Have you ever been tempted to take a shortcut to what you believe to be God's will? The Lord promised Abraham that he would be the father of a multitude, but there was a problem, Sarah was way past the age of having children. How does one get to have many descendants if his wife is barren and cannot bear children? Here’s the text:
1Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian slave named Hagar; 2so she said to Abram, “The LORD has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my slave; perhaps I can build a family through her.” Abram agreed to what Sarai said. 3So after Abram had been living in Canaan ten years, Sarai his wife took her Egyptian slave Hagar and gave her to her husband to be his wife. 4He slept with Hagar, and she conceived. When she knew she was pregnant, she began to despise her mistress (Genesis 16:1-4).
Sometimes we get desperate and look for a logical way around a situation. Sarah thought about her handmaid—Abraham could have a child through Hagar, and it could be called Sarai's (her name was changed to Sarah at a later date). The shortcut was at the initiation of Sarai, perhaps because she felt guilty of holding Abraham back from his dream of being a father. When people get desperate to obtain something, against their better judgment they often resort to a shortcut. Sarai began to think that maybe God's way was for their family to be built around Hagar, their servant girl, who had been added to their household while in Egypt.
Sarai's motive was probably a good one, but a good motivation does not make right a wrong decision. Sarai loved her husband and trusted him implicitly and was willing to sacrifice even their intimacy with one another for the sake of his vision and dream to be fulfilled. This kind of commitment to the vision says a lot about Sarai's godly character. There is no evidence, though, that Abram and Sarai stopped to think about the consequences of what they were about to do. This act of going outside their intimacy together was a life-changing decision, and the text has no hint that they asked God about it. Having sex outside of their marriage is a low point in Abram's faith walk. For him to go ahead with this shortcut even when he knew in his heart that this was not God's way was resorting to man's way of doing things.
Abram is not a picture of a godly husband at this time of his life. His first response to Sarai's idea should have been a courageous, "absolutely not!" There was also no seeking after the permission of Hagar’s father in Egypt that we are told about. Did Hagar have any say in the matter? I'm sure they asked her, but she would have thought to herself that if she didn't go ahead, it would have meant her job, and another of the slave girls would be chosen over her. Hagar became a second wife to Abram but the Lord had already revealed His will that a man would leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh (Genesis 2:24). God had not changed His mind and allowed for a threesome!
Things are about to get complicated for Abram and Sarai. It does not take a lot of imagination to see how this affected their relationship, their home life, and even their faith. Culture and traditions may change, but there are at least two things that do not; the Word of God, and fundamental human nature. When we try to do shortcuts to our faith walk, it never works out. It honors the worldly way of doing things rather than honoring the Lord and walking by faith. There are no shortcuts to faith and walking in the ways of the Lord. We are to live our lives utterly devoted to God and His ways, not the ways of this world. Keith Thomas