Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar, by Melissa Gibbs

Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar

There is so much more to this story than it's face value. Let me start by saying that God did not approve of the solution that Abraham and Sarah contrived to "help" God fulfill His promise. Throughout the Old Testament, God's word makes clear the mandate for monogamy. But what Sarah did is easily understood within the context of her time and culture. Numerous clay tablets found from that era, including the "Code of Hammurabi" (which you may recall from 9th grade World History), indicates that it was a common practice for barren women to have children through their servants. Though Abraham initially showed great faith in believing God for a descendant, as years passed, he must have begun to doubt. He must have thought, "How did we leave things, God and I? Maybe I was supposed to be taking care of the descendant part of the blessing..." It's hard to wait on God sometimes, and so much easier to give Him a push in the right direction. This "push" resulted in a son, Ishmael. Again wanting to help God accomplish His purposes, Abraham asks if "Ishmael might live under your blessing?" Twice in this exchange, Abraham refers to Sarah, and adds the descriptive phrase "your wife" immediately after. He is clearly making known the importance of the covenant passing through an heir from he and his wife, as opposed to a handmaiden. The Bible does not stop to moralize on this situation but merely reports the facts as they occurred. Same phenomenon a few chapters back when Abram lied about Sarai being his sister. The Bible is not condoning lying, but reports the story as it really happened. There are plenty of Biblical accounts that paint the forefathers of the faith in a less than favorable light, which is to me, evidence of the accuracy of the Bible. If stories or characters were fabricated on which to base this religion, surely authors would not choose such imperfect "heroes of the faith".

What is fascinating about the story of Ishmael, and his brother Isaac (who will be introduced tomorrow) is the magnitude of the conflict that erupted between them. As God had told Abraham, Ishmael would be passed over for the blessing in favor of Isaac. Can you imagine the hostility? Their mothers have a difficult relationship, natural sibling rivalry exists coupled with the strain of the younger brother being openly favored over the older. To add insult to injury, Ishmael and his mother are eventually cast away from Abraham and his family. Did you know that the resulting hatred between these two brothers and the nations that would stem from them, would escalate into the conflict between Jews and Muslims??!!! Abraham is considered to be the father of the Islamic religion. The Qur'an teaches that the covenant made between he and God conferred upon Ishmael the blessing and the land (Israel). The Qur'an also teaches that it was Ishmael, not Isaac, who was nearly sacrificed on the altar (really getting ahead of myself). Lest this give the appearance of a "he said/he said" situation, be it known that God's words to Abraham were 2500 years older than the inception of the Islamic religion. It was the prophet Muhammed who started the Muslim faith, and he lived over 500 years after Jesus' death! These two nations have been fighting for thousands of years over the land that was promised to Abraham's seed.

Tomorrow's reading: Genesis 18-21:7

About Melissa Gibbs:

 

Melissa is the mother of four boys and the wife of her junior high sweetheart, JD.  He is the President of Joe Gibbs Racing and the son of NFL Hall of Fame coach Joe Gibbs.  JD and Melissa have been married 16 years and are actively involved with Young Life, Motor Racing Outreach, their church, and other ministries.  Their youngest son Taylor is nearing completion of a 3 year treatment protocol for leukemia, which has been a powerful faith walk for their family.  Since his diagnosis, Melissa has been called upon to share their family's testimony with many local churches. Much of her energy is now focused on a huge festival planned for mid May in celebration of Taylor's victory over leukemia and in effort to raise money and awareness for pediatric cancer.  If you'd like to check out what she's up to while not blogging, go to www.finishlinefestival.com.

 

Visit Melissa at http://chronologicalbiblein2010.blogspot.com/.

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