Title: Making Matters Worse
Text: Gen 16.1-16
Introduction: Let’s begin by reading v 1;
We’ve seen Abram struggle in his faith; believing and trusting at one point and then trying to make things happen at other points. Believing God at his word in 12.1-3; they travel through the holy land and down to Egypt because there is a famine in the land. It is probably here, in Egypt that Sarah acquires Hagar to be, I’m pretty sure, one of her servants (v1). In Ch. 13, Abram and Lot part ways. Lot chooses what looks Good and God chooses for Abram what is best. Lot get himself in to trouble and Abram comes to his rescue in Ch. 14. Here, once again God proves himself faithful and Abram proves himself to be trusting in God’s Word. IN Chapter 15, it appears that Abram begins to struggle a bit, still believing and trusting God, but not seeing it really working out. God then condescends to Abram and makes a unilateral, unconditional covenant with Abram. It is a beautiful picture that God paints for Abram reminding Abram that God cannot be unfaithful to his promises as he moves between the animals that have cut in half.
Now we come to Chapter 16. Look at how Sarai now struggles; rd v 1 again; she hasn’t bore any children for him, but she does have this servant and that is a way the culture dictates a man can have children; so what does she do? rd v 2;
Transition: There is a book/Bible study my wife has done with the women in our church entitled: The power of a woman’s words. That’s my 1st point.
I. The Power of a Woman’s Word (1-3)
exp.: I wonder if women know, really know the power they have to build up or to destroy. Sure, the man stands before his family, but the woman, she can steer her family any direction she wants. She has so much more power than she realizes: for good or for bad!
Why would she do this? Let’s look at her situation.
- Her situation: V2 blames the LORD; there is some truth here. She’s been waiting a long time; rd v 3;
- 12.4 – 75 years old
- 16.3 – he had lived there 10 years – 85 years old
- 16.16 – He was 86 years old (makes sense)
- 17.1, 17 – 99 (100 years old); Sarah is 89 (90 years old)
- Abraham listened – he didn’t have to; he could have done the right thing; He should have, but he trusted his wife, he listened to her words of advice or counsel and decided to make things work out on his own.
exp.: this is wrong on so many levels. Maybe Sarai had good intentions. Maybe she loved her husband and ached inside that her body failed her; that God didn’t promise this to her, but to Abram. But still, what she did was wrong. She should have continued to wait on God and let God perform in her what he desired. It was wrong to put her husband in that situation. She should be supporting God’s plan for him and not leading her husband down a path he shouldn’t go. It was wrong to put Hagar in the position. Sarai was responsible to care for and protect her servants.
app.: Women, I hope you’ll recognize the power you have to build up your family and to destroy your family.
Needs: your husband needs to know you respect him. you can build him up with your words of respect, or destroy him with words of disgust. Your children see this. If you don’t hold your man in the highest regard, neither will your children. My children love me and they respect me. If they don’t, they hide it well. I believe their perception of me has been undergirded with the respect and love my wife has shown, and still to this day, shows me.
exp.: have you seen the parallels in this story to Adam and Eve’s?
- He listened to his wife (16.2 v. 3.17)
- She took Hagar, Eve took the fruit (16.3a v. 3.6a)
- Sarai gave her to Abram, Eve gave the fruit to her husband (16.3b v. 3.6b)
- In both cases the husbands followed the bad advice by knowingly and willingly participating.
Transition: the power of a woman’s words. Next, the pressure of a woman’s wrath!
II. The Pressure of a Woman’s Wrath (4-6)
exp.: What’s the saying: if mom ain’t happy…; well, how true that is! Rd v 4a; that’s bad enough; rd 4b; that makes it worse; Now, this is Sarai’s doing, but Abraham is a willing participant; so, Sarai gets what she planned; maybe not what she wants, but everything works according to her plans; except she’s not happy!
- Abram is blamed: Rd v 5; there is some truth here, too. So, Abram tries to get the wrath of his wife off of him; rd v 6a; rd 6b;
- Hagar is mistreated; I wonder what part she played in all of this? It wasn’t her scheming that brought this about. Rd 6c; oppp
- Hagar flees the wrath of Sarai; what else can she do?
Transition: I wonder where she’s planning on going. My guess is that she has no idea. But God finds her out in the wilderness and blesses her. And that brings us to the 3rd point tonight…
III. The Presence of God brings a Woman’s Worship (7-16)
exp.: rd v 7-8;
- An Angel of the LORD found her (four sayings in this passage)
- Where have you come from and where are you going? she only knows where she has come from; she has no idea where she’s going. Rd v 9;
- Return to your mistress and submit to her. What? Didn’t just hear what I said! But he continues; rd v 10;
- I will surely multiply your offspring so that they cannot be numbered for multitude. And then more; rd v 11-12
- Behold, you are pregnant and shall bear a son. You shall call his name Ishmael, because the Lord has listened to your affliction. 12 He shall be a wild donkey of a man, his hand against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he shall dwell over against all his kinsmen.
- How is it that this was all done of free will, but yet is all a part of God’s plan?
app.: Oh how I wish I could learn this truth, that God is in my struggle. Sure, I have free will, but God is sovereign and He’s working in and through me to glorify Himself!
I wonder if we too often write people off who’ve committed very public sins. I wonder if we write ourselves off as being unusable for God. I think this is a beautiful part of the story: the sinner flees into the wilderness, but God seeks her out. He sees her where she is!
Transition: I’m reminded of Psalm 139; read; I don’t know about you but it amazes me and leads me to praise. It does the same for Hagar, which is the 4th point…
IV. The Praise of a Woman Blessed (4-6)
exp.: the God who sees her in the wilderness comes to her and meets her needs.
- She praises God in her situation;
- she trusts him and returns;
- She bears a son for Abram
- Abram’s age
Observations & Implications:
- I think we should be reminded that the unborn need our protection. Sure, we’re appalled by the behavior of those who brought about this pregnancy. Sure, there needs to be repentance and a re-commitment to the teachings and principles of Christ. But, with that said, there is no reason to blame or mistreat the child. We don’t celebrate the immoral actions that create babies, but God can take those mistakes and poor choices and turn them into something he can use. If you wonder what can come of a child conceived out of wedlock, take a look at me. Gal 1.15f reminds me that even in the womb, God has a plan.
- What about you? What will you take home with you this evening?