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Genesis 16:1-6

Waiting for God's Promises

  • Matthew Dodd
  • Weekend Messages
  • June 25, 2016

By studying the story of Abraham and Sarah and how they failed to wait for God’s promise, we can realize the importance of waiting on and trusting God to fulfill His promises to us.

  • Sermon Notes
  • Scripture

Waiting for God’s Promises

Genesis 16:1-6


1. Waiting… no one likes to wait… we want everything now!

2. How many bad decisions have been made due to impatience?

3. In Genesis 15, we’re told that God promised Abraham that an heir would come from his own body, even though he was very old.

4. After considering God’s promise, his old age, and the character of the One who promised, we’re told that “Abram believed God and it was reckoned to
him as righteousness” (Genesis 15:6).

5. Genesis 15 is a moment that could be characterized as a “mountain top experience with God”.

6. But quickly we’re brought to the “valley of testing” in Genesis 16.

7. In fact, the impact of Genesis 16 is felt to this very day because Abraham and Sarah failed to wait for God’s promise.

8. There are several important principles to learn from this passage so that we know how to “Wait for God’s Promises”!

9. Let’s look at them together.

READ Genesis 16:1-6

I. God Knows Our Pain (1)

A. Sarah’s Pain: No Child

1. The matter was settled for Abraham in Genesis 15; he would have a child from his own, old body.

2. But the matter was unresolved in Sarah’s heart.

3. Abraham was specifically mentioned, but she is not!

4. Yet, it’s implied, taken for granted that she is included.

a. Note the emphasis on “Abram’s wife” in verse 1.

b. Sarah is included!

5. Now, children are a blessing from God.

6. Stigma was attached to those who were childless

a. No child? “Must be sin in your life.”

b. No child? “Must be cursed of God.”

7. This culture believed the parents lived on through their child. So, you were cursed with extinction if childless.

ILLUS – Being single or a couple without a child… am I complete?

APPL – Whatever the issue, struggle or pain… God knows and God cares… bring it to the Lord… your hopes, trials, and identity! 

1 Peter 5:6-7, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your
anxiety upon Him, because He cares for you.”

B. Sarah’s Temptation: Hagar’s available

1. An Egyptian maid

a. She’s young and beautiful

b. She’s loyal and trusted (or so it appears)

c. But as an Egyptian, Hagar was outside of the covenant that God established with Abraham.

d. Hagar was acquired because of compromise: Abram’s words to Sarai – “Say you are my sister so that it may go well with me…” (Gen 12:10-20)

Genesis 12:15-16, “And Pharaoh’s officials saw her and praised her to Pharaoh; and the woman was taken into Pharaoh’s house. Therefore,
he treated Abram well for her sake; and gave him sheep and oxen and donkeys and male and female servants…”

APPL – Notice how one compromise sets the stage for the next compromise (Progression of sin).

– One lie leads to more lies and one drink leads to another

– A little flirting can lead to a divorce

James 1:14-15, “But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth
to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.”

APPLAll of us are tempted. Temptation is not sin because Jesus “was tempted in all as we are, yet without sin (Hebrews 4:15). It’s what we do with the tempting thought that determines victory or defeat.

2 Corinthians 10:5, “and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.”

2. By the way,God struck Pharaoh’s house with a plague to protect Sarah and to His promise to Abraham through her. But the table was set for the next compromise!

II. God Wants Our Faith, Not Our Help (2-3)

A. Sarah’s Assessment: “The Lord has prevented me”

1. It is a true statement

a. God closes the womb

1 Samuel 1:5-6, The Lord “closed” Hannah’s womb (Mentioned twice).

b. God opens the womb

Psalm 113:9, “He makes the barren woman abide in the house as a joyful mother of children. Praise the Lord!”

2. KEY: Sarah was hurting and filled with doubt. If only

Sarah could have seen that she was…

a. Barren but not because of sin in her life

b. Barren but not cursed of God

c. Barren and right in the middle of God’s will!

APPL – God’s delays are not God’s denials! Yet Satan whispers lies to us while we are waiting…

-“God can’t use you now”

-“God wants someone better than you”

-“Maybe God has forgotten you and His promises”

NOTE: Compare the temptation of Eve in the Garden of Eden – Satan questioned God’s character, power, and love…

Genesis 3:5, “For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

APPL – I wonder how many bad decisions have been made while “waiting for God’s best” due to a wrong interpretation of God’s delay. If God makes a promise, He will always keep it.

Psalm 25:3, “No one who hopes in You will ever be put to shame”

B. Sarah’s Solution: “Please go in to my maid”

1. How desperate Sarah must have been

a. Willing to give her husband to another woman!

b. It’s dangerous to be in a place where you want someone or something so bad that you will go to any length to get it!

2. Now, Sarah’s plan was a culturally accepted and legally practiced – build a family through a surrogate.

3. Beware! Just because a practice is legal or culturally acceptable does not mean it is God’s best!

APPL Life is overwhelming when you think God needs your help!

-God doesn’t need our help… God wants our trust

-Depend on Him alone, confident that He won’t fail

-Wait patiently and go when He says “Go”

-No manipulation!

APPL – But it’s very tempting to try to help God! Remember, God’s promises are never realized through human effort! They are…

– Supernatural, not natural

– Undeniably from God so that God, alone, is glorified!

APPL – God was waiting for Abraham and Sarah to be “as good as dead” so that they would receive a child because they believed in God for a son.

Hebrews 11:11-12, “By faith even Sarah herself received the ability to conceive, even beyond the proper time of life, since she considered Him faithful who had promised; therefore, also, there was born of one man, and him as good as dead at that, as many descendants as the stars of heaven in number, and innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore.”

APPL – God waits for us to come to the end of our resources!

C. “Abram listened to the voice of Sarai”

1. Sarah made some true statements

2. Sarah’s plan seemed reasonable

3. Sarah’s plan was culturally acceptable

APPL Test all messages, even from “trusted” messengers! Don’t place the opinion of others above God’s Word!

NOTE: Abraham is linked to Adam and the Fall 

Genesis 3:17, “Then to Adam He said, ‘Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I
commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat from it; Cursed is the ground because of you;…”

APPL Truly listen to what is being said. 

-Abraham listened to her voice but he didn’t hear her heart!

-If Abraham had been listening he would have told Sarah…

1. You’re my wife

2. My covenant is with you and our God

3. Let’s seek God and wait for His best

III. God’s Blessings Come Without Regret (4-6)

A. “Abraham went in to Hagar” (4)

1. The marriage bed was defiled!

Hebrews 13:4, “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge.”

2. Hagar conceived

3. Hagar despised Sarah

a. Loyal, trusted maid becomes an arrogant enemy

b. It looks like Hagar is blessed and Sarah is cursed

c. Hagar was doted on, Sarah was ignored

APPL – God’s point to Abraham, Sarah and His people

1. You can’t fulfill God’s promises on your timeframe

2. You can’t fulfill God’s promises by your power

3. You can’t fulfill God’s promises through your wisdom

4. If you try, the consequences are often regrettable!

B. Life fell apart (5-6)

1. Sarah blamed Abraham

a. Even though he followed her plan. It looks very similar to the blame game after the Fall.

b. She was suspicious of Abraham, insinuating that he was the cause behind Hagar’s attitude change.

2. Abraham passively deferred to Sarah

a. No leadership

b. No repentance

3. Sarah harshly treated Hagar until she ran away

NOTE – And all of creation has felt the weight of their choice to this very day because Ishmael became the father of the Arab nations. There’s been a constant struggle between Abraham’s sons ever since.

APPL – Our choices impact us and those around us!

ILLUS – Magic Erasers!!!

Romans 8:1, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” 


Consider the following questions before you move ahead with a plan:

1. Does this contradict a principle from God’s Word?

Psalm 25:12, “Who is the man who fears the Lord? He will instruct him in the way he should choose.”

2. Am you waiting patiently for the Lord, giving Him room to move on your behalf?

Psalm 27:14, “Wait for the Lord; Be strong, and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord.”

3. Will God be honored through this decision?

1 Corinthians 10:31, “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

4. Do I truly have peace about this decision?

Romans 8:6, “For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace,”

Are you waiting for an answer or waiting for a breakthrough?

God loves you… wait for Him… He will do it!

Genesis 16:1-6    NASB

1 Now Sarai, Abram’s wife had borne him no children, and she had an Egyptian maid whose name was Hagar. 2 So Sarai said to Abram, “Now behold, the Lord
has prevented me from bearing children. Please go in to my maid; perhaps I will obtain children through her.” And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai.
3 After Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, Abram’s wife Sarai took Hagar the Egyptian, her maid, and gave her to her husband Abram as
his wife. 4 He went in to Hagar, and she conceived; and when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress was despised in her sight. 5 And Sarai said
to Abram, “May the wrong done me be upon you. I gave my maid into your arms, but when she saw that she had conceived, I was despised in her sight.
May the Lord judge between you and me.” 6 But Abram said to Sarai, “Behold, your maid is in your power; do to her what is good in your sight.” So Sarai
treated her harshly, and she fled from her presence.


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