Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Sarah/Isaac; Hagar/ Ishmael: The Plan Of God

Genesis 15:
1After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: "Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great." 2But Abram said, "O Lord GOD, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?" 3And Abram said, "Behold, you have given me no offspring, and a member of my household will be my heir." 4And behold, the word of the LORD came to him: "This man shall not be your heir; your very own son shall be your heir." 5And he brought him outside and said, "Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them." Then he said to him, "So shall your offspring be." 6And he believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness.

God gave the covenant promise to Abraham before either Ishmael, or Isaac were conceived. The promise being that he would be the father of multitudes numbering more than the stars, or the grains of sand. He also promised that all the earth would be blessed through Abraham’s offspring.
Abraham and Sarah both being advanced in age, could only see from an earthly perspective regarding such a promise. Sarah could not conceive, and Abraham was running out of time in terms of his fertility.

They took it upon themselves to follow one of the customs of the time. Sarah offers her handmaid, Hagar, to Abraham to have sexual relations with, as her proxy.  The child would be of Abraham’s seed, and would be raised by Sarah as her own, as Hagar was her slave.
(It is important to note here that Hagar was both a slave, and Egyptian.Genesis 16:1)

When Hagar knew that she was with child, she began to exhibit an attitude of contempt toward, Sarai.
Sarai was upset by this and complained to Abram who essentially told her to deal with Hagar as she wished since Hagar was “her property”. The scripture says that Sarai “dealt harshly” with Hagar, and Hagar then fled. No doubt Sarai was giving her more of a workload than she could bear. It is possible she was even hoping to cause a miscarriage. However, scripture has nothing to say regarding that..

Genesis 16:
7The angel of the LORD found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, the spring on the way to Shur. 8And he said, "Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?" She said, "I am fleeing from my mistress Sarai." 9The angel of the LORD said to her, "Return to your mistress and submit to her."
10The angel of the LORD also said to her, "I will surely multiply your offspring so that they cannot be numbered for multitude."
11And the angel of the LORD said to her, "Behold, you are pregnant and shall bear a son.You shall call his name Ishmael, because the LORD has listened to your affliction.
12He shall be a wild donkey of a man, his hand against everyone and everyone's hand against him,and he shall dwell over against all his kinsmen."13So she called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, "You are a God of seeing," for she said, "Truly here I have seen him who looks after me."
14Therefore the well was called Beer-lahai-roi; it lies between Kadesh and Bered.15And Hagar bore Abram a son, and Abram called the name of his son, whom Hagar bore, Ishmael. 16Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore Ishmael to Abram.

God promised Hagar that He would bless her, and her son. Even giving him the name of Ishmael, which means “God will hear” because the Lord had heard Hagar’s cries of affliction. .He also “promised” that Ishmael would always be “at odds” with everyone around him. This may be a direct result of Hagar’s contemptuous airs against Sarai.

13 years later, God would give the word to Sarah and Abraham that they would have a son and they called him Isaac, i.e. “laughter”, since Sarah laughed at the notion of having a child from her long barren body, at an even more advanced age. Genesis 18:9-15 and 21:1-7
Compare both of these visitations with Luke 1: 26-38.

After the birth of Ishmael, the Lord promised that Ishmael would be fruitful and multiply and that he would father 12 princes (12 tribes), just as Isaac would do.
The Lord had Abraham circumcise all the males as a sign of the covenant he had given to him. Ishmael was circumcised along with the rest, a sign that he also was under the Lord’s covenant. (Genesis 17:25) However, God did make it clear that the promise would come only through the child yet to be born, Isaac.
After the birth of Isaac contention arose between Sarah and Ishmael.

Genesis 21:
8And the child grew and was weaned. And Abraham made a great feast on the day that Isaac was weaned. 9But Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, laughing.10So she said to Abraham, "Cast out this slave woman with her son, for the son of this slave woman shall not be heir with my son Isaac." 11And the thing was very displeasing to Abraham on account of his son. 12But God said to Abraham, "Be not displeased because of the boy and because of your slave woman. Whatever Sarah says to you, do as she tells you, for through Isaac shall your offspring be named. 13And I will make a nation of the son of the slave woman also, because he is your offspring."
14So Abraham rose early in the morning and took bread and a skin of water and gave it to Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, along with the child, and sent her away.
And she departed and wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba.

It is interesting that Sarah was upset when she saw Ishmael “laughing”, as this is what Sarah herself did when the angel visited her with the news of impending motherhood . It is quite possible that Ishmael was simply having a good time at the feast, but Sarah was not going to have any of it now that she had brought forth Isaac. Abraham was upset by Sarah’s demand, as he obviously loved Ishmael, which probably was a contributing factor to Sarah’s state of mind.

A quick note:
Isaac‘s name means “laughter”, however it signifies the laughter of God and not of man. The Lord will always have the “last laugh”

Hagar was sent away, and God protected and blessed both mother and son, for Abraham’s sake.

After the death of Sarah, Abraham remarried to Keturah and had 6 more children.
When it came time to give the inheritance, Abraham gave all that he had to Isaac. To the sons of his concubines he gave gifts, and sent them away to the lands of the east. Genesis 25: 1-6

Note the fact that at the death of Abraham, Isaac and Ishmael, together, buried Abraham.

Genesis 25:
7These are the days of the years of Abraham's life, 175 years. 8Abraham breathed his last and died in a good old age, an old man and full of years, and was gathered to his people. 9Isaac and Ishmael his sons buried him in the cave of Machpelah, in the field of Ephron the son of Zohar the Hittite, east of Mamre, 10the field that Abraham purchased from the Hittites. There Abraham was buried, with Sarah his wife. 11After the death of Abraham, God blessed Isaac his son. And Isaac settled at Beer-lahai-roi.

It is also worth noting that Isaac settles at the place that the angel appeared to Hagar, and that she named Beer-lahai-roi. Beer-lahai-roi means “the well of the Living One who sees me”
Time passes and Isaac has two sons, Esau and Jacob, and the prophecy is given;

Genesis 25:
19These are the generations of Isaac, Abraham's son: Abraham fathered Isaac, 20and Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah to be his wife, the daughter of Bethuel the Aramean of Paddan-aram, the sister of Laban the Aramean. 21And Isaac prayed to the LORD for his wife, because she was barren. And the LORD granted his prayer, and Rebekah his wife conceived. 22The children struggled together within her, and she said, "If it is thus, why is this happening to me?"So she went to inquire of the LORD.
23And the LORD said to her, "Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you shall be divided;the one shall be stronger than the other, the older shall serve the younger."

Esau and Jacob having the same mother, coming through Isaac, the promised one, represent God’s purpose in both the Jews’ and gentiles’ inclusion in the Israel of God. The prophet Amos speaking to this  (the remnant of Edom/Esau/mankind) and Paul and the other apostles writing of its’ fulfillment in Christ during their day. Amos 9:11-12; Acts 15:3-19; Eph 2:11-3:10;
Romans 11:25-26
However Ishmael and Isaac, having different mothers, are the representation of those under the Law (sons of the slave woman) vs. those who are set free in Christ, i.e. salvation by grace through faith, (new life, the promise of Isaac).

Galatians 4:
4But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. 6And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!" 7So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.

If we continue in this chapter of Galatians we read:

21Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not listen to the law? 22For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by a slave woman and one by a free woman.
23But the son of the slave was born according to the flesh, while the son of the free woman was born through promise. 24Now this may be interpreted allegorically: these women are two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery; she is Hagar. 25Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia; she corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. 26But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother. 27For it is written, "Rejoice, O barren one who does not bear; break forth and cry aloud, you who are not in labor!For the children of the desolate one will be more than those of the one who has a husband."28Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise. 29But just as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so also it is now. 30But what does the Scripture say? "Cast out the slave woman and her son, for the son of the slave woman shall not inherit with the son of the free woman." 31So, brothers, we are not children of the slave but of the free woman.

Paul says that Jerusalem of the present day corresponds to Hagar and her children. Hagar is Mt. Sinai, where the Law was given. The Law (since all have violated it and will violate it) produces slaves to sin, not sons of God.
 Romans 3:20; 1 Cor 15:56; John 8:31-36

Sarah corresponds to the heavenly Jerusalem, the mother of all who have been set free by the promise, i.e.
God’s grace through the work of His Son, the true promised one.

Hosea 11:
1When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son.

Matthew 2:
13Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, "Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him." 14And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt 15and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, "Out of Egypt I called my son."

In both cases God puts the older/firstborn in submission to the younger.
The older shall serve the younger = The Law is the servant of the promise.

We then come to these conclusions:
Abraham believed God it was accounted to him as righteousness. This is the faith that comes from God, through the hearing of His Word. (Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 10:17)
Abraham and Sarah acted in good faith based on the belief that Abraham would have an heir of his own just as God had promised. It was not a sinful action on their part as Abraham and Sarah did not yet have an understanding of God’s entire plan for salvation of mankind.

Hebrews 11:
8By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. 9By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. 10For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God. 11By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised. 12Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as many as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore.13These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.

39And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, 40since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.

ANYTHING that is NOT of faith is sin. (Romans 14:23b)

Since it is apparent that they acted in good faith, it is not sin. Abraham believed God, but had no concept of how it could be done outside of the normal methods.
Mary, the mother of Jesus, had the same reaction to Gabriel’s pronouncement re: the conception of Jesus, but in this she took no action out of herself,(indeed God would not allow it) and accepted it on faith. The conception and birth of God’s son would have no taint of man attached to it.
Both Abraham and Mary believed, God just had different purposes to present, for each instance.

The 13 year span between the births of Ishmael and Isaac, was designed by God to demonstrate His complete sovereignty and power. There would be no doubt that it was the Lord’s doing.

The overall fact remains it would seem that Ishmael being born of the flesh, i.e. through man’s efforts, and Isaac being born of the promise, was a deliberate act by God, which prophetically depicts what the He planned to do through His only begotten Son, Jesus. This is what Paul is speaking of in Galatians 4.
There is also the fact that Abraham and Sarah were never rebuked or corrected for their decision. To the contrary, Hagar and Ishmael were blessed by God. They were just not to be the lineage of the Savior. They represent the Law which Paul says is holy just and good. The Law is not sinful, neither was Ishmael’s conception and birth. Romans 7:4-12

The only willful wrongdoing by Abraham recorded in the Scripture, is his deliberate lie to King Abimelech, in which the Lord swiftly intervened preserving righteousness. Genesis 20: 1-18
To go a bit further, Paul’s statement that Jerusalem and its inhabitants, the Jews (predominantly) were in bondage like Hagar and her son, certainly sheds a different light on the current situation in the middle-east and our erroneous interpretations of the end times .Islam was founded by Mohammed not Ishmael.. Ishmael represents those under the Law whether Jew or gentile, just as Isaac represents those who are saved in Christ whether Jew or gentile. (Romans 9-10-11)

Both Ishmael and Isaac had to exist, in order for the plan of God to be made known and implemented.

 Romans 8:28  And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

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