There were several things that I really liked in today's passage. First off, God tells Abram that He is his "very great reward." Rewards were always fun and exciting...something to look forward to when you did something right. This may be superficial, but I like thinking that God is fun and exciting...Someone to look forward to spending time with!
One major lesson we should try to learn from today's reading is that God is in control and His timing is perfect. God had made a promise to Abram, but he and Sarah decided to take matters into their own hands to ensure that God's promise was fulfilled. The end result was negative all around.
As a result of that negativity, Hagar, Sarah's maidservant, ran away. But when she was at her lowest, pregnant, and alone in the desert, the angel of the Lord appeared to her. He told her he had heard her misery. He told her to return home. He promised that Ishmael's descendants will be numerous as well. Before Hagar went home, she named the place "Beer Lahai Roi", which means, "well of the Living One who sees me." She praised the Lord as being "the God who sees me."
I LOVE that!!! I can't help but think of the Psalm 139, which says, "Where can i go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your Presence?" Rather than reading that from the perspective of trying to get away from God or hide from God, I think of it as a reminder that even when we, like Hagar, are at our lowest, no matter where that may be, God will see us and take care of us.
Finally, today's passage ends with God giving Abraham the covenant of circumcision. This is such a major sign of the covenant between Abraham and God...and of the promise that God makes to bless all people through Abraham. I'm reminded of a couple of really good NT passages:
"'Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him.' Is this blessedness only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? We have been saying that Abraham's faith was credited to him as righteousness. Under what circumstances was it credited? Was it after he was circumcised, or before? It was not after, but before! And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. So then, he is the father of all who believe but have not been circumcised, in order that righteousness might be credited to them. And he is also the father of the circumcised who not only are circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised."--Rom. 4:7-12
"For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love."--Gal. 5:6
Only one question for today:
1. In the story of Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar, whom do you like the most? The least?
--I don't know that there's one that I like the most. All three of them tried to take matters in their own hands in order to speed along God's timing, and it didn't work so well. I kind of dislike Sarah, though, for mistreating her maidservant to the point that she ran away.