LESSON 15 – Abram and Sarai’s Sinful Plan – Genesis 16-17

Tags

Related Posts

Share This

LESSON 15 – Abram and Sarai’s Sinful Plan – Genesis 16-17

  1. Discussion
    • Read Gen. 16:1-6.  Who is Hagar? (She was a maid of Sarai’s from Egypt – she had come to them when they were there.) What really bad idea does Sarai have and why? (She sees that no children have yet been born from her. Since she’s 77 at the time of this story, she probably thinks she is permanently barren. So she suggests that Abram have a child with Hagar instead. This was a culturally accepted practice, by the way.) What does Abram say? (He agrees with the plan.) Hagar becomes another wife to Abram and she becomes pregnant. What is Hagar’s attitude toward Sarai at this point? (She despises her and looks down on her because she could bear a child and Sarai could not.) What is Sarai’s response? (She blames Abram and Hagar for the problem; however she does see that she started it.)
    • Read Gen. 16:7-15.  What happens to Hagar? (Abrams tells Sarai she can do what she wants with Hagar, so Sarai mistreats her and dismisses her.) Who comes to the aid of Hagar? (The angel of the Lord – the first mention in the Bible of this angel. Some believe that this is another Christophany – an appearance of Christ in the OT) What does the angel tell Hagar to do? (Go back to Sarai and submit to her) What promise does the angel make to Hagar? (Her descendants would be too numerous to count; she would have a son; his name was to be Ishmael; Ishmael would be a wild man and his hand will be against everyone and everyone’s hand would be against him) She goes back and Ishmael is born when Abram is 86.  Ishmael will become the father of the Arabs.
    • Read Gen. 17:1-7. Thirteen years later God finally appears to Abram again.  He calls Himself, El Shaddai, which means “the strong one”.  What change does God make to Abram’s name? (He is to go from being Abram, which means “exalted father”, to Abraham, which means “father of a multitude”)
    • OPTIONAL SECTION: If you have older children, you may wish to cover the part about the institution of circumcision. Read Gen. 17:9-14, 22-27. Why does God ask that Abraham and all of the men in his household be circumcised? (vs. 11 – It was to be an outward sign of the promise between God and Abraham. Explain to your older children what circumcision is.) Those who refused circumcision then and in the future would not be allowed to be with the Hebrews. It’s important to understand that this not the source of the promise, faith in God was. Moses commented on this in Deut. 10:12,16 when he said that obedience and service to God was what God wanted; not the mere cutting of the flesh. Later on Paul comments that the Jews of his day thought just being circumcised was enough to make them acceptable to God. For more on this see Galatians 5.
    • Read Gen. 17:15-21. What is Sarai’s new name? (She goes from Sarai, “contentious”, to Sarah, “princess”.) God then specifically names Sarah as the mother of the son of the promise. What is Abraham’s response? (He laughs! He has a hard time believing that he at 100 and Sarah at 90 will have a child. He suggests that God take Ishmael instead.)  God does promise to bless Ishmael, but adds that another son will come within the next year. What will his name be? (Isaac, “laughter”)
  2. Application
    • It is easy to condemn both Abram and Sarai for their sinful choices. However, we too try to manipulate God and get things done our way and on our own timetable.  We have learned that Abram believed God. He believed that a son would come from him and fulfill all of God’s promises. What he had a problem with was patience!  Sarai sees that they are old and has trouble trusting God when her biological clock wasn’t just running down but was stopped!  In her mind there was no way that God could make His promise come true through her.  So, she stepped in and made a sinful plan.  God had set up marriage as a one-man and one-wife in the Garden of Eden. Even though it was a common practice then for a man, especially a rich one, to have many wives, they knew that this was against God’s pattern. Sarai’s problem and Abram’s too is one of unbelief.  Their choice to circumvent God has consequences for them (Hagar despises Sarai, Sarai mistreats Hagar) and for us today. We saw that Ishmael would become the father of the Arab people. The prophecy of their hand being against everyone is seen today just by opening our newspaper.  The Jews and Arabs are enemies at the deepest level.  It is important for you to teach your child that the Muslims believe that Ishmael is the Son of Promise, not Isaac.  Their religious writings say that all the promises of Abraham go to Ishmael. So you can see why they hate the Jews – they feel their standing with God is threatened and that the Jews, the sons of Isaac, are interlopers and should be destroyed.  There is no true understanding of the problems of the Middle East if you do not know the story of Ishmael and Isaac.  Is their any hope for a peaceful reconciliation of the Jews and the people of the Middle East? No, not until Jesus Christ comes.
    • Another consequence of Abraham’s sin it that the next time God appears to Abraham is 13 years later. Biblical scholars say this is the result of God’s displeasure with Abraham’s sin.  Sin separates us from God. Manipulating things or people in our lives to get our way will cost us.  Are you trying to do things your way or God’s way? Signs of manipulative behavior: laying guilt trips on others for your mistakes, withdrawing from others to punish them, blameshifting, self-pity, being a “martyr”, using charm or humor to gloss over problems, lying and deceiving, etc. (From CTO: The Controllers, page III-D-8) To help your child to be fully obedient to God and not take things into their own hands, they need to do what Abram and Sarai should have done. First recognize that God is in control – you are in your circumstances because God allowed it. Secondly, realize that God wants you to trust Him, not your sinful survival tactics.  Next, thank God for your trials. Lastly in prayer together ask God how you can obey Him fully and try to determine what it is that God is trying to teach you! This is a good time to talk about what it means to be “wise in your own eyes”. Go back and read again (and again!) Proverbs 3:5-7.
  3. Digging Deeper
    1. Draw comparisons between circumcision for the Jews and baptism for Christians.  What truth is missed in Jewish and Christian groups concerning these rituals?  What was and is their purpose? Why is an outward sign needed? What errors can we fall into by overemphasizing these outward signs? See Deut. 10:12-16; Galatians 5 and Romans 5. What does all this mean to you?
    2. Are you a manipulator? Do you try to get things and people to do what you want rather than trust God? Are you “wise in your own eyes”? (Proverbs 3:5-7) Have you repented? Write your prayer here or tell your story and then tell how you can change or have changed your ways. Cite at least 4 Bible verses that can help you trust God and not yourself.