Consequences. Now that is a happy, optimistic word for 2015! Right? No? Well, it may not be a happy or fun word, but it has far-reaching capabilities. If you don’t believe me, just ask father Abraham.
Most people know Abraham as the father of nations, the father of many sons. While Abraham’s story is the “go-to” story for faith and belief, it is also a story of far-reaching consequences. To tell you the truth, I didn’t even realize the magnitude of the whole story of Abraham until I started my study on Islam. This post may be a little long, but I promise you it will be worth the read.
Genesis 12: 1-4 (NIV): The LORD had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”[b] 4 So Abram went, as the LORD had told him.
This is where faith and belief come into the story. God said go and Abraham went. He didn’t hesitate; he didn’t make a list of pros and cons; no, Abraham just did what the Lord asked him to do and he went.
Abraham’s life didn’t magically become perfect. Following God’s direction didn’t automatically bring ideal circumstances. In fact, what Abraham and Sara (Abram and Sarai) got was a famine.
Genesis 12:10 (NIV): 10 Now there was a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt to live there for a while because the famine was severe.
Needless to say this is not what Abraham and his wife expected, and I’m sure there was disappointment, which may be why, Abraham (Abram) veered off course time to time (claiming his wife was his sister and giving her to someone else –not just once, but twice).
Anyway, after all this extra drama, God made a covenant with Abraham (Abram) and this is where Abraham’s belief was concreted.
Genesis 15: 1-6 (NLT): Some time later, the Lord spoke to Abram in a vision and said to him, “Do not be afraid, Abram, for I will protect you, and your reward will be great.” But Abram replied, “O Sovereign Lord, what good are all your blessings when I don’t even have a son? Since you’ve given me no children, Eliezer of Damascus, a servant in my household, will inherit all my wealth. You have given me no descendants of my own, so one of my servants will be my heir.” Then the Lord said to him, “No, your servant will not be your heir, for you will have a son of your own who will be your heir.” Then the Lord took Abram outside and said to him, “Look up into the sky and count the stars if you can. That’s how many descendants you will have!” And Abram believed the Lord, and the Lord counted him as righteous because of his faith.
“The Lord counted him righteous because of his faith,” a very meaningful verse that shows us how important faith is to God. I can imagine it would take a great deal of faith to believe you would be the father of many nations when your own wife has been barren all these years (and their advanced ages).
Anyway, Abraham (Abram) believed, but would that belief be enough to cure impatience? No. Abraham’s wife Sarah (Sarai) grew more and more impatient and convinced Abraham to take matters into their own hands. Yes, I believe they still had faith that God would hold to His promise; however, they grow to believe that they had to do something to make the promise happen.
Genesis 16: 1-16 (NLT)-Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had not been able to bear children for him. But she had an Egyptian servant named Hagar. 2 So Sarai said to Abram, “TheLord has prevented me from having children. Go and sleep with my servant. Perhaps I can have children through her.” And Abram agreed with Sarai’s proposal. 3 So Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar the Egyptian servant and gave her to Abram as a wife. (This happened ten years after Abram had settled in the land of Canaan.) 4 So Abram had sexual relations with Hagar, and she became pregnant. But when Hagar knew she was pregnant, she began to treat her mistress, Sarai, with contempt. 5 Then Sarai said to Abram, “This is all your fault! I put my servant into your arms, but now that she’s pregnant she treats me with contempt. The Lord will show who’s wrong—you or me!” 6 Abram replied, “Look, she is your servant, so deal with her as you see fit.” Then Sarai treated Hagar so harshly that she finally ran away. 7 The angel of the Lord found Hagar beside a spring of water in the wilderness, along the road to Shur. 8 The angel said to her, “Hagar, Sarai’s servant, where have you come from, and where are you going?” “I’m running away from my mistress, Sarai,” she replied. 9 The angel of the Lord said to her, “Return to your mistress, and submit to her authority.” 10 Then he added, “I will give you more descendants than you can count.” 11 And the angel also said, “You are now pregnant and will give birth to a son. You are to name him Ishmael (which means ‘God hears’), for the Lord has heard your cry of distress. 12 This son of yours will be a wild man, as untamed as a wild donkey! He will raise his fist against everyone, and everyone will be against him. Yes, he will live in open hostility against all his relatives.” 13 Thereafter, Hagar used another name to refer to the Lord, who had spoken to her. She said, “You are the God who sees me.”[a] She also said, “Have I truly seen the One who sees me?” 14 So that well was named Beer-lahai-roi (which means “well of the Living One who sees me”). It can still be found between Kadesh and Bered. 15 So Hagar gave Abram a son, and Abram named him Ishmael. 16 Abram was eighty-six years old when Ishmael was born.
Ah, this is where the consequences come in. Abraham and Sarah took matters in their own hands and would bring down consequences that still affect us today.
Take a look at v. 12 & 13 again as their importance will become apparent shortly.
Now we know that approximately 13 years later, a son was indeed born to Abraham and Sarah, Isaac, and he would be the son who fulfills God’s promise to Abraham (God states this in Genesis Chapter 17). Once Isaac was born Sarah could not bear to see Ishmael not only because he reminded her of Abraham’s time with Hagar, but because she did not want him to get any of Isaac’s inheritance and she feared he would try to harm Isaac. Therefore, Abraham had Ishmael and Hagar sent away (with God’s blessing). Sounds harsh, but in verse 21, we will see that God does not leave them empty-handed.
Genesis 21:14-18 (NLT): 14 So Abraham got up early the next morning, prepared food and a container of water, and strapped them on Hagar’s shoulders. Then he sent her away with their son, and she wandered aimlessly in the wilderness of Beersheba. 15 When the water was gone, she put the boy in the shade of a bush. 16 Then she went and sat down by herself about a hundred yards[c] away. “I don’t want to watch the boy die,” she said, as she burst into tears. 17 But God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven, “Hagar, what’s wrong? Do not be afraid! God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. 18 Go to him and comfort him, for I will make a great nation from his descendants.”
God promises that Ishmael’s descendants would be a great nation. Hmmmmm.
Okay, so how does that all tie in with the Islamic religion?
You see, the Islamic religion all traces back to Ishmael. Muslims believe that Ishmael was the son who fulfilled the promise.
[Now, remember, Muslims believe the god in the story is Allah, while we as Christians know it is o be God. Do not get these two confused as they are not the same God. I personally think this new god title, Allah, came into play with Hagar’s statement in Genesis 16:13 (Hagar referred to God with a new name).]
Have you ever wondered why Muslims are fighting so hard for Israel? Well, it is because they believe it is their land as Ishmael was the promised son.
Go back to Genesis 16:12, where it states that Ishmael will be a wild, untamed man who would raise his fist at everyone. You have to admit that sounds like the Islam religion (whose founders where descendants of Ishmael). Also, God promised both Hagar and Ishmael that his descendants would become a great nation. Historians have accurately traced Ishmael’s descendants to the great nations in the middle east.
Can you see once again how Satan likes to take a little bit of truth and mix it with untruths so that is harder to see through his lies.
Abraham and Sarah’s decision to take matter into their own hands and help out God may indeed have the most far-reaching consequences ever (well, next to Adam and Eve). Could they have known it at the time? No. But that just goes to show us how important it is to stay in the will of God. If Sarah had not convinced Abraham to have a baby with Hagar, and they had waited on God, Ishmael would not have been born, nor, some would say, the Islamic religion.
Tomorrow I plan to take a look at the Israelites and how America seems to be repeating their mistakes. I want you to think about this for a moment. If we are repeating their mistakes, will we then have to endure their consequences?