As I was reading Genesis chapter 16 today, so many pieces jumped out at me. Some of them are ones I’ve blogged on before, but they bear repeating so I’ll highlight them and then include links to the previous posts if you want to revisit them to go deeper into a topic. The highlights are that this chapter reminds us:
- never to force the prophetic to play out,
- to be careful as a spouse not to lead our spouse astray,
- when we submit to authority we are honoring God,
- and that God sees us – sees all our afflictions and is there in the midst with us.
Forcing a Prophetic Word to Come to Pass
To recap briefly, this is the chapter where Sarai gives Hagar to Abram to give him an heir. The first and strongest point being highlighted to me as I read this today is the principle that we NEVER have to “make” a prophetic word come to pass. I shared about this in my post Letting the Prophetic Play Out, but the short version is that it is IMPERATIVE to wait on His timing. Though He may extend grace for the lack of faith that caused you to try to “help” Him bring something to pass, there’s often messy consequences, which you will have to deal with.
In this chapter, we read about the creation of Ishmael, who was the fruit of this attempt to assist God in bringing His promise to fruition. We also see marital discord as a result of this plan of action as well as difficulty in the relationship between Sarai and Hagar. All of this could have been avoided if they had simply waited on God to fulfill His promise.
And yet I understand Abram’s reasoning. He’d waited years for the fulfillment of the promise, physically it was growing less and less likely – so judging from the natural, it was a “logical” choice perhaps. But we must remember God uses the foolish things to confound the wise (1 Corinthians 1:27). And He is a miracle working God.
So a major takeaway from this is to remember: When He promises, WAIT on Him to bring it to pass.
Responsibility of a Wife (Spouse)
One of the other things God highlighted was that this whole debacle was Sarai’s idea. As a wife we have influence over our husbands. This story is a sobering reminder that we need to tread very carefully when exerting our influence. I share more on this point in a post called Responsibility of the Wife (Genesis 15), but in short both husbands and wives – and in fact any one in a position of influence – should be sure anything you suggest aligns with God’s plans and does not bring confusion.
Submitting to Authority
The portion with Hagar when she runs off is interesting on multiple points, one is in the fact that although Sarai has “dealt harshly” with her, God tells her to return. According to Romans 13:1-2 ALL authority is from God. This is a tough truth to swallow sometimes. [My earlier post on this is here: A Challenge to Submit (Genesis 16).]
It reminds me about a conversation I had with a friend years ago when my husband was backslidden and she was making a case that I shouldn’t submit to him, that I should only submit to him when he was right with God. The issue with that notion is that if we were only called to submit when an authority is good, God wouldn’t have to command us to do it – we’d want to!
Scripture tells wives to submit to their husbands as unto the Lord (Ephesians 5:22), it isn’t a qualified statement. God doesn’t say, “wives submit to your husbands when they act rightly” and in part He doesn’t say that because the very nature of being under authority is to obey the authority you’re under without HAVING to understand. It isn’t our job to pass judgment on the decision making ability of our authorities. If we are where God has placed us we are to trust.
But it isn’t the authorities we’re trusting, we’re trusting God. We’re trusting that HE will deal with the authorities if they’re off because He’s the one who allowed them in that position in the first place.
So bringing that all back around, by Hagar choosing to return to Sarai she was declaring with her actions her trust in God. The take away here is to remember that any authority over you is from God, seek HIM if you have issues, and cover them in prayer (as scripture commands).
He Sees (El Roi)
I saved the happy part for last, and that is that God sees. He sees it all. (My earlier post is El Roi [the God Who Sees].) This is both humbling and beautiful. Humbling in the sense that He sees all the dumb, sinful stuff we stumble into (or willfully choose). But beautiful in the sense that no matter what we’re going through, He sees it. And His feelings on whatever situation we’re in run far deeper than our own! In this chapter we see that He BLESSES Hagar for her willingness to walk out the situation she found herself in. Regardless of the fact that she had some part in making it messy (by being upity to Sarai – being given to Abram likely wasn’t something she had a say in, which may also be why God blesses her.)
The takeaway here is to remember regardless of how alone we may feel at times, He is with us and He SEES.
I have to say I appreciate the fact that the bible doesn’t hide the fact that these people were VERY human. They make mistakes, get emotional, act irrationally, etc. They are like us. I’m so grateful they didn’t try to paint a perfect picture as we so often do today. I’m comforted by their imperfections because if God can love them, work through them… surely He can do something with us. 🙂