Genesis 16-20 (10-2-21)
In Genesis 16, we read about Sarai’s lack of patience for God’s perfect timing to deliver on His promises; she sinfully and hastily gives her slave girl to her husband and tells him to sleep with her to get this promised lineage started. Like a flesh-driven man, Abram doesn’t stand fast for the Lord’s promise and sleeps with Hagar the slave and impregnates her with a son named Ishmael.
Even Sarai’s lack of selfless love for Hagar after she realizes her mistake is another testimony of sin at work in us. We are all-too-often impatient, even when God is so faithful to fulfill all His promises. We must also remember that our time is not God’s time. Peter says in 2 Peter 3:8, “But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.”
Here, Peter is quoting Psalm 90:4. This is a great reminder to us, the Church! He is saying that from our viewpoint, the last days can feel like a long time. It doesn’t feel very “last” when it’s a couple thousand years. But from God’s point of view, it is very, very short. We can’t confine God to our schedule.
Isaiah 55:8-9 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
It is for our good that God doesn’t govern the world’s affairs or our lives by our timing or our will. There is a parable I used to tell my students that I think illustrates this well.
It goes like this:
When Jimmy was a little boy, he wanted to be a cowboy. He spent countless hours in front of the television, watching reruns of “Gun smoke” and “Bonanza.” He just knew that someday he would live on a ranch, wear a big cowboy hat, and ride the range, just like all his cowboy heroes. When he was seven years old, Jimmy said, “Dad, I want to be a cowboy when I grow up. Will you help me be a cowboy?”
“Sure, son,” said his dad, smiling down at his little cowpoke. As the years went by, Jimmy grew into a fine young man. As you might expect, he outgrew his childhood fantasy of becoming a cowboy, and turned instead to girls, sports, studying, and preparing himself for a career in the business world.
One day, Jimmy went to his dad again and said, “Dad, I want to go to medical school and become a doctor. Will you help me?” His dad said, “Medical school? Son, I can’t afford to send you to medical school. When you were seven, you said you wanted to be a cowboy. So, I saved and bought you a ranch in Texas with 50 head of cattle! There’s no money for you to go to medical school. Besides, you need to take care of that ranch. It’s all yours.” “But Dad!” said Jimmy, “I was just a child when I said that! I didn’t know then what I know now! I don’t want to heard cattle! I want to save lives.”
Can you imagine what our lives would be like if God gave us all what we asked for?
When I was young, there were so many rules my parents had for me, and so many decisions they made that I totally disagreed with. Now, looking back, I can see without a doubt in my mind how good those rules and decisions were for me. The truth is I simply couldn’t see what they could. I didn’t know what they knew. I didn’t know how to make patient decisions that would be formative for who I needed to become.
My sin wanted what I wanted and when I wanted it.
Praise God that He is wise and rules our lives in His infinite wisdom! Praise God that He is God, and we are not. Praise God that He knows best and governs all things according to His perfect will and not mine!
In Genesis 17:1-8, God gave Abram a new name (Abraham), and He also gave Abraham the rite of physical circumcision as the specific sign of the natural (or ethnic) layer of the Abrahamic Covenant.
Read: Genesis 17:9-14
Under the Old Covenant, all males in Abraham’s line were to be circumcised and thus carry with them a lifelong mark in their flesh that they were part of God’s Old Covenant people. Any descendant of Abraham who refused circumcision was declaring himself to be outside of God’s covenant. This was a sign for the chosen people of God, just as baptism is a sign of the chosen and redeemed people of God in the New Covenant.
Abraham’s faith is finally rewarded in Genesis 21 with the birth of Isaac. We will get to that next week.
But don’t forget: Abraham did some amazing acts of faith, but he struggled in this area, too. Not only did Abraham show a lack of faith when in hostile lands a couple times, but we also know that the frustration of not having a child got to Abraham and Sarah (formerly named Sarai), as they carried out their man-made plan—a plan to have a child through Sarah’s servant, Hagar (Genesis 16:1-15). The birth of Ishmael not only demonstrates the futility of Abraham’s folly and lack of faith but also the grace of God (in allowing the birth to take place and even blessing Ishmael).
So Abraham, who is considered the “father of the faithful,” surely had his moments of doubt and disbelief, yet he still is exalted among men as an example of the faithful life. No matter how you have failed in faith, know that God will give true perseverance for His saved ones. If He gave you true saving faith, then in faith you will finish this race called life.
We are marked as saved by God in baptism, and we will be His forever, for Christ will lose none of His true sheep.
John 10:27-29 “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.”
If you died to self and truly trust your life to Jesus Christ, you will finish in faith, for you are hidden with Christ in God.
Colossians 3:1-4 (NIV) Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
If you have struggled to make things happen in your time or have walked by sight and not by faith, then repent from these practices of old and turn to Jesus; commit to trusting in His timing and His ways for your life. For He is your Lord, and He will raise you up on the last day. Praise be to God.
By His grace and for His glory,
Soldiers for Jesus MC