Friday, July 20, 2007

Humanity in Sin Part 18 - The Importance to Wait on God

This is my personal summary of the preaching of Rev.Dr.Stephen Tong on 1st July 2007 in GRIIS. It was preached in Indonesian and I personally translated to English. Newton Life has it preached in Mandarin with English translation.

Passage: Genesis 16

Through this chapter, we come to know the origin of Arab nation and the reason for the turmoil in Middle East for thousands of years. This is the result of trying to ‘help’ God because of impatience. Abram was waiting for God but his wife Sarai in her anxiety could not wait for God to fulfil His promise. We ought to keep doing our duties while waiting for God. But this is a common struggle for many in their walk of faith. We ask God why we have to wait, and why He never fulfil what He has promised after such a long time, and how long more we have to wait. If God is good, why is His goodness so long in arriving? If He has promised, why hasn’t He realized it? We have waited and grown so old.

However, we have to be careful. If we do not obey God and honor His Word, without our realization we will enter into Satan’s trap. Why must we wait? God keeps repeating the same promise to Abram, “I will make your descendants like the stars in the sky and the sand in the ocean.” Abram must be thinking that he had memorized this promise enough, why must God keep repeating it? This is often our attitude. We think that we already know and we are already bored and sick of it. Many young people always consider themselves smart and inquisitive. They want to know more, and more. It is not wrong to desire knowledge. However, knowing cognitively and rationally is not the same as knowing truly through personal spiritual experience. There are many things we know to be wrong but we still do them. Many times we think we know, but when we enter into life’s tests, all our knowledge cannot be transformed into the power to achieve victory in life. This means that our knowledge is not integrated with our life. That is why God allows us to wait and keeps repeating His promise.

Many know what they should do but they do not obey, instead they mock God. Many are bored with doctrines and want to see God perform miracles before they are willing to believe in His power. However, God cannot be forced. Between the Old Testament and the New Testament transition, He was silent and sent not a single prophet for 400 years. God wants to test if men would remain faithful to His Word or their faith would be shaken. But often times men rather want to fulfil their own desires hence they abandon God’s Word and many false preachers emerge as a result. People who cannot wait on God will be easily fooled by Satan, who invests in their destruction by tricking their eyes with attractive things first and destroying them later.

Sarai thought that if God wanted her to be the mother of the child of promise, but she never became pregnant, then probably God wanted to use her maid to bear a child on her behalf. Could this be God’s way? Whether it was or it was not, was not Sarai’s concern at that time. Her concern was to have a child for her husband Abram, whatever the means. Abram did beget a child through Sarai’s maid, Hagar the Egyptian, and through this son was born the nation of Arab. The ancient Egyptians under Pharaoh became smaller and smaller, but after Hagar, became greater. God later on destroyed the Egyptians who enslaved the Israelites for 430 years. Today’s Egyptians are not the descendants of those Egyptians in the days of Moses. Today’s Egyptians are the Arabians.

Out of impatience and boredom of God’s unfulfilled promise, Sarai decided to intervene God’s plan. This is something we should learn never to do. Great leaders also have their weak moments where they are weaker than ordinary people. When Elijah was weak, his faith was shaken and he asked for death. When Abram was weak, he listened to his wife’s wrong suggestion. Many Christians, when they are pressed by financial needs, sell their principles and bow down to the rich. Many Christians compromise for the sake of material needs. Many Christians play at the background and use unlawful means to ‘help’ God. God knows, God does not stop them but let them do it. This permittance is a scary thing. When we think that we are free to commit sin, it is a very terrible moment in our life. When we are at the decisive direction to go astray, consequence and judgement will await us later.

Sarai let Hagar sleep with Abram and she became pregnant in one night. But Hagar started to look down on Sarai and insulted her. Do not assume that when we are good towards others, others will be appreciative of us. Many people think that they deserve all the good they can get. If we are nice haphazardly, we often times end up selling away the truth. When we are too nice to others, often times we end up compromising the right principles. If we treat people meals 10 times, and do not treat them the 11th time, people will start thinking we are evil. Many people are most disrespectful towards their parents. Why? Because they are too nice to us. We thank others who treat us a meal only once a year, but we do not thank our parents who invite us for free meals every day. This is not to say that parents should stop feeding their children, but we should learn to be thankful in a proper way.

Sarai could not stand such degrading treatment from her maid in response to her generosity to let her lie with her husband, so she complained to Abram about it. Abram told her that her maid was in her hand, she should do to her whatever seem right to her. Abram was right that he did not try to defend the maid before his wife. A maid is an outsider after all, but he was bound to his wife by a marriage covenant before God.

Hence Sarai began to persecute Hagar. But persecution always went beyond the boundary. Hagar could not take it and fled. It became a complication where Abram defended Sarai, Sarai persecuted Hagar too much, and God began to defend Hagar because she suffered much under Sarai. God sent His angel to ask Hagar to go back to her mistress and to submit to her. This is the principle of the Scripture. Hagar must go back, but with the understanding that she was a servant and Sarai was her mistress and that the child she bore was not the legal heir.

God promised to bless Hagar’s descendants. There are two types of God’s blessings, common grace and saving grace. All the Arab nations are blessed by God. Their lands are always rich in oil. But the land of Israel which is just next to Arabian land has no oil. The blessings are different. God’s blessings to Israel is that through the descendant of David, Christ the Savior of the world would be born.

There are many other blessings outside of spritual blessings. Many people want only material blessings and healing, but do not want to be saved spiritually. God gives spiritual blessings to Sarai’s descendants, but material blessings to Hagar’s descendants. God has alloted different portion of blessings for different people. Whoever is not satisfied with what God has given and want something else, is a foolish person.


At 12:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Many times we think we know, but when we enter into life’s tests, all our knowledge cannot be transformed into the power to achieve victory in life. This means that our knowledge is not integrated with our life. That is why God allows us to wait and keeps repeating His promise.

What a wise observation. When someone failed in test, he might thought he need to acquire a more advance learning. But what he actually need is to solidify his fundamentals (in practical sense) before he move on.


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