Genesis – First, God.
Our faith becomes faulty when we change our minds as our moods change. When we lead by our feelings, doubts easily slip in. We do things on our own to “help God”, especially when we think He forgot us or what He told us He would do in our lives.
We can be solid in our faith in God one day and then questioning ourselves the next. We might not be challenging God as much as we doubt our ability to hear God well. We want to obey, but sometimes circumstances distract us from God’s unchanging love, mercy, grace, wisdom and commandments. Sometimes life dulls our hearing. Other times we allow the louder world voices to drown out the voice of God.
But God knows. God knows what He is doing and when the time is right to do it. God still will do EXACTLY what He says He will do in our lives for His purpose and for His glory. He will accomplish what He proclaims.
Fact: God does not need us to do His will. Shocking? Accept it. He will do what He says, even when you are not “in the mood”. He will do what He intends with or without us. So, what a divine privilege it is when, like Abraham and Sarah, He invites us to HIS work, HIS plan, HIS purposes to bring the world into relationship with Him.
Yes, my friends, God will prevail. God provided a son to Sarah “exactly as He said He would; God did to Sarah what he promised”, even when Sarah disobeyed God and took matters into her own hands. Because Sarah did not wait on God to do what He said He would, a very awkward family situation has been created. The maid’s son by Abraham has been thrown out…but God hears Hagar’s cries, intervenes and comes to her aid.
Genesis 21, The Message
1-4 God visited Sarah exactly as he said he would; God did to Sarah what he promised: Sarah became pregnant and gave Abraham a son in his old age, and at the very time God had set. Abraham named him Isaac. When his son was eight days old, Abraham circumcised him just as God had commanded.
5-6 Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born.
God has blessed me with laughter
and all who get the news will laugh with me!
7 She also said,
Whoever would have suggested to Abraham
that Sarah would one day nurse a baby!
Yet here I am! I’ve given the old man a son!
8 The baby grew and was weaned. Abraham threw a big party on the day Isaac was weaned.
9-10 One day Sarah saw the son that Hagar the Egyptian had borne to Abraham, poking fun at her son Isaac. She told Abraham, “Get rid of this slave woman and her son. No child of this slave is going to share inheritance with my son Isaac!”
11-13 The matter gave great pain to Abraham—after all, Ishmael was his son. But God spoke to Abraham, “Don’t feel badly about the boy and your maid. Do whatever Sarah tells you. Your descendants will come through Isaac. Regarding your maid’s son, be assured that I’ll also develop a great nation from him—he’s your son, too.”
14-16 Abraham got up early the next morning, got some food together and a canteen of water for Hagar, put them on her back and sent her away with the child. She wandered off into the desert of Beersheba. When the water was gone, she left the child under a shrub and went off, fifty yards or so. She said, “I can’t watch my son die.” As she sat, she broke into sobs.
17-18 Meanwhile, God heard the boy crying. The angel of God called from Heaven to Hagar, “What’s wrong, Hagar? Don’t be afraid. God has heard the boy and knows the fix he’s in. Up now; go get the boy. Hold him tight. I’m going to make of him a great nation.”
19 Just then God opened her eyes. She looked. She saw a well of water. She went to it and filled her canteen and gave the boy a long, cool drink.
20-21 God was on the boy’s side as he grew up. He lived out in the desert and became a skilled archer. He lived in the Paran wilderness. And his mother got him a wife from Egypt.
22-23 At about that same time, Abimelech and the captain of his troops, Phicol, spoke to Abraham: “No matter what you do, God is on your side. So swear to me that you won’t do anything underhanded to me or any of my family. For as long as you live here, swear that you’ll treat me and my land as well as I’ve treated you.”
24 Abraham said, “I swear it.”
25-26 At the same time, Abraham confronted Abimelech over the matter of a well of water that Abimelech’s servants had taken. Abimelech said, “I have no idea who did this; you never told me about it; this is the first I’ve heard of it.”
27-28 So the two of them made a covenant. Abraham took sheep and cattle and gave them to Abimelech. Abraham set aside seven sheep from his flock.
29 Abimelech said, “What does this mean? These seven sheep you’ve set aside.”
30 Abraham said, “It means that when you accept these seven sheep, you take it as proof that I dug this well, that it’s my well.”
31-32 That’s how the place got named Beersheba (the Oath-Well), because the two of them swore a covenant oath there. After they had made the covenant at Beersheba, Abimelech and his commander, Phicol, left and went back to Philistine territory.
33-34 Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba and worshiped God there, praying to the Eternal God. Abraham lived in Philistine country for a long time.
WHAT DO WE NEED TO KNOW?
While we are here on earth, we must expect both joy and sorrow, laughter and tears. You cannot have hills without valleys.
This is especially true of family life, for the same people who bring us joy can also bring us sorrow. Relationships can become strained and then change overnight, and we wonder what happened to a happy home. A Chinese proverb says, “Nobody’s family can hang out the sign ‘Nothing the matter here.’”
The coming of Isaac into their home brought both sorrow and joy to Abraham and Sarah. As you look at the persons involved in this important event, you can learn some valuable lessons about basic Christian doctrine and how to live the Christian life.
Sarah had borne the burden of childlessness for many years, a heavy burden indeed in that culture and at that time. People must have smiled when they heard that her husband’s name was Abraham, “father of a multitude.” He was the father of one son, Ishmael, but that was far from a multitude, and Sarah had never given birth. But now all of her reproach was ended, and they were rejoicing in the arrival of their son.
But the birth of Isaac involved much more than parental joy, for his birth meant the fulfillment of God’s promise. When God had called Abraham, He promised to make of him a great nation that would bless the whole world (Gen. 12:1-3). Then He repeatedly promised to give the land of Canaan to Abraham’s descendants (17:7) and to multiply them greatly (13:15-17). Abraham would be the father of the promised seed (15:4), and Sarah (not Hagar) would be the mother (17:19; 18:9-15). The birth of Isaac reminds us that God keeps His promises in His own way and in His own time. In spite of their occasional failures, Abraham and Sarah believed God, and God honored their faith (Heb. 11:8-11).
Even when we mess up, God prevails in His promises and purposes.
Faith in God’s promises releases God’s power!
The birth of Isaac was certainly the revelation of God’s power. That was one reason why God waited so long: He wanted Abraham and Sarah to be “as good as dead” so that their son’s birth would be a miracle of God and not a marvel of human nature (Rom. 4:17-21).
The birth of Isaac was a step forward in the accomplishing of God’s purpose. The future redemption of a lost world rested with a little baby boy! Isaac would beget Jacob, and Jacob would give the world the twelve tribes of Israel, and from Israel the promised Messiah would be born. Down through the centuries, some of the “living links” in the chain of promise may have seemed insignificant and weak, but they helped to fulfill the purposes of God.
You may wonder if what you do is really important to God and His work in this world, but it is if you are faithful to trust His Word and do His will. The next time you feel defeated and discouraged, remember Abraham and Sarah, and remind yourself that faith and promise go together. God keeps His promises and gives you the power you need to do what He wants you to do. No matter how long you may have to wait, you can trust God to accomplish His purposes.
Isaac was born free, while Ishmael was the son of a slave (Gal. 4:22). Freedom is one of the key themes in Galatians (5:1) and one of the key blessings in the Christian life (4:31). Of course, Christian freedom does not mean anarchy; for that is the worst kind of bondage. It means the freedom to be and to do all that God has for us in Jesus Christ.
“No man in this world attains to freedom from any slavery except by entrance into some higher servitude,” said Phillips Brooks, and that “higher servitude” is personal surrender to Jesus Christ. No one is more free than the child of God who delights in God’s will and does it from the heart.
Dear Heavenly Father,
We see your power at work in the lives of your people who are flawed but faithful. Our heroes of faith are human. We also see that, no matter what, YOUR Will and Purpose will be accomplished. Faith is truly the victory as the old hymn proclaims. Our faith, Your victory overcomes the world. I will rest in your promises and meditate on your power, love, mercy and grace to me and all who have gone on before me. Thank you for allowing me to join You in your work from time to time. May all we think, do or say be pleasing to you.
In Jesus Name, Amen