from the devotional book, PICTURES OF GOD
Read Genesis 4:1-15
The book of Genesis begins with Adam and runs through Joseph. In that span of time, consider the various people to whom God revealed Himself in a personal way.
- Adam and Eve (Genesis 1:27-30; 3:8-19) – Even though they had disobeyed God and rejected His wisdom, He spoke to them person-to-person, revealing not only judgment but eventual salvation.
- Cain (Genesis 4:2b-15) – Cain was a murderer, yet God conversed with him, listened to him, and acted to meet his concerns.
- Noah (Genesis 6:7-14) – In a day when the human race had gone entirely wrong, God was pleased with Noah and saved our entire race on account of him and through him.
- Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3; 15:1-9) – Abraham’s story takes up chapters 11-25. What an amazing odyssey of tested faith and gracious blessing!
- Hagar (Genesis 16:7-13) – Hagar was an Egyptian slave who had run away from problems she had helped cause. Yet the living God came to her personally in her darkest moment.
- Rebekah (Genesis 25:21-23) – When she became concerned about her unborn twins, God gave her a glimpse of the larger drama in which she was playing a part.
- Isaac (Genesis 26:1-6) – God assured Isaac that as He had been with his father Abraham, He would be with him as well. God’s promises would prove sure generation after generation.
- Jacob (Genesis 28:10-22) – Like Hagar above, Jacob was running from family problems he had helped to create. But God met Him personally in a way that would shape his entire life.
These encounters paint a picture of an Almighty God who delights to introduce Himself to all types of people, one-on-one. He reveals His wisdom for their situations, speaking demands and promises, comfort and challenge, providing both details and overall perspective. But the most striking aspect of His revelations is not the information He imparts, but the stunning reality of His presence. We human beings are given the great privilege of interacting with the Creator God person-to-person.
from the devotional book, PICTURES OF GOD
Genesis 16; 21:9-21
God’s blessings don’t just come to picture-perfect families. God also blesses in those families filled with conflict and turmoil.
For Sarah, the pain of her childlessness was so great that she was willing to give her husband to another woman – her maid, Hagar. But this didn’t bring Abraham his heir, and it brought only trouble to the family. When Hagar conceived by Abraham, the relationship between Hagar and Sarah was strained to the breaking point. The pregnant Hagar fled and ended up alone in the wilderness. Only the intervention of God’s angel brought her back to Abraham’s household.
Once Isaac was born to Sarah, the conflict between the two wives boiled over again. Sarah demanded that Abraham drive out Hagar and her son, Ishmael. Imagine the inner turmoil that Abraham must have experienced. Both women were his wives. Both boys were his sons. But God came to Abraham and gave him the assurance and direction he desperately needed:
- “Do whatever Sarah tells you. She is right – your descendants will come through Isaac, not Ishmael.”
- “I will take care of Ishmael and will make him a great nation as well, simply because he is your son.”
Through this difficult circumstance, God proved Himself faithful, not only to Abraham and Sarah but also to Hagar and Ishmael. They were soon alone in the wilderness without food and water. Hagar was so desperate that she left the boy by himself simply because she couldn’t bear to watch him die. But “the God who sees” came to her rescue again, as He had when she fled years before.
True to His promises to Abraham and Hagar, God made of Ishmael a great nation. He is considered the father of the Arab peoples. Thus God made Abraham the father, not just of one great nation, but of two – Israel and the Arab peoples. And in Christ, Abraham became the father of an even greater nation – the “holy nation” of all those saved by faith in Christ (1 Peter 2:9). “All those who believe are children of Abraham” (Galatians 3:7).
God’s blessings are real and His promises prove true even in the most troubled situations. The darkness of human distress can never snuff out the light of God’s love.