We are solidly into the second major section of Old Testament history, the Age of the Patriarchs. In these chapters following all the way through the remainder of Genesis we read of the ups and downs of the lives of the fathers of the faith. The promises given initially to Abraham are repeated to Isaac and Jacob. Jacob will undergo a name change, becoming “Israel”, and Israel will father the 12 tribes of Israel.
How are we to respond to the strange events of chapter 16? Sarai is barren, and yet she and Abraham are to parent a great multitude. She hatches a plan for her maidservant, Hagar, to give her a child. It is ill conceived and yet it happens. She immediately resents Hagar when she is able to conceive. Drama ensues! It is enough to make us all feel that we are not so abnormal after all! The patriarchs’ families are far from perfect and are full of all the relational tensions that characterize our own families.
In the midst of what can only be called dysfunction, God is at work. He is working his plan to save us. His promises have gone forth; his word will accomplish his will. Amazing good news when we consider that the word of God performs what it promises in spite of those who receive those promises.