Summary: Isaac, the son of Abraham and Sarah in their old age, was finally born! Sometime later, Abraham prepared a great feast to celebrate a milestone in Isaac's life. Something happened, and some found they had to leave. For good.
Introduction: Abraham must have dearly loved Ishmael, his first-born son. Abraham had watched Ishmael grow to young manhood, even making sure he was circumcised along with Abraham and every male in the household. But now, something was about to happen, and Ishmael along with Hagar, his mother, were about to be forced out of Abraham’s family.
1 A Time to Rejoice: Celebrating a milestone for Isaac
Text, Genesis 21:1-8, KJV: 1 And the LORD visited Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did unto Sarah as he had spoken. 2 For Sarah conceived, and bare 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 that was born unto him, whom Sarah bare to him, Isaac. 4 And Abraham circumcised his son Isaac being eight days old, as God had commanded him. 5 And Abraham was an hundred years old, when his son Isaac was born unto him. 6 And Sarah said, God hath made me to laugh, so that all that hear will laugh with me. 7 And she said, Who would have said unto Abraham, that Sarah should have given children suck? for I have born him a son in his old age. 8 And the child grew, and was weaned: and Abraham made a great feast the same day that Isaac was weaned.
One of the happiest days of Abraham’s long life had to be the day when he heard Sarah, his wife, was finally pregnant with their child. True enough, Sarah had encouraged Abraham to take Hagar, their Egyptian maidservant, and have a child by her, but that didn’t work out. Ishmael, son of Abraham and Hagar, was indeed Abraham’s pick to be his heir but God told him NO. The promise God made in Genesis 19 was a solemn promise and God has always kept every promise He has ever made.
This one was no different.
Granted, our sense of timing, scheduling, and so forth does not necessarily mesh or line up with the Lord’s plan or schedule of doing things. God never told Abraham just when his heir would be born, only that he would be born. It turns out that 13 years went by before Abraham’s heir was born to him. But before that, God would have had to perform a miracle: Abraham and Sarah were both long past the age of childbearing (Abraham was 99 years old; Sarah, 89; compare Genesis 16:16 with 17:24 and 21:4).
Now, Abraham must have been happy when he heard Sarah was going to have his child—after so many years of waiting! Even so, he must have felt even better when Isaac was born. As a reminder, Isaac means laughter (or words to that effect) so I wonder if Abraham remembered his own laughing when he heard God’s promise in Gen: 17:17, or Sarah’s laughter in Gen. 18:12. Who knows?
But he and Sarah and most of the household must have been happy when the baby, Isaac, was born. After all, this is something they had been waiting for ever since the promise was made.
And still happier was the day when Isaac was weaned! Abraham made a “great feast” for that day, but sadly, some bad things were about to happen.
2 A Time to Confront: Dealing with unexpected responses
Text, Genesis 21:9-13, KJV: 9 And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, which she had born unto Abraham, mocking. 10 Wherefore she said unto Abraham, Cast out this bondwoman and her son: for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac. 11 And the thing was very grievous in Abraham's sight because of his son. 12 And God said unto Abraham, Let it not be grievous in thy sight because of the lad, and because of thy bondwoman; in all that Sarah hath said unto thee, hearken unto her voice; for in Isaac shall thy seed be called. 13 And also of the son of the bondwoman will I make a nation, because he is thy seed.
An unsolved mystery is why some people do some very inappropriate things, even at times of happiness. As mentioned in verse 8, Abraham had made a great feast to celebrate, maybe, the first or second milestone in Isaac’s life. He and Sarah and maybe most if not all of the household would be rejoicing and having a good time, wouldn’t they?
Not Ishmael, though.
He decided to engage in doing something “mocking”. Moses did not describe just what that kind of “mocking” behavior Ishmael was doing. Ishmael was old enough to know better, and do better: after all, he was 13 years old when Isaac was born and even older now. According to some sources, children wouldn’t be weaned until they were around three years of age and there was no reason for Ishmael to do what he was doing.