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3. Sarah and Hagar.

My notes on teaching the Old Testament, by Mama Brenda.

Genesis 12:1-5, 11; 15:1-7; 16:1-16; 17:1-27; 18:1-15; 21:1-21; 23:1-2, 19-21.

Lesson 3: Leader’s notes.

Ask the ladies to keep their books closed and do not give notes out at the beginning.

Write out the references at the top of the study sheet on a blackboard, or large piece of paper, or a white board or on smaller pieces of paper, one for each group.

Put the ladies into groups of 4/5 - and ask them to make a list of major things that happened in Sarah’s life and in Hagar’s life from the given references.

This may take a while if the ladies are not used to finding information and listing it.

Keep them on track.

When most groups have finished, get them to share answers in the order they come historically. Use an outstretched palm and your eyes in the direction of the group you are asking to give you the next piece of information. They will not all have picked the same things, so if you feel there is something missing ask - “Does another group have something that happened to Sarah before that?” while sweeping your outstretched palm and eyes across the group. You want the information, but it is not a military exercise, rather a gentle sharing - not for arguing about.

Then give out notes. Let them look at the 1-16 listed there.

Work as a whole group through the promises given to Sarah and Hagar.

Student's worksheet: Lesson 3 Sarah and Hagar

Genesis 12:1-5,11; 15:1-7; 16:1-16; 17:1-27; 18:1-15; 21:1-21; 23:1-2, 19-21.

Let’s look at the story:

1. Sarah, beautiful wife of Abraham. They had a very successful

business as herders.

2. They were far away from their original home

3. Sarah was childless - a stigma is attached to this in some cultures

4. God promised Abraham a son and heir

5. Sarah had a slave - Hagar. This was normal in the culture

6. Sarah suggested Abraham had a child with Hagar

What was she actually doing? - trying to solve a problem in her own way

7. Abraham agreed - Hagar was pregnant and she upset Sarah - Abraham did

not want to be involved

8. Hagar ran away

9. Hagar had an encounter with ‘the God who sees me’

10. Hagar returned to Sarah, and gave birth to Ishmael

11. Thirteen years later God promised Abraham a son with Sarah

12. God promised Abraham that Ishmael, also his son, would be blessed.

Three visitors came to Abraham and promised him that Sarah would

have a son within a year, to be called Isaac. Who were the visitors?

Check in your Bible Genesis 18:1, 2, 13, 16.

14. Isaac and Ishmael played together - Sarah got Abraham to send

Hagar and Ishmael away

15. God looked after Hagar and reassured Abraham. Ishmael became a

skilful hunter and married an Egyptian wife

16. Sarah died aged 127 and Abraham mourned for her.

Now back to the story between the numbers 4-15 above.

Promises to Sarah: We usually think of God dealing with Abraham, but in dealing with Abraham He also dealt with Abraham’s wife - she was the one who would have the baby!!

Ask the ladies to look at Genesis 17:19-21. What is the promise?

God will keep His covenant with a promised child to Abraham and Sarah one year on

17:15-16 Sarah will be the mother of nations and kings will be among her descendants

17:19 son to be called Isaac and God’s everlasting covenant will be confirmed with him

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Leader's notes: Lesson 3 Sarah and Hagar.

Teach through the Sarah and Hagar sections including some group discussion.

Student's worksheet: Lesson 3 Sarah and Hagar.

God also makes promises to Hagar, Sarah’s servant.

In dealing with the line of people he has chosen, God also makes promises to a servant caught up in the saga -

16:10 Hagar will have uncountable descendants including 12 princes

16:12 Ishmael will not get on with anyone - he will be like a wild donkey

21:18 a great nation will come from Ishmael


What kind of position did Sarah have? Did that give her responsibilities?

How would she have felt about not having a child?

Genesis 16:1-15

It is easy to understand Sarah’s thinking in telling her husband to have a child through her slave, Hagar. But who was she trusting?

Sarah had this idea, but she was not able to live with the consequences. We need to be prepared to cope with the consequences of our actions. It would be easy to think of Sarah as selfish, cruel and weak. Would we do any better?

Genesis 18:1-15

More than 13 years later - yes, 13 years later - Sarah is told she will have a son a year or more from now. She gives birth to Isaac. How patient would we have been? How easy is it to trust God to look after our future? Sarah’s difficult problem with Hagar and Ishmael comes again.

Genesis 23:1-2 Will people praise God for your life? Or will they not miss you?

(This does not concern Sarah but it ties up an end for us - Ishmael was sent away - but in Genesis 25:9 Isaac and Ishmael bury their father.)


Most of us will identify with Hagar because we are not the rich people in our country, we are not married to people who have power to make things happen in our community.

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Leader's notes: Lesson 3 Sarah and Hagar.

Student's worksheet: Lesson 3 Sarah and Hagar.

Hagar too received promises. See Genesis 16:10 to Hagar and 21:11-13 said to Abraham. But 21:17- 18 are spoken specifically to Hagar, a slave woman turned out of her home, that her descendants through Ishmael would be an uncountable number, including rulers and leaders. In English there is a saying - ‘the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world’ - those who look after and train children are potentially raising leaders, thinkers, people of influence. This is a God-given responsibility. We need to make sure that we live for God in our families and teach our children the truths of Christian understanding and Christian living. That is a big responsibility!

And God still has work for us if we are not able to have a child. I know of Christian couples who could not have children, or who decided not to have children, and they have been used by God in their churches or in wider ministries somewhere else.

No child does not mean no ministry.

Genesis 16:12 In the sovereignty of God we hope for our children but we cannot guarantee what they will be like.

Ishmael was like a wild donkey - stubborn? self-willed? awkward? inconsistent?

Isaac was the son of God’s promise, but even so was not perfect - still with human

failings. That should encourage us.

Hagar did not have an easy life - most of us have our difficulties too. God spoke to her –

He will guide us too if we look for Him.

Please read Genesis 24:1-66, 25:19-34, 27:1-28:9 for next time.

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