January 25, 2023
We can trust God when we don't know how things will turn out.
And God heard the voice of the boy, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, "What troubles you, Hagar? Fear not, for God has heard the voice of the boy where he is."
1 The LORD visited Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did to Sarah as he had promised. 2 And Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age at the time of which God had spoken to him. 3 Abraham called the name of his son who was born to him, whom Sarah bore him, Isaac. 1 21:3 Isaac means he laughs 4 And Abraham circumcised his son Isaac when he was eight days old, as God had commanded him. 5 Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him. 6 And Sarah said, “God has made laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh over me.” 7 And she said, “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.”
8 And the child grew and was weaned. And Abraham made a great feast on the day that Isaac was weaned. 9 But Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, laughing. 2 21:9 Possibly laughing in mockery 10 So she said to Abraham, “Cast out this slave woman with her son, for the son of this slave woman shall not be heir with my son Isaac.” 11 And the thing was very displeasing to Abraham on account of his son. 12 But God said to Abraham, “Be not displeased because of the boy and because of your slave woman. Whatever Sarah says to you, do as she tells you, for through Isaac shall your offspring be named. 13 And I will make a nation of the son of the slave woman also, because he is your offspring.” 14 So Abraham rose early in the morning and took bread and a skin of water and gave it to Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, along with the child, and sent her away. And she departed and wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba.
15 When the water in the skin was gone, she put the child under one of the bushes. 16 Then she went and sat down opposite him a good way off, about the distance of a bowshot, for she said, “Let me not look on the death of the child.” And as she sat opposite him, she lifted up her voice and wept. 17 And God heard the voice of the boy, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “What troubles you, Hagar? Fear not, for God has heard the voice of the boy where he is. 18 Up! Lift up the boy, and hold him fast with your hand, for I will make him into 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 boy a drink. 20 And God was with the boy, and he grew up. He lived in the wilderness and became an expert with the bow. 21 He lived in the wilderness of Paran, and his mother took a wife for him from the land of Egypt.
22 At that time Abimelech and Phicol the commander of his army said to Abraham, “God is with you in all that you do. 23 Now therefore swear to me here by God that you will not deal falsely with me or with my descendants or with my posterity, but as I have dealt kindly with you, so you will deal with me and with the land where you have sojourned.” 24 And Abraham said, “I will swear.”
25 When Abraham reproved Abimelech about a well of water that Abimelech's servants had seized, 26 Abimelech said, “I do not know who has done this thing; you did not tell me, and I have not heard of it until today.” 27 So Abraham took sheep and oxen and gave them to Abimelech, and the two men made a covenant. 28 Abraham set seven ewe lambs of the flock apart. 29 And Abimelech said to Abraham, “What is the meaning of these seven ewe lambs that you have set apart?” 30 He said, “These seven ewe lambs you will take from my hand, that this 3 21:30 Or you may be a witness for me that I dug this well.” 31 Therefore that place was called Beersheba, 4 21:31 Beersheba means well of seven or well of the oath because there both of them swore an oath. 32 So they made a covenant at Beersheba. Then Abimelech and Phicol the commander of his army rose up and returned to the land of the Philistines. 33 Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba and called there on the name of the LORD, the Everlasting God. 34 And Abraham sojourned many days in the land of the Philistines.
In Genesis 21, we have two mothers, two sons, and our faithful promise-keeping God. Let's start with Sarah. Twenty-five years later, she is well beyond her child-bearing years at the age of 90! We see Sarah decide to take measures into her own hands when Hagar has Ishmael. However, the Lord has a perfect plan for Sarah and fulfills His promise of a child. We see the Lord's faithfulness in Genesis 21:1, "The LORD visited Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did to Sarah as he had promised."
Sarah, who once laughed at the Lord's promise in disbelief, now laughs with joy at the Lord's miracle of baby Isaac, "son of laughter." Isaac is a reminder to Sarah, Abraham, and us today that the Lord keeps His promises and His perfect plan. Just when Sarah had been laughing with joy, she slipped into fearfulness and control again. Sarah feared Ishmael would be the heir, and she wanted to control the outcome versus surrendering to God's plan.
Then we have Hagar, who is also filled with fear that her son may die in the desert. At her most desperate moment, the Lord hears Ishmael. Genesis 21:17 tell us, "And God heard the voice of the boy, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, 'What troubles you, Hagar? Fear not, for God has heard the voice of the boy where he is.'" God has a heart for people. He sees Hagar in her fear and HEARS Ishmael's cries. When Hagar opens her eyes, her fear vanishes as she sees a well. Hagar sees the Lord's faithfulness as provision in her life when she opens her eyes.
Years ago, I related most to Sarah since I have struggled trusting the Lord through my own infertility. However, at this time in my life, I relate to Hagar in the desert, filled with daily worries about my children. I only need to trust that God sees my tears, He hears my prayers, and He is a loving, faithful promise-keeper.
This month's memory verse
We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.
1. In Genesis 21, we read a lot about laughter. When was a time in your life that you laughed in fear by not trusting the Lord?
2. In Genesis 21:6 Sarah says, "God has made laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh over me." When was a time in your life that you laughed with joy in seeing the Lord's faithfulness? As you reflect on your life, how have you seen Him answer your prayers?
3. Sarah and Hagar both faced fear in this passage as Sarah feared her child would not be the heir and Hagar feared her child would die. What fear in your life do you want to control versus surrendering to the Lord's will? How can you ask your community to help you with accountability in overcoming these fears?
4. What attributes of God do you see in Genesis 21? How does seeing the Lord's attributes allow you to love Him more? What Scriptures can you memorize to help you remember these attributes when you are wrestling with control or fear?
5. Genesis 21:19 says, "Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water. And she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink." Some commentaries believe the well was always in front of Hagar, and she only needed to open her eyes to see the Lord's provision. What is something in your life that could be preventing you from seeing the Lord's goodness and provision?
6. In this passage, Sarah fluctuates from praising the Lord to fear and control. How do you do this in your own life? What can you do to rely less on emotion and trust more in the Lord's plan for your life?