Abram Did It Man’s Way

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

“And Sarai said unto Abram, Behold now, the LORD hath restrained me from bearing: I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her. And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai” (Genesis 16:2 KJV).

Abram “hearkened to the voice of Sarai—the verse does not say, “the voice of God!”

We do not know how long Abram waited to see the promised seed God would give him. The Bible gives us an estimate of at least 25 years (Abram entered the land of Canaan around age 75, Genesis 12:4 says, and Genesis 21:5 claims he was 100 when Isaac was born). Some people speculate that it could have been as much as 50 years (since Genesis 12:1-3 was spoken sometime back in chapter 11—how long that was, the Bible is silent). We will stick by the Bible and say at least 25 years. Friend, imagine waiting 25 years for God to do something He promised you He would do on your behalf!

Beloved, Abram was just as human as we are. He held out for about 10 years, before finally listening to his wife Sarai and having a child with her handmaid Hagar (see today’s Scripture—yea, Genesis 16:1-16). This was not something God commanded but rather something Sarai devised. As it turned out, it was not the “God-taking-so-long-to-work” that resulted in a problem; it was man’s “quick fix” that ultimately proved to be so detrimental to Abram and his family. That child he fathered apart from God’s will (Ishmael) now has descendants (Arabs) who persecute the child God gave him through promise (Isaac) and the little nation Israel descended from Isaac and grandson Jacob. This problem, starting out as a silly woman’s bad idea, has plagued the Middle East for 4,000 years now!

If we can learn anything at all, friends, it is this. It is better to wait on faithful God for decades, Him bringing a result that will actually work and last eternally; than depend on our fellow man, as frail as we, to develop a “quick fix” that will disappoint forever! Rather than doing it man’s way, let us do it God’s way!

That Ishmael Might Live!

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

“And Abraham said unto God, O that Ishmael might live before thee!” (Genesis 17:18 KJV).

Why did Abraham pray these words?

JEHOVAH God, after giving the nations nearly 2,000 years to come to Him by faith, scattered them because of their idolatrous rebellion (Genesis chapters 10 and 11). He isolated one pagan, Abram the Syrian. Genesis chapter 12: “[1] Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: [2] And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: [3] And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.”

God promised Abram he would father a nation, Israel, for His earthly purposes. Yet, Abram and wife Sarai remain childless for many years. Impatient, Sarai suggests Abram use her slave girl, Hagar, as a surrogate mother. Abram, in unbelief, follows his wife’s advice. Genesis 16:15,16: “And Hagar bare Abram a son: and Abram called his son’s name, which Hagar bear, Ishmael. And Abram was fourscore and six [86] years old, when Hagar bare Ishmael to Abram.”

Some 13 years later, in chapter 17, God appears to 99-year-old Abram. “Abram” (“high father”) is renamed “Abraham” (“father of many”) (verse 5). Furthermore, God tells Abraham his promised son, Isaac, will be born next year to Sarah (verses 15-17). Since Isaac is coming and Ishmael was not God’s plan, Abraham fears God will kill Ishmael. In today’s Scripture, Abraham pleads for Ishmael’s life.

The Bible continues, “[19] And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him. [20 And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation.” Ishmael indeed lived, but, due to Abraham’s fleshly behavior, Ishmael fathered the Arabs—Israel’s most bitter enemies!