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“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.” 1 Corinthians 6: 19-20
At least one of the things you see in the book of Genesis is people like you and me, trying to understand a relationship with God. After being sold into slavery and put in prison on false accusations, Joseph must have wondered, “Where is God in this situation?”
His father, Jacob, at least once thought that if God provides for him, then he will worship Him as God (Gen. 28: 20-21). His father, Isaac, at least once thought that God’s word was optional.
God told Isaac’s wife Rebekah that of her two sons, the older would serve the younger (25: 23), but Isaac would put the older, Esau in charge (27:1-4). His father, Abraham, at least once, thought that God needed him to take action to fulfill God’s promise.
In Genesis 12, God called Abram to leave his country and, God would make him a great nation (12:1-3). A few chapters later, in 15, God greatly blessed Abram, but he was without a child or an heir.
Just reading the text is unclear but sometime, perhaps up to 14 years [16:3 ten years, plus enough time for all the events to happen] has passed since God called Abram in chapter 12. It seems to me that Abram’s trust in God was being challenged by all those years without an heir.
In 15:2, Abram says to God that all the blessings that God had given would go to Eliezer of Damascus because God had not given him a child. In response, God tells Abram he would have a physical descendant (15:4) and from his descendant would be a nation as uncountable as the stars in the sky (15:5).
In the next chapter, Abram assumes that his own sexual aptitude is how God’s promise would be fulfilled. However, I want to draw your attention to specific words used in Genesis 16:3.
Abram’s wife Sarai assumed that God’s promise of offspring could be fulfilled through Abram taking her maid as a surrogate wife (16-12). In verse 3, Sarai took Hagar and gave her to her husband as his wife. Sarai’s actions echo Genesis 3:6, where the woman took from it [tree of the knowledge of good and evil] and gave also to her husband.
Now, future texts show that God never had polygamy in mind, nor did He approve. In 16:8, God refers to Hagar as “Sarai’s maid,” not “Abram’s wife,” and the same is true in 21: 12. It’s only Sarai that God ever refers to as Abram’s wife (17: 15, 19: 18:9, 10).
Moreover, in chapter 17, Ishmael, the child of Abram and Hagar, is rejected by God as the child of promise [v19 can affirm the positive (NIV). Still, the nuance should point the translator to the contrary (NTL, ESV, NKJV, NASB) because of the priority God gives to Isaac in v21]. Also, Sarai is identified as the mother of the child of promise (17: 16).
Finally, the sign of God’s covenant with Abram is placed on the male organ, which in chapter 16, he misused in the siring of Ishmael. Thus, the sign is Abram submitting his whole body to God. God’s promise did not rely on Abram’s fertility but on God Himself. This symbol, which required action on Abram’s part, was bringing himself into alignment with God.
An important thing I left out until this point was back in chapter 15, when God promised Abram a biological descendent, Abram believed God (Gen. 15:6).
Abram trusted that what God had said would be done. That is faith. Faith does not mean understanding everything about God’s plan.
Abram’s efforts, although unnecessary, was an act of faith. Similarly, him receiving the sign of the covenant on his body was also an act of faith; but as I said, an act of submission to God.
Christian, we are called similarly to that same kind of faith. Where God promised Abraham land, seed, and blessing, and He fulfilled that promise. You and I are called to be ambassadors for Christ in this world (2 Cor. 5: 20). A big part of our mission is to make sure our words and actions match our message (Phil. 1: 27, Col. 4:5). Sarai and Abram saw how the
Chaldeans and the Canaanites viewed marriage and bigamy and let the world’s view of morally infect their life. Christian, you are not your own. The blood of Jesus purchased your redemption; therefore, honor God in your words, relationships, actions, and with your body.
Ozzy Osborne is associate pastor of Christ’s Church of the Valley in Montrose.
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