God had promised Abram and Sarai descendants. Countless descendants. But Abram and Sarai were getting old. They were past the age of childbearing, naturally speaking. So, instead of trusting in God to fulfill His promise, Sarai took matters into her own hands.
1 Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. She had a female Egyptian servant whose name was Hagar.
2 And Sarai said to Abram, “Behold now, the LORD has prevented me from bearing children. Go in to my servant; it may be that I shall obtain children by her.” And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai. – Genesis 16:1-2
Seamless plan, right? A little approved adultery never hurt anyone. Well, as it happens, sin has consequences—not only eternally, but temporally. It turns out that Hagar did in fact become pregnant, and in her own sinfulness, she looked at Sarai with contempt. Then,
And Sarai said to Abram, “May the wrong done to me be on you! I gave my servant to your embrace, and when she saw that she had conceived, she looked on me with contempt. May the LORD judge between you and me!” – Genesis 16:5
As we look back on it, Sarai looks silly, right? Sarai, you’re mad at Abram because you told him to impregnate your servant and now the servant is being disrespectful? Maybe you shouldn’t have given your husband sexually to someone else in the first place. Maybe you should’ve trusted in God’s promises.
It’s easy to pick on Sarai. But isn’t what she did, what we do every time we sin? Hasn’t the Lord given us a promise of joy and peace and life abundant if we follow Him? Isn’t it always true that sin brings shame, emptiness, and despair? And yet even we who have been given a new heart and are led by God Himself still choose to follow our own plans. And then we become upset when we face the temporal consequences.
Brothers and sisters, the Old Testament was written to point forward to Christ, but it was also written that we may learn from examples (1 Corinthians 10:6). If we are not careful, we can easily fall into Sarai’s error. We can forget God’s promises or not believe in them, and we can choose sinful actions that can be devastating.
To all who trust in Jesus, the eternal consequences of sin were put on Christ on the cross. But we still can face the temporal consequences. Instead, let us pursue Christ and follow His joyful way.