Tag Archives: Genesis 16-18

January 5, 2018 Bible Study — God Rewards Our Faith, Despite Our Lack of Faith

I am using the daily Bible reading schedule from “The Bible.net” for my daily Bible reading.

Today, I am reading and commenting on Genesis 16-18.

    When Sarai was 75 years old she gave up on having a child, yet she wanted Abram to have a son. So, she gave Abram her slave, Hagar, to be his wife. As one could expect, this went badly. When Hagar became pregnant she started to treat Sarai with contempt. Sarai blamed Abram, who told her that Hagar was her slave so she could do as she pleased to her. Sarai then mistreated Hagar such that Hagar ran away. God appeared to Hagar and told her to return to Sarai, where Hagar’s and Abram’s son Ishmael was born. Despite the mistakes they made, mistakes which stemmed from their inability to trust God, both Abram and Sarai are held up to us as exemplars of faith.

    Thirteen years later, when Abram was 99 and Sarai was 89, God came to Abram once more. At this time, God told Abram that his name would be Abraham and Sarai’s name would be Sarah. Furthermore, Gold told Abraham that Sarah would bear him a son, who would be the father of kings. Abraham laughed to himself at the thought of having a son when he was 100 and Sarah was 90 (the ages they would be would be by the time a child conceived then would be born) and asked God to honor His promise through Ishmael. God rejected the idea that Sarah was too old to bear children, but promised to make Ishmael the father of twelve rulers (just as Jacob/Israel was the father of the twelve tribal patriarchs). If Sarah could bear a son at age 90, none of us should consider ourselves too old for whatever task God calls us.

    I usually refrain from writing the same point about a passage which I know I have written previously. However, I think the point about the negotiations between Abraham and God over the number of righteous people necessary to save Sodom and Gomorrah is worth going over again. Whenever I read this I am reminded of when Jesus compared the Kingdom of Heaven to yeast. It only takes a small number of righteous people to transform a society of wicked people into something acceptable to God.

January 5, 2017 Bible Study — It Only Takes A Few

I am using the daily Bible reading schedule from “The Bible.net” for my daily Bible reading.

Today, I am reading and commenting on Genesis 16-18.

    The story of Sarai, Abram, and Hagar is an object lesson for us. Sarai knew that Abram wanted a son, but she had been unable to bear him a child. Instead of trusting in God to work things out according to His plan, she sought her own solution. There is plenty of blame to go around in this story: Sarai, for trying to work around God, Abram, for going along with her plan despite knowing that God had promised him a son through Sarai, Hagar, for treating Sarai with contempt. As is usually the case, none of those involved in this story was innocent of making the problem worse.

    Some time later, God came to Abram and entered into a covenant with him. As part of this covenant, God changed Abram’s name to Abraham. There is an interesting fact about this covenant. It applied to all of those in Abraham’s household and that of his descendants, but not just to Abraham’s descendants. The covenant also applied to those whom Abraham and his descendants purchased. Then when God tells Abraham that Sarah (whose name He also changed at this point) would bear him a son, Abraham laughs at the idea. Instead of accepting God’s promise, Abraham asks if God cannot just extend the promise to Ishmael. I believe that Abraham’s request for Ishmael to be his son of the covenant was partially out of love for Ishmael. God’s answer was that, no, Sarah would bear Abraham a son who would be the son of the covenant, but that He would bless Ishmael.

    God’s agreement that He would not destroy Sodom if He found ten righteous people there is instructive, and should be inspirational. We do not know how many people lived in Sodom at the time. The important thing is that ten was such a small percentage of the population that Abraham was sure there must be at least that many righteous people there. For us, the important thing is that God would have spared the city for that few. The instructive part is that it only takes a few righteous people in a large population to stave off God’s judgment. The inspirational part is the reason why I believe God will withhold His judgment if there are that number of righteous people in a group of otherwise evil people. It only takes a few righteous people in a group to cause the members of that group to turn from their evil ways and seek the Lord. Let us strive to be that influence on those around us through our prayers and our actions.

January 5, 2016 Bible Study — Abraham Acted As If He Believed

Starting on New Year’s Day (well, technically, on New Year’s Ever), I switched from using One Year Bible Online for my daily Bible reading to the daily Bible reading schedule from “The Bible.net”.

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Today, I am reading and commenting on Genesis 16-18.

    Abraham is held up to us in the Bible as a man of great faith. Faith which we are called to emulate. While he was still Abram, he had sexual relations with Hagar in order to have a son. He did this at his wife’s prompting. Sarai wanted Abram to have a son, so she encouraged him to have sex with her servant Hagar. Abram followed her advice, despite the fact that God had promised him a son. Things did not turn out well for any of the people involved. All three thought they were entering into a consensual relationship, but it still ended badly. There is a lesson here for “polyamorous” individuals. It will end badly.

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    When God renewed His promise to Abram, changing his name to Abraham and Sarai’s to Sarah, Abraham did not believe that he could have a son through Sarah at their advanced ages. He asked God to fulfill His promises through Ishmael. God told Abraham that He would bless Ishmael, but His promise stood; Abraham would have a son by Sarah. Here is where Abraham demonstrates his faith. He did not fully believe God, nevertheless he acted as if he did. In response to this latest promise, Abraham followed the instruction that went with it and circumcised himself, at the age of 100, and all of the men of his household. We are often called to do similar. There are times when, in our hearts, we do not fully believe God’s promises. Faith is doing the things which we would do if we truly believed, even when we have doubts.

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    Every time I read this passage I am struck by two aspects of Abraham’s conversation with God about the destruction of Sodom. First, I am struck that Abraham bargained with God. It is OK to argue with God (not that Abraham was exactly arguing with God here). God was not offended by the argument which Abraham made. The second is how few righteous people it would have taken to save Sodom. God agreed that if He found 10 righteous people in Sodom He would not destroy the city. I do not know what the population of Sodom was, but sources I have seen suggest the population would have been between 500 and 1000 people. That would mean that 10 people would have been 1-2% of the population of the city. That is all it takes. If 2% of the population is righteous, God will not destroy a city/nation, no matter how wicked the rest are.