Today's reading was Genesis 20-21.
In this passage we see Abraham, our giant of faith, fall into the same temptation he struggled with years before. He deceives Abimelech by, again, asking Sarah to say that she is his sister. It is interesting to note, and also serves as a warning, to see someone of such great faith struggling with a particular sin.
Next in our reading is the birth of Isaac. The only thing I want to note is that God keeps His promises. All the time. Can I get an amen?
Unforunately, we run into some problems with Ishmael and Isaac, so Sarah asks Abraham to send Hagar and Ishmael away. Abraham is reluctant until the Lord tells him to go ahead and do what Sarah has asked. Noteworthy is that these problems are arising as a result of the actions that Abraham and Sarah took when they didn't necessarily have faith in God to do things in His own time. They tried to speed along the process by doing things their own way, and there are negative consequences as a result.
However, God is gracious, in that He reassures Abraham that He will make Ishmael into a great nation as well, because he is Abraham's offspring. Again, when Hagar and Ishmael are in the desert, "the God who hears" hears their cries of distress and provides for them. The scripture says that "God was with the boy as he grew up."
Again, only one question for today:
1. In choosing Isaac and rejecting Ishmael, is God cruel? Arbitrary? Gracious? Sovereign?
--Above all I believe He is Sovereign. He chose whom He was going to fulfill His plan through, before Ishmael was ever even born. Even though Abraham and Sarah tried to do things their own way, God assured them that His promise would be fulfilled through the child of Abraham AND Sarah. However, He also assured Abraham that He would bless Ishmael just because he was Abraham's son. I think God was gracious in doing so. And even though Ishmael was sent away, God continued to be with him.