Today's Devotions

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Showcase: Facets of Faith

  • Paradigm Shift by Randy Russell +

    Be not conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your minds; then you will know the Read More
  • The Many Facets of Spirituality +

              The finished diamond is one of the most beautiful and desirable gems.  Yet, in the Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Don Carson

                                          

Genesis 16Matthew 15; Nehemiah 5; Acts 15

IN ALL OF ANCIENT NEAR EASTERN LITERATURE, so far as I am aware, Hagar is the only woman whom Deity directly addresses by name (Gen. 16:8; 21:17).

The woman in question is not one of the great matriarchs of the Old Testament — Sarah, perhaps, or Rachel, or Rebekah — but a slave who resents her mistress and flees. Yet God addresses her, tells her to submit to Sarai (16:9), promises that the child she is carrying in her womb will be a son, and later tells her that that son will be the progenitor of a great nation (21:18).

The account has many interwoven layers to think about. Placed after God’s covenant with Abram in Genesis 15, this incident reflects well on neither Abram nor Sarai. Desperate for children, they think they have the right to bring God’s purposes — and their own desires! — to pass by legal but shady means. The result is not only tension in their household for years to come — tension that spills over into the next generation (Gen. 21, 25), but the beginnings of the Arab peoples, who frequently find themselves locked in hostility with Israel to this day. One of the great features of the Bible is its sheer honesty: great men and women are portrayed with all their warts. This remains a broken world, and the very best are fallen. This should warn us against untamed hero-worship.

Yet there is another connection with the previous chapters. God had promised Abram that all peoples on earth would be blessed through him (12:3). The election of Abram is a means to that end. However focused on Abram’s offspring his purposes will be, God remains the sovereign Lord of all. In the book of Genesis, the account of Abram is nestled into the broader account of the creation of all, and the Fall of all. And so here, at the very beginning of the history of the nation of Israel, God displays his concern for the despised and the outcast, people who are not organically connected with the promised line.

We may detect the same concern in the Lord Jesus. In Matthew 15:21-18, Jesus well knows that during the days of his flesh his mission is in the first instance directed to “the lost sheep of Israel” (15:24). There is a redemptive-historical primacy to the ancient covenant people of God. But this does not prevent him from acknowledging the remarkable faith of yet another woman, a Canaanite, who wisely changes her plea. She no longer addresses Christ as “Son of David” (15:22), on who she can make no direct claim, and simply pleads for mercy (15:27). Another “Hagar” finds that mercy abundant, as countless people do today.

Reflections to Consider

  • 1

Publications

  • 1

Music

  • 1

Audio & Video

  • 1

Favorites

  • Eugene Peterson was one of America’s most beloved preachers. Let’s not miss his last sermon. +

    Eugene Peterson, the internationally best-selling Christian author who passed into the great unknown this week, Read More
  • Eugene Peterson: 2009 Book of Faith Jubilee +

    Peterson discussed a wide range of topics with Diane Jacobson, Read More
  • Eugene Peterson: Journey with Jonah: Part 1 +

    This is part 1 of a 3 part series of lectures Eugene Peterson Read More
  • Eugene Peterson: Journey with Jonah: Part 2 +

    This is part 2 of Eugene Peterson's 1991 Simpson lecture Read More
  • 1

Hidden Blessings

  • Process +

      The finished diamond is one of the most beautiful and desirable gems. Read More
  • Not a Conscientious Objector +

    As we abide in him and he abides in us, we are receiving his life rather than creating our own Read More
  • Falling in Love With God +

    “falling in love with God,” as Boa’s subtitle for the facet explains. In this approach we attempt to enter into Read More
  • God's Dimension +

    We experience a great sense of the wonder, boldness, and overwhelming awe of God through our relationship with the Holy Read More
  • 1