Full Service Sermon Video Sermon Audio Scripture Verses Genesis 12-20; 2 Timothy 2:3; Exodus 34:6-7; 1 Peter 3:1-6 Worship Playlist Love So Great by HillsongCornerstone/The Solid Rock by HillsongJesus Paid It All by Passion Study Questions 1. How would you describe your faith journey? How was it like or unlike that of Abraham? 2. Read Genesis 12:1-3. What promises of God serve as anchor points for your life? What does it look like to trust God to be faithful to these promises? 3. Read Exodus 34:6-7. A paradox is something that appears contradictory on the surface. How do you reconcile these paradoxical portraits of God? 4. Read Malachi 2:13-16. What is God’s plan for marriages and families? How does sin against God’s plan affect our worship, marriage, offspring? 5. What collateral damage occurred in Abraham’s life and relationships as he zig-zagged between faith and fear, obedience and disobedience? 6. Reflect again on Exodus 34:6-7. How did God deal with Abraham? With Sarah? With Hagar? What did God bring about? 7. Read Genesis 16:7-8. What questions did the angel ask Hagar? What is the significance of each question? 8. Consider Genesis 16 and 21. How did God meet Hagar in her suffering? What truth did she discover about God in Genesis 16:13? 9. How might God be working in/through painful relationships and circumstances in your life? Downloads & Resources Sermon Video Download Sermon Audio Download Madness of Indifference Dr. Jon Morrissette - 10/31/2021 In Genesis 12:1, God tells Abraham “Go from your land, your relatives, and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.” For the next forty years, Abraham’s clan would travel from “Ur of the Chaldeans” all the way to the land of Canaan. If you flew like a bird in a straight line from Ur (modern day Iraq) to Canaan (modern day Israel) it's over 1000 miles away! To walk directly from Ur to Canaan you would have to cross the massive Arabian desert. You can’t do it! Instead, Abraham would have traveled way north and west along the fertile crescent of the Euphrates River, through Babylon, past Nineveh, clear up to Harran. Then he would have traveled south along the Mediterranean Sea way down to Canaan. And then when famine strikes, clear down to Egypt. His journey spanned modern day Iraq, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Egypt, Jordan. Abraham’s life is a kind of metaphor. When God calls him, he doesn’t walk in a perfectly straight line from point A to B. And neither do we. He has to go north to go south. There are hills, valleys, rivers, mountains, twists, and turns, barriers, hostilities. But Abraham’s greatest setbacks result from fear. Every time he distrusts God, he does something stupid, impulsive, short-sighted, sinful or all the above. And across the span of Abraham’s life, all sorts of collateral damage results. Isn’t that true of us as well? Had we obeyed God, and walked according to God’s will, he would have made our path smooth. We would have spared ourselves and others great pain! But that isn’t what happens. We zigzag back and forth from faith to fear. We become impatient and impulsive. We look for shortcuts. Abraham’s life isn’t a testimony of his personal genius. It’s much rather a testimony of God’s goodness, and sovereignty, faithfulness. As Paul declares in 2 Timothy 2:3, “If we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny himself.” At every turn in Abraham’s life (in chapter after chapter) God reiterates His three-fold promise. First, that Abraham will be given a great land (Genesis 12:1); Second, that he will become a great nation (Genesis 12:2); Third, that all people on earth will be blessed through his offspring or seed (Genesis 12:3). The real life story of Abraham is a tale of God’s faithfulness, in spite of Abraham! The only thing that’s explicitly commendable about Abraham in Genesis, are those brief moments when he has no other recourse but to trust God! In Genesis 15:6, it says “Abram believed the Lord, and God credited it to him as righteousness.” Abram is not commended for his works, his character, morality, insight, ingenuity, creativity, resourcefulness... The only thing commendable about his life (and ours) are those moments when he says, “Okay God, I trust you now…” This morning I want to talk about the Madness of Indifference. When Abraham sins, there is so much collateral damage. If you are searching Genesis for someone living an ideal life, the closest you come is probably Joseph. But Abraham? The Bible doesn’t whitewash Abraham’s faults. Last week we looked at the many times God reaffirmed his promise to Abraham. Genesis 12:1-3, 12:7, 12:8, 13:4, 13:14-17, 14:19-25, 15:1-6, 15:13-19, 17:1-8, 17:9-14 18:9-15, 18:25. Despite this we find Abraham falling down laughing at God (Genesis 17:17). We find Sarah laughing at God. You know, people are wrong to create a false dichotomy between the “mean, angry, wrathful” God of the Old Testament and the “sweet, loving, tolerant, kind” God of the New Testament. The most repeated refrain in Scripture is Exodus 34:6-7a, that “The Lord—the Lord is a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger and abounding in faithful love and truth, 7 maintaining faithful love to a thousand generations, forgiving iniquity, rebellion, and sin. . .” We certainly see this side of God in Abraham’s story! But we shouldn’t consider God’s mercy as some kind of carte blanche license for rebellion. Because as Genesis demonstrates… Exodus 34:7b, “But he will not leave the guilty unpunished, bringing the consequences of the fathers’ iniquity on the children and grandchildren to the third and fourth generation.” There are these points in which the blood of Abel cries out to God. In which the ever-increasing wickedness of the people in Noah’s day, or of the city of Babel, or of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, or the Amorites, or the Canaanites, reaches its full measure and God acts. Ultimately, God will not be mocked, and he acts in justice! Those who imagine that the God of the New Testament, that Jesus Christ himself, doesn’t also act in justice haven’t really read the New Testament. Like the people of Noah’s day we mistake God’s patience and tolerance as acceptance and approval. No, God’s patience and tolerance is to bring about repentance and confession, greater faith and love, not greater rebellion and pride! As Abraham zig-zags back and forth from faith to fear, there is collateral damage. An example of collateral damage is Pharaoh's household. When Abraham offers his wife to Pharaoh, and Pharaoh enters into unholy union with her, his whole household is struck with a plague. Later in Genesis 20, when Abraham again offers his wife to Abimelech, God shuts up the wombs, and afflicts Abimelech’s entire household. What’s really interesting to me is how when Abraham is confronted by Pharoah, and later Abimelech, he makes all sorts of excuses. Yet its Pharaoh and Abimelech (not Abraham) who seem to be conscience stricken. In Genesis 12:18 Pharaoh asks Abraham, “why did you do this?” In Genesis 20:3 Abimelech almost dies were it not for God appearing to him in a dream. And when Abimelech understands what Abraham’s done he pleads his case before God. In Genesis 20:4-5 he says, “Now Abimelech had not approached her, so he said, “Lord, would you destroy a nation even though it is innocent? 5 Didn’t he himself say to me, ‘She is my sister’? And she herself said, ‘He is my brother.’ I did this with a clear conscience and clean hands.” In Genesis 20:9-10 he also confronts Abraham. “Abimelech called Abraham in and said to him, “What have you done to us? How did I sin against you that you have brought such enormous guilt on me and on my kingdom? You have done things to me that should never be done.” Abimelech also asked Abraham, “What made you do this?” In the end Abraham prays for Abimelech and God heals his household. Observe that not only must God contend with Abraham, but God must also contend with the collateral damage Abraham’s sin causes. I cannot imagine as I read these narratives how traumatizing it must have been for Sarah to be married to Abraham. In Genesis 17, it was first Abraham’s hair-brained scheme to sleep with one of his slaves. In Genesis 15:2-3 Abraham says, “Lord God, what can you give me, since I am childless and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” Abram continued, “Look, you have given me no offspring, so a slave born in my house will be my heir.” In Genesis 16:1-2 Sarah goes along with Abraham, “Abram’s wife, Sarai, had not borne any children for him, but she owned an Egyptian slave named Hagar. 2 Sarai said to Abram, “Since the Lord has prevented me from bearing children, go to my slave; perhaps through her I can build a family.” And Abram agreed to what Sarai said.” It’s like, “Okay honey, if you insist!” Peter in the New Testament offers insight into Genesis. In 1 Peter 3:1-6 Peter writes of Sarah, “wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, even if some disobey the word, they may be won over without a word by the way their wives live 2 when they observe your pure, reverent lives. 3 Don’t let your beauty consist of outward things like elaborate hairstyles and wearing gold jewelry or fine clothes, 4 but rather what is inside the heart—the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. 5 For in the past, the holy women who put their hope in God also adorned themselves in this way, submitting to their own husbands, 6 just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. You have become her children when you do what is good and do not fear any intimidation.” Here is a woman living under profound duress. Her husband is disobeying the Word of God. She’s feeling fearful, she’s being intimidated. It’s not like there is any place she can run. They're on this 40 year, 1500 mile journey from Ur to some distant promised land of Canaan. What’s commendable about Sarah is she put her hope in God. She trusted that her purity, reverence, gentleness, quietness… even her obedience and submission to this monstrous man… would be honored by God. Modern people would disparage Sarah for her great stupidity trusting God. But the Bible commends her. . . and in the end God does indeed honor Sarah. Worse is the cruelty Abraham inflicted upon Hagar. Here is an Egyptian slave, being sinfully exploited by both Sarah and Abraham. What a mess Abraham creates. At first Sarah tries to be positive about the whole thing, but the moment Hagar becomes pregnant Sarah begins to resent Hagar. Genesis 16:4 says, “He slept with Hagar, and she became pregnant. When she saw that she was pregnant, her mistress became contemptible to her.” But then it gets worse. She begins to resent Abraham. And then Hagar begins to resent Sarah. In Genesis 16:5, Sarah just explodes, “You are responsible for my suffering! I put my slave in your arms, and when she saw that she was pregnant, I became contemptible to her. May the Lord judge between me and you.” To make matters even worse, Abraham tries to wash his hand of all responsibility. In Genesis 16:6 he says, “Here, your slave is in your power; do whatever you want with her.” Then Sarai mistreated her so much that she ran away from her.” This is Jerry Springer stuff. It seems nowadays there are all these people championing a new era of sexual freedom. Even Christians champion this new sexuality. “Hey, if two people love each other, who am I to judge? I’m totally for it.” Natural relations. Unnatural relations. Married, unmarried, adulterous, heterosexual, homosexual, transgendered—love triumphs over all. Modern medicine can take away any disease or negative, or unwanted fetus. No, stop being brainwashed. Satan’s promise of sexual freedom is con job. The only true sexual freedom and joy is within God’s boundaries and creation boundaries. One man, one woman, for lifetime. Transgress that boundary and there are compounding resentments, rivalries, jealousies, bitterness, anger, rage, emotional and physical mistreatment, trauma, compounding cruelties… violence. In the beginning, everyone is seduced into the myth of sexual freedom. In the end everyone is left running for the hills. Hagar couldn’t run fast enough, nor far enough away from Abraham and Sarah. In Genesis 16:7-8 we read, “The angel of the Lord found her by a spring in the wilderness, the spring on the way to Shur. He said, “Hagar, slave of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?” This is what I believe God says to those reeling from the aftermath of sexual sin. (1) Maybe you are filled with regret because of ways someone traumatized, abused, victimized, intimidated, manipulated you through no choice of your own. A family member. A husband, a boyfriend, a trusted person. It’s not as if you hung a sign on your head reading, “please abuse me” yet here you are today. (2) Maybe you are filled with regret because you sinned. You did volunteer yourself. You did make a choice. You went along. You consented to that sexual sin, to that ill-fated relationship, to transgressing what holy, natural, and good and set forth by God. (3) Maybe you're still reeling from the fallout of a separation, a really nasty divorce, an abortion. Listen, you cannot live life in reverse. You can’t go back and undo what’s been done. The only thing you can do is reflect on what you have learned. “Where have you come from? What has the pain taught you?” And the only other thing you can do is live life forward. God asks, “Where are you going?” In Genesis 16:8 Hagar says, “I’m running away from my mistress Sarai.” That’s seems to always be our default. To try and run away. For reasons undisclosed to us, God commanded Hagar not to run away, but to turn and face her fear. Genesis 16:9, “The angel of the Lord said to her, “Go back to your mistress and submit to her authority.” What did God tell Sarah to do? 1 Peter 3, turn and face your fear. The healing comes in trusting God, and facing down that fear. Later on, in Genesis 21, there comes a time when God tells Hagar it was time to leave. It’s not God’s will that anyone be subject to continual cruelty. The application of Genesis 16 isn’t that you should stay in a cruel relationship. In Genesis 16 and Genesis 21 the point is that God meets Hagar in her suffering. Likewise, I believe God met Sarah in her suffering, and that God did indeed honor her faith. In Genesis 16:10-12, “The angel of the Lord said to Hagar, “I will greatly multiply your offspring, and they will be too many to count.” 11 The angel of the Lord said to her, “You have conceived and will have a son. You will name him Ishmael, for the Lord has heard your cry of affliction. 12 This man will be like a wild donkey. His hand will be against everyone, and everyone’s hand will be against him; he will settle near all his relatives.” [part of the collateral damage is sometimes the next generation lives out that pain being stubborn, rebellious, wild] In Genesis 16:13, “So Hagar named the Lord who spoke to her: “You are El-roi,” for she said, “In this place, have I actually seen the one who sees me?” That is why the well is called Beer-lahai-roi.” God sees you.