Grace Bible Church
Robert R. McLaughlin Bible Ministries
The TREE OF LIFE is a weekly teaching summary.
From the week ending 12/09/01
The helplessness of Hagar is the perfect circumstance for a visit from The Lord Jesus Christ.
Genesis 16:5-6 And Sarai said to Abram, "The wrong done me should have been judged by you. I have given my female slave into your arms; but when she saw that she had become pregnant, I was despised (unimportant) in her eyes (her thinking). May the Lord judge between you and me." But Abram replied to Sarai, "Behold, your female slave in under your authority; do to her what is good in your sight." So Sarai treated her harshly, and she fled from her presence.
Abram's refusal to rebound and take responsibility for his decisions results in injustice toward others. Abram did a great injustice to Hagar, who has become pregnant after Abram has had a sexual relationship with her. He also failed Sarai by refusing to take the responsibility for the headship of the family. He should have used his legitimate authority and separated the two women to protect them from each other. Sinfulness and carnality plus the failure to rectify his wrong decisions has robbed Abram of his honor and his integrity. The disastrous results of Abram's loss of authority are culminated in his betrayal of Hagar, when turns her over to a jealous, implacable, self-righteous, cruel Sarai.
Abram has committed adultery, and adultery is wrong. However, it has happened, and now the only issue is what he will do about it. The answer, as always, is to rebound and move on. In this case, moving on demands honor and requires that he protect both the adulteress (Hagar) and his wife (Sarai); these would be the actions of a real man. Honor demands that Abram protect them from each other, and protect them from adding sin to sin. It takes a real man to step in and do what needs to be done, but Abram is not a real man at this time.
It is a man's world, but it is a great world for the women when they are protected and supported by their man, as men are required to do, GEN 3:17; 1TI 5:8. When men fail in this role, it becomes a disastrous world, 1TI 5:7-8, "Prescribe these things as well, so that they may be above reproach. But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith, and is worse than an unbeliever." By releasing Hagar to Sarai, Abram was, in effect, trying to do penance by hurting someone else, and penance never solved anything. Abram should have treated Hagar with impersonal love and grace, protecting her from Sarai's jealousy and self-righteousness. There are too many self-righteous people involved now in the situation, and Hagar is going to get hurt badly. Self-righteous people always hurt others through judging. Here Hagar is the sacrifice on the altar of self-righteousness and self-vindication. Self-righteousness always demands self-vindication in the eyes of others. God treats everyone in grace, so we must treat others in grace, MAT 7:12, LUK 6:31, Joh 8:7; however, no one in this passage is operating in grace. Rebound is grace all the way, but is never a license to sin. Rebound gives us the opportunity to get back into fellowship with God and protects us from our sins leading us into evil.
Sarai, who suggested the whole thing, is a very bitter, disturbed, and jealous woman, and this will last for another 13 years. The worst people in the world whose power you can come under are self-righteous, legalistic individuals. In fact, our Lord was turned over to self-righteous, legalistic people in His six trials. With the exception of one short interrogation, these six trials were unfair and unjust in every way! On trial was the unique Person of the universe, undiminished deity and true humanity in one Person forever, the Lord Jesus Christ. In His humanity, He had no sin nature, nor did He ever commit one act of personal sin. He performed only absolute divine good, and He was indwelt and filled by the Holy Spirit at all times. One of the greatest systems of jurisprudence was abused to condemn this One who was not only innocent, but absolutely perfect.
The first trial was held before Annas, the father in law of Caiaphas the high priest, who was the political boss of Jerusalem. Following the counsel of Caiaphas, he said, in effect, "Take Him and kill Him," JOH 18:14. The Second Trial is described for us in MAT 26:57 and MAT 26:67 "Then they spat in His face and beat Him with their fists; and others slapped Him." Self-righteous, legalistic, religious people did this! At the third trial, the religious leaders realized that the trial at night was illegal, so they passed Him off to the Romans. In the fourth trial, Pontius Pilate asked, "What accusation bring ye against this man?" in JOH 18:29. They answered him in JOH 18:30, "If this Man were not an evildoer, we would not have delivered Him up to you." Pilate, however, said, "I find in Him no fault!" At the fifth trial, Herod was excited at seeing Jesus, for he had heard of His reputation for performing miracles. Hoping for entertainment, he attempted to induce Jesus to perform one for him. When Jesus refused, Herod angrily ordered Him to be tortured. Jesus was then subjected to a sixth and final trial, this time before Pilate again. Pilate made an attempt to gain the release of Jesus on the basis of the custom of the Passover. Realizing that Jesus was innocent, Pilate would make it possible to release an innocent person, get himself off the hook, and help the religious leaders save face. However, these Jewish leaders, under the control of Satan, would not let up until Jesus was removed from the scene. They said in effect, "Do not release to us the most wonderful Person who ever lived... release to us 'Public Enemy Number One,' Barabbas!"
Paul was also given over to the self-righteous, legalistic, religious crowd, and in 2CO 11:23-25, "They threw him in prison and beat him many times without number, often to the point of death. Five times they gave him thirty-nine lashes. Three times they beat him with rods, once they stoned him to death." The point is that the worst thing Abram could possibly do to Hagar is to turn her over to his self-righteous wife! The most cruel people in the world are the self-righteous. It is a very wimpy Abram who says in Gen 16:6, "Behold, your female slave is still under your authority; do to her what is good in your sight." Abram actually gives Sarai a license to persecute Hagar. Sarai is jealous and vindictive, and there is no good in her sight and her thinking. There is no justice in a self-righteous jealous soul.
The one possession a man absolutely must maintain at all times is his honor and integrity, no matter how he fails in life. Failure is the whole reason for rebound as seen in PSA 32:1-5. Rebound is the grace function for the believer, and accomplishes the following results:
· Restoration to fellowship.
· Recovery of the filling of the Holy Spirit.
· Reentry into the predesigned plan of God.
· The opportunity for recovery from cosmic influence, i.e., grieving the Holy Spirit in cosmic one, and quenching the Holy Spirit in cosmic two.
There are several steps to the precise, correct procedure in rebound:
· Name it, 1JO 1:9.
· Isolate it, HEB 12:15.
· Forget it, PHI 3:13.
· Keep moving, PHI 3:14.
· Stay on the playing field, 2JO 1:8-9.
This is exactly what Abram should have done. The solution is to name and cite his sin of fornication and failure in the marriage and then fall back on his honor. In rebound we judge ourselves rather than justify ourselves, 1CO 11:31, "But if we judged ourselves rightly, we should not be judged." When a believer rebounds, instead of defending his actions, he stops the momentum of evil in his life. Abram should have rebounded immediately, but refused to do so. Even though he was a married man, Abram had a responsibility to Hagar to protect her, in this case from the jealousy of his wife.
In Gen 16:6 Sarai treated Hagar "harshly"; the word "harshly" means to oppress, "browbeat," depress, afflict, mishandle, and humiliate. In the piel (intensive) stem, it means literally to torture. Sarai would have to overcome this extreme failure in order to become a mature believer. The screams of tortured Hagar are not going to make Sarai any happier; as we have noted many times in the past, you cannot build your happiness upon someone else's unhappiness.
Any time that anyone has authority and abuses their power, the result is always tyranny. The only real freedom comes from Bible doctrine, and, of course, this is inevitably the means by which establishment perpetuates and protects human freedom. In Gen 16:6, "Sarai treated her harshly (oppressed her), and she fled from her presence." How she got away, we do not know, but once in Sarai's power, Hagar was so abused and persecuted that she ran away in desperation to escape into the desert, not even fearing the penalty of death for runaway slaves. In GEN 16:7-12 a real Man, the Lord Jesus Christ, comes to Hagar's rescue: "Now the angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, by the spring on the way to Shur. And He said, 'Hagar, Sarai's maid, where have you come from and where are you going?' And she said, 'I am fleeing from the presence of my mistress Sarai.' Then the angel of the Lord said to her, 'Return to your mistress, and submit yourself to her authority.' Moreover, the angel of the Lord said to her, 'I will greatly multiply your descendants so that they shall be too many to count.' The angel of the Lord said to her further, 'Behold, you are with child, and you shall bear a son; and you shall call his name Ishmael, because the Lord as given heed to your affliction. And he will be a wild donkey of a man, his hand will be against everyone, and everyone's hand will be against him; and he will live to the east of all his brothers.' Then she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, 'Thou art a God who sees; for she said, have I even remained alive here after seeing Him?'" Finally, we see a Man with grace and love and mercy!
In running away, Hagar has only gone from the hopelessness of slavery to the helplessness of being alone and without provision in the desert. She has been tortured so much that she is no longer thinking rationally. God's solution always begins where we recognize our hopelessness and helplessness before Him. God will always act beforehand to solve man's hopelessness, but man must recognize his need. Here, the first one to become helpless is Hagar.
The next one to realize his helplessness will be Abram. God can start dealing with Abram again, and in the next chapter, he will be great again. Fourteen years will pass before he gets his son Isaac; it will be 13 years before he can have a sexual relationship with Sarai again. The last one to recognize her helplessness will be Sarai herself. Hagar has fled from "Sarai," whose name means "nagging one," but she will return to "Sarah," which means "princess." Hagar will be brought back under the right conditions, now that the proper authority structure has been re-established.
Hagar's helplessness is the perfect circumstance for a visit from the Lord Jesus Christ. Out of this many blessings are going to come to her, including her own salvation. Grace always responds to helplessness, just as justice demands justice. Jesus Christ does not help "those who help themselves"; He helps the helpless. When we stop helping ourselves, Jesus Christ can take over. None of us have the ability to turn cursing into blessing. Therefore, Jesus Christ comes to Hagar at the oasis, a place of refuge. You haven't lived until you realize that Jesus Christ is your best friend, 1Pe 2:9, "But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession," Hagar was not even a believer and the Lord treated her in grace and mercy. And why not?...
ROM 5:6-8 For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?
If this is our Lord's attitude towards the unbeliever, then think of the attitude that He has toward us as His children! Our Lord has always and will always control human history. No matter what the historical circumstances happen to be, those who are advancing to spiritual maturity can still have perfect happiness in any environment, 1CO 2:9, EPH 3:20, ROM 8:28. We see a very important principle in this: If a man has responsibility and authority over the woman and does not fulfill that authority, the Man, the Lord Jesus Christ will take over.
In effect, Abram is running away from the problem; he is ignoring the it in the hope that it will disappear. When the problem does not go away, he turns the problem over to his wife. If anyone is less qualified than Abram to handle the solution, it is his wife. When Abram took Hagar as his mistress, he was not only committing adultery, but he was taking on a new responsibility. He should have freed Hagar; he should have set her up where she would be secure for life, but he is too cowardly to face down Sarai. Therefore, the Lord intervenes.
We have noted that Abram was wrong for turning Hagar over to Sarai; notice, however, in GEN 16:9, the Lord commands her to return to Sarai. The question you should have is "Why?" The answer: it is going to take a real man to come in and to straighten out the situation and get the household back in order. Abram tried to run away from the problem, and the Lord intervened. Hagar tried to run away from the problem and again the Lord intervened. Sarai tried to run away from the problem, and, as always, the Lord intervened. Whenever we try to run away from a problem, someway, somehow, the Lord will intervene, GAL 6:7. The Lord Jesus Christ, who represents every principle of manliness and honor and integrity, will step in and turn the curse into a blessing. This should be a great comfort to all ladies, especially those who are married. Once you fulfill COL 3:18 and EPH 5:22, "Wives, obey your own husbands, as to the Lord," your husband is the Lord's responsibility. He is now under LUK 12:48, "To whom much is given [authority] much is required."
GEN 16:7 Now the angel of the Lord [this is the Lord Jesus Christ] found her...
The word "found" in the Hebrew reveals that she has come to the end of herself and now the Lord comes to her. And when He comes to you, the solution is on its way. Here is where grace and justice meet, where the situation is hopeless, and where man is helpless and useless and can not solve his problems. This is where he has reached a point of total desperation where he has no illusions about solving his problems. Hagar has no illusions about solving her problem; she has no ability to do so. Grace and justice meet at the point of man's hopelessness, helplessness, and uselessness. As long as man is scheming and trying to solve his problems with his own plans, he is not at the end of his rope, which is where grace takes over. Only man can ruin his life, and only God can straighten it out. Hagar is obviously trying to go back to Egypt (Shur is on the way to Egypt); it is the only place she knows. When people are desperate they always go back to something they know, even if they have hated it in the past.
Notice that the Lord did not come to discipline Hagar for her fornication, but He came to help her in her hopeless situation. This problem is going to be solved by the Lord Jesus Christ and by no one else. The justice of God is the only answer, and all function of grace comes from the justice of God, not from the love of God. Grace never functions from love; grace always functions from justice. The source of grace is justice, the motivation of grace is love.
To illustrate this, we go back to the Cross. At the Cross the sins of the old sin nature were poured out on the Lord Jesus Christ and judged. No one can have salvation until sins are judged. Sins are merely a manifestation of spiritual death. God the Father judged our sins from His justice, and because He did so, He is free to give eternal salvation to anyone who believes in Christ. Justice was free at the point of salvation to give us, in this dispensation, 40 special gifts and benefits, which God will never take away. We have these things forever because we adjusted instantaneously to the justice of God the moment we believed. When we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ and adjusted to the justice of God, justice was free to save us; justice demands justice and justice fulfills justice. Before we can be accepted with God, justice must be satisfied, or else God's perfect integrity would be compromised. Therefore, it is not love that saves us; in fact, if love saved us, then everyone would be saved! Again, love is only the motivation of grace; grace functions on man's behalf from God's justice.
We also have instant adjustment to the justice of God after salvation when we name or cite a sin (rebound). We are confessing a sin that has already been judged. And judgment means adjusting to the justice of God. We are forgiven and cleansed, not because God "loves" us, but because we are once again rightly related to His justice, and the justice of God is free to forgive us our sin. Rebound is necessary because the justice of God is now free to reinstate the filling of the Holy Spirit, which absolutely necessary for the function of perception, metabolization, and application of Bible doctrine.
1JO 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
God is going to hold court in the desert, and He is going to judge Hagar. She will adjust to the justice of God by believing in Jesus Christ, and He will give her the solution to her problem. She had left the authority of Sarai, and she is now going back to the authority of Sarai. You can never dodge authority and solve a problem. Authority, of course, is not always fair because everyone in authority has an old sin nature. However, no matter how unfair it is (and if anyone was ever unfair it was definitely Abram and Sarai), you can not solve the problem by running away from authority. All authority is given by God. Even though authority is abused, as inevitably it will be, the principle never changes; sin does not change principles. Even when we violate principles of truth, truth always remains the same. The principle of authority has stayed the same throughout history; it has never been changed, even by its constant abuses and violations in the human race.