Abraham’s Tragic Lapse of Faith
Book of Genesis Chapters 16; 17
We could change the title this lesson to “God Does Not need Our Help to Fulfill His Promises”.
The one most important thing to consider is that God will never fail in keeping His promises!
The second most important thing to consider is that God works according to His own timeline and not ours!
God has a plan and a purpose for each of us who have called upon Jesus Christ to save us.
In Abraham’s day, righteousness came by his faith and faith is still the key to our relationship with our Heavenly Father today.
It can be said that we are our own worst enemy most all the time.
When we believe that God has put all the processes in our world in place and just allows them to run their course, then we are wrong.
If this were true, then our prayers would not bring results.
Certainly, God has put many processes in place, but the fact remains that our Lord also has His hands on all of His creation.
Our Lord God Almighty has His hands on us who believe at all times or He could not be referred as being our Heavenly Father and He would not say we were His children!
The Lord has a perfect plan and has made many promises and God’s plan and His promises will be completed just as He has stated and all we need do is to believe and act according to His perfect Word!
*Gen 16:1 Now Sarai Abram’s wife bare him no children: and she had an handmaid, an Egyptian, whose name was Hagar.
Today we will see the birth of the Arab nations and why there is so much hatred between the Arab nations and Israel.
If they would acknowledge these things, then there could be a true and lasting peace!
One of our greatest failures come because of our lack of patience.
Patience could be said to be a calm an unruffled temper in which we bear the evils of this life.
Believe me, we need a lot of patience to deal with this evil, corrupt, wicked and evil world!
Our faith tells us that Jehovah will never break a promise. Our lack of patience demands that we see those promises fulfilled in our lifetime.
Every believer knows that we will never die so we are selfish to think God will complete His promises in our lifetime.
God promised Abram a son by his wife Sarai, but Sarai had been barren for 75 years and she just could not believe she could have a child.
She was right in her thinking but wrong in placing limits on the power of God.
His power is unlimited!
In reality this was a lack of faith because the Lord had said Abram (Abraham) would have a child and that child would come by Sarai (Sarah).
Gen 15:4 And, behold, the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir.
We must understand to go against any part of the Word of God, no matter how small, will bring consequences, sometimes severe consequences as in the case of Abram.
Hagar was a slave girl given to Abram and Sarai during the time they spent in Egypt where Abram had made another mistake telling Pharaoh that Sarai was his sister which she was, but she was also his wife.
In the New Testament and in typology, Hagar would be a type of the Old Covenant, the Law and we know that the Law enslaves its followers.
Satan makes slaves. You would think that all who hate slavery would also hate Satan and his ways.
The children of Hagar were born into slavery and so is everyone who put themselves under the Law.
Gal 4:22 For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman.
Gal 4:23 But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise.
That promise being salvation by “Grace”. Sarah represents “Grace” and she is a type of Grace in the Bible.
So let us see these things.
*Gen 16:2 And Sarai said unto Abram, Behold now, the LORD hath restrained me from bearing: I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her. And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai.
We should also understand that Sarai had always wanted children and was probably key to Abram bringing Lot with them as they traveled.
We should also realize that Abram was not sure if he were the cause or his wife was the cause of their lack of children.
Why was Sarai barren? If we study the Word of God, we will find that many people lived in certain circumstances so that in the future God could work a great miracle that would not have been believed otherwise.
Listen to Jesus:
Joh 9:1 And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth.
Joh 9:2 And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?
Joh 9:3 Jesus answered, “Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him”.
God still does these things but most of them go unnoticed! Sarah would have fit into this category!
Sarai could not believe that she could have children, but she felt the promise of God to Abram was so important that it needed a little help to be fulfilled.
She gave these thought to her husband and he listened to her, much as Adam did to Eve and they both were proven wrong and their wrong were sin with severe consequences.
In fact she was so wrong it clouded her judgment.
God does not need our help He just commands us to obey, and He always does what He says He will do.
Had Sarai been right then we would not need God nor the Word of God because it would not be believable.
In fact God did not have to do any of these things, He could just have easily have been a tyrant, and voiced His commands.
*Gen 16:3 And Sarai Abram’s wife took Hagar her maid the Egyptian, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife.
We should also notice that Sarai never considered Hagar to be her slave but one of her maids.
Sarai gave Hagar to her husband, which in the eyes of God was also wrong though it was a custom of that day, for a man to have more than one wife.
1) So many today try to do things to help the Lord fulfill His promises and He does not need our help at all to do as He says He will do!
2) So many today try to conform to the customs of the place they live when God’s law is for every where we live. We are never to act upon the laws of the world that go against the Word of God.
3) So many today feel like the end will justify the actions of today, when only one thing will work consistently, and this is obedience to the Word of God and “faith” that God will do as He says. Which He has proven to be true!
The Word of God proves these things to be true, over and over again if we would just show that true “faith”!
We should be very careful before acting upon the suggestions of others, when we are trying to be obedient to the Lord.
What may seem right to many, may actually be wrong by the Word of God.
The world will never lead us to Jesus because the world hates Jesus because Jesus points out sin!
*Gen 16:4 And he went in unto Hagar, and she conceived: and when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress was despised in her eyes.
When we go against the Word of God bad things happen almost immediately.
Sarai wanted to be a part of God’s plan for her husband, but she began to question God’s promises, something we should never do.
She felt that she and her husband were already past child-bearing years and they were by todays medical standards, but nothing is impossible for God.
Mar 10:27 And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, “but not with God’: for with God all things are possible.
Luke 1:37 “For with God nothing shall be impossible”.
Heb 6:18 That by two immutable things, in which “it was impossible for God” to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us:
This is the reason there are no true atheists, they are afraid of the promises of God, but so-called believers just do not always believe the Word of God as commanded!
What we have seen so far is that impatience leads to a collapse of “faith”!
Abram had been walking with the Lord for more than 10 years now and impatience brought temptation because of strong arguments from his wife.
Abram begin to question the Word of God.
Heb 10:35 Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward.
Heb 10:36 For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.
Here we see we need the patience of Job! God “will never” break a promise He has made to us!
*Gen 16:15 And Hagar bare Abram a son: and Abram called his son’s name, which Hagar bare, Ishmael.
Gen 16:16 And Abram was fourscore and six years old, when Hagar bare Ishmael to Abram.
Ishmael became the oldest son of Abram when he was born when Abram was 86 years old, but Ishmael was not the son promised of God!
Some of the things said of Ishmael even before he was born.
Verse 12: He will be a wild man. His hand will be against every man and every man’s hand will be against him. He will dwell in the presence of all his brethren.
The one group who fit this description today are the so-called Palestinians!
He was born at Mamre.
He was circumcised at the age of 13.
He grew up a true child of the desert, wild and wayward.
He knew how to insult, and he knew how to mock those around him, for no reason.
All these things happened because of the impatience of Sarah and Abram allowed them to take place.
God came back to Abram to assure him that His promise was real.
*Gen 17:1 And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect.
Gen 17:2 And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly.
It was twelve years later that Jehovah returned to Abram with these words.
Abram had lived these 12 years thinking he was in the will of God but not so.
The truth is we all need to walk with God. Not Allah but Jehovah the true God!
Some of us may walk alone while many will walk in groups of others together, preferably all in one accord.
If we do not walk with the Lord, we will never be aware of His presence in our lives!
The Lord does what the Lord does every day, we can be a part of it, or we will be left out entirely!
If we strive to be perfect, our example being the Lord Jesus Christ, then we must walk before the Lord.
In other words we must do all we can do for the “Glory of God”!
We must live moment by moment in the presence of the Lord, aware that He has His loving eyes upon us at all times!
This is walking before the Lord!
We cannot be perfect in this life, but we are obligated to try our best.
Our effort means more to the Lord than the results and our effort works toward God’s “Grace” in our lives!
1Th 4:11 And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you;
Abram had been desperate to achieve what he thought God wanted, but Abram had fallen into the same trap that many may fall into today.
When God says He will do something, then we just need to accept it as fact and trust Him and go one with our lives in peace.
God does not need our help to fulfill some promise He has made!
God made this covenant (contract) with Abram and all Abram had to do was to patiently wait on the Lord!
There was only one thing for Abram to do. Humbly go to the Lord.
*Gen 17:3 And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him, saying,
Gen 17:4 As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations.
We may sometimes wonder how God will do as He says and when we do this, we make God to be small with little power, but we serve a Great Big God, and we need to be aware of God’s Awesomeness!
We serve an “AWESOME” God!
If we need to arouse our faith the best place to start is upon our knees!
When we humble ourselves before the Lord, we show Him that He is in charge of our lives, and our only wish is to have His will to be our will!
God reminded Abram that He had made this covenant with him and not to someone else and his age had nothing to do with it.
In fact, if God had given Abram his child at a young age, then Abram would not have felt the power of God to do as He wishes.
We can only give the Lord the sack of dirt that we are! We have nothing else meaningful to give to the Lord!
The covenant God made with Abram was of a “promised seed”. Far beyond that of a human child, but of the Messiah!
This seed included the Messiah.
We must see Jesus throughout all the Old Testament for He is there.
The only way for Abram to see what the Lord was saying was to look through the Lord’s eyes.
It would not hurt for us to do the same thing.
Find a place in the Scriptures and jump in and be one of the characters.
This new covenant would require a name change.
*Gen 17:5 Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee.
The name Abram means “an exalted father”.
The name Abraham means “father of a multitude”.
God told Abraham he would not only be a great father, but he would be a father of a great multitude as the father of all those who have faith in the promises of God.
God also changed the name of Sarai to Sarah.
Sarai means “my princess”.
Sarah means “the princess of a great multitude”. Not just a princess, but the but the mother of the promised child and in this case a type of Mary the mother of Jesus the Christ (Messiah).
*Gen 17:6 And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee.
Gen 17:7 And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.
Gen 17:8 And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.
This is not so much an expansion of God’s covenant with Abraham but in reality, God just explaining the meaning of His covenant.
There will be descendants of Abraham upon this earth as long as this earth exists!
We see that Abraham becomes a person that God wants to have a close personal relationship with.
A type of each Christian today.
God established not only the Messiah but His followers as the “promised seed” and He would be God of the “promised seed”.
That “promised seed” is all those who believe the Word of God, and the promises of God, as did Abraham and this belief is accounted to them for righteousness, just as it did Abraham.
This is what the Apostle Paul tried to teach the Jews who rebelled against such teaching.
The Covenant with Abraham is the foundation of our hope from which the riches of God, at the expense of the Lord Jesus Christ, will be fulfilled!
This has been God’s guide in dealing with us since the time of Abraham and will continue until the “Rapture” of the Church and the Millennial Kingdom for the Jews, who could have missed out on the wrath of God if only they had believed as did their patriarch Abraham, this also true for the Arab nations.
God separated the lands of the Jews and the Arab nations and even these would have worked better, if it not been for the descendants of the wild man Ishmael who still causes most of the problems in this area of the world.
Rom 4:13 For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.
Rom 4:14 For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect:
Rom 4:15 Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression.
This covenant was sealed with a sign.
*Gen 17:13 He that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised: and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant.
Gen 17:14 And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant.
Circumcision was a special badge of God’s chosen people Israel, not the Church!
The circumcision of the heart is the sign of God’s chosen people the Church, all believers!
Rom 2:25 For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law: but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision.
Rom 2:26 Therefore if the uncircumcision keep the righteousness of the law, shall not his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision?
Rom 2:27 And shall not uncircumcision which is by nature, if it fulfil the law, judge thee, who by the letter and circumcision dost transgress the law?
Rom 2:28 For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh:
Rom 2:29 But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.
Again the Apostle Paul tried to explain these things, but the Jews remain blind to the Word of God as do most all of the world!
We can be sure that God never said that rites, rituals, or ordinances, bestow anything upon anyone, but are only signs of something that has already taken place.
Col 2:16 Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:
Col 2:17 Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.
Now God mentions Sarai, (Sarah).
*Gen 17:15 And God said unto Abraham, As for Sarai thy wife, thou shalt not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall her name be.
Gen 17:16 And I will bless her, and give thee a son also of her: yea, I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of people shall be of her.
We must understand to have a personal relationship with the Lord is to change our relationship with our family.
We will never know if Abram blamed Sarai for being childless.
Abraham had already proven he could father a child, so it was Sarai who was barren.
If this was true, then God reassured Abraham that Sarah would be the mother of a multitude.
God gave Sarah a new name and the relationship of Sarah to Abraham was mended.
If Abraham believed all God’s Word, then he would have to believe these words of God!
By the thinking of man this thing was impossible, but nothing is too hard for God!
We should notice that even with all the promises given to Abraham, one of those things was to treat his wife with respect and honor.
Our relationships with our family should be a priority after we come to know the Lord Jesus Christ as our personal Savior!
A Christian man must be head of his family, as Jesus Christ is Head of the Church!
Abraham may have had a little problem in believing this thing or he reacted with a laughter of delight, we will never know which one.
Jesus said Abraham acted with great delight.
*Gen 17:17 Then Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed, and said in his heart, Shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred years old? and shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear?
Gen 17:18 And Abraham said unto God, O that Ishmael might live before thee!
Gen 17:19 And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him.
We should believe Jesus!
Joh 8:56 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.
We should believe the Apostle Paul.
Rom 4:20 He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God;
Rom 4:21 And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.
Rom 4:22 And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness.
Rom 4:23 Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him;
Rom 4:24 But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead;
Rom 4:25 Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.
It brings great joy when we realize God has done something in our lives that we did not expect!
Abraham did show his great love for Ishmael, but it would be the seed of Sarah by Abraham, Isaac, whom God’s covenant would continue through.
It was Abraham who would name his only child by Sarah and his name would be Isaac.
Abraham may have thought his dreams would be fulfilled through Ishmael, but God had already said he would be a wild man, and this would have been out of God’s will.
Those who are wild reject authority!
Abraham would have to pass his heritage down through Isaac as God had commanded.
Ishmael would also be blessed but not the “promised seed” so Islam is a false religion!
Note: We can arouse our “faith” by having a fresh stirring experience with the Lord, a refilling of the Holy Spirit daily, and a true walk before the Lord!