November 8, 2020 – Genesis 16 – 17
Lesson Date: November 8, 2020
Focal Scripture Passage: Genesis 16:1-6, 15-16; 17:1-8, 15-19
AIM: To lead students to discover what happened when Abraham and Sarah became impatient and tried to fulfill God’s promise in their own way, and to make a commitment to trust God and wait upon His timing.
Before class: Read the notes on Genesis 16 – 17 found in the Sunday School Teacher Book. Draw a vertical line down the middle of the marker board or chalkboard, creating two columns. At the top of the left column write the words, “Man’s Ways,” and write “God’s Ways” at the top of the right column.
INTRODUCTION (Create Learning Readiness): Direct the class’ attention to the words written on the board. Tell them throughout this lesson we will contrast God’s ways with man’s ways.
Read the first half of Proverbs 21:2 (“Every way of a man is right in his own eyes”). Ask the students what that tells us about man’s ways (we always justify our actions and think what we are doing is right). Write this on the board. Read the last half of the same verse (“but the Lord pondereth the hearts”). Ask the students what that tells us about God’s ways (He knows everything in our hearts, including the selfish and sinful motivations for our actions). Write this on the board.
Read the following verses to the class. After reading each one, ask what it reveals about God’s ways and man’s ways. Write the answers in the appropriate columns on the board.
- Proverbs 14:12 (and 16:25): “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” Man thinks his ways are right, but they lead only to death.
- Psalm 18:30: “As for God, His way is perfect: the word of the Lord is tried: He is a buckler to all those that trust in Him.” God’s ways are always perfect and right.
- Matthew 16:25: “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.” Some of God’s ways don’t make sense to our human minds, but in the end obeying God is always best.
Tell the class in this lesson we will learn that Abraham and Sarah did things their way instead of God’s way. We will also discover some of the results of their actions.
HEART OF THE LESSON (Bible Study):
- Remind the students that we are studying the book of Genesis.
- Ask: “What was last week’s lesson about?” (how to be right with God and go to heaven when we die).
- Ask if any volunteer would recite last week’s memory verse (Gen. 15:6).
- Remind the students that God called Abram to leave Ur of the Chaldees and move to Canaan (locate both on the Map of the Ancient World).
- God made many promises to Abram, especially concerning his descendants.
- Abram was 75 years old when they came to Canaan and his wife Sarai was 65. The couple had no children.
- Ten years had passed, but they still had no children. Abram was 85 and Sarai was 75.
- Sarai’s Fleshly Scheme.
- Read Genesis 16:1-3.
- Ask: “What did Sarai suggest to fix their problem of childlessness?” (that Abram have sexual relations with her slave Hagar so that Sarai could obtain children by her; Hagar would therefore be a “surrogate mother” for Sarai).
- Write “Hagar” in the left column on the board.
- Explain that as strange as this sounds to us it was not uncommon in ancient times. Slaves were personal property who had no rights whatsoever. This was socially acceptable.
- Ask: “Did God tell them to do this?” (no).
- Ask a volunteer to read Genesis 16:4.
- Ask: “Did Abram go along with Sarai’s plan?” (yes).
- Tell the class that Hagar became pregnant, just as Sarai had hoped.
- Ask: “When Hagar became pregnant, how did she feel toward Sarai?” (she despised her, looking down on her for being barren).
- Read Genesis 16:5-6.
- Tell the students that Hagar fled into the wilderness to escape Sarai’s harsh treatment. Verses 7-14 reveal that God met Hagar there, made promises concerning her son, and told her to go back home.
- Ask: “What was the result of Abram and Sarai doing things man’s way instead of God’s way?” (hatred, jealousy, blaming one another, and all sorts of family strife).
- Summarize: Abram and Sarai became impatient waiting for God to give them a child, so they took matters into their own hands. The result was trouble and strife in their family.
- Ishmael’s Birth.
- Read Genesis 16:15-16.
- Ask: “How old was Abram when Ishmael was born?” (86).
- Tell the class that Abram and Sarai had waited 11 years for a child, and now they finally had one!
- Direct the students’ attention to the headings on the board and then ask: “Is this the child God intended for them to have? Is this the one He had made so many promises about?” (no).
- Write “Ishmael” in the left column on the board.
- Ask: “Do you think the family strife ended after Ishmael was born?” (no).
- Doing things our way always brings problems, and those problems don’t go away overnight.
- Summarize: God promised Abram a son, but Abram used man’s ways to get one. Ishmael was not, however, the Son God had promised.
- God’s Plans for Abram.
- Ask a volunteer to read Genesis 17:1.
- Ask: “How old was Abram?” (99).
- Tell the class that Abram had been in Canaan for 24 years.
- Ask: “Who appeared to Abram?” (Almighty God – “El Shaddai”).
- Ask: “What did God tell Abram to do?” (walk before Him and be perfect, which means complete, whole, and mature).
- Read Genesis 17:2-4.
- Ask: “What did God promise to do?” (make a covenant with Abram and make his descendants very numerous).
- Remind the class that at this point Abram had only one son: 13-year-old Ishmael.
- Ask a volunteer to read Genesis 17:5-8.
- Explain that the name Abram means, “exalted father,” while Abraham means, “father of a multitude.”
- Ask the class to name the promises God made to Abraham in verses 6-8 (make him exceedingly fruitful, nations and kings would come from him, establish His everlasting covenant with Abraham and his descendants, and to give the land of Canaan to his descendants forever).
- Write “Abraham,” “Father of a Multitude,” and “Land of Canaan” in the right column on the board.
- Explain that in verses 9-14 God established circumcision as the outward sign of His covenant with Abraham and his descendants. Anyone who refused to be circumcised was to be cut off from the covenant community and from God’s promises.
- Summarize: God changed Abram’s name to Abraham, promising to make him the father of great nations. He also promised that Abraham’s descendants would possess the land of Canaan forever.
- God’s Plan for Sarai.
- Read Genesis 17:15.
- Tell the students that God changed Sarai’s name to Sarah.
- Explain that Sarai means “my princess,” while Sarah means simply “princess.” Sarah was no longer only Abraham’s princess; she was to be the mother of a great nation.
- Ask a volunteer to read Genesis 17:16-17.
- Ask: “What did God promise in verse 16?” (Sarah would have a son and she would become the mother of a multitude).
- Write “Sarah Would Have a Son” in the right column on the board.
- Ask: “How did Abraham react to this promise; did he believe God?” (no, he laughed and thought it was impossible.
- Read Genesis 17:18-19.
- Ask: “What did Abraham ask God in verse 18?” (he begged God to cause Ishmael to live faithfully before Him and therefore be the child through whom the covenant promises would be fulfilled).
- Direct the class’ attention to the board. Remind them that Ishmael was man’s way of having a child. Abraham wanted God to adopt Ishmael as part of His plan.
- Ask: “What were God’s plans for Sarah?” (she would have a son, whom they were to name Isaac).
- Tell the students God went on to say that He would establish His covenant with Isaac and that His covenant would continue to Isaac’s descendants forever.
- Write “Isaac” in the right column on the board.
- Summarize: God changed Sarai’s name to Sarah, promising to give her a son and make her the mother of great nations. He also promised to establish His everlasting covenant with Isaac and his descendants.
PERSONAL APPLICATION: Direct the students’ attention to the things written on the board. Read the items in each column. Stress the fact that God’s ways are different from our ways.
Ask: “What happened when Abraham and Sarah did things their way rather than waiting for God to carry out His plan?” (family strife, hurt feelings, blaming others). Ask: “Who are the descendants of Isaac?” (the Jews). Ask: “Who are the descendants of Ishmael?” (the Arabs). By being impatient and taking matters into their own hands, Abraham and Sarah set the stage for a conflict that has been going on in the Middle East for centuries. Every time the news tells us about strife and bloodshed between Jews and Arabs we are hearing about the results of Abraham trying to do God’s will through his own human methods. Doing things our way instead of God’s way always causes trouble, and that trouble may last a long time!
Read Proverbs 14:12 to the class again: “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” Tell the students that our reasoning and logic is flawed by our sin nature, but God’s ways are always right.
Ask: “Do we ever follow our own plans instead of God’s plans?” (we have all done that). Ask: “Do you ever get impatient waiting for God to act, so you take matters into your own hands?” (we have all done that).
Ask everyone to bow their head and close their eyes. Encourage everyone to make a personal commitment to trust God and wait on His timing. Voice a closing prayer.
CONCLUSION: Remind the students that God’s ways and timing are always best. Tell them they will be tempted this week to follow man’s logic instead of obeying God. Encourage them to be prepared to resist that temptation when it comes.
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