Genesis 16:2 “…the LORD has restrained me from bearing…”
Obviously this entire episode shows lack of faith in God, but I wonder about this statement. It could have been just a statement acknowledging God’s sovereignty, but it could also be a subtle shot at God for not appearing to fulfill His promise. He made this promise of many descendants, and now He’s kept me from having any, and it’s too late for me. Nothing in the text to support the idea, but does cause me to wonder.
2 “…Abram heeded the voice of Sarai”
Adam and Eve all over again. Abram knew what was right just as Adam did. Yet he also listened to his wife even though she was proposing something he knew was wrong. As with Adam, Abram bears the responsibility.
3 “…ten years in the land of Canaan”
Quick note on how much time has passed. I realize it seemed like a long time to wait for a promise, and both Abram and Sarai were getting on in years, but they did have a promise from God. He had already given a personal covenant to Abram regarding all of this.
5 “…The LORD judge between you and me.”
No mention of checking with God before walking down this path. Now that things aren’t going the way she expected, Sarai blames Abram and feels God can vindicate her. She probably felt she had done everything for the right reasons so God would take that into account, thus making what happened Abram’s fault.
6 “..do to her as you please…”
The more I think about this, the worse Abram looks. He listened to his wife contrary to what he knew was right. He took another woman as a wife, albeit secondary to Sarai. Now he’s not defending the girl or appearing to take any responsibility for his part. As many servants and possessions as he had, he could have set Hagar up to be cared for, but separated from Sarai to avoid further conflict. Instead he washes his hands of the incident and passes it back to Sarai. Of course none of this takes God by surprise. He knew the kind of man Abram was before He called him. Fortunately He has the same grace and mercy with us and keeps working with us. He doesn’t give up on us in making us into the image of Christ.
6 “…she fled from her presence”
We’re not told exactly what transpired between Hagar and Sarai, only that her mistress was despised in her eyes. Hard to know how much blame Hagar bears in this. She probably had no say in becoming Abram’s wife, but she could also have seen it as an opportunity for herself and any children she had by him.
7 “…Angel of the LORD found her…”
God wasn’t watching from a distance. He allowed the incident to transpire, but stepped in when He deemed it necessary. We wonder why God allows certain things to happen when He could easily prevent them. The idea of an Almighty God who imparts the gift of free will to His creation is difficult to reconcile. The times He chooses to intervene or not intervene are beyond our understanding. I think perhaps some of that is governed by the fact of our rebellion. He doesn’t intervene when He knows we’re too stubborn to listen. He allows us to make the mistakes to learn the hard way since we didn’t listen and trust Him from the start.
10 “…I will multiply your descendants exceedingly, so that they shall not be counted for multitude.”
Same thing He told Abram. Just speculation, but I’ve always seen this as a reflection of God’s character in that He’s keeping part of His promise to Abram’s descendants even though it’s through the wrong woman. The promise of a land, nation, and blessing are to be through Sarai’s children, but even though Abram stepped outside the plan, God is still faithful to His word in providing for all of his descendants.
12 “…His hand shall be against every man…he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren”
Ishmael’s descendants became part of the Arab nation. It is unfortunate that this prophecy has been played out as the Arabs have always been in conflict with the Jews. The shame and sadness is that it doesn’t have to be so. God has blessed them as He said He would. If they would only choose to follow Him, the entire Middle East would not be the powder keg of chaos it is. Even today, the Arabs that live in Israel and choose to be part of the nation are given equal standing. There are even members of the governing body who are Arab. Problem comes with those who choose to always be at odds, just like Ishmael.
15 “…Abram named his son, whom Hagar bore, Ishmael”
She obviously told Abram what had happened to her and that God had spoken with her.
16 “Abram was eighty-six years old…”
Note on Abram’s age. He’s been in the land ten/eleven years and is now eighty-six when Ishmael is born. Even though it was by the wrong woman, Abram now has a son of his own.
I hope you enjoy reading and studying His word. May it accomplish what He desires. Please feel free to comment or post questions. Thanks for reading!
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.