Day 15

The Birth of Isaac

from the Genesis reading plan


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

BY Claire Gibson

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.

Post Comments (38)

38 thoughts on "The Birth of Isaac"

  1. 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

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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!

  8. 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!

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