A sermon for the Watford church of Christ

Introduction, v1a

  • Just had high point of Gen 15: promises, sacrifice, covenant, faith/righteousness
  • Women in foreground – Abraham in background
  • Fundamentally, this is not about men and women as such, but about impatience
  • We have seen Abraham’s faith tested and will see it tested again. This time it is Sarah’s test of faith which is highlighted
  • We also learn a lot about the LORD: vv2,5,7,9,10,11,13
  • Very emotional introduction!

  1. Losing it in the Home, vv1b-6
    The causes and consequences of impatience – and God’s answer
    Q: What problems can you spot?
    Q: Sources of shame?

What is going on here?
Gen 3 all over again: “took…gave”; “agreed” = “listened”. Easy, but tragic.
Fitting in with culture – rich women would do this; polygamy not banned by God specifically, but Gen 2 implies it is not God’s will;
What’s missing? No mention of God.
Consequences of manipulation and control: jealousy, ‘violence’ (flood) – strong emotions; ‘mistreated’ (Egypt) – Sarai’s dark heart – lie ours when consumed by something; everyone loses – Hagar has lost her home, Sarai her maid (as well as her mind!); Abram his second wife and his son
What will happen – enter the LORD!
What fuels impatience? 10 years later…..
External: Shame & fear
Fitting in with culture – expectations. Family pressure; social class pressure; cultural background pressure; church pressure
What helps – big picture thinking
            God is working on you for your benefit….
            “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2–4 NAS95)

            God has a different way for you to live…

            “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:1–2 NAS95)

Internal: Desire for personal satisfaction
Make me feel ‘whole’
What helps – keeping a firm grip on the end game…
            “You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.” (Hebrews 10:36 NIV11)
            God has a different way for us to go….
            “And so I insist—and God backs me up on this—that there be no going along with the crowd, the empty-headed, mindless crowd.” (Ephesians 4:17 MESSAGE)

  • Typical causes of shame for a Christian: in church – my kids are not Xtns etc; outside church – don’t join in with immoral lifestyle, don’t fit in.

Summary: Hagar trying to get what she wants (like Eve, Babel, Abe in Egypt, Lot & King of Sodom); Abraham opting for the quiet life.

  1. Rescue in the Desert, vv7-14

Q: What do we learn about God from the actions and attitude of the Angel of the LORD?

  • What is going on here?
        – The LORD springs into action: seeking; finding; listening; instructing; comforting; guiding; seeing
            – Went looking – like Adam and Eve
            – Gentle with her
            – First mention of her NAME is by God, not mistress or husband
        – Hagar is helped: reassured; rescued; redirected;
            – Going home – but her home no more
                – Abram protects an Egyptian ‘slave’ – opposite of what will happen to his descendants
            – Will suffer
                – But for a good purpose, meaningful
                – LORD honest
                – Not justification for domestic abuse
        – Abram gets a son
  • Key points for us
        – ‘sees’
            – me, even me!
            – Dawn – difference between being watched and being seen
            – Psalm 139:1-18
        – faith
            – Lacking in Sarai & Abram
            – Seen in Hagar

Conclusion, vv15-16
Isaac another 14 years: did Ch16 delay this?