God's personal involvement in our lives in great joy and great sorrow.  "And the Lord visited Sarah  as He had said … as He had spoken." (KJV)  "but God said: listen to her voice." "God heard the boy crying."     

Genesis 21:1-21

"And the LORD visited Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did unto Sarah as he had spoken." (V.1 KJV) Verse one refers to the actual time of conception versus Isaac's birth (v.2) as seen in Hebrews 11:11: "Sarah by faith received strength to conceive." Again we must remember that Abraham is one hundred and Sarah ninety and God would have to intervene ("visit Sarah" – she is way past menopause) for this to happen. God inspired her faith as she heard Him say she would have a son. "Then the LORD said, "I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son."  Now Sarah was listening at the entrance to the tent, which was behind him." (Gen.18:10) "Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word (rhema)) of Christ." (Rom. 10:17) When rhema (versus logos) is used for "word" it implies a personal revelation of God's word to us and builds our faith as with Sarah. (Also see Matt. 4:4; Eph. 6:17) We need to
know the word (logos) of God so He can open up the word (rhema) to us personally.   

As the Israelites later read this account they would see God's faithfulness to accomplish His plan in spite of Abraham and Sarah's unbelief and some learned to trust Him without trying their plan first which is the lesson for us as we read it today.

Nursing at ninety. Who would have thunk it? Sarah asks. "Sarah said, "God has brought me laughter, (Isaac means laughter) and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me." 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."  Can you imagine the joy and praise to God after this long awaited promise is fulfilled?

But Ishmael later laughed at Isaac instead of laughing with them for the joy of their son. "But Sarah saw that the son whom Hagar the Egyptian had borne to Abraham was mocking,"  Later Paul (by the Holy Spirit) uses an even stronger word than mocking. "At that time the son born in the ordinary way (Ishmael) persecuted the son (Isaac) born by the power of the Spirit." (Gal. 4:29)

Sarah says to Abraham – "Get rid of that slave woman and her son, for that slave woman's son will never share in the inheritance with my son Isaac." In the natural (even based on Jewish customs) this was wrong and shocking. But God saw the threat to His plan and told Abraham: "Listen to whatever Sarah tells you, because it is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned. I will make the son of the maidservant into a nation also, because he is your offspring." The Ishmaelites ultimately became enemies of God's people. (Psalm 83:1-6)

That which is opposed to faith in God needs to be "expelled" from our lives.  "All that are born after the flesh and not born again, that rest in the law and reject the gospel promise, shall certainly be cast out. There are many who are familiarly conversant with the children of God in this world, and yet shall not partake with them in the inheritance of sons. Ishmael might be Isaac's play-fellow and school-fellow, yet not his fellow-heir. Mocking (esp. in unbelief) is a great sin, and very provoking to God.  There is a rooted remaining enmity in the seed of the serpent (Ishmael) against the seed of the woman (Isaac). The children of promise must expect to be mocked. This is persecution, which those that will live godly must count upon." (Matthew Henry) "In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted."(2 Tim. 3:12) "The matter distressed Abraham greatly because it concerned his son." Great pain is often birthed in sin and unbelief as Abraham and Sarah did by their scheme with Hagar. (Gen. 16)

"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." But Abraham believed God's word (v.13 and 17:20) and immediately obeyed the Lord. Otherwise, without God's intervention, Abraham knew he would be sending them off to a certain death.

"I cannot watch the boy die." And as she sat there nearby, she began to sob.  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. Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation." Wherever we are physically or emotionally God can hear us. (I counted 54 times in the Psalms alone where men were crying out to God often followed by….."and the Lord heard me –  or heard
my cry."

Jesus says we are all spiritually desperate (Rev. 3:17-18) and we are blessed if we realize our need for Him and cry out to God to give us His power and spiritual resources to live for His glory. "Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." (Matt 5:3)           

Paul uses this account as an allegory for law and grace in Galatians 4.



 unbelief – mocks faith

 laughter – rejoices in God's faithfulness

trying to earn God's favor

growing in grace;
dependence on God's power

"ordinary" birth – born of the flesh
(John 1:13; 3:6)

 supernatural birth – born again of the Spirit (John 3:3,6)

 persecutes God's true children 

 mocked and persecuted by religious people

 cast out- no spiritual power, inheritance/blessings

 spiritual enablement,

The law cannot bring forth true life (spiritual life), the fruit or gifts of the Spirit, or give us a spiritual inheritance (law-based works have no eternal value – 1 Cor. 3:10-15; 13:1-3) Even as true believers are persecuted by religious people (as we proclaim Jesus is the only way to God and heaven), our flesh (the unsanctified part of our lives) persecutes our spirit-man. It says, "try harder, do better, earn your salvation and self-worth through your own self-righteousness." As Paul lamented in Romans 7, we still have some Ishmael (flesh) left in us and only the Holy Spirit can overcome it. (Rom. 8:1-4)


Have you ever received a "rhema" word from God that inspired great faith? Share this at
your table.

Share a time when God answered your prayers and it brought you great joy. 

"Get rid of that slave woman and her son." That which is opposed to faith in God needs to be "expelled" from our lives.  What have you had to "get rid of" that was hindering your faith in the Lord?

Wherever we are physically or emotionally God can hear us…."and the Lord heard me –  or heard my cry." This phrase is seen throughout the Bible and especially in the Psalms. When has God heard your cry and come to your aid?

Only when we are desperate to do God's will and glorify Him (like Abraham and Sarah in their old age trying to have a baby) do we truly trust God to bring forth "Isaacs" in our lives, i.e., spiritual birth and spiritual fruit. Is there a circumstance or situation in your life where you desperately need God?

Scripture Memory verse: "For God has done what the Law could not do,{its power} being weakened by the flesh   {the entire nature of man without the Holy Spirit}. Sending His own Son in the guise of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, [God] condemned sin in the flesh, subdued, overcame, deprived it of its power over all who accept that sacrifice."  
(Rom. 8:3 Amp.)

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