Pastor Troy Martin
Text: Genesis 16:1-16
The Characters of Sin
Chapter 15 is important to remember as the reader comes to Chapter 16. Abram has just been given the promise that God would give him a descendant from his own body three times: verbally by the mouth of God, memorially in the starry sky, and covenantally by the severed animals. Upon returning, however, his wife works hard to make that promise true despite her belief that she is not included in this promise. All the sin that transpires in this section is born from Abram and Sarai’s belief that Sarai is right. Or, rather, their disbelief that God is.
v. 1-3 Sarai believes being a surrogate mother is the only option she has. Trying to work her way into this promise of God, Sarai gives Abram her maid as a wife. He complies. While it is a middle eastern practice of the time, it is not a faithful decision.
v. 4-6 Hagar, as the laws of Hammurabi and Ur-Nammu warn, turns arrogant. When Sarai seeks justice, Abram abdicates. So Sarai turns from victim to bully. Sin and strife are at high tide by this point.
v.7-13 Nothing but loss seems on the horizon; Sarai loses respect, Hagar loses her home, and Abram loses his child. God alone brings good out of this sinful situation. The Shepherd goes after the sheep.
v.14-16 Hagar’s arrogant boasting transforms into awe at the God who sees her. Her name for God becomes a location after the event. Her trust in Him sends her back to this tricky household. God shifts the plot.
Today’s narrative is an important story. For all its somber themes, this narrative displays the characters we all become in our sins. There is an abdicating husband whose passivity fills his family with strife. There is a hyperactive wife whose synergism fills her family with false purposes. The third character, towering above them all, is God, whose mercy seeks out these sinners. To each character, there is an opposite or operator...
The abdicator’s opposite is ________________. For none of us lives to himself, and no man dies to himself Ro 14:7 and this is especially true in marriage Ep 5:28-31 One of our biggest problems is our avoidance of problems. We are made to run to problems, not from them. Jn 21:17
The synergist’s opposite is ________________. Synergism is the name for our attempts to help God accomplish his promise. It is worried, at some level, that God might not pull through. Instead, we should replace such fear with Ps 46:10 Be still, and know that I am God
Every blessing’s operator is ________________. Sin is at play in chapter 16. But so is God. All we like sheep have gone astray Is 53:6, yet one of our God’s favorite metaphors for himself is “Shepherd.” Grace teaches that God goes after what is going astray.
Questions for Household Growth
What is context? Why is context important?
What does “monergism” mean?
In what other ways does the Bible and the world use the conflict between Sarai and Hagar to explain strife?