Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, bore him no children. She had a handmaid, an Egyptian, whose name was Hagar. Sarai said to Abram, “See now, Yahweh has restrained me from bearing. Please go in to my handmaid. It may be that I will obtain children by her.” Abram listened to the voice of Sarai. Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar the Egyptian, her handmaid, after Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, and gave her to Abram her husband to be his wife. He went in to Hagar, and she conceived. When she saw that she had conceived, her mistress was despised in her eyes. Sarai said to Abram, “This wrong is your fault. I gave my handmaid into your bosom, and when she saw that she had conceived, I was despised in her eyes. Yahweh judge between me and you.”
But Abram said to Sarai, “Behold, your maid is in your hand. Do to her whatever is good in your eyes.” Sarai dealt harshly with her, and she fled from her face.
Things aren’t going well for the wives here in Genesis. This is now the second time that a husband “listened” to his wife and ended up doing something very wrong. This time, even Sarai accused of Abram of listening to her! Actually, I think Sarai was right. Abram should not have listened to her, but he did, and now the press has quite a bit to talk about. Allow me to explain.
The decedents of Abram’s son by Hagar are the ones we now call “Arabs.” To many of the Arabs even today, Israel is “despised” in their eyes. If you really want to understand the Arab/Jewish conflict, it starts here with the idea of Abram’s wife and the fact that he listened. These two incidents; the Eve incident and the Sarai incident, should help you to understand why God has commanded Christian wives to come under the authority of their husbands willingly, and why husbands are to take authority in the household. It is actually a practical and reasonable decision by God in the light of the fact that this kind of thing is likely to happen again.
Notice that Sarai “dealt harshly with” Hagar and Abram let her do it. The relationships became dysfunctional and there was all kinds of disorder. I want you to take special notice that Hagar and Sarai don’t mix. Believe it or not, this was also part of God’s overall plan. Like many of the things we have discussed about Abram so far, this part of Abram’s life was symbolic and was later to be exposed by Paul in the New Testament. God also had a good plan for Hagar and her children as we read about later.
Even so, it is wise for Christian women to submit to the authority of their husbands and for Christian, God fearing men to take their proper authority in the household. Peace talks won’t be good enough. We need to admit our wrong before God and allow his Holy Spirit to help us do what is right even though it might seem impossible. It is only Jesus who can solve the problem of Peace in the Middle East, and it is only this same Jesus that can bring peace to our families.