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The Runaway Who Ran into God

Notes & Transcripts

Old Testament Encounters with Christ

Part 7: The Runaway Who Ran into God

Genesis 16:1-16

Sermon by Rick Crandall

Grayson Baptist Church - Jan. 4, 2012

*Have you ever felt like running away? -- Oh yeah. Some of us may have felt like it today!

*I still remember running away in the first grade. I have no idea what it was about. Probably my mom said “no” when I wanted something I really didn’t need. So I got mad, pitched a little fit and said I was running away. I went up to my room, packed a little bag and headed out the door.

*About the bottom of the driveway, I started looking back. No one was coming after me! -- I stayed down there as long as I could, at least 15 minutes. Then I sulked back up the hill to the kitchen.

*Sometimes we feel like running away, and that’s what Hagar did. But the good news is that Hagar ran right into the Lord. God had some important lessons for Hagar that day. And we can learn a lot from her story.

1. The first lesson is this: Not trusting the Lord multiplies our troubles.

*Now all families have troubles. As Tarzan told Jane, “It’s a jungle out there!” (1)

*All families go through problems. Sometimes it’s our fault. Sometimes it’s other people’s fault. And many times the problems are just a mystery. All families go through problems, but here in Genesis 16, we see that not trusting the Lord multiplies our troubles. In vs. 1-6 we find big family trouble. And it all started when God’s people stopped waiting on the Lord.

*Over 10 years have gone by since God first promised to make Abram a great nation, but starting in vs. 1:

1. Now Sarai, Abram's wife, had borne him no children. And she had an Egyptian maidservant whose name was Hagar.

2. So Sarai said to Abram, "See now, the Lord has restrained me from bearing children. Please, go in to my maid; perhaps I shall obtain children by her.'' And Abram heeded the voice of Sarai.

3. Then Sarai, Abram's wife, took Hagar her maid, the Egyptian, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan.

4. So he went in to Hagar, and she conceived. And when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress became despised in her eyes.

5. Then Sarai said to Abram, "My wrong be upon you! (In other words: “This is all your fault, Abram!” -- Have you ever heard that before?)

5. Sarai said to Abram, "My wrong be upon you! I gave my maid into your embrace; and when she saw that she had conceived, I became despised in her eyes. The Lord judge between you and me.''

6. So Abram said to Sarai, "Indeed your maid is in your hand; do to her as you please.'' And when Sarai dealt harshly with her, she fled from her presence.

*What a mess. -- What a terrible family problem. But as old as this story is, it could almost have been written today. John Phillips explained: “Picture Abram in a business suit, Sarai in a stylish dress, and Hagar as their nice-looking maid, and the situation is as modern as today’s news.” (2)

*John Phillips wrote those words in 1980. But just last May, Maria Shriver and Arnold Schwarzenegger separated after 25 years of marriage. And the reason why was the L.A. Times revelation that Schwarzenegger had fathered a son more 14 years earlier with a maid in their household. (3)

*John Phillips said that the situation back in Genesis 16 was “highly explosive.” And “it took the course it did, because for all of their spirituality and godly convictions, Abram and Sarai were ordinary people with hopes and fears and desires just like those of anyone else. Abram wanted a son and heir more than anything in the world. Sarai was frustrated beyond words at her inability to give him one.

*Added to that witches’ brew were an attractive slave girl, a legal loophole, some worldly reasoning, and a carnal resolve. The result was an entanglement so snarled and so twisted that four thousand years have not unraveled it.” (2)

*Most of the problems in the Middle East today can be traced right back to the things that happened here in Genesis 16.

*Families have had problems since that first sin in the Garden of Eden. And this story reminds us that believers’ homes are not immune to trouble. Believers are sometimes the source of the trouble. And not trusting the Lord multiplies our troubles.

*John Phillips pointed out that this story was a sad reflection on Abram and Sarai’s home. Hagar, you see, “was brought up in the pagan superstitions of Egypt. Through circumstances unknown to us, she was brought into Abram’s household. What a great opportunity for Abram and Sarai to tell her about the true and living God.

*But instead, Hagar was treated like a piece of furniture. She was used, then abused so much that she ran away from that home. Her mind was filled with bitter thoughts about the bad treatment she got from those believers. And Hagar had a totally false impression about Abram’s God. (4)

*That home was overflowing with family problems.

-But God had not abandoned the childless couple.

-God had not forgotten the runaway servant.

-And God has not forgotten you.

*But this Old Testament encounter with Christ teaches us that not trusting the Lord multiplies our troubles.

2. It also reminds us that the Lord seeks us when we stray.

*Notice this truth in vs. 6-7:

6. So Abram said to Sarai, "Indeed your maid is in your hand; do to her as you please.'' And when Sarai dealt harshly with her, she fled from her presence.

7. Now the Angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, by the spring on the way to Shur.

*Talk about a difficult place! -- A pregnant woman, on foot, alone in the wilderness, on a cross country journey.

-Phillips described the scene: “The tents of Abram were far behind. The weary fugitive with the tear-stained face had travelled fast, had crossed Sinai, and had arrived at the wilderness of Shur on the frontiers of Egypt. She was going back, back to Egypt, back to an even greater bondage than she had known in Sarai’s tents. She was going back to that land of death, back to her pagan people and her pagan gods.” (4)

*What a terrible turn of events, -- But then the Lord stepped in. As we see in vs. 7, “The Angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness.” This Angel of the Lord was the Pre-incarnate Christ.

*John Gill explained that “this is the first time in Scripture that an angel is mentioned. And it is not to be understood of a created angel, but of a divine Person. This uncreated angel was the Word or Son of God, called the Angel of God's presence, and the Angel of the covenant.”

*We read about Him again, for example, in Isaiah 63:8&9:

8. So He became their Savior.

9. In all their affliction He was afflicted, and the Angel of His Presence saved them; in His love and in His pity He redeemed them; and He bore them and carried them all the days of old.

*John Gill noted that Christ “often appeared in human form before his incarnation, being sent by his divine Father on one account or another; and hence called an angel, a messenger, or one sent. And in the fullness of time he was sent in human nature to be the Redeemer of his people.” This is what Jesus did when He died on the cross for our sins and rose from the dead. (5)

*But here in vs. 7, “The Angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness.” I’m so glad that the Lord found Hagar! -- That’s the kind of God He is. It reminds me of the parables that the Lord told in Luke 15:4-10. Listen to them tonight from the New Living Translation. Jesus said:

4. If you had 100 sheep, and one of them strayed away and was lost in the wilderness, wouldn't you leave the 99 others to go and search for the lost one until you found it?

5. And then you would joyfully carry it home on your shoulders.

6. When you arrived, you would call together your friends and neighbors to rejoice with you because your lost sheep was found.

7. In the same way, heaven will be happier over one lost sinner who returns to God than over 99 others who are righteous and haven't strayed away!

8. Or suppose a woman has ten valuable silver coins* and loses one. Won't she light a lamp and look in every corner of the house and sweep every nook and cranny until she finds it?

9. And when she finds it, she will call in her friends and neighbors to rejoice with her because she has found her lost coin.

10. In the same way, there is joy in the presence of God's angels when even one sinner repents.

*Christians, I’m so glad that the Lord cared enough to seek us when we were lost. And He didn’t give up! Jesus Christ kept seeking us until He found us.

*Aren’t you glad that the Lord found you? -- This Old Testament encounter with Christ teaches us that the Lord seeks us when we stray.

3. But He also helps us put first things first.

*God helps us focus us on the right things. And this is what the Lord did for Hagar in vs. 7-8:

7. Now the Angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, by the spring on the way to Shur.

8. And He said, "Hagar, Sarai's maid, where have you come from, and where are you going?'' And she said, "I am fleeing from the presence of my mistress Sarai.''

*The Lord always asks great questions. And we need to give great attention to His questions. I really like the questions He asked Hagar in vs. 8: “Where have you come from, and where are you going?” -- If you can answer those questions correctly, you are well on the way to wisdom.

*And the Lord will point you in the right direction. He will show you what really matters, so in vs. 9: “The Angel of the Lord said to her, ‘Return to your mistress, and submit yourself under her hand.’”

*That was not where Hagar planned to go, and not where she wanted to go.

-But it was where she needed to go.

-And the Lord was helping her to put first things first.

*We must not think that following Jesus will put us on easy street. Sometimes following Jesus will put us on the hardest road we have ever walked.

*One of the best examples I ever heard was a man named Allen Gardiner. He was one of God's faithful missionaries in the early 1800’s. Allen went through many difficult hardships as he served the Lord. But he said, “While God gives me strength, failure will not (overwhelm) me.”

*In 1851, Allen Gardiner died from disease and starvation while serving the Lord on Picton Island at the southern tip of South America. He was 57 years old. When his body was found, his diary laid nearby. It described a life of hunger, thirst, injuries, and loneliness.

*The last entry in Allen’s little diary showed the tremble of his shaking hand as he tried to write legibly. But with all of his suffering and all of his hardship, here are the last words he wrote: “I am overwhelmed with a sense of the goodness of God.”

*Allen Gardiner repeatedly went to South America. He even gave his life trying to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ to the lost people of Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego. He died of starvation without seeing a single soul saved. But the South American Missionary Society he founded has been sending missionaries and winning souls for over 150 years. (6)

*He put first things first, and that is what the Lord wanted Hagar to do. “It’s not where you planned to go, and not where you wanted to go. But Hagar, here’s where you need to go.” This Old Testament encounter with Christ teaches us that the Lord helps us put first things first.

4. But He also wants to hear about your hurts.

*God’s Word reminds us of this great truth in vs. 10-11:

10. Then the Angel of the Lord said to her, "I will multiply your descendants exceedingly, so that they shall not be counted for multitude.''

11. And the Angel of the Lord said to her: "Behold, you are with child, and you shall bear a son. You shall call his name Ishmael, because the Lord has heard your affliction.

*The Lord has heard your affliction. That’s your depression, misery, poverty and trouble. And God surely heard Hagar’s cries of pain. The Lord made this clear to Hagar in vs. 11, where He said, “You shall call his name Ishmael, because the Lord has heard your affliction.” The name “Ishmael” simply means “God will hear.”

*God heard Hagar’s cries and He will hear you too. More than a few times I have pointed hurting people to David’s pain-filled prayer in Psalm 13:

1. How long, O Lord? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me?

2. How long shall I take counsel in my soul, Having sorrow in my heart daily? How long will my enemy be exalted over me?

3. Consider and hear me, O Lord my God; Enlighten my eyes, Lest I sleep the sleep of death;

4. Lest my enemy say, "I have prevailed against him''; Lest those who trouble me rejoice when I am moved.

5. But I have trusted in Your mercy; My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation.

6. I will sing to the Lord, Because He has dealt bountifully with me.

*The Lord heard David. The Lord heard Hagar. And He will surely hear you.

-This Old Testament encounter with Christ teaches us that the Lord wants to hear about your hurts.

5. And He wants to see the fruit of our faith.

*Vs. 13-16 show us that Hagar trusted in the Lord.

-Everybody should trust in the Lord!

-He both desires and deserves our trust.

-And when we do trust in the Lord, when we receive Christ as our Savior and Lord, that faith is going to show up.

[1] In vs. 13-14, Hagar’s faith showed up on her lips:

13. Then she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, You-Are-the-God-Who-Sees; for she said, "Have I also here seen Him who sees me?''

*It seemed too good to be true -- but it was true!

14. Therefore the well was called Beer Lahai Roi (or the “Well of the One who Lives and Sees Me”); observe, it is between Kadesh and Bered.

[2] Hagar’s faith showed up on her lips. Then it showed up in her life, because she obeyed the Lord.

*Even though she did not want to return to Sarai’s harsh treatment, the Angel of the Lord had said to her, "Return to your mistress, and submit yourself under her hand.'' And Hagar obeyed the Lord.

15. So Hagar bore Abram a son; and Abram named his son, whom Hagar bore, Ishmael.

16. Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore Ishmael to Abram.

*We all need the kind of faith that Hagar shows us here in Genesis 16: Faith that shows up both on our lips and in our lives.

*Sometimes we feel like running away. But I am so glad that Hagar ran right into God. From her story, God teaches us that:

-Not trusting the Lord multiplies our troubles.

-But the Lord seeks us when we stray.

-He helps us put first things first.

-He wants to hear about your hurts.

-And He wants to see the fruit of our faith.

*Let’s talk to Him about that right now.

1. ChristianGlobe.com sermon “The Truth about Trouble” by James Merritt - 2 Timothy 4:16-18

2. Adapted from “Exploring Genesis” by John Phillips - p. 136-137

3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arnold_schwarzenegger

4. Adapted from “Exploring Genesis” by John Phillips - p. 139-140

5. Adapted from John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible - Genesis 16:7

6. SermonIllustrations.com - GOD, goodness of

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