As I read Genesis 21:1-21, a couple of things jumped out at me:
- God keeps his promises. (verses 1-2) The Bible is a covenant agreement between God and His people. Although we are often faithless, as we have seen in Abraham’s life over and over, God never drops his end of the deal. (Romans 3:3-4, 2 Timothy 2:13)
- What God accomplished in giving Isaac to Sarah and Abraham was a legit miracle. You see their response in verses 5-7. Keep in mind, as I have pointed out earlier, that Sarah was, at this point, physically unable to give birth. God will accomplish His purposes, even in spite of our frequent sabotage efforts. Even when Abraham put the legitimacy of the covenant promise at risk by attempting to pimp out Sarah to Abimelech (last chapter), God stopped it dead.
- Abraham and Sarah’s lack of faithfulness in conceiving a child through Hagar created a huge issue for all involved (Genesis 21:8-21). Because they doubted God, they decided that they had to pursue a more “practical” way to achieve God’s promise than the way that God had already said would happen. As stupid as that last sentence sounds – that created people would determine a “better way” to achieve the promises of the Creator – we do this all the time. It is the root sin of pride, from which all other sins emerge. We believe that we can achieve God’s purposes in a better way than God can. And it always has undesirable consequences. Now, instead of one great people coming out of Abraham, there are two! And those two people groups (the Arabs and the Israelis) have fought over that piece of ground that the Bible calls “Canaan” for 4,000 years! Yet, you also see God’s mercy toward Ishmael here. God heard his cries for help, and didn’t treat him as a bastard son, but provided for him and blessed him as well.
2 practical applications for you, wherever you are spiritually:
- God does hear. Whatever your situation, never stop praying. Prayer brings God glory and helps us see our situation more accurately. Instead of first focusing on coming up with our own pragmatic solutions to whatever situation we face, a more Biblical approach is to start by seeking God’s will in our situation and then prayerfully letting Him work it out for us.
- God does intervene. Thomas Jefferson and many of the founding fathers were deists. A deist is one who believes that there is one God created the universe and the laws that govern it – and then he took his hands off of it and, essentially, told us “good luck.” Jefferson cut all the miracles out of his Bible, because he didn’t believe that God intervenes in human affairs. You cannot be a Christian if you believe this, because Jesus was a HUGE intervention!! God does intervene. He does act. And the best example of that is the cross of Jesus.