"We see, in many a land, the proudest dynasties and tyrannies still crushing, with their mountain weight, every free motion of the Consciences and hearts of men. We see, on the other hand, the truest heroism for the right and the greatest devotion to the Truth in hearts that God has touched. We have a work to do, as great as our forefathers and, perhaps, far greater. The enemies of Truth are more numerous and subtle than ever and the needs of the Church are greater than at any preceding time. If we are not debtors to the present, then men were never debtors to their age and their time. Brethren, we are debtors to the hour in which we live. Oh, that we might stamp it with Truth and that God might help us to impress upon its wings some proof that it has not flown by neglected and unheeded." -- C.H. Spurgeon . . . "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:31, 32 . . . . .


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Tuesday, July 9, 2019

GENESIS – An Expositional Overview of the Beginning of God’s Revelation: Chapter SIXTEEN

Contributing commentaries by Sonny Islas and James Fire

Studies by Ray Stedman – It All Depends on Me

GOD’S WAY OR THE HARD WAY? GENESIS 16:1-16 – by Sonny Islas

Listen to the audio presentation of this teaching (and others as well!) here.

In GENESIS 16 we’ll find that we can either do things God’s Way or we can do things our way (which then leads to learning the hard way). God made a promise to Abram (which automatically includes his wife Sarai because they are one; MATTHEW 19:5) that He would bless them with a child (aka the Son of Promise). But because Sarai was unable to bear children, she devised an evil plan that painfully flopped. Sadly, Sarai and Abram had to learn the hard way because impatience and desire took the place of God’s way and timing.

BUT The BIG PICTURE is not Sarai’s and Abram’s failure and their consequences. The BIG PICTURE here and in all of the OT is God’s plan to bring His Son into the world through this family! The main point of even this wild scenario is JESUS, the One who is coming to save! As we stretch this story out, it’s all about Jesus. This is Jesus’ family history.

[vs 1] “she had an Egyptian maidservant whose name was Hagar
Who is this Hagar and where did she come from? Hagar almost certainly became part of Abram’s crowd in GEN 12:16 where Abram lied to Pharaoh about Sarai being his sister when she was really his wife and in return was “rewarded” with Hagar who then sparked a family feud(became a problem).

Hagar was the result of Abram’s lie. One act of sin (Abram’s lie) can lead to a long-lasting regrettable problem (Hagar).

Egypt is symbolic for the world; at times we as Christians look to or flirt with the world and bring back a Hagar (a severe problem into our lives).
For example, men and woman who view the world’s perversion (porn) bring that problem (Hagar) into their marriage.

Some Christians have gone into the world to find a spouse (when the God clearly forbids it; 1 COR 7:39) and that unbelieving spouse becomes a Hagar (problem).

[vs 2]  The LORD has restrained me from having children.” Sarai was humble enough and theologically correct enough to understand that God alone is the creator of human life and is in full control of a woman’s womb.

In GENESIS 20:18 God is known to shut the womb and in GENESIS 29:31, God is known to open the womb.
But Sarai was blind to the fact that God was going to use her young and old age barrenness in an incredible way! It was when Sarai could no longer scheme or naturally have a baby (90 yrs old) when God came through to show Himself Mighty!

Sometimes, God will allow us to scheme and squirm, try, fail and fold (even brake) before He sends down the blessing. This way we don’t try and take any credit for His magnificent work. Sometimes we’re too strong and clever for God to bless us. In 2 COR 12:9 The LORD tells Paul “My power is made perfect in weakness."

Please go into my maidservant perhaps I shall obtain children by her
Using surrogate Mothers was a customary practice in the Middle East. Sarai just wanted children at any and all cost, even by encouraging her husband to sin by sleeping with Hagar and trying to get the child of promise some other way.

The tragic part is that Abram rolled (agreed) with the scheme. The reason why, was because they both wanted a child and became impatient. They figured they’ll 'help God out' since He was a little slow.

Abram knew very well that when God promised him a son, that it would be through his wife Sarai BUT “Abram heeded the voice of Sarai”.
This sounds just like Adam’s problem, who heeded the voice of His wife Eve instead of God! Abram and Adam must be related somehow! 
We are called to obey God above everyone, even our spouse. 

In LUKE 14:26, Jesus put it this way, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.” In other words, our love for JESUS should surpass all other loves and that love is mainly expressed through obedience to His Word.

[vs 3-4] “And when Sarai saw that Hagar had gotten pregnant, Sarai became hated in Hagar’s eyes”.

Instead of Hagar becoming pregnant on behalf of Sarai with a loving attitude (a good surrogate mother), Hagar became prideful and disrespectful towards Sarai (the baby got to her head). Hagar: “Ha-ha, I’m pregnant and you’re not!” Hagar looked down on Sarai and rubbed her 'baby bump' in her face.

Also, regarding the ability to have children: Now Sarai knows for sure that the problem was her and not Abram. A bad state of affairs just got worse!
When we do things our way instead of God’s way, instead of looking to God, we multiply our problems.

Sarai had one problem, she was barren. But due to her impatience and scheming, her one problem became two problems: 1) barrenness - no baby and 2) Hagar (intense jealousy towards Hagar). Sarai’s evil (HEB 3:12) scheme backfired, and it turned her into an envious monster. Plus, the slave women Hagar now thinks she’s a queen and is now also a reminder of their impatience and failure. At times, we too are good at turning one problem into two and even more!

Some fall into debt – so they pull out a loan pay off the debt; now they’re in more debt.
Some have rough marriages – so they run away with another; now they have a home full of broken hearts, full of confusion, frustration, regret, shame, guilt, and a long trail of many other consequences that are yet to come: like boundaries and split families with slip occasions, who’s allowed to the birthday parties, to holiday get-togethers, etc.

Some lose their job then become anxious, depressed – so they start popping pills, start drinking; now, they’re addicted, down and out and worse off.
Someone in the church gives us an attitude – so we leave the church; now, we’re home, out of fellowship, robbed from blessings, vulnerable to Satan’s attacks, disobedient to God and so on . . .

When we find ourselves in problem #1, we are to look to God, trust in God, wait on God, we are to suffer patiently for the glory of God (1 PET 2:20), we don’t give into problem #2, #3 and so on.
When we devise an evil plan to fix problem #1 be assured that problem #2 is already at the door. Just like it was for Sarai and Abram.
Remember this: The more you fill your heart with God’s Word and ways (instead of ignoring it like Sarai and Abram) the better chances you have in walking in obedience (PROV 4:23).

[vs 5] “Then Sarai said to Abram, “My wrong be upon you!
Sarai’s sin seems to really be catching up to her (agreed?). It was her evil plan but now she’s blaming her husband (sounds like Adam (who blamed God) and Eve (who blamed the snake).

Sarai was unwilling to own up to her sin (wrong); she chose to throw Abram under the bus instead. “Why did you listen to me dummy! You’re the head of the house! You’re the leader! God spoke to you directly! Why did you agree with me?!” She was being unfair, but I believe she spoke out of her own frustration. It was, after all, a tough situation.

[vs 6] “When Sarai dealt harshly with her with Hagar, she fled from her presence.’’
Had Hagar been kind and compassionate towards Sarai, maybe Sarai would have never chased Hagar away. Sarai resorted to a let’s get even attitude. Notice, Hagar fled, specifically “from her” – Sarai.

Ironically or should I say sovereignly, Hagar means ‘’flight’’ and Sarai means princess. So, the princess made her slave take flight – she ran away. Which means that Hagar was probably treated good by Abram (maybe too good?).

[vs 7] “Now the angel of the LORD found her
This is a beautiful picture of the Good Shephard who looks for that lost sheep. Saria chased Hagar away but God who is rich in mercy goes after her and brings her back.
This Angel of the LORD is known as a Christophany, a pre-incarnate Christ. 

For examples of Christophanies/Theophanies in Scripture, check out this article from GOTQUESTIONS.org.

We know that He’s more than an Angel because in verse 13 Hagar calls Him “The GOD who sees” and a mere angel would reject that Name like the angel John accidentally worshiped in REV 22:8-9Don’t do that! I’m a servant like you! Worship God!

[vs 8-9] “Return and submit yourself to her hand
A moment ago, we talked about problem #1 – Hagar’s problem #1 was Sarai and God tells her to go back instead and trust Him there. He knew that Hagar was headed for problem #2 etc.
The LORD may command us to stay in problem #1 because He knows the outcome and for us to just trust in Him when we’re in debt, when we’re in a rough marriage, when we lose our job, when we’re mistreated by a church member etc. Our God is a God of reconciliation when it’s possible and all things are possible with God!

[vs 10] “I will multiply your descendants exceedingly
In other words, “I’m going to bless your socks off with this son of yours. Even though Sarai wanted to cut you off, I’m going to bring you back and add to you.”

[vs 11] “Behold, you are with child and you shall bear a son (How did He know? Was He invited to the gender revealing party?) 
You shall call His name Ishmael (which means "God hears") because the LORD has heard your affliction.
This shows us that Hagar cried out to God for help and the LORD saw how Sarai mistreated Hagar. God sees it all and He cares for us all – even when we’re bratty like Hagar.

[vs 12] "He will be a wild man; his hand shall be against every man, and every man’s hand against him."
God held nothing back. He clearly told her that her son was going to be wild and as stubborn as a donkey.Ismael is known to be the father the Arabs (today there twenty two Arab countries today) – God was good as His word.
So, Abram is the father of Israel and the Arabs. The Israelis and the Arabs are brothers (both descendants of Shem, of the Semitic race). And the Arabs, for the most part, hate Israel today.

[vs 13] “She called the name of the LORD who spoke to her. You-Are-the-God-Who-Sees; for she said, 'Have I also here seen Him who sees me'?

In Hagar’s affliction, she was able to see the LORD (though not in His full glory). In our affliction, trials and bad situations, when we cry out to God, we are able to see Him in a better light through eyes of faith.

Also, she gave Him an awesome Name “The God who sees.” If Hagar ever doubted that God watched over her and cared for her, those doubts were now gone!
Lastly, GAL 4:21-31 tells us that Hagar and Sarai were symbolic for slavery and freedom (Law and grace). 

21 Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law? 
22 For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman. 23 But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise. 24 Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar. 25 For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children. 26 But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all. 27 For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband. 28 Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise. 29 But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now. 30 Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman. 
31 So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free.

Hagar represents all who are under the law (all who are self-righteous/plus false religion and works based salvation) and Sarai represents all who are saved by grace, who trust in Jesus alone for salvation by faith.

Hagar = works and Sarai = faith. 

Which makes perfect sense because Abram went into Hagar instead of waiting on God to provide the son of promise through Sarai which is taking salvation in a sense into our own hands. Because the Savior was to come through Sarai not Hagar.

For an examination of the Law vs. the Grace of GOD here is a two part series:

Where Are You, Law or Grace? Part ONE
Where Are You, Law or Grace? Part TWO

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