Honoring God When Culture Does Not

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Genesis chapter 16. That’s where we’re going to be together today. Genesis chapter 16, in. Amen. This is a messy chapter, but but I want to start off letting you know this. The simplicity of the Christian life is is this God wants you to know him and glorify him with your life. God wants you to know him and glorify him with your life. And when we talk about knowing the Lord, we’re not talking about just simply an intellectual assent, knowing about God, but knowing God intimately, having a relationship with him. God created you for that purpose, to know him and to live for his glory in this world. It’s contrary to the way the theology of America is promoted today. The theology of America is more wake up and whatever makes you happy. That’s what you do because you’re the center of life and what you want matters most, right? You are the the purpose of all existence is found within you. So look deeper within, within yourself to decide what makes you happy and pursue that. And I’ll just let you know out front for a little while that can please you. You know, you might find some content with that, but ultimately it will not satisfy because you were made for a purpose greater than yourself. And the only way you discover that purpose is to find why you were created. And the only way you find why you were created is to find the one who created you, and to walk in that.

And when living for that purpose in the Lord, you live for a purpose greater than yourself, and you find ultimate joy in in your relationship with the Lord. Which, by the way, as you live out that relationship with the Lord, it should be a blessing to people around you. Because when you learn to to know God and to love God, you end up loving. What God loves. And what God loves is people. And God desires for you to honor him in the way that you bless the people around you, the way that you engage in relationship around you. Which means if you’re treating people poorly, that’s that’s not godly. That’s not of the Lord. In fact, first, John chapter four says that to us. If you say that you love God and hate others, the love of God is not in you. There certainly is a way you stand for truth that might contradict where people are, but it never gives us the excuse to be mean or disrespectful to other people because people are made in the image of God. And so our relationship with the Lord should be demonstrated in the way we care for people around us, glorifying God and blessing others. However, culture has the tendency of complicating that walk with the Lord. Culture has this way of pressing you into a mold that conflicts with the identity that God desires to shape in you through knowing him.

And in Genesis chapter 16, that is exactly what we’re walking into. Abraham and Sarah have demonstrated an extreme amount of faith and how they desire to pursue after the Lord in the sense of Genesis chapter 12. They left where they grew up, they loaded everything up on the camels and they got lost not knowing where they were going. But God had told them to go, and he was going to lead them to a place where he would bless them. He would provide for them a land, and he would provide for them a seed. And through that seed, all nations, all people, groups would be blessed. Abraham and Sarah went on that journey. They weren’t always perfect in that journey. Genesis chapter 12, the end of it. You see that right after they get to the land that God has provided for them, they immediately abandon that land and then difficult things happen and they go back in chapter 13 and they’re solidify their walk with the Lord, and they’re following after him. And in chapter 14 and 15, you see those those steps of faith that Abraham and Sarah are following. However, when you get to chapter 16, Abraham and Sarah start to grow impatient with God, and they give into the pressure of the culture around them. Here they are waiting for the seed that God had promised.

It’s now been a decade and they still don’t have a child, and they wonder what in the world God’s doing, and the culture starts to press them where they are. And from that point they give in to the culture and things get messy, and they make wrong choices and take wrong actions, and things begin to spiral down. And all of us have that temptation in life. We have cultural idols that when we come to the Lord, sometimes we don’t even realize we hold on to those things. And there’s the importance of as we journey in our relationship with the Lord, to learn to let go of the things of this world, to embrace Christ and walk with him by faith. What is it that I’m holding on to in my life that conflicts with who God is and how God desires for me to live? Have I completely surrendered to him or not? This is what you start to see exposed to the story of Abraham and Sarah in Genesis chapter 16, which gives us a place to to interact with our own faith in relationship to the Lord, to discover where we are in our journey with God. And so honoring God even when culture does not. Point number one is this in your notes, culture can tempt us to compromise our biblical convictions. It’s kind of an obvious statement, right? But culture can tempt you to compromise your biblical convictions.

Now, let me just say, in telling you this, I don’t want to make you paranoid about culture. There’s good things in our culture, there’s bad things in our culture. And that’s true of every culture that’s ever existed. There’s some things that are honorable to God. There are things that that aren’t honorable to God. And it’s important as God’s people that you don’t take everything hook, line and. Just because your culture may say so. But culture can tempt us to compromise our biblical convictions. And you see this starting off in Genesis chapter 16. We don’t waste any time. The first four verses look at this. It talks about Sarah and Abraham. I know here it’s Sarah and Abram, but for for clarity’s sake, I’m just going to refer to them as Sarah and Abraham, knowing their names are going to change here soon. Now Sarah and Abraham. Sarah, Abraham’s wife, had borne him no children. She had a female Egyptian servant whose name was Hagar. And Sarah said to Abraham, behold, now the Lord has prevented me from bearing children. Go into my servant. It may be that I shall obtain children by her. And Abraham listened to the voice of Sarah. So after Abraham had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, Sarah, Abraham’s wife, took Hagar the Egyptian, her servant, and gave her to Abraham. Abraham her husband as a wife. And he went into Hagar and she conceived.

Yeah, right. Welcome to Jerry Springer chapter one. This is what some people will come to a chapter like this and think, what? Why is this in the Bible? Right. Like this is a terrible passage to read. Why would God want us to know this? Right? You see, it’s condoning slavery. It’s it’s treating women poorly. It’s devaluing them. And ultimately it’s going to treat a child like property because Hagar is going to have a baby. And and that can become property of Sarah. They’re just going to rip a baby from the mother and give it to another mother. And this is this is an awful thing. Like in our culture today, we know how we react to this, right? We’re like, let’s cancel this immediately. Let’s banish this from ever being read. If someone has a statue of Abraham, let’s just tear it down right now. Right? This is not good. And and we immediately jump to all sorts of conclusions. But but can I just tell you how important it is for a minute just to to chill and to think critically about a passage like this? Because God has this in Scripture for a reason. And if you don’t learn from it, you’re you’re ought to repeat it. And we want to know what God desires for us to understand from a passage like this. So this does not mimic our lives or the choices that we might make, but rather we can honor God.

And and certainly it doesn’t necessarily speak directly to where our culture is today. We can extrapolate from this some understanding of how we navigate for for a godly purpose and the culture in which we live. So. So what do you do with a passage like this? Because this, this is at the very least complicated, if not downright just terrible. It’s awful. Well, let me just tell you a couple of things as we begin to this, this passage. One, it’s important when you engage Scripture to always remember who the hero of the story truly is. And so we have this tendency sometimes when we read stories of the Bible to see the individuals that are described within the passage as the heroes of the story. And so we set certain expectations of their life. But but Abraham is not perfect, right? And when you approach a passage of the Bible and you miss who the true hero is, which, by the way, it’s always the Lord. We’ll have the tendency of placing this expectation on broken people, as if they’re supposed to live a perfect life, to then demonstrate to us how we should live perfect lives. And that is not the story of the Bible at all. The story of the Bible over and over again is to demonstrate the brokenness of man, to see how much we need the Lord in our lives, and even Abraham and Sarah, people that we would consider giants of the faith, the steps they took, and the because of the culture around them here, I think, kind of lend them susceptible to to walk sinfully doesn’t excuse it, but it’s just simply saying that’s what’s taking place in this passage.

Abraham and Sarah are certainly not perfect. And so to have that sort of expectation is to have this erroneous idea of the purpose of Scripture. They have given their lives to the Lord. They’re following after the Lord, but they certainly do not live perfect lives at the moment. They give their lives over to him. Number two, let me just say this. Abraham and Sarah, in this passage, I think it’s also important to recognize are doing exactly what their culture expected of them, though biblically, it’s not accepted from them. They’re living out the cultural expectation of the day. And in fact, according to to this time period, a woman’s worth. And this is not biblically true. This is certainly something that we should not embrace as God’s people. But in the culture in which Sarah finds herself, a woman’s worth and contribution to society was found in her ability to to bear and rear children. Meaning for Sarah, if she were not able to produce children, she would have been labeled and pressured by our society. She would have been labeled as one who was a taker and a drain to to her society rather than than a giver.

And so Sarah would have. Certainly. He felt that pressure, and if she could not produce an offspring, the expectation would be that she would provide a surrogate. Introducing this passage. Then Hagar, and in some cases there were laws during Abraham’s day. And even after that, when a man and woman got married, she would have up to ten years to produce an offspring. And if she didn’t, then there were grounds for divorce. So this is the kind of circumstance where it’s Abraham and Sarah are finding themselves and the pressure of culture. And then you see in these first few verses the way Sarah felt in terms of that pressure. Right? And in Genesis chapter 16, verse one, it doesn’t mince words. It just immediately steps right into this. Abraham’s wife, Sarah, Abraham’s wife, had borne him no children. Now, you can imagine in that society how she might have felt every day waking up. And the idea of this being compounded, this thought being compounded based on the promises of God. I mean, up to this point, God has said, Abraham, through you there will come a seed that will bless all nations. And so not only is Sarah dealing with with the pressure of culture around her, but she also wakes up every day mindful of the promise of God. And yet, each day that passes by, she realizes that promise hasn’t been fulfilled.

And so in verse two, then you you find the surrogate that’s given. And in verse three you find it’s been ten years since the promise had been told. Ten years is sort of like that ticking clock for a woman in her day. By that ten year mark, she’s supposed to have bore offspring to Abraham. And so as she wakes up every day and she recognizes there’s still not a child, she she probably went through a gamut of emotions, right? She probably thought to herself, well, well, maybe God doesn’t love me. Or maybe that promise wasn’t wasn’t directed to me. Maybe it was just Abraham. Or maybe I’ve done something to upset God, and God has abandoned me. Or maybe God wants to do this promise, but he needs me to help him in some way. And so how can I help God do what God wants to do? Sort of like he’s some kind of pathetic God. And so she she has the the pressure of her culture, the the wrestling and the tension of her relationship with the Lord. And it’s the same thing for you and for me, that God clearly says to us that he wants you to know him and to honor him with your life. Right. But what does that look like in society today? It’s not always an easy step to understand. Sometimes there’s some ambiguity to to what that would look like within our cultural context to live for the glory of God where we are.

And sometimes as people, we don’t like that place of ambiguity like we want. We want to know all the steps right in front of us. But you know the beauty of a relationship with God when we don’t always see how things are going to pan out, is that we’re driven to our knees as God’s people to seek him in the midst of the uncertainty that we face. God, here’s what culture wants me to do. Here’s the pressure that I’m seeing. But God, I see within those steps. There’s some compromise to that. And God. The purity of who you are is what you desire to make known. And so God, not knowing exactly the best way to move here and without your divine hand providing what you promised God, what is it that I can do in these moments? And and it’s in the tension of that we learn how to meet God in the struggle of the complexity of culture, to walk with him. What I’m saying is, the uncertainty of your circumstance becomes the very, the very tool God uses to refine your relationship with him as you trust him. In the mix of complexity of relationship and the society where you live. And so for for Sarah in this passage, she’s she’s facing that moment. She’s wrestling with those challenges and Abraham the same way.

But here’s what’s interesting about the story of Abraham in verse two, when it talks about Abraham’s response to Sarah’s idea. There’s a lot of things Abraham should have done that, that he decided for whatever reason, not to do. And I’m not going to pass judgment on all the reasons Abraham did what he did here. But but when Abraham chooses to do what he does in verse two, it says this. The very end of verse two, it says, And Abraham listened to the voice of Sarah. Abraham listened to the voice of Sarah, and I think the author of Genesis is really trying to draw our mind back to one other time in Scripture in which this took place, where the husband listened to the voice of his wife over and above the Lord. Now, guys, let me just tell you, this is not a passage saying to you, don’t listen to your wife, all right? That’s not that is not a good thing to do at all. But here’s what it is saying. When voices speak into your life that contradict God’s Word, take God’s Word instead. And what this passage is doing is it’s drawing the illustration all the way back to Genesis chapter three. If you remember in Genesis chapter three verse 17, God comes and he judges Adam and Eve for their sinful behavior, because God gave a promise to Adam. All right. If you remember, in the in the Garden of Eden, God told Adam not to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

Nowhere do we have in Scripture that God told that to Eve. It’s expected that Adam would have told it. Eve. But God told Adam not to eat of that fruit. God gave the promise to Adam, and from obeying the promise there is blessing. But what does Adam do? Rather than listen to the voice of God? He listens to a voice that opposes it. And the result of that is it creates tension problems and it distances their relationship with God. In fact, in the Garden of Eden, it kills their relationship with God because sin destroys our walk with the Lord. And here you find in the story of Genesis chapter 16, God has given to Abraham a promise. And rather than be obedient to the promises of God, he gives in to another voice the contrary. It’s contrary to what God desires. Abraham, in this passage, there’s so many better ways he could have responded. He could have said to his wife, you know, sweetheart, if he called her sweetheart, who knows? But, you know, he could have said, I will give you an A for trying to think creatively on how to remedy this situation, but I’m going to have to give you an F in your theology, right? Like, I love that you want to try to help our family out because in in Abraham’s society, the strength of of an individual is discovered in the size of their family.

And if you think about as you age, who’s going to take care of you in an environment where there can be conflict with people groups around you, your protection didn’t come from a military or police, it came from your family. And so the size of your family gave you longevity as you age. That gave you protection as a people group. And so it became important from that logistical standpoint, from a geopolitical whatever environment, which you find yourself in this day. It was the strength of who you were. But God is teaching his people to find their strength in a different way and a different pattern that is walking in obedience to him. And so rather than, than lend themselves over to the to the promises of the Lord, Abraham lends himself over to the voice of his wife, which was in this moment contrary to the Lord, feeling the pressure. Abraham and Sarah try to short change the process of obedience. As if they’re going to help God fast track what he desires to do in his own timing. But it’s important for all of us to remember, guys, it’s. It’s not in our timing. We make God’s will happen. It’s in his timing. He. He permits things to happen. Don’t force things that will cause you to compromise your walk with the Lord.

You know, in a very weird way, Abraham and Sarah could have even biblically tried to validate this in a society where this type of behavior was acceptable. They could have looked at this moment after Hagar conceived in verse four and said, isn’t that amazing? God promised there would be a seed. And and now all of a sudden there’s a there’s a child coming. And so God was faithful to his promise. And they could have they could have interacted with it, which is a very warped way of of following after God’s will. But but for us, looking at a passage like this, it really becomes, I think, or at least I hope in this cultural context and in our cultural context, as we look at what’s happening in Abraham’s life, this becomes a no brainer. Like, obviously this is not the way God wants to work. I hope you can see this in this passage, right? This is definitely not the way that God desires to work, and Abraham and Sarah should not be pursuing the Lord in this way because God created us, man and woman, to be married together and to find what his will is and the intimacy of that relationship. Not to go outside of that. That’s that’s what God’s will is. Right. So so this should be a no brainer for us to be able to look at this passage and say, what’s wrong with you? That’s why in the beginning we said, you read a story like this, you’re like, why is this in the Bible, right? When to cancel this? But, but when you understand it from Abraham’s cultural perspective, it makes sense that he would feel the temptation and Sarah would feel the temptation this way.

But you know not to throw stones at Abraham and Sarah, but but to simply step back from this and say, but what about our culture? Whereas a pressure applied to us to walk contrary to the Lord. You know. You know how it works in our society. Society today. Like there’s what God desires, there’s what culture says. The government may even step in and write laws to to support what the culture wants to do, even though it may be contradictory to what God’s Word says. And then all of a sudden, actors and athletes start, start talking about the importance of whatever it is, and you get influencers making TikTok videos about it. Next thing you know, there’s a rally, and all of a sudden there’s this pressure to conform to what culture wants you to do. But it’s contrary to what God says. But the challenge within us as people is that we want to we want to be accepted. We want to know we matter. We want to fit in. And so there’s this, this pressure within us to conform to what culture says rather than what God says.

In fact, in the most simplistic way it could be stated like this unless you achieve X, you’re worthless, or unless you hold the position of X, you’re not valuable or or unless you have these certain things in your life, you don’t matter as much as someone else. And so there’s this pressure in your life to conform. Because you want to be important and you want to know you matter. And so culture has this way to try to fit you into this box, to try to make you look like everyone else, so that you can stand among your peers and demonstrate why you’re worth anything. And for Abraham and Sarah, this is exactly where they find themselves in our society without a child. Who are we? And what is our future and how can we find ourselves secure and and what if God needs our help and they’re wrestling with all of these, these thoughts? And I would even say for us, like if I just think through this passage for just a minute over the the issues that our own culture faces in regards to what’s happening here in Adam and Eve. Like you’re going to find in Genesis 16, God’s going to speak to the importance of Ishmael, who Hagar is going to birth Ishmael while he’s in the womb. God’s going to talk about the importance of Ishmael. And in our society today, like every every human being, everyone has value.

Everyone’s made in the image of God. And at the beginning of Genesis tells us that it doesn’t matter if you’re in the womb or out of the womb, but there’s pressure in our culture to say, well, if you have a child, that means you might have less, or a child can cost. And if and if you don’t have as much, you know, raising a child in poverty, it doesn’t make them worth as much. And so there’s there’s this pressure to conform, to diminish the image of God and people. Or even the idea of dealing in this passage with male and female. From the book of Genesis, we see God made us male and female binary for a purpose to honor God. God created us male and female for a specific reason. And we want to honor the way God has made us to bear his image in the world as he has designed us specifically that way. Now, when we live in our culture, we understand culture is going to walk contrary to the things of God. For me, it doesn’t mean that I come in and I’m aligned and I beat up on people. If people raise in our culture and embrace what culture says, of course they’re going to walk that way, especially if they don’t know the Lord. And even if you do know the Lord, learning to surrender your life to him and walk with him and what that should look like.

Doesn’t mean we come alongside people and we beat them up when they walk, contrary to that. But we we communicate the truthfulness of of who God is and what it is God desires that they may know him and and walk with him and enjoy a relationship with with the Lord. Which means this point number two in your notes. Walk humbly before God and wait for his position. A provision excuse me. Walk humbly before God and wait for his provision. While culture can tempt you to compromise on your biblical convictions. God desire for you, desires for you to walk humbly before God and wait for his provision. This means for all of us, we need to be completely surrendered to the Lord. Your life is to be surrendered to the Lord. In fact, Charles Spurgeon said it like this. This famous quote I think I’ve used recently. But if you if I believe that one reason why the Church of God at this present moment has so little influence over the world is because the world has so much influence over the church. God’s called us people to look differently in the way that we walk in this world. There may be some things in this world that you embrace that culture does that doesn’t conflict with the Lord. And that’s okay. But God doesn’t tell us to take everything hook, line and sinker.

In fact, God calls us to look distinct in the way that we live in this world. You know, sometimes when you think about the slippery slope that we find ourselves in society today, I think people can easily say our culture is not getting closer to the Lord. It’s getting further from the Lord. And for some people they panic. But but can I tell you believers, it is one of the most beautiful times to be alive as a Christian. And the reason for that is your walk with Jesus becomes more distinct in 2030 years ago, when morality had a stronger hold upon our culture, it was difficult sometimes to determine if someone following Jesus because they loved Jesus, or are they just looking good in order to get certain status? Are they holding to a form of morality because they feel like it gives them advantages? Or are they really doing it because they want to honor God with their lives? In the past, it was a little more difficult to tell than it is today. But today it gives you an opportunity to truly show the the beauty of who God is. But that only happens as much as your heart is willing to be surrendered to the Lord. You can show up to a church and hear the best message preached and some wonderful prayers said, and you be encouraged. But at the end of the day, it’s only as effective as your life is surrendered to the Lord.

To walk humbly before him in humility for us doesn’t mean we’re less than, but rather it’s a way of acknowledging we have confidence in our position in the Lord. It’s a way of saying, I know who I am in Christ, and therefore, because I’m confident in what I have in Jesus, I’m able to use my life to bless others. And which the opposite of that is when I don’t know who I am in the Lord, and I’m not confident in the position he’s given me and what he’s done for me. I’ve got to look for others to try to validate me because I feel like I’m lacking. But when I understand who I am before the Lord and what the Lord has done for me, it gives me incredible worth more than anything in this world has to offer, and therefore I can surrender myself to his glory, being made known to my life and become a blessing to other people. Because what I have in Jesus is all that I really need. And so we walk. We walk humbly in this world in order to to honor God in the way that we live. Without humility, challenging moments will only continue to spiral down. And this is exactly what you find in verse the second half of verse four on into verse six, and the life of Hagar and Sarah and Abraham, because they have forsook the identity and promise they have in the Lord, at least in this area.

And now they’re trying to find their identity in something different and finding their identity in something different. They start to spiral even further, further down. And it’s demonstrated in the way they treat each other. Look at this in verse four. And when she, Hagar saw that she had conceived, she looked with contempt on her mistress. And Sarah said to Abraham, May the wrong done to me be on you I have, I have I gave you my servant to your embrace. And when she saw that she had conceived, she looked on me with contempt. May the Lord judge between you and me. But Abram or Abraham said to Sarah, behold, your servant is in your power due to her as you please. Then Sarah dealt harshly with her, and she fled from her. Look at this. Three different responses all, all ungodly and how they’re behaving. But it’s all rooted in the fact they find their identity in something other than the Lord. Like Hagar has been treated like a slave. This. She’s probably a young lady who knows, maybe in her 30s at this point. She was taken out of slavery in Egypt, probably when Abraham and Sarah fled to Egypt. In Genesis chapter 12, they came back to the Promised Land with her, and she’s been treated like a slave caring for Sarah.

And now all of a sudden, she’s something’s happened. She’s performed something that’s now given her this new position, and she’s found her identity in her position. And because she’s been able to do something that Sarah hasn’t, she looks down on Sarah as if she’s worthless, and she treats Sarah with contempt. Now, no doubt this would be certainly a position someone in slavery would find themselves susceptible to, treated like a tool their entire life. Now all of a sudden, they’ve done something that might give them more value based on their performance, which is not a biblical way to find your value. But nonetheless, she steps into that and starts to look down on other people. I mean, in our culture today, unless you achieve X, you’re not worth as much. And if you were to achieve that sort of status, whatever you think that status is, the danger in achieving that is then turned towards other people that may not have achieved that similar position and think you’re more important than they are, or opposite of that. If you can’t attain to whatever you think that position is, you see yourself as worthless in the eyes of other people rather than take the value that God has placed upon you. But this is exactly what Hagar is doing in this story. And then, because Sarah doesn’t get produced what she desires, Sarah responds in anger. She attacks her, her marriage, her husband, and she attacks Hagar so violently she attacks that Hagar chooses to run away.

The idea of this attack for Hagar to run away was really a step of running from death to death, and I think in Hagar’s day, for a young lady who’s pregnant to just run out into the midst of the wilderness, there was all sorts of dangers in front of her and most likely could have led to her death very easily led to her death. But whatever she’s experiencing in the anger of Sarah is worse than what she would run risk in meeting as she took off for the wilderness. And so you see Sarah in this story responding in anger. She bought into the lie that if she just had a kid, that it would change everything. But what you’re discovering in this story is that there’s something deeper happening in Sarah’s life that’s important for her to address beyond just simply having a child. And then Abraham in this passage, rather than stand up for what’s right and help honor the Lord. Even in the midst of this messy situation, God can redeem messy situations. God can step in this moment. It takes people of humility. You say, I say, I think often to us as a group, you know, the kind of people that fight proud people, proud people fight. Being the kind of people that resolve humble people. Humble people resolve things.

People who want to understand what’s happening in the heart of someone else and help them understand the truthfulness of who God is in the midst of that. And from this story, you see, not not Hagar, not Sarah, not Abraham, none of them are humbled before the Lord and seeking what he would desire in the midst of a messy situation. And Abraham’s decision in this moment is rather than to get between two females fighting, you know, wife one and second tier wife here, he’s like, I’ll just, you know, just do what you want. And he backs out. He becomes passive. And so because of that, the conflict continues. But but here’s the the point to all of this guys. Point number three in your notes know God sees and cares. God sees and cares even in our mess. God sees and cares. Maybe, maybe I should say, especially in our mess. God is involved even when we may think he isn’t. God shows up and God cares. And in verse seven, when God intervenes in the story, he starts with the lowly slave woman, which which is important for all of us to recognize. Because sometimes as we read stories of the Bible, you might see yourself as somewhat of an outsider like man. I really like how God did that for those people. But those people are special people. I’m not a special person. Right? And you sort of set yourself apart from from the characters of the Bible and the way that God interacts with them.

But but when you read the story, here’s what you find is Abraham and Sarah were the people of the promise. But when God steps into this messy situation, the person that he deals with is the outsider. He walks to the slave girl. And he interacts with her and her brokenness. And in verse seven, the way he describes it, the angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness. The spring on the way to Shur. And he said, Hagar, servant of Sarah, where have you come from, and where are you going? And she said, I’m fleeing from my mistress. Sarah. The angel of the Lord said to her, return to your mistress and submit to her. Now that’s a difficult word. You know the lady that just beat you. Go back. But let me just say a couple of things about this passage, and we’ll. We’ll understand why God saying what he’s saying. Verse seven I want you to see that when Sarah is met by the Lord here, it tells us specifically it’s the angel of the Lord. Now, theologians throughout the centuries have have looked at this angel of the Lord and asked the question, who exactly is this? And and notice noticing he’s got he’s got dozens of appearances in the Old Testament. He has no appearance in the New Testament.

Dozens of appearances in the Old Testament. Who is this angel of the Lord? And most theologians walk away with the conclusion that this is a pre pre-incarnate appearance of Christ, that the angel of the Lord is actually a pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus. And there’s a few reasons for that one if you read ahead in just a moment, verse ten and verse 13 and verse ten, he speaks as if he’s God himself and the things that he could do. Verse 13, it’s Sarah who says, It’s God who visited me, not an angel who visited me. But she acknowledges it’s God who had visited her. And so most think that this angel of the Lord is a pre-incarnate picture of Christ. And when you get to the New Testament, the they’ll say that the reason the angel of the Lord no, no longer appears is because the angel of the Lord became flesh and dwelt among us. And so this angel of the Lord is actually a pre-incarnate picture of Christ. And here’s what’s important. This is the first time in the Bible the angel of the Lord appears. And look who he chooses to appear to. Not someone wealthy. Not someone popular. Not someone who’s perfect, but someone who’s downcast and broken. Who’s lived the life of a slave. That’s who the angel of the Lord appears to. And then he gives Hagar this statement. Go back to where you just came from, the place that you were trying to run away from.

Because I have a plan for your life now in order to make that kind of step of faith. You’ve got to really be confident in the God you’re trusting in. Like I said in point number two, when we said we need to be humble before the Lord like completely lay our lives down and say, God, everything that I have and all that I am is yours. Lead me. In order to do that, you have to have confidence in the goodness of the God that you trust in. And so for Hagar, it’s important to understand exactly who this God is, that she’s about to trust him to take such a bold step because she saw what just happened to her. And in verse ten, God goes on from there and he begins to say to her, the angel of the Lord also said to her, I will surely multiply your offspring, so that they cannot be numbered for multitude. And the angel of the Lord said to her, behold, you are pregnant, and shall bear a son, and you shall call his name Ishmael, because the Lord has listened to your affliction. He shall be a wild donkey of a man, his hand, and against everyone and everyone’s hand against him. And he shall dwell over and against all his kinsmen. So let me explain a little something here that I think is important in this passage, because when we read this, this passage, for many of us, this looks like a mixed bag, right? Go back.

I’ve got a plan, Sarah. And there’s going to be a lot of conflict from your donkey child, right? I think I think when I have, when I have four boys and my prayer is, Lord, don’t make them donkey kids. This is that is a wild house, right. But but for her, let me let me just from her perspective, understanding exactly what God’s saying, I think is important here. Sarah has spent her entire life as a or. Excuse me, Hagar has spent her entire life as a slave. And when God paints the picture of her child. He says he’s going to be a wild donkey in her mind for the life of a slave. What she hears your child’s going to run free. Your child’s going to be free. Hagar. Go back. And not only does she hear her child’s going to be free, but he’s going to stand on his own. He’s going to have strength. That does talk about conflict in this passage. But if you were to read this in the King James Version, in the King James, the very last part of verse 12, it literally highlights that he’s going to stand on his own. He’s not going to have to depend on somebody else. Hagar in you is a child, and this is the future of your child.

Go back. And for Hagar, who’s been a slave for her, that’s incredible. And so Hagar, trusting in the promises of God, she goes back to to the land. And then it goes on. Verse 1314. So she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her. You are a God of seeing. For she said, truly here I have seen him who looks after me. Therefore the well was called beer Laroya it literally translates. It lies between excuse me Kadish and bread. So, so for for Hagar. She goes back to this, this promised land, knowing in the midst of adversity God is still with her. Because the same is true for us and the complexity of our culture. God is still with you. Sometimes we don’t always know how to step. Sometimes we get a little lost in what it looks like to honor God where we are. But the beauty of that is that’s what drives us to our knees. To seek him, to to know his heart and to learn how to navigate. And sometimes, when we’re not sure what the best step is, some of the best things that you can do is just simply wait. Wait for the Lord to lead you. Don’t put yourself in a position to compromise, but rather wait. Sometimes our culture can can deceive us. But here, here’s the irony of the story.

When our culture deceives us, we have this tendency to try things in our own strength, as if God needs our help. God does not need our help. And the irony of this story is this. Hagar starts off as the slave, but truthfully, everyone in this story becomes a slave. They all become a slave to something because they choose. They chose to listen to what their culture said over and above what the Lord said. And in so doing, they became the master. They became mastered by something else. Sarah’s life, and you see how it boils over in frustration because she didn’t get what she wanted, and the pressure of the culture brought her to a place of finding her own self as a slave. And the same for Abraham. We choose to follow after what it is our heart’s desire, over and above what it is that God desires. It brings us to this place of entrapping us as people. Even if your culture tries to make it sound good and doesn’t mean we hate our culture. But we want to walk with Jesus in our culture. You know what’s interesting? And in the life of Abraham, Abraham, in these moments or in any moment where he chooses to to follow after what it is that he desires over and above the Lord, it leads to destruction. But but when he follows what it is that God desires, it leads to beautiful blessing.

But when you when you look at the end of Abraham’s life and you say, okay, Abraham, now that you’ve spent your entire life following after the Lord, what do you have to show for it? At the end of Abraham’s life, according to the promises, God gave him all he had. Was one child in the promise and one little plot of land where he and Sarah would be buried. That was it. I mean, God shows up and says, follow me, and I’ll make from you a seed that will bless a multitude of people, and I’ll give you a land. And by the time Abraham dies, all he has is one child and a little plot of land. From an earthly perspective, we would all look at that and be like, God was stupid, right? Like, that’s that’s all you got. I mean, why that’s foolish, right? But truth be told, that’s all God needs. God just looks for a humble heart that wants to follow him faithfully. And through that, God brings incredible blessing. In fact, Elizabeth Elliot said it like this if you believe in a God who controls the big things, you have to believe in a God who controls the little things. It is we, of course, to whom things look little or big. Now we may face circumstances in our life, and life may feel challenging and we wonder, oh my word, how in the world is God? God’s going to get us out of this? I guess I’m going to have to show up for God.

I guess I’m going to have to do this and then let God take care of the rest, right? That’s not the case at all, because to the Lord, there is no end to his strength. There is no little or big to us. We label things that way, but not to God. God uses those as opportunities to help us grow and stretch our faith to the point that in Galatians, Hagar and Sarah become a picture for you and for me. Author of Galatians paints Hagar as if it’s a demonstration of the efforts of man. Verse Sarah, by faith, the effort of the Lord. And as if to ask you this question, what kind of person do you want to be at the end of your life? What? What kind of life do you have want to have lived? A person who depended on your own strength according to what your culture said mattered, or a person that depended on God’s strength, who followed him according to what he said mattered. One is the blessing of the world which ends in destruction, but the other is a blessing of the Lord. A question for all of us are you surrendered to him?