In our study of Genesis chapter sixteen, we look at Abram's stumble in his faith and its lasting impact on our world today. We will see how going along with the ways of the world can have severe and lasting consequences.
"Now Sarai, Abram's wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian maidservant named Hagar; so she said to Abram, 'The Lord has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my maidservant; perhaps I can build a family through her.' Abram agreed to what Sarai said." NIV translation
Sarai did not have any children for Abram and so, as the normal thing of that day was to present your maidservant as sort of a surrogate, she did the same. Although it was the accepted way of the day, the practice was against the will of God. Abram had the promise of God that he was going to have a legitimate son but he went along with the popular custom and so begins his lapse in faith. When faced with the customs and accepted norms of our day, do we go along or do we stand on the word and promises of God? We notice that Abram did not take this matter to God in prayer so that he could be reminded of God's plan and His will. When faced with similar choices, do we seek the will of God through prayer and His word?
"So after Abram had been living in Canaan ten years, Sarai his wife took her Egyptian maidservant Hagar and gave her to her husband to be his wife. He slept with Hagar, and she conceived. When she knew she was pregnant, she began to despise her mistress." NIV translation
The number ten is the number of earthly completion and reminds us of man's efforts and responsibility for his actions. They had been in Canaan for ten years and did not see God coming through on His promise so they took matters into their own hands. Hagar became pregnant and this led to a sense of pride and looking down on Sarai.
We also see that Sarai understood the biblical marriage and that by giving Hagar to Abram they would, in fact, be married. In our world today, it is common to sleep with any number of different people as if it doesn't mean anything but, according to God's word, it is in fact getting married. As we shall see, Abram's wrong marriage will have consequences for all of mankind. Likewise, the explosion of "wrong marriages" that we see today has had and will continue to have profound consequences on our society.