Women of Genesis Bible Study

The Women of Genesis: Lesson 13- Sarah

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

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Read Genesis 17:1-18:15

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Questions to Consider

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

2. Read Genesis 16:16ย 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 Abrahamย 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)?ย  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 againย demonstrate that she did not believe Godโ€™s word, or trust Godโ€™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?


Homework

“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”).ย  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, 8,ย 9, 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 renderingย 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 articleย 5 Ways to Face Tests and Trials Biblicallyย 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, โ€œYou are a God of seeing,โ€ for she said, โ€œTruly here I have seen him who looks after me.โ€
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, 8,ย 9, 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’sย wordsย 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 herย 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 notย believe God’s word,ย trust God’s character to keep His promise, nor accept andย submitย 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? Howย didย 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 youย believe God’s Word,ย trust God’s character to keep His promises in His Word, andย accept andย submitย 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, โ€œYou are a God of seeing,โ€ for she said, โ€œTruly here I have seen him who looks after me.โ€
Genesis 16:13

Women of Genesis Bible Study

The Women of Genesis: Lesson 10

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8,ย 9

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Read Genesis 13-15

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Questions to Consider

1. Briefly review lesson 9 (link above) about Sarah. Other than 13:1, this week’s passage does not mention Sarah. But as you read 13-15, read it understanding that, even though she is not mentioned, Sarah is experiencing all these things in some form or fashion because she’s married to Abraham. So, we learn from 13:1 that Sarah again had to pack up and move. In 13:2-7, we learn that Sarah was wealthy and likely managed a large household. Write down what else you can – carefully and reasonably – surmise about Sarah from chapters 13-15.

2. What/where was “the Negeb“? (13:1)? Trace Abraham’s, Sarah’s, and Lot’s trip from Egypt (13:1) back to “between Bethel and Ai” (13:2) on the map below. Find the remainder of the locations mentioned in 13-15 on the map.

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3. Read Proverbs 3:5-6. How do we see Abraham trusting God and God directing Abraham’s paths in chapter 13? Canaan, where Abraham settled (13:12), eventually became known as what? How does chapter 13 demonstrate God’s sovereignty?

4. What does chapter 13 teach us about making wise and godly decisions? Can you look back on an incident in your life where you had to trust the Lord and make the wisest, most God-honoring decision you could? How did God “direct your paths” in that situation?

5. List all of the things God promised Abraham in chapters 13-15. Can you find the passages of Scripture where these promises came true?

6. Examine the instances in chapters 13-15 where Abraham worshiped the Lord. How would you characterize his worship? What caused him to worship?

7. Compare 15:6 to Romans 4 and Galatians 3. What does the Holy Spirit want New Testament Believers to understand about faith from Abraham’s example?

8. Compare and contrast Abraham’s interaction with God in chapter 15 about what God was promising him to Zechariah’s interaction with God about what God was promising him. How were Abraham’s and Zechariah’s reactions to God’s promises similar? How were they different? How and why did God react differently to Abraham’s questions than to Zechariah’s questions?


Homework

Compare Genesis 14:17-24 with Hebrews 7. How is Melchizedek a type of Christ? Why would the writer ofย Hebrews (14:13) refer his audience back to Melchizedek as an illustration of Christ as eternal high priest?


Suggested Memory Verse

And [Abram] believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness.
Genesis 15:6

Women of Genesis Bible Study

The Women of Genesis: Lesson 9- Sarah

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

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Read Genesis 11:27-12:20

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Questions to Consider

1. What facts can we glean about Sarah from this passage? What was her original name? (11:29) Who were her family members? (11:27-29, 31) Where was she originally from, and where did she move to? (11:28,31) What was her physical condition (11:30) and why is this “backstory” being given to us? (12:7) What was Sarah’s physical appearance like? (12:11,14)

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2. We can learn more about Sarah from other passages of Scripture. What does the name Saraiย (see footnote) mean? What was Sarah’s familial relationship to Abraham? How old did Sarah live to be? How does Paul use Sarah as an allegorical example in Galatians? How does Hebrews describe Sarah’s faith? How does Peter hold Sarah up as a godly example to Christian women? Overall, how does the Holy Spirit frame and describe Sarah’s character in the New Testament? Does this mean her thoughts and behavior were always flawless?

3. Consider that Sarah, though sinful and imperfect in many ways, is spoken of by the Holy Spirit in the New Testament as a woman of faith and godly character, and an example to be looked up to by Christian women. Does this bring you comfort and reassurance as a sinful and imperfect, yet faithful, follower of Christ? What are some ways you can set a godly example for other Christian women even though you sometimes stumble into sin? How will God speak of your faith and character at the end of your life?

4. While the events in Genesis 11-12 are told from Abraham’s perspective, Sarah, his wife was right there with him, experiencing those same events. Consider the following parts of the story from Sarah’s perspective:

Barrenness (11:30):ย In a patriarchal society in which women established status largely by bearing sons, what might Sarah have thought about being barren?

Traveling and relocating (12:1-9): Examine the map above. Strange lands she’d never been to before. Strange and possibly hostile people. How far would Sarah and her family have had to travel? What might have been some of Sarah’s concerns for her family?

God’s promises and instructions (12:1-3,7): What questions might Sarah have had about her role in God’s promises to Abraham, how her barrenness would affect God’s promise for offspring, and how it would all play out once God’s promises were fulfilled?

Trusting, obeying, and worshiping God (12:1-9): In instructing Abraham, God was also instructing Sarah, as his wife, to obey and follow Him. What were some ways Sarah would have had to obey God? How could she have served as a helper to her husband? How would she have needed to trust God? How would trusting and obeying God have led to worship for Sarah, right alongside her husband? (7,8) How might Sarah’s relationship with God have grown through this experience?

5. Examine 12:10-20. Summarize the story in your own words. What did Abraham ask Sarah to tell the Egyptians in verse 13? Why? Was this true? What can we learn from this story about honesty, deception, and half truths? How did Abraham’s deception put Sarah in danger? In what way did Abraham put his own needs ahead of Sarah’s well-being? How might Abraham’s actions have damaged his relationship with his wife?

6. Compare Abraham’s trust in God in 12:1-9 with his lack of trust in God in 12:10-20.

7. In what ways did Sarah have to trust God and trust her husband in 12:1-9? In what ways did she have to trust God and trust her husband in 12:10-20? Was Abraham acting in a trustworthy way in both of these instances? Why or why not?

8. Have you ever had to trust God through a situation in which your husband, parent, or someone else you depended on, wasn’t acting trustworthy? What did this teach you about God and His trustworthiness and dependability?

9. True or false: “In some ways and at some times Sarah may have had to trust God even more than Abraham did.”? Why?


Homework

How can trusting God through a difficult time lead you to worship Him? Describe a trial you’ve been through and how you trusted God in the midst of it. Take some time to worship God for the specific ways He carried you through that trial: how He provided for you, comforted you, strengthened you, and encouraged you.


Suggested Memory Verse

Then the Lord appeared to Abram and said, โ€œTo your offspring I will give this land.โ€ So he built there an altar to the Lord, who had appeared to him.
Genesis 12:7