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Study to Grow

By Randy Dillon

Genesis 16:1-6

1¶ “Now Sarai, Abram’s wife had borne him no children, and she had an Egyptian maid whose name was Hagar.

2 So Sarai said to Abram, “Now behold, the LORD has prevented me from bearing children. Please go in to my maid; perhaps I will obtain children through her.” And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai.

3 After Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, Abram’s wife Sarai took Hagar the Egyptian, her maid, and gave her to her husband Abram as his wife.

4 He went in to Hagar, and she conceived; and when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress was despised in her sight.

5 And Sarai said to Abram, “May the wrong done me be upon you. I gave my maid into your arms, but when she saw that she had conceived, I was despised in her sight. May the LORD judge between you and me.”

6 But Abram said to Sarai, “Behold, your maid is in your power; do to her what is good in your sight.” So Sarai treated her harshly, and she fled from her presence.”


In the above passage of scripture we view what can happen when humans do not take God’s promises seriously and with confidence. God had promised Abram (later renamed Abraham) a son, but being 86 and Sarai his wife of 77 being barren, he thought it unlikely that they could conceive and bare a child. Sarai’s solution was to give her maid, Hagar, to Abram as a second wife to bare a child. Hagar as wife of Abram did bare a child, but in so doing she also came to hate her mistress Sarai. Thirteen years later Sarai did conceive and gave birth to Isaac who was the promised seed of Abram.

This episode reveals the consequences when people do not trust in specific promises that God makes but instead attempt to work their own schemes in order to fulfill God’s plan. And, as usual, the consequences were negative.

First, we see that Sarai, being beyond child-bearing age sought to have a child by way of her maid. While often practiced in older societies this was not what God intended for marriage. Sarah failed God.

Second, we see that Hagar came to disdain Sarai since she could conceive while her mistress could not do so. Hagar also failed God.

And finally Abram now faced conflict in his household and eventually asked God to accept Ishmael (Hagar’s son) as the promised seed. God refused and reiterated that Abram would sire a son by Sarai. Abram also failed God.

All of this discord and faithlessness occurred because Sarai and Abram did not trust God to keep his promise. And even today so many well intended Christians do the same. God’s promises fill scripture. They are everywhere.

•Some are specific to a time, place or person.

•Others are general. Some are still to be fulfilled in the future.

But in all cases, God will cause His will to be accomplished. Do we believe in the promises of Jesus or are we attempting to achieve God’s promises by our feeble works? Do we really see the failure of Sarai and Abram to trust God as similar to our own failures? Do we understand that when we rely on our works rather than allowing God to determine His own plan, we may suffer severe results because we have usurped God’s will for our own?

Reread the many promises of Jesus in the Gospels. Each is a promise that God will implement regardless of man’s actions. Let us develop the faith that changed Abram into Abraham and Sarai into Sarah by trusting in the faithfulness of God to keep every promise He has made.

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