Summary: In this section from the story of Abraham, we see that he and Sarah got ahead of God and tried to force God to bring an heir through Hagar. There are a lot of important lessons for us to learn from this episode.
A. One day there was a man who was taking it easy, lying on the grass, looking up at the clouds, and having a conversation with God
1. The man said, “God, how long is a million years to you?”
a. God answered, “In my frame of reference, a million years is about a minute.”
2. The man asked, “God, how much is a million dollars to you?”
a. God answered, “To Me, a million dollars is like a penny.
3. Then the man asked, “God, can I please have one of your pennies?”
a. God replied, “Absolutely, just give me a minute.”
B. How many of you like waiting for things?
1. The older folks here may remember the classic 1979 television commercials for Heinz Ketchup that showed people waiting for the thick, rich Heinz Ketchup to pour out of the bottle in slow motion while the Carly Simon song “Anticipation” played in the background.
2. An article in Time.com a few years ago noted that ketchup flows out of a glass bottle at a rate of .028 miles per hour – That is really slow, isn’t it!
a. That's slower than a Galapagos tortoise, which, according to the San Diego Zoo, zips along at a blazing 0.16 miles per hour, or almost six times faster than ketchup.
3. However, Dave Smith, a PhD candidate at MIT, and a team of MIT mechanical engineers and nano-technologists have offered a possible solution to this ketchup flow problem.
a. After months of research, Smith and his team developed something called LiquiGlide.
b. The researchers say that coating the inside of a bottle with LiquiGlide will cause ketchup and other sauces to slide out faster than a Galapagos tortoise.
c. Smith claims that the sauce industry, which rakes in $17 billion a year, would love to get their hands on the invention.
4. Keith Wagstaff, the author of the Time article concluded, “Let's hope some big [ketchup] companies bite. I’m tired of waiting five minutes for ketchup to land on my cheeseburger.” (Keith Wagstaff, “MIT Scientists Figure Out How to Get Ketchup Out of the Bottle,” Time.com, 5-22-12; www.PreachingToday.com)
C. None of us like to wait, do we?
1. We don’t like to wait for ketchup.
2. We don’t like to wait at the checkout line or the red light.
3. And we don’t like to wait on God.
4. And that’s when some people take matters into their own hands and try to hurry God along, but that only makes things worse.
D. At least that’s what happened to Abraham and Sarah.
1. God had promised them many descendants, and that Abraham’s heir would come from his own DNA, his own flesh and blood.
2. And so they waited for their first child…and they waited…and waited…for ten long years, they waited.
3. Then they decided they needed to help God out.
4. Let’s pick up their story in Genesis 16.
I. The Story
A. The Bible says: 1 Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian maidservant named Hagar; 2 so she said to Abram, “The LORD has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my maidservant; perhaps I can build a family through her.” Abram agreed to what Sarai said. 3 So after Abram had been living in Canaan ten years, Sarai his wife took her Egyptian maidservant Hagar and gave her to her husband to be his wife. (Gen. 16:1-3)
1. Notice how verse 1 states that Sarah, Abraham’s wife had borne him no children.
a. Fairly or unfairly, can you sense who was feeling the greatest pressure…who was feeling like it was their fault that no child had come into their home?
b. Since God’s specific promise was that an heir would come from Abraham’s own body, and nothing had been said about Sarah’s body, Sarah came up with a proposal.
2. Among the Egyptian servants in their household that they had acquired while in Egypt was young woman named Hagar.
a. So, Sarah suggests that Abraham take Hagar as a wife and to have an heir through her.
3. Sarah’s proposal seems shocking and strange to our 21st century sensibilities, and to our Christian sense of morality.
a. Yet, in the Middle Eastern culture of 4000 years ago, this solution to the problem of Sarah’s barrenness was acceptable, strange as it may seem.
b. Legal custom of that culture permitted the husband of a childless woman to take her servant as a second wife and any child born of that second union to be regarded as the first wife’s child.
4. In that cultural context, Sarah’s actions seem praiseworthy.
a. We can only imagine the intense internal struggle that Sarah went through to reach this conclusion.
b. Sarah decided to surrender her own rights to Abraham’s sole and undivided affection.