The Birth of Isaac

Open Your Bible

Genesis 20:1-18, Genesis 21:1-34, Proverbs 21:1, 1 John 1:9

I’ve never been pregnant. I’ve come to terms with the fact that, like Sarah (or Rachel or Hannah) in the Bible, I have been given the burden of infertility, a weight that I’ve kicked and railed against and sobbed about and finally, dutifully picked up—mostly because I had no other option. I don’t know if I will ever have a child born from my own body, but I know that if I did, I would join right along with Sarah in laughing.

God’s timing is perfect, and sometimes, pretty funny too. To think, Sarah had waited her whole life to have children, and only once her family was in disarray, did God choose to follow through on His great promise. After everything that happened, why now? Because when she was at her weakest, once again, He showed His great strength.

The Bible is full of humans, not heroes. We see in Genesis chapter 20 a story of fear, when Abraham tries to hide and protect his wife Sarah by claiming that she was his sister, only to nearly cause a massive tidal wave of destruction for Abimelech. What follows in close succession is Sarah finally giving birth to the child God promised: Isaac.

But even amidst the laughter and celebration, a shadow hovers over this family. After all, they didn’t wait patiently for God to follow through on His promise. Earlier in their marriage, Sarah encouraged her husband to have an affair with Hagar in order to bear a child. Now, she can’t fully enjoy God’s faithfulness, because the proof of her unfaithfulness is right there, mocking her, at the party.

Are we any different? When God is good to you, what do you focus on? Are you wholeheartedly clinging to His goodness, or do you still see, out of the corner of your eye, glimpses and reminders of your own sin, lack, and shame? After all, how good can He really be? We see the answer in the second half of chapter 21.

Even when Sarah sends Hagar and Ishmael away in a fit of rage, God continues to be good to them. He is loving and saving and kind—because that is who He is. It doesn’t matter if you see yourself as a promised child or a child whose background is questionable. None of this is conditional on who we are or what we’ve done, but rather on who He is and what He accomplished on the cross.

God’s promises always come true. He has promised to forgive our sins and guide our hearts, leading wherever He pleases (Proverbs 21:1). He promises to give us everything we need for life and godliness (1 Peter 1:3). He promises to come for us, and not to leave us as orphans (John 14:!8). The Lord did for Sarah all that He had promised. The Lord will keep His promises to us as well. That is who He is.

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39 thoughts on "The Birth of Isaac"

  1. Lilly Stover says:

    So good

  2. Dawn Sullivan says:

    Wow. Never knew Sarah was indeed a half sister of Abraham. Mind a little blown. And I love how Claire sheds light on Sarah’s inability to enjoy God’s gift with the product of her sin in front of her. God’s grace, love, and provision is overwhelming.

  3. Emily Guerra says:

    What struck me in this passage was the treatment of Hagar and Ishmael. I felt so much sadness for how both Abraham and Sarah treated them when they themselves caused this pain. I was pleased to see that the Lord provided for both Hagar and Ishmael when they were sent away. I was wondering though…Genesis 21:13 God says that he will make a nation of the slave’s son because he is your (Abraham’s) offspring. I’m so relieved that the Lord wants to provide for them, but does that mean if Ishmael wasn’t Abraham’s son he wouldn’t provide for him? Maybe I’m just thinking into this too much..

  4. ADB says:

    Praying for you and your husband.

  5. Tracie Nall says:

    How like our enemy, just about the time we enjoy the goodness, faithfulness and loving kindness of our Savior toward us and begin to fully comprehend and appreciate Him, the enemy has us catch a glimpse in our peripheral our sin and shame and causes us to again doubt (his MO) our God! The laughter of mocking silencing the laughter of joy! But thanks be to our God that who Forever silenced the chuckle of the enemy when He sent Jesus to die for us! We no longer have to look over our shoulder in fear of the consequences of our past, we need only look up to our God who once and for all cleansed us!

  6. June says:

    Today my husband will have a vesectomy reversal as we would like to have another baby. I have been praying that my husband would go through with this for 2 years and just seeking God in this for myself. I’m confident and this passage is encouraging to me as the Lord gave it to me several months ago to cling to. The day of the surgery Is here and here I am reading this again. I know you all pray for each other on here because I often read the comments. Please ask that this surgery would be successful in the name of Jesus. Thank you

  7. Jennifer Anapol says:

    This reminds me of when God answered my prayer and brought my husband into my life. The day I met my husband I had just complained to God and didn’t think I would ever have a husband. He answered my prayer even when I didn’t have faith anymore. I’m so thankful that God ‘s promises aren’t dependent on me.

  8. Pam Williams says:

    T: Remember that mental illness is an illness that can take our lives, just like physical illness. Jesus died for all our sins. ALL! He is faithful even when we can’t be. Praying for you.

  9. Terri says:

    For T
    I too had someone in my life commit suicide. God comforted me by remembering that it is not an unforgivable sin.

  10. Allison Joy says:

    I noticed something interesting when I read about Hagar and Ismael away. Usually, blessings are always from God, through the Father, and the actual ritual of the blessing is also performed by the father. Here, in Genesis 21:18, Hagar is the one to perform the ritual of the blessing. I don’t know if that has any relevance, especially since we don’t see Hagar actually preform the blessing, and I don’t know if this even WAS the “official” blessing for Ismael, but I still found it an interesting aside.

  11. Hannah says:

    “When God is good to you, what do you focus on? Are you wholeheartedly clinging to His goodness, or do you still see, out of the corner of your eye, glimpses and reminders of your own sin, lack, and shame?”
    This rings so true for me. It seems that every time I experience God’s blessings and faithfulness, the shameful reminders of my past (or recent) failures creep into my heart. “Sure, this blessing is great and all, but He didn’t really forget what you did. He’s never going to let go of that sin. When He sees you, He is angry and disappointed.” Those are the destructive thoughts that play on repeat in my mind. But those aren’t God’s thoughts. Those aren’t the thoughts that should control a redeemed life. Certainly we should feel sorrowful over our sin. Conviction and reproof are part of God’s love toward us (Heb. 12:6). But once we have grieved our sin, repented and turned away from it, “He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”. He isn’t spiteful, holding on to bitterness about our shortcomings, just waiting to kick us when we are down. That isn’t God’s way. Psalm 103:9 tells us that “He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever”, and verse 12 reminds us that he removes our sin “as far as the east is from the west”. It is my own fear and insecurity that keeps playing my failures on repeat. Not God. May I believe His promise when He says He washes away my sin and guilt. May I embrace the freedom that comes from repentance.

  12. Diana Fleenor says:

    Seeing how depraved our hearts are through Abraham’s story, along with Sarah, reminds me of how much we need a Savior! Paul’s words in Romans 7 which confirm this battle with sin seem to come alive in this account. I, too, say along with Paul, “What a wretched [woman] I am! Who will save me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” I’m so grateful for the covering of ALL our sin through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. And, knowing that the power of his resurrection to free us from the bondage of sin, gives me a great hope that all this sin will be defeated by him! Praise the Lord!

  13. Allison Sherwood says:

    I am thankful that I can rest in the fact that God will do what he says he will do. In a world where people don’t always mean what they say (whether intentionally or not), I love that I can hold fast to His truth that never fails! Amen!

  14. Rubi says:

    It is easy to see our mistakes than to fully accept His forgiveness. I pray this morning that the lies that the enemy puts in my head be removed in Jesus mighty name. I am clean by the blood of Jesus! I am made a new creation. Gods promises are true! Lord I pray that this week be a week of fresh revelation of your great Love for each and every single one of us. Amen

  15. Car says:

    Today’s reading is such a good reminder that God’s timing often appears illogical by human standards. As today’s commentary points out, why wait until this point to have the birth of Isaac? God knows our hearts. His kingdom is the upside kingdom and we need to trust that His way is truly the best way, even when it seems to not make sense to us. He is the promise keeper and knows what we need!

  16. Dana Mofield says:

    I struggle so much with my past sexual sin. And it has carried over into my current relationship as it has hurt the man I love. I’ve been praying for months that God take the guilt away but recently realized I’ve been praying for the wrong thing – the guilt is there to guide me to do what is right. I haven’t forgiven myself yet. And that’s why I can’t shake the guilt and the shame. I needed today’s lesson so much. To remind me God is good and He does forgive me even when I’m struggling to forgive myself.

    1. Jane K says:

      Amen Dana! I have recently listened to a podcast that talked about guilt and shame. We do not have to feel shame because our God forgives and forgets our sins, but guilt motivates us to turn from our sin. May God bless your relationship and continue to bring healing to your soul.

    2. Kirstie Le Lievre says:

      Hi Dana, thanks for being brave and sharing. Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross is enough, truly enough, to pay for all your sin and shame. When he said It is Finished, he meant it, for you and me, as we accept his salvation and lay our sins at the foot of that cross. I pray that God touches your heart and fills you with a revelation of what redemption means and how amazing his grace is. Kirstie

  17. Jessica Nicolas says:

    God did all He promised to Sarah, so I will wait patiently for my time. It may not be today, it may not be tomorrow, it maybe 10 years from now… but it will come to pass.

  18. Holly Strickland says:

    The commentary really hit me this morning. I’ve read through this account countless times and to be honest it sometimes confused me. In the commentary, she points out the truth that when we are in the midst of God’s goodness WE, not Him, looks around and still sees our shame, shortcomings, etc. We take on not being enough as if all those things will somehow overshadow God’s greatness (salvation) in our lives. God is enough-We can take Him at His word-we must focus on His truth not what we have done. There is no amount of good that can cover our sin or take it away-only the blood of Christ. I am thankful for God’s word-that it is living and breathing. That God uses it speak to us. I’ve also learned to not glaze over something just because I’ve read before( God has had me in Genesis quite a bit) Embrace He has something to teach you and pray for eyes to see.

  19. Kathy says:

    I have found myself in an unexpected season of calm – no huge issues, no overwhelming turmoil. Life is not perfect and there are still things I pray for daily, but for the first time in a long time, I am in a place of no storms. The water is mostly smooth and the sky is clear and I am more grateful than you can believe!
    I know that storms are coming because that is what happens in this broken world, but right now I am trying to let God teach me and reinforce the truths that I need to weather the next round of storms. One of the lessons that stuck out to me from this reading is that no matter the circumstances of my life, Hagar’s desperation for the Lord is exactly where I need to find myself every day. It would be so easy to become complacent and comfortable, but that is not where I need to be.
    Lord, make me desperate for You – for Your grace, Your mercy, Your forgiveness. Protect me from complacency. Make me uncomfortable in the calm.
    Have a blessed Monday!

    1. Traci Gendron says:

      Thank you for your words Kathy. I am in a storm. My son has a very rare fatal disease. My heart breaks for him. I Need to trust that God will get me through whatever happens. We are praying that he gets into a stem cell transplant trial. I’m struggling to lean on God and not myself in this. These passages have taught me that I’m not alone in this struggle. I’m thankful for this study and entering each day with God and His word at the forefront.

  20. Doris says:

    2 Corinthians 1: 20—— For all the promises of God in Him are yes, and in Him Amen, unto the glory of God by us. Way maker, promise keeper, light in the darkness, my God that is Who you are!

  21. Debbie says:

    Amen! Romans 8:28 says “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

    The Scriptures do not teach us that certain methods of death separate us from the love of God. As we put our trust in the Lord Jesus Christ we cross over from death to life. From your description of your friend, it sounds like she crossed over to spiritual life well before her physical death. When that is the case, we are given assurance that nothing can separate us from Him.

    From Jesus, “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.” John 5:24

    God bless you.

  22. Jordan Jones says:

    I don’t know if the authors of these devotionals ever read these but God used this post in a major way this morning. In a way only God can in a way that seems so incredible I too could just laugh. As I sat in the car crying to my husband over the burden of our own unexplained infertility and just the weight I feel regularly… God heard. I can’t put into words what opening my email and reading this devotional meant. Maybe there are more like me or maybe it was just meant for me. Either way God used it to speak to my heart. Thank you.

    1. Kerry Rowley says:


  23. Lisa Z says:

    T, your love for your friend shines through your post! Sounds like she knew our Lord so I trust you will see her again. Our dear Father, Son and Spirit were all with her at her passing. She is now healed and singing praises of their faithfulness. What a friend we have in Jesus!

  24. Kara says:

    I love the Old Testament for its focus on imperfect, self-serving people who God uses to show His goodness and glory. It gives me hope that I (also imperfect and self-serving most days if I’m honest) cannot get in Gods way when it comes to His plan.

    Lord use me and mold me. Turn my heart to be more like yours. Amen.

    1. Camille English Davis says:


  25. K D says:

    The reminder that I needed today – God ALWAYS keeps His promises.

  26. Lynn Ondrovic says:

    21:19a 19Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water. – we just need to open our eyes to see God providing for us

    1. Camille English Davis says:


  27. Lynn Ondrovic says:

    Genesis 21:19a

  28. Churchmouse says:

    This is a strange account. Abraham and Sarah, recipients of God’s great promises, falter badly before the pagan king, Abimelech. This pagan king who ruled over a land that had no fear of God, has a dream from Abraham’s God and believes it. Abimelech has clean hands and a clear conscience before God. Abraham, because of his deception regarding his marital status, does not. It is striking when Abimelech confronts Abraham with the question “What made you do this?” Abraham’s integrity and witness is called into account. Abimelech’s question is a good question for us to ask ourselves. We have been given the promises of God. We have only to believe in Him and His ways. So often however we falter and take matters into our own hands. This reliance on ourselves rather than the promises of God reveals our lack of trust. What makes us devise our own plans? What makes us decide how long we should have to wait? What makes us decide a lie is better than the truth? What makes us think we know better than God? Ouch. May we fall to our knees and humbly ask for His forgiveness. May we repent of our self-centeredness, arrogance and pride. May we trust in Him who has saved us and delivered us time and time again from our own foolishness. May we commit to trust and obey, come what may or may not come, because He is faithful. He is worthy of a great and faithful and truthful testimony from us. Amen.

    1. Andrea P says:


  29. T says:

    I lost my very dear good Christian friend to her taking her own life just before Christmas last year…(depression and anxiety)
    I hurt for the loss of my friend and the times we we will never have again, but most importantly, I ached to think that 1) I would not see her in eternity… 2) that she died alone.. for all the amazing evangelizing she did, for the heart she had for all she met, for her wonderful, Christ- like heart towards everything and everyone.. she was alone in her death..that was such a worry!

    But God..

    Dear Dear Wonderful Faithful God..

    Through another’s words, helped me understand, that God faithfully promises to never leave us nor forsake us, NO MATTER WHAT! That He is with us to the end of time! That although we may make choices that break His heart, He is always near.. She was/is a child of God, an amazing daughter of the Most High God..and that was her ticket/claim to Gods forever promises.. to be with her, even, and most importantly, at the time of her passing.

    I love these words Clare Gibson.

    God’s promises always come true. He has promised to forgive our sins and guide our hearts..

    A few more words, that warms my heart in these sad days.. Thank you..

    What I take from today’s devotional, is that, however we do life, whether in our own strength or in trust, God, DEAR DEAR FAITHFUL and WONDERFUL God, keeps His promises… ALWAYS..

    Thank you God, Thank you ❤

    Sisters, Happy Monday! May your day be merry and brightly filled with love, peace and Hope.. whatever you doing today..❤

    1. Katie Stutler says:

      Your story is heart breaking. I’m sorry for your loss. But I want to encourage you…you said that your friend was/is a child of God. That means she was washed clean of all sin. ALL sin. There’s not ONE sin that’s not covered by Jesus’ blood. Not even taking a life, as difficult and tragic as that is. Even THAT sin is covered. Praying for peace for you and those that knew your friend.

    2. Cynthia Johnston says:

      I, too, lost a friend to her taking her own life last winter. She battled anxiety and depression. She could not see her way out of this debilitating mental illness and wanted to be with her Savior, Jesus. I have learned to press into Him when I have fought my own battle with depression. May the God of all comfort comfort you and give you His peace. ♥️