Abraham, Sarah, and Ishmael
Scripture reading for January 6th: 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 Melchizedek, an unusual man who was a king of Salem (Jerusalem) and a priest of “The Most High God”.
Next, since she was still barren Sarai suggested to Abram that he have a child by her maid Hagar in order to fulfill God’s promise. Hagar bore him a son and now felt superior. Sarai became jealous and mistreated her. The child Ishmael, became a source of trouble in the house. (Genesis 16:12). (In fact, we are today experiencing trouble in the Middle East and a war on terror from Ismael’s offspring!)
Genesis 17 recorded another visit by God to Abram and Sarai. Abram was then 99 years old and Sarai was 90. God confirmed His promise to them by covenant. Part of a covenant is a change of names. Abram means “Exalted Father” and Abraham meant “Father of a multitude”. Sarah’s new name meant “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.
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