A Mighty Nation Sprung Up

7 The angel of the Lord found Hagar near a spring in the desert; it was the spring that is beside the road to Shur. 8 And he said, “Hagar, slave of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?”

“I’m running away from my mistress Sarai,” she answered.

9 Then the angel of the Lord told her, “Go back to your mistress and submit to her.” 10 The angel added, “I will increase your descendants so much that they will be too numerous to count.”

11 The angel of the Lord also said to her:

“You are now pregnant
and you will give birth to a son.
You shall name him Ishmael,
for the Lord has heard of your misery.
12 He will be a wild donkey of a man;
his hand will be against everyone
and everyone’s hand against him,
and he will live in hostility
toward all his brothers.” Genesis 16:7-12

Everything the angel of the Lord told Hagar came true. A mighty nation came out of her lineage, and it is still giving the world problems today, that is, those who follow Islam. It took them quite a few centuries to form their religion, but there’s no doubt that Ismael and Isaac were half brothers. They even lay claim to that truth.

There are more than 1 billion practicing Muslims in the world today. It’s not a secret that they are beginning to slowly infiltrate the West, and are slowly gaining more and more power in Government, education, business, and society. They are learning how to game the system to their advantage, and they use our laws against us.

Chances are very good that you come in contact with Muslims every day. They too need to hear about our Savior. Pray for open doors of opportunity. When that window opens, engage them about their religion and culture. It has been my experience that they love to talk about religion, so take them up on it.

Pray also that their eyes will be opened to the truth. We are waging a spiritual battle for the souls of men and women.

Sometimes It’s Okay to Run

When she knew she was pregnant, she began to despise her mistress. 5 Then Sarai said to Abram, “You are responsible for the wrong I am suffering. I put my slave in your arms, and now that she knows she is pregnant, she despises me. May the Lord judge between you and me.”

6 “Your slave is in your hands,” Abram said. “Do with her whatever you think best.” Then Sarai mistreated Hagar; so she fled from her. Genesis 16:2-6

It’s no surprise that Abram would be so willing to take Hagar as his wife. Sarai was very desperate for a son and to help God begin fulfilling His promise to her husband.

Unfortunately, almost right away her plan backfired. The slave hated the mistress, and Sarai probably was not at all kind to her slave. And Abram was obedient to his wife at a great cost, namely family peace. Forget for a moment the moral aspects of what transpired here. The three of them could no longer live under one roof.

What a monumental nightmare…of their own making!

Abram conveniently passes the buck to Sarai. Hagar left the safety and comfort of a home to wander. She felt she could no longer stay under the same roof as her abusive mistress.

Not every situation is as extreme as Hagar’s but we often find ourselves in abusive and unproductive relationships. That could be a boss, a co-worker, or even a family member. They are all difficult situations for different reasons.

About six months ago I interviewed for a position for a small company. The founder and CEO had the reputation as being abusive, loud-mouthed, and just a horrible person to work for. These were very evident in the online reviews of the company from people who had worked there. I had three interviews with people in the company, and every single one started out apologizing or explaining away the bad online reviews. I’m glad I didn’t get the job, and my wife was even happier because she knew that having to put up with such negative and abusive personalities is never a key to success. My first instinct should have been the one I chose. Everything about the position said, “Run fast and don’t look back.” Fortunately the Lord saved me from a disaster.

Some of you are in abusive situations.

You need to reach out quickly to a friend or run away if you can. Seek help while you can.

God is More In Control Than We Think

Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian slave named Hagar; 2 so she said to Abram, “The Lord has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my slave; perhaps I can build a family through her.” Genesis 16:1-2

Oh boy. Here we go. Sarai knew what the Lord’s promise was to Abram so she sought to solve the problem herself. She had absolutely no idea the problems she caused by that one suggestion, not only in her household, but in the world at large. What she suggested still affects the modern world. She saw no way that she would be able to conceive.

The lesson today is obvious: God doesn’t need any help handling difficult or impossible situations. If you’re up against the ropes and see no way out, we have an obligation to go to God first.

No One Escapes

12 As the sun was setting, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a thick and dreadful darkness came over him. 13 Then the Lord said to him, “Know for certain that for four hundred years your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own and that they will be enslaved and mistreated there. 14 But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions. 15 You, however, will go to your ancestors in peace and be buried at a good old age. 16 In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure.”

17 When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking firepot with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces. 18 On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram and said, “To your descendants I give this land, from the Wadi of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates— 19 the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, 20 Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, 21 Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites and Jebusites.” Genesis 15:12-21

The Lord reiterated something He had been promising all along, that Abram would have descendants. Right now even though he believed God, he had no children. So the Lord was promising a lot of children. And now He gave them the bad news, that they would be enslaved by the Egyptians and treated harshly for 400 years. Four hundred years seemed to be the penalty for the sins of the Amorites/Canaanites.

They would come out with great possessions but they would certainly have to “pay it forward”, so to speak.

Leviticus 18 spells out the sins of the Canaanites, and they were quite evil.

If you’ve followed this site for any length of time, you’ll recall the Russian proverb I use a lot, “God sees everything but waits.” This applies to the Canaanites. It applies to us. It also applies to the evil we see around us, especially when we see people getting away with murder, so to speak. Everyone will be accountable for what they do. No one will escape judgement.

No one.

Reassurances

7 He also said to him, “I am the Lord, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to take possession of it.”

8 But Abram said, “Sovereign Lord, how can I know that I will gain possession of it?”

9 So the Lord said to him, “Bring me a heifer, a goat and a ram, each three years old, along with a dove and a young pigeon.”

10 Abram brought all these to him, cut them in two and arranged the halves opposite each other; the birds, however, he did not cut in half. 11 Then birds of prey came down on the carcasses, but Abram drove them away. Genesis 15:7-11

Even after all of this, Abram needed reassurance. The Sovereign Lord of the Universe was speaking to him and he needed reassurance.

We mustn’t be too hard on Abram though. Thousands of years later we have the entire story that these events were leading up to, and we still need reassurances from the Lord. We have God’s inspired Word of God on our bookshelves just waiting to be read, absorbed, and put into practice. The whole gospel is there for us to read and apply.

We know, as Paul Harvey would say, “the rest of the story.”

Of Faith and Circumstances

2 But Abram said, “Sovereign Lord, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?” 3 And Abram said, “You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir.”

4 Then the word of the Lord came to him: “This man will not be your heir, but a son who is your own flesh and blood will be your heir.” 5 He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”

6 Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness. Genesis 15:2-6

Quite a lot has been written about Abram and Sarai and their childlessness. The important part of this passage, mainly because it’s been noted prominently in Hebrews and Romans, is that Abram believed the Lord and it was accredited to him as righteousness.

Yesterday I wrote about the tiny steps of faith, but this seems to be a large step of faith. Only it isn’t. All along, the Lord has been building Abram’s faith. Did he ever dream he’d be a military victor? Even letting Lot make his choice of going towards Sodom had an element of faith to it.

Abram’s act of faith was believing God. It had little to do with his circumstances.

If we could only drill those truths into our heads.

The Small Steps of Faith

After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision:

“Do not be afraid, Abram.
I am your shield,
your very great reward.” Genesis 15:1

This is the first time that the Bible talks about speaking to Abram in a vision.

Abram had been gaining more power, winning military victories, and becoming prominent throughout the land. He’s on the top of the world. But that’s when his greatest fall could occur. That’s when the worried of not being good enough or capable enough or competent enough begin to enter the head. The Lord calmed him down. He clearly knew what He was doing even though Abram could not imagine it. The Lord was going to bless Abram, but it took a great amount of faith to believe it. And of course that’s the way it’s supposed to be. If we could see it or envision it because of our own abilities, it wouldn’t be faith.

But faith is often a series of small steps that lead to the big one, which, by the time you get to it, is not big at all. It takes the little ones to get there, and it takes forward motion to begin the smaller steps.

What is God asking you to do in faith today? What series of steps are you taking to get there?

He Wanted Nothing To Do With Evil

21 The king of Sodom said to Abram, “Give me the people and keep the goods for yourself.”

22 But Abram said to the king of Sodom, “With raised hand I have sworn an oath to the Lord, God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth, 23 that I will accept nothing belonging to you, not even a thread or the strap of a sandal, so that you will never be able to say, ‘I made Abram rich.’ 24 I will accept nothing but what my men have eaten and the share that belongs to the men who went with me—to Aner, Eshkol and Mamre. Let them have their share.” Genesis 14:21-24

It’s clear Abram wanted nothing to do with Sodom or its king. Because he had been victorious in battle he could have had it all, but he chose to take none of it. The stench of Sodom had obviously risen, and Abram didn’t want anything to do with the godlessness in that city.

There are times when we too need to shun the evil things of the world. Those are the things and people who bring you down and don’t build you up. They are the pursuits and desires you know is not of God. That’s why it’s good to occasionally audit the things your mind and eyes takes in, whether it be TV, the internet, or just who we associate with.

Don’t be afraid to ruthlessly shun those that do not draw you closer to God. 

Melchizedek Blessed Abram

17 After Abram returned from defeating Kedorlaomer and the kings allied with him, the king of Sodom came out to meet him in the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley).

18 Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, 19 and he blessed Abram, saying,

“Blessed be Abram by God Most High,
Creator of heaven and earth.
20 And praise be to God Most High,
who delivered your enemies into your hand.” Genesis 14:17

Abram must have had a powerful following and army to go into battle. That’s a side of Abram we don’t hear about much. Did he go to battle more than to rescue Lot or was it a “one and done” deal? I suspect he did it more than we hear because why would other kings begin to side with him? The rich back then truly had power.

Then the king of Salem blessed Abram. We know a little more about Melchizedek than we do most kings in the bible. Hebrews talks at length about this man, even though he is shrouded in mystery. Many say he was the pre-incarnate Christ.

In any event, he blessed Abram with a priestly blessing. He knew Abram was a man of God and blessed him accordingly.

The takeaway from this is, bless people while you can. I do not know of anyone – Christians or non-Christians – who object to you praying for them and blessing them. God can and do wonderful things in your life when you begin to bless others.