Teaching Notes are Bible studies we taught before GraceLife Ministries began publishing articles online in 1995. Some were presented as sermons, others as group studies.
Our hope is that these older studies will be a blessing to you in your life and ministry. Please use them in any way God leads you.
These teaching notes are from a series of studies about the Book of Genesis.
[These notes are from a study from 45 years ago.]
“Now Sarai Abram’s wife bare him no children: and she had an handmaid, an Egyptian, whose name was Hagar. 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.”
Sarai took matters into her own hands at this point. Rather than wait for God’s perfect timing, she instructed Abram to sleep with her Egyptian maidservant named Hagar.
In studying the Code of Hammurabi, it was a custom of the time to build a family through a secondary wife (maidservant) if the primary wife could not bear children. Sarai was looking to the flesh to provide her need for a child.
“And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai.”
Abram agreed. We might think he would have known better, but let’s not judge too harshly or quickly. I have done the same. God promises me something, but I still try to work it out in my own way. Abram was not some super-saint. He was a man – saved by God’s grace and gift of faith. So am I – so are we.
“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. And he went in unto Hagar, and she conceived: and when she saw that she had conceived.”
Abram had been in Canaan for ten years. He would have been about 85 or 86 by then. He has intercourse with Hagar and she conceived.
” … her mistress was despised in her eyes. And Sarai said unto Abram, My wrong be upon thee: I have given my maid into thy bosom; and when she saw that she had conceived, I was despised in her eyes: the Lord judge between me and thee. But Abram said unto Sarai, Behold, thy maid is in thine hand; do to her as it pleaseth thee. And when Sarai dealt hardly with her, she fled from her face.”
Abram’s problems really began then. We cannot look to the flesh for solutions to spiritual problems without reaping the reward of the works of the flesh.
Hagar discovered that she was pregnant and began to despise Sarai. The despising may have come about for many personal reasons, but the Apostle Paul shows us that this is a picture of the opposition of Grace and Law (Galatians 4:21-31).
Sarai represents the free woman who gave birth to a son of promise. That’s grace.
Hagar represents the sale woman who gave birth to a son of bondage. That’s the Law.
The Law will despise Grace as the flesh will despise the Spirit (Galatians 5:16-18).
Sarai was upset by what happened and turned on Abram. Relying on the flesh will affect every area of our lives. Sarai blamed Abram for the problem she was having with Hagar. In a way she was right. Abram should have led her to rely on the Spirit of God and His promise and timing.
Sarai said, “the Lord judge between me and thee.” She may have meant that God would decide who was wrong.
However, Abram threw off the responsibility of dealing with Hagar to Sarai. Sarai mistreated Hagar in some way and Hagar ran away.
“And the angel of the Lord found her by a fountain of water in the wilderness, by the fountain in the way to Shur. And he said, Hagar, Sarai’s maid, whence camest thou? and whither wilt thou go? And she said, I flee from the face of my mistress Sarai. And the angel of the Lord said unto her, Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hands. And the angel of the Lord said unto her, I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, that it shall not be numbered for multitude.”
The angel of the Lord. The context of the passage points out that the angel was God Himself.
He found Hagar near a spring in the desert beside the road to Shur (šūr) which is a desert east of the Gulf of Suez. The word means “wall” and may refer to the mountain wall of the El Tih plateau. 1
The Lord told Hagar to go back to Sarai and submit to her. God added that He would increase her descendants that they would be too numerous to count.
This is the beginning of two lines from Abram. One will be the Spirit line and the other the flesh line. The war against each other would continue throughout history.
“And the angel of the Lord said unto her, Behold, thou art with child and shalt bear a son, and shalt call his name Ishmael; because the Lord hath heard thy affliction. And he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man’s hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.”
Hagar learned that she was carrying a son and his name would be Ishmael (yišmā‘êl) which means “God hears.” Her son would be wild and live in hostility to all others.
“And she called the name of the Lord that spake unto her, Thou God seest me: for she said, Have I also here looked after him that seeth me? Wherefore the well was called Beerlahairoi; behold, it is between Kadesh and Bered.”
Hagar may have seen a theophany (Son of God before birth as human) or the glory of God. The well she was by was called Beerlahairoi, which means “well of the living One that sees me.” It is located between Kadesh and Bered.
“And Hagar bare Abram a son: and Abram called his son’s name, which Hagar bare, Ishmael. And Abram was fourscore and six years old, when Hagar bare Ishmael to Abram.”
Hagar bore her son and Abram named him Ismael. Abram was 86-years-old.
1 ISBE – Vol. IV, p 2782
We will look at Genesis Chapter 17 in the next part of our special series.
[Thank you for reading these teaching notes from 45 years ago. My prayer is they will be a blessing to you and your life and ministry.]