Genesis 16: The Hagar Incident
Verses 1-2: Sarah grows impatient waiting on the Lord. We can imagine Sarah questioning Abram about what the Lord said to him. Did the Lord say the child was to be born to me or did the Lord just say from your body? No mention of me. Do you see the work of the enemy here? Questioning the word of God is always a tactic of the enemy. Notice also Sarah blames the Lord as the One who has kept her from having a child.
What comes next is a by-product of impatience. According to James 1:1-5- Patience is a necessary ingredient to the maturing of our faith. James also tells us anyone who doubts the Lord, wavers and that leads to double-mindedness.
Sarah offers an Egyptian Solution to their problem. Egypt is a picture of the world- which means Sarah is offering a worldly solution. Having begun in the spirit they are now going to attempt to finish- to do the will of the Lord in the flesh.
Sarah was using the worlds reasoning. In the culture of their day it was acceptable if there was no male heir, the husband could take a maid servant in his household as a second wife, thereby acquiring a male heir. Polygamy is not part of Gods plan and design for marriage. His plan is one man for one woman for life. Polygamy in the Old Testament when it occurred among Gods people never worked. We see it in the life of Abram, Jacob and later on David.
Verse 3-4: Abram agrees with Sarah. What we notice is what is not evident- we do not see time spent at the altar and calling on the name of the Lord. Abram takes Hagar as a second wife and begins a relationship with her which results in Hagar conceiving- and then the trouble begins.
Think of the influence Abram had on his employess( which may have been up to 1,000). Abram had been respected by his employees as a fair employer but they were also impressed by his faith as they witnessed his tent dwelling, altar building, God-fearing ways. Wonder how many men argued with their wives- that if Abram had a second wife why shouldnt they?
Hagar becomes pregnant. She begins to despise her mistress, Sarah. Hagar knew how important this child was and probably she knew of the promise of God concerning this child. She had now been able to provide Abram what Sarah could not and she had grown proud and haughty.
Verse 5; Sarah is angry, upset. She lashes out at Abram and Hagar. The harmony that once existed in their home is gone. In her anger, Sarah blames Abram for all the problems. Her frustration, doubts and impatience have led her to resort to the worlds method to solve her problems- only to find she has created a bigger mess.
Havent we all made the same mistake? Growing impatient with the Lords timing we have set out on our own- in our own wisdom using the worlds methods which have conformed our thinking to deal with our circumstances.
Is something in your life on hold? Are you waiting on God to do something and growing impatient with Him and His timing?
Are you having trouble believing Gods promises to you? As a result have you decided to work it our yourself using the worlds methods?
Do you understand the delays in your life are a part of Gods plan? He delights to order your steps but also your stops. Wait on the Lord I say, wait on the Lord.
Double-minded means you have your mind on the things of the flesh- the world and not on the spirit and things above. You believe God can do all that He says He can do- but doubt He can do it through you.
In verse 6: Abram, just wanting the problem to go away, agrees with Sarah. He wants her not to be angry with him-he wants harmony back in his home. So Abram tells Sarah- she is your servant do with her as you wish. And Sarah abuses her- mistreats Hagar- the most innocent person in this tangled triangle.
In verse 7: Hagar runs away- more than likely headed back to Egypt- back to the world. As she runs away she encounters the angel of the Lord. Some believe this is an actual visit from the pre-incarnate Lord. Notice He addresses her as the maid of Sarah, not the wife of Abram. He asks two questions? Where have you come from? Where are you going?
We know the Lord does not ask question because He lacks the information- He has all knowledge. He asks questions to get us to look at the situation we are currently in.
Lets review three questions the Lord has asked in Genesis. He asked Adam- where are you? Now these two questions: where have you come from? Where are you going?
These are three questions the Lord asks unbelievers as well as believers. Imagine the conversation the Prodigal Son was having with himself in the pig pen:
Look where I am nowlook where my decisions have landed me.
Look where I came from- my fathers house- where the servants have it better than I.
Where am I headed? If I do not do something- I will die in this place. I will go back to my Fathers house and ask his forgiveness.
The angel of the Lord tells Hagar to go back to Sarah. To submit to her. This is repentance that comes from true humility. Blessed are the humble-and it is to the humble that God gives His grace. Hagar is also given a promise- a blessing- for blessings always follow obedience.
The Lord lays two ways before Hagar- just as He lays two ways before all of us. The two ways are the narrow way and the broad way. These two ways represent two funnels. The way that leads to the abundant life is a narrow way that opens to the abundant life. The other way is entered on the broad way- but leads to a narrow life one that ends in death.
Sometimes in our life- we become confused when waiting on the Lord. We can make wrong decisions even when our intentions are good.
When a person enters in the hospitial or outpatient setting and are confused or dazed either by injury, drugs or mental or emotional problems. They are asked four questions to see how well oriented they are.
They are asked :
Do you know who you are?
Do you know where you are?
Do you know what day it is ?
Do you know what happened to you?
It appears we often forget who we are- where we are- what time it is and what is happening to us when we fall into temptation, testing and adversity.
James came to realize these tests, temptations and adversities served to mature his faith. They worked to develop patience- they enlarged his faith, strengthened his faith and revealed his weaknesses.
We have all been conformed by the world. We have all let the worlds customs, culture and accepted practices conform us.
Like Sarah we have attempted to solve problems not Gods way- not with Gods resources- His word, His Spirit, prayer- but by adapting the worlds methods.
Sarah and Abram made a wrong decision that had long lasting negative results. We have all done the same thing.
How can we make right decisions?
In Matthew 4:1-11: We see how the Lord Jesus made the right decisions.
Jesus has just been baptized and the gospel of Matthew tells us- He is led by the Spirit into the desert to fast for 40 days and be tempted by the devil. This was at the outset of the Lords ministry.
Remember the Lord is our high priest- but He understands and empathizes with our situation because we are told in Hebrew 4:15- He was tempted in every way you and I are tempted yet without sin.
The Lord Jesus is described and defined for us in the gospel of John. We read in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.
The Lord Jesus was the second person of the Godhead- God the Son. He was the God Man. Fully God, and fully man. Never less than God , never more than man.
Jesus was tempted a man. Why? To experience humanity fully. Also God cannot be tempted. Jesus is the second and last Adam. All of mankind is depending on Him to not fail- to not sin when tempted. He will be tempted as a man, He will also resist as man with the only weapon available to the first Adam and available to us- the Word of God, the Sword of the Spirit. He will show us and model for us how to make right decisions.
Satan tempts through the world ( the godless culture and society/philosophy); the flesh our old nature; and the devil. He comes via lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes and pride of life.
We are to overcome the world with faith.
We are to overcome the lust of the flesh by fleeing. Flee youthful lust- turn and run the other way- dont stick around. Take those wrong thoughts captive- do not look upon that which you should not.
We are to overcome the devil- by resisting him- fight him. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you- resist the devil and he will flee.
Satan will tempt Jesus to do things his way not Gods way. Take the short cut by using his God power. If you are the son of God turn these stones into bread. Jesus was there led by the Spirit to fast- to prepare for His earthly ministry.
Jesus is tempted as we are tempted- he has physical needs- he is hungry. But Jesus resists the devil as a man with the same weapon the first Adam had and that we all have- the Word of God. For the Word of God is powerful and alive. It is a weapon that is mighty, not carnal to the pulling down of strongholds.
Jesus draws the Sword of the Spirit and uses it for its intended purpose: It is written man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.
Principle #1 to effective decision making: Live by the Word of God. Make decisions based on the Word of God- if it contradicts the Word of God it is wrong.
The next temptation from the devil is a very subtle temptation: the devil quotes scripture and promotes the use of Gods power and miracles to jump-start the Lords ministry with crowd-pleasing miracles. There is one problem- it does not include the shedding of blood- it omits Calvary. Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. It also would be a sin- because Jesus would not have done the will of God. Having sinned- Jesus would not qualify to be the Messiah, the Lamb of God without sin or blemish. We- all of mankind- would have no savior and no forgiveness if Jesus sins.
Jesus draws His only weapon again: It is written do not put the Lord God to a test.
Principle #2 for effective decision making is: do not put yourself in a situation where God has to perform a miracle to get you out of it. God does not have to prove Himself that He is for us- for He has given us His only son to die for our sins.
In his last temptation of the Lord, the tempter takes up and shows Jesus all the kingdoms of the world and says he will give Jesus these earthly kingdoms if he, Jesus will bow down and worship him, the devil. This, by the way, is what the devil desires more than anything to be god- to be worshipped.
Jesus draws the Sword of the Spirit a third and final time in victory as he says: It is written Worship the Lord your God and serve Him only.
Principle #3 in effective decision making is to not abandon the authority of God- do not look to the worlds way to solve your problems for in doing so- you are placing your own wisdom, your own desires and the worlds way above the Lord your God.
You cannot serve two masters.