Summary: Number 37 in our Genesis series. Dealing with Abraham offering Isaac, and how God provides.
The Promised Son
Text: Genesis 21:1-21
By: Ken McKinley
Well we’ve finally got to the fulfillment of the promise that God made to Abraham so long ago. And right off the bat we see an important lesson. It’s probably… I’d say… one of the most important things you can know about God. And that is that He keeps His Word. It isn’t always in our time, or the way we think it should be. But He always keeps His Word. If you think about it, Abraham is about 100 years old, Sarah’s 90 and they finally have a son. About 3 times in this passage we see the phrase – “As He had promised.” Or, “As He had said.” Depending on what version you’re using.
Verse 1 starts out by saying the LORD visited Sarah… I actually like how the NIV puts it here when it says, “The LORD was gracious to Sarah.” Because rather than a word for word translation, it’s conveying the idea here. Because if you think about it, Sarah had laughed at God’s promise prior to this. And she also tried to circumvent God’s way of doing things by giving her maidservant to her husband, but God has shown her grace. He had grace on her. Instead of punishing her for her doubt, and her disobedience, and her trying to do it her way instead of God’s way… God has grace.
And so God has kept His Word. He’s done exactly like He said He would. Abraham and Sarah have had a son, exactly when God said they would. So… God is a God of grace and He keeps His promises.
Now I don’t know… I guess I could stop right there for today, because if you get those two things, and I mean really get them. Then you’ve got all you need. But the text goes on, so I guess I will too.
As we read on, we see that Abraham names his son Isaac; which literally means “Laughter.” And that can have all kinds of connotations I guess. There was laughter because Abraham was so full of joy in the fact that God had kept His promise to him. And don’t forget that Sarah; prior to this had laughed in unbelief at God’s promise. You know; I look at this and I see a lot of things that could bring about laughter. I mean Abraham’s nearly 100 years old. I can see Sarah mashing both Abraham’s and the baby’s food so that they can eat it, because neither of them have any teeth. Look at verse seven (Read) – What about nursing at 90? Come on! You got to laugh at that unless you’re just too uptight in your religion. Now the Bible doesn’t get into how all of that worked out for them. The main idea is that Sarah laughed at God in her unbelief but now she’s laughing with Him and Abraham in faith. There’s joy here! As a father I can tell you how wonderful it is to have children that you can raise to love the Lord. So there’s joy, there’s excitement. There’s laughter.
But… trouble is just around the corner… or I guess we could say, a few verses down.
But before we get to that I want to look back up at verse 4 (Read).
God has kept His promise and Abraham responds in faithful obedience. Basically; by doing this, Abraham was saying, “God I know that you have done this for me. I know that my son belongs to you.” It was the sign of being part of the covenant community. When my girls got baptized they both knew what they were doing. I taught them about it, what it meant and what it signified, and then I questioned them about their understanding of it. Then pastor Dirks at Lincoln Avenue did the same. He talked to them, he asked them questions to make sure they understood it. Pastor Andrew actually did the baptism, but both Jason and I had gone over what it meant. I did that, I took them to Jason, to avoid any bias on my part. But the point is that they understand what it means to publically confess their being united to Christ through baptism. And so Abraham commits his son to the Lord. He’s committing to raise his son the best way he knows how in the sight of God.
But like I said a while ago, there’s trouble in the making. The day that Isaac is weaned, Abraham throws a party. He was probably very happy because… you know, it goes back to that whole 90 and nursing thing. But for whatever reason Abraham has a party to celebrate but verse 9 tells us that Ishmael was scoffing. He was making fun of Isaac. Now Isaac is probably about 2 years old or so, and most likely Ishmael is laughing at him as he’s walking on unsteady legs, or maybe he had an accident in his goat skin pull up, or something. Some commentators say that Ishmael was actually being mean to Isaac, you know… picking on him and being mean, like a bully. And that’s probably more likely the case, because back in chapter 16 God said that Ishmael would be like a wild donkey. Whatever was going on there, Sarah didn’t like it.