these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, saying, ‘Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield,
your exceedingly great reward.’ But Abram said, ‘Lord GOD, what
will you give me, seeing I go childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer
of Damascus?’ Then Abram said, ‘Look, you have given me no offspring;
indeed one born in my house is my heir!’ And behold, the word of the
LORD came to him, saying,‘This one
shall not be your heir, but one who will come from your own body shall
be your heir.’
Then he brought him outside and said, ‘Look now toward heaven, and
count the stars if you are able to number them.’ And he said to him,‘So
shall your descendants be.’ And he
believed in the LORD, and he accounted it to him for righteousness.
It is a wonderful thing, the way the
Lord knows and reads the hearts of his people. He always knows what's on our
mind. He knew what was on Abram's mind. Abram was fearful about not
having an heir. So, the Lord spoke to Abram about what really mattered.
He said … Do not
be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.
What a comforting word, aye? The Lord went right to the heart of
Abram’s concern. This is where it’s at for you and me too,
beloved. The Lord is all we need. He is our all in all. He is the
Alpha and the Omega
and everything in-between. He is our Savior, benefactor and protector.
He holds our future and the futures of our loved ones in his hands. The
unspeakable privilege of just knowing him is our incalculable reward.
As you have it in Philippians
what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet
indeed I also count all things loss
for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for
whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish,
I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having my own righteousness,
which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the
righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him
and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his
sufferings, being conformed to his death, if, by any means, I may
attain to the resurrection from the dead.
May I ask you a question? From what
do you derive your sense of security and self worth? Is it your job,
your family, your possessions or your status? Dear saint, our real
self-worth is being in Christ
… what he has done for us … and who he says we are. He died for you and
me, you know. Doesn't that say something about what we are worth in his
eyes? In Christ, God has lifted us up all the way to his very throne in
Heaven and called us his sons and daughters. As you have it in I John 3:1a,
what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be
called children of God!
The Lord yearns for us to be with
him and has prepared a special place just for you and me. He has
given us his Holy Spirit to dwell in us. Aren’t these things the true
measure of who you and I really, really are? Just having Christ, is
more than sufficient to verify our true worth.
Coming back to our text, in Abram’s day it was the custom for a man who
had no children to pass on his possessions to his most trusted servant,
the chief steward of his household. In Abram’s case, this was his
Abram spoke to God about Eliezer becoming his heir ... but God said … No.
Then, he assured Abram that his heir would come from his own body.
Although he was now very old, God told Abram he was going to become a
dad. Then, he took Abram outside and asked him to look up at the stars saying, So shall thy seed be.
What a precious time that must have been … hanging out under the stars
with the Son of God … and hearing his amazing promise! And … praise God
… Abram believed
what the Lord told him. The Scripture tells us here that the Lord
counted it to him for righteousness. Thus, right then and there, on
that long ago starry night, Abram was saved and became the father of
all who believe. This is a landmark statement that we have before us
here ... it was counted
to him for righteousness. Simply because Abram believed God's
promise, God declared him righteous. From
that night forward, Abram’s eternal standing before God was … righteous.
And, I might add, that is also the standing of all that believe God
today. The following scriptures bear out this most basic and precious
For what does the Scripture say? ‘Abraham believed God, and it was accounted
to him for righteousness.’
Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt.
But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the
ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness, just as David also
describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness
apart from works: ‘Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven,
and whose sins are covered; Blessed is the man to whom the LORD shall
not impute sin.’ And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his
own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and
the deadness of Sarah's womb. He did not waver at the promise of God
through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God,
and being fully convinced that what he had promised he was also able to
perform. And therefore ‘it was accounted to him for righteousness.’ Now it was not written for his sake alone
that it was imputed to him, but also for us. It shall be imputed to us
who believe [in him](best translated "believe him" ...
not "believe in him") who raised up Jesus our Lord from the
dead, who was delivered up
because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.
Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God
through our Lord Jesus Christ... Romans 4:3-8,19-5:1
...just as Abraham ‘believed God, and it was
accounted to him for righteousness.’ Therefore know that only
those who are of faith
are sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would
justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham
beforehand, saying, ‘In you all the
nations shall be blessed.’ So then those who are of faith are
blessed with believing Abraham. Galatians 3:6-9
Someone has said … If your righteousness doesn’t equal God’s
righteousness, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven! That
is true. But, then, will no one get in? On the contrary, many will get in because they will
have received the very righteousness of God himself
which was imputed
to them. It is not our own righteousness, you see. It is the
righteousness of another that has been imputed (counted as ours) to us
by God. We, who have believed in the Son of God, have been given the
very righteousness of Christ. As you have it in Second Corinthians 5:21,
made him (Jesus) who knew no sin to
be sin for us, that we might become
the righteousness of God in Him.
Have you received God’s own
righteousness by placing your faith squarely in the Lord Jesus Christ,
dear reader? It is a gift waiting for you, you know. God imputes it to
all who put their faith in his Son. The instant someone believes on the
Lord Jesus, forever after … God sees that believer as righteous as God
himself is! So it was in the case of Abraham. So it is with all who
follow in Abraham’s footsteps of faith ... believing God.
One last thought before we move on
... notice that the first "I Am" in the
Bible is found here. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
he said to him, ‘I am the LORD, who brought you out of Ur of the
Chaldeans, to give you this land to inherit it.’ And he said, ‘Lord GOD, how shall I know that I will
inherit it?’ So he said to him, ‘Bring
Me a three-year-old heifer,
a three-year-old female goat,
a three-year-old ram, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.’ Then he brought all
these to him and cut them in two,
down the middle, and placed each piece opposite the other;
but he did not cut the birds in two. And when the vultures came down on
the carcasses, Abram drove them away. Now when the sun was going down,
a deep sleep fell upon Abram;
and behold, horror and great darkness fell upon him. Then he said to
certainly that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not
theirs, and will serve them, and they will afflict them four hundred
years. And also the nation whom they serve I will judge;
afterward they shall come out with great possessions. Now as for you,
you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried at a good
old age. But in the fourth generation they shall return here, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet
complete.’ And it came to pass, when the sun went down and it
was dark, that behold, there appeared
a smoking oven and a burning torch that passed between those pieces.
On the same day the LORD made a
covenant with Abram, saying: ‘To your descendants I have given this
land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates;
the Kenites, the Kenezzites, the Kadmonites, the Hittites, the
Perizzites, the Rephaim, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites,
and the Jebusites.
We come now to the central focal
point of the book of Genesis, namely, the Abrahamic Covenant. There are
three types of covenants found in the Old Testament … all of which are
rooted in ancient custom. They are as follows:
The Shoe Covenant. This
covenant involved the exchanging of shoes by the parties. We find an
example of it in the book of Ruth.
The Salt Covenant.
This covenant involved each participant mixing a pinch of salt together
in one pile. Naturally, afterwards, it was impossible to separate one's
own grains of salt from the other's grains of salt. The individual
grains that each participant had contributed, guaranteed that their
covenant (agreement) was irreversible.
The Blood Covenant.
This covenant was the most formal and serious of the three covenants.
It required an animal to be killed and then cut into pieces. The parts
of the animal were then laid in two lines with a walkway in-between.
Then, the two parties to the covenant would join hands and walk between
the severed parts … implying that if either party broke the agreement,
the other had the right to take the life of the one who had broken the
covenant. So this covenant could only be broken by the death of one of
its participants. The idea was … You
may do to me as we did to this animal … if I do not keep my part of our
It was the Blood Covenant that God
chose to enter into with Abram. However, after the sacrifice
had been prepared, and its parts had been laid out, God put Abram into
a deep sleep.
Then, he spoke to Abram in a dream and said,
descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs and they
will be servants there for 400 years.
2. Then I will
judge that nation.
descendants will come out of that land with great possessions.
will live long and die in peace.
descendants will return here in the fourth generation … when the right time
has come for me to judge the Amorites.
6. I have
given this land to your descendants.
After hearing these words from the
Lord, Abram saw the likeness of a smoking oven and a
burning torch move between the pieces of the sacrifices. Alone, God passed between the parts of the sacrifice while saying the
words, To your
descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the
great river, the River Euphrates; the
Kenites, the Kenezzites, the Kadmonites, the Hittites, the Perizzites,
the Rephaim, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites, and the
So, as it turned out, Abram had no
part whatever in the ratifying of this blood covenant. God had put him out of
commission through sleep. This blood covenant had become God’s responsibility
alone. Abram didn’t covenant with God. God covenanted with Abram.
The Abrahamic Covenant is a unilateral covenant. It only
had one party to it.
The Abrahamic Covenant is an unconditional covenant. There
were no conditions left to be filled by the parties … whatsoever. There
was no … If you do this ... I’ll do that. God simply said ... To your descendants I
have given this land...
The Abrahamic Covenant is an irrevocable covenant.
The only way this covenant can be broken is if God breaks it and is
himself killed! And, contrary to some people's crazy notions, that just
isn't going to happen. The end result is that the Abrahamic Covenant is
still in full effect today. Its statements are set in stone. It is as
sure and lasting as the God who spoke and instituted it.
By the way, did you notice how the vultures tried to mess things up by eating or carrying off the parts of the sacrifices? Do you
suppose there might have been something going on there ... someone in the spirit world behind the
vultures? I believe it to be so or God would not have mentioned it here in his Word. Satan hates the Jews and
was opposing this blood covenant, "tooth and nail". _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Sarai, Abram's wife, had borne him no children. And she had an Egyptian
maidservant whose name was Hagar.
So Sarai said to Abram, ‘See now, the LORD has restrained me from
bearing children. Please, go in to my
maid; perhaps I shall obtain children by her.’
And Abram heeded the voice of Sarai. Then Sarai, Abram's wife, took
Hagar her maid, the Egyptian, and gave her to her husband Abram to be
his wife, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan. So he went in to Hagar, and she conceived.
And when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress became despised
in her eyes. Then Sarai said to
Abram, ‘My wrong be upon you! I gave my maid into your embrace;
and when she saw that she had conceived, I became despised in her eyes.
The LORD judge between you and me.’
So Abram said to Sarai, ‘Indeed your maid is in your hand; do to her as
you please.’ And when Sarai dealt harshly with her, she fled from her
presence. Now the Angel of the
found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, by the spring on the
way to Shur. And he said, ‘Hagar, Sarai's maid, where have you come
from, and where are you going?’ She said, ‘I am fleeing from the
presence of my mistress Sarai.’ The Angel of the LORD said to her,
‘Return to your mistress, and submit yourself under her hand.’ Then the
Angel of the LORD said to her, ‘I will multiply your descendants
exceedingly, so that they shall not be counted for multitude.’
And the Angel of the LORD said to her: ‘Behold, you are with child, and
you shall bear a son. You shall call his name Ishmael,
because the LORD has heard your affliction. He shall be a wild man; His hand shall be
against every man, And every man's hand against him. And he
shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.’ Then she called the
name of the LORD who spoke to her, You-Are-the-God-Who-Sees;
for she said, ‘Have I also here seen Him who sees me?’ Therefore the
well was called Beer Lahai Roi; observe, it is between Kadesh and
Bered. So Hagar bore Abram a son; and Abram named his son, whom Hagar
bore, Ishmael. Abram was eighty-six
years old when Hagar bore Ishmael to Abram.
We come now to the Hagar story. It
is the story of the origin of the Arabic peoples. In effect, it's a sad
but informative chapter in the lives of Abram and Sarai. I say that,
not in relation to the Arab peoples, but because, once again, we see
the frail side of these two very special Old Testament saints. Each
time they set out to be the captains of their own ship, they made a
mess of it. Lacking patience, Sarai and Abram set out to fulfill God’s
promise of an heir by their own means. They were tired of waiting. They
wanted their heir and they wanted him now. Have you ever been like
that? However, when God says he’s going to do something, he rarely does
it the way we want him to ... or when we want him to. Am I right? So, Abram
and Sarai took matters into their own hands, and it resulted in:
... a schism in their relationship with
... a schism in Sarai's relationship with
her maid, Hagar
child whose descendants would build a great schism between themselves
and the children of Israel, as well as against each other and, often,
against much of the rest of the world. I believe this was
foretold in the Lord’s words … He shall be a wild man;
His hand shall be against every man, and every man's hand against him.
Now, let's take a closer look at
this in greater detail. In verses 1 through 4, we have Abram’s
acquiescence to Sarai’s idea to fulfill God's promise of an heir by
Abram by taking Hagar as his second wife. And, it worked, but not in the
way they had hoped. After Hagar became pregnant, she became proud and
haughty toward Sarai. Her attitude really stunk. Well now, Sarai ... look at me. I'm going
to give Abram a child. Too bad you can't! However, this caused Sarai to
retaliate so harshly that Hagar had to flee.
May we step aside here for a moment?
Dear believer, please resist the impulse to fulfill God's promises by your own means. A very wise pastor
I know calls this … filling in the
blanks in your life.
When God gives us a promise and it has not yet come to pass, there is
a blank waiting to be filled in. Let’s not try to fill it in ourselves.
Let’s wait for God to fill it. This was Sarai’s error. She decided
to fill in the blank rather than wait for God to fill it in his time
and in his way. So, when it comes to the promises of God in our lives,
we need to focus on what we have, not on what we don't have. Sarai was
solely focused on the fact that she was childless and it got her
into a lot of trouble. Let’s think on the things that God has
already given us rather than on the things he has not given us.
When that's the case, we will be able to say with Paul,
have learned in whatever state I am, to be content… Phil. 4:11
Coming back to our text, in verses 5
through 16, we see our Lord’s tender care for Hagar. Pregnant and
filled with the fear of Sarai, Hagar fled into the wilderness. And, she
would have died there, had it not been that The Angel of the Lord
was watching over her. Again, please keep in mind, in the Old Testamenth this title, The Angel of the Lord,
refers to the pre-incarnate
Jesus Christ. The Lord cared about Hagar and
he came to her rescue that day ... way out there in the wilderness. Listen
to his words. He told her:
1. Return to your
mistress and submit yourself under her hand.
2. I will multiply
your descendants exceedingly so they shall not be counted for multitude.
3. You will bear a son.
4. You shall call his
5. He shall be a wild
6. He shall dwell in
the presence of all his brethren. (i.e. ... I won't allow him to be an outcast.)
How encouraging this must have been
to this forsaken, lost and distraught girl. With a heart filled with relief, she called the one who had appeared to her, You Are The Lord That
Sees. And, she wondered if she had not, in fact, seen the Deity
himself, saying … Have
I also here seen Him who sees me?
The answer, of course, was, Yes,
Hagar, you have indeed! May I say
to you, God is no respecter of persons. He cares for each and every human being.
The book of Jonah was written precisely for the purpose of
demonstrating that truth. There, in no uncertain terms, we see God’s
concern and Israel’s lack of concern for the wicked, heathen
Assyrians. In the final two verses of that book, God says to Jonah,
have had pity on the plant for which you have not labored, nor made it
grow, which came up in a night and perished in a night. And should I not pity Nineveh, that great city, in which are more than one hundred
and twenty thousand persons who cannot discern between their right hand
and their left (babies); and much livestock? Jonah 4:10b-11
May we chase another rabbit here for
a moment? Because our Lord and a good number of his people have
been faithful to the great commission, many descendants of Ishmael are believers in the world today. The great need is for their home countries to open their doors so that the gospel might come in. Christians have long prayed that the closed Arab nations would do so. My son, Jonathan, took a trip a while back to a closed to the gospel Muslim country. He went there primarily to look upon the fields that were white to harvest (John 4:35). But, also, to help devise a strategy to reach the people there with the good news of the Lord Jesus Christ. Our Savior is calling out a people
for his name's sake out of every tribe,
tongue and nation today. Could the masses of refugees out of the middle east
... and especially Syria ... be answers to prayer? Perhaps the saying is coming to pass, If Mohammed won't come to the
mountain, the mountain will come to Mohammed!
One last thing before we move on ... the book of Galatians presents
Ishmael and Isaac as types.
That's because one came as the result of an effort of the flesh (Ishmael),
but the other came by promise (Isaac).
As you have it in Galatians
it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman, the
other by a freewoman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born
according to the flesh, and he
of the freewoman through promise,
which things are symbolic. For these are the two covenants: the one
from Mount Sinai which gives birth to bondage, which is Hagar; for this
Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to Jerusalem which now
is, and is in bondage with her children; but the Jerusalem above is
free, which is the mother of us all. For it is written: ‘Rejoice, O
barren, you who do not bear! Break forth and shout, you who are not in
labor! For the desolate has many more children than she who has a
husband.’ Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are children of promise.
But, as he who was born according to the flesh then persecuted him who
was born according to the Spirit, even so it is now. Nevertheless what
does the Scripture say? ‘Cast out the bondwoman and her son, for the
son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.’
So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman but of the
free. Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us
free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to Abram and said to
him, 'I am Almighty God; walk
before me and be blameless. And I
will make my covenant between me and you,
and will multiply you exceedingly.' Then Abram fell on his face, and
God talked with him, saying: 'As for me, behold, my covenant is with
you, and you shall be a father of many nations. No longer shall your name be called Abram,
but your name shall be Abraham;
for I have made you a father of many nations. I will make you
exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall
come from you. And I will establish my covenant between me and you and
your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after
you. Also I
give to you and your descendants after you the land in which you are a
stranger, all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting possession;
and I will be their God.' And God said to Abraham: 'As for you, you
shall keep my covenant, you and your descendants after you throughout
their generations. This is my
covenant which you shall keep, between me and you and your descendants
after you: Every male child among you shall be circumcised; and
you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall
be a sign of the covenant between me and you. He who is eight days old
among you shall be circumcised, every male child in your generations,
he who is born in your house or bought with money from any foreigner
who is not your descendant. He who is born in your house and he who is
bought with your money must be circumcised, and my covenant shall be in
your flesh for an everlasting covenant. And
the uncircumcised male child, who is not circumcised in the flesh of
his foreskin, that person shall be cut off from his people; he has
broken my covenant.' Then God said to Abraham, 'As for Sarai your wife, you shall
not call her name Sarai, but Sarah
shall be her name. And I will
bless her and also give you a son by her; then I will bless her,
and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of peoples shall be from
Here, in chapter 17, the Abrahamic
Covenant is reiterated and signified. Also, God reveals himself to
Abram by a new name here ... El Shaddai. This is the
first use of this name in the Bible. It means God Almighty.
This name emphasizes that he is the God who possesses all power and
authority. It brings to mind Jesus’ words in Matthew 28:18, does it
Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to
me in heaven and on earth’.
The main points of what El Shaddai had
to say to Abram are as follows:
1. I have
made my covenant with you, Abram.
2. I am
changing your name to Abraham. (Abram meant high father. Abraham means father of a multitude)
3. I have
made you the father of many nations.
4. I have
given to you and your descendants all of the land of Canaan for an
5. The sign
of this covenant will be circumcision. Circumcision! What an
unusual thing. I believe it was given for at least three reasons:
a. It set up a difficult exercise
of obedience for the people of God to follow.
b. It placed a mark of
identification on every Jewish male's anatomy ... for God to see.
This reminds me of the account of Joseph's revealing of himself to his
brothers. He did it, in my opinion, by showing them this sign of the
covenant in his own body ... something that no Egyptian would have had.
I believe this is the implication in Genesis 45:3-4,
Joseph said to his brothers, ‘I am Joseph; does my father still live?’
But his brothers could not answer him, for they were dismayed in his
presence. And Joseph said to his brothers, ‘Please come near to me.’ So
they came near. Then he said: ‘I am Joseph your brother, whom you sold
c. It sanctified (set apart unto God) the sexual organs of
all the males of the chosen people of God (by means of which
organs … eventually, one of their offspring would give birth to
Messiah). As you have it in Galatians 4:4,
But when the fullness of the
time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the
d. Those who refused the sign of
the Covenant were to be removed from the people of God.
The refusal of circumcision would not nullify the covenant itself, just
an individual's participation in it. Moses had a fight with his wife,
Zipporah, over this very issue when, belatedly, he had to circumcise his
son. As the newly designated deliverer of Israel, Moses’ failure in
carrying out this essential covenant obligation almost cost him his life! As you have it in Exodus 4:24-26,
it came to pass on the way, at the encampment, that the LORD met him
and sought to kill him. Then Zipporah took a sharp stone and cut off
the foreskin of her son and cast it at Moses' feet, and said, ‘Surely
you are a husband of blood to me!’ So he let him go. Then she said,
‘You are a husband of blood!’; because of the circumcision.
name was changed to Sarah
(from: Mistress to Queen). _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ 17:17-22 Then
Abraham fell on his face and laughed,
and said in his heart, ‘Shall a child be born to a man who is one
hundred years old? And shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a
child?’ And Abraham said to God, ‘Oh,
that Ishmael might live before you!’ Then God said: ‘No, Sarah your wife shall bear you a
son, and you shall call his name Isaac;
I will establish my covenant with him
for an everlasting covenant, and with his descendants after him.
And as for Ishmael, I have heard you.
Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will
multiply him exceedingly. He shall beget twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation. But my covenant I will establish with Isaac,
whom Sarah shall bear to you at this set time next year.’ Then he
finished talking with him, and God went up from Abraham.
The picture of a pregnant Sarah,
combined with the thought of the two of them having a baby at their
age, was just too much for Abraham. He literally fell on his face and
Have you ever been eating or drinking and heard something that was so
absolutely absurd and funny that you involuntarily spewed out the
contents of your mouth? That was Abraham's reaction to God’s
announcement that he and Sarah were going to have a baby! He literally
broke out in uncontrollable laughter at the incredulity of it.
Afterwards, however, it became
apparent that Abraham's heart was not at all in God’s child of promise.
His heart had long ago been stolen away by his boy, Ishmael. So, the
first words out of Abraham's mouth … after he had stopped laughing …
were … Oh, that
Ishmael might live before you!
He wanted Ishmael to be the child of promise. He had been enjoying that
boy for 13 years and the two of them were "tight". This is a very human
thing, by the way. That which we can see is what we usually want to go
with. But God makes his decisions based upon the unseen. The Lord said
… No, Sarah your
wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; I will establish my
covenant with him. Abraham was 99 years old at the time. He
would be 100, when Isaac was born. ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
took Ishmael his son, all who were born in his house and all who were
bought with his money, every male among the men of Abraham's house, and
circumcised the flesh of their
foreskins that very same day, as God had said to him.
Abraham was ninety-nine years old when he was circumcised in the flesh
of his foreskin. And Ishmael his son was thirteen years old when he was
circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. That very same day Abraham
was circumcised, and his son Ishmael; and all the men of his house,
born in the house or bought with money from a foreigner, were
circumcised with him.
to God's command of circumcision was immediate. Spiritual people obey the Lord immediately. Abraham did not
hesitate. There was no question in Abraham's mind about obeying his God
… regardless of how difficult or unpleasant it might prove to be. It
says here that Abraham and all the males in his household were
circumcised that very same day. And, as a result, God had himself a
people.Although few in number, they
were now, officially, the people of the Covenant.. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
the LORD appeared to him by the terebinth trees of Mamre, as he was
sitting in the tent door in the heat of the day. So he lifted his eyes
and looked, and behold, three men
were standing by him;
and when he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them, and bowed
himself to the ground, and said, 'My Lord, if I have now found favor in
your sight, do not pass on by your servant. Please let a little water
be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree. And
I will bring a morsel of bread, that you may refresh your hearts. After
that you may pass by, inasmuch as you have come to your servant.' They
said, 'Do as you have said.' So Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah
and said, 'Quickly, make ready three measures of fine meal; knead it
and make cakes.' And Abraham ran to the herd, took a tender and good
calf, gave it to a young man, and he hastened to prepare it. So he took
butter and milk and the calf which he had prepared, and set it before
them; and he stood by them under the tree as they ate.
Mamre is about 22 miles south of
Jerusalem. You will remember, from back in 13:18, that Abraham had
built an altar there. I picture Abraham just sitting by the door of
his tent that day … with his head down ... probably snoozing ... and
then, suddenly, when he looked up … three men were standing there.
Typical of oriental hospitality, Abraham hurriedly invited them in to have their feet washed and partake of a bit of refreshment. Of course, he had no
idea who they really were. Shortly, however, he would discover that he
was entertaining two angels … and the Lord God himself.
Wouldn't that be something if such a thing were to happen to you or me?
There's a New Testament principle here, by the way, concerning
hospitality. Hebrews 13:2,
not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have
unwittingly entertained angels.
Romans 12:10-13, also
kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving
preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit,
serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing
steadfastly in prayer; distributing to the needs of the saints, given
Hospitality is a very practical and
loving way to influence the lives of the people who God sends our way.
It opens doors for ministry. Abraham was a good host and probably never
missed an opportunity to show hospitality. Little did he dream,
however, what his warm hospitality would one day bring. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
they said to him, 'Where is Sarah your wife?' So he said, 'Here, in the
tent.' And he said, 'I will certainly
return to you according to the
time of life, and behold, Sarah your wife shall have a son.'
listening in the tent door which was behind him.) Now Abraham and Sarah
were old, well advanced in age; and Sarah had passed the age of
childbearing. Therefore Sarah laughed
within herself, saying, 'After I
have grown old, shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?' And the
LORD said to Abraham, 'Why did Sarah
laugh, saying, "Shall I surely
bear a child, since I am old?" Is
anything too hard for the LORD? At
the appointed time I will return to you, according to the time of life,
and Sarah shall have a son.' But
Sarah denied it, saying, 'I did not
laugh,' for she was afraid. And he said, 'No, but you did laugh!'
Abraham's eyebrow must have lifted
when one of the men said … I will certainly return
to you according to the time of life (nine months from now), and behold, Sarah your
wife shall have a son. Earlier, when the Lord had appeared to
Abraham to confirm his covenant with him, he had said, my covenant I will
establish with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this set time
(17:21). Hearing this repeated from the lips of his guest was a
powerful hint that this stranger was no ordinary man. And, as it turned
out, Abraham was, in fact, talking to a theophany.
That is, the visible, in the flesh, manifestation of God himself ...
undoubtedly, the pre-incarnate Son of God.
Now, when Sarah overheard the Lord say … Sarah your wife shall
have a son
… it struck her funny-bone, just as it had struck Abraham’s back in
17:17. She too just had to laugh within herself at the absurd image of
her being pregnant, giving birth to, and nursing a baby! But, lo and
behold, the stranger called her on it. Fearfully, Sarah denied she had
laughed, but she could not escape the omniscient (all-knowing) One who was seated
outside her tent. And he said, 'No, but you did laugh!' As you have it in Hebrews 4:13,
there is no creature hidden from his sight, but all things are naked
and open to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
And again, in Psalm 139:1-2,
LORD, you have searched me and known me. You know my sitting down and
my rising up; You understand my thought afar off. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Then the men rose from there and looked
and Abraham went with them to send them on the way. And the LORD said,
'Shall I hide from Abraham what I am
doing, since Abraham shall surely
become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth
shall be blessed in him? For I have known him, in order that he
command his children and his household after him, that they keep the
way of the LORD, to do righteousness and justice, that the LORD may
bring to Abraham what he has spoken to him.' And the LORD said, 'Because the outcry against Sodom and
Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grave, I will go down
now and seewhether they have done altogether
according to the outcry against it
that has come to me; and if not, I will know.' Then the men
from there and went toward Sodom, but
Abraham still stood before the
As the sun was going down, and as
Abraham's three guests began to depart, the Lord spoke to his angels
about Abraham and the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Sodom was where Lot
lived and Abraham, overhearing the Lord’s words, discerned that the two
angels were preparing to destroy it. So, with no small amount of
concern, Abraham literally stepped between the Lord and Sodom. That is
the connotation here of this phrase … Abraham stood before
the Lord. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Abraham came near and said, 'Would you
also destroy the righteous with the wicked? Suppose there were fifty
righteous within the city; would You also destroy the place and not
spare it for the fifty righteous that were in it? Far be it from you to
do such a thing as this, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that
the righteous should be as the wicked; far be it from you! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do
right?' So the LORD said, 'If I find in Sodom fifty righteous
within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes.' Then
Abraham answered and said, 'Indeed now, I who am but dust and ashes
have taken it upon myself to speak to the Lord: Suppose there were five
less than the fifty righteous; would you destroy all of the city for
lack of five?' So he said, 'If I find there forty-five,
I will not destroy it.' And he spoke to him yet again and said,
'Suppose there should be forty found there?' So he said, 'I will not do
it for the sake of forty.'
Then he said, 'Let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak: Suppose
thirty should be found there?' And he said, 'Indeed now, I have taken
it upon myself to speak to the Lord: Suppose twenty should be found
there?' So he said, 'I will not destroy it for the sake of twenty.'
Then he said, 'Let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak but once
more: Suppose ten should be found there?' And he said, 'I will not
destroy it for the sake of ten.'
So the LORD went his way as soon as he had finished speaking with
Abraham; and Abraham returned to his place.
Intercession is a beautiful thing.
Our Lord Jesus is interceding for you and me right now as we speak.
As you have it in Hebrews
he, because he continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood.
Therefore he is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to
God through him, since he always
lives to make intercession for them.
You and I can participate in this ministry as
well. Like Abraham, we too can be intercessors. Did you know that
God looks for men and women to intercede before him on the behalf of
others? In Ezekiel
22:29-30, we read,
people of the land have used oppressions, committed robbery, and
mistreated the poor and needy; and they wrongfully oppress the
stranger. So I sought for a man among
them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of
the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one.
Sobering, is it not? Our God is
looking for intercessors to stand before him. What a wonderful ministry
that is. The song, God bless America,
is such an intercession. Abraham made intercession, not only for Lot,
but for any other righteous person who was living in Sodom. He stood in
the gap. He became a wall between Holy God and Sodom. He almost
succeeded in delivering it, too. But, as it turned out, there were not
ten righteous people in that entire place. I wonder what would have
happened if Abraham had continued his intercession one step further and
had said … Would you spare it for one?
Do you think God would have spared it?
One last thought. Notice that Abraham knew who he was talking to. He
called him, the Judge of the whole
earth … and he said, Let
not the Lord be angry. Do you know who the Judge of
the whole earth is? Make no mistake about it, this was the
pre-incarnate Lord Jesus Christ himself. In John 5:22-23, Jesus
the Father judges no one, but has
committed all judgment to the Son,
that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who
does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Now the two angels came to Sodom in the
evening, and Lot was sitting
in the gate
of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them, and he bowed himself
with his face toward the ground. And he said, 'Here now, my lords,
please turn in to your servant's house and spend the night, and wash
your feet; then you may rise early and go on your way.' And they said,
'No, but we will spend the night in the open square.' But he insisted
strongly; so they turned in to him and entered his house. Then he made
them a feast, and baked unleavened bread, and they ate. Now before
they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both old and
young, all the people from every quarter, surrounded the house.
And they called to Lot and said to him, 'Where are the men who came to you tonight?
Bring them out to us that we may know them carnally.
So Lot went out to them through the doorway, shut the door behind him,
and said, 'Please, my brethren, do not do so wickedly!' See now, I have two daughters who have not known a
man; please, let me bring them out to you, and you may do to them as
only do nothing to these men, since this is the reason they have come
under the shadow of my roof.' And they said, 'Stand back!' Then they
said, 'This one came in to stay here, and he keeps acting as a judge;
now we will deal worse with you than with them.' So they pressed hard
against the man Lot, and came near to break down the door. But the men
reached out their hands and pulled Lot into the house with them, and
shut the door. And they struck the
men who were at the doorway of the house with blindness,
both small and great, so that they became weary trying to find the
door. Then the men said to Lot, 'Have you anyone else here? Son-in-law,
your sons, your daughters, and whomever you have in the city; take them
out of this place! For we will
destroy this place, because the outcry against them has grown great
before the face of the LORD, and the LORD has sent us to destroy it.'
So Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who had married his
daughters, and said, 'Get up,get out of this place; for the LORD will
destroy this city!' But to his sons-in-law he seemed to be joking.
What a dark and unsettling story
this is. Sodom, and its sister city, Gomorrah, were cesspools of
perversion and wickedness. We read in Second Peter 2:6-9,
turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemned them to
destruction, making them an example to those who afterward would live
ungodly; and delivered righteous Lot, who was oppressed by the filthy
conduct of the wicked (for that righteous man, dwelling among them,
tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing
their lawless deeds); then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out
of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day
Upon the arrival of the Lord's two angels
at Sodom, word spread like wildfire that two strangers were staying at
Lot's house. Immediately, a crowd gathered at Lot's door desiring to
rape his guests. Lot made every effort to dissuade them, but his words
fell on deaf ears. He even offered to give them his two virgin
daughters … but to no avail. Actually, I believe Lot knew he was safe
in that offer, because he knew the perversion of these people and that
they would settle for nothing less than his perceived male guests for their
perverted pleasures. The English words, sodomy and sodomite,
come from this ancient, historical account. Finally, in frustration,
the crowd turned on Lot and, if it hadn't been for the angels’
intervention, literally pulling Lot inside the house and securing
the door, Lot himself would have been sexually abused and possibly
killed. Isaiah 3:9,
look on their countenance witnesses against them, And they declare
their sin as Sodom; They do not hide it. Woe to their soul! For they
have brought evil upon themselves.
As the ugly crowd persisted, the
angels were forced to strike them with blindness. The
Hebrew word for blindness here (herem),
denotes more of confusion and
wandering of the senses
than physical blindness. It is a word that is only used twice in the
Bible … here and in Second Kings 6:18. I don't believe that the result, then,
was that they literally couldn't see, rather, they simply found themselves
disoriented and stumbling about trying to find a way to force open
Lot’s door. Their physical blindness was nothing, however, compared to the spiritual blindness these people of Sodom were suffering from. Their spiritual blindness was so ingrained that even the
miraculous didn't make a dent! Violence and perversion had so gripped them that time was running out. Judgment was awaiting ... just around the
corner. This reminds me of how it was when Jesus was on Earth. Thousands
witnessed his miracles, yet only a handful believed ... the rest rose up and crucified the Lord of Glory. Then,
of the destruction of Jerusalem came in AD 70.
I grieve to see this same pattern
of violence and perversion multiplying so greatly in our own nation
today. Not long ago, a great spiritual man said, If God doesn't judge America, he will have
to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah.
There may well be something to that. Sadly, many people in
our nation today are just as persistent and unashamed of their perversions
and spiritual blindness as the Sodomites were in their's. In the final
analysis, apart from Christ, the end result will be the same ...
namely, everlasting destruction from the presence of the righteous, living and
Coming back to our text, the angels
informed Lot that they would shortly destroy Sodom and they instructed
him to tell all of his relatives and loved ones to get out. But, when
Lot informed his sons-in-law, they thought he was joking. Lot's
chickens were coming home to roost. He had said to himself … I'm going to live like the world lives.
I'm going to just get and enjoy.
But, the promises and blessings of God were with Abraham. Lot had left
them for his own self-gratification and materialism. Now, he had
sons-in-law that laughed at the truth and his own wife loved Sodom so
much she would soon lose her life over it. On top of all that … his
perverted daughters would shortly seduce him! Was living the
carnal lifestyle really worth it, Lot? I fear being this kind of spiritual
washout, don't you? The question is … How
are we going to live out our lives here? Will we one day weep and cry … 'Wasted,
wasted, wasted!? God forbid, aye? As Joshua put it … choose for yourselves
this day whom you will serve… But as for me and my house, we will serve
the LORD (Joshua 24:15). _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
the morning dawned, the angels urged Lot to hurry, saying, 'Arise, take your wife and your two
daughters who are here, lest you be consumed in the punishment of the
city.' And while he lingered, the
men took hold of his hand, his wife's hand, and the hands of his two
daughters, the LORD being merciful to him, and they brought him out and
set him outside the city. So it came to pass, when they had
brought them outside, that he said, 'Escape for your life! Do not look
behind you nor stay anywhere in the plain. Escape to the mountains,
lest you be destroyed.' Then Lot said to them, 'Please, no, my lords!
Indeed now, your servant has found favor in your sight, and you have
increased your mercy which you have shown me by saving my life; but I
cannot escape to the mountains, lest some evil overtake me and I die.
See now, this city is near enough to flee to, and it is a little one;
please let me escape there (is it not a little one?) and my soul shall
live.' And he said to him, 'See, I have favored you concerning this
thing also, in that I will not overthrow this city for which you have
spoken. Hurry, escape there. For I cannot do anything until you arrive
there.' Therefore the name of the city was called Zoar. The sun had risen upon the
earth when Lot entered Zoar. Then the
LORD rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah, from the LORD out
of the heavens. So he overthrew those cities, all the plain, all
the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground. But his wife looked back behind him, and
she became a pillar of salt.
My, how carnal flesh clings to its
play-pretties! Someone has said, Many
Christians have roots so deep in the world that the Rapture
will have to be earthshaking to pluck them out! Such
was the case with Lot. The angels had to pull Lot, his
wife and his daughters out of Sodom by the hand! And, even then, Lot
was still unwilling to obey the word of God. He complained that he
didn't want to flee to the mountains, as he was told. Instead, he
wanted to go to a small village in the plain nearby, called Zoar. So,
the Lord said … Go ahead, I will
On the way to Zoar, however, Lot
lost his wife. In disobedience, she looked back and was turned into a pillar of salt.
Just after daybreak, Lot and his two daughters finally entered Zoar
and, immediately, the Lord reigned brimstone and fire on Sodom and
Gomorrah and all the rest of the plain around. And, where were Lot and his
daughters? Right smack in the middle of it all! The next day, he and
his daughters ... no doubt smelling like firebrands ... fled to the
mountains where they were supposed to have gone in the first place.
Carnal people always learn the hard way. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Abraham went early in the morning to the place where he had stood
before the LORD. Then he looked toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward
all the land of the plain; and he saw, and behold, the smoke of the land which went up like
the smoke of a furnace.
And it came to pass, when God destroyed the cities of the plain, that
God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow,
when he overthrew the cities in which Lot had dwelt.
How Abraham's heart must have
skipped a beat when, the next morning, he looked out over the
devastated and smoking plain. His question had been answered. There
were not 10, righteous people in Sodom or its whole vicinity. The
aftermath of this fearful judgment must have been horrendous. Its
like will not be seen again on Earth until the destruction of Babylon,
the capital of Antichrist, at the end of the Tribulation (Revelation
Once again, I want to emphasize that
what we are reading here is history. I was privileged to attend a
banquet in Albuquerque, New Mexico, a while back that was sponsored by
Trinity Southwestern University. The presentation concerned a joint
archaeological venture that the university has been participating in
with the Antiquities Department of the country of Jordan. For the past 15, or so years, Trinity has
been sending teams of volunteers and
archaeologists to Jordan to excavate a site at the north end of the Dead Sea
called Tall el-Hammam.
Dr. Collins, president of the university, has been leading these excavations. He chose the site after carefully reading the biblical text from which you and I have been reading and, thereby, he came to the conclusion that Sodom is located at the northern end of the Dead Sea … not the southern end … which is the traditional view. After a careful survey of the area, he chose Tall el-Hammam. It fit the bill. Over the past 15 seasons, Tall el-Hammam has yielded up some remarkable findings and archaeologists are now virtually certain that they have located the actual site of ancient Sodom.
Trinity University has found that Tall el-Hammam was continuously occupied for over two thousand years prior to the time of Abraham but, during Abraham's days, it was destroyed. Then, it ceased to be occupied for nearly 700 years thereafter. The archaeologists feel this was due to the fear that the ancient peoples had from what had supernaturally happened there. After many hundred years passed, the site was once again occupied and continued to be so up to, and well past, the time of Christ.
One incredible find at Tall el-Hammam was a piece of pottery that,
on one side, was literally melted into trinitite. Trinitite is the
black glass-like substance (also known as Atomite or Alamogordo Glass)
found on the desert floor of New Mexico where the plutonium based,
Trinity nuclear bomb was set off on July 16, 1945. Trinitite is only
formed by massive and extreme heat. Fascinating, is it not? The
independent testing of the sample confirmed it was indeed trinitite in
nature. The question then remained … What
was trinitite doing in a dig in Jordan dating from the time of Abraham?
Excavation continues at Tall el-Hammam and Trinity Southwestern
University is certain that beyond any reasonable doubt that they have
found the actual remains of the supernaturally destroyed city of Sodom.
Dr. Collins has published his findings in a book, Discovering the City of Sodom. If
you would like to check out this modern day excavation, you can catch
it at: http://tallelhammam.com/. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Lot went up out of Zoar and dwelt in the mountains, and his two
daughters were with him; for he was afraid to dwell in Zoar. And he and his two daughters dwelt in a cave.
Now the firstborn said to the younger, 'Our father is old, and there is
no man on the earth to come in to us as is the custom of all the earth.
Come, let us make our father drink
wine, and we will lie with him, that
we may preserve the lineage of our father.' So they made their father
drink wine that night. And the firstborn went in and lay with her
father, and he did not know when she lay down or when she arose. It
happened on the next day that the firstborn said to the younger,
'Indeed I lay with my father last night; let us make him drink wine
tonight also, and you go in and lie with him, that we may preserve the
lineage of our father.' Then they made their father drink wine that
night also. And the younger arose and lay with him, and he did not know
when she lay down or when she arose. Thus
both the daughters of Lot were with child by their father. The
firstborn bore a son and called his name Moab; he is the father of the
Moabites to this day. And the younger, she also bore a son and called
his name Ben-Ammi; he is the
father of the people of Ammon
to this day.
The character of Lot's daughters is
revealed here. Liberals say this is a made-up story to explain the
origin of the Moabites and the Ammonites. I tell you this, just to let
you know their position. Typical of their school of thought, it has no
basis in history or scholarship. It's just based on speculation and
disbelief in the Word of God. In any event, with this sordid account,
Lot steps off the pages of the Old Testament Scriptures and we will not
hear of him there again. His disposition for compromise and
self-seeking ends here in disgusting oblivion. Keep in mind, however,
that the New Testament says that Lot was righteous, a saved man and a
child of God (II Peter 2:7). We will meet him in Heaven one day. As you
have it in I Corinthians
anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a
reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so
as through fire. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Abraham journeyed from there to the South, and dwelt between Kadesh and
Shur, and stayed in Gerar. Now Abraham said of Sarah his wife, 'She is my sister.' And Abimelech king of Gerar sent and
took Sarah. But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night, and said to
him, 'Indeed you are a dead man
because of the woman whom you have taken, for she is a man's wife.'
But Abimelech had not come near her; and he said, 'Lord, will you slay
a righteous nation also? Did he not say to me, "She is my sister"? And
she, even she herself said, "He is my brother." In the integrity of my
heart and innocence of my hands I have done this.' And God said to him
in a dream, 'Yes, I know that you did this in the integrity of your
heart. For I also withheld you from
sinning against me; therefore I did not let you touch her. Now
therefore, restore the man's wife;
for he is a prophet, and he will pray for you and you shall live.
But if you do not restore her, know that you shall surely die, you and
all who are yours.' So Abimelech rose early in the morning, called all
his servants, and told all these things in their hearing; and the men
were very much afraid. And Abimelech called Abraham and said to him,
'What have you done to us? How have I offended you, that you have
brought on me and on my kingdom a great sin? You have done deeds to me
that ought not to be done.' Then Abimelech said to Abraham, 'What did
you have in view, that you have done this thing?' And Abraham said,
'Because I thought, surely the fear of God is not in this place; and
they will kill me on account of my wife. But indeed she is truly my sister. She is the
daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother;
and she became my wife. And it came to pass, when God caused me to
wander from my father's house, that I said to her, 'This is your
kindness that you should do for me: in every place, wherever we go, say
of me, He is my brother.' " Then Abimelech took sheep, oxen, and male
and female servants, and gave them to Abraham; and he restored Sarah
his wife to him. And Abimelech said, 'See,
my land is before you; dwell where it pleases you.' Then to
Sarah he said, 'Behold,
I have given your brother a thousand pieces of silver; indeed this
vindicates you before all who are with you and before everybody.' Thus
she was rebuked. So Abraham
prayed to God; and God healed Abimelech, his
wife, and his female servants. Then they bore children; for the LORD
had closed up all the wombs of the house of Abimelech because of Sarah,
We come here to another of Abraham's
relapses. In fact, it’s the same thing that got him in trouble back in
12:11. Have you even made the same mistake twice? Thrice? It's a common
failing of us sinners, is it not? But, in spite of it, God always
remains consistent and faithful. As you have it in II Timothy 2:13,
we are faithless, he remains faithful; he cannot deny Himself.
Abraham was still a fallen sinner,
with all the inherent stumbles, foibles and failures. Yet,
God continued to honor Abraham's faith and continued to fulfill his
Covenant with him. This story makes me ask myself … Am I as patient with people as God is?
In my marriages, for example, do I insist … You have to change! That
is selfish, beloved. Look for the higher moments in your spouse.
Overlook the lower ones. God is continually doing this for each one of his children. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
the LORD visited Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did for Sarah as he
had spoken. For Sarah conceived and
bore Abraham a son in his old age,
at the set time of which God had spoken to him. And Abraham called the
name of his son who was born to him; whom Sarah bore to him; Isaac.
Then Abraham circumcised his son Isaac when he was eight days old, as
God had commanded him. Now Abraham was one hundred years old when his
son Isaac was born to him. And Sarah said, 'God has made me laugh, and all who hear
will laugh with me.' She also said, 'Who would have said to
Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? For I have borne him a son in
his old age.'
At last, the son of promise was
finally born. His name, Isaac, means he has made me laugh.
Can you picture that precious moment, just after his birth, when they
handed little Isaac to his mother? I believe, once again, Sarah began
to laugh and all that were with her joined in! It must have been an
incredulous scene … filled with the joy of the Lord … for his wonderful
gift. We can only imagine the impact that Isaac’s birth must have had
upon them. In that culture, it was a terrible burden for a woman to go
childless, and Sarah had been barren for nearly a hundred years.
If we had been present, doubtless, we would have
enthusiastically entered in as well … laughing through our tears of joy
… right along with Sarah and Abraham. Truly,
good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the
Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.
May we step aside here for a moment?
The Bible also presents Isaac as a type
of Christ. So, there are many similarities between the two of them. For
example, both men's births were...
...born of promise
...experienced a long interval
between the promise and its fulfillment (Abraham waited 25 years)
...seemed impossible (Mary
said ... How can
this be ...?)
In addition, both men
...named before they were born
(The angel, Gabriel, said, ... Thou shalt call his
...arrived at God's exact
appointed time (Galatians 4:4)
...were obedient to their fathers
... even unto death
We will see much more of this
typology as it is beautifully played out in the incident of Abraham's
near sacrifice of Isaac in chapter 22. _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
the child grew and was weaned. And Abraham made a great feast on the
same day that Isaac was weaned. And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she
had borne to Abraham, scoffing.
Therefore she said to Abraham, 'Cast
out this bondwoman and her son; for the son of this bondwoman shall not
be heir with my son, namely with Isaac.' And the matter was very
displeasing in Abraham's sight because of his son. But God said to
not let it be displeasing in your sight because of the lad or because
of your bondwoman. Whatever Sarah has said to you, listen to her voice;
for in Isaac your seed shall be called. Yet I will also make a nation
of the son of the bondwoman, because he is your seed.'
This is Galatians 4, territory; the
book of the Bible that speaks about Law versus Grace. At Isaac’s
weaning celebration, Ishmael, now around fifteen years old, mocked
little Isaac and it resulted in both he and his mother being evicted
from Abraham's home. It must have been an unbelievably sad day for
Abraham. Ishmael was his favorite. But, unbeknown to Abraham, a spiritual picture
was being painted by God in this drama. It was a picture of the
difference between Law and Grace that would be used of God until the
end of time. Sarah and her son, Isaac, would become a picture of God's
grace through faith and promise. Hagar and her son, Ishmael, would
become a picture of the flesh of man and its inability to fulfill the
requirements of God’s Law.
Now, Sarah and Hagar had never gotten along
in the first place. You will remember that Hagar taunted Sarah when she
first got pregnant with Ishmael. Understandably, Sarah resented her,
Hagar having slept with her husband and all, even though it had been
Sarah's idea. Predictably, this polygamous situation
had quickly turned sour and Abraham's home was being torn apart
because of it. Grace and Law are never compatible, brother. The two are
contrary to one another and they continue to cause trouble in the
Church to this day. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
rose early in the morning, and took bread and a skin of water; and
putting it on her shoulder, he gave it and the boy to Hagar, and sent
her away. Then she departed and wandered in the Wilderness of
Beersheba. And the water in the skin was used up, and she placed the
boy under one of the shrubs. Then she went and sat down across from him
at a distance of about a bowshot; for she said to herself, 'Let me not
see the death of the boy.' So she sat opposite him, and lifted her voice and wept. And God heard the voice of the lad.
Then the angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven, and said to her,
'What ails you, Hagar? Fear not, for God has heard the voice of the lad
where he is. Arise, lift up the lad and hold him with your hand, for I
will make him a great nation.' Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a
well of water. And she went and filled the skin with water, and gave
the lad a drink. So God was with the lad; and he grew and dwelt in the
wilderness, and became an archer. He dwelt in the Wilderness of Paran;
and his mother took a wife for him from the land of Egypt.
Doubtless, it was with great sadness
that Abraham obeyed the voice of his God and, having provided a bit of
food and water for Hagar and Ishmael, he sent them away. After Hagar
and Ishmael had journeyed as far into the desert as possible, Hagar
placed her son under some shrubs and went to a separate place to weep.
And, although it was Hagar who was doing the wailing, it was the first
whimper out of Ishmael's mouth that caught the ear of God. God had made
a promise to Abraham and Hagar concerning this boy, you see.
Therefore, God was Johnny on the spot to fulfill his word. God is
always true to his word. So, it was the lad's voice that God heard and
an angel called to Hagar out of heaven and re-iterated to her the
promise that God had made concerning Ishmael. God would make him a
Afterwards, the Lord opened Hagar's
eyes and she saw a well of water there. God had been with the boy all
along, you see. I suspect this is the very spot where Hagar and Ishmael
settled down and lived ... right there at that well. Then, Hagar
fetched Ishmael a wife out of Egypt. This is a telling statement. Hagar
was not at all concerned with acquiring a godly woman for Ishmael. It
was not in her spiritual priorities to do so. This was a harbinger of bad
things to come. At this point, Scripture drops the line of Ishmael and
we will follow it no more. His descendants, the Arabs, however, are
still out there in the desert to this day. ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
it came to pass at that time that Abimelech
and Phichol, the commander of his army, spoke to Abraham, saying, 'God
is with you in all that you do. Now therefore, swear
to me by God that you will not deal falsely with me, with my offspring,
or with my posterity; but that according to the kindness that I have
done to you, you will do to me and to the land in which you have dwelt.'
And Abraham said, 'I will swear.'
Then Abraham rebuked Abimelech because of a well of water which
Abimelech's servants had seized. And Abimelech said, 'I do not know who
has done this thing; you did not tell me, nor had I heard of it until
today.' So Abraham took sheep and oxen and gave them to Abimelech, and
the two of them made a covenant.
And Abraham set seven ewe lambs of the flock by themselves. Then
Abimelech asked Abraham, 'What is the meaning of these seven ewe lambs
which you have set by themselves?' And he said, 'You will take these
seven ewe lambs from my hand, that they may be my witness that I have
dug this well.' Therefore he called that place Beersheba,
because the two of them swore an oath there. Thus they made a covenant
at Beersheba. So Abimelech rose with Phichol, the commander of his
army, and they returned to the land of the Philistines. Then Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba,
and there called on the name of the LORD, the Everlasting God. And Abraham
stayed in the land of the Philistines many days.
Abraham was now away down to the
south … adjacent to what we know today as Gaza. It was the land of the
Philistines. Later, under Joshua, God decreed that these people were to be
annihilated, but Israel didn't get the job done. The name, Palestine, is
a derivative of the word Philistine. Its territory belongs to the Jews
by right of the Abrahamic Covenant but it is still occupied by the
ancestors of the ancient Philistines and to this day they are still
giving Israel fits. Abraham had a dispute with these people. It was a
dispute over a well he had dug. They sought to take it away from him.
So, to avoid trouble, he paid them for it. Then, he called the place Beersheba,
meaning Seven Well. It became
a biblical landmark. More than once, in the Old Testament, we read the phrase from Dan to Beersheba,
meaning … all the way from North to South in Israel.
taken from the New King James Version. Copyright 1982 by Thomas
Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Proceed to the