SHE HAD AN HANDMAID
Genesis 16:1 Now Sarai Abram’s wife bare him no children: and she had an handmaid, an Egyptian, whose name was Hagar. 2 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. And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai. 3 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.
Genesis 16:4 ¶ And he went in unto Hagar, and she conceived: and when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress was despised in her eyes. 5 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. 6 But Abram said unto Sarai, Behold, thy maid is in thy hand; do to her as it pleaseth thee. And when Sarai dealt hardly with her, she fled from her face.
Genesis 16:7 ¶ And the angel of the LORD found her by a fountain of water in the wilderness, by the fountain in the way to Shur. 8 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. 9 And the angel of the LORD said unto her, Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hands.
Genesis 16:10 ¶ And the angel of the LORD said unto her, I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, that it shall not be numbered for multitude. 11 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. 12 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. 13 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? 14 Wherefore the well was called Beerlahairoi; behold, it is between Kadesh and Bered.
Genesis 16:15 ¶ And Hagar bare Abram a son: and Abram called his son’s name, which Hagar bare, Ishmael. 16 And Abram was fourscore and six years old, when Hagar bare Ishmael to Abram.
The direction of the Holy Spirit concerning the persons of these events is provided for us through the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Galatian church. He instructs us in Galatians 4:24 that these things are an allegory. Romans 1:20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:
And therefore when you mix Abram, a picture of faith, with Hagar, a picture of the law, you receive an Ishmael, a picture of the religious man in bondage. Justification by works is no justification at all! But when faith (Abraham) is mixed with grace (Sarah), there is birthed a child of God’s promise.
Ephesians 2:8 For by grace (Sarah) are ye saved through faith (Abraham); and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works (Hagar), lest any man should boast. 10 For we are his workmanship (Isaac), created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
Titus 3:4 But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, 5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done (Hagar), but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; 6 Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; 7 That being justified by his grace (Sarah), we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
The issues of Abraham’s faith was in his departure from this home country into a strange land, and the offering up of Isaac (Hebrews 11:8,17). But the issue of Sarah’s faith was believing that her barren, and now dead womb, could produce a child (Hebrews 11:11). For there would not have been the matter of Hagar if Abram could not produce a seed for her conception of Ishmael. He was seventy five when he left Ur (Genesis 12:4). And he had been in Canaan for ten years (Genesis 16:3). And it was in his ninety ninth year when the Lord told him that within the next year, Sarah would produce him a son.
Therefore, for there to be the truth of Romans 4:19 that his body was now dead, we have to realize that somewhere between his eighty fifth year, and his ninety ninth year, his ability to produce seed had died. But even then we read, And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sara’s womb: He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; (Romans 4:19-20). Yet don’t forget that when this issue of faith concerning Isaac’s birth had ended, he married Katura and had six sons by her! (See Genesis 25:1,2).
Therefore we see now how it was that Sarai, struggling under her issue of faith, comes and presents Hagar, her Egyptian handmaid, (probably received from Pharaoh when the famine drove Abram down into Egypt – see Genesis 12:15,16), to her husband for the fulfillment of God’s promise. For all to often, grace (Sarai), being stressed and impatient, will turn to works (Hagar), to accomplished what God has promised. But, without fail, it never turns out well when we attempt to do God’s will in our own way! Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts. Zechariah 4:6. Romans 9:16 So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy. For Sarai’s womb must not just be barren, (Genesis 11:30), it must be completely dead! (Romans 4:19).
There may be a lot of religionists on earth today, but we don’t really know that many true Christians! For we mostly just have those ‘birthed’ by a works justification. Galatians 4:25 For this Agar (Hagar), is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children.
The life of God in the soul of the believer must come to be relied upon, without any mixture of even the spiritual man’s religious efforts! There will be such a vast amount of hay, wood, and stubble to be burned as a result of our acting from traditional professionalism! For we must die daily! (1 Corinthians 15:31). We must not act from our religiously prompted energies. Consider these verses: John 15:5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. Philippians 3:10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection,, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; He was not referring to THE resurrection at the end of time; but a daily resurrection, in order that the Holy Spirit, and not his religiously trained flesh, should live before the Lord.
For we, as living sacrifices, must live the death life! Galatians 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
Dying with Jesus, by death reckoned mine;
Living with Jesus, a new life divine;
Looking to Jesus till glory doth shine,
Moment by moment, O Lord, I am Thine.
Daniel W. Whittle, 1893
2 Corinthians 4:10 Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. 11 For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. 12 So then death worketh in us, but life in you.
God did not send his Son in order to make men moral! He sent his Son in order to make men righteous! He imputed (‘to place into the account of’), our sin to his Son, in order that he might impute his righteousness to us! 2 Corinthians 5:21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. For Christ’s one-time death FOR our sin requires our daily death TO our sin!
Righteous works, like the tail of the sheep follow along behind. For it is not OF works, but it most assuredly is UNTO good works! (See Ephesians 2:9 & 10, listed above). Carefully read James 2:17-24 and see that Abraham’s works clearly reveal his justification. That is, his faith coupled with Sarah (grace) produced the elect fruit of God – Isaac! For what he was – his character, – produced what he did – his conduct! Matthew 12:35 A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things.
And dear Reader, you do realize that it was the professing religious with their works-righteousness, that placed the Spiritual Man on the cross, don’t you? That was the way it was between Ishmael, born of Hagar, and Isaac, born of Sarah! And that is the way it still is today! Galatians 4:28 Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise. 29 But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now. Galatians 5:17 For the flesh (Ishmael), lusteth against the Spirit (Isaac), and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. That is, you can never do the wholesome things you wish to do without having to contend with your flesh!
And that brings us to consider just why there is such a blessing proclaimed to Hagar and Ishmael in verses seven through fourteen of our scripture passage listed above. Why would God pronounce such blessings on the ones he instructed Abraham to cast out? It is because the law, of itself, represented by Hagar, is useful to God! Romans 7:12 Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good. Hagar was hand maid to Sarai, serving her daily. And the law serves the believer to reveal the sin of his heart! Romans 7:7 What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. 1 Timothy1:8 But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully;
The law is like a mirror. It can reveal a true image of the person peering into it. It will show, as someone has stated, “warts and all.” But it cannot do anything about the warts! And it is not possible that righteousness could have come by the law! Galatians 3:21 …for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law. 22 But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. Therefore Hagar, like the law, is to show what the flesh can only produce, seeking a ‘lawful morality.’ It can only give a consciousness of sinfulness!
For that which may be said of these personal types holds true of the reality of the actual fulfillment! Galatians 3:19 Wherefore then serveth the law (Hagar/Ishmael)? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed (Isaac/Christ) should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator. 23 But before faith came (Isaac through Sarah), we were kept under the law (Ishmael through Hagar), shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. 24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. 26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.
And Ishmael is a necessary evil to provide sanctifying affliction for spiritual maturity! Matthew18:7 Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh! Psalm 119:67 Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word. 71 It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.
Having the wild man, Ishmael, first was certainly an eye opening experience to Sarah and Abraham. For it prepared them for the child of promise who was so very submissive that he obediently lay on his father’s altar to be sacrificed! What a difference! While the only thing recorded that Ishmael ever did that was good was to attend Abraham’s burial! (Genesis 25:9).
Isaac indeed was a living sacrifice; while Ishmael will seek to live only for himself. He will seek the self life. He will not live for the benefit of others. His hand will be against every man.
And let us learn from these lives, events, and principles, lest we fail in our own opportunities and responsibilities of life. Ecclesiastes 1:9 The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. 10 Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us. 1 Corinthians 10:11 Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. 12 Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.
And these lessons being learned, may it be with us as it was with Abram and Sarai, for in the very next chapter (Genesis 17), the Lord presents himself in a manner not before seen, –
I am the Almighty God – and this requires the change of their names to Abraham and Sarah! As God increases to us, it causes him to increase in us.
Pastor Gene Breed
December 11, 2019