SARAH (Sarai, Sara) Sarah Attempts to Control God’s Timing

Genesis 16:1–16 (KJV 1900)
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. 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. 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. 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 Beer-lahai-roi; behold, it is between Kadesh and Bered. 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. (Genesis 16:1-16)

It is not a frivolous charge to say that Sarai’s need to control led to the terrible conflicts experienced even today between Israel and the rest of the nations that surround her. Some might defend Sarai for her panic of not having produced children for Abram as a natural reaction that any woman would feel who was childless with advanced age approaching. Others may light upon a defense that the maid Hagar was her possession, to do as she willed and producing a child through her was an acceptable means of gaining offspring in her time. There may even be some justification in Sarai’s actions, when one considers that she knew of the promise of the LORD God made to her husband to have offspring of the greatest numbers. Maybe she convinced herself that it was upon her shoulders to ensure the LORD God’s prophecy came true.

It really doesn’t matter the heart of Sarai; the terrible events that unfolded as she attempted to control the timing of the LORD God was directly related to her misguided effort. She had patiently waited for the LORD God to produce children; when He did not bless her with pregnancy, she reasoned that it must not be her body that would produce the offspring to her husband, but rather another woman. In fact, she was at such a point in her age, that she may have already gone through the physical changes of an elderly soman, and stopped the menstrual process entirely. She certainly looked upon the situation of her husband’s childlessness as her responsibility, which led to the terrible events that followed, and created a conflict that continues to influence world events today.

Many Bible scholars compare Sarai’s act of producing offspring for Abram through the maid Hagar, as being a typology of Adam and Eve, when Eve caused Adam to sin by offering him the fruit from the forbidden tree. Abram certainly followed his wife’s direction, and went into Hagar’s bed, for the purpose of conception of offspring for him. However, it seems over-the-top to tag Sarai with the accusation of a “temptress” that brought her husband down through sin.

It is well known that in the ancient Near-Eastern culture, it was an acceptable practice for a concubine to be impregnated by a husband to create children for the wife and husband to raise and call their own. So it is doubtful that Sarai was leading her husband down the road of sin purposefully.

It really doesn’t matter about the traditions of society, or even the heart of the individual, when it comes to the Will and Timing of the LORD God. Sarah messed up big time by trying to take things into her own hands. By this time in her walk with her husband and her LORD God, she knew the promises given to them by Him, and she had seen Him protect and move them to the places He willed in His time. She also had seen the almost tragic results of losing her husband and her way, when Abram took matters into his own hands and disregarded God’s will.

On that fateful day, when Sarai chose to direct her fate and leave the LORD God out of the equation, she began a series of events that causes us to shake our head in disbelief. She ordered her maid to her bed, and sent her husband to her, to know her intimately for the sole purpose of conceiving a child. When time passed, Sarai ended with a conflict between her and her maid Hagar causing hatred to stir as Ishmael, the son of Abram and Hagar, came alive. Her taking control brought conflict between the people of Hagar (Muslims) and the people of Sarai (Jews) that will last until the end of the earth. That’s how bad her mistake grew!

But, should we really be surprised, at Sarai’s attempts to control the LORD God’s timing? Isn’t that one of the faulty efforts that most Christian’s enact as they try to manipulate the Word of God to support their movements within the Christian religion? Rather than wait upon the Lord, and move according to His time, many, many Christian Leaders develop programs that take limited resources that are applied to pet projects. Many judge the worth of their ministry to the number of missions or the number of congregants or the number of dollars possessed.

Think upon this for a moment. How many Christian Leaders would stand before their congregations and declare that the Lord wants them to wait for His timing? That the Christian believers should wait and pray and listen for the movement of the LORD God? That until the time that the direction is established, money will be banked and saved, resources go un-purchased, and major programs of charity, fellowship and church building will not be done until the LORD God moves them to that place?

Take that a step further! How many Christian Leaders are brave enough to not do anything, until directed by Him? Can any Christian Leader stand before their congregation and not jump at every feel-good project that is created by those yearning to do good works. What if the LORD God requires a not-so-feel- good work? Would the same vigor and vanity apply to the dirty jobs at the same consistency as the noble ones?

Now take that thought-process a step closer to the individual believer. How many Christians can be found that move to the timing of the LORD God, rather than the timing to their own beat?

Sarai was an old woman before she accomplished the greatest work of the LORD God in bearing Isaac to begin to populate the Kingdom of God. How many old Christian women do you know that have done absolutely nothing notable up to their old age, yet, remain obedient to the LORD God, and wait for that time when He gives her work to do?

How many resources could be applied to True works of the LORD God, if only we waited for Him to direct our ways? How much time could be saved if we trusted on His time, and made our lives forming intimate relationship with the Lord, rather than going out and doing great things that we think represent Christian love? How many feel the surge of the Holy Spirit within them, and imagine themselves the giver of great difference to the world, when that surge is meant to teach and guide rather than create a new works? How many ministries today would stop doing what they are doing in recognition of God’s timing and ways, and wait upon direction by Him? How many believers would know that even the seemingly insignificant work can turn into the most glorified and magnificent event, when the timing and works of the LORD God are directed by Him?

Our times today have killed the ability for most Christians to wait upon the LORD God. Mass media projects and the great works of man and church, and causes all believers to try to accomplish as much and as many as the others. They often mistakenly weigh success in their works for the LORD God to be one of numbers, wealth, and feel-good projects that equal or excel what the secular organizations produce. Well-meaning Christians know that together they can provide better works than the world, and assume these works to be directed by the LORD God as a result.

Sadly, Sarai was well meaning also; she had a plan to express the works of the LORD God through her own hands. She was mistaken, and caused the beginning of many wars, as the conflicts between the Muslims and the Jews continue. If only she had waited upon the LORD God and had the confidence in His Moving! The mother of the generations of the LORD God messed up big time by taking things into her own hands, and not having the faith to wait.


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