The God of Abraham
We’re moving along everyone. Mario back with you, continuing our series on the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. If you are joining us for the first time, I suggest you pause this episode and start with episode 1, we’ll be right here when you get back. Previous episodes can be found on your favorite podcast app, or you can visit mariosministries.com.
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Today, we dive into Part III of our look at the God of Abraham.
We finished Genesis 15 last time with God’s sealing the covenant He was making with Abram with fire consuming the animals Abram had set up. We’ve had therefore the promise of the Abrahamic Covenant, there’s a term we had not used before, but that you should know. That is the theological term given to that covenant we’ve been discussing that God gave to Abram. What we have not seen is the fulfillment if you will of this impossible promise. That covenant, of course, it’s still unfolding in miraculous ways in our days, but today we’ll witness the beginning of God’s plan for Abram.
Remember, his descendants are supposed to be innumerable. God will make him a great nation. And yet Abram is in his 80s and his wife is sterile. It’s almost comical. But what we are learning is that the God of Abraham is a God of the impossible.
Sometimes, when we don’t see God move as we thought he would move, we start second guessing His word. Remember the serpent in the garden? What was his approach? “Did God really say you shall not eat…” We see this happen in our lives too.
Here, since God had made a promise to Abram, but he and his wife had gone years without conceiving a child, they unfortunately take matters into their own hands.
Sarai had a female Egyptian servant whose name was Hagar. Sarai says well, maybe the way for us to have children is through her and she tells Abram to take Hagar as wife, so they can bear children that way. Abram, amazingly (and foolishly) agrees to do this.
This, of course, was definitely not what God had promised and God will make it clear to Abram later on.
But here, in their disobedience and unbelief, we have a great picture, again, to learn about the God of Abraham. How will He handle their lack of trust? Because, guess what, we know exactly how Abram and Sarai felt. We are them, aren’t we? We doubt the promises of God time and time again.
So, let’s pay close attention to what the God of Abraham does.
Hagar indeed gets pregnant. But she becomes bitter towards her mistress, Sarai. Scripture says she looked at her with contempt.
This is another aspect of the tale too. Hagar. How will God deal with her? She too is a woman bearing the image of the living God. Is it all about Abram and Hagar will be discarded as a casualty of war, so to speak?
Hagar, understandably, resents Sarai. But it is interesting that she only resents Sarai. Why not Abram too? Keep that in mind as we continue the story because it reveals something about her heart, doesn’t it?
Sarai, for her part, blames Abram now for her broken relationship with Hagar. “May the wrong done to me be on you!,” she tells him in verse 5 of chapter 16. Broken relationships are usually the result of our disobedience.
Abram then tells her to do whatever she wants with Hagar. Which every husband in the world can identify with (that “do whatever you want” is still a favorite of ours, to our shame).
But the result, as we also know, is more brokenness. Sarai deals harshly with Hagar.
How does the God of Abraham respond? Well, it is encouraging to me that His first concern is for Hagar.
We learn in verse 7 that, the angel of the Lord found Hagar by the spring of water in the wilderness. “Hagar, servant of Sarai,” he said, “where have you come from and where are you going?
Hagar responded: “I am fleeing from my mistress Sarai.”
And the angel first says to her: “Return to your mistress and submit to her.” Which seems hard to a woman in Hagar’s condition, except that I think we can associate that with God’s work on Hagar’s heart, as we had mentioned earlier, she has some things to work out herself. God will deal with Abram and Sarai.
But the angel is not done with Hagar, he also says to her: “I will surely multiply your offspring so that they cannot be numbered for multitude,” that’s verse 10. He goes on:
“Behold, you are pregnant
and shall bear a son.
You shall call his name Ishmael,
because the Lord has listened to your affliction.
He shall be a wild donkey of a man,
his hand against everyone
and everyone's hand against him,
and he shall dwell over against all his kinsmen.”
So, God is telling Hagar to go back to a difficult situation, but He is telling her “I will be with you.” “I have listened to your affliction,” verse 11. And she knows her future is secure; she is going to bear much fruits from her womb. Her offspring too will be multiplied so that they cannot be numbered.
Hagar recognizes the blessing of the Lord and calls him in verse 13 “El Roi,” “the God who Sees Me.” And isn’t that just a precious insight for us into the God of Abraham. God sees you. He does. He knows what you’re going through. He sees you by the spring in your wilderness. Perhaps you’ve been running away from something too. God is “El Roi,” the God who sees you.
Hagar explained why she worshiped Him this way. She said, “Truly here I have seen him who looks after me.” God is looking out for you too.
Hagar then goes back full of this hope and bears a son with Abram and, as God told her, he was named Ishmael. Abram was 86 at the time.
Now, were Sarai and Abram right? Did they sort of help God out to deliver on His promise to them to have many descendants? Is Ishmael the son of the promise?
Well, Abram went another 13 years without seeing any other way. But then, it was time. Abram was to become Abraham. When he was 99 years old the Lord appear to Abram again and said, “I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless, that I may make my covenant between me and you, and may multiply you greatly.” This is a bit different than before, the God of Abraham is now interested in the way Abram is walking. ¿Could that have something to do with the way he had acted towards Hagar?
The response of Abram is telling. He fell on his face.
Then God said to him:
“Behold, my covenant is with you, and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations. No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham, for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make you into nations, and kings shall come from you. And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you. And I will give to you and to your offspring after you the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession, and I will be their God.”
Those are verses 4-8 of Genesis chapter 17. And there you have it, this is how Abram becomes Abraham. He is going to be the father of multitudes and kings will come from him. Note, again, the God of Abraham (our God), does not forget (remember He spoke to Abraham more than 25 years before this moment), and He is still working out His promises to Abraham. God does not forget, He does not give up, He is not startled; He plan is unfolding as planned, regardless of mistakes or opposition to it.
Nature itself cannot stand against this God. Abraham is 99 years old now. And he will be a father to many. Not through his own dealings with Hagar, but through the miraculous, sovereign work of Almighty God.
God then asks Abraham to keep the covenant with a sign, “Every male among you shall be circumcised.” He said, “it shall be a sign of the covenant… an everlasting covenant” between Abraham and God.
He then turns to speak to Abraham about his wife, “you shall not call her name Sarai,” He tells him, “but Sarah shall be her name” and God gives a bit of an explanation for that change too, “ I will bless her, and moreover, I will give you a son by her. I will bless her, and she shall become nations; kings of peoples shall come from her.”
Then, (I love this, the Bible is so real), it says “Abraham fell on his face and laughed and said to himself, “Shall a child be born to a man who is a hundred years old? Shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?” This is the way we would all speak. But, you know what, we should know better. We have the story of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. We are not like Abraham; we have the Scriptures. We know God can do the impossible.
Abraham does not have that advantage and is still thinking about Ishamel, “Oh that Ishmael might live before you!” he says in verse 18. But God corrects him, “No, but Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac.” And now we are introduced for the first time to the son of the promise, The God of Abraham and Isaac.
Now, God doesn’t forget Ishmael, in fact he tells Abraham “he has heard him,” which is cool to know that Abraham was praying for his son, but also this fact helps us to remember: the God of Abraham is a God who hears our prayers.
And God tells him: “As for Ishmael, I have heard you; behold, I have blessed him and will make him fruitful and multiply him greatly. He shall father twelve princes, and I will make him into a great nation. But I will establish my covenant with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this time next year.”
The God of Abraham is a covenant-keeping God. He is able to bring about what He has promised us. Now Abraham is realizing how foolish he was to think he would somehow help God to accomplish his promise. God need nothing from us. He is the giver. We receive from Him.
Now, that He deserves our honor and praise and worship, there is no doubt. But we can rest in His Word, secure. God has all things at His disposal. We need to trust in His ways.
That very day Abraham did as God had commanded and He, Ishmael and all males in his household were circumcised in obedience to God, as a sign of the covenant with God.
May we be as quick to obey the Lord’s commands.
Until next time.