Sarah to conceive Isaac.
walk before me faithfully and be blameless. 2 Then I will make my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers.”
The language echoes what was promised to Adam and Noah. God’s original design for humanity will be achieved through Abraham.
The delayed promise. This is such sad and heartbreaking reading, yet who of us has not experienced it. God promises, and promises, and promises, and you know in your heart that his promises are true, but you do not see it with your eyes.
Lifting weights increases one’s strength. Exercising faith increases one’s faith. Faith was Abraham’s instinctive spiritual gift, but this long wait in faith strengthens it.
3 Abram fell facedown,
and God said to him, 4 “As for me, this is my covenant with you: You will be the father of many nations. 5 No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations. 6 I will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you. 7 I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. 8 The whole land of Canaan, where you now reside as a foreigner, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God.”
Brilliant words. Though to a man of lesser faith, they could have seemed mockery. You, the father of no legitimate child, will be the father of many nations. You will be very fruitful.
Fruitfulness. That’s another of the blessings of Abraham, that we, children of Abraham because of our faith, can claim. And I do. Bless me with the fruitfulness which is part of your nature, Lord, and part of the nature of the world which you have created.
A new destiny, and a new name marking his new identity as a servant of God. Abraham means father of a multitude.
9 Then God said to Abraham, “As for you, you must keep my covenant, you and your descendants after you for the generations to come. 10 This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you, the covenant you are to keep: Every male among you shall be circumcised. 11 You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you. 12 For the generations to come every male among you who is eight days old must be circumcised, including those born in your household or bought with money from a foreigner—those who are not your offspring. 13 Whether born in your household or bought with your money, they must be circumcised. My covenant in your flesh is to be an everlasting covenant. 14 Any uncircumcised male, who has not been circumcised in the flesh, will be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.”
God is preparing the ground for the fulfilment of his promise.
Almost a unilateral covenant with just one requirement—that of circumcision.
15 God also said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you are no longer to call her Sarai; her name will be Sarah. 16 I will bless her and will surely give you a son by her. I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her.”
17 Abraham fell facedown; he laughed and said to himself, “Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?” 18 And Abraham said to God, “If only Ishmael might live under your blessing!”
Abraham loves God, but he is finding it increasingly hard to believe him. He is offering him an alternative, almost saving God’s face.
19 Then God said, “Yes, but your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him.
Let no one accuse God of not having a sense of humour. God hears Abraham’s laughter, and promises him a son called Isaac, “He laughs!”
God’s blessing of fruitfulness.
20 And as for Ishmael, I have heard you: I will surely bless him; I will make him fruitful and will greatly increase his numbers. He will be the father of twelve rulers, and I will make him into a great nation.
Why did God bless Ishmael? Partly because Abraham asked him to. Never estimate the enormous power of praying for our children.
21 But my covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you by this time next year.” 22 When he had finished speaking with Abraham, God went up from him.
And what has Isaac, who is yet unborn, done to merit the covenant which will be established with him, rather than with his brother? Precisely nothing!!
Romans 9:15 “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”
23 On that very day Abraham took his son Ishmael and all those born in his household or bought with his money, every male in his household, and circumcised them, as God told him. 24 Abraham was ninety-nine years old when he was circumcised, 25 and his son Ishmael was thirteen; 26 Abraham and his son Ishmael were both circumcised on that very day. 27 And every male in Abraham’s household, including those born in his household or bought from a foreigner, was circumcised with him.
Quick obedience characterizes the heroes of the faith. Indeed, the demands of faith are often costly, so if you do not obey promptly, you risk not obeying at all.
1 The LORD appeared to Abraham near the great trees of Mamre while he was sitting at the entrance to his tent in the heat of the day.
One of the great theophanies of the New Testament.
2 Abraham looked up and saw three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he hurried from the entrance of his tent to meet them and bowed low to the ground.
3 He said, “If I have found favour in your eyes, my lord, do not pass your servant by. 4 Let a little water be brought, and then you may all wash your feet and rest under this tree. 5 Let me get you something to eat, so you can be refreshed and then go on your way—now that you have come to your servant.”
“Very well,” they answered, “do as you say.”
6 So Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah. “Quick,” he said, “get three seahs of the finest flour and knead it and bake some bread.”
7 Then he ran to the herd and selected a choice, tender calf and gave it to a servant, who hurried to prepare it. 8 He then brought some curds and milk and the calf that had been prepared, and set these before them. While they ate, he stood near them under a tree.
Generous lavish hospitality—a trait of the one God blessed. It is instructive to see how those God blesses, who live under his favour, behave.
9 “Where is your wife Sarah?” they asked him.
“There, in the tent,” he said.
10 Then one of them said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son.”
Now Sarah was listening at the entrance to the tent, which was behind him. 11 Abraham and Sarah were already very old, and Sarah was past the age of childbearing. 12 So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, “After I am worn out and my lord is old, will I now have this pleasure?”
13 Then the LORD said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Will I really have a child, now that I am old?’ 14 Is anything too hard for the LORD? I will return to you at the appointed time next year, and Sarah will have a son.”
15 Sarah was afraid, so she lied and said, “I did not laugh.”
But he said, “Yes, you did laugh.”
Sarah did not believe. However, in the Lord’s goodness, she was punished neither for her disbelief not for her lie.
Instead, she received a wonderful, further revelation of the nature of God.
God asks her. IS ANYTHING TOO HARD FOR THE LORD?
And this, thank God, is a rhetorical question.
NOTHING IS TOO HARD FOR THE LORD.
Stop now and contemplate your life, and its perceived impossibilities.
Nothing is too hard for the Lord.