Friday, October 18, 2013

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary

For Sunday October 20, 2013
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SIBLING RIVALRY
(GOD can work through troubled relationships)
(Genesis 16, 21:12-21, & 26:2-5, 12-14)

In Genesis 16 we saw a frustrated Sarah, giving in to the pressures of an aging body, and an aging desire to bear children, and giving her servant Hagar, to her husband Abraham to wed, in order that they might start a family of their own. So Abraham, being 85 years old at the time, agreed to Sarah’s wishes and took young Hagar as his wife, and she became pregnant.
When Hagar knew for sure, that she was pregnant, she began to treat Sarah, her master, with contempt. This angered Sarah very much, and, as a result, she began to blame Abraham. Abraham responded by telling her, that, “since she (Hagar) is your servant, you deal with her in the way you see fit”.
So Sarah began to treat Hagar very harshly, causing her to run away from home. In verse 7 of chapter 16, we see an Angel of the LORD, finding Hagar sitting beside a desert spring, along the road to Shur. After asking her two questions, (where have you come from? And, where are you going?), the angel tells Hagar to return to Sarah and submit herself to her authority. Here, we see the angel delivering two messages from GOD, one “hortatory” (return and submit), and the other “promissory” (she was to give birth to a son).
After Hagar’s encounter with the angel, she refers to GOD as “the GOD who sees me” and she also says, “I have seen the ONE who sees me”. Hagar then names the place of the desert spring “Beer Lahai Roi”, which means “well of the living ONE who sees me”. And Hagar returned home, where she bore Abraham a son, and she called his name “Ishmael” (GOD hears), because the LORD heard her misery.
Throughout Scripture, names provided GOD’s people with a message from HIM. Here, we see GOD speaking in direct revelation, and Hagar, in return, responds in faith. GOD sees our afflictions, and HE also hears, and HE answers us when we seek HIM in earnest, with a desire to accept HIM, as the only wise, living GOD.
In Genesis 21 we see, however, that, after the birth of Isaac, by Abraham’s wife Sarah, who was “the son of the promise”, sibling rivalry begins between the two sons as Sarah sees Ishmael and his mother, Hagar, making fun of Isaac. Sarah then angrily demanded that Abraham send them both away, for she did not want to share the family inheritance with them.
This upset Abraham very much because Ishmael, too, was his son. However, GOD consoled Abraham and instructed him to conform to Sarah’s wishes, because Isaac was really the son through whom his descendants would be counted (Vs. 11-12). God also assured Abraham that HE would also make a nation of the descendants of his and Hagar’s son as well (v.13).
And so Abraham prepared food and water for Hagar and Ishmael and sent them away into the wilderness of Beersheba (v.14), having faith that GOD would do as HE promised and deliver them safely to HIS chosen destination, just as HE had done with him years earlier when he called him to leave the village of Haran (Genesis 12:4), for “a land of promise” in Canaan.
It is while Hagar and Ishmael were traveling aimlessly in the wilderness that they were visited again by “The ANGEL of GOD”, who had heard the cries of Ishmael from Heaven, and HE called to Hagar to comfort her. HE gave her water from a well and she immediately ran and gave some to her son who was, at this time, dying of thirst a hundred yards away. HE also promised to make a great nation of the descendants of Ishmael, and GOD was with him as he grew up in the wilderness of Paran. He became an expert archer, and Hagar arranged a marriage for him to a young woman from Egypt (Vs. 17-21).
In Genesis 26:2-5 the LORD extends the “Abrahamic Covenant” promise to Isaac as HE appeared to him at Gerar. There the LORD instructed Isaac not to go to Egypt, but rather, he must stay there in the land of Canaan. The LORD told Isaac that if he obeyed HIM and remained there, that HE would bless him, and give that land to him and his descendants, just as HE had promised Abraham years earlier. And so Isaac remained there, and as a result of his obedience, his crops were overwhelmingly great. He harvested a hundred times more than he planted and he became a rich man as his crops continued to grow. He also acquired large flocks of sheep and goats, great herds of cattle, and many servants (Vs. 12-14).
And so GOD worked through the sibling rivalry between Isaac and Ishmael, and they both became successful in their own right, because they and their parent trusted greatly in the LORD. And as we look back and contemplate on this story, we can clearly see that the most important thing that either of them had to offer, or pass down to their offspring was not wealth or skill, but rather, it was their “legacy of faith”, through their personal relationship with GOD.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander





                                 
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