God's Promises Can Be Trusted

Genesis 21 is an eventful chapter. In it, we have Isaac’s birth, the departure of Hagar and Ishmael and a covenant of peace between Abraham and Abimelech. Therein, we have the promise of God fulfilled to Abraham and Sarah. Concerning promises, Hudson Taylor wrote to his wife, “We have twenty-five cents – and all the promises of God.” Men and women of faith can go far on nothing more than God’s promises, to be sure.

God’s promises can be trusted and often it is all we have in times of difficulty. Perhaps these hard economic times have hit you pretty severely. Little mercies along the way remind you of His sustenance in times of want. Knowing God’s presence and the reassurance of His Word may be enough to get you through until the time when His provision is made known in all of its fullness. Until then, you wait and you believe.

God’s Word can be trusted, this Abraham and Sarah came to find out. Oh, that we too would believe in the promises of God – that God not only promises but keeps His Word each and every time. We have a timeline, sometimes unmentioned, often subconscious, but God doesn’t operate on our timetable but His and His alone. He knows best; we don’t. That is something of which we must remind ourselves.

As we read Gen. 22:1-8, we see that God provided the promised child. The event is seen from God’s perspective and then from the perspective of Abraham and Sarah. Perspectives are important and often we learn so much from seeing things from another point of view.

From God’s perspective, the LORD visited Sarah. He did for her what he had promised (v. 1). The Bible asserts that it is God who causes conception. It is the Sovereign God of Creation who gifts the human race with children. Psalm 127:3 states that children are a “heritage of the Lord” and that the “fruit of the womb” is His “reward.”

This event happened when God determined the time was right. It is God’s sovereign right to determine what happens, how it happens and when it happens. We find that what occurred here happened at the time that God told Abraham it would happen (v. 2b). Abraham and Sarah’s wisdom would have moved up the date by decades but God’s timing was perfect.

God promised in Gen. 17:21 (NKJV), “My covenant I will establish with Isaac whom Sarah shall bear to you at this set time next year.” The LORD stated that he would bless Sarah and give Abraham a son by her (17:16). At the time of promise, Abraham was 99 (17:1). Being interpreted, this would mean that he would be 100 when Isaac would be born.

The human viewpoint of Isaac’s conception and birth come courtesy of Abraham and Sarah. She conceived (21:2a) and bore Abraham a son in his old age (2b). Abraham called him Isaac or “Laughter” (3).

The couple circumcised him when he was 8 days old (v. 4). This was in obedience to God’s command. As was already stated, Abraham was 100 years old at the time (v. 5). When originally told, Abraham laughed at the idea that a son would be born to him when he was to be 100 and Sarah 90 (Gen. 17:17).

Sarah laughed as well and she was rebuked for it. Here, Sarah laughs once again but it is a laugh of joy (vs. 6-7). So ecstatic was Sarah that she invited others to come and laugh with her.

What amazed me didn’t stop with their advanced age at the time of Isaac’s conception and birth. The passage makes clear that Sarah nursed and weaned Isaac (7-8). Ninety year old breasts filled with life-sustaining nourishment for the little gift of heaven! God is indeed the God of the impossible and one who can make us laugh with joy!

If you read the full passage before getting to this point, you may have noticed that the couple celebrated his birth but did you notice when? It wasn’t when he came forth from the womb. It wasn’t when he was circumcised.

After Isaac was weaned, the passage states that they had a celebration (8b). This really struck me. Jewish sources believe that weaning children off the breast took place between three and five years of age. Therefore, the party didn’t really get started until he was a toddler! Why was that? Why not when he was born or sometime after Sarah had a chance to recuperate? Why not when he was circumcised? I think one of the reasons was infant mortality. Now it was clear to anyone that the promise had indeed been fulfilled. This baby was conceived, born and lived up to an age when infant mortality was no longer an issue.

God keeps His promises. One song states that “Every promise in the Book is mine, every chapter, every verse, every line . . .” However nice that may sound, it is not true. God didn’t promise you and me a child when we are well into our senior years. He promised that to Sarah and to Abraham. Yet, it is true that God keeps His Word and we can rely on it and rely on Him. That, my friends, is more than comfort enough as we go through a world stained and scarred by sin.

Live in light of this truth and praise God for it.

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