Abraham: Following In The Footsteps Of Faith – Sermon #10
THAT TROUBLE WITH HAGAR
Genesis 16:1-16 (NKJV)
Hagar and Ishmael
1 Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. And she had an Egyptian maidservant whose name was Hagar. 2 So Sarai said to Abram, “See now, the Lord has restrained me from bearing children. Please, go in to my maid; perhaps I shall obtain children by her.” And Abram heeded the voice of Sarai. 3 Then Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar her maid, the Egyptian, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan. 4 So he went in to Hagar, and she conceived. And when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress became despised in her eyes.
5 Then Sarai said to Abram, “My wrong be upon you! I gave my maid into your embrace; and when she saw that she had conceived, I became despised in her eyes. The Lord judge between you and me.”
6 So Abram said to Sarai, “Indeed your maid is in your hand; do to her as you please.” And when Sarai dealt harshly with her, she fled from her presence.
7 Now the Angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, by the spring on the way to Shur. 8 And He said, “Hagar, Sarai’s maid, where have you come from, and where are you going?”
She said, “I am fleeing from the presence of my mistress Sarai.”
9 The Angel of the Lord said to her, “Return to your mistress, and submit yourself under her hand.” 10 Then the Angel of the Lord said to her, “I will multiply your descendants exceedingly, so that they shall not be counted for multitude.” 11 And the Angel of the Lord said to her:
“Behold, you are with child,
And you shall bear a son.
You shall call his name Ishmael,
Because the Lord has heard your affliction.
12 He shall be a wild man;
His hand shall be against every man,
And every man’s hand against him.
And he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.”
13 Then she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, You-Are-the-God-Who-Sees; for she said, “Have I also here seen Him who sees me?” 14 Therefore the well was called Beer Lahai Roi; observe, it is between Kadesh and Bered.
15 So Hagar bore Abram a son; and Abram named his son, whom Hagar bore, Ishmael. 16 Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore Ishmael to Abram.
It is amazing the depths to which God’s Own people can sink. Here is Abram, a man who is following God by faith. He has believed God enough to leave his homeland and his family behind. He has trusted God through battles and trials that would have made many men turn around in defeat and return home. Yet, for all his faith and his good deeds, Abram is still a human. He is still made of sinful flesh and there is still within him a pull towards the world and all its allurements.
We all know what this passage is about. Sarai and Abram try to help God give them a son by having Abram take Sarai’s maidservant Hagar as his wife. Of course, this was never God’s will for their lives, but, as with us, this did not stop them from rushing headlong into it anyway. Their decision brought with it far reaching consequences for them and for our world today. As we have time this evening, let’s spend a few minutes in this passage. I want to preach for a while on the thought That Trouble With Hagar.
I. V. 1-4a THE REASONS FOR THE TROUBLE
(Ill. While all the reasons behind this fiasco are far too many to mention, there are three reasons that warrant mention this evening.)
A. The Acceptance They Were Desiring – In that society, it was considered a disgrace for a couple to be childless. In our day, many couples choose that lifestyle for themselves and that is okay. Others have that choice forced on them by physical reasons. In Abram’s day, regardless of the reasons behind it, if a couple had no children, they were mocked, looked down on and largely were not accepted in society.
This was a society that also thought nothing of multiple marriages. If a man like Abram were to take Hagar as a concubine, or secondary wife, no one around them would think a thing of it. If that concubine were to bear a child, it would be considered to be the child of the first, or primary, wife. In this way, Sarai could get the child she desired and be accepted in the community.
(Note: God’s children are often guilty of lowering their standards to those of the community around them in order to fit in better. It is better to please God and be rejected by men than it is to please men and be rejected by God! There MUST be a clear line of demarcation between the people of the Lord and the world around them, 2 Cor. 6:17.) (Note: Many churches are falling into that trap this evening!)
B. The Baggage They Were Dragging – The Bible tells us that Hagar was an Egyptian. She is part of the possessions that Abram brought back with him from his sinful journey into Egypt, Gen. 12:10-20. Had he never journey to that country, there would have been no Hagar to marry! He is still reaping the harvest he sowed in Egypt!
(Note: You never go into sin and come out clean! There is always some reminder, some evidence that you were there! That is the Law of Sowing and Reaping, Gal. 6:7-8.)
C. The Promises They Were Doubting – Gen. 15:1-6 tells the story of God’s great promise to Abram. When the promise was given, Abram reacted in faith, but as time has gone by, Abram has begun to doubt. He, along with Sarai, decides that God needs help in fulfilling His promise. After all, God only said that Abram would father a son; He didn’t say by whom he would father that son!
(Note: It is my conviction that doubt towards the Word and promises of the Lord accounts for more of our troubles than anything other single thing. We can read what He has promised us, but when the promise isn’t fulfilled immediately, we begin to doubt and try to find way to make it happen ourselves.
When will we ever learn that: A. God always keeps His Word, Heb. 6:18; Rom. 4:21; Psa. 119:89; B. God is a God of order and that He doesn’t run on our schedule, (Ill. Jesus – Men needed a Savior for 4,000 years before He came, but God sent Him “in the fulness of time”, Gal. 4:4.); and C. God doesn’t need our help to accomplish His will, Psa. 50:12.)
II. V. 4b-9 THE REACTIONS TO THE TROUBLE
(Ill. All three of the participants in this fiasco reacted differently to the situation. All three reacted differently, but it is worthy to note that all three reacted badly. By the way, when sin and its problems, or any problem from any source, for that matter, arrives in our lives, most of the people in this room will react to it in one of the three manners I am about to share with you.)
A. V. 6 Abram Reacted By Being Unaccountable – He tried to pretend that there was no problem and that if there was a problem, it was Sarai’s to deal with. He totally ignored his responsibility in the whole situation.
(Note: Many people try to deal with their problems by simply ignoring them. This will never work! Left us settled alone, small problems grow into bigger ones in a short time. Ill. 2 Sam. 13:1-39 – David ignored the problem of Amnon and Tamar and the problem grew until Absalom took matters into his own hands and killed his brother!)
(Note: Therefore, whether it be a problem in the home, on the job, in the community, at school or in the church, it must be confronted and dealt with or it will get out of hand. Just ask Abram!)
B. V. 5 Sarai Reacted By Being Unreasonable – Sarai was miserable because of the pride and haughtiness of Hagar, so she tried to make everyone else around her miserable too. She tried to blame Abram for the problem. She tried to blame Hagar for the problem. She even dragged God into the problem. She fleshed out the proverb: “If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!”
(Note: There are many who approach the problems of life with a similar attitude. If they are unhappy, they want everyone else around them to be unhappy as well. So, they get grouchy, mean-spirited, short-tempered and become hard to get along with. Lest we forget, this is not a Christlike response to trouble and problems, Ill. Gal. 5:22-23; 1 Cor. 13:4-8! He would have us learn to handle the problems of life without attaching others or attempting to make them as miserable as we are!)
C. V. 6b-9 Hagar Reacted By Being Unavailable – Hagar decided that the answer to her problems was flight and “get away”. She just packed up and left to get away from the problem.
(Note: This is the most common response of all! When problems arise at church, don’t seek a solution, seek a new church. When problems arise on the job, don’t fix it, find a new job. When problems crop up in the marriage, don’t work it out, just find yourself a new mate. Ill. The giants of Canaan and the children of Israel. They ran away from them first time, Numbers 13-14; but before their descendants could claim the land, they had to be faced and defeated, Deut. 9:1-2.)
(Note: I would just call your attention to the fact that God sent Hagar back to the family, Gen 16:9. He did this for several reasons, but among them is the fact that God intended to use this situation to help each of these three people to learn to face their problems His way. Abram had to face it. Sarai had to deal with it. Hagar had to live in it. God’s business isn’t to make you happy. He wants to make you holy! Forcing you to face your problems is one way of accomplishing that end! This is just amazing!)
III. V. 10-16 THE RESULTS OF THE TROUBLE
(Ill. Proverbs 13:15 says, “Good understanding giveth favour: but the way of transgressors is hard.” Numbers 32:23 says, “…be sure your sin will find you out.” These and other verses remind us of the sad truth that sin brings with it troubles and trials. The situation before us tonight is no different!)
A. V. 11-12 A Difficult Son Was Born – Ishmael is called a wild man. (Note: Many parents seem determined to raise their own “wild men” through lack of standards and discipline in the home!) He would be difficult to handle and would be aggressive towards others. Ishmael represents the difficulties that arise when sin is allowed to divert us from God’s path for our lives. Remember, sin brings it’s own club. Ishmael is a picture of that truth. What might your sin give birth to in your life? Remember – Gal. 6:7-8!
B. 21:9-11 A Dysfunctional Family Was Burdened – As Ishmael grew, the tensions surrounding him grew as well. In other words, the sin of Abram and Sarai, even after many years, still brought heartache and trouble into the home!
(Note: I would just remind you that your sins, no matter how small and insignificant you may think them to be, always affect you and those around you! They poison your spirit, they sabotage your family and they hinder your walk with God. Many families are burdened this evening by the so-called hidden sins of those in that family! The answer to sin is to drag it into the light, Pro. 28:13. Sin cannot live when it is brought out of the darkness into the marvelous light of the glory of God, John 3:19-21.)
C. V. 10-12 A Divine Plan Was Bolstered – Even though this sin was accomplished by the will of men, it was going to be used for the glory of God. Those involved could not see how things would play out in our day. Yet, much of the trouble the world is dealing with this evening, especially in the Arab world, is a direct result of Abram’s sin with Hagar. The Arabs are going to figure heavily in God’s plan for the end time events.
(Note: You see, nothing, even our sins, catches God by surprise. He can take the worst of our failures and use them for His glory. That is not an excuse for evil, but a reason to get up and go on after we fall. Therefore, when sin is committed in your life, do not run from it. Rather, run to the Lord and fine the cleansing and forgiveness He offers through HIS grace, 1 John 1:9.)
So many areas of our lives have been addressed in this message that I would be surprised if there was a single person in this room who has not been spoken to directly this evening.
While we live in this world, there will be sins and there will be times when we react badly to the trials and problems of life. But, my friends, those sins and those bad reactions do not have to mark our lives! There is a place, called the altar, where we can go to find the help, forgiveness and restoration we so desperately need. If this text has spoken to your life this evening, please bring it to the Lord Jesus Christ and let Him have His way in your life!
Praise the Lord!