SERIES: Godprint: The Life of Abraham
MESSAGE: Genesis 16-17
SPEAKER: Skip Heitzig
SCRIPTURE: Genesis 16-17

It's a common problem; trusting our feelings rather than trusting the Lord. But feelings are misleading, and as we learn from Abram and Sarai, trying to help God fulfill His promises can be costly. Their spiritual detour from the will of God produced ramifications we are experiencing today. God is faithful however to fulfill His promises, His plan is perfect, and His will will be accomplished.


In our text, Abram and Sarai take a detour from the will of God. Abram displays a shallower faith than what we expect and we are still experiences the ramifications of his detour.  Feelings are misleading.  Sometimes when we trust the Lord it feels unsafe.

  1. Following God is the safest way to travel through life
    1. It was a mistake for Abram to heed Sarai's voice
    2. "God helps those who help themselves" not in the Bible.  Ben Franklin said it.
    3. We think if we start a work in motion that God will carry us through .
    4. Abram and Sarai try to help God fulfill His promise.
  2. Abram and Sarai (assume good intentions)
    1. Sarai is past 75,
      1. She thinks the promise is not going to happen through her body.
      2. What exactly did God say? (through Abram, but not through her)
    2. Sarai proposes that her younger, Egyptian maid, Hagar, carry the child
    3. They had waited 11  years, it's hard to wait "Hope deferred makes the heart sick"
    4. We impose our own design in the flesh
  3. Hagar (vs 3)
    1. They must have picked her up in Egypt (the past has a way of catching up with you)
    2. Abram goes in to her and she gets pregnant
      1. Means the problem was with Sarai's body, not Abram's.
      2. In ancient culture that would mean Sarai was cursed.
      3. Hatred between Hagar and Sarai
    3. What had begun in the Spirit they tried to complete in the flesh (Galatians 3)
    4. How many times have we tried to step in and help God keep His promises? Given him advice?
      1. Proverbs 3:5,6 Trust in His ways, don't try to fulfill His promises in the flesh.
      2. Better to ask for the right road ten times than to take the wrong one.
      3. Hagar was Sarai's property
      4. Sarai is very angry.
      5. "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned." Victor Hugo 
      6. The seed of Ishmael and Isaac are still at war with each other 4,000 years later. "Whatever man does without God, he'll fail miserably or succeed more miserably." -George MacDonald
    5. Hagar leaves and is travelling toward Egypt in the barren desert. (vs 7)
    6. The Angel of the Lord meets her there - First Mention of Angel of the Lord - Gabriel?
      1. The story of failure, yet the mercy and grace of God meet her there.
      2. She should name him Ishmael, means God hears, every time she spoke she'd be calling out God's mercy.
      3. They go back
    7. When God can't rule, because we won't let him, He overrules.  (Romans 5:20)
  4. Blessing in spite of disobedience (13 year gap between chapters 16 and 17)
    1. Sarai is 90 years old, Abram is 99, and the son of promise is not yet born.
    2. El Shaddai - Almighty God, God the most sufficient - first mention
      1. This name for God is used more in Job than anywhere else in the Bible
      2. Acadian word means mountain or breast, represents the earth flexing its muscle
      3. God is saying "I'm strong, you're weak, I can do what no other can do"
    3. Walk before me and be blameless
      1. When you are being watched you act differently, know I am watching you
      2. Reminder because of Abram's history
        1. He walked before his family and went to Haran for 15 years
        2. He walked before his servants and  went into Egypt
        3. He walked before his wife and went into Hagar
    4. A new walk with God can begin at any age.
    5. Abram humbled himself before the Lord
  5. Abraham
    1. Abram means exalted father,
      1. but he had no children, must have been embarrassing
      2. When Ishmael was born he may have felt better about his name
    2. Abraham means Father of a multitude
      1. Named that before he fulfilled the promise
      2. God declares His purpose before he makes it happen
      3. Stretches the faith of Abraham
  6. Covenant Established
    1. Land
      1. The borders of the land given equaled 300,000 square miles
      2. Israel never occupied it all
      3. At their peak they occupied 30,000 square miles under Solomon
      4. What God promised they only took a tenth
      5. God promised every place your foot walks, they didn't believe God for all of it.
      6. What about the promises God has made you? What portion of his promises do you enjoy?
      7. Israel will possess all of the land during the millennium.
    2. Posterity
      1. Nations - plural
      2. 13.3 million Jews
      3. 22 Arab nations (300+ million people)
      4. 5% of the Earth's population today traces heritage back to Abraham.
    3. Circumcision
      1. Sign of the covenant
      2. Had been practiced in the Middle East, Egypt, Rome
      3. Social practice given a spiritual meaning, God redeems it (like baptism)
      4. Outward sign of covenant
        1. Noah and the rainbow
        2. Moses and the Sabbath
        3. Church and baptism
        4. Abraham and circumcision
      5. Eighth day, perfect day because of clotting of the blood
      6. The symbol
        1. Cutting of  the flesh life which dominates
        2. Flesh of what gives life is cut
        3. I'll live in the Spirit, not in the flesh
      7. Jews turned it from a symbol to a sacrament, supposed to be inward not outward Deuteronomy 10
  7. Sarah
    1. Sarai means domineering and contentious
    2. Sarah means princess
    3. God promises the son through her
      1. Abraham believes him, excited
      2. Reality brings him back down to earth,  and he says take Ishmael, let him live before you.
        1. The covenant must be thru the son of promise not the son of flesh
        2. Do we say "bless my thing"
        3. The death of your vision is sometimes required.
  8. Two Kinds of Covenant
    1. Conditional - Bilateral
      1. God does His part, man does his part
      2. Edenic
      3. Law of Moses Deuteronomy 28-30
      4. Their occupation of the land is conditional  (captivity, Diaspora, Is 11:11)
    2. Unconditional - Unilateral
      1. Dependant on God alone
      2. This covenant with Abraham, for the land and for the people
      3. The land is theirs unconditionally

Figures Referenced: Benjamin Franklin, Victor Hugo, George MacDonald
Cross References: Deuteronomy 10, 28-30,  Proverbs 3:5,6, Romans 5:20, Galatians 3
Hebrew Terms: El Shaddai (Almighty One)
Greek Terms: Diaspora (dispersion of the Jews to countries after the Babylonian captivity)

Topic: God's Faithfulness

Keywords: Abram, Abraham, Sarah, Sarai, Ishmael, covenant, Hagar, disobedience, Israel, El Shaddai, trust

Genesis 16-17 - Genesis 16-17 |
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