Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 3 * PART 1 * BOOK 4
SODOM AND GOMORRAH
Let’s turn to Genesis, Chapter 16 and back up to verse 1 just for review. Pick up your Bible and a pen. I trust you will learn with us.
For years, God has been promising Abraham and Sarah they would be the progenitors of a nation of people. The wheels of God grind slowly but surely, and Abram, as he is still called here, and Sarai are now getting impatient (We must keep the names of Abram and Sarai as such until we see a change, which I will explain). We’ve learned previously, that without any instruction from God, Sarai reverts to the custom of their day. The custom goes back to the laws of Hammurabi, who was one of the ancient Babylonian writers of their so-called moral law. Within the laws of Hammurabi it was perfectly legitimate for a woman who could not bear, to have what we call a surrogate mother by way of a servant. Sarai, I imagine, is getting as impatient as Abram with regard to having a son. Verse 2:
“And Sarai said unto Abram, `Behold now, the Lord (Jehovah) hath restrained me from bearing: I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her.’ And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai.”
Hagar becomes pregnant in verse 4 and realizes that she has done something Sarai can’t do. She becomes arrogant, puffed up, and impossible to live with, so Sarai begs Abram to send her away.
“And Sarai said unto Abram, `My wrong be upon thee: I have given my maid into thy bosom; and when she saw that she had conceived, I was despised in her eyes: the Lord judge between me and thee.’ But Abram said unto Sarai, `Behold, thy maid is in thy hand; do to her as it pleaseth thee.’ And when Sarai dealt hardly with her, she fled from her face.” Hagar leaves. Now verse 7 again.
“And the angel of the Lord found her by a fountain of water in the wilderness, by the fountain in the way to Shur.”
Now to Genesis 48:16. I will qualify my statement wherein I said the angel of the LORD was another manifestation of God the Son, or Jehovah. Or as we know, The Christ of the New Testament as He was revealed in the Old Testament. Jacob is speaking in verse 16, and refers to “the Angel who redeemed me.” I think it is a basic statement that there is only One Redeemer in Scripture – God the Son; not some angel; not anyone but God the Son. When you see that term in Old Testament, it is referring to Christ. I previously mentioned that Balaam, the false prophet, was confronted by an angel of the LORD. Again, it was Christ in that Old Testament appearance. Come back to Genesis 16. The Angel of the LORD, or Jehovah, in another manifestation, says to Hagar:
“And he said, `Hagar, Sarai’s maid, whence camest thou? and whither wilt thou go?’ And she said, `I flee from the face of my mistress Sarai.'”
God doesn’t have to ask questions to get information. He asks merely to get the person to respond. In Christ’s earthly ministry He always comes back and answers with a question. I think we can learn from that. When you are talking with people, instead of just hitting them with something, put them on the soapbox by asking them a question. Then you start getting feedback. It is amazing what you’ll find out. The Lord does that over and over. He did it with Adam. He didn’t have to ask Adam what he’d done. What did He do, though? He asked Adam, “Have you eaten?” He did the same thing here in verse 8, asking, Where did you come from?
“And the angel of the Lord said unto her (now this is God speaking, `Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hands.'”
The question we should be asking ourselves at this point is, why does God demand that Hagar go back to the dwelling place of Abram and Sarai when we know full well what is going to happen in fourteen years? She’s going to be sent out again, only this time for good. I hope this question is answered before the next three or four chapters. There was a particular sovereign, omnipotent reason for God to have Hagar go back to the home of Abram and Sarai. We’ll pick it up later. God is demanding and commanding that she go back and submit herself to Sarai for something that is going to take place fourteen years later. When we get to that I’ll show you another instance in Scripture where God does the same thing. For now, let’s leave her there – going back to Abram and Sarai. Now The Lord makes some statements. Remember it is the Sovereign God Himself who is speaking.
“And the angel of the Lord said unto her, `I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, that it shall not be numbered for multitude.’ And the angel of the Lord said unto her, `Behold, thou art with child, and shalt bear a son, and shalt call his name Ishmael; because the Lord hath heard thy affliction.'” Here is one of those instances when God calls the shots before the child is even born.
Verse 12. This is the Bible speaking – not me. God already foretold the very personality makeup of the Arab people before the first one was ever born. Remember, now, it is out of Ishmael that most of our Arab people have come. I didn’t say all, I said most as we have other branches which feed into the Arabian peoples. Here, however, He gives such a vivid description of their makeup.
“And he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every mans hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.”
Do you see now why the prospect for peace in the Middle East is pretty dim? These people are hard to deal with, and they always have been. I’ve talked to businessmen within the last few years who have had dealings with the Middle Eastern people who said this is a problem. They’re just hard to deal with. It was a very intrinsic prophecy of God Himself that this would be their personality.
“And she called the name of the Lord that spake unto her, `Thou God seest me:’ for she said, `Have I also here looked after him that seeth me?’ Wherefore the well was called Beer-lahai-roi (remember she stopped here to get water); behold, it is between Kadesh and Bered (down in the Sinai area – southern Canaan).” Then time elapses between verses 14 and 15, and Ishmael is born.
“And Hagar bare Abram a son: and Abram called his sons name, which Hagar bare, Ishmael.” Abram, in complete obedience with God’s instructions to Hagar, called the lad Ishmael.
“And Abram was fourscore and six (eighty-six) years old, when Hagar bare Ishmael to Abram.”
Abraham will be one hundred when Isaac is born, which means that Ishmael is going to be fourteen. Now go to Chapter 17:
“AND when Abram was ninety years old and nine (the year before Isaac was to be born), the Lord appeared to Abram, and said unto him, `I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect.'”
Here is another name of Deity – a good example of how this particular name will carry all the way through Scripture. It always refers to God as being the All Sufficient, but also the One Who Enhances Fruitfulness. Whenever you see the term `Almighty God,’ it is going to be associated with fruitfulness. Look how it is used here. He appeared to Abram and said, Walk before me, etc. The word `perfect’ in Scripture, whether Old or New Testament, never means a sinless perfection. It means a spiritual maturity. I don’t care whether Paul uses the word or we see it back here. He is telling Abraham to just become spiritually mature.
“And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly.”
We purposely spent a lot of time on the Abrahamic Covenant in Chapter 12. I’ll continue to refer to it because the Bible does. Throughout Scripture there is constant reference to the Abrahamic Covenant of Genesis 12. We have another reference in verse 2. God states He will multiply him exceedingly. In other words, he would be physically fruitful based on the term `The Almighty God,’ which in the Hebrew is `El Shaddai.’ This word translated is `The Almighty God,’ or `The God of Fruitfulness.’
“And Abram fell on his face:…”
I imagine that at 100 years of age he was awe stricken that God was still talking about him having children. I can understand how he felt. He has been waiting a long time. As I said in the opening remarks, God’s wheels grind slowly but surely.
“…and God talked with him, saying, `As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee (Abram), and thou shalt be a father of many nations.'” I think Abram was still human enough that he still had to keep asking, “But Lord, how? When?” Verse 5:
“Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee.”
We now have the introduction into his name, primarily of the letter `h,’ going from Abram to Abraham. In verse 15 you’ll see God does the same thing with Sarai’s name. I’ve been cautious in pronouncing the names Abram and Sarai anticipating of these two verses.
“And God said unto Abraham, `As for Sarai thy wife, thou shalt not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall her name be.'” What letter has been added to her name? The letter `H.’
Though I don’t dwell much on numbers in Scripture, it is an interesting subject. The number five is the number of grace. The number five will continue to come up in Scripture, designating God’s grace. The letter `H’ is the fifth letter of the Hebrew alphabet. All of the main events of Abraham’s life are in years which can be divided by the number five. He left Ur at the age of 75. At the age of 100 he had Isaac. He lived to the age of 175. Over and over throughout Abraham’s history you’ll see numbers divisible by five.
As we get to the Book of Exodus you will see the same holds true in all of the instructions of building the tabernacle in the wilderness, which is going to depict the grace of God toward His people. Watch for it. All the dimensions are divisible by five; 45 cubits long, 15 cubits wide, etc. The boards were to be made so many cubits, and all numbers are divisible by five. I constantly point these things out to enhance the fact that the Bible is a supernatural Book. Men could never have thought of this; only the mind of God could have. So Abraham becomes the letter `H’ and Sarah becomes the letter `H’ referring to the tremendous grace of God which will be part and parcel of their lives. Verses 6 and 7 (repetition for emphasis.
“And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee. And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee and to thy seed after thee.”
Here is an interesting tidbit. It used to bother me how you could determine when the word seed was referring to the children in generations, or when it was referring to the seed of the woman in Genesis 3:15, which we know is Christ. It has been hard to determine. The word seed in the Hebrew is the word “zera.” It is like our word sheep. Now our word sheep, whether it is singular or plural, is still sheep. It is the same with this Hebrew word “zera.” The only way you can determine if it is singular or plural is by how it sets in the text. It is the same with our word sheep. If you were reading a sentence which talked about a flock of sheep covering the mountainside, you would immediately know the word is not singular, but plural. On the other hand, if you were shown a picture of someone shearing a sheep, by context what do you know? – that we are talking about `one.’ Whenever the context refers to a vast number of people who are Abraham’s seed, we are not talking about Christ, but about the generations of Israel. Turn with me to Chapter 21 where we will see the singular use of the word.
“And God said unto Abraham, `Let it not be grievous in thy sight because of the lad, and because of thy bondwoman; in all that Sarah hath said unto thee, hearken unto her voice; for in Isaac (one person) shall thy seed (singular) be called.'”
Turn to Galatians, Chapter 3. I want you to be mindful of Genesis 3:15 (without having you turn there), where as soon as Adam and Eve had fallen, God made the prophetic promise that the seed of the woman would be the Redeemer and the One who would make the way back to God possible. Now in Galatians, Paul writes:
“Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds (plural), as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed (singular), which is Christ.”
Is it falling into place? In the Old Testament whenever we have the singular approach to the seed of the woman, it speaks of Christ; but when the plural is used with the generations following Abraham, then that is what it’s referring to. Back to Genesis 17:
“And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed (plural) after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.”
They can say what they want about God being through with the Nation of Israel, and about God transferring the promises made to Israel to the Church. But that flies in the face of what the Scripture says. The Bible plainly teaches that no matter what the Israelite or Jew may do, God is still going to maintain the Covenant He made with Abraham clear back in 2000 B.C. If you are watching the Middle Eastern situation with an open mind, you realize the present day Jew is still the offspring of Abraham. Although we are not yet into the Jewish aspect of the Tribulation, etc., it is all coming. Everything in the Middle East is setting the stage for when the curtain will rise, and God will again pick up where He left off with His Nation of Israel back in the Book of Acts.
“And God said unto Abraham, `Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations (again we are talking about the line of people). This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised.'”
Remember this is years after that original Covenant. This is even some time after that Deed we saw in Chapter 15. But now God is going to, you might say, cement this whole thing with a blood Covenant. I think that is the best way we can look at it. Have you ever watched movies of the ancients where they made a covenant with one another? They would take a knife blade and put a little slit in each hand. They would then shake hands and literally mix their blood; it was a blood covenant. I think this is the whole aspect of the institution of circumcision. God now has a blood Covenant with the Nation of Israel, or the children of Abraham. So Abraham was given all the instructions of how circumcision was to be instituted even though he, himself, was ninety-nine. From then on, every child of Abraham was to be circumcised at the age of eight days.
I believe medical science will back me up that an infant’s blood coagulation reaches its peak at the age of eight days. In this present day we get our young mothers in and out of the hospital so quickly, that circumcision is accomplished before the child reaches eight days. When my mother gave birth to my little sister, the hospital stay for delivery was fourteen days. That gave the doctors ample time to circumcise the boy babies at eight days of age. This is all Scriptural. We’ll move on now to verse 15 where we just saw that Sarai’s name will be changed to Sarah to incorporate the `H,’ the fifth letter of the Hebrew alphabet. God comes back and promises again that He will bless her.
“And God said unto Abraham, `As for Sarai thy wife, thou shalt not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall her name be. And I will bless her, and give thee a son also of her: yea, I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of people shall be of her.’ Then Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed (not a laugh of scorn or ridicule, but I believe of joy and worship), and said in his heart, `Shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred years old? and shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear?'”
After all, Abraham is 99 years old and it’s going to take nine months of gestation for Sarah to give birth. So he knows even if something were to happen shortly, he would be at least 100 by the time that child would be born.
“And Abraham said unto God, `O that Ishmael might live before thee !'”
There is more in that verse than meets the eye. With such a faith in what God was going to do by bringing about the promised child, coupled with the fact that he had brought Ishmael on the scene without any instruction from God, what does Abraham fear God is going to do with Ishmael? – Take his life! Abraham is pleading for the life of Ishmael when he says, Oh let Ishmael live! God replies:
“And God said, `Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him.'”
If you haven’t done so before, underline now that part where God says He is going to establish His Covenant with Isaac, the child He promised Abraham.
“And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold, I have blessed him (God has already made up His mind that He isn’t going to take Ishmael’s life), and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly (look at the promise); twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation.”
A few chapters ahead is the genealogy of Ishmael. How many sons did he have? – Twelve! Exactly as God said he would. And the Arab nations have become great. They far outnumber the Jew.
“But my covenant will I establish with Isaac (named before he was born), which Sarah shall bear unto thee at this set time in the next year.”
Never lose sight of these two tremendous verses, wherein God stated:
(1) I will establish My Covenant with Isaac.
(2) I will bless the offspring of Ishmael, but my Covenant is going to be with Isaac.