About Jesus Steve Sweetman
Verse 1 tells us that the
Lord was "gracious" to Sarah as He had promised.
The grace of God is one of the major themes throughout the Bible,
and here we see His graciousness towards Sarah.
God is gracious here for two reasons.
One Sarah really wanted her own child, and this is what this verse
implies. Yet God had a plan
that went far beyond Sarah having a baby, a plan of many redemptive
miracles, and this was the first.
In verse 2 the text says
that Sarah got pregnant and bore Abraham a son "at the very
time" God had promised. Notice
here that the son was born for Abraham.
This was the culture of the day.
The wife would have children, but it was understood that she was
having these children for her husband, so his family name could be carried
on down through time.
Notice also in verse 2
that this came about just at the time when God promised.
God had already promised Abraham and Sarah that he would return in
one year, and at that time, Sarah would have a son.
It came true as God stated. This
is yet another reason for us to understand that God has a time table of
events. Things happen when He
wants them to happen, and in my thinking, he has it all planned out when
things will happen. We see
this throughout the Bible.
This son would be a
blessing to Abraham and Sarah. This
would be their first child together, and they were very old.
This was a joyous occasion for them, but the Lord didn't cause
Sarah to have a son just for her own benefit.
It was for His benefit as well.
God wanted a distinct people that He would call his people and He
wanted this family to be in the lineage of Abraham that would come through
Isaac, not Ishmael. So Sarah
had to have a son. There was
no way around this. So the son
was really more for the purpose of God than he was for Abraham and Sarah.
Verse 3 tells us that
Abraham called the son Isaac. The
father usually pronounced the names of the children in those days.
But this too had already been decided by God as can be seen in
chapter 17. Isaac means
"laughter", and this name was chosen because Sarah laughed when
she heard for herself that she would have a son. We
concluded earlier that this laughter was one of joy, amazement, and
wonder, not of doubt.
In verse 4 we see Abraham
following God's command. When
Isaac was eight days old, he was circumcised.
Circumcision was an outward act that showed that you were a son of
the covenant, you were a part of God's covenant that He spoke to Abraham.
If Abraham would not have obeyed God in this, things would have
really gotten messed up because God specifically said that if a man was
not circumcised, he would be cut off from the covenant people of God.
In this case, that would have been a complete disaster because the
covenant people would flow through the lineage of Isaac, and that could
not have been if Isaac was not a part of God's covenant people.
You might wonder just why
God chose circumcision to be the outward sign of His covenant.
I can't say for sure but I have an idea.
God chose Abraham to be the father of a Godly family or people that
would turn into a nation. The
process in which one would become part of the people of God was through
birth, although the Law of Moses at a later date did make provision for
non Jews to become part of God's people.
Still, the main way into the people of God was through natural
child-birth. For this reason
part of the flesh of the man would be cut off, signifying a removal of the
sinful nature. In turn the male sex organ could therefore be separated or
sanctified for the work of the Lord in carrying on the family line of His
Verse 5 simply states
that Abraham was one hundred years old when Isaac was born.
At this time in history, one hundred years old was old.
This was not like in earlier years when people lived up to nine
hundred years of age.
You can see that Sarah
was very happy in verse 6. She
said that God had brought her laughter, and everyone else laughed when seeing
Isaac. This would be a laugh
of joy since she was so old, too old to have a child.
This was truly a miracle. God will do miracles to perform His will.
So Sarah laughed when she heard that she'd have a baby, and she
laughed when the baby boy was born.
In verse 7 Sarah asks,
"who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse
children"? This is
a question based on Sarah's amazement.
Notice the question is directed to Abraham.
It is not directed to Sarah. Once
again, it is the culture of the day that is seen here.
Men were more important than women.
Such a question would not have been directed to a woman, unless
maybe by a close personal friend.
Concerning culture in the
Bible, we must distinguish between things said and done in the Bible based
on culture, and things said and done based on God's word.
We often get confused on these things.
Just because the husband and wife relationship seen here with
Abraham and Sarah was as it was, does not mean this is how we should
practice husband and wife relationships because it is the will of God.
Culture in Scripture is a big and important subject that needs a
lot of thought, more than what I can give it here.
Also in verse 7 we see
Sarah saying, "yet I have borne Abraham a son in his old age".
Once again you see that she gave birth to the son, but the son was
for her husband. It is like a
woman gives birth, and then the baby is handed over to the father, and the
wife says, "here is your son".
This is very foreign in today's western world.
In verse 7 Sarah spoke
about the miracle of here nursing a child.
Here in verse 8 this subject continues when the text states that
after Isaac was weaned, Abraham had a great feast.
How good Abraham and Sarah must have felt as they saw their
promised son grow into the next step of life.
Isaac truly was the promised son.
He was a foreshadow of the most important promised son, and that is
In verse 9 Sarah noticed
Hagar the Egyptian. Her son
Ishmael was mocking Isaac. Notice
the words "the Egyptian". You
know that Sarah never got over the fact that Abraham gave her to the
Pharaoh to be his wife, and then ended up bringing this Egyptian servant
girl home and eventually sleeping with her, producing Ishmael, her son.
We need to remember that it was Sarah's idea for Abraham to sleep
with Hagar, but still, she resented him for doing it.
And now the struggle between the two ladies goes on, the struggle
that Paul uses as an analogy in Galatians.
Also, the same struggle that was between Sarah and Hagar has
carried over into history with their sons Isaac and Ishmael.
The probable reason why
Ishmael was mocking Isaac was because he felt threatened.
He would have been Abraham's important son, but not now.
Being born from a slave girl, when Isaac was born from Abraham's
wife meant that he was out in the cold when it comes to inheritance and
taking over the leadership of the family.
In verse 10 Hagar tells
Abraham to "get rid of that slave woman and her son, for that slave
woman's son will never share in the inheritance with my son Isaac".
Notice by now that Sarah is very upset.
She doesn't even call Hagar by her name.
Twice she calls Hagar "that woman".
Sarah is right, in one
real sense of the word, that slave woman's son Ishmael would not share in
any inheritance promised to Abraham through Isaac.
Paul, in Galatians 4:31
quotes these same words. He
speaks of Sarah and Hagar as an analogy.
Sarah represents believers in Jesus and Hagar represents the Jews
who would not believe in Jesus. Paul
says, "get rid of the …" What
Paul is saying is that the time has come to get rid of the traditions of
his fathers, which included the Law of Moses itself.
The Law and the traditions had their day, and now they are replaced
by Jesus Himself. This is a
very important truth to understand. I
will not get involved in the discussion here.
I've done that elsewhere. I'll
just say one thing. The Law of
Moses is more about man than God, as was Ishmael.
Jesus is more about God than man, as was Isaac, the promised son.
The Law of Moses came from God, but it was only there because of
the situation man was in. God was in Jesus, and He came because of the
situation of man as well, but from a more heavenly perspective.
In verses 11and 12 we see
that Sarah's treatment of Hagar really bothered Abraham, and for good
reason. Even though Hagar was
not his wife, Ishmael was his son. The
idea to send Hagar and Ishmael away would be bothersome to you if you were
in Abraham's place too.
But God told Abraham not
to be distressed. The
"reckoned offspring" would come through Isaac.
This was meant to be an encouragement to Abraham.
On more than one occasion God told Abraham this very thing, and now
He tells him again. Abraham
should feel very good about this special offspring that would come through
the lineage of Isaac, and we've learned that this offspring is Jesus.
This should put Abraham's heart at rest.
God told him to do as
Sarah says. That may sound
crewel and harsh on the part of God, but in reality, that is the way it
was to work, both with Isaac and Ishmael, and how Paul uses this as an
analogy of things that took place in his day.
God telling Abraham to do
as his wife tells him would not be culturally correct in those days.
Abraham was already disturbed enough and this probably didn't help
him. Yet, God told Abraham
that Isaac is the important son. That
should have been encouraging for him.
Verse 14 tells us that
the next day, that is, the day after the Lord spoke to Abraham, he gave
Sarah and the boy some food and water and sent them on their way.
How sad this must have been, but this appeared to be not just the
will of Sarah, but the will of God.
God loves everyone, yet
at the same time, He has to send people on their way who aren't His.
Ishmael was born outside of the will of God.
The same is true for us today.
If we aren't born again into the will of God, we will be sent on
our way as well. It is as
simple as that.
Hagar headed south, where
she did a few years ago when she left after Ishmael was first born.
South was the direction of her original home in
Verses 15 and 16 are sad.
When Hagar ran out of the food and water that Abraham had given
her, she put Ishmael under a bush and walked away for about a bowshot.
She just sat and cried, knowing her son would die. It is clear at
this point that Ishmael was sick, probably for lack of good food and
Ishmael did not die.
This is not the end of the story.
God Himself heard the cry of Ishmael.
An angel of the Lord told Hagar in verses 17 and 18 that Ishmael
too would become a great nation. He'd
become a great nation, but he would not become that one special nation
that would come through Isaac's lineage.
God asked Hagar why she
was crying. I'm sure that God
knew why she was crying. He
knows all things. As I've said
before, it appears that God wants us to talk to Him, communicate to Him,
express our thoughts. He wants
us to verbalize what we think and feel.
You might think that God
is being a bit indifferent towards Hagar, but in reality, He knows all
things. He sees the end from
the beginning. He knows that
Ishmael will not die. We get
caught up in our situations and we often view things from a human
viewpoint, when in fact, we should be viewing things from God's viewpoint.
This is not the first
time God told Hagar that Ishmael would become a great nation.
You might wonder then why Hagar thought that her son might die.
It's simple human nature. Your
son is sick. Your son is at
death's door. You are
concerned and depressed.
We note here that God
loves everyone, even those who are born out of his will.
Yet when God says that Ishmael would become a great nation, this
does not mean that Ishmael will be a godly nation and on the side of God.
It simply means that Ishmael was not going to die under that tree.
God had plans for Ishmael and those who were born through his
lineage, plans that are still in affect today, plans that would cause
When I say that God loves
everyone, that is correct., but we need to distinguish between God loving
everyone and Him calling everyone. Ishmael
did not have the same calling from God as Isaac did.
God loves everyone in the world today, but unless people repent and
put their faith in Him, they will be sent on their way as Ishmael was.
In verse 19 God opened
the eyes of Hagar and she saw a well of water.
Was this well here all along, or did God miraculously put it there?
I think that Hagar was so full of sorrow, and her eyes full of
tears, and that the well was off in the distance, that she just never saw
the well. When her tears dried
up, she saw the well and gave water to Ishmael.
That being said, this might have been a miracle well.
We learn in verses 20 and
21 that Ishmael grew up in the desert, and that Hagar found him a wife
from her native country of Egypt. It does not appear that
Hagar ever re-married. The
finding of a wife for a son was normally the job of the father, but in
this case, the father was not around, so the mother had to find her son a
In verse 22 we see the
name "Abimelech". We do not know for sure if this is the same
Abimelech that we saw a few chapters back who took Sarah to be one of his
wives. My guess is it is the
same Abimelech. Abimelech is
more of a title than a personal name, just like Pharaoh is a title and not
a personal name. Abimelech was
a Philistine ruler.
We also see the name
Phicoh in verse 22. He is one
of Abimelech's military rulers.
Both Abimelech and Phicoh
tell Abraham that God is with him in everything he does.
I'd suggest that this might well be somewhat surprising to
Abimelech and Phicoh because at times Abraham doesn't appear to be the
godly man he should be. Still,
they now know God was with Abraham, and even declared him righteous, not
because of anything he did, but simply because he trusted that what God
said He would do, would be done. Simply
put, Abraham trusted in God, imperfect as he and his trust was.
Here is a good example of
a secular man, a secular nation, who realized that Abraham and his large
family was chosen by God to be a people of distinction.
Western nations should follow in Abimelech's footsteps, but we're
not at present.
Even though Abimelech
felt God was on Abraham's side, he didn't fully trust Abraham as seen in
verse 23. Abimelech was
already tricked by Isaac, and he might well have heard that Abraham kicked
Hagar and her son out of his camp. This
would cause natural suspicion within Abimelech.
Abimelech wanted Abraham to swear before God that he would not deal
falsely with him or his children. This
request was well founded. After
the way Abraham treated Abimelech earlier by falsely saying Sarah was his
sister and not his wife would make Abimelech wonder how many more times
Abraham would not be truthful.
Again, we note that
Abimelech understands that God has chosen Abraham and his descendents to
be special, but just because they are special, Abimelech still doesn't
fully trust Abraham.
Abimelech just slips in
the thought that Abraham is an alien in the land in which he was presently
living. Remember, Abraham
relocated to this area. Abimelech
might have been suggesting, especially with his military leader who was
with him, that if Abraham did continue in his falsehood that he would take
action against him. Abimelech
did not openly say this, but I think it is implied.
Abimelech reminds Abraham
that he has dealt kindly with him, and that Abraham should in turn deal
kindly with him. That's only
common decency. Still, behind
this request I believe was a veiled threat, that is, "be true to your
word or else I will take action against you".
In verse 24 Abraham
agreed and he did swear to be honest.
In verse 25, it seems
within moments after agreeing to Abimelech's request, that Abraham made
his own request in the form of a complaint.
Abraham said that Abimelech's servants seized a well from him.
Apparently these men blocked Abraham and his people from using a
particular well, but Abimelech did not seem aware of this, as seen in
Now that things were out
in the open, in verse 27 we see that Abraham brought cattle to Abimelech.
The reason for this is found in verse 28.
The two men were about to formalize this agreement by making a
covenant with one another in the fashion that was customary in those days.
Part of the sheep and
cattle would go directly to Abimelech as a kind of payment from Abraham.
The text does not clearly state it, but the two men most likely cut
some of the animals in half, as did Abraham back in chapter 15 when God
confirmed the covenant with him. What
normally happened with these covenants is the animals would be cut in half
and laid out on the ground. The
parties involved in the covenant would walk between the pieces of dead
animals. The stipulation of
the covenant or agreement would be verbalized along with the penalties if
it was broken.
In verse 29 Abimelech
asked Abraham about seven lambs that he had set aside.
In verse 30 Abraham replies by saying that these seven lambs were
given to Abimelech as payment, or as a token of the agreement that it was
understood by both men that it was Abraham that dug these wells in the
first place. So now we know
why Abraham was upset and complained to Abimelech.
Even though he and his people were aliens in this land, they dug
this well for themselves.
In verse 31 we see this
plot of land where the well was became known as "
Verse 32 clearly tells us
that Phicoh was the commander of Abimelech's army.
We also learn for sure that Abimelech was a Philistine.
In verse 33, as it seems
to be Abraham's custom, since he has done this before, he planted a tree
and worshiped the "Eternal God".
Once again, God had brought civil peace to Abraham and his people,
and he did it through a treaty.
We see the words
"Eternal God" in this verse. This is the first mention of God
being eternal, that is, having no beginning or end.
I don't know if this was a new revelation to Abraham, but it is new
to the Genesis account. We now
see an aspect to God that hasn't been so clearly stated to date in
Verse 34 states that
Abraham stayed in the land of the Philistines for a long time.
Notice it was the land of the Philistines.
It wasn't Abraham's land. The
promised land stated in the covenant of chapter 15 had not yet been
fulfilled, and won't be until the end of this present age in which we live
when Jesus returns to claim the land for Himself and for Israel.