Summary: Sarai sends her hand maiden into Abram's tent and it is all his fault?
Who do you blame when things go wrong in your life?
Let’s look at the text and then draw some lessons from them.
Gen 16:1 “Now Sarai, Abram's wife, had borne him no children. She had a female Egyptian servant whose name was Hagar.”
Masters had absolute rights over their servants.
Gen 16:2 “And Sarai said to Abram, ‘Behold now, the LORD has prevented me from bearing children. Go in to my servant; it may be that I shall obtain children by her.’ And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai.”
God had promised to make Abram a great nation, but it didn’t seem to be happening. Sarai looked at the situation and decided she could make it happen. So Sarai gave Hagar to Abram’s bed to be a surrogate mother. Surrogation through adultery it has been called. Abram heard the idea and went along with it.
As is much publicized and taught, this was acting ahead of God’s will and not waiting on God’s timing. It was taking things into their own hands and not trusting God to work it out. That is always a mistake.
I want to remind you of something to give Sarai the benefit of the doubt. God had never spoken to her. Just to Abram. For all she knew, her crazy husband and his invisible God kept talking about a child she couldn’t have.
Gen 16:3-4 “So, after Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, Sarai, Abram's wife, took Hagar the Egyptian, her servant, and gave her to Abram her husband as a wife. 4 And he went in to Hagar, and she conceived. And when she saw that she had conceived, she looked with contempt on her mistress.”
OK, he did it. He went through with it.
This was in a day when most men had multiple wives. Rulers had wives and then they had more concubines (or girlfriends, so to speak).
Let me tell you something briefly. Just because everybody is doing it doesn’t mean you are going to get away with it as a child of God. God’s expectations of us and His call for righteousness isn’t effected by social norms.
This didn’t go over well, either, despite the common practices of this society.
Gen 16:5 “And Sarai said to Abram, ‘May the wrong done to me be on you! I gave my servant to your embrace, and when she saw that she had conceived, she looked on me with contempt. May the LORD judge between you and me!’"
I am sure you can see what I see, and hear what I hear in this. “Abram, this is all your fault.”
There are a lot of views as to what the problem was in this scripture. Some say the relationship between Hagar and Sarai was changing. Hagar was promoted, raised from servant of Sarai to Abram’s second wife. This promotion wasn’t handled well by Hagar, as she quit respecting Sarai and obeying her. She may have looked at herself as more valuable than Sarai because she could get pregnant and bear a son.
Others say that Hagar resented the position she was placed in. She was cast into the bed of Abram and got pregnant, none of which was her choice. Her life and dreams were over, perhaps she had an eye for male servant and this ruined her chances with him.
Still others say that this problem was inside Sarai only. There is no record of Hagar being a problem, just Sarai’s word that she was. Maybe she couldn’t stand the thought of her failure and looking at a pregnant Hagar constantly reminded her. Maybe her resentment imagined Hagar’s resentment, hearing spite in everything said, and seeing it in everything that was done.
We don’t know, but can only speculate.
Abram then responds to his wife, validating her unique position with him as his main squeeze.
Gen 16:6 “But Abram said to Sarai, ‘Behold, your servant is in your power; do to her as you please.’ Then Sarai dealt harshly with her, and she fled from her.”
Abram said, “Sarai, you are my wife. What we did was a mistake. She is your servant. It is your choice how to deal with this.”
Sarai decided she needed to crack down on Hagar. So she cracked down hard.
Hagar decided she had better get away, so she ran away.
Now, that is as far as we are going into the story today. There are national and historic consequences of this story that we will cover later, but not tonight. I just want us to focus tonight on one thing.
Why was it Abram’s fault?
I. Failed Authority.
Flash back to Adam. Eve was deceived and Adam took and ate. It was Eve’s idea, but Adam’s responsibility. See the resemblance?