TRIUMPHS AND TESTS
When we talk about “heroes and heroines of the faith,” sometimes honor their strengths and minimize or even overlook their weaknesses. In week 3 of Beth Moore’s study, The Patriarchs, though, we clearly saw Abraham and Sarah’s failings and learned more about God’s faithfulness regardless of how His people fell short.
Once again, Abraham feared what would happen when a foreign king saw his beautiful wife. Just as he did back in Genesis 12, Abraham told a king that Sarah was his sister. But God took care of Sarah even when Abraham did not, and He protected her from potential harm at the hands of Abimelech. Abraham and Sarah defaulted into some old patterns here, falling back on their same-old sins. Maybe we do the same! What if we responded differently, walking so closely with God that even our “default response was sanctified?” (p. 63).
After a decades-long wait, Scripture tells us that “God visited Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did unto Sarah as he had spoken” (Genesis 21: KJV). Sarah gave birth to the promised son and heir, Isaac, and they rejoiced.
Unfortunately, old decisions still bore consequences. Because Sarah and Abraham had taken things into their own hands in the past, Hagar and Ishmael were still on the scene and things were far from peaceful. Sarah finally demanded that Hagar and Ishmael leave. After reassurances from God that He would take care of them, Abraham relented and Hagar headed out into the wilderness for a second time.
That’s where Hagar encountered God once again. As Hagar left her son to die, God heard Ishmael’s cries and revealed a well, rescuing them from present disaster and giving hope for their future. Beth Moore writes, “God’s sovereignty weaves in and out of sight like stitches in a hem.” Nowhere in Scripture does it suggest that God approved of how Sarah mistreated Hagar. But God allowed Sarah’s plans because they “would put them on the road to His greater plan.” Even when we face situations that are unjust and difficult, we can trust God to fulfill His ultimate plan for our benefit and His glory. We can rest in the assurance of His sovereignty.
A few years after Isaac’s birth, Abraham once again met with King Abimelech, this time to swear an oath with him. Their limited, human, finite vow is just a shadow of God’s willingness to covenant with us. God is the perfect promise-maker and promise-keeper. He always does what He says He will do, and He offers us his “hesed,” his covenant kindness and loyal love.
After her long journey with her husband, Sarah passed away and Abraham mourned his bride. He purchased a burial plot for her, which, amazingly, makes this the only land that Abraham personally owned. His descendants, though, continued looking for God to fulfill His promises and lead His people to a land of promise.
BIBLE STUDY ASSIGNMENT FOR THE WEEK
- Join our private Facebook group and participate in a small group discussion this week
- Complete your workbook study of Week Four
- Optional: Video/audio Session Four