Summary: By faith we are to believe the promise of God, believe in the promised Redeemer. Through Isaac God was keeping his promise. Through the promised Redeemer, he has kept his promise to provide our redemption.
Genesis 21:1-12 Through Isaac
6/5/16 D. Marion Clark
It had been a long time coming, so long that it had become a laughing matter to both Abraham and Sarah. Twenty-five years is a long time for a promise to be fulfilled, especially when no indication had been given that it would be long. Finally, Abraham laughed when God yet again made the promise, and then Sarah later when she heard the promise again repeated. And so it was fitting for the promised son to be named “Laughter.”
The Lord visited Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did to Sarah as he had promised. 2 And Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age at the time of which God had spoken to him. 3 Abraham called the name of his son who was born to him, whom Sarah bore him, Isaac. 4 And Abraham circumcised his son Isaac when he was eight days old, as God had commanded him. 5 Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him. 6 And Sarah said, “God has made laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh over me.” 7 And she said, “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.”
There are two emphases made in these verses. One is that Sarah’s pregnancy and successful labor was by the supernatural power of God. There are the remarks specifically of God’s intervention: “The Lord visited Sarah”; “the Lord did to Sarah.” There are the comments about Abraham’s old age (a hundred years old) and of Sarah: “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children?”
This is not the immaculate conception of Mary in which a man played no role. Abraham fathered Isaac, to be sure. But just as sure is the fact that Sarah’s conceiving is an act of God. Whatever else may have been the reason for the long delay between God’s promise of a son and the time it finally happened, there is no doubt that we are to take the conception and birth as no less than a birth by the power of God’s Spirit.
The other emphasis is that the birth took place according to the promise of God. “The Lord visited Sarah as he had said”; “the Lord did to Sarah as he had promised.” Sarah bore Abraham a son “at the time of which God had spoken to him.”
Indeed, the promise is what the whole story of Abraham has been about ever since the beginning of chapter 12: “Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation.” Since that time God had again and again promised Abraham descendants – lots of them. And time following time, year following year, even decade following decade not one child had resulted. Even so, God made a promise and he kept that promise.
And so there is rejoicing. There is laughter for the son named Isaac, whose very name means “laughter.” There is celebration.
8 And the child grew and was weaned. And Abraham made a great feast on the day that Isaac was weaned.
Even so, there is trouble in the home.
9 But Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, laughing. 10 So she said to Abraham, “Cast out this slave woman with her son, for the son of this slave woman shall not be heir with my son Isaac.” 11 And the thing was very displeasing to Abraham on account of his son.
I admit that I scratch my head over Peter’s admonition to women in which he upholds Sarah as a role model of submission: “as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening” (1 Peter 3:6). Really? It was Sarah whose faith in God’s promise faltered so that she gave her servant Hagar as a wife to Abraham to bear his son. That did not work out to well, as Sarah also became jealous of Hagar once she conceived. Had it not been for the Lord’s intervention twice, Hagar would have died in the desert – the first time while still pregnant, the second time now with her son Ishmael. No, Sarah has much to be accountable for; nevertheless even her jealousy is used by God to fulfill his promise.
12 But God said to Abraham, “Be not displeased because of the boy and because of your slave woman. Whatever Sarah says to you, do as she tells you, for through Isaac shall your offspring be named.