Why Two Wives Are Always a Bad Idea

If you’ve ever seen a broken family, then you know how intense and emotional conflict becomes when there are two warring and irreconcilable factions. Now imagine a married man who also has a girlfriend and children with her. Imagine that these women and children despise one another, fight often, and wish the other woman and her children were simply gone forever.

Now, imagine that the man is very wealthy and powerful, and he dies. Then, a major conflict erupts between the women over who gets the inheritance for their children. With one side set to win, and the other side set to lose, the stage is set for generations of conflict, bitterness, vengeance, and acrimony. Furthermore, the losing side of this conflict will feel they were treated unjustly, and in the name of justice, seek to attack and take back what they believe is rightfully theirs. This back-and-forth battle over land, wealth, and power could conceivably continue indefinitely for generations. This is exactly the scenario at play 4,000 years after Abraham. Abraham had one covenant, two wives (Sarah and Hagar), and two sons (Isaac and Ishmael), which set in motion a terrorist attack 4,000 years later over which side of the broken family inherits the promises of God.

In the Old Testament, God made long-term promises and created long-lasting relationships with a few choice men through something called a covenant. At the most basic level, a covenant is an agreement between parties. Various covenants are made between people, between people and God, and between God and people. In the Old Testament, the word covenant appears hundreds of times and is used in a variety of ways.

When the Bible speaks of God’s covenant with His people, it is explaining how our relationship with God is made by His provision and exists by His terms. In a covenant with God, there is no bargaining, bartering, or contract negotiating regarding the terms of the covenant. Neither is God’s covenant something we must earn by our good works. It is always a gracious provision from the loving Lord to His people. The sovereign Lord of Heaven and earth dictates the terms of God’s covenants. It is God’s covenant in that it is conceived, devised, determined, established, confirmed, and dispensed by God Himself, who often says, “I will establish my covenant with you.”1 This aspect of God’s covenants reveals His sovereign rule as Lord.

In Genesis 15, we see God appear to Abraham and speak to him what we call the Abrahamic Covenant, which included three things – 1) Land 2) Lineage 3) Lord. Ever since then, there has been a battle for these three things between two people groups because of Abraham’s sin following the covenant. As soon as the covenant was uttered, a demonic attack began for those three things that continues to this day. What God builds, Satan breaks. What God creates, Satan counterfeits. Who God loves, Satan hates. Who God blesses, Satan curses.

In the Bible however, it is the center point of God’s plan for the world and the place where Jesus came to, the gospel went out from, and Jesus is returning to. As for the second part of the covenant, Abraham (originally named Abram) was married to a woman named Sarah (originally named Sarai). The Lord promised them a son, but they waited for years and years – until Sarah was 90 and Abraham was 100, to be exact. They waited so long that they stopped believing God would be faithful to His promise and took matters into their own hands. Abraham married another wife, Hagar, who bore Isaac a son named Ishmael. 

Regarding the third part of the covenant, we get to the question you’re probably asking:

What does all of this have to do with today’s time or the current ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas?

This might shock you but the Jews, the people of Israel, descend from Isaac and the Palestinians, from which comes Hamas, descend from Ishmael. Judaism comes from Isaac while Islam comes from Ishmael. The current war in the Middle East is a family feud 4,000 years in the making. It has not been solved by political means and it will not be solved by political means. This is ultimately a spiritual war between good and evil. This is also a family feud over the Abrahamic Covenant.

Take some time to read God’s covenant with Abraham and his descendants in the following verses Genesis 12:1-3, 15:18, 17:1-14, 22:16- 18. Is there anything that stands out to you as you read about this covenant in light of current events? 1. Also helpful is this Bible Project video on covenant: www.bibleproject.com/explore/video/covenants.

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