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Genesis 21:34 - The Promise Delivered - Part 1
It’s important for us to remember that chapter 21 comes directly after chapter 20. In chapter 20, in his old age, about 100 years old, Abraham had been walking with God for a number of decades. Many years he had been in the land now, and what did Abraham find himself doing but going right back to the same dumb sin that he had committed decades earlier with this whole - “my wife is my sister” deal.
He finds himself messing up in the very same area he had messed up in before. It was a humiliating ordeal with Abimalek, and if you remember, he came up with a ton of pathetic excuses. And, no doubt, walking with the LORD as long as he did, he had to feel a slight bit horrible about himself that he was back in the same sin. He probably felt pretty worthless and condemned... Like Us!!
But here’s the interesting thing - and this should give us tremendous comfort. The moment where God moves in such dramatic fashion in this man’s life, and gives him the promise that’s been hanging over him for many years, comes right AFTER a time of great defeat in his life!
We see that the God that Abraham is dealing with is a God of tremendous mercy and grace!! And isn’t it just the scandal of grace that these particular blessings should come at such a time as this! Brothers and Sisters, we NEED to understand that we serve the very same God!
So, let's dig into the text: Gen. 21:1 - “Now the Lord was gracious to Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did for Sarah what he had promised.”
Notice here that he said it twice! “As He had said... As He had promised.”
It took a Looooong time! They’ve been waiting 25 years for God to do what He said He was going to do. You and I, we give God maybe 5 minutes. We might give Him a whole day or even a week, but then after that we are getting off the bike and doing our own thing, and soon enough we’re off walking in the flesh.
But here’s Abraham hanging on for 25 years! 25 years! God is not nervous, He’s not panicked, He’s not in any kind of a hurry. He’s in TOTAL control of that which He has promised us and will be spoken of in the very same manner as it was spoken of here.
This is a delivery of a promise and its something we see over and over and over again in the N.T..
I press this upon you because it is important that we are studying the O.T., that we get grounded and are grounded in the O.T.. The O.T. is the progressive revelation of God. The Gospels are the climax, and all of the N.T. is basically just a commentary on the Gospels and the O.T.
So, if you jump right into the end of a movie, you're not going to know what’s going on are you? If you're reading a book that is 20 chapters and you start at chapter 18, you're not gonna get it.
So it’s important for us to be grounded in the O.T., specifically having experienced over and over again the promises of God and the confidence of the promises of God, SO THAT when we do get to the Gospels, “Christ has promised this, and He’s going to do this...” we can say - AWESOME! OH YEAH!!
I mean Christ has said this, and He’s done this... I can count on that! Because I’m grounded in the O.T., I’m grounded in seeing the promises of God come to fruition!
So, understand that what we’re doing here is extremely important.
Vs. 2-8 - “Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the very time God had promised him. Abraham gave the name Isaac (Laughter, in Hebrew) to the son Sarah bore him. When his son Isaac was eight days old, Abraham circumcised him, as God commanded him. Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him.
Sarah said, ‘God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.’ And she added, ‘Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.’ The child grew and was weaned, and on the day Isaac was weaned Abraham held a great feast.”
They did not celebrate annual birthdays for infants as we do, but rather, they had this great feast and celebration when the child was weaned. In this culture, that would be somewhere between the ages of 2-5, closer to age 2. That’s the feast that’s being referred to here in vs. 8. A great joy in the house of Abraham.
Again, the name Isaac means ‘laughter,’ and if you remember, both of his parents laughed back in Gen. 17 and 18. They are both ancient and God said to them: ‘You two are going to have a child,’ and both of them laughed in response to that. So God said, ‘Ok, go ahead and name your child ̃Laughter.’”
Matthew Henry points out something very interesting in his commentary on this chapter, that “God’s favors are often the laughingstock of the world.”
So, let’s take a look at Issac now. Isaac represents perhaps one of the most fascinating pictures of Jesus Christ that we have in all of the O.T.
Consider now, even in his birth, when you think about the circumstances surrounding Isaac’s birth as it relates to the circumstances relating to the birth of Christ.
First of all, they were both “promised.” Secondly, when they were born there was an atmosphere of great joy - There’s a big feast here!
Luke 2 - “Behold, I bring you tidings of great joy,” when the Messiah was born.
Thirdly, there was a period of delay between the promise and the actual birth in both their cases. Just as the O.T. held out the promise of the Messiah, so we have seen the promise of Isaac being held out before Abraham and Sarah.
As we see this young man develop, we’re going to see some striking parallels between this account of him here and Christ in the Gospels as we get into Chapter 22.