Summary: Based on Abraham’s struggles, we learn how to escape when temptation comes.
It was a beautiful sunny day in Ostrava Czech Republic a city of 300,000. It was 1995 and I had just moved there to take an intense Czech language course and after half a day of Czech grammar I was tired. I got on the tram and spaced out for my 20 minute ride to the suburbs where I lived. As usual the tram stopped, people got on and off and it continued on its way. But suddenly I noticed that after the last stop, everyone got off and no one got on. The doors closed and then the tram went around the corner into some dead end and stopped. The driver in the first car got off and left. To my shock I was left alone – trapped and locked into this Czech tram. It was not a good feeling.
Have you ever been trapped? Panicked? Alone?
Abraham and Sarah certainly seemed to experience something like that as they waited for God’s promise of a child. Year after year passed and they got older and older.
He was the great Abraham, the friend of God. He heard God’s voice and multiple times was personally called by God. He was blessed by Melchizedek the priest and king of the Most High God. And as we saw last week, Abraham heard the promises again from the Lord that he would have a son and a great land.
Despite all these blessings and promises, Abraham still struggled with the trap of temptation. He struggled to obey and trust in God’s promises. Temptation to sin was lurking around every corner. And so it is for every single person who trusts in Christ as their Lord and Savior. Just because you’re a strong believer and mature doesn’t mean you will escape the trap of temptation.
What does Scripture reveal to us about temptation? First, that TEMPTATION FOLLOWS THAT WHICH MAKES SENSE.
God had promised that Abraham would have his own son – not adopted but from his own flesh. But the problem is that Sarah has had no children. She says: “The Lord has prevented me from bearing children.”
Here Sarah is 75 years old. Many of you are not yet 75 but can YOU imagine having a child? It’s of course impossible and Sarah knows it. Abraham knows it and God didn’t say anything about Sarah becoming pregnant. After all – it’s a closed door!
So the thought is this: They know that Abraham will have a son but maybe it’s not with Sarah. What about another woman? This must be what God meant.
If temptation didn’t make sense, we certainly wouldn’t ever sin. We are under the impression that this is the logical way to solve problems.
• Break the window and escape the tram.
• If you don’t get along – break the marriage.
• You need to protect someone – lie.
• If you can’t afford to support a child, have an abortion.
• If you love someone, live together and try out the relationship.
It makes perfect sense doesn’t it? Temptation follows human logic almost every time!
What else does Scripture teach about temptation? TEMPTATION FOLLOWS THAT WHICH IS NORMAL IN THE WORLD.
Temptation would not be appealing if it was unacceptable in society. But when most people encourage us to break God’s word, it seems okay.
This is clear in the situation with Abraham and Sarah. What they did was part of their world. In fact, according to the custom of that time, a barren couple can have their own child through another woman such as a slave or servant who would be something of a surrogate mother. This was normal behavior in this time period. When a woman married she brought her servant with her as something of an insurance policy in case she couldn’t have children.
So Sarah has thought it through. She’s figured out a way to fulfill the promise of God. It falls right in line with what everyone else does in this situation. She suggests to her husband to sleep with her maid servant in order to have a child through her.
Now, I don’t know anyone (although I am sure there are some out there in the world) who would do this thing today. Can you imagine encouraging your husband to sleep with another woman? It’s scandalous! Couples get divorced for that. Such behavior might even result in a report in the city newspaper: “Local man has two wives.”
But keep in mind, this was practiced all the time. It was NORMAL, accepted, not frowned upon. Good men and women practiced this – several times it happens in the Bible where men have more than one wife including Jacob, David, and Solomon. It was part of their culture. Does that mean it is ok?