Monday, April 25, 2011

We Get It Wrong


From the above photo it appears Abram and Sarai were watching Hagar leave.  Not quite what the Bible says about it.  Let’s look at some background.  Here we find Sarai concerned about her husband’s heir, and offers a solution (oh, would that she had waited upon the Lord!):

And Sarai said unto Abram, Behold now, the LORD hath restrained me from bearing: I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her. And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai. (Genesis 16:2 KJV)

Sort of reminds us of Adam and Eve, right?  Just can’t seem to get it right when waiting for the Lord’s will to be accomplished.  Surely we can do this little part ourselves?  Doesn’t the end justify the means? Obviously, NOT!  Just as soon as wife Hagar becomes the center of attention:

And he went in unto Hagar, and she conceived: and when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress was despised in her eyes. (Genesis 16:4)

And, just as soon as that happens, discord leads to complaints, complaints to punishment, punishment to guilt and guilt runs away.

And Sarai said unto Abram, My wrong be upon thee: I have given my maid into thy bosom; and when she saw that she had conceived, I was despised in her eyes: the LORD judge between me and thee. But Abram said unto Sarai, Behold, thy maid is in thy hand; do to her as it pleaseth thee. And when Sarai dealt hardly with her, she fled from her face. (Genesis 16:5-6)

Hagar’s decision to flee wasn’t anymore in God’s plan than Sarai’s solution.  This time an angel was sent to convey God’s word.

And the angel of the LORD said unto her, Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hands. (Genesis 16:9)

There’s that ‘submit’ thing again.  We find it all over the Bible and it’s a stumbling block to so many people who want to do things for themselves, by themselves, for their own good.  How many times do we need to look at examples to see that doesn’t work very well?

The point is, don’t look at Hagar with pity, unless it is for a loveless marriage, which was how it worked in that society.  Hagar’s marriage was similar to every other marriage in the land. Well, except for the fact her husband was one of the wealthiest, most powerful around.  He dealt with kings as easily as he dealt with shepherds.

Now, when Sarah had her own son, and Ishmael mocked him, things changed:

Wherefore she said unto Abraham, Cast out this bondwoman and her son: for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac. (Genesis 21:10)

That’s when we see Hagar’s desolation, her fear for her son, to the point she did not want to see his death – neither did God.

Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him in thine hand; for I will make him a great nation. (Genesis 21:18)

And, He did:

Now these are the generations of Ishmael, Abraham's son, whom Hagar the Egyptian, Sarah's handmaid, bare unto Abraham: And these are the names of the sons of Ishmael, by their names, according to their generations: the firstborn of Ishmael, Nebajoth; and Kedar, and Adbeel, and Mibsam, And Mishma, and Dumah, and Massa, Hadar, and Tema, Jetur, Naphish, and Kedemah: These are the sons of Ishmael, and these are their names, by their towns, and by their castles; twelve princes according to their nations. (Genesis 25:12-16)


  1. Thank you Grammy for putting things in a perspective. Sure, we as normal human beings do not like to wait. It is uncomfortable being in a wait, that's why patience is a virtue.
    Anyway, do you know what age Ishmael was when Hagar took him away? I didn't remember the bible being specific on it.

  2. Thanks for the question, Lily. Like most things in the Bible, it takes a bit of research. In Genesis 16:16, Abram was 86 when Ishmael was born; Genesis 21:5 tells us Abraham (see, it's after his name change) was 100 when Isaac was born -- so Ishmael would have been 14. It is in Genesis 21:10 that the departure of Hagar and Ishmael is recounted.

  3. Thanks Grammy!! I appreciate it. I remember now, also in Gen:17 specifies Ishmael age when he was circumcised together with the houseld of Abraham as a sign of covenant. Do you know in some part of Indonesia, the muslims tradition still practice circumcision at that age of Ishmael, between age of 8-13. Eventhough some are done when they are 7 days old.


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