“God is a promise maker and a promise keeper.” This truth is confirmed all over the Bible. Since we first met Abram in Genesis 12 we have seen God bless Abram time and time again. One would think since God has repeatedly confirmed his promise and affirmed his promise one would not have issues with unbelief; unfortunately this in not the case with Abram and his wife Sarai. We can certainly stand on the outside looking in and be critical of God’s chosen couple because of their lack of faith at times but unfortunately many of us are not unlike Abram and Sarai. The problem often arises when we act in our own power in our unbelief.
In today’s passage we will see what lack of faith or unbelief can lead to. God is always faithful to finish what He has started. He has never left his children to fend for themselves. He is sovereign and He can and will accomplish what He promises regardless of the surrounding circumstances. However sometimes in our unbelief we think God needs a helping hand to accomplish what He has set out to do. We intervene and try to fix what we thing God has broken or even forgot about. Certainly Abram and Sarai felt the need to assist God in his promise and as we will see; when we meddle with God’s plans things can go awry and become a big mess very quickly.
Vs 1: Sarai was barren. In the ancient east childlessness was a tragedy and childless women were looked down upon. We are told on a couple of occasions about Sarai’s inability to conceive children. This is noted to set the scene that is to follow. Sarai is barren, she has an Egyptian maiden who was not barren and her name was Hagar.
I have found it interesting to note that throughout the Bible at least five other occasions besides this one we are told about women who cannot have children. However in all of these occasions God intervenes and blesses the women with a child who makes a difference in the world and is used for God’s purposes. These women include Rebekah (Isaac’s Wife, mother of Jacob), Rachel (Jacob’s wife, mother of Joseph), Samson’s mother (unnamed), Hannah (Samuel’s mother) and Elizabeth (John the Baptists mother).
Hagar – It was not uncommon for rich wives to own servants or companions or maidens. She was not only subject to her mistress but she belonged to her. Sarai owned Hagar. It is possible she was acquired in Egypt when Abram and Sarai lived there (Gen. 12).
Vs 2: The words Sarai spoke concerning her infertility sounds like she is blaming God. She was well aware of God’s promise to Abram of blessing with children and there is no indication here that Abram doubts God but we can’t say for certain. It does suggest that Sarai had some concerns about God pulling this one off (and we will see this is true in the next chapter). Sarai decides to take matters in her own hands. This is where the story gets interesting… Sarai suggests Abram take Hagar to be his wife so he may get her pregnant. This was not an uncommon course of action in this society. Since childlessness was looked down on many women would have their husbands have children with secondary wives. Now we may think that the Bible promotes polygamy but nowhere does it suggest God ever telling a person to have multiple wives. This action is always human inspired. In fact this whole scenario implies that this whole debacle is a big mistake. We can be reminded of the fiasco Abram got himself into in chapter 12 when he tries to take matters into his own hands instead of trusting God.