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Genesis 21 English Standard Version (ESV)

The Birth of Isaac

The Lord visited Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did to Sarah as he had promised. And Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age at the time of which God had spoken to him. Abraham called the name of his son who was born to him, whom Sarah bore him, Isaac. And Abraham circumcised his son Isaac when he was eight days old, as God had commanded him. Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him. And Sarah said, “God has made laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh over me.” And she said, “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.”

God Protects Hagar and Ishmael

And the child grew and was weaned. And Abraham made a great feast on the day that Isaac was weaned. But Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, laughing. 10 So she said to Abraham, “Cast out this slave woman with her son, for the son of this slave woman shall not be heir with my son Isaac.” 11 And the thing was very displeasing to Abraham on account of his son.12 But God said to Abraham, “Be not displeased because of the boy and because of your slave woman. Whatever Sarah says to you, do as she tells you, for through Isaac shall your offspring be named. 13 And I will make a nation of the son of the slave woman also, because he is your offspring.” 14 So Abraham rose early in the morning and took bread and a skin of water and gave it to Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, along with the child, and sent her away. And she departed and wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba.

15 When the water in the skin was gone, she put the child under one of the bushes. 16 Then she went and sat down opposite him a good way off, about the distance of a bowshot, for she said, “Let me not look on the death of the child.” And as she sat opposite him, she lifted up her voice and wept. 17 And God heard the voice of the boy, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “What troubles you, Hagar? Fear not, for God has heard the voice of the boy where he is. 18 Up! Lift up the boy, and hold him fast with your hand, for I will make him into a great nation.” 19 Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water. And she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink. 20 And God was with the boy, and he grew up. He lived in the wilderness and became an expert with the bow. 21 He lived in the wilderness of Paran, and his mother took a wife for him from the land of Egypt.



After years of anguish, Sarah at last bore Abraham’s son Isaac, and she finally knew joy. Sarah’s next words are significant for us, “God has graced me with the gift of laughter! To be sure, everyone who hears my story will laugh with me” (v6, the Voice). We too may have years of waiting, years without laughter. Yet in the end, we will be able to testify with Sarah that “God has blessed me with laughter” (v6 MSG).

All was not well in Abraham’s household though. Sarah demanded that Abraham got rid of Hagar and Ishmael. God appeared to distressed Abraham again to assure him that Sarah’s desire was in harmony with His will (cf. 17:19-21). Abraham obeyed and “divorced” Hagar by granting freedom to the slave woman Hagar and the child she has borne Abraham. In turn, they forfeited their share in the family inheritance. God also promised Abraham that “I will make a nation of the son of the slave woman also, because he is your offspring” (v13).

Here is a simple but powerful story. When Abraham and Sarah tried to take control, it ended up in pains, heartbreak and long term consequences. However, faithful and powerful God kept His promise and a miracle happened.

Think of a difficult situation in which fear or unbelief led you to a course of action that didn’t honor God. What were the consequences and lessons you learned? How can Sarah and Abraham’s experience encourage us to be more patient and faithful in waiting for unanswered prayer?

Then, thank your Father for the laughter he’s brought into your heart.