Hagar and the Birth of Ishmael

16: 1-16

It is difficult to imagine a greater contrast between the last chapter and this one. In Genesis 15 Abram was seen as a man of faith. Abram had believed ADONAI, and it was credited to him as righteousness (Genesis 15:6 and Romans 4:3). But in Genesis 16 he is seen as a man of unbelief.

As we read about Abram’s life we will find that God appeared to him seven times, each time to develop faith in his life. But this does not mean he was faultless. The fact of the matter is that he failed many times. The LORD gave him seven tests and he fell flat on his face on four of them. First, he stayed in Haran when he should have gone to the Promised Land (11:31b). Secondly, he left Palestine, went to Egypt, lied to Pharaoh, and picked up an Egyptian maidservant named Hagar (12:10-20). Abram turned down riches from the King of Sodom and passed that test; if he was going to be rich, it would be from God and not from man. Thirdly, he listened to his wife instead of waiting on ADONAI, which resulted in the birth of Ishmael and untold problems (16:1-16). And fourthly, his lapse of faith continued as he refused to trust Elohim for his and Sarah’s safekeeping when he lied to Abimelech (20:1-18). Abraham’s last two successful tests occur at the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and the offering of his son Isaac. But he still failed four times. However, like Simon Peter, he got up, brushed himself off, learned from his mistakes, and started to follow the LORD again in faith.

Was Ishmael a mistake? Will the next thirteen years be a waste? No. With ADONAI there are no dead ends, only training grounds. May I say to you, if God has touched your heart and life, you also may fall. But, like Abraham, you are surely going to get up and start all over again.269


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