The Majesty of God
Chapter Thirteen – Father of Faith
Abram/Abraham was a prince in the direct lineage of Shem, selected by God to become a progenitor of the Promised Seed. He lived in Ur of the Chaldees. Chaldea is currently known as Iraq.
His father was probably a man of high rank. It is likely that he named his youngest son Abram, which means "exalted father," to reflect his own glory, rather than to express hopes for Abram's future, though Abram indeed ended up being a very highly exalted father – the spiritual father of all Jews and Gentiles who put their faith in Yeshua of Nazareth as the Messiah, their Lord and Saviour.
The Bible says nothing about Abram prior to his leaving Ur of the Chaldees, but there are legends. In the Book of Jubilees and the Book of Jasher, there are accounts of his life, but they likely proceeded out of someone's imagination, rather than being factual. These books are not the inspired word of God. The Bible lists the book of Jasher as a credible source of information, but the book that is currently claimed to be the Book of Jasher is more likely a collection of rabbinical writings that borrows the name of the original Book of Jasher to gain it more attention and lend it more credibility. The Bible makes no reference to a Book of Jubilees. The authors may have meant well, to write stories that teach good principles, but claiming them to be true accounts leads to confusion and cultic beliefs and practices.We do know from historical records and the Bible that Abram married his niece Sarai, who was ten years younger than him. According to Jewish historian Flavius Josephus, who lived in the first century AD, Sarai was Iscah, one of the daughters of Abram's brother Haran. The Bible record says that Abram/Abraham claimed that Iscah/Sarai/Sarah was his sister. He had to do a few mental gymnastics to make that claim, but it was the custom in the Middle East for grandparents to refer to their grandchildren as their children. In this sense, Sarai was Abram's father's daughter, for she was the daughter of his son Haran. As Abram said, her mother was not his mother, but neither was her mother a wife of Terah, his father. She was Haran's wife.
Abram has been criticized for marrying his close relative, as if he had committed incest, but God's laws about incest were not given to mankind until Moses' time. The Earth needed to be repopulated and, in the beginning, the only possible spouses were brothers and sisters. Parent/child incest was always an abomination, but brothers and sisters, cousins, aunts and nephews or uncles and nieces married because their genes were still very healthy and could produce healthy, well–formed children. Also, in the first few centuries after the Flood, communities were isolated, and travel was difficult, so it was a necessity to marry the relatives. Additionally, people found it culturally easier to live under the same roof with their relatives than to adapt to a stranger whose upbringing and religion may have seemed too bizarre.
As the health of the human race degraded, God gave laws to protect against birth defects. Along with the taboos, emotional boundaries were set to assist in keeping the incest laws. Later, when brother/sister marriages were outlawed, a healthy emotional bond between brothers and sisters, which includes prohibiting sexual contact, became a deterrent against incest. Children were taught to set boundaries with siblings; trespassing those boundaries is now unwholesome and a betrayal in the family.
Abram indulged in this elasticity with the truth about his family relationship to Sarai because he got himself in a sticky, embarrassing situation where he was regarded as a liar, and he was trying to save face. Sarai was a very beautiful woman and it created problems for her husband. Abram was not a habitual liar, but he was terribly afraid of being killed by powerful men who coveted his wife.
One of the legends says that Abram contended with the evil king Nimrod and was cast into a fiery furnace, but was unhurt. If the story were true, it is doubtful that Abram would be afraid of any king after that. Besides, Nimrod was the king who built the Tower of Babel, which was destroyed in a global cataclysm, and, while his empire was weakened, Nimrod was hunted down, captured, and executed shortly afterwards. These events occurred long before Abram was born.
It may be true to that Abram knew Noah and Shem and learned much from them, including their first hand accounts of the Flood. Noah was still living in Abram's lifetime and Shem outlived Abram, and was still living when Abram's grandson Jacob was born.
Ron Wyatt, who discovered the Ark in modern times, saw where Noah lived after the Ark landed in the mountains of Ararat. The stone house with its stone wall paddocks was still there when he visited Turkey with his sons. There is A LOT of stone in that area of Turkey, but it was the place where God saw fit to take Noah, so he stayed put. Ron saw markers etched with figures depicting Noah, his wife, his sons, and their wives near the area, which were grave markers for Noah's wife, and Noah who died later. Ron also saw a large sacrificial stone near the house, with other stones that formed channels to herd the sacrificial animals towards it. Some of the names given to places in the area reflect that the Ark landed nearby and the area was visited for centuries by pilgrims. There are videos on YouTube that I find very convincing regarding Ron Wyatt's discoveries.
Abram was 75 years old when God told him to leave Ur and go to the land that He would show him. God said that He would bless him and make him great, and bless his children after him, and that, in Abram, all the families of the Earth would be blessed. In other words, the Messiah (the Promised Seed) would come through his lineage, but this also related to a powerful prophetic act that Abraham fulfilled, whereby God was able to send us our Saviour.
Abram's assertion that the movements of the stars are in the hand of God and that men should serve God, rather than the stars,1 did not go down very well with the other Chaldeans. According to Josephus, Abram had "encouragement" to leave Ur. In other words, a tumult over his beliefs ensued when he tried to share them.
Abram's father and brother Nahor and their households moved with him to Haran, probably named thus by Abram as a memorial to his brother, until God gave him instruction about which direction to go next. Terah died there and Nahor stayed on in Haran with his family when Abram packed up his household and headed west. Josephus writes in the Antiquities of the Jews that Abram lived in Syria for a while, where he ruled, before he moved into Canaan, citing an earlier historian named Nicolaus of Damascus as his reference.
Pastors have expressed disgust over Abram's lies and so–called cowardice, but many of them would probably cave in with far less provocation. Have any of the critics been married to a woman who had a face that kings would go to war to have her as their own? Have any of them confronted an angry king? Most people would be very nervous about meeting a king, even if the king was not plotting to steal their wife. It is pretty easy to judge others from the comfort of an armchair, never having walked in Abram's shoes.
Besides that, he wasn't a coward. He went to battle against powerful, rapacious kings with his small army of 318 men and his friends' armies to rescue his nephew Lot. In Egypt, Abram had only his own little army and was in Pharaoh's territory. He wasn't sure of the outcome, if he went headlong into battle with Pharaoh.
Abram has been criticized for lingering in Haran for his aged father's sake, instead of going directly to Canaan, but perhaps we should consider the possibility that, until after Terah died, God did not show Abram where he should go next. I do not doubt that God was willing to show this mercy to Terah that he should retain his son and grandchildren until he died. After all, he didn't have long to live after they left Ur, and it had been hard enough for the old man to have already lost a son and then leave his home and his friends at such an advanced age.
It may have also been for mercy to Abram, Sarai, and Lot to let them leave their roots in easy stages. They were a close–knit family, and it was about to be split. Sarai was leaving behind her sister and uncle, Abram his brother and niece. Little nieces and nephews also were being left behind, and they were not likely to ever see them again.
When Bible teachers criticize Abram for not heading straight for Canaan right away, they aren't considering that God fulfilled His purposes through Abram anyway, so maybe he wasn't being disobedient. Maybe God isn't the hardnose that they take Him for, though in other circumstances, due to various dangers, God does tell people to leave everything behind immediately.
Consider what a radical change Abram, Sarai, and Lot, along with their servants, had to make in their lifestyle. God cared for the whole batch of them. Camping is an adventure to children, who have adults to look after them and make them feel secure, but living the life of a nomad tends to be depressing to adults who have always lived in houses, and are accustomed to the comforts and conveniences of living in a settled place.
People tend to feel safe in the same environment that they were raised in. I read an article by a woman who was raised in Coober Peedy, a mining town in Australia, that is very hot. People live underground in caves that have been carved out of rock. When she moved to a city, she was bothered by the creaking that goes on in a wooden house, the sound of the wind, and other noises, so she moved back to Coober Peedy.
Abram eventually came to the land of Canaan and had to tread carefully. This was the land that God promised his descendents would inherit. I doubt that he spoke of this promise to anyone outside of his immediate family. It would have made the inhabitants even more difficult to live among, if they knew that Abram's tribe was making a claim on their land.
Canaan and many of his descendents rebelled under the curse that came upon them through Ham's disrespect for Noah, resenting God for it being placed on them, instead of submitting to Him and finding the blessing that was contained at its heart.
God is Love. He never does anything for spite. Mercy is at the heart of all His judgments, and if we submit to His judgments when we have erred, His love bursts from the curse and He turns it into a blessing. If Canaan and his descendents had been glad to serve the descendents of Shem and Japheth, they would have prospered right along with them.
The Canaanites rebelled against God even to the point of entering again into the primary sin that caused God to destroy the antediluvians with a Flood. Fallen angels were on the loose again physically and the daughters of Canaan had sex with them, contaminating human DNA.2 It was not only a gambit on satan's part to prevent the birth of the Promised Seed, but also the Canaanites wanted to regain power they lost when the Tower of Babel was destroyed and Nimrod's empire broken up. The Canaanites wanted to rule and oppress the children of Shem and Japheth, not to serve them. Even the friends that Abram made among the Canaanites ended up cheating him, taking advantage of his grief when Sarah died to sell him a burial ground for more than its worth.
The inhabitants of Canaan were steeped in idolatry and most of them refused to give up their murderous and lascivious practices. They were going to have to forfeit their land, if they did not repent, and God knew in advance that they would not repent. There were still some fairly decent chieftains in Canaan who recognized and appreciated Abram's wholesomeness, and Abram became friends with them. The time to judge the land had not yet come, and Abram knew that he would not inherit the land in his lifetime. His mission was to establish a foothold in the spiritual dimension for the benefit of his descendents.
There was a famine soon after Abram arrived in Canaan, and the Canaanites probably pressured him to move on, as there was not enough food for themselves, never mind strangers with large retinues. So Abram went down to Egypt where there was enough food because its first king, Mizraim, was a brilliant engineer who diverted the Nile, causing it run through his territory to provide irrigation where he wanted it to go, and reduce flooding of fertile land.
Abram now faced the perils of powerful nobles who might send an assassin against him or make war with his tribe, so that they could marry his gorgeous wife, and and gain her wealth as a bonus. But they would surely respect his position as a chief and want to engage in commerce, forbearing to make an enemy of him by stealing his sister.
A twist arose that Abram had not thought of. The princes told Pharaoh about an astonishingly beautiful woman whom they had seen with a visiting tribal chief. The woman's brother would not sell her to a mere prince without her consent, but how could he or the woman deny the king of Egypt?
Pharaoh was eager to get a look at her and was pleased with what he saw. Besides being beautiful, Sarai had a stately carriage, a noble visage, and exquisite manners. She was obviously of a princely family. The chief said that she was his sister. Pharaoh eagerly loaded the chief with presents, so that he could take his sister into his harem.
Abram hid his alarm and took the gifts to buy time while he tried to figure out what to do to get his wife back. He prayed desperately for God's intervention because he was vastly outnumbered. What was the sense of getting himself and his warriors killed, and the rest of his people enslaved to the Egyptians? He wanted to be sure that he could rescue his wife.
God took care of the situation by unleashing dreadful diseases on Pharaoh and his household. The king was too sick to dally with his new acquisition, and anyone else who might have meddled with her was out of commission, as well. He consulted his sorcerers. They went into their incantations and learned, either from their demon spirits or from God (sometimes He speaks to mediums, when it suits Him),3 what was going on. Their demons certainly knew that Sarai was Abram's wife. A lie is like a fabulous perfume to them and causes gleeful excitement in Hell, particularly if it comes from someone who is a servant of God.
Actually, the Egyptians already knew that Sarai had something to do with the pestilence, even before they consulted an oracle. Sarai was the only one in Pharaoh's household who wasn't getting sick, but they needed to know the reason why. The sorcerers returned to Pharaoh and told him, "It's that woman you brought in here. The man who sold her to you is actually her husband, not her brother. His god won't let you touch her because she is his wife."
Pharaoh was deeply annoyed when he learned this. Sitting on his throne, feeling absolutely miserable with illness, he angrily demanded of Abram why he had done this to him. He didn't even wait for an explanation. He just told him, "Take her and get out of here!"
Pharaoh ordered his men to let Abram go peaceably. Otherwise, they would have retrieved Pharaoh's gifts to return to him, plundered the rest of Abram's stuff for themselves, and probably beat him up, if not kill him for putting such a deception over on them.
He had been wronged, but Pharaoh didn't want to take any chances of incurring the wrath of Abram's powerful deity, so he gave Abram safe passage out of Egypt and didn't dare try to get his gifts back. As confirmation that the plagues were due to this matter, as soon he released Abram and Sarai, the plagues began to ease. He wasn't going to take any risk of them coming back on him and his household.
Josephus said that Abram lingered in Egypt because Pharaoh afterwards gave him permission to visit with the priests and inquire into their learning, and that Abram taught them many things about astronomy. If he did so, it must have been prior to Pharaoh learning about his deception. The Bible makes it clear that Pharaoh kicked Abram out of Egypt.
It seems far–fetched that Abram spent much time talking to priests to learn their knowledge or giving seminars about the stars. He was probably too worried about Sarai to do anything but pray and confer with his men for ideas about what to do. It sounds like a Jewish myth rooted in national pride. When accessing extra–Biblical sources, one should always consider the possible motives of the authors, cultural background, the distortions of time, and the likeliness or unlikeliness of the events. He may have pretended an interest in those things, though, to cover up his anxiety and give a reasonable cause for his visit to Egypt.
Pharaoh's soldiers grimly escorted the tribe to their border, with both Abram and Sarai feeling the disgrace of their deception. God wanted them to learn to trust Him more. He gave Sarai her beauty, knowing full well all the risks it would present. Abram and Sarai had to learn to represent God more faithfully as His ambassadors to the pagan world. Part of this entailed being truthful, for He is the God of Truth and cannot lie. They also needed to develop a higher level of faith that included trusting God for protection from those who would lust for Sarai's beauty and have the ability to take her by force.
Abram and Sarai left Egypt wealthier than they arrived and, soon after they returned to Canaan, contention arose between Lot's herdsmen and theirs. Between Abram and Lot, they had so many flocks that the herders vied for grazing land to the point of brawling.
Abram was a wealthy man, but he was not a greedy man. He wanted his nephew/brother–in–law to prosper, so he took him to a mountain, where they could get a good view, and told Lot to take his pick of the land because he did not want to fight with him.
Lot did not have Abram's wisdom and spiritual maturity. He looked at things only from a business perspective, rather than considering also the spiritual implications of his choice. He chose the verdant Jordan plain, though it was close to cities that were deep into extremely wicked sexual practices. He figured that he wouldn't get involved in any of that, but he didn't take into consideration seriously enough the effect that it could have on family members and servants who were less committed to righteousness.
Abram let Lot have the Jordan plain. Lot hurried away down the mountain to tell his wife that they were moving. He knew it would be good news to her; she liked to be rich and get richer. There was also possibly a competitive spirit in her. Sarai was the Chief Lady of the tribe, but when they split the tribe, then Lot's wife would be the First Lady of Lot's servants and their families. There would be no further option for the wives of Lot's servants to go to Sarai for arbitration, if they were not happy with Lot's wife's decisions about how to solve their troubles.
Abram remained on the mountain to spend some time communing with God. God told him to lift up his eyes and look in every direction. He then told him that the land that he could see, He would give to him and his children forever. A person can not see the whole land of Israel from that little mountain, so it is apparent that God was not referring to what Abram could physically see.
Everything that happens always begins in the spiritual dimension, either for good or evil. The things that we think about attract either angels or demons. The things that we say are seeds of either life or death. The things that we say and do either release Hell into the Earth, or they release Heaven on Earth.
God was telling Abram to open his spiritual eyes and see beyond the limits of his physical vision to the future that God promised him. He was telling him to imagine it, and to imagine it in detail, to really fix it in his mind that someday it would all be his, through his descendents. He could have it, not because he was imagining it, but because God said that he could have it. Imagining it was only one of the steps to obtaining it. It wasn't the clincher. The clincher was God's promise because God cannot lie, and nothing can prevent God from doing what He pleases.
God also told Abram, this childless man, that he would someday have so many descendents that they could not be numbered any more than a man can number the dust of the Earth. He employed something that Abram saw every day as a constant reminder to him of His promise, to help Abram get it fixed in his mind and deposited in his heart. Later, God used the stars in the desert sky as an illustration to highlight again to Abram that he really would be a father someday, and the miracle child whom Sarai would bear would be the father of a great nation that would bring forth the Messiah.
By way of furthering the faith process through visual aid, God told Abram to walk throughout the land, from one side to the other. This would help him see the future with his progeny living in the land. Every place where his foot took a step, he was claiming the land.
Abram went and stayed a while near Hebron after that. While he was there, marauding kings descended on the Jordan plain, rounded up the inhabitants for slaves, and took their possessions. Lot and his family were abducted with all the rest.
Abram got together with his allies, three Amorite brothers and their warriors, and they went after the kings, defeated them, and retrieved their captives and spoil. The king of Sodom was grateful and offered to give Abram all of the spoil, retaining only the people who were abducted by them. Abram disliked him intensely. The king of Sodom was a pervert, a liar, very unstable in his ways. Abram refused the offer, saying that he had made a vow to God that he would not take any reward from him. He knew that the king's gratitude would wear off and then he would gripe. He would say that he had made Abram rich, even if Abram got no more out of it than a thread or a shoe lace.
Evil people tend to put much more value on favours they extend to others than what the favours warrant and to demand one's soul in return. Abram would not cave in to any demands from the king of Sodom, but he did not want to take the risk of one bit of the glory due to God for his prosperity to look like that horrible man had any claim to it.
Abram only accepted the food that his warriors had eaten, as well as a tenth of the spoils to give to God's representative in the land of Canaan, the King of Salem, for he attributed their victory to God. Other than that, he decreed that a share of the spoils would go to his Amorite friends and their warriors who had stood by him to rescue his nephew.
The King of Salem was possibly the Son of God in one of His physical forms. The Bible says that Melchizedek, which means "king of righteousness," was without father or mother, meaning He was not of earthly descent, nor did He ever die.4 Like Enoch, He just disappeared one day.
Here is another marvel of God's mercy. God pronounced His judgment on the land of Canaan, but He gave them 400 more years to repent of their evil before He executed His judgment on the nations that lived there. He said that the cup of the Amorites (their wickedness) was not yet full. The Amorites must have been the least wicked of the tribes; this seems to be borne out by the fact that an Amorite chief and his brothers liked Abram and were friends with him.
God the Word (Jesus before His incarnation) either came Himself and lived among them or He sent a chief angel to live among them, making headquarters where Jerusalem would eventually stand. Melchizedek lived among the Jebusites and acted as their king and high priest to lead them into the ways of God, to give them more opportunity to see the errors of their ways and repent. This honour may have been due to Jebus, or one or more of his descendents, doing something that pleased God. The tribe restrained their sinful inclinations as long as Melchizedek was their ruler, and some of them may have had a genuine change of heart towards righteousness. It will be so interesting to find out more details in Heaven.
Melchizedek's influence on the Jebusites and other tribes may have slowed down their depravity and deferred their judgment. One of the reasons they were judged so severely is because a Heavenly being lived among them, but they still went back to their evil ways and became even worse. When people have had righteous people living among them, and turned away from their witness, or had the opportunity for the righteous to live among them, but drove them away, their judgment is more severe than that of those who had to try to figure out right from wrong all on their own.
It could be that Heavenly beings or powerful godly apostles have lived among other cultures around the world in the very same way. Legends of great teachers who lived among savage people and steered them away from human sacrifice and cannibalism make me wonder. It is possible that the savages were taught to worship the Creator, but the stories got distorted after their teacher left, and the people went back to worshipping idols.
Abram was happy to see Melchizedek. He knew that Melchizedek was of God, if not actually God Himself. Yeshua verified in John 8:565 that Abram actually saw God in the flesh centuries before He was born as Yeshua of Nazareth. Abram gave Melchizedek a tenth of the spoil taken from the defeated kings to finance God's work, and Melchizedek confirmed his fellowship with Abram through the sharing of bread and wine, which foreshadowed Yeshua's death on the cross where He would offer His body and blood as a ransom for Mankind.
Please note that this incident of tithing does not indicate that Abram made a habit of tithing his increase to Melchizedek. The Bible does not say that Abram tithed before this or one any other occasion afterwards. As a godly man, though, he was probably very generous and often helped the poor and contributed to righteous causes.
After this, a very significant event occurred in Abram's life. God spoke to him again, reaffirming that the land of Canaan was his inheritance and that he would have many descendents. God then took him into a closer covenant, instructing him to sacrifice a young cow, a female goat, and a ram, all of three years old, as well as a dove and a young pigeon. Abram obeyed and made the sacrifice, then had to wait. Birds came to try to steal the meat, but Abram drove them away, keeping this up for hours. This was symbolic of not allowing satan to steal our relationship with God or any of His promises from our heart.
At sundown, a deep sleep came upon Abram and he was filled with a dream vision that horrified him. He saw great darkness and God told him that his descendents would be slaves and suffer much, but He would deliver them and judge the nation that afflicted them. They would return to Canaan with great wealth, and Abram would have peace at the end of his life, dying in his bed, rather than by the hand of an enemy. Abram must have been worried about that.
Then God came and walked with smoke and fire between the slain bodies of the animals, accepting Abram's sacrifice and affirming His covenant with him, and telling him the measure of the land his children would inherit. To the east, all the way to the great river Euphrates is recognized in Heaven as legally belonging to the children of Isaac, his son Jacob's descendents in particular. To the west, their grant extends to the river of Egypt, but it is not the Nile that is referred to. It is a wadi in the Sinai peninsula where the Amalekite capital, Auraris, was located. That is the first Egyptian river that is approached from the east, though it is dry in the summer. In later times, King Saul of Israel defeated the Amalekites there and brought their vast and ferocious empire to an end.
The grant does not include Saudi Arabia, though Mount Sinai is there, near the city of Al Bad and currently known as Jabal al Lawz. Saudi Arabia is the land of the Midianites, also descendents of Abram. God did not include the Midianites (aka the Kenites) as a tribe that was marked for judgment until a later time. [Numbers 24:21 & 22]
Melchizedek possibly visited Abram again, but the Bible clearly identified the visitor on that occasion as God. If He was Melchizedek, He had probably finished with His mission in Canaan. The Son was headed towards Sodom with a couple of His angels to see for Himself what was going on there. The Sodomites' sin was getting too far out of hand. It was no longer sex between consenting adults. Children were likely being indoctrinated into homosexuality and men were raped by other men. Sodom and Gomorrah were going to have to be judged in advance of the rest of the land. God is never in a hurry to judge, though. He always prefers to show mercy, and He was willing to give those cities yet one more chance to turn from their evil.
Before that came up, though, Abram and Sarai got themselves in a quandary. They were both very frustrated about their childless condition. Abram was a very sensitive and fair–minded guy for his times. He certainly was wealthy enough to have a harem, but he did not have even so much as one concubine, and he had never been unfaithful to his beloved wife.
Besides Abram's commitment to God and affection for his wife, his bond to Sarai was probably strengthened through their blood ties. His heart for Sarai was very tender and he did not want to give her any grief. He would feel betrayed if she committed adultery, and he did not want her to feel similar distress on his behalf.
But as time went on, being human after all, Abram did wonder what it would be like to go to bed with another woman. He would not have done so while Sarai was alive, though, if she had not indicated that she was willing for him to take a concubine so that she could get a child that way.
Sarai wondered if it was her fault that they didn't have children. It ate her alive. She knew she and Abram were the objects of a lot of conjecture. Was it Abram who was sterile? Was it the wife? The husband had no other wives, so how was anyone to know for sure? But such things were usually blamed on the wife. The tribe did not want to cast disrespect on their chief. Sarai saw the various looks directed at her and sensed the speculations; she felt shame that she did not have children.
She wanted this settled once and for all. If Abram took her slave for a wife and the slave did not have children, then it would be obvious that it was not Sarai's fault that they were childless. If the concubine did have a child, though, it would legally be Sarai's child, and she would finally have a child to hold in her arms and cherish.
Abram should have resisted her pressure to take her slave for his concubine. He knew Sarai well, so he must have known she would become jealous of the concubine. He also knew that it was through Sarai that God would give him the son who would be the progenitor of the Messiah. The Bible says in Romans 4:19 & 20, "And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about 100 years old, neither yet the deadness of Sara's womb: He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God;"
But Hagar was a beautiful and intelligent woman, one of Pharaoh's gifts, possibly given directly to Abram as a fitting concubine for a tribal chieftain. Or maybe she was a handmaid to Sarai when she was in the harem, but I doubt it. When Sarai left, Pharaoh was not in the mood to give any more gifts. Hagar was probably still a child when she was given to Abram, but her potential beauty was obvious. After Sarai was returned to Abraham, she took the little girl for her own personal handmaid.
Hagar grew up in Sarai's care like a daughter to her, but was trained to serve as a personal assistant. She had a lot of status among the slaves, and probably relayed orders for Sarai. Up until now, Abram simply regarded Hagar as part of their household, a trusted, reliable servant whom he spoke friendly to, but discreetly maintained enough distance to retain her respect and his wife's peace of mind.
Abram had some eager thoughts. Sarai really was willing for him to take this lovely slave for a concubine? He did as Sarai urged him because he wanted to go to bed what that young, pretty woman. He was also curious to know whether it was he or Sarai who was sterile.
It turned out that he wasn't the one who was sterile. Hagar got pregnant, and then she became proud that she was going to bear the chief a child, and if it was a son, she expected that he would be his heir. Now she had more status in the tribe than ever. Women smirked knowingly at each other behind Sarai's back as Sarai walked by. Sarai could feel that the women either pitied or despised her, and it was irksome. But nothing was more irksome than that her maidservant now despised her.
The grateful, adoring, and respectful tone in Hagar's voice disappeared. Now she lipped off to her mistress. Maybe just a little bit, but that was not at all acceptable from a slave. Sarai would have caught sight of Hagar's contemptuous sneers and self–satisfied smirks. Hagar was jealous that, though she was the one who could give her master a child, Sarai was always going to be her superior in the tribe. Perhaps other women reported to Sarai that they were concerned about her maidservant's remarks or behaviour, which had become "uppity." If Hagar now delayed to do her bidding, it indicated that she expected Abram would come to her defense, if Sarai reported it to him. They had been lovers and now she was bearing his only child. What Hagar needed, as far as Sarai was concerned, was a good beating.
Sarai complained to Abram about Hagar's attitude. He was caught in the middle. He probably stopped going to bed with her as soon as they knew she was pregnant, not wanting to make Sarai's jealousy any worse. She knew Abram had enjoyed his intimacies with Hagar, and was jealous that Hagar could get pregnant, though she wanted that baby.
Sarai was now blaming him, saying that he should not have listened to her and taken Hagar for a concubine. His first thought was probably, "There is no pleasing this woman. I did what she asked and now she's mad." But he had a tender conscience towards God and was willing to admit to himself that she was right. He told Sarai to do what she wanted with her maid.
Hagar's attitude needed to be straightened out. In that crude culture where slavery was permitted, violence was often employed to keep slaves submissive. Sarai grew up in that kind of culture. She did not question her right to hit another person, if she considered that person her property and they provoked her enough. In her own culture, Hagar would accept that a slave would be beaten for insolence and would have probably dealt with a slave the same way if she were the mistress. Hagar might have gone even farther in venting her rage and jealousy.
God meets people where they are at. He takes their background, upbringing, and the culture they live in into consideration when He deals with them. He let Sarai go ahead and take a stick to her pregnant maid, and did not let it disqualify her from His promises, though it did not meet His ideal standards of how He would have preferred to more gently straighten out the mess. Ideally, slavery would not be legal. Ideally, polygamy would not be legal. Ideally, Hagar would not have been agreeable to having sex with another woman's husband, but he was the chief and she wanted a child who would inherit his position and his wealth and raise her own status.
Hagar was humiliated. She could not preen her feathers any more about bearing the chieftain's child. Sarai had established that Hagar was still no more than her slave. To re–establish her dominance in the tribe, Sarai probably took a stick to her out in the open where everyone could see Hagar getting beaten while Abram looked on, obviously consenting to it. She did not hit Hagar in any way that could injure her baby, but it was a vigorous chastising. Nobody dared to intervene.
Hagar ran away from the camp at her first opportunity and kept going for days until she collapsed beside a well in the wilderness. She burned at the memory of her public beating. It served Abram and Sarai right to deny them her child, as far as she was concerned, but how was she going to look after this baby? How was she going to look after herself? She was easy prey for bandits, who would treat her roughly; almost any man would take advantage of her, regardless of whether he was rich or poor. Even a poxy, old beggar would be able to overpower her. Her child could be used as a slave and groomed to be a catamite. She could be forced into prostitution. What was going to become of her and her child?
God sees all, and He hears the cries of every heart and cares for everyone's pain. He says in Exodus 22:22 & 23, "You shall not afflict any widow, or fatherless child. If you afflict them in any way, and they cry at all unto me, I will surely hear their cry." It wasn't only for Abram's sake that He sent His angel to bring Hagar back. The angel told Hagar in Genesis 16:11 that God had heard her affliction. He told her to go back to her mistress and humble herself to her, assuring her that everything would be all right, even though she would continue to be a slave.
He told her that God would bless the child she was carrying and make a great nation of him. The angel spoke of what the child's personality would be like. He would have a resentful nature. This was probably due to his mother's attitude towards her mistress, as well as because of the trauma that he suffered when his mother was beaten while he was in her womb. Hagar's son would be a "wild" man, running loose like a wild ass in the desert, indicating that he was a stubborn, wary, quick–tempered loner who could not get along very well with others or take orders, so he would move around a lot and be his own boss. But he would still stay close to home, living among his own brethren.
That last bit must have made Hagar wonder. Abraham had no other children. There would be more someday? Or maybe the angel was referring to her people? Her son would live in Egypt? At any rate, she was assured that her son would be blessed, in spite of his wild nature. She called the name of the well by which she rested "the well of the Living One who sees me." She knew that God had not abandoned her.
Abraham's son Ishmael was born when Abraham was 86 years old. Josephus said that Sarah doted on him. It probably gave Hagar pain to have to share her child with another woman, and for that woman to have more say in regards to him than herself, but such was the way of the culture and there wasn't anything she could do about it. Culture or not, it is human nature to be grieved by such a circumstance, and it influences a personality and future generations as wounds get ingrained in the DNA.
Sorrow, shame, anger, bitterness, all gets passed on to future generations, influencing temperament and personality to be contrary to the loving will of God. The way to prevent one's children from being cursed by these things is to get our issues resolved before the children are conceived. Repentance of one's bitterness and unforgiveness towards offenders scrubs the DNA, and it also helps us be a better spouse, a better parent, a better friend, a better employee or boss, and in a better position to receive God's blessings.
Yeshua taught that if we do not forgive others, God will not forgive us. The reason for this is that if we feel that we have been wronged, and hold bitterness in our hearts, we are likely to justify our sins. We make excuses for our misdeeds. True repentance cannot be realized until we are willing to give up all the excuses, just admit that we were wrong, and truly abhor what we did for its sake alone, rather than be sorry simply because we are afraid of suffering repercussions for our wickedness or foolishness.
Until we repent of our sins, truly repent of our sins, we cannot receive God's forgiveness, though He has been standing in front of us all along offering it to us. We can receive His gift of forgiveness only if we empty our hands first of the grievances that we are holding against others.
We burden our children with our bad attitudes if we don't get them dealt with before we have children. That does not mean that our children cannot behave differently than us, but it makes it harder for them to do what is right. They have to have more faith than what they would have otherwise, in order to receive the grace to rise above the weaknesses of their flesh. They might have to work very hard to learn right from wrong and then train themselves as adults to have integrity. Before they come to that point, though, they might make some very bad mistakes that have very unpleasant consequences, and have to battle their way through deep regrets over past behaviour.
We can help our children, though, by repenting and making things right with God before any more time is wasted being locked into the futile cycle of vengeance, which always ends up doing more harm to the archers who send forth arrows of spite and fury than it does to the targets of their wrath. When we get our heart right with God, there is more power in our prayers, and we can help our children by praying for them, and setting for them a better example than what we have in the past.
God says to leave vengeance up to Him. This is because He is the only one who knows all the circumstances and can see into every heart, and knows exactly where to apportion the blame. He will see to it that the appropriate thing is done, if we don't take things out of His hands. Things always get botched up and complicated when we do that.
We should keep in mind that it isn't really people who are our enemies, but rather satan who stirs things up and sets people against each other. The best revenge is when our enemies decide that they want to serve God and give up their wicked ways, and get blessed. If we are in tune with God, who is Love, we will pray for our enemies to that end and be happy when we see it happen.
When Abram was 99 years old, God came to him and changed his name. Now he was to be called Abraham, which means "father of a multitude." God was reminding him again of His promise to give him a child through Sarai. Her name changed also to Sarah. Abram's and Sarai's new names included the name of God. Sarah was no longer merely a princess. God claimed her as His princess. Abraham was no longer merely a father, albeit an honoured one. He was God's choice of a father for a chosen nation.
But Abraham already had a son whom he loved dearly, and he didn't want Ishmael to miss out on any of God's blessings. God assured Abraham that He would bless Ishmael and make a great nation of him, but His plan regarding the Messiah involved the child whom He had spoken of before Abraham let Sarah persuade him to take a concubine.
At this time, God established the covenant of circumcision with Abraham. It related to Adam's error in the Garden of Eden. Back then, Adam opted for sexual pleasure with his wife rather than an uninterrupted relationship with the Lord. Then to make matters worse, Adam tried to blame his mistake on God because He gave him the woman, and he tried to blame Eve, as well.
The bottom line is that we all know what is right, because God has placed eternity in our hearts, and nobody can persuade us to do what is wrong unless there is something in us that wants to do it. Cutting off the foreskin signified the laying aside of excuses and getting rid of the filth that it conceals, as well as placing our relationship with God above all else.
Abraham was circumcised, as well as all the males in his household, to declare that he was God's man. It took guts. There probably was not any man or boy who was eager for it. It hurts to get one's flesh cut. Abraham had to stand up to the grumbling and dismay, to insist on the business being done.
God visited Abraham after the circumcision business was taken care of. Part of the reason was to let Abraham know that his nephew was in danger again, because he had moved into Sodom, instead of merely camping in the plains outside its walls. God was going to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, if they refused to repent of their wickedness.
He started off by having lunch while Abraham waited on him, and then talked again about the business of him having a child with Sarah. Sarah was listening behind the curtains of the tent and laughed within herself. She was an old lady now, and Abraham was an old man. I gather that he wasn't interested in sex so much anymore because his testosterone levels were going down. She thought that the idea of them getting it on, and actually having a child as a result, was hilarious.
God asked Abraham what Sarah thought was so funny. He put a date on His promise this time, saying that Sarah would have a child by that time next year. Sarah got excited. God had been saying for years that He would give her a child, but now He was saying that it would be soon, according to her concept of soon. She came out of the tent and tried to say that she hadn't laughed. After all, she hadn't laughed out loud; just in her heart. God said, "No, you laughed." It was a rebuke to her unbelief.
God and the angels got up and headed towards Sodom. Sarah stayed by the tent, feeling embarrassed and wondering if God would change His mind because she had doubted, but then reasoned that He had not said that He would change His mind. Excitement multiplied as she busied herself cleaning up after the lunch. She probably made plans about what to wear when she served Abraham dinner that evening, and which spices to sprinkle on their bed.
Abraham walked along with God. God turned to the angels and asked a rhetorical question relating to what He was about to do, and whether He should tell Abraham what was about to happen. Of course He would, because Abraham was going to become a great nation, and he was faithful to God, and he would teach his family to be faithful to God. He let him know that He was about to destroy the cities of the plain.
The angels went on ahead while God lingered to let Abraham intercede for the cities. Abraham humbly asked God to consider the lives of the righteous people who lived in those cities, and to spare those cities if there were enough of them there. Abraham whittled God all the way down to sparing a city if there were only ten righteous people living in it. For the sake of even a small group of people who loved Him, God was willing to spare their city. Disgracefully though, when the cities were inspected, only one righteous man was found, and that was Lot.
None of his servants were spared. If they had any objections to homosexuality before they moved to the plain, the evil influence of the city overcame them. Some were probably seduced into participating in that behaviour; the rest made excuses for it. They accepted it as part of the price to pay to live in a prosperous city. God said that the sin of Sodom was "pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. And they were haughty, and committed abomination before me: therefore I took them away as I saw good." [Ezekiel 16:49 & 50]
The Bible tells us in 2 Peter 2:7 that Lot was vexed by what he saw going on in Sodom.6 This implies that it wasn't his idea to move there. It probably was his wife's and his daughters' wish. His wife was a lady who loved her luxuries and probably wanted to show them off. She likely craved admiration and there was more prestige in living in a mansion in a high–class neighbourhood than in a tent in the middle of a pasture. The girls probably wanted to be around other girls who they felt were their peers; perhaps a bit of snobbery was going on there.
Even one woman making demands and pleas can wear a man down, never mind a gang of them. Maybe they appealed to his protective instincts by telling him that they were afraid of raiding parties, such as happened before, but if they moved into the city, they would be less vulnerable to capture. People are quite capable of exaggerating their fears, to have a "panic attack," so they can get others to agree to what they want just to calm down their hysterics.
The angels found Sodom to be everything that it was reported to be. The homosexual men who lived there were so depraved that they wanted to despoil every kind of innocence, even to have sex with angels. They may not have consciously recognized that Lot's visitors were angels, but the visitors were men who exuded an unearthly holiness and did not invite sexual attention in any way. In fact, the vibes they gave off indicated that they were totally indifferent to sexual allures.
The Sodomites lust for the angels confirms suspicions that parent/child incest and pedophilia were other perversions that rampaged through the city. People who have degraded themselves to the point where they engage in extreme perversion crave the innocence they have lost, but they are not willing to repent of their sins to regain it.
Their motive in going after virgins is not for purity, but rather to defile it, to bring others down to their level, so that they don't feel so bad about themselves, for deep down, they know their shame and are afraid to face it. They know that, regardless of trauma they suffered in their past, it is not an excuse to take their anger out on others. If anything, they should be less inclined to do the same to others, especially the innocent, for they know how much it hurts a person emotionally to be abused.
Lust deceives sinners into thinking that they can gain what they want from others who have attributes they crave by engaging in sex with them. It is a perversion of the principle of becoming one flesh through intercourse. The worst kind of perverts crave sex with innocents, thinking that it will take them back to the point in their lives when sex was really exciting to them and they didn't have to do all sorts of weirder and weirder stuff to get a buzz. Not that they mind the weird stuff, but the buzz simply is not as exciting as what sex used to be when they didn't know much about it. Seducing innocents or defiling people against their will does not give perverts the innocence they lack, but it gives them a temporary high to exert power over them through sexual shaming. Afterwards, the cycle of frustration begins again.
Even when the Sodomites were struck blind after trying to break down Lot's door to get to his visitors, they still did not give up their attempts to satisfy their lust on the angels, but felt around for the door. This type of utter degradation and depravity is where perversion leads to, if it is not repented of. Judgment can be hovering directly over one's head, but pleasures are still sought right up to the last moment of life, instead of conviction making one fall on their knees and plead with God for mercy before it is too late.
It isn't just homosexuals who are perverted. During the London Blitz in World War II, while bombs were falling, pathetic men and women had sex with each other in doorways. It was dark, they had no idea who they were having sex with, but in their terror, they grabbed for a base kind of comfort, instead of turning to God in their fear and preparing their soul to meet their Maker. The morning after bombings, clean–up crews found dead couples locked in disgraceful poses. It is shameful for one's life to end in defiance of the Lord to the last breath.
The angels told Lot to gather his family and leave the city because God was going to destroy it. They let him visit his daughters' fiancés to try to persuade them to leave with them, but the men laughed at him and said that he must be joking. They did not believe that the city was about to be destroyed. It didn't seem all that evil to them, and the night was calm, the stars bright, and no danger seemed to be pending.
When Lot returned home, he dithered about, so the angels finally took him and his wife and daughters by their hands and hurried them out of the city, warning them to not look back. They told Lot to take refuge in a mountain, but he was afraid that he wouldn't be able to survive there and pleaded with them to let him stay in a little town on the plain. They agreed to not destroy it, so the family headed there.
The angels left them to go back to the city to destroy it. Then the family heard a great roar behind them and waves of heat. Lot and his daughters ran all the faster, but his wife stopped and looked back, probably thinking with regrets about her beautiful house with its luxuries and of her friends. She died on the spot, suddenly crystallized. She had stepped out from behind the shield of obedience to the Lord.
Abraham saw the smoke from the cities rising up like a furnace. Billows and billows of smoke. Perhaps it looked like a mushroom cloud such as is released from an atomic bomb, but the blast was possibly a supernatural explosion, or natural phenomena from outside of Earth's atmosphere. In other situations, the Bible records God using fire from both sources. Testing of the sulphur that peppers Sodom's ruins has determined that it did not come from a volcano or any other earthly source. You can find out more about it on this Ark Discovery video. The cities were destroyed. Abraham wondered what happened to his nephew and his family.
Meanwhile, Lot escaped to the little town of Zoar. It seems he didn't stay there for long. I surmise that the townspeople panicked and ran away, so he and his daughters left, as well. He figured he might as well take his chances in the mountain after all. He and his daughters gathered up provisions that the townspeople left behind and headed for the mountain.
What did they see on their way to the mountain that caused Lot's daughters to think that they must be the last people on Earth? I surmise that there was a shield of protection over that town, for the sake of Lot and his daughters, and when the townspeople left, they left God's protection. They probably died from exposure to radiation and their bodies dropped by the tracks that led to the mountain.
Lot and his daughters took refuge in a cave. Lot was deeply depressed. He had lost his wife, and he had no hope that she went to Paradise. In her last moments, she displayed that her heart was not committed to God. And all his property was gone. So much for choosing the rich pasture of the plain. It was the worst business decision of his life.
Lot was depressed and morose. He kept to himself, but he should have found out what his daughters were thinking and reassured them that they were not the last people on Earth. Lot would know that the city was judged for its wickedness, and that if God had spared him, He surely had spared Abraham and Sarah. Their camp must be intact, but he did not go there right away because he probably felt too ashamed of his greed that prompted him to choose what looked like the better portion, in spite of Abraham's kindnesses towards him, and for having tolerated living in such a sordid environment as Sodom.
The girls did not think that their city deserved to be judged for its wickedness. If they did, they would have figured out on their own that Abraham and his family were still alive, that this was not a global catastrophe. There was Cousin Ishmael whom one of them could have married and there were other prosperous men in the tribe.
No, like typical, shallow, irrational, self–centred, pleasure–seeking teens, they figured God was a cranky deity who destroyed people arbitrarily. Dad was now flat broke. He had no more property. There were no dowries for them, even if there were men still alive, but that was so highly doubtful. The oldest girl decided that it was up to her and her sister to repopulate the Earth. It was a teenage fantasy of what to do in the event of an apocalypse, but there weren't any men around to father their children, except for their Dad.
In Sodom, Lot's children absorbed the culture. They may have had friends whose fathers molested them, but their friends didn't think it was a big deal because they were programmed to accept it. It may have been part of their religious beliefs to consider it virtuous or a valid means of obtaining magical power.
The girls were not shocked at the idea of going to bed with their father, but they knew he would be shocked at the idea. They got him drunk so that he didn't know what he was doing. He was certainly depressed enough that he could be persuaded to try to forget his troubles for a while in wine.
Lot's shock came later when he realized that his daughters were pregnant and he was the only one who could have fathered their children. It was now high time that they went looking for Abraham and Sarah and got some help. Their reunion was a time of weeping, over the loss of the sister–in–law, over their brother's misery, and their nieces' predicaments.
Those girls must have felt like fools when they came out of the mountains and found that there were other people still alive. Now they had to bear the shame of people knowing that they were not only brazen, little hussies who tricked their own father into siring their children, but were also stupid enough to think that it had been necessary.
A bright ray of hope for Lot, though, was the miracle that his sister Sarah, an old lady, was now pregnant. And she looked younger! And so did Abraham! God turned back the years and restored their youth. They didn't look like teenagers, but probably a good forty years younger. Sarah was rejuvenated enough that she was again coveted by a king and appropriated for his harem.
As before, when Abraham journeyed into dangerous territory, he asked Sarah to say that she was his sister, and it had the same results. A king named Abimelech took a fancy to her, his household was troubled, he found out that Abraham was Sarah's husband, and he ended up scolding Abraham and Sarah.
It was a weird thing that happened to the royal household. I used to think that when the Bible said that God closed up the wombs of the women in the king's household, it meant they were not conceiving children. But then it occurred to me that it would have taken a few months for anyone to notice that this was happening. Even then, it wouldn't be all that extraordinary, unless it went on for at least a year.
Sarah conceived and gave birth to Isaac sooner than that, so she couldn't have been in the harem for long. Also, if the king had a few months before he realized that something was wrong, he would have had time to get Sarah into bed, even if he was taking his time about it and getting to know her on a personal basis first to heighten his pleasure through anticipation.
Eventually I realized why they were so upset. I finally recalled the testimony of a Chinese woman named Nora Lam. Nora was arrested because she was a Christian. She was sentenced to die by firing squad, but when the soldiers shot at her, a bright light flashed around her and none of the bullets hit her. Seeing as they could not kill her, the Chinese government sent her to a work camp. She was pregnant, but had to carry sacks of coal weighing more than 100 lbs. on her back.
At night when Nora lay on the wooden floor of the barracks exhausted, she would cry and pray that God would not let her baby be born until she was free. Nora carried that baby for twelve months until she was allowed to leave China. She was so ill that she had to crawl on her hands and knees across No Man's Land. Her baby was born in a hospital in Hong Kong, and she said he was a huge baby.
There was also a prophet named John Paul Jackson, whom God told his mother before he was born that John Paul would be an 11th hour prophet. John Paul's mother went into labour on his projected birth date, but after she got to the hospital, her labour stopped. His mother tried various sorts of ways to bring on her labour again, but he was not born until exactly two months later, when she had carried him for 11 months, as a sign of his calling.
God surely can close up wombs and keep them shut long after a child should have been born. But the delays in Abimelech's household were distressing. The women were probably experiencing labour, but it was not enabling them to give birth. The king felt harassed as his wife and pregnant concubines and slaves suffered day after day with labour pains. He was too worried and busy trying to console his distressed wife, and consulting with his wise men, to have time to bed his new acquisition.
But he did manage to get some sleep, in spite of the screaming of his tortured womenfolk. He needed his sleep so that he could stay alert enough to maintain control of his kingdom. God came to him in his sleep and told him he was a dead man because his new concubine was another man's wife, a man who was His prophet. Alarmed, the king protested that he had not known, and God said that this was why He had not let him touch Sarah. He told him to restore Sarah to Abraham and Abraham would pray for him so that he would live, otherwise God would destroy Abimelech and his household.
Abimelech demanded from Abraham that he explain why he had lied to him. Abraham felt embarrassed, so he fudged and tried to justify his claim that Sarah was his sister. Abimelech loaded Abraham with gifts to ensure the favour of Abraham's deity.
Then Abimelech turned to Sarah and told her with disdain that she did not have to worry that anyone would be so overcome by her beauty that they would try to kidnap her, nor bother anyone else associated with their household, because her husband and everything pertaining to him was now under Abimelech's protection out of respect for the power given to Abraham by his God.
In this way, he let her know that he felt it was dishonourable of her to have said that she was Abraham's sister and kept up the pretense, and he had lost respect for her because of it. It was not due to any concern for her that he was letting her go. He knew she was married to a fair–minded man who would not have forced her to say that she was his sister, if she had refused to do it. She finally had to take responsibility for her part in the brother/sister deception. Wives are supposed to help their husbands be better men, not go along with weakness in their character.
Abraham prayed for the king. The women of his house finally delivered their babies and Abimelech was healed, as well. The Bible does not say what he was healed of, but it could have been something that was brought on by frazzled nerves.
Sarah gave birth to Isaac after that. His name means "laughter," and, indeed, many laughed for joy at the birth of the miracle baby. As Sarah nursed her baby, she shook her head and laughed as she said, "God has made me laugh and all who hear will laugh with me. Who would have thought that I would give birth at 90 years old, and when my husband was a 100 years old?"
We can well imagine that Isaac was a child who got a lot of attention. It was a problem, though, for his older brother. Ishmael was jealous. His Dad had always loved him and given him attention and careful, sensitive instruction, but he was positively besotted with this new kid. He resented that another child now filled his father's arms and had a claim on his heart, and that the child meant so much to Abraham because he was a miracle child and selected by God to be a direct ancestor of the Messiah.
A few years later, Isaac was weaned and a celebration was in full swing to console him about no longer being allowed to nurse at his mother's breast. Abraham and Sarah assured him that he was a big boy now, and had no further need for Mommy's milk. He could eat solid food like the big people. Would he like to have some yummy shish kabob?
Ishmael was irked at the attention that Isaac got that day. It was obvious by the big deal being made out of it with this splashy party that Isaac was going to inherit the double portion and be the leader of the tribe when Abraham died.
Ishmael's jealousy boiled over and he teased Isaac, probably telling him he was still a baby, and other things along that line. Sarah overheard it, went to Abraham, and angrily told him to cast out the slave woman and her son, to prevent him from making any claims to being Abraham's heir. She didn't want him hanging around making trouble for Isaac, undermining his confidence and trying to take his inheritance from him.
Abraham was distressed. He loved Ishmael and could not imagine sending him away. He turned to God in prayer and God told him to listen to Sarah and send the boy away. He confirmed that, if Ishmael stuck around, it would cause problems in His plans for Isaac as the founder of a holy nation that would produce the Messiah.
God assured the grieving father that He would prosper Ishmael for Abraham's sake, and so He has. Ishmael's descendents exist to this day and have had great wealth because of deposits of oil on their land.
Isaac grew up to be an easy–going kind of guy who was too impressed with the manliness, athletic ability, and hunting skills of his older twin son to recognize that he was not interested in pleasing God. Isaac was also too obtuse to realize that the twin whom he thought was a weakling was the one who had a passion for the things of God, and would even go so far as to wrestle with an angel all night to obtain God's blessing. If Isaac had been raised with Ishmael around, he probably would have been too influenced by him, for Ishmael was an outstanding athlete, a famous archer, a fierce warrior – a very manly sort of guy.
Ishmael was too caught up in his own pain to look objectively at his circumstances and revere the call of God on his father's life. He was self–centred. He felt rejected by his father. He didn't give enough thought to what it would mean for the whole human race for the Messiah to be brought forth, and that He had to come forth in the way that God planned. With Self as his pivot, he stewed in misery about how he felt short–changed, and spread it around to others, as well, with his contentious spirit.
It was a mistake for Abraham to listen to Sarah when she told him to give her a child through her slave, and part of the result of his mistake is that he produced a child whose descendents have made trouble for Isaac's descendents for centuries even until this present day, claiming to be Palestinians who have more claim on the Holy Land than the Jews.
But no child is ever a mistake. God knew in advance what Abraham would do, and He worked that into His plan. Ishmael had as much right as any other child to be born, and God had blueprints for him that would give him a fantastic destiny, if he trusted God in spite of his troubles, and submitted to His plan.
There is no point in being jealous of the plans that God has for others. His plan for us is the only one that we can cope with. It will challenge us to our limit, but it will also fulfill us like no other plan could.
Heartbroken, Hagar and Ishmael were sent away. Abraham's face was etched with sorrow as he set a container of water on Hagar's shoulder and gave her some bread for their journey. He didn't know where they would end up, but he knew that God would take care of them. It is powerful thing to have a man such as Abraham praying for one's safety and provision, but they didn't realize that, yet. They were absorbed in how they felt rejected by father, husband, and God. Ishmael was 17 years old.
Hagar and Ishmael journeyed as far as they could go after running out of water. Ishmael was weak from both hunger and thirst, but mostly sorrow. He leaned on his mother's shoulders until finally she could support him no longer and pushed him down under a shrub in the desert. Then she went away to where she could not see him because she did not want to see him die, and she expected to die also.
This is a poignant picture of where many single mothers are today. They have children to support, but the burden is heavy. They have no husband to help them and the children's hearts are breaking because they feel rejected by their father. The mother feels guilty and frustrated because she knows that she can not fulfill all their emotional needs, even if she can find an honourable way to feed, clothe, and shelter her children. But there is a God who sees, and He is a God who helps widows (women who have no man to help them) and orphans (abandoned children) when they cry out to Him. Ishmael cried out to the Lord, and the Lord heard him.
Just as He did before when Hagar ran away and was in despair, God came to her, comforted her, and helped her. He gave her hope, assuring her that her son would be successful in life. Then He opened her eyes to show her a well of water that had been there all the time, though she thought they were going to die of thirst. That's the way it usually is. The answers to our problems are close at hand. When we look to God for help, He helps us see the solution that He prepared for us, but never noticed before because we were focussed on the problem, instead of the One who has all the answers.
Hagar and Ishmael were refreshed. They arose and found assistance somewhere. Perhaps the fame of Abraham had reached the wilderness and some tribal chieftain thought it would be useful for Abraham to be obligated to him for helping his son. In any case, the boy was handsome, athletic, daring, and fiery; the sort of young fellow a warrior enjoyed taking on as a protégé and adding to his troops.
Isaac grew up in gentler circumstances, doted on by both mother and father, and adored by his tribe. He was a wonder to the other tribes among whom they lived, a miracle child born to old parents. What could it mean that this special family journeyed among them? They must have wondered, but Abraham was too smart to say anything to them about how his descendents were going to take over their land someday.
He concentrated on being the best ambassador he could be for his Lord, to try to teach these people God's ways. After all, God had called him to be a blessing to all the tribes of the Earth. Anyone who turned to the Lord and looked to the Creator for salvation through the Messiah would be saved.
When Isaac was a young man, Abraham took him on a special trip to the mountains of Moriah, the area where Yeshua was later crucified. They took wood with them because Abraham thought that Isaac had to be offered as a burnt offering to the Lord. He didn't know that God intended to stop him at the last moment from killing Isaac.
God is humble and He demonstrated His humility by implementing a legal means to gaining access to the Earth to rescue its hostage race and restore it to its place of dignity in the Universe. He doesn't just imperiously barge in because He has the power to do so. God is a God of order and He does not violate His rules. He doesn't just tell us what to do. He sets the example of righteousness, regardless of personal discomfort and inconvenience, even to the point of enduring agony for righteousness' sake.
God gained the right to redeem Mankind through His covenant with Abraham, asking him to give Him Isaac. In this way, Abraham became a representative for the whole human race, and by his obedience to this command, all the tribes of the Earth were blessed.
When two parties made a covenant in the Old Testament manner, they each pledged their goods and their strength to each other. If one was in trouble, whatever the other had wherewith he could help was offered in assistance. One party could be a simple peasant and the other a king. If the king asked for the man's hovel because he has need of it, the poor man handed it over and the king respected his covenant partner's little shack rather than despised it.
Perhaps a king was deposed from power and had to flee for his life wearing a disguise. He could expect to rely on his peasant friend to shelter him, and his friend would place his own life at risk for the sake of their covenant.
If the peasant man was in danger of being invaded by bandits, regardless of his humble station in life, he could call on his powerful friend for assistance and the king would send his soldiers to take care of the problem. If a poor man could win the favour of a powerful person who was so impressed with him that he would make a covenant with him, his situation in life was immensely improved.
When Abraham complied with God's demand for his son, and demonstrated a willingness to kill his cherished, miracle son upon an altar because it was the way that he understood the command, as a right under covenant, God was then able to reciprocate and give His own beloved Son to humanity in return.
This needed to be only a one time thing, and God never intended that Abraham should actually kill Isaac, which is why in regards to human sacrifice, God said in Jeremiah 32:35 "… which I commanded them not, neither came it into my mind, that they should do this abomination …" Once Isaac, as a representative sacrifice, was offered to the Lord, God never again had a need for a human being to think that they were required to kill their child as an offering to Him.
Abraham knew that God had ordained Isaac to be a progenitor of the Messiah, and that He was going to make a mighty nation of him, so Abraham expected that God would raise Isaac from the dead. This was a foreshadowing of how Messiah would be raised from the dead after He was offered up as a propitiation for the sins of the whole world.
Due to the obedience of Abraham and within God's laws, the Anointed Lord Yeshua gained appointment as our Redeemer through being born as a mortal human being on this quarantined planet, sharing our discomforts, and paying the penalty for our sins through His death. He paid the price to put things right in the Earth, whether everyone welcomes Him to do so or not. It was by being obedient to this particular command of God to offer up Isaac that Abraham became the Father of Faith.
Abraham gave Sarah no inkling of what he intended to do when he trudged off with Isaac. He felt there was no point in worrying her, nor did he want to have to fend off her trying to argue him out of doing it. Everything in Abraham's life was aligned to bring him to this point. If he had not been obedient, God would have found someone else to let Him enter the Earth by being birthed in a mortal body.
But Abraham was obedient, and he should be honoured for his pivotal part in releasing the Messiah to us. Right here, right now, in the mighty Name of Yeshua, I bless the memory of righteous Abraham for his obedience to God in offering Isaac as a sacrifice to the Lord, in simplicity of faith, possibly not even knowing why God required it of him.
Isaac was bewildered when his father tied him up and laid him on an altar, but he had grown up trusting his father. Having an easy–going, gentle personality probably came into play here. It would have been a problem if Isaac had fought and run away, but like Yeshua who submitted to the wisdom of His Father, Isaac submitted to being lain on an altar. His mind was bewildered, his heart probably breaking, but if Abraham said it had to be done, then it had to be done.
What a relief it must have been to Isaac to see that knife stop in mid–air, arrested in its downward plunge, as the Lord called out to Abraham to not hurt the lad. And there in a thicket nearby was a ram that had trotted up and gotten its horns caught in the thorn bush. This is a picture of the Messiah running afoul of the Pharisees because they were envious of His miracles and angered by His outspoken condemnation of their religious hypocrisy, so they delivered Him up to the secular authorities to be crucified. Yeshua went to the cross willingly, coming between us and the wrath of God, taking our punishment, for we are all sinners and deserve to be forever separated from God.
The ram was offered up as the sacrifice instead of Isaac and they returned home. Sarah probably nearly fainted when she found out what had happened, but what could she say? It all turned out well. Abraham had done the crucial thing that was required of him, and she did not need to worry that anything else like that would come up that would place Isaac in danger. She lived out the rest of her days in contentment with her son close by, and no daughter–in–law to distract from his devotion to her.
Shortly after Sarah's death, Abraham sent a trusted servant to Haran where his brother's family resided, and a wife was obtained for Isaac from among his brother's grandchildren. Rebekah probably expected Isaac to be handsome and was surprised to see that he was somewhat homely, which is why I surmise she veiled her face before she was close enough for him to see her expression, which was possibly one of dismay. She did not normally wear a veil. Its purpose was to protect her skin from dust and sand as she travelled through the desert and the plains.
A miracle child does not have to be handsome or beautiful, nor does anyone else need to be good–looking to win God's favour. Character counts with Him. Rebekah wanted to give herself some time to get to know Isaac and to see what she liked about him during their first conversation. We can gather that he was able to soon charm her into removing her veil so that he could see what she looked like. Isaac was comforted after his mother's death by the beautiful Rebekah, and eventually they had twin boys, of whom God chose the younger one to be the direct ancestor of the Messiah.
Abraham was rejuvenated to such an extent that he took another concubine after Isaac was settled with a wife. Keturah, the concubine, bore Abraham six more sons. When they were grown, he gave them all an inheritance and sent them away, so that they would not be around to get worked up with jealousy towards Isaac and make trouble for him.
When he was 175 years old, Abraham died. Isaac and Ishmael took care of the funeral arrangements and buried him next to Sarah in a double cave that Abraham purchased for a burial place when Sarah died. The caves and the adjacent field that Abraham also purchased were near Hebron. And so ended the life of one of the greatest men that the world will ever know.
Are his bones still in that cave? It's doubtful. The Bible says in Matthew 27:52 that after Yeshua was resurrected from the dead, many of the dead who had trusted God came to life and went to Jerusalem.7 On their way up to Heaven, some of them took a look at the place where significant events of eternal importance had just occurred. I think that it would be only fitting for Abraham to get to see up close the place where his long–awaited Messiah died, especially because he had such a crucial part to play in that event. Yes indeed. Blessed is Abraham, the father of those who believe that Yeshua is the Son of God, look to Yeshua as their Saviour, and take hold of His strength to live a righteous life.
1The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delights in his way.
2The Bible teaches that the first fallen angels were bound from perpetrating their evils on either living humans or souls in Hell, as punishment for having left their first estate, which is the spiritual realm, where they have no physical body. I surmise that this was a deterrent to the rest of them for a time, but satan persuaded more of his angels to take the risk of repeating the venture, promising great rewards to them to compensate for penalties that followed, after he removes God from His Throne, as they all have deceived themselves that this can happen.
3 And God came unto Balaam, and said, What men are these with you?
4For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him; To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace; Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abides a priest continually.
[Heb 7:1 – 3]
5Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad. Then said the Jews unto him, You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham? Jesus said unto them, Truly, truly, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I AM.
[John 8:56 – 58]
6And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;)
[2 Peter 2:7 & 8]
7And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.
[Matthew 27:52 & 53]
Click below to read:
The Majesty of God, Chapter 14