A Devotion for 13 November 2020 Anno domini, the Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide
1 And the LORD appeared unto him in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day; * 2 And he lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him: and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground, 3 And said, My Lord, if now I have found favour in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant: 4 Let a little water, I pray you, be fetched, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree: 5 And I will fetch a morsel of bread, and comfort ye your hearts; after that ye shall pass on: for therefore are ye come to your servant. And they said, So do, as thou hast said. * * 6 And Abraham hastened into the tent unto Sarah, and said, Make ready quickly three measures of fine meal, knead it, and make cakes upon the hearth. * 7 And Abraham ran unto the herd, and fetcht a calf tender and good, and gave it unto a young man; and he hasted to dress it. 8 And he took butter, and milk, and the calf which he had dressed, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree, and they did eat.
It is the sorrowful proclivity of fallen humanity to seek to replace God with their own misguided wisdom. Some prefer that the state fill the desolate vacuum of their hearts in place of the God of Heaven who is All-wise and All-Powerful. Some fill that empty vacuum with alcohol or drugs; others with lascivious sexual desires; and some with a greed for wealth either earned or stolen from others. Even the believer may, at times, be tempted to pursue a course in his own wisdom in conflict with that laid down by God. It is almost as if they believe God does not quite understand the solution.
Hagar sought water in the wilderness and found none until the Angel of the Lord interceded and showed her, right before her presence, a fountain of water. King Saul sought out the witch of Endor to raise up Samuel but received an answer from the Lord which he wished not to have. The two men on the Damascus Road sought answers of the world which could only be found in Christ who walked right beside them. “6 ¶ Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: 7 Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. 8 ¶ For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:6-9
Sarah, the precious wife of Abraham, was childless – even to the advanced age of ninety years. She knew that God had promised her husband, Abraham, a progeny in such multitudes as to fill the earth, yet she held little hope for child-bearing. She decided that God could not fulfill His promise with Abraham without some ‘wise’ assistance from Sarah! She gave her servant girl (an innocent in the matter) to bear a child for Abraham. This was completely contrary to the Word of God. Actually, extramarital sex with any woman other than the one wife God has given is an egregious sin. Sarah’s plan back-fired. It created a problem in the Middle East which persists starkly even in our day.
Hagar did bear a son of Abraham and called his name Ishmael according to the counsel of God. This was not the promised seed God had covenanted with Abraham. He was unlawfully born of Hagar – not Sarah.
One warm summer day as Abraham sat in his tent door on the Plains of Mamre, he spied three men approach. These were Angels, one of which Abraham referred to as the Lord. “9 ¶ And they said unto him, Where is Sarah thy wife? And he said, Behold, in the tent. 10 And he said, I will certainly return unto thee according to the time of life; and, lo, Sarah thy wife shall have a son. And Sarah heard it in the tent door, which was behind him. 11 Now Abraham and Sarah were old and well stricken in age; and it ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women. 12 Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also? 13 And the LORD said unto Abraham, Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I of a surety bear a child, which am old? 14 Is any thing too hard for the LORD? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.” Genesis 18:9-14
To make a long account short, Sarah did have a son and called his name., ISAAC, which means, in the Hebrew language, ‘laughter,’ because Sarah had laughed at the prospect. God’s promise was fulfilled by a miraculous promise and not natural expectation.
Still, the problem of the illegitimate son remained. God told Abraham to heed the counsel of Sarah and send Hagar and Ishmael away which he did.
Isaac, despite the birth of Ishmael, was called Abraham’s only son whom he loved: “1 And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am. * 2 And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.” God was trying Abraham as an illustration to us of abiding faith in the Words of the Lord. God would not allow any man’s son, even if he were qualified, to die as a sacrifice for sin; but He gave us an idea of what that great sacrifice would feel like. Isaac was a type of Christ. He came by miraculous conception, though not of a virgin. He carried the wood upon which he would be sacrificed just as our Lord did up Calvary (the same Mt. Moriah of Isaac’s planned sacrifice). Isaac did not utter a word in his own defense – like Christ. But like us, Isaac was saved by another sacrifice – the symbol of the Lamb of God sacrificed from before the foundation of the world. When God stayed the hand of Abraham against the sacrifice of Isaac, “Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son.”
Has God fulfilled His promise to Abraham: “I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly?” Has the seed of Abraham been multiplied exceedingly? By all means! If you have believed the promise of a Savior/Redeemer made to Abraham, you, too, are children of the promise. “13 For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. 14 For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect: 15 Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression. 16 Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all, 17 (As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were.” Romans 4:13-17
The above account of the circumstances of Isaac’s birth has serious meaning to all Christians of every age and period – we must trust God above all else and not rely upon our mortal thoughts as our compass of truth. This Sarah did not do. She took matters into her own hands. “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6 This counsel goes to political, social, educational, and spiritual decisions as well. Governments such as the United States have undertaken to murder millions of the most innocent of human beings in their mother’s womb. This policy will have dire circumstances upon the nation from the Hand of God. Allow me to give you an example:
Three decades and more ago, the government of South Korea enacted a public policy to discourage the birth of more than one child per family. There were serious tax and political burdens to pay if violated. In Korea, the most important child a man can have is a male child. This is true even if immoral. So, whenever a wife became pregnant, the child would be aborted if examination revealed the child would be female. This policy extended for many years. Suddenly, it was discovered that there was a grave shortage of young women for the Korean boys to marry. The population reached a point at which the population could not replenish itself. So, today, many young ladies are invited to come to Korea from Vietnam, the Philippines and other Asian countries to marry the young men who cannot find a wife in Korea. This is the result of governments trying to play God. The same insanity applies when individuals like Sarah try to outsmart or render counsel to God who is all-wise.