Genesis 11-25 The man of faith…Abraham, cont’d.
Genesis 20:1-Gerar is about 10 miles south of Gaza.
Genesis 20:2-18-After Abraham had settled in Gerar. Abimelech, the king of Gerar, sent and took Sarah from him in order to be his wife. Abraham had told the local people that she was his sister. Before he had sexual relations with her he had a dream in the night. God told him that she was actually married to Abraham. Abimelech called Abraham and asked him why he had done this. Abraham said it was because he was afraid someone would see her and kill him in order to get her (Sarah was 90 years old at the time…she lived to be 127 years old, 23:1-2). Then Abraham told him that she actually was his half sister. They have the same father, but not the same mother. Abimelech returned Sarah along with a large sum of money as proof of his respect for Abraham and Sarah…to stop any public ridicule for their behavior. He also offered to allow them to settle anywhere they wanted to on his land.
Genesis 21-35 The beloved son…Isaac
Genesis 21:1-5-Sarah became pregnant and gave birth to a son, Isaac (means: “he laughs”). Abraham was 100 years old at the time. He circumcised Isaac when he was 8 days old.
Genesis 21:8-Isaac was probably 2-3 years old when he was weaned.
Genesis 21:9-13-Ishmael was “mocking” Isaac. The word “mocking” comes from the same root word as the name “Isaac”…but it is a more intense form (19:14; 39:14-17). Ishmael was probably laughing in a scornful and contemptuous manner…since he saw his hopes of being the primary heir of his father Abraham being lost to this younger sibling. Sarah saw his behavior and it made her angry so she went to Abraham about it. Abraham was distressed over the matter because he loved both sons. God told him to not be distressed, because He was going to bless both sons.
Genesis 21:14-21-Abraham gave provisions to Hagar and Ishmael (now 16-17 years old) and sent them away. She wandered into the wilderness of Beersheba and finally ran out of water. Hagar went off some distance from Ishmael and prayed. God heard Ishmael crying and sent an angel to comfort Hagar. Then God revealed a water well to her. “And God was with the lad…” (:20). Hagar (who was from Egypt) found an Egyptian woman to be Ishmael’s wife.
Genesis 21:22-34-Since their initial encounter, Abimelech and Abraham had gotten along very well. But now Abimelech begins to notice that Abraham was prospering. He became concerned that Abraham’s power might continue to grow and he would become a threat to him. So he determines to make a covenant with Abraham in order to provide safety for his own people. Abraham agrees to this. During their conversation Abraham complains to Abimelech that his soldiers had taken one of his water wells. Abimelech says that he was unaware of this. Abraham gives Abimelech seven lambs and tells him that they are to be a reminder that the well belongs to Abraham. Abraham then names the well Beersheba…”beer” means “well”, and “Beersheeba” means “well of the seven, or well of the oath”.
Genesis 21:33-“the Everlasting God” comes from the Hebrew “El Olam”…”El” means “God” and “Olam” means “eternal, everlasting”.
Genesis 22:1-“God tested Abraham”. God never tempts anyone in order to cause them to sin (James 1:13). But at times, He will allow circumstances to enter a person’s life that are intended to lead the person to trust Him even more. God tells Abraham to take Isaac to a mountain in the land of Moriah (an area near the place in Jerusalem where Solomon would later build his temple, it was about a 50 mile journey) and offer him as a burnt sacrifice.
Genesis 22:3-9-Abraham took Isaac and two young men and made the trip. On the third day he saw the place where God had directed him to make the offering. He told the two men to stay behind while he and Isaac proceeded. Notice two important statements by Abraham. First, when questioned by the two men he said, “I and the lad will go yonder; and we will worship and return to you” (:5). Second, when questioned by Isaac he said, “God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering…” (:8). Both of these statements show Abraham’s explicit trust in God. He was fully aware that God had told him that He would extend His covenant with Abraham to a vast number of people that would be the descendants of Isaac. So, Abraham had absolute confidence that no matter what took place here…Isaac would live (cf. Hebrews 11:17-19). He had told the two men that “we” would return…not just himself. And, he told Isaac that God would provide the sacrifice…Isaac would not be it. Not only is Abraham’s faith proven here…but so is Isaac’s…because he allowed himself to be bound and placed on the altar (:9-10).
Genesis 22:10-12-Just as Abraham was about to strike the blow with his knife that would have killed Isaac, an angel calls out and stops him. The angel tells him that his actions were proof of his faith (James 2:21).
Genesis 22:13-14-Abraham looked up and saw a ram caught in a bush and realized that God had put it there. It was the substitute for Isaac and illustrates the substitutionary atonement of Jesus (the Lamb of God) for sinners (cf. John 1:29). Abraham named that place “Yahweh jireh”…which means “the LORD will provide”, or “In the mount of the LORD it will be provided." Abraham had incredible faith that God would be true to His covenant promise (22:5). Our faith is not to be based on our own blind determination that something is going to happen just because we want it to. Nor, are we to assume something to be true about God, or that God will act in a manner that He has not revealed. Our faith is based on what God has already said, what He has previously revealed...and nothing more.
Genesis 22:15-18-Once again, God reaffirms His covenant with Abraham.
Genesis 22:19-24-Abraham receives word that his brother, Nahor, has had children of his own. One of his sons has had a daughter, named Rebekah…she will become the wife of Isaac.
Prayer: Father, in these verses I learn that You are the eternal God and the God Who provides. Let my faith be strengthened by this knowledge. Help me to be continuously aware that You are eternal and that there is nothing that escapes Your attention. No matter how long I may have to deal with a situation…it does not affect You. You are the same. And Lord, give me faith to trust in Your righteousness…that what You decide, whether I understand it, or not, is always the right thing to do. You don’t do what is right…but what You do is right. Thank you that You are the source of provision of everything that I need in life.