“…three hundred and eighteen trained servants who were born in his own house…” (Genesis 14:14)
Hmm, 318 servants’ maids bore sons right under Abraham’s roof. That’s a lot of midwife activity and a lot of babies bawling. What a rich man was Abraham! Well, you would think so but every Syrian servant’s birth mocked their master’s own infertility. What should have been joy to the master of the house really only added to his frustration. Ever felt like that? Everyone else is having babies except you. Everyone else is getting raises, taking advantage of the real estate market, having “words” spoken over them, buying new cars and clothes, but you’re stuck where you’ve always been. Abraham’s faith grasped omnipotence. Later in a vision, the Lord spoke to him, “I am the Almighty God; walk before me and be blameless…” (Genesis 17:1) But with omnipotence in his sights there was only impotence in his flesh. Add insult to injury, all the lowly house servants were having babies right and left.
Aggravated? Sure. Sometimes in prayer we would rather stomp our feet than bow our knees. Abraham was rich but aging. Someone was going to get his inheritance and it made no sense that a foreign-born slave should inherit the family jewels. “See, you’ve given me no children, and now a mere house servant is going to get it all” (Genesis 15:3 The Message). Or he could divvy it up among the 318 that helped him rescue Lot. Most pastors would encourage him to be content with what he had. After all, 318 servants is not bad for an ex-Chaldean. But Abraham wanted a son, not servants. What good are fine Arabian rugs without the pitter-pat of little Isaac’s feet? The advice that says simply “be content” pulls on the same end of the rope as the devil. Our discontent is often the very catalyst that compels us to ask big, to defy odds and go after that one thing we really want in life. For Abraham it was having his own son, for you it might be opening a business, building a great church or meeting that special someone. Abraham wouldn’t take “no” for an answer, even when his shriveling old man’s body screamed “impossibility” from the mirror. “Who against hope believed in hope…and being not weak in faith, considered not his own body, now dead, when he was about a hundred years old…” (Romans 4:18-19)
It would have been better to look at the 318 servants born in his household as stimulants to faith rather than depressants. The cry of each baby born could have been heard as a testimony of possibility. God is no respecter of persons. What He does for one He can do for another. Instead, he counted each baby’s cry as more of an insult. I understand that. Because it doesn’t seem fair that Brother Jones down the street receives miracle after miracle while faithful Abraham and Sarah sit in their tents counting the passing weeks and months. And they are not asking for miracles, plural, just miracle, one.
No one ever said that life was fair. (Well, actually that is not true. Comedian George Carlin said he personally knew two people that said life is fair, though they both passed away in their mid-twenties from freak accidents.) The point is, good things are happening in your life. God blessed Abraham’s home with 318 fine faithful assistants. But at the same time servants aren’t sons, so don’t settle for less than what God has promised. Faith refuses to calculate odds: Head servant Eleazar – 318/ Abraham – 0. That only defeats the heart. Instead of counting Eleazar’s babies he lifted his eyes to the nighttime sky and counted stars, “being fully persuaded that what he had promised, he was able also to perform. And therefore it was accounted to him for righteousness” (Romans 4:21-22). Each star twinkled like little babies’ eyes. God called Abraham the “father of many” when he was not the father of any. Faith talks like that. And in just a few years, instead of 318 kids, Abe and Sarah were parents and grandparents of a multitude. Don’t live by facts and figures, live by faith.
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