Listen:  78 Question 1

That’s a very interesting and instructive question.  Why did the Lord allow Hagar to become pregnant when He knew all the problems that Ishmael’s offspring would present to Israel?  We might also ask why the Lord allowed Adam and Eve to partake of the forbidden fruit when tempted by the serpent in the Garden of Eden.  There are many instances in the scriptures that we may well wonder why the Lord allowed certain things to happen.

Let’s start by reading 1 Corinthians 10:1-11, “Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; And did all eat the same spiritual meat; And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.  But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted.  Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play. Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand. Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents. Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer. Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.”

In this portion, we are given several episodes of the Israelites in the wilderness.  With the use of a concordance, you can find each of these incidences in the Old Testament.  Some of these incidences were good and commendable, such as they all ate and drank the same spiritual meat and drink.  The others showed times when the children of Israel were rebellious and disobedient.  Twice in the portion, in verses 6 and 11, we are told that these things happened so that we might have examples to learn from.  Isn’t it amazing to realize that the Lord allowed these things to happen to these people so that we can have instruction for living lives that honor the Lord?  One main lesson we can learn from all of the examples here is that there are consequences for our actions.

In the case of Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar, we see in Genesis 12:7 that the Lord had promised Abraham that he would have children.  That says, “And the LORD appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the LORD, who appeared unto him.”  As they both grew older, it seems that Sarah began to doubt the Lord’s ability to do what He had promised.  Taking the matter into her own hands, she arranged that Abraham should have a son by Hagar, her handmaid.  Let’s read Genesis 16:1-5, “Now Sarai Abram’s wife bare him no children: and she had an handmaid, an Egyptian, whose name was Hagar. And Sarai said unto Abram, Behold now, the LORD hath restrained me from bearing: I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her. And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai.  And Sarai Abram’s wife took Hagar her maid the Egyptian, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife. And he went in unto Hagar, and she conceived: and when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress was despised in her eyes. And Sarai said unto Abram, My wrong be upon thee: I have given my maid into thy bosom; and when she saw that she had conceived, I was despised in her eyes: the LORD judge between me and thee.”  Sarah knew she had done wrong and acknowledged it before Abraham.  Still, there were severe consequences because of this act of Sarah and Abraham.  The Apostle Paul wrote in Galatians 6:7-8, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.”  What an important lesson!  May we all heed these words and realize there are consequences to all our actions…both good and bad.

Sometimes the lessons of the Old Testament are clear.  Why did the Lord allow Joseph to be captured and sold into slavery by his brothers?  Joseph had done nothing wrong.  His brothers were extremely jealous of him and could not even speak to him kindly as we read in Genesis 37:4, “And when his brethren saw that their father loved him more than all his brethren, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably unto him.”  I think most of us know how that Joseph rose to prominence in Egypt and was able to supply food to his family during a time of terrible drought.  Consider Joseph’s words to his brothers in Genesis 50:20, “But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.”  This, too, was written for an example for us: and what a lesson it is!  Sometimes the Lord will see fit to allow us to go through times of injustice and suffering, just so we can be in a position to bless others.

There are so many important lessons to be learned from the Lord’s dealings with different people in the Old Testament.  Romans 15:4 tells us, “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.”