The Kraig Josiah Rice
Devotional Bible Commentary on Genesis

Genesis chapter 21

Kraig J. Rice
www.7-star-admiral.com

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TABLE OF CONTENTS
(Clicking on these links will move you down this web page)
Genesis chapter twenty one
  Chapter 21- Isaac
  Gen. 21:1 - 7 Isaac was born
  Where was Isaac born?
  Beersheba in biblical history
  Two miracles happened at Beersheba
  The birth of Isaac was a miracle
  Gen. 21:8 - 21 Hagar and Ishmael were disinherited
  Rejection hurts
  An allegory of grace and law
  The old nature and new nature
  God opened her eyes
  The Angel of the Lord
  Ishmael was royalty by birth
  Gen. 21:22 - 34 Abimelech makes a peace treaty
  Phichol was the general of Abimelech's army
  Working out differences
  A redemption price is paid
  Abraham planted a grove of trees
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A devotional commentary is different from an exegetical commentary. In a devotional commentary like this one I can give the application of a verse rather than just the interpretation of a verse.






Genesis Chapter 21
Isaac

Isaac was born:
"And the Lord visited Sarah as He had said, and the Lord did unto Sarah as He had spoken. For Sarah conceived, and bare Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him. And Abraham called the name of his son that was born unto him, whom Sarah bare to him, Isaac. And Abraham circumcised his son Isaac being eight days old, as God had commanded him. And Abraham was an hundred years old, when his son Isaac was born unto him. And Sarah said: God hath made me to laugh, so that all that hear will laugh with me. And she said: who would have said unto Abraham, that Sarah should have given children suck? for I have born him a son in his old age"
(Genesis 21:1-7).

I see a miracle of healing here. God is very great and He can do what He wants when He wants. If you need healing, talk to the Lord about it and get others to pray for you
(James 5:14-16). Nothing is impossible with God. Sarah asked the Lord for a child and He gave her a child. That reminds me of the words of Jesus:
"Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you. For it is always he who asks that receives, he who seeks that finds, and he who knocks that has the door opened to him. What man is there among you, who if his son shall ask him for bread will offer him a stone? Or if the son shall ask him for a fish will offer him a snake? If you then, imperfect as you are, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in Heaven give good things to those who ask Him!"
(Matthew 7:7-11 Weymouth New Testament).

What can I say about Isaac? He was Abraham's natural born son, elected by God to be in the family lineage of the Jewish Messiah, Jesus Christ. He loved God all of his life. He married a woman who loved the Lord. Him and his wife worshipped the Lord together. They had two children, Esau and Jacob. With few exceptions, he lived a care free and sanctified life because he made the right choices in life. God loved him and blessed him throughout his life.

Many Christians today are like Isaac was- born a compliant child, raised in a good home with Christian parents, married well, went to church all of his or her life and raised their children with good morals and values. Each one may have worked hard all of his or her life but were never famous. These are the unsung heroes of the faith- steady, dependable people with a love for God and others in their hearts. Some are part of the foundation of many churches and some are pillars in their community as well. Some may be prayer intercessors who pray for others on a daily basis. Some may be faithful tithes payers who help keep their local church in operation. God has strong love for these folks and is glad to welcome them into His Heaven at the right time. They will receive their rewards direct from His hand.

God loved Isaac and had a wonderful plan for his life that Isaac fulfilled just by being who he was. He did not have a flamboyant personality and was not out in the world running for political office or winning battles to make himself known, yet God knew him and blessed him because he belonged to God.


Where was Isaac born?
Isaac was born at Beersheba, the place of seven wells. Water flowed from the well of Isaac to all who belonged to him. Since Jesus Christ was a descendant of Isaac, it could be said that (spiritual) living water flowed to all who belonged to Him
(John 7:38-39). There were seven wells. The number seven in biblical numerology is the number of God. It is the number of completeness because He re-created the world in 7 days. It is the number of perfection because, in the seven days of re-creation, everything He created was good. It is the number of rest because God rested from all His work on the seventh day. Also on the cross He made the statement "it is finished" meaning that our salvation from sin was purchased by His blood. One might say that we are complete or perfect in Christ, and that we have entered into His rest
(Hebrews 4:1-11).


What do we know about Beersheba in biblical history?
It was eventually the most southern city in Israel
(Judges 20:1) that originally belonged to Abraham and Isaac (Genesis 21:25-26). It was named by Abraham, who lived there
(Genesis 21:31-33; 22:19). Isaac lived there (Genesis 26:23). Jacob went out from there towards Haran
(Genesis 28:10). Sacrifices were offered there by Jacob when journeying to Egypt
(Genesis 46:1). It became the inheritance of the tribe of Judah
(Joshua 15:20,28; 2 Samuel 24:7) but was later given to the tribe of Simeon
(Joshua 19:2,9; 1 Chronicles 4:28). Two sons of Samuel, the prophet, were judges there
(1 Samuel 8:2), and later, it bacame a place of idol worship
(Amos 5:5; 8:14).

Beersheba was originally a place where God was worshipped in spirit and in truth. Then, over the years, it changed to where God was not worshipped there any more. Apostasy took God's place. Today, some of the most cherished institutions in all of Christianity, in all parts of the world, have changed to where God is not worshipped there any more. It is a shame. Is there anything that we can do to stop this from happening any more in our day and time?


Two miracles happened at Beersheba:
One miracle was when Hagar had her eyes opened and she miraculously saw one of the seven wells of water that was there
(Genesis 21:14-19), and the second miracle was when an angel of God fed Elijah the prophet there
(1 Kings 19:5 & 7). If we put these two miracles together, we see that God needs to open our spiritual eyes so we can drink the living water that He miraculously provides for each of us through Jesus Christ. That way God can also feed us spiritually through His word so we do not spiritually die along life's difficult journey
(John 4:10-11).


The birth of Isaac was a miraculous birth:
There were several miraculous births recorded in the bible:
1) Samson
2) Samuel, and
3) John the baptist

Sarah laughed in delight at what God had done and the child was named Isaac meaning "laughter". God blessed them with the desire of their heart by a miracle that was humanly impossible. God may work a miracle in your life and in my life that we desperately want to happen but is impossible according to the flesh. God is still on His heavenly throne and is supreme above all creation. There is nothing that He can't do
(Matthew 17:20; Luke 17:6).

Sarah's womb was a tomb- a place of barreness and death, so to speak. Then, out of death came life- Isaac was born. Life out of death is the spiritual principle here. In a similar way, Christ was dead and in a tomb. He resurrected from the tomb. Out of death came life. One might say that mankind's extremity became God's opportunity. The Apostle Paul mentions the deadness of Sarah's womb in
Romans 4:19 and the birth of Isaac as a type of the resurrection of Christ
(Romans 4:25).

As Isaac's birth was contrary to nature, so also the birth of Jesus Christ was contrary to nature. It is interesting to make a comparison of the birth of Isaac to the birth of Christ:
1) Each birth occured at God's appointed time: with Isaac it was at the appointed season but with Christ it was in the fulness of time
(Galatians 4:4).
2) Each birth was a miracle from God- to each mother, the birth appeared to be impossible.
3) Each birth was promised.
4) There was an interval of time between the promise and the fulfillment.
5) Each child was named before their birth.
6) Each son was a joy to their father.
7) Each son was obedient to their father- even unto death.


Hagar and Ishmael were disinherited:
"And the child grew, and was weaned: and Abraham made a great feast the same day that Isaac was weaned. And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, which she had born unto Abraham, mocking. Wherefore she said unto Abraham: cast out this bondwoman and her son: for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac. And the thing was very grievous in Abraham's sight because of his son. And God said unto Abraham:
"Let it not be grievous in thy sight because of the lad, and because of thy bondwoman; in all that Sarah hath said unto thee, hearken unto her voice; for in Isaac shall thy seed be called. And also of the son of the bondwoman will I make a nation, because he is thy seed."
"And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and took bread, and a bottle of water, and gave it unto Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, and the child, and sent her away: and she departed, and wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba. And the water was spent in the bottle, and she cast the child under one of the shrubs. And she went, and sat her down over against him a good way off, as it were a bowshot: for she said: let me not see the death of the child. And she sat over against him, and lift up her voice, and wept. And God heard the voice of the lad; and The Angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven, and said unto her:
"What aileth thee, Hagar? fear not; for God hath heard the voice of the lad where he is. Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him in thine hand; for I will make him a great nation."
"And God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water; and she went, and filled the bottle with water, and gave the lad drink. And God was with the lad; and he grew, and dwelt in the wilderness, and became an archer. And he dwelt in the wilderness of Paran: and his mother took him a wife out of the land of Egypt"
(Genesis 21:8-21).


Isaac was weaned:
What does that mean? Among other things, it means that he was old enough to be off of milk only and now ready to eat some meat. It is similar to our growth pattern in the Lord. First, we start off on the milk of the word
(1 Peter 2:2; Hebrews 5:13) and then we progress to the meat of the word
(Hebrews 5:14).


Rejection hurts:
Maybe you have been fired from a job, rejected in the dating game, disinherited by family members, or found yourself rejected in some other way. No matter who you are, if you are rejected, there can be pain. This was the case with Hagar and her son, Ishmael. Ishmael was probably about 14 years old or so when Isaac was weaned. The bible states that Ishmael persecuted Isaac- maybe he physically hurt little Isaac somehow
(Galatians 4:29). A slave, like Hagar, had no rights. Since the son of a slave belonged to the slave's owner, then Ishmael belonged to Sarah. But, Sarah did not want him and rejected him. Sometimes, God loves those who we reject- and, God loves us after we have been rejected. God can do that because He was rejected. The prophet, Isaiah, predicted the rejection of Jesus Christ
(Isaiah 53:3-4). Christ knew how hurtful it was to be rejected, so He can relate to your pain from rejection. Christ did not become bitter from His rejection but forgave those who rejected Him. Can you and I do less?

All Hagar and Ishmael got was a piece of bread, a bottle of water, and God's blessings. Today, many folks would settle for scarcity, if it is accompanied by God's blessings, because God has ways of working things out for them. However, because of sin or poor choices, too many times folks settle for scarcity without God's blessings. Since Abraham was a millionaire, some folks think that Abraham should have given Hagar and Ishmael a camel and escort to a nearby town and set them up in an apartment there along with a monthly income plus child support payments. If Abraham had done that then they might have thought that Abraham had not totally rejected Hagar and wanted to take sexual favors from her there. Such was not to be the case. Hagar and Ishmael were totally rejected and disinherited.


An allegory of grace and law:
What is an allegory? In this case, it is a truth expressed by a real life story. What kind of story? A story about two different women, Sarah and Hagar. These two women were mentioned by the Apostle Paul as an allegory about God's grace (faith) and God's law (works). Sarah, in typology, represents God's covenant of grace, whereas Hagar, in typology, represents God's covenant of the law
(Galatians 4:22-31). Sarah is a type of spiritual freedom of the true converted believer. In contrast, is Hagar, who is a type of spiritual bondage, as is represented by the law. The law was powerless to convert the inner spirit of a person. Therefore, the law was cast out as Hagar was. The law was displaced by grace as Hagar was displaced by Sarah. The law was not killed as Hagar was not killed. The law was still alive as Hagar was still alive. But greater was grace than the law (Sarah was greater than Hagar). Grace was the means of salvation (because the inner man was changed) but not by the law. So, the law served as a means of sanctification but not salvation. That is why Jesus (the Author of our inner salvation) stated that He came to fulfill the law
(Matthew 5:17-18) to help those who were saved with their sanctification issues. In other words, folks were saved first and then kept the law because they were saved. However, many Jews kept the law to save them and this was the prevailing doctrine at the time of Jesus. The Jews persecuted Jesus and the early Christians who told them the truth- that salvation came through a Person, not a legal code
(John 14:6; Matthew 22:37; Mark 12:30; Luke 10:27). The Jewish leaders at the time of Jesus were adding their own legal statues to the Law of Moses and then interpreting the Law of Moses to mean what it was not meant to. Jesus told the Jewish leaders that they were wrong to do this and those leaders hated Him because of it
(Mark 7:5-13). Those Jewish leaders crucified their own Messiah (Jesus Christ) and passed down to following generations their hatred and rejection of Him. The majority of the Jewish nation to this day rejects Jesus Christ as their Messiah and will not follow Him because their eyes are blinded. Their eyes need to be opened...
(Romans 11:25).


Two spiritual natures:
Some folks see another contrast here, as well. Just as there are two boys, so also are there two spiritual natures of mankind. Ishmael is a type of the old nature (the unregenerate or old man). The law could not control or change the old nature. Isaac is a type of the new nature (the regenerate or new creation). It takes the Spirit of Christ to convert us or give us a new nature and make us a new creation
(John 3:3; 2 Corinthians 5:17).

Can you teach a little more on this please? Yes.
Ishmael is a type of the flesh. Sometimes an unsaved person can do good things (good works). The law encouraged this. But the person was still under spiritual bondage to sin. Isaac is a type of the spirit- the change of the inner spiritual life of a man comes from the spirit of God. This is spiritual freedom. Isaac was born supernaturally as a believer is born supernaturally and spiritually from above. As Isaac endured opposition from Ishmael, so also the inner spirit of man must fight against his flesh
(Galatians 5:17). Isaac was the true heir- believers are joint-heirs with Christ.

Our spiritual walk of faith is a process: you have to
1) Put away your past (your Ishmael), and
2) Embrace your future blessing (your Isaac).
Faith becomes real to you and I when we see God's promises to us coming to pass.


God opened her eyes:
What does that mean? That means that God will help her see something that she normally would not see. I believe God loves to do this. It is classified by many as a miracle. There is another example of this in the bible at
2 Kings 6:17. Also, sometimes, God will open our understanding. This happened to the prodigal son when the bible says that he came to himself
(Luke 15:17). This means that he came to the realization of something. Today, you and I need God the Holy Spirit to open our eyes and our understanding that we are sinners and that we need a Savior. If we are already saved, we can pray for wisdom and understanding so that God will help us decide a matter. He can show us the solution through the eyes of faith.


The Angel of God:
The Angel of God is the same as the Angel of the Lord. It is another title name of Jesus Christ before His incarnation (when He became a human person). Remember that He, as God the Son, is infinite and is very concerned about what goes on concerning His children in the faith who He loves. He is omnipresent and is everywhere at the same time in spirit. He is omniscient or all knowing and knows everything that is going on in your life and in my life. He knew what was going on in Hagar's life and also in Ishmael's life. And God's timing was perfect as it always is.

  • Other references that prove that Christ is the Angel of the Lord


    Ishmael was considered by many to be royalty by birth:
    Sometimes God blesses children because of who their father is. This happened to Ishmael. Ishmael was of noble birth because he was the son of Abraham. Ishmael married an Egyptian woman. Psychologists inform us that a man will, most likely, marry a woman with similar mental and emotional patterning to his mother's patterning. There is an old saying: "a man always marries his mother". So, Ishmael probably saw his mother's patterning in the Egyptian woman he married because his mother was an Egyptian. Ishmael raised some godly children because many descendants of Ishmael were known as the obedient of God. As adults, Ishmael was friends with Isaac
    (Genesis 25:9, 28:8-9). Later, Ishmael became the father of many Arabs- many of those, at the time, were considered to be wandering rovers.


    Abimelech made a peace treaty with Abraham:
    "And it came to pass at that time, that Abimelech and Phichol the chief captain of his host spake unto Abraham, saying: God is with thee in all that thou doest: now therefore swear unto me here by God that thou wilt not deal falsely with me, nor with my son, nor with my son's son: but according to the kindness that I have done unto thee, thou shalt do unto me, and to the land wherein thou hast sojourned. And Abraham said: I will swear. And Abraham reproved Abimelech because of a well of water, which Abimelech's servants had violently taken away. And Abimelech said: I wot not who hath done this thing: neither didst thou tell me, neither yet heard I of it, but to day. And Abraham took sheep and oxen, and gave them unto Abimelech; and both of them made a covenant. And Abraham set seven ewe lambs of the flock by themselves. And Abimelech said unto Abraham: what mean these seven ewe lambs which thou hast set by themselves? And he said: for these seven ewe lambs shalt thou take of my hand, that they may be a witness unto me, that I have digged this well. Wherefore he called that place Beersheba; because there they sware both of them. Thus they made a covenant at Beersheba: then Abimelech rose up, and Phichol the chief captain of his host, and they returned into the land of the Philistines. And Abraham planted a grove in Beersheba, and called there on the name of the Lord, the everlasting God. And Abraham sojourned in the Philistines' land many days"
    (Genesis 21:22-34).

    What did Abimelech want? Abimelech wanted more of God's blessings. God had already blessed Abimelech with children and grandchildren because of Abraham's prayers. Abimelech wanted to get close to Abraham so he could also share in God's blessings. After all, there were enough blessings to go around for everyone, and Abimelech was hoping that those blessings would rub off on him, so to speak. Abimelech did not want to be on God's bad side. He wanted to be under the spout where the blessings came out. Many Christians today worship God in order to get His blessings. And it is true that He blesses His sons and daughters in the faith. However, our motive for worshipping God should be clear- we should worship God for Who He is rather than for the blessings that He gives out.

    Abraham and Abimelech had fellowship. Abimelech might have said, "God is with you in everything that you do." God's blessings on Abraham's marriage, family, and business were evident to everyone. There were probably different racial, political, and economic differences between these two believers. Each of them was born in different countries. There was also a difference in their family lineage- Abraham was descended from Shem while Abimelech was probably descended from Ham. In a similar manner, it is possible for a true Christian to have fellowship with another true Christian of another race and/or denomination. There may be differences but there can be love and respect for one another because we have Christ in common.


    Phichol was the general of Abimelech's army:
    The name Phichol means "mouth of all" or "strong". Have you ever noticed that a loud mouth can easily provoke a fight between two or more folks? When that happens, one had better be prepared to fight. But this general was here on a peace mission. I think that we can safely conclude that if there is a choice between war and peace, let's choose peace if it is prudent.


    Working out differences:
    Abraham and Abimelech worked out their differences at this peace conference. One problem was a well of water that Abimelech's subjects had violently taken away from Abraham's men. Blood might have been shed and a war was possible. But Abimelech knew nothing about it. Sometimes, wicked servants do many evils unknown to their masters or bosses. It is good to communicate so everyone knows what is going on. Wicked servants need to be punished or fired before they start a war or bring down God's judgment. Try to talk through any major problem that you have with someone else. This is wisdom.

    Abraham's workers dug a well that Abimelech's workers took away by force. Abimelech's workers hurt and wounded Abraham's workers. I encourage you to resolve any old issues in your past. There may be old wounds and hurts from a long time ago that need healing. Exercise forgiveness. Turn loose those old issues so they don't have any power over you any longer. God heals.


    A redemption price was paid:

    Abraham gave Abimelech 7 ewe lambs as a redemption payment for the title to that well. Abraham entered into this peace treaty with Abimelech finding him to be a man of honor and integrity. Abraham wanted his title to the well cleared and confirmed to prevent any future disputes or quarrels.

    What was a redemption payment? To redeem means to ransom, free, or rescue by paying a price. Thus they made a covenant at Beersheba: then Abimelech rose up, and Phichol the chief captain of his army, and they returned into the land of the Philistines.

    Jesus Christ is seen in typology here. The number 7 appears to be God's favorite number. Christ is the Lamb of God
    (John 1:29 & 36). Christ redeemed us by His blood
    (Revelation 5:9; 1 Peter 1:18; Titus 2:14; Galatians 4:5; Luke 1:68). Jesus Christ (God the Son) made a one time, permanent, spiritual redemption payment to ransom, free, or rescue us. What did He rescue us from? He rescued us from sin. Who did Christ make this payment to? He made it to sin. Why? Because it was sin that held us tight in it's grasp and would not let go of us. What did He pay with? The price He paid for you and I was His own life with His own blood. And He did it because He loved us. And He still loves us today. The pages of the bible are dripping with God's love for you. He confirmed His ownership of us so that the devil could not legally claim us. That would prevent any future disputes or quarrels in this matter. The covenant that He made with us was the covenant of His grace
    (Jeremiah 31:31; Romans 11:27; Hebrews 8:6-13, 12:24, 13:20).


    Abraham planted a tamarist tree grove in Beersheba:
    A tamarist tree is an evergreen tree. It lasts for a long time. This tree was a type of a lasting relationship between Abraham and Abimelech so succeeding generations would have it as a reminder of their covenant. In a similar way, the Lord Jesus Christ instituted Holy Communion to be a reminder of His covenant between Him and you. It is His covenant of grace that we celebrate and it is one of the ordinances of the church. Like the tamarist tree, it has lasted a long time because it is an everlasting covenant
    (Luke 22:19; 1 Corinthians 11:25).



    Genesis chapter 22
    and chapter 23





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