Lesson 4 focuses on Milcah and Sari/Sarah and their genetic relationship to their husbands. It is a widely accepted fact that incestuous relationships occurred at the beginning of time. I was always told that this was acceptable at the time because there simply weren’t enough people to reproduce without incest occurring and human disease was not developed enough to cause so many genetic defects as we see in incestuous relationships today. I would like to know what you have heard in this matter because it has always been curious to me. You can find a listing of scriptures that deal with laws concerning incest and many examples at Nave’s Online if you would like to study this matter further.
It is important to note that there are permissible and taboo examples of incest in the Bible. I have made a table illustrating the lineage of Terah that show the marriages and familial relationships between three well known couples in the Old Testament. Each generation is a different color, arrows indicate a marriage, and scripture references are given complete with links. From this we learn that sibling and second generation marriages were acceptable. When we discuss the daughter’s of Lot, we will learn of an unacceptable union.
In beginning to study about Sarai, we learn that she was the half sister of Abram(Gen 20:12), she was very fair to look upon (Gen 12:11; 12:14-15), and she was submissive to her husband (Gen 12:5- Sari left her family without complaint and went where Abram led. Gen 12:13 – Sari did as she was told without argument).
It is her beauty, however, that is the cause of so much trouble. Abram was afraid that her beauty would cost him his life, and so he asked her to assist him in hiding a part of their relationship by saying that they were siblings, rather than married. Abram protected himself and her somewhat by doing this because any man interested in her would have had to consult him for permission first. Unfortunately, Pharo did not have to ask permission. God saves Sari and plagues Pharo for her sake (Gen. 12:16-20).
Here are some lessons to consider:
Ignorance is no excuse
Pharo and Abimelech were both punished for taking Sari even though they didn’t know that what they were doing was wrong. We can’t claim ignorance when punishment is dealt out.
Sarai was obedient (1 Pet 3:6) to her husband. Wether she agreed with him or not, we do not know, but she was obedient. She may have even had great faith in God to get her out of any mess that her husband inadvertently put her in.
God uses the imperfect
Abraham, being a prophet of God (Gen. 20:7), lied for the same reason on two different occasions and was never rebuked by God for it. You could call it a half lie, or a white lie, or simply hiding the truth, but in any case he was dishonest. This could show a lack of faith on his part in that he did not have faith in God to see him through these trying times of his sojourn. Maybe it was these times that built his faith to the point that he was willing to sacrifice his son for God.
(thanks to creationism.org for the image)
Being Patient in All Things
In Gen 16:1 we see the seed of Sarai’s impatience. It had been ten years since God’s promise was made to Abram, Sari was 75 and Abram was 85, and the still had no child. Sarai worried that they would never have children so she offers Hagar to her husband, (Gen 16:1-2). We read, “Abram harkened to the voice of Sarai”, and went into Hagar and she conceived. In the article, ‘Beware of Shortcuts‘, by Keith Krell, he points out that Sari is following a common pagan practice of the day by offering Hagar to Abram. Culturally, there was nothing wrong with Abram using Hagar as a sort of surrogate mother.
There are two important lessons to be taken from these two passages both having to do with patience. First, Sari worries they will not have children and therefor turns from waiting on God to following the ways of the pagans and what was culturally accepted. How many practices are common today and are culturally accepted but show a lack of patience on the part of those that partake in them and a turning from God? Abortion, drinking to drunkenness, fornication, use of foul language, living together before marriage, pornography and white lies are only some of the many culturally accepted things of this day that are clearly wrong in God’s eyes and show a lack of patience. The practices I have mentioned range on man’s scale of severity, but remember, to God, sin is sin and can only be forgiven by God through His perfect plan of salvation.
The second lesson is about being tempted to participate in these practices. Abram was the second man we read about who harkened to his wife. Can you remember another man who harkened to his wife? Eve also tempted her husband with something desirable. As women, we have such a great power and responsibility to our men. When they are facing uncertain times and are weak, they can be easily tempted and if we don’t behave as women of God, we could potentially lead them into temptation just as Eve and Sari did. We must always encourage ourselves and our husbands to be patient and wait on God.
Their are always repercussions for our sins. The repercussion for Sari and Abram’s was great. First, Hagar despised Sarai and began to think of herself as better than her mistress, (Gen 16:4). Sarai knows she was wrong in her suggestion to Abram,(Gen 16:5), but compounds the problem by dealing harshly with Hagar, (Gen 16:6). This causes a great strife and wedge between the two women.