Abram’s journey is not over, nor are the promises he is to receive from God.
Read: Genesis 15-17
Reflect: Genesis 15:1 After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying,
“Do not fear, Abram,
I am a shield to you;
[a]Your reward shall be very great.”
2 Abram said, “O Lord [b]God, what will You give me, since I [c]am childless, and the [d]heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” 3 And Abram said, “[e]Since You have given no [f]offspring to me, [g]one born in my house is my heir.” 4 Then behold, the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “This man will not be your heir; but one who will come forth from your own [h]body, he shall be your heir.”5 And He took him outside and said, “Now look toward the heavens, and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” And He said to him, “So shall your[i]descendants be.” 6 Then he believed in the Lord; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness. 7 And He said to him, “I am the Lord who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to [j]possess it.” 8 He said, “O Lord[k]God, how may I know that I will [l]possess it?” 9 So He said to him, “[m]Bring Me a three year old heifer, and a three year old female goat, and a three year old ram, and a turtledove, and a young pigeon.” 10 Then he [n]brought all these to Him and cut them [o]in two, and laid each half opposite the other; but he did not cut the birds. 11 The birds of prey came down upon the carcasses, and Abram drove them away.
12 Now when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and behold, [p]terror and great darkness fell upon him. 13 God said to Abram, “Know for certain that your [q]descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs,[r]where they will be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years. 14 But I will also judge the nation whom they will serve, and afterward they will come outwith [s]many possessions. 15 As for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you will be buried at a good old age.
Record: In verse 1 God tells Abram not to fear, and that a great reward was still to come. Abram asks what that could be since he had no heir. The promise of descendants will be more in number than the stars in the sky. In Genesis 15:12 we read terror and great darkness fell upon Abram.
At first pass, I was inclined to conclude God told Abram not to be afraid because He was giving Abram a vision, but I don’t think that’s it. Abram did not fear speaking with God in previous interactions. A short while later terror falls upon Abram. God prepared Abram for the terror ahead of time, and I believe if we listen He will do the same for us.
Chapter 16 is the story of Ishmael’s birth. Sarai has gotten impatient with her barrenness and tells Abram to sleep with Sarai’s maid. Abram agrees and soon a child is to be born. Sarai realizes she isn’t any happier knowing Hagar is pregnant and jealousy gets the best of her. When we choose to stray from God’s plan we will not be satisfied.
5 And Sarai said to Abram, “May the wrong done me be upon you. I gave my maid into your [c]arms, but when she saw that she had conceived, I was despised in her[d]sight. May the Lord judge between [e]you and me.” 6 But Abram said to Sarai, “Behold, your maid is in your [f]power; do to her what is good in your [g]sight.” So Sarai treated her harshly, and she fled from her presence.
7 Now the angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, by the spring on the way to Shur. 8 He said, “Hagar, Sarai’s maid, where have you come from and where are you going?” And she said, “I am fleeing from the presence of my mistress Sarai.” 9 Then the angel of the Lord said to her, “Return to your mistress, and submit yourself [h]to her authority.” 10 Moreover, the angel of the Lord said to her, “I will greatly multiply your [i]descendants so that [j]they will be too many to count.” 11 The angel of the Lord said to her further,
“Behold, you are with child,
And you will bear a son;
And you shall call his name [k]Ishmael,
Because the Lord [l]has given heed to your affliction.
12 “He will be a wild donkey of a man,
His hand will be against everyone,
And everyone’s hand will be against him;
And he will [m]live [n]to the east of all his brothers.”
13 Then she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, “[o]You are [p]a God who sees”; for she said, “Have I even [q]remained alive here after seeing Him?”14 Therefore the well was called [r]Beer-lahai-roi; behold, it is between Kadesh and Bered.
15 So Hagar bore Abram a son; and Abram called the name of his son, whom Hagar bore, Ishmael. 16 Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore Ishmael to [s]him.
I love this passage. Hagar is found in the wilderness and given a promise from God. She calls him “A God who sees”. Hagar was Egyptian and had likely grown up learning about many gods. She distinguishes Yahweh as the God who sees her when she is in despair.
Hagar didn’t have a choice in the decision to bare a child for Abram and Sarai. Further, she was tossed out by the woman who put her in the position she was in!
God met Hagar in the wilderness both physical and life situational and promised her a blessing beyond her comprehension. Her son would also have descendants outnumbering the stars.
Reflect: What are your thoughts on God telling Abram not to fear?
Why did God protect Hagar and Ishmael?
Why did Abram go along with Sarai’s plan?
Read Chapter 17. Why was circumcision God’s choice for showing covenant?
Can you relate to Sarai’s choices and emotions? Have you doubted God’s plan and gone your own way only to regret it?
Review: In the depths of my wilderness the story of Hagar was one I clung to. Our move to the mountains was an overwhelming prayer request answered, and at the same time it was a daily act of obedience to walk the path God had called us to. In the midst of all the transition our house wasn’t selling and God seemed to be ignoring our pleas.
God came to me in my wilderness and reminded me that He sees me. Like Sarai, my faith can weaken and cause me to veer of path. I’m thankful God’s grace and promises are stronger than my faith.