Victoria Fellowship Church
International & Interdenominational
Bible Study Worksheet – November 1, 2015
Theme: Heroes of Faith
Main Texts: Genesis 16:1-6; 17:1-27
Key Verse: Hebrews 11:11 –“And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she considered him faithful who had made the promise.” (NIV)
God’s instruction to us will not always make sense to those around us. In fact, it could sometimes seem outright crazy. Nevertheless, we demonstrate faith in Him by our obedience.
When God tells us to step out in faith, He often does not tell us how the story will play out. Our faith is in taking the step He tells us to take now, even when we do not know how it will lead.
The land of Canaan that God eventually led Abram to settle in, and which He promised to give Abram, already had inhabitants. God will sometimes lead us in directions that are fraught with serious challenges. Nevertheless, he expects us to make audacious moves in obedience to Him.
This Sunday, we will be focusing on his wife – Sarah. We often ascribe the faith that brought about Isaac to Abraham. In fact, it was the faith of his wife Sarah that was commended. Our key learnings from this study should include the following:
While we wait for God’s perfect answer to our request on an issue, we could come under pressure and sometimes we proffer “self-help” solutions. God does not necessarily frown at such interim solutions.
A real danger is the tendency to give up on believing God when we have found some consolation in our self-help solution, thereby making our self-help solution the solution. It could weaken our faith for future situations.
As we wait on God for answers to our burning issues, it is important we feed our faith with the right thoughts, words and actions as evidence of our continued trust in Him.
Sarai, being barren (Genesis 11:30), and knowing the importance of children in a family, took advantage of the custom that permitted a slave girl to have children by her mistress’ husband, for her mistress. Sarai gave Hagar to Abram to be his wife so there would be children in the family! Hagar indeed had a son – Ishmael – by Abram, when Abram was already 86 years old. It was a long wait! It was not a perfect solution however. In fact, it caused problems for Sarai as the erstwhile slave girl became disrespectful to her. Eventually, she got Abram to send Hagar away with baby Ishmael. The descendants of Ishmael are the Arabs of today.
a) What interim solutions do barren women seeking a child resort to today, and how do we think God views those interim solutions?
Thirteen years later – when Abram was 99, God spoke to him, telling him he would have a son by Sarai. God marked this promise by changing their names – Abram became Abraham (“Father of many nations”) and Sarai became Sarah (meaning “mother of nations”). At this point, God also instituted male circumcision for Abraham, his descendants, and foreigners born in their house – Gen 17:10-13. Abraham voiced his doubt as regards Sarah having a son at such an old age and told God it would be fine if He (God) made good His promise through Ishmael. God reaffirmed His promise and even gave the name of the son to be born by Sarah – Isaac. Through Isaac, God said, His promise would be fulfilled. Although Abraham had doubts about Sarah having a child, he nevertheless immediately obeyed the instruction regarding circumcision.
b) What are some possible negative effects of self-help interim solutions – which God may allow – on our faith and Christian life?
In our key verse, the Bible commends Sarah’s faith – not Abraham’s – for the eventual birth of Isaac. It would seem that Abraham had shared what God told him with Sarah and, while Abraham was sceptical of the promise of Isaac, Sarah remained hopeful. Soon after Abraham received the promise, he and Sarah hosted three men very briefly, for a meal – Gen 18. While they ate, one of the men prophesied that Sarah would have a son within a year. Sarah laughed it off, considering her age and that of Abraham. The scepticism is understandable, considering that she had indeed passed child-bearing age. However, the last word the prophet spoke on the matter was a rhetorical question and an affirmation: “Is anything too hard for the LORD? I will return to you at the appointed time next year, and Sarah will have a son.” – Gen 18:14. This statement would seem to be the turning point in Sarah’s faith. She allowed God’s word to change her mind and rekindle her hope.
c) Give other examples in the Scriptures of people who changed their position on an issue as a result of hearing God’s word.
d) How can our faith be sustained when we have waited on God for a long time concerning an issue and it seems time is not on our side?
e) What does God expect of us while waiting on Him to address our situation?
Father, help my faith when I wait on you concerning an issue and it seems your help is not coming. Keep me obedient and trusting, Lord. In Jesus name, amen