Good evening and welcome to EBible Fellowship’s Bible study in the Book of Genesis. Tonight, is study #1 of Genesis, chapter 21. I am going to read Genesis 21:1-3:
And JEHOVAH visited Sarah as he had said, and JEHOVAH 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.
After all the turmoil of Sarah being taken into Abimelech’s house and God forcing him to release her, now Sarah conceived, as it says in Genesis 21:1:
And JEHOVAH visited Sarah as he had said, and JEHOVAH did unto Sarah as he had spoken.
There is a strong emphasis her on God’s Word and on God fulfilling His Word. The Bible makes that emphasis throughout the Scriptures. It is an extremely important point to God that His people understand and know that He always fulfills His Word. In this instance, it just so happens that it was not being fulfilled that much later than He had spoken it. It says back in Genesis 17:15-22:
And God said unto Abraham, As for Sarai thy wife, thou shalt not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall her name be. And I will bless her, and give thee a son also of her: yea, I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of people shall be of her. Then Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed, and said in his heart, Shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred years old? and shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear? And Abraham said unto God, O that Ishmael might live before thee! And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him. And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation. But my covenant will I establish with Isaac, which Sarah shall bear unto thee at this set time in the next year. And he left off talking with him, and God went up from Abraham.
There was the declaration of the Word of God. God said he would have a son and his name would be called Isaac. We will look at the name “Isaac” as we get into this chapter, as the name “Isaac” has to do with “laughter.” Abraham had laughed, and Sarah had laughed and, therefore, God said, “and thou shalt call his name Isaac.”
Isaac would be born “at this set time in the next year.” In our last study, I gave a (theoretical) example using the months of the calendar year how God could have made this promise in September and how all the events could have unfolded, including the destruction of Sodom and Sarah then being taken into Abimelech’s house and later being released. From the point that God spoke, using September as the month, to the time that Sarah was released, using January as the month, she would have conceived after her return to Abraham in January and Isaac would be born in September, at the set time in the next year.
Now God had come to visit Sarah and to fulfill His Word. Of course, it is always good for us to be reminded of any truth in the Bible (because we tend to forget), so God tells us in Hebrew 6:13:16-17
For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself, Saying, Surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee. And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise. For men verily swear by the greater: and an oath for confirmation is to them an end of all strife. Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath:
The “immutability of his counsel” refers to the unchanging nature of the Word of God. It goes on to say in Hebrews 6:18:
That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us:
I used to wonder about that statement referring to two unchangeable things in which it was impossible for God to lie. Then it was as if we waited in expectation to see what these things were, but God does not go into detail. But the first thing we can know from this statement is that God cannot lie. We are told that in Titus 1:2:
In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;
So, everything God says and everything the Bible declares is coming from this Being, the Almighty God, that cannot lie. He cannot lie – it is alien to His nature. Lies are darkness and He is light. It is contrary to His Very Being. As Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life.” (And “I AM” is one of the names of God.) In a world that is filled with deceitfulness and where there are lies everywhere we turn, we expect almost everyone to lie. We expect our institutions to lie. And politicians have made lies a “fine art.” We just expect people we come in contact with to lie. As parents, when we would ask our little boy or little girl, “Did you do that?” They respond, “No – I did not do it.” But they did do it. They lie, naturally. It is the character of man to lie. He is “born speaking lies,” according to the Psalms. But this is not the character of God.
So, the first point is that God cannot lie in what He speaks. The second point is that the nature of God is “perfect truth.” We think someone is truthful if he speaks truth 90% of the time, but God is perfect truth. He is absolute truth, a truth that shines as the brilliance of the sun in its perfection. It is pure and holy. If there was just one lie in the Bible, we would consider that pretty good by worldly standards. You pick the (secular) book, and you are going to find a lie somewhere. So, we tend to think that if most of what we are hearing is true, then it is pretty good. But if there was just one lie in the Bible, it would spoil the whole book. It would be like the “fly in the ointment of the apothecary” that ruins the whole ointment, and it is good for nothing. If there were one lie in all the Bible, it would cease to be “holy,” and we could not rightly call it the “Holy Bible,” but it is the Holy Bible because it is perfect, pure and holy and it always speaks the truth. It always tells us absolute truth right from the mouth of God. Of course, we could have a translation where there are errors, but in the underlying Hebrew and Greek, it is utter perfection.
So, this is the God that is reminding Sarah, Abraham and us when He says in Genesis 21:1:
And JEHOVAH visited Sarah as he had said, and JEHOVAH did unto Sarah as he had spoken.
God has said something, and He will perform the doing of it. God is not a man that He should lie. God is not someone that promises something and says He will do it, but then He fails to do it. However, it is typical of people. It is not typical of God. As a matter of fact, God has a 100% perfect record in speaking something and then doing it. Now it may be that it is not yet the time for God to do a certain thing He has spoken. For example, the promise of His people receiving their new resurrected bodies on the last day and receiving the new heaven and new earth has not yet come, but it is “just around the corner.” It is about as close as it can be, considering we are at the end stage of earth’s history as we live on the earth in the Day of Judgment. And, yet, it is not the “last day” yet. Just because God has not fulfilled a certain thing does not mean He is not a faithful God who always fulfills His Word. He will fulfill these things according to His Word in the appointed time. He is the same God, yesterday, today and forever. He is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God who does all things according to His Word in the Bible. He is the same God we pray to today and whom we are learning about in our time, and so forth. When we read the Bible, we must realize that this is a book unlike any other book because of its truthfulness. And most of mankind do not know how to handle a book that declares the truth like the Bible does.
It goes on to say in Genesis 21:2:
For Sarah conceived, and bare Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him.
Here, God is using the word “conceived.” It is the typical Hebrew word we find in the Old Testament for “conceiving” and bearing a child. We know that this conception is referred to in a spiritual way. It is not me, but God Himself, that says it is spiritual, in Hebrews, chapter 4. When we look at Sarah’s conception, we are going to see two very interesting pictures that have to do with the deeper spiritual meaning of the Word of God, the Bible.
The first of these spiritual underlying portraits can be found in Galatians 4:22-23:
For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise.
Hagar was the “bondwoman.” Sarah was the “freewoman,” and we can see why it was that the child of the freewoman was “by promise” because God had told Abraham he would have a son and Sarah would be the mother. Abraham had said in his heart, “Shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred years old? and shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear?” At that time Abraham was 99 and Sarah was 89. God had told him that it would be in the next year. Should an old man and old woman bear a son when Sarah was past the age of childbearing? It would take a miraculous birth, so that is why it was by promise. Then it goes on to say in Galatians 4:24:
Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar.
What happened at mount Sinai? That is where the Law was given, so this applied to Hagar, the bondwoman, who identifies with the Law of God. Hagar was an Egyptian bondwoman, and Egypt was called the “house of bondage.” Why does she identify with mount Sinai? It is because those that attempt to be pleasing to God through works of any sort are gendering themselves to be bondservants; that is, they remain unsaved and are children of Satan.
Then it says in Galatians 4:25:
For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children.
The “Jerusalem which now is” would identify with the corporate church. And then it adds at the end of the verse, “and is in bondage with her children.” Those within the churches in the Old Testament would call themselves Jews and they were inhabitants of the city of Jerusalem. Today, they would call themselves Christians and they are inhabitants of the corporate churches. They have all the outward trappings: they have been baptized; they partake of the Lord’s Table; they have made some sort of profession of faith. And, yet, they are trusting in one or more of those things as works they have done and, therefore, they become a child of mount Sinai or a child of the Law. But remember that God’s salvation program is by grace: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves…” The Bible does not say, “For by the law are ye saved.” By the Law, they come into captivity.
But, it goes on to say in Galatians 4:26:
But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.
Here is the picture of Sarah, “Jerusalem which is above,” the heavenly birth of being born again that was accomplished by the work and faith of the Lord Jesus Christ that was performed on behalf of His elect. We are children of promise. Remember the “seed” is also part of the promise to Abraham and to Sarah. God told them they would have a seed (singular). and in the previous chapter, Galatians 3, it indicated that the seed was Christ. Then God said in Galatians 3:29:
And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.
Christ is the seed, and Isaac would picture the Lord Jesus Christ – he is a great type of Christ. Isaac also pictures the body of Christ that is in Him. So, it is a dual picture of Christ coming forth and the coming forth of the seed that were in Christ, all the elect as they experienced salvation. The Bible says that Sarah is “the mother of us all.”
Then it said in Galatians 4:27-28:
For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband. Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise.
We are the promised children of God, the promised seed, just as Isaac was. All the elect children of God are what was in view, spiritually, through the promise given to Abraham and Sarah through the birth of Isaac.
We will not go there, but you can look at Isaiah 54 and you can see in that passage how God speaks of “the desolate” having more children than she which has a husband. In a very unusual way, God is pointing to the two great periods of salvation, the firstfruits of the church age and the great multitude of the second part of the Great Tribulation that came in as the final fruits. When the Bible uses the word “desolate,” it often refers to a “widow.” The desolate has many more children than she that has a husband, because someone who is a widow is desolate indeed, according to the Bible. To be a widow means that your husband is dead. That is the contrast God makes between Sarah and Hagar and in Isaiah, chapter 54. It is interesting because we do read in a couple of places that Abraham was “as good as dead” when God gave Sarah conception and she gave birth. For example, we read in Hebrews 11:11-12:
Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised. Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable.
Abraham was likened to one “as good as dead.” In another statement, God referred to the deadness of Sarah’s womb. So, Abraham was “dead” and Sarah’s womb was “dead” and, yet, there was conception and the seed came forth, the son of Abraham.
Lord willing, in our next Bible study we are going to look at the word “conceive” in Hebrews 11 because it is drawing from Genesis 21:1-2 where the Lord visited Sarah and she conceived. And, yet, the word “conceive” in Hebrews 11 is very strange. There is a New Testament Greek word that God could have used here and which He does use in other places to mean “conception” and which identifies with a woman conceiving a baby. But this word in Hebrews 11:11 is not that word. So, Lord willing, in our next Bible study we will take a closer look at why God chose the word He chose in Hebrews 11:11.