Below are my thoughts from the daily Bible reading of the West Side Church of Christ. Today’s reading comes from Genesis 16-18. Before reading I invite you to pray and asked God to speak to you as you read His Word. Also above in the tabs is a link to the Bible reading plan.
What Does This Passage Say?
- After Abram had been in the Land of Canaan for ten years with no offspring, his aging wife decided she was not going to be the woman to give birth to the promised son. So, Sarai gave her maidservant Hagar to Abram. Abram and Hagar conceived and this roused the jealousy in Sari. This jealousy caused Hagar to flee. It was while fleeing, no destination in mind, that God appeared to Hagar. This is the first physical manifestation of God we find in the Bible.
- While this coming son, a revelation to Hagar in a day and time with no ultrasounds, would not be the promise, God would bless her and him. To this Hagar responds with obedience by returning and with praise towards God.
- Thirteen years after Ishmael was born God once again approaches Abram. Perhaps the thirteen years of silence was God’s discipline for taking matters into his own hands. Perhaps it was just His timing playing out. Regardless, God comes before Abram and reconfirms the covenant He made with Abram when He first called him.
- In renewing the covenant God reminded Abram that this was all conditional based upon his ability to walk with the Lord be blameless. In confirming the covenant God also gave Abram a name change … Abram means exalted father … Abraham means father of multitudes. Abraham was going to be the father of many nations. Not only did Abram receive a name change, so did his wife Sarai to Sarah.
- That day, God also reminded Abraham that he would still bear another son … this son would be the child the promise went through, not thirteen-year-old Ishmael. To mark His covenant God gave Abraham and all the males in his household the sign of circumcision.
- Bible Scholar and Professor James Smith writes in his commentary, The Pentateuch, page 140, about circumcision …
That the identifying mark of the Hebrew male should be on his sex organ is most appropriate. Far from being disreputable, this was the most sacred part of his while body. Thus if this, the most private of body parts, was dedicated to God, so must be his whole person. With this organ man became, in a special sense, a co-worker with God in producing godly offspring. In circumcision the sexual act was dedicated to God’s glory. When the wife became one flesh with her husband she too became sexually dedicated to the glory of God.
- This covenant, marked by circumcision was an everlasting covenant with the purpose of bringing redemption into the world though Jesus Christ.
- Our reading takes a drastic turn. Sometime after God’s announcement to Abraham, He appears as three visitors before him. Even though the visitors arrive at an inopportune time, Abraham is willing to roll out the red carpet, sending Sarah to bake bread and a servant to butcher a calf. During this discussion the Angle of the Lord declared Sarah would have a baby … which she heard from inside the tent … and laughed.
- So far, the conversation is good … but it is about to turn ugly. As the visitors were about to leave, the Lord declared His intent to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. This scene creates a graphic contrast … in Abraham God is creating a new nation, a nation that would bring redemption and holiness into the world, a nation that was to model what walking with God was supposed to look like … in Sodom and Gomorrah, God was about to destroy a people who did not exalt God, who did not honor Him in the way they lived, people whose lives were marked by sin.
- When Abraham hears God’s plan he pleads for God to change course. He successfully does so, the only problem is, there were not 10 righteous people living there. But God does allow Abraham to rescue his nephew lot from the destruction. This is a stark reminder that sin and righteous cannot co-exist.