READ: Genesis 15-16
BACKGROUND: Chapter 15 totally sets Abraham on a new course – and all of his descendants too for that matter. 🙂 Chapter 16 is a great example of what happens when we trust ourselves instead of trusting God.
15:1 – “Shield” or “Sovereign” means king. I love it here that God says he is Abraham’s great reward. Here’s a guy with crazy amounts of wealth and God says, “I am your greatest treasure.”
5 – What a cool image if you put yourself in Abraham’s shoes. A childless guy looking up at a sky sparkling with countless stars (over 8,000 visible stars in the darkness of an Ancient Near Eastern night) and thinking this would be his descendants.
6 – This is a pretty major verse! God credits belief to mankind as righteousness. We’re counted right, in a sense, through belief.
13 – This happened in Egypt. Israel spent about 430 years enslaved there.
17 – “A smoking firepot with a blazing torch” symbolizes the very presence of God.
18 – One of the key verses in the entire Old Testament for the Jews. God made a covenant with Abraham to give him the Promised Land! Taking – and keeping – possession of that land has been the obsession and the struggle for that people group ever since, up to and including the present day.
16:2 – Sarah is getting impatient because a chunk of time has passed between God’s promise and the present and she still is childless. So she takes matters into her own hands. That is, well, not a great idea.
4-6 – What a horrible, heartbreaking picture of the way that sin spirals and snowballs on us.
8 – Notice that Hagar only answered the 1st question. She didn’t know the answer to the 2nd.
10 – God makes a great promise to Hagar as well. This is reaffirmed in Genesis 17:20 & fulfilled in Genesis 25:13-16.
12 – The hostility between Sarah & Hagar got passed down to the next generation. And the next and the next and the next…It actually remains of the defining conflicts in the world today. The Jews and the Arabs.
13 – I love Hagar’s description of God here. She was lost, lonely, & hurting. She felt ignored and marginalized. And God saw her. And she was just floored by that. So she said, “You are the God who sees me!”
DOING what’s wrong is never right.
Doing what’s WRONG is never right.
Doing what’s wrong is NEVER right.
Doing what’s wrong is never RIGHT.
My Dad used to tell me that and it’s a simple truth that I need to stop and remind myself of every day. Sometimes doing what’s wrong feels really right, looks really right, and sounds really right. But doing what’s wrong is NEVER right.
For Abram and Sarai it seemed like a really good idea to go ahead and have Abram sleep with Sarai’s servant Hagar so he could have a son. God had promised to give Abram descendants and Sarai couldn’t comprehend how that was going to happen in her old age. Instead of patiently waiting on the Lord to fulfill what He had promised, Abram took Sarai’s advice and slept with Hagar. Abram did have a son, Ishmael, but there were serious consequences for his sin. This poor decision deeply hurt Hagar, Sarai and Abram. In fact, as we’ll see later in Genesis, the hostility between Sarai and Hagar was passed on to their descendants. Doing what’s wrong is never right.
While it is incredibly challenging, it is always right to wait on the Lord and trust that obedience to Him is always in our best interest. Unfortunately, like Abram, sometimes we see God’s good gifts and take sinful shortcuts to try and attain them. For example, we believe that marriage is a good thing, but rather than waiting on God’s best for us and saving ourselves for marriage, we begin to “play marriage” and enjoy all that marriage entails as soon as we’re in a relationship with someone we really love. Or we know that a little extra cash would really help us out, so we ignore God’s command to tithe. Sometimes it seems it would cause way less pain for everyone involved if the truth never came out, so we choose to just lie. Doing what’s wrong is never right.
There were serious consequences for Abram and Sarai’s sin. There are serious consequences for our sins. Praise God that we have the gift of forgiveness through Jesus’ death and resurrection. The ultimate penalty for sin – death – has been paid for us. That doesn’t mean that our sins don’t have earthly consequences. They do. God has given us His Word to give us strength and direction for doing what’s right so that we can enjoy the very best in life for us. Sin is enticing and can so easily deceive us. Stay rooted in God’s Word. Remember how faithful he has been – to you and throughout all of history. Choose to do what’s right even when it seems impossible to understand what God is up to in your life. Cling to God’s promise in Psalm 27:14, “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”
ASK: Is there anything I’m willfully choosing to do that I know is wrong even though it feels right? How can I trust God even while I’m waiting to see how he’s going to work things out in my life?
Written by Cari Widdel