Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

             Salvation for all in Christ

Genesis 16: 1-16
V11”And the angel of the Lord said to Hagar, “Behold, you are pregnant and shall bear a son. You shall call his name Ishmael, because the Lord has listened to your affliction”.

Genesis chapter 16 narrates basically a family problem. The chapter is divided into three parts;
1) the scene in Abram’s house, 2) Angel of the Lord meeting Hagar at the spring, and, 3) Ishmael’s birth.

Surrogate motherhood was attached throughout the ancient Orient from the third to the first millennium B C, from Babylon to Egypt. There was no greater sorrow for an Israelite or Oriental woman than childlessness. If one woman gives her personal maid to her husband, in the event of her own childlessness, and then the child born of the maid was considered the wife’s child. From the legal and moral stand point, therefore Sarai’s proposal was completely according to the custom. Nuzi Texts and Hammurabi’s code prove the existence of such a system.

Sarai raises a theological question; “what is human’s role in the realization of God’s promise?” She interprets her situation that God has kept her from having children. She certainly knows that God has promised Abram offspring (15:4). She recognizes that God, does not act alone, that human agency is important. She allows Hagar to be a wife to Abram. Gerhard Von Rad views this situation in this way “The Hagar story therefore shows us……one of little faith who was not able to leave it to God to go his way, but thought that he/she had to contribute.”
The next part of the story says when Hagar started looking her mistress with contempt; Abram and Sarai have sent her away, but not God.  God’s concern is not confined to the elect line. He has passion and concern for the troubled ones. Hagar’s new name for God (God who sees me), presents a metaphor born of her experience of having been given a future and a hope. The name of Ishmael means ‘God hears’ witnesses to God’s hearing one in distress. In this naming Hagar shows that she has an independent relationship with God. Hagar is the first person in Genesis to be encountered by the angel of God and the first woman to be given promises.

Heavenly Father, thank you for your love for the afflicted. Fill us with deep faith and kindness, Amen.

God acts in both word and deed outside the boundaries of what we normally call the “community of faith.”

Liba Varghese W/O Rev. Sam Philip
MTC of Greater Seattle, WA

Christian Education Forum, Diocese of NAE of the Mar Thoma Church

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