By Femi Aribisala
Abraham was a faithful man in all his ways. He was not only faithful to God: he was faithful to man. He was faithful to Sarah his wife. If there was anything Abraham wanted in this world, it was to have a son.
However, Abraham discovered that Sarah, the woman he married, was barren. Abraham could have insisted that Sarah must get pregnant before they are married, so he can be sure she can conceive. But he did not. He might have waited for a few years and then married wife number two just to get a child. But he did not. He might have warned Sarah that all bets are off if she does not give him a son.
But Abraham did not take any of these lines of action. He remained faithful to his barren wife. Then one day, God appeared to faithful Abraham and promised him a son. Abraham must have told Sarah about this promise of God. They must have been very excited. They must have celebrated this wonderful promise of God. But then they waited, and no child came. They waited and waited. To all intents and purposes, God had forgotten about His promise.
Sarah’s carnal plan
Then one day, Sarah decided that God needed help. She came up with a plan. “Abraham, you are a faithful man. You have been faithful to me even though I was barren. You did not drop me and marry another woman. You did not start sleeping around. You did not have mistresses. I am giving you full permission to sleep with our house-girl, Hagar. If she has a child by you, I will regard the child as mine.”
Abraham must have asked Sarah: “Are you sure? Are you sure about this? Are you sure you won’t mind if I start sleeping with the house-girl?” Sarah said: “I won’t mind. Am I not the one suggesting it now? I would rather have a child through her than not have a child at all.” So faithful Abraham started sleeping with the house-girl. And lo and behold, the house-girl becomes pregnant. But once the house-girl becomes pregnant, she started acting strange and uppity with Sarah: “After all, with all your ‘Madam, Madam,’ I have been sleeping with your husband.
With all your ‘Madam, Madam’ you cannot even have a child. With all your ‘Madam, Madam,’ I am the one carrying Abraham’s child.” Then Sarah attacked Abraham. She said to him: “My wrong be upon you! I gave my maid into your embrace; and when she saw that she had conceived, I became despised in her eyes. The LORD judge between you and me.” (Genesis 16:5). Sarah said to Abraham: “My wrong be upon you.” Yes, I was the one who made the mistake of asking you to sleep with the house-girl. Nevertheless, I want you to know that my mistake is your fault. Let the Lord judge between you and me.
Who is to blame, Abraham or Sarah?” If the Lord was to judge between Sarah and Abraham, whose side would the Lord take? Would the Lord blame Abraham for Sarah’s mistake? Would He put the wrong of Sarah on Abraham? In effect, Sarah said: “Abraham, I know God. Abraham, I understand kingdom dynamics. I know that God would put my wrong on you.” Is Sarah right in this conclusion or is she wrong? Yes, she is. God is going to blame Sarah’s wrong on Abraham.
In the first place, Sarah is a woman under the authority of her husband. If she does anything wrong, God is going to hold her husband, Abraham, responsible. God said of Abraham: “I have singled him out so that he will direct his sons and their families to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just. Then I will do for Abraham all that I have promised.” (Genesis 18:19).
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At long last, the Lord opened the womb of Sarah and she conceived and gave birth to Isaac. The child grew and was weaned. But one day, Sarah caught Ishmael, Abraham’s son by Hagar, laughing at Isaac. And Sarah went to Abraham and insisted: “Throw out this bondwoman Hagar and her bastard child, Ishmael, because Ishmael will never inherit with my son Isaac.” Abraham was angry. “Why should I throw out my son Ishmael?
Were you not the one who talked me into having him? Now that you have Isaac, you are only interested in Isaac your son; conveniently forgetting that Ishmael is also my son.” But the Lord took sides with Sarah because, here again, Sarah understood kingdom dynamics. “God said to Abraham, ‘Do not let it be displeasing in your sight because of the lad or because of your bondwoman. Whatever Sarah has said to you, listen to her voice; for in Isaac your seed shall be called.’” (Genesis 21:12).
Sarah said: “My wrong be upon you Abraham,” and God agreed. We need to understand this peculiar way of God for it runs contrary to human logic and reasoning. We get an inkling of it when we observe the scapegoat principle of the sacrificial system under the Law of Moses. God says the priest: “Shall take the two goats and present them before the LORD at the door of the tabernacle of meeting.
Then Aaron shall cast lots for the two goats: one lot for the LORD and the other lot for the scapegoat. And Aaron shall bring the goat on which the LORD’S lot fell, and offer it as a sin offering. But the goat on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat shall be presented alive before the LORD, to make atonement upon it, and to let it go as the scape-goat into the wilderness.” (Leviticus 16:7-10). God, in His mercy, justifies the ungodly. (Romans 4:5).
He visits the iniquities of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations. Jeremiah says: “Our fathers sinned and are no more, but we bear their iniquities.” (Lamentations 5:7). It was Adam who sinned, but he blamed God and God took the responsibility in Christ. We were blamed for Adam’s sins, that we may be justified by Christ’s righteousness.
We were the ones who sinned, but the Lord laid all our iniquity on Jesus: “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:6). Is it fair for God to punish Jesus for our sins and acquit us? If we consider it to be unfair, then we must be prepared to be judged for our sins, and the guilty verdict is inevitable.
If we consider it to be fair, then we can no longer complain of injustice from a human point of view. If God cannot impute Adam’s sin to us, then He cannot impute Christ’s righteousness to us. “Just as David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works: ‘Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man to whom the Lord shall not impute sin.” (Romans 4:6- 8).