I ended yesterday’s post talking about how Abram and Sarai took matters into their own hands and did not wait on the Lord. They did not wait for God’s plan to unfold because of their unbelief that with God all things are possible! They spent 13 long years in bitterness and misery because of their unwillingness to trust God’s plan. Because of their actions, a child named Ishmael, was born of Hagar, the maidservant, and Abram. As I said yesterday, this child grew to be the Father of the Arab nation, who has been a thorn in the side of Israel, to this day! These 13 years were spent out of the presence of God and His grace and mercy. The baby Ishmael grows to be a teenager and when he was 13 years old things began to change. However, I believe that things were changing over the course of these 13 years but things really changed when he was 13.
To give a little more background before we get into the meat of the post … After Sarai gave Hagar to Abram. And he “went in to her”, things began to get ugly between the two women. Hagar became pregnant and she changed her view of Sarai. Here is the scripture.
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.
Hagar fled from Sarai. Hagar was obviously upset and had stopped by a spring of water in the wilderness. An Angel of the Lord came to her. The Angel asked her where she came from and where was she going? Isn’t that just like God? When we have fled from an uncomfortable situation and don’t know what else to do, God finds us and asks us these questions. God knows the answers but I believe He asked Hagar so she could speak it out. It always helps, I think, to speak it out and let your own ears hear things that have upset you. It’s truth and your feelings are very important and God wants you to be aware of how you feel.
So, Hagar tells the Angel of the Lord…
7 Now the Angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, by the spring on the way to Shur. 8 And He said, “Hagar, Sarai’s maid, where have you come from, and where are you going?”
She said, “I am fleeing from the presence of my mistress Sarai.”
Hagar and the Angel had a wonderful conversation. She expressed her fear and the Angel of the Lord reassured her. Although telling her to go back and submit to Sarai probably was not that comforting, the next thing the Angel tells her is, to some degree.
9 The Angel of the Lord said to her, “Return to your mistress, and submit yourself under her hand.” 10 Then the Angel of the Lord said to her, “I will multiply your descendants exceedingly, so that they shall not be counted for multitude.” 11 And the Angel of the Lord said to her:
“Behold, you are with child,
And you shall bear a son.
You shall call his name Ishmael,
Because the Lord has heard your affliction.
12 He shall be a wild man;
His hand shall be against every man,
And every man’s hand against him.
And he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.”
This conversation that the Angel has with Hagar is a wonderful example of God’s tender care for his children. Yes, Hagar was in the midst of the wrong that Sarai and Abram did but God saw her sorrow and sadness and met her right where she was. He didn’t chastise her, but confirmed that she was with child and that her descendants would be multiplied greatly. This must have brought some comfort to this young woman. So, she returns, has the boy child and names him Ishmael.
Following is the first post of many to come. They will take us on a wonderful journey of Abram and Sarai’s change (Abraham and Sarah). This change was drastic, considering where they had been for 13 years, and therefore, it had to be a drastic effect on the entire tribe. Let’s start with the scriptures and see what they say.
When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless. 2 And I will make My covenant between Me and you, and will multiply you exceedingly.”
Ray Steadman says it so beautifully, I must include a quote from his sermon “The Circumcised Life”.
“After thirteen years of silence, God appears to Abram in a new revelation and with a new name — God Almighty. In the Hebrew it is El Shaddai, which essentially means “the God who is sufficient,” the all-competent God, the adequate God, who knows what he is doing and how to do it. This is an indication that Abram has learned something from his recent bitter experience. God says, in effect, “You have been learning for thirteen years the total inadequacy of your own efforts, through Ishmael. Now learn a new thing about me. I am El Shaddai. You have discovered by sad experience how futile your plans and efforts can be without me. Now learn how capable I am to do everything that I desire to do, whenever I desire to do it.”
God is so good. He allowed Abram to see the futility of his efforts and then, after many hard lessons over 13 long years, when God saw that Abram was ready He appears to Abram. God makes it known that God is the God of all provision! God is God and Abram was not!
Do you know what it is like to have God be silent for a long period of time and wonder where He is? He is always where He was in the beginning. Maybe you have moved away from Him. God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. He never changes! He is there waiting for you to be “ready” to receive Him back into your life. Has God ever spoken to your heart after a long period of misery – one that you may have directly or indirectly created? Maybe He has been gracious and merciful to you after that long period of silence? God longs to have his children “get right” with Him. He is a loving and merciful God. Slow to anger and longsuffering!
6 And the Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth,
The Lord is merciful and gracious, Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy.
This is a link to a website (BibleStudyTools.com) that lists several beautiful scriptures that speak to God being “slow to anger”. I think you will like the scriptures.
Oh if we could all realize how much God wants to provide for us in all ways. He wants us to rely on His provision and His abundance and not try to “fix” the problems, especially without praying and talking to Him. He is such a wonderful God. He loves us and hurts when we hurt and rejoices when we rejoice! Have you talked to Him today? He is waiting to hear from you, His beloved!
I will end this post here and pick up tomorrow to see some more of the changes and how they affect Abraham and Sarah. This is a wonderful lesson in God’s provision and love for His people. His first love, Israel, and through the ages up to today.
The Song – He Will Come and Save You – Lord of the Harvest CD by Ross Parsley
(This is one song of many on the CD. They all blend together when you are listening to the entire CD, so it kind of fades into the next song then cuts off. It is a wonderful CD recorded in Israel and can still be purchased from Amazon by clicking the link on the left side bar.)