In living a life of faith, we must never forget that we have two natures, the fleshly and the spiritual. We must not be deceived into thinking we can quickly or easily destroy the desires of our flesh. Abram learned the hard lesson that “he who sows to the flesh will of the flesh reap corruption.” Galatians 6: 8; Genesis 16:1
Living a life of faith is learning to live by trusting in God instead of living by your wits. When you begin living by scheming you are not living by faith. Our willingness to “not act hastily” is evidence of a lifestyle of faith. Isaiah 28: 16
Ten years had passed since Abram and Sarai came to Canaan with God’s promise to give them a son, but no son had been born. So, Sarai became impatient waiting on God and began working on her own plan to help God fulfill His promise. God had not specifically stated as yet that Sarai would Mother Abram’s child. Maybe her Egyptian servant Hagar could become her surrogate mother. “Please go into my maid; perhaps I shall obtain children by her.” Genesis 16:2 Sarai seemed to be so self-sacrificing in giving up her husband, but her plan was not God’s will and later both Abram and: Sarai would regret their actions. Our fleshly nature is usually willing to give what God has not asked of us instead of simply obeying what God has said. It always seems easier to work our schemes than to wait on God.
In that culture there was nothing illegal or immoral about Sarai’s suggestion, but just because something is legal does not mean it is God’s will. Abram went along with Sarai’s plan and soon his new wife, Hagar became pregnant. Now big problems began in their home. Proverbs 30:23 Sarai’s plan to save God’s face now itself needed saving. Hagar began to treat Sarai with contempt which caused Sarai to become angry at Abram. She blamed Abram for causing all of this mess and said, “My wrong be upon you.” Genesis 16:5 Abram was at fault because he should have rejected her carnal plan in the first place and been the spiritual leader in his home. Now Abram was caught in the strife between two warring women. When we yield to the flesh, “the works of the flesh” will soon follow. Galatians 5: 19-21
Abram tried to appease Sarai by telling her, “Do to her (Hagar) as you please.” Genesis 16:6 But that was the problem from the beginning. Everybody was doing what they pleased rather than obeying God. The result was Sarai became so hateful to Hagar that she ran away to escape Sarai’s anger.
Hagar was running back to Egypt when the Angel of the Lord found her at a well in a place located between Kadesh and Bered. The names are significant because they mean “the Sanctuary” and “a hailstorm.” This is a clear picture of life. Unless we choose the presence of God in His sanctuary we will end up in a stormy problem. The angel addressed her as, “Hagar, Sarai’s maid,” instead of calling her Abram’s wife. Marrying Hagar had never been God’s will and He refused to accept the works of their flesh. The counsel of the Angel was, “Return to your mistress and submit to her.” Genesis 16:9 This was dealing with the root of the problem. Hagar was in a proud rebellion against Sarai because she became pregnant so quickly and Sarai was still barren after years of marriage. It is so easy to become proud and think we are better than others. Pride is always the root of strife. Proverbs 13:10
The Angel told her that the child she was carrying was a boy and that God had seen her affliction and heard her cry and would multiply her descendants. She was to name her baby Ishmael which means, “God hears.” God cared about Hagar and helped her, but the Angel warned her about the nature of her child. Genesis 16: 11
This is an excellent description of our fleshly nature. Hagar was born in Egypt which is a picture of the world. When we turn to the world for answers instead of trusting in God, what is conceived is always a product of our flesh. What is “born of the flesh is flesh” and never will be acceptable to God. John 3:6 The only deliverance from our carnal nature is to build an altar and submit our lives to God. Abram and Sarai spent the next fourteen years of their lives watching this boy grow up. Every day Ishmael reminded them of their failure to wait upon God and today we still live with the many problems that his life brought into the world.