When this parashah opens, God is not anyone’s God. He has been rejected as God and as Creator at Babel. The rebellion at Babel introduced paganism among men as a religion, to replace YHVH, the Creator, as God. But when YHVH spoke to Abram, Abram listened to Him and obeyed Him. YHVH’s instruction was, “Separate yourself, and I will make a nation of you, so that in you I might bless all the families of the earth.” You mean, all those 70 families from Gen 10 that just rejected YHVH as God and turned to serve the creature rather than the Creator? Yes, all those families. The nation of Abram’s seed will have YHVH as their God (Gen 17:7), unlike every other nation on the face of the earth, and will be a blessing to all the other nations who have rejected God.
Where is the vengeful, wrathful, judgmental, angry God of the Old Testament? His plan is to bless those families that rejected Him, by making a way for them to return to Him, through the nation of Abram’s seed, and ultimately, the Promised Seed, Messiah Yeshua.
Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High. And he blessed him and said: “Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand.” Gen 14:18-19
The name “Melchizedek” in Hebrew is a contraction of two words; melech, meaning king, and tsedek, meaning righteousness. This is why the writer of Hebrews says that Melchizedek was both the king of peace (Salem or shalom) and the king of righteousness (Heb 7:2). So from these two verses, we learn that Melchizedek was king, priest, and prophet (since prophets speak on God’s behalf to men). Heb 7 explains that Melchizedek was a preincarnate appearance of Jesus our Lord, the Promised Seed, who also serves as king, priest, and prophet (as we will see God reiterate as we go through Scripture). Notice the first appearance in Scripture of bread and wine, and tithes, in Abram’s meeting with Melchizedek/ Messiah.
“A covenant is instituted through a sacrifice of a choice, fatted animal which is cut in two and the parties of the covenant pass through the pieces. If one party fails to meet the agreements of the covenant, then the other may do the same to them.” – Jeff Benner, Ancient Hebrew Lexicon, pg. 74
It is that the blood of the covenant may be avenged in the blood of the covenant breaker, that makes the blood covenant of the ancient world binding and unbreakable. This is why God cutting a blood covenant with Abram gave him the surety that he was asking for in Gen 15:8.
God’s covenant with Abram is a special kind of blood covenant (a royal grant covenant), for Abram did not have an obligation in the covenant other than belief (Gen 15:6). The obligations of the covenant were all on God’s side. God is again teaching us about Messiah, in whose blood the renewed covenant was cut, in which the obligations of the covenant is all of Him and His work, while our part is to put our trust in Him.
Hagar has an encounter with the Angel of YHVH in the wilderness, who appears to her. This Angel, who is mentioned in many places in the Old Testament, I believe is not an ordinary class of angel, but a preincarnate appearance of Messiah Yeshua: when He is addressed as God or named as God as in today’s passage, and elsewhere in Scripture, He does not deny it, unlike regular angels who have appeared elsewhere in Scripture (see for example, Rev 19:10). Hagar marvels that she has physically seen the One who has seen her, and lived (vs. 13), and this is a characteristic attributed to Messiah Yeshua:
No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him. Joh 1:18
The message of the Angel of the LORD, then, is not only, God sees me, but God hears me (and understands the trials I am going through, by implication):
“Behold, you are with child, and you shall bear a son. You shall call his name Ishmael, because the LORD has heard your affliction.” Gen 16:11
The emphasis in this parashah is that Ishmael, the son of the flesh, will NOT be the heir of the covenant, but Isaac, the son of the promise, will be the heir of the covenant. Abraham is the father, Isaac is the son. Isaac is a type of Messiah, the Son of the Father, who was conceived miraculously, and who is a type of the Promised Seed of Gen 3:15.