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15. Joy in the Midst of Trouble

June 23, 2009

Text:    Genesis 20:1-21:34

Key Verses:    Genesis 21:6-7

Outline:             I. Abraham Causes Trouble for Abimelech      Gen. 20:1-18

                             II. Isaac is Born      Gen. 21:1-7

                            III. Ishmael Causes Trouble for Sarah      Gen. 21:8-21

                            IV. Abimelech Causes Trouble for Abraham      Gen. 21:22-34

Context/Discussion/Comments:

     Abraham moves west toward the Mediterranean Sea [about 2/3 the distance between Hebron and the Sea]. Perhaps this is why Lot lived in a cave instead of meeting up with Abraham after being kicked out of Zoar. Abraham is in Philistine territory where Abimelech rules. Again Abraham claims Sarah is his sister for the sake of protecting himself.

     God intervenes in Abimelech’s dream telling him that Sarah is really Abraham’s wife. He tells Abimelech he is “good as dead” because God has closed up all their women’s wombs. Abimelech tells God he didn’t know and God agrees. But Abraham is God’s prophet and He wants Abimelech to makes things right and have Abraham pray for Abimelech.

     Abimelech challenges Abraham about his lie wherein Abraham explains that in one sense Sarah is his sister [half-sister]. Abimelech gives Abraham some of his livestock, some of his slaves, and some of his silver before sending him out into the land he controlled. He does this as a good will gesture. Abraham prays and God opens the wombs of Abimelech’s women so they can bear children again.

     God fulfills His promise to Abraham and Sarah, gifting them with a son called Isaac at the age of 100 and 91 respectively. Abraham obeys God’s command concerning His Covenant and circumcises Isaac when he is 8 days old. Sarah acknowledges God’s gift with laughter and joy, marveling at God’s marvelous and miraculous work.

     After Isaac is 2-3 years of age and Ishmael is 17-18 years old, Ishmael mocks Isaac promoting the fact the he is the oldest and first, refusing to acknowledge that Isaac is Abraham’s true heir. Ishmael refuses to acknowledge God’s sovereignty in this matter. So Sarah asks Abraham to send Hagar and Ishmael packing. Abraham is distressed because he has invested a lot of time and love in Ishmael but God confirms Sarah’s wisdom telling Abraham that Ishmael will also become great with many descendents.

     Abraham follows though and Hagar and Ishmael set off toward home [Egypt]. They run out of food and water but God intervenes assuring them of His promise of many descendents and leading them to water. Ishmael becomes a great hunter living in the Desert of Paran [Saudi Arabia]. Thus, we see that God’s grace is available to all.

     Abimelech recognizes Abraham has been greatly blessed and is becoming greater and more powerful than he. Therefore, he comes to Abraham seeking peace. Abraham agrees and points out that Abimelech’s people had seized one of Abraham’s wells. Abimelech confesses he had no knowledge of this. Abraham gives Abimelech a gift of sheep and cattle plus 7 ewes and makes a treaty with Abimelech to return the well that was seized. This was at Beersheba. Abraham continued to live and worship the Lord there.

Lessons/Applications:

     1. God is sovereign over our incompetence and our refusal to depend on Him. Listen to God. Follow His instruction. Let Him intervene and bless you upon acknowledging your error. Abraham and Abimelech did.

     2. God keeps His promises, miraculously blessing those who place their faith in Him. God turns our sorrow into great joy, giving life to those who had none. Remember to Praise God in your Joy.

     3. Persecution of God’s chosen people will bring hardship. But God’s promises and God’s grace are available to all.

     4. God’s blessings can raise emotions of concern and jealousy with others. They are also a testimony of the true God and His Love. Take advantage of God’s blessings and glorify Him in the presence of your neighbor.

     5. Interesting! Peace comes when the “wronged” person gifts the one who did the “wronging”. Think about this the next time you feel wronged. [Isaiah 55:8; Romans 12:17-21]

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