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

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Read Genesis 25

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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?


Homework

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 16- Sarah and Hagar

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15

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Read Genesis 21:1-21

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Questions to Consider

1. In lesson 13, we gave some thought to the idea that God made the formalized Abrahamic Covenant only with Abraham, not with Abraham and Sarah. But notice God’s attention to Sarah in verse 1. Analyze the two halves of verse 1. Who is the subject? The object? What action is performed? Compare verse 1 to Hebrews 11:11. What can we learn about Sarah’s faith and God’s faithfulness from these verses?

2. How old was Abraham when Isaac was born? (5) How old was Sarah? Imagine yourself becoming a first time mom at Sarah’s age. What might you be thinking? What are some of the things you might pray about? What are some new issues you might need to trust God about?

3. What does the name “Isaac” mean? (3- see footnote) There has been much laughter surrounding Sarah’s pregnancy and Isaac’s birth. Examine verse 6 along with these verses. How would you characterize Abraham’s and Sarah’s laughter? Scornful? Unbelieving? Shock and awe? Thinking about how absurd the situation would seem to others? (Hint: Think about how we often see God treat scorn and disbelief of His word in Scripture alongside the fact that Abraham and Sarah are both commended several times in the New Testament.) Who chose Isaac’s name? What kinds of things would Sarah have been reminded of every time she called Isaac’s name?

4. Look at Genesis 16:16 alongside 21:5, and factor in the fact that children were usually weaned (21:8) at 2-4 years of age in that time. Approximately how old would Ishmael have been in 21:9?

5. Read the footnote on verse 9, and examine this verse in a few other trustworthy translations. What set Sarah off? (10) Does this sort of behavior from Ishmael seem to fit with what God had spoken about him? Compare verses 10-13 with 17:18-21. Before Isaac was ever conceived, what had God already told Abraham and Sarah about which son would be “heir” of the Abrahamic Covenant? So what sort of heirship might Sarah have been concerned about Ishmael sharing with Isaac?

6. Compare Hagar’s second “exile” from Sarah’s household in verses 14-21 to her first in 16:6-15. What are some similarities? What are some differences? Which attributes of God are showcased in both of these stories? How is God “the God who sees me” (16:13) and “God hears” (16:11) in the second “exile” as well as the first? Compare Hagar’s trust in God in these two passages to the lack of trust in God Sarah has exhibited in recent passages.

7. Briefly review Sarah’s actions in Genesis 16 (lessons 11-12) with the consequences in both chapter 16 and chapter 21. How did Sarah’s sin of taking matters into her own hands instead of trusting God impact Abraham, Hagar, Ishmael, Isaac, and herself?


Homework

Consider the impact Sarah’s sin of failing to trust God had on all the members of her household. Consider the example Hagar still sets for us today because she trusted God. Think about a situation you’re going through in your own life. How could your failure to trust God hurt those around you? How could your trust in God set a godly example that might even open a door to sharing the gospel with someone?


Suggested Memory Verse

The Lord visited Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did to Sarah as he had promised.
Genesis 21:1

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

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Read Genesis 16

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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?


Homework

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

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Read Genesis 16:1-6

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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?


Homework

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

Sanctification, Sovereignty of God, Sunday School

Ishmael and El Roi ~ Sunday School Lesson ~ 1-19-14

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 3 ~ Jan. 12-18
Job 32-42, Genesis 12-21
Ishmael and El Roi

What does “Ishmael” (Genesis 16:11) mean? El Roi (16:13)? Ishmael means “God hears.” El Roi means “the God who sees me.” Today, we’re looking at God’s sovereignty as displayed in the passages we read this week.

What do we mean when we say God is “sovereign”? Omnipotent? Omniscient? “Sovereignty” the way we use the word in the church today, means that God has authority and control over all things, people, and circumstances. He is omnipotent (all powerful) and omniscient (all knowing). Nothing in the universe happens without His knowledge, causation, or permission. We’ll see how God defines His sovereignty towards the end of today’s lesson. Because God is sovereign, we can TRUST Him.

Elihu (Job 32-34, Focal Passage- 33:29-30): God’s knowledge is perfect and complete. Ours is not. Elihu (as well as Job’s other three friends) thought he had God’s reasons for Job’s suffering all figured out: God brings suffering in order to lead men to repentance. Since Job was still suffering, he must still be in unrepentant sin. Elihu (and the others) were partly right. Sometimes, that is why God allows us to suffer. But not in Job’s situation. Each of them had a small piece of the puzzle, but none of them had the whole picture. Job wisely trusted God, who was the only one in this situation who knew the whole story, instead of his friends’ counsel.

42:7-9– Because our knowledge is incomplete, we must be extremely careful what we say about, or on behalf of, God. (Acts 20:26-27; Revelation 22:18-19, 2 Timothy 2:15) We are not to go farther than Scripture, nor stop short of declaring the full counsel of God. We are not to add to nor take away from God’s word. We are to handle God’s word rightly. We are to believe what God’s word says in context. Otherwise, we risk slandering the character of God.

Abram (Genesis 12-21): God isn’t just sovereign over the “big” things. He’s sovereign over the “small” things, too. He can be trusted in all things.

Abram trusted God’s sovereignty in the “big” things (Genesis 12:1-4; 15:1ff; 17:1-14)… Abram trusted God in a lot of “big” things. When God came to him and told him to leave his comfortable home and surroundings for a life of being a nomad, and didn’t even tell him where he was going, Abram went without question. When God told Abram He would give him innumerable descendants even though Sarai was barren, and that He would give Canaan to those descendants hundreds of years later, “he believed the Lord, and [God] counted it to him as righteousness.” (15:6) When God introduced the idea of circumcision to this 99 year old man, Abram didn’t try to talk God out of it or suggest a different way, he trusted God and obeyed.

…but sometimes he had trouble trusting God’s sovereignty in the “small” things (Genesis 12:11-13, 20:1-3; 16:1-2, 17:15-21; So did Lot’s daughters- 19:1ff; Genesis 2:24, Matthew 19:4-6) Abram trusted God when He rearranged and relocated his entire life. He trusted God to give him a myriad of descendants when he didn’t even have one child. He trusted that God would give thousands of square miles of land to his greatgreatgreatgreatgreat… grandchildren, yet when it came to protecting him and his wife, Abram gave in to fear and lied not once, but twice, about Sarai being his wife. Then, instead of trusting the God who had made all these great promises to him to cause Sarai to conceive on His timetable, he and Sarai took matters into their own hands with Hagar and violated God’s plan for marriage. Abram “listened to the voice of Sarai,” not the voice of God. (Just because bearing children “through” a handmaid was culturally acceptable at the time and Scripture doesn’t record God’s verbal disapproval of it doesn’t mean it was OK with Him.)

We see the same thing later with Lot’s daughters. Instead of trusting the God who sovereignly protected them from gang rape and the destruction of Sodom to give them husbands and children (or that it was OK with God for them to remain single and childless), they took matters into their own hands in a vile way. It is never God’s will for us to violate God’s word in order to bring about what we think are His purposes.

Hagar (Genesis 16:1ff, 21:8-21): God is sovereign over all circumstances, even the bad ones. His sovereignty brings comfort and shows He is trustworthy. Hagar was a slave. No one asked her if she wanted to sleep with Abram or bear his child. She had no choice. She was a victim of Sarai’s and Abram’s disobedience. But see how tender God is with her in these two passages! God comforts her personally and shows her she can trust Him by telling her a little about how He is going to use her circumstances in the future, and by His provision of the well. She can trust Him because He is sovereign over her situation. He has heard her cry (Ishmael) and is the God who sees her (El Roi).

Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 13:13, 18:22-19:29; Ezekiel 18:23; 2 Peter 3:9): God is gracious and patient, yet sovereign over sin, and sovereign in judgment. We learn as far back as chapter 13 that “the men of Sodom were wicked, great sinners against the Lord,” yet it isn’t until chapter 18 that we learn of God’s imminent plan to destroy the cities. We can’t be sure of the precise timing, but we do learn in chapter 12 (right before chapter 13 when God states that the men of Sodom were wicked) that Abram is 75 years old, and we find in chapter 17 (right before chapter 18 when Abram intercedes for Sodom) that Abraham is 99 years old. If the events are in chronological order, it appears (not knowing how long they had been “wicked” before chapter 13) that God mercifully spared his judgment against Sodom for at least 24 years. We see in other places, such as with Egypt (Exodus 12:40-41) and in our own day (since Christ’s ascension) that God waited hundreds or thousands of years before bringing judgment.

God is kind, gracious, and patient, because of His sovereignty over sin and judgment. He knows the kind of judgment that’s required and what it will be like. Over and over He provides ways for people and nations to repent, escape the penalty for their sin, and turn to Him. But when the time of His patience is fulfilled, He faithfully and righteously executes judgment.

God says, “ Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord God, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live?” and “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” He has provided a way for us to escape judgment- placing our faith in Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection to pay the penalty for our sin.

What does God have to say about His sovereignty? (Job 38-42; Focal Passages: 40:1-2,7-14; 42:1-6)

Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Or who shut in the sea with doors?
Have you comprehended the expanse of the earth?
Have you entered the storehouses of the snow?
Do you know the ordinances of the heavens?
Can you establish their rule on the earth?
Can you hunt the prey for the lion,
    or satisfy the appetite of the young lions,
Do you give the horse his might?

Shall a faultfinder contend with the Almighty?
He who argues with God, let him answer it.”

“Dress for action like a man;
I will question you, and you make it known to me.
Will you even put me in the wrong?
Will you condemn me that you may be in the right?
Have you an arm like God,
and can you thunder with a voice like his?

“Adorn yourself with majesty and dignity;
clothe yourself with glory and splendor.
Pour out the overflowings of your anger,
and look on everyone who is proud and abase him.
Look on everyone who is proud and bring him low
and tread down the wicked where they stand.
Hide them all in the dust together;
bind their faces in the world below.
Then will I also acknowledge to you
that your own right hand can save you.

Then Job answered the Lord and said:

“I know that you can do all things,
and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’
Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.
‘Hear, and I will speak;
I will question you, and you make it known to me.’
I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear,
but now my eye sees you;
therefore I despise myself,
and repent in dust and ashes.”