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A Misdirected Faith Part 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
May 17, 2022 1:00 am

A Misdirected Faith Part 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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May 17, 2022 1:00 am

We might be the victim of our own decisions or others. Abraham and Sarah’s maid, Hagar, bore a son—an heir. When she was pushed into the desert, God found her and comforted her. In this message, we look at God’s command and promise to Hagar. People do not have the last word. In our despair and our extremities, God sees and intervenes.

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Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith.

Sarah's idea for Abraham to father a promised heir through her maid has backfired. Hagar runs away to escape the torment, only to find comfort from an unexpected place. From the Moody Church in Chicago, this is Running to Win with Dr. Erwin Lutzer, whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line. Pastor Lutzer, the story of Hagar and her son with Abraham set in motion conflict for thousands of years. But even so, there is an element of grace here. Dave, that's why this story in the Old Testament is so important. We see Abraham, who is regarded as a man of faith. We also see his disobedience.

We see brokenness. But in the midst of it all, we still see God's grace. And that's the important lesson. And even as we will learn today, God is with us in our failures, in our successes, yes, but also in those times when we make wrong decisions, he redeems them according to his will.

And you're absolutely right. Historically, this event is incredibly important. I've written a book entitled The Cross in the Shadow of the Crescent, and perhaps you've heard me say I wrote it because I know Abraham, for example, is seen as the progenitor of faith, particularly in Judaism, Christianity, but also in Islam. Have you ever asked yourself the question, why do Muslims regard Abraham as the father of their faith? Well, these are the kinds of questions I answer. But more than that, I discuss the role of Islam historically, what we can learn, and especially its application to the American church.

For a gift of any amount, it can be yours. Here's what you do. Go to rtwoffer.com. Remember the title of the book, The Cross in the Shadow of the Crescent, or if you prefer, call us at 1-888-218-9337. And always remember God's grace is greater than our sin. I don't know who you are today. Visitor, somebody who's attended for a while, he's trying to find their way in life, and life gets very harsh. Jesus comes to us today and says, where have you come from? And where do you think you're going?

Tell me. And then very graciously, this angel gives a command and also some consolation. He gives a promise. Speaking to her, he says, first of all, the command, return to your mistress and submit to her. You stay out here, you're going to die in this wilderness. There's no hope that you're going to survive. Life is tough back there, but if you go back and if you act differently, I'm sure that that's implied, and you begin to submit yourself.

In fact, that's what the text says. Submit to Sarah. She's going to treat you better. It's time for you to knuckle under. You can't run from your problems. You can't think to yourself that you can make it on your own, and the way to get out of this is to escape. No, no, no, go back and live differently. Tell Sarah, Sarah, I'm going to be submissive to you.

The arguments are going to end. That's his first command. Then notice what he also does is he gives this promise. He says, behold, you are pregnant and you shall bear a son and you shall call his name Ishmael. Ishmael means the Lord hears. The Lord hears has essentially the same meaning as the word Samuel. The Lord hears.

God heard you in the midst of your misery. God heard you there in the desert, and so you name this boy that you're going to have. Call him Ishmael. And then you'll notice also, and I happen to skip it not intentionally but unintentionally, in verse 10, the angel of the Lord has said to her, I will surely multiply your offspring so that they cannot be numbered for multitude. Wow, she's going to have the same promise as Abraham. God says, Abraham, you won't be able to number your seed. God says to Hagar, as a result of bearing Ishmael, you will not be able to number your seed. And the promises superficially appear alike, and at this point they are alike.

Of course they are going to have major differences, but that's another story. So he says, you're going to be blessed. And then you'll notice it says that this child, verse 12, will be a wild donkey of a man, his hand against everyone and everyone's hand against him, and he shall dwell over against all his kinsmen, probably a reference to the nomads, the difficult life that is going to be lived in the desert, and also the restlessness of the Ishmaelites. And the Ishmaelites will be in conflict.

There is going to be disagreement with their kinsmen, particularly with their cousins, with their brothers, and so God says, this is the kind of people that there will be. And in the midst of the experience, you'll notice it says that Hagar, verse 13, called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, you are a God of seeing. For she said, truly I have seen him who looks after me, therefore the well was called Bir Lehiroi.

It lies between Kadesh and Barad. She says, God, you see me. You heard me. That's Ishmael, meaning of the word.

You heard me, and now it's very clear that you are actually seeing me in my need and in my distress. And this well later on in Jewish history was considered to be a sacred place because God had revealed himself there and a reminder of the fact that God does indeed see us. Now when Hagar goes back, she tells Abraham and Sarah about her experience and evidently they believe her because the text ends by saying that she gave birth to a son and they named him Ishmael.

She must have said, God says that the name is to be Ishmael and Sarah and Abraham went along with that and that's what the baby was named when she gave birth to him. What an interesting story. But now let's talk about decisions and lessons that we learn from the historical account. First of all, impatience leads to regrettable decisions. Impatience leads to regrettable decisions. You think of the decision and what it means in this home, and I can maybe put it this way. When we don't wait on God before we make a decision, when we don't wait on God, we will always wish that we had.

Or perhaps I can even put it this way. When we fail to trust, we can be trusted to fail. The decision seemed rational, it seemed reasonable, it was keeping with culture and culture was dictating what they would do and it was consistent with what they thought God might have done, but it did not represent the kind of faith and the kind of waiting and the kind of seeking that would have given God an opportunity to direct them differently. Now think about the consequences of this decision. We've talked about the immediate consequences conflict within the home and the conflict doesn't end as we shall see in the next message.

But then think also of the long-term historical consequences. Ishmael would be born, he would leave the land and actually a wife would be given to him from Egypt, the Bible says in chapter 21 of Genesis. So a wife would be given to him from Egypt. Think of it this way, Isaac is going to be born, there's Isaac and Jacob and Jacob is going to have a son whose name is Joseph. Joseph is going to be in a well and his brothers are going to drag him out of the well and he is going to be sold to Ishmaelites who are on their way to Egypt.

So the whole conflict here is being set up. Furthermore, the Arabs today largely Muslim, they believe that it is actually Ishmael that should inherit the promises. The argument is this that Ishmael is the firstborn. So the promise to the land, the promise to the descendants is not rightfully that of Isaac but rather it is to Ishmael and to his descendants and that explains why there will not be any peace in the Middle East ever until Jesus Christ returns. Because you have two conflicting groups of people, each of whom believe that God gave them the land, each of them claiming Abraham as their father, each of them claiming descendants that are like the sands of the sea, innumerable, and each of them insisting that the city of Jerusalem and all of the territory belongs to them.

In the next message I'm going to discuss this in more detail. We're going to see what the Quran has to say about it because actually it is not explicit on that point but throughout the centuries Muslim interpreters have always assumed and have argued that Ishmael is the inheritor of the promises. Now they are wrong but the point to be made is that this strife that God predicted, this unsettling conflict between Ishmael and Isaac and their descendants is all set up right here in this text. I find it interesting that in chapter 12 God says to Abraham, I'm going to give you the land, leave your kindred and come into this land and so he does and he goes into the land and then it says there's a famine in the land and Abraham went down into Egypt. He failed at that point and we preached a message on it but while he was there he evidently met Hagar and she became a part of his entourage.

He had 318 men. I mean Abraham was a great, great man and so he had people, probably many from Egypt. Do you think that the time that Abraham went into Egypt and they met Hagar and then after that this incident, did Abraham have any possible inkling of the fact that his decision is going to set up a series of dominoes that would still have impact today? There's no way on God's green planet that he could have thought that this decision would have such great impact and sometimes that's the way our decisions are too. I've made decisions that are very minor, that on the surface appear to have no great consequence and then you look back and you realize I was going through a door, I opened a door which led to other doors which led to other doors that became part of a whole sequence and nobody can predict the long-term impact of a decision and when you are desperate you make disastrous decisions. If you have decisions and some of them are more critical than others, if you're deciding whom you are going to marry or even where you are going to work or what are you going to do with your life, you have to keep moving forward in the will of God but those plans must constantly be submitted to God because you might be making a decision that will have consequences that are negative because you failed to trust.

So the first lesson is this, impatience leads to regrettable, regrettable decisions and we could give many different examples of that. Secondly, God comes to us in our distress and in our misery. God comes to us in our distress and in our misery. Here's Hagar who basically is a single mother, she is in a home where she is not liked by the wife and by the way God does not recognize her to be one of Abraham's wives. The angel says return back to your, what is the word that is used here, to your mistress.

So she's to go back as a servant into this home but here she is in desperation. We could argue whether or not it was a wise decision, of course we've argued that Abraham's decision was unwise but here she is, she could say to herself I'm in the midst of a predicament that was not made by me, it was made for me by others and now I am part of a whole network of events here over which I have no control. When we make bad decisions does God say to us well you know I think that's the end of it, you didn't seek me, you just go ahead and live with the consequences and misery will track you for the rest of your days. No, God comes and gives hope and gives mercy and if you want to find some of the most wonderful Christians that you will ever find, wonderful believers, they are of Arabic descent.

Now I have to clarify something that we don't have an opportunity to go into in detail here and that is this that it is not true that you can always trace the lineages and the various genealogies with accuracy because there's been so much intermarrying but I will tell you without fear of contradiction that there are many descendants of Ishmael today who are believers in Jesus Christ who are our brothers and sisters who are being blessed by God, more blessed by God than the descendants of Isaac if they reject God's Messiah. So let's keep in mind that in the midst of a bad decision God always brings grace, God always brings strength, God always does something with whatever it is that we give him. You're here today and you say pastor Luther I've made a very bad decision that I have to live with. Yes, you have to live with it but I want you to know that that God comes and he takes those bad decisions and he makes something of them and he says out of the consequences good is going to come. In wrath he remembers mercy and in failure he gives grace. So if you're sitting here today living with a bad decision visualize the angel of the Lord coming to you and saying I'm going to bless you and I'm going to be with you. This past week I met a man who had a marvelous conversion story because of anorexia. Did I get that right? No, I have the wrong the wrong word dyslexia that's it big difference. He was told by teachers he'd never be able to read he was 17 years old and unable to read but he was gloriously converted and he basically took a fast track crammed in his education ended up going to college almost getting straight A's. His conversion was so miraculous and what he said was that his parents despised him rejected him the schools rejected him they said you'll never amount to anything because you'll never be able to read and this is what he said to me he said I learned something people do not have the last word regarding your life Jesus does isn't that great and you might be a victim today of other people's bad decisions but people do not have the last word in your life Jesus does Jesus does and God comes to Hagar and says Hagar I'm going to bless your descendant anyway there's a third lesson and that is this that Jesus Christ is indeed the one who both sees and hears he both sees and hears oh Lord you see me Birla Hyrroi the God who sees me and she's there at the well and she says Lord even though I didn't know that anyone was out here you are there he sees people today abandoned in their own deserts he sees people today who are not only abandoned but those who feel very empty in their lives the desert is outside and the desert is in their life and he comes and he brings hope and he brings healing and he brings restoration and he brings grace he brings grace I was reminded of the fact that Jesus met someone else at a well there's a story in the New Testament of Jesus coming to the woman at the well or he was seated there when she came with her bucket to draw water what's remarkable about that story is that she is the first person in the Gospel of John to whom Jesus revealed who he was that he was the Messiah she had had a bad series of relationships she had had five husbands and now was living with a sixth husband without the benefit of marriage because marriage had become a charade and there she is and Jesus says to her I have living water to give you she couldn't look to her husband's for any sense of strength or satisfaction she didn't have a home in which she could derive some ability but Jesus said that if you believe in me from within you there will be rivers of living water springing up into everlasting life and she became the means by which an entire town essentially was converted they listen to her testimony and they said that in light of your humility in light of the fact that you're saying that this man knew all about you and we know all about you you sinner he must be the Messiah and many more believed because of her testimony and they went out to see Jesus Jesus meets us at our extremities he meets us in our despair he meets us in our deserts and he comes to us wonderful merciful savior precious Redeemer and friend who would have thought that a lamb would rescue the souls of man you are the one that we praise you are the one we adore you give the healing and grace our hearts always hunger for let's pray father thank you for your love and grace and for your mercy that has been given to all of us thank you father that you came to Hagar we want to thank you today that you did not abandon her thank you that you blessed her and said that her seed would be blessed thank you that you took a decision that was not your perfect will and used it for your own purposes and today we thank you that even history is your story and part of the conflict is a part of the picture that you are painting in history we pray today father for those who are here who feel that they've made decisions that have been unfruitful and wrong and they're living with those decisions or decisions that others made on their behalf that have caused them pain show them lord god show them that you are the god who sees and the god who cares come to them in their despair we ask in jesus name amen my friend today this is pastor lutzer maybe you have to pause right now and pray you need to receive god's forgiveness god's grace and god's hope we learn from the old testament even as we learn from the new that god is with us in all of our ups and downs our disappointments our heartache and he is with you today let me ask you a question what about islam how do we prepare for interacting with our friends our muslim friends how do we understand islam's role in america and what can we do as churches to prepare for what might lie ahead those are the kinds of questions i answer in my book the cross in the shadow of the crescent by the way each chapter has a conversion story it reminds us that there are many muslims coming to saving faith in jesus christ today they are beginning to understand that there is a great difference between jesus and muhammad i believe that this book will be instructive but also it will enable you to pray in a new way to have understanding and to connect with others for a gift of any amount it can be yours and thanks in advance for the many of you who help us financially go to rtwoffer.com that's rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337 i've already alluded to this but one of the chapters in the book is entitled what the church should be doing now i think it'll be a great encouragement to you go to rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337 as a matter of fact you can go to the phone and call that number right now 1-888-218-9337 you can write to us at running to win 1635 north la salle boulevard chicago illinois 60614 for 99 years he was known as abram now he will be called abraham the father of many nations ishmael is a teenager isaac is not yet born we stand at a crucial point in history next time on running to win god comes into abram's life and changes his name running to win is all about helping you understand god's roadmap for your race of life thanks for listening for dr erwin lutzer this is dave mccallister running to win is sponsored by the moody church you
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-17 11:39:14 / 2023-04-17 11:47:30 / 8

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