Big Mess (pt 2)
Genesis 16:3 - 16
Vs 3: An interesting insight is how many similarities or parallels to the Garden of Eden scene in Genesis 3 ate present in this passage. According Gordon Wenham , “Abram obeyed (listened to) his wife.” The fact that the phrase 'obey' lit. 'listen to the voice' occurs only here and in Gen. 3:17.” In both accounts the woman takes something and gives it to her husband and her husband takes that which is forbidden (fruit/Hagar) and the outcome is not good.
Vs 4: Hagar becomes pregnant. The outcome was not what Sarai, Abram and Hagar had thought it would be. It was Sarai’s thought that the child would be hers and he would thus become the heir to God’s promises. But again, this was not God’s plan it was Sarai’s plan.
We read that Hagar looks down on her mistress; pride is involved here. Hagar was with child and socially this would make her more significant than Sarai. You can imagine what the talk of the camp would be like. So, naturally jealousy, resentment and bitterness arise on both sides. We are given a clear indication that what is happening is not something God necessarily ordained. This whole account is simply humans trying to remedy something they think God has done wrong.
Vs 5: Amazingly Sarai blames Abram for this predicament. It was Sarai’s idea and when everything went according to her plan she blames Abram for the outcome. Once again we see the blame game happening that occurred in Genesis 3. The words Sarai speaks are in fact a curse to husband Abram “May the Lord judge between you and me.”
Vs 6: Abram tries to appease his wife by telling her to do as she wishes with Hagar, because she does in fact belong to her. Is this just a husband trying to appease his wife because he is in the doghouse? Is Abram in fact doing the honorable thing or is this the response of an apathetic husband? It is apparent that Sarai does not treat Hagar well. His suggestion is not really fair to Hagar since she is now his wife and he is called to protect her but instead he throws her under the bus.
Sarai dealt harshly with her which means she oppressed her or afflicted her. The oppression was so bad that Hagar fled for her life. She would rather be homeless, husbandless and without a mistress than to go through what she was facing with Sarai.
Vs 7: On her journey back to Egypt Hagar meets with an angel of the Lord. Four times it is mentioned that Hagar is meeting with an Angel of the Lord. Often in Genesis when someone meets and Angel of the Lord it is usually an encounter with God himself in human form. This is called a theophany or Christophany… Many suggest that these are Jesus making appearances in the OT. I personally believe this is an encounter with Jesus. Whenever the Angel of the Lord appears it is often to bring good news of salvation. The angel usually appears to someone who is in a critical or devastating situation. It is also common that when an individual encounters and Angel of the Lord that they don’t initially know who they are speaking with. Eventually God reveals himself to the individual.
Vs 8: “Hagar… where have you come from?” The stranger calls her by name… How could a stranger know her name? Again we can see the parallel of the garden account… After the sin is committed God appears and then asks a “where” question. To Adam God asks where he was, to Hagar he asks where did she come from. She responds honestly and tells him that she is fleeing from Sarai.
Vs 9: The Angel of the Lord commands her to go back and submit to her mistress. This not only involves submitting by obedience but also suggests that she should endure whatever harsh treatment Sarai will dish out to her. God calls for Hagar to humble herself to her mistress.
Vs 10: He promises a blessing to her similar to Abram as she too will be the mother of a multitude of people that cannot be numbered.
Vs 11 – 12: A prophecy spoken. She will have a son and he will be named Ishamael. The name means “God hears”. He will be a wild donkey… According to the NET Bible, “The prophecy is not an insult. The wild donkey lived a solitary existence in the desert away from society. Ishmael would be free-roaming, strong, and like a Bedouin (Arabic Nomad tribe); he would enjoy the freedom his mother sought.”
Ishmael - The sons of Ishmael peopled the north and west of the Arabian peninsula, and eventually formed the chief element of the Arab nation, the wandering Bedouin tribes. They are now mostly Mohammedans, who look to him as their spiritual father, as the Jews look to Abraham. Their language, which is generally acknowledged to have been the Arabic commonly so called, has been adopted with insignificant exceptions throughout Arabia. [3
Vs 16: Abram was 86 years old when Ishmael was born. He still had to wait 13 more years until he has the promised son with Sarai. This of course will be another sermon topic altogether but I love to see how God makes possible that which seems impossible to humans.
As we will eventually see this human interference becomes a problem and eventually takes an ever more extreme turn for the worse. In this passage I think the application is quite obvious. When we take matters into our own hands instead of trusting God things don’t usually end up well. I can’t recall how many times I have felt the need to “help God along” in my walk as a pastor, Christian, husband and dad instead of just walking and trusting God. Sometimes when I think things aren’t going well or not going the way I expect I feel the need to “do something” to help God along. I fail to realize that God does not need my help. However He does invite and use me to be part of his plan and purpose. I firmly believe God uses humanity to accomplish his plan here on earth. God doesn't use humanity because He can’t do it without us but because he delights in working in and through us. He does not ask for our advice or help in accomplishing what he wants to accomplish. The challenge, ask God what He is up to and how can you be part of HIS plan. It is not your job to tell God what to do. Your job is to seek Him and go with him.
 Wenham, G. J. (1994). Vol. 2: Genesis 16–50. Word Biblical Commentary (7). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.
 Biblical Studies Press. (2006). The NET Bible First Edition; Bible. English. NET Bible.; The NET Bible. Biblical Studies Press.
 Smith, W. (1986). Smith's Bible Dictionary. Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
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Jeff has been in ministry for well over two decades. He currently serves as Campus Pastor at West Bradenton Baptist Southside Campus in Bradenton, Florida.
Jeff Has authored an Advent Devotional (The Advent of Jesus) and a devotional on the book of James (James: Where Faith and Life Meet). Both are available on Amazon.
He is married to Carrie and they have four children, Micaiah, Gabe, Simon, and Berea.
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