Genesis 16:1-16

In this chapter we are going to study one of the greatest mistakes in Abram’s life. This was a mistake that we are still reaping the consequences of even to this day. What was this mistake? After ten years of Abram waiting for God to fulfill His promise of a child and heir, he decided to help God out. He married his Egyptian handmaid Hagar, so he could have a child by her. This whole plot was instigated by Abram’s wife Sarai. She was the one who came to her husband and presented this plan to him. Abram’s fault was listening to his wife, and not trusting what God had promised to do. The Scripture records, Now Sarai, Abram's wife, had borne him no children. And she had an Egyptian maidservant whose name was Hagar. So Sarai said to Abram, ‘See now, the LORD has restrained me from bearing children. Please, go in to my maid; perhaps I shall obtain children by her.’ And Abram heeded the voice of Sarai. Then Sarai, Abram's wife, took Hagar her maid, the Egyptian, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan” (Gen. 16:1-3).

It is important not to miss one key fact in this story, and that is that Abram married Hagar. He did not just begin having sexual relations with her. Many miss this point in the story and think that Abram abused his position of authority, and just used this servant girl for his own pleasure. This is how the TV mini-series “The Bible” portrayed Abrams actions. But the Scripture is very clear, Abram married Hagar. This was a legal marriage, and in those ancient times was an acceptable practice to have more than one wife. But that brings up the question, were multiple marriages acceptable with God? The answer is; no, they were not. How can I be so sure? For two reasons.

First, Jesus declared in Matthew 19:4-8, Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate. They said to Him, ‘Why then did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?’ He said to them, ‘Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.’” Jesus explained three things from His original teaching on marriage found in the Law of Moses (Gen. 2:18; 24). Jesus explained that from the beginning God’s intention was that marriage would be heterosexual, (between a male and female), monogamous (only between two people), and permanent (where two people stay married for life). This was God’s original plan from the beginning.

Then people ask, “Then why did God allow for divorce and multiple marriages in the Old Testament?” Jesus explained that only because of the hardness of two people’s hearts did He allow divorce. Paul also explained that because of the ignorance of men concerning God’s laws, He overlooked many things before Christ came. Paul explained this allowance to the people in Athens concerning their idolatry when he said, Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man's devising. Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:29-30). This entire time period before the coming of Christ is called a time of ignorance. Many of the Old Testament figures had multiple wives, but you will never read of God ever commanding this practice.

The second reason multiple wives were never acceptable to God was that He specifically commanded the kings of Israel not to take many wives like the other nations that surrounded them. This command was given hundreds of years after the time of Abram. God gave the kings of Israel a very specific command on this topic which you will find given in Deuteronomy 17:15-17 where He said, “You shall surely set a king over you whom the LORD your God chooses; one from among your brethren you shall set as king over you; you may not set a foreigner over you, who is not your brother. But he shall not multiply horses for himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt to multiply horses, for the LORD has said to you, 'You shall not return that way again.' Neither shall he multiply wives for himself, lest his heart turn away; nor shall he greatly multiply silver and gold for himself.” Therefore, this decision by Abram to marry Hagar was not God’s plan in any way.

The plan of the flesh!

A plan of the flesh is one that is devised by humans to bring about what they think would be best, whether it is in ignorance of God’s commands, or by willful disobedience. When Paul wrote to the Galatian church, he warned them about their inclination to self-effort under the law. In this epistle, Paul declared that this child born to Hagar was a child of the flesh and Abram’s self-effort. Paul explained, “For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman, the other by a freewoman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and he of the freewoman through promise” (Gal. 4:22-23). It is important to remember that God made a promise to Abram that He would give him so many descendants that they would not be able to be counted (Gen. 13:16; Gen. 15:5). Abram’s only responsibility was to believe what God had promised.

The problem Abram and Sarai had was one that we all struggle with, that our human reasoning always sounds so good and reasonable. You have a good idea that comes into your mind, but many times that is not how God intends to fulfill His promises. In fact, sometimes your good idea is diametrically opposed to God’s plan, and His will for your life. This was exactly the problem with the plan Sarai proposed to Abram. But Abram also became persuaded that this was a good idea. Yet God had not yet given this promised child for a very good reason. His plan was to do such a mighty miracle by awakening “the deadness of Sara’s womb,” that all who heard of what God had done would give Him glory (Rom. 4:19). God’s plans and methods are always designed to bring glory to Him, and that will always be His purpose in answering a prayer quickly or making you wait. Sarai and Abram’s plan did not bring glory to God; instead, it brought forth jealousy and conflict that we are still dealing with today. Why do I say this? Because Ishmael became the father of the Arab nations, and Isaac the promised child became the father of the Jewish people. It is obvious from even a simple knowledge of the Middle-East today that envy, jealously, and resentment from this plan of the flesh still exists.  

If you are in that waiting period today, and you are wondering when is God going to fulfill His promises to you, never forget that God has a perfect timing for all that He does in your life, and He also has a perfect way of fulfilling His purposes. Remember in Galatians 4:4 Paul declared, “When the fulness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law.” God sent His Son in the fullness of time, which means at the right time. It was the right time in the history of the nation Israel, because He had predicted through Daniel the Prophet the very day that the Messiah would be revealed to His people (Dan. 9:24-26). God had a very specific time in the history of the world that Christ had to come. This is equally true in the life of this promised child of Abram and Sarai. Later in Genesis 17:21, God gave an even more specific promise to Abraham when He promised, “But My covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this set time next year.” God has a set timing to do what He wills to do, and He is always on time when He fulfills His promises. In Genesis 21:2 Scripture records the fulfillment of God’s promise when it declared, “For Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him.” If there is a set time to do what God promises, then it is essential that you wait in faith for Him to work! Ask Him for His patience, and fight the good fight of faith as you wait to see His promises fulfilled. 

God’s purpose in making Abram and Sarai wait.

This is a question that many have asked. “Why did God make Abram and Sarai wait for 25 years for this promised child?” From our human perspective we think that this doesn’t seem quite fair for God to make them wait this long. But there were so many other issues that God was working out that they could never understand. Let me give you an example of what I mean. When the Prophet Habakkuk was upset with God about why the wicked Babylonians were coming to destroy the nation Israel, God said to him, Look among the nations and watch-- Be utterly astounded! For I will work a work in your days which you would not believe, though it were told you” (Hab. 1:5). God explained to His prophet that He had eternal purposes and plans that he had no concept of, and even if He told Habakkuk what He was doing he would not have believed Him. The same thing is true for every believer today. God’s ways and plans are so far beyond our understanding for what He is doing, that we must just trust Him. God explained this same truth to Isaiah the Prophet when He said, “‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ says the LORD. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts’” (Is. 55:8-9). This means that we must humble ourselves before God and trust Him with all that He is doing in our lives and families.

The Bible also tells us another reason why God made Abram wait so long. In Hebrews 11:12 it declared, “Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born as many as the stars of the sky in multitude--innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore.” Note that God called Abram a man, “as good as dead.” What did God mean by these words? It meant that Abram was not able to bear children. But when Abram married Hagar at 85 years old, she immediately conceived and bore him a son. So, at 85 years old Abram’s body was not dead yet, but only Sarah was barren at this time. It is clear then that God was waiting until Abram’s body also became dead. Why? So that both Abram and Sarai would know that only by a miracle of God could Sarai conceive and bear a child. Therefore, God waits to fulfill His promises until we can see that it is impossible for us to accomplish what He has promised. He wants us to realize that only by His hand this thing will be accomplished. So, when you come to that place and you say, “I can’t do this. I don’t know how I’m going to handle this problem,” in reality this is a good place to be, because only then will you trust the Lord. Only then will you know that He has done what He has promised. I’m sure that God is waiting for you to come to the conclusion, that with you it is impossible, but with God all things are possible. Only then will God get the glory for what is accomplished.

Understanding the difference between instant answers and having to wait.

Just as Abram and Sarai had to wait for God to fulfill His promise, so each one of us will experience this test too. What is essential to remember is the balance between waiting and experiencing an instant response from prayer. Scripture reveals that faith will always give you instant access to God’s strength, peace, love, and His grace. This is why Jesus promised, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28). Jesus also said, Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them” (Mark 11:24). Again, He promised, Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27). Each of these promises make it clear that with certain issues He wants to be with you, and strengthen you right then.

But there are other passages that teach us that we must wait for God’s plan and timing to be accomplished. One example would be the second coming of Jesus. Remember He said, “Let your waist be girded and your lamps burning; and you yourselves be like men who wait for their master, when he will return from the wedding, that when he comes and knocks they may open to him immediately” (Luke 12:35-36). May we all be waiting with our lamps burning brightly so that we are ready when He comes!

Another example would be when Jesus taught about prayer for justice. He taught a parable that clearly indicated that some justice will take time. Jesus taught, “That men always ought to pray and not lose heart, saying: ‘There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God nor regard man. Now there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying, “Get justice for me from my adversary.” And he would not for a while; but afterward he said within himself, “Though I do not fear God nor regard man, yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.” Then the Lord said, “Hear what the unjust judge said. And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:1-8). God does bear long with some issues, and with others He answers them speedily. May we learn this lesson as we pray. Sometimes faith requires you to wait for God’s timing or plan to be fulfilled, and at the same times He will strengthen you with His peace and grace while you wait. As the psalmist commanded us to, “Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart.” (Ps. 27:14).

Who do you get counsel from?

This story of Sarai coming to her husband with her counsel brings up another very important question concerning who you get counsel from, and what do you do once you hear their counsel? Choosing who you seek counsel from is of the upmost importance. Solomon declared that, A wise man will hear and increase learning, and a man of understanding will attain wise counsel” (Prov. 1:5). If you want to attain wise counsel and increase in wisdom then you need to choose wisely when seeking the help of others. My encouragement is to find someone who is biblically literate, because they have studied the Scriptures for years, and you are assured that they know their Bible well. Then when someone gives you counsel, you should ask them where in the Bible can you find this instruction or principle that they have just explained to you. Next, you should go and read that passage in its context to be sure what was shared is correct. This means that you also must know your Bible well because of your own personal study in the Scriptures. Then pray and ask God to persuade you and confirm to you if this counsel is correct. This is exactly what Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, told him to do after he counseled Moses to get help with all of the ministry burdens that he had. Moses sat from morning to evening judging the people and when Jethro saw this he said, The thing that you do is not good. Both you and these people who are with you will surely wear yourselves out. For this thing is too much for you; you are not able to perform it by yourself. Listen now to my voice; I will give you counsel, and God will be with you: Stand before God for the people, so that you may bring the difficulties to God. And you shall teach them the statutes and the laws, and show them the way in which they must walk and the work they must do. Moreover you shall select from all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them to be rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens. And let them judge the people at all times. Then it will be that every great matter they shall bring to you, but every small matter they themselves shall judge. So it will be easier for you, for they will bear the burden with you. If you do this thing, and God so commands you, then you will be able to endure, and all this people will also go to their place in peace” (Ex. 18:17-23). Note that Jethro gave his counsel to Moses, but then ended by encouraging him with these words, “If you do this thing, and God so commands you, then you will be able to endure.” Jethro told Moses in essence, “you should make sure that God confirms this counsel that I have just given to you.” This is excellent counsel. Why? Because God’s voice and His Word is what you want to hear on any subject. Jesus said, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me” (John 10:27). If you are a Christian then you have heard His voice, and you can hear it again concerning this issue that you are seeking counsel on.

Concerning Abram and the counsel he received from Sarai, he should have known immediately that the counsel that Sarai gave him was different from what God told him. If God wanted him to go marry Hagar, He could have easily told him to do that, but He did not tell him to act in this manner. God told Abram that He would give him many descendants, which obviously would have to come through the woman he was already married to at that time. These are the points you need to remember.

The results of Sarai and Abram’s plan.  Vs. 4-6

What were the results of this plan of the flesh by Sarai? Abram married Hagar and went in to her and she conceived. The plan looked like it had succeeded. But as soon as Hagar conceived, she began to despise her mistress in her heart. As this resentment was formed in Hagar’s heart, a great conflict began between these two women. “Then Sarai said to Abram. ‘My wrong be upon you! I gave my maid into your embrace; and when she saw that she had conceived, I became despised in her eyes.  The Lord judge between you and me.’  So Abram said to Sarai, ‘Indeed your maid is in your hand; do to her as you please.’  And when Sarai dealt harshly with her, she fled from her presence” (Gen. 16:5-6).

What is revealed in these verses? This whole plan of the flesh resulted in nothing but conflict with all the parties concerned. No one was happy. Hagar despised Sarai, then Sarai blamed God and Abram for what had happened. She told Abram, “My fault, is really on you.” She was just dumping the problem onto Abram’s lap. And what did Abram do? He dumped the problem right back in Sarai’s lap and told her, “Do with Hagar whatever way you want, you are her mistress.” So, Abram didn’t take any leadership here at all to help resolve the conflict between his two wives. He simply refused to take any responsibility as the head of his own home. What did Sarai do? She took out all her anger, frustration, and guilt on Hagar. Then Hagar fled from the home and ran into the wilderness. What a mess!

What is important to learn from this mess is that anger, resentment, despising others, and blame-shifting are always the result of our plans in the flesh. When our plans don’t work out as we think they should have we immediately think, Well, this has to be their fault. It has to be someone else’s fault for why my self-made plan has failed. When this is your first thought, you will not see what your fault is in the problem. Self-examination is a key to resolving any conflict with anyone. Jesus taught His disciples in Matthew 7:5 that they were to, “First take the plank out of your own eye, then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brethren’s eye.” This is what both Abram and Sarai should have done, but our natural tendency is to do just the opposite. We usually want to point the finger at someone else and blame God at the same time. Solomon warns us not to do this in Proverbs 19:3 where he writes, “The foolishness of a man twists his way, and his heart frets against the Lord.” The word frets means to become angry or enraged. The word twists literally means to pervert his way. So, my own foolishness and sinful desires are always seeking to pervert my way, and then when things don’t work out as I have planned, I blame God for it all. This reasoning reveals how twisted our thinking can be, but I’m sad to say it is a very common occurrence. If Abram and Sarai had just built an altar to the Lord, as they had done when they had failed to obey God while in Egypt, and asked for His forgiveness and direction, this story would have turned out very differently (Gen. 13:4).

God’s intervention.  Vs. 7-16

In the last few verses in this chapter, we see the Angel of the Lord intervene in this conflict. The Scripture declares, Now the Angel of the LORD found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, by the spring on the way to Shur. And He said, ‘Hagar, Sarai’s maid, where have you come from, and where are you going?’ She said, ‘I am fleeing from the presence of my mistress Sarai.’ The Angel of the LORD said to her, ‘Return to your mistress, and submit yourself under her hand.’ Then the Angel of the LORD said to her, ‘I will multiply your descendants exceedingly, so that they shall not be counted for multitude.’ And the Angel of the LORD said to her: ‘Behold, you are with child, and you shall bear a son. You shall call his name Ishmael, because the LORD has heard your affliction. He shall be a wild man; His hand shall be against every man, and every man’s hand against him. And he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.’ Then she called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, You-Are-the-God-Who-Sees; for she said, ‘Have I also here seen Him who sees me?’ Therefore the well was called Beer Lahai Roi; observe, it is between Kadesh and Bered. So Hagar bore Abram a son; and Abram named his son, whom Hagar bore, Ishmael. Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore Ishmael to Abram” (Gen. 16:7-16).

Who was this Angel of the LORD who came to Hagar?

The first thing you must determine is who was this Angel of the LORD? I believe this Angel of the LORD is a theophany, which is an appearance of God coming in flesh before the incarnation of Christ. There are several reasons why I believe this to be true. First, the word Angel is a word that simply means messenger. The messenger and mediator of the LORD is none other than Jesus Christ (1 Tim. 2:5). If God was to come in the flesh of a man it would then obviously have been Jesus. Second, I believe that this messenger declared that He was going to do things for Hagar that only God could do. He told her, I will multiply your descendants exceedingly,” and then gave her information that only God could have known about the future. Third, I believe this was God come in the flesh, because she called on the name of the “LORD” which is the personal name of God. Fourth, this messenger was making promises to Hagar that only God could fulfill. Fifth, Hagar calls this messenger “God” when she declared, “You-Are-the-God-Who-Sees; for she said, ‘Have I also here seen Him who sees me?’” If this messenger was not God come in the flesh, this would have been blasphemous for Hagar to make this statement. It would also have been blasphemous for an actual angel not to correct Hagar’s statements. When the Apostle John saw the things that an angel revealed to him, he fell down at the angel’s feet to worship. Note what John records happens. “When I heard and saw, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel who showed me these things. Then he said to me, ‘See that you do not do that. For I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren the prophets, and of those who keep the words of this book. Worship God’” (Rev. 22:8-9). However, this messenger who spoke to Hagar did not give any such correction. We will study another theophany later in Genesis.

The One who seeks to save that which is lost.

Once you have determined that the Angel of the LORD is a theophany where God comes in the flesh of a man, this reveals another powerful truth in this passage. If this is truly a theophany then that means that the Lord is the One who pursued Hagar in the midst of her affliction. This is so comforting to know that God knows and sees all that we go through every day. This action showed that God cared about people who have been hurt and wounded by others. God knew that she had been caught up in Abram and Sarai’s fleshly scheme, and through no fault of her own was now reaping these terrible consequences. Remember that this was a slave girl who had no authority or power in her culture, but God revealed here that He cares for all people equally. The Lord also gave Hagar some good counsel, and told her to go back and submit herself under Sarai’s hand. Then He gave Hagar a promise of what would become of her and her child.

All of what we see here in this text reveals a God who seeks to save all who are lost and hurting. This is exactly who Jesus revealed Himself to be when He said, “The Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). We are all people of little consequence in our culture today, but He still sought each one of us out and saved us, because He cares about our needs just as He did Hagar. God saw each of us just as He saw this slave girl out in the middle of the wilderness weeping. This is why we are believers today, because He came to each of us in our desperation, because He sees all. He then counseled us and sought to direct and restore our lives. No matter what is going on in our lives today, I can assure each of you that God sees you and knows exactly what’s going on in your life! So, open your heart to Him and allow Him to counsel you today. “The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good.” He sees everything! 

I want to encourage you that if you are in the midst of a situation right now where someone’s scheme or plan of the flesh has blown up in your face, don’t give up. Don’t listen to the enemy of your soul or the thoughts that make you think that everything is a disaster and it can’t be fixed, or that everything is so messed up that nothing good could ever come from it. Perhaps you may even think that God is finished with you. Don’t believe these lies. This story proves that God was not finished with Hagar or her son. The Lord was obviously not happy with Abram’s and Sarai’s fleshly plan to help Him out, but He is much more gracious than we can ever imagine. Yes, this situation was a mess, but God still loved Abram, Sarai, Hagar, and Ishmael. That is why the Lord pursued Hagar in the wilderness, and didn’t give up on Abram or Sarai either. What God did was to reveal Himself to Hagar, and He spoke to her concerning her future and her son’s future. Be encouraged by this story. If you will wait upon the Lord, He will reveal Himself to you, and also show you what you should do.

What did God tell Hagar to do? He commanded her to return home and submit herself to Sarai. Did Hagar listen to the messenger of the Lord? Yes, she did what He told her to do. Now it is important to note that Sarai was only verbally harsh with Hagar; there was no physical abuse mentioned in the Scriptural account. But, if you ever find yourself in a relationship where there is physical abuse, such as in marriage or any friendship, you should not return and submit yourself to that kind of behavior. You should cut off that relationship immediately, because these situations will only get worse. Please don’t misapply this particular text, and counsel someone to return to a physically abusive relationship. This is unsafe and unbiblical. God absolutely wants you in a safe place (Ps. 12:5).

Ishmael and God’s promise.

Another interesting fact is that God told Hagar she would have a son and that he would have many descendants, but that he would also be a wild man, and that he would experience great conflict in his relationship with others. The messenger told Hagar to name her son Ishmael. The name Ishmael means “God hears,” and that was also the point the messenger came to deliver. God hears cries of those who call out to Him, because He sees their affliction. God not only came to demonstrate His love and care for her, but He wanted her to always remember that He would hear her when she prayed. David declared to his son Solomon that God would do the same for him. He wrote, For He will deliver the needy when he cries, the poor also, and him who has no helper” (Ps. 72:12). This is one of the great motivators to prayer for every one of us. You must believe that God hears and sees all that is going on in your life. Believing this truth is why we cry out to Him daily, because we know that God’s heart is to help those who have no helper, and to deliver the needy. May you be convinced of this truth today, and cry out to Him for help!

The messenger also gave Hagar some bad news. He told her that her son would be a wild man. The words wild man in Hebrew can also be translated wild donkey. This prediction revealed that God knew the disposition and character of Ishmael. He was going to be a very volatile man. As I said earlier in this study, Ishmael became the father of the people who reside in the Arab nations today. I think it is interesting that the Arab peoples today are still very volatile toward each other, and other nations as well. When you study the history of Arab nations, their tribal conflicts have been extreme because of their volatility toward each other. Even in the present day there are numerous sects of Islam which kill each other on a regular basis, just because they believe differently about their former leaders. One example is the difference between the Sunni and Shiite Muslims today. The Shiites believed that when Muhammad died someone from his blood line should become the leader of Islam. The Sunni sect believed that their new leader should only be someone who was a pious individual. Therefore, this prophecy given by the messenger is very interesting concerning the volatility of this child.

There is one last point that is important concerning this prophecy that is noteworthy. This prophecy is only one example of God’s foreknowledge concerning men and their future. God knows every human being and what the future holds for them. Scripture reveals that God knew Jeremiah and everything about his future ministry before he was ever born (Jer. 1:5). God also knew the future end of Judas who betrayed Jesus (John 13:11). Not only does God know the future for each of our lives, but He also knows the ultimate plans He has for each of us, that is, if we will yield ourselves to Him. God told Jeremiah, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart” (Jer. 29:11-13). God knew the plans that He had for the nation Israel, and He wanted them to know His heart, that He intended peace and good for them. He didn’t want to bring evil upon them, but He required them to obey Him and pursue Him. This was the only way they could ever know what His plans were for them. But they refused and went their own way, and the result was that judgment fell upon them.

Knowing these truths should motivate each of us to sincerely seek God for the future plan that He has laid out for us. God has given each of us freewill, because we are made in His image. This means that just as God is sovereign, each of us are a sovereign creature who can choose whether to follow Him or not (Deut. 30:19; Prov. 1:29; Rom. 6:13). As God encouraged the Jewish people, may we hear His voice and call upon Him, seek His face, and search for Him with all our hearts!