Sarai’s Unbelievable Solution Last week, I wrote about a topic that most of you probably do not hear much about. I targeted a church that most of you have never heard about. This week, I will point out a particular passage in Genesis that has, through the ages, been labeled unbelievable. As a reminder, I will recite a section of last week’s blog: “Any false teaching that is condoned is worship of another god. We must get that. We must be careful in what we accept in our lives. There are severe consequences to anything we accept that is not in line with what The Scriptures teach. Many times we accept things as normal and part of the “culture” rather than being counter-cultural which mandates us to be Scriptural. We may even avoid speaking out against false teaching simply out of fear of being labeled with legalism.” Go ahead and read that one more time, I’ll wait (pause). Okay, do we “get” that? Good. Let’s move on then. The passage that I will refer to is Genesis chapter 16 – “Now Sarai, Abram's wife, had borne him no children. She had a female Egyptian servant whose name was Hagar. 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. 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. And he went in to Hagar, and she conceived. And when she saw that she had conceived, she looked with contempt on her mistress. 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!” 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. The angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, the spring on the way to Shur. And he said, “Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?” She said, “I am fleeing from my mistress Sarai.” The angel of the Lord said to her, “Return to your mistress and submit to her.” The angel of the Lord also said to her, “I will surely multiply your offspring so that they cannot be numbered for multitude.” And the angel of the Lord said to her, “Behold, you are pregnant and shall bear a son. You shall call his name Ishmael, because the Lord has listened to your affliction. 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.” So she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, “You are a God of seeing,” for she said, “Truly here I have seen him who looks after me.” Therefore the well was called Beer-lahai-roi; it lies between Kadesh and Bered. And Hagar bore Abram a son, and Abram called the name of his son, whom Hagar bore, Ishmael. Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore Ishmael to Abram. Why would Sarai suggest such a thing? Was she a vile sinner that did not care for the sacred bond of marriage between one man and one woman? We all know her as none other than Sara, Father Abraham’s wife. Surely she could not be suggesting something so wrong in God’s eyes. Before I answer these questions, let’s breakdown all that took place after Abram listened to Sarai and did what she requested. It has been several years and the promised son had not been born yet. Both Abram and Sarai were getting old and growing more and more impatient with God. Another important bit of information is the events that took place surrounding Hagar. Hagar was an Egyptian slave who was most likely acquired while Abram was “sinning” in Egypt (Gen 12:10-20). The decision that Abram made when he took Hagar as a wife and conceived a child by her brought turmoil into their immediate family and ultimately to many generations on
down through the ages; even today. Out of this ungodly union, came Ishmael who is said to be the original ancestor of the Arab people. I am in no way saying that Arab people are evil, they are just known for being the enemies of the Jewish people. Therefore, Abram decision affected many, many generations. Now back to Sarai. How could she suggest such a wrong doing? Obviously, the consequences mentioned above seem normal for such a great sin; right? On top of that, I only scratched the surface of the issues that came as a result of this great sin. Was this a great sin though? You may or may not know that in these ancient times, it was customary for a maidservant to lay with her master in such cases of barrenness. This would ensure that the master’s line would continue should no son be borne by his wife. Oh, now Sarai is justified in her suggestion; right? If this act was commonplace to them, then the only sin that took place was when Hagar taunted Sarai and Sarai dealt harshly with Hagar. Right? Wrong; even though the culture suggests that we act a certain way, does not mean that is how we are to act. Too often, our culture dictates our actions. In the case of Sarai and Abram, they should have held to God’s promises and waited for God to act. The very next chapter is when Abram learns that God is Almighty; a lesson I wish I would learn before I act sometimes. It was extremely important for Abram to see God as The Almighty Who can take an impossible situation and make it happen. It is extremely important for us to see God as Almighty today. A cultural answer to our situation can bring devastation to not only our own families, but to the families that come behind us. Too often Satan makes light of God’s promises. He makes us doubt God will answer our need and deceives us in thinking we need to act instead. This makes us an Idolater and causes us to make ourselves the object of our worship, the source of our strength and the controller of our own destiny. It is sin and it must be treated as such. It is a hard thing to be silent, patiently waiting for God’s timing and it is quite another thing to push Him aside.