Today's Devotions

Showcase: Forgiveness

  • Total Forgiveness, RT Kendall +

    This was a valuable resource for me in a time of hurt from a brother in Christ. I could not Read More
  • Forgiveness: Desmond Tutu +

    Nobel Peace Prize Winner Desmond Tutu explains how love and forgiveness kept post-apartheid South Africa from tumbling into anarchy. Read More
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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

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Publications

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Music

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Audio & Video

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Favorites

  • Prayer by Alex Kirk, Chatham Community Church +

    What role does prayer play in our lives? What is prayer, anyway? Alex Kirk, pastor of Chatham Community Church, gives Read More
  • How to be Mary in a Martha world by Jim Abrahamson, Chatham Community Church +

    Jim Abrahamson spoke at Chatham Community Church on an essential of the Christian walk Who/what is our savior? What is Read More
  • Christ the King Sunday by Art Going (Holy Trinity Chatham) +

    A thoughtful discussion of how we function as colonizers for Christ the King.  Read More
  • MY STUPID MOUTH by Steve Tamayo of Chatham Community Church +

    Tremendous sermon on the liabilities of our tongue, both in what we say and don't say. Read More
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Hidden Blessings

  • My Soul Cries Out in Worship +

    Over the past ten years, Vicki Yohe has written some of the most popular songs sung in churches. This song Read More
  • Worship Matters: A blog by Bob Kauflin +

    Worship Matters is a blog by Bob Kauflin. Good, inspired food for one's soul. http://www.worshipmatters.com/ Read More
  • Worship Wars in Bethany +

    Jim Abrahamson preached on the worship wars in Bethany in 2003.http://sermons.biblechurch.org/2003_08_03.final.mp3 Read More
  • The Greatest Treasure Remains: Come, Now is the Time for Worship +

    Come, now is the time to worship Read More
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