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A Misdirected Faith

Moody Church Hour / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
September 4, 2022 1:00 am

A Misdirected Faith

Moody Church Hour / Erwin Lutzer

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September 4, 2022 1:00 am

We might be the victim of our own decisions or others. Abraham and Sarah tried to engineer their circumstances so their maid, Hagar, would bear a son—an heir. In this message, we look at God’s command and promise to Hagar, who was the victim of the decision. People do not have the last word. In our despair and our extremities, God sees and intervenes.

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Abraham God's promise of a posterity. We also have a problem. His wife's apparent infertility. Rather than wait for God's timing. He took his wife's advice and had a son by their maid Hagar in that one act was born.

The Arab-Israeli conflict still tearing apart the Middle East today will see how God was faithful to both lines of Abraham's seed despite his rash action stay with us from Chicago. This is The Moody Church.

Our weekly service of worship and teaching with pastor Erwin Blitzer today. Dr. Lidster continues his series on strength for the journey taken your next steps with God study in the life of Abraham. Later in our broadcast will watch Abraham display a misdirected faith pastor looks or comes now to open our service. I invite you to take your hymnals if you would, in turn, to 122 122.

Glorious is thy name. As we gather together today in our worship service after we have sung this hymn, Bruce Nelson is going to be leading us in the reading of Scripture and that Bruce is actually one of our pastoral interns here at the church and he is attending Trinity International University. He and his wife, April, and children have been in the church for a number of years and we appreciate them and he's going to be leading us and of course will have the opportunity of joining as we come to the end of the reading also be prepared for him.

Number 11, thou fount of every blessing and 678. We are an offering dimension were so glad that you are here. We appreciate the fact that you have come to The Moody Church and am also mindful that we are joined by many others who are listening by way of the Internet all over the world. About 72 different countries and we want to welcome those who have joined us and also those will be listening to this service on The Moody Church. Our as we sing hymn number 122. Glorious is thy name.

It's a hymn that any of us are not familiar with or not as familiar with this hymn, but the words are superb, emphasizing the glory and the beauty of Jesus in the Bible and name means more than simply a designation. It refers to the entire person.

So when we speak of the name of Jesus we are speaking of the one who is exulting over talking about his authority is very person and of course in the New Testament as well as in the old Jesus is called by many different names.

Often times phrases bread of life water of life. So we come to this hymn today with deep gratitude that we can sing together about his glorious name we going to pray and immediately following the parable stand to sing and continue to stand until we have sung. We are an offering. Would you open your heart to the Lord at this time. Now father.

Who are we that we have the privilege of coming into your presence except for the fact that we belong to you.

Thanks to Jesus and we do sing of his glorious name. We do talk of his wonders our hearts today want to be tuned to sing your praise and we'll ask the Lord that the words of our mouth and the meditation of our hearts would be acceptable in your sight. We ask in Jesus blessed name. Amen. Today's Scripture reading can be found in Isaiah chapter 40 verses 25 through 31. I will be reading from the normal print. You can read from the bold print. To whom will you compare me that I should be like him, says the holy one, lift up your eyes on high and see who created these few brings out their host by number calling them all by name, by the greatness of his might and because he is strong in power. Not one is missing.

Why do you say, oh, Jacob, and speak. Oh Israel my way is hidden from the Lord, and my right is disregarded by my God, have you not known, have you not heard the Lord is everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary. His understanding is unsearchable.

He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no mind.

He increases strength even use shall faint and be wary and young men shall fall exhausted but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be wary, they shall walk and not faint and the apostle Peter in the New Testament, in the presence of Jesus said these words, he said, Lord, I believe, help with bowel mine unbelief what Peter said in those words are first of all that is possible for faith and doubt to coexist in the same person even while we believe it is possible for us to doubt we've all been there.

Heavenly. Secondly, by implication, what Peter is saying is that it is possible for believers to make decisions and to act in ways that sometimes betray their doubts today are messages about decisions, good decisions, bad decisions, decisions that we have made decisions that other people have made for us. That may be good or bad in the whole business of the need to seek God in making those decisions. Abraham is our example here. Chapter 15 of the book of Genesis, Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him for righteousness.

Chapter 16 Abraham is wondering how loading God. The story is very interesting and instructive than if you have your Bibles please turn to the 16th chapter of the book of Genesis, because in order for us to understand the context we need to paint the picture God had said to Abraham.

Abraham I'm giving you this land and it is for you and it is for your offspring eternally. I'm giving you the land forever. When I was fine, but the question was how is he going to have offspring.

Abraham was getting very old and Sarah was already beyond the point where she could really bear a child and so he and Sarah were obsessed by this question. How is God going to do it. We believe that we've heard him correctly, but the problem is we can't see how this can happen so in chapter 15 Abraham says to God when they're having a discussion he says what about Eliezer of Damascus, he could be my heir and that was in keeping with custom the couple was childless, it was possible for them to take the steward of their house. The one who had most responsibility.

The one who represented them well and to say that you're going to be my heir. God says no Abraham you're wrong. Someone who actually comes from your own body your own assignment is going to be the air all right but but God did not say at this point was that the air was going to come through Sarah so that sets us up now for the 16th chapter of the book of Genesis were Abraham is taking another step on the interesting journey of faith.

16th chapter of Genesis and first of all, were going to walk through the sequence of events and then were going to talk about decisions and what this passage really does have to say to us today and the need that we had to listen to the lessons that it has.

Let's walk through the sequence of events.

First of all, in verses 1 to 4.

You have what we could call a desperate decision, a desperate decision. I'm reading the text. Now Sarah, Abraham's wife had borne him no children. She had a female Egyptian servant named Hagar and Sarah said to Abraham, behold now the Lord has prevented me from bearing children go into my servant, it may be that I shall obtain children by her.

And Abraham listened to the voice of Sarah so after Abraham had lived in the land 10 years, Sarah, Abraham's wife took Hagar the Egyptian her servant and gave her to Abraham. Her husband is a wife while childlessness in those days was considered such a curse, that there was a common custom which was very accepted in that society that if a woman couldn't bear a child. She could designate as servant and give that servant to her husband and when that baby was born. It would be regarded as hers. What are the elements that went into this decision that Abraham made an Sarah. What are the elements.

First of all time.

Time their body clocks were taking and was getting too late for them to have children. Sarah apparently already had passed that point Abraham was on the verge of no longer being able to father a child. So time was was very, very important here.

If God was going to do something. The second was frustration.

You'll notice what Sarah says behold, the Lord verse two has prevented me from bearing children and she was right.

God does have these things under his control, but at the same time, you can almost sense the frustration here is God who gives us a promise and all that we have is the promise we don't have a son. So God where are you I mean if you're the God that promises wired to the God that does.

And so she's saying it's God's fault gives this hope, but he doesn't come through, so there is that frustration, the promise was not complete. It was a little bit ambiguous when God spoke to Abraham in the previous chapter.

He said that this person who is going to be your heir will come from you, but God did not say that Sarah was to be the mother of the child or needed to be and then something else went into the decision and that was opportunity culture said that it was okay to do it this way and we are going to go with culture rather than God's word. We can't wait for God, we have to help God out, and culture has found a way so it Sarah's idea and she says Abraham do this, we don't know whether he did it eagerly. But at any rate. Her husband did what she suggested and the text tells us this now Abraham will listen to the voice of Sarah last part of verse two.

How we wish that the text would read and Abraham listened to the voice of God.

He didn't. He went with what Sarah had proposed.

He was on the verge of a decision that would have implications that he could not possibly have understood implications for 4000 years. A decision was being made. On Tuesday I was sitting in a barbershop. Got a haircut might not have noticed but I did while I was waiting I picked up a copy of the Chicago Tribune read an article on page 5 or six that has to do with the Abraham make decision found in this chapter. While the whole question of who inherits the promises and is at the Israelis because of their heritage through Isaac or is that the Arabs largely Muslim, who believe that they should inherit the promises because of Ishmael, all bad happening in Israel today because of the decision that Abraham is about to make any listens to his wife, rather than God. So that's the desperate decision. What's the consequences. Here were talking about short-term consequences. You'll notice that the text says that they have an argument in the home because Hagar conceived and when she saw that she had conceived. She looked with contempt on her mistress Hagar thought that she was superior to Sarah because after all, Hagar was bearing a child and children were highly prized, so now she looks on contempt for Sarah. You can almost hear it in the kitchen can't yet nine then then then I'm having a baby and you're not how to Sarah reacted as she reacts with anger.

You'll notice it says in verse five Sarah said Abraham made a wrong done to me beyond you.

I gave my servant to your embrace, and when she saw that she had conceived the look on me with contempt. May the Lord judge between you and me. Wait a moment Sarah not so fast.

Not so fast. Whose idea was this anyway. Isn't it interesting in human nature. We want to take credit for all the things that work out that are successful and then we love to blame people for decisions that we make that turn out to be wrong decisions. Success has many fathers, but failure is an orphan.

When there's failure. You can find to cause that. But if you are successful. We got all kinds of people lined up to take credit so that's Sarah.

She's frustrated she's angry she's the one who made the decision, but she's blaming Abraham for the results.

Now Abraham doesn't come off too well here either because you'll notice he says in verse six, behold, your servant is in your power due to her as you please wait a moment Abraham I know that what he's trying to say is that Hagar is your servant and you have responsibility for. I think there's something else going on here in the text.

I think he's abdicating his responsibility as the head of his own shadow stepped in and said now I know that we have a problem, but this is what we should do to bring peace to this situation you we think that Abraham would step to the plate but he simply saying due to her whatever you want to do. She said all right, since you're giving me that permission. The text says that she dealt harshly with I was a bad response.

There is a different way to take care of Hagar then to deal harshly, but Sarah is angry and frustrated and she made it very very hard for this made and the Bible says that Hagar then fled from her and went into the desert. I've often thought what was said Hagar thinking anyway what was going through her mind. Does she think that she could survive in the desert.

The desert is relentless. The desert is cruel.

There is very little water in the desert.

There is very little food in the desert how the world they can expect to live. Maybe she went into the desert, hoping she could return to Egypt silly decision impossible decision because she would be the prey for animals as well as marauders and men, then there's no way that she donated to Egypt on her own.

Maybe it was even an attempt to commit suicide. I'm going to go into the desert. I'm going to be there and I'm going to die. I'm rejected by this couple even though the husband is the father of my child and what I'm going to do is to simply end it all because I can't take it anymore with those of the immediate consequences.

But now in the midst of this, there is God's intervention, God comes on the scene and we read these words in verse seven the angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness. The spring on the way to shore the angel of the Lord Jesus, we learned before. And if we had time today I'd prove it again.

That whenever you have a reference to the angel of the Lord not an angel of the Lord, but the angel of the Lord were talking about the second person of the Trinity because of the angel of the Lord in the Old Testament is spoken of as both being the Lord as well as being distinct from the Lord God and the only person who could possibly be God and yet not be the father is Jesus. And so Jesus made many appearances on this earth. He was a guest on this earth before he came in flesh in Bethlehem. So what does he do. He asks this woman. He finds her don't you like the way in which the Bible puts it is not because he was looking for her and she was lost but the angel of the Lord shows up and says Hagar servant of Sarah, where have you come from and where are you going, once again, doesn't ask the question in order to learn new information, but the angel wants Hagar to do the speaking, to let him know and she can say it on her own something like in the Old Testament were God says Adam where are you, not because God's is looking at your hiding among the trees and I can't find you what God wants Adam to do is to tell me where you are admit where you are. Admit your need. Tell me what's going on in your life. And then we can dialogue so the angel says where you come from, where are you going and may I say maybe that's what Jesus is asking you to do.

I don't know who you are today visitor somebody was attended for a while. Somebody's trying to find their way in life. Life gets very harsh. Jesus comes to us today and says where you come from and where do you think you're going tell me and then very graciously. This angel gives a command and also some consolation.

He gives a promise. Speaking to her, he says. First of all, the command return to your mistress and submit to her. You stay out here. You're going to die in this wilderness. There is no hope that you're going to survive. Life is tough back there. But if you go back and if you act differently. I'm sure that that's implied and you begin to submit yourself. In fact that's what the text says submit to Sarah. She's going to treat you better, it's time for you to knuckle under. You can't run from your problems. You can think to yourself that you can make it on your own and the way to get out of this is to escape. No, no, no, go back and live differently. Tell Sarah Sarah I'm going to be submissive to you. The arguments are going to and that's his first command and notice what he also does is he gives this promise. He says behold you are pregnant and you shall bear a son, and you shall call his name Ishmael, Ishmael means the Lord hears the Lord hears is essentially the same meaning as the word Samuel the Lord hears God heard you in the midst of your misery. God heard you there in the desert and so you name this boy that you're going to have: Ishmael and then you'll notice also and I happen to skip it. Not intentionally but unintentionally. In verse 10, the angel of the Lord is said to her I will surely multiply your offspring so that they cannot be numbered for multitude. Wow, she's going to have the same promises Abraham.

God says Abraham you won't be able to number your seed God says to Hagar. As a result of bearing Ishmael, you will not be able to number your seed in the promises superficially appear alike and at this point they are alike. Of course they are going to have major differences but that's another story.

So he says you're going to be blessed and then you'll notice it says that this child verse 12 will be a while donkey of a man his hand against everyone and everyone's hand against him, and he shall dwell over against all his kinsman, probably a reference to the nomads the difficult life that is going to be lived in the desert and also the restlessness of the Ishmaelites and the Ishmaelites will be in conflict there is going to be disagreement with their kinsman, particularly with her cousins with their brothers and so God says this is the kind of people that there will be and in the midst of the experience.

You'll notice it says that Hagar verse 13 called the name of the Lord who spoke to her you are a God of seeing, for she said, truly, I have seen him who looks after me there for the well was called beer and a high ROI.

It lies between K dish and Bered. She says God you see me you heard me, that's Ishmael meaning of the word, you heard me, and now it's very clear that you are actually seeing me in my need and in my distress and this well later on in Jewish history was considered to be a sacred place because God had revealed himself there and a reminder of the fact that God does indeed see us now. When Hagar goes back she tells Abraham and Sarah about her experience and evidently they believe her because the text ends by saying that she gave birth to a son, and they named him Ishmael. She must've said God says but the name is to be Ishmael and Sarah and Abraham went along with that and that's what the baby was named when she gave birth to him.

What an interesting story but now let's talk about decisions and lessons that we learn from the historical account. First of all, impatience, leads to regrettable decisions. Impatience leads to regrettable decisions you think of the decision and what it means in this home and I can maybe put it this way when we don't wait on God before we make a decision when we don't wait on God. We will always wish that we had for perhaps I can even put it this way when we fail to trust. We can be trusted to fail. The decision seems rational. It seemed reasonable, it was keeping with culture and culture was Dick hating what they would do and it was consistent with what they thought God might have done, but it did not represent the kind of faith in the kind of waiting in the kind of seeking but would've given God an opportunity to direct them differently. Now think about the consequences of this decision. We talked about the immediate consequences conflict within the home and the conflict doesn't end as we shall see in the next message but then think also of the long-term historical consequences. Ishmael would be born.

He would leave the land than actually a wife would be given to him from Egypt Bible says in chapter 21 of Genesis, so a wife would be given to him from Egypt. Think of it this way. Isaac is going to be born. There is Isaac, and Jacob and Jacob is going to have a son whose name is Joseph. Joseph is going to be in a well and his brothers are going to drag him out of the well and he is going to be sold to Ishmaelites who were on their way to Egypt. So the whole conflict here is being set up.

Furthermore, the Arabs today largely Muslim. They believe that it is actually Ishmael should inherit the promises. The argument is this that Ishmael is the firstborn so the promise to the land. The promise to the descendents is not rightfully that of Isaac, but rather it is to Ishmael and to his descendents, and that explains why there will not be any peace in the Middle East, ever, until Jesus Christ returns because you have two conflicting groups of people, each of whom believe that God gave them the land. Each of them claiming Abraham as their father. Each of them claiming descendents that are like the sands of the sea, innumerable and each of them, insisting that the city of Jerusalem and all of the territory belongs to them in the next message I'm going to discuss this in more detail. Were going to see what the Koran has to say about it because actually it is not explicit on that point. But throughout the centuries.

Muslim interpreters have always assumed and have argued that Ishmael is the inheritor of the promises. Now they are wrong. But the point to be made is that this strife that God predicted this this unsettling conflict between Ishmael and Isaac and their descendents is all set up right here in this text. I find it interesting that 10 chapter 12 God says to Abraham I'm going to give you the land that leave your kindred and come into this land and so he does and he goes into the land and it says there's a famine in the land and Abraham went down into Egypt.

He failed at that point and we preached a message on it, but while he was there. He evidently met Hagar, she became a part of his entourage.

He had 318 men I mean Abraham was a great man and so yet people probably many from Egypt. You think that the time that Abraham went into Egypt and they met Hagar and then after that this incident did Abraham have any possible inkling of the fact that his decision is going to set up a series of dominoes that would still have impact today.

There is no way on God's green planet that he could of thought that this decision would have such great impact, and sometimes that's the way our decisions are to I made decisions that are very minor that on the surface appeared to have no great consequence and then you look back and you realize I was going through a door. I opened the door which led to other doors which led to other doors that became part of the whole sequence and nobody can predict the long-term impact of the decision and when you are desperate you make disastrous decisions. If you have decisions on some of them are more critical than others. If you're deciding whom you're going to marry or even where you are going to work or what are you going to do with your life.

You have to keep moving forward in the will of God. But those plans must constantly be submitted to God because you might be making a decision that will have consequences that are negative because you failed to trust. So the first lesson is this impatience leads to regrettable, regrettable decisions and we could give many different examples of that. Secondly, God comes to us in our distress and in our misery. God comes to us in our distress and in our misery. Here's Hagar who basically is a single mother.

She is in a home where she is not like by the wife and by the way God does not recognize her to be one of Abraham's wives. The angel says return back to your what is the word that is used here to your mistress so she's to go back as a servant into this home but here she is in desperation, we could argue whether or not it was a wise decision. Of course, we've argued that Abraham's decision was unwise, but here she is, she could say to her self.

I'm in the midst of a predicament that was not made by me.

It was made for me by others and now I am part of a whole network of events here, over which I have no control when we make bad decisions.

Does God say to us, well, you know, I think that's the end of it you didn't seek me you just go ahead and live with the consequences and the misery will track you for the rest of your days know God comes and gives hope and gives mercy and if you want to find some of the most wonderful Christians that you will ever find wonderful believers. They are of Arabic descent.

Now I have to clarify something that we don't have an opportunity to go into in detail here and that is this that is not true that you can always trace the lineages and the various genealogies with accuracy because there's been so much intermarrying but I will tell you without fear of contradiction that there are many descendents of Ishmael today who are believers in Jesus Christ, who are our brothers and sisters who are being blessed by God more blessed by God than the descendents of Isaac. If they reject God's Messiah, so let's keep in mind that in the midst of a bad decision. God always brings grace. God always brings strength God always does something with what ever it is that we give VM you're here today and you say Pastor Lutzer I've made a very bad decision that I have to live with. Yes, you have to live with it. I want you to know that that God, and he takes those bad decisions that he make something of them and he says out of the consequences good is going to come in wrath. He remembers mercy, and in failure he gives grace.

So if you're sitting here today living with a bad decision, visualize the angel of the Lord coming to you and saying I'm gonna bless you to be with you this past week I met a man who had a marvelous conversion story because of the anorexia that I get that right now I have the wrong the wrong word dyslexia. That's it.

Big difference.

He was told by teachers he'd never be able to read he was 17 years old and unable to read but he was gloriously converted and he basically took a fast track crammed in his education ended up going to college almost getting straight A's. His conversion was so miraculous and what he said was that his parents despised and rejected him.

The schools rejected him. They said you'll never amount to anything because you'll never be able to read and this is what he said to me he said I learned something people do not have the last word regarding your life. Jesus does not great and you might be a victim today of other people's bad decisions, but people do not have the last word in your life.

Jesus does. Jesus does. God comes to Hagar's is Hagar. I'm gonna bless your descendent anyway. There's 1/3 lesson and that is this the Jesus Christ is indeed the one who both sees and hears see both sees and hears old Lord you see me Birla hi Roy, the God who sees me and she's there at the well and she says Lord, even though I didn't know that anyone was out here. You are there.

He sees people today abandoned in their own deserts. He sees people today who are not only abandoned, but those who feel very empty in their lives. The desert is outside in the desert is in their life and he comes and he brings hope and he brings healing and he brings restoration and he brings grace he brings grace. I was reminded of the fact that Jesus met someone else that a well there's a story in the New Testament, of Jesus coming to the woman at the well or he was seated there when she came with her bucket to draw water. What's remarkable about that story is that she is the first person in the Gospel of John, to whom Jesus revealed who he was but he was the Messiah. She had had a bad series of relationship she had had five husbands, and now was living with his sixth husband without the benefit of marriage because marriage had become a charade and there she is.

And Jesus says to her, I have living water to give you she could look to her husband's for any sense of strength or satisfaction. She didn't have a home in which she could derive some ability. Jesus said that if you believe in me from within you. There will be rivers of living water springing up into everlasting life, and she became the means by which an entire town.

Essentially was converted. They listen to her testimony, and they said that in light of your humility in light of the fact that you're saying that this man knew all about you and we know all about you. You center, he must be the Messiah, and many more believed because of her testimony, and they went out to see Jesus. Jesus meets us at our extremities.

He meets us in our despair meets us in our deserts and he comes to us wonderful merciful Savior, precious Redeemer and friend who would've thought that a lamb would rescue the souls of man you are the one that we praise you are the one we adore you give the healing and grace our hearts always hunger for let's pray father, thank you for your love and grace and for your mercy that is been given to all of us. Thank you father that you came to Hagar, we want to thank you today that you did not abandon her. Thank you that you blessed her and said that her seed would be blessed thank you that you took a decision that was not your perfect will and used it for your own purposes. And today we thank you that even history is your story and part of the conflict is a part of the picture that you are painting in history we pray today father for those who are here who feel that they've made decisions that have been unfruitful and wrong are living with those decisions or decisions that others made on their behalf that have caused them pain. Show them that you are the God who sees the God who cares come to them in their despair. We ask in Jesus name, amen on today's Moody Church. Our pastor looks or spoke about misdirected faith. The sixth and a 10 part series on strength for the journey. A study in the life of Abraham next week God enters into another covenant with Abraham and Isaac, the son of promise is born join us them for a growing free are series on Abraham can be yours for a gift of any amount Moody Church. Our call 1-800-215-5001. Let us know you'd like to support Moody Churches ministry or think you will come as a CD album with all 10 messages on strength for the journey. Call 1-800-215-5001 or you can write to us at Moody Church media 1635 N. LaSalle Boulevard Chicago, IL 60614 online go to moody that's moody Join us next time for another Moody Church.

Our with pastor Erwin lutes are in the congregation of historic Moody Church in Chicago. This broadcast is a ministry of The Moody Church

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