Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar
Sabbath School Lesson 2017 Quarter 3 Lesson 10 Tuesday
Read first two paragraphs,
“Hagar was an Egyptian slave in Abram’s household. Hagar’s place in the Genesis story is directly related to Abram’s failure to believe God’s promise. After waiting ten years for the promised child to be born, Abram and Sarai remained childless. Concluding that God needed their help, Sarai gave Hagar to Abram as a concubine. Although strange to us today, Sarai’s plan was quite ingenious. According to ancient customs, a female slave legally could serve as a surrogate mother for her barren mistress. Thus Sarai could count any child born from her husband and Hagar as her own. While the plan did produce a child, it was not the child God promised.”
The lesson asserts that Abram failed to believe God’s promise – what promise would that be?
In Genesis 12 God promises to make a great nation from Abram’s descendants, did this promise indicate those descendants would be through Sarai?
10 years later, when Abram is 85, he has the following conversation with God. This was after rescuing Lot.
But Abram said, “O Sovereign LORD, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?” 3 And Abram said, “You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir.” 4 Then the word of the LORD came to him: “This man will not be your heir, but a son coming from your own body will be your heir.” 5 He took him outside and said, “Look up at the heavens and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Genesis 15:2-5
God promises descendants from Abraham’s body, does this promise indicate it will be with Sarai?
When do we find the first word from God that the promised child would be from Sarai? After Ishmael was born. If it was accepted custom, as the lesson states, that a slave woman could legally bear a child for her mistress, how did Abram’s action fail to believe God’s promise that his descendants would be more numerous than the stars?
The lesson states Abram had a lapse in faith, given the nature of the promises, and the understanding of marriage and concubines at the time, what do you think?
Did Abram fail to believe God? If Abram didn’t believe he would have descendants, didn’t believe God had promised to make a great nation and bless all nations through his descendants, would he have likely taken Hagar? Wasn’t it precisely because he and Sarai did believe God’s promise that from Abram’s body a great nation would arise, but they doubted Sarai’s ability to be the mother of his child, that they acted the way they did?
So it appears Abram did believe God’s promise of a great nation etc, but didn’t trust God to bring it about without Abram instituting his own plan to help God achieve it.
This is another place where belief in God gets derailed in practice by human tradition! Notice, Abram believed God, but when it came time to put that belief into practice, his actions were derailed by human tradition, with devastating consequences!
This is what happened to the Jews in Christ’s day. They still believed in God, but their actions had been derailed by human tradition. And what happened, devastating consequences of crucifying Christ.
And today, Christianity, believes in God but in practice has been infected with human tradition, and with what consequences? Paul says:
But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them. 2nd Timothy 3:1-5.
And Jesus said,
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ Matthew 7:21-23
What is the problem? Accepting traditional views of God’s character, God’s law, and God’s methods, accepting traditional views of atonement.
When we substitute God’s design, for human tradition in attempting to fulfill God’s purposes tragic results always happen – Abram did it, the Jews did it, and now Christianity is suffering with the same problem.
So, why did Paul take such a disparaging view of Hagar and her son? He is criticizing the idea that we can do anything to free ourselves from sin, it is only through the grace, miracle, intervention of God through the promised Son that we can be free of sin. It is only in harmony with God’s design, His methods, that we can be healed. Paul is making the case that one who is a slave cannot inherit the estate? And no amount of work can change that.
Thus as Isaac was the promised son of the freewoman, and therefore, able to inherit the estate, Jesus is the promised Son of God, and through His accomplishments inherits all that humanity was to receive from God when God created humanity. And it is through Christ, the promised seed of Abraham, that all nations are blessed and we, through this promised Son become partakers of the divine nature and share in that inheritance.
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Sabbath School Lesson 2017 Quarter 3 Lesson 10 Tuesday
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