Saturday, June 27, 2009

Abram and Sarai: Living in Canaan for Ten Years

Genesis 16: 1-4

Now Sarai, Abram's wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian maidservant named Hagar; so she said to Abram, "The LORD has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my maidservant; perhaps I can build a family through her."
Abram agreed to what Sarai said. So after Abram had been living in Canaan ten years, Sari his wife took her Egyptian maidservant Hagar and gave her to her husband to be his wife. He slept with Hagar, and she conceived...

God had told Abram twice, in Genesis (Chapter 12 and 15) about the numerous children that he and Sarai were to have. God gave the promise but God did not provide the time frame. The question when will this happen was not answered until years after God made his covenant/promise with Abram. How many years did they have to wait after this promise was given? The initial covenant was given to Abram when he was 75years old. The fulfillment of a child occurred when he was 100. They had a 25 year wait, not to mention all the years before the promise was given that they were childless.

When Sarai suggested that Abram take Hagar to be his wife and build their family through her, she wasn't waiting for God to fulfill His promise to them. Neither was Abram, when he agreed with her suggestion. They were both following the accepted, human law of that time that if one's wife was barren it was alright to have take another woman as your wife so that you could have children. It is a custom that we see time and again in the Old Testament.

What about us? Do we tend to follow the culture and customs of society today? Do we allow them to override our hearts and rule where God should be in control? These are just a few examples of what society's influence: personal pleasure and fulfillment, attitudes, uncaring, unloving, jealousy, and greed. Sadly, for many of us, the answer is yes. I pray that we continue to seek God's will for our lives so that when choices need to be made, we choose to do God's will, not society's.

Genesis 16:4-6

When she (Hagar) knew she was pregnant, she began to despise her mistress. Then Sarai said to Abram, "You are responsible for the wrong I am suffering. I put my servant in your arms, and now that she know she is pregnant, she despises me. May the LORD judge between you and me. "Your servant is in your hands," Abram said. "Do with her whatever you think best." The Sarai mistreated Hagar; so she fled from her."

Pride, jealousy, blame, anger, resentment, are just some of the emotions that I can see in these verses. In taking matters into their own hands, Sarai and Abram allowed satan to rule in their hearts and lives, for a time. Hagar fell into this as well. I can understand Hagar because she hadn't yet met the LORD however I shake my head at Abram and Sarai.

Yet, how many times in my life have I actually waited on the Lord? Or have I, like Sarai, helped things along? Then when everything seems to become a huge mess who do I blame? Do I take responsibility for my actions? Do I blame my husband, as Sarai did? Or do I instead get angry with God?

What about God’s grace? Had Abram and Sarai forgotten about it? Do I often forget about God’s grace? My prayer is that each remember God’s gift of grace. He loves us so much that He gave his son Jesus to die for our sins. Then Jesus rose to life on the third day. God loves us so much that He provided a way for us to be with Him. It isn’t anything that we’ve earned. It is His total and complete grace…a gift.

God extended His grace to Hagar.

Genesis 16:7-10

The angel of the LORD found Hagar near a spring in the desert; it was the spring that is beside the road to Shur. And he said, “Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going? “I’m running away from my mistress Sara,” she answered. Then the angel of the LORD told her, “Go back to your mistress and submit to her.” The angel added, “I will so increase your descendants that they will be too numerous too count.”

Hagar, the Egyptian and Sarai’s maid had an encounter with an angel of the Lord. He asked her two questions. Where did you come from? Where are you going? She answered by explaining that she was running away from her mistress. Then God’s angel told her to return to her mistress and to submit to her. Submit! Meaning, surrender to Sarai’s wishes and perhaps even to her mistreatment again. Then a promise was made to her. Hagar was informed that she would have many children.

How does this verse apply to us? There are times in our lives when we may have been mistreated by others. Some of them may have been fellow believers. I think that the two questions that the angel asked Hagar are vital.

Where did you come from? Where are you going?

These questions are important because we need to our lives and our actions. It’s vital for us to ask ourselves these questions so that we remind ourselves about God’s grace. God is always at work in our lives. Always! We just aren’t always privy to the information that explains: who, what, where, why, when and how. God works through those details, in His time. He just want us to be obedient and trust in Him.

Hagar was told to return to Sarai and to submit to her. We will have times in our lives like this. God will ask us to return. How is it possible to return to a setting where we were mistreated?

It’s only possible with God’s grace. When we pray and ask God to help us to forgive people for a wrong that they have done, God will guide us through it. We can’t do it on our own. Even if the people do not accept the fact that you’ve forgiven them, you have done what God asked you to do.

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