Read Genesis 16
In Genesis 15 God told Abram his seed would be as innumerous as the stars. The Bible doesn’t say whether Abram shared this with his wife, Sarai or not. However, as Genesis 16 begins we see Sarai is tired of being without child. Sarai, being desperate, thinks up a way to get what she wants.
Isn’t that what most of us do? When we want something we think of how to get it. This isn’t usually a bad thing. After all it takes planning and saving to purchase a house for example. But it can be a very bad thing if you’re scheming and using people with no regard to their feelings, just to get what you want.
Sarai had a maid servant named Hagar. Sarai decided to give Hagar to her husband, Abram, to be his second wife. She mistakenly thought that she could have children through her maid. Sarai’s thoughts were so focused on what she wanted, she didn’t even consider Hagar’s desires. Do you think Hagar really wanted to sleep with Abram? I doubt it. Can you imagine, you work for someone as a maid and out of the blue they decide part of your job description is to sleep with your boss’s husband? I’m glad we don’t live in those times anymore!
All we know from Genesis 16:4 is Abram slept with Hagar and she conceived. When Hagar found out she was pregnant, she started hating Sarai, her master. I’m sure there was so much tension and strife in that house you probably could have cut it with a knife!
God created us to be monogamous – one man, one woman joined together as one flesh. When we choose to do what is outside of God’s plans for us, chaos reigns. Sarai blinded by her desires for children, introduces another woman into her sacred marriage. Consequences are sure to follow, but she risks it anyway. Perhaps she wasn’t thinking about the consequences at all.
Genesis 16:5-6 tell us Sarai was jealous, Abram tells Sarai to deal with it and Sarai begins treating Hagar harshly. Here they are Sarai is now filled with jealousy, (I’m sure she didn’t see that coming), Hagar is pregnant and despising Sarai and then Abram won’t do anything to help straighten out this mess. The situation is way too much for Hagar to handle and she runs away into the wilderness.
Hagar is distraught, probably having a pity party because her life is not turning out the way she planned. She’s sitting somewhere in the wilderness and an angel of the Lord visits her. He addressed her by name to show He knows her and by position to remind her of her responsibilities. The angel says “Hagar, Sarai’s maid where did you come from? Where will you go?” Notice how the angel of the Lord is reminding Hagar who she is and all she has, trying to get her to realize what she has to be thankful for. Hagar doesn’t even answer His questions but instead says “I’m fleeing from my master”.
Do you ever find yourself in this position? Things weren’t going according to your plans and you decided to run away? Somehow we decide that disobedience will help us. Hagar doesn’t get off that easy though. The angel of the Lord says “Return and submit to your master”.
God always expects us to carry out our responsibilities. Remember, Hagar was Sarai’s maid. God wanted her to complete her duty, regardless of how Sarai treated her. Everything we do should be done as though we were working for the Lord and not just mere man.
To give Hagar some hope the angel of the Lord tells her that He will multiply her children exceedingly so much that she wouldn’t be able to number them. In an age where having a houseful of children was considered great riches this message must have given her much to be encouraged about.
The angel then gives Hagar instructions to name the child Ishmael because it means “the Lord heard your afflictions”. I just love how names had meaning. Look how the Lord wanted Hagar to remember He hears her prayers by telling her to name her child Ishmael. Every time Hagar thought of her son or called out his name, it would be a reminder “the Lord heard my affliction”. How beautiful.
Let’s review what we’ve learned from Genesis 16.
- Using people to get what you want is always a bad idea.
- When our focus is not on God, we always make bad decisions.
- We are meant to have only one spouse for life. More than one will cause much pain.
- It’s a good idea to think though the consequences of an action before you take that action.
- We are expected to be responsible where ever God places us. Running away is not the solution. Instead, everything we do should be done as though we’re working for the Lord Himself, rather than just a man or woman.
- Even when we find ourselves in a bad situation, the Lord hears our prayers. Turn to God and He’ll show you what’s in store for you and care for your needs.
Lord, thank you for your way. Your thoughts are higher than ours. Your Way is better than ours. Thank you for leading us to life eternal through Jesus Christ. Open our eyes, enable us to see you and your way in our life. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
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