TODAY’S READING: Genesis 16–18
Though much has been made of Sarah’s haste in pushing Hagar on Abraham, not much has been made of the reality that Hagar was Egyptian. Thus, Abraham’s first son (by Sarah’s choice) was half “foreigner.” Perhaps this is why God called Sarah “mother of nations, kings of peoples” (Gen. 17:16), for multi-racial families are a wonderful demonstration of God’s heart.
Hagar is instructed to submit to Sarah. That command is ironic in that “Islam” literally means “submission” and Arab Muslims broadly consider Ishmael to be their ancestor. In effect, Islam is told early on to submit to the Lord’s plan for salvation, a plan that must pass through Isaac, and ultimately through Jesus. God says to the sons of Ishmael, pre-Muslims, early on: I have heard you (16:11), I have seen you (v. 13), and I will bless you (17:20), and you will belong to Me along with representatives of all nations who submit to Me (vv. 5, 6, 12, 16, 23, 26, 27).
God’s plan is not complicated. In John 15, Jesus says He no longer calls us servants (doulos) but friends (philos), and God never hides from His friends what He is doing (Gen. 18:17). Over and again “what God is doing” is reinforced in the Scripture as centered on blessing all peoples of the earth. Genesis 18:17–19 being no exception (emphasis mine):
Shall I hide from Abraham what I am doing, since Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? For I have known him, in order that he may command his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of the LORD, to do righteousness and justice, that the LORD may bring to Abraham what He has spoken to him.
It’s all about the glory of God among all peoples. The context of this passage is God destroying Sodom (or sparing it if He can find ten righteous there), and the point of this passage is God’s heart to mercy all penitent peoples. God bluntly says to Abraham and to us: “I want you to know what I am doing. I am judging and mercying ALL peoples of earth. Abraham, I know my people IN ORDER that they lead their children and household, keep the way of the Lord, do righteousness and justice IN ORDER that I fulfil what I promised you—all people groups have opportunity to be saved in Jesus.”
What is the goal of godly parenting and obedient children? ALL PEOPLES RECEIVE JESUS. What is the goal of our Christian holiness? ALL PEOPLES RECEIVE JESUS. What is the goal of acts of social justice? ALL PEOPLES RECEIVE JESUS. God doesn’t hide the main point of what He is doing from His friends. Friends of God align everything they do around that main point. A missionary God and a missionary Bible demand our missionary participation.