Genesis 21-23…Isaac is born, Ishmael and Hagar are sent away, Abraham is tested, and Sarah dies.
It is just like God, to use the most unlikely circumstances for His glory. He would take stiff-necked people, with fluctuating faith like Abraham and Sarah, and bring about something so miraculous in their lives that they would grow in their trust in Him. Isaac is born, and is the son of a couple who are too old to have children. He is the promised seed, but there would be one to come in his lineage, who would ultimately save sinners. Christ would also be born into circumstances which would seem strange and unlikely from a human perspective.
Upon Isaac’s birth, Ishmael was jealous, and mocked him. Sarah requests that Hagar and Ishmael leave, and God agrees. God, however, did not abandon Hagar and her child. They were stranded in the desert of Beersheba, dying from thirst. An angel of the Lord came to Hagar, showed her a well, and they were saved. Hagar later found an Egyptian wife for Ishmael and he fathered 12 sons, just as Isaac’s son Jacob would. Two generations later, God used the descendants of Ishmael to save the Jewish nation. Isaac’s grandsons sold their brother Joseph into slavery to Ishmaelite traders. They took Joseph to Egypt and sold him again. Joseph eventually rose to become second in command of the entire country and saved his father and brothers during a great famine. This is a great example of how God can use anyone, and can save anyone. There is no one out of the reach of the Lord. Isaiah 59:1 confirms this truth: Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear. We need to keep praying for those in our lives who are lost. If God saved you, He can save them.
Genesis 22 is a demonstration of how much Abraham had matured in his faith. God requests that he sacrifice Isaac, and Abraham obeys. The Lord is testing him to see if he really trusts Him. In Genesis 22:8, Abraham says, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” God does provide the sacrifice, and Isaac is spared. This is also a foreshadowing of God’s love for us. He was willing to give up His own Son, whom He loved, and sacrificed Him for our sake.
Sarah dies in Genesis 23. The longest life must shortly come to a close. How loose then should we hold on to all earthly attachments? Let us seek rather to store up treasures in heaven.
19 Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.