In Genesis 16:1-6, we find Abram’s wife Sarai, deeply embittered and anxious. Her bitterness came about from being childless. It had been more than 10 years since God promised she and Abram a son who would be a source of blessing to the entire world. And now, without that promise fulfilled, Sarai became bitter. A result of that bitterness would bring forth an idea that would have terrible consequences for both she and her husband, but also even for the world today.
In Genesis 16:2 Sarai told Abram, since we are without a family, “go in to my servant, that I may obtain children by her.” As the text continues, we discover that this was a bad idea, because it did not come from the Lord, but from Sarai’s anxious and bitter heart. Abram listens and through Sarai’s servant Hagar, a son Ismael is born.
But rather than bring blessing to Abram and Sarai and the world, this idea has several terrible consequences. First it created upheaval in Abram and Sarai’s relationship. We read in vs. 4-5 that Sarai “looked with contempt” at Hagar and continued in her bitterness with Abram. “The wrong done to me is on you,” Sarai told Abram.
This is the way deception works. We believe an idea will make life better for us, even though we know it disagrees with God’s word and godly counsel. But we become hell bent on going forward, and instead of blessing, the idea bears the fruit of bitterness, conflict and ultimately regret.
Interestingly, Ismael becomes the forefather of the Arab nations, which still are at enmity with God’s people Israel today. Not only that, but we see how 9/11 has reshaped the world we live in and how the Arab nations embraced a false ideology of Islam that denies Jesus Christ as the Son of God.
Maybe you find yourself struggling with bitterness and tempted to follow a path that you know is clearly against where God would have you go. God gives you a path towards repentance, or turning from that sin and deception and turning to Him. When we do that, He not only restores us but we will gain confidence that “the unfolding of His word gives light…” and that God’s face will turn to us and give grace, “as is His way with those who love His name.” (Psalm 119:130-131)