Summary: A sermon explaining the covenant of land to Isaac and his descendants, and how that caused a sibling rivalry that is responsible for the problems in the Middle East today.
We are continuing our trip through the book of GENESIS. We have previously covered from the creation of the world, on down to where a man named Abram obeyed God by stepping out into the unknown as God had requested – without knowing where he was going or what he was supposed to do when he got there.
Abram was not a perfect man. He had told people his wife was his sister so that they would not harm him. So, if he was such a low-down scoundrel, why did God use him? I believe God used him for two reasons.
First of all, Abram was a liar, but he also believed in and trusted God with his whole heart. Secondly, I think God chose such a man to show us that we, too, can be used by God – even though we are also low-down scoundrels in our own right.
First, let’s talk about what happens when …
1. WE TRY TO HELP GOD DO HIS JOB
We are going to talk about Sarai for a moment. Now, keep in mind that the people of yesterday were the same as people of today. Their minds worked in the same way our minds do today. And Sarai was no exception.
God has created life to be simple, yet we always make things so complicated it takes God to simplify it once again, just so we can understand. Sarai tried to help God and when she did, she ended up making things very complicated.
GENESIS 15:3-5 Abram was talking to God in a vision.
‘And Abram said, “You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir. Then the word of the Lord came to him: “This man will not be your heir, but a son coming from your own body will be your heir.” He took him outside and said, “Look up at the heavens and count the stars – if indeed you can count them.” Then He said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”
Now, Abram was well past 75 years, and the Lord is telling Him that he is going to produce so many generations that he will not be able to count them all. How would we feel if we were in Abram’s shoes and God told us that? The first tendency for many of us would be disbelief. What was Abram’s reaction?
GENESIS 15:6 says that Abram believed the Lord and that was credited to him as righteousness. God likes it when we believe in Him without having doubts.
In this same chapter, God goes on to tell Abram that his descendents will be slaves in another country for 400 years, but when they come out, they will come out with many possessions. And then the Lord made a covenant with Abram. It is important to know that a covenant is a promise that cannot be broken. In this covenant, God is telling Abram that He will give Abram’s descendants a vast area of land as their own.
As we go into chapter 16, we see where Abram’s wife Sarai started trying to help God do His job. She knew that she was too old to have children, so she did like we do: She thought through all the possible ways this could happen, and then “she” decided that the only way for her to become a mother was to be a mother by proxy. She told Abram to sleep with her young maid, Hagar.
Abram, being a dutiful husband and not wanting to argue with his wife, said, “Okay, darling. Anything for you.” And I am sure that before she could change her mind, he went and slept with the young maid named Hagar. Keep in mind that Abram was now 85 years old. Most men of that age today have a difficult time going to the kitchen to get a glass of water, much less trying to think about raising a family.
So Hagar got pregnant, and guess what happened? Being human, she and Abram’s wife started having difficulties getting along. That shows right there that they were the same as humans today. Then Hagar ran away into the desert and an angel found her. He told her to go back and be obedient to Abram’s wife. Then the angel talked to her a little about the future of her unborn baby.
In GENESIS 16:11-12, the angel says;
‘You are now with child and you will have a son. You shall name him Ishmael, for the Lord has heard your misery. 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 live in hostility toward all his brothers.’
What a miserable future the angel painted for the baby she was carrying. But we are going to see in a few minutes how that description was very accurate, and how that has been constant from then on down to today, and how that is causing all the problems that are going on in the Middle East.