In this encounter between Hagar and the Angel of the Lord, we witness the faithfulness of God in light of unfaithful humanity and even the unfaithfulness of His own children. God's grace is present throughout this passage, teaching us about repentance in light of the holiness of God.
The ratification of the Covenant with Abram segues into the reality of Sarai's condition. Why is God taking so long to provide an heir? Why must agony beset the promised mother of God's people? What is God doing and how can He be hurried along? These questions lead Sarai to a foolhardy endeavor, yet she's no villain. Which Sarai do we reflect? What do her actions teach us about God?
In light of God’s reckoning the man as righteous, Abram is in a position to ask God for a sign. Not out of doubt or disbelief, but for a strength and posterity. Placing Abram in a trance, God reveals to the Patriarch His double-edged Word. God starts with the bad news and then moves to a three-part good news. God ratifies this promise with two images, one of a smoking oven and the other of a touch, passing between the sacrifice. These signs point to the promise repeated by God, this time with the expansive reach of His people.
Sometime after the events of Lot’s rescue and Melchizedek’s blessing, Abram is confronted by the reality that despite God’s goodness, he lacks an heir to inherit God’s blessings. Abram looks at his present reality and concludes the promise of God doesn’t look possible. God, out of His great kindness and mercy, comforts the Patriarch by not only stating His promise, but illustrating it to Abram.
Trusting in this promise, God reckons Abram his righteousness. The Apostle Paul takes this one verse and expands on it in Romans 4. Addressing the subject of works righteousness manifested in circumcision, Paul points back to the moment Abram was credited as righteous. That happened before his circumcision, which means God’s favor was upon Abram long before the man could do anything to merit salvation.
After his victory over four invading kings from Mesopotamia, Abram is confronted by Bera, king of Sodom, requesting tribute and an alliance. In the first three verses of this encounter we are introduced to a man by the name of Melchizedek, who not only blesses Abram but receives a tithe from him. While this man is only mentioned here once in Genesis, he appears twice more in Scripture. The Author of the Letter to the Hebrews offers to us some compelling exposition on this passage.
About the series
The Book of Genesis is the starting point of God’s covenant with His people. This book gives us the historical sketch of the creation, fall, and redemption of the world. Genesis is also a perfect litmus test to gauge whether or not a person fully trusts in the authority, sufficiency, and inerrancy of Scripture.