Abraham receives the Promise
Genesis 21: 1—21


1 And the Lord visited Sarah as He had said, and the Lord did for Sarah as He had spoken.
2 For Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him.
3 And Abraham called the name of his son who was born to him--whom Sarah bore to him--Isaac.
4 Then Abraham circumcised his son Isaac when he was eight days old, as God had commanded him.
5 Now Abraham was one hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him.
6 And Sarah said, "God has made me laugh, and all who hear will laugh with me."
7 She also said, "Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse
children? For I have borne him a son in his old age."
8 So the child grew and was weaned. And Abraham made a great feast on the same day that Isaac was weaned.
9 And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to
Abraham, scoffing.
10 Therefore she said to Abraham, "Cast out this bondwoman and her son; for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, namely with Isaac."
11 And the matter was very displeasing in Abraham's sight because of his son.
12 But God said to Abraham, "Do not let it be displeasing in your sight because of the lad or because of your bondwoman. Whatever Sarah has said to you,
listen to her voice; for in Isaac your seed shall be called.
13 Yet I will also make a nation of the son of the bondwoman, because he is your seed."
14 So Abraham rose early in the morning, and took bread and a skin of water; and putting it on her shoulder, he gave it and the boy to Hagar, and sent her away. Then she departed and wandered in the Wilderness of Beersheba.
15 And the water in the skin was used up, and she placed the boy under one of the shrubs.
16 Then she went and sat down across from him at a distance of about a bowshot; for she said to herself, "Let me not see the death of the boy." So she sat opposite him, and lifted her voice and wept.
17 And God heard the voice of the lad. Then the angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven, and said to her, "What ails you, Hagar? Fear not, for God has heard the voice of the lad where he is.
18 Arise, lift up the lad and hold him with your hand, for I will make him a great nation."
19 Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water. And she went and filled the skin with water, and gave the lad a drink.
20 So God was with the lad; and he grew and dwelt in the wilderness, and became an archer.
21 He dwelt in the Wilderness of Paran; and his mother took a wife for him from the land of Egypt.    
                    

1 And the Lord visited Sarah as He had said, and the Lord did for Sarah as He had spoken.
2 For Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him.

Finally, 25 years has passed since God called Abram and gave the promise of a seed and now we see the fulfilment of that promise. When God makes a promise, He keeps it. God did as He had spoken.
God will always keep His promises, God is faithful, not like men who often break promises. When we make promises we do not know what the future holds and sometimes circumstances are such that we cannot keep our promises. Whereas God on the other hand knows the end from the beginning and knows that when He makes a promise He can and will keep it.

 

2 Peter 3:9  The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
 

Joshua 21: 45 Not a word failed of any good thing which the Lord had spoken to the house of Israel. All came to pass.
 

Lamentations 2:17  The Lord has done what He purposed; He has fulfilled His word Which He commanded in days of old.

God's unconditional promise.

God had not fulfilled this promise because of anything that Abraham had done, He did it because He said it. God is faithful to His word.
There were times when God’s promises were conditional, they depended on conditions being met, something that the recipients must do. However there

are those of God’s promises that are unconditional and are not dependant on any condition being met. Promises that are fulfilled because God made them.

3 And Abraham called the name of his son who was born to him--whom Sarah bore to him--Isaac.
4 Then Abraham circumcised his son Isaac when he was eight days old, as God had commanded him.

 

Isaac, (meaning, he laughed). Originally this name was meant as a rebuke because both Abraham and Sarah laughed when God said they would have a son of their own bodies.

Genesis 17:17 Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed, and said in his heart, "Shall a child be born to a man who is one hundred years old? And shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?"

Genesis 18:12-15 12 Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, "After I have grown old, shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?"
but now it had been fulfilled it became an occasion for joy.


However, here we see the name becoming a blessing.
6 And Sarah said, "God has made me laugh, and all who hear will laugh with me."

Abraham was obedient to God by circumcising Isaac on the eighth day.
Even though they believed God’s promise, they had not been able to completely get their heads around it, yet here it was, a miracle.
Abraham 100 years old and Sarah 90 years old. What was an impossibility became reality
Who would have believed it?


7 She also said, "Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? For I have borne him a son in his old age."

What is impossible with man, is not impossible with God.

This reminds me of  something my grand parents use to say, in the local dialect when something happened that you would never expect.
They used to say, “Who’d er thowt it” (Whoever would have thought or considered this happening). It is a sense of amazement.
Sometimes, this is how we react after praying for something, we may believe that God is capable, just like Abraham and Sarah  but we are amazed, sometimes shocked when it happens.

I can testify to this from personal experience.

When my eldest granddaughter lost her first child, just after it had been born, the family were devastated and could not understand why. We prayed that God would restore her joy and give her a double blessing. Little did we know that God would answer our prayer specifically. Within 3 months she was expecting twins, a true double blessing.  Surprise? Yes, shock? yes, but amazement at God’s grace, Absolutely. This was indeed a case of “who’d er thowt it”.

Isaac grew and was weaned. The scripture does not say how old Isaac was at this time.


8 So the child grew and was weaned. And Abraham made a great feast on the same day that Isaac was weaned.
9 And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, scoffing.

 

Ishmael scoffs.

Either Abraham was celebrating Isaac’s independence from Sarah or it could have been that Isaac was coming of age and was going to reap the rewards of being the seed of promise.
According to some, this was the first documented Bar Mitzvah celebration that is referred to in the Torah:

"And the child [Isaac] grew and was weaned, and Abraham made a great feast on the day that Isaac was weaned" (Genesis 21:8).

Ishmael was thirteen when Isaac was born.
So, if this was indeed Isaac’s bar mitzvah, Ishmael would have been 26 years old at this time.
The word weaned here is gâmal .
Weaned in the English is when a child no longer feeds off its mothers breast.
However the Hebrew word, Gamal, can be translated as (bestow on, deal bountifully, do (good), recompense, requite, reward). It could mean coming of age.
According to one opinion expressed in the Midrash, (Midrash is biblical exegesis by ancient Judaic authorities),  this was the day that Isaac turned thirteen; the day when he was "weaned" from his childish nature, and assumed the responsibilities of a Jewish adult. In Jewish literature, this verse is often used as a source for the celebration made in honour of a boy's acceptance of the mitzvot at age thirteen.
If this was the case, then Ishmael would have been 26 years old.

However, if we take the view that Isaac had come to the time when he was ceasing to feed from his mothers breast, then he could have been 3,4 or even 5 years of age.
This would mean the Ishmael would still be a teenager.

This would fit the context of the of the passage and would give a reason for Ishmael’s mockery.
Whether Ishmael was jealous, the scripture does not say but it does say that he scoffed or mocked.

Sarah saw Ishmael scoffing at Isaac and said to Abraham that he should get rid of Ishmael and his mother Hagar.
“He shall not be heir with my son”.

Even though this grieved Abraham, God told him to listen to his wife.


11 And the matter was very displeasing in Abraham's sight because of his son.

12 But God said to Abraham, "Do not let it be displeasing in your sight because of the lad or because of your bondwoman. Whatever Sarah has said to you, listen to her voice; for in Isaac your seed shall be called.

God had already told Abraham that Ishmael would not be the heir but that Isaac would be. Abraham in his doubt asked if Ishmael could be the promised heir.

Gen 17:18  And Abraham said unto God, O that Ishmael might live before thee! 

God said, No, Isaac is the one.

Gen 17:19  And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him. 
 

However God promised that He would make a great nation of Ishmael also.
Of course, we know from history that God did exactly that in that Ishmael became the father of the Arab nations.
We can also see how the scoffing of Ishmael towards Isaac foreshadows what happens throughout history between these two nations, the Arabs and the Jews.
It is also a foreshadow of the flesh at war with the spirit.

This is also recounted in the Apostle Paul’s letter to the
Galatians:4

He uses it as an allegory of the flesh at war with the spirit.

22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman, the other by a freewoman.
23 But he who was of the bondwoman was
born according to the flesh, and he of the freewoman through promise,
24 which things
are symbolic. (The KJV translates this allegory) For these are the two covenants: the one from Mount Sinai which gives birth to bondage, which is Hagar--
25 for this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children--
26 but the Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all.
27 For it is written: "Rejoice, O barren, You who do not bear! Break forth and shout, You who are not in labor! For the desolate has many more children Than she who has a husband."
28 Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are children of promise.
29
But, as he who was born according to the flesh then persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, even so it is now.
30 Nevertheless what does the Scripture say? "Cast out the bondwoman and her son, for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman."
31 So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman but of the free.

 

There is no relationship with God through the flesh but through the Spirit.

John 1:13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

Salvation is by grace through faith. Just as Ishmael and his descendants have persecuted Isaac and his descendants, we should not be surprised that the modern-day people who follow God in the flesh, persecute those who follow God in faith through the promise.

Why did this grieve Abraham?


11 And the matter was very displeasing in Abraham's sight because of his son.

Maybe Ishmael was Abraham’s plan B, if anything should happen to Isaac. However, we know that God does not need a plan B. Plan A always works.
So, God said “listen to your wife”, send Hagar and Ishmael away.

God did not abandon Ishmael, He said that He would bless Ishmael, after all, he was the son of Abraham.

Ishmael became the father of the Arabic nations.

 God had a plan for Ishmael as well as Isaac and we are still seeing this plan being worked out in the world today.


Isaiah 46:9-11. I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, 
10 declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘
My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,’
11 calling a bird of prey from the east, the man of my counsel from a far country. I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass; I have purposed, and I will do it.

Proverbs 16:4 4 The LORD works out everything to its proper end— even the wicked for a day of disaster.

This is an area that is difficult to comprehend, how even the evil acts of men are included in the purposes and plans of God. They are used and overturned for His good purposes.
The greatest evil was the betrayal and crucifixion of the Lord, which God used to bring about His perfect plan of salvation.

Nothing takes God by surprise. He is in full control of all things.
 

There is no plan B with God.

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