Genesis 16:1-6

Talks for Growing Christians

Abraham and Sarah Take God’s Promise into Their Own Hands

Genesis 16:1-6

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Lesson Number 34

Background Notes

Doctrinal Point(s)

  1. Biblical ends never justify unbiblical means.
  2. Unbiblical means always result in bad fallout.

Practical Application

  1. Don’t blame others when you are frustrated.
  2. Don’t rush ahead of God.


  1. When Abraham was seventy five years old and Sarah was sixty five, God gave them the promise of a child. By the time Abraham was eighty five and Sarah was seventy five, they still had no descendants. So they decided to help God out. How?
  2. What was the result of “helping God out?”
  3. What was wrong with Abraham and Sarah trying to help God keep His promise?
  4. What was some of the bad fallout of the action of Abraham and Sarah?


  1. Sarah gave her Egyptian maid, Hagar, to Abraham as a concubine. Under these arrangements, the child born would not only be the heir of Abraham, but legally considered the child of Sarah.
  2. Hagar conceived, and it led to a strained relationship between Sarah and Hagar. Hagar, having been treated harshly, ran away into the wilderness with the intent of returning to Egypt. To this day, the descendants of the child of Hagar and the child of Sarah are enemies.
  3. Their actions were wrong, regardless of social customs of the day. They were out of line with the word of God. And they did not take God at His word, waiting to let Him keep His promise.
  4. Other than stated in answer 2, there was friction between Sarah and Abraham, and Sarah blamed Abraham. (Genesis 16:5) Also, Hagar was filled with pride and she despised Sarah. Sarah was jealous and reduced her servant to slave status to the point of abuse. And most importantly, there was little if any communication between God and Abraham for the next fourteen years. The bad fallout continues to this day - Hagar’s child, Ishmael, is the father of many of the Arab peoples and Sarah’s child, Isaac, is the father of the Jews.


  1. Sarah, having not conceived, was frustrated and tried to shift the blame of her problem onto others. She blamed Abraham and lashed out at Hagar. She even blamed God for her problems. (Genesis 16:2) Do you ever blame others for your problems? What does this accomplish?
  2. Abraham and Sarah contrived to help God out, forgetting that their timetable was not God’s timetable. In rushing ahead of God, they created bad fallout. Do you ever try to help God out, rushing ahead of His timetable? Have you experienced bad fallout?


  1. Avoid using unbiblical means to gain biblical ends.

Key Verses

  • Sarai said to Abram, ‘See now, the Lord has restrained me from bearing children. Go in to my maid.’ And Abram heeded her voice. Then Sarai said to Abram, ‘My wrong be upon you!’“ Genesis 16:2, 5

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