Summary of Genesis 16
1. Abraham and Sarah could have taught Hagar about trusting and relying on God. My goal is to pay attention to my opportunities and be a positive rather than negative influence.
2. “…Genesis 16 records a somewhat blurred faith mixed with unbelief.” That unfortunately sums up my walk with the Lord to date. How quickly those pinnacle moments can degenerate into doubt, confusion, worry, and self-pity.
“Abram acted on advice founded on common sense and the morals of his day. He did not seek God and ask Him whether this was His method of fulfilling His promise and purpose.” In the study questions for last week I wrote, in my own life, I often make assumptions about details. Abram could have asked God if His promise included Sarah or if the mother of his offspring would be someone else? Or he could have simply asked before he got Hagar involved. I’m endeavoring to remember to watch out for my own assumptions and ask God before creating Ishmael’s in my own life.
I love, love, love the paragraph relating Sarah’s method to the methods of the modern institutional church—activities gleaned from the world that are “ineffective from an eternal perspective.”
- worship that entertains rather than edifies
- buildings that are attractive but not used to build people’s spiritual life
- mission trips that give good feelings to the participants but do little to transform the lives of those who were visited.
El Shaddai – God Almighty – In Hebrew it conveys the meaning “the one to whom nothing is impossible.” I’ve never seen that definition before, although I’ve heard the saying. Good to know.
“I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son.”
Genesis 17:21 …Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you by this time next year.”
Genesis 18:16-33 repeatedly translates references to one of the men as, “Lord”. The topic of discussion in these verses is the judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah. The man identified as The Lord says he is visiting those cities to determine if the outcry against them warrants destruction. The fact that He has the authority to make that judgment and negotiate with Abraham on this topic suggests He is the Lord. Angels only have the authority to do God’s bidding.
Genesis 18:22 specifically identifies only one man as Lord.
Genesis 19:1 refers to the two men as angels. “The two angels arrived at Sodom in the evening…”
Abraham welcomed his guests by preparing a feast.
Abraham asked Sarah to bake bread quickly using about 20 quarts of fine flour. He ran to the herd and chose a choice calf and asked a servant to prepare it, and he also provided his guests with curds and milk.
Sarah must have realized it was the Lord speaking when He asked, “is anything too hard for the Lord?” He then repeated what He said before, “I will return…next year…Sarah will have a son.” Also, the Lord knew and questioned Abraham when Sarah laughed to herself inside the tent. He also knew her thoughts. She was afraid and lied about it.
Abraham probably told Sarah about the possible destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. The destruction occurred the very next day. It seems safe to assume they knew about this. That would erase any doubt that it was the Lord who said, not once, but twice, “by this time next year, Sarah will bear a son.”
“…without faith it is impossible to please God…” Hebrews 11:11 in the NIV focuses on the faith of Abraham, while the AMP says, “Because of faith also Sarah herself received physical power to conceive a child, even when she was long past the age for it, because she considered [God] Who had given her the promise to be reliable and trustworthy and true to His word.”
Hebrews 11:6 says that faith pleases God. “…anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”
Similarities between following verses
- In Genesis 18:14, the pre-incarnate Christ asks is anything is too hard for God.
- In Mark 10:27, Jesus says, “…all things are possible with God.”
- Luke 1:37 “…For with God nothing is ever impossible.”
- In John 3:4-5 Nicodemus asks Jesus about the new birth. He doesn’t understand how it is possible. Jesus tells him He is speaking of spiritual birth. If the Lord can cause a barren womb (that is long past the days of childbearing) to produce a son, he can cause a full-grown man to be born again of the Spirit.
The Lord likely told Abraham about the planned destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah for at least two reasons:
- his nephew Lot and his family lived there and might lose their lives and everything they owned and worked for.
- God chose Abraham. As a chosen one, God considered Abraham his friend. Friends know each others’ business, so the Lord shared what was going on. God grants his friends the privilege of receiving whatever they ask in His name.
I love this question, and the references tied into it! I never considered why the Lord shared the information with Abraham. As believers, he also chose us as his friends. We so often hear teachings and songs about being a servant of God. He created man for fellowship.
Hear what God has to tell us—
You are my friends, if you do whatever I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant doesn’t know what his lord does. But I have called you friends, for everything that I heard from my Father, I have made known to you. You didn’t choose me, but I chose you and appointed you, that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain; that whatever you will ask of the Father in my name, he may give it to you.
He said to them, “Take heed what you hear. With whatever measure you measure, it will be measured to you, and more will be given to you who hear. For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he who doesn’t have, even that which he has will be taken away from him.”
God will tell us and show us things to come if we have ears to hear. The closer we draw to him, listen to him, and act on what we hear, he will trust us with more.
The Spirit of Truth has come and will lead us into all truth and tell us whatever He hears and what is to come. Another truth to latch on to, act on and expect because I am God’s friend.
Important principles of God’s judgment on the world
God is slow to anger and does not react rashly. He carefully considered and investigated the extent of the reason for the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah.
Even if the Lord determined the outcry was correct, He was willing to relent on the basis of ten righteous. We don’t know how many people lived in the region God intended to destroy, but it seems safe to assume that ten was a tiny percentage of the unrighteous.
Abraham’s prayer was answered Genesis 19:16
Even though God did not find ten righteous, the angels forcibly took Lot, his wife, and his two daughters by the hand and led them out in order to save them.
God already knew the number of righteous men in Sodom.
The Lord didn’t consider Abraham’s prayer inappropriate. I believe the Lord listened and continued to respond to Abraham because of His friendship with him and because the Lord wanted Abraham to know the depths of His compassion and mercy.
The Lord did not correct or reprimand Abraham, so I believe the Lord was not displeased. After all, the compassion and mercy displayed Abraham’s heart resembled the heart of God.
Holy Spirit influences our prayers (Romans 8:26-27)
The Holy Spirit searches our hearts and since He knows the will of God, helps us pray through “with unspeakable yearnings and groanings too deep for utterance” and intercedes and pleads on behalf of the saints in harmony with God’s will.
Using Abraham’s prayer as an example
- Remember my desire to be a friend of God.
- Ask the Holy Spirit to search my heart and pray through me and on my behalf.
- Share my heart and my concerns with the Lord.
- Ask questions.
- Ask for wisdom and understanding.
- Listen and immediately act on what I hear.
Lot could not influence the men of Sodom, his own sons-in-law, or his wife.
His sons-in-law thought he was joking. The men of Sodom threatened Lot if he didn’t step aside. His wife isn’t even mentioned in these verses.
He ignored a serious warning.
When Lot was captured and his entire family and goods were taken by the victors of the battle waged against the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah and their allies, he should have taken that as a warning to leave that place.
What I’ve learned from Lot’s mistake.
Don’t cling to the things of this world or a house or status. Seek to value the things that God values. Ask the Lord for wisdom and direction on a regular basis.
Lot could have avoided this tragic end.
Lot could have remained in closer alliance to Abraham and continued to rely on his leadership, wisdom, and sought the Lord for wisdom and guidance as well.
What Lot’s family lost because of his choice
Everything. Lot lost civilization and all the excitement and modern conveniences. He lost his house, and its comforts, his belongings, his herds, his wife, his status, his friends, and his relationship with Abraham.
God showed Lot mercy when he and his family continued to linger after they were warned to leave immediately, by grasping them by the hands and leading them out of the city. Lot argued with the angel by begging to go to a small city rather than the mountains of Moab as instructed. The angel agreed not to destroy that city. (Lot really hated camping, apparently.)
Genesis 19 illustrates 1 Corinthians 3:14-15
All of Lot’s life efforts failed the test. All of it was burned up and came to naught. Only Lot and his two daughters escaped with their lives. He lost his reward.
What happened to Lot’s descendents?
Deuteronomy 2:9;19 and Deuteronomy 23:3-5 concerning the land.
Also Numbers 25:1; Judges 3:29; Ruth 1:4; 4:13-17; Neh 13:1-2; Jeremiah 48:47; Zephaniah 2:9; and Matthew 1:5-6
Ammonites and Moabites; In Deuteronomy 2:9, the Israelites were instructed not to trouble the inhabitants of Moab because God had given Ar to the sons of Lot as a possession. In God’s great mercy, Ruth, a Moabitess, appears in the lineage of Jesus Christ. In Jeremiah 48:47, the Lord promises to “restore the fortunes of Moab in the latter days”.
Reasons to be thankful
- I am a friend of God.
- The Holy Spirit intercedes on my behalf.
- The Lord is merciful.
- Lot is still considered righteous. (There is hope for the rest of us.)