September 23 I Sunday
Song of Solomon 1-3
“[Pharaoh] treated Abram well for her sake, and Abram acquired sheep and cattle, male and female donkeys, male and female servants, and camels.” —Genesis 12:16
Scripture does not hide that its leading figures faced moments of crisis and made mistakes with real consequences. Abraham, originally called Abram, is a prime example. He is known as the father of faith, a man who exemplified trust in God, yet even he stumbled. Abraham and Sarah disobeyed when they tried to fulfill God’s promise themselves by having a child through Hagar, but this was preceded by even earlier acts of disobedience.
Abraham’s story begins with God calling him to leave his homeland to settle in Canaan. There was a famine in the land when he and his caravan arrived, so he settled in Egypt in the meantime. This was an act of disobedience because Abraham travelled beyond the land God had sent him to. Abraham was in Canaan by divine appointment, but he went off track by going to Egypt.
While there, Abraham was disloyal and dishonest. He was afraid Egyptian men might try to kill him on account of his beautiful wife, so he pretended Sarah was his sister. Believing the lie, Pharaoh took Sarah into his palace as his own, and “he treated Abram well for her sake.” Pharaoh gave Abraham great wealth and possessions, including “male and female servants,” but when Pharaoh experienced God’s judgment because of Abraham’s deception, he sent Abraham and Sarah on their way with all they had recently acquired.
Ten years later, when Sarah suggested Abraham have a son through Hagar, the Bible twice mentions she was an Egyptian slave (Genesis 16:1, 3), likely one Abraham gained while in Pharaoh’s palace. Had Abraham trusted God to provide for them during the famine instead of panicking and going down to Egypt, Hagar would not have entered their service and Ishmael likely would not have been born.
We sometimes downplay sin when it does not cause large, obvious or immediate consequences, but even small consequences can have lasting repercussions in our lives. Whenever we step out of the will of God, we accumulate baggage. Gaining a maidservant was not good or bad in itself, nor should we blame Hagar for her role in producing Ishmael, but as a consequence of Abraham’s previous disobedience, she became for Abraham and Sarah an alternative to God’s purposes.
Perhaps we face new or stronger temptations because of sins we entertained in the past, or maybe we have settled in a job or city when we know God is calling us elsewhere. Disobedience always has consequences, but those consequences need not lead us into further disobedience. God never gives up on us but longs that whenever we stumble, we would humbly submit our lives to Him and realign our will and purposes with His own.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me recognize the consequences of disobedience in my life so they may not lead me to further disobedience. Thank You for being my strength even after I stumble.