How lightly do we esteem divorce? How easily do we let it go? In the time of Christ, divorce was an easier process than it is now. You had just to get a certificate of divorce from the Scribes and/or Pharisees. I have heard it said that it was easier than that. I have heard it said that all a man needed to do was to tell his wife, “I divorce you.” three times together, and they were divorced.
Jesus makes it clear that once the marriage has been sealed, divorce is not in the design or the plan. Yet so often, we don’t see it that way. Men are looking for t he perfect wife, and women are looking for the perfect man. They marry the person that they think is “the one” or their “soul mate” and when things don’t quite go as expected, there is a running of the bulls. The couple flees and the marriage dissolves. Yet that is not how it is meant to happen. Yet we, in our selfishness and pride, would rather destroy what God made and blessed than admit that we may be wrong, or that we need to change in ways that we don’t want / like to… especially when we feel hurt by someone who was supposed to protect / respect us. There are so many things i could go into explaining and blaming for this mentality; the age of marriage, pre-marital emotional intimacy, a lack of marital support / mentoring, a lack of understanding of what marriage really is, but i need to move on.
I am very interested in this story of the rich young ruler. In Bible college I had a professor that put a very interesting spin / perspective on this story. The rich young ruler is a young man that clearly desires to be righteous and be a part of what God / Christ is doing. However, he gets so caught up in his own wealth, that he can’t let it go to pursue Christ. However, this story may not end here. From what i’ve heard, this young man reappears in the Bible in the book of acts. Apparently Josephus (the non-Christian Jewish historian) reports that the Apostle John taught his disciples that this rich young ruler was the same man that is named in Acts (4:36-37) “Now Joseph, a Levite of Cyprian birth, who was also called Barnabas by the apostles (which translated means Son of Encouragement), and who owned a tract of land, sold it and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.” Barnabas went on, partnered with Paul, and was one of the first missionaries. He did great things with the kingdom, but ONLY after he let go of his riches. I have not studied this in depth, but i believe this to be true because i have seen how God works. To have a man consumed by his riches and reject Christ / his call at first because of these things finally turn, reject the wealth, and become the true man of God he was meant to be. That kind of redemption can only be the work of God / YHWH!
Rev. John J. Camiolo Jr.
You can tell that God has a sense of humor and a thing for irony. You see it throughout the Bible and here especially is no exception. So the magicians and priests have attempted to stand against Moses and God with every new miracle that occurs, but take a look at verse 11; “The magicians could not stand before Moses because of the boils, for the boils were on the magicians as well as on all the Egyptians.” Yeah, good luck trying to oppose Moses and God like that. They can’t even show up because of the very miracle they are trying to oppose. So much for that problem. Talk about irony.
This chapter is the first place that we see God hardening Pharaoh’s heart. After each miracle Pharaoh keeps hardening his own heart, but God hardens his heart after the plague of the boils. There are some that say that this is not right; that this shows that Pharaoh is being unjustly treated. I don’t buy that argument on many levels, and i will probably talk about that more in the coming chapters.
In the meantime, there is proof that Pharaoh was not ready to let the people go whether he hardened his heart or God did. Later in the chapter, during the plague of the hail, Pharaoh tells Moses to stop the plague and that he will let the people go. Moses says “But as for you and your servants, I know that you do not yet fear the LORD God.” This is later proven when Moses stops the storm, Pharaoh hardens his heart, and he goes back on his word.
Pharaoh rejects God and what He is doing. He rejects his own responsibility and what needs to be done. He even rejects his own word. He as well is rejected by God. Pharaoh is not the only one that does this. We do this as well. There are times when God commands and directs us, but we reject Him by refusing to trust and obey him. It’s not even a question of do we do it. It’s a question of why do we do it. So why do we do it, and what do we need to know / do to change that?
Genesis 16 is a lesson to us all. God had made a promise to Abram. That promise was going to take a miracle. There was no way it was humanly possible for Sarai to have a baby at her age. Yet God had told Abram that he would have a son. This could be seen as an opportunity, rejection, or false promise.
It could be a false promise (or disillusion) in that either God did say or Abram only thought He said, and that there was no real plan for the fulfillment of the promise.
It could be that God was going to bring it to fulfillment, and simply had not yet (which we know to be the truth). However, that seemed less and less likely every day.
Finally, it could be a rejection. God could have been making the promise to Abram while rejecting Sarai. This was likely the struggle that Sarai was going through. She was past the age of child birth, but Abram was not. She could not have children, but her husband still could. The promise had been made to him and not to her. He needed an heir, and she couldn’t provide it. So she did what she felt needed to be done to fulfill God’s promise for Him… and it was the wrong thing.
In Sarai’s defense, as far as we know, there had never been a single woman past the age of childbearing who had miraculously conceived. It was unheard of. Is that a valid excuse? No, not really, but it does explain her decisions. She knew what her husband and family needed. She knew she couldn’t provide it, so she did what she thought was the only feasible solution… and it backfired on her.
It also wasn’t fully her fault either. Abram listened to the voice of Sarai. He accepted her assessment and solution.
Ultimately though, the question comes back to us. What promises that God has made to us are we trying to fulfill of our own power? Are we trying to “help” God fulfill His promises, or are we resting in the promises of the God who promises and fulfills?