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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. Oh Dee, Mia is SO beautiful!!

  2. Dee, thanks for sharing the picture. Beautiful indeed! God is so good!

  3. This post is so timely for me. While I was at the Rebelution conference with Joey I bought a book for myself. Total Truth by Nancy Pearcy. It seems to be about how the present culture has affected our faith. I think we may be at the opposite end of time from Abraham and Sarah,but in this day seem to have just as much of a warp between our faith and our culture. I’m just now understanding what ‘worldview’ means.

  4. She is beautiful Dee! 🙂

  5. What a beautiful sweet pea! Congratulations!

    1. Welcome Karol!

  6. Wow, I can tell this week’s study is going to be challenging. Looking forward to it!

    Dee, Mia is beautiful, how sweet!

  7. Beautiful grandchild. I have three precious grandsons but no girl yet.
    The culture Abraham lived around thougt nothing of marriage to multiple partners but in Genesis 2:24 the Bible says “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united with his wife,and they will become one flesh.” The Bible states nothing about becoming one flesh with many wives.
    In the culture in which Abraham and Sarah lived a woman was judged by how many children she bore, expecially male children. Sarah knew about God’s promise to Abraham that he would be the fathr of nations and she must have thought she was standing in his way. So Sarah chose to do what we frequently do, instead of waiting for God to give us an answer to our problems we try to fix it ourselves—and it usually does not come out right.
    I am sure Sarah felt rather bitter and sad that she was standing in Abrahams way. Sarah did not really understand what God would do. She did not trust Him and thought she had to solve the problem for herself. Sarah was 75 at this time she simply could not conceive of giving birth.

  8. Dee
    What a sweet picture! Looking forward to the new study. Have a blessed week.

  9. Dee – Mia is beautiful and so precious being held in her mother’s arms!

    Joyce, I prayed for Kendra this morning; I pray for her gallbladder surgery to go well. You described Kendra as a little girl in a big person’s body, and I asked God to give her an understanding beyond her capabilities that would help to calm her fears. I know He will be with her through the whole experience.

    1. Joyce
      I too prayed for you, Kendra, your husband, other family members, and the medical staff this morning. Looking forward to hearing the outcome.

    2. I add my prayers to theirs, Joyce.

  10. Oh my, Dee! Mia is beautiful! Congrats again 🙂

  11. 1.A. Judy hit the nail on the head when she shared Genesis 2:24. We know from that verse God intended from the beginning for man to be in a monogamous relationship.

    B.Yes, I can sympathize with Sarah. Being a barren woman (which with my personal history was a blessing in disguise) I know what it feels like to be an older woman who notices women, especially those who are not loving mothers, with children. In Sarah’s day having children, especially a son, was the highest honor for a woman. I believe she was feeling life had passed her by (actually life had pssed her by she was beyond child-bearing age) and I wonder if she secretly thought God wasn’t going to keep his word for it had been at least ten years since God had told Abram he was going to produce an heir from his body.

    C. Genesis 3:17 (nkjv)
    “Then to Adam He said, “Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you saying, “You shall not eat of it’…

    The implication here is because Adam listened to Eve he demonstrated a lack of trust in God. Of course there is nothing wrong with a husband listening to the counsel of his wife as long as the counsel does not usurp the authority of God. What was wrong in this incidence was Adam’s flagrant violation of God’s command.

  12. Hi Dee,
    The birth of little Mia is beautiful 😉
    Thank you so much for all of these studies!

    A. “My ways are not your ways” (sorry cant remember the exact verse)
    Considering her feelings, she may have wanted to “take control” (with her own strength/wisdom) the matters of her destiny..and what God had said he would do.
    B. I do sympathize with her. I think she may have felt “left out” of Gods will and people or perhaps even punished/cursed in some way. I don’t know how many years exactly, but I know it must of been a long time for Sarah. (sigh)
    C. Although there is nothing wrong with listening to a spouse, it is wrong to sin against God – regardless to what he/she “listens” to.
    2. Hagar was just serving and obeying her master. I believe she may have thought of simply obeying so that she could live better compared to where she came from. So she responded with a “yes”.
    3. I feel that Sarah may have suffered because she now would have had to live with regret; worse shame than what she felt before and perhaps even struggle with hateful feelings towards Hagar.
    4. It doesnt really seem fair for her to blame Abraham. I think she may be asking herself the “why” question and feeling regret and maybe even lonliness.
    5. It goes against what God would have us to do because he would want us to help our neighbor.

  13. 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?

    As Judy already mentioned, Abram and Sarai knew about God’s promise. Their actions were not in keeping with God’s will because they weren’t trusting him to keep His promise to them; instead, they decided to figure out a way to fulfill God’s promise and His plan through their own actions. Galations 4:22-23 says “For it is written that Abraham had two sons,one by a slave woman and one by a free woman. But the son of the slave was born according to the flesh, while the son of the free woman was born through promise.”

    The Galations passage reminded me of Romans 8:3-5 (and other verses that talk about flesh and spirit). “For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.”

    It’s interesting that Abram said to the king of Sodom (Gen 14) “I have lifted my hand to the LORD, God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth, that I would not take a thread or a sandal strap or anything that is yours, lest you should say, ‘I have made Abram rich.'” Yet, Abram and Sarai gave Hagar the opportunity to say “I have made Abram rich with descendants.”

    Different translations of Scripture and commentaries also seem to differ about whether Abram actually married Hagar. If they weren’t married, he committed adultery.

    The situation with Abram, Sarai, and Hagar also raises a bunch of questions in my mind about slavery and the rights of masters/mistresses over servants.

    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?

    First of all, I can sympathize with Sarah because I tend to rely more on myself to figure out how I am going to accomplish something than on God’s Spirit and His promises. It’s not so much that I actively seek to disobey Him or not believe His promises — but I often don’t think about them because I am caught up in the culture. I can relate to her “problem-solving!” Because her status or worth was so dependent on having children, she was probably feeling pretty worthless. She maybe wondered if she was doing something wrong that was preventing God from fulfilling His promise to Abram. “Self-esteem” and “self-worth” most likely weren’t central concepts as they are in our self-centered culture. But in some Eastern cultures, people evaluate themselves based on their connection and contributions to a group (e.g., extended family). I can’t quite wrap my brain around how I would think in a very collectivist culture —but the importance of having children probably would have been greater in a collectivist culture during that time period, and God’s promise to Abram increased her expectations.

    I couldn’t quite tell where they lived when God gave Abram the promise — but I think it had been at least 10 years since the promise (because that’s how long they’d lived in Canaan). That’s a long time for a biological clock already way past its prime 🙂 (about as likely as it would be for me to have children after a hysterectomy!)

  14. Thank you so much for your prayers for Kendra. We just got her home & she is resting peacefully. They had to try 3 times for a IV, her vains kept collapsing….that was the hardest part. They gave her ativan to make her sleepy but she cried & cried. She was so fearful & just clung to us. This is strange, but she doesn’t even know she has 4 little incisions on her tummy yet. She is on a pretty strong pain pill & is very sleepy still. She don’t know why she was there. I pray the Lord will give me the right words to explain it to her when she realizes her sores. She is like a 5 year old mentally. I kept thinking of all of you & yours prayers. I appreciate all of you so much. I felt the Lord there with us. Dee, I’m so thankful Mia got to go home today with her mommy & daddy!

    1. Dear Christ,

      I pray for Kendra’s recovery from the surgery and for You to give Joyce the right words to explain it all to Kendra. Thank You for Joyce’s steadfast spirit in caring for Kendra. Please bless them both mightily and comfort them with Your presence.

      In Jesus’ Name I pray,
      Amen.

    2. Joyce, i am so thankful she is through it and it is over with. Praise God he took good care of her! Will keep praying for her recovery time. Thank God for doctors and medicine!!! 🙂

    3. She felt the bandages & looked fearful & I just said the Doctors had to fix something in her tummy so she wouldn’t get sick anymore. She seemed content with that answer.

      1. Peace. Thank You Lord!

  15. This is a tiny picture of Kendra

    1. She’s cute 🙂 Will keep praying for her and for you. Glad to hear she’s home.

    2. Joyce, I am praying for Kendra’s recovery both physically and emotionally. I also pray for you all that you may know exactly how to help and comfort her. You sound like a wonderful mother. God be with you and your family.

    3. It’s my picture now

  16. 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?

    Hmmm. . . it’s harder to put myself in her place. Hagar, an Egyptian, was Sarah’s servant. Most likely, there was some cultural conflict and language difference. I’d have a bad attitude about being someone’s slave. When Sarah “gave her” to Abram, she could have felt “used” — but she also could have thought that she had an opportunity to increase her status.

    The passage indicates that she had contempt for Sarah after she conceived. The contempt may have been because she now felt “better than” Sarah, because she conceived when Sarah couldn’t. Contempt also could have been related to the thought that “I do all this stuff for you that a servant is supposed to do — and now I’m doing what you’re supposed to do.” Conceiving Abram’s child muddied Hagar’s expectations for her relationship with Sarah (and probably vice versa).

  17. 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?

    Beginnig with Genesis 12:1-3 and continuing in Genesis 13:14-17 and 15:1-6, God had promised Abram that he and his wife would have children, so it makes sense that going along with any other plan would be against God’s will since He had made His plan so clear.

    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?

    I can sympathize with Sarah because bearing children was very important in that culture and she was valued less than women who had many children. (Because I was made to ill to finish college, the phase of getting married and having children has been postponed if not removed from my life, so I really do understand Sarah.) She must have been wondering why God was taking so long to keep His promise because it had been such a long time. I can’t find a verse that tells the length of time since God’s promise, but Genesis 17 says that Abraham was 99 and Sarah was 90.

    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?

    Listening to one’s mate isn’t wrong, but not comparing the advice with what you know is the decree of God is wrong. Just as Abram should have remembered to follow God’s leading, Adam needed to do the same.

  18. 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?

    1st attempt at “Why is she suffering?”
    -She must feel confused because potential “solutions” seem painful. She is very aware that what she has proposed requires her husband to have intercourse with another woman. By being so direct, she reveals her desperation. Both the problem and the “solution” are painful.
    -She’s getting “up there” in age. Their lifestyles were labor-intensive, and she probably was just plain tired. No kids to share the work.
    -Worried about what the neighbors thought.
    -PMS?? (I wonder if she had that until she had Isaac??) Menstrual cramps? (same question!)
    -She may have realized that she was violating God’s will. It’s painful to do something that you know is wrong, but not be able to think of other alternatives.

    Sarai literally became enslaved by her plan — In some aspects, she experienced a role reversal with her slave (Is that too wild a response?), as Hagar had contempt for her.

  19. Question: Was the woman always blamed if a couple couldn’t have children? Seems as if the problem could have been Abram’s too (and I know Hagar got pregnant, but obviously God was in control then, too). Were fertility problems EVER attributed to men “in those days?”

  20. H0w did Hargar feel….I think she felt helpless, Sarah was her mistress and I don’t think she felt she could disobey her. I think she felt used and sexually abused. I think Hagar must have had a great deal of inner anger and a very bruised ego. She was simply being used much as a farm animal is used. When she conceived I agree that she felt contempt for Sarah because she had acheived what Sarah could not, she was going to have Abrams baby. I also think this must have raised her status in the camp.
    How did Sarah feel? I think Sarah viewed this younger woman pregnant with her husband’s child and felt jealousy and hurt. I think she probably began to dislike Hagar very much because Hagar had achieved what Sarah wanted. I still don’t think she thought she had done anything wrong because she was still trying to follow her own plan instead of God’s. We put a lot of interest in problem solving in your culture. One of my duties as a counselor is to teach people to problem solve but I always ask, “Where is God in your answer?” I think Hagar was smug, self satisfied and angy and hurt. I think Sarah was jealous resentful and hurt. When we dont wait on the Lord we frequently hurt ourselves and those about us.

  21. 1A. It was not in keeping with God’s will because of His covenant promise to Abraham in Genesis 15:1-22: God promised Abram directly in verse 4 that He would give him a son of his own body to be his heir. I just thought of this but probably of no significance: Sarai wasn’t there with him so she didn’t witness the covenant God made with him, so she heard it from her husband.-just an observation..

    1B. YES I can relate!! Having sons was very valuable in their culture and she didn’t want to wait any longer, she grew impatient and over time her faith grew very weak. She kept seeing the women around her having sons and she was getting REALLY old on top of that. I think it was twenty-five to thirty years that she waited after the covenant promise. I am almost sure that I would have struggled too. It was VERY, VERY important to have boys in that culture and I am sure the pressure was tremendous.

    1C. Listening to your wife isn’t wrong, but it is when it goes against the will of God which is His word. I think here Abraham might have shown that he too was lacking in faith because he didn’t put up much of a fight it seems. He didn’t really lead very well here.

  22. 1C, Also, I was thinking that God has designed men to value the input of their wives, to love them, to provide and to even die for them. (I know this because of the example my husband has set for me.) I am having a hard time putting it into words, but it isn’t that easy for a man sometimes when he sees his wife hurting to be that strong in his faith. A lot of times he will do anything to make her happy.

    1. 1C.. to add to that my husband said that one of the reasons it wasn’t hard to convince Abraham was that it had to do with going into Hagar which is a pretty strong desire in men in general so perhaps that played a part as well.

      As I am thinking through this so far it is great. I have done studies in Genesis and haven’t put myself in Sarah and Abraham’s shoes before in this kind of depth. I admit I was usually a bit critical of Sarah.

  23. Last night, I read the previous chapters in Genesis a little more carefully. Although Abram and Sarai generally seemed to be obedient to God, this wasn’t the first time they came up with their own scheme. When they were nearing Egypt, Abram came up with the plan that they say that Sarai was his sister (because she was beautiful, and Abram would be safer/treated better if the Egyptians thought that Sarai was his sister rather than his wife).

    A couple things stood out to me when I read this: Pharaoh gave Abram a bunch of gifts, including servants. Hagar (and/or her mother) may have become Sarai’s servant as a result of that disobedience — and then stayed with them when they were kicked out of Egypt. I do have difficulty with viewing people as property; as property, Hagar would have had a history of being used (though not necessarily sexually).

    Something that initially struck me is that although Abram and Sarai were the ones who disobeyed, the punishment seemed directed toward Pharaoh. This shows that others also are affected by our sins. But Abram and Sarai may not have “gotten off” as easy as it appeared. They received Egyptian servants and left Egypt with those servants (if I’m reading it right). Then, they walked hundreds of miles. Abram might have been nomadic, but that wasn’t necessarily true of all the servants. The servants also would have recognized that Abram and Sarai were getting old and didn’t have children who would be heirs — and that a servant would inherit Abram’s wealth if Abram didn’t have children. Sometimes focus on wealth (getting or keeping it) distracts people from trusting God. This also may have made them more susceptible to the temptation to “problem-solve” rather than trust God.

    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

    I think there is plenty of blame to share. Although Sarai was responsible for coming up with the plan and getting herself into the mess, Abram did agree. She probably thought that if Abram had done something differently (e.g., kept Hagar in her place or even taken the initiative to disagree with Sarai about her plan), she (Sarai) wouldn’t be in this situation. It’s easy to blame others when things don’t go as we planned. But we forget that “life planning” is not like play-writing. Our plans, as allowed by God, may set things in motion. Sometimes, if we are in positions of power, we might be able to dictate other people’s behaviors. But we can’t control their attitudes. Ultimately, we don’t have that much long-term control over other people (except if people are beat into submission and they are almost destroyed inside). Sarai may have tried to beat Hagar into submission when she dealt with her harshly, but then Hagar fled. Abram may have shirked responsibility by telling Sarai that Hagar was her servant (because she had been given to Abram). But he must’ve sensed there was no good solution. True for me, too: When I am entangled in consequences of sin, trying to disentangle myself doesn’t work. Neither excuses nor blaming someone else solves the problem. The sooner I trust God and obey His direction, the less damage I’ll do to myself and others. But that’s awfully hard to see when I am in the midst of problem-solving. Sarai was doing what I probably would have done (not pleasant to admit): she was trying to dig herself out of the mess she created, a downward spiral.

    1. ‘The sooner I trust God and obey His direction, the less damage I’ll do to myself and others’

      Thanks Renee 🙂

      1. Thank YOU, Lyrices! Sometimes what I write hasn’t fully soaked in when I am writing it. And I needed the reminder RIGHT NOW (it involves getting off the computer! I was just telling myself “I need to do _____ but I’ll just check email/blog first.” I know very well that I get distracted by “good stuff” on the computer and that part of God’s direction for me is to limit the time I spend on the computer 🙂

    2. Renee, this is a good point about trying to fix our messes once we are in them. God uses our mistakes for our growth. If we try to get away from the pain we just have to repeat the lesson later.

    3. I like what you said here, Renee — “Sometimes, if we are in positions of power, we might be able to dictate other people’s behaviors. But we can’t control their attitudes.”

      I immediately thought of the parent/child relationship. Parents can control, try to control, their children’s behavior, but have no effect on their heart attitudes. That’s God’s job.

      So, I just said a quick prayer for my children that they would have a new heart attitude toward God.

      May what only He can see — their hearts — please Him.

      I pray that for all of us, too, God. In Jesus’ name, Amen!

  24. 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?

    First I thought of “love your enemies” and similar passages about treating people decently. Ephesians 6 speaks to both slaves and masters. Verses 7-9 (NIV):
    “Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free. And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him.”

    Masters are to “do good” to servants. In OT times, there were laws about how slaves were to be treated, but slaves weren’t overly protected. e.g., they weren’t supposed to be killed, and if they were seriously injured — blinded— they were to be freed.

    What puzzles (& kinda bothers) me is the end of verse 9 “there is no favoritism with him.” There appears to be a lot of favoritism to Abraham and Sarah in Genesis (e.g., they lied and others paid for it). Is that God’s grace and mercy to them. . . OR ???

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

    -Hagar despised Sarah and ran away when treated harshly by Sarah.
    -Sarah blamed Abraham (self-deception in that she wasn’t acknowledging her own responsibility; also, this would have hurt their relationship)
    -Angel of the Lord promised to increase Hagar’s descendents.
    -Ishmael: v. 12 “He will be a wild donkey of a man;
    his hand will be against everyone
    and everyone’s hand against him,
    and he will live in hostility
    toward all his brothers.”

    Thus, part of the fall-out was that the hostility was perpetuated — for generations.

    Another characteristic of the fall-out is that Abraham and Sarah’s pattern of sin /deception and lack of trust in God became more established rather than rooted out. (I hadn’t read Genesis for awhile and got hooked trying to understand what was taking place!)

    Both Abraham (ch 16) and Sarah (ch 17) laughed when their son was promised to them. Sarah lied, saying she didn’t laugh. Abraham lied again (to Abimilech), referring to Sarah as his sister.

    The incestuous relationship between Lot and his daughters certainly wasn’t prevented by the example of Sarah giving Hagar to Abraham (but I don’t know if Lot’s family had enough contact with Abraham’s family that a better example would have improved the situation).

    Not sure this if this is fall-out — but Sarah treated Hagar, an Egyptian slave harshly. I wonder if that was at all related to how the Egyptians treated Israelite slaves much later??

    Yet despite all the fall-out, it could have been much worse. God’s mercy and grace to Abraham and Sarah is SO evident. He still blessed them and their descendants. And when they did sin, it appeared that the negative consequences were just as great for the people they sinned against.

    Sorry I’m posting so much right away (will be gone tomorrow and maybe at the end of the week).

  26. Certainly no one is taking responsibility for their own behaviour in Abraham’s family. Sarah blames Abraham and Hagar. Abraham abdicates responsibility by saying, in essence, to Sarah, “Hey, this was your idea so if you don’t like the way Hagar is acting than you deal with this.” I do marriage and family counseling as well as grief counseling and I see responsibility shifting frequently. Everyone blames everyone else. We all do it. It is the first thing that pops into our minds. As Renee says when we are life planning and it doesn’t work out blaming others is very human. This is why we needed a Savior who took ALL the blame on himself and died for us. Before my husband died I used to laugh and tell him he had to outlive me because if something happened to him who would I blame when things went wrong. He thought that was funny also because we both knew how human we were and how much people tend to do this. The Old Testament sometimes seems harsh but it shows the truth about human nature. There are also numerous pictures of dysfunctional families but you all know God loved us enough to die for us and to make a way for us to go and be with Him. Whenever I focus on this I am so grateful and when I am grieving I try to bring my attention to God’s great love and remember how it is all about God and because of Him I will be reunited with both my husband and my son and eventually we will all be together and won’t that be fun?

    1. Judy,
      “This is why we needed a Savior who took ALL the blame on himself and died for us.”

      AMEN!

    2. You have good insight, Judy, about our playing the “blame game”.

  27. I have been thinking these over for a few days. Much of my answers have already been stated but it is all woven together so here it is.

    Joyce, I am so glad Kendra’s surgery is done and she is home. I will continue to pray for her recovery.

    1a. In Genesis 2:24 God says that man and his wife (not wives) will become one flesh. What happened here violates God’s law over His creation and Abram became one flesh with 2 wives. The wounds are deep for everyone involved. I have heard it said that the Arab/Israeli conflict has its roots here.

    1b. I can sympathize with Sarah completely, but I think she made a huge mistake. She was consumed with the desire for a child. Because of the culture she lived in she was looked on as an incomplete woman because she was barren. I’m sure there were people who treated her cruelly, especially other women which would wound her pride. Besides that she really wanted a child! It is so easy to become obsessed by such a thing and I think this happened to her. She was desperate and that is a recipe for disaster. She did not believe that God would do as He promised. The Lord pointed this out in Genesis 18 when she laughed when she overheard Him say that she would have a child by the next year. This makes me think of when we talked about how remembering helps increase our faith. At that time they did not have much history to remember. Only creation and the flood. No law or written word. Men were only beginning to call on the name of God.

    1c. In Adam’s case God made it clear that he had sinned when he followed his wife in disobedience and the result was the curse. Adam had been clearly commanded not to eat from the tree. Instead of leading his wife in righteousness he followed her into sin. He was responsible for her and ultimately the fall.

    2. I don’t find much about Hagar or her position before she became a slave. She was probably humbled by her slavery but when she became the mother of Abram’s only son her position changed considerably. She may have then felt herself superior to Sarah. Hagar may have looked down on Sarah when she saw her weakness and desperation. Whether or not Abram ever married Hagar, her relationship to him was now that of wife. The verses say that Sarah hoped to take the child for her own. That may have seemed like a good arrangement before but probably not after Hagar became pregnant and certainly not after delivery. I can see Hagar resisting this. I wonder if Sarah even talked with Hagar about the proposal beforehand.

    3. As with many things in life, a cultural practice that ‘everyone is doing’ looks like it would be the answer until you get in the middle of it. After such interpersonal relationship changes innocence is lost and each person is looking at everything through a different lens. The whole family dynamics must have been decimated.

    4. Abram should have said no to this. He should have stopped it. I think before God, he was responsible, whether Sarah blamed him or not. But Sarah probably just saw the difference in his relationship with Hagar and was angry. Like Adam and all of us, he ended up in a mess that only God could redeem through Christ and I believe God is still in the process of redeeming this mistake.

    5. Once again I think Abram did not shoulder his responsibility. He left Sarah to repair the damage in whatever way she wanted to. She responded in anger and took revenge. He should have protected Hagar instead of just turning her over to Sarah. Again, I am not sure what law they had from God at that time.

    7. In thinking through the questions a lot of the fall-out was mentioned. Like the conflict in the family that was carried down through generations. Another thing I notice is that the same thing happened in Jacob’s family only multiplied and with a great deal of deception. The fall-out there was much worse and it may have been seen as acceptable because it had already been done by Abraham and Sarah.

    I have to think a while on #8.

    1. Thank you so much, Anne. She’s doing better every day & I just praise God for his loving care he gives us. We were so blessed to have a very special visitor today & brought Kendra a storybook bible that I can’t wait to start reading to her! I’m always praying for ways to help her understand about God. I’m just starting my study of this weeks lesson but learning so much from reading all of your thoughts. Thank you all again so much for your prayers!

      1. You are so welcome! Lord, please speak to Kendra right now. Visit with her now in her heart. You know her and what will bring special blessing to her heart and we ask for that blessing now. Thank you for her visitor today and for the gift she received. Reveal Yourself as Joyce reads these stories to her. Give her understanding of You and of Your great love for her. We are so thankful for Kendra. What a blessing she is right now. Your name is glorified in her. You have redeemed her and have a plan for her life. You will take care of the details and take care of her. Yes, in her You will be glorified. Amen

    2. Anne,
      In 1b, you mentioned Sarah’s pride being wounded. Good observation — ugh! So much of my behavior (and thoughts) related to pride.

      1. Yes, it seems to go with me everywhere, into every situation.

  28. 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?

    I am not sure how Hagar felt before this happened. I know she probably had a decent relationship with Sarah and was treated well before this happened. She also may have had the desire for children as most women do, but she couldn’t because she was a maidservant. Not sure about the rules for maidservants back then. She may have already viewed herself as ‘lesser’ because she was a maidservant so she may have not been real confident to begin with. After she gets pregnant she despises Sarah. She felt used and maybe she knew Sarah was going to take the baby after he was born and she was upset about it because he was her child and she had longed for a child as well. I can understand why she despised Sarah.

    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?

    Most of what everyone else said I agree with. Sarah is suffering because her husband has another woman and on top of that he impregnated this woman, and then that woman despised Sarah. I couldn’t imagine how I would feel if this happened to me and my husband did this even if I told him too and he did it I would feel the same way. This enslaved her because she chose to go her own way rather than wait on God and his timing. God’s plan would have set her free whereas her plan enslaved her and it all plays out so we can see how it enslaved her. She was discontent, angry, jealous and bitter and those emotions grew.

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

    No, it doesn’t seem fair. On one hand it does seem right that Abraham should have stood up to this and stood strong against the idea from the beginning and rescued her from her plan which she was already into bondage with before she presented it to Abraham. Because Abraham bended and joined into the bondage with her she may have lost respect for him. He didn’t rescue her like she deep down inside may have wanted-like all of us want our husbands to do, which only Jesus can. Maybe she resented that-she put her trust in her husband to rescue her from her pain and her situation rather than in God. She was in bondage to her sin and in that bondage she blamed Abraham for not rescuing her. Her idea of a rescue was to resolve the problem of not having a son rather than resolving the problem in her heart.

    1. Yes! Rebecca, this ties to what we have previously learned! I love it when we discover truths together about God. It is like digging and finding buried treasure! Sarah wanted a different kind of rescue than what God had in mind. How good things would have been if only she could have been content and waited on God.

  29. Tried to edit my answers and I ran out of time.. There was a lot there I could have edited. Sorry this is so wordy! 🙂

  30. 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?

    God told Abraham that Sarah would bear his son. Also, pretty sure marital faithfulness is a BIT of a big deal with God. Just sayin. 😉

    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?

    I can for sure sympathize with Sarah. I, obviously, am not at the point to have kids. That would be a BAD idea. BUT I WANT KIDS SO MUCH!!!! *sigh* I am so looking forward to being a mother, I will be very sad if that isn’t God’s plan for me. For Sarah, though, that was LIFE. Having kids was everything, it was so important to have a legacy, and if you didn’t have kids there was something wrong. Kids were kind of like a status symbol.

    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?

    Listening to his wife wasn’t the problem, it’s what his wife was SAYING that was the problem.

    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?

    She probably felt like she was worth something, a person of value, although she was a slave. Being given to her mistress’ husband like she was a prostitute probably lowered her sense of self worth. She didn’t even have the right to refuse to sleep with him if she had wanted to.

  31. Abraham had a habit, it seems, of not taking very good care of his wives, having Sarai pose as his sister, and now telling Sarai: “Do with her [Hagar]whatever you think best.” (:6)

    Couldn’t Abraham have first tried to talk to Hagar and encourage her to respect Sarai? I mean, she was his wife at this point according to :3 “Sarai his wife took her Egyptian maidservant Hagar and gave her to her husband to be his WIFE.” It seems so j-e-r-k-y to just say, “Do whatever you want with her. Whatever.”

    Just goes to show that the Lord will have his way with us no matter how lumpy the clay He has to work with! Abraham was a big lump sometimes and look at what the Lord accomplished through him — A whole nation! AND a Savior for the world!

    “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

    1. well…you know…Abraham WAS a man after all. 😉

      I like these thoughts, mom. It’s encouraging. I know my clay tends to be lumpy, it’s nice to know God is skilled enough sculptor to still make a beautiful vase out of it. 🙂

  32. I just wrote a new poem today that I thought you guys might appreciate. And it kind of goes with the idea of Hagar maybe feeling like she wasn’t worth as much. 🙂 Here’s the link: http://gotfood814.wordpress.com/2010/08/04/mirror-mirror/

    1. Liz, that is an excellent poem! It is right on target for what our culture is doing to women. You have looked and seen through God’s eyes. I pray you will always see yourself this way and that you will be able to help other young women see what is happening to them.

      1. Thanks, Anne!! 🙂

      2. Anne, what an awesome comment of encouragement to Liz!

    2. Wow, Liz!! I love it 🙂

    3. Liz, love this and love to be privileged to witness God moving in your life from when you first confessed your sin struggle and your desert time to where he is working in your heart now. God is indeed great!

  33. 2. According to womeninthebible.net, Hagar, when given to Abraham and Sarah to be their servant, took a step down in position. She was a highly skilled Egyptian servant who, most likely, was used to walking the marble floors of the palace. She once lived by the Nile, now, she is in the wilderness and living in a tent. She’s an alien so she has no culture identity with the Hebrew servants. She’s away from her family and friends so I’m sure she’s missing Egypt.

    After learning she has conceived, Hagar turns on Sarah. Proverbs30:21,23 tell us this: “For three things the earth is perturbed (the Hebrew word used here means to quiver with violent emotion, espc. anger or fear), yes for four it cannot bear up:…and a maidservant who succeeds her mistress.”
    I believe Hagar began making plans to eventually succeed Sarah as head of the women. She most likely believed that she would now be favored as a second wife and no longer viewed as a servant. She was going to do for Master Abraham what his wife could never do-give him a son. The one word going through my mind right now is catty. Hagar put her claws out and started scratching away at Sarah’s soul.

    3. Sarah had thought she had found the perfect solution to her problem. She didn’t count on Hagar’s reaction. She was used to telling Hagar what to do and Hagar obeying with no questions or comments. Hagar’s hatred and belittling was excruciating for Sarai. Renee was right. Roles were reversed. Hagar became prideful because she had conceived. Sarah was humiliated because she was reminded she had fallen short as a woman.

    4. No. It’s not fair she blames Abraham. SHE was the one who came up with the idea. SHE was the one who put Hagar in his lap. And now the pain of sin has began to seep out. She comes close to calling down a curse on her husband. Hatred is boiling inside. I wonder if she began to loathe herself. I’m sure she beat herself up emotionally. Possibly asking herself over and over ‘why did I do what I did? Why didn’t I wait?’ When the why question keeps swirling around in your mind it’s as if you are on a never-ending mery-go-round.

    1. The background information you found on Hagar, what her life was like in Egypt compared to living in the wilderness was very helpful, Tammy.

    2. I want to add here that Sarah became enslaved to bitterness which fed her desire to exact revenge.

    3. Wow, I didn’t know that. Great background information Tammy. That helps to see things a little better.

  34. Abraham (like Adam with Eve) fell into quilt & sin when he disobeyed God & let Sarah talk him into adultry with Hagar. They were both quilty of sin. They knew of God’s promise for a child for Sarah & still fell into temptation. I understand Sarah, as I get impatient & anxious & want to take matters into my own hands too. It’s hard to wait upon the Lord & 10 years is a long time for us. Impatience & lack of faith was the problem. God always rewards those who have faith to believe his promises.

  35. Hagar was probly feeling very hurt & angry because Sarah dealt harshly (Genesis 16:6) with her & fleed from her. The plan that Hagar thought would free her, enslaved her because of the sin Ishmael was born under. It reminds me of Isa 55:8,9) God’s ways are not our ways & his thoughts are higher than our thoughts.

  36. The very last question in #8 asks if I can think of a time when I tried to get something good, but did it in a way that was not pleasing to God. Yes, it reminds me of times I’ve tithed in hopes of receiving something in return, when it didn’t really come from my heart, just as a duty. C.S. Lewis said ” Nothing that you have not given away will EVER be really yours.” Let it go. It’s all about trusting God.

    1. Dee, you are one busy Grandma!! Thankful that little Mia is doing well and I will be praying for Beth and for God to bring this little one safely into the world!

      1. Creator God
        Once again You have granted me the privilege of interceding for my dear sister in Christ. Grant Dee safe travel as she makes her way to the hospital. Thank You for another precious grand-daughter. Give Beth courage and strength to face the labor. May all there in the delivery room be aware of Your Comforting Presence. And as always, it is with a grateful heart that I bring my petition to Your throne. Amen.

    2. Lord, thank you so much for the wonderful gifts you have given to Sally, Annie, Beth and Julie. How WONDERFUL Lord that you gave them all gifts at almost the same time and that they can experience that together. It is interesting that so far they are all girls. Those babies are blessed to have such a legacy of faith that will be passed down to them. Lord we give you all the glory. Keep Beth and her little girl safe today as they go through the birthing process. We know you will give them utter joy as they get to give that first kiss on her precious face. Thank you Lord for the blessings of children and that you have given Beth and her husband the privilege of having a child.

      1. You girls haved prayed exactly what is in my heart for Dee’s daughter’s & grandbabies. What a wonderful blessing to all of them, Lord. Please be with Beth today & help her labor to be easy & everything to go perfect & to hold their beautiful baby girl close to their hearts forever! Dee’s daughter’s are all receiving their daddy’s prayers from heaven.

  37. 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?

    God instituted marriage, and in Genesis 2:24, it says “For this cause a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”

    1 Corinthians 6:16 has Paul warning the Corinthians about sexual immorality in that “Or do you not know that the one who joins himself to a harlot is one body with her? For He says, “The two will become one flesh”.

    Abraham and Sarah were man and wife, one flesh according to God, yet he then joined himself with Hagar too when he went in to her.

    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?

    Offspring, especially a son to be an heir, was prized in their culture.
    In Genesis 16:2, Sarah says, “The Lord has prevented me from bearing children.” I’m sure a woman back then would feel the guilt and blame for not providing a son for her husband. And just the yearning for a baby to cradle in her arms, and nurse at her breast, and the joy that children bring into your life, Sarah must have ached for this.
    In The God of All Comfort, Dee made the point that it’s so hard to run toward God when you know He is the one who also allowed your loss to happen. Sarah needed God’s comfort, but I wonder how she felt about her relationship to God because she says that it was He who was keeping her from being able to bear children. I wonder if she really felt all that secure about God’s love for her.
    Years had passed since God’s promise to Abraham, and perhaps Sarah felt that time was running out; she was getting older and older and may not even live long enough to see a child.

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

    The implication is that even though God created man and woman as equal partners in the beginning, man has a responsibility to lead his wife and to obey God’s voice over his wife’s desires if hers contradict the clear commandments of God. Romans 5:12 tells us that it was through “one man sin entered into the world”. Even though Eve listened to the serpent and took the first bite, Adam bears the ultimate responsibility.

  38. 8. I’m going to jump here while I have these thoughts fresh on my mind. I once tried to bargain with God for the soul of my ex-husband. I told God if it takes me dying for my ex to come to Christ so be it. God reminded me that Christ HAD ALREADY PAID THE PRICE for the souls of men. He then let me know there was nothing I could do to save my ex. from eternal consequences if he dies rejecting the gift of salvation.

  39. 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?

    Tammy’s insight into Hagar’s life as a servant in Egypt is very helpful. Although a servant, she was considered skilled at what she did, and perhaps even served in Pharaoh’s palace. She still had family and friends there. Then to be told, “Pack your things, I (Pharaoh) am sending you along with Abraham and his wife” must have been a real shock to her. When you get into the part of Genesis about Joseph, when his family was coming to Egypt, we are told that Egyptians didn’t even eat at the same table as Hebrews, because they despised them and they hated shepherds, people who herded livestock. I’m sure Hagar thought this was distasteful and a real step backward.
    I’m sure she was lonely and missed her home.
    When she conceives a child for Abraham, perhaps she feels a sense of empowerment, and feels better than Sarah. She’s not a lowly servant anymore, she is carrying her master’s child.

    3. Consider 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 she thought would set her free enslaved her?

    I think she is jealous of Hagar, and even though she gave her to Abraham, it would be hard to think about the two of them being intimate. Hagar was much younger than Sarah. Perhaps she envisioned Hagar conceiving, and still being subserviant to Sarah, and allowing Sarah to experience the pregnancy with her, like, she would tell Sarah “The baby is moving today -would you like to put your hand on my stomach and feel it kicking?” Or, “I am so happy that I can bear this child for you, Sarah – I bet you can’t wait to hold the baby in your arms!” Instead, Hagar takes ownership and begins to look down her nose at poor old childless Sarah. Perhaps she feels Abraham will push Sarah aside and Hagar will become number one wife.
    I think Sarah suddenly feels insecure of her position. Now she must endure the open contempt of Hagar. This is not what she had envisioned. Her servant has turned on her.

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

    I think she is just plain confused and very regretful for ever having gotten into this mess. Her plan has blown up in her face. Just like when God said to Eve, what have you done, she blamed it on the serpent, and Adam blamed “this woman whom You gave me”, perhaps out of frustration she points the finger at her husband.

  41. 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?

    God would not have us treat anyone that way, and especially a pregnant woman. God wants us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us.

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

    *It wrecked Sarah and Hagar’s relationship.
    *Hagar now entered into the sin bondage.
    *Sarah invited her husband into this bondage with her-so now they were BOTH in bondage.
    *It put a huge wrench in Sarah and Abram’s marriage
    *Sarah’s heart was hardened even more as a result with jealousy, anger, and resentment.
    *It led to Ishmael being born which is a reason for the problem in the middle east we are seeing today, so the fall out went a long way. Gen 16:12

    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?

    When I was single and a new believer I dated a godly man whom God used in a huge way in my growth. We were friends for four years, but God never gave me that kind of physical desire for him. Everything else was perfect. He had a great ministry discipling other men and had a very teachable heart. He really was the perfect man spiritually.

    My biological time clock was ticking and I wanted to be married so bad that even though I didn’t truly ‘love’ him in the way a woman loves a man “wholly” I decided to go beyond our friendship and date him and we even went shopping for engagement rings. What a selfish, unloving thing I did to a dear, dear brother.

    Eventually I broke off the relationship after being honest with myself and seeking God about it. In our case, God rescued both of us before we made a huge mistake, but letting it go that far was a mistake because it was something God meant to be beautiful in a couple’s memory on that road to marriage and instead I made it ugly and not pleasing to God. Of course, God took that ugly thing and made it beautiful in both our lives as we both learned from it.

    1. Amazing story, Rebecca. Thank you for sharing that with us as I know it’s not easy to share painful things we have gone through in our lives. But thankfully God helps us to grown from them.

      1. Joyce, Thanks! How encouraging. Yes, it is painful when we see how deceitful and wicked our hearts can be, but I am truly thankful that this sin debt has been paid for, and because of The Holy Spirit’s gentle prodding and strength I was able to turn from it and repent.

    1. Dee, you must be exhausted. Praying for your strength so you can fully enjoy these showers of blessing!

    2. Congratulations Dee!!! So glad to hear everything went well. Get some rest. Looking forward to seeing the new grand.

    3. Congradulations again!! I can’t wait to see a picture of Beth’s baby girl!

    4. Congrats, Dee! I’m smiling as I visualize these 3 at future family reunions!!

    5. Congratulations! How exciting, praise God!

  42. 5.As I pondered this question my mind kept going back to the words of Pau. in Romans 12:14,17,21. “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse…Repay no one evil with evil…Do not be overcome by evil, but overcoming evil with good”.

    It seems to me when Sarah went to Abraham she was looking to him for a solution to the problem she had caused. My impression is that Sarah felt she had the right to punish Hagar so severely because first, her husband said it was okay and second, she did not view Hagar as a woman with feelings. In Sarah’s eyes Hagar was just another piece of property.

    My pastor presented a teaching on anger this past Wednesday. He said something I had never considered before. He talked about the root of anger and how the more we hold unto it, discuss it, and think on it the deeper the root grows and eventually will spill out. The verses I shared from Romans are the ones I meditiated on many times over the course of these past 24 months. I have found the more I practice kindness toward the one who inflicted so much pain, the less angry I become about my situation. Yes, I had the right to be righteously angry but as a child of God, I do not have the right to exact revenge. The more I pray for my ex husband to accept the gift of salvation the clearer I see the invisible bounds of sin which keep him bound.

    1. You’re a good example, Tammy. Wise info. (Great find on the Proverbs passage you posted earlier this week — Seeing how Scripture is so linked together keeps the wheels of my mind turning 🙂 )

    2. Tammy, you are so right. There is a real difference between anger and the desire for revenge. I guess all we can do is to leave the person who has wronged us to work it out with God.

  43. So glad the new baby and mom are alright. Yes, you must be tired. Two babies in such a short time, tiring but wonderful.
    I’ve tried to take things out of God’s hands and put them in mine so many times I can’t remember. AND it never works. I am so glad we had this Bible study on this week because I have been working with a client on a complex problem which involved making up her mind about something which she wants but is not sure God wants her to have and now I know exactly what story to tell her. I have noticed about myself that when I want something that is not right I try to convince myself that it is something that God wants for me. Through the years I think and pray I have learned to listen to the Holy Spirit a little sooner than I used to when He says, “Wait, and let God work it out.” I think we are all very kin to Sarah in trying to make things work out rather than waiting for God’s timing. Sarah’s problem lay with her doubts that God would or could give her what she so wanted. Also this topic was timely because my daughter, Shannon, is trying to have another baby, she has a little boy five years old, and is having some problems conceiving so she has asked me to ask all of you to pray that God’s will be done in this situation rather than she and her husband’s will. She wants the timing to come from God.

    1. Judy, I’m praying for them already!

  44. 7. Since everyone has already answered I am going to add just a few words. Sarah was a desperate housewife who participated in a wife swap which indeed instigated the current conflict in the Middle East. But, just as God reached out to Hagar in the desert, He continues to reach out to her descendants today. Many Muslims are coming to faith in Christ because He speaks to them through dreams. Yes, the fall-out continues, but God still has control over the whole situation and one day, when Christ returns, instead of fighting there will be peace in the Middle East.

    1. “. . .a desperate housewife who participated in a wife swap. . .” haha 🙂

      I don’t have TV anymore, but used to watch wife swap; haven’t seen the other! Abraham and Sarah meet reality TV?

    2. Tammy, yes! Isn’t that great! I try to read Joel Rosenberg’s blog to get updates along with other sources, but from what I have heard there is a HUGE tide of Muslims turning to Jesus over there! Did you hear about ‘escape from Hamas?’ The founder’s son’s testimony is just so awesome. You are so right.. God did use the Hagar incident for good and also to accomplish his plans for the future as well!

  45. Hey Ladies, would you please pray for me? This afternoon I started feeling a bit under the weather. I am hoping I am not getting sick and this goes away. lso, tomorrow night is the planning meeting for the new church plant we are checking out. We have been praying about this and so far it just seems like God wants us there and wants to use us to help it get going.

    I am praying about two needs they have, #1. singing with the worship team, #2. Teaching children’s church. I especially would like to develop a class for kids with special needs, but I am not sure they had that in mind right now so I want to be sensitive to God’s leading with the timing on everything. When we did it at our last church it was incredible how God used it to really bring home the lessons to these children and have them be actively involved. It is amazing when you see God working in their hearts and when they answer a question and just nail it with such great insight.

    1. Rebecca, I will be praying for you NOT to be sick & for your decisions you need to make concerning this church. Please Lord, give Rebecca & her husband peace in knowing if this is the right church for them or not. If it is,to please help her to be placed where she is needed the most & where you would want her. Rebecca, with your experience with your own two special needs children & having worked with special kids before in your previous church, I know you have a loving & tender heart for them. What I wouldn’t give to have a teacher like you helping Kendra learn those wonderful lessons of God! We’ve tried several churches & they put Kendra in sunday school with the little pre-schoolers because of her mentality. She loves to sing their songs about Jesus but I know she feels awkward because she’s the only big one there. If the church is not ready for that yet, maybe it would be something you could help get started in the future if you were already teaching children’s church. I know God has a special plan for you! I’ll be praying for your health & for God to show you where you should be. You are such a blessing!