Abraham, Sarah and Ishmael
January 7th Scripture Reading: Genesis 15-17
A great deal has happened in the lives of Abram and Sarai in the last three chapters. They have been to Egypt and back. They have rescued Lot from invaders. They gave the first tithes to Melchezidek, an unusual man who was a king of Salem (Jerusalem) and a priest of “The Most High God”. (A type of Christ) Sarai has suggested to Abram that he have a child by her maid, Hagar, to fulfill God’s promise since she, Sarai, is still barren. A child results and trouble ensues! Hagar feels superior and Sarai is jealous and mistreats her. The child, Ishmael, becomes a source of trouble in the house and is prophesied to be one who would cause trouble (Genesis 16:12). In fact, we are today experiencing trouble in our world in the Middle East conflict and war on terror from Ismael’s offspring! This is 4000 years later! How true the Word of God is!
Genesis 17 records another visit by God to Abram and Sarai. Abram is now 99 years old and Sarai is 90. God confirms his promise to them in a covenant. Part of a covenant is a change of names. God’s covenant name was “YHWH”, Hebrew letters that were pronounced only with a drawn out “h” sound. God changed Abram to Abraham and Sarai to Sarah, adding part of his name to theirs and thus changing the meaning of their names. Abram means “Exalted Father” and Abraham means “Father of many or a multitude”. Sarai’s new name means “Princess”. God took Abraham’s name too. He became know as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God also gave them a physical sign of the covenant, circumcision. This mark in the male organ carrying the “seed”, would remind Abraham of God’s promise and mark his offspring as special. This sign also helped keep the line pure and free from venereal disease, thus protecting the offspring.
God has a plan and his promises always come true. Faith simply says “yes” to God and obeys! Abraham is known as the father of faith because he believed God and God credited him with being righteous! (Genesis 15:6) We are made right with God exactly the same way! By faith in Jesus we are credited with righteousness too. Our sign of covenant is that we get the Name of Jesus and the Holy Spirit who circumcises our hearts and marks us as belonging to God. God writes our name in the Book of Life and we have an eternal inheritance in Him! We are truly blessed through Abraham and Sarah and their seed, Jesus Christ!
“Having believed, you were marked in him (Christ) with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession, to the praise of His Glory.” Ephesians 1:13-14