Precious as the promise of God to Abram had been, it had still left one point undetermined—who the mother of the promised seed was to be. Instead of waiting for the direction of God, Sarai was impatient and took action that was not only contrary to the will of God, but also caused her sorrow and disappointment.
Ten years had elapsed since Abram had entered Canaan, when Sarai, despairing of giving birth to the heir of the promise, followed the common custom of those days and countries, and sought a son by an alliance between her husband and Hagar, her own Egyptian maid. The consequences of her folly were strife in her home, then reproaches, and the eventual flight of Hagar. What else might have followed it is difficult to tell, had not the Lord stepped in to rescue Hagar and Ishmael.
READ GENESIS 16:1–6 阅读创16:1-6
Who was Hagar and why was she with Abram and Sarai?
Why did Sarai suggest that Abram father a child through Hagar?
What was wrong with Sarai’s plan? Agree or disagree with these:
a) It implied that God was taking too long.
b) It implied that God would not be able to keep His promise to give Abram and Sarai a child of their own.
c) It implied that faith in God’s promise wasn’t enough, but that human effort (works) was needed to reach the goal.
d) It interfered with God’s plan.
e) It violated the sanctity of marriage.
What sad consequences resulted from this sinful plan of unbelief?
The Bible records two more incidents when Abraham and Sarah failed to act as examples of faith. They are not the kind of things that we would expect people of such great faith to do. They agreed to take part in a plan of immoral deception. And this deception happens not just once, but three times in the book of Genesis. Twice Abraham passes his wife Sarah off as his sister (Genesis 12:10-20 and 20:1-18).
READ GENESIS 16:7–16 阅读创16:7-16
In order to escape mistreatment at the hand of Sarai, Hagar fled in the direction of Egypt. It would appear that she was heading back to her homeland. And now that Hagar had run away, it appears that instead of gaining a child, Abram and Sarai would lose a servant. This was the sad result of failing to follow God’s plan.
Then we read that the angel of the Lord appeared to Hagar in the desert. The Old Testament mentions the “angel of the Lord” quite often, and it appears that this was no ordinary angel. In verse 13 we have a hint as to the true identity of this angel.
Who was the “angel of the Lord” that appeared to Hagar according to verse 13?
Why did the Lord appear to Hagar, speak to her, and stop her from running away?
What does the name “Ishmael” mean?
What would Ishmael be like according to verse 12?
Hagar obeyed the Lord and returned to Abram’s tents. It seems that she resumed her role as a maidservant of Sarai (see chapter 21). Hagar must have told Abram and Sarai about the Lord’s appearance to her in the desert, because when she gave birth to a son, just as the Lord had said, Abram named him Ishmael, just as the Lord had told Hagar his name would be.
Abram dearly loved Ishmael for he said to God: “If only Ishmael might live under your blessing!” (Genesis 17:18) But Ishmael was not to be the heir of the promise. The Lord had in mind to bring about a demonstration of his ability to keep his promise by sending another baby into the home of Abram and Sarai. And this time it would be the aged and barren Sarai who would bear that child.
What lesson can we learn from Hagar’s attempt to run away from her problems?