Time passes after Abraham’s encounter with God and doubts arise in his heart. When pressures mount he decides to take matters into his own hands. The consequences of his decision are still felt today but God offers hope and restoration.
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Transcript: Welcome to “5 Minutes With Pastor Lutzer.” I’m so glad that you joined us again as we take this tour through the life of Abraham. We’ve entitled it, “Strength for the Journey.” Well, today, we’re in chapter 16—a great failure in the life of Abraham. Here’s what happened: God promised him seed and he and Sarah were getting older. Her biological clock was ticking and she goes to her husband and says, “why don’t you raise up seed along with our servant, Hagar?” Well, let’s pause there for a moment. First of all, where did they get Hagar? Well, she was an Egyptian. When Abraham went to Egypt as a result of the famine—that’s actually in chapter 12—one of the spoils that was brought back was this servant girl. Now you and I might be absolutely shocked that a wife would recommend this and we understand that but in those days, this was common practice. Because the idea of childlessness was so bad that if a man then had a relationship with a servant and a baby was born, his wife, in this case, Sarah, would actually regard the child as hers. So, Abraham listened to the voice of Sarah. What’s interesting is he does not listen to the voice of God, but he listens to the voice of Sarah. Well, what happens is, Hagar gets pregnant and now she begins to tease Sarah and says, you know, I’m pregnant and you’re not, and Sarah became so irritated. Now she blames her husband and says, “may the hurt done to me be done to you.” Abraham just shrugs his shoulders and says do to her whatever you want. Well, then, the Bible says here—we’re in the 16th chapter of Genesis—Sarah began to treat her harshly and she fled.
So here is Hagar, a pregnant woman, she flees the home. She finds herself beside a well, and the Lord appears to her and when you read the text you discover, first of all, God says, “the child that you are bearing is going to be a great nation. His name is going to be Ishmael, which means ‘God listens’ and furthermore-—and I know that this phrase causes us some consternation—“He shall be a Donkey of a man”—that means that he is going to be restless; there’s always going to be tension and so forth. So the Lord appeared to her and said that. Now here’s what’s interesting when it comes to Islam. When you ask the question, “Why can there be no peace in the Middle East?” Well, part of it is right here in the text. Because in Islam, the belief is that the promises that God made to Abraham go to his oldest son who is Ishmael, not to Isaac. As a matter of fact, it is also believed among Muslims that when Abraham was willing to sacrifice his son, that he was willing to sacrifice Ishmael. Now, the Quran does not say that expressly. I’ve read that part of the Quran. It just simply talks about his willingness to sacrifice his son, but that is believed. As a matter of fact, it is believed that Muhammad actually came through the line of Ishmael and that Muhammad is a descendant of Ishmael. I can’t go into that in detail, but that is almost an impossible thing to believe and it is believed also that, you know, Abraham went to Mecca and so forth and Mecca didn’t exist during this period of time, be that as it may. But now do you understand the conflict that was raised as a result of this, which has ongoing significance.
You say, “Well, Pastor Lutzer, what’s in it here for us today?” Well think of this message as one of hope. Here’s a young woman who is pregnant and God says to her, “You are going to be a great nation. I’m actually going to bless your seed.” Maybe today, I’m talking to someone who was conceived out of wedlock. You feel rejected; you find yourself in a desert. What does Hagar say after she hears the voice of God? She calls the place, “Beer Lahai Roi,” which, in Hebrew, is “the Lord sees me”. I want to end there today with this emphasis: that no matter where you are, no matter how you got into this world, the Lord sees you and because of that, you are not forgotten by God, no matter who you are. You are remembered and I encourage you to come to Him today for encouragement and help. He was there for a slave girl. He’ll be there for you and me. So glad that you joined us today. Join us again next week as we continue this study and as for today you just go with God.