Thursday, September 22, 2016

Genesis 16:4-6 comments: Hagar runs away

4 ¶  And he went in unto Hagar, and she conceived: and when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress was despised in her eyes. 5  And Sarai said unto Abram, My wrong be upon thee: I have given my maid into thy bosom; and when she saw that she had conceived, I was despised in her eyes: the LORD judge between me and thee. 6  But Abram said unto Sarai, Behold, thy maid is in thy hand; do to her as it pleaseth thee. And when Sarai dealt hardly with her, she fled from her face.

Abram knew what God had promised him. But, at the urging of his wife he did not wait on God to provide what was promised in God’s own time. This is understandable from a human perspective. Abram knew what the promise was but he did not know how God was going to accomplish it. By going ahead of God he caused emotional turmoil in his own family and thousands of years of political struggle, most notably manifesting itself in the struggles in the Middle East in the last hundred years. The offspring of this union between God’s man and this Egyptian servant-woman will be who the Muslims consider to be their progenitor, an ancestor of Mohammed and the father of the Arab peoples.

Sarai is blaming Abram for Hagar’s contempt for her as now Hagar has done something that Sarai could not. She has conceived a child. Abram, lacking in moral courage and a sense of responsibility from our perspective, like Adam, tries to remedy this situation by affording Sarai the opportunity to get revenge by mistreating Hagar for the perceived wrong which is hers and Abram’s fault. Hagar is a servant. She had no power to deny either Sarai or Abram. If anything she is the victim in this. But, now she will suffer unless God intervenes, which He does.

Hagar does the only thing she can do at this point, pregnant and powerless. She runs away.

God permits man to exercise his free will even to evil, to great evil I might add. God worked out the successful completion of His will taking into account man’s proclivity to violence, malice, and evil. Jesus will tell us that offences will come, they must come, but woe to him through whom they come. (Matthew 18:7; Luke 17:1). Even God’s people are fully capable of doing wrong but they are not capable of thwarting God’s will. He will permit what He will permit and block what He will block.

We often are amazed and disturbed at stories we hear. A child is born to worthless parents who abuse him or her and raise them without nurture and love. That child grows up to be a drug-addicted adult and then dies of a heart attack. All seems to be lost, randomness seems to be reality, and nothing makes sense to us. But, God told us through the story of Job that a great many bad things can be done to perfectly unblameable or even good people and we may never know, in this life, the reason. We are to trust God, He has it under control. Understanding that God is involved in every detail of existence, good or evil, and that He is in control, is very important Theology 101. It is difficult to understand when genocide is committed or a child is abused. But, the Bible makes it clear, abundantly, that somehow, in a way we will probably not understand, God works out His will through the chaos, man’s malice, and man’s heart-wrenching cruelty.

As Job said that he did nothing wrong to deserve what happened to him and God did not argue with that, so we must understand when an injustice is being done to us, God will work this out. We can and must do the right thing, as we know it to be, as that is our part. We can, if possible, remove ourselves from a bad situation, have a malefactor brought to justice, or defend our persons from attack, again, if possible. But, we must remember that God is in control. Trust Him. Expect Him to work things out. In the end, it is to be for His glory, not for our immediate benefit. We expect things to be made clear in eternity, or perhaps even to be forgotten as greater and more magnificent things await us than the sufferings we might endure here. But, God is in control, as we will soon see here.

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