FOUNDATIONAL FRAMEWORK - PART 20
Foundational Truths: The Bible is God’s self-revelation.
God is the Eternal, Sovereign Creator; all that He creates is good.
Man is a responsible agent, held to a moral standard.
Sin originates within a person, separating us from God.
God declares one righteous by faith alone, apart from works.
In justifying Abram, notice that YHWH asks for no commitment or change in behavior. It is by God’s grace, through Abram’s faith alone that he is declared righteous by YHWH.
Genesis 15:7-21. The Land Promise is reiterated (v.7). When Abram questions this 2nd promise (v.8), YHWH calls for a collection of animals, which are cut in half and placed opposite of one another to make a pathway. YHWH alone is taking on the full responsibility of seeing this covenant through to its completion (v.17). The division of the animals symbolizes the punishment one would incur for failing to fulfill the promise (v.9-10). It is at this moment in time that YHWH condescends, making a covenant/contract agreement with Abram (v.18). It is startling that Abram has no responsibility in the contract except to receive the blessings as YHWH fulfills it.
YHWH reveals the event of the coming Egyptian captivity, the exodus, His judgment on Egypt for their treatment of Israel (15:13-14; See also Gen 12:3), and the boundaries of the Land Promise (15:18b-21).
Genesis 16:1-3. While Genesis 12:1-6 was Abram’s inquiry into the offspring promise of YHWH, Genesis 16:2 serves as Sarai’s inquiry. We can hear the impatience in Sarai’s words, blaming the Lord for her barrenness. The word “prevented” in v.2 is asāra meaning “restrain, arrest, lock up, hold back” (BDB). Was the promise of God a certain thing? Did He really mean what He said? Since Sarai was not mentioned in the promise, could this offspring come from someone else? Hagar, who was acquired while Abram and Sarai were in unbelief in Egypt (Gen 12:10-16) is put forth as a means of perpetuating the seed of Abram. While this practice may seem detestable to western eyes, it was commonplace in the Middle East, even being condone by the Code of Hammurabi. Regardless of its accepted practice, it is an act of unbelief before YHWH and it overlooks the Pre-Fall Institution of Marriage being between one man and one woman (Gen 1:26-28; 2:23-25). Abram “listened” to Sarai rather than YHWH, showing a failure to set the course for his home as its leader. This took place ten years into their sojourning in the Land.
Note the profound lesson: bitterness is a sure catalyst to unbelief.
Genesis 16:4-6. Upon conceiving, Hagar’s view of her mistress changed, having acquired something that she could not. The word “despised” means “small, insignificant, accursed, to belittle” (BDB) and is used in the first occurrence of Genesis 12:3. This demeanor sends Sarai into a rage, blaming Abram for her decision. Sarai again brings the Lord into this, calling for His judgment in the matter.
We are told that Sarai dealt “harshly” with Hagar. This word could mean anything from humiliation to violence. Regardless, she flees.
Genesis 16:7-15. The angel (messenger) of the Lord is the pre-incarnate Christ. “I will greatly multiply your descendants” (v.10) would never be left to an angel, but God alone. She is directed to return to the camp and is given a great promise of offspring. The child will be named “Ishmael” meaning “the Lord hears” to commemorate Hagar’s cries to YHWH and His response to her situation. Verse 12 is most important! It displays the attitude of the nation that would come from him (12a), the action that he would take (12b), the reaction he would receive (12c), and the location of dwelling (12d). Keep in mind, when Scripture makes a prediction about someone, it can be fulfilled at a much later date when they have become a nation.
Ishmael is the father of the Arab Nations, which are largely Muslim and have settled in the east- Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Afghanistan, etc.
Genesis 16:16-17:1. It is deeply disturbing to see that YHWH did not talk with Abram for 13 years. The silence was deafening as Abram raised Ishmael, not realizing that the promise was yet to be fulfilled.