6-Week Series: Against All Odds


Summary: Like Sarai we often come up with plans to help God out which unfortunately usually end in disaster.

Genesis 16

April 27, 2003

It was one of those rare moments in a thirteen-year-Olds life. For once I was thinking of someone other than myself. My parents were both working and I decided that I would be considerate and make supper for them. I got the meat going in the oven without too much difficulty and then turned my attention to the potatoes. I couldn’t do something plain so I decided to use what our family called the chip pan. It was a pot three-quarters full of cooking oil with an inner cage in which you could make chips - french fries. Well, I got the pan out and turned the heat on. It was then that I was faced with the dilemma. How do you tell whether the oil is hot enough? I rummaged through several cook books and in one found a helpful suggestion to take a spoon and use it to drip some water onto the hot oil to see if the oil is hot enough. Now what the book meant was that you dip a spoon in water and then let a single drop fall onto the oil. But I was a thirteen-year-old boy, and boys that age don’t do things by half measure. So I went to the drawer and found the biggest table spoon I could find. I filled it to the rim with water and stepped right over to the pot and boldly dumped the whole spoonful into the hot oil. Well, I’ll tell you, I discovered quickly that oil and water don’t mix. That one spoonful of water sent hot oil over everything in the kitchen within a six foot radius. Instead of a nice surprise, my parents came home to a disaster. In fact, it inspired one of the all time classic conversations between parent and child.

"What were you thinking?"

"I dunno - it seemed like a good idea at the time."

I wonder if God ever feels that way about us. "What were you thinking?"

How often is our answer - "It seemed like a good idea at the time."

Today we have one of those passages.

Part One Household trouble 16:1-6

1. Sarai’s plan for helping God 16:1-3

Abram is now 85 - Sarai is 75

They have been ten years in the land of promise and there is still no sign of the son of promise.

What’s going on? Why hasn’t God come through with His promise?

So Sarai comes up with a plan. It is a perfectly legal plan. It is culturally acceptable in the society in which they live.

But is not God’s plan - it is Sarai’s lack of faith that attempts to give God an out.

Note: Abram listen’s to the voice of - same phrase used in Genesis 3:17 when Adam listened to the voice of his wife Eve and took the fruit. The whole description in verse three mirrors the picture of Eve taking the forbidden fruit and giving it to Adam.

2. The plan goes awry. 16:4-6

Hagar changes - once she conceives she now has contempt for her mistress. She is better because she can bear Abram’s child.

Sarai changes - she is resentful and angry. She shifts the plan for her plan onto Abram. How could you do this to me? Kind of like being asked "have you stopped beating your wife yet?"

Abram capitulates - do to her what you want. So Sarai abuses Hagar. The same word is used in 15:13 for the Egyptian mistreatment of the Israelite slaves in Egypt. How ironic - Sarai mistreats her Egyptian slave the same way her descendants would be mistreated by the Egyptians.

Part Two Hagar Encounters God 16:7-16

1. Hagar receives a promise from God 16:7-12

what irony - God sees her need and meets her need

The slave girl sees what her master and mistress did not see. God was able to take care of her needs in His way and in His time.

2. Hagar gives God a name 16:13-14

3. Epilogue 16:15-16we "help God" to find us a mate by hanging around sin-stained locations and disregarding God’s standards of purity.

we "help Him" reach people by using pressure or manipulation tactics...or by watering down the truth

we "help God" bring growth to the church through gimmicks and tactics of the world

we "help God" get others get to Heaven by giving them a bunch of rules to follow

we "help God" bless us by gambling or by going deep into debt

we "help God" get us through school by buying term papers or plagiarizing someone else’s work

we "help" God bring justice by sabotaging someone’s reputation or career

(Bruce Goettsche - sermoncentral.com)

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