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Lesson 8: Faith and Frailty *

Introduction: Have you ever unexpectedly found yourself in a "tough spot" and wondered how you got there? Our study this week reveals how making a series of small, but poor, decisions can create serious problems in our life. Let's jump into our study and learn more!

  1. Hagar

    1. Read Genesis 16:1-2. Set to one side your thoughts about "marriage = one man and one woman," has Sarai made a reasonable proposal?

      1. Is Sarai acting against God, or is she co-operating with God? (Sarai says God has prevented her from having children, so she is stepping aside to allow the will of God to be done. I can perfectly understand her thinking.)

    2. Let's go back and pick up some verses from Genesis 15. Abram has a servant in his household named Eliezer who he has been named the primary beneficiary in Abram's will. Read Genesis 15:3-6. What did Abram believe?

      1. Is the faith of Abram contrary to the plan of action suggested by Sarai? (I can clearly see myself saying, "God closed one door and has opened another. Praise to God. After all, the promise was to Abram, and not Sarai.)

    3. Let's continue with our story. Read Genesis 16:3-4. Would you say the plan has worked? God blessed and it worked!

      1. What problem arises? (Hagar "began to despise" Sarai.)

        1. Why would she do this? (Pride.)

        2. Do you remember that little rule ("marriage = one man and one woman") from Genesis 2:24 that I asked you to set aside? How much of a factor is it here? (Protection against issues of self-worth, pride and jealousy are all wrapped up in this rule.)

    4. Read Genesis 16:5. What do you say about these charges? (Sarai is running on emotion, not logic. On the other hand, no one likes to be despised.)

    5. Read Genesis 16:6. What do you think about the character of Abram and Sarai now? (He is weak. She is rich, proud and spoiled.)

      1. How did they get into this tough situation? (Remember, Abram had been weak when he lied about Sarai being his sister. No doubt this was where they obtained Hagar. He was weak when he agreed to take Hagar as his wife. He is certainly weak now in letting his second wife be abused. Sarai is ruled by her emotions of jealousy and pride. Logic flew out the door a long time ago and now she is abusive.)

    6. Read Genesis 16:7-10, 15. Explain this to me? We just concluded that none of this - taking Hagar as his second wife, and Abram, Sarai and Hagar's conduct towards each other - was what God had in mind. Why does God continue with His promise to Abram (and now to Hagar)? (God is faithful even when we are not faithful. There may come a time when God throws in the towel on us (i.e. the flood example), but God shows that He is very patient with those who seek Him.)

    7. Has God overruled all the wrong and made it all right? (Read Genesis 37:28. Joseph, Sarah and Abraham's great-grandson, is taken into slavery by the descendants of Ishmael. Commentators point out that the current middle-east problem stems from conflicts between the heirs of Isaac and Ishmael.)

  2. Isaac

    1. Read Genesis 17:1-6. We just discussed how faithful God is to us. What do you think Abram's opinion was about the faithfulness of God? (He is now 99 years old, has one son, and God gives him the (slightly embarrassing) name of Abraham which means the "father of many nations.")

    2. Read Genesis 17:15-18. What kind of faith does Abraham show?

      1. Wiersbe's Expository Outlines says Abraham's laughter "was that of joyful faith." Is that how you see it?

      2. How much faith is shown by Abraham in Genesis 17:18? (Wiersbe is not the only commentary that argues that Abraham's laugh was that of faith. Verse 18 makes that unlikely. Abraham is still arguing for the "works" son, not the faith son. See Galatians 4:24-31.)

    3. Let's skip ahead and read Genesis 18:10-15. How does Sarah react?

    4. Read Genesis 17:19-21. One commentary says that the root word in Hebrew "to laugh" is the verb from which the name "Isaac" is taken. Does our God have a sense of humor?

      1. How do you react when people laugh at your words because they do not believe you?

  3. Sodom

    1. Three travelers are invited by Abraham to stop and be refreshed. Read Genesis 18:16-21. Why did God reveal to Abraham His plan to destroy Sodom? (God shares His plans with His human friend.)

      1. What does that teach us today? (God reveals His will to his friends.)

    2. Read Genesis 18:22-26. Recall that God said He would check to see if things were as bad as He had heard. What is Abraham's opinion of the state of Sodom? (Abraham is of the opinion that when God checks it out, He will vote for destruction.)

      1. Is Abraham bargaining with God based on God's mercy? (No. In Genesis 18:25 he mentions saving the righteous.)

    3. Read Genesis 18:27-33. Explain for me the logic of Abraham's plea. Why does Abraham want the entire city saved? (I cannot understand his logic. It is not necessary, as we will see, to spare the entire city to save those who are righteous.)

      1. If Abraham's argument is so illogical, should we conclude that he is really arguing to spare the wicked? (I think so. How is your heart towards the unsaved? How is your heart toward homosexuals? What are you doing to save them?)

    4. Do you think that Abraham thought the city would be spared? (Yes. Just the members of Lot's family and closest friends might number ten.)

    5. Read Genesis 19:1-2. Where is God, the third member of the group? (God makes a personal visit to His friend, but not to Lot.)

    6. Read Genesis 19:3. Why did Lot insist on the travelers staying with him rather in the public square?

    7. Read Genesis 19:4-7. Lot calls the men of the city his "friends." Do you think that they are?

      1. Notice that Lot has moved from a tent near the city ( Genesis 13:12) to a house in the city. Why is that? (He must have been friends with those who lived in Sodom.)

      2. What kind of men live in Sodom? (They are not just homosexuals, they are rapists. Not just some of them, but Genesis 19:4 says "all the men" of the city.)

    8. Read Genesis 19:8. Why didn't the men accept Lot's offer? (Such an offer seems so beyond my comprehension (strangers come under the "protection of his roof," but his daughters do not) that I would like to think that Lot knew these homosexuals would not be interested in his daughters.)

    9. Read Genesis 19:9-11. What do you think would have happened if the two men had not been angels? (The men of Sodom would have broken down the door and raped Lot and his guests. We see that Lot has made a series of small, but poor, decisions.)

      1. Why blind the men as opposed to killing them?

    10. Read Genesis 19:12-14. Recall that God said He was going to check out Sodom to see if it was as wicked as He had heard. What is the answer?

      1. What is the answer to the question about finding ten righteous people in the city?

      2. Is God keeping His promise to Abraham? (God, as usual, is more than keeping His promise. The deal was that God could destroy the whole place if less than 10 righteous people could be found. Instead, God saves the (fewer than ten) "righteous" people that He finds.)

    11. Read Genesis 19:15-17. Why does Lot hesitate? (He loves his stuff and this sinful place.)

      1. Notice that the angels literally pull Lot and his family out of the city. Why? (Again, God is more than kind and generous. He not only goes beyond His promise to Abraham, He literally has his angels pull reluctant Lot and his family out of the doomed city for Abraham's sake. See Genesis 19:29.)

    12. Read Genesis 19:24-26. Did the inhabitants of Sodom deserve to die? Who destroyed them?

    13. Friend, we see that God shows great kindness and love to those who have an interest in Him. On the other hand, small steps in the wrong direction can take us away from God's will. When we get too far out His will, destruction awaits us. In which direction are your steps going these days?

  4. Next week: The Triumph of Faith.

* Copr. 2006, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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