Lesson 4 -- fourth quarter 2007
September 23, 2007
© Copyright 2007
God made it abundantly plain that He would not settle for Ishmael. God specified very clearly that Sarah would be the mother of Abraham's covenant child. God's blessing was on Ishmael, but His covenant He established with Isaac.
Though God's promise became reality for Abraham with the birth of Isaac, he still had two sons to love. He had before him the beginnings of two great nations. In his old age his joy was abundant. But there were problems in the family.
Although he knew the covenant was with Isaac, Abraham surely nourished a hope that he could enjoy both sons the rest of his days. If so, Sarah thought otherwise -- "Cast out this bondwoman and her son: for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac" (Genesis 21:10). Abraham's only hope lay in divine intervention.
That was not to be, at least not as Abraham may have hoped. God choose to use Sarah's jealous heartlessness to accomplish His sovereign purposes. The son of the bondwoman was expelled.
Galatians 4:23 explains why Ishmael had to go -- "But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise." Fleshly efforts and solutions have no place in God's plan. In fact, the flesh will naturally oppose the workings of God -- "But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now" (Galatians 4:29). In the lives of we who have been made Abraham's seed by faith, the flesh must yield to God's way.
As Abraham, we are so prone to act on our own, heeding our flesh and proceeding according to the dictates of our own point of view. We know we don't have the vantage point God has, yet we so often insist on doing what we think is best instead of patiently and faithfully waiting for God.
When people have a need, they carefully consider that need in order to determine where to go to have that need met. Generally speaking, when our sewing machine needs repairs we do not take it to the same place we take our vehicle when it needs repairs. By the same token, folks seeking out investment advice likely won't turn to a medical professional for that counsel. Even in a school setting, the odds are very low that a student will pull out a grammar reference book when he needs the formula for circumference of a circle.
The first verse of Isaiah 55 underscores the importance of knowing where to turn in our time of need: If you're thirsty, go where the drinking water is; if you have no money, go where the free stuff is. But this verse is more than a statement of such obvious facts; it is also an invitation! Listen: "Come ye to the waters... come, buy wine and milk without money and without price." What an offer!
So I ask you, do you turn to the right place in your time of need? Don't make the awful mistake of depending on the wrong helpers and solutions. When you're struggling -- with dejection and rejection, with inadequacy and failure, with bitterness and temper, with loneliness and temptation, or with whatever else -- don't try to wing it on your own and definitely don't listen to the direction of the evil one. To do so would be even more foolhardy than trying to treat appendicitis with a squirt of Chloraseptic in your nose or a frenzied call to Microsoft customer support. Be sure to turn to the right Source to have your needs met! Turn to God, His Word, and His people.
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