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Monday, November 11, 2019

2019.11.11 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 21:8-21

Questions from the Scripture text: On what day did Abraham make a great feast in Genesis 21:8? What is Ishmael called in Genesis 21:9? What was he doing? What does Sarah tell Abraham to do in Genesis 21:10? What reason does she give? What did Abraham think of this (Genesis 21:11)? What does God tell Abraham not to do in Genesis 21:12? What does God tell him to do? What reason does God give at the end of verse 12—in whom will Abraham’s seed be called? Who is Abraham’s seed in Genesis 21:13? What will God do for him? When does Abraham arise in Genesis 21:14? What does he give Hagar? What does he do? What has happened in Genesis 21:15? What does she do? Where does she go in Genesis 21:16? Why? What does she do at the end of verse 16? Whose voice does God hear in Genesis 21:17? Who addresses Hagar? What does He say? What does He tell her to do (Genesis 21:18)? What does God do for her in Genesis 21:19? What was already there? What does she do? Who was with the lad (Genesis 21:20)? What effects does God’s presence produce for him? Where does he dwell (Genesis 21:21)? What does his mother do for him? From where does this wife come?
There’s more to maturity than advancing through physical stages. In Hebrews 5, the apostle uses the advancement from milk to solid food as a picture of theological and spiritual maturity. In our passage today, Isaac is moving on from milk to solid food, but we see that Ishmael is still immature in almost every way.

He’s a 16, maybe 17, year old who mocks a 3 year old at his weaning party. He’s incapable enough that if you’re going to send him away, you’d still have to send him away with mommy to take care of him. Between the physical conditions of him and his aging mother, she’s pretty sure that he would die first, so she puts him where she won’t have to see it happen.

But, by the very end of the passage—albeit now, sometime in the future—he grows, and is able not just to survive a few days in the wilderness but to dwell there, and to become an archer. A married man, who is becoming a nation.

What happened? “God was with the lad.” Why? When God commanded Abram, “walk before Me” (Genesis 17:1); and had given him circumcision for him and his children (Genesis 17:12); and had promised him Isaac, with whom He would have an everlasting covenant (Genesis 17:16Genesis 17:19); Abraham had made a special prayer: “Oh, that Ishmael might live before You!” (Genesis 17:18)

At that time, God had said, “As for Ishmael, I have heard you.” (Genesis 17:20)

It’s difficult for us sometimes, to hold onto God’s promises concerning our children. Those children are not yet what we had hoped that they would be. And certainly our parenting is not what it ought to be. But God and His promises are always as they should be. And it is in Christ that those promises have their “yes” and the “amen.”

And that’s where God directs Abraham’s attention in Genesis 21:12-13. Perhaps Abraham thought that if Ishmael is put out now, there’s no way that he will ever come to faith, no way that he would ever mature. But we must see the “because he is your seed” of verse 13 in light of the “in Isaac your seed shall be called” of verse 12. The One who is in Isaac—Christ!—is the One through whom all the nations will be blessed. And God will be with Ishmael not because of Ishmael, or even so much because of Isaac and Abraham, as because the One who is in Isaac and Abraham, even Jesus Christ.

And it is for Christ’s sake that God takes note of Ishmael’s sin, and Ishmael’s trouble. It is for Christ’s sake that God has given Ishmael a concerned father and a praying mother. It is for Christ’s sake that God hears Ishmael’s cries, and is with Ishmael, and makes Ishmael strong and prosperous even in the wilderness. After all, it is in Christ that God became a child to save children!
What are some ways that you still need to mature? What gives you hope that you will?
Suggested Songs: ARP23B “The Lord’s My Shepherd” or TPH257 “Children of the Heavenly Father”

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