Tag Archives: Genesis 21-23

January 7, 2018 Bible Study — God Will Provide Answers

I am using the daily Bible reading schedule from “The Bible.net” for my daily Bible reading.

Today, I am reading and commenting on Genesis 21-23.

    When we read the story of Abraham sending Hagar and Ishmael away we have a tendency to think of Ishmael as a young boy. However, this happened when Isaac was weaned, which means that Ishmael would have been at least 14 years old but probably 15. In other words, he was old enough to know better than to make fun of his baby brother (admittedly step-brother). This is just another example from the fallout from Sarah and Abraham not trusting that God would provide Abraham a son through Sarah.

    The part of this passage where Abraham takes Isaac with the intent to sacrifice him to God is one of the portions of the Bible most misunderstood by atheists. We know that child sacrifice was common among the peoples of the Land of Canaan. Since my experience of God speaking to me often involves things said by the people around me and the circumstances I find myself in, I have no problem with thinking that the same thing happened here. I can easily see Abraham hearing, either directly or indirectly, the people around him questioning his worship of God because he “refused” to sacrifice his son Isaac. The other gods of the area demanded the sacrifice of children, surely if Abraham truly worshiped God he would not hold back his son.

As an aside, I want to note that there is a foreshadowing of the sacrifice of Jesus here as well.

I do however believe that the exchange between Abraham and Isaac actually took place. From that it seems to me that when Abraham saw the ram caught by its horns in a thicket as he was about to sacrifice Isaac, he realized that what he had told Isaac was prophetic. I also want to point out that, while I tend towards thinking that the words attributed to God in this passage were never spoken out loud (that instead they represent Abraham’s interpretation of events going on around him, and perhaps the internal dialogue he was having with himself), I would not try to convince anyone that such was the case. So, we have Abraham struggling with the idea of sacrificing Isaac as he stands over Isaac preparing to sacrifice him as he has become convinced by his neighbors is the correct thing to do, but not really believing it in his heart, when he looks up and sees a ram caught by its horns in the thicket nearby. He remembers his throw away comment to Isaac as they traveled to this remote location, “God will provide,” and realizes that what he felt in his heart was correct and that God had provided. The lesson from this passage is thus: Abraham’s love of God was sufficient that he was willing to offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice, but God did not desire such a sacrifice.
    The message here is that God desires us to not sacrifice our children in service to Him. The first lesson was to the people of Israel who lived among those who believed in and practices child sacrifice: it is NEVER God’s will that we sacrifice children to Him, and any god which demands such sacrifice is evil, not worthy of worship. There is a further lesson for those who are called to ministry today. They should not sacrifice the well-being of their marriage or their children to their service to God. Does your ministry have you too busy to go to your child’s sporting event? Unless this is the exception rather than the rule, you have your priorities wrong. Does your child have to misbehave to get your attention? You have your priorities wrong. I could go on, but I think parents will get my point. I will make one final point. The more important you are in the Church, the more important it is that you put aside your duties to the Church to make time for your children.

January 7, 2017 Bible Study — God Will Provide

I am using the daily Bible reading schedule from “The Bible.net” for my daily Bible reading.

Today, I am reading and commenting on Genesis 21-23.

    When Isaac was born, once more problems arose from the “work around” which Sarai had contrived with Abram, namely conceiving a son through Sarai’s maid Hagar). Sarah saw Ishmael mocking his half-brother when Isaac was weaned and demanded that Abraham send Hagar and her son away. Abraham was reluctant to do as Sarah requested, but God assured him that He would care for Hagar and Ishmael. This story teaches two things, that the suffering caused by our sin goes on long after the sin itself and that God will extend His grace to those who would otherwise be harmed by the consequences of our sins.

    The story of Abraham being called to sacrifice Isaac represents a very basic insight into God’s will for us. After many years of desiring a son by Sarah to be his heir, Abraham finally had one in Isaac. In this story we learn that Abraham valued serving God more than he valued his son. However, we also learn that there was no conflict between serving God and raising Isaac. Abraham was willing to sacrifice Isaac in order to do God’s will, but God made it clear that it was His will that Abraham NOT sacrifice Isaac. Isaac was the most valuable thing in the world to Abraham, yet Abraham was willing to sacrifice Isaac in order to serve God. As I think about this I am reminded of Jesus telling the Disciples that those who love their life will lose it and those are willing to sacrifice their life will keep it. The story of Abraham being willing to sacrifice Isaac is the same message.

January 7, 2016 Bible Study — It Is Never God’s Will For Us to Kill Our Children

Starting on New Year’s Day (well, technically, on New Year’s Ever), I switched from using One Year Bible Online for my daily Bible reading to the daily Bible reading schedule from “The Bible.net”.

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Today, I am reading and commenting on Genesis 21-23.

    God fulfilled His promise to Abraham and Sarah. Sarah gave birth to Isaac at the time He said that she would. However, we see in this passage more of the consequences of Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar decision. Sarah demanded that Abraham get rid of Ishmael and Hagar. Abraham was hurt by Sarah’s request because he loved his son, Ishmael, but he did as his wife asked. He gave Hagar some supplies and sent her away. It is worth noting that God assured Abraham that He would care for Ishmael and Hagar before Abraham sent them away and that He fulfilled this promise. Nevertheless, I cannot help but feel sympathy for Ishmael who suffered because of Sarah’s jealousy about a situation which she created (Abraham and Hagar share responsibility for this situation as well).

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    The passage tells us that Abraham lived among the Philistines for a long time. At some point during that period, he felt compelled to sacrifice Isaac as an offering to God, showing his devotion to God. This would have been similar to practices among the Philistines of sacrifice their children. I do not know in what manner Abraham received the instruction to sacrifice Isaac, but I am convinced that at least part of that message was a product of the practices of the people among whom he lived. However it came to be that Abraham got the message to sacrifice Isaac, God made it clear to Abraham that He is not a God who desires us to kill our children. That message is the point of this whole episode.