Summary: A Division that comes from loss of Vision
Abraham, a Man of challenge, Faith, Promise
A Division that comes from loss of Vision
In view of developments in recent years in our society of surrogate motherhood, egg and sperm donation for use in cases of infertility, this patriarchal equivalent is not so much of an oddity as it might have been considered twenty or so years ago. We have before us the clash of what can be perceived by the natural senses, what can be seen and touched etc., as opposed to the abiding confidence, that comes as a result of faith, in the promises of God. It happened because, for whatever reason, Abram was not 100% successful in imparting the vision and particular convincing his wife Sarai of the utter faithfulness and surety of the promises of God. What we see here is not a man and woman who are devoid of any faith, nor indeed of a couple who are some how being outright disobedient to what God has challenged them in. These are people who are going through the same kind of thing that we go through, in ascertaining the purposes and will of God, then discovering how they are to be worked out in the practicalities of every day living.
Abram being a very wealthy and powerful man, found himself under pressure from the perceived demand that there be an heir. This flowed from who and what he was. This pressure was one that was not diminishing with the passage of time. It would seem that Abram was able to resist the pressure, simply because he was the one who had received the vision, he was the one who had had the very personal and intimate encounters with God. It was this that was bring Abram through the talk and the social sham of no heir, but Sarai was the one who was at the blunt end of the shame. Such problems were not unknown as a whole in society, and so provision has been made by society for just such an occurrence.
For years this couple had born the brunt of guarded speculation and gossip. Abram had heard from God, the promise was very specific, there was to be an heir of his own flesh, and that his decendants were going to be as the stars. Year in and year out they had taken comfort in these promises, years came and went, they were each was getting older and older. Sarai was getting well past her years of child bearing, until one day something happened that caused the rational to take over. Possibly it had been the whisper of the servants, possibly the taunts of a maid who she had just scolded, they might even have become the social outcasts. We don’t know what it was, but something finally snapped inside of Sarai. The enemy was grinding in, the pressure was on, when suddenly there comes an attack of the enemy that was not expected nor was it recognized fro what it was until it was too late. "Sarai, God said the heir would be of Abram’s flesh, He did not say anything about the child being of yours and His flesh, just Abram’s. You know that law has made ample provision for situations such as yours. Why not use another woman, as law permits it, in fact you know of some very well to do people who have done just that????" The seed had been planted, "Abram’s flesh, no mention of mine. Why not! Lets deal with this shame once and for all??"
We do not know how resistant Abram was to this line of thought, if there were resistance at all, but eventually Hagar is presented as bearer of the heir.
The perverse nature of sin is such that no matter how good and right it might appear to be, no matter how snuggly the solution might seem to fit into the revealed purposes of God, the effect is still the same. It brings division, it will only destroy, verse 4 tells us; "So he went in to Hagar, and she conceived. And when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress became despised in her eyes." This provoked Sarai, Abram wanted nothing to do with the infighting, so he leaves Sarai to deal with it. The result is Hagar fleeing the camp. There came division in the camp, all because there was an unwillingness to stand before God as one and seek His mind and opinion. The division was such that even today, the Israel/Arab conflict still rages.
The beauty of the greatness of our God is that even when there has been the missing of His best, even when there has been the falling from His standards, even outright sin. Whenever we return to Him in true repentance and faith, He restores and makes a way for us. Hagar had to some great extent been a victim others succumbing to world pressure and the missing of God’s mark. It occurs to me that if there had been openness to God and His mercy at this time, then possibly the Middle East conflict would not be as it is today.