Genesis 16 – Forfeiting God’s Best For What?
Continuing in my quiet time in Genesis with Abraham’s journey of faith I saw a “daughter of Eve” giving in to the same temptation of the devil that Eve fell for in the Garden of Eden.
Note: All women are “daughters of Eve” in that we are created as “mothers of all living” and that we can be so “easily deceived.”
God made a covenant with Abram (Abraham) for the land of Canaan to belong to his descendants. (Genesis 15) Abram and Sarai did not have any children at this time. After they had been living in Canaan 10 years, Sarai gave in to the devil’s temptation to “offer” her husband the “forbidden fruit,” as Eve did Adam. In this case the forbidden fruit was Sarai’s Egyptian maidservant Hagar that she offered to Abram to have a child for him in fulfilling what God said directly to Abram.
Questions I have: Why didn’t Sarai believe that God would open her own womb, Abram’s true wife, for that promise to be fulfilled? Concubines are not God’s perfect way. Surrogates aren’t either. Why didn’t Abram remember what happened when he offered Sarai to the Pharaoh in a peace-deal? Why didn’t Abram remember who Sarai is to God so that Abram saw Sarai as God’s means for giving him the son of God’s promise to him? Did Sarai have a low opinion of herself because she was barren for so long, and because off how Abram used her with the Pharaoh? These are all questions that come to me as I ponder “between the lines” of what is recorded in Scriptures; for we know that so much more is true that has not been written in the Bible. But, at the same time we are not to make a doctrine or religion out of what we can only imagine.
Abram could’ve shown his wife that he cherished her only by praying for God to open her womb, and then waiting ‘by faith’ for God to do so since God can open and shut wombs. We saw this with Pharaoh’s people when God sent the plague of infertility because Pharaoh took Sarai, another man’s wife, into his house. Note: If you think your adulterous ways, or pre-marital sexual activities won’t have unwanted consequences, you’re wrong. When we go against God’s natural design – bad things happen sooner or later.
Sarai might not have offered Hagar to her husband then if Abram stood on the character of God of the word from God. What difference it can make when husbands/fathers are the true “coverings” for their wives and children – that God has called them to be. Maybe there wouldn’t be any divorces and broken homes, and children out doing things they should never be doing. Maybe there would be more wives as true helpmates for husbands. Maybe there would be more children respecting their fathers, listening intently to their fathers, and even following in their father’s footsteps.
God has always spoken to the man first about His plans because God has made the man responsible with His direct Word, and responsible for his wife and children. Adam was made first and then the woman as his helpmate. A “worldly” wife will have a different outcome in a man’s family than a “godly” wife has in a man’s family.
The devil’s temptations will always sound pleasing, reasonable and wise, but we will regret it if we cooperate or unite with the methods, organizations and schemes of the devil who continually comes up with new ways to go against God’s natural design and laws.
When I saw the number 10 (10 years living in Canaan) it came to me that God was going to open Sarai’s womb because the number 10 in God’s definition of numbers has in its meaning: the end of suffering. The devil got to Sarai at just the right time when she was very discouraged. All God’s servants grow weary of waiting on what they have heard directly from the Lord in His Word. It’s our weakness, but God understands it. No wonder God has spoken to us all through His servant Isaiah the prophet:
“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable. He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power.” Isaiah 40:28-29
Just like when God spoke to Adam about His will, God spoke to Abram about His will for his family’s future. And just like Eve, Sarai listened to the tempter and did exactly what he wanted her to do. The outcome of both not only affected them but all their descendants.
Note: When we come to the Cross of our Lord’s forgiveness and surrender ourselves to God’s will, every hereditary curse upon us is broken.
With Adam’s disobedience came God’s curse on all men and the earth. With Eve’s disobedience came God’s curse on all women. (Genesis 3) With Abram’s disobedience came God’s curse of hostility with Ishmael (Abram’s son with Hagar) against Abram’s son Isaac (born to Sarai) and all his descendants. (Genesis 16:12)
In the end God will set straight which line is the true line of God’s covenant with Abraham; for that battle is still raging today.
What really stands out to me about Sarai is that she blames Abram for the strife now in their house with Hagar having a son for Abram. First Sarai says to Abram, “The Lord has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my slave; perhaps I can build a family through her.” (Genesis 16:2) Abram agreed. (Just like Adam agreed with Eve about the fruit.) Then later after Hagar copped a superior attitude – Sarai says to her husband, “You are responsible for the wrong I am suffering!” To which Abram replies, “Do with her whatever you think best.”
Note: When we resort to worldly means of getting pregnant or preventing pregnancy – we invite unnecessary trouble and curses into our lives and into the lives of our children. The world’s ways are not God’s ways; for His ways never bring on us unnecessary trouble and hardship. God is very capable of opening or closing our wombs. I speak out of personal experience of seeing Him do so for me.
After Abram tells Sarai to do what she thinks best, Sarai mistreats Hagar and Hagar flees from Sarai. Hagar couldn’t depend on Abram’s support or protection from the effects of Sarai’s angry jealousy. But the Lord protected and supported Hagar. He spoke to Hagar near a spring in the desert: “Go back to your mistress and submit to her. I will increase your descendants so that they will be too numerous to count.” Both Sarai and Hagar were wrong in how they handled their situations, but God’s promise to Abram was with Sarai, not Hagar.
What Sarai said to Abram is somewhat true, in that he was “responsible for her suffering” under Hagar’s conceited ways in the home of Abram. God has made the man responsible for what happens to his wife and children. The husband/father is to listen to God about important family and national matters. Abram went along with Sarai’s offer of another way for him to bear a son, and they all suffered for it, them and all their descendants.
We forfeit the best from God by taking the tempter up on his ‘ungodly’ suggestions. We will live out ‘the best’ from God by going to God and waiting on Him to fulfill what He says to us personally by His Spirit’s revelation, whatever it might be. God’s word to us is for ‘hearing’ what our faith needs to hear – that we are to move with and act on – so that we will come into our blessed insurance and eternal inheritance with Christ.
“So do not throw away your confidence; it holds a great reward. You need to persevere, so that after you have done God’s will, you will receive what He has promised. For, ‘in just a very while little, He who is coming will come and will not delay. But My righteous one will live by faith; and if he shrinks back, I will take no pleasure in him.’ But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.” Hebrews 10:35-39