God does not need our assistance. He simply wants our obedience.
Sarai and Abram are promised a child, heir, a descendant by God. It’s a complicated matter. At the time of Genesis 16, Abram is approximately 86 years old. Some 10 years have passed from the time Abram originally received the promise in Genesis 12. Over those years Abram and Sarai have tried to conceive to no avail. Age is against them. History is against them. Biology is against them.
How can God’s promise of a child prevail under such circumstances? That is the question that Sarai tries to answer in her own power. Let’s just say, it’s a tough job to manifest in your strength what God has promised to do in His power. I’m not quick to criticize Sarai. We have a lot in common with her. Her idea is to give Abram her servant Hagar; thinking perhaps that through Hagar her house will be ‘built.’ She was doing what was logically and culturally appropriate. The only problem is this: that wasn’t how God wanted it done.
What can we learn from this? Many things, but I’ll highlight these few:
1. God doesn’t need your help
a. When it comes to fulfilling God-sized tasks human ingenuity is the poverty of reason. Sarai thinks up a plan to “help God out.” Undoubtedly, her intentions were noble. But when God calls for faith, let’s not give Him human effort.
2. God is Lord over your circumstances
a. The means of God are not separate from the ends of God. Both the journey toward the goal and the accomplishment of the goal matter to God. Be careful not to split the two.
3. Although He will use them, God always stand above cultural norms
a. Sarai’s reaction toward the ‘delayed’ fulfillment of God’s promise is the employment of a culturally approved surrogate program. I get why she did it. I really do. But what is culturally appropriate is not always in agreement with God.
4. God can bring beauty from ugly
a. That’s a weird way to say it, but I don’t know what else to call the treatment that Abram and Sarai gave to Hagar. It was ugly. In the providence of God, the mistake did not prevent the miraculous birth of Isaac. Oh, praise His name!
Published on Friday, May 17, 2013 @ 2:45 PM CDT