Summary: How do you make decisions in time of stress. Abraham is an example of what not to do.
Making Right Decisions In Times Of Stress - Genesis 16
This is a passage of Abram’s disobedience to God. He listened to the voice of his wife rather than God.
In order for us to learn something of importance from this passage, we need to understand two things:
1. THE STRESS THAT ABRAHAM WAS EXPERIENCING
• Unfulfilled Expectations
There was the problem of Sarah’s infertility. Apparently, she couldn’t have any children.
In those days, in that society, that was a real stigma. Sarah saw the problem as being caused by the Lord (v.2) but she was unwilling to wait for His answer to the situation.
Genesis 16:1-2 (NLT) Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had not been able to bear children for him. But she had an Egyptian servant named Hagar. (2) So Sarai said to Abram, “The Lord has prevented me from having children. Go and sleep with my servant. Perhaps I can have children through her.” And Abram agreed with Sarai’s proposal.
Sarai is the one who suggests to Abram that He take Hagar.
• Living With Bad Decisions
He took Hagar as a wife.
Genesis 16:3-4 (NLT) So Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar the Egyptian servant and gave her to Abram as a wife. (This happened ten years after Abram had settled in the land of Canaan.) (4) So Abram had sexual relations with Hagar, and she became pregnant. But when Hagar knew she was pregnant, she began to treat her mistress, Sarai, with contempt.
Back in chapter 12 Abram arrived in the land, then during a famine, went to live in Egypt.
When Pharaoh expelled Abram out of Egypt over the situation involving Sarah, he sent him out with possessions and servants, probably including Hagar (13:1).
It was culturally acceptable to have a maidservant as well as using female servants to bear children for an infertile couple.
It was acceptable, it was legal - but in God’s eyes, it was not right.
How many things are in our culture that are acceptable and legal - but in God’s eyes is sin?
• Stress of Family
There was the presence of Sarah herself.
Genesis 16:5-6 (NLT) Then Sarai said to Abram, “This is all your fault! I put my servant into your arms, but now that she’s pregnant she treats me with contempt. The Lord will show who’s wrong—you or me!” (6) Abram replied, “Look, she is your servant, so deal with her as you see fit.” Then Sarai treated Hagar so harshly that she finally ran away.
Abram’s wife, Sarah, got on his case. He did wrong by listening to her advice which ran contrary to God’s word.
The issue is not that of listening to your wife. On the contrary. It has to listening to advice which is not in accordance to God’s word.
Abram’s habit was to call on the name of the Lord (12:8; 15:6), but in this moment of pressure he bypassed God’s direction.
• There Was The Pressure Of Time.
Genesis 16:3 (NLT) So Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar the Egyptian servant and gave her to Abram as a wife. (This happened ten years after Abram had settled in the land of Canaan.)
This verse tells us that this came about “after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan.”
Micah 7:7-8 (NLT) As for me, I look to the Lord for help. I wait confidently for God to save me, and my God will certainly hear me. (8) Do not gloat over me, my enemies! For though I fall, I will rise again. Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light.
They had waited ten years, and nothing happened. They got discouraged, they lost sight of God’s perspective, and they looked to their own efforts and to what society deemed as acceptable.
It is hard to wait on the Lord, isn’t it? Many of us become disobedient because of impatience.
God has perfect timing. We must wait on the Lord – for His plan to be fulfilled.
• God’s Plan
God knew from the beginning what Abraham was going to do. He had a plan behind it all.
It is evident in the prophecy of the Angel of the Lord - vv. 10-12. The multiplication of the children of Ishmael, the Arab nations today, was part of the plan of God. GOD LOVES ARABS JUST AS MUCH AS ANY OTHER CULTURE.
Genesis 16:10-12 (NLT) Then he added, “I will give you more descendants than you can count.” (11) And the angel also said, “You are now pregnant and will give birth to a son. You are to name him Ishmael (which means ‘God hears’), for the Lord has heard your cry of distress. (12) This son of yours will be a wild man, as untamed as a wild donkey! He will raise his fist against everyone, and everyone will be against him. Yes, he will live in open hostility against all his relatives.”