Hello everyone! Today’s sermon is the 10th message in our series titled “The Chosen Church: Getting to Know the Patriarchs”. While our focus has been primarily on the life of Abraham up to this point, this morning we will introduce a new character named Isaac. He will eventually take his father’s place as the head of the family, and leader of the Hebrew people. This message is titled “Isaac Is Born”.
I. THE BIRTH OF ISAAC (v1-8)
Finally, after 25 years of waiting, the LORD kept His promise. Sarah became pregnant with Abraham’s child. At the appointed time, about a year after the angels had visited them at their tent near Hebron, the aged couple had a son. He was born in the land of Philistia, where they had recently moved. Abraham named the boy Isaac and circumcised him on the 8th day, in keeping with all that God had commanded him to do.
The name Isaac means “he will laugh” or “to laugh”. Prior to his amazing birth, both his father Abraham and his mother Sarah had laughed at the prospect of having their own child. Now they laughed with joy in celebration of his birth, and others laughed with them. So Sarah nursed the child for several months, and when he was weaned Abraham held a great feast.
One of the most special days of any parent’s life is the day that their child is born. For me personally, I have vivid memories of the birth day of all 3 of my children. They were some of the best days of my life. I can imagine the incredible joy that Abraham and Sarah must have experienced when Isaac was born. He was a miracle child, a baby that they never thought possible. Yet, here he was… the long-awaited, promised son.
II. SARAH TURNS AGAINST HAGAR (v9-14)
Ishmael would have been around 14 years old when Isaac was born. He was Isaac’s half-brother, the son of Abraham through Hagar the maidservant. Sometime after Issac’s birth, Sarah saw Ishmael mocking or “making fun of” him. She was furious. Sarah had always disliked Hagar and Ishmael and held deep animosity toward them. So she asked Abraham to drive them out of the house.
At first Abraham was deeply distressed by Sarah’s request, but then God instructed him to listen to his wife (which is a wise bit of advice for all husbands). God assured Abraham that his descendants would be named through Isaac, though Ishmael would become a nation as well. So Abraham rose early in the morning and provided Hagar with a few meager supplies - bread and water. Then he sent her and her son away. They departed and wandered about in the wilderness of Beersheba.
The long-time feud between Sarah and Hagar finally reached its peak. The friction between them was no longer sustainable. Something had to give. There are times when the best thing to do is part ways with one another. Perhaps kicking someone out of the house isn’t the best way to go about it, but it did accomplish the goal. Maybe this is why God went along with it, because He knew it was for the greater good. Nevertheless, you can’t make people like each other or force them to get along...
III. THE LORD PROVIDES (v15-21)
Eventually Hagar ran out of water. Alone with her teenage son in the desert, she felt certain that this was the end. Hagar left Ishmael under a bush, presumably for some limited shade from the heat, and sat several yards away so that she wouldn’t see him die. There she wept bitterly and wailed loudly in distress.
God heard Ishmael crying, and the angel of the LORD spoke to Hagar. He encouraged Hagar and promised her that Ishmael would survive and become the father of a great nation. Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a water well nearby. She filled her waterskin and gave the boy a drink. Though no other details are given, obviously they survived. Ishmael grew up and became an archer. He lived in the wilderness of Paran with an Egyptian wife that his mother took for him.
As He had done previously when she fled from Abraham’s tent during her pregnancy, God again took care of Hagar. He provided for her when the situation was most dire. It is quite clear that the LORD loved Hagar and Ishmael, even though they weren’t the chosen ones. The Hebrews were never the exclusive recipients of God’s compassion and favor. On the contrary, they were to serve as the messengers of His goodness and grace to all the world.
IV. A COVENANT WITH ABIMELECH (v22-34)
The Philistine king Abimelech, whom Abraham and Sarah had deceived almost a year earlier, had taken notice of the couple. He saw how God’s favor and presence was with Abraham. So Abimelech and his military commander Phicol decided to make a treaty with Abraham to ensure lasting honesty and peace between them. Abraham swore to honor the agreement, but stated that some of Abimelech’s servants had seized a water well from him. The king was apparently unaware that this had happened.
In order to establish the covenant they’d made Abraham gave Abimelech several sheep and oxen. He also gave the king 7 ewe lambs in order to redeem the well that had been taken from him. Abraham named the place Beersheeba, which means “well of the oath” or “well of 7”. After finalizing the agreement, Abimelech and Phicol returned to Gerar. Abraham planted a tree and worshipped the LORD. Beersheba would eventually become the southernmost major city of Israel, but apparently at this time the area was controlled by the Philistines. Abraham and Sarah lived there for many years.
This will not be the last time we’ll encounter Abimelech and Philcol. Many years later, after his father has died and he has grown into manhood, Isaac will return to the city of Gerer. Once again there will be a dispute over the water wells and a new covenant will be made between these 2 parties. We will discuss this story in detail about a month from now when we get to Genesis 26… just thought I’d give you a heads up.
Isaac’s birth was the fulfillment of a promise that God had made many years earlier. It was a miraculous event, seeing that Abraham and Sarah were both very old at the time he was born and that she had been barren all of her life. Yet, after a long and often difficult wait, in the fullness of time, their promised son was born. He would be the one through whom God’s covenant was perpetuated. Does this remind you of anything?
God promised to send His Son, the Messiah, to rescue and redeem Israel. They waited for centuries, suffering through many trials and persecutions. Then, in His perfect timing and in accordance to His divine plan, the LORD kept His word. Jesus was miraculously born of a virgin in the sleepy town of Bethlehem. He would grow up to become the Savior of the world and establish the new covenant in His blood.
Once again we see an example of how the Old Testament points to Jesus and helps us as Christians to have a deeper, fuller understanding of the New Testament and the Gospels...