Oct 20 Lesson 8
Purpose: To acknowledge the love of God for all people
Background Texts: Genesis 15:1-6; 16; 17:1-14, 18, 20-27; 21:9-21; 26:1-25
Key Verse: “Your descendants will be traced through Isaac. But I will make of your servant’s son a great nation too, because he is also your descendant.” (Genesis 21:12b-13)
By Rev. Dr. John Brantley
Lesson Texts: Genesis 21:13-21
God is faithful even when we are not faithful. The original covenant promise was to make a great nation from Abraham. Even those this covenant was made with Abraham who was married to Sarah, God does not leave room to be known as one who bends the rules and twists the words. God is not as interested in how neat and pretty our relationship is. God is ultimately interested in us. God said I will make a great nation through Abraham. And God did so, through both mothers and Abraham. Both Ishmael and Isaac become the firstborn of two different peoples.
Remember in the covenant with Adam and Eve in the garden, they eat from tree in the middle of the garden and break the trust relationship, and God continues to love and provide for them. The garden is no longer the place but the covenant continues.
God Hears the cries from the bushes and the bowshot.
It is interesting that many studies and commentaries skip over difficult or uncomfortable passages. The hope is that a few….will distract us from seeing the whole experience contained in scripture and our world experience. So in the conversation of God’s blessing of unfaithful people is a prime example of how we tried to deal with problems, failures and overwhelming situations. Don’t skip over verse 15 and 16.
If it is not tragic enough that Abraham who is unfaithful to God and his wife by having Ishmael, Abraham sends the mother Hagar off; problem solved: out of sight, out of mind? Hagar, in turn, solves her problem or post partum pain by abandoning her thirsty child. Her problem is solved, bury it or camouflage it and it’s gone? God reveals the continuing covenant by becoming the voice of the forgotten, rejected, thirsty, hidden and left for dead. Just as a shepherd would go looking for the lost sheep, so God reaches out to those who can recue the helpless and restore the covenant relationship.
Precious Lord Take My Hand
One of my favorite hymns is a soulful spiritual by Thomas Dorsey, “Precious Lord, Take My Hand.” Ishmael and Hagar didn’t have the same hymnal but they had the same fears, grief and tears. God’s word to the mother is to get up and take him by the hand. You don’t take an infant by the hand, you take a toddler by the and because they need the stead presence in their walking. Hagar needed that steadiness and is asked to hold Ishmael’s hand, as a daily reminder of God’s providing promise and covenant. With her eyes opened by God she see’s the water and they both are filled.
Recall Jesus meeting the woman at the well and their conversation about living water. God continues to provide the same water and the same covenant for those who will listen and go where God sends us. Hagar raises Ishmael as an expert shot and an arranged political marriage and their lives become fruitful and prosperous, even in the dessert. The bottom line: God is faithful even when we are not. God does not make Hagar get up that day, but he does not give up trying.
Back to Abraham, Sarah and Isaac
Lesson Text 2: Genesis 26:2-13
We have a great wealth as a nation from the melting pot of people who came to the new world, and through New York at Ellis Island and still today. Some families remember a story of immigration and know the formal transition of becoming new members of a great society. God’s covenant is restored with Abraham and Sarah returning to God’s process and promise.
Notice that the parents want to continue to call the shots. God pulls back the reigns with Abraham and Sarah, you need to stay as guests until you remember who is plan you are following. For all the family these parents have for their faith, it did not come without great personal struggle to develop that faith. So it is with us in our faith journeys.
From a Covenant to Orders, Commandments, Statutes, and Instructions
Notice in verse 5 that Abraham and Sarah have moved from a single covenant with God into a political structure of order, laws, presidents and lessons. God is both patient and persistent. In the end, Isaac had a great example from his parents. He is both blessed by God’s providing and challenged when he attempts to manage things by hiding and lying.
These text remind us that with unfaithfulness come the consequence of sin. But as severe as they may be, God is with us. The plans, properties and people change, yet God is steadfast and eternally with us. That is good news!
Easy- Take some time to write down the story of events and actions of your unfaithful choices. Describe how your thoughts, actions and/or absence affect others in your life story. Prayerful ask for forgiveness and get up and follow God’s word.
Challenge- Take the list from the above suggestion and share it with those who have been affected by your unfaithfulness and ask for their forgiveness as well.
Prayer: Dear God, we praise you for your eternal covenant with us. Give me strength to return the gift each day. Amen.