The Birth of Isaac
Open Your Bible
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.
39 thoughts on "The Birth of Isaac"
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.
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..
Praying for you and your husband.
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!
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