Genesis 21:1-3 Then the LORD took note of Sarah as He had said, and the LORD did for Sarah as He had promised. 2. So Sarah conceived and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the appointed time of which God had spoken to him. 3. Abraham called the name of his son who was born to him, whom Sarah bore to him, Isaac.
Isaac is Born
Praises to God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob! God remembered Sarah and gave her a son just as He had promised! Isaac was even born when God said he would be!
Let’s reflect a moment back to Chapter 20; Abimelech restored Sarah to her holy space as Abraham’s wife, and Abraham prayed for Abimelech that the plague of barrenness would be lifted from him, his wife, and servants. The Lubavitcher Rebbe teaches that before God healed Abimelech, He remembered Sarah as He said he would do. See below:
21:1 But before God healed Avimelech and the members of his household, God had already remembered Sarah as He had said to Abraham that he would: 59 she became pregnant. This is indeed the rule: when someone needs something and prays for that same thing for someone else, God provides his needs first.And God did for Sarah as He had spoken to Abraham:60 she bore a son. The Lubavitcher Rebbe
Wow! How amazing is this! “When someone needs something and prays for that same thing for someone else, God provides his needs first!” You see, Abraham and Sarah, both knew of the promise from God. They knew He had told them she would give birth in a year, but Abraham did not focus on his own needs. He prayed for God to have mercy on Abimelech and his kingdom. So, no one can say that Abraham had any motive for praying for Abimelech other than he was righteous man. He did not pray for Abimelech out of selfish motives, but out of love and obedience to God. Righteous simply means right thinking: Faith, Hope, and Love (Charity) are the means; Knowledge is the point of arrival. It was with a servant’s heart that Abraham prayed for Abimelech.
Abraham did not forget the commandments of God when he received this miracle. When Isaac was eight days old Abraham circumcised him just as he had been instructed by God.
The Lubavitcher Rebbe also teaches us that Abraham and Sarah weren’t the only ones who received miracles that day. He teaches us that many barren women also gave birth that day, many sick were healed, and many prayers were answered; so that many would be happy with Sarah as it says it Genesis 21:6 “Sarah said, ‘God has made laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh with me.'”
When Isaac was weaned, Abraham made a great feast. He had a party of parties. Everyone came! This was quite the event. God had blessed them with a child and protected him through time for him to be weaned! The sages teach that all of the esteemed leaders of the generation attended this party; Shem, Eber, and Abimelech.
Sarah Turns Against Hagar
Genesis 21:9 Now Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham mocking.
Let’s remember here, Ishmael was much older than Isaac, at least 13 to 15 years or more older. Ishmael is taunting Isaac saying, “I am the firstborn son of our father, therefore a double portion of inheritance should come to me!” He is NOT being kind to Isaac at all. The sages teach that Ishmael even shot arrows at Isaac because he believed they would both receive an inheritance and his should be the double portion because he was the firstborn.
Now come on mamas, let’s be honest! Imagine that you are Sarah. You look out of the window to check on your child playing outside, and you see this much larger child (regardless of the fact they had the same dad) bullying your son! What would you do? Would you tolerate it? I think not! I know myself, the boys who come visiting my daughters are more afraid of me than they are their father! Because this mama can get mad as a wet setting hen and protects her babies the same. This was the same emotions Sarah felt. Her child was being wronged and she was going to protect him. However, Sarah was NOT just reacting to her emotions over what had happened to her child, she had the gift of prophecy. She knew that God had already told Abraham that his descendants would come through Isaac, not Ishmael. She knew that Ishmael would turn to idol worship and all kinds of ungodly behavior. So she told Abraham, this boy and his mother have to go! They have to get away from my son! She was protecting her son and his birth right.
This grieved Abraham. Not only that he had to send his son away, but the fact that he had tried with every fiber in him to raise this boy the right way! He had taught him to show loving kindness to everyone and how to have a servant’s heart, but nothing he tried worked with this kid. Ishmael was going to do as he pleased no matter how hard Abraham tried to raise him right.
God instructed Abraham not to be grieved over sending his son and his mother away, but to listen to Sarah. The sages teach that God told Abraham that Sarah had even more prophetic insight than he did and everything she saw was accurate. He reminded Abraham of the promise He made him concerning Isaac and the blessings to his descendants which come through Isaac. God assured him that he would not forget Ishmael, and that He would keep his promise to make a nation of Ishmael.
14 Abraham rose early in the morning, took bread and a leather flask of water, and gave them to Hagar. He did not give them expensive vessels, for he resented his son for having betrayed him. Sarah’s disparaging report of Ishmael’s wicked behavior aroused God’s attribute of justice against him (this is called “casting an evil eye on someone”), and he became sick and could not walk by himself. Abraham placed the food on Hagar’s shoulder together with the child, and sent her away. In sending her away, Abraham granted her her freedom, so she no longer had the legal status of a servant.69 She left and wandered in the desert of Beersheba. Dejected over being banished from the household of Abraham, she gradually reverted to the idolatrous beliefs with which she was raised. The Lubavitcher Rebbe
Genesis 21:17 God heard the lad crying; and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “What is the matter with you, Hagar? Do not fear, for God has heard the voice of the lad where he is. 18. Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him by the hand, for I will make a great nation of him.”
God heard Ishmael crying. I believe as the sages teach, that this was a form of repentance from Ishmael. He could have died in that desert, but God didn’t allow that. Hagar wept, but Scripture shows us that God heard Ishmael. Ishmael wasn’t spared because of his mother’s pain over the potential of losing him; not through his mother’s grief, but through his own repentance for the actions he had taken.
However, God also heard Hagar and brought her comfort by showing her a well and reiterating the promise to Abraham to make a great nation of Ishmael. So here we have God acting on behalf of three people:
- He acted on behalf of Abraham because of the grief that Abraham felt for having to send his son away. Abraham was a parent, and he loved his son no matter what he did.
- He acted on the REPENTANCE of Ishmael for the actions he had taken. God acted in the present. Ishmael was presently repenting; God did not act on the future actions He knew Ishmael would take. He only judge the present.
- He acted on behalf of Hagar: He saw her grief and brought her comfort.
The sages teach that Ishmael grew and became an archer in the desert and that he robbed travelers just as God knew he would. Can you see the mercy of God here? God knew that Ishmael, even though repentant, would not walk in His ways all of his life. He knew that Ishmael would continue to do evil things, but He did not judge Ishmael’s future, He judged him in the present. Isn’t it great to know that our past sins are covered, our future sins aren’t yet judged, we are judged for where we are right now!
Covenant with Abimelech
22 At that time, after Sarah gave birth, Avimelech, accompanied by Pikol, chief of his troops, said to Abraham, “God is with you in all that you do.Besides having a child in your old age, you survived the destruction of the Cities of the Plain, and even prior to that, you vanquished Kedarlaomer’s confederacy of kings.
23 So now, swear to me here by God that you will not deal falsely with me, nor with my son, nor with my grandson.” (His concern did not extend any further in time than two generations.) “The same kindness that I have shown you, welcoming you in my land, you shall show to me and to thepeople of theland in which you have sojourned.”
24 Abraham replied, “I will swear.”
25 Abraham then disputed with Avimelech over the well of water that Avimelech’s servants had seized.
26 Avimelech said, “I do not know who did this thing, nor did you tell me, nor did I hear about it until today.” In order to determine who dug the well, they decided that they would each approach it separately; the one before whom the water would rise would be assumed to be the one who dug the well. The water rose before Abraham.
27 Abraham took flocks and cattle and gave them to Avimelech, and the two of them made a treaty.
28 Abraham then set aside seven ewes of the flock.
29 Avimelech asked Abraham, “What are these seven ewes that you have set aside by themselves?”
30 He replied, “You are to accept these seven ewes from my hand, as your acknowledgment that the test we performed is conclusive evidence that I dug this well.”
31 That place was therefore called Beersheba [“Well of the Oath”], for there the two of them made an oath.
32 When they had made this treaty in Beersheba, Avimelech and Pikol, chief of his troops, departed and returned to Philistia.
33 Abraham opened an inn in Beersheba. He also planted an orchard in Beersheba in order to provide him with fruit to serve his guests. There he proclaimed the name of God, God of the Universe. He also induced others to proclaim the name of God. After eating a fine, free meal at Abraham’s inn, Abraham’s guests would rise to thank and bless their host. Abraham would respond: “Have you eaten my food? You have eaten of that which belongs to the Master of the World. Thank, praise, and bless Him who spoke and the world came into existence!” If anyone refused to praise God, Abraham would reply, “If you insist that you have eaten my food, then you owe me the full price of the meal.” This was quite high, since he had served them delicacies that were hard to come by in the middle of the desert. In most cases, these guests then capitulated and praised God.
34 And Abraham sojourned in Philistia for one year more than he had lived in Hebron, i.e., for twenty-six years (2047-2073). After this, he moved back to Hebron. The Lubavitcher Rebbe
Abimelech recognizes that God is with Abraham in all that he does. He can plainly see God’s favor upon Abraham and he doesn’t want God angry with him. Abraham has lived a righteous life in front of Abimelech and all the people in the land. He recognizes Abraham as an esteemed man. So he enters this oath with Abraham both for his benefit and the benefit of Abraham.
Through these three events in this chapter we can see how prayer and God’s word go hand in hand. It was through Abraham’s prayer for Abimelech that God remembered Sarah and her plight and she conceived. It was through Abraham’s despair and obedience, Ishmael’s repentance, and Hagar’s grief that God saved Ishmael from death. And it was through Abraham’s righteous ways, his life of servitude, his love for God, his actions towards others that Abimelech and the people of the land saw the blessings upon Abraham and didn’t want him or God angry with them; thus bringing forth the covenant with Abimelech.
Abraham can be viewed as a true disciple of God. His life and actions are comparable to that of Jesus. No, he wasn’t perfect in his ways like Jesus, but his life did the speaking. The way he lived. The way he taught others to obey and love God are what make him a disciple. He didn’t judge others harshly. He didn’t remove their choice to serve or not to serve God. He didn’t point out their sin to them. He simply lived the life in front of them. His actions, the way he served God and others, spoke many more volumes than his voice ever could have.
I encourage you now, take a moment, reflect upon your own life. Ask yourself this:
- Does my life show others the love of God?
- Does the way I live show others the availability of God?
- What do my actions say to others?
It’s easy to post Scripture on Facebook, twitter, google+, etc., it’s easy to go to church or Torah study and even work in the church…but what does your life say? Are you showing loving kindness to others? Are you helping them, praying for them, even when you have needs of your own? Are you judging them or showing them mercy?
I am not your judge. You do not owe me an explanation. This is between you and God. Miracles happened when Isaac was born because of Abraham’s prayer for Abimelech. Jesus healed others because of his love and obedience to God. Do we show enough love? Can we move the “I” in our life over enough to truly serve others without caring if we are seen or not? Once we have the faith, hope, and love that Abraham and Jesus had, we, too, can see the same miracles…and Jesus said even greater! This nation is so blessed that we have become self-absorbed. I pray that I can become more like Abraham and more like Jesus. I pray that my life speaks the volumes of love God has to offer and I am not just offering lip service.
Father, I humbly come before You this morning. I ask you to forgive me of my selfish ways. I ask you to guide my steps so that I may show more love, the love that Abraham and Jesus showed to others. Lord, Your word tells us in Isaiah 66:1-2 This is what the Lord says:…I will bless those who have humble and contrite hearts, who tremble at my word.” Thank you for giving us Your word as an instruction, Your word as a road map through the journeys of this life. Lord, I lift up each person who is facing financial troubles to you this morning. I ask you to bless them abundantly. I lift each person who is sick in mind, body, and spirit and ask you to bring them healing. For each couple desiring a child, I ask you to remove the infertility and make them fruitful and allow them to multiply. Father, forgive us, collectively in the nations of this world, of our sins. Have mercy upon us. Hear our cries and our repentance, and remember us. Father, as Jabez prayed, I now pray not just for me, but for all of the world, Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain! Thank you, Abba! Amen!
- God’s Word and Prayer (prayercommunicationwithgod.wordpress.com)
- Answers to Your Prayer, But not the Answer You Were Looking For (prayercommunicationwithgod.wordpress.com)
- Prayer’s Unbroken Fellowship (prayercommunicationwithgod.wordpress.com)