Summary: Genesis verse-by-verse
The last time we were in the book of Genesis we found the Lord giving Abram a pep talk concerning His covenant to build a nation through him. Abram was coming off of a great military victory, but was still concerned that he and Sarah hadn’t been able to have a baby through the first ten years of their marriage.
[Read Genesis 15:1-6.]
Then God went through this ceremony before Abram that indicated that He alone was responsible to achieve the covenant through Abram. It was His responsibility, and after all, Creator God was fully capable of accomplishing His will.
[Read Genesis 15:18.]
But soon after this the worries came creeping back in. This time it was through the concerns of Sarah that Abram started to doubt he would ever have a son.
Now remember, Abram having a son was a divine dilemma – not a human one. The covenant depended on God accomplishing His will through Abram. It didn’t depend on the fertility of Abram and his wife Sarah. It wasn’t a human problem. It was a divine dilemma concerning humans. And God had done everything He could to help Abram understand this.
Over and over God told Abram that He would accomplish this. But instead of trusting the Words of Almighty God, Abram took some bad advice from his wife. Basically, this advice was:
1. A worldly solution for a divine dilemma
[Read Genesis 16:1.]
Remember Abram’s faithless, wasted trip to Egypt where he sold out his wife for his own safety, claiming she was his sister and allowing her to become one of Pharaoh’s wives? Remember that? Well on that trip he picked up many riches including servants from amongst the people there. Servants like Hagar.
[Read Genesis 16:1-3.]
In Abram’s day this was an acceptable practice amongst the people. Wives had the legal right to give their husband another wife to bear children through. Totally accepted. Totally legal. Maybe even considered a practical way to have kids if you couldn’t have them on your own. But even though it was considered acceptable, legal and practical, it wasn’t God’s way – it was the world’s way. So Abram and Sarah employ a worldly solution for a divine dilemma.
Could you imagine a wife suggesting this to her husband in modern America? It just wouldn’t happen. If a wife ever said something like this to her husband it isn’t a ‘real’ suggestion – it’s a test.
[Wife suggestion and gagging reaction demonstration.]
We haven’t changed much in the last few thousand years.
When we have God-sized problems we need to go to Him with them. Taking matters into our own hands will inevitably blow up in our faces. And that’s what happens here. Their worldly solution didn’t turn out like they thought it would. So we now see:
2. A faithless reaction to their worldly solution
[Read Genesis 16:4-6.]
Did we really think it could turn out any other way? I mean, really!
So Sarah tells Abram to take Hagar to be his wife so she can bear him a son. He does, and she does. But when she gives birth Sarah feels like Hagar now despises her – so she despises her back. Now, we don’t really know if Hagar did despise Sarah or if that’s just how Sarah felt.
Now Hagar could have despised her. I mean, she didn’t have much say in the matter of becoming Abram’s wife. And what if Abram wasn’t her type? Now she’s got a kid by him. She’s forever linked to this 85 year old man. She might have been a young girl. Who knows?
But one thing’s for sure, Sarah despised Hagar. You see, Hagar used to just be Sarah’s servant. Now she’s her equal being another wife of Abram. Maybe she even has the upper hand since she’s got a child by him and she didn’t. Bottom line, Sarah’s jealous; Sarah’s envious; Sarah’s covetous; and down right hateful.
[Read Genesis 16:6.]
Not a lot of love there. Not a lot of humility there. Not a lot of patience there. Not a lot of faith there. But Abram was no better. He was just more passive about it.
[Read Genesis 16:6.]
Good answer Abram! Sarah has directed her anger for Hagar towards you and you redirect it right back to Hagar. After all, you’ve got what you wanted. You’re holding your son. Who cares about Hagar. “Do whatever you want to her.”
A sad day in the life of these three adults. They created this huge mess, yet instead of learning from it and moving on, they decided to be hateful towards each other. And obviously the pressure was so sever towards Hagar that all she could do was run away.
So one night she took off back towards Egypt. But I tell you what, she must have been desperate. Remember, she was a nothing servant taken from home to live with the exiled from Egypt, traveler Abram. Now she’s coming back home a nothing servant but carrying a non-Egyptian’s child. What kind of life did she have to look forward to? Well I guess it looked better than the one she had with Sarah.