Women of Genesis Bible Study

The Women of Genesis: Lesson 19- Keturah, Hagar, Sarah, Rebekah

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 89, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18


Read Genesis 25


Questions to Consider

1. Who are the three women named in verses 1-18? What was the relationship of each to Abraham? To the Abrahamic Covenant? Based on your answers to these questions, why don’t we hear anything else about the sons of Keturah and Hagar after Genesis 25? Why does the Bible follow the story of Abraham’s lineage through Sarah (Isaac) instead?

2. Why, in terms of inheritance and the Abrahamic Covenant, would Abraham have sent the sons of Keturah and Hagar away from Isaac? (6)

3. Briefly describe Sarah’s, Keturah’s, and Hagar’s “callings” in life. Did Hagar and Keturah have less intrinsic value as people in God’s eyes than Sarah did simply because their roles in Old Testament history were different from hers? Does the fact that God calls different people to different roles in life mean that He values or loves people with “important” roles more? Who places or allows people to be in the roles or life circumstances they’re in? Does God view our status in life the same way people do?

4. Do you see some similarities between Sarah and Rebekah in this chapter?

🍼 What is the first similarity we see in verse 21 (compare with 11:29-30)?

🍼🍼 Compare Isaac’s age when he married Rebekah (20) to his age when Jacob and Esau were born (26). How long did Isaac and Rebekah wait for God to open her womb? How long did Abraham and Sarah wait (compare 12:1-4 with 21:5)?

🍼🍼🍼 After opening their wombs, how many sons of the Covenant did Sarah have? How sons of the Covenant did Rebekah (24) have?

🍼🍼🍼🍼 How did Rebekah (23) and Sarah (17:19) find out about these Covenant sons?

5. Consider Rebekah’s possible concerns and emotional state at being barren for so long, and then bearing only two sons, when God had promised Abraham that his descendants would be “as many as the stars of heaven and as many as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore”. How might God have used these circumstances in her life to teach her to trust Him? (22-23)

6. How do the motifs of barrenness, miraculous conception, and the one, promised, long-awaited son of the Covenant foreshadow the birth of Christ?

7. How does the story of Esau despising his birthright and Jacob redeeming it further confirm what God told Rebekah in verse 23 – that Jacob would be the son of the Abrahamic Covenant?


Think about the roles and statuses God has placed you in. Are you famous? Unknown? Do you wield a lot of power and influence, or very little? Are you wealthy, poor, or somewhere in between?

Read the Parable of the Talents. “Talents” were units of money the master entrusted to his servants to invest. What kinds of blessings, influence, resources, and abilities has God entrusted to you? Your marriage? Your singleness? Your home? The position you serve in at church? Money? Your children? Your job? Your relationships with friends?

What matters to God – how many of these things He has blessed you with, or how you steward them for His glory (see verses 21 &23)? List three ways you can faithfully make the most of the roles and statuses God has called you to for His glory.

Suggested Memory Verse

And the Lord said to her, “Two nations are in your womb,
and two peoples from within you shall be divided;
the one shall be stronger than the other,
the older shall serve the younger.”
Genesis 25:23

Women of Genesis Bible Study

The Women of Genesis: Lesson 13- Sarah

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 89, 10, 11, 12


Read Genesis 17:1-18:15


Questions to Consider

1. Briefly review lessons 11 and 12 (links above).

2. Read Genesis 16:16 and 17:1. How many years passed between the birth of Ishmael and the appearance of the Lord in 17:1?

3. Compare 17:1-8 with Genesis 15:1-6. Write out the stipulations of the Abrahamic Covenant. Think further ahead into Old Testament history (Exodus-ish). What is God laying the foundation for here with Abraham? How does Abraham serving as the “cornerstone” as it were, of the nation of Israel point ahead to Christ as the cornerstone of Christianity?

4. What was the sign that a person was under the Abrahamic Covenant? (17:9-14) What were the “policies and procedures” regarding circumcision in this passage? Are Christian men today required by Scripture to be circumcised? What is the New Testament sign that a person is in Christ and under the new covenant of grace?

5. Why do you think both the covenant and the sign of the covenant were male-centric? Why didn’t God make the covenant with Abraham and Sarah? Why circumcision, which was specifically male-only, instead of something like ear-piercing which could have also been performed on females?

6. Why did God change Abram’s name to Abraham (17:5), and Sarai’s name to Sarah (17:15)?  What did their former and new names mean? Why didn’t God change Hagar’s name?

7. Compare and contrast Abraham’s reaction to the news of Sarah’s impending pregnancy (17:15-18) to Sarah’s reaction to this news (18:10-12). How were their reactions similar? How were they different? How did God respond to Abraham’s reaction? (17:19-21) To Sarah’s? (18:13-15) From God’s individualized responses to each of them, what can you infer about the differences between Abraham’s and Sarah’s thoughts and concerns about the upcoming pregnancy? Why do you think God picked the name Isaac for their son? (see footnote on 17:9, Genesis 21:5-7)

8. Examine more closely Sarah’s response to the news of her impending pregnancy in 18:11-15. Recall or review (lesson 11) Sarah’s failure to trust God. How does her initial reaction here again demonstrate that she did not believe God’s word, or trust God’s character to keep His promise?

9. Verse 18:12 begins with the word “So”, indicating that the reason Sarah reacted the way she did was because of the information in verse 11. What circumstances (11) were Sarah’s reaction (12) based on? Did she have more faith in the her circumstances and her own personal experience, or in God and His Word? In that moment, was her faith rightly or wrongly placed? Examine Hebrews 11:11. Even though Sarah initially failed to trust God and wrongly placed greater faith in her circumstances and experiences, did her heart, her faith, and her trust remain that way?

10. Carefully examine 18:1-10. What can we learn about the customs of Middle Eastern hospitality at that time? What were some of Sarah’s duties and appropriate behaviors in welcoming guests according to her culture?

11. Review the verses in this passage that specifically talk about Sarah. What else can we learn about her character or her faith that set a good, or bad, example for us as Christian women today?


“Is anything too hard for the Lord?” Even though Sarah’s initial reaction to God and His Word was one of unbelief and distrust, God brought her along and grew her into someone who was commended for her faith in Hebrews 11 (often called the “roll call of the faithful” or “the Hall of Faith”).  Think back over your walk with the Lord. Can you think of a Scripture you once rejected in disbelief or rebellion that you now embrace and obey? A life situation in which God grew your faith in Him? What circumstances, Scriptures, or people did God use to bring you along from unbelief to belief, disobedience to obedience, distrust to trust? Spend some time in prayer thanking God for growing you through that situation.

Suggested Memory Verse

Is anything too hard for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you, about this time next year, and Sarah shall have a son.
Genesis 18:14

Women of Genesis Bible Study

The Women of Genesis: Lesson 12- Sarah and Hagar

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 89, 10, 11


Read Genesis 16


Questions to Consider

1. Briefly review lesson 11 (link above) since it is basically part 1 of the lesson on chapter 16. Refresh your memory on Sarah’s “trust issues” with God.

2. Read verses 1-6 from Hagar’s perspective. What was Hagar’s station in life? (1) The ESV renders Hagar’s position as “servant”, but to our 21st century mindset, it might be more helpful to use the NIV and CSB’s rendering of “slave”.

3. As a slave, what rights would Hagar have had over her personhood? Over her own body? Was Hagar asked if she wanted to sleep with Abraham or serve as a surrogate? Examine Genesis 30:1-8. In a “surrogacy by slave” situation, the baby was considered by society and the family to be whose child, the slave’s or the wife’s? Did Hagar have any rights to her own son? What are some thoughts or emotions Hagar may have experienced as she went through this situation?

4. When we read a story like this one, it’s very important that we understand the culture of the time. Imagine hearing this story on tomorrow night’s newscast. A man and his wife buy a female slave. The wife gives the slave to the husband for him to forcibly impregnate, with the plan that the resulting child will belong to the couple. It sounds like a TV crime drama on human trafficking, and, indeed, if this happened today in America, the husband and wife would both be criminally liable for their actions. In what ways can viewing this story through our current worldview help us to see the sin involved in what Abraham and Sarah did to Hagar? In what ways can a 21st century perspective lead us to misunderstand this story? How does understanding Abraham’s, Sarah’s, and Hagar’s culture, and the way it would have viewed slavery and slave surrogacy, help us to understand this story correctly? Does culture or era change whether or not something is a sin?

5. In Sarah’s and Hagar’s culture, the main way women achieved status, and were viewed as blessed and successful by society, was by bearing children, particularly sons. How does this piece of cultural information help you understand both Sarah’s and Hagar’s reactions in verses 4-6?

6. In lesson 11, we looked at how Abraham, as a godly husband, should have responded in verse 2. Did Abraham lead his wife in a godly way in verse 6? How could he have led her in a godly way? How did Hagar react to Sarah’s harsh treatment? (6)

7. Read verses 7-16. How many times is the phrase “angel of the Lord” used? Who is the angel of the Lord? Many theologians consider this appearance of the angel of the Lord to be a Christophany. What evidence do you see in this passage that might point to that conclusion?

8. What character trait did Hagar seem to be lacking in verse 4? How might her obedience to God’s instruction to her in verse 9 have grown her in that aspect of her character? Compare verses 9-10 to James 4:10.

9. Examine the end of verse 11 and the footnote. What does the name Ishmael mean? Compare this with what Hagar calls God in verse 13, and the name of the well in verse 14 (see footnotes). What would all of these descriptions of the character of God have meant in Hagar’s life? What does it mean in your life that God hears and sees you?

10. Compare and contrast Hagar’s trust and obedience to the Lord in 7-16 to Sarah’s distrust and disobedience to the Lord in 1-6.

11. Compare verses 7-16 with Luke 1:26-38, and make a list of any similarities you see. How does Hagar’s story point us ahead to Christ?


Read my article 5 Ways to Face Tests and Trials Biblically and apply it to either Sarah’s or Hagar’s (or both) situation in chapter 16. What was God’s purpose for the test she went through? What were some opportunities she had to obey God in her situation? What would her words and actions have been like if she had trusted God more?

Suggested Memory Verse

So she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, “You are a God of seeing,” for she said, “Truly here I have seen him who looks after me.”
Genesis 16:13

Women of Genesis Bible Study

The Women of Genesis: Lesson 11- Sarah and Hagar

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 89, 10


Read Genesis 16:1-6


Questions to Consider

1. Briefly review lessons 9 and 10 (links above) about Sarah and what brought her to this place in her life in chapter 16. Compare and contrast Sarah’s position in life to Hagar’s position in life.

2. How old was Abraham when God first called him and promised to make him a great nation? How old was he when Ishmael was born? So, approximately how many years had he and Sarah been trying to conceive? (3)

3. What do Sarah’s words in verse 2, “the Lord has prevented me from bearing children” tell us about her belief in God’s sovereignty and control over her situation? What do her actions in the remainder of verse 2 and 3 tell us about her belief in God’s sovereignty and control over her situation? Whose sovereignty did she really trust, God’s or her own? If Sarah trusted that God was the One who had closed her womb, why did she not trust that God would open it?

4. Think back to the promises of offspring God made to Abraham, of which Sarah was aware. Note the repeated phrase, “I will…” in all of God’s promises. Did God, at any time, ask Sarah or Abraham for their help in accomplishing these things? Did God know about Sarah’s barrenness? Did He ever suggest a surrogate mother for the offspring He promised? Whose idea was using Hagar as a surrogate? Was this an idea Sarah got from God or from her surrounding culture?

5. Think about Sarah’s relationship with God and her response to His promises. How did Sarah’s actions demonstrate that she did not believe God’s word, trust God’s character to keep His promise, nor accept and submit to God’s timetable?

6. Compare Sarah’s plan to give Hagar to Abraham, and the problems that resulted, to Genesis 2:24. Has plural marriage or fathering children through adultery ever been pleasing to God? As a godly husband, how should Abraham have responded to Sarah’s plan? How did he respond? (2,4)

7. Compare and contrast the influence Sarah had over Abraham (2-4) with the influence Eve had over Adam (Genesis 3:6-12). Was either woman, in these two incidents, a good steward of the influence God gave her? Why or why not? Was either man a good steward of the headship of his home God gave him? Why or why not?

8. What were some of the negative consequences of Sarah’s actions for herself, for Abraham, and for Hagar? (4-6) Would these things have happened if Sarah had obediently trusted God to keep His promise instead of taking matters into her own hands?

9. How does the story of God promising a long awaited son to a woman unable to conceive foreshadow the incarnation of Christ? What are some things that might have happened if Mary had taken matters into her own hands instead of trusting and obeying God?


Sarah’s words told one story about her belief in God’s sovereignty, but her actions told another story. Think about the situations in your life right now. Do you believe God’s Word, trust God’s character to keep His promises in His Word, and accept and submit to God’s timetable? Write down one way your actions could better line up with what you profess to believe, and implement it over the next week.

Suggested Memory Verse

So she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, “You are a God of seeing,” for she said, “Truly here I have seen him who looks after me.”
Genesis 16:13

Faith, Old Testament, Parenting, Prayer, Sunday School, Trust

Meet the Parents (of Samson) ~ Sunday School Lesson ~ 4-6-14

sunday school

These are my notes from my ladies’ Sunday School class this morning. I’ll be posting the notes from my class here each week. Click here for last week’s lesson.

Through the Bible in 2014 ~ Week 14 ~ Mar. 30-Apr. 6
Judges 1-18
Meet the Parents (of Samson)

In this week’s reading, we said goodbye to Joshua and met up with a variety of Israel’s lesser known judges. We also read about three better known characters in Israel’s history, judges Deborah, Gideon, and Samson. Often, when we come to passages like this, it’s like a treasure hunt. We focus on the valuables that are in plain sight. But, if we dig just a little, we can find more gems just beneath the surface. Today, we’re taking a look at two godly people who had a profound impact on Samson’s life: his parents.

Judges 13-14

Mr. and Mrs. Manoah
It’s always interesting to me that, just as we saw last week with the two spies, some of the most faithful of God’s servants are ordinary people like you and me serving God as they go about their daily tasks. And, just as with the two spies, in many cases, we never find out their names.  Samson’s mother was just this kind of nameless, faithful servant. Though we know little about her husband, Manoah, the most important thing about him—his faith—comes through loud and clear.

Barrenness (13:2-3)
Mrs. Manoah was barren. Have you ever noticed how many “big names” in the Bible had mothers who were previously barren or who conceived miraculously? Joseph (Rachel), Samuel (Hannah), John the Baptist (Elizabeth), even Jesus (Mary), just to name a few. Things are different today, but, in manoah-wife-angel-offering the Bible, a miraculous conception was often a sign that the child would grow up to be a mighty man of God.

Barrenness was usually seen by others in the community as a curse by God or a punishment for sin (and sometimes it was: 2 Samuel 6:23). During that time in history, the only way for women to achieve status and be considered successful was by marrying and having children- particularly sons. A woman’s entire self-worth—in her own eyes, her husband’s eyes, and the eyes of her community—was at stake. So it’s easy to see why women and their husbands would have spent a great deal of time crying out to the Lord in prayer and seeking to be obedient to Him in hopes that He would grant their request for a child. We see this most clearly in the case of Hannah (1 Samuel 1), and it’s reasonable to surmise that this was likely also the case for Manoah and his wife.

Belief, Not Doubt (13:3-8)
It’s interesting that both times the angel of the Lord appeared to deliver His message, He initially appeared, not to the man, Manoah, but to the woman, his wife. Was it because she was praying at the time, or because her faith was stronger than her husband’s? This passage doesn’t tell us, so we don’t know. But, notice Mrs. Manoah’s reaction to the news that she would conceive. Did she laugh in disbelief like Sarah and Abraham did (Genesis 17:17,18:12)? Did she doubt like Zechariah (father of John the Baptist: Luke 1:18)? No, Mrs. Manoah believed. And, as a godly wife should, the first person she shared the news with and sought direction from was her husband.

Now let’s consider the reaction of Manoah to his wife’s news. Did he think her desire for a child had sent her over the edge or that she was making this up? No. He believed her without question. What does this tell us about the character, faith, and influence on her husband of Mrs. Manoah? “The heart of her husband trusted in her” (Proverbs 31:11) because she was a godly, trustworthy woman.

A Household of Faith (13)
In addition to spending time praying for a child, Mr. and Mrs. Manoah probably prayed regularly, like many other faithful Israelites, for deliverance from the Philistine oppressors, and here, we find them in prayer again.

Manoah not only trusted his wife, he had faith that the Lord would fulfill His promise. His first reaction was to believe and ask God the best way to obey Him. “And God listened to the voice of Manoah…” and answered his prayer of faith. He came back—to Manoah’s wife. Again, Manoah believed her without question and followed her out to meet the angel of the Lord.

When they met up with the angel, we see further evidence of this couple’s godliness. Though the angel had appeared and spoken twice with Mrs. Manoah, she, as a godly wife, does not take control of the situation or assert superiority over her husband. She takes a step back and, as a godly husband and leader of his home, Manoah steps up to the plate to assume the responsibility for his family and receive God’s instructions.

Manoah’s conversation with the Lord is fraught with faith. He doesn’t ask how or why they’re suddenly being blessed with a miracle child even though they’re just ordinary people. He simply accepts that it will happen. Manoah is confident that God is telling the truth and will keep His promise when he says, “When [not if] your words come true…” (12, 17). He believes God’s word that Samson will “begin to save Israel from the hand of the Philistines,” (5) when he asks about “the child’s manner of life, and…his mission” (12) so that he and Mrs. Manoah could prepare him to do so. He trusted in the www-St-Takla-org--12-Angel-Visits-Manoah-and-His-Wifecharacter of God, “the one who works wonders,” (19) and worshiped Him as such. He and Mrs. Manoah feared and trusted in God’s holiness as they fell on their faces at His departure (20).

Without a total grasp of the situation (22), Manoah believed God’s word that, “no man can see Me and live” (Exodus 33:20). Only later (21) did Manoah understand that He had been speaking with the angel of the Lord (Jesus – theophany: an appearance of the pre-incarnate Christ – {“My name…is wonderful” (18)- see Isaiah 9:6}—this is how people could “see God and live” even though God had said, “you cannot see Me and live.” They could not live through seeing God the Father, but they could live through seeing God the Son. Also a piece of supporting evidence for the Trinity). Jesus, the true deliverer and judge came personally to announce the birth of this temporal deliverer and judge who would point ahead to Christ.

Finally, we come full circle to Mrs. Manoah’s quiet trust in the Lord. Even with a strong faith like Manoah had, there can be moments of confusion. How could God say to Moses –the greatest leader Israel had ever known, the friend of God!—“you cannot see My face, for man shall not see me and live,”—yet here he and his wife were, having seen Him, but somehow still unscathed? How could anyone understand this?

But Mrs. Manoah shows us that faith means trusting God’s word even when we don’t fully understand His actions. Yes, it was true that God had said that people couldn’t live through seeing Him, but it was also true that He had visited them and told them they were going to have a son who would be a deliverer for Israel. How could both of those things be true at the same time? She probably couldn’t understand it either, but she encouraged her husband to trust God even in their confusion (23). And God kept His promise (24-25)

Trusting Despite the Circumstances (14:1-10)
Kids grow up, and as broken, sinful human beings, they sometimes make foolish decisions despite being raised in a godly home. That’s what Samson seems to have done here. While the Philistines were not one of the seven nations the Israelites were specifically forbidden to intermarry with, the principle behind God’s forbidding of intermarriage with those other nations was the same for the Philistines: they were idolaters and enemies of God and His people.

As godly parents, Mr. and Mrs. Manoah tried to steer their adult son to a godly choice of a wife. They reminded him that he was one of God’s people, and surely wanted him, as a leader in Israel, to set a good example for the people. Once again, they were seeking to be faithful to God.

thInstead of honoring his parents, Samson chose poorly. Or so it seemed. Either Samson was operating solely on lust and God sovereignly used the situation to His own advantage, or Samson, moved by God, was intentionally trying to infiltrate the Philistines by marrying in. The passage doesn’t make this precisely clear to us.

And, it wasn’t clear to Samson’s parents, either. So, perhaps thinking that they could influence the girl’s family or hoping Samson would change his mind, they went along with his decision and accompanied him to meet the new in laws. Once again, though the circumstances were worrisome and hard to understand, Mr. and Mrs. Manoah trusted that the God who had already worked so many wonders in their lives could handle this situation. They had faithfully obeyed what God had asked them to do and raised Samson in a godly home. Now, they had to sit back and watch God take care of the rest. And He did. Again, God kept His promises.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,
 for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28