GENESIS 16:1 –18:33 and MATTHEW 5:27–48
There are several key takeaways from these passages. First you have the account of Sarah moving Abram to have a child through Hagar. What needs to be noted here is her motive. She had no children and she wanted this fulfilled through her maid (Gen 16:2). Not only was the motive selfish it was in direct conflict with what God was planning to do through Abraham’s seed (Gen 15:13). Responsibility must also be placed upon Abram for following through in this act. He also displays some indifference in his response to Sarah as to what to do about Hagar (Gen 16:6). The result was excessively harsh treatment exacted upon Hagar by Sarah. This is a small re-enactment as to what was seen with Adam and Eve in the garden. In fact, Abram is more responsible when taking into account the covenant that was conveyed to him in chapter 15. Though the enemy is not mentioned here one could assume he was working to try and thwart God’s eternal purpose. The result of Sarah’s initiative was that Ishmael was born through Hagar. We noted earlier that Hagar did not come from the seed of promise being that she was an Egyptian having lineage traced to Ham. In no wise do we excuse the animosity and violence seen today between Arabs/Moslems to Jews nonetheless responsibility in some measure must be placed upon Sarah and Abram; especially Abram after having that profound experience of the spoken covenant in chapter 15. It must be noted that even amongst spiritual giants certain actions have consequences.
Secondly, we get a glimpse of the burden the Lord has for Hagar and Ishmael which speaks to the Lord’s burden for modern day Moslems (Gen 16:10-11). This I find to be encouraging due to the great potential harvest field that exists amongst Moslems of our day.
It also should be noted that Hagar had an encounter with the Lord at a place called Beer-lahai-roi which is also known as Kadesh Barnea. It was here several hundreds of years later where Israel failed to enter the Promised Land (Num 14:2-4). Kadesh Barnea was to serve as a gateway from the wilderness to Canaan land; to be a mere transit point. There was unbelief, a lack of faith and rebellion amongst the people resulting in their failure to go forward at this critical window of opportunity. In life we all experience clear defining moments when our actions produce consequences. The account of Kadesh Barnea in the examples of Ishmael (Gen 16) and Israel (Num 14) serve as vivid reminders of this truth.
It is here where the name of Abram is changed to Abraham (vs 5). He is given the promise of being multiplied exceedingly (vs 2). Pastor Yang, senior Pastor of Cornerstone Church shared on moving from incremental to exponential growth in the year 2015. This word has come to pass in many ways with the beginning of the Bible College of Wales and other church related functions.
The life of Abraham provides a window in how this could be achieved as a church. In Chapter 17 we see Abraham with the covenant of both a king (vs 6) and priest (vs 10-14). We are introduced to the subject of circumcision; a theme that relates to the new covenant. Joshua could not conquer until he had a revelation of the Lord with a sword (Josh 5:13-15). There first had to be an inner circumcision. In John 15 there is not the multiplication of fruit until the pruning process is achieved (John 15:2). True multiplied growth that is sought after must have the message of circumcision at its core. Are we willing to allow the Word of God to get to the root area of our own hearts (Heb 4:12)? Before we can wield the sword in Canaan we first must yield to the sword in our own lives. The truth of the matter is that the strongholds within are more formidable than those without. Samson serves as a good example of this. Abraham; even in his mistakes was able to take God at His Word and press forward. In so doing he received favour and promise. One final thought in Genesis 17 that needs to be highlighted is verse 19. It is God Himself establishing the fact that the everlasting covenant will be through the promised son of Isaac. Moslems and Christians can both claim Abraham as their father but it is the subject of the promised son that makes the distinction. Jesus was not just a good man, prophet, miracle worker etc. He is the Son of God; tracing his earthly lineage through the seed of Isaac. The contention seen between Ishmael and Isaac in Genesis is playing out today in its fullness. Remember, the esteemed prophet of Islam can be traced to Kedar, who was the 2nd son of Ishmael. God re-establishes the truth that the seed of promise shall be through the son that Sarah will yet bear. His name is Isaac (Gen 17:19)
Abraham and Sarah are now visited by the pre-incarnate Christ along with two angels. The Lord would make a reference to Abraham in the Gospels in saying that Abraham rejoiced to see his day (John 8:56-59). Abraham and Sarah entertained their three guests and it was here where the Lord would reaffirm His promise to Abraham about having a son. Sarah laughed in her heart with an attitude of unbelief given their respective ages. The Lord responded in verse 14 by saying “Is anything too hard for the Lord”? These are the same words that the Lord spoke through Jeremiah (Jer 32:17). We need to let these words sink into our Spirit when finding ourselves in a time of great difficulty. In the natural it would be impossible for a 90 year old woman to conceive but with God all things are possible. This is especially true when God has proclaimed it as part of His plan. We saw previously how man sought to bring about God’s purposes in the flesh. (Ishmael) It is a template that will always result in disaster. We must seek the Lord and allow for Him to bring us into that place of Rest so that He can work. Let our heart hear and respond to what God is speaking with joy.
In verses 16-19 the Lord speaks to Abraham that which he is about to do in Sodom and Gomorrah. He was not going to conceal or hide this matter from him. Why is this so? Abraham had now come into the position of being a friend of God. God could trust him! We are reminded of the verse in Amos that speaks about God not doing anything without first revealing to his servants the prophets (Amos 3:7). This is how true intercession is birthed. If you walk closely with God and begin to hear the plans and burden of His heart you are then in a position to know how to direct your prayer. It is not aimless or flippant. This level of intimacy is cultivated and does not materialize overnight. True intercessors are those who hear the heart of God and intervene through prayer accordingly. The interaction between God and Abraham is recorded in verses 20-33. God entrusts His secrets to those He know will be faithful. The Lord also knew that Abraham would raise his children in the fear of the Lord. This is why God could be so open with him concerning what he was about to do in Sodom and Gomorrah.
If the above is true for Abraham’s day then what does it say concerning the day and hour in which we are living? Sodom would have repented for the light that was given in the days of Jesus. If that is true then what does that say about our generation? Do we really know the extent of Sodom’s destruction? Do we have any sense of the accountability this generation has in light of the light we have been given? Can we honestly say that we are in a position of proximity to the Lord that could be likened to Abraham’s? However we answer the above questions I am convinced that the opportunity to be a friend of God is available to the last day church. This then places the responsibility of true intercession upon those who truly know God to intercede. We see a picture of such saints in Ezekiel 9 and Revelation 9:4. These are those who sigh and cry out for the sins that are upon the land. They represent the answer to the cry of God through Isaiah when He was searching out for an intercessor (Isa 59:16). We saw the separation that took place between Lot and Abram in Genesis 13. We see these two characters sometime later in two very different functions. What is seen here in Genesis will also be seen in the season of Revelation. The question is whether we will be like Abraham; a friend of God who knows His heart and is able to intercede on behalf of the brethren, or like a Lot who is vexed and entwined with the world? We all know who we would rather be but the majority by far would fall into the camp of Lot. May the Lord help us to take Him at His Word and develop a life of faith after the manner of Abraham.
Matthew 5 – Read Day 6 commentary