The effects that Abram and Sarai’s action had on their family.
THE PROPHECY CONCERNING ISHMAEL <Gen.16:11-12>
“The angel of the LORD also said to her: “You are now with child and you will have a son. You shall name him Ishmael, for the LORD has heard of your misery.” <Gen.16:11>
ISHMAEL = “God hears” – he will: “Be a wild donkey of a man”<Gen.16:12>: He will roam the desert (a nomad) like a wild donkey . The Bedouin tribes have roamed the desert as nomads for years. “His hand will be against everyone and everyone’s hand against him” <Gen.16:12>. God’s promise for Ishmael was based upon His knowledge of Ishmael’s heart; mockery of divine things lurked deep in his soul; he would be the father of 12 rulers; his descendants are held fast in one of the most deadly, inflexible, and militant errors this world has ever known. “he will live in hostility toward all his brothers” <Gen.16:12>; the hostility between Sarai and Hagar was passed on to Hagar’s descendants; and God predicted that this would continue throughout their generations at the end of the first conflict between Israel and Ishmael’s descendants .
GOD’S PROMISE – the final details: “Then God said, “Yes, but your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him.” < Gen 17:19 (NIV)>.
FACTS CONCERNING THE ARAB NATIONS
From Ishmael all the Arab tribes descended, and the prophecy has been accurately fulfilled. They remain in the background of all the biblical accounts concerning the nation of Israel: their religion, started by Mohammed, has been spread throughout the middle-east by war and conquest: the Arab world stretches from the Atlantic seaboard to the Persian Gulf, encompassing some of the most strategically placed and economically wealthy countries of the world: their continued hostility toward their brothers (Israel) constantly threatens world-peace.
THE RESULT OF ABRAM AND SARAI’S IMPATIENCE Ishmael’s Family:
“These are the names of the sons of Ishmael, listed in the order of their birth: Nebaioth the firstborn of Ishmael, Kedar, Adbeel, Mibsam, Mishma, Dumah, Massa, Hadad, Tema, Jetur, Naphish and Kedemah. These were the sons of Ishmael, and these are the names of the twelve tribal rulers according to their settlements and camps. Altogether, Ishmael lived a hundred and thirty-seven years. He breathed his last and died, and he was gathered to his people. His descendants settled in the area from Havilah to Shur, near the border of Egypt, as you go toward Asshur. And they lived in hostility toward all their brothers.” <Gen.25:13-18 (NIV)> [Havilah – 3 possible locations: the centre of the Arabian Peninsular; N.E. Africa; and Mesopotamia. Shur – located in the northern part of the Arabian Peninsular]. This was the result of the fatal decision of Abram and Sarai, when they failed to wait on God’s timing.
THREATS TO FAMILY SURVIVAL:
LEAVING OUT THE LORD: most of us fill our daily lives with good things – school, work, appointments, sports etc. At the end of the day do we ask – Is the Lord in all of these things? Did I get to know Him better? Did I serve Him faithfully today? As well intentioned as most of us are, we find that the Lord is the easiest Person to be left out of our plans and activities! Abram and Sarai’s biggest mistake was to leave the Lord out of their plans <see Prov.19:21; Isa.29:15>.
HURTING OR OFFENDING EACH OTHER WITH THE TONGUE: when things go wrong it is human to blame others for our failures. This was Sarai’s way – blames Abram – mistreats Hagar – hostility – suspicion. When decisions are implemented, there will always be some disagreement; however, Spirit-filled believers can agree to disagree without strife and ill-will <see Eph.6:24; Col.4:6>.
LIVING BY THE WORLD’S STANDARDS: this was Sarai’s suggestion, to follow the social customs of the time. Do we base our spiritual standards on the social customs of our time? What would be our reaction to someone who says that he would like to brainwash our children according to the social standards in which we live? While we sit by hoping that no damage is being done, our families are being bombarded with a mixture of ungodly, worldly messages! cf Rom.12:2>.
In what ways could these have influenced Ishmael; in what ways do these affect our families today?
THE DECISIONS WE MAKE TODAY WILL HAVE FAR-REACHING RESULTS FOR THE FUTURE
There are good and bad decisions – God’s word warns us about these and the consequences <Deut.30:15-20>. Decisions require that we seek God’s direction . Changes become necessary in our personal lives and Church activities, which usually introduces conflict, and need to be carefully thought through, we need to understand the times or be able to read the cultural waves. Individual Christians and Church leaders need not accept and adopt the social customs of our day, but we need to be aware of the changes that will affect our witnessing, and act accordingly <cf 1 Chr.12:32>.
CHANGES ARE NECESSARY: UNITY IN DECISIONS – Making decisions will mold our character – for the good or bad; they will also deeply affect those that we love dearly! Therefore, we need to be cautious and discuss our decisions carefully and intelligently with those who will be affected so as not to cause disagreement.
DECISIONS MOLD YOU
“A young, ambitious gentleman got a double promotion that required a transfer to Cairo from his home in the United States. He went home to his new wife and young baby and said, “Great news, we’re moving to Cairo.” Appalled, his wife said, “You’re moving alone. I’m going home to my mother.” That was the first test of leadership in that family. There was no viable compromise: If he relinquished his promotion, he would resent his wife for ruining his career; if she just went along with the move, she would hate him for squashing her ideals for her baby and herself. What to do?
After some discussion, they might have been tempted to believe that maturity required them to deny their feelings and to sacrifice on behalf of each other. Instead, they went back to the fundamentals: Is it my career, or is it ourcareer? Is it your baby, or is it our baby? Are we individuals, or do we operate as a team? What are our values? That marriage had to grow up by the equivalent of five years in about two weeks. They ended up going to Cairo, but their relationship had been transformed. She understood that his career was important to him; he recommitted to his values as a participant in the family. What matters is not what they ended up choosing, but how. They took the courageous step to redefine, from the inside out, who they truly were. The how is what gives you character. The what, which at first appears paramount, is ultimately of no emotional significance.” [Citation: Peter Koestenbaum, business consultant and philosopher, in Fast Company (March 2000), p. 228]
THERE MUST BE UNITY IN OUR DECISIONS <see Col.2:4; 3:15>.
Is it going to be MY plan?
Is it going to be GOD’S way?