BY: FRED PRUITT
JANUARY 15, 2003
Thanks for writing me, I always love what you say.
I’ve been thinking about some of Abraham’s story. Genesis 16-20+.
The story of Hagar and Ishmael, Sarah and Isaac. You always say you don’t know much scripture, but maybe you’re familiar with this story.
Short version —
Abraham in old age, childless, receives a vision from God telling him he’s going to have an heir, a “seed” which shall bless all nations. “And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.” (15:6)
But years go by and Abraham and Sarah are getting older, both past childbearing age, and the “vision” Abraham received hasn’t come true yet, so she suggests Abraham “go in unto” her Egyptian maid, Hagar. Which Abraham promptly does. Hagar conceives, and the child born is named Ishmael.
Twelve years later the promise is fulfilled when 90-yr old Sarah conceives and bares Isaac, the “son of promise.”
Hagar and Sarah aren’t getting along, so Sarah wants Hagar & Ishmael sent away, since Ishmael is a potential threat to her son’s full inheritance. This causes Abraham a crisis, but God speaks to him again and tells him to go along with his wife on this, that He has a plan for Ishmael, too — he’ll be the father of twelve kings — but the fullness of His promise rests with Isaac.
So Abraham sends Hagar and his son Ishmael away, and they almost perish in the desert, but are rescued by angels.
The way that is normally “interpreted” is Hagar and Ishmael are representative of works of the flesh, and Sarah and Isaac works of the Spirit. Paul seems to go along with that in Galatians when he compares Hagar with the “old” covenant and Isaac with the “new.”
And I agree with brother Paul on this.
But people I think have often missed the other point here in the story. The focus as I’ve heard it so often is on Abraham’s supposed “weaknesses” or failures in the flesh. His “listening to his wife” and his liaison with Hagar are often seen as Abraham’s fleshly attempt to bring about the promise, a descent into sin if you will. Many a sermon has no doubt been preached that we should not try to attempt something in the flesh, like Abraham with Hagar, and many a one of us has been snagged in the fear that we seek to bear the children of the flesh, and all the apparent ghastly failures we’ve suffered have been precisely because of our adulterous affairs with the flesh.
A good case can be made for that with Abraham. I mean, look at the mess we’re in now. Who are the Arabs? Ishmaelites! The Arabs especially, and all Muslims indirectly, take their lineage from Abraham via Ishmael.
And look at the prophecy from Genesis regarding Ishmael and his descendants: “And he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man’s hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.”
That was written two or three thousand years ago about the descendants of Ishmael – that should give anyone pause.
So it seems therefore, given all the current trouble stirred up by the Ishmaelites, that we can certainly make a case for Abraham having left the plan of God momentarily when he listened to his wife and made whoopee with the maid. (What a wife!)
I think not.
First of all, Abraham committed no sin. What he did was normal for his time. There was no law against it, nor was it in the least uncommon for a wealthy man, as Abraham was, to have the pleasure of more than one wife or of concubines. He was not once rebuked for it by the Lord, nor did his legal affair with Hagar affect in any way the fulfillment of God’s Promise.
It was simply Abraham living his life. When Abraham “believed in the Lord, and he counted it as righteousness,” Abraham was sealed in the kingdom of God. He was God’s man, through and through. He has God’s heart, God’s mind, God’s desires, implanted in the depths of his being. He walked God’s walk, talked God’s talk.
When God told him everywhere he put his foot that that was his land, God wasn’t really talking about real estate. It was the same as that which Samuel told Saul, “And let it be, when these signs are come unto thee, that thou do as occasion serve thee; for God is with thee.” (1 Sam 10:7) In other words, live your life, and that IS God. Why? Because you have learned all the concepts and precepts and rules and requirements and are now able to walk by them? No, BECAUSE MY SPIRIT DWELLS IN YOU!
Abraham was a New Testament man. To have been “counted righteous” by the Lord means more than a legal pronouncement, but a living empowerment from Christ within, the only source of righteousness. And God is the God of TRUTH, and therefore when He “counts,” He counts with absolute truth and honesty, so his “counted righteousness” must therefore be an ACTUAL righteousness, and not a make-believe-because-I-said-it kind. “I will dwell in them walk in them and cause them to walk in my ways.”
What I’m saying is there was no sin in Abraham going in unto Hagar and fathering Ishmael, despite the mess we have today. It was, and IS, God’s plan. Including the mess. Abraham didn’t sin. He walked in His Father’s Righteousness.
Did he and Sarah mistakenly think that their little scheme would help along the plan of God? Maybe. Doesn’t matter what they thought. Abraham believed in the Lord, and the Lord counted it as righteousness. Abraham put every day in the hands of God. That’s enough to walk in the Spirit, which is to be Christ living as us expressed in our frail human selves, despite the thoughts and fears that go through our minds.
My point is this. Union – unity – with God, means just that living today and tomorrow is Christ living in us but hidden in normal weak-looking human living – reactions and decisions and emotions and actions and whatever else we do or see or hear or think.
We are in His Kingdom, and therefore all things are pure. Have at it. All of YOU is pure. Go for it.
And there is no caveat for that. No further explanatory statement, no warning, no reminder of what to remember if you are part of His Kingdom, but only a trust in nothing but God and no other. The free, “wide impregnable country” of Christ.
Purity is contagious. Once you see it anywhere, it crops up everywhere, and spreads from heart to heart.
Well, I don’t think I answered your question, but I wasn’t really trying to anyway…
ABRAHAM [Fred Pruitt] 1-15-03 1