Isaac Blesses Jacob | Genesis 27:1-28:9

Week 3 | Study Guide & Sermon

SUGGESTED VERSES FOR MEMORIZATION & MEDITATION

So he came near and kissed him. And Isaac smelled the smell of his garments and blessed him and said, See, the smell of my son is as the smell of a field that the LORD has blessed! May God give you of the dew of heaven and of the fatness of the earth and plenty of grain and wine. Let peoples serve you, and nations bow down to you. Be lord over your brothers, and may your mother’s sons bow down to you. Cursed be everyone who curses you, and blessed be everyone who blesses you! (Genesis 27:27-29)

God Almighty bless you and make you fruitful and multiply you, that you may become a company of peoples. May he give the blessing of Abraham to you and to your offspring with you, that you may take possession of the land of your sojournings that God gave to Abraham! (Genesis 28:3-4)

OPENING THOUGHT

Looking into the third major section of Genesis, we have seen how the covenantal blessing of God passed down from Abraham to his son, Isaac. Abraham then died, and Isaac faced his own journey of walking in faith with God. In many ways, Isaac followed after Abraham, in both good and bad. God commanded Isaac to trust him by staying put during a famine, and like his father, he trusted God. Unfortunately, like Abraham, Isaac also tended to take matters into his own hands by lying about his wife to protect himself. Ultimately, though, Isaac walked in faith after God just like his father.

Isaac’s faithfulness, however, does not bleed over into our present text. Here we read the account of Jacob taking Isaac’s blessing from Esau. We see that Isaac intended to bless Esau, the firstborn, but Jacob and Rebekah, his mother, trick Isaac into thinking that Jacob is really Esau. Because Isaac is blind, he falls for the trick and gives Jacob the blessing. Esau comes back from hunting to discover his lost blessing. Though Esau begs to be blessed, Isaac gives him a curse instead. We are then told that Esau hated Jacob and sought a chance to kill him. Thus, Jacob fled, at his mother’s request, to find a wife in her homeland.

Many people have tried through various arguments to prove if Isaac, Esau, Jacob, or Rebekah were sinning or not. It is my belief that there is not innocent party within this text. Isaac knew that God promised the blessing to Jacob, but he still chose to try blessing Esau. If Esau were honorable, he would have surrendered his blessing to Jacob, facing the consequences of his foolish selling of the birthright for soup. Rebekah and Jacob both knew God promise, but they do not trust God to fulfill it, taking matters into their own hands. Through it all, we will see God’s faithfulness in spite of sin; however, the sins of everyone involved have far reaching consequences for this family.

Read verses 1-29 and discuss the following.

  1. Whether he forgot God’s promise to bless Jacob over Esau or whether he simply ignored it, Isaac chose to bless Esau over Jacob because he loved him more. In what ways can favoritism destroy a family?
  2. Isaac’s love for Esau entirely centered upon Esau’s barbeque skills. He loved what Esau could do for him, rather than actually loving his son. Can our love for others likewise come from a selfish heart? Why is that not truly love?
  3. Jacob and Rebekah resolved to snatch away Esau’s blessings by deceiving Isaac. Though they were acting based on God’s promise to bless Jacob, they used sinful means to do so. Have you ever used sinful means to accomplish an otherwise godly goal?

Read verses 27:30-28:9 and discuss the following.

  1. After learning that Jacob stole his blessing, Esau had such a hatred for his brother that he began to plan murder. His originally foolish behavior has now snowballed into grievous sin. Are foolishness and sin connected? How do they lead into one another?

ACTIONS TO CONSIDER

  • Consider the sins and failures of each person discussed in these verses. Learn from Isaac by remembering and valuing the Word of God though he didn’t. Seek biblical wisdom to avoid the sin and foolishness of Esau. Avoid the self-reliance of Jacob and Rebekah, trusting God instead.
  • Give thanks to God for His mercy and grace toward us, knowing that we sin just like Isaac, Esau, Rebekah, and Jacob, but Christ has saved us from our sin.
COPYRIGHT© B.C. NEWTON 2016

Isaac & Abimelech | Genesis 26

Week 2 | Study Guide & Sermon

SUGGESTED VERSES FOR MEMORIZATION & MEDITATION

And the LORD appeared to him and said, Do not go down to Egypt; dwell in the land of which I shall tell you. Sojourn in this land, and I will be with you and will bless you, for to you and to your offspring I will give all these lands, and I will establish the oath that I swore to Abraham your father. I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and will give to your offspring all these lands. And in your offspring all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because Abraham obeyed my voice and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws. (Genesis 26:2-5)

And the LORD appeared to him the same night and said, I am the God of Abraham your father. Fear not, for I am with you and will bless you and multiply your offspring for my servant Abraham’s sake. So he built an altar there and called upon the name of the LORD and pitched his tent there. And there Isaac’s servants dug a well. (Genesis 26:24-25)

OPENING THOUGHT

Our study of the book of Genesis has led us from the creation and fall of the world to the life and faith of Abraham and now to the life of his offspring. Over the course of these chapters, we will read about Isaac, Abraham’s son, but the story will primarily focus upon Jacob, the son of Isaac. In the previous chapter, we read about Abraham’s death, his provision for Isaac beyond his death, and the birth of Isaac’s two sons. The chapter then ended with Jacob tricking his older brother into selling away his birthright.

Though Jacob is the primary figure of the chapters of our study, this is the only chapter of the Bible that gives its main focus to Isaac. In many ways, Isaac’s life is a less eventful mirror of his father’s life. Like Abraham, Isaac is faced with a famine, during which he must decide how to best provide for his family. Like Abraham, Isaac sojourns in a foreign land, and also like his father, Isaac forsakes his wife in order to protect himself. But most importantly, like Abraham, Isaac received the same covenantal blessings promised: a multitude of offspring, a land for them to dwell within, and a blessing for all nations through his offspring.

Within this chapter, we have a snapshot of Isaac’s life. Overall, he was obedient in much the same ways as his father, but he also sinned after the pattern of Abraham. Isaac’s life foreshadows Jacob’s as well because Isaac engages in deception to save himself. But like Jacob, simply being himself exposed Isaac’s masquerade. Though it is a short section, we are able to view God’s grace, faithfulness, and blessing through Isaac’s sin and his obedience.

Read verses 1-5 and discuss the following.

  1. When God appeared to Abraham, He commanded him to journey into a foreign land, and now in appearing to Isaac, God commands him to remain in Gerar through a famine, even though traveling to Egypt would have been more logical. What is faith? How is obedience related to faith?
  2. God gives to Isaac the same promises that He gave to Abraham. How would Isaac’s offspring become a blessing to all nations?

Read verses 6-22 and discuss the following.

  1. In Gerar, Isaac lied to the people by saying that Rebekah was his sister, hoping to save himself from being killed by them. How does lying display a lack of faith?

Read verses 23-35 and discuss the following.

  1. Isaac’s blessings caught the attention of Abimelech once more, leading him to seek a treaty with Isaac to avoid any major conflict. In what ways in this chapter did Isaac’s life provide a good witness as God’s servant? In what ways was he a poor witness?

ACTIONS TO CONSIDER

  • Consider the relationship between faith and obedience. Evaluate your daily obedience to the Scriptures.
  • Thank God for His promise to provide for us, and pray for faith to trust God in every circumstance and for the obedience to act in faith.
COPYRIGHT© B.C. NEWTON 2016

Jacob & Esau | Genesis 25

Week 1 | Study Guide & Sermon

SUGGESTED VERSES FOR MEMORIZATION & MEDITATION

After the death of Abraham, God blessed Isaac his son. And Isaac settled at Beer-lahai-roi. (Genesis 25:11)

And Isaac prayed to the LORD for his wife, because she was barren. And the LORD granted his prayer, and Rebekah his wife conceived. (Genesis 25:21)

And the LORD said to her, Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you shall be divided; the one shall be stronger than the other, the older shall serve the younger. (Genesis 25:23)

OPENING THOUGHT

Much has transpired in Genesis thus far. The opening chapters describe God’s creation of everything good and humanity’s fall into sin. God struck mankind’s sinful pride twice: first with a global flood that killed all but eight people, and second by confusing their languages, causing them to scatter across the earth and form different nations. In chapter 12, the story narrowed down to one man, Abraham. God called him and his barren wife to settle in foreign land, where God would make his descendants into a great nation. Twenty-five years later, God gave Abraham and Sarah a son, Isaac. The epitome of Abraham’s faithful life is seen when God commands Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. Abraham is willing to slay his own son because he trusted the LORD’s word.

We now move into the third major section of Genesis. Abraham, the man of faith, dies, leaving behind Isaac to carry on the covenantal blessing that God made with his father. Yet the narrative will devote little time to Isaac, focusing instead upon his son, Jacob, who bears little resemblance to the great faith of his grandfather. The Bible is careful to paint the sins of Abraham for us to see, but the great displays of his faith make him feel larger than life. Jacob does not have this problem. His life is marked by the struggle to survive and thrive, yet beneath everything, Jacob is fearful, often running from his problems. Nowhere does Jacob show himself worthy of God’s favor, but God still readily gives it to him.

In this text, we read the beginning of God’s plan for Jacob. Before Jacob is born, God chooses him to usurp his older brother, Esau, as the inheritor of God’s covenantal blessing from his father, Isaac. The chapter ends with Jacob’s first step in securing the inheritance of the firstborn, which Jacob does through less than ideal means. Indeed, if there is any account in the Old Testament that displays the reality of unmerited grace, it is the story of Jacob. Yet as we will come to learn, we tend to be far more like Jacob than Abraham.

Read verses 1-18 and discuss the following.

  1. Death came even for the great man of faith, Abraham, yet even still he displayed a faith beyond his life by securing Isaac’s place as his inheritor. In what ways have you invested (or we might say discipled) the next generation to continue your ministry? Or how have you been discipled by previous generations to continue a ministry?

Read verses 19-28 and discuss the following.

  1. Isaac and Rebekah found themselves barren for twenty years, similar to Abraham and Sarah, and after they prayed, God granted them children. How does this show the necessity and importance of prayer? What can we say about God’s “delays” in answering prayer?
  2. Before Jacob and Esau were born, God chose Jacob to become greater than his older brother. Malachi 1:2-3 and Romans 9:10-13 both declare that God loved Jacob and hated Esau before either were born. How does this display God’s sovereign election?

Read verses 29-34 and discuss the following.

  1. Jacob was only able to con Esau out of his birthright because Esau had a low view of spiritual blessings, causing him to view soup as greater in value because it was physically there. In what ways do you act similarly, placing physical trivialities over spiritual riches?

ACTIONS TO CONSIDER

  • Obey. Consider Abraham’s faithfulness to prepare Isaac for continuing God’s work. Likewise, plan out ways that you can disciple others into doing ministries that you do, or search for ministries where you can be discipled to continue the work.
  • Pray. Look toward the example of Isaac and Rebekah, who likely prayed twenty years for Jacob and Esau. Remain steadfast in prayer, knowing that God works according to His plan and is faithful in time.
COPYRIGHT© B.C. NEWTON 2016

Introduction to Genesis 25-36

Genesis is the book of beginnings.

The first eleven chapters reveal how the world and humanity began and fell into sin, and chapters twelve through twenty-four displayed how God began to enact His plan of global redemption through the family of one man, Abraham. God pulled Abraham from his family, took him to a foreign land, and promised to bless him and all the nations of the earth through him. We know from God’s promise in Genesis 3:15 that a Serpent-Crusher was coming into the world to restore the pre-sin blessings of Eden. Thus, God promised Abraham that the Serpent-Crusher would come through him, as the seed that would bless all the families of the earth. Humanity’s redeemer would be from Abraham’s family.

This promise seems fitting when we consider Abraham’s life. Of course, he committed his fair share of sin (i.e. selling away his wife to save his own skin… twice…), but in general, Abraham appeared to be the model of a godly life, especially in regards to faith. God asked Abraham to do some truly incredible things, yet Abraham did them without hesitation. Abraham was the epitome of how to trust God, earning him the title, the man of faith (Gal. 3:9).

From Abraham to Jacob

The same cannot be said of Abraham’s grandson, Jacob. Being the second born to his twin brother, Esau, Jacob was not entitled to the blessings of the firstborn, but that did not stop him from claiming them. In an act of blatant deception (encouraged by his mother), Jacob pretended to be Esau before his blind father, Isaac, in order to steal Esau’s blessing. Of course, this was after Jacob had already talked Esau into trading away his birthright for a bowl of lentil soup. Then, after fleeing from his brother, Jacob marries two sisters and takes their two maidservants as his concubines. This leads to a massive amount of family drama of which Abraham’s Hagar fiasco was but a taste. And Jacob brings it upon himself by blatantly favoring Rachel above his other wife, Leah.

If Abraham’s life was dotted with lapses into sin, Jacob’s life is littered with foolish behavior and deceitful intent. In fact, it would not be without merit to liken Jacob to a gunslinging outlaw in Westerns. In Western films, the gunslinger trope is typically a semi-nomadic outlaw with a questionable moral code of his one, fighting for his own survival. Jacob certainly fits that description. Throughout these chapters, he struggles to get ahead then runs for his life from those whom he angered. In fact, the Western similarity only significantly falls apart when considering that Jacob had none of the courage of a typical gunslinger; instead, Jacob was marked by fearfulness, insecurity, and anxiety. His life is one great struggle that he continuously attempted to run from.

Indeed, in light of these things, Jacob seems to the opposite of his grandfather. Where Abraham boldly trusted God, Jacob feared at every turn. This can be seen throughout the story when God is always referred to as the God of Abraham and Isaac. In Genesis 28:13, God speaks to Jacob saying, “I am the LORD, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac.” Jacob later repeats this language in 31:42 to Laban, “If the God of my father, the God of Abraham and the Fear of Isaac, had not been on my side, surely now you would have sent me away empty-handed.” Likewise in 32:9, Jacob prays to God saying, “O God of my father Abraham and the God of my father Isaac…” Through most of the story, Jacob tentatively serves God as the God of Abraham and Isaac.

Wrestling with God 

Everything changed in Genesis 32:22-32.

There Jacob found himself preparing to face Esau for the first time since he ran away. His uncle, Laban, was still behind him in a less than agreeable mood. So he was pressed between two enemies, and in an attempt to calm Esau, Jacob had sent presents for his brother and all his servants and family ahead of himself. So it was nighttime. Jacob would meet Esau in the morning, and he was all alone.

Suddenly a mysterious man appears and begins wrestling with Jacob. The two men struggle throughout the night, until the man demands Jacob to let him go. Jacob responds by demanding a blessing first. The man agrees, but not without dislocating Jacob’s hip first, giving Jacob a permanent limp for the rest of his life. Jacob soon concluded that this man was more than he seemed saying, “I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered (32:30).”

Jacob wrestled with God, and God spared him.

God renamed Jacob as Israel, and in the next chapter, we see Jacob erect an altar called El-Elohe-Israel, which means God, the God of Israel. Jacob now claimed God as his God, not merely the God of his father and grandfather. God became personal to Jacob. And though Jacob appeared victorious in his wrestling match with God, his permanent limp would forever ensure that he could not continue his modus operandi of fleeing from danger. Jacob was now physically forced to trust in God. The very best of Jacob’s tenacity was displayed in his struggle with God, only to realize that he was completely weak and defenseless before him.

The story of Jacob is one of pride, fear, and the fight to survive. Most societies equate pride in one’s own achievements and survival of the fittest with the best of humanity; however, Jacob’s story strips away the vainglory of these notions, revealing the underlying fear beneath. Like Jacob, our lives are one massive struggle for blessing and survival, and we pride ourselves in capturing them through sheer determination. However, true blessing can only be found in surrendering to God. Jacob’s life became full only after God physically wounded him, so too God will often destroy our pride that we might find our comfort and rest in Him.

Copyright© B.C. Newton 2016

Isaac and Rebekah (Genesis 24)

Abraham Study Guide (Week 15)

SUGGESTED VERSES FOR MEMORIZATION & MEDITATION

The man bowed his head and worshiped the LORD and said, Blessed be the LORD, the God of my master Abraham, who has not forsaken his steadfast love and his faithfulness toward my master. As for me, the LORD has led me in the way to the house of my masters kinsmen. (Genesis 24:26-27)

God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. (1 Corinthians 1:9)

OPENING THOUGHT

Abraham’s life was full of difficulty and blessing. Repeatedly, God placed him in situations where Abraham was able to exercise his faith in God. Though he also failed by sinning numerous times, the patriarch ultimately was willing to trust and obey God, no matter how difficult God’s command might be. Truly Paul is correct in calling Abraham the man of faith.

We now come the closing chapter of Abraham’s story arc within Genesis. We have already seen that Abraham passed his largest test of faith by being willing to sacrifice Isaac, which was the climax of Abraham’s life. Last week marked how Abraham was now faithfully approaching the end of his life by making sure that a piece of Canaan was secured as a sign of how God would bless his descendants. This chapter continues that idea of Abraham passing his blessings and promises from God down to his son Isaac, and this time, Abraham does so through finding Isaac a wife.

Given that this is the longest chapter of Genesis and that it is full of repetition, we can be tempted to skim over these verses; however, it is important to note that this chapter is full of significance. One of the primary promises that God gave Abraham was regarding Abraham’s multitude of descendants. Obviously, that promise could not be fulfilled through Isaac if he did not have a wife with whom to have a child. Thus, by sending his servant to find a wife for Isaac, Abraham is again faithfully establishing the means for God’s promises to continue after his own death.

Read verses 1-9 and discuss the following.

  • Within these verses, we read of Abraham’s desire to find a wife for Isaac, as well as his insistence that Isaac remain living in the land of Canaan. How do both of these actions display Abraham’s faith in God and His promises?

Read verses 10-27 and discuss the following.

  • Abraham’s servant creates a plan for finding Isaac’s wife. He does this by looking for a woman that was freely willing to water his master’s ten camels. Since camels can easily drink up to 20 gallons of water at a time, this would have been a significant task. What does this tell us about how the servant was looking for Isaac’s wife-to-be? What characteristics was he looking for?
  • The servant responds to Rebekah’s willingness to water the camels by publicly worshiping God, giving thanks for His steadfast love and faithfulness. Why is it important that the Old Testament reveals that God shows steadfast love to His people?

Read verses 28-60 and discuss the following. 

  • Through these verses, Abraham’s servant recounts to Rebekah’s family how God guided him to Rebekah as a wife for Isaac. What are some of the ways (through action or speech) that display the servant’s faith in God and his duty to Abraham?

Read verses 61-67 and discuss the following. 

  • Upon meeting Rebekah, Isaac takes her into Sarah’s tent. This symbolically shows that Isaac and Rebekah are now the bearers of God’s blessings and promises that He gave to Abraham and Sarah. Furthermore, it states that Isaac loved Rebekah. How is this both similar and different from our current ideas of love and marriage?

ACTIONS TO CONSIDER

  • Consider the servant’s model of worshipful and faithful service and whether you live similarly.
  • Notice Isaac’s intentional loving of Rebekah (a woman that he has just met). Do you love with similar intentionality? Particularly in terms of romantic love, are you dependent upon feeling in love or are you determined to love? Resolve how you might better and more purposefully love others.

Abraham Sacrifices Isaac (Genesis 22)

Abraham Study Guide (Week 13)

SUGGESTED VERSES FOR MEMORIZATION & MEDITATION

Abraham said, God will provide for himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son. So they went both of them together. (Genesis 22:8)

He said, Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me. (Genesis 22:12)

Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. (Matthew 10:39)

OPENING THOUGHT

Last week, the Abraham finally saw the fulfillment of God’s promise. When God first called Abraham at the age of seventy-five, He promised to give Abraham and Sarah a son. This was joyous news for the barren couple, so Abraham trusted God and followed Him. Then God kept Abraham waiting for twenty-five years. But even after Sarah was physically unable to have children and after numerous sins of Abraham, God was still faithful to fulfill His promise. Through a great miracle, God gave Abraham and Sarah a son. He gave them Isaac.

But on the coattails of such happiness comes today’s chapter. Here, God brings Abraham into the ultimate test: giving Isaac back to God. The LORD appears to Abraham and commands Abraham to offer Isaac as a sacrifice to God. Amazingly, Abraham obeys. He journeys upon the mountains and prepares to kill his beloved son in order to obey God. Fortunately, God intervenes, claiming that Abraham passed the test. Because Abraham was willing to sacrifice Isaac, God knew that Abraham truly feared the LORD.

This chapter is by the greatest trial that Abraham ever faced. His twenty-five year wait, his war against kings to rescue Lot, his walk of blind faith, were nothing compared to the difficulty of trusting the LORD in this task. However, by this, we learn that Abraham truly is a man of faith. He did not understand why God commanded him to do this or what God was going to teach him through this. But still he trusted that God would be enough for Him. Abraham understood that God had given him Isaac; therefore, God also had the right to take Isaac back.

Read verses 1-2 and discuss the following.

  • After finally giving Abraham his promised son, God now appears to Abraham, commanding that he offer Isaac as a sacrifice. We are told later that God did this in order to make sure that Abraham still feared Him, essentially making sure that Abraham did not value Isaac above God. Is it wrong of God to demand that we love Him more than anything or anyone else? Why not?

Read verses 3-10 and discuss the following.

  • Abraham’s response to this unthinkable command is obedience. Hebrews tells us that Abraham believed that God would give Isaac back to him, even if that meant raising Isaac from the dead. How does this reveal the depth of Abraham’s faith? Why is faith without works dead?

Read verses 11-14 and discuss the following. 

  • God sends an angel to stop Abraham before he can kill Isaac. But even though Isaac was spared, Abraham still displayed a willingness to give up his own son for God. How does this point to the Father giving up Christ for our sake?

Read verses 15-24 and discuss the following.  

  • Following Abraham’s obedience, God once again renews His promises to Abraham and to his descendants. Abraham then hears about the family of his brother. How do both of these events assure Abraham that God will care for Isaac and his descendants after Abraham’s death?

ACTIONS TO CONSIDER

  • Just as Abraham was willing to entrust his son to God, consider your most valued people or possessions and whether you would be willing to surrender them to God if He demanded.
  • Think about the great love that God has shown to us by not sparing His Son and about how belief in this good news has shaped your life.

Abraham’s Two Sons (Genesis 21)

Abraham Study Guide (Week 12)

SUGGESTED VERSES FOR MEMORIZATION & MEDITATION

The LORD visited Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did to Sarah as he had promised. (Genesis 21:1)

Know therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations. (Deuteronomy 7:9)

Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise. (Galatians 4:28)

OPENING THOUGHT

From the first moment that God appeared to Abraham, He promised the patriarch a son, an offspring that God would both bless and use to bless others. For the childless man and his wife, Sarah, this must have been like hearing a splash of water in the desert. But then God waited twenty-five years. Along the way, He continued to promise Abraham that his son would come. Eleven years into waiting, Abraham tried to help God by impregnating his wife’s servant, yet God specified that He would give Abraham a child via Sarah. Still, after numerous renewals of the promise, Abraham and Sarah still had no child, until now.

Following twenty-five years of God promising the birth of Isaac, Abraham and Sarah finally have a child! The joy of the moment is captured in Isaac’s very name—which means “laughter”—because the utter impossibility of his birth is laughable notion. Yet as God told Sarah earlier, nothing is too hard for the LORD. But the chapter is not all joyful. The birth of Isaac immediately creates tension between Sarah and Hagar and Ishmael. In resolving this conflict, Sarah demands for Hagar and Ishmael to be cast out, but God still provides for Hagar and Ishmael in the wilderness. Finally, the chapter ends with Abraham and Abimelech making a treaty with one another.

At first glance, this chapter can seem rather disjointed, especially with the Abraham’s covenant with Abimelech occurring at the end. However, I believe the overall message of this chapter is that God is faithful. Isaac’s birth displays God’s faithfulness to keep His promise, even if doing so requires the working of the impossible. God’s provision for Hagar and Ishmael in the wilderness is a sign of His faithfulness to do what He has spoken. God’s faithfulness is also revealed in Abraham’s treaty with Abimelech, emphasizing that Abimelech would not become an enemy of Abraham later.

Read verses 1-7 and discuss the following.

  • After waiting for twenty-five years, the LORD finally blesses Abraham and Sarah with a child in their old age, just like He promised. What does the birth of Isaac teach us about the character and attributes of God?

Read verses 8-14 and discuss the following.

  • Isaac’s birth quickly causes a tension to grow between Sarah and Hagar. When Sarah finds Ishmael laughing (likely in mockery of Isaac), she demanded that Abraham cast out Hagar and Ishmael. In Galatians, Paul uses this account as an allegory. What is Paul’s point and its significance in Galatians 4:21-31?

Read verses 15-21 and discuss the following. 

  • In the desert, Hagar and Ishmael appear to be dying of thirst, but the LORD intervenes by showing them well of water. God renews his promise from chapter 16 to make Ishmael into a great nation. How does this act display the faithfulness of God?

Read verses 22-34 and discuss the following. 

  • Having seen in the previous chapter God’s blessing upon Abraham, Abimelech and his army commander desire to make a treaty with Abraham. What does this say about how outsiders perceived Abraham? Is this similar to how non-Christians should see us?

ACTIONS TO CONSIDER

  • Like Abraham with Abimelech, consider how non-believers perceive your relationship with the LORD and in what ways they might declare, “God is with you.”
  • As with showing Hagar and Ishmael the well of water, recall times when God has provided for you and pray with gratitude.