Title: Laughter that comes from seeing God’s promises fulfilled!
Text: Genesis 21.1-34
Have you ever known the joy of having a baby? The 1st one is always exciting. I’ll never forget being in the delivery room for the birth of my little girl. I had wanted a little girl. Total cost to our hospital bill: $69.00. I was in the army and they paid for most everything! I’ll never forget how I watched Lisa with Jennifer. She has always been the perfect mother. I can see photos in my mind, taken those 1st couple of days after she was born. Lisa and I smiling away.
I remember Stephen’s birth, too. The doctor sent me out with the vital information of length and weight and gender. I made some phone calls, grabbed a bite to eat and headed back to see my son in the nursery. I got there and my son wasn’t in the nursery. I knocked on the window and a nurse popped out. “Yes” she said. I gave her my information and she told me to hang on, she needed to get the doctor. That scared me. And rightfully so! So pre-mature was Stephen, that his lungs hadn’t fully developed. He had turned blue. He was all the right size for a healthy baby, but he was just bigger than usual. They had him in the NICU.
Application: That smile you get when your little one is born feels like it’s gonna be permanent. But, nothing can wipe that smile off of your face quicker than something going wrong with your little one. Or, worse yet, someone messing with your little one!
Transition: That’s what we see today… I’ve divided this passage up into three parts. All three would stand alone, but I’ve combined them, really so that I’m not in Genesis for 5 years!
- Isaac is Born (1-8)
- Ishmael is Banished (9-21)
- Abraham and Abimelech strike a treaty (22-34)
Let’s look at this 1st section, the birth of Isaac…
I. God’s Grace is seen in the Birth of Isaac (1-8)
exp.: rd v 1: Lesson # 1:
- God is faithful – as he had said; as he promised; emphasis: The LORD; So, what happened? rd v 2;
- Sarah conceives and bears a son! When? At the time the LORD had spoken to him! rd v 3;
- Calls his son, Isaac; what does your footnote say? Rd v 4;
- Circumcises him, as God had commanded; rd 17.10-12; rd v 5;
- Is 100 years old! I think it’s more impressive that Sarah is 90! Rd v 6
- Sarah expresses her great joy! Isn’t God good? What seemed bad in 18.12-15, has really turned out to be a joyful occasion. Has that ever happen to you, where you doubted God then he blessed you beyond what you deserved? And then, you laughed, really at your self and with joy at God’s goodness? Rd v 7;
- Not only did she not believe it, but she wonders who could? (Try Abraham!) rd v 8; I’m guessing that Isaac was about 3 years old, but he could have been younger.
- Isaac grows, is weaned and a great celebration is to be had!
app.: Pause right there. Life is good, isn’t it? Isn’t that when your “cup runneth over with joy”?
t.s.: But you know the story of life. The sun might be shinning down on you right now, but there’s a storm brewing out over the horizon, just out of sight! Which brings us to part 2:
II. God’s Grace is seen in Banishment of Ishmael (9-21)
exp.: rd v 9; what is Ishmael doing, that she hadn’t already said would happen in v 6? How old is Ishmael? what does your footnote say? Do you notice his name here? How does the author identify Ishmael? What might that tell us about him?
So, what does Sarah do? rd v 10; rd v 11; Why do you think Abraham and Sarah feel so differently toward Ishmael? Gen 17.18; How many of you here were step children, had a step-mom or a step-dad?
ill.: I can identify: My step-mom hated me after the birth of my little sister. She made life miserable for me. Until one day, she changed.
exp.: rd v 12; wow… powerful; rd v 13; Ishmael will be blessed because of Abraham; rd v 14; Abraham does as his wife has ‘commanded’/’demanded’
app.: Wife, have you ever realized the power you possess in your family’s life? Your words, your demands, you have such a huge impact on a person’s life.
ill.: Brad Paisley: The Dad he didn’t have to be!
Question: How is the Grace of God seen here? Well, this should be a reminder, once again, of God’s faithfulness; remember v 13; Check out God’s grace: rd v 15-19; There is something about the cry of the abused; Gen 4.10; here; Exodus 3.7; Judges 3.9; Psalm 3.4; Ps 34.6; 34.17; rd Gen 21.20-21;
t.s.: We see God’s grace and goodness in Isaac’s birth, but also in Ishmael’s banishment. Now, we’ll see it in a treaty with an old ally. Rd v 22-24;
III. God’s Grace in a Treaty (22-34)
exp.: a good thing the treaty was struck; rd v 25-26; now is the time to see if Abimelech will keep his word; Now, things could have gotten heated and all out of sorts; however, Abraham was too smart for that. rd v 27-28; why’d he do that? rd v 29-32; rd v 33; I like that; That’s what the grace of God in your life should lead you to do – call on the name of the LORD; Abraham has returned to what we saw him doing when he first came to this land: 12.8; 13.4; So, what is this tree? My understanding is that it is native to the Negev and is an evergreen tree; no leaves; can grow upwards of 55 ft tall. The pics I saw show a tree that provides wonderful shade and isn’t anywhere 55 ft. tall! It signifies prosperity, life, fruitfulness; Rd v 34;
ill.: wouldn’t it be nice if we could confront all of our conflicts in peace like this? I mean to work things out? I wonder what would have happened if Sarah had treated Hagar and Ishmael differently? Given a small flock, more than a day’s bladder of water, a couple of servants, left them at a city or place where she would have been taken care of? God took care of them, but still…
Question: What causes church splits? Why is it, do you think, we just can’t get along sometimes? Matthew 5.9; for they shall be called, ‘sons of God’; I’d like that title. What about you?
Observations and Implications:
- God is good. His grace is amazing!
- God is faithful. His promises are sure. (Prov. 3.5-12)
- Relationships are important. This should be evident in how we handle conflict. God’s grace should lace our dealings.