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151 Genesis 21 The Birth of Isaac Part 1

Finally the promise of 25 years ago is fulfilled and Isaac is born to Abraham and Sarah. Abraham is 100 years old and Sarah is 90. There is no doubt this is a miracle child come to fulfill the promise of God. But there is trouble in the camp. Sarah is aware that Hagar's son, Ishmael has been mistreating her child, the child of promise, and she will have none of it. She demands that Abraham send him and his mother out of the camp to ensure that he will not share the inheritance with her son. Abraham must now send them out into the wilderness. His heart is breaking as the next morning he sends them out on their own to fend for themselves. God promises Abraham and later Hagar that Ishmael will be the father of a nation. He ends up having 12 sons to match the 12 sons of Isaac.

151 Genesis 21 The Birth of Isaac
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Genesis 21 NLT The Birth of Isaac 1900 B.C.

21 The LORD kept his word and did for Sarah exactly what he had promised. 2 She became pregnant, and she gave birth to a son for Abraham in his old age. This happened at just the time God had said it would.

This is the affirmation for the fulfilment of the promise the LORD had made. Why was Sarah’s pregnancy delayed until she was 90 years old? Was it the LORD’s doing? He is often seen as the cause of “closing the womb.” Was it part of the devil’s plan in an attempt to prevent the birth of the Messiah? Was there a genetic problem with the Hebrews which resulted in fertility problems? Abraham is 100 years old.

There are many barren women mentioned in the Bible: three of the four matriarchs were.

1. Sarah (Genesis 11:30),

2. Rebekah (25:21), and

3. Rachel (29:31)

4. Hannah, mother of the prophet Samuel (1 Samuel 1-2);

5. the anonymous mother of Samson (Judges 13); and

6. the “great woman of Shunem,” also called the Shunammite, an acolyte of the prophet

Elisha (2 Kings 4:8-44). In some cases, the presence of a fertile, though less beloved, co-

wife exacerbates the barren woman’s distress.”

7. In addition, the women in Abimelech’s household (Genesis 20:17-18), were barren because Abraham had lied about Sarah claiming she was his sister.

8. We have Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, who was barren and became pregnant in her old age (Luke 1:5-25).

9. Israel, the nation, is barren for 1500 years and then the promised son, the Messiah, is

conceived by the Spirit and born to Mary (Luke 1:26-38).

3 And Abraham named their son Isaac. 4 Eight days after Isaac was born, Abraham circumcised him as God had commanded. 5 Abraham was 100 years old when Isaac was born. Isaac means “he laughs.” Abraham is 100 years old and the first promise of having a child that we know of was made when he was 75 (Genesis 12:4). He has waited 25 years at least for this son. 6 And Sarah declared, “God has brought me laughter. All who hear about this will laugh with me. 7 Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse a baby? Yet I have given Abraham a son in his old age!”

Having a baby at 90 is unheard of and nursing a baby at this age is also a stretch for the imagination. While she is happy the narrative indicates that her happiness includes what she has done for Abraham. Sarah had given Abraham a wife in Hagar now she can give him a son personally.

Hagar and Ishmael Are Sent Away

21:8 When Isaac grew up and was about to be weaned, Abraham prepared a huge feast to celebrate the occasion. 9 But Sarah saw Ishmael—the son of Abraham and her Egyptian servant Hagar—making fun of her son, Isaac. 10 So she turned to Abraham and demanded, “Get rid of that slave woman and her son. He is not going to share the inheritance with my son, Isaac. I won’t have it!” 11 This upset Abraham very much because Ishmael was his son.

For 13 plus years the household of Abraham had accepted Ishmael as Abraham’s heir. With the birth of Isaac this all changed. It was a devastating, traumatic change for the expectations of Hagar and Ishmael. Perhaps this is part of the motivation for Ismael to tease Isaac. Both sons are Abrahams. It will be difficult for him to do as Sarah demands. A 13-year-old boy is determining his identity and this will now be shattered by the birth of Isaac and teased Isaac.

What does the passage tell us about the strength of Abraham’s leadership? Should he have taken action in this matter before this confrontation?

12 But God told Abraham, “Do not be upset over the boy and your servant. Do whatever Sarah tells you, for Isaac is the son through whom your descendants will be counted. 13 But I will also make a nation of the descendants of Hagar’s son because he is your son, too.”

Hagar is referred to as a servant. However, there is some consolation for Abraham’s broken heart in the promise that Ishmael will also become a great nation (25:12-18). The weaning party was meant to be pure joy and now he has to send away his first son and Hagar.

14 So Abraham got up early the next morning, prepared food and a container of water, and strapped them on Hagar’s shoulders. Then he sent her away with their son, and she wandered aimlessly in the wilderness of Beersheba.

Abraham does the preparation personally. Notice the implied touch in “strapped them on Hagar’s shoulders.” The emotional pain for Abraham is palpable in the statement “he sent her away with their son.” The emotion of the separation is heightened with “she wandered aimlessly in the wilderness of Beersheba.” Hagar has been sent away before (16:4-12). The angel of the LORD sent her back to live with Abraham and Sarah. This time the separation is to be permanent.

15 When the water was gone, she put the boy in the shade of a bush. 16 Then she went and sat down by herself about a hundred yards . “I don’t want to watch the boy die,” she said, as she burst into tears.

The boy is now 13 or 14 years old. They are both facing death by dehydration and Hagar cannot watch her beloved son die and with the little strength she has left she bursts into tears. This has to be one of the most emotional stories in the bible. It is an echo of what will called out almost 2000 years later by the “boy” on the cross, “I thirst.”

17 But God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven, “Hagar, what’s wrong? Do not be afraid! God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. 18 Go to him and comfort him, for I will make a great nation from his descendants.”

When God hears, God acts. “Go to him and comfort him” because we are God’s hands and feet and lips. God comforts people through us. God communicates his promise to Ishmael through his mother. Some have never heard God’s promise and we are privileged to tell them.

19 Then God opened Hagar’s eyes, and she saw a well full of water. She quickly filled her water container and gave the boy a drink.

She saw the well, she took water to Ishmael. She did not tell him where the well was so he could get water. She took the water to him. Jesus did not email instructions to us from heaven, he came and comforted us with the water of life. There is a way to comfort other people and one size does not fit all. It takes insight and wisdom to discern the appropriate response to raw grief.

20 And God was with the boy as he grew up in the wilderness. He became a skillful archer, 21 and he settled in the wilderness of Paran. His mother arranged for him to marry a woman from the land of Egypt.

The Sinai peninsula has many wilderness areas. We have Beersheba in the north-east where Hager wandered when Sarah sent her away. Ishmael settles in the wilderness of Paran which is in the middle east of the Sinai. See map. He marries an Egyptian who has the same culture as his mother.

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