A lot of things have happened in the past few chapters which play a huge role in the overall story of God’s partnership with humanity in spreading the Blessing across the earth. For starters – in Chapter 13 – we see that this man Abram, whom we first met in chapter 12, is walking right in the middle of God’s plan. God has chosen Abram to become a hinge pin in His masterful plan of Blessing. In Gen 13:14-17 we see the first signs of this plan when God makes His Promise to manifest the Blessing in Abram’s life (Be Fruitful & Multiply!). This Blessing provides for Abram even when he takes the second best parcel of land – and defers the best to Lot. God is working behind the scenes on Abram’s behalf!

Then in Chapter 14 we see what the Blessing has done in Abram’s life. He has become a powerful leader in the area – which aides him in rescuing his nephew from an alliance of evil kings. In Gen 14:18-20 we see Abram pay homage to a King named Melchizedek by giving him the tithe (10%) of his spoils. (Hebrews chapter 7 gives us some added insight into what happens here – telling us that Melchizedek is a prototype of Jesus – the King of Righteousness who was to come). By paying his tithe – Abram establishes the steps for all of us to follow in walking in the Blessing of the Lord. The victories are not based on his (or our) own strength – but acknowledges that it was because of the Blessing of the Lord.

In Chapter 15 we, as a fly on the wall, are provided a glimpse of God further establishing Abram as His Man for the Plan by cutting a blood covenant with him. In ancient days a blood covenant was legally binding by penalty of death. God reconfirms his Promise to Bless Abram – and Abram enters into agreement with God by “believing the Lord and He counted it to him for righteousness.” (15:6). This is a demonstration of the partnership between God and man… God’s part is to fulfill the Blessing and our part is to believe and obey. Again – Abram had done nothing to earn this – but when he believed God (by faith) it was credited to his account as being worthy. All God needs is for us to come into agreement with Him in faith and then He can change the world through us!

Which brings us to today’s reading of chapter 16. This chapter brings me such comfort because even Abram, a man chosen by God Himself to be a catalyst for the Blessing, messed up. It was Abram to whom God has promised such things as we have read this far. It was Abram who had come into agreement with God and had responded in faith. Yet – when Sarai came to Abram with an alternative plan to achieve what God had already promised – Abram gave in willingly. What should he have done? He should have stood on what God and said and resisted the temptation to make it happen by his own strength! God has promised it – and God would see that it came to pass! Instead, Abram went along with Sarai’s plan – and the result was Ishmael.

There are a lot of theories about who Ishmael represents today (namely that he is the father of the Arab people – mortal enemies to the Jews). But going beyond all of that – the true lesson is that God’s best cannot be gained by human means. Ishmael did not represent what God was planning on doing through Abram and Sarai (NOT Hagar!). Now – God still took care of Ishmael (because of His promise to Abram), but the plan of God was still in motion. All Abram’s poor choice did was create an alternative branch in His seed which would become a thorn throughout the generations to come (even to this day!).

Whew! That is a lot to absorb! Much has happened already (and we aren’t even half way through Genesis yet!). But – more important are the lessons we are learning. God has The Blessing in mind at all times – He operates in Grace to bring this Blessing to pass – and when we (Abram) take Him at His Word and obey Him then that Blessing will come to reality in our lives. BUT – attempting to circumvent this obedience and achieve the results on our own will only cause more problems for the future.

Be Fruitful & Multiply,