Abraham & Hagar/Ishmael — Abraham doubts God’s promise & God blesses Ishmael.
Reading 1: Genesis 16
Reading 2: Genesis 21:8-21
Reading 3: Galatians 4:21-31
If you think back to the very start of our readings, in the first three chapters of Genesis, we see a woman who is guided by her own understanding, yet deceived, and a man who is willing to do what the woman says, even when it contradicts what God has told him. This combination leads directly to sin.
We could say exactly the same thing about today’s chapter. Sarai comes up with an idea to help God out and fulfill the promise from years earlier by human means. And Abraham agrees with her, even though this was NOT what God had said. The result is Ishmael, the father of the Arab nations today. When we see Arab terrorists wreaking havoc in the world, and seeking the destruction of Jews and Christians, it is part of the fulfillment of the promise given to Hagar by the angel in Genesis 16: “This son of yours will be a wild man, as untamed as a wild donkey! He will raise his fist against everyone, and everyone will be against him. Yes, he will live in open hostility against all his relatives.”
But we can also trace the redemptive hand of God in these readings. God promises to bless Ishmael because he is Abram’s son, just as God promises to bless us (despite our wildly sinful tendencies) because we are trusting Jesus.
At the same time Hagar gets a different view of God through her sufferings.
How about us? Do we try to help God out, or hurry His plans? Maybe you identify more with weak Abram who would not stand up for what was right and allowed his wife to lead him into sin? Perhaps you have experienced the redemptive power of difficulties and suffering – giving you a new perspective on God? As you read today, I suggest you journal parallels in your own life as you read the story of Abram and Hagar, and reflect on the heritage and influence of Ishmael.
Have a great day!