OceanSide church of Christ

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Genesis 21

Victor M. Eskew


I.           The Title of Genesis 21


A.   Strained Relationships

B.    A Birth, A Departure, and A Covenant

C.   Fights Within; Agreements Without

D.   Joy, Sorrow, and Reconciliation

E.    God in the Life of Abraham (Gen. 21:2, 4, 6, 12, 17(3), 19, 20, 22, 23, 33)


II.         The Key Verse of Genesis 21:  Genesis 21:11


And the thing was very grievous in Abraham’s sight because of his son.


Why this verse?  There are times when troubles develop in our relationships both within our family and without.  These strained relationships can be a source of pain in our lives.  This pain was felt by Abraham and is described by the words “very grievous.”


III.       The Outline of Genesis 21


i.               THE BIRTH OF ISSAC (Gen. 21:1-7)                                      Birth

ii.              HAGAR AND ISHMAEL CAST OUT (Gen. 21:8-21)                    Banishment

iii.            A COVENANT WITH ABIMELECH (Gen. 21:22-34)                 Bond


IV.        The Lessons of Genesis 21


A.   God is always faithful to His Word.  Note the phrases in Genesis 21, as he had said and as he had spoken.


And the Lord visited Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did unto Sarah as he had spoken.


B.    Abraham continues to faithfully obey God (Gen. 21:3-4).


And Abraham called the name of his son that was born unto him, whom Sarah bare to him, Isaac.  And Abraham circumcised his son Isaac being eight days old, as God had commanded him.


1.     God had selected Isaac’s name (Gen. 17:19).

2.     God had given the command of circumcision to Abraham (Gen. 17:12).


C.   Sarah’s laugh of doubt is now turned into a laugh of joy (Gen. 21:6).


And Sarah said, God hath made me to laugh, so that all that hear will laugh with me.


D.   Genesis 21:7 is often used as a proof-text showing that one child fulfills the command for elders to have children (I Tim. 3:4; Tit. 1:6).


And she said, Who would have said unto Abraham, that Sarah should have given children suck?  For I have born him a son in his old age.


1.     Sarah only had one child, Isaac.

2.     She states, however, that she gave “children” suck.


E.    Genesis 21:9 presents the first conflict in the Bible between Ishmael and Isaac.


And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, which she had born unto Abraham, mocking.


1.     The word “mocking” means “laughter” or “sport.”

2.     In some way, Ishmael was teasing Isaac, laughing at his expense.

3.     One Jewish tradition states that Ishmael was shooting arrows at Isaac.


F.     Mother’s, like Sarah, are very protective of their children (Gen. 21:10).


Wherefore she said unto Abraham, Cast out this bondwoman and her son:  for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac.


1.     Ishmael was the firstborn son of Abraham.

2.     Sarah seems to be using this opportunity to make certain that Ishmael has no lot in Abraham’s inheritance at all.


G.   Family struggles can bring painful emotions even to those who are innocent by-standers (Gen. 21:11).


And the thing was very grievous in Abraham’s sight because of his son.


H.   God had plans for both of Abraham’s sons.  Human intervention could not thwart those plans (Gen. 21:12-13).


And God said unto Abraham, Let it not be grievous in thy sight because of the lad, and because of the bondwoman; in all that Sarah hath said unto thee, hearken unto her voice; for in Isaac shall thy seed be called.  And also of the son of the bondwomen will I make a nation, because he is thy seed.


I.     In Genesis 21:14, a lesson is stated that will not be taught until Paul writes the book of Galatians (Gal. 4:21-31).


And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and took bread, and a bottle of water, and gave it unto Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, and the child, and sent her away:  and she departed, and wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba.


J.    Did Hagar forget an earlier promise that God had made to her?  God now reminds her of that promise again (Gen. 21:17-18).

1.     The Promise (Gen. 16:10).

2.     The Reminder


And God heard the voice of the lad; and the angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven, and said unto her, What aileth thee, Hagar?  Fear not; for God hath heard the voice of the lad where he is.  Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him in thine hand; for I will make him a great nation.


K.   When God makes promises, He will provide all the means necessary to bring the promise to fruition.

1.     Hagar and Ishmael thought they were dying of thirst.

2.     God provided a “well of water” for them to live.


And God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water; and she went, and filled the bottle with water, and gave the lad drink.


L.    God’s watchful eye continued with Ishmael (Gen. 21:20).


And God was with the lad…


M.  Is there any significance to the fact that Ishmael became an archer? (Gen. 21:20).


N.   The descendants of Ishmael have much Egyptian blood in them (Gen. 21:21).

1.     Hagar was an Egyptian (Gen. 16:1).

2.     Hagar took an Egyptian wife for Ishmael.


…and his mother took him a wife out of the land of Egypt.


O.   Often God’s dealings with the faithful is evident to those outside of God’s covenant (Gen. 20:22).


And it came to pass at that time, that Abimelech and Phicol the chief captain of his host spake unto Abraham, saying, God is with thee in all that thou doest.


P.    In this text, we learn of ways that individuals can deal with problems that develop in relationships.

1.     Truth (Gen. 21:23).

2.     Kindness (Gen. 21:23)

3.     Confront the issues (Gen. 21:25)

4.     Agreements (Gen. 21:27-32)


Q.   When a problem arises, it is possible that one party is not aware of the circumstances that have created the strife (Gen. 21:25-26.

1.     Abraham confronted Abimelech about a well of water his servants had violently taken away (Gen. 21:25).

2.     Abimelech was not privy to his servants’ actions (Gen. 21:26).


And Abimelech said, I wot not who hath done this thing:  neither didst thou tell me, neither yet heard I of it, but today.


R.    Throughout his life, Abraham continued to worship God, even though he was dwelling in a strange land (Gen. 21:33-34).


And Abraham planted a grove in Beersheba, and called there on the name of the Lord, the everlasting God.  And Abraham sojourned in the Philistines land many days.