Summary: This is the 28th sermon in our series on Genesis. In this sermon we examine Abraham's failure to trust in the covenant promises of God by sleeping with Hagar and fathering Ishmael.
The Mistake (Genesis part 28)
Text: Genesis 16:1 – 16
By: Ken McKinley
Now as we’ve been reading about Abraham, we’ve seen him go through high points and low points. We’ve seen him walking in faith and we’ve seen his faith falter from time to time. Last Sunday we talked about how it was with Abraham that we first see the doctrine of justification by faith alone. How Abraham believed God and God accounted to him as righteousness. So Abram’s kind of been on a spiritual high plane… First he trusted God and let Lot go whichever direction he wanted, then he rescued Lot from the wicked kings. Then he refused to take the gifts of the king of Sodom, but paid tithes to Melchizedek. God declares him righteous and we saw the covenant of grace. So by all accounts, Abram’s doing pretty well in his walk with God… but that’s about to change.
So… first of all; we see in verses 1 & 2 that Abram makes a big mistake. We know it’s a mistake from the consequences we see later on, we know it’s a mistake from what the Apostle Paul says in Galatians 4 where he says, “The son born unto the bondwoman was according to the flesh…” And we know it’s a mistake from history. And what this portion of Scripture shows us is that God is sovereign. We’re not. And sometimes we don’t like that.
The promise hadn’t been fulfilled, so Sarai comes up with a plan. What she decides to do was actually pretty common in those days. But it was also… and still is also a direct violation of the “one flesh” principle that God had set down in Genesis 2. So even though this was a common custom for people to do what Abram and Sarai did, it violated the creation ordinances that God set forth in Genesis 1 and 2. In-other-words, it may have been the law of the land, and it may have seemed right to the culture that Abram was living in, but it was wrong in the eyes of God. Now I don’t think I need to go into detail how that principle applies to us today. I think ya’ll all have a pretty good idea of how it applies.
So again; Paul tells us in Galatians 4 that the son of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, but the son of the free woman was born according to the promise. What Paul meant by that was that Ishmael was the result of the will of man, but Isaac was the product of Abraham and Sarah trusting in the promise of God. To put that another way… we could say that Ishmael was the result of Abram and Sarai’s failure to trust in the Lord. And what’s really sad about this, is that Abram and Sarai know that they are trying to circumvent God’s way of doing things.
Look at verse 2 (Read). See! Sarai says, “The LORD has restrained me from bearing children.” She knew that it was God who was keeping her from bearing children. That was part of God’s plan to show that it wasn’t about the will of man, but of God who shows grace and mercy. But Abram and Sari begin to justify their behavior, and rationalize it. And that’s what sin does. It’s deceptive. We tell ourselves, “I know God wouldn’t want me to do this, but maybe… just this once, He’ll make an exception.” We fool ourselves and say, “Well I’d make an exception for myself in this circumstance, surely God would too.”