What’s up with that! A wife encourages her husband to sleep with another woman?
Have you ever made a bad decision? I let a neighbor girl cut my hair. Maybe you dyed your hair a certain color, went on a blind date, sampled everything on the “all you can eat” buffet table, decided to see the new Three Stooges Movie, ignored the sign and parked your car underneath the power lines only to find this after work. My brother-in-law sent my kids a letter providing tips on how to beat the dreaded claw machine. The letter included a story about a three year old Australian toddler named Noah Jeffrey. Apparently Noah made himself a hero to all disgruntled claw machine players by squeezing his way inside the machine and then handing out prizes to everyone who passed by. Actually, that was a bad decision because Noah found the machine uncomfortable, hot and lacking oxygen. They almost had to call the fire department, but fortunately he squeezed his little body back out!
Bad decisions! They happen to us all. It was a bad decision for Ozzie Guillen to talk politics instead of baseball. It was a bad decision for former Arkansas football Coach Bobby Petrino to have a female staff member riding on the back of his motorcycle that wasn’t his wife. Let me give you one more! And this one is from the Bible. The Bible is filled with people who made bad decisions. Turn with me today to the book of Genesis! Do you need a Bible? We will stay in the book of Genesis for the next three weeks. Genesis is the book of beginnings. Genesis 12 marks the beginning of the life of Abraham. Genesis 12:4 tells us that Abraham is 75 years old. God makes a promise with Abram in Genesis 15:2. (Read 2-5) But time keeps passing by. Genesis 16:16 shows us Abraham is now 86. 11 years go by and Abraham still has no children! Tell me, who is feeling more pressure? Abraham who has no children or Sarai, his wife, who can’t bear him any children? Pressure does crazy things to people.
Turn to Genesis 16:1. (Read 1-2b) Say it with me church, “What’s up with that?” A wife is encourages her husband to sleep with another woman? Talk about bad decisions. Sarah is making a bad decision. God didn’t tell her to do this. So why is she doing this? Well, why do any of us make bad decisions? Sometimes it’s just ignorance. We think we know, but really we don’t! Watch what happens to this man who’s trying to make homemade fireworks. (Fireworks clip) I think that’s one bad decision he won’t repeat! Sometimes we are angry! Last February, nine year old Savannah Hardin died after she was forced to run for three hours as punishment for having lied to her grandmother about eating candy bars. Her grandmother and step-mother came up with the punishment. Reports state Savannah became severely dehydrated, had a seizure and died days later.[i] Anger often fuels bad decisions! How about pride or envy? Was it Spurgeon who was approached by a congregant and told that was the best sermon she’d ever heard, only to reply, “The Devil has already told me that.”[ii] Pride will often lead to bad decision making. Pride is what sunk the Titanic 100 year ago today! Or envy. Picture this temptation. “My neighbors have awesome patio furniture - much better furniture than I have. Or make it a car or a computer or tennis shoes! Well, I’m tired of living this way! I’m gonna go out and buy a bunch of stuff. I don’t care how much it costs. I’ll just put it on a credit card and think about paying for it later.” What potentially do we have here? A bad decision waiting to happen and this one was driven by envy! Sarah however, her bad decision is a bit different. Her bad decision is being fueled by fear! Go to Genesis 17:17. Sarah is ten years younger than Abraham. We have here a time line created by age. When Isaac is born, Abraham will be 100 years old and Sarah will be 90. Go to Genesis 16:16. Abraham is 86 which makes Sarah 76. I know that this is a different day and age, but how many 76 year old pregnant women do you know? Sarah is like, my biological clock is ticking. If I don’t have a baby soon, I’ll never have a baby. Truth is, she won’t have a baby until 14 years later! Good thing she doesn’t know that, but fear and pressure are getting to her now so once again desperate people do desperate things.
Now before we look at another verse let’s pause a moment and assess. I am being told that you will forget 95% of what I say. So let’s ask so what right now. Is any current fear in your life causing you to mull around in your mind a potential bad decision? Are you thinking of leaving someone? This thing has been a mistake from the beginning. I’ve got to show my boyfriend that I love him! I’ll be careful. Other girls might get pregnant, but that won’t happen to me! The movie “Bully” premiered in theaters this weekend. Bullying has been going on forever. Are you being bullied? And are you tired of it? I’m sick of going to school afraid. Fear often pushes kids, teens to end their life or someone else’s life! Don’t let fear lead you to make a bad decision worse. Run to God. Run to an adult. I promise you we will not stand by and just let you suffer.
Speaking of suffering - Sarah has suffered for years. She can’t have children. Go back to Genesis 16:2. Let this verse make an obvious observation. Life was really different back then. Tell me how different this world was just 20 – 30 years ago? I never one time used a computer in college. Here are original Life Magazine Covers. 1992 – Liz Taylor. 1962 – We don’t live in a Lucille Ball world anyone. 1942 – How many here even recognize Ginger Rogers? In 1942 stamps were .3. A new house was $3770 because a year’s salary was $1880 and gas was .15 a gallon. Times were different. Sarah is living some 4091 years ago.[iii] Times are different. Slavery was clearly accepted. This time it’s woman’s inhumanity to woman. A common custom of that day was to give your slave woman to your husband so she could bear children for you. Hagar doesn’t have a choice. But Abraham does. Go to the very end of verse 2. “Abram agreed to what Sarai said.”
Have you ever heard of Gavin Rossdale? Gavin Rossdale is the one who coined the phrase, “A happy wife is a happy life.”[iv] There is truth to that statement. Every married man in this room agrees with that statement. No one ever says, “A happy husband is a happy life.” We don’t say that because it doesn’t rhyme! BUT - despite “Happy wife/happy life” - Abraham still should have said no! But your wife and sex are powerful motivations! So here’s what happened. Find verse 3. (Read 3-4)
What is Sarah thinking right now? This is going to be great! Hagar is simply going to give her child over to me until one day I can have kids for myself. I know God promised to bless me, but I think I did a good job of moving God’s blessing along! WRONG! The whole thing backfires in her face. Keep reading verses 4-5. Who is she blaming? That’s almost funny to me. Yes, Abraham is to blame – maybe 30%. But Sarah did this! Here’s another observation. Bad decisions are not made in isolation. Bad decisions not only mess you up but those around you! “I’m not going to work today! Lose your job and the whole family suffers. I’m going to drink away my paycheck. I’m going to yell all the time. I’m not going to discipline my kids. I’m going to choose to worry every day of my life! I am going to live in fear! Sarah’s bad decision has affected everyone.
Abraham is clearly frustrated with his wife. Go to verse 6. I don’t believe Abraham thought Sarah would go that far! Notice that Hagar runs away. I don’t blame her, but she doesn’t run to Abraham. She tries to run home. Find verse 7. (Read 7-10)
The angel of the Lord is often identified with God himself. He doesn’t appear in the Bible anymore after the birth of Jesus.[v] When you read the Bible, especially Genesis, always ask this question. “What is God up to here?” So let’s ask, “What is God up to here?” He wants us to know, he always keeps his promises. God is saying to Hagar, Sarah, Abraham and all of US, “I am faithful. I keep my promises which means bad decisions are not final!” You can overcome a bad decision because of me. Isn’t that incredible? That’s good news! The angel has more to say to Hagar. The good news is verse 11. God came to her rescue. He heard her cries. He saw her tears. He hears your cries, he sees your tears. You might be in the middle of a bad decision you did not create. The promise is God hears you, so keep calling out to him. But the bad news is verse 12. Ishmael will be a handful. Truthfully speaking bad decisions complicate our lives. When we go opposite the will of God we willingly create detours.
Sarah knows that. Her plan did not work. What will she do? Turn to Genesis 21:1. (Read 1-2) Did she deserve God’s grace? Nope, and neither do we. How was God gracious! He gave her a new name. Sarah means princess. (But Sarai (sa-rahee) means contentious. Sa-rah means noble![vi]) God has given us a new name. Christian – meaning “little Christ!” God gave her a son. His name is Isaac and Isaac means “laughter!” How could she not laugh? Here’s a 90 year old woman dropping off her kid in the nursery!
God gave us his son. His name is Jesus. Jesus means “the Lord saves.” How can we not keep from laughing? Here’s the 2012 Easter Ad Hobby Lobby placed in papers all over America last weekend. “You are dead to sin and alive in Christ!” What does that mean? Forgiveness is real. Death is not the end and a bad decision doesn’t have to ruin your life! Just ask Sarah!
[iii] John MacArthur, MacArthur Bible Commentary, 37
[v] John MacArthur, MacArthur Bible Commentary, 36
[vi] Logos Bible Software, The Exhaustive List of Bible Names, Sarah