sexta-feira, 21 de agosto de 2015


Do not be so distressed about
the boy and your slave woman.
Listen to whatever Sarah tells you

Genesis 21:12a (read 21:9-20) - NIV

The dictionary defines jealousy as:

1.  Jealous resentment against a rival, a person enjoying success or advantage, etc., or against another's success or advantage itself.

2.  Mental uneasiness from suspicion or fear of rivalry, unfaithfulness, etc., as in love or aims.

3.  Vigilance in maintaining or guarding something.

4.  A jealous feeling, disposition, state, or mood.

Sarah was jealous. She wanted the inheritance of her husband, Abraham, only for her son, Isaac. Abraham’s second wife, Hagar, (a biblical marriage) and her son, Ishmael, represented danger. Sarah did not want to share with anyone. She wanted to get rid of her rival at any cost. She was merciless and pressured Abraham into sending them away. Abraham was troubled at sending one of his own sons away, but, in a moment of weakness, wielded to Sarah. He took Hagar and Ishmael out into the desert with a little bit of food and water and abandoned them.

But the Genesis record relates that God acted with another value system in spite of Sarah and demonstrated his care for Hagar and Ishmael by providing for them after the traumatic experience of running out food and water. He also promised great blessings for them. But the trauma has left its mark. The narration shows that “God was with the boy as he grew up. He lived in the desert and became an archer” (vs.20). Ishmael was able to defend himself against future dangers.

But it did not end there – Sarah is still alive. Her spirit of exclusivity has been inherited by many. Today there are many "Sarahs" who also believe that they are the "elected of God" and act with bigotry against "Agars" of life. They do not admit that God is on the side of people who do not belong to their "tribe". Ishmael has also left a legacy, the art of shooting arrows. Sarah and Ishmael are very symbolic of what is happening today in the political, economic and religious worlds.

Sarah symbolizes the greed of Western culture dominated by Jewish and Christian traditions. Ishmael is symbolic of the East, dominated by Islamic cultural traditions. Sarah controls the global wealth and Ishmael is confined in the desert "shooting arrows".

Religion became a flag on both sides. God and Allah are invoked as a justification for intensifying the conflict. The irony is that the three great monotheistic religions that proclaim God's "grace" and Allah's "mercy" are promoting the most violence in the world today. Another irony: polytheistic religions tend to live in peace.

To what point does the spirit of Sarah dominate Christianity? How exclusive are Christians? To what extent do they think that God is on their side and against all others? That their religion is true and others are false? Are Christians able to admit the action of God's grace among Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, many categories of sinners, etc.?

Exclusivism denies the grace of God. In Christian theology grace is defined as unmerited salvation given by God. Unfortunately, many Christians imitate Sarah. They do not realize that God can accept any person regardless of his or her merits or the lack thereof. Who are we to judge others as being condemned by God? The Apostle Paul wrote - "Where sin was powerful, God’s kindness was even more powerful." (Romans 5:20.).


But Sarah saw that the son whom Hagar the Egyptian had borne to Abraham was mocking, and she said 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.”

The matter distressed Abraham greatly because it concerned his son. But God said to him, “Do not be so distressed about the boy and your slave woman. Listen to whatever Sarah tells you, because it is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned. I will make the son of the slave into a nation also, because he is your offspring.”

Early the next morning Abraham took some food and a skin of water and gave them to Hagar. He set them on her shoulders and then sent her off with the boy. She went on her way and wandered in the Desert of Beersheba.

When the water in the skin was gone, she put the boy under one of the bushes. Then she went off and sat down about a bowshot away, for she thought, “I cannot watch the boy die.” And as she sat there, she began to sob.

God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation.”

Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. So she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink.

God was with the boy as he grew up. He lived in the desert and became an archer.

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