GENESIS 15 – 21


THE

ABRAHAMIC

COVENANT



Go to Facebook 
  Facebook button  or Tweet @strangework to interact.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

15:1-6

After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, saying, ‘Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.’ But Abram said, ‘Lord GOD, what will you give me, seeing I go childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?’ Then Abram said, ‘Look, you have given me no offspring; indeed one born in my house is my heir!’ And behold, the word of the LORD came to him, saying,‘This one shall not be your heir, but one who will come from your own body shall be your heir.’ Then he brought him outside and said, ‘Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them.’ And he said to him,‘So shall your descendants be.’ And he believed in the LORD, and he accounted it to him for righteousness.

It is a wonderful thing, the way the Lord knows the hearts of his people. He always knows what's on our mind. He knew what was on Abram's mind. Abram was fearful about not having an heir. So, the Lord spoke to Abram about what really mattered. He said … Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward. What a comforting word, aye? The Lord went right to the heart of Abram’s concern. This is where it’s at for you and me too, beloved.  The Lord is all we need. He is our all in all. He is the Alpha and the Omega and everything in-between. He is our Savior, benefactor and protector. He holds our future and the futures of our loved ones in his hands. The unspeakable privilege of just knowing him is our incalculable reward. As you have it in Philippians 3:7-11,

But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being conformed to his death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.

May I ask you a question? From what do you derive your sense of security and self worth? Is it your job, your family, your possessions or your status? Dear saint, our real self-worth is being in Christ … what he has done for us … and who he says we are. He died for you and me, you know. Doesn't that say something about what we are worth in his eyes? In Christ, God has lifted us up all the way to his very throne in Heaven, and called us his sons and daughters. As you have it in I John 3:1a,

Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!

The Lord yearns for us to be with him and has prepared a special place just for you and me. He has given us his Holy Spirit to dwell in us. Aren’t these things the true measure of who you and I really, really are? Just having Christ, is more than sufficient to verify our true worth.

Coming back to our text, in Abram’s day it was the custom for a man who had no children to pass on his possessions to his most trusted servant, the chief steward of his household. In Abram’s case, this was his servant, Eliezer. Abram spoke to God about Eliezer becoming his heir ... but God said … No. Then, he assured Abram that his heir would come from his own body. Although he was now very old, God told Abram he was going to become a dad. Then, he took Abram outside and asked him to look up at the stars saying, So shall thy seed be. What a precious time that must have been … hanging out under the stars with the Son of God … and hearing his amazing promise! And … praise God … Abram believed what the Lord told him. The Scripture tells us here that the Lord counted it to him for righteousness. Thus, right then and there, on that long ago starry night, Abram was saved and became the father of all who believe. This is a landmark statement that we have before us here ... it was counted to him for righteousness. Simply because Abram believed God's promise, God declared him righteous. From that night forward, Abram’s eternal standing before God was … righteous. And, I might add, that is also the standing of all that believe God today. The following scriptures bear out this most basic and precious truth...


For what does the Scripture say? ‘Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.’ Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt. But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness, just as David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works: ‘Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; Blessed is the man to whom the LORD shall not impute sin.’ And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah's womb. He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what he had promised he was also able to perform. And therefore ‘it was accounted to him for righteousness.’ Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him, but also for us. It shall be imputed to us who believe [in him] (best translated "believe him" ... not "believe in him") who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification. Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ... Romans 4:3-8,19-5:1

    ...just as Abraham ‘believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.’ Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, ‘In you all the nations shall be blessed.’ So then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham. Galatians 3:6-9

Someone has said … If your righteousness doesn’t equal God’s righteousness, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven! That is true. But, then, will no one get in? On the contrary, many will get in because they will have received the very righteousness of God himself which was imputed to them. It is not our own righteousness, you see. It is the righteousness of another that has been imputed (counted as ours) to us by God. We, who have believed in the Son of God, have been given the very righteousness of Christ. As you have it in Second Corinthians 5:21,

For he made him (Jesus) who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

Have you received God’s own righteousness by placing your faith squarely in the Lord Jesus Christ, dear reader? It is a gift waiting for you, you know. God imputes it to all who put their faith in his Son. The instant someone believes on the Lord Jesus, forever after … God sees that believer as righteous as God himself is! So it was in the case of Abraham. So it is with all that follow in Abraham’s footsteps of faith ... believing God.

One last thought before we move on ... notice that the first "I Am" in the Bible is found here.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

15:7-22

Then he said to him, ‘I am the LORD, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to inherit it.’ And he said, ‘Lord GOD, how shall I know that I will inherit it?’ So he said to him, ‘Bring Me a three-year-old heifer, a three-year-old female goat, a three-year-old ram, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.’ Then he brought all these to him and cut them in two, down the middle, and placed each piece opposite the other; but he did not cut the birds in two. And when the vultures came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away. Now when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and behold, horror and great darkness fell upon him. Then he said to Abram: ‘Know certainly that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them, and they will afflict them four hundred years. And also the nation whom they serve I will judge; afterward they shall come out with great possessions. Now as for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried at a good old age. But in the fourth generation they shall return here, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.’ And it came to pass, when the sun went down and it was dark, that behold, there appeared a smoking oven and a burning torch that passed between those pieces. On the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying: ‘To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates; the Kenites, the Kenezzites, the Kadmonites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites, and the Jebusites.

We come now to the central focal point of the book of Genesis, namely, the Abrahamic Covenant. There are three types of covenants found in the Old Testament … all of which are rooted in ancient custom. They are as follows:

    The Shoe Covenant.  This covenant involved the exchanging of shoes by the parties. We find an example of it in the book of Ruth.

    The Salt Covenant. This covenant involved each participant mixing a pinch of salt together in one pile. Naturally, afterwards, it was impossible to separate one's own grains of salt from the other's grains of salt. The individual grains that each participant had contributed, guaranteed that their covenant (agreement) was irreversible.

    The Blood Covenant. This covenant was the most formal and serious of the three covenants. It required an animal to be killed and then cut into pieces. The parts of the animal were then laid in two lines with a walkway in-between. Then, the two parties to the covenant would join hands and walk between the severed parts … implying that if either party broke the agreement, the other had the right to take the life of the one who had broken the covenant. So this covenant could only be broken by the death of one of its participants. The idea was … You may do to me as we did to this animal … if I do not keep my part of our covenant.

It was the Blood Covenant that God chose to enter into covenant with Abram. However, after the sacrifice had been prepared, and its parts had been laid out, God put Abram into a deep sleep. Then, he spoke to Abram in a dream and said,

    1. Your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs and they will be servants there for 400 years.

    2. Then I will judge that nation.

    3. Your descendants will come out of that land with great possessions.

    4. You will live long and die in peace.

    5. Your descendants will return here in the fourth generationwhen the right time has come for me to judge the Amorites.

    6. I have given this land to your descendants.

After hearing these words from the Lord, Abram saw the likeness of a smoking oven and a burning torch move between the pieces of the sacrifices. Alone, God passed between the parts of the sacrifice while saying the words, To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates; the Kenites, the Kenezzites, the Kadmonites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites, and the Jebusites.

So, as it turned out, Abram had no part whatever in the ratifying of this covenant. God had put him out of commission through sleep. This covenant had become God’s responsibility alone. Abram didn’t covenant with God. God covenanted with Abram. Therefore:

    The Abrahamic Covenant is a unilateral covenant. It only had one party to it.

    The Abrahamic Covenant is an unconditional covenant. There were no conditions left to be filled by the parties … whatsoever. There was no … If you do this ... I’ll do that. God simply said ... To your descendants I have given this land...

    The Abrahamic Covenant is an irrevocable covenant. The only way this covenant can be broken is if God breaks it and is himself killed! And, contrary to some people's crazy notions, that just isn't going to happen. The end result is that the Abrahamic Covenant is still in full effect today. Its statements are set in stone. It is as sure and lasting as the God who spoke and instituted it.

By the way, did you notice how those vultures tried to mess things up here by eating or carrying off the part of the sacrifices? Do you suppose there might have been something going on there ... someone behind these vultures ... in the spirit world? I believe so or God probably wouldn't have mentioned it here in his Word. Satan hates the Jews and, I believe was trying to oppose this covenant "tooth and nail". Anyway, that is my take on it.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

16:1-16

Now Sarai, Abram's wife, had borne him no children. And she had an Egyptian maidservant whose name was Hagar. So Sarai said to Abram, ‘See now, the LORD has restrained me from bearing children. Please, go in to my maid; perhaps I shall obtain children by her.’ And Abram heeded the voice of Sarai. Then Sarai, Abram's wife, took Hagar her maid, the Egyptian, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan. So he went in to Hagar, and she conceived. And when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress became despised in her eyes. Then Sarai said to Abram, ‘My wrong be upon you! I gave my maid into your embrace; and when she saw that she had conceived, I became despised in her eyes. The LORD judge between you and me.’ So Abram said to Sarai, ‘Indeed your maid is in your hand; do to her as you please.’ And when Sarai
dealt harshly with her, she fled from her presence. Now the Angel of the LORD found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, by the spring on the way to Shur. And he said, ‘Hagar, Sarai's maid, where have you come from, and where are you going?’ She said, ‘I am fleeing from the presence of my mistress Sarai.’ The Angel of the LORD said to her, ‘Return to your mistress, and submit yourself under her hand.’ Then the Angel of the LORD said to her, ‘I will multiply your descendants exceedingly, so that they shall not be counted for multitude.’ And the Angel of the LORD said to her: ‘Behold, you are with child, and you shall bear a son. You shall call his name Ishmael, because the LORD has heard your affliction. He shall be a wild man; His hand shall be against every man, And every man's hand against him. And he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.’ Then she called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, You-Are-the-God-Who-Sees; for she said, ‘Have I also here seen Him who sees me?’ Therefore the well was called Beer Lahai Roi; observe, it is between Kadesh and Bered. So Hagar bore Abram a son; and Abram named his son, whom Hagar bore, Ishmael. Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore Ishmael to Abram.

We come now to the Hagar story. It is the story of the origin of the Arabic peoples. In effect, it's a sad but informative chapter in the lives of Abram and Sarai. I say that, not in relation to the Arab peoples, but because, once again, we see the frail side of these two very special Old Testament saints. Each time they set out to be the captains of their own ship, they made a mess of it. Lacking patience, Sarai and Abram set out to fulfill God’s promise of an heir by their own means. They were tired of waiting. They wanted their heir and they wanted him now. Have you ever been like that? However, when God says he’s going to do something, he rarely does it the way we want him to or when we want him to. Am I right? So, Abram and Sarai took matters into their own hands, and it resulted in:

    ... a schism in their relationship with each other

    ... a schism in Sarai's relationship with her maid, Hagar

    ... a child whose descendants would build a great schism between themselves and the children of Israel as well as against each other and, often, against much of the rest of the world. I believe this was foretold in the Lord’s words here … He shall be a wild man; His hand shall be against every man, and every man's hand against him.

Now, let's take a closer look at this in greater detail. In verses 1 through 4, we have Abram’s acquiescence to Sarai’s idea to fulfill God's promise of an heir by Abram by taking Hagar as his second wife. And, it worked, but not in the way they had hoped. After Hagar became pregnant, she became proud and haughty toward Sarai. Her attitude really stunk. Well now, Sarai ... look at me. I'm going to give Abram a child. Too bad you can't! This caused Sarai to retaliate so harshly that Hagar had to flee.

May we step aside here for a moment? May I say to you, dear saint, that when it comes to receiving the ends of the promises of God in our lives ... and it seems to us like God is not holding up his end of the bargain ...  we must resist the impulse to fulfill God's promises by our own means. A very wise pastor I know calls this … filling in the blanks in your life. When God gives us a promise, and it has not yet come to pass, there is a blank waiting to be filled in. Let’s not try to fill it in ourselves. Let’s wait for God to fill it in. This was Sarai’s error. She decided to fill in the blank, rather than wait for God to fill it in his time and in his way. So, when it comes to the promises of God in our lives, we need to focus on what we have, not on what we don't have. Sarai was solely focused on the fact that she was childless, and that got her into a lot of trouble. So, let’s think on the things that God has already given us, rather than on the things he has not yet given us. Then, we will be able to say with Paul,

I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content… Phil. 4:11

Coming back to our text in verses 5 through 16, we see our Lord’s tender care for Hagar. Pregnant and filled with the fear of Sarai, Hagar fled into the wilderness. And she probably would have died there, had it not been that The Angel of the Lord was watching over her. Again, please keep in mind that this title, The Angel of the Lord, always refers to the pre-incarnate Jesus Christ when it is found in the Old Testament. The Lord cared about Hagar and he came to her rescue that day, way out there in the wilderness. Listen to his words. He told her:

    1. Return to your mistress and submit yourself under her hand.

    2. I will multiply your descendants exceedingly so they shall not be counted for multitude.

    3. You will bear a son.

    4. You shall call his name, Ishmael.

    5. He shall be a wild man

    6. He shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren. (i.e. ... I won't allow him to be an outcast.)

How encouraging this must have been to this poor, forsaken, lost and distraught girl. With a heart full of gratitude, she called the one who had appeared to her … You Are The Lord That Sees. And, she wondered if she had not, in fact, seen the Deity himself, saying … Have I also here seen Him who sees me? The answer, of course, was ... Yes, Hagar, indeed you have! May I say to you, God is no respecter of persons. He cares for all human beings. The book of Jonah was written precisely for the purpose of demonstrating that truth. There, in no uncertain terms, we see God’s concern, and Israel’s lack of concern, for the wicked, heathen Assyrians. In the final two verses of that book, God says to Jonah,

You have had pity on the plant for which you have not labored, nor made it grow, which came up in a night and perished in a night. And should I not pity Nineveh, that great city, in which are more than one hundred and twenty thousand persons who cannot discern between their right hand and their left (babies); and much livestock? Jonah 4:10b-11

May I chase another rabbit here for a moment? Because our Lord, and a good number of his people, have cared, there are many Arab believers in the world today. Like the rest of us Gentiles, they too have a Savior in the Lord Jesus Christ and he continues to reach out to their ethnic groups. The great need is for their countries to open their doors so that the gospel might come in and reach them. My son, Jonathan, took a trip a while back to a closed Muslim country in Asia. He went there to look upon the fields that were white to harvest (John 4:35) and to help devise a strategy to reach those people with the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Our Savior is calling out a people for his name's sake today out of every tribe, tongue and nation. Please remember to pray for these often forgotten descendants of Ishmael.

And, by the way, could the masses of refugees out of the middle east ... and especially Syria ... that is taking place today be answers to prayer? Long, we Christians have prayed that the closed Arab nations would open up so that the gospel could be brought in and reach their Islamic peoples. But, the doors have remained closed. Now, however, perhaps the saying is coming to pass, "If Mohammed won't come to the mountain, the mountain will come to Mohammed!"?


One last thing before we move on. The book of Galatians presents Ishmael and Isaac as types. That's because one came as the result of an effort of the flesh (Ishmael), but the other came by God, through his promise (Isaac). As you have it in Galatians 4:22-5:1,


For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman, the other by a freewoman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and he of the freewoman through promise, which things are symbolic. For these are the two covenants: the one from Mount Sinai which gives birth to bondage, which is Hagar; for this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children; but the Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all. For it is written: ‘Rejoice, O barren, you who do not bear! Break forth and shout, you who are not in labor! For the desolate has many more children than she who has a husband.’ Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are children of promise. But, as he who was born according to the flesh then persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, even so it is now. Nevertheless what does the Scripture say? ‘Cast out the bondwoman and her son, for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.’ So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman but of the free. Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

17:1-16

When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, 'I am Almighty God; walk before me and be blameless. And I will make my covenant between me and you, and will multiply you exceedingly.' Then Abram fell on his face, and God talked with him, saying: 'As for me, behold, my covenant is with you, and you shall be a father of many nations. No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you a father of many nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you. And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after you. Also I give to you and your descendants after you the land in which you are a stranger, all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.' And God said to Abraham: 'As for you, you shall keep my covenant, you and your descendants after you throughout their generations. This is my covenant which you shall keep, between me and you and your descendants after you: Every male child among you shall be circumcised; and you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and you. He who is eight days old among you shall be circumcised, every male child in your generations, he who is born in your house or bought with money from any foreigner who is not your descendant. He who is born in your house and he who is bought with your money must be circumcised, and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant. And the uncircumcised male child, who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin, that person shall be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.' Then God said to Abraham, 'As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. And I will bless her and also give you a son by her; then I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of peoples shall be from her.'

Here, in chapter 17, the Abrahamic Covenant is reiterated and signified. Also, God reveals himself to Abram by a new name here ... El Shaddai. This is the first use of this name in the Bible. It means God Almighty. This name emphasizes that he is the God who possesses all power and authority. It brings to mind Jesus’ words in Matthew 28:18, does it not?
 

And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth’. 

The main points of what El Shaddai had to say to Abram are as follows:

            1. I have made my covenant with you, Abram.

            2. I am changing your name to Abraham. (Abram meant high father. Abraham means father of a multitude

            3. I have made you the father of many nations

            4. I have given to you and your descendants all of the land of Canaan for an everlasting possession.

            5. The sign of this covenant will be circumcision. Circumcision! What an unusual thing. I believe it was given for at least three reasons:

                    a. It set up a difficult exercise of obedience for the people of God to follow.

                    b. It placed a mark of identification on every Jewish male's anatomy ... for God to see. This reminds me of the account of Joseph's revealing of himself to his brothers. He did it, in my opinion, by showing them this sign of the covenant in his own body ... something that no Egyptian would have had. I believe this is the implication in Genesis 45:3-4,

Then Joseph said to his brothers, ‘I am Joseph; does my father still live?’ But his brothers could not answer him, for they were dismayed in his presence. And Joseph said to his brothers, ‘Please come near to me.’ So they came near. Then he said: ‘I am Joseph your brother, whom you sold into Egypt.’

                    c. It sanctified (set apart unto God) the sexual organs of all the males of the chosen people of God (by means of which organs … eventually, one of their offspring would give birth to Messiah). As you have it in Galatians 4:4,

But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law…          

                    d. Those who refused the sign of the Covenant were to be removed from the people of God. The refusal of circumcision would not nullify the covenant itself, just an individual's participation in it. Moses had a fight with his wife, Zipporah, over this very issue when, belatedly, he had to circumcise his son. As the newly designated deliverer of Israel, Moses’ failure in carrying out that covenant obligation almost cost him his life! As you have it in Exodus 4:24-26,

And it came to pass on the way, at the encampment, that the LORD met him and sought to kill him. Then Zipporah took a sharp stone and cut off the foreskin of her son and cast it at Moses' feet, and said, ‘Surely you are a husband of blood to me!’ So he let him go. Then she said, ‘You are a husband of blood!’; because of the circumcision.

           
6. Sarai’s name was changed to Sarah (Mistress to Queen).

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 
17:17-22
 
Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed, and said in his heart, ‘Shall a child be born to a man who is one hundred years old? And shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?’ And Abraham said to God, ‘Oh, that Ishmael might live before you!’ Then God said: ‘No, Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his descendants after him. And as for Ishmael, I have heard you. Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly. He shall beget twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation. But my covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this set time next year.’ Then he finished talking with him, and God went up from Abraham.

The picture of a pregnant Sarah, combined with the thought of the two of them having a baby at their age, was just too much for Abraham. He literally fell on his face and laughed. Have you ever been eating or drinking and heard something that was so absolutely absurd and funny that you involuntarily spewed out the contents of your mouth? That was Abraham's reaction to God’s announcement that he and Sarah were going to have a baby! He literally broke out in uncontrollable laughter at the incredulity of it.

Afterwards, however, it became apparent that Abraham's heart was not at all in God’s child of promise. His heart had long ago been stolen away by his boy, Ishmael. So, the first words out of Abraham's mouth … after he had stopped laughing … were … Oh, that Ishmael might live before you! He wanted Ishmael to be the child of promise. He had been enjoying that boy for 13 years and the two of them were "tight". This is a very human thing, by the way. That which we can see is what we usually want to go with. But God makes his decisions based upon the unseen. The Lord said … No, Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; I will establish my covenant with him. Abraham was 99 years old at the time. He would be 100, when Isaac was born.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

17:23-27

So Abraham took Ishmael his son, all who were born in his house and all who were bought with his money, every male among the men of Abraham's house, and circumcised the flesh of their foreskins that very same day, as God had said to him. Abraham was ninety-nine years old when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. And Ishmael his son was thirteen years old when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. That very same day Abraham was circumcised, and his son Ishmael; and all the men of his house, born in the house or bought with money from a foreigner, were circumcised with him.

Did you notice Abraham's obedience to God's command of circumcision was immediate here? Spiritual people obey the Lord immediately. Abraham did not hesitate. There was no question in Abraham's mind about obeying his God … regardless of how difficult or unpleasant it might prove to be. It says here that Abraham, and all the males in his household, were circumcised that very same day. And, as a result, God had himself a people. Although few in number, they were now the people of the Covenant. This was the day when the people of Israel were born.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

18:1-8

Then the LORD appeared to him by the terebinth trees of Mamre, as he was sitting in the tent door in the heat of the day. So he lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, three men were standing by him; and when he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them, and bowed himself to the ground, and said, 'My Lord, if I have now found favor in your sight, do not pass on by your servant. Please let a little water be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree. And I will bring a morsel of bread, that you may refresh your hearts. After that you may pass by, inasmuch as you have come to your servant.' They said, 'Do as you have said.' So Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah and said, 'Quickly, make ready three measures of fine meal; knead it and make cakes.' And Abraham ran to the herd, took a tender and good calf, gave it to a young man, and he hastened to prepare it. So he took butter and milk and the calf which he had prepared, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree as they ate.

Mamre is about 22 miles south of Jerusalem. You will remember, from back in 13:18, that Abraham had built an altar there. I picture old Abraham just sitting by the door of his tent that day … with his head down ... probably snoozing ... and then, suddenly, when he looked up … three men were standing there. Typical of oriental hospitality ... hurriedly, Abraham invited them in for a soothing foot washing and a bit of refreshment. Of course, he had no idea who they really were. Shortly, however, he would discover that he was entertaining two angels … accompanied by the Lord God himself. Wouldn't that  be something if such a thing were to happen to you or me? There's a New Testament principle here, by the way, concerning hospitality. Hebrews 13:2, instructs us,

Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels.

Romans 12:10-13, also exhorts,

Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.

Hospitality is a very practical and loving way to influence the lives of the people who God sends our way. It opens doors for ministry. Abraham was a good host and probably never missed an opportunity to show hospitality. Little did he dream, however, what the outcome of his warm hospitality would one day bring about.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

18:9-15

Then they said to him, 'Where is Sarah your wife?' So he said, 'Here, in the tent.' And he said, 'I will certainly return to you according to the time of life, and behold, Sarah your wife shall have a son.' (Sarah was listening in the tent door which was behind him.) Now Abraham and Sarah were old, well advanced in age; and Sarah had passed the age of childbearing. Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, 'After I have grown old, shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?' And the LORD said to Abraham, 'Why did Sarah laugh, saying, "Shall I surely bear a child, since I am old?" Is anything too hard for the LORD? At the appointed time I will return to you, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.' But Sarah denied it, saying, 'I did not laugh,' for she was afraid. And he said, 'No, but you did laugh!'

Abraham's eyebrow must have lifted when one of his guests said … I will certainly return to you according to the time of life (nine months from now), and behold, Sarah your wife shall have a son. Earlier, when the Lord had appeared to Abraham, to confirm his covenant with him, he had said my covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this set time next year (17:21). Hearing this repeated from the lips of his guest was a powerful hint that this stranger was no ordinary man. And, as it turned out, Abraham was, in fact, talking to a theophany. That is, the visible, in the flesh, manifestation of God himself ... undoubtedly, the pre-incarnate Son of God.

Now, when Sarah overheard the Lord say … Sarah your wife shall have a son … it struck her funny-bone, just as it had struck Abraham’s back in 17:17. She too just had to laugh within herself at the absurd image of her being pregnant, giving birth and nursing a baby! But, lo and behold, the stranger called her on it. Fearfully, Sarah denied she had laughed, but she could not escape the All-knowing One who was seated outside her tent. As you have it in Hebrews 4:13,


And there is no creature hidden from his sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

And again, in Psalm 139:1-2,

O LORD, you have searched me and known me. You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

18:16-22

Then the men rose from there and looked toward Sodom, and Abraham went with them to send them on the way. And the LORD said, 'Shall I hide from Abraham what I am doing, since Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? For I have known him, in order that he may command his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of the LORD, to do righteousness and justice, that the LORD may bring to Abraham what he has spoken to him.' And the LORD said, 'Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grave, I will go down now and see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry against it that has come to me; and if not, I will know.' Then the men turned away from there and went toward Sodom, but Abraham still stood before the LORD.

As the sun was going down, and as Abraham's three guests began to depart, the Lord spoke to his angels about Abraham and the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Sodom was where Lot lived and Abraham, overhearing the Lord’s words, discerned that the two angels were preparing to destroy it. So, with no small amount of concern, Abraham literally stepped between the Lord and Sodom. That is the connotation here of this phrase … Abraham stood before the Lord.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

18:23-33

And Abraham came near and said, 'Would you also destroy the righteous with the wicked? Suppose there were fifty righteous within the city; would You also destroy the place and not spare it for the fifty righteous that were in it? Far be it from you to do such a thing as this, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous should be as the wicked; far be it from you! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?' So the LORD said, 'If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes.' Then Abraham answered and said, 'Indeed now, I who am but dust and ashes have taken it upon myself to speak to the Lord: Suppose there were five less than the fifty righteous; would you destroy all of the city for lack of five?' So he said, 'If I find there forty-five, I will not destroy it.' And he spoke to him yet again and said, 'Suppose there should be forty found there?' So he said, 'I will not do it for the sake of forty.' Then he said, 'Let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak: Suppose thirty should be found there?' And he said, 'Indeed now, I have taken it upon myself to speak to the Lord: Suppose twenty should be found there?' So he said, 'I will not destroy it for the sake of twenty.' Then he said, 'Let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak but once more: Suppose ten should be found there?' And he said, 'I will not destroy it for the sake of ten.' So the LORD went his way as soon as he had finished speaking with Abraham; and Abraham returned to his place.

Intercession is a beautiful thing. Our Lord Jesus is interceding for you and me right now as we speak. As you have it in Hebrews 7:24-25,

But he, because he continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood. Therefore he is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.

You and I can participate in this ministry as well. Like Abraham, we too can be intercessors. Did you know that God looks for men and women to intercede before him on the behalf of others? In Ezekiel 22:29-30, we read,

The people of the land have used oppressions, committed robbery, and mistreated the poor and needy; and they wrongfully oppress the stranger. So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one.

Sobering, is it not? Our God is looking for intercessors to stand before him. What a wonderful ministry that is. The song, God bless America, is such an intercession. Abraham made intercession, not only for Lot, but for any other righteous person who was living in Sodom. He stood in the gap. He became a wall between Holy God and Sodom. He almost succeeded in delivering it, too. But, as it turned out, there were not ten righteous people in that entire place. I wonder what would have happened if Abraham had continued his intercession one step further and had said … Would you spare it for one? Do you think God would have spared it?

One last thought. Notice that Abraham knew who he was talking to. He called him, the Judge of the whole earth
… and he said, Let not the Lord be angry. Do you know who the Judge of the whole earth is? Make no mistake about it, this was the pre-incarnate Lord Jesus Christ himself. In John 5:22-23, Jesus said,

For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son, that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

19:1-14

Now the two angels came to Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them, and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground. And he said, 'Here now, my lords, please turn in to your servant's house and spend the night, and wash your feet; then you may rise early and go on your way.' And they said, 'No, but we will spend the night in the open square.' But he insisted strongly; so they turned in to him and entered his house. Then he made them a feast, and baked unleavened bread, and they ate. Now before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both old and young, all the people from every quarter, surrounded the house. And they called to Lot and said to him, 'Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may know them carnally. So Lot went out to them through the doorway, shut the door behind him, and said, 'Please, my brethren, do not do so wickedly!' See now, I have two daughters who have not known a man; please, let me bring them out to you, and you may do to them as you wish; only do nothing to these men, since this is the reason they have come under the shadow of my roof.' And they said, 'Stand back!' Then they said, 'This one came in to stay here, and he keeps acting as a judge; now we will deal worse with you than with them.' So they pressed hard against the man Lot, and came near to break down the door. But the men reached out their hands and pulled Lot into the house with them, and shut the door. And they struck the men who were at the doorway of the house with blindness, both small and great, so that they became weary trying to find the door. Then the men said to Lot, 'Have you anyone else here? Son-in-law, your sons, your daughters, and whomever you have in the city; take them out of this place! For we will destroy this place, because the outcry against them has grown great before the face of the LORD, and the LORD has sent us to destroy it.' So Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who had married his daughters, and said, 'Get up,get out of this place; for the LORD will destroy this city!' But to his sons-in-law he seemed to be joking.

What a dark and unsettling story this is. Sodom, and its sister city, Gomorrah, were cesspools of perversion and wickedness. We read in Second Peter 2:6-9,

...and turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemned them to destruction, making them an example to those who afterward would live ungodly; and delivered righteous Lot, who was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked (for that righteous man, dwelling among them, tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds); then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment...

Upon the arrival of the two angels at Sodom, word spread like wildfire that two strangers were staying at Lot's house. Immediately, a crowd gathered at Lot's door desiring to rape his guests. Lot made every effort to dissuade them, but his words fell on deaf ears. He even offered to give them his two virgin daughters … but to no avail. Actually, I believe Lot knew he was safe in that offer, because he knew the perversion of these people and that they would settle for nothing less than his male guests for their perverted pleasures. The English words, sodomy and sodomite, come from this ancient, historical account. Finally, in frustration, the crowd turned on Lot and, if it hadn't been for the angels’ intervention literally pulling Lot inside the house and securing the door, Lot himself would have been sexually abused and possibly killed. Isaiah 3:9, says,

The look on their countenance witnesses against them, And they declare their sin as Sodom; They do not hide it. Woe to their soul! For they have brought evil upon themselves.

As the ugly crowd persisted, the angels were forced to strike them with blindness. The Hebrew word for blindness here (herem), denotes more of confusion and wandering of the senses than physical blindness. It is a word that is only used twice in the Bible … here and in Second Kings 6:18. I don't believe that the result was that they literally couldn't see, rather, they found themselves disoriented and stumbling about trying to find a way to force open Lot’s door. Spiritual blindness is often so terrible that even the miraculous can't make a dent in it, by the way. Such was the case at Sodom. Pride and perversion gripped these Sodomites with an iron grip and time, for them, was running out. Judgment was just around the corner. It reminds me of how it was when Jesus was on Earth. Thousands witnessed his miracles, yet only a handful believed. Then, the judgment of the destruction of Jerusalem came in AD 70.

I grieve to see that this same kind of violence and perversion is so greatly multiplying in our own nation today. Not long ago, a great spiritual man said, If God doesn't judge America, he will have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah. There may well be something to that. The sad thing is … many people in our nation today are as persistent and unashamed of their perversions and unbelief as the Sodomites were in theirs. However, in the final analysis, apart from Christ, the end result will be the same ... namely, everlasting destruction from the presence of the righteous and holy, living God.

Coming back to our text, the angels informed Lot that they would shortly destroy Sodom and they instructed him to tell all of his relatives and loved ones to get out. But, when Lot informed his sons-in-law, they thought he was joking. Lot's chickens were coming home to roost. He had said to himself … I'm going to live like the world lives. I'm going to just get and enjoy. But, the promises and blessings of God were with Abraham. Lot had left them for his own self-gratification and materialism. Now, he had sons-in-law that laughed at the truth and his own wife loved Sodom so much she would soon lose her life over it. On top of all that … his perverted daughters would shortly seduce him! Is living the carnal lifestyle really worth it? I fear being this kind of spiritual loser, don't you? The question is … How are we going to live our lives? Will we one day weep and cry … 'Wasted, wasted, wasted!'? God forbid, aye? As Joshua put it … choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve… But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD (Joshua 24:15).

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

19:15-26

When the morning dawned, the angels urged Lot to hurry, saying, 'Arise, take your wife and your two daughters who are here, lest you be consumed in the punishment of the city.' And while he lingered, the men took hold of his hand, his wife's hand, and the hands of his two daughters, the LORD being merciful to him, and they brought him out and set him outside the city. So it came to pass, when they had brought them outside, that he said, 'Escape for your life! Do not look behind you nor stay anywhere in the plain. Escape to the mountains, lest you be destroyed.' Then Lot said to them, 'Please, no, my lords! Indeed now, your servant has found favor in your sight, and you have increased your mercy which you have shown me by saving my life; but I cannot escape to the mountains, lest some evil overtake me and I die. See now, this city is near enough to flee to, and it is a little one; please let me escape there (is it not a little one?) and my soul shall live.' And he said to him, 'See, I have favored you concerning this thing also, in that I will not overthrow this city for which you have spoken. Hurry, escape there. For I cannot do anything until you arrive there.' Therefore the name of the city was called Zoar. The sun had risen upon the earth when Lot entered Zoar. Then the LORD rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah, from the LORD out of the heavens. So he overthrew those cities, all the plain, all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground. But his wife looked back behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.


My, how carnal flesh clings to its play-pretties! Someone has said, Many Christians have their roots so deep into the world that the Rapture will have to be an earthshaking event just to pluck them out! Such was the case with Lot. Notice that the angels had to pull him and his wife and his daughters out of Sodom by the hand! And, even then, Lot was unwilling to obey the will and word of God. He complained that he didn't want to flee to the mountains, as he was told to do. Instead, he wanted to go to a small village in the plain nearby, called Zoar. So, the Lord said … Go ahead, I will spare Zoar.

On the way to Zoar, however, Lot lost his wife. In disobedience, she looked back and was turned into a pillar of salt. Just after daybreak, Lot and his two daughters finally entered Zoar and, immediately, the Lord reigned brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah and all the plain around. And, where were Lot and his daughters? Right smack in the middle of it all! The next day, he and his daughters ... no doubt smelling like firebrands ... fled to the mountains where they were supposed to have gone in the first place. Carnal people always have to learn the hard way.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

19:27-29

And Abraham went early in the morning to the place where he had stood before the LORD. Then he looked toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the plain; and he saw, and behold, the smoke of the land which went up like the smoke of a furnace. And it came to pass, when God destroyed the cities of the plain, that God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow, when he overthrew the cities in which Lot had dwelt.

How Abraham's heart must have skipped a beat when, the next morning, he looked out over the devastated and smoking plain. His question had been answered. There weren't 10 righteous people in Sodom or its whole vicinity. The aftermath of this awful judgment must have been a horrendous sight. Its like will not be seen again on Earth until the destruction of Babylon, the capital of Antichrist, at the end of the Tribulation (Revelation 18).

 

Fiery judgment of Sodom painting

 

Once again, I want to emphasize that what we are reading here is history. I was privileged to attend a banquet in Albuquerque, New Mexico, a while back that was sponsored by Trinity Southwestern University. The presentation concerned a joint archaeological venture that the university has been participating in with the Antiquities Department of the country of Jordan. Trinity has, for several years, been sending a team of volunteer diggers and archaeologists to Jordan to a site at the north end of the Dead Sea called Tall el-Hammam. There, Dr. Collins, president of the university, has been leading these digs. He chose the site, after having determined from the careful reading of the very biblical text you and I have been reading that Sodom should be located at the north end of the Dead Sea, rather than the traditional view that it was probably at the south end. As a result, over the past ten plua years, Tall el-Hammam has yielded up some remarkable findings and archaeologists at the site are now virtually certain that they have found the actual site of ancient Sodom.

They discovered that Tall el-Hammam was continuously occupied for over two thousand years prior to the time of Abraham but, during Abraham's days, it was destroyed and then ceased to be occupied for nearly 700 years thereafter. The archaeologists feel this was due to the fear that the ancient peoples had from what had supernaturally happened there. After many hundred years passed, though, the site was once again occupied again up until and well past the time of Christ.

One incredible finding at Tall el-Hammam was a piece of pottery that, on one side, was literally melted into trinitite. Trinitite is the black glass-like substance (also known as Atomite or Alamogordo Glass) found on the desert floor of New Mexico where the plutonium based, Trinity nuclear bomb, was set off on July 16, 1945. Trinitite is only formed by massive and extreme heat. Fascinating, is it not? The independent testing of the sample confirmed it was indeed trinitite in nature. The question then remained … What was trinitite doing in a dig in Jordan dating from the time of Abraham? Excavation continues at Tall el-Hammam and Trinity Southwestern University is certain that beyond any reasonable doubt that they have found the actual remains of the supernaturally destroyed city of Sodom. Dr. Collins has published his findings in a book, Discovering the City of Sodom. If you would like to check out this modern day excavation, you can catch it at: http://tallelhammam.com/.


_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

19:30-38

Then Lot went up out of Zoar and dwelt in the mountains, and his two daughters were with him; for he was afraid to dwell in Zoar. And he and his two daughters dwelt in a cave. Now the firstborn said to the younger, 'Our father is old, and there is no man on the earth to come in to us as is the custom of all the earth. Come, let us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him, that we may preserve the lineage of our father.' So they made their father drink wine that night. And the firstborn went in and lay with her father, and he did not know when she lay down or when she arose. It happened on the next day that the firstborn said to the younger, 'Indeed I lay with my father last night; let us make him drink wine tonight also, and you go in and lie with him, that we may preserve the lineage of our father.' Then they made their father drink wine that night also. And the younger arose and lay with him, and he did not know when she lay down or when she arose. Thus both the daughters of Lot were with child by their father. The firstborn bore a son and called his name Moab; he is the father of the Moabites to this day. And the younger, she also bore a son and called his name Ben-Ammi; he is the father of the people of Ammon to this day.

 

Lot fleeing Sodom picture

 

The character of Lot's daughters is revealed here. Liberals say this is a made-up story to explain the origin of the Moabites and the Ammonites. I tell you this, just to let you know their position. Typical of their school of thought, it has no basis in history or scholarship. It's just based on speculation and disbelief in the Word of God. In any event, with this sordid account, Lot steps off the pages of the Old Testament Scriptures and we will not hear of him there again. His disposition for compromise and self-seeking ends here in disgusting oblivion. Keep in mind, however, that the New Testament says that Lot was righteous, a saved man and a child of God (II Peter 2:7). We will meet him in Heaven one day. As you have it in I Corinthians 3:14-15,

If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

20:1-18

And Abraham journeyed from there to the South, and dwelt between Kadesh and Shur, and stayed in Gerar. Now Abraham said of Sarah his wife, 'She is my sister.' And Abimelech king of Gerar sent and took Sarah. But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night, and said to him, 'Indeed you are a dead man because of the woman whom you have taken, for she is a man's wife.' But Abimelech had not come near her; and he said, 'Lord, will you slay a righteous nation also? Did he not say to me, "She is my sister"? And she, even she herself said, "He is my brother." In the integrity of my heart and innocence of my hands I have done this.' And God said to him in a dream, 'Yes, I know that you did this in the integrity of your heart. For I also withheld you from sinning against me; therefore I did not let you touch her. Now therefore, restore the man's wife; for he is a prophet, and he will pray for you and you shall live. But if you do not restore her, know that you shall surely die, you and all who are yours.' So Abimelech rose early in the morning, called all his servants, and told all these things in their hearing; and the men were very much afraid. And Abimelech called Abraham and said to him, 'What have you done to us? How have I offended you, that you have brought on me and on my kingdom a great sin? You have done deeds to me that ought not to be done.' Then Abimelech said to Abraham, 'What did you have in view, that you have done this thing?' And Abraham said, 'Because I thought, surely the fear of God is not in this place; and they will kill me on account of my wife. But indeed she is truly my sister. She is the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother; and she became my wife. And it came to pass, when God caused me to wander from my father's house, that I said to her, 'This is your kindness that you should do for me: in every place, wherever we go, say of me, He is my brother.' " Then Abimelech took sheep, oxen, and male and female servants, and gave them to Abraham; and he restored Sarah his wife to him. And Abimelech said, 'See, my land is before you; dwell where it pleases you.' Then to Sarah he said, 'Behold, I have given your brother a thousand pieces of silver; indeed this vindicates you before all who are with you and before everybody.' Thus she was rebuked. So Abraham prayed to God; and God healed Abimelech, his wife, and his female servants. Then they bore children; for the LORD had closed up all the wombs of the house of Abimelech because of Sarah, Abraham's wife.

We come here to another of Abraham's relapses. In fact, it’s the same thing that got him in trouble back in 12:11. Have you even made the same mistake twice? Thrice? It's a common failing of us sinners, is it not?  But, in spite of it, God remains faithful. As you have it in II Timothy 2:13,

If we are faithless, he remains faithful; he cannot deny Himself.

Abraham was still a fallen sinner, with all the inherent stumbles and failures that accompany us all. Yet, God continued to honor Abraham's faith and continued to fulfill his Covenant with him. This story makes me ask myself … Am I as patient with people as God is? In our marriages, for example, do we insist … You have to change! That is selfish, beloved. Look for the higher moments in your spouse. Overlook the lower ones. God is continually doing this for every one of us, all the time.
_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

21:1-7

And the LORD visited Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did for Sarah as he had spoken. For Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him. And Abraham called the name of his son who was born to him; whom Sarah bore to him; Isaac. Then Abraham circumcised his son Isaac when he was eight days old, as God had commanded him. Now Abraham was one hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him. And Sarah said, 'God has made me laugh, and all who hear will laugh with me.' 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.'

At last, the son of promise was finally born. His name, Isaac, means he has made me laugh. Can you picture that precious moment, just after his birth, when they handed little Isaac to his mother? I believe, once again, Sarah began to laugh and all that were with her joined in! It must have been an incredulous scene … filled with the joy of the Lord … for his wonderful gift. We can only imagine the impact that Isaac’s birth must have had upon them. In that culture, it was a terrible burden for a woman to go childless, and Sarah had been barren for nearly a hundred years. Doubtless, if we had been present that day, we would have enthusiastically entered in as well … laughing through our tears of joy … right along with Sarah and Abraham. Truly,

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. James 1:17

May we step aside here for a moment? The Bible also presents Isaac as a type of Christ. So, there are many similarities between the two of them. For example, both men's births were...

        ...born of promise (Isaiah 7:14)

        ...experienced a long interval between the promise and its fulfillment (Abraham waited 25 years)

        ...seemed impossible (Mary said ... How can this be ...?)       

        ...were miraculously

In addition, both men were:      

        ...named before they were born (The angel, Gabriel, said, ... Thou shalt call his name Jesus...)

        ...arrived at God's exact appointed time (Galatians 4:4)

        ...were obedient to their fathers ... even unto death

We will see much more of this typology as it is beautifully played out in the incident of Abraham's near sacrifice of Isaac in chapter 22.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

21:8-13

So the child grew and was weaned. And Abraham made a great feast on the same day that Isaac was weaned. And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, scoffing. 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.' And the matter was very displeasing in Abraham's sight because of his son. 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. Yet I will also make a nation of the son of the bondwoman, because he is your seed.'

This is Galatians 4, territory; the book of the Bible that speaks about Law versus Grace. At Isaac’s weaning celebration, Ishmael, now around fifteen years old, mocked little Isaac and it resulted in both he and his mother being evicted from Abraham's home. It must have been an unbelievably sad day for Abraham. Ishmael was his favorite. But, unbeknown to Abraham, a spiritual picture was being painted by God in this drama. It was a picture of the difference between Law and Grace that would be used of God until the end of time. Sarah and her son, Isaac, would become a picture of God's grace through faith and promise. Hagar and her son, Ishmael, would become a picture of the flesh of man and its inability to fulfill the requirements of God’s Law.

Now, Sarah and Hagar had never gotten along in the first place. You will remember that Hagar taunted Sarah when she first got pregnant with Ishmael. Understandably, Sarah resented her, Hagar having slept with her husband and all, even though it had been Sarah's idea. Predictably, this polygamous situation had quickly turned sour and Abraham's home was being torn apart because of it. Grace and Law are never compatible, brother. The two are contrary to one another and they continue to cause trouble in the Church to this day.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

21:14-21

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. And the water in the skin was used up, and she placed the boy under one of the shrubs. 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. 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. Arise, lift up the lad and hold him with your hand, for I will make him a great nation.' 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. So God was with the lad; and he grew and dwelt in the wilderness, and became an archer. He dwelt in the Wilderness of Paran; and his mother took a wife for him from the land of Egypt.

Doubtless, it was with great sadness that Abraham obeyed the voice of his God and, having provided a bit of food and water for Hagar and Ishmael, he sent them away. After Hagar and Ishmael had journeyed as far into the desert as possible, Hagar placed her son under some shrubs and went to a separate place to weep. And, although it was Hagar who was doing the wailing, it was the first whimper out of Ishmael's mouth that caught the ear of God. God had made a promise to Abraham and Hagar concerning this boy, you see. Therefore, God was Johnny on the spot to fulfill his word. God is always true to his word. So, it was the lad's voice that God heard and an angel called to Hagar out of heaven and re-iterated to her the promise that God had made concerning Ishmael. God would make him a great nation.

Afterwards, the Lord opened Hagar's eyes and she saw a well of water there. God had been with the boy all along, you see. I suspect this is the very spot where Hagar and Ishmael settled down and lived ... right there at that well. Then, Hagar fetched Ishmael a wife out of Egypt. This is a telling statement. Hagar was not at all concerned with acquiring a godly woman for Ishmael. It was not in her spiritual makeup to do so. This was a harbinger of bad things to come. At this point, Scripture drops the line of Ishmael and we will follow it no more. His descendants, the Arabs, however, are still out there in the desert to this day.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

21:22-34

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. 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.' And Abraham said, 'I will swear.' Then Abraham rebuked Abimelech because of a well of water which Abimelech's servants had seized. 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.' So Abraham took sheep and oxen and gave them to Abimelech, and the two of them made a covenant. And Abraham set seven ewe lambs of the flock by themselves. Then Abimelech asked Abraham, 'What is the meaning of these seven ewe lambs which you have set by themselves?' 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.' Therefore he called that place Beersheba, because the two of them swore an oath there. 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. Then Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba, and there called on the name of the LORD, the Everlasting God. And Abraham stayed in the land of the Philistines many days.

Abraham was now, way down to the south, adjacent to what we know today as Gaza. It was the land of the Philistines. Later, under Joshua, God decreed that these people were to be annihilated but Israel didn't get the job done. The name, Palestine, is a derivative of the word Philistine. Its territory belongs to the Jews by right of the Abrahamic Covenant but it is still occupied by the ancestors of the ancient Philistines and to this day they are still giving Israel fits. Abraham had a dispute with these people. It was a dispute over a well he had dug. They sought to take it away from him. So, to avoid trouble, he paid them for it. Then, he called the place Beersheba, meaning Seven Well. It became a biblical landmark. More than once, in the Old Testament, we read the phrase from Dan to Beersheba, meaning … all the way from North to South in Israel.

 

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


Proceed to the next chapter