Vol 1 - No 9, April 4, 2004
The Word of God to Abraham, the father of all that believe - Romans 4:1111 And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also:
In this study we will examine how Abraham and his wife Sarah tried, "by the works of the flesh" to fulfill God's Word.
Genesis 16:1 - 41 Now Sarai Abram's wife bare him no children: and she had an handmaid, an Egyptian, whose name was Hagar.
2 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.
3 And Sarai Abram's wife took Hagar her maid the Egyptian, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife.
4 And he went in unto Hagar, and she conceived: and when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress was despised in her eyes.
: "Now Sarai Abram's wife bare him no children: and she had an handmaid, an Egyptian, whose name was Hagar. 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. And Sarai Abram's wife took Hagar her maid the Egyptian, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife. And he went in unto Hagar, and she conceived:" The passage goes on to describe the great animosity that arose between Hagar and Sarai when Hagar became pregnant by Abram. Hagar looked down on Sarai, which angered Sarai so much that she sent Hagar away, out into the desert. However, the angel of the Lord appeared to Hagar as she wandered and promised her that a great multitude of people would come out of her yet unborn son. Hagar returned to Abram's household and bore the son from Abram that was named Ishmael. Abram was 86 years old when Ishmael was born - Genesis 16:5 - 165 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.
6 But Abram said unto Sarai, Behold, thy maid is in thine hand; do to her as it pleaseth thee. And when Sarai dealt hardly with her, she fled from her face.
7 And the angel of the LORD found her by a fountain of water in the wilderness, by the fountain in the way to Shur.
8 And he said, Hagar, Sarai's maid, whence camest thou? and whither wilt thou go? And she said, I flee from the face of my mistress Sarai.
9 And the angel of the LORD said unto her, Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hands.
10 And the angel of the LORD said unto her, I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, that it shall not be numbered for multitude.
11 And the angel of the LORD said unto her, Behold, thou art with child and shalt bear a son, and shalt call his name Ishmael; because the LORD hath heard thy affliction.
12 And he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man's hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.
13 And she called the name of the LORD that spake unto her, Thou God seest me: for she said, Have I also here looked after him that seeth me?
14 Wherefore the well was called Beerlahairoi; behold, it is between Kadesh and Bered.
15 And Hagar bare Abram a son: and Abram called his son's name, which Hagar bare, Ishmael.
16 And Abram was fourscore and six years old, when Hagar bare Ishmael to Abram.
Abram knew before he left Haran that his wife Sarah was barren - she had no children - Genesis 11:3030 But Sarai was barren; she had no child.
and yet God had promised him several times that, from him a great nation would be a blessing to the entire world. Abram was promised specifically that his heir would come out of his own body - Genesis 15:44 And, behold, the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir.
and that his descendants would be numbered as the stars in the heavens - Genesis 14:55 And in the fourteenth year came Chedorlaomer, and the kings that were with him, and smote the Rephaims in Ashteroth Karnaim, and the Zuzims in Ham, and the Emins in Shaveh Kiriathaim,
According to The Student's Commentary, author George Williams, page 20, "Abraham's marriage with Hagar, Sarah's treatment of her, and the subsequent expulsion from the household were all strictly legal actions," as appears from the code of laws in existence at the time in Palestine. Therefore, Abram and Sarai were acting in accordance with the law at the time.
Although Abram knew the promised seed would come out of his own body there is no record that either Abram or Sarai had been told, at the time Ishmael was conceived, that the promised son would come out of Sarai's body. Instead of bringing this to God in prayer and waiting for God's answer Abram and Sarai decided to take things into their own hands and by their own works and devices, make happen what God had promised. It turned out that God did bless Ishmael by creating a great nation from him, and this no doubt because God had promised blessings on Abram's seed and God always honors His promises. However, not withstanding God's blessings to Ishmael and his offspring, Abram and Sarai's work of the flesh resulted in division and strife, not only in their immediate household, but throughout the generations to follow. Isaac was the son that God had promised who was later born to Abram and Sarai and today in 2004, some 3914 years after Ishmael's birth, the descendants of Ishmael and the descendants of Isaac struggle bitterly in Palestine to control what was once called the Land of Canaan.
In our studies to date the Word of God that Abram knew and believed has been examined. He offered sacrifices for his sin/s, as all believers had done from Abel to his time. He left his native land and moved to the promised land of Canaan as God had instructed him, and he received promises concerning his yet unborn son and heirs. In fact, after God appeared to Abram and promised him, as recorded in Genesis 15:1 - 51 After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.
2 And Abram said, LORD God, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus?
3 And Abram said, Behold, to me thou hast given no seed: and, lo, one born in my house is mine heir.
4 And, behold, the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir.
5 And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be.
, that his son would be from his own seed, Genesis 15:66 And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.
reveals "he believed God; and God counted it to him for righteousness" - (also quoted in Romans 4:33 For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.
; Galatians 3:66 Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.
.) Abram had not as yet fathered a son so how is it that God counted Abram's faith for righteousness? The answer is that God knew Abram's heart. God knew at the time that Abram believed His Word. "Faith by hearing and hearing by the Word of God" - Romans 10:1717 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
. As God knew Abram's heart and therefore knew he had faith in His Word, so God knows our hearts today and whether we truly have faith in His Word to us.
It was after God's recognition that Abram believed and he was counted righteous that Abram took Hagar for wife and fathered Ishmael. Abram was not "wrong" at that time in taking these actions, nor would he at that time have known the lesson it would teach us today. But, as the father of all who would come to believe God - Romans 4:11 & 1211 And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also:
12 And the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised.
- and by this experience, that we can now understand that the flesh cannot do the will of God.
Long after Abraham died, his promised seed who was the Lord Jesus Christ, lived, died, arose from the dead and ascended into heaven. From heaven the Lord Jesus Christ appeared to the Apostle Paul (2 Corinthians 12:1 - 41 It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord.
2 I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven.
3 And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;)
4 How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.
) and revealed to Paul the meaning of some things that were never explained before in history and Paul, by inspiration wrote these things in his epistles. In the book of Galatians Paul uses the story of Hagar and compares her son Ishmael to Abraham's promised son Isaac, to explain that we today are not saved by the works of the law, which is of the flesh, but by the promise of God, that is by the work and grace of God - Galatians 4:21 - 3121 Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law?
22 For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman.
23 But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise.
24 Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar.
25 For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children.
26 But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.
27 For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband.
28 Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise.
29 But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now.
30 Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.
31 So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free.
. Just as Abram and Sarai's attempt to fulfill God's Word by the works of the flesh caused nothing but trouble so our attempts to please God by our own works of the law for our salvation ends in disaster.