Sunday, January 16, 2011

Genesis 21 - Isaac is born

LINKGenesis 21

BACKGROUND

Part I: Isaac is Born!

It had been 25 years since the initial promise, and the baby is born! WOHOOO! 

There are Scarlet Thread parallels between Isaac and Jesus:

1) Both Isaac and Jesus were named before their mothers were even pregnant (See Genesis 17:19 and Luke 1:31). 
2) Both mothers conceived because of God’s supernatural intervention. 
3) Both Isaac and Jesus fulfilled the Abrahamic covenant. They were both “sons of the promise.”  
4) There was rejoicing at the birth of a promised newborn baby!!!!!!
Isaac’s name means “laughter” and his promise and birth brought on much of it. Sarah’s first laugh was in temporary disbelief (Genesis 17:17). The next one was of pure joy. This Michael Card song captures that joy! See a video of him singing at the end of this post.

They Called Him Laughter 

A barren land and a barren wife
Made Abraham laugh
At his wandering life
A cruel joke it seemed then
To call him the “father of nations.”

A heavenly prank?
A celestial joke?
’Cause gray hair and babies
Leave no room for hope
But hoping was something
This hopeless old man learned to do.

Chorus
They called him laughter
For he came after
The Father had made an
Impossible promise come true
The birth of a baby
To a hopeless old lady
So they called him laughter
‘Cause no other name would do

A cry in the darkness
And laughter at night
An elderly couple sit
Holding him tight
An improbable infant
A punch line, a promise come true

They laughed 'til they wept
Then they laughed at their tears
This miracle baby they'd wanted for years
Would make a Messiah
Who'd give us impossible joy

CHORUS

Even though Sarah’s first laugh was in temporary disbelief, God is so patient with us. Sarah made it in the “Hall of Faith” with these verses:
By faith, even Sarah herself received ability to conceive (literally, “power to lay down seed”), even beyond the proper time of life, since she considered Him faithful who had promised (Hebrews 11:11).
Further Study: Romans 4:13-25 is an excellent cross-reference in connection with this promise and our faith. It is well worth the extra time to really absorb it into your soul bloodstream. It is SO important to understand!

Part 2: Ishmael and Hagar

At Isaac’s weaning feast (age two to three), the teenage (age 16 or 17) half-brother, Ishmael, “mocks.” In Hebrew, this word means “at play,” but Paul later describes it as “persecuted” (Galatians 4:29). Regardless, Sarah saw this mocking as a threat to Isaac’s inheritance, and she wanted Ishmael and his mother, Hagar, out of the house! Interesting that God told Abraham to listen to Sarah this time and not to be distressed because the promise was with Isaac, but there were still blessings for Ishmael. So, Abraham “rose early in the morning” in obedience to the Father’s will (something he will do again in the next chapter with his other son).

Just as God met Hagar in the desert in Genesis 16, he met her again and promised a great nation out of Ishmael. They settled in the Wilderness of Paran which is the northeast portion of the Sinai Peninsula. The descendants of Ishmael are the Arabs of today and, by extension, Muslims.

Now, this whole episode has great significance in the Scarlet ThreadGalatians 4:21-31 uses this story in Genesis 21 to speak allegorically of the Mosaic Law and the New Covenant:

1) MOSAIC LAW: Ishmael was born according to the flesh (man’s intervention) through a “slave woman” representing bondage at Mt. Sinai and the earthly Jerusalem which represents the center of the Law of Moses. 
2) NEW COVENANT: Isaac was born according to the Spirit (supernatural intervention) through a “free woman” representing freedom when the promise was finally fulfilled in Christ, the seed, on Mt. Calvary! We, in turn, are “seed” by adoption through God’s grace and are a part of the heavenly Jerusalem.
We, as co-heirs, are free from the bondwoman because of Christ. We just need to “throw the slave woman and her son” out of our lives since the flesh struggles against the Spirit, mocking the Spirit just as Ishmael mocked Isaac! Our inheritance lies in the son of promise and his seed, Jesus. “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free," and we never must be subject again to a yoke of slavery. 

HALLELUJAH!

WHEW! I’m glad I got that off my chest!

Part 3: Abraham Makes an Oath to Abimelech

Abimelech only knew of Abraham as a liar. So, he pressed him to deal honestly with him. I can see why! Abraham swore kindness toward Abimelech and his descendants and to the land. They also “cut” covenant over the wells. This treaty allowed Abraham to dwell in peace in this land. As a result, he planted a tamarisk tree which thrives in arid regions. Its leafy branches provide welcome shade. Dwelling under one’s tree was a sign of peaceful security (Zechariah 3:10).

Then, Abraham called on El Olam. This is the first and last time this address will ever be used of God and means “the Everlasting God.”

REFLECTION

What encourages me so much in this chapter is that even though Sarah had her doubts through the process, she still made it in the Hall of Faith. It gives me encouragement that even though we will make three steps forward and two steps back in our journey, He still sees the forward motion of our imperfect lives! Keep on walking brothers and sisters in the Lord!

APPLICATION

Part 1: Are there any areas of your life where you are not “standing on the promises” of God? He always follows through on His promises. Learn to praise God ahead of time in the process of waiting rather than continuing to doubt or try to “make” things happen like Sarah.

Part 2: Is there a “bondwoman” in your life? Are you living under bondage and not under grace in any area of your life?

Part 3: Just as Abraham lived in peace with Abimelech and his descendants, we need to “live in harmony with one another . . . if it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Romans 12:16, 18). I heartily recommend material from Peacemaker Ministries, and the book, The Peacemaker by Ken Sande to learn about Biblical peacemaking. 

PRAYER

Lord, we call on you as El Olam, the everlasting God, the God of Abraham who is the same yesterday, today, and forever! We praise You God that you have adopted us as Children of Promise through Jesus Christ our LORD! Amen

Here is Michael Card performing the song:

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