Genesis Chapter 21

“Keeping Promises” I. Observation • Context: Isaac’s birth occurs approximately 1 year after God’s covenant with Abraham and the introduction of circumcision (Gen. 17:22). From the previous chapter, it appears that they are living on Abimelech’s land (Gen. 20:15), which is near Gaza and Beersheeba (Gen. 21:31). A. The Birth of Isaac (Gen 21:1-7) 1. “and the Lord did for Sarah what he had promised” (v.1) 2. Isaac was born “at the very time God had promised” (v. 2) 3. Circumcised at 8 days old, as per the covenant (Gen 17:12) 4. Isaac means “he laughs” a. Originally, this reflected Abraham’s disbelief (Gen. 17:17) b. Then, additionally, Sarah’s disbelief (Gen. 18:12) c. The name now also reflects the joy and happiness in Sarah’s heart (Gen. 21:6) B. Hagar and Ishmael sent away (Gen 21:8-21) 1. Isaac likely in his 2nd or 3rd year when he was weaned, as was the custom then (Ryrie) 2. Abraham has a feast to celebrate this milestone, but Ishmael does not share this joy a. Ishmael is approximately 15-16 years old at this time (1) Circumcised at 13 (Gen 17:25), 1 yr later Isaac is born (17:22), 1-2 yrs later Isaac is weaned b. No record of such a celebration for Ishmael, even though he’s the firstborn c. Perhaps he was jealous of all the attention his younger half-brother was receiving 3. Sarah sees Ishmael mocking the event, apparently becomes angry, and presses Abraham to send Hagar and Ishmael away for good. 4. Although this troubles Abraham, God reminds him of his promise to bless Ishmael (Gen 17:20) 5. Abraham sends Hagar and Ishmael away, they wander in the desert to the point of death (v. 15-16) 6. God hears them and Christ reassures Hagar of his promise to bless Ishmael (Gen 16:10-12) • The angel of the Lord (v. 17)—many believe that “the” refers to Christ, where “an” is general. 7. God provides water to save them and we see that “God was with the boy as he grew up” (v.20) C. Treaty between Abraham and Abimelech (Gen 21:22-34) 1. God’s favor towards Abraham was clearly evident to Abimelech (and probably everyone else) 2. Abimelech sees a need to make a treaty with Abraham (not sure why) and Abraham does a. Content of Treaty: Abraham would not deal falsely with Abimelech, his children, and decendants 3. Abraham gives sheep and cattle, which serves to solidify his promise to Abimelech 4. Abraham addresses the issue of the well and gives 7 ewe lambs as proof that he’s telling the truth. 5. After treaty, Abraham plants a tree near the well and calls on the name of the Lord, the Eternal God II. Interpretation • The theme of this passage is God’s keeping of his promises: 1. Promise to Abraham & Sarah regarding a son (Isaac) a. Made: Genesis 15:4; 17:19 b. Fulfilled: Genesis 21:1-5 2. Promise to Abraham regarding blessings upon Ishmael a. Made: Genesis 17:20; 21:13 b. Fulfilled: Genesis 21:19-21; 25:12-18 3. Promise to Hagar regarding blessings upon Ishmael a. Made: Genesis 16:10-12; 21:18 b. Fulfilled: Genesis 21:19-21; 25:12-18 III. Application A. If God is this serious about keeping his promises, shouldn’t we also be this serious about keeping ours? B. God has given us many promises in his Word…we can trust that he will fulfill them in his timing. C. What promises have you made to someone else that you need to keep?

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