Gen.16 Sarai, Hagar and Ishmael
Gen. 17 Abraham, Sarah, and the Covenant of Circumcision
Gen.18 Three visit Abraham and Sarah, Abraham intercedes for Sodom and Gomorrah
Genesis 16 Sarai tries to assist the Lord and deal with her own shame and pain of not having a son by offering her maid to Abraham. In 16:2 we see that Abram listened to her voice. There are many voices in the world telling us what to do, what is good and acceptable etc. We dare not heed these voices because they seem ok, pleasurable or even reasonable. There is nothing we should do to try to “help God”. They had already been promised a son in chapter 15. It is important that we take God at His word. What He says He will do, He will do.
Don’t use other people. Sarai tried to use Hagar to get what she wanted. It is important that we understand how our choices and sinful actions affect others.
God saw Hagar who had been mistreated and blessed her. God sees us and He is aware of all that happens in our lives.
An important question is asked of Hagar: where have you come from and where are you going? When we have been mistreated and maligned, diving into our past will help us for the future. It’s not always a pleasant experience but we must be reconciled with the past in order to embrace the future.
Genesis 17 God changes the names of Sarai and Abram. When God deals with people often they go through some name change. Consider Cephas/Peter, Saul/Paul, etc. Our names are closely attached to our identity but especially in this time they conveyed purpose and marking of events or some other special occasion. God changes their names as a mark of His authority as well.
God instructs Abraham about the covenant of circumcision. This would be a permanent marking/cutting of the flesh to symbolize God’s promise. Circumcision was to happen on the 8th day. The 8th day is the first day after the “last day”. This is symbolic as it is a “new day”. This is a new covenant and represents a new thing God is doing through Abraham.
It’s also interesting to note that in Genesis 17:17, Abraham laughed at this whole notion God was talking to him about. He questions God about all God is telling him. In Genesis 18:12 Sarah laughed and is later chided for it.
In Genesis 18:14 the Lord says: is there anything too difficult for the Lord? This is an essential question for us to wrestle through. When we have promises of God and nothing seems to be moving in that direction, we tend to question His goodness, power, ability etc. When things are not going our way or there is something very improbable, we doubt and become discouraged. We must remember that God always keeps His word.
God is aware of what is going on in Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham is aware also since his nephew is living there. Abraham intercedes for the cities and cites God’s goodness and love for people. God says He wouldn’t destroy the city if there were just 10 righteous! Here we see the value of the righteous living righteously within the city. The whole city could have been spared of Lot and his family could have had greater influence. Our purpose in the city is to influence it for the Kingdom. We need to intervene and intercede as much as possible for the sake of Jesus’ kingdom.