"We see, in many a land, the proudest dynasties and tyrannies still crushing, with their mountain weight, every free motion of the Consciences and hearts of men. We see, on the other hand, the truest heroism for the right and the greatest devotion to the Truth in hearts that God has touched. We have a work to do, as great as our forefathers and, perhaps, far greater. The enemies of Truth are more numerous and subtle than ever and the needs of the Church are greater than at any preceding time. If we are not debtors to the present, then men were never debtors to their age and their time. Brethren, we are debtors to the hour in which we live. Oh, that we might stamp it with Truth and that God might help us to impress upon its wings some proof that it has not flown by neglected and unheeded." -- C.H. Spurgeon . . . "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:31, 32 . . . . .


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Sunday, September 22, 2019

GENESIS – An Expositional Overview of the Beginning of God’s Revelation: Chapter TWENTY ONE

Contributing commentaries by Sonny Islas and James Fire

Studies by Ray Steadman: GENESIS 21 – Ishmael Must Go! 

GENESIS 21 – “The Birth of Isaac” by Sonny Islas


Introduction: In verses 1, 2 Moses highlights the fact that our God is the God of His Word: i.e., “as He has said,” “a He has spoken,” and “at the set time of which God had spoken to him.’’ In just those two verses we read “God is faithful, faithful, faithful” – believable, trustworthy, and reliable. We’re going to park here on this point for a moment.

Here and in many other places in scripture we find that our God is the Ultimate Promise Keeper. He promised, He would never flood the earth again (GEN 9:13-16), He promised a son to Abraham and Sarah (GEN 15:4), He promised to give them the land of Canaan (GEN 15:7-9); He promised David he would be King (2 SAM 7). He promised to give Israel and Judah over to captivity (ISA 5:13); He promised to bring them back (JER 15:7). He promised to build His church (MATT 16:18), He promised to come back for His church as well (JOHN 14:1-3). He promised that Eve’s seed (Jesus) would crush the head of the serpent (GEN 3:15; Satan) and behold the Cross of Christ! Yahweh is “Faithful and True” – it’s His Name (REV 19:11). If He said it, He will do it!

This is a very beautiful and important attribute of God that every believer must embrace whole heartedly: that is, that “God is faithful” and that “He is not like fallen man that He should lie.” Regarding God’s promise to bless Israel. 

NUMBERS 23:19 says,
God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?

There is no one more trustworthy than Him! (So why is it we sometimes have such difficulty trusting Him?) When it comes to knowing truth, we can Take His Word For It!

On the other hand, Satan and man are the ultimate promise breakers. The world is filled with broken promises! We find it in daily advertisements and products - “Just buy this and you’ll be happy! (until it runs out and you have to buy another one)”, “Look 50 years younger!”, “Cause every woman or man to be attracted to you”, “Makes you feel 30 years younger!”, “Makes you wiser or stronger”. 

We find broken promises in engagements, marriages, in the work force, in the universities, in false religions, in politics (they promise one thing to get votes, then break it once elected) and so on. I told my mother-in–law that I was going to work on her house this Monday and I wasn’t able to – that’s just another broken promise to add to the broken promises pile!

Be encouraged by this: While the world is filled with trillions of broken promises, you won’t find one broken promise with God! Here is a very important lesson and point:
When we speak about the promises of God, we have to be very careful not to mistake God’s promises with our desires, expectations and prayer petitions (for example, God clearly promised Abraham and Sarah a son -  both audibly and personally, plus it was written and recorded by Moses insured by the Holy Spirit. Therefore, in this world, in this life, God has not personally promised us children, a big family, the best marriage; a high paying, excellent job; riches and perfect health or a well-known thriving ministry. 

If there is not a specific verse that says, “[your name here], God has promised you that you will live to be 110 years old without a pain in your body” we can’t claim it or get angry with God if it doesn’t happen just because it’s something we desire or expect or pray for!

We can ask (pray) and believe the LORD for these things and it must be done humbly, with faith and according to His will YET He may or may not do it. On the other hand, ALL and I repeat ALL that is written, He will do! See Psalm 33:11; Proverbs 19:21; Isaiah 46:10.

Through His written Word, God has clearly promised us: trials, suffering and tribulations (JAMES 1:2-3; 1 PET 1:7; 4:12), that the world will hate us (JOHN 15:18-19; 17:14; 1 JOHN 3:13), He’s also promised to be with us always (MATT 28:20) and never leave us nor forsake us (HEB 13:5), He’s promised to give us who believe a new heart (EZEK 36:26; JOHN 3:3,5; 1 PET 1:23), wisdom when we ask (JAMES 1:5); He promised that no one can pluck us out of His hand (JOHN 10:29), He finishes what He starts (PHIL 1:6), He promises peace when trust in Him (ROM 5:1; PHIL 4:7-9), eternal life (ROM 6:23b); resurrected, glorified bodies (1 COR 15:51-55), His return for us (1 THESS 4:16-18; 2 THESS 1:7,10), a seat at His right hand in glory (REV 3:21),  etc. etc. etc.

The clear, written promises in God's Word are according to His perfect will, and ours to claim (1 JOHN 5:14) and those things that are not written we can ask for in faith, then patiently wait on His loving answer.

For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us.” 
All the promises that are in Jesus and are written are yes and amen NOT all our request, expectations and desires (though at times they too will be yes and amen) according to our faith and the good pleasure and plans of God.

GENESIS 21:1-8
1 ¶ And the LORD visited Sarah as He had said, and the LORD did for Sarah as He had spoken. 2 For Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him. 3 And Abraham called the name of his son who was born to him-whom Sarah bore to him-Isaac.  4 Then Abraham circumcised his son Isaac when he was eight days old, as God had commanded him.  5 Now Abraham was one hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him.  6 And Sarah said, "God has made me laugh, and all who hear will laugh with me."  7 She also said, "Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? For I have borne him a son in his old age."  8 So the child grew and was weaned. And Abraham made a great feast on the same day that Isaac was weaned. 13 "Yet I will also make a nation of the son of the bondwoman, because he is your seed."

So, then God made a clear promise to Abraham and Sarah and kept it! The prince was finally born. The waiting and wondering were over. Sarah’s womb was opened. Her bareness along with its shame and scorn has ended. The long 25-year wait is done! Their sorrow turned to joy. This was high time for rejoicing!

Abraham called… him Isaac” which means laughter. He was named laughter because Sarai laughed in disbelief 25 years ago but now, she laughs with tears of absolute joy and wonder at God’s faithfulness and sense of humor – giving a baby to a 90 and 100-year-old couple.

I’m sure some of us here today laugh with joy and wonder at what the LORD has done in our lives, right? We look back and never imagined that we would be where we are today. I look back and see that I could have died just like my buddies or overdosed on drugs or ended up in jail but by God’s amazing grace, I chuckle with joy when I’m alone with God in prayer and I say “LORD you’ve been too good to me!”

I also believe that when we finally get to heaven and see with our eyes all of God’s promises kept and accomplished – like seeing brother James (Fire) with a new mane of jet-black hair, we’re going to laugh with wonder and joy! 
We’re going to say “Jesus said it and did it! We’re finally here!

Isaac’s birth as beautiful as it was, is actually just another piece of the great puzzle, another page in the story of redemption, another pixel in the big screen, the big picture. Again, all this points to the ball rolling forward and getting closer to the main event – Jesus the Messiah’s arrival! His life, His death and resurrection!

Isaac was born approximately 2000 years after Adam and two thousand years before Jesus. The promised son was born in the middle of the first Adam and the last Adam. I wonder if the Triune God looked down at Abraham holding Isaac up in his arms said only two thousand years to go and the Son of sons will be given to save the world and crush the serpent’s head!

GENESIS 21:9-12
 9 ¶ And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, scoffing.  10 Therefore she said to Abraham, "Cast out this bondwoman and her son; for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, namely with Isaac."  11 And the matter was very displeasing in Abraham's sight because of his son.  12 But God said to Abraham, "Do not let it be displeasing in your sight because of the lad or because of your bondwoman. Whatever Sarah has said to you, listen to her voice; for in Isaac your seed shall be called.

Sarah saw (Ishmael) scoffing” At this point Ishmael is about 16 years old and It could very well be that he was saying rude and cruel things (being his mom’s parrot?) pertaining to him being the first born and therefore in his and his mom’s eyes – the rightful heir because of what Sarah says in verse 10.

Paul refers to this incident in GAL 4:29 and it’s spiritual and symbolic meaning. “But, as he (Ishmael) who was born according to the flesh then persecuted him (Isaac) who was born according to the Spirit, even so it is now.” In other words, Ismael represents an attempt at salvation by works according to Old Testament Law and the Isaac represents genuine salvation by grace according to New Testament promise. Ishmael represents all false religion (bondage) and Isaac represents the truth in Jesus (freedom).

Ishmael attacks Isaac like Cain attacked Abel (GEN 4:8), the Pharisees attacked Jesus (MATT 12:14; MARK 15:13-14), the Judaizers attacked Paul (GAL 2:4-5) and the world attacks the true Church (MATT 5:10-11).

Also, let us learn a lesson from Ishmael and Hagar: don’t be like this immature kid by crashing the party and ruin a celebration with our uncalled for words and bad attitudes but rather bring a gift! Paul tells the believers in Rome, “Rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn” (ROM 12:15).

GENESIS 21:14-21
14 ¶ So Abraham rose early in the morning, and took bread and a skin of water; and putting it on her shoulder, he gave it and the boy to Hagar, and sent her away. Then she departed and wandered in the Wilderness of Beersheba. 15 And the water in the skin was used up, and she placed the boy under one of the shrubs. 16 Then she went and sat down across from him at a distance of about a bowshot; for she said to herself, "Let me not see the death of the boy." So she sat opposite him, and lifted her voice and wept. 17 And God heard the voice of the lad. Then the angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven, and said to her, "What ails you, Hagar? Fear not, for God has heard the voice of the lad where he is. 18 "Arise, lift up the lad and hold him with your hand, for I will make him a great nation." 19 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  20 So God was with the lad; and he grew and dwelt in the wilderness, and became an archer. 21 He dwelt in the Wilderness of Paran; and his mother took a wife for him from the land of Egypt.

Sarah was fed up and said “cast out this bondwoman and her son; for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son.”
She told them “Hit the road Jack and don’t you come back no more, no more, no more – hit the road Jack!

This “cast out” spiritually speaking also refers to “cast off the sinful deeds of the flesh.”

ROMANS 13:12
The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light

In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ

21 If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: 22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; 23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind

Bread and a skin [a bottle] of water” 
He sent him with very little – why did he do that? Didn’t he love his son Ishmael? Abraham remembered and believed what God said, that He would make a great nation out of Ishmael. He knew that God would provide and didn’t want to send them loaded and burdened with the weight of a lot of stuff.

We learn some lessons here: When we can’t do no more for our children, we turn them over completely to God’s care in faith. Also, at times we need to give our children less so that they can trust in God more for themselves more – like Ishmael who cried out to God for help!
Had Abraham given Ishmael a well per se instead of a water bottle Ishmael may have never called on the LORD - parents who spoil their children may steal the possibility of their children ever calling on the LORD themselves for what they need.

Also, notice that Abraham provide a Thirst Buster, but God provided a well. Hagar cried out to God - In times of complete dryness and in total despair and helplessness - cry out to God! Abimelech and Phichol said to Abraham, “God is with you (He Who is Immanuel) in all you do” (GEN 21:22; “do”, that’s integrity). 

GENESIS 21:22-34
 22 ¶ And it came to pass at that time that Abimelech and Phichol, the commander of his army, spoke to Abraham, saying, "God is with you in all that you do. 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." 24 And Abraham said, "I will swear." 25 Then Abraham rebuked Abimelech because of a well of water which Abimelech's servants had seized. 26 And Abimelech said, "I do not know who has done this thing; you did not tell me, nor had I heard of it until today." 27 So Abraham took sheep and oxen and gave them to Abimelech, and the two of them made a covenant. 28 And Abraham set seven ewe lambs of the flock by themselves. 29 Then Abimelech asked Abraham, "What is the meaning of these seven ewe lambs which you have set by themselves?" 30 And he said, "You will take these seven ewe lambs from my hand, that they may be my witness that I have dug this well." 31 Therefore he called that place Beersheba, because the two of them swore an oath there. 32 Thus they made a covenant at Beersheba. So Abimelech rose with Phichol, the commander of his army, and they returned to the land of the Philistines. 33 ¶ Then Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba, and there called on the name of the LORD, the Everlasting God. 34 And Abraham stayed in the land of the Philistines many days.

Abraham’s relationship was noticeable to unbelievers – is ours? Abraham had the greatest of all blessings: the presence of God in his life. A man of integrity and joy. A worshipful man. A man of prayer and great faith. A trustworthy man.

A quote from Spurgeon:
I think that the greatest blessing God ever gives to a man is His own presence. If I had my choice of all the blessings of this life, I certainly should not ask for wealth, for that can bring no ease; and I certainly should not ask for popularity, for there is no rest to the man upon whose words men constantly wait, and it is a hard task one has to perform in such a case as that; but I should choose, as my highest honor, to have God always with me.”
And there called on the Name of the LORD” – Abraham fashioned landmarks, locations of sanctuaries for communion with and worship of the LORD - have we? Do we have designated spots where we seek the LORD in prayer and meditate on His Word and ways daily? This is the key to a rich life; to spend quality time with God daily. Conflict after conflict… didn’t draw Abraham further from God but closer to God. This is the sign and mark of a strong Christian who walks by faith and not by sight!

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