The Little Ones

14 Early the next morning Abraham took some food and a skin of water and gave them to Hagar. He set them on her shoulders and then sent her off with the boy. She went on her way and wandered in the Desert of Beersheba.

15 When the water in the skin was gone, she put the boy under one of the bushes. 16 Then she went off and sat down about a bowshot away, for she thought, “I cannot watch the boy die.” And as she sat there, she began to sob.

17 God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. 18 Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation.”

19 Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. So she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink. Genesis 21:14-19

After God reassured Abraham that Ishmael and Hagar would be cared for, Abrahma threw them out of his home.

You can feel the pain in Hagar’s words as she sends the boy away. They are under extreme stress because they were getting low on food and water.

Ishmael, however, cried out to God. He was at least 13 years old at this point. So he cried out and the Lord heard him.

That is a powerful statement, isn’t it?

We live in an age where kids are crying out, and there’s no adult to help them. In fact, adults are the reason they’re crying out.

Of course we know that the Lord has heard their cry and I believe it breaks His heart each time they do. The Lord will judge and it will be swift when He judges.

Still, if you come across a ministry that helps rescue these children and young ladies from human and sex trafficking, strongly consider supporting it.

Meanwhile, grab hold of the little ones in your life and don’t let go. There is never a downside to that.

Hagar and Ishmael Go On the Road Again

8 The child grew and was weaned, and on the day Isaac was weaned Abraham held a great feast. 9 But Sarah saw that the son whom Hagar the Egyptian had borne to Abraham was mocking, 10 and she said to Abraham, “Get rid of that slave woman and her son, for that woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with my son Isaac.”

11 The matter distressed Abraham greatly because it concerned his son. 12 But God said to him, “Do not be so distressed about the boy and your slave woman. Listen to whatever Sarah tells you, because it is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned. 13 I will make the son of the slave into a nation also, because he is your offspring.” Genesis 21:11-13

Abraham had a couple of problems on the homefront. Both sons were living with him but Sarah was angry at Hagar and Ishmael. Now that Sarah had a son, her hatred towards Hagar grew stronger. Even though she had told Abraham to sleep with her, she must have been regretting that decision by this time.

This is merely a reminder that while sin can be forgiven, its consequences can linger for years. Sarah took out her anger on Hagar, but ultimately she should have blamed herself.

Bringing Joy and Laughter

6 Sarah said, “God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.” 7 And she added, “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.” Genesis 21:6-7

Obviously Sarah was pleased to have a son at such an old age. He was, as songwriter Michael Card once noted, the punchline to the ongoing “joke” that Sarah laughed at earlier. Who could blame her for laughing?

Again, we see the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham and Sarah in the form of a child.

One child started it all. This child was a miracle, but he would be the father of many nations. Generations still look back at this event as significant.

God brought joy to Sarah’s life through a little child. Very rarely do you ever heard the exact opposite (i.e., “I’ve got so much trouble and pain because of this little kid.”). Not at all. They start out so sweet and innocent. Taking care of them is a joy and a treat.

What else has brought joy and happiness into your life this week? It goes back to yesterday’s word, being blessed and being grateful for being blessed.

Again, I ask, what has brought joy into your life recently?

Blessings and More Blessings

Now the Lord was gracious to Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did for Sarah what he had promised. 2 Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the very time God had promised him. 3 Abraham gave the name Isaac to the son Sarah bore him. 4 When his son Isaac was eight days old, Abraham circumcised him, as God commanded him. 5 Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him. Genesis 21:1-5

The Lord kept His promise to both Sarah and Abraham. Abraham also kept his part of the covenant by circumcising the boy when he was 8 days old. It could not have been easy raising a child at their age, though they did have some experience with Ishmael for 12 years prior to this.

The Bible uses an interesting term at the beginning of verse 1: the Lord was gracious to Sarah. Abraham and by association Sarah had caused quite a few troubling problems over the years. The Lord didn’t have to be gracious at all to either of them. He didn’t have to make a covenant with them either.

But He did.

He doesn’t need to be gracious to us every day, but He is. He extends His grace every opportunity He gets.

How has He been gracious to you this week? There really is something about that old song “Count Your Blessings” that we should rejoice over.

When I was a new Christian, a fellow Christian asked me point blank, “Are you blessed?” I stumbled for words because I didn’t answer right away.

Then he said, “Are you breathing today?” I nodded. “Then you’re blessed.”

Faithful to the Unfaithful

8 Early the next morning Abimelek summoned all his officials, and when he told them all that had happened, they were very much afraid. 9 Then Abimelek called Abraham in and said, “What have you done to us? How have I wronged you that you have brought such great guilt upon me and my kingdom? You have done things to me that should never be done.” 10 And Abimelek asked Abraham, “What was your reason for doing this?”

11 Abraham replied, “I said to myself, ‘There is surely no fear of God in this place, and they will kill me because of my wife.’ 12 Besides, she really is my sister, the daughter of my father though not of my mother; and she became my wife. 13 And when God had me wander from my father’s household, I said to her, ‘This is how you can show your love to me: Everywhere we go, say of me, “He is my brother.”‘”

14 Then Abimelek brought sheep and cattle and male and female slaves and gave them to Abraham, and he returned Sarah his wife to him. 15 And Abimelek said, “My land is before you; live wherever you like.”

16 To Sarah he said, “I am giving your brother a thousand shekels of silver. This is to cover the offense against you before all who are with you; you are completely vindicated.”

17 Then Abraham prayed to God, and God healed Abimelek, his wife and his female slaves so they could have children again, 18 for the Lord had kept all the women in Abimelek’s household from conceiving because of Abraham’s wife Sarah. Genesis 20:8-18

This is the conclusion to one of those stories you probably didn’t hear about in Sunday School. In a bizarre twist, Abimelek apologizes to Abraham and Sarah and offers compensation. It should have been the other way around. Abraham told a half truth in that Sarah was his sister. Yes, but she was also his wife.

I think that Abimelek paid the tribute just to get rid of these two. They certainly did not point the king and his people towards God. It could be said that after the confrontation with God, Abimelek gave in pretty quickly. Even though what the king did wasn’t his fault, the Lord had punished him and his people for it.

The Lord stuck to his promise of blessing and preserving Abraham despite Abraham’s selfish and dangerous actions. In other words, God blessed the man in spite of himself.

God is faithful even when we are unfaithful. It doesn’t mean we go out of our way to be unfaithful, but it does mean He is always faithful.

Hallelujah!

Abraham Did it Again!

Now Abraham moved on from there into the region of the Negev and lived between Kadesh and Shur. For a while he stayed in Gerar, 2 and there Abraham said of his wife Sarah, “She is my sister.” Then Abimelek king of Gerar sent for Sarah and took her.

3 But God came to Abimelek in a dream one night and said to him, “You are as good as dead because of the woman you have taken; she is a married woman.”

4 Now Abimelek had not gone near her, so he said, “Lord, will you destroy an innocent nation? 5 Did he not say to me, ‘She is my sister,’ and didn’t she also say, ‘He is my brother’? I have done this with a clear conscience and clean hands.”

6 Then God said to him in the dream, “Yes, I know you did this with a clear conscience, and so I have kept you from sinning against me. That is why I did not let you touch her. 7 Now return the man’s wife, for he is a prophet, and he will pray for you and you will live. But if you do not return her, you may be sure that you and all who belong to you will die.” Genesis 20:1-7

More and more in these stories, it seems as though Abraham ends up looking like the evil one despite the covenant that God made with him. The Lord had threatened Abimelek in a dream, and Abimelek quickly relented.

Was Abraham so paralyzed by fear that he was willing to sacrifice his wife – again – so that he would be kept safe? Did he even have a conscience at all concerning his wife? Did she object at all to his abuse? Did he realize what kind of punishment the Lord would mete out if Abimelek had slept with Sarah? Did Abraham think it was wrong what he did?

We recognize again that Abraham was deeply flawed, and God still used him. It’s almost as if God chose this flawed individual as a way of revealing His strength to transform a messed up man. But it also revealed God’s character. Giving mercy and grace to those who truly don’t deserve it is who God is.

Titus 3:5
he saved us, but not because of anything we had done to gain his approval. Instead, because of his mercy he saved us washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.

Twisted Sisters

30 Lot and his two daughters left Zoar and settled in the mountains, for he was afraid to stay in Zoar. He and his two daughters lived in a cave. 31 One day the older daughter said to the younger, “Our father is old, and there is no man around here to give us children—as is the custom all over the earth. 32 Let’s get our father to drink wine and then sleep with him and preserve our family line through our father.”

33 That night they got their father to drink wine, and the older daughter went in and slept with him. He was not aware of it when she lay down or when she got up.

34 The next day the older daughter said to the younger, “Last night I slept with my father. Let’s get him to drink wine again tonight, and you go in and sleep with him so we can preserve our family line through our father.” 35 So they got their father to drink wine that night also, and the younger daughter went in and slept with him. Again he was not aware of it when she lay down or when she got up.

36 So both of Lot’s daughters became pregnant by their father. 37 The older daughter had a son, and she named him Moab; he is the father of the Moabites of today. 38 The younger daughter also had a son, and she named him Ben-Ammi; he is the father of the Ammonites of today. Genesis 19:30-38

After seeing the utter destruction of two cities, Lot’s daughters believe there would be no men left for them to further their father’s line, so they get him blindingly drunk on two separate nights. Not only had Lot and his wife strayed far from the truth by going to and living in Sodom and Gomorrah, but those beliefs were passed down to the daughters.

Who was to blame here, the father or the daughters? I suggest that both were responsible in different ways.

The daughters, like their Aunt Sarah, thought it was appropriate to take God’s will into their own hands. They must have learned from their parents that the parental lineage was king, so to speak. They were probably taught to believe that maintaining the family lineage (end) was justfied by their sordid actions (the means).

On the other hand, no one forced Lot to drink until he couldn’t remember anything…twice. No one forced him to go to Sodom and Gomorrah in the first place, and he hesitated leaving even when destruction of the two cities was imminent.

The resulting two sons were a thron in Israel’s throughout its history. We can glean any number of takeaways from these verses:

  • Getting blinding drunk is wrong
  • Enticing your parent to get drunk is wrong
  • Incest it horrible and leads to no good
  • Be very careful what you model to your children because they are always watching. If they see it’s okay for you to compromise and cut corners; they’ll compromise and cut corners.
  • Lastly, we see very clearly that actions have consequences.

The New Testament tells us in 1 Corinthians 10:11: “Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction.”

If we learn nothing else from this passage, learn this: don’t follow them as role models and do what they do. It just leads to bad things.

Flawed Leaders

27 Early the next morning Abraham got up and returned to the place where he had stood before the Lord. 28 He looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah, toward all the land of the plain, and he saw dense smoke rising from the land, like smoke from a furnace.

29 So when God destroyed the cities of the plain, he remembered Abraham, and he brought Lot out of the catastrophe that overthrew the cities where Lot had lived. Genesis 19:27-29

What went through Abraham’s mind when he saw the dense smoke rising from Sodom and Gomorrah? Was he shocked? He didn’t know what it was about, but he knew to a small extent what went on there. He knew about the wickedness and probably the trouble Lot would get himself into for being there. The Lord spared Abraham because the Lord had great things planned for him. I’m still trying to understand what the Lord had in store for Lot. As we’ll see next, Lot’s situation went from bad to weird.

I read this and come way with the conclusion that God uses flawed people. But we knew that already. All the world has seen their flaws.

Recall Abraham did unpleasant things in the past. Now Lot. That the Lord chooses to still use an Abraham, Sarah, or Lot is simply remarkable.

Plus He still will use us.

Hurry, Flee!

15 With the coming of dawn, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Hurry! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away when the city is punished.”

16 When he hesitated, the men grasped his hand and the hands of his wife and of his two daughters and led them safely out of the city, for the Lord was merciful to them. 17 As soon as they had brought them out, one of them said, “Flee for your lives! Don’t look back, and don’t stop anywhere in the plain! Flee to the mountains or you will be swept away!”

18 But Lot said to them, “No, my lords, please! 19 Your servant has found favor in your eyes, and you have shown great kindness to me in sparing my life. But I can’t flee to the mountains; this disaster will overtake me, and I’ll die. 20 Look, here is a town near enough to run to, and it is small. Let me flee to it—it is very small, isn’t it? Then my life will be spared.”

21 He said to him, “Very well, I will grant this request too; I will not overthrow the town you speak of. 22 But flee there quickly, because I cannot do anything until you reach it.” (That is why the town was called Zoar.)

23 By the time Lot reached Zoar, the sun had risen over the land. 24 Then the Lord rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah—from the Lord out of the heavens. 25 Thus he overthrew those cities and the entire plain, destroying all those living in the cities—and also the vegetation in the land. 26 But Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt. Genesis 19:15-26

Lot was fortunate that the Lord didn’t send down fire in Zoar as well, especially because he waffled on getting out of the cities. The angels literally had to pull him and his family to safety. What was the allure? What was the attraction? Why did he hesitate to go?

Yes, Lot’s wife looked back but Lot himself wasn’t all that eager to press on either.

The Lord destroyed the cities and all the vegetation. It was complete destruction for a region that had been incomprehensibly wicked. The Lord judged them then, plus He will judge them again one day.

Wherever you read this, pray for your nation, that the peoples will wake up to the injustices and evil they see around them. Pray that they will repent and turn back to God, before it’s too late.

Pray for the government that they will have wisdom to make decisions that affect all the people, and not merely those who contribute most to election campaigns.