Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 3 * PART 4 * BOOK 4
SODOM AND GOMORRAH
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Now then, if you’ll pick up with me in Genesis, Chapter 20. The children of those two daughters who had children by their father Lot, also joined the ranks of the Arab nations who became the enemies of Israel. In our next lesson I’ll try to chart the family tree, showing everyone who came out of Terah, the Father of Abraham. This will help you see, as they intermarried with these forefathers up in Syria (who were really the family of Terah), how the whole Middle East and all of these enmities are within the family.
Mark Twain said statistics could lie like the dickens. But if you are aware of statistics at all, something like 75% or 80% of all murders take place within the family. You have it here; the intense hatred of all the kinfolk associated with Abraham. Remember, this is Abraham’s 99th year. Just before we got to Chapter 19 we saw that Ishmael was 13 years old. As I reckon time, Chapter 20 has to be the time when Sarah is about to have Isaac. Ever since the Garden of Eden, Satan is going to continually try to thwart God’s plan of redemption by prohibiting the appearance of The Messiah. That means he is going to do everything he can to destroy the Jewish people. If you wonder why the Jewish people have gone through such terrible times in their history, it is the satanic effort to keep the Messiah from coming. The one you remember the best, is when Herod made the decree to kill all the boy babies. What was the purpose? To kill the Messiah. In the Book of Esther, Haman, that Jew hater, had convinced the king (Esther’s husband) to annihilate the Jewish people. Without realizing what he was doing, the King put out the decree. So you see there has been this constant effort, satanically inspired, to thwart God’s plan of redemption. In Genesis Chapter 20, although Abraham was a man of faith, I think the power of Satan so beset him that we almost see Sarah lose out.
“AND Abraham journeyed from thence toward the south country, and dwelled between Kadesh and Shur, and sojourned in Gerar.”
Gerar was a boarder town between Canaan and Egypt. Abraham had learned his lesson once that he was not to go into Egypt. He doesn’t go into Egypt, but he gets as close as he can by sitting on the border. I call this “fence dwelling.” This is a picture of some Christians. They want one foot in the world but they want one foot in The Lord’s business, so they are `on the fence.’ It won’t work. But Abraham goes down and dwells in the border town of Gerar.
“And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, `She is my sister:…'”
There are lots of interesting tidbits here. Sarah is ninety, and is still so attractive that old Abraham knew the minute these pagans saw her (and in perfect accord with the Laws of Hammurabi) they could take Sarah into the king’s harem. At ninety! So again, Abraham is going to use the same ploy, “Well now, Sarah, if they come for you, don’t tell them you’re my wife; tell them you’re my sister.” He avoided a total lie as she was a half sister. The Scripture doesn’t say it but according to the time element, she must be pregnant with Isaac. This is why I think Satan is going to use every opportunity to prevent his birth.
“…and Abimelech king of Gerar sent, and took Sarah.”
Well, Abraham wasn’t worried for nothing. But God will intervene now, as He is intensely interested in this promised child, Isaac.
“But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night, and said to him, Behold, thou art but a dead man, for the woman which thou hast taken; for she is a mans wife.” Remember, he gets this by way of a dream. “But Abimelech had not come near her: and he said, `Lord, wilt thou slay also a righteous nation?'” In other words, Abimelech is pleading, “I’m not guilty; are You going to put me to death anyway?”
“Said he not unto me, `She is my sister?’ and she, even she herself said, `He is my brother (she went along to protect Abraham):’ in the integrity of my heart and innocency of my hands have I done this. And God said unto him in a dream, `Yea, I know that thou didst this in the integrity of thy heart; for I also withheld thee from sinning against me: therefore suffered I thee not to touch her.'”
We’ll not finish the Chapter. You can do that in your leisure. But, Abraham and Sarah now take off back to where they belong, which is in the main area of Canaan. Beersheba, in the southernmost part of Canaan, is where Abraham takes up his major dwelling place. Now to Chapter 21. This is one of my favorite lessons in all of Scripture. I have a lot of them, but this one is the epitome of how all of Scripture fits together in order to teach a New Testament truth. Previously, we read that Hagar fled from Sarah, and God told her to go back and dwell with Abraham and Sarah. I told you that God had a reason for it, and here it comes.
“AND the Lord visited Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did unto Sarah as he had spoken. For Sarah conceived, and bare Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him.”
With God there are no if’s, and’s, or but’s. Everything is concise. So Sarah’s about to have her promised child, precisely when God said.
“And Abraham called the name of his son that was born unto him, whom Sarah bare to him, Isaac.”
Scripture is very careful to show us that even though this birth is miraculous, this is the way it happened. Now in verse 4, according to the Covenant that God had instructed in previous chapters:
“And Abraham circumcised his son Isaac being eight days old, as God had commanded him. And Abraham was an hundred years old (divisible by 5, remember) , when his son Isaac was born unto him. And Sarah said, `God hath made me to laugh, so that all that hear will laugh with me.’ And she said, `Who would have said unto Abraham, that Sarah should have given children suck? for I have born him a son in his old age.'” Who would imagine at the age of ninety that she would not only have a child, but nurse it!
“And the child grew, and was weaned: and Abraham made a great feast the same day that Isaac was weaned.”
I don’t like to imply things that are not, but especially back then, and I think even into the present time, many of the tribes in the Middle East wean their children at three, four and sometimes even five years old. So, when these lads were weaned, they were of a pretty good stature and had a pretty good understanding.
“And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian (Ishmael, who was fourteen years old), which she had born unto Abraham, mocking.”
This got at the heart of the true mother. She couldn’t stand to see this teenage lad torment her own child. So Sarah gets all upset.
“Wherefore she said unto Abraham (underline the next two words), `Cast out this bondwoman and her son: for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac.'”
She is speaking from a mother’s heart, but also speaking the truth of God. For didn’t God say, “Oh, this son that will be born, the promised son, is the one in whom the Covenant will continue.” There is more here than meets the eye. Ishmael and Hagar were sent back and have now spent some twelve or thirteen years under the roof of Abraham’s tent. But now Isaac arrives, becomes a little lad, and now the instruction is to cast Hagar out. Continue on so you’ll see that this is not just a human dilemma. From Abraham’s point of view it was grievous as he had come to love Ishmael.
“And the thing was very grievous in Abraham’s sight because of his son. And God said unto Abraham (I want you to realize that God is instructing now), `Let it not be grievous in thy sight because of the lad, and because of thy bondwoman; in all that Sarah hath said unto thee (what did she say? Cast them out), hearken unto her voice; for in Isaac shall thy seed be called.'”
Remember a couple of chapters ago we showed you that the Greek word `seed’ used here is singular, and refers to Galatians 3:16; where it says, that seed “is Christ.” So it will be through this Covenant line of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, Solomon and all the way until finally we come to Mary, and The Christ is born.
“And also of the son of the bondwoman will I make a nation (God making the promise He made before), because he is thy seed.” Even today the Arab people still adamantly claim that Abraham is their father.
Please go to Galatians, Chapter 4. This is the beauty of studying, especially Genesis, how Genesis fits so wonderfully with all the New Testament; in particular, I think, with the writings of Paul. As you read the Book of Galatians, remember the reason it was written. Paul wrote it under extreme circumstances. He had an eye disease problem, and normally had a scribe take dictation. Now, however, word was coming back to the apostle that the churches he had established in Asia Minor (which is present day Turkey), were being besieged with Judaizers saying they couldn’t be saved unless they kept the Jewish Law; circumcision and the rest. They fell for it. After all, you know that works always appeal to the human intellect. When Paul got news that these Galatian believers were turning back under legalism, he didn’t wait for his scribe to come. Apparently because of the urgency of the hour, belabored as he was and with poor eyesight, he wrote this letter himself.
“My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you, I desire to be present with you now, and to change my voice (I think He is saying, “I’m going to have to shout at you to get your attention.”); for I stand in doubt of you. Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law (you who want to go back under legalism), do ye not hear the law? For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid (Ishmael by Hagar), the other by a freewoman (Isaac by Sarah).” Isn’t it amazing that we come here to those events which took place 2000 years earlier, and Paul now says … “But he who was of the bondwoman (Ishmael) was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman (Isaac) was by promise.”
Remember I pointed out to you in Genesis 17 that God had nothing to do with the birth of Ishmael; that it was all man’s idea. Now here it comes. Ishmael was born of the flesh but he, Isaac, of the freewoman was by promise. For twenty-five years God had promised Abraham, “You’re going to have a nation come from you; you’re going to have a son.” You see, this was the son of promise.
“Which things are an allegory (a living illustration of something): for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage (which is Hagar), which is Agar.”
Let’s use the following illustration and maybe it will help.
Ex. 19 & 20 -God -Law -Moses -Law to Israel
Gal. 1:17 & 4:25 -God -Grace -Paul -Grace to Gentiles & Jews
Way back here at Mount Sinai, after Israel had come out of Egypt, they had crossed the Dead Sea and encamped around the mountain. God called to Moses and told him to come up into the mountain. There, God gave Moses the Law – the Ten Commandments. Now Moses comes down off the mountain and who does he give the Law to? Israel. See? Now, answer my question. Who did God use to give the Law to the Nation of Israel? A man!
He gave it to Moses up there on the mountaintop. Moses came down off the mountain and gave God’s Law to the Nation of Israel. This is a comparison, then, with Ishmael because Israel, as I have been pointing out since we came up through Genesis, is God’s earthly people with earthly promises. Everything concerning them is earthly. So Ishmael, also, was of the flesh by way of the slave girl. Consequently, the allegory is that the Law given to Israel through Moses was fleshly; it was carnal. Don’t get me wrong. The Law was spiritual. It was God’s perfect Law, but in its setting, its usage and its practice, it was fleshly. It depended upon the activities of the people who were under that Law.
“For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children.” At the time Paul is writing Galatians, about 58 A.D., the Temple is still operating in Jerusalem. Israel is still under the Law. They are still practicing it. Sacrifices are being offered by the thousands. “But Jerusalem which is above (heavenly)is free, which is the mother of us all.”
He is now referring to Sarah, who was the freewoman who had the child by promise, and who stands in contrast to the Law as it was given to Moses at Sinai.
“But as then he that was born after the flesh (Ishmael) persecuted him that was born after the Spirit (Isaac), even so it is now.”
Throughout human history, religionists have been the biggest persecutors of the true believers. Religionists – in the name of religion they persecute the true believer. Paul indicated here in verse 29 that, “so it has always been and always will be.”
“Nevertheless what saith the scripture (not what some denomination says; not what Judaism says; not what anyone else says, but what the The Word of God say?)? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman. So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free.”
Study the diagram on page 92 again. Standing over against Sinai and the giving of the Law we have the same God who now speaks from Heaven to the Apostle of the Gentiles. He gives to Paul those doctrines of grace. Paul comes from that three-year, Mount Sinai experience, and now comes to the Gentiles with this message of grace; not to the Nation of Israel, but to the Gentiles. It is all heavenly connected, whereas Israel was earthly. Turn to Romans Chapter 6 and maybe we can put the frosting on the cake. Beloved, the whole world of Christendom is constantly trying to subjugate us to legalism. Even good men are writing books trying to convince the Christian of legalism. Legalism is simply anything we can do in the energy of the flesh as against the finished work of the Cross, which is by faith, and by faith alone. I think the following Scripture says it all. Plain English! There is no getting around it. Paul states:
“For sin (`old Adam’ – or old sin nature) shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under (what?) grace.”
Do you see the big difference? I have been amazed that so many people come into my classes and say they have never heard there was a difference between Law and Grace. There is all the difference in the world. It’s like daylight and dark to come out of the darkness of legalism, and to step into the light of God’s grace. Remember that grace is unmerited favor. Nothing that I can do will count with God. It is all based on what He has done on my behalf!
“What then? shall we sin (shall we let old Adam control our lives?), because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.”
See the difference? Paul is constantly reminding us of this very thing; that our Salvation is based on the grace of God, and not on anything that we can merit. Legalism – God hates it! That’s why He told Abraham to cast out Hagar and Ishmael. I always point out when teaching this to notice that He didn’t tell Abraham to give Ishmael a separate tent so he wouldn’t have to go too far. That isn’t what He said. He said to cast them out. Sarah said it all when she said, “He shall not dwell under the same roof with my son.” Now, put that into the context. Law and Grace cannot mix.