Monday, February 6, 2017
Daily reading assignment: Genesis 21-23
Continuing our study of the life of Abraham, we come to the conception and birth of Isaac, the long-awaited son fulfilling God’s covenant promise, “I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee” (Genesis 12:2). Abraham had received and believed God’s promise of a son when he was 75 years old (Genesis 12:4); however, 25 years passed before he saw that promise fulfilled (21:5).
Hagar, the Egyptian mother of Ishmael who had conceived a son of Abraham, greeted the celebration of Isaac’s birth with jealousy and animosity, knowing her son would not be Abraham’s heir (21:9). Sarah, in spite of her having initiated the faithless act of Abraham having a son with her handmaid, demanded that Hagar and her son be dismissed from their home (21:10).
Abraham, realizing the weight of his own transgressions is also borne by his family, was comforted by God’s promise concerning Ishmael (21:12-13). God also came to Hagar and her son and showed compassion to them after they were driven from Abraham’s home into the desert (21:14-21).
Genesis 22 puts the faith of Abraham to the test as God proves his faith by commanding him to sacrifice Isaac, the son of God’s covenant promise. Isaac’s question, “Where is the Lamb?” (22:7) is answered 2,000 years later when John the Baptist says concerning Jesus, “Behold the Lamb” (John 1:29, 36).
Reminding us God’s people are but sojourners in this world of sin, we read, “Sarah was an hundred and seven and twenty years old: these were the years of the life of Sarah. 2 And Sarah died in Kirjatharba; the same is Hebron in the land of Canaan: and Abraham came to mourn for Sarah, and to weep for her” (Genesis 23:1-2).
I close this historical crossroads in Abraham’s life inviting you to consider spiritual lessons concerning Law and Grace illustrated in the births of Ishmael and Isaac (Galatians 4:21-31).
Ishmael, born a slave of a slave woman, was the fruit of Abraham’s effort to have a son and heir apart from God (Galatians 4:22a, 23a). Isaac, born a free man of a free woman, was the son of promise whose birth was miraculous and the work of God (Galatians 4:22b, 23b).
The mothers, Hagar and Sarah, represent two covenants: Hagar, the LAW, the covenant between God and man (Galatians 4:24-25) reminding us the impossibility of man fulfilling the demands of the Law (Romans 3:19-20). Sarah, represents God’s covenant of GRACE, His provision and unmerited favor (Galatians 4:26-27) extended to man.
Ishmael’s birth is a tragic reminder of man attempting in his own efforts to do and fulfill what only God can do. Isaac’s birth, fulfilling God’s covenant promise to Abraham and Sarah, is a portrait of GRACE, God doing what only He could do.
My friend, that is why salvation is not by works that merit God’s favor, but is an act of God’s grace alone.
Ephesians 2:8-9 – “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.”
Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith