celebrates the faith of Abraham in the promise that
he would have many descendants. The reality of the
marriage between Abram and Sarah, and their
relationship to God, seems a little different than
the perfect picture of faith. It makes us scratch
our head. What should we conclude about this? The
writer of Hebrews had his blinders on? Or, that God
is more merciful and generous to us in our marriage
decisions and our relationship with Him than we
might think? Let's dive into our study this week and
Abram was 75 years old (
when he was first promised by God to become a "great
nation." Put yourself in Abram's sandals: when would
you expect that promise to be fulfilled?
(Soon, given his age!
How important a promise would you guess this was in
If you owe someone money, are you conscious of this
when you see them? Is it the first thing that comes
to your mind?
Abram is now 85, ten years have passed since
God promised him (at 75) to "become a great nation."
Why does God, no doubt remembering His promise, tell
Abram that his faithfulness to God is a "great
Evaluate Abram's response: is this the
response of faith? Abram immediately tells God He
has not kept His promise and the arrangements have
been made to have his chief servant inherit Abram's
"great reward." (There are two levels of faith. The
first is accepting and patiently waiting. The second
is challenging God to keep His promise. Both look to
God as the One who is able to perform. The
"non-faith" response is simply to ignore God because
you no longer think He is a factor.)
What did God say to Abram that revived His faith in
How many years have now passed without God
fulfilling His promise?
What stage of "faith" has Abraham now
reached? (He is at the edge of simply ignoring God.
He laughs at the promise because it seemingly had no
What do failed promises do to a marriage?
Why would God wait so long? What purpose does
a 25+ year delay serve? (This is one of those areas
in which it is difficult (at least for me) to
understand the mind of God. A son, Isaac, was born
to them. Isaac's name means "to laugh," and thus he
was a perpetual reminder to Abraham and Sarah (who
also laughed in derision (
of the reliability (if not speed) of God's promises
Does the fact that God waited until this couple was
"as good as dead" to give them the promised child
help explain the wait? (This is a recurring pattern
in God's dealings with humans. He waits until it is
impossible, and then He does the impossible - so
that no one is confused about God's role in the
What does God do here to make the promise more real?
(He actually names the son Abraham and Sarah will
have and gives a specific time period.)
Abraham was 85, so this was ten years after God's
promise of a son, and fifteen years before Isaac
would be born. What do you think about Sarah's
statement that "The Lord has kept me from having
children?" (At first blush, this seems completely at
odds with God's promise. But, go back and reconsider
the promises that God has made to Abraham so far.
God does not mention who will be the mother - He
only mentions Abraham as the father!)
Considering that Sarah has not been named as
the mother, in what kind of light does this put her
offer? (Since God has kept her (or so it seems to
her) from fulfilling His promise, "perhaps" God has
in mind some other woman to fulfill the promise.
Sarah seems to be unselfish, impatient, and willing
to help God.)
How does Sarah's suggestion run afoul of this
proverb? (The Bible commentary "Be Obedient" says
"faith is living without scheming." The pattern of
God is that He works with human partners to fulfill
His work on earth. The line between being "God's
helper" and "scheming" is not always a real bright
Recall that last week Adam listened to Eve and ate
the fruit. What lesson do we see repeated here?
(Listening to your wife's advice may be is contrary
to God's will and harmful to your spiritual health.)
Let's take a small detour right here. Read Genesis
12:10-20. Whose great idea was it to lie to Pharaoh?
What lesson do we learn for our marriages
from the advice given by these two? (Our spouse is
our helper and our closest human friend. But, that
does not mean we should turn off our brain when they
offer advice. We need to be sure our decisions are
consistent with the advice of our closest heavenly
At this point are Abraham and Sarah congratulating
themselves on doing God's will? (Sarah's advice
worked. No doubt during the "praise and prayer" time
in church they would have stood up and told how they
partnered with God to have this wonderful child.)
What has happened to Sarah's unselfish attitude?
Is Sarah right? Is Abraham responsible for
"the wrong" Sarah was suffering?
How would you anticipate that God would judge
between the two of them?
Evaluate the actions of this couple now? (Abraham
deserts his leadership position. Sarah abuses Hagar.
Neither spouse is acting like a follower of God.)
Is this how you would have described this sequence
How do you explain Paul's statement? (The New
Bible Commentary says Paul's point is "not that
Abraham was a perfect person or never had any doubts
at all, but that his heart attitude was consistently
one of faith and hope in the promise of God.")
The Promise Fulfilled
The text is about the birth of Isaac. But, what
other fact keeps being repeated in these verses?
(That God kept His promise!)
What does that teach us about trusting God? (God's
timetable may be much different than ours.
However, God keeps his promises.)
What does this teach us about marriage? (Remain
faithful to your spouse and your God.
It may seem difficult, but the
alternatives are worse.)
What kind of attitude does Sarah have? (She feels
vindicated. Against all odds, she finally has a
What kind of attitude do we see in:
Ishmael? (Ishmael was jealous and mocked Isaac.
I'm not surprised.)
Sarah? (Now that she has a son, she will let
no one "steal his thunder" or get in his way.)
contains more advice from Sarah.
Would you take it if you were Abraham?
How does it feel to be Abraham right now?
Do you think he wishes that he never had
God, amazingly, supports Sarah's demands. What does
God say to Abraham to comfort him?
(That Ishmael will live and be a great
Put yourself in Abraham's place. What impact does
the fate of Ishmael have on your thinking? (This is
where Abraham's name is entitled to be chiseled in
stone in the "faith chapter" (Hebrews 11). I would
have been very worried because God let Ishmael go.
I had the heartbreak of that! Now this
How did Abraham work this out in his mind?
(That God would raise Isaac to life.)
Friend, sometimes our spouse gives us good advice.
Sometimes not. Our heavenly Father is always with us
- even when it seems He is not.
Will you trust Him?
Next week: Isaac and Rebekah: Rearing