Sin does not stop God

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The angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, the spring on the way to Shur. And he said, “Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?” She said, “I am fleeing from my mistress Sarai.” The angel of the Lord said to her, “Return to your mistress and submit to her.” 10 The angel of the Lord also said to her, “I will surely multiply your offspring so that they cannot be numbered for multitude.” 11 And the angel of the Lord said to her,

“Behold, you are pregnant
    and shall bear a son.
You shall call his name Ishmael,
    because the Lord has listened to your affliction.
12 He shall be a wild donkey of a man,
    his hand against everyone
    and everyone’s hand against him,
and he shall dwell over against all his kinsmen.” -Genesis 16:7-12

Pansies | Coupeville, Washington | May 2021

No pressure! It’s a throw away phrase, a good-natured jibe on the golf course when your opponent has to make a 5-foot put to stay in the game. It’s a kind assurance when you’re asking a friend for a favor. It’s a reminder that we all put ourselves under presure from time to time.

I have to wonder as I reflect on this episode in the saga of Abram, Sarai, Harar, and Ishmael. Did Abram pressure Sarai to give him Hagar? It’s presented as simply Sarai’s idea. But, honestly, I have to wonder. Did Abram’s doubts come into play here? Did his male hormones have anything to do with how he saw Hagar?

Yesterday I suggested that when you find yourself in the vortex of sin, you must apply the rule analogous to the rule of the hole (When you’re in a hole, stop digging!). When you’re in the vortex of sin, “Stop sinning. Repent and believe the good news. Bring forth the fruits of repentance.”

The results of unrestrained sin are never good. But let’s get back to the story here. There is sin on the part of everyone. Hagar ridicules Sarai. Sarai makes life so miserable for Hagar that she leaves. Abram is willing to use Hagar only to discard her. And there is the issue of adultery (though the Sixth Commandment had not yet been given).

But sin does not stop God. That’s good news. Sin will not prevent God from carrying out his plan for the redemption of the whole world. Sin will not thwart God. His grace will prevail.

Look at this small example: Hagar is in despair. She has no place to go. And the Angel of the Lord (many believe this to be the pre-incarnate Christ) sought her out. When he found her, he provided a promise and a path forward. It would not be easy. And even the promise has some sharp edges. That’s life in this fallen world. But it is a path forward. And true to his nature, God seeks the lost. He saves the fallen. He redeems the hopeless. Hagar will have a son. She will have a place to live and a mistress to serve. Abram and Sarai will have their child. God will not be stopped by sin. In fact, he will conquer it. The first Gospel begins this way… The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. God is not finished…by a long shot. What a relief!

The fuller context of this text

Genesis 16:1-12

Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. She had a female Egyptian servant whose name was Hagar.And Sarai said to Abram, “Behold now, the Lord has prevented me from bearing children. Go in to my servant; it may be that I shall obtain children by her.” And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai. So, after Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar the Egyptian, her servant, and gave her to Abram her husband as a wife. And he went in to Hagar, and she conceived. And when she saw that she had conceived, she looked with contempt on her mistress. And Sarai said to Abram, “May the wrong done to me be on you! I gave my servant to your embrace, and when she saw that she had conceived, she looked on me with contempt. May the Lord judge between you and me!” But Abram said to Sarai, “Behold, your servant is in your power; do to her as you please.” Then Sarai dealt harshly with her, and she fled from her.

The angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, the spring on the way to Shur. And he said, “Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?” She said, “I am fleeing from my mistress Sarai.” The angel of the Lord said to her, “Return to your mistress and submit to her.” 10 The angel of the Lord also said to her, “I will surely multiply your offspring so that they cannot be numbered for multitude.” 11 And the angel of the Lord said to her,

“Behold, you are pregnant
    and shall bear a son.
You shall call his name Ishmael,
    because the Lord has listened to your affliction.
12 He shall be a wild donkey of a man,
    his hand against everyone
    and everyone’s hand against him,
and he shall dwell over against all his kinsmen.”

13 So she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, “You are a God of seeing,” for she said, “Truly here I have seen him who looks after me.” 14 Therefore the well was called Beer-lahai-roi; it lies between Kadesh and Bered.

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