1 Now the Lord was gracious to Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did for Sarah what he had promised. 2 Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the very time God had promised him. 3 Abraham gave the name Isaac to the son Sarah bore him. 4 When his son Isaac was eight days old, Abraham circumcised him, as God commanded him. 5 Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him.
6 Sarah said, “God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.” 7 And she added, “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.”
8 The child grew and was weaned, and on the day Isaac was weaned Abraham held a great feast. 9 But Sarah saw that the son whom Hagar the Egyptian had borne to Abraham was mocking, 10 and she said to Abraham, “Get rid of that slave woman and her son, for that woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with my son Isaac.”
11 The matter distressed Abraham greatly because it concerned his son. 12 But God said to him, “Do not be so distressed about the boy and your slave woman. Listen to whatever Sarah tells you, because it is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned. 13 I will make the son of the slave into a nation also, because he is your offspring.”
14 Early the next morning Abraham took some food and a skin of water and gave them to Hagar. He set them on her shoulders and then sent her off with the boy. She went on her way and wandered in the Desert of Beersheba.
15 When the water in the skin was gone, she put the boy under one of the bushes. 16 Then she went off and sat down about a bowshot away, for she thought, “I cannot watch the boy die.” And as she sat there, she began to sob.
17 God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. 18 Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation. ”
19 Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. So she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink.
20 God was with the boy as he grew up. He lived in the desert and became an archer. 21 While he was living in the Desert of Paran, his mother got a wife for him from Egypt. Genesis 21:1-21 (NIV)
- God is the Giver of Life
God alone is the Creator and Source of life’s abundance and blessing.
- God Keeps His Word
God by nature cannot and will not be untrue.
- God’s Timing is Perfect
God’s work in my life is always deeper and more profound than I can fully comprehend.
- God turns Sorrow into Joy
In God’s economy sorrow is momentary; joy is forever.
No sermon can capture the full richness of what we discover in Holy Scripture. Below you will find a few extra notes to help fill out the meaning of this portion of God’s inspired word.
God’s promise of a son and heir is finalized realized for Abraham and Sarah 25 years after it was first spoken! It was a time of tremendous joy. God had closed and opened the wombs of the women of Gerar (in chapter 20) as an implication of having closed (16:2) and now opened (21:1) the womb of Sarah. The blessing of God to Abimelek and his people was tied to God’s blessing of Abraham and Sarah, just as God had originally promised. The same holds true for Hagar and Ishmael. Because Ishmael is the son of Abraham he is blessed by God (16:7-12; 21:13). The lesson extends in the next chapter (22) as God brings the supreme test to Abraham’s faith, asking him to give up his cherished son, Isaac. Even then God demonstrates his promise is true and secure! All of these stories unite together to make the powerful prophetic point that God, as Creator and Redeemer, is the giver of life, and Jesus Christ, the ultimate beloved Son, is the promised One through whom life in abundance will come!
On the subject of Ishmael’s mocking of Isaac:
“At this feast Sarah became extremely jealous when she saw Hagar’s son . . . mocking. “Mocking” or “sporting” (metsakheq) is from the same root as Isaac’s name. Possibly Ishmael was showing his prowess in order to draw the attention of the guests away from Isaac. It is likely, though, that he was making fun of Isaac by abusing his name. It is also important to note that the narrator mocks Ishmael by never using his name in this account.” (Understanding the Bible Commentary — OT)
On the subject of Hagar’s suffering:
“Hagar’s life had been full of trouble, and it was not of her making. It all stemmed from Abraham’s lapse of faith in decamping to Egypt, and from his later disobedience. Does our disobedience ever fail to damage and sadden the life of someone else? And does the Lord ever fail to be gracious to those we have hurt?” – Joyce Baldwin
On the subject of God’s provision for Hagar and Ishmael:
“The fact that God had not chosen Ishmael did not, however, imply that God had no concern for him. This is made abundantly plain, first by the divine promise that God will make a nation of the son of the slave-woman also, because he is Abraham’s son. It is reinforced by God’s care of Hagar, appearing to her as he had done on the previous occasion (16:14–16), and saving the life of her son.” – Joyce Baldwin
Connections with Galatians 4:21-31:
This is another very complex study in itself, worthy of significant attention. Paul contrast the children of Sarah with the children of Hagar in what often is described as an analogical reading. Here is a very brief account of the meaning:
There were two main differences between these [Isaac and Ishmael]. The first is that they were born of different mothers (v.22). One was a free woman, the other a slave. This, according to ancient law, also affected the sons’ status. The second difference was in the manner of their conception. Ishamel’s was entirely by natural means. Abraham was elderly at the time, about eighty-six years old, but still the conception was natural. In Isaac’s case the conception was by means of a miracle; for by this time Abraham had passed the age at which it was normally possible to engender children–he was ninety-nine years old–and Sarah was long past the age of conceiving them. The preposition “through” in Paul’s phrase “as the result of [or through] a promise” indicates that the promise of God called life into being. Moreover, in v.29 the phrase “through a promise” becomes “by the power of the Spirit,” and this makes the supernatural character of the birth even clearer.
It is apparent that this contrast lends itself well to the very distinction Paul is trying to make between natural or man-made and supernatural or God-made religion. The religion of works and law corresponds to the natural birth of Ishmael. The religion of the Spirit, which is Christianity, corresponds to the supernatural birth of Isaac. (Expositors Bible Commentary)