Genesis 16:1 Now Sarai Abram’s wife bare him no children: and she had an handmaid, an Egyptian, whose name was Hagar.
2 And Sarai said unto Abram, Behold now, the LORD hath restrained me from bearing: I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her. And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai.
3 And Sarai Abram’s wife took Hagar her maid the Egyptian, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife.
4 And he went in unto Hagar, and she conceived: and when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress was despised in her eyes.
5 And Sarai said unto Abram, My wrong be upon thee: I have given my maid into thy bosom; and when she saw that she had conceived, I was despised in her eyes: the LORD judge between me and thee.
6 But Abram said unto Sarai, Behold, thy maid is in thy hand; do to her as it pleaseth thee. And when Sarai dealt hardly with her, she fled from her face.
7 And the angel of the LORD found her by a fountain of water in the wilderness, by the fountain in the way to Shur.
8 And he said, Hagar, Sarai’s maid, whence camest thou? and whither wilt thou go? And she said, I flee from the face of my mistress Sarai.
9 And the angel of the LORD said unto her, Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hands.
10 And the angel of the LORD said unto her, I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, that it shall not be numbered for multitude.
11 And the angel of the LORD said unto her, Behold, thou art with child, and shalt bear a son, and shalt call his name Ishmael; because the LORD hath heard thy affliction.
12 And he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man’s hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.
13 And she called the name of the LORD that spake unto her, Thou God seest me: for she said, Have I also here looked after him that seeth me?
14 Wherefore the well was called Beerlahairoi; behold, it is between Kadesh and Bered.
15 And Hagar bare Abram a son: and Abram called his son’s name, which Hagar bare, Ishmael.
16 And Abram was fourscore and six years old, when Hagar bare Ishmael to Abram.
Genesis 16 is a sad account. God included it in His Word for a purpose. Paul wrote:
Romans 15:4 For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
I Corinthians 10:11 Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.
God wants us to learn some things. We need to learn of the mercy of God. However, we also need to learn the devastating effects of one of His children who sin against Him and try to make light of it.
Unlike our current political system where our P.M. has been caught in major corruption and yet refuses to take personal responsibility, but wants to collectively include the entire Parliament in the corruption. There is enough corruption to go around for sure, but this latest event falls squarely on the shoulders of the P.M.
In our text, God held Abram accountable for what he did. He holds each person accountable for his or her actions. Abram could not draw God into this sin. He could not accuse God of being too slow in honouring His promise. Sarai was also involved in this sin, but Abram was the man here. He knew better than to listen to his wife on this matter. God had spoken directly to Abram and made His promise directly to Abram. He knew that God was completely dependable. Yet Abram was ready to accept this bad counsel from Sarai.
In verse 2 Sarai knew that God was withholding her from bearing a son. She knew the power of God. Yet she was willing to go against what she knew and she was willing to encourage her husband, who had already lied about who she is, to go and commit sin with her handmaid. As is often the case, we are very shortsighted. We can plan an event and we can justify it. We fail to see the consequences of our shortsighted decisions.
Sarai did not know if Hagar would be able to have a son with Abram. She assumed this would be a way to “help God out.” In verse 3 we see further that Sarai did not just make a suggestion to Abram, she actually took Hagar and gave her to Abram.
In verse 4 we see that Hagar conceived. God did not stop this from happening. God kept the Pharaoh from being able to defile Sarai and to interfere in God’s promise to Abram and Sarai. God did not stop this violation of His law from being committed. We see as well the actions of a wife who is jealous of her husband and their relationship. Sarai should have wanted Abram to keep a pure relationship with her. She told him to take Hagar and go to bed with her. When Hagar conceived, all of a sudden this was a terrible thing.
In verse 5 Sarai passed the blame for this sin to Abram. She was correct in that Abram was the man. He knew better. He could not blame Sarai for his sin. This rule was established by God in Genesis 3. Adam was to blame for the sin there and Abram was to blame for the sin here.
Hagar acted like a favoured woman would as well. She could conceive and Sarai could not. Conception was very important to women in Bible times. Hagar saw herself as superior to Sarai. Even though Sarai was Abram’s first and legitimate wife, Hagar conceived and Sarai could not.
In verse 6 Abram could not defend his actions. He also refused to defend Hagar, the woman he had spent time with in bed. Abram left the consequences of Hagar up to his wife. He had some things to learn about being a godly man. God shows us here the consequences of a God-fearing man not wanting to take his responsibility seriously. God is willing to forgive, but there are consequences to sin.
Hagar could not handle the abuse of her mistress. She ran away. She had no one to defend her. God knew what was going on and He would protect Hagar. God did not approve of the sin but He knew that Hagar was the weaker vessel. God met Hagar out in the wilderness and He addressed her situation. He sent His angel to meet with her and to question her about what she was doing. Hagar did not lie about what was happening. The angel of the LORD told Hagar to go back to her mistress and submit to her. This was a tough order, but Hagar had guilt on her hands as well. She would need to learn to live with the consequences of her sin.
God would be with her. She would have a son. The angel told her what to name the son she would bear. The name Ishmael means: “God will hear.” God had heard the cries of Hagar. He would help her to deal with the consequences of her sin. The angel also told her what to expect from her son. He would grow up and become a large multitude. He would be a wild man, his hand would be against every man and every man’s hand would be against him. He would be a restless man who would dwell among his brethren. The Ishmaelites settled in northern Arabia and they have been a problem for Israel ever since.
The consequences of sin are long lasting. For generations now the nation of Israel has been reminded of the consequences of their revered father and his sin against God.
We see in verse 16 that Abram was not a young man when he had Ishmael. He was 86 years old. He would still have the promised son that God said he would have after this.
Abram could have trusted God and received the blessing of God without the troubles that resulted from his lack of faith.
We can learn from this. Those who are saved are given many promises in God’s Word. We can trust God and we need to learn to trust Him. He knows what is right and He will do what is right. It is important for us to address sin the way God sees it, not the way we want to perceive it. We are accountable for our own actions. We need to take responsibility for our actions and we need to deal with our sin before God. He will forgive the repentant sinner. There will be consequences for sin. The sooner we learn to listen to God and obey Him, the better off we will be.