Personal studies on Genesis 21

Monday, July 03, 2006
Oh my goodness, a thought crossed my mind today that stopped me in my tracks.

Psalm 23:6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

Ok, if I am not feeling goodness and mercy, should I maybe stop and turn around, repent of what is keeping me from feeling goodness and mercy. To repent means to make a 180 degree turn and go in the opposite direction from what takes me from feeling goodness and mercy.

Knock me over with a feather!


Remember, on the road to Emmaus, Jesus talked with a few disciples and opened up the scriptures to them. The scriptures in those days was what we call the Old Testament – because the books of the New Testament were not written yet. Jesus talked about where the Messiah was pictured in the Old Testament. We have seen some of these places, but one of the most obvious ones is Isaac and Abraham. Today, we are finally going to see God’s promise come true for Abraham and Sarah. After many long years of being childless, of them being too old to, in the natural, bear children, Sarah will hold a son in her arms. This will be a natural born son, not one with an Egyptian maid. It is the son God promised. Sometimes we get impatient when God promises us something and it doesn’t immediately manifest. God promised Abraham a son 25 years ago, and it is just now that this child will be born.  There is often a gap between the promise and the fulfillment of the promise. God seems to take longer than we would like, but we have to remember that God’s sense of timing is not our sense of timing – and He has many things to coordinate.

We need to wait by faith. That little sentence packs a powerful punch for me, because I am not good at waiting by faith. As the old TV commercial says, “I want my Maypo and I want it now!”. So often I stamp my foot and tell God, “I want this to happen now!” Yet, now is not always the right time for something to happen. I have to learn to trust and have faith that God will make things happen in the right time.

ISAAC in Hebrew means Laughter. Remember Sarah and Abraham both laughed with joy when God gave them this promise, even though Sarah denied that she was laughing – God heard her. Just like when Jesus and John the Baptist were born, God gave the name to the child, and the parents obeyed that instruction.

Genesis 21

God gives Sarah her child. Genesis 21:2 “For Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him.”

Notice, she bore Isaac at the SET TIME – so much of prophesy in the Old Testament is based on a number of years, a number of generations, and if Isaac had been born a few years earlier, or later, then the timing of the prophesies would have been off. God knows what is best and has things all planned out.

Abraham names his son Isaac, and as the covenant stated, he circumcised Isaac when Isaac was 8 days old.  Abraham was 100 years old. (Note, Abraham will, after Sarah dies, marry again and have other offspring. What God did was not a one-time thing, he renewed Abraham completely).  And Sarah finally comes clean about her laughing in verse 6 “And Sarah said, “God has made me laugh, and all who hear will laugh with me.”

Now we are going to see a problem that Abraham will face, and he will do better this time – he will take his problem to God instead of acting on impulse. Just like with us, God is teaching Abraham gradually to rely on Him, and Abraham is learning those lessons. Our mistakes and missing of the mark of God can have a positive outcome if we learn from them, and change our future behavior.

We are going to see in verse 8 that Isaac is to be weaned, and a great feast occurs when that happens. In a spiritual sense it is like Isaac is moving from the milk of the word to the meat of the word. Sarah watched Ishmael (Hagar’s son), scoffing. At this time Ishmael would have been about 17, and we will see that he will become the father of the Arab nations.

We are going to see that often Abraham is torn because he sees Ishmael as his firstborn son – something that God does not see. He is partial to Ishmael and wishes that he could claim some of the same blessings that Isaac receives, but God points out that it is Isaac that is the son of promise. Anyway, Sarah sees Ishmael’s mocking of her natural born son and she tells Abraham to cast out Hagar (this bondwoman and her son), for Ishmael shall not be a heir with MY son, namely with Isaac.

Hold on a bit and remember some history. Who suggested that Hagar (the bondservant brought from Egypt – the world), marry her husband and have a child – to help God produce the offspring? Sarah. Who lived with Hagar and Ishmael for 17 years until her son was born? Sarah. Isn’t that just like us, we ask God something, we settle for something that we decide in our own strength, and we then see the negative fruit of the decision. Then we react to the negative situation with another impulsive decision, and each time we dig a deeper hole, create a new problem. We spend our lives walking around reacting, rather than acting. We are going to see tremendous growth in Abraham because he takes the problem to God BEFORE he acts. All too often I act, then take the problem to God. I am learning to reverse this, but it is tough.

God will give Abraham good advice, even though Abraham was displeased at Sarah’s request because he loved Ishmael. God says, Genesis 21:12 (a prophesy about Ishmael), “But God said to Abraham, “Do not let it be displeasing in your sight because of the lad or because of your bondswoman.” (notice God does not call Hagar Abraham’s wife) “Whatever Sarah has said to you, listen to her voice; for in Isaac your seed shall be called. Yet I will also make a nation of the son of the bondwoman, because he is your seed.”

So God instructs Abraham to listen to Sarah, and yet he promises to make a nation from Ishmael. God honored Abraham, and unfortunately those from the seed of Ishmael are giving Israel grief to this day, and impacting on many other countries of the world. I am certain that was not God’s best for Abraham, but God still honored Abraham and kept the word of His (God’s) covenant.

Abraham again believes and obeys God. He gets up EARLY (how often I wait to obey and do not do it immediately – Abraham obeyed immediately and really trusted that God would provide for Hagar and Ishmael). He gives her bread and a skin of water, and also gives Hagar the boy and sends her away.  Considering how rich Abraham is it is surprising that all he gives them is bread and water – perhaps this is a sign of how much he trusts God, or that all we need is the bread of life (Jesus) and the water of the word. I do not know why, but part of me is surprised that he did not give her some cattle, or some riches to tide her over. Hagar and Ishmael leave and wander in the wilderness of Beersheba. It was a dry and rocky desert area.

BEERSHEBA means well of the seven fold oath.We will see this well in other places in the old Testament – Abraham, Hagar, Isaac, Elisha among others will tarry by this well, and oaths will be made.

Anyway, Hagar and Ishmael are in a tough situation. Their waterskins are empty, and Hagar is sure that she and her son will die. She puts her son (17 years old) under a shrub and sits across from him at a distance, saying to herself. Verse 16 “Let me not see the death of the boy.” Hagar lifts up her voice and weeps.

What I find interesting is that in verse 17 it says that “God heard the voice of the lad.” What interests and puzzles me is why, if Hagar is the one lifting up her voice and weeping, is it the lad that God hears. Perhaps the promise is to the Lad, to Ishmael. Or perhaps it is to let us know that God hears our cries, even when they are not apparent outwardly. Whatever the reason God will come to the aid of Hagar and Ishmael.

We, as Christians, sometimes feel that we belong to an exclusive club, that God will speak to us, and we will then dispense His words of wisdom. But here we will see that God also speaks to pagans, if they choose to listen to what He says. And their lives will be changed by obeying God.

In Verse 17, the angel of God called out to Hagar and asks her what ailed her. Do you think that God didn’t know what ailed Hagar? He knew, but sometimes God wants us to articulate our problem, to bring it to Him, so that we know what we need. Sometimes when I pray to God about a situation, and then pray some more at a later time, the facts of the situation become clearer to me. God says something to Hagar that I often need to hear, and that He says to many in the Bible and today, “FEAR NOT”. Oh how easy it is for me to sink into massive fear, to wonder what is happening. To let circumstances guide my emotions. But God puts a stop to that with two simple words, FEAR NOT.

The angel (it is not a capital “A” in angel, so it is not a pre-incarnate visitation from Christ, but just an angel). And the angel assures Hagar that “God has heard the voice of the lad where he is.” I find that comforting – God is not expecting Ishmael, or us, to go searching for Him when we need help, He hears us where we are. He found us when we were filled with sin, if we are in despair He finds us. Of course, He will not let us stay in those places, He will help us to move from our points of despair, but He finds us.

God instructs Hagar to lift up the lad and hold him for God will make him a great nation. We know that God keeps his word, and He had already told Hagar that promise in Genesis 16:10 that this would happen, but Hagar, like most of us, forgets the promises of God when we find ourselves in a tough situation. God reminded her of that previous promise and then Genesis 21:19-21 Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. And she went and filled the skin with water, and gave the lad a drink. So God was with the lad; and he grew and dwelt in the wilderness and became an archer. He dwelt in the Wilderness of Paran and his mother took a wife for him from the land of Egypt.

PARAN means beauty or glory, and alas, Hagar finds a wife for Ishmael from Egypt. It was also prophesied by God in chapter 16 that he would be a wildman (lives in the wilderness of Paran), and his hand shall be against every man.

We can really see many ways Isaac is like Jesus – here are a few 1) a product of a miracle (Jesus was born of a virgin, Sarah was very old) 2) He was part of the seed promised in Genesis 3, 3) there was an interval between the promises – Sarah waited many years for the birth of Isaac, It was 4000 years before the promise to Eve occurred. 4) there was an annunciation of the promised birth. 5) the name of the child was given before birth, 6) they two boys are their father’s delight – God and Abraham, and 7) they never left the land of Israel.

Genesis 21:22-34

You know, if someone came to me and told a lie, was caught in the lie, I would be dubious about making a covenant with them – although God was with Abraham, so maybe Abimelech felt that it was safe because of God.

I love the words that begin verse 22 “And it came to pass”, I know that it means that it happened, but it also has the added meaning that it will pass, not to stay.

Abimelech knew that God was with Abraham in all that he did, so he wanted to make sure of Abraham and asks Abraham in verse 23 “Now therefore, swear to me by God that you will not deal falsely with me, with my offspring, or with my posterity; but that according to the kindness that I have done to you, you will do to me and to the land in which you have dwelt.”

I know that it is something that we often do, we promise, we swear something. We have to be careful what we swear and promise, for God will hold us to our word. Jesus tells people to let their yes be yes, their no be no, not to swear a vow. Abraham swears what Abimelech asked him to promise, and we will see that this area will be preserved, even in the end time days.  This area is an area south of the Gaza strip.

Abraham will then rebuke Abimelech because of a well of water that Abimelech’s servants seized. Abimelech was not aware of this dispute over the well of water. Remember this is an arid land and water was a commodity that was as precious as gold for a shepherd with his flocks.

They cut covenant and then Abraham gives Abimelech 7 ewe lambs as a witness that Abraham had dug the well. He calls the place Beersheba – (means well of the oath, or well of the seven), and we will see that this is oath number two – Hagar had been by this well previously. Abimelech leaves with his commander to the land of the PHILISTINES – does that name ring a bell? Oh, Abraham, before you swore an oath, you should have asked God first. He didn’t.

Here, we learn a new name of God. in verse 33 “Then Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba, and there called on the name of the LORD, the Everlasting God.” (EL OLAM) Abraham will stay in the land of the Philistines many days.

I am posting this today because I really can’t wait to get to chapter 22, my heart is full over all that I want to share with that chapter and I want to take time to write it out to the best of my ability.

I have to tell you that much that I share comes from many sources, it is not just my own thoughts, but teachings that I have heard or read over the years, notes in the margin of my Bible form many sources, notes from Bible studies, my memory, and what God shares with me as I read and study. I am so grateful that you are accompanying me on my journey. A lot of why I type out these notes is to more fully put the ideas in my mind by dwelling on them. I thank you for being a blessing to me and allowing me to write on these things.

Hoping you are having a blessed day. Jim has taken the kids fishing, I am hoping he catches bluefish, porgies have too many bones to my liking. But then again, I am happy with any fish, and it gives the kids such pleasure to bring fish home. Praying they have a fun time. For me, I am thrilled, I get a day or so of precious alone time – a rare commodity for me. I am hoping to spend a lot of quality time with God, uninterrupted by life issues of kids or husband.



About Heather Marsten

Welcome to Heather's Blog. I'm looking forward to meeting you and checking out your sites. I just moved about nine years of material over from another blog site, Xanga, who may close down mid-July. At first I was disappointed to make the move because I had a lifetime membership at Xanga and had to spend weeks transferring posts. But now I'm thrilled. Already I've met new bloggers and read many new websites. Blogging is a wonderful way to expand my horizons and garner new ideas. I'm a happily married mom of three young adults. My husband and I are proud to watch our children grow and venture out into the world. My daughter is still in college but my two sons have graduated. One has a job and the other just graduated and is in the process of finding a job in his field, physics. Anyone know of any jobs out there? I'm proud of our children and love watching them grow and mature. They've become fine, compassionate, and loving people. Empty nest? Nah, I'm too busy to let an empty nest bother me. Not enough hours in the day. My husband and I enjoy quiet time together and I have many interests to pursue - one of which is blogging :D I am a born-again believer and love God. As you read this blog, you will discover that Bible studies thrill me. There is so much wisdom contained between the covers of the Bible and I am fortunate to sit under the teachings of a remarkable pastor, Pastor Don Moore. Members of our church (Living Word Chapel in West Hurley, New York) are encouraged to teach and there are visiting pastors who stop by our church, I also study the Bible on my own and love sharing what I learn. One other passion is writing. My current work in process is a memoir. A scene from my memoir was published in a book called: Heavenly Company: Entertaining Angels Unaware - an anthology of angelic encounters compiled by Cecil Murphy. I'm hoping my memoir will encourage other survivors of abuse. I grew up in a home filled with abuse, including incest. For most of my life I was searching for something that would fill the void of not being loved by my parents. I tried many ways to find that love -- therapy, relationships, occult studies, and keeping my life so filled I had no way to think about my past. It was only when I discovered God that I was able to put the pieces of my life back together and walk forward in a joyous life. My nickname - wondering has changed from wondering where the heck God was in my life, to wondering what incredible adventure is going to happen next. I hope you enjoy my site. Please say hi, share some thoughts, and ask questions. I look forward to meeting you and checking out your sites. Have a blessed day. Heather
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