The Sovereign And Merciful God

March 22nd, 2022 – Tuesday Evening

“The matter distressed Abraham greatly because of his son. But God said to Abraham, ‘Do not be distressed because of the lad and your maid; whatever Sarah tells you, listen to her, for through Isaac your descendants shall be named. And of the son of the maid I will make a nation also, because he is your descendant.'” ~Genesis 21:11-13

The awesome nature of God is clearly seen in this short section of Scripture. How? Let’s take a look…

We already know that God is merciful and that He is just; that paradox is played out throughout all of His Word. We know that He is sovereign and that in His sovereignty He also gives mankind freedom to choose; the intricacies of that balance are beyond our finite understanding. In our passage today, we see another balance of His: The paradox of sovereign choice and merciful grace.

The LORD understood Abraham’s distress and He understood the particulars of the entire situation. He didn’t approve of anger, ungodly jealousy, disrespect, unkindness, or any such sinful attitude and behavior; yet, He would have His way, and His way in this situation was for Isaac to be the heir of His blessings. [An interesting side observation is that Sarah is really the one who looks silly here; after all, for Hagar to have a child with Abraham was her idea in the first place. The LORD’s ways are ALWAYS best; how foolish we are to take matters into our own hands!] Because of His desire for Isaac to be the heir, the LORD quieted Abraham’s concerns and allowed Sarah’s plan to move forward.

Yet, His sovereign choice of Isaac did not erase or delete Ishmael from the picture. Rather, the LORD reiterated His promise to Abraham that He would make Ishmael into a nation since he was Abraham’s son. [This monologue between God and Abraham is somewhat of a repeat of a more lengthy conversation in Genesis 17 where Isaac was first promised.] I don’t know about what you think, but this is where the awesome nature of God really comes into view, in my opinion. The LORD is God and He can do what He pleases; since He wanted Isaac to be the heir, He certainly could have intervened and destroyed Ishmael in the first fourteen years of his life (even orchestrating it righteously). Yet, because He is good and merciful, He enabled Ishmael not only to live, but also to prosper and to become a great nation. His will indeed would prevail, but with it came His rich mercy and grace – to Abraham, Ishmael, Hagar (we see that later in this same chapter), and even to Sarah.

How about us? The LORD God hasn’t changed; He is still worth our trust and worthy of our humble obedience. We can sometimes get lost in our own thinking and perspective in the midst of the circumstances in which we find ourselves – both self-induced circumstances and unintentional circumstances. When that happens (and before it does), we must go back to the true and amazing nature of God; our situations are not outside of His capabilities and His mercy. Sometimes the results may not seem as merciful as they do in this particular passage, but we can bank on the fact that our awesome God will perfectly execute what is right and good – in accordance with His sovereignty and His grace – as we put our trust in Him. Ultimately, He deserves our unadulterated praise and worship simply because of who He is and because of what He does.

Thank You, Father, that You perfectly perform Your will, while continuing to show mercy and pour forth grace. You are so good! Thank You for allowing us to see and know You!