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Enjoy the Silence
02/26/2012
Scripture: Genesis 15:4-5; Genesis 16:7-10; Genesis...
Track 7 of 11 in the Abraham series
Running time: 1 hour, 04 minutes, 10 seconds.
Abraham made a mistake by have a child with Hagar. Abraham sincerely believed that he had done the right thing in fathering a child through Hagar. He continued to think he was in the will of God in spite of the family problems created by Ishmaels birth. What was even worse, Abraham interpreted certain circumstances as a confirmation of Gods earlier promise to him when in fact, these circumstances had nothing to do with the Gods promise.



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Mike Nobis Speaker: Mike Nobis
Sunday School Teacher, Former Elder at Madison Park Christian Church. Mike is President of JK Creative Printers & Mailing in Quincy, IL. He is married to Pam and has three children, Tom, Tyler and Jennifer. Mike has three grandchildren: Ryne, Ivy and Alicia.

View all sermons by this speaker.


Enjoy the Silence

When you hear the word “mistake” what comes to mind? Can you give me some characteristics of what a mistake is? Is it possible for anyone of us to make a mistake that can lead to another and then another, even without knowing it?

That is the interesting thing about making a mistake; in some cases it is not the first mistake that becomes the problem, it is the other mistakes that can follow. Making mistakes is something that is part of life. We expect to make some mistakes in life because none of us are perfect. But tragedy is sitting and waiting to happen because the mistake wasn’t corrected and more and more mistakes can flow from the original one. What is worse is when we think we are doing the will of God but in reality we took a wrong turn sometime back. Usually when this happens it becomes difficult to admit to ourselves and to others that we made a very bad mistake.

Unfortunately, this is exactly what Abraham did. By allowing his judgment to be clouded and listening to his wife on a solution to a problem they had, Abraham made a mistake by have a child with Hagar. Abraham sincerely believed that he had done the right thing in fathering a child through Hagar. He continued to think he was in the will of God in spite of the family problems created by Ishmael’s birth. What was even worse, Abraham interpreted certain circumstances as a confirmation of God’s earlier promise to him when in fact, these circumstances had nothing to do with the God’s promise.

Someone talk to me about the logic Abraham used to think the son he would bear through Hagar fulfilled the promise by God? Consequently, the moment Ishmael was born, Abraham’s family life turned upside-down. Furthermore, the negative results from Abraham’s decision created incredible problems far into the future, even to this day.

What can happen when we act on a false premise especially when the false premise is so believable?

To Abraham:
Genesis 15:4-5 Then the word of the LORD came to him: “This man will not be your heir, but a son coming from your own body will be your heir.” He took him outside and said, “Look up at the heavens and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”

To Hagar:
Genesis 16:7-10 The angel of the LORD found Hagar near a spring in the desert; it was the spring that is beside the road to Shur. And he said, “Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?” “I’m running away from my mistress Sarai,” she answered. Then the angel of the LORD told her, “Go back to your mistress and submit to her.” The angel added, “I will so increase your descendants that they will be too numerous to count.”

If you were Abraham, what is this message to Hagar telling you? Did Abraham do the right thing in bringing Ishmael into the world through Hagar? After all, Abraham was sincere in his decision and his first decision to produce a son seemed logical in the view of God’s promise. What is dangerous about believing that one’s actions are acceptable to God because the actions were made out of a sincere heart?

Abraham was wrong and Ishmael was not the promised seed. Abraham’s false conclusion set the stage for one of the most difficult lessons and child of God can learn. Abraham wandered in the wilderness of his own mistake for 13 years. He was 86 years old when Ishmael was born and wasn’t until he was 99 that God again appeared to him and spoke directly about his perfect will.

Genesis 16:15-17:2 So Hagar bore Abram a son, and Abram gave the name Ishmael to the son she had borne. Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore him Ishmael. When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty; walk before me and be blameless. I will confirm my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers.”

Strange as it may seem, all during this 13 years of struggle, Abraham still believed that Ishmael was the promised seed. There is a very valuable lesson here to be learned about God:

When we take matters into our own hands and try to do things ourselves, God sometimes lets us do it and then allows us to struggle in our own darkness.

What does God want us to do when making decisions in life?

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.

Why did God wait for 13 years before speaking to Abraham again? God knew He would have a man who would listen very intently, a man whose heart was truly prepared to become the father of many nations.

Genesis 17:1-8 When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty; walk before me and be blameless. I will confirm my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers.” Abram fell facedown, and God said to him, “As for me, this is my covenant with you: You will be the father of many nations. No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations. I will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you. I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. The whole land of Canaan, where you are now an alien, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God.”

This time when God talks to Abraham, he tells him some pretty important things. What are some of the points in this passage that stand out to you?

Walk before me and be blameless: Walk (act) before me (not behind me but upfront where I can see you) be blameless (not acting out of sincerity, but out of sheer obedience)

As for me (not from your perspective) this is my covenant with you.
Everlasting covenant.

For thirteen years Abraham thought his decision to have a child through Hagar was the logical and right choice. What do you think is going through his mind when he begins to learn that his decision was wrong and that Ishmael was not the chosen seed?

Genesis 17:9-14 Then God said to Abraham, “As for you, you must keep my covenant, you and your descendants after you for the generations to come. This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you, the covenant you are to keep: Every male among you shall be circumcised. You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you. For the generations to come every male among you who is eight days old must be circumcised, including those born in your household or bought with money from a foreigner—those who are not your offspring. Whether born in your household or bought with your money, they must be circumcised. My covenant in your flesh is to be an everlasting covenant. Any uncircumcised male, who has not been circumcised in the flesh, will be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.”

In this passage we learn quickly that when it comes to covenant making, God is the maker of covenants and He is the one who offers the covenant relationship. It is not man who offers a covenant relationship to God. In fact, in all the covenants made with man in scripture, God is always the covenant maker. Man is always the one who receives the covenant.

But in reality, many times that is not how we want it to go. We want to set the rules to the covenant with God. We want to offer to him our terms and we want God to accept what we have to offer. But the true reality is just the opposite. Let me explain the use of covenants in scripture.

What is the difference between a covenant and a contract? 9A: A contract seeks to protect the interest of the parties in the contract from each other. 9B: A covenant seeks to advance the best interest of the other party.

In every covenant, God makes and offers the covenants; man has the free will to choose to accept it. In every covenant found in scripture there are three parts:

Parties to the covenant: Those entering into a covenant relationship.
Terms: What man promises to do to advance the best interest of God.
Promises: What God promises to do to advance the best interest of man.

But there always seemed to be another part to the covenant, a sign that the covenant was entered into. Usually the test of faithfulness was something that had great significance and was a sign to others that the relationship was essential and relational to the promises by God. It is like we wear the sign of the covenant as a testimony to all the promises of God.

If this is true, then what is significant about the sign of circumcision? How is that a testimony and relational to the promises by God to Abraham? Was the promise to Abraham and later to the nation of Israel wrapped up in the act of circumcision or was there something more significant? Could a Jews be accepted by God through circumcision and yet be unfaithful to the terms? Was the “magic” in the circumcision? What did the circumcision actually do for the relationship? Started it.

Later we will see that the sign of the covenant will change from circumcision to another sign…the keeping of the Sabbath holy. When God enters into a covenant relationship with a nation (the first time in history that happened), the sign that the nation Israel accepted the covenant was observance of the Sabbath.

But we learned a couple weeks ago that a new relationship with God was coming that was different than the one Abraham and Israel entered into. Later in Hebrews the writer will say the new priest of the Covenant is Jesus. The reason for a change in priesthoods was because the covenant changed. There is a New Covenant, one that was made by Jesus and offered to all mankind, not just to the Jews but to everyone including the Jews. This covenant also followed the pattern of the old and it too had a sign of great significance that gave testimony and was relational to the promises from God. That sign is baptism.

If this is true, then what is significant about the sign of baptism? How is that a testimony and relational to the promises by God to us today? Are the promises to the Church wrapped up in the act of baptism or is there something more significant? Can a Christian be accepted by God through baptism and yet be unfaithful to the terms? Is the “magic” in the baptism? What does baptism actually do for the relationship? Starts it.

A covenant is only as good as the faithfulness of all parties to uphold the covenant relationship. If one party elects to not live up to their part, the covenant falls apart. What is interesting whenever a covenant was broken, it was always man who broke the covenant and didn’t live up to the terms. God is always faithful to his promises.

Genesis 17:15-16 God also said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you are no longer to call her Sarai; her name will be Sarah. I will bless her and will surely give you a son by her. I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her.”

In no uncertain terms, what did God just tell Abraham? The true seed is not Ishmael. How do you think Abraham felt about that? What must have gone through his mind? I think he probably reflected back on the 13 years of work since he believed that Ishmael was the logical solution to God’s promise.

Genesis 17:17-22 Abraham fell facedown; he laughed and said to himself, “Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?” And Abraham said to God, “If only Ishmael might live under your blessing!” Then God said, “Yes, but your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him. And as for Ishmael, I have heard you: I will surely bless him; I will make him fruitful and will greatly increase his numbers. He will be the father of twelve rulers, and I will make him into a great nation. But my covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you by this time next year.” When he had finished speaking with Abraham, God went up from him.

I find it hard to believe that Abraham actually laughed when he heard about God’s plan to continue the promise. Sarah was to bear a son and the covenant would be through Isaac.

What does the laugh by Abraham signify and how does that tie in with what Abraham asked for Ishmael? I think the laugh was a nervous laugh, a laugh of self discovery that for 13 years he had been thinking totally wrong but for Ishmael’s sake, Abraham did love him and wanted him to share in the promise. Ishmael did share in the bounty of the promise only because of his relationship with Abraham. But Ishmael and his descendents will and remain today the enemies of Isaac and those who enter into a relationship with God.