Advice Is Not Hard To Come By

 (Genesis 16) 

Advice is not hard to come by. Godly advice on the other hand is not always as easy to find. We need to be careful where we get direction from. Sometimes it is well-meaning people, even those who are close and considered trustworthy that give the most unbiblical, unhealthy, solutions to the daily issues we face.

In the bible we have many such instances:

 We have the serpent in the garden giving Eve advice. (Ge 3:4-5) And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: (5) For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.

Job’s wife. (Job 2:9) Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity? curse God, and die.

Aaron. (Ex 32:2) And Aaron said unto them, Break off the golden earrings, which are in the ears of your wives, of your sons, and of your daughters, and bring them unto me.

The disciples. ( Lu 9:54) And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did?

(Lu 9:56) For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them. And they went to another village.

 What about Ananias? Who can forget the advice he gave his lovely bride?

As we continue our journey through Genesis we have pointed out numerous times we can see in Abram’s life a correlation between his life and the life of a born-again believer.  In this chapter of Genesis and Abram’s life, we find a very important, hard-learned lesson.

Last week we saw where through pride Abram blamed himself for not having any children, today Sarai chimes in; but with a solution, a bad solution but a solution.

Scripture: Gen.16

  • Sinful short cut. (V1-3) Unwilling to wait. 
    • God had promised a son (15:4, 12:2) Abram was going to be “ father of a great nation” But 10 years had passed and no baby. 
      • Sarah and Abraham were getting frustrated waiting so they said well if God isn’t going to work then we might as well go to plan B. Sound familiar?
    • Looks like Abram would have remembered the last time he took the matter into his own hands. 
      • Looks like we would.
    • It was said of the New England Episcopal preacher Phillips Brooks, he was noted for his poise and quiet manner. At times, however, even he suffered moments of frustration and irritability. One day a friend saw him pacing the floor like a caged lion. “What’s the trouble, Dr. Brooks?” asked the friend. “The trouble is that I am in a hurry,” said Brooks, “but God isn’t.”
      • Haven’t we often felt the same?
    • One of the most difficult things we have to learn to do is wait.
      • Yet patience is part of God’s strategy for maturing us as Christians.

Something I need to point out here. What Sarai was proposing here was not unheard of. It was a common practice in the pagan world in which they left. That’s the problem. It was not what God ever blessed, sanctified or welcomed. It was falling back on society’s plan, not God’s

  • There is no doubt that Abram had received excellent advice from his wife at other times. This time however was not one of them. 
    • No matter who it is that you are listening to, all counsel should be weighed against scripture to make sure it aligns with God’s standard. 
  • Sometimes it is not well-meaning people. As I shared last week. There are many effeminate men, whiny women, who don’t want to invest, discipline themselves to be men and women of strong character. It is easier in their deluded minds to bring others down than to take the time and effort to raise their own standard. 
  • There are no shortcuts to God’s plans.
    • It often seems that we can cut around here and scoot around there, that it would be easier to do it our way.
    • (Pr 30:5) Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him.
    • (Ps 18:30) As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler(scaly hide of crocodile, rock, shield,) to all those that trust in him.
  • Sinful consequences: 
    • Notice how swift they emerge. (v4). When she(Hagar) saw.
      • Soon as Hagar realized she was with child she knew she had done something Sarai couldn’t. So she began to look down at her, taunt her.
    • Notice what they bring to light. (V5) The blame game. 
      • This wording is a little tricky, but what is happening, Sarai is blaming Abram for giving her what she asked for.
      • I feel she is partly right. Abram ought to have stood against this decision even if it meant Sarai getting mad and depressed for a while. It is not always easy.
    •  The sidestep. (V6) Abram still is not standing in the gap. 
      • He like many self-centered men today doesn’t want to have to deal with any turmoil so they just go a-wall. It might be a hunting/fishing trip, t.v. workshop outside, a number of things. All because we don’t want to be what God called us to be.
    • The well of the heart. 
      • Now Sarai had turned to her past pagan practice to start this problem so it is assumed unless she repents, she will turn there to solve it also. Retaliate!  
    • Revenge, retaliation comes in many different forms.

Story of some Americans who were stationed in Korea during the Korean War. While there, they rented a home and hired a local boy to cook and clean for them. These Americans were a bunch of jokesters, and they soon began to take advantage of the young boy’s simplicity. They’d smear Vaseline on the stove handles so that when he’d turn the stove on in the morning he’d get grease all over his fingers. They’d put little water buckets over the door so that he’d get deluged when he opened the door. They’d even nail his shoes to the floor during the night. Day after endless day, the little fellow took the brunt of their practical jokes without saying anything. No blame, no self-pity, no temper tantrums.
Finally, the men felt guilty about what they were doing, so they sat down with the young Korean and said, “Look, we know these pranks aren’t funny anymore, and we’re sorry. We’re never gonna take advantage of you again.”
It seemed a bit too good to be true to the houseboy. “No more sticky on the stove?” he asked.
“Nope”
“No more water on the door?”
“Nope.”
“No more nail shoes to the floor?”
“Nope, never again.”
“Okay,” the boy said with a smile, “no more spit in the soup.

Sarai wasn’t into the subtle thing. She was all out to mean!

  • Look! Abram hadn’t threatened to leave her, no one stole anything from her, her favorite camel hadn’t got sick and died. It was simply because what she thought was the right thing turned out to be very wrong.
    • When we get upset, what is in the heart comes out. A bottle of milk gets upset. Milk comes out. Bucket of dirt gets upset. Dirt comes out.
  • One last thing. The significance of sin.
    • Though the problems of this sinful shortcut were swift in coming, they were significant in that were slow to leave; in fact, they are still with us.
    • Abram’s immoral shortcut with Hagar not only caused immediate problems in his household, but it also is still causing many problems for the world today.
      • Much of the constant war and battles we see in the Middle East today over Israel’s land is rooted and grounded in Abraham’s shortcut to success. Arabs lay claim to the land of Palestine because they lay claim to Ishmael as their father.
      •  Since Ishmael was Abraham’s firstborn according to the flesh, they believe he should be the one who inherits the land. However, God makes it clear in His Word that Isaac, not Ishmael, was the son who obtained that inheritance. Abraham’s disobedience opened a door so significant that his sinful shortcut continues to cost the lives of men and women everyday and peace in the region is nothing but a dream of a distant day.
  • If you take a sinful shortcut you birth an ISHMAEL, not an ISAAC.
    • (Ge 16:12) 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.
      • You birth problems not only for you but for others.
    • The problem with this Godly couple goes back to the garden. 
      • They thought God needed help.
      • In place of trusting God and His word they settled for the next best thing
      • When things turned up as a bad idea instead of repenting and turning to God they continued to hold on to their way.

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