Hagar and Ishmael Are Sent Away (January 15, 2021)

arah saw Hagar’s son laughing, the one Hagar the Egyptian had borne to Abraham. So she said to Abraham, “Send this servant away with her son! This servant’s son won’t share the inheritance with my son Isaac.” This upset Abraham terribly because the boy was his son. God said to Abraham, “Don’t be upset about the boy and your servant. Do everything Sarah tells you to do because your descendants will be traced through Isaac. But I will make of your servant’s son a great nation too, because he is also your descendant.” Abraham got up early in the morning, took some bread and a flask of water, and gave it to Hagar. He put the boy in her shoulder sling and sent her away. She left and wandered through the desert near Beer-sheba.

Hagar and Ishmael Are Sent Away (January 15, 2021)

Genesis 20:1–21:34, CEB

Abraham traveled from there toward the land of the arid southern plain, and he settled as an immigrant in Gerar, between Kadesh and Shur. Abraham said of his wife Sarah, “She’s my sister.” So King Abimelech of Gerar took her into his household.

But God appeared to Abimelech that night in a dream and said to him, “You are as good as dead because of this woman you have taken. She is a married woman.”

Now Abimelech hadn’t gone near her, and he said, “Lord, will you really put an innocent nation to death? Didn’t he say to me, ‘She’s my sister,’ and didn’t she—even she—say, ‘He’s my brother’? My intentions were pure, and I acted innocently when I did this.”

God said to him in the dream, “I know that your intentions were pure when you did this. In fact, I kept you from sinning against me. That’s why I didn’t allow you to touch her. Now return the man’s wife. He’s a prophet; he will pray for you so you may live. But if you don’t return her, know that you and everyone with you will die!”

Abimelech got up early in the morning and summoned all of his servants. When he told them everything that had happened, the men were terrified. Then Abimelech summoned Abraham and said to him, “What have you done to us? What sin did I commit against you that you have brought this terrible sin to me and my kingdom, by doing to me something that simply isn’t done?” Abimelech said to Abraham, “What were you thinking when you did this thing?”

Abraham said, “I thought to myself, No one reveres God here and they will kill me to get my wife. She is, truthfully, my sister—my father’s daughter but not my mother’s daughter—and she’s now my wife. When God led me away from my father’s household, I said to her, ‘This is the loyalty I expect from you: in each place we visit, tell them, “He is my brother.” ’ ”

Abimelech took flocks, cattle, male servants, and female servants, and gave them to Abraham; and Abimelech returned his wife Sarah. Abimelech said, “My land is here available to you. Live wherever you wish.” To Sarah, he said, “I’ve given your brother one thousand pieces of silver. It means that neither you nor anyone with you has done anything wrong. Everything has been set right.” Abraham prayed to God; and God restored Abimelech, his wife, and his women servants to health, and they were able to have children. Because of the incident with Abraham’s wife Sarah, the Lord had kept all of the women in Abimelech’s household from having children.

The Lord was attentive to Sarah just as he had said, and the Lord carried out just what he had promised her. She became pregnant and gave birth to a son for Abraham when he was old, at the very time God had told him. Abraham named his son—the one Sarah bore him—Isaac.Abraham circumcised his son Isaac when he was eight days old just as God had commanded him. Abraham was 100 years old when his son Isaac was born. Sarah said, “God has given me laughter. Everyone who hears about it will laugh with me.”She said, “Who could have told Abraham that Sarah would nurse sons? But now I’ve given birth to a son when he was old!”

The boy grew and stopped nursing. On the day he stopped nursing, Abraham prepared a huge banquet. Sarah saw Hagar’s son laughing, the one Hagar the Egyptian had borne to Abraham. So she said to Abraham, “Send this servant away with her son! This servant’s son won’t share the inheritance with my son Isaac.”

This upset Abraham terribly because the boy was his son. God said to Abraham, “Don’t be upset about the boy and your servant. Do everything Sarah tells you to do because your descendants will be traced through Isaac. But I will make of your servant’s son a great nation too, because he is also your descendant.” Abraham got up early in the morning, took some bread and a flask of water, and gave it to Hagar. He put the boy in her shoulder sling and sent her away.

She left and wandered through the desert near Beer-sheba. Finally the water in the flask ran out, and she put the boy down under one of the desert shrubs. She walked away from him about as far as a bow shot and sat down, telling herself, I can’t bear to see the boy die. She sat at a distance, cried out in grief, and wept.

God heard the boy’s cries, and God’s messenger called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “Hagar! What’s wrong? Don’t be afraid. God has heard the boy’s cries over there. Get up, pick up the boy, and take him by the hand because I will make of him a great nation.” Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well. She went over, filled the water flask, and gave the boy a drink. God remained with the boy; he grew up, lived in the desert, and became an expert archer. He lived in the Paran desert, and his mother found him an Egyptian wife.

At that time Abimelech, and Phicol commander of his forces, said to Abraham, “God is with you in everything that you do. So give me your word under God that you won’t cheat me, my children, or my descendants. Just as I have treated you fairly, so you must treat me and the land in which you are an immigrant.”

Abraham said, “I give you my word.” Then Abraham complained to Abimelech about a well that Abimelech’s servants had seized.

Abimelech said, “I don’t know who has done this, and you didn’t tell me. I didn’t even hear about it until today.” Abraham took flocks and cattle, gave them to Abimelech, and the two of them drew up a treaty.Abraham set aside, by themselves, seven female lambs from the flock. So Abimelech said to Abraham, “What are these seven lambs you’ve set apart?”

Abraham said, “These seven lambs that you take from me will attest that I dug this well.” Therefore, the name of that place is Beer-sheba because there they gave each other their word. After they drew up a treaty at Beer-sheba, Abimelech, and Phicol commander of his forces, returned to the land of the Philistines. Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beer-sheba, and he worshipped there in the name of the Lord, El Olam.Abraham lived as an immigrant in the Philistines’ land for a long time.

Job 7:1–21, MEV

“Is there not a time of hard service for a man upon earth?

Are not his days also like the days of a hired worker?

Like a servant, he longs for the shade,

and like a hired worker, he looks for his wages,

so I have been assigned months of futility,

and nights of trouble have been appointed to me.

When I lie down, I say,

‘When will I arise and the night be ended?’

And I am full of restlessness until the dawn.

My flesh is covered with worms and caked with dirt;

my skin is broken, and has become loathsome.

“My days fly more swiftly than a weaver’s shuttle,

and are spent without hope.

Oh, remember that my life is a breath!

My eye will never again see good.

The eye of him who sees me will behold me no more;

your eyes will be on me, but I will be no more.

As the cloud disappears and vanishes away,

so he who goes down to Sheol will come up no more.

He will never return to his house,

and his place will not recognize him anymore.

“Therefore, I will not restrain my mouth;

I will speak in the anguish of my spirit;

I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.

Am I the sea, or a sea monster,

that You set a guard over me?

When I say, ‘My bed will comfort me,

my couch will ease my complaint,’

then You scare me with dreams

and terrify me with visions,

so that my soul chooses strangling,

even death rather than my life.

I loathe my life; I would not live forever;

let me alone, for my days are emptiness.

“What is man, that You should exalt him,

and that You should set Your heart on him,

and that You should visit him every morning,

and test him every moment?

How long until You look away from me?

Will You not let me alone until I swallow my saliva?

Have I sinned? What am I doing to You,

O You watcher of men?

Why have You set me as Your target,

so that I am a burden to myself?

And why do You not pardon my transgression

and take away my iniquity?

For now I will lie down in the dust;

and You will seek me diligently, but I will not be.”

Isaiah 9:1–10:4, NLT

Nevertheless, that time of darkness and despair will not go on forever. The land of Zebulun and Naphtali will be humbled, but there will be a time in the future when Galilee of the Gentiles, which lies along the road that runs between the Jordan and the sea, will be filled with glory.

The people who walk in darkness

will see a great light.

For those who live in a land of deep darkness,

a light will shine.

You will enlarge the nation of Israel,

and its people will rejoice.

They will rejoice before you

as people rejoice at the harvest

and like warriors dividing the plunder.

For you will break the yoke of their slavery

and lift the heavy burden from their shoulders.

You will break the oppressor’s rod,

just as you did when you destroyed the army of Midian.

The boots of the warrior

and the uniforms bloodstained by war

will all be burned.

They will be fuel for the fire.

For a child is born to us,

a son is given to us.

The government will rest on his shoulders.

And he will be called:

Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,

Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

His government and its peace

will never end.

He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David

for all eternity.

The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies

will make this happen!

The Lord has spoken out against Jacob;

his judgment has fallen upon Israel.

And the people of Israel and Samaria,

who spoke with such pride and arrogance,

will soon know it.

They said, “We will replace the broken bricks of our ruins with finished stone,

and replant the felled sycamore-fig trees with cedars.”

But the Lord will bring Rezin’s enemies against Israel

and stir up all their foes.

The Syrians from the east and the Philistines from the west

will bare their fangs and devour Israel.

But even then the Lord’s anger will not be satisfied.

His fist is still poised to strike.

For after all this punishment, the people will still not repent.

They will not seek the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.

Therefore, in a single day the Lord will destroy both the head and the tail,

the noble palm branch and the lowly reed.

The leaders of Israel are the head,

and the lying prophets are the tail.

For the leaders of the people have misled them.

They have led them down the path of destruction.

That is why the Lord takes no pleasure in the young men

and shows no mercy even to the widows and orphans.

For they are all wicked hypocrites,

and they all speak foolishness.

But even then the Lord’s anger will not be satisfied.

His fist is still poised to strike.

This wickedness is like a brushfire.

It burns not only briers and thorns

but also sets the forests ablaze.

Its burning sends up clouds of smoke.

The land will be blackened

by the fury of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.

The people will be fuel for the fire,

and no one will spare even his own brother.

They will attack their neighbor on the right

but will still be hungry.

They will devour their neighbor on the left

but will not be satisfied.

In the end they will even eat their own children.

Manasseh will feed on Ephraim,

Ephraim will feed on Manasseh,

and both will devour Judah.

But even then the Lord’s anger will not be satisfied.

His fist is still poised to strike.

What sorrow awaits the unjust judges

and those who issue unfair laws.

They deprive the poor of justice

and deny the rights of the needy among my people.

They prey on widows

and take advantage of orphans.

What will you do when I punish you,

when I send disaster upon you from a distant land?

To whom will you turn for help?

Where will your treasures be safe?

You will stumble along as prisoners

or lie among the dead.

But even then the Lord’s anger will not be satisfied.

His fist is still poised to strike.

Matthew 6:5–34, The Bible for Everyone: A New Translation

‘When you pray, you mustn’t be like the play-actors. They love to pray standing in the synagogues and on street corners, so that people will notice them. I’m telling you the truth: they have received their reward in full. No: when you pray, go into your own room, shut the door, and pray to your father who is there in secret. And your father, who sees in secret, will repay you.’

‘When you pray, don’t pile up a jumbled heap of words! That’s what the Gentiles do. They reckon that the more they say, the more likely they are to be heard. So don’t be like them. You see, your father knows what you need before you ask him.

‘So this is how you should pray:

Our father in heaven,

may your name be honoured.

May your kingdom come.

May your will be done,

as in heaven, so on earth.

Give us today the bread we need now;

and forgive us the things we owe,

as we too have forgiven what was owed to us.

Don’t bring us into the great trial,

but rescue us from evil.

‘Yes: if you forgive people the wrong they have done, your heavenly father will forgive you as well. But if you don’t forgive people, neither will your heavenly father forgive you what you have done wrong.’

‘When you fast, don’t be gloomy like the play-actors. They make their faces quite unrecognizable, so that everyone can see they’re fasting. I’m telling you the truth: they have received their reward in full. No: when you fast, tidy your hair and beard the way you normally do, and wash your face, so that others won’t notice you’re fasting—except your father, privately. Then your father, who sees in private, will repay you.

‘Don’t store up treasure on earth. Moths and rust will eat it away, and robbers will break in and steal it. No: store up for yourselves treasure in heaven! Moths and rust don’t eat it away there, and no robbers break in and steal it. Show me your treasure, and I’ll show you where your heart is.

‘The eye is the lamp of the body. So if your eye is honest and clear, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is evil, your whole body is in the dark. So, if the light within you turns out to be darkness, darkness doesn’t come any darker than that.

‘Nobody can serve two masters. Otherwise, they will either hate the first and love the second, or be devoted to the first and despise the second. You can’t serve both God and wealth.’

‘So let me tell you: don’t worry about your life—what to eat, what to drink; don’t worry about your body—what to wear. There’s more to life than food! There’s more to the body than a suit of clothes! Have a good look at the birds in the sky. They don’t plant seeds, they don’t bring in the harvest, they don’t store things in barns—and your father in heaven feeds them! Think how different you are from them! Can any of you add fifteen inches to your height just by worrying about it?

‘And why worry about what to wear? Take a tip from the lilies in the countryside. They don’t work; they don’t weave; but, let me tell you, not even Solomon in all his finery was dressed as well as one of these. So if God gives that sort of clothing even to the grass in the field, which is here today and on the bonfire tomorrow, isn’t he far more likely to clothe you too, you little-faith lot?

‘So don’t worry away with your “What’ll we eat?” and “What’ll we drink?” and “What’ll we wear?” Those are all the kinds of things the Gentiles fuss about, and your heavenly father knows you need them all. Instead, make your top priority God’s kingdom and his way of life, and all these things will be given to you as well.

‘So don’t worry about tomorrow. Tomorrow can worry about itself. One day’s trouble at a time is quite enough.’

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