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Abram’s wife Sarai had not borne any children for him, but she owned an Egyptian slave named Hagar. Sarai said to Abram, “Since the Lord has prevented me from bearing children, go to my slave; perhaps through her I can build a family.” And Abram agreed to what Sarai said. So Abram’s wife Sarai took Hagar, her Egyptian slave, and gave her to her husband Abram as a wife for him. This happened after Abram had lived in the land of Canaan ten years. He slept with Hagar, and she became pregnant. When she saw that she was pregnant, her mistress became contemptible to her. Then Sarai said to Abram, “You are responsible for my suffering! I put my slave in your arms, and when she saw that she was pregnant, I became contemptible to her. May the Lord judge between me and you.”

Abram replied to Sarai, “Here, your slave is in your hands; do whatever you want with her.” Then Sarai mistreated her so much that she ran away from her.

The angel of the Lord found her by a spring in the wilderness, the spring on the way to Shur. He said, “Hagar, slave of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?”

She replied, “I’m running away from my mistress Sarai.”

The angel of the Lord said to her, “Go back to your mistress and submit to her authority.” The angel of the Lord said to her, “I will greatly multiply your offspring, and they will be too many to count.”

The angel of the Lord said to her, “You have conceived and will have a son. You will name him Ishmael, for the Lord has heard your cry of affliction. This man will be like a wild donkey. His hand will be against everyone, and everyone’s hand will be against him; he will settle near all his relatives.”

So she named the Lord who spoke to her: “You are El-roi,” for she said, “In this place, have I actually seen the one who sees me?” That is why the well is called Beer-lahai-roi. It is between Kadesh and Bered.

So Hagar gave birth to Abram’s son, and Abram named his son (whom Hagar bore) Ishmael. Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore Ishmael to him.
-Genesis 16

These are some thoughts on Hagar's story that intersects with Abraham and Sarah, here in Genesis 16.

Abraham and Sarah complicated things when they decided that he would sleep with another woman in order to have a child. We might have disqualified them.

Elders are supposed to have only one (sexual) partner, according to the Paul, in the New Testament.  But the patriarchs and kings practiced polygamy.  This is different than adultery or fornication which were forbidden always.

Some of the guys who wrote the Bible practiced something that we (Jews and Christians) say is wrong.  In that context, we have the patriarchs practicing polygamy.

Here, we have Abraham sleeping with someone other than Sarah.  Was he taking a second wife or was it fornication/adultery?  Did he have permission from God?  And was it possible for Abraham to derail God's story or plan A by making his own plan B?

How willing was Hagar?  How or why did Sarah and Abraham decide this was right?

What was God's relationship with Hagar in all this?

Our journey and how we navigate it affects other people.  Divorce and suicide are obvious ones.  Having a child outside of wedlock might be the case here.

Abraham has sex outside the boundaries of God's plan for him.  The lady, Hagar is evidently fertile, as was Abe; and they get pregnant; which in this case is what he wanted.

The father of our faith, Jewish and Christian, used a person who he was in a power position over, to get his way, and actually sold the whole thing as getting God's way, or making God's plan come to pass.

We know in hindsight, that this was not God's plan, but Sarah and Abraham's idea for how to make God's plan happen.

It would be one thing for them to do something, anything between themselves and God, to get pregnant; but what they did was to conscript a third person to make it happen.

Evidently, this was not the unforgivable sin for them.  God still worked with all three of them.

A lesson here is that God doesn't easily give up on people.  He sets an example for us.

Abraham was about 75 years old, when he left his home, to go on this journey, called by God, to where he did not know.  He was 86, when Ishmael was born; and then 100, when Isaac came.  And he was 160 when Jacob and Esau were born.  And he lived to be 175.  Also of note is that Abraham was born when his dad Terah was 70.

Abraham was in the middle of his life when he was called to uproot and change everything, by following God into the unknown.  And he was five years older than his dad was when he was born.  I can imagine he was already getting concerned about his progeny.

When God called Abraham to go out, he also promised him a son.  After 14 years of waiting, he helped God bring the promise to fulfillment, by getting together with Hagar.  Four years after Ishmael was born, God spoke to him, and said this is not the one; but the son will come from Sarah.  And they had to wait 10 more years.

Who's idea was it for Abraham to sleep with Hagar?  Without moralizing, how can we apply this to our lives?  How do we try to help God bring his promise to life in our lives, that is dysfunctional, complicates things, and affects others lives?

Now, imagine those first 4 years, with Ishmael, and the relationship with Hagar.  I don't know what it was like, but it became the new normal.  Instead of Abraham and Sarah waiting and walking before God, on their journey of faith into the unknown; they brought Hagar in and then Ishmael came.

Abraham was probably thrilled with his son Ishmael, then came the rude awakening.  When Ishmael was four, God spoke.  This boy is not the one, not the promised child.  He is going to come from Sarah's womb.

Abraham would have had to re-calibrate.  He could love Ishmael, but he now knew he was not the one he had been waiting for.  I imaging he might have been ashamed or grieved.  Maybe and maybe not.  How did Sarah feel?

Everything had been hard enough and now they had to adjust to the reality that they had totally missed it and done the wrong thing and even used somebody and created a child.

Sarah found out that God was calling her to be a mother, not a step-mom or an aunt; but a mother who would conceive and give birth and raise a son.  She had been living out her role as Abraham's wife and perhaps she was such a good wife and supported her husband and his vision to have a son, so much, that she went off the rails and got the idea for Hagar.

What is the lesson here?  Can we be such a good spouse or so determined to be a good spouse, that we figure out how to manufacture the dream or prophetic promise?

After God came and said, "time out", they did not know it would be 10 more years?  Their dream was put to death again.

The right thing to do was to be humane towards Hagar and Ishmael.  Abraham and Sarah created their own troubles.  They truly had to die to themselves and live to God.  Misery was the only alternative.

Maybe the 10 year time-frame was determined by Abraham and Sarah's readiness.  Or maybe is was mercy to wait till Ishmael was 14?

God certainly loved Ishmael and Hagar.  Think about that.

And what's it like to live in a fruitful life and try to enjoy it, after you get a revelation that this was not God's idea or God's best for you?  Imagine having built something, and then having God come to you and tell you that this was not his plan for you.  It is a rude awakening.

But you can still be encouraged by God even when you fail.

The question becomes, "now what?"  There are people who are depending on you now.  And you must do the right thing towards them and towards God for them, while renewing your journey towards the fulfillment of the promise from God, in your life.