Genesis: The Beginning
Isaac, Turmoil & Test 1-21-16
READ: Genesis 21-22
Yesterday, we read about Abraham’s deception to King Abimelech; Abraham learns that God expects His prophet to speak the truth even when pressured. Today, we read about Isaac’s arrival and how that promise brings turmoil with some and later a great test for Abraham.
Isaac arrives at the appointed time; the time God has consistently laid out before Abraham and Sarah. Abraham circumcises (sign of the covenant) the child on the eighth day and everyone marvels at this little miraculous bundle of joy the LORD has provided. Isaac, whose name means “he laughs,” truly is a great blessing from Yahweh and laughter and joy fills this mature couple’s lives. But not everyone has joy with the arrival of Isaac. Ishmael and Hagar have been the pride and pinnacle of Abraham’s seed until this time and they are not laughing at the joy that surrounds the arrival of Issac who now captures the focus of people’s admiration as the true blessing from God. It is obvious Issac is a miracle. Sarah says it this way, “God has brought me laughter. All who hear about this will laugh with me.” Sarah laughed in disbelief when she is first told of God’s plan for her, but now she laughs from shear joy that Yahweh really does the impossible.
Hostility arises when Isaac turns three and Abraham throws him a great birthday party; a celebration feast. Like everyone else at the party Ishmael (approx. 17 y/o) and Hagar are laughing; but this word “laughing” is translated “make sport of” or “scoff at” and Sarah catches a glimpse of their hearts. Here comes momma bear to protect her cub, right?
Sarah is not laughing about the attitudes of Ishmael and Hagar, so she demeans them and then demands that Abraham get rid of them; Isaac will not share his father’s inheritance with mockers. Abraham is torn as he loves Ishmael (Abraham’s flesh and blood) and does not want to disconnect from him relationally; as well, it is against social customs. God tells Abraham to do as Sarah requests, because He will take care of multiplying Ishmael, too.
Even though Sarah has no mercy for Hagar and Ishmael, the LORD demonstrates that He does, because He finds the two wandering in the wilderness dying of thirst. The LORD opens Hagar’s eyes so she can see (a well) it is actually Yahweh who provides the water of life; the LORD reaffirms His love for them. Isn’t it amazing that even when we are rejected by people; God is always there to extend mercy and love. Such a sweet picture of God’s tenderness.
Abimelech comes back into the life story; he notices that God is with Abraham and he wants to make sure he and Abraham share a covenant of peace. Abraham lets Abimelech know his men have taken by force a well Abraham’s men have dug. A covenant is made, because Abimelech does not want to be on the wrong side of Abraham or his God. Smart man.
Everything is going well for the next 15 or so years, until one day Yahweh decides it is time to test Abraham’s faith and commitment. Will Abraham demonstrate a love for God that exceeds his love for this child of promise? Every parent thinks about this test and holds his/her breath at the very thought. God calls Abraham by name to get his attention and Abraham responds, “Here I am.” Abraham is to take his son, Isaac, (Abraham no longer has his son Ishmael) to Mount Moriah and sacrifice him as a burnt offering. Abraham has learned to trust the LORD over the years as his Provider, so he packs up the supplies, his son, and goes to Moriah where he builds an altar and prepares to sacrifice his son. The test ends as Abraham raises the knife; the angel of the LORD (appearance of Christ) stops Abraham from harming Isaac. Just then Abraham notices a ram caught in the bushes nearby, so he takes the animal and sacrifices it to the LORD because he realizes God never intended Isaac to be the sacrifice in the first place. The test is about listening and following God’s command even when it defies human understanding. Each time Abraham follows the LORD’s command, the LORD reaffirms His oath to the covenant.
Anyone in a relationship with the LORD understands the value of the “test;” may we honor the Word of the LORD because He honors His Word to us. Blessings for your day…