“Now the Angel of the Lord said, ‘Hagar, Sarai’s maid, where have you come from, and where are you going?’ … And the Angel of the Lord said to her: ‘Behold, you are with child, and you shall bear a son…because the Lord has heard your affliction….His hand shall be against every man, and every man’s hand against him.’ ” ~Gen. 16: 7-8; 11-12
Brothers in Christ,
Many times in our lives, we will encounter situations in which we will be in dire need of help. For these situations, and in fact every situation, the first one to seek help from is the Lord. The Lord will always help us, but not always in the ways we expect or desire. Sometimes the Lord helps those who don’t even believe in His Name. Though we don’t know the state of Hagar’s heart, based on some statements she makes, it doesn’t seem like she had a firm faith in God. Nevertheless, the Lord takes compassion upon her and gives her a seed that, like the lineage of Isaac, “shall not be counted for multitude.” But look at the ultimate purpose: Ishmael is raised up to be brought down. Why? Why is often a question that many people can’t answer, but by searching God’s Word, He gives us an answer. Ishmael is raised up so that God can show Himself glorious. Examples like Ishmael sober, humble, and remind us not only of God’s justice, but also of His mercy. We were doing a family Bible study the other night and we were going over Judges 3:1-4, which says that the Lord permitted various Canaanite nations to remain that He might test those Israelites “who had not known any of the wars in Canaan.” The Lord did so not only, as the passage says, to train them in warfare, but also to test their loyalty to Him. So the answer to “why?” is so that the Lord may instruct and test those whom He has predestined to eternal life. Kings, criminals, ordinary laymen all may be blessed with riches, success, or power for a time, but they are an example to us. How merciful is the Lord, that He has preserved us from eternal separation from Him! How thankful we should be that He has blessed us with eternal life! I asked my dad a while back if he thought that many Native Americans or ancient North American civilizations were saved. He said that some may have been, but we can’t know for sure. How sobering it is to think that besides a few here and there, the Lord may have seen fit to inflict judgment on all the peoples of the earth, except His chosen people: Israel. Next time you ask yourself why the wicked are prosperous, be reminded of your eternal reward and of the mighty deeds of the Lord. For there is another purpose behind their success: that we might see it and glorify God for His mercy towards us in preserving us from the punishment that they will one day receive.
Your brother in Christ,