It’s Genesis 21:1-21 today.
It had taken twenty five years but Abraham finally had a son. There had been some ups and downs along the way, they had tried to ‘help’ God with disastrous consequences and the idea that these two old people could have a child was laughable but here he was – a son. The promise had been repeated and given increasing detail yet when we see the fulfilment it is almost an anti-climax. We are told clearly that ‘Sarah became pregnant and bore a son’ – this was not an adoption, but the whole thing only takes up a few words of scripture. The emphasis is not that Sarah had a son; it’s that God is faithful;
“Now the LORD was gracious to Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did for Sarah what he had promised. Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the very time God had promised him.” (Genesis 21:1-2)
It reminds me of some words from Balaam’s second oracle;
“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 fulfil?” (Numbers 23:19)
God’s promises will be fulfilled because of who he is. Abraham and Sarah were blessed with a son not because their faith was perfect or lived in sinless perfection but because God is gracious and faithful.
It seems to me that two of the big themes of Genesis really stand out in today’s reading. The first is God’s faithfulness and the second is strife in the family. We have already looked at Cain and Abel and then Abraham and Lot, here we see Isaac and Ishmael and we will soon see Jacob and Esau, Rachel and Leah and finally Joseph and his brothers. In many cases the dispute is between one person who is looking to the Lord and another who is looking to the things of this world.
We must remember that God blessed Hagar and Ishmael and was faithful to them, Ishmael became the father of a great nation (17:20) but there is another lesson here. We see tension between what is of the flesh and what is of the Spirit. Ishmael’s birth was ordinary but Isaac’s was a miracle of God. Ishmael was born to a slave but Isaac to a free woman. We have a choice to live either by the things that we see around us and by our own strength or by looking to God’s promises in the power of the Spirit. There will be a lot more of this as we continue in Genesis.
You call me out upon the waters,
The great unknown where feet may fail.
And there I find You in the mystery,
In oceans deep, My faith will stand.
And I will call upon Your name.
And keep my eyes above the waves.
When oceans rise,
My soul will rest in Your embrace,
For I am Yours and You are mine.
Your grace abounds in deepest waters.
Your sovereign hand, Will be my guide.
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me.
You’ve never failed and You won’t start now.