The question seems simple enough to answer, yet the practice of ensuring one's attitude and conduct reflect one's obvious verbal response to the question is much more difficult. The question is: Is anything impossible for God? Of course anyone who believes in God and knows God would resoundingly answer, "no!" However, even those who possess saving faith struggle to live in ways that reflect one's answer to that question. In other words, its easy to verbally answer the question correctly; but its much more difficult to live according to the answer. Nevertheless, the answer is true - nothing is impossible for God.
In Genesis 18:1-15 the Bible shows God paying a visit to Abraham in the form of Jesus. Yes - Jesus appeared to Abraham in the Old Testament just as Jesus said He did in the New Testament (John 8:56). In Genesis 18:1-15 the Bible describes that 3 men visited Abraham. Seemingly a few days after God had given the instruction of circumcision, God desired to confirm His promise that Abraham would have a son by Sarah in person. Thus, the scriptures show that 3 men visited Abraham, one of which was the Lord Himself. The Bible testifies that as Abraham saw the men coming, he immediately recognized the authority of the Lord and sought to take care of Him and the two other men He was with. The Bible shows that Abraham stopped what he was doing, ran to Sarah, asked her to make some bread, found a calf, had it slaughtered, and made a meal to give to the Man that he referred to as "my Lord."
The scriptures describe a much different Abraham from Genesis chapter 17 to Genesis chapter 18. In Genesis chapter 17 the Lord called out to Abraham, but after 14 years of distance from one another. So when God called out to Abraham in Genesis chapter 17, Abraham was caught off guard and humbled, being commanded to repent. In Genesis chapter 18, after God had demonstrated more grace and re-confirmed His promises towards Abraham for the third time, and even changed his name, Abraham is not in a need to repent, but instead is in position to serve. The repentance of Abraham in Genesis chapter 17, and his understanding of God's promises, and his obedience to God's command made it so that Abraham was able to serve the Lord. Abraham was able to recognize the identity of the Lord and was in a position of preparedness to offer up his best meat and good bread to bring it before the Lord and take care of Him.
Genesis 18:1-15 goes on to explain the purpose of the Lord's visit. As the men ate with Abraham, the Lord asked where Sarah was. Abraham simply answered that Sarah was in the tent. Then the Bible explains that the Lord said that Sarah would certainly have a son within the year. The Lord said that He would come back in about a year and that by that time, Sarah would have a son. God transformed His appearance into the form of a man as He did in Jesus, in order to confirm His everlasting and unconditional promises. This is exactly what God did in Christ!
The scriptures then candidly display the folly of humanity. Though God had confirmed His promise to give Abraham and Sarah a child of their own 4 different times, and even came into the world Himself to confirm the fourth time, the Bible states that as Sarah was eavesdropping on the conversation, she laughed at the idea of her having a baby at 90 years old. She couldn't believe that it was possible. Sarah didn't laugh to mock the Lord, but the idea of a 90 year old woman having a baby seemed ridiculous to her as it would to someone today. Sarah understood her physical circumstances and limitations. The Bible even confesses that Sarah was well over the age of child-bearing, even though people were still living much longer than people today during that time.
The Bible explains that the Lord heard Sarah's laugh - of course He did, He's God! Hence, the scriptures show that the Lord inquired to Abraham (as they were still conversing) why Sarah was laughing at the idea of having a child. Then the Lord asked the question that seems to plague the lives of all believers: Is anything impossible for the Lord?
Consider the position of a believer. A Bible-believing Christian should place trust in the authority of God's Word as being infallible as the literal Word of the Living God. Knowing this, a believer should trust that God spoke the world into existence. In doing so, God brought order to what was once chaos. God brought form to that which had no form. God created everything out of nothing. God judged the whole world with a flood and hand selected 8 people and a God-sized handful of animals to restore the planet. God overpowered the will of mankind to band together in "unity" (also known as rebellion) and spread out human life all over the face of the earth according to His will. God spoke clearly to Abraham. God led Abraham into safety in Canaan, rescued Abraham from bad situations in Egypt, sustained Abraham during the famine, and gave Abraham a great victory as an old man. If God can do all of these things, is there anything that God cannot do? If God is limited in ability, then He ceases to be God. The fact that God created everything out of nothing is proof that God can do all things because as Creator, He is in charge over all things and has demonstrated this truth throughout the history of mankind - especially through the bloodline of Abraham and the nation of Israel!
If one were to examine the resume of God as laid out in the scriptures, the question is simple to answer. Nothing is impossible for God. Yet Genesis 18:1-15 shows that, though Abraham and Sarah would have been able to verbally answer that question correctly, they continued to live in ways to show that they doubted the ability of the Living God. Consider that as Sarah laughed, she may have done so in the presence of her 13-year old step son - the living proof that she didn't trust God as much as she might have been willing to verbally confess. In fact, the scriptures reveal that Sarah had such little faith in the ability of God that she even tried to lie about her laughing at the Lord's promise of a son, as if the Lord couldn't hear her and see the doubt in her heart. The scriptures explain that Sarah was afraid. She had been caught doubting the Lord. While she might have said that the Lord could do anything, she didn't think it was likely that He would do those things for her, and laughed at the idea that God would be able to fulfill His promises. When the Lord exposed her unbelief, she became afraid.
This scripture presents great difficulty from the human perspective, but great comfort at the same time when one examines the response (or lack thereof) of the Lord. It is difficult to acknowledge that many believers are quick to verbally profess the Lord, but all have the natural inclination to lack in faith. Believers understand the almighty nature, faithfulness, and loving character of God, but often times doubt that He would be willing to demonstrate Himself as such in our own lives. Many times the circumstantial events of one's life can cause one to think that God is somehow limited in His capacity. Can the God who spoke the universe into creation and made everything out of nothing really be limited? Is God weary? Did God forget about His promises to His children? Did the God of the universe somehow overlook our needs and concerns? The truth of the matter is that the problem of a believer is rooted in the expectation of a believer. As people, it is often true that our expectations are different that the will of God so that when our expectations are not met, the circumstances seem to be greater than what they really are, and fear/doubt naturally arise. Sarah's expectations were to have a child long before she did. Sarah expected to have a child as soon as God made the promise. After waiting 10 years, Sarah's expectation was to have a child then. Yet because of her own limitations as a human being, she was unable and brought Hagar into the picture. Sarah's expectations were then shifted. She expected to have peace in the midst of chaos that she helped create. Then, when the Lord Himself showed up to clean up the mess and fulfill His promise, she expected that it was too late. Her expectations were seldom in line with the will of God.
However, the beautiful part of this testimony is the Lord's response to Sarah's lapse in faith. Though Sarah demonstrated unbelief, the Lord did not condemn her. The Lord had the right to rescind His promise and punish Sarah, but the scriptures don't show that happening. Instead, the scriptures show that the Lord pointed out the disbelief in Sarah, and show that when she tried to lie about laughing, He simply restated the truth that she did laugh, causing her to have to deal with the reality of her disbelief in repentance. Then the Lord simply carried on. He continued to do the necessary work to fulfill His promise. He never threatened to take away the promise of a son. He never said that Sarah was undeserving of a son - she wasn't deserving when God first made the promise. Once again, the conduct of humanity has no bearing on the faithfulness of God to do as He promised. The grace of God is too much! Even though Sarah felt that God was limited in ability, God continued to move forward to prove her wrong, and the next year, Sarah experienced the truth. Nothing is impossible for God - no matter how much mankind may think otherwise!
The work of the Living God is very specific, very detailed, and very powerful. Though God certainly doesn't show all of His cards concerning His plans and the methods by which He will execute them, the scriptures do show that God reveals a good amount of insight in regards to His "big picture" plans. The best part about this truth is that God is able to perform and do as He desires with, or without the participation or faith of His people!
In Genesis 17:15-27 the Bible documents the last part of the dialogue between Abraham and God when God gave the command of circumcision. The scriptures show that God's promises were unconditional, but in order for Abraham and his offspring to receive the benefits associated with the fulfillment of God's promises, God required "circumcision." It is true that Genesis chapter 17 speaks of literal physical circumcision. However, New Testament scriptures confirm that the cutting away of flesh on the 8th day of a male child's life was to be symbolic of the commitment to follow God rather than the sinful desires of one's flesh. The covenant of circumcision was representative of sanctification.
Thus, as God gave the command of circumcision, the scriptures show God's efforts to bring Abraham closer to Himself in order that He would be able to fulfill His promises towards Abraham. God changed Abram's name to Abraham in order that Abraham would be identified as a child of the Living God and not of his earthly father. Genesis 17:15-27 also reveals that God sought to change Sari's name as well. God changed her name to Sarah, which means "princess" in Hebrew. God changed the names of both Abraham and Sarah in order to identify them both as His as a way to further confirm His willingness and faithfulness to fulfill His promises. As God sought to identify Abraham and Sarah as His own children, Abraham and Sarah should have felt closely connected to God and assured that as an earthly father would seek to bless his children, their heavenly Father would seek to do the same, and be able to in far greater ways.
Genesis 17:15-27 then shows that God reconfirmed His promise to bless Abraham with a child. Though Abraham had a 13 year old boy named Ishmael that was born by Sarah's maidservant Hagar, God provided details to His plan. When God said that Abraham would have a son, Abraham found it hard to believe. Abraham even asked God, "How is a 100-year old man and a 90-year old woman going to have a child?" Nevertheless, God assured Abraham that he would have a son the very next year. Abraham, still in disbelief, asked God if Ishmael could be the heir of God's promises to Abraham. However, God was clear and candid to say that Ishmael would not be the heir of Abrahamic Covenant. God was explicit to say that He would confirm His covenant with Abraham's younger son that would be born the next year - Isaac.
Today there is great debate in the Middle East about who owns what land. God promised Abraham the land of Israel in Genesis chapter 12, and confirmed the boarders and sureness of the promise in Genesis chapter 15 and 17. Yet the Word of God is also detailed to explain that, though Ishmael was the older son of Abraham, he was not the heir of God's promises to Abraham. God worked miraculous birth circumstances to bring Isaac into the world because God proclaimed that he would be the heir of the Abrahamic Covenant. The great nation, the Promised Land, and the blessing would go through the lineage of Isaac, not Ishmael.
However, God is not unfair. When Abraham showed a certain amount of grief over Ishmael not being the heir, God acknowledged that Ishmael would also be blessed. God promised that Ishmael would also be a great nation and a father of 12 tribes. Ishmael's greatness simply would be different than the greatness of Isaac. God also later promised that Ishmael would also receive a land inheritance. His land inheritance would simply be different than Isaac's. The point is, though the circumstances may have been confusing for some in regards to God's promises to Abraham, it is not the fault of scripture that people are confused. Genesis 17:15-27 plainly states that the promise of a great nation, the land inheritance and the blessing were to be confirmed through Isaac and his bloodline, not Ishmael.
Genesis 17:15-27 states that this promise that God confirmed through the unborn Isaac was STILL an everlasting covenant. For this reason, the Everlasting God would exercise His everlasting power to work a miracle so that a 100-year old man and 90-year old woman would have a child, one year after the events of Genesis chapter 17, just as God had promised. The scriptures show that no matter the circumstances, and no matter the faithlessness of God's people, God will do what He says in His time. It may have taken 25 years for God to fulfill His promise, but when Isaac was born as history confirms, the circumstances of his birth have God's fingerprints all over them. Therefore, if God's fingerprints are on the birth of Isaac, then God's promises are proven to be true, and God's power and faithfulness is confirmed, regardless of human understanding. The details of scripture reveal all of these truths with the intent to educate readers on the character and nature of the Living God so that God's children will learn to trust Him because ALL of His promises are golden and will come to pass!
When the Bible speaks of God's promises, it is important to recognize both the nature of the promise as well as how the promise functions. One must understand God's motivation for His promise, the method by which He will keep the promise, and the conditions that enable one to receive the benefits of His promises. For example, in Genesis chapter 12, God promised Abraham that he would be a great nation, would receive a great land inheritance, and that his descendant would be a blessing to all of the families of the world. The scriptures do not state any conditions placed upon Abraham. In fact, in Genesis chapter 15, God confirmed and ratified His promises with Abraham and did so without the participation of Abraham to show that such promises were unconditional. God would not rely on Abraham in any way, shape or form to fulfill those promises.
Later in Genesis chapter 17, God re-confirmed His promises to Abraham. Though Abraham had been living in a state of unrepentant sin and disconnection from God for 14 years, God reached out to Abraham and sought to remind Abraham about His promises, as well as the magnitude of the promises and His being. Upon calling Abraham to repent, the Lord drilled the point down that He would fulfill His promises on His own in spite of the flaws of Abraham. The Abrahamic Covenant is purely unconditional. There is nothing that Abraham was instructed to do in order to cause God to fulfill these promises. Whether Abraham did right or wrong, God was going to do what He said. However, Genesis 17:9-14 does express that God had an expectation in regards to who would receive the benefits of God's promises.
Genesis 17:9-14 outlines the Jewish covenant of circumcision. In this portion of scripture, God commanded that Abraham and all of his descendants should be circumcised. God commanded that the covenant of circumcision should be an everlasting covenant, meaning that every descendant until the end of time is to practice the process of circumcision. God commanded that Abraham and his offspring must have the "foreskin of his flesh" cut off. Every male child relative of Abraham was to be circumcised on the 8th day. God also made it so that if foreigners or slaves were living in the households of Jews and had babies in the homes of Jewish people, they too were to be circumcised in the same manner.
The Book of Romans states that God's real emphasis in the commandment of circumcision was symbolic of a greater spiritual work that God desired. The cutting off of flesh on the 8th day was to be a symbol or picture of one cutting away the desires of one's flesh on the day of new beginnings. The 8th day in Biblical contexts symbolizes new beginnings since it is the start of a new week. In the context of circumcision, it is a picture of regeneration by being "born again" of the Spirit through faith in Jesus Christ. Therefore, since one is born again, one is expected to walk in the Spirit of God instead of by the corruption of one's flesh. The purpose in being born again is so that the conscience of a person experiences a transformation. The Bible teaches that the Spirit of God will dwell within the hearts of those who are humbly repentant and seek the Lord Jesus in faith. Upon dwelling in the heart of a believer, the Bible teaches that the Spirit of God will begin to work to change the conscience of a person so that the believer will have strong desires and urges to obey God and be righteous according to His standards as dictated in the Word. Consequently, one will gradually aspire less to follow the fleshly and worldly affections that one naturally has to please one's own flesh in ways that are contrary to the will of God. The physical act of circumcision is supposed to be a picture of the "cutting away" of one's flesh that the Holy Spirit does in salvation in order that one is identified by God rather than one's flesh. One then becomes an heir to the promises of God as one is obedient to the command of God within the unconditional covenant of God and thereby identified in God.
This principal explains a very important point in regards to the promises of God and how they relate to people. God's promises are unconditional. Whether Abraham obeyed the command of circumcision or not, God was going to fulfill His promises to make Abraham a great nation, give him the land, and bring about the blessing. No matter what, God was going to do those things. However, Genesis 17:9-14 is explicit to mention that those who disobey the commands of circumcision were to be cut off from his people. One that is cut off from the lineage of Abraham would represent one that is disqualified from receiving the promises of Abraham. God would still fulfill the promises, but the command of circumcision revealed one's individual accountability and responsibility to trust in God through obedience in order to receive the benefits of God's work. God would provide a great nation, a land inheritance, and a blessing. However, only those who trusted in God's Word through obedience would be those who became beneficiaries of those promises and were able to be a part of the great nation, dwelling in the land, and partaking of the blessing.
The Bible is clear to show that God's promises are unconditional and nature and big enough so that anyone who wants to partake in the benefits of those promises may do so. Jesus said that whoever desires to drink the water of life may go to Him and drink freely. The promise of water is unconditional. One must simply submit to the manner of provision that God instructs and go to Jesus to drink it. The promises in the Abrahamic Covenant and eternal life (which is a part of that covenant through the blessing) is unconditional and God is working to fulfill it to completion. The benefits of those promises are available to everyone - not just Jews. The promises will be fulfilled. If one desires to be an heir of those promises, one can freely do so if one is willing to abide by the methods of provision that God commands.
Romans 2:29 clarifies that the issue of literal circumcision is not the manner by which one is considered a Jew, an heir of Abraham, or an heir of the Abrahamic Covenant. God is concerned with the circumcision of the heart. God desires that one cut away the wicked desires and motives of one's flesh that disconnect people from God's presence. God desires that His children stop living in selfish and prideful sin that separates from God. Its as if an invitation went out to the world that a rich man was willing to pay off the debt of every single person who came to him on a certain day. The man would pay the debt of anyone who came so that all one has to do is show up and one's debt is paid. There is no condition, one just has to show up. There are benefits to be taken advantage of, but one must simply show up in order to do so. In a similar manner, God is willing to forgive sins and allow one to partake in all of the eternal benefits of His promises, so long as one simply shows up. However, the manner in which God demands that one show up in His presence is in humility and in repentance. God cannot look upon sin, so God simply asks that one come to Him with the heart to live apart from sin. Since God's promises are unconditional, when one approaches God in humility and repentance, He takes care of the rest so long as one remains humble and repentant. It is then, and only then that one can become a beneficiary of the greatest promises ever known to mankind!
When a person reads through the scriptures and genuinely seeks to understand the things that are written in them by stopping and contemplating the words and their meaning, one should realize how incredible the grace of God is. There is a verse that many people use as encouragement that says, "It is the goodness of God that leads to repentance (Romans 2:4)." Yet it is interesting to know that "goodness" in that context refers to God's mercy and His patience to withhold the wrath that we as people so dearly deserve. When one considers the world and the filth in it, it is mind-boggling to consider that God is patiently waiting to judge. When one considers the amount of arrogance that fills this world, as if a miserably flawed and finite human race can actually be like God, it is incredible to consider that God is patiently waiting to judge. The thing that makes these truths more powerful is that God is still willing to bless in the midst of all of this rebellion against Him! The grace of God is too much!
When one considers the testimony presented in Genesis 17:1-8, one can see the grace of God and how powerful it is when a person stops for a moment to receive it. In Genesis 17:1-8 the scriptures begin by providing a very important detail. The scriptures explain in Genesis 17:1-8 that Abram is 99 years old. This means that 14 years had transpired from Genesis chapter 16 to Genesis chapter 17. This means that 14 years had elapsed since Abram and Sarai decided to make a terrible decision, demonstrating miserable impatience and unbelief, and involved Hagar in their marriage relationship to try and have a child through ways different than what God had planned. The important thing to consider is that there is no dialogue or contact between Abram and God during this time. There is no scripture that suggests that Abram and God continued in their communication. The last communication that is seen from God is through the Angel of the Lord; but He is sent to communicate to Hagar to encourage her to endure the hardships that had come her way.
The scriptures powerfully suggest that Abram and God had not been in contact through the duration of these 14 years. Consider the perspective of Abram. He was able to get Hagar pregnant. Thus, by the time Genesis 17 begins, Abram's son through Hagar is at least 13 years old. In the mind of Abram it is likely that he felt God had honored his desire to have a son and that Ishmael was that son. Therefore, like so many other people do, when Abram got what he wanted from God (or at least thought he did), he distanced himself from God. When Abram was not in the desperate position of need anymore, the scriptures show that Abram was not as passionate to seek the Lord and commune with Him.
The interesting thing about Genesis 17:1-8 is that its contents reveal God repeating the promises He made to Abram in Genesis chapter 12. Though Abram didn't seek God for 14 years and felt his wicked actions that resulted in Ishmael were a good thing, God is the one who initiates contact with Abram. Abram should have repented to God for the unbelief he demonstrated, for the fornication he committed, and for the lack of leadership he demonstrated when Sarai and Hagar were quarreling with each other. Yet the scriptures don't show Abram make contact with God until God makes contact with him. In Genesis 17:1-8 God calls out to Abram and begins by saying, "I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless." The scriptures reveal God reminding Abram who He is, that He is almighty, and that in response to such truths, Abram should be sanctified unto God and be blameless. Based on the details of Genesis chapter 16, and the absence of details before Genesis chapter 17, Abram is hardly seen as "blameless" and "walking before God." God approached Abram while Abram was walking for himself. Nevertheless, God reached out.
God's introductory statement is a call to repentance. God told Abram that He is the Almighty God because Abram had forgotten. God told Abram that he should walk before Him because Abram wasn't walking with God. God told Abram to be blameless because Abram was not blameless. Abram needed to repent. Though God would have to righteous to judge Abram for disobeying God without repentance for 14 years, God patiently waited on Abram, giving him opportunity after opportunity to make things right. Yet when Abram finally showed that he would not repent on his own, God intervened to show His affection for His children and reached out to Abram. The amazing thing is that God didn't just call Abram to repentance, but before Abram could even respond, God reminded Abram of the promises He made 25 years before! One would think that 14 years of rebellion against God would disqualify Abram from receiving the benefits of God's promises. Any normal human being would not be so patient - but God is not like us! People are not faithful. God is faithful. People are not patient. God is patient. People are not gracious. God is gracious. God reminded Abram, that in spite of his sin, God would still establish the covenant He made with Abram and multiply Abram greatly. God made 3 promises to Abram. God specifically reminded Abram that He would multiply him to point out the mistake that Abram made with Hagar and Sarai.
Abram didn't deserve the promises, but God repeated them anyway. God made the promises in grace and He would fulfill the promises in grace. God ratified the promises without the participation of Abram and He would fulfill the promises in spite of Abram. Genesis 17:1-8 shows God repeating the promises that He made in Genesis 12 and repeated in Genesis 15. In these 7 verses of scripture, God says, "I will," 8 times. This shows that it is God who would be the cause of the promises being fulfilled - not Abram. God didn't rely on Abram's "performance" when He first made the promises, and He most certainly would not rely on Abram's "performance" to fulfill the promises. In fact, Abram's disobedience makes God's promises so much more precious and powerful. Abram's disobedience shows that mankind cannot sway God's mind and cause God to act outside of His nature. It is true that God has a unique affection towards mankind, but not to the point where the character and nature of God is compromised when mankind strives against God.
Since God's promises to Abram were eternal in nature in Genesis chapter 12, God reminded Abram that they would remain eternal in nature, meaning that God would continually fulfill these promises, even long after Abram's death. Nevertheless, God called Abram to remember who God was. God called Abram to walk with God and be blameless. God was so serious about this that He even changed Abram's name to Abraham in order to identify Abraham as God's own possession. Abraham would not be called by the name his parents gave him, but by the name that God gave him! God was serious. It is a reasonable expectation for God to expect Abraham's faithfulness and obedience since he is the recipient of God's grace. Since God was willing to do so much in spite of Abraham's disobedience, Abraham should have been compelled to show his appreciation towards God in obedience to God. God could have judged Abraham and destroyed him, but instead God decided to reaffirm His promises to Abraham, encourage Abraham, and make Abraham as His own child in the context of repentance. In response, Genesis 17:1-8 explains that Abraham fell to the ground in humility before God. This is the appropriate response of one who understands the extent of God's grace that they have received.
God has been patient with many of us. For many of us its been close to, or more than 14 years that we have rebelled against God. Yet the breath of life is in us anyway. Though God has had good reason to destroy all life on this planet, He has patiently endured the world's rebellion with long suffering, providing opportunity after opportunity for some to respond in humility, seeking His forgiveness through repentance. God has been patiently waiting for many of us to stop doing our own thing like Abram because He longs to make us His own children identifiable by His own character and blameless nature flowing in us and through us. God desires to bless us even though we don't deserve it. It's who He is. The fact that many people can't understand that is such a testament to show the greatness of God and how holy He really is. Abraham continued to make mistakes as God's child, but he responded to the voice of the living God to repent and was considered righteous. Abraham continued to make mistakes as a child of God, but he diligently sought the Lord in humility and earnestly tried to do right, such to the extent that the scriptures call Abraham "a friend of God (James 2:23). Respond to the grace of God in a like manner.
The grace and nurturing temperament of God to bring peace to a situation in spite of circumstances is unparalleled! The scriptures are filled with so many testimonies of the Lord God intervening into the lives of His children to bring peace to situations filled with strife. The Bible doesn't often show God removing His people from the circumstances, but instead empowering His children to endure the circumstances with peace in the midst of chaos for His glory. There are millions of people alive today who can testify in bold truth that God continues to operate in this way today. Praise the Lord!
A beautiful example of this reality can be seen in Genesis 16:4-16. In this portion of scripture the Bible documents the events that took place after Abram and Sarai conspired a way to have a child by their own means and efforts. Sarai had suggested that Abram take Hagar as a wife in order that he could try to have a son with her. Without hesitation, Abram agreed to this idea. The scriptures do not show Abram and Sarai consulting with the Lord or inquiring of His will. Though God had performed miracles in their lives up to this point, showing Himself faithful to fulfill His promises, Abram and Sarai conducted their own business in the motivation of their flesh. Genesis 16:4-16 documents the consequence.
The Bible explains that Abram was able to get Hagar pregnant. Though this was the plan that Abram and Sarai concocted, they were not satisfied with the results. Such is often the case when the plans of people do not take the will of God into consideration. The Bible explains that Hagar became haughty regarding her pregnancy so that Sarai was feeling miserable. The scriptures reveal that Hagar began to gloat her pregnancy, which in turn angered Sarai. In typical human fashion as has been documented by the scriptures so far, Sarai refused to take responsibility for her fault in causing these circumstances and instead sought to cast the blame for her mood upon Abram. The Bible states that Sarai became frustrated with Hagar so that she complained to Abram to do something about it. Abram responded in a way very much like Adam. Abram also refused to take responsibility for his participation in the problem and pushed the problem back onto his wife. Consequently, the scriptures explain that Sarai worked extra hard to mistreat the pregnant Hagar so that Hagar ran away into the wilderness by herself.
The Bible reveals that Hagar was in a tough position. As a maidservant, she had no choice but to do what she was instructed in taking Abram as a husband. She had no say in the matter in carrying Abram's son. While she could have been more mature and graceful to Sarai during her pregnancy, she didn't ask for the circumstances she was put in. Some would classify the position of Hagar as "unfair," and an argument could be made for such a stance. Hagar was caught in the middle of this couple's personal matters while the couple refused to consider the Lord in any of their decisions so that drama and heartache was the results. It is important to recognize at this point that, while God did allow these things to take place, He is not the cause, and He did not condone these things. In fact, it was the unwillingness to Abram and Sarai to involve the Lord in their decisions, and their lack of trust in the Lord that caused this dysfunctional situation.
The scriptures then go on to describe how God changed things and brought peace into a chaotic situation. Genesis 16:4-16 shows that as Hagar ran away into the wilderness, she was approached by the Angel of the Lord. This is the first mention of the Angel of the Lord in the Old Testament. It is important to understand that the Angel of the Lord is often described as having the characteristics and authority of God in the Old Testament, though taking the form of a human figure. The only other being in the Bible that possesses the characteristics and authority of God in human form is Jesus Christ. Thus, the scriptures refer to Old Testament appearances of Jesus as "the Angel of the Lord." Understanding this, though some would say that the Bible is sexist against women, it is helpful to note that the first mention of the Angel of the Lord is when He arrives to assist Hagar.
The Bible shows that the Angel of the Lord instructed Hagar to go back to Sarai and Abram. The Angel of the Lord sought to help Hagar with her problems by sending her back to the problem to face the problem in faith rather than try to run away from it, thereby creating more problems. The Angel of the Lord specifically instructed Hagar to "submit to mistreatment." This command seems difficult, but one must consider that no one submitted to more mistreatment than Jesus Himself. Thus, the command becomes appropriate. The Angel of the Lord simply commanded Hagar to conduct herself in the manner that He would later conduct Himself as the Christ.
The Bible then shows the Angel of the Lord exercising the authority of God as He promised Hagar that her offspring would be greatly multiplied. In the same way that God promised that Abram would be a great nation, the Angel of the Lord instructed Hagar to name her child Ishmael (God Hears), and that Ishmael would be a great nation as well. The Angel of the Lord prophesied about Ishmael's wild nature and that he would be at odds with his brothers for as long as he lived, but would be great and powerful nonetheless. This prophecy turned out to be true as Ishmael became the father of the Arabs, who historically have been at odds with the Jews ever since. The historical friction that has existed between many Arabs and many Jews can be traced back to the miserable decision that Abram and Sarai made to make major life decisions without the consideration of God's will, not trusting in God's promises. Upon receiving this encouragement, Hagar acknowledged that she had seen God. She called the Angel of the Lord, "The God Who Sees," and named the well where she saw Him, "A Well of the Living One Who Sees Me."
Thus, the truth of God's tender care and power are revealed in Hagar's proclamations. God sees the problems of His children and is attentive to respond to them. The scriptures reveal that God is not likely to remove us from the problem, but instead equip us to endure the problem by reminding us that all things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose. God's purposes are good. Even the friction that existed between Ishmael and Isaac and continues to exist today, will be resolved so that each is blessed by the Living God according to His promises. God's intentions are good. It is the foolishness of mankind to respond without the consideration of God that causes issues. Nevertheless, the collective foolishness of humanity is not so much that God is unable to bring peace in the midst of chaos anyway. For this reason, it should be understood that God is able so long as one is willing to recognize His voice, heed His words, trust in His words, and respond to His words in obedience, no matter how unconventional to human reason they may seem to be.
There is a human tendency to loose trust in God as time elapses. It is common for a person to hear the promises of God, be excited about them in the moment, and as time progresses, loose interest and faith in God's ability and willingness to deliver on those promises. Depending on the expectation one has for God, sometimes the time God takes to do a certain work will even cause some to waiver in their faith to become angry at God, and some will even go to the extent to tell themselves that God is not real. However, these types of responses reflect one's ignorance regarding who God is and how He works. Rather than grow in unbelief or get bitter, one needs to get educated on how God works and then seek to ensure one's expectations are in line with how the Bible describes God's work habits.
For example, in Genesis 16:1-3 the Bible provides a demonstration of the types of things that happen when people grow impatient with God. When Abram was 75 years old, God promised Abram that he would receive a land inheritance, that he would be a great nation, and that all of the families of the world would be blessed through Abram. Within a few months, God had done miraculous works in the life of Abram to prove His promises to be legit. In Genesis chapter 15 God even ratified His promises to Abram on His own to prove to Abram that the fulfillment of the promises would be based upon the grace and ability of God, not the performance and righteousness of Abram. Yet in Genesis 16:1-3 the Bible describes Abram and his wife trying to "perform" and help God fulfill His promises because of their impatience.
The Bible says that Abram's wife Sarai had not yet given birth to any children. In Genesis chapter 15, one of Abram's major gripes was that he didn't have an heir to the land that Abram would receive. Abram didn't have a son he could pass on the land that God was going to give. God ratified the promises He made in response to Abram's desire for a child. Therefore, it should have been clear to Abram that God was aware of his desire for a son and was working on it. Nevertheless, Genesis 16:1-3 shows Abram and Sarai making a big mistake because of unbelief. Scripture explains that Sarai thought it would be best if Abram took Hagar, and Egyptian maidservant, and tried to have a baby with her that Sarai could then adopt as her own. Sarai proposed this idea to her husband, and to no surprise, Abram had no objections. Therefore, Sarai gave her maidservant to her husband in order to try and have a baby. What could possibly go wrong in this situation?
The scriptures are clear to provide one important detail in regards to this series of bad decisions from Abram and Sarai. Genesis 16:1-3 informs readers that when these things were taking place, Abram had been living in the land of Canaan for 10 years! Therefore, one must take a few things into consideration. It had been over ten years since God originally made His promises to Abram. It had been 10 years since Abram was 75 years old, thereby making him 85 years old. These truths were likely weighing factors when Abram and Sarai decided to bring Hagar into the mix of their marriage relationship. Both Abram and Sarai were likely thinking that, since it had been 10 years and no child was born, maybe God was waiting on them to respond. Both Abram and Sarai were likely thinking that, since Abram was 85 years old and Sarai was 75 years old, that their window of opportunity to physically be able to bear children was closing rapidly. However, neither Abram nor Sarai considered the power and faithfulness of the almighty God.
Scripture later reveals that God did indeed provide the child He promised in the way He desired to do so. In fact, Abram and Sarai would have to wait another 15 years for that child. The point is that this 10-year reference point that is given in Genesis 16:1-3 is significant because it shows that God takes His time. God is an eternal God and is in no rush. He certainly does not work on our timetable. God is not interested in adjusting His plan and schedule to meet the expectations of people. God promised a son to Abram and God was willing to give Abram a son - in His time, not Abram's time. The scriptures show that God was faithful to His promises in the time that He saw as appropriate. Thus, the mistake of Abram and Sarai was rooted in the fact that their expectations did not match the will of God. The scriptures show Abram and Sarai making foolish decisions that would have consequences that still linger today in the Middle East through violence. Abram and Sarai sought to try and figure out the mind of God, and in their limited understanding of God's true ability, they made a terrible decision that was harmful to their family, to Hagar, and has been harmful to many Jews and Arabs ever since.
Believers today should be diligent to learn the lesson that the scriptures provide. God works in His time and He can take as much time as He wants for two reasons: 1) Because He is God and no one will contend with Him, 2) Because He is all powerful so that circumstances do not affect His ability to accomplish His will. The truth of the matter is that, if God wanted Abram to have a child when he was 4,000 years old, the God would have sustained Abram and Sarai to live for that time, and we'd be hearing about the birth of Isaac in our lifetime today. Though age played an important role in the minds of Abram and Sarai, it was not a restricting factor for the Living God who spoke the universe into existence. Though Abram and Sarai might have desired a child to the extent that they felt entitled to have it at the time of Genesis 16:1-3, they were in no position to feel entitled since God had already made phenomenal promises rooted in abounding grace. The truth is, though it may be hard to digest, is that Abram and Sarai should have been content with the grace they had received in the promises God made, trusting that God is faithful to fulfill them in His time; and that the time God takes to fulfill His promises is equally as important to God's glory as the fulfillment of the promises itself. This is a powerful lesson for every believer to learn even today.
The providence of God is an encouraging thing to study in the Bible. God not only provides according to His promises, but the scriptures reveal that He does so in ways that often remove the opportunity of a person to participate in His work. God often works in spite of human limitations so that He may wait for circumstances to reach the point of "impossible" just so that He can be glorified when the work is done. God will also often do work on our behalf while we're not paying attention or are unable, once again, just so that He can be glorified.
When it comes to God's promises, some of the most relevant promises of our day is the Abrahamic Covenant, especially concerning the land. God made a set of promises to Abram in Genesis 12:3. In Genesis chapter 15, God ratified that covenant to prove to Abram that He is faithful and able to do exactly as He says, no matter the circumstances. The Abrahamic Covenant was confirmed again several times throughout the scriptures, but each time God confirmed His promises, He did so in ways that assigned all responsibility to Himself. This is proof that God's promise to make Abram into a great nation, to give the land inheritance, and to bless the world through the Seed of Abram would certainly come to pass. For example, in Genesis 15:7-21 God ratified the promises He made in Genesis 12:1-3. As Abram asked God for proof that he would be a great nation and possess the land that God reserved for His people, God answered the request and provided a sign.
God first reminded Abram about his testimony. God reminded Abram that He took Abram out of the land of the Chaldeans. God commanded Abram to leave the land he was living in and head sought to the area currently known as Israel. God promised that Abram would possess that land as his own, and God provided for Abram in that land while Abram was living there. Though Abram was living in the land of Canaan as a foreigner, God had provided and made Abram wealthy in the land nonetheless - even in the midst of a famine. Thus, the riches that Abram had attained while he as in Canaan were the work of God, not by coincidence or Abram's ability. The victories that Abram had achieved while living in the land were the work of God, not by coincidence or Abram's ability. Thus, God reminded Abram of the work He had already done as proof of the work that He would continue to do in the future.
Genesis 15:7-21 then explains that God asked Abram to demonstrate his faith through sacrifice. God commanded Abram to get a three-year-old cow, female goat, ram, and also a turtledove and a pigeon. Abram, in faith, obeyed the command of God and gathered his sacrifice. He split each animal down the middle with the exception of the birds, and while trying to keep scavenger birds away from his sacrifice, the scriptures explain that Abram fell asleep. Genesis 15:7-21 then explains that as Abram was asleep, great terror and darkness came upon him while the Lord began to speak with him in his sleep. God proceeded to confirm His promise regarding the land, but provided details as to when Abram would inherit the land. God prophesied that Abram's descendants would inherit the land from the brook of Egypt, to the Euphrates River; all of the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaim, Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites, and Jebusites. This area is generally referred to as modern-day Israel, though the boarders that God described are larger than Israel's modern-day boarders.
God confirmed that Abram's descendants would inherit the land several hundred years later. God stated that before inheriting the land, Abram's descendants would live as foreigners, enslaved and oppressed for 400 years. However, God also promised that He would deliver Abram's descendants after the 400 years, judge the nation that enslaved them, allow Abram's descendants to plunder that nation, and will give the land over to Abram's descendants. God promised that, while Abram would not receive the land inheritance himself at that time, he would live in peace and be buried at a ripe old age. God would exercise His sovereignty to judge as well as bless at the same time. The reason that Abram's descendants could not inherit the land at that time was because God would judge the Amorites for their sin that would reach its full measure in the future. Their judgment would be Israel's blessing. God's prophetic claim refers to Israel being in bondage to Egypt for 400 years before God destroy Egypt, allowed Israel to plunder Egypt upon leaving, and then God brought Israel into the land after 40 years in the wilderness. God's prophetic claims came to pass - each and every detail.
Genesis 15:7-21 then shows that all of these things would take place by the hand and work of the almighty God. Abram would not be involved in the fulfillment of God's promises. God's promises were unconditional and would be fulfilled in spite of Abram. God would not rely on Abram's performance, ability, or righteousness to fulfill His promises. Therefore, the scriptures show that while Abram was asleep, a smoking fire appeared and passed between the divided animals. This was an ancient way of ratifying agreements. When agreements were made, the two parties would pass though the animals together as confirmation of a particular agreement. However, the scriptures show that God passed through as the fire by Himself while Abram slept. Thus, the agreement was made, but the agreement was made with God alone. The Bible shows that as Abram awoke, he realized that the covenant had been ratified, especially because God again confirmed the boundaries of the land He would give to Abram.
This is important to understand. God does not rely on His creation in order to complete His work. God is not like humans. He is able to do anything He wants at any time, in any way that He pleases. His ways are always perfect and righteous according to His holy standard of righteousness. History confirms that people often get in the way of God's work. It's similar to a young son that really wants to help his dad do complicated work. The dad may let the child hold a tool and feel as if the child's work is helpful, but at the end of the day, dad is doing all of the work. The dad just lets the son participate in some way to develop connection with the son. God works in the same way. God didn't need Abram to fulfill His promises. God just wanted to bless Abram to demonstrate His grace, His mercy, His patience, and His power. God has continued to do so throughout the ages as He has protected the nation of Israel and allowed them to dwell in the land in spite of their disobedience, weakness, and sinful nature. Nevertheless, this is the God of the Bible. He is a God that seeks to bless, and exercise His power in order to make up for the shortcomings of His creation that stem from sin in order that He would be glorified through the process and the results of His work.
There are many people who feel that it is possible to earn one's way into heaven. Many people feel as if heaven is a place filled with "good people," who lived in such a way that their good deeds out-weighed their bad deeds. This is impossible however. The Bible teaches that God is a righteous judge. Thus, as God examines people to determine who comes into His kingdom and who does not, He will simply determine if one is guilty of a crime (sin) or not. The guilty will be punished and the innocent will be permitted. This presents a problem to the idea that one's good deeds must outweigh one's bad deeds since a judge that examines the guilt of a person is not concerned with the amount of time one spent working in charity to determine if one is guilty. A judge in this earth will not take into consideration how many people one has helped in a lifetime if one is guilty of stealing. The person will be found guilty of stealing and sentenced accordingly, and God is no different. Therefore, one has to make sure one understands how the Bible explains one is made righteous before God in order to ensure that one can be considered "innocent" on the day of judgment.
Genesis 15:1-6 makes this concept very simple. The Bible shows that after Abram sought Melchizedek, God called out to Abram to confirm the promises He made in Genesis chapter 12. God reminded Abram that he would receive a great reward out of God's grace. Abram responded with a complaint of sorts. Abram's point of contention was that he didn't have a son that was his own. Abram was 75 years old and had no son. He knew God had promised that Abram would be a great nation, but in Abram's limited understanding, figured God to perform that work from an adopted son from one of his servants who's name was Eliezer of Damascus.
The Bible shows that God had a different plan however. While it was true that Abram was 75 years old, and as the Book of Hebrews states, "as good as dead," God would cause Abram to have a son anyway. Genesis 15:1-6 documents God repeating the promise that Abram would be a great nation. God would fulfill His promise to the extent that He commanded Abram to count all of the stars if he could, and rest assured that the amount of descendants Abram would have would be equally great in number. God was not exaggerating. Though Abram was old and thought himself unable to have a child for himself, God saw things differently. God swore to Abram - twice now - that he would have an heir indeed. God's promise was to Himself with Abram as a mere beneficiary, and so the promise was guaranteed to be fulfilled.
As God made this promise, the Bible reveals that Abram's heart was stirred up because the Bible plainly says that Abram believed. Though the odds seemed impossible and the circumstances unfavorable, Abram trusted in the Word of God. Abram heard the voice of God and had faith. The Bible says that because Abram believed, he was considered "righteous" in the eyes of God. Abram didn't perform any good deeds. In fact the Bible doesn't show Abram doing anything at all. The Bible shows that Abram was righteous because God spoke, and Abram listened and trusted in the things God said. Abram relied on the historical workings of God to determine God as faithful to Himself and assumed God would continue to operate in faithfulness. Consider that Abram had attributed his victory over king Chedorlaomer to God. Consider that Abram was delivered from compromising circumstances in Egypt during a great famine, yet God provided another opportunity and protected Abram from the famine. God had already performed great works to prove Himself. The scriptures testify that as God made this promise, Abram recalled the historical faithfulness and power of God to trust that He would continue to be faithful and powerful in the future, thus trusting in His Word.
The Bible clearly shows that one is made righteous by faith, not by works. The Bible teaches that one is saved and able to enter into the Kingdom of God by faith and not by works, lest anyone should boast. The Bible teaches that heaven will be filled with people that attribute their presence in heaven solely to the work of Jesus Christ. The Bible shows that no one in heaven will consider their own ability as the means by which they were able to enter into the presence of God. The Bible teaches that all of heaven will worship Jesus for His work to save, and transform the guilty into the innocent. Abram's righteousness was not earned, it was demonstrated. Abram's righteousness was demonstrated in that, when God spoke, Abram recognized the voice of God, listened to the voice of God, and trusted in the voice of God to the extent that Abram's life decisions became based on the promises of God. Abram's righteousness didn't make him perfect. The Bible testifies of plenty more failure on behalf of Abram. Nevertheless, Abram pleased God by trusting in His Word.
The Bible teaches that in the beginning was the Word of God, but the Word became flesh and dwelt among us in the form of Jesus Christ. The almighty God was able to package His Word into a fleshly form so that Jesus was the image of the invisible Word of God. Thus, as Abram trusted in the Word of God in the Old Testament, yet was considered righteous, the same is true for the New Testament Bible teaching. One must still trust in, and believe in the Word of God in order to be considered righteous and be saved from the wrath of God associated from one's guilt as a sinner. The Bible is clear about how God works. The Bible is candid to show God's expectations and work process. The Bible is consistent in its teachings to show that God doesn't change. The Bible is powerful to show God's grace in the midst of all of this. Abram was a mere old man that made tons of mistakes in life, and would continue to make mistakes in life as any other normal human being. Yet the Bible shows that God counted Abram as righteous simply because he trusted in the things God said. God says a lot of stuff and a lot of it is powerful. Abram had to trust God in spite of his circumstances, and in spite of what doctors or science might have suggested regarding his age and ability to have children. Abram had to trust that God is faithful to fulfill His promises, and that God is able to do exceedingly and abundantly above anything that any human being could imagine. Abram had to trust that God is who God says He is. Abram trusted in these things rather than his limited understanding of life, and was considered righteous in the eyes of God as a result.
There is a silly misconception that people have that Jesus is simply a New Testament character in the Bible. In ignorance, many have assumed that the person of Jesus is one that appears only at His birth in the Gospel accounts, so that some have even gone so far to foolishly assume that the testimony of Jesus is one that is “borrowed” from other pagan religions and such. This belief is untrue and reflects a lack of understanding of the scriptures. The Gospel of John proclaims that Jesus first existed before the foundations of the world in the form of God’s Word. Therefore, Jesus’ birth would more appropriately be referred to as His “incarnation.” Understanding this truth, one can look to the Old Testament and expect to find appearances of the Savior there as well. Since He existed as the Word before the creation of the universe, one should expect God to manifest Himself in human form as He did being Jesus at any time He desires. There are many places in the Old Testament referred to as “Christophonies,” which are Old Testament appearances of Jesus Christ. One of the first of these appearances comes in Genesis 14:17-24.
In Genesis 14:17-24 the Bible describes the affects of Abram’s victory over the 5 kings that Chedorlaomer was leading. Since king Chedorlaomer had defeated the king of Sodom and captured Abram’s nephew Lot, Abram took 318 trained men to seek out his nephew and rescue him. Abram, who was well over 75-years old, was successful in defeating 5 of the most powerful kings in the Jordan Valley and was able to rescue his nephew. The Bible testifies that after Abram returned from his victory, he met up with a man named Melchizedek. Since Abram was a man that had a developing relationship with the Living God, the Bible explains that Abram spent quality time with Melchizedek because Abram acknowledge that God had provided the victory he had achieved. Abram understood that it was not by his own power and strength that 318 men were able to defeat 5 powerful kings in his old age. Abram attributed the victory to God, and sought out Melchizedek to pay his tribute. It is for this reason that one must pay especially close attention to the person of Melchizedek.
The Bible first describes Melchizedek as the “king of Salem.” Thus, most fundamentally, Melchizedek was a king. As Abram sought to honor God, he sought to do so by honoring this king called “Melchizedek.” The name “Melchizedek” translates into the Hebrew phrase, “my king is Sedek.” The Hebrew word “Sedek” means “righteousness.” The king that Abram sought to honor possesses a name that defines Him as the king of righteousness. The prophet Jeremiah prophesied about the identity of the Messiah King of Israel that He would be “The Lord Our Righteousness (Jehovah Tsidkenu).” Since Jesus later came to fulfill every jot and tittle of the Law on behalf of believers, and impart His righteousness unto the humble in heart, Jesus revealed Himself to be the Lord Our Righteousness. As Melchizedek is called the “king of Salem,” one must consider that “Salem” has two significant meanings in the Hebrew language. Psalm 76 confirms that “Salem” was an ancient name for Jerusalem. The Book of Hebrews also confirms that “Salem” means peace. Thus, Melchizedek was referred to as the King of Jerusalem, who is also the King of Peace while being named “King of Righteousness.” These are two more Messianic identity traits. The Messiah would be considered the King of Israel while ruling from Jerusalem. The prophet Isaiah referred to the Messiah as a king that would sit on the throne of David for all of eternity and be known as the “Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6-7).” Jesus’ birth circumstances and genealogy confirm that His incarnation was the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy.
Genesis 14:17-24 also states that Melchizedek was “a priest to the Most High God.” This is critically important to recognize. There is only one other person in the entire Bible that assumed the role of both king and priest – Jesus Christ. The Bible does mention some kings that sought to exercise the authority of a priest and they paid terrible consequences for such. There is no other person in the history of Israel aside from Melchizedek and Jesus that was referred to as both king and priest. Thus, Melchizedek possessed the earthly authority to rule as a king, but also is considered to be a mediator between man and God as a priest. Melchizedek is referred to as a high priest 600 years before God gave the Law to Moses – well before Aaron was born. In this way, the scriptures define Melchizedek as the Lord of Righteousness who rules over Jerusalem as the King of Peace, and as such, is the anointed representative of God. The Book of Hebrews takes this point a step further to state that as Melchizedek appears to Abram in the Book of Genesis, the author of Hebrews mentions that Melchizedek has “no beginning or end” and has “no genealogy.” In other words, the Bible refers to Melchizedek as being eternal – just as the “Alpha and the Omega.” Therefore, it is not just that Melchizedek is both king and priest, but that He serves in those positions forever!
Genesis 14:17-24 then states that when Melchizedek and Abram met together, that Melchizedek brought out bread and wine to Abram and blessed Abram. This is highly unusual behavior for a king. It was not common in those days, or many other days, for a king to serve an old man like Abram. Though Melchizedek was a priest and king, He presented Himself as a Servant. The prophet Isaiah stated that the Messiah would come in the manner of God’s Servant (Isaiah 42:1), and the Gospel accounts confirm that Jesus was the fulfillment of that prophecy. As Melchizedek served Abram, He blessed Abram with the authority of God Himself, and then received a tithe from Abram further exercising the authority of God. The Book of Hebrews states that one of the facets of Melchizedek’s greatness, as a high priest is that He received a tithe before God gave the command to give tithes. It is true that Aaron and his descendants possessed the authority to receive tithes on behalf of God, but that was only because God commanded such in the Law. The only reason the descendants of Aaron were allowed to collect tithes was because they were related to Aaron, and the Law God wrote said so. Melchizedek’s position was much different. He received a tithe well before Aaron, and well before Levi, the “father” of Aaron. In this way, the Bible confirms that Melchizedek was not just a high priest, but the greatest of all high priests since He was performing the duties of the high priest before the Law was even written.
As Genesis 14:17-24 reveals Abram tithing to Melchizedek, the Bible shows that Abram was able to identify the deity of Melchizedek as well. Abram sought Melchizedek to honor God after the victory that God had brought. Abram received the blessing of Melchizedek as though it were from God Himself. Abram was compelled to tithe a tenth of the spoils of his victory to Melchizedek even though there was no command to do so at that time. His tribute to God went through the person of Melchizedek. In John 8:56-58 Jesus stated that He had seen Abram and that Abram had seen Him. The Jews then felt that Jesus was crazy. They felt that since Jesus was so young, there was obviously no way that He could have seen Abram who died thousands of years before. However, Jesus responded to the crowds, “Before Abraham was, I AM.” Jesus referred to Himself as the eternal God. As such, many Bible commentators believe that when Jesus referred to His encounter with Abram, He may have been referring to His encounter with Abram appearing in the form of Melchizedek. Since Melchizedek is both king and priest of the Most High God, is the King of Jerusalem, the King of Peace, the King of Righteousness, is eternal in nature, and possessed the authority of God, thereby connecting Abram to God, He is seen to be the Old Testament manifestation of Jesus Christ Himself who is the only one in all of scripture to possess those exact same titles and attributes!
The Bible goes on to show that Abram continued to seek to honor God. While the king of Sodom sought to befriend Abram as a token of thanks for defeating Chedorlaomer, the scriptures shows the king of Sodom seeking to give Abram a larger portion of the spoils. Abram rejected the king’s offer. Abram appreciated the gesture, but told the king of Sodom that he could not receive any of his riches lest the king of Sodom be able to say, “I made Abram rich.” Abram trusted in God to fulfill His promises so that if Abram was going to be rich, it would be by God’s hand and not man’s. Abram simply took enough food to replenish his men from the war and moved on, trusting in the eternal Living God to fulfill His promises as God demonstrated He would.
When a person chooses to ignore and deny the will of God, one will find that, over time, circumstances can become overbearing. This is not to suggest that Christians have it easy and when one follows Christ problems go away. In fact the Bible teaches quiet the opposite - that following Christ will ensure tribulations and suffering of various kinds. The difference however is that those who ignore the will of God experience the same degree of difficulty but without confidence, without hope, and without joy. The Lord promised that His disciples would suffer, but He also promised peace and joy in the midst of suffering. The Bible shows that those who suffer without The Lord end up in positions of hopelessness, despair, and without a sense of direction, thereby causing many to go deeper into darkness while distancing themselves farther from The Lord.
In Genesis 14:1-16 the Bible documents a battle that was taking place in the Jordan Valley where Lot was living. Since the land that Lot chose was pleasing to the eye and valuable, the Bible shows that there were 9 of the most powerful kings of the time that sought to have it. Therefore, 4 of the kings teamed up against 5 of the kings and they went to war. Genesis 14:1-16 explains that the 4 kings defeated the 5 that were already in the land. As a result, the 4 kings moved in and took over the Jordan Valley.
The Bible provides subtle details in regards to Lot's involvement in this battle. The scriptures show that Lot, his family and his possessions were captured in the battle as prisoners of war and carried off into another place. However, the details of the scriptures show that Lot put himself and his family in this position because of his fleshly desires and his willingness to compromise to fulfill his desires. Genesis 14:1-16 explains that Lot and his family were captured because they were living in Sodom at the time. Recalling the previous chapter, when Lot and Abram separated, Lot was living "near" Sodom, which was described as evil. The Bible is not clear on how much time had passed, but in that time, Lot went from living "near" a wicked city, to living "in" a wicked city. The scriptures did not show Lot inquiring of The Lord in making his decision on where to live. Instead the scriptures showed Lot choose his home based on the lusts of his flesh. The lusts of his flesh caused him to dwell "near" wickedness at first, but it was only a matter of time until he was living "in" wickedness because he wasn't seeking to please The Lord. Lot was only seeking to please himself so that his decisions caused him and his family to be captured as prisoners of war. If Lot had stayed in the land of Canaan rather than pursuing his fleshly desires, he and his family would have been safe. This is not to say their lives would have been easy, but they would have been safe in God's will.
As the scriptures go on, there is another great contrast provided. Genesis 14:1-16 explains that Abram had remained obedient and was still living in the land that God had commanded. Upon hearing about his nephew Lot being captured, Abram was in position to take action. As Abram was obedient to the will of God, the Lord allowed Abram to be in a position to serve the needs of others so that Abram was able to make efforts to help his nephew. Scripture explains that Abram gathered together 318 servants and sought to do battle against the king who had captured Lot. Though Abram was well over 75 years of age at this time, he was confident in his mandate and the grace of God covered Abram in his efforts so that Lot, his family and his possessions were all restored.
It is interesting to compare the lives of Abram and Lot. As Abram sought to please God, the Bible shows that he encountered difficulty and made mistakes that compounded his problems. However, the Bible shows that Abram had a relationship with God and overall sought to please the Lord by doing His will. As a result, Abram received the grace of God and was restored with the help of God while God worked to fulfill His promises. In contrast, the Bible does not show that Lot had this same kind of relationship. Though the Bible will later show that Lot was a righteous man to some degree, he was heavily motivated by his flesh and worldly possessions. His unwillingness to temper those desires to seek to develop his relationship with God caused Lot to compromise, which eventually got him in a lot of trouble. Though Lot was ultimately rescued by the grace of God as well, Lot's affection for worldly pleasures was dragging him deeper and deeper into sin, which would ultimately destroy his whole family. The scriptures are true. The testimonies of many people alive today can verify the scriptures as true. The lesson is clear. Those who have ears to hear, let them hear.