Richard Agee

Abraham: An example of hope and trust in God, part 2

Richard AgeeThis is a review of 11 examples of Abraham’s faith in God in Genesis 17-23. It culminates in his trusting God to resurrect the son of the promise, Yitskhak (Isaac), and in buying property in the Land to bury those also trusting in God to resurrect them.

After Hagar was ordered by God to return to Abraham and Sarah, God spoke with Abraham again. God reiterated His promise to give Abraham many descendants. This came to Abraham when he was 99 years old, before Yitskhak. was born. 

God also established the covenant of circumcision with Abraham and all the men of his household, which included his son Yishmael (Ishmael). Circumcision is a sign of faith in a covenant. It is a physical representation of a greater spiritual reality, which is a circumcision of the heart. We are to allow God to cut away the hardness of our hearts, to make them vulnerable and willing to understand God’s law. The removal is painful. 

God removed our reproach through the death of His Son, who was killed because of the hardness of our hearts. This is also when God gave Abraham and Sarah their new names

The next story comes some time later when three Heavenly visitors told Abraham that Sarah will give birth to a son by that time the next year. Sarah was 89 years old at this time, and just as Abraham had laughed when God first told him this prophesy, Sarah laughs as well. 

But the angels came not only to visit to Abraham just to bring good news of Sarah’s coming pregnancy but also to give Abraham a most grievous warning of the destruction of Sodom, Gomorrah and the other cities of the plain. God specifically said that He would not hide this from Abraham. 

Abraham was very troubled by this and wrestled verbally with the angels to find out how many righteous people were in Sodom. That threshold was 10 people. Sadly, there weren’t even that many in the area. God did not look forward with joy to the Flood, or the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and neither did Abraham. Neither of them wanted anyone to perish. God is not dancing for joy at the prospect of the future events recorded in Revelation either. These destructive episodes grieve God. 

After Sodom and Gomorrah were gone, Abraham went down to the Negev and met with the king Abimelech there, but Abimelech got himself in a little trouble when he wanted Sarah for his own wife:

“Behold, you are a dead man because of the woman whom you have taken, for she is married.” (Gen. 20:3)

Abimelech sincerely had no idea that Sarah was already married and God said that He personally protected Abimelech from sinning against Sarah. God tells Abimelech “Now therefore, restore the man’s wife, for he is a prophet, and he will pray for you and you will live.” This is the first time we see God call anyone a prophet. 

These stories are not just stories. They are written to tell us about God, about how He thinks and how He acts. We see this in the life of Abraham. 

After Sarah was vindicated by Abimelech, God “visited” (פָּקַד paqad, Strong’s H6485) her. Based on other usage of this word, we could say she was “numbered” or “set.” He “appointed” her to be the mother of Yitskhak and the mother of the seed of Messiah. 

A few years after Yitskhak was born, we read that Yishmael “mocked” Yitskhak. This upset Sarah so deeply that she told Abraham to throw Hagar and Yishmael out of their house. Abraham was very upset by this idea, he thought it was a wicked plan but God told him that Sarah was right and he obeyed and cast them both out. There was a separation between Yishmael and Abraham but it was not like the separation of Lot and Abraham many years before. The separation between Abraham and Lot was relatively amicable but the separation between Abraham and Yishmael was not amicable at all.

Yet, God did not forget Yishmael and Hagar. God blessed Yishmael for Abraham’s sake and heard his cries and prayers for his life. We don’t know the exact words of Yishmael’s prayer, but God responded kindly to him and saved him. 

Apostle Paul saw two “covenants” in Sarah and Hagar. One is the covenant of a bondwoman, and one is the covenant of a free woman, a princess. We see this in the first commandment, which was revealed at Mt. Sinai:

“I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before Me.” (Ex 20:2–3)

God brought them out of Egypt, which is the “house of slavery,” to enter into a new covenant with Him, which brought the children of Israel out of Egyptian slavery and into a bond with God. 

However, the house of Sarah is the house of faith, which is represented by Yerushalayim (Jerusalem) and God’s future eternal kingdom. 

After Yishmael was sent away, Abraham took an oath with Abimelech to preserve his property rights of the well be built at Beersheva. 

Most of Genesis 22 tells us about God’s command to sacrifice of Yitskhak. In Gen. 22:1, we are told that “God tested Abraham….” At this point, Yitskhak, although he was young, he was old enough to be able to carry the firewood for the sacrifice himself. Abraham had to bind Yitskhak because he was old enough to flee.

When Abraham had his knife to kill Yitskhak, an angel appeared with a mighty voice and told Abraham, “Do not stretch out your hand against the lad, and do nothing to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.”

After all we read these incidents in Abraham’s life, do we really understand what it is to walk by faith in God as Abraham did? 

It’s hard for us to imagine that an adult male ram getting its horns caught in a thicket but this image is a representation of the Messiah Yeshua, strong physically, mentally and spiritually but volunteering to be “caught” and sacrificed. This ram was the replacement for Yitskhak. There is a replacement for the sons of the free woman. The ram died to free Yitskhak, who was bound. 

The last event, we will recap here is the death of Sarah, yet this is not the end of Abraham’s life. After Sarah’s death, he now owned a piece of land where he could settle and was large enough for his livestock and for his servants and their families to live comfortably upon as well. 

God was involved in every step of Abraham’s life, even in those events in which God is not directly mentioned. 

This burial cave did not just become the final resting place of Sarah but also of Abraham, Yitskhak and Ya’akov (Jacob) and their wives Rebecca and Leah. 

Yitskhak was the son of freedom; Yishmael, the son of bondage. We will see that as we look at Yitskhak’s life in forthcoming chapters. Before God came into our lives and adopted us, we were children of Hagar and Yishmael but when He adopted us, we became children of Sarah and Yitskhak. While we were yet sinners, Yeshua died for us (Rom. 5:8) and gave us the freedom to be called the children of Abraham, Yitskhak and Ya’akov.

Speaker: Richard Agee. Summary: Tammy.

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