Genesis 16-18 The Message Bible

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Hagar and Ishmael

16 1  Sarai, Abram's wife, hadn't yet produced a child. 2  Sarai said to Abram, "God has not seen fit to let me have a child. Sleep with my maid. Maybe I can get a family from her." Abram agreed to do what Sarai said. 3  So Sarai, Abram's wife, took her Egyptian maid Hagar and gave her to her husband Abram as a wife. Abram had been living ten years in Canaan when this took place.

4  He slept with Hagar and she got pregnant. When she learned she was pregnant, she looked down on her mistress. 5  Sarai told Abram, "It's all your fault that I'm suffering this abuse. I put my maid in bed with you and the minute she knows she's pregnant, she treats me like I'm nothing. May God decide which of us is right." 6  "You decide," said Abram. "Your maid is your business." Sarai was abusive to Hagar and she ran away.

7  An angel of God found her beside a spring in the desert; it was the spring on the road to Shur. 8  He said, "Hagar, maid of Sarai, what are you doing here?" She said, "I'm running away from Sarai my mistress." 9  The angel of God said, "Go back to your mistress. Put up with her abuse."

10  He continued, "I'm going to give you a big family, children past counting. 11  From this pregnancy, you'll get a son: Name him Ishmael; for God heard you, God answered you. 12  He'll be a bucking bronco of a man, a real fighter, fighting and being fought, Always stirring up trouble, always at odds with his family." 13  She answered God by name, praying to the God who spoke to her, "You're the God who sees me!" "Yes! He saw me; and then I saw him!" 14  That's how that desert spring got named "God-Alive-Sees-Me Spring." That spring is still there, between Kadesh and Bered.

15  Hagar gave Abram a son. Abram named him Ishmael. 16  Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar gave him his son, Ishmael.

Circumcision the Sign of the Covenant

17 1  When Abram was ninety-nine years old, God showed up and said to him, "I am The Strong God, live entirely before me, live to the hilt! 2  I'll make a covenant between us and I'll give you a huge family." 3  Overwhelmed, Abram fell flat on his face.

4  "This is my covenant with you: You'll be the father of many nations. 5  Your name will no longer be Abram, but Abraham, meaning that 'I'm making you the father of many nations.' 6  I'll make you a father of fathers - I'll make nations from you, kings will issue from you.

7  I'm establishing my covenant between me and you, a covenant that includes your descendants, a covenant that goes on and on and on, a covenant that commits me to be your God and the God of your descendants. 8  And I'm giving you and your descendants this land where you're now just camping, this whole country of Canaan, to own forever. And I'll be their God." 9  God continued to Abraham, "And you: You will honor my covenant, you and your descendants, generation after generation. 10  This is the covenant that you are to honor, the covenant that pulls in all your descendants: Circumcise every male. 11  Circumcise by cutting off the foreskin of the penis; it will be the sign of the covenant between us. 12  Every male baby will be circumcised when he is eight days old, generation after generation - this includes house-born slaves and slaves bought from outsiders who are not blood kin. 13  Make sure you circumcise both your own children and anyone brought in from the outside. That way my covenant will be cut into your body, a permanent mark of my permanent covenant. 14  An uncircumcised male, one who has not had the foreskin of his penis cut off, will be cut off from his people - he has broken my covenant."

15  God continued speaking to Abraham, "And Sarai your wife: Don't call her Sarai any longer; call her Sarah. 16  I'll bless her - yes! I'll give you a son by her! Oh, how I'll bless her! Nations will come from her; kings of nations will come from her." 17  Abraham fell flat on his face. And then he laughed, thinking, "Can a hundred-year-old man father a son? And can Sarah, at ninety years, have a baby?" 18  Recovering, Abraham said to God, "Oh, keep Ishmael alive and well before you!" 19  But God said, "That's not what I mean. Your wife, Sarah, will have a baby, a son. Name him Isaac (Laughter). I'll establish my covenant with him and his descendants, a covenant that lasts forever. 20  "And Ishmael? Yes, I heard your prayer for him. I'll also bless him; I'll make sure he has plenty of children - a huge family. He'll father twelve princes; I'll make him a great nation. 21  But I'll establish my covenant with Isaac whom Sarah will give you about this time next year." 22  God finished speaking with Abraham and left.

23  Then Abraham took his son Ishmael and all his servants, whether houseborn or purchased - every male in his household - and circumcised them, cutting off their foreskins that very day, just as God had told him. 24  Abraham was ninety-nine years old when he was circumcised. 25  His son Ishmael was thirteen years old when he was circumcised. 26  Abraham and Ishmael were circumcised the same day 27  together with all the servants of his household, those born there and those purchased from outsiders - all were circumcised with him.

The Birth of Isaac Promised

18 1  God appeared to Abraham at the Oaks of Mamre while he was sitting at the entrance of his tent. It was the hottest part of the day. 2  He looked up and saw three men standing. He ran from his tent to greet them and bowed before them. 3  He said, "Master, if it please you, stop for a while with your servant. 4  I'll get some water so you can wash your feet. Rest under this tree. 5  I'll get some food to refresh you on your way, since your travels have brought you across my path." They said, "Certainly. Go ahead." 6  Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah. He said, "Hurry. Get three cups of our best flour; knead it and make bread." 7  Then Abraham ran to the cattle pen and picked out a nice plump calf and gave it to the servant who lost no time getting it ready. 8  Then he got curds and milk, brought them with the calf that had been roasted, set the meal before the men, and stood there under the tree while they ate.

9  The men said to him, "Where is Sarah your wife?" He said, "In the tent." 10  One of them said, "I'm coming back about this time next year. When I arrive, your wife Sarah will have a son." Sarah was listening at the tent opening, just behind the man. 11  Abraham and Sarah were old by this time, very old. Sarah was far past the age for having babies. 12  Sarah laughed within herself, "An old woman like me? Get pregnant? With this old man of a husband?" 13  God said to Abraham, "Why did Sarah laugh saying, 'Me? Have a baby? An old woman like me?' 14  Is anything too hard for God? I'll be back about this time next year and Sarah will have a baby." 15  Sarah lied. She said, "I didn't laugh," because she was afraid. But he said, "Yes you did; you laughed."

Abraham Intercedes for Sodom

16  When the men got up to leave, they set off for Sodom. Abraham walked with them to say good-bye. 17  Then God said, "Shall I keep back from Abraham what I'm about to do? 18  Abraham is going to become a large and strong nation; all the nations of the world are going to find themselves blessed through him. 19  Yes, I've settled on him as the one to train his children and future family to observe God's way of life, live kindly and generously and fairly, so that God can complete in Abraham what he promised him." 20  God continued, "The cries of the victims in Sodom and Gomorrah are deafening; the sin of those cities is immense. 21  I'm going down to see for myself, see if what they're doing is as bad as it sounds. Then I'll know." 22  The men set out for Sodom, but Abraham stood in God's path, blocking his way.

23  Abraham confronted him, "Are you serious? Are you planning on getting rid of the good people right along with the bad? 24  What if there are fifty decent people left in the city; will you lump the good with the bad and get rid of the lot? 25  Wouldn't you spare the city for the sake of those fifty innocents? I can't believe you'd do that, kill off the good and the bad alike as if there were no difference between them. Doesn't the Judge of all the Earth judge with justice?" 26  God said, "If I find fifty decent people in the city of Sodom, I'll spare the place just for them." 27  Abraham came back, "Do I, a mere mortal made from a handful of dirt, dare open my mouth again to my Master? 28  What if the fifty fall short by five - would you destroy the city because of those missing five?" He said, "I won't destroy it if there are forty-five." 29  Abraham spoke up again, "What if you only find forty?" "Neither will I destroy it if for forty." 30  He said, "Master, don't be irritated with me, but what if only thirty are found?" "No, I won't do it if I find thirty." 31  He pushed on, "I know I'm trying your patience, Master, but how about for twenty?" "I won't destroy it for twenty." 32  He wouldn't quit, "Don't get angry, Master - this is the last time. What if you only come up with ten?" "For the sake of only ten, I won't destroy the city." 33  When God finished talking with Abraham, he left. And Abraham went home.

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