Genesis 21.1-4-Birth and Circumcision of Isaac

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Genesis: Genesis 21:1-4-Birth And Circumcision of Isaac-Lesson # 105

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Thursday February 23, 2006

Genesis: Genesis 21:1-4-Birth And Circumcision of Isaac

Lesson # 105

Please turn in your Bibles to Genesis 21:1.

This evening we will study Genesis 21:1-4, which records the fulfillment of the Lord’s promise to give Abraham and Sarah a child in their old age.

Also, we see Abraham obeying the Lord’s commands to name the child “Isaac” and circumcise the child on the eighth day.

Genesis 21:1, “Then the LORD took note of Sarah as He had said, and the LORD did for Sarah as He had promised.”

Genesis 21:2, “So Sarah conceived and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the appointed time of which God had spoken to him.”

“Lord” is the proper noun Yahweh (hw *hy+), which is the personal covenant name of God emphasizing the “immanency” of God meaning that the Lord was involving Himself in and concerning Himself with and intervening in the life of Abraham and Sarah and fulfilling His promise to give them a child in their old age.

“Took note” is the verb paqadh (dq^P*) (paw-kad), which means, “to intervene” in life of someone in order to bless them.

Therefore, the verb paqadh in Genesis 21:1 means that the Lord “intervened” on behalf of Sarah in order to bless her with a child.

In Genesis 21:1, the birth of Isaac illustrates the principle taught in Jeremiah 1:12 that the Lord watches over His Word to perform it.

Jeremiah 1:12, “Then the LORD said to me, ‘You have seen well, for I am watching over My word to perform it.’”

In Genesis 17:16-21, the Lord promised Abraham that he would impregnate Sarah and they would have a child and call him “Isaac” and Genesis 21:1 records the fulfillment of the promise.

In Genesis 18:10 and 14, the Lord promised Sarah that she would have a child one year later and Genesis 21:1 records the fulfillment of the promise.

The fulfillment of this promise to Abraham and Sarah to give them a child in their old age was a demonstration of the Lord’s faithfulness to His covenant that He established with Abraham (Gen. 12:1-3; 13:14-17; 15:1-6; 17:1-8; 18:9-14).

Psalm 100:5, “For the LORD is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting and His faithfulness to all generations.”

The birth of Isaac demonstrated that even though Abraham and Sarah were at times lacking in faith in the Lord, the Lord remained faithful to them.

2 Timothy 2:13, “If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.”

The fact that the Lord did what He had promised to Sarah was also a manifestation of the omnipotence of His Word.

Hebrews 4:12, “For the word of God is alive and powerful, sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”

The fact that the Lord fulfilled the promise to Abraham and Sarah reveals that they operated in faith meaning they took God at His Word (see Hebrews 11:11; Romans 4:18-22).

The faith of Abraham and Sarah demonstrates the spiritual principle that you appropriate the omnipotence of God by operating in faith.

Matthew 17:20, “And He said to them, ‘Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.’”

Genesis 21:2, “So Sarah conceived and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the appointed time of which God had spoken to him.”

The phrase “in his old age” emphasizes that God’s power overcame Abraham’s problem of being impotent sexually in his old age revealing that nothing is impossible with God.

Luke 1:37, “For nothing will be impossible with God.”

The phrase “in his old age” implies that God miraculously healed both Sarah and Abraham so that they might have the capacity to procreate again and have children.

Abraham was one hundred years old when Isaac was born according to Genesis 21:1 and Sarah was ninety-years old since Genesis 17:17 reveals that she was ten years younger than Abraham.

Henry M. Morris, “The bodies of Abraham and Sarah had been miraculously rejuvenated, their ages being one hundred and ninety years old, respectively (Gen. 17:17; 21:5). Sarah was ‘young’ enough again, not only to have a child but to nurse him (Gen. 21:7); Abraham was ‘young’ enough again not only to father Isaac, but also six other sons of his wife Keturah, after Sarah died (Gen. 25:2)! When God miraculously heals, it is not a partial healing, but a complete and instant restoration” (The Genesis Record, pages 366-367, Baker Book House).

The birth of Isaac demonstrates that the fulfillment of God’s promises depends completely upon God Himself.

The birth of Isaac was not only designed to bring joy to Sarah and Abraham but also to all mankind since Isaac would be in the line of the human nature of Jesus Christ, the Promised Seed who would redeem mankind and destroy the works of the devil (See Genesis 3:15).

Up to this point in our study of Genesis, we have seen that the human nature of Jesus Christ would come from the line of Seth (Gen. 4:25-26; Luke 3:38) and Shem (Gen. 9:24-27; Luke 3:36).

Then, as recorded in Genesis 12:3 God informs Abraham that Jesus Christ would be his descendant.

In Genesis 17:15-21 and 18:9-14, we see that the birth of Isaac would continue the line of the human nature of Jesus Christ and we see its fulfillment in Genesis 21:1-2.

Therefore, the birth of Isaac was essential for God to accomplish His purposes through Jesus Christ of redeeming and reconciling man to Himself as well as propitiating His holiness, which demanded that the sins of the world be judged.

In fact, the miraculous birth of Isaac foreshadows the miraculous birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Also, the birth of Isaac was the second step in forming the nation of Israel, from whom Jesus Christ would come since Isaac’s son Jacob, later named by God as Israel, had twelve sons who were heads of the twelve tribes of Israel (1 Chronicles 1:34; 2:1-2; Acts 7:8).

Through the nation of Israel would come the Savior of the world (John 4:22; Romans 9:3-5).

To the nation of Israel would be given the Old Testament Scriptures, the adoption as sons, the Mosaic Law, the Shekinah Glory, the promises and the unconditional covenants (Davidic, Palestinian, New and Abrahamic) (see Romans 9:1-5).

Genesis 21:2, “So Sarah conceived and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the appointed time of which God had spoken to him.”

The phrase “at the appointed time” refers to the “literal” fulfillment of the Lord’s promise to Sarah and Abraham exactly one year prior that they would have a child (Genesis 17:21 and 18:10, 14).

The phrase “at the appointed time” indicates that the birth of Isaac was right on “God’s” schedule rather than man’s and teaches that God is always right on time and never early or late in fulfilling His promises (see Habakkuk 2:3; Galatians 4:4).

Ecclesiastes 3:2, “A time to give birth and a time to die.”

Twenty-five years had passed since Abraham left Ur of the Chaldeans and during that time the Lord established His covenant with Abraham and enlarged upon it and reiterated it on different occasions (Gen. 12:1-3; 13:14-17; 15:1-6; 17:1-8; 18:9-15).

During this time, Abraham and Sarah’s faith was tested since a faith that is incapable of enduring trials and tribulations is no faith at all.

Our faith is tested to demonstrate that it is genuine and to produce character in us and of course to glorify God meaning to manifest the character and nature of God (see Romans 5:1-5).

From the human perspective, the Lord appeared to be delaying in fulfilling His promise in giving a child to Abraham and Sarah, but this is done to test their faith.

Jeremiah 20:12, “Yet, O LORD of hosts, You who test the righteous, who see the mind and the heart.”

Arthur Pink, “God has reasons for delays. Not until man comes to the end of himself will God put forth His power. Not until man’s extremity is reached does God’s opportunity arrive. Not until our own powers are ‘dead’ will God act in grace.” (Gleanings in Genesis, page 183).

Arthur Pink, “God has more than one reason for His delays. Often it is to test the faith of His children, to develop their patience, to bring them to the end of themselves. His delays are in order that when He does act His delivering power may be more plainly evident, that what He does may be more deeply appreciated and that in consequence He may be more illustriously glorified.” (Gleanings in Genesis, page 184).

Therefore, the fulfillment of the promise of Isaac to Abraham and Sarah teaches us that we must wait patiently upon God.

Hebrews 6:13, “For when God made the promise to Abraham, since He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself.”

Hebrews 6:14, “saying, ‘I WILL SURELY BLESS YOU AND I WILL SURELY MULTIPLY YOU.’”

Hebrews 6:15, “And so, having patiently waited, he obtained the promise.”

Psalm 37:7, “Rest in the LORD and wait patiently for Him.”

The fulfillment of the promise to Abraham and Sarah teaches us that perseverance or endurance is essential in order to receive the fulfillment of God’s promises.

Perseverance is the capacity to continue to bear up under difficult circumstances.

Abraham and Sarah had to continue to bear up under the difficult circumstance of being childless in order to finally receive the promise of a child.

Romans 5:3, “And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance.”

The Scriptures are designed to produce perseverance in us and to encourage us.

Romans 15:4, “For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”

Many times, the Word of the Lord gave encouragement to Abraham (Gen. 15:1-6; 17:1-8).

Genesis 21:3, “Abraham called the name of his son who was born to him, whom Sarah bore to him, Isaac.”

The name “Isaac” means, “laughter” and was designated by God expressing Abraham’s joyful faith in the Lord’s ability to fulfill this promise.

The name “Isaac” was given to the Abraham and Sarah’s child because he would be a source of great joy to them.

The fact that the Lord commanded Abraham to name the child “Isaac” also illustrates that true joy and happiness is from the Lord.

1 Chronicles 16:27, “Splendor and majesty are before Him, strength and joy are in His place.”

The Holy Spirit produces a joy that is divine in the believer who is obedient to the Word of God.

Galatians 5:22-23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”

The name “Isaac” was an appropriate name since every time Abraham and Sarah would speak his name, they would remember how they laughed at God’s promise (Gen. 17:17; 18:12), a laugh of amazement in Abraham’s case and of doubt in Sarah’s case.

They would also remember the great joy they shared when Isaac was finally born (see Genesis 21:6).

Job 8:21, “He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouting.”

Abraham’s naming of the child “Isaac” was in obedience to the Word of the Lord since according to Genesis 17:19, the Lord commanded Abraham to give the child this name.

Genesis 21:4, “Then Abraham circumcised his son Isaac when he was eight days old, as God had commanded him.”

The fact that the Lord circumcised his son Isaac when he was eight days old was also in obedience to the Lord’s command as recorded in Genesis 17:9-14.

“Circumcised” is the verb mul (lWm) (mool), which refers to the act of cutting of the foreskin of the male’s penis and was given as a sign to Abraham and his biological descendants that they were set apart by God and yet was not given to justify or saved them.

Circumcision symbolized to the Jewish man that he was a member of an elect nation, a peculiar people, distinctly holy before God, in relation to sexual conduct, so it came indirectly to speak of holiness in every phase of life.

The ordinance of circumcision could not save man but was to be the distinguishing sign of the Jewish nation from the other nations.

The circumcision of Isaac was a visible sign that he was set apart to serve the purpose of God exclusively.

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