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An Indecent Proposal: Part I.

Adriaen van der Werff "Sarah supplies Abraham Hagar."I’m going to give you a taste of a new book I’m working on with the tentative title of Every Love Story Whispers His Name.

Hidden in every priest, every prophet, every slain lamb, every suffering servant, every king, and every Bridegroom is Jesus. He is also hidden in the love stories of the Bible. Each of them, if you look deeply enough, point to Jesus and/or His Gospel. This week we will begin with the love story of Abraham and his two wives and see how it points to Jesus.

In the movie Indecent Proposal a wealthy gambler, played by Robert Redford, offers a husband and a wife a million dollars in exchange for sleeping with the wife, played by Demi Moore. At first they refuse, then deliberate, and then, hard-pressed for money, agree, assuring one another that it is just a physical act and their marriage will survive. But, as we might anticipate, afterwards, their guilt, blame, and anger hammer at the marriage. The husband can’t forget the image of his wife in another man’s arms. The wife can’t forget Robert Redford. (Who could?)

Walter Wangerin, in The Book of God, imagines how another indecent proposal occurred.

“Abram?” she said. “I have an idea.”…She cast her eyes to the side, now cutting melon for herself. “I would not object,” she said, “if you liked my idea and acted upon it. Another woman might object. I would not. In fact, I would be grateful.”

Abram put a sticky finger to his tongue. “What is your idea?” he said.

“You know my maidservant, of course,” she said, carefully cutting the rind from her fruit.

“Yes.”

“Hagar. The sturdy woman whom we brought north from Egypt. That one. Young, she is. A good servant.”

“Yes, said Abram. “I know her. What is your idea?”

“Now, then, are you finished with the melon? Have you had enough?”

Abram simply sat and gazed at his wife.

Finally she laid the pieces of her own fruit aside and wiped her hands and folded them in her lap and lifted her eyes to her husband.

“When certain wives are unable to bear children,” she said, “they bring their maidservants to their husbands. They invite their husbands to go in to their maidservants in order that they, the barren wives, might in this manner get children of their own. For if the maid bears a baby upon the knees of her mistress, the baby becomes the child of the mistress. Abram, if you wished to do such a thing with Hagar my maidservant…I would not object.”

The Scripture then tells us:

And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai.

Genesis 16:2 (NAS)

Let’s look at this story and how it teaches us something about Jesus and how we can release the power of the Gospel in our lives. I’m going to take you back to see the story in context, and then forward to the book of Galatians where it uses this story as an analogy to help us understand how to release the power of the Gospel in our lives.

Mia and Annie
Mia & Annie

For those new to us, you may want to take a question a day — or do more than one. I’ll post again next Monday. And before we begin, I must show you my newborn grand-daughter. (The only way I can tie this into this story is that the births of babies are significant in showing us something about the Gospel in the story of Abraham! 🙂

BIBLE STUDY

1. Read Genesis 16:1-2.

A. What Sarah proposed may have been in keeping with the culture, but how do you know that it was not in keeping with God’s will? Can you

give Scripture to support your answer?

B. Can you sympathize with Sarah? Put yourself in her place. What was valued in that culture? How was she feeling? How long had it been

since God had promised Abraham a son?

C. Compare Genesis 16:2 “And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai” to Genesis 3:17. What is the implication? Is listening to your wife

wrong? Then what was wrong?

Read Genesis 16:3-5 and the following commentary.

Most English translations of the above say “in your arms,” or “in your embrace,” but Hebrew scholar Robert Alter says it is rawer than that. Literally, in Hebrew, Sarah is saying, “I put my slave in your lap,” which is a euphemism for the genital area. She’s trying to help Abraham understand why her suffering is so intense. She is saying, “Abraham – I put my slave girl between your legs.”

2. Put yourself in Hagar’s place. What do you think her feelings were about herself before this happened? How does she now respond to Sarah, and why, do you think?

3. Considering what you learned from Robert Alter’s translation, put yourself in Sarah’s place. Why is she suffering? Think of everything you can. How has the plan that she thought would set her free enslaved her?

4. Does it seem fair to you that she blames Abraham? What’s going on in her mind, do you think?

Read Genesis 16:6

5. Though Abraham’s advice to Sarah might have been in keeping with the culture — how does it go against what God would have us do?

7. The plan that Sarah and Abraham thought would set them free surely has not. List the fall-out.

8. This story will unfold more next week, and you will see how it applies to the Gospel. But for now, can you think of a time when you tried to get something good, but did it in a way that was not pleasing to God?

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109 comments

  1. Joyce, you are such a sweet sister!! I am so glad to get to know you on this blog! 🙂 I am starting to feel worse as time goes on. I am getting off here and going to lay down. Yikes.. I hope it doesn’t stop me from going tomorrow night.

    Yes, you are so right.. Thanks you so much for praying for me!

    I would love to have someone like Kendra in class, and she probably does feel awkward. They are usually aware of their situation and that is what makes it harder for them and for moms.

    1. Dear Heavenly Father,I pray for little Katherine Elizabeth to overcome this billirubin count & become stonger & completely healed from it as Mia did. And also, please be with Seth & Beth…please give them strength & much peace. Please help Beth get over the baby blues & to calm her fears, Lord. Help them to all be at home together as a new little family. Bless them and all of the families with new babies in Dee’s life. Please help Julie also as her time for delivery is getting closer & closer. I pray for Dee also to give her rest & peace knowing you are in controll. Thank you so much Lord. I pray in Jesus name, Amen.

  2. Dee, I hope her party went well last night! We were unable to make it due to a babysitter issue. I am sure she was honored really well! She is an awesome sister and their family is such a light. I am sure it is a joy for you as a grandma to see all five of your children and their spouses walking with the Lord. 🙂

  3. Here is my answer to #8. We are on vacation this week at the beach:) and my laptop is the only computer for the family so my access is somewhat limited.

    I was in my former church for some years while it was failing and membership was declining until there were no children my son’s age left. I had a strong sense of faithfulness for many years and felt sure that God would ‘rescue’ us in time. My sense at that time was that God was not calling me to leave. Then I came to a time of great unrest and wanted to leave but felt God was calling me to stay. It came to a point where I felt that my soul was just tormented and I was so uncomfortable there. Finally, I sensed God’s release and left to go to the church I am currently attending. I felt so fulfilled and joyful at this church. The teaching was excellent and I felt free to worship. It was like I had a new life. Now after only 5 years this church has changed and I find myself in the same situation only worse, exponentially. I see now that there is much wrong in me rather than it all being the church. What I am now wondering is if God wanted to grow me 5 years ago and I was so miserable that He finally just released me to go because I was not learning. Now if I run will I have to come back again to the same lesson in a few more years?
    I think this answers #8 because wanting to be in a church where God is working and where He is glorified is not a wrong thing. For church to be important in my life is not a wrong thing. But I wonder if I may have done this my way instead of God’s way.

      1. Thank you for wise advice and your prayers. I so appreciate your godly input into our lives and the freedom to share. God is teaching me so much. I will contemplate the verses. I sense that the condemning heart can look outward as well as inward.