A wagoner was driving his team along a muddy lane with a full load behind them, when the wheels of his wagon sank so deep in the mud that no efforts of his horses could move them. As he stood there, looking helplessly on, and calling loudly at intervals upon Hercules for assistance, the god himself appeared, and said to him, “Put your shoulder to the wheel, man, and goad on your horses, and then you may call on Hercules to assist you. If you don’t lift a finger to help yourself, you can’t expect Hercules or anyone else to come to your aid.” Heaven helps those who help themselves.
It is an intriguing short story, and encourages some positive characteristics which are good to have. But, does it possibly create a conflict with the foundational message of the Bible? If we approach the Bible the same way we approach The Book of Virtues is it possible we will not understand much of the Bible and potentially even close our minds to the truths of the scriptures? Our main scripture this coming Sunday is from Genesis 16 and the story of Sarah and Hagar. Abraham and The Angel of the Lord are also main characters in this chapter, and the passage warrants enough attention Paul made reference to it in Galatians 4. We live in a significantly different culture than the culture of Genesis 16 which adds to the struggle in understanding, but many people today when reading Genesis 16 will say, “If this is what the God of the Bible is like and wants I don’t want any part of that.” Thanksgiving week is a busy week, but if you have time read Genesis 16, and ask yourself these questions to try to understand what God is teaching us.
1. Who are the main characters in this story? In what way have we seen them before this scripture, or are any of them new to the scriptures at this point?
2. What is going on in this chapter? What are the events which have preceded this chapter and how does Genesis 16 fit in with what we have read to date?
3. In what way does God reveal Himself in this chapter, and what is the message God is communicating at this time?
4. How does Paul interpret this story in Galatians 4, and what was the issue in Paul’s time which moved him to use Genesis 16 for his explanation?
5. Why do you think this story even “makes it” in the Bible?