Summary: The long awaited bundle of joy finally arrives

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The Life of Abraham, Part 13: A Son is Born!

Genesis 21:1-7


In the last lesson, we saw a serious breach of faith in Abraham. He had failed to trust in Yahweh to protect him among the inhabitants of Gerar and rather trusted in his own wisdom. Had not the LORD intervened as his covenant partner and promise maker and remained faithful to the covenant promises He had made, the road to Christ would have hit a dead end. Abraham should have continued to have believed in Yahweh’s lovingkindness. The Hebrew word “hesed” of which lovingkindness and mercy are some of its English translations describes the action of a superior covenant partner coming to the aid of a weaker one. Abraham felt helpless in this new situation, and the actions he took on his own initiative made the situation worse and not better.

Exposition of the Text

The long awaited promise of God to Abraham and Sarah had become a reality. What a day of absolute joy it must have been to them. It arrived right on time, that is God’s time, and the promise was fulfilled in God’s way as well. This can only be seen as an act of “hesed” as well. Abraham and Sarah were totally unable to have children, so their superior covenant partner who was more than any earthly covenant partner had intervened in their behalf. This was the work of a gracious God alone. I am assuming that Abraham and Sarah conceived the child in the normal way, but only after the LORD had turned back their biological clocks.

Abraham obeyed the LORD and named his son “Isaac”. The laughter of unbelief had become the laughter of belief and joy. He also obeyed the LORD in circumcising Isaac on the eighth day as commanded for all males born into his household as a sign of the covenant. This sign which was made only on the foreskins of males by the shedding of their own blood is replaced in the church today by the covenant sign of baptism in which re remember the shed blood of the Lord Jesus in our own behalf and is for boys, girls, men, and women who are born into the New covenant.

Sarah’s great joy is expressed in a song of praise unto the LORD. She said that the LORD had caused her to laugh in joy, considering the circumstances. It isn’t as elaborate as the psalms of thanksgiving of either Hannah at the birth of Samuel or Mary about the coming birth of her son Jesus but it must have been just as heartfelt as either of these. It was a great reproach for a woman to be barren in the ancient Near East. It was seen as the curse of God. It is fascinating how the Lord has used “cursed” women throughout the Scripture. Rebekah was barren for many years until she gave birth to twins. We can think of Samson’s mother, of Ruth, of Hannah, and of Elizabeth the mother of John the Baptist as examples.

God created the world out of nothing and gave it form and purpose. In the case of these barren births, it is in a sense a repetition of creation. This miracle of the birth of Isaac to a long barren woman is in a sense then a new creation. The turning back of her clock was as is she had never grown old in the first place. It was symbolically a return to Eden. She had become a type of Eve. In return, Sarah becomes a type of God’s act of ushering in the fullness of the New Creation. The child she bore becomes a type of the one who would come from the descendants of Abraham, the true promised seed, Jesus Christ who would undo the fivefold curse and will complete the recreation at His return. This promised Jesus would be blessed with seed that will fill the earth. He has an eternal inheritance which he will joyously share with his children. As the new Adam, He has been given dominion over not just the earth but the universe. Through Him we shall have all or our relationships healed as if the effects of sin had never happened and with Him shall live eternally in that happy land. This blessed birth of Isaac is another signpost along the way of what the LORD intended to do.

The children of Israel in the wilderness approaching the Jordan would have been the first to have heard this story told from writing, although some of the material Moses used may have come from written sources. But to the readers of the Torah, the sweetness of this birth must have given courage to them. Even though the promise had been long offered, and through their unbelief delayed forty years, the time of claiming the land Promised to them as the descendants of Abraham was at hand. In a sense, they already had title to it. Soon they would cross the Jordan under Joshua whose name in Greek would be “Jesus “ and make their de jure title de facto.

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