Lisa and I celebrate 25 years together this very year, remarkable marks we have made together: 7 years in the 20th Century and 16 years into the 21st Century. So, two millennia and counting 🙂
We met online at the speed of a dial-up: 1200 baud via a Unix powered bulletin boarding system called TriState Online, a public service of the local phone company. One anniversary I printed a long set of conversations and placed the matrix-dotted leaves in a binder — it’s in yonder armoire.
Human shadows grow long and weary over time. Consider this, consider this: Ibrahim the Patriarch and his family. Lisa knows more about that soap opera than do I, and she knows her sources. She is well versed in Biblical affairs involving affairs, being one who believes the actual teachings of Jesus, something long lost in trampling, trampings and rumors of war) lost or defiled in the translation. Once you die there is no telling how your follows will bend, fold and mutilate the spoken word become Word.
I am always moved by my husband’s compassion for the “underdog.” I know the Palestinians have religious customs we may find archaic. I had a close friend whose belief was performed daily with 5 prayers from the 5 aspects surrounding her, the knowledge that God’s eyes were on her always.
Allow me to quote a descriptive text from the pen of John Walton, a soul seeking balance rather than judgement, understanding rather than divisiveness.
…please be patient and take the time to read — realizing that as Christians we share in the same salvation offered to the Arabic people whose religion grew up around that God — with their own Prophet to guide them in the dogma — the same as as with Pauline doctrine… Later, Hagar bore a son to Abram and named him Ishmael, as the Lord had told her to (Genesis 16:15). Hagar’s story resumes fourteen years later when Isaac was born to Abraham and Sarah (Genesis 21). Shortly after Isaac was weaned, Sarah saw Ishmael taunting him and took the matter to Abraham: “Get rid of that slave woman and her son, for that woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with my son Isaac” (Genesis 21:10). Although it grieved Abraham to do so, he gave Hagar and Ishmael some provisions and sent them away, and Ishmael and his mother wandered in the desert (verse 14).
When Hagar’s food and water ran out, she did not know what to do. She put Ishmael under a bush for shade and then went a few paces away so she would not have to watch him die (Genesis 21:16). As Hagar wept, the Lord called to her from heaven with words of comfort (verse 17); God then gave her a promise: “Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation” (verse 18). The Bible says that God “opened her eyes and she saw a well of water” that she had not seen in her distress (verse 19). God rescued Hagar and gave her hope and direction. God was with Ishmael as he grew up in the desert (verse 20).
Abraham’s sin with Hagar has resulted in centuries of sorrow and bloodshed, as the descendants of Isaac (the Jews) and Ishmael (the Arabs) have been mortal enemies since Bible days. Mohammed, the father of Islam, is said to have been from the line of Ishmael, which is one reason Muslims claim a right to the Promised Land, Israel. Hagar is a revered woman in Islam since Ishmael is the father of the Arabic people. The Qur’anic version of the Genesis account twists the story to make Hagar the heroine of the story and her son, Ishmael, the child of promise instead of Isaac.
The apostle Paul uses the story of Hagar and Sarah to teach a spiritual truth concerning our salvation. In Galatians 4, Hagar represents the Old Covenant, based on the Law (given at Sinai in Arabia) and human works. Sarah represents the New Covenant, based on grace and the saving work of God. In Paul’s analogy, believers in Christ are like the child born of Sarah—we are free, products of the Spirit. Those who try to earn their salvation by their own works are like the child born of Hagar—they are slaves, products of the flesh. “Therefore, brothers and sisters, we are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman” (Galatians 4:31). Paul counsels believers to “get rid of the slave woman” (verse 30)—that is, cease trying to earn salvation, because the inheritance of the children of promise can never be shared with those who live under the dictates of the flesh.
The story of Hagar is full of God’s goodness, and we can learn from the way God worked in Hagar’s life. She was a nobody, a foreign slave girl. Yet the Lord of Heaven saw her in her distress, provided for her need, and blessed her son because he was the child of Abraham. Hagar gave us the term El Roi, which means “the God who sees.” And her story reminds us that, no matter who we are or where we are, the Lord God sees us.
Thank you for reading and I hope the desperation of a people being forced into a ghetto, with dwindling resources and constant raids by military police may remind you of something the current Israeli government seems unable to recognize as the same forest they survived — for its blind focus on the trees. God bless all of us and may we share the security and peace we enjoy with those less fortunate, at home and abroad.
Whisper Alhamdulillah softly and reverently in an aircraft, or suffer slings and arrows. Speaking at a conversational volume and you may find yourself immediately and roughly removed from the company of some very nice people. Very nice indeed.
Thanks for reading.