From God’s word – Abraham passed God’s tests with flying colors

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By Toni Ford

When you hear the names Abraham and Isaac, what is the first thing that comes to mind? For most of us, I would imagine Genesis 22. In which Abraham faced his greatest test in acting in obedience to God by sacrificing his son Isaac, on an altar. Thankfully, Abraham knew that God would never contradict His promises to Abraham, and so, by faith, Abraham obeyed and watched God provide a ram for the sacrifice rather than Isaac. We see so many truths about the character and love of God in this chapter, but I wonder how much time we’ve reflected on the chapter prior to Genesis 22.

I began reading Genesis 21 earlier this week, and so many truths popped out at me as I reflected on this chapter. Three different events take place in this chapter, but it was the middle event that stood out the most to me – the story of Hagar and Ishmael being sent away. I call this the story between the firstborn and the second born or the story of Sarah and Hagar.

Let’s look at three different responses which took place in this event.

Sarah’s response

Genesis 21: 9-10 tells us, “But Sarah saw Ishmael, the son of Abraham and her Egyptian servant Hagar, making fun of her son Isaac. She turned to Abraham and demanded, ‘Get rid of that slave woman and her son. He is not going to share the inheritance with my son, Isaac. I won’t have it!”

This response by Sarah seems pretty cruel and is indeed pretty harsh. If we back up to Genesis 15, we see where God reveals His covenant to Abraham, which will come through Abraham’s son. At the time, Abraham was 75 years old. Sarah was 65 and had been unable to have children. Sarah could not see how this promise would be fulfilled, so she took matters in her own hands and decided to make it happen her way. Genesis 16:2 tells us that Sarah told Abraham to go sleep with her servant Hagar, and perhaps she could have children through her. In Genesis 21 we see what happens when we step out of God’s will and taking control of a situation that is not ours to control, such as rushing His timeline and not waiting on Him. Our disobedience has consequences, and here we see the bitterness and resentment that was stirring and possibly been building in Sarah’s heart as a result of her disobedience to God many years back.

Abraham’s Response

Genesis 21: 11-14 says, “This upset Abraham very much, because Ishmael was his son. So Abraham got up early the next morning, prepared food and a container of water and strapped them on Hagar’s shoulders. Then he sent her away with their son, and she wandered aimlessly in the wilderness of Beersheba.”

This must have been grievous for Abraham to say goodbye to his son, and I would imagine he was a bit displeased with Sarah’s response, but he also knew this was God’s command and he must obey. Little did Abraham realize that his obedience was preparation for an even greater test, when he would have to put Isaac on the altar. We do not have many details of Abraham’s response to Sarah after she demanded this of him, but because we know how close Abraham was to God, we can imagine that Abraham took her response to God and asked for direction. This is a great reminder for us to take things to the Lord first. We often respond first and then take things to the Lord, but if we seek Him first and obey what He tells us, whether we understand it or not, the outcome is always better than if we do the opposite.

God’s Response

Genesis 21:12-13 tells us, “But God told Abraham, ‘Do not be upset over the boy and your servant. Do whatever Sarah tells you, for Isaac is the son through whom your descendants will be counted. But I will also make a nation of the descendants of Hagar’s son, because he is your son also.” Wow! Even in Sarah’s response, which seems harsh and cruel, the Lord had a plan and was working for a greater good. Things in the natural do not always make sense, but if we understand God and know who He is, we then know that He is greater than all things and can take what appears to be a horrible situation and turn it into something that one day will make sense to all the nations! God alone can be trusted, and He alone is the only one and true God!

Lord, today we come to you with all areas of our lives and ask You to open our eyes and ears to You and Your ways. When You speak, helps us to obey, knowing that You always have a greater plan!

If you would like me to join you in prayer, please e-mail me at tonif77@gmail.com. I would love to pray for you!

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