Thursday, January 17, 2013

Genesis 16 - 17

Genesis 16:1-6 – Sarai's Solution

God promised Abram a son, but so far after 10 years it did not happen.  Abram and Sarai became impatient waiting on God.  Sarai lived in pain and disgrace.  So after much frustration and the social stigma she took matters into her own hands.  She suggested to Abram that he sleep with her maidservant Hagar and maybe that way they could build a family through her. Gen. 16:1-4.  At that time Sarai’s suggestion was acceptable practice in society.  This was not God's plan.  God's plan was for monogamy.  "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh." - Gen. 2:24.  Abram went along with this and Hagar became pregnant.  They were influenced by the world’s standards.  They did not seek God in their decision.  God was not consulted or His will sought.  God had told them several times that they would have a son, but it had been 10 years and time tests our faith.  True faith waits for God’s timing. 

Hagar probably considered it a privilege to carry Abram’s son, but resented Sarai because she had to submit to her.  Sarai was jealous of her being pregnant.  Hagar despised Sarai.  Sarai blamed Abram.  Abram refused to intervene.  Sari mistreated Hagar.  Hagar fled into the desert.  Abram was the one who was really at fault in all this.  He was a passive husband and not a loving leader.  He followed the instructions of his wife and did what she told him.  Instead he should have shown Sarai understanding, security and leadership for her heartache.  He should have gone to God along with Sarai to ask for strength and patience.  Plans without prayer produce problems.

Trying to accomplish God’s purposes our own way leads to trouble.

What way do we fail our spouses?
Is there some kind of pain in your life that puts you in the planning mode?
Are you suggesting something to someone that might be a sin?
How can you glorify God while you are waiting for God’s promise?

Genesis 16:7-16 – Hagar’s Help

Hagar was prideful and angry.  She was so unhappy that she ran away.  She was God’s child and He loved her as He loves us.  God chased after her just as He chases after us.  The angel of the Lord appeared to Hagar.  It was God Himself appeared to her.  “Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?”Gen. 16:8.  By Him addressing her as “servant of Sarai” showed that this marriage was outside God’s law and was wrong and sinful.  Marriage is between 1 man and 1 woman.  He appeared 3 times, which shows He cared for her.  He told her to go back and submit to Sarai, that she was to have a son and his name would be Ishmael, that he would have lots of descendants but also lots of hostility.  She needed confidence from God that everything would be alright.  God’s promise to have many descendants would encourage her.  Hagar gives to Lord a name, “the God who sees me”. 

God meets us where we are to lead us where we need to be.

Hagar gave birth to a son and Abram named him Ishmael.  Abram was 86 years old when he was born.  There were consequences because of the decision that Abram and Sarai made.  Hagar’s descendants would become some of the Arab nations of today.  There was hostility between Hagar and Sarai and it continues today between Arabs and Jews.

Are you struggling and think you need to get your act together before God helps you?  Hagar was a mess and went on the run.  Are you on the run?  When you meet with God, it can be hard.  Hagar was told to go back and submit to Sarai.  If you are running away, God is watching and will meet you where you are.  Just trust and submit to Him.

Genesis 17 – God’s Covenant and Command

Abram knew he messed up.  He had not heard from God in 13 years.  He was probably saying, “Will God forgive me?  Has He forgotten me?”  Then God appeared to Abram.  “I am God Almighty, walk before me and be blameless.  I will confirm my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers.”Gen 17:1-2.  Abram was so overjoyed that he fell facedown before God.  What a moment of grace!  This covenant is still in place today.  God doesn’t go back on His Word.  God gave them a new beginning by giving them a new name.  Abram’s name became Abraham and Sarai’s name became Sarah. 

God confirms His covenant again to Abram:  Abraham will be the father of many nations; He will make him very fruitful; He will make nations of him and kings will come to you; God will make an everlasting covenant with him and his descendants; God will be his God and God of our descendant; He will give Abraham and his descendants the whole land of Canaan forever. 

Do you feel God has been quiet in your life?
Go you think, “Is He going to talk to me”?
Is God there?
What life habit is God asking you to remove to be closer to Him?

God also told Abraham to circumcise every male and that any uncircumcised male will not be part of the covenant.  God also told Abraham that Sarah would have a son and to call him Isaac.  God would also bless Ishmael and make him fruitful as well as Isaac.  Abraham obeyed God.

Abram was righteous before he was circumcised.  Circumcision was just a reminder and a physical sign that set apart Abraham and his descendants from those who did not know God.  Circumcision is also a spiritual sign that sin is not a part of our lives and enables us to live a life of purity.   Circumcision is all about the heart. 

“The Lord your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live.”Deu. 30:6. 
“A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly. Nor is circumcision merely outward and physical.  No, man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the spirit, not by the written code.  Such a man’s praise is not from men, but from God.” Rom. 30:28-29.

Christians today receive circumcision of the heart when they accept Jesus by faith - that He died for our sins and when He died, our sins were buried with Him and we are raised with Him anew through our faith.

We walk blamelessly before God when we trust and obey His Word.

Trust God when you do not understand.  His character is worthy of our submission.

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