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Benjamin Sheu
January 18, 2021
This entry is part [part not set] of 18 in the series A Real Romantic Journey: The Life of Abraham
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1 Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. And she had an Egyptian maidservant whose name was Hagar. 2 So Sarai said to Abram, “See now, the Lord has restrained me from bearing children. Please, go in to my maid; perhaps I shall obtain children by her.” And Abram heeded the voice of Sarai. 3 Then Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar her maid, the Egyptian, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan. 4 So he went in to Hagar, and she conceived. And when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress became despised in her eyes. 5 Then Sarai said to Abram, “My wrong be upon you! I gave my maid into your embrace; and when she saw that she had conceived, I became despised in her eyes. The Lord judge between you and me.”

– Genesis 16:1-6

In the previous chapter, Abram had a pivotal interaction with the Lord. He believed after being shown and told that his descendants would be like the stars in the sky,  and it was counted to him for righteousness. The Lord also made a covenant with him detailing the extent and boundaries of the promised land. This was the clearest the Lord had been about His promise–Abram now not only knew that he would have a multitude of descendants, but that they would be directly from him, and even the exact land that they would inhabit. The promise was getting clearer and clearer.

Then his wife asked him, “Where is your child? How old are you? That doesn’t work. Why don’t you marry this Egyptian maidservant?” This matched Abraham’s inward fleshly desire to do something to gain what God promised. 

This is the temptation of every Jesus lover. When you love the Lord, everything becomes complicated. No matter how spiritual you are, even when involving something from God, you can still be tempted by this. We can easily be tempted by good news, a good report, a marvelous development of the work. We can easily be joyful without checking to see whether the saints are spiritual, healthy, and according to Christ. A spiritual man can be utilized by a thing. Abraham was willing to do anything to raise up a son for God’s purpose. This is one of the greatest temptations to those who desire to serve God.

– Compiled from Messages 4 Notes, 2019 Winter Vision Week 

In Abram’s desire to fulfill God’s purpose, he took the matter into his own hands by heeding Sarai’s advice. Even if the child was not from her body, it would still be from Abram’s body. Even more so, it made sense practically because Sarai said that the Lord had restrained her from having children. However, this was not the way God had prepared. In their eagerness to fulfill God’s promise, Abram had a child with Hagar. This actually led to tension in their household, and it would not be for another fourteen years until the true descendant and the inheritor of the promises, Isaac, would be born. 

This is a warning and reminder both to myself and to all who desire to follow the Lord. The Lord has His will and His plan, but also His timing and ways. For Abram, Ishmael (through Hagar) was produced when Abram took his own timing and way to try to accomplish God’s will, God’s plan. How about us? Many times we like to take things into our own hands, or grow impatient, but is our “good” idea God’s idea? Sometimes the decision that makes the most sense to us is not the one that God has intended, but He allows us to go through our process so that we learn to depend and trust more fully in His. How we need the Lord’s grace and mercy that we would learn to depend on Him alone!

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