Weekend Reading: Human action and Divine provision

Last year, I spent a little effort reviewing the Christian and Hebrew scriptures. Somewhere along the way, that project (and blogging in general) dropped off.

Earlier parts of this series: creation, childhood, and loss-of-innocence. Then worship, jealosy and violence. Followed by a giant reset. Then a new beginning, followed by a special covenant.

Abram, nomadic herder of sheep, occasional leader in regional wars, is childless. Yet the great promise given to him by his Creator involved his descendants. He and his wife Sarai follow a pattern apparently known to (and possible approved by) the culture that he lived in: elevate one of the slave women to concubine, and have a child by her.

The concubine, named Hagar, conceives a child. Intra-camp trouble results between Hagar and Sarai, leading to Hagar leaving.

Hagar has a meeting with God. It is a strangely short meeting, yet Hagar learns something: the powerful being that Abram worships sees her, the cast-away servant girl. This realization is written into history in the name of her son: Ishmael, meaning "God who listens."

She returns to Abram.

It's a strange story, one that could almost be thrown aside as unimportant. Ishmael and his descendants will not be seen in many places later in the Hebrew narratives.

Even in these characters who are not part of the main story, we see some evidence of care and concern of the Creator for individuals.

And there's some foreboding of future events: God provides. Even when His followers misunderstand the how and why of the fulfillment of promise, and try to do things by themselves, He sees and has pity.

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