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Promises Kept: Genesis 21.1-6 (ESV)

We are thankful for our dads; they’re strong and courageous, especially when we’ve needed strength to face things.  In Genesis 21 Abraham has strength and courage.  God kept His promises to Abraham.  God was faithful.  We’ve already seen God keep His promises in Genesis.  God makes a promise and fulfills it.  Some of these promises God is still fulfilling today.  A few days ago I saw a rainbow.  It had been raining every single day.  You start wondering if we are going to need to look around for an ark when it rains that much!    

God keeps His promises.

Remember God promised Abraham and Sarah they will have a child.  Here’s the birth of Isaac in verse 2:

                        2And Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age at the time of which God had spoken to him. 

One thing you’ll notice is there’s nothing dramatic or unusual about this.  It’s a simple birth description.  It brings to mind the unusual, what God does in this moment.  Abraham is one hundred years old!  Sarah is ninety!  This kind of thing just doesn’t happen!  They know this is miraculous.  This has a tremendous impact.  There’s nothing surprising about the birth because we know the background in Genesis chapters 19-20.  Here’s the final moment of Sarah’s surprise.  

God promised this and did it.  God does not feed us empty promises.  When God says things to us He means it.  Consistency of doing what we say we will do has a tremendous impact on our children.  Consistency instills in us a sense of trust.  When our dad does consistently what he says he will do we can trust lots of things.  Just last week I flipped a light switch and the light didn’t come on.  I tried it again and again.  My first thought was that the switch was broken?  It takes us a moment to think about it.  It’s the light bulb.  God is always faithful.  Abraham and Sarah’s lives show God is faithful.  God keeps His promises.  It’s challenging for us as this pandemic is ongoing.  You might be asking if God is still faithful.  This has been exhausting for us.  We have to turn off the news because it can overwhelm us. 

God gives us joy.

We’re going to look at the naming of Isaac.  Isaac means “he laughs” or “brings joy.”  This is a reminder to us that in what we’re going through God gives deep abiding joy. 

                        3Abraham called the name of his son who was born to him, whom Sarah bore him, Isaac.

Again, this is straight forward.  Abraham names his son.  Sarah is mentioned.  Oh, the joy of a newborn child!  We understand the joy of a new baby, the hope it brings.  When we see a newborn we know the future is possible.  Abraham and Sarah are in this moment.  Abraham names him Isaac, meaning laughter, joy has returned. 

It’s significant that Sarah is named.  In Old Testament times women weren’t mentioned.  Early in Genesis God calls the writer to mention Sarah.  Sometimes we think of this as a New Testament thing, but it’s not.  Sarah is mentioned.  Isaac is the child of the promise.  He will carry the covenant forward.  In Genesis 15 Abraham looked at the stars and tried to number them.  God told him his offspring will be a blessing to the nations.  He’s talking about the child God will give to Abraham and Sarah.  This birth is significant for us.  God will raise up a nation through Isaac.  Through that nation God sends His son, Jesus.  The first parent mentioned in Matthew 1 is Abraham and Isaac.  In Genesis 21 God is already planning to bring Jesus into this world.  Abraham and Sarah have no idea about God’s plan to restore us, to bring real joy.  Isaac is the son of the covenant.  Ecclesiastes 3:4 reminds us there’s a time to laugh.  There’s a time for joy.  That may seem strange to you.  We are learning to do all these things.  Don’t let anything take away your joy.  That’s how the enemy can overtake us.  God’s been doing this for thousands of years.  In the Bible there’s a lot of emphasis on newborn children. 

We show our children how to follow God.

Dads don’t talk much about childbirth but moms talk about it a lot.  We can’t talk about some of these things.  Dads don’t’ say a whole lot but dads remember these moments.  Times have changed.  Today there’s even prep classes for dads to be in the delivery room.  Birth is a significant moment.  God is about bringing joy and God’s been doing that for thousands of years!  Abraham is showing his son how to follow God.  This is similar to what we do when we dedicate a child to God. 

                        4And Abraham circumcised his son Isaac when he was eight days old, as God had commanded him. 

There’s a similar pattern in these verses.  They’re all nondescript.  Take yourself there.  Abraham is faithful in the child’s name and then in the circumcision.  For us this is a medical thing but this was simple obedience for Abraham.  God says to do something so Abraham does it.  Noah did that too.  That’s often what it looks like for dads, just doing what God says to do.  Demonstrating this for our children matters.  It’s significant for your children to see you in worship.  Think back into your own life.  Did you see your father in church?  If he was there it meant something to you.  It’s a regular time before the Lord.  It matters to us.  It’s a joy we share.

We share the joy.

The word “laugh” can mean many different things.  Sometimes we don’t know what laughter means. 

                        6And Sarah said, “God has made laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh over me.” 

All who hear will “Isaac” over me, it’s a laugh of surprise.  Sarah realizes people aren’t laughing at her but they’re laughing with her.  Sarah is ninety years old with a newborn son.  Imagine someone asking Sarah if that’s her grandson or great grandson!  Sarah will laugh and say he is her son.  His name is “Isaac.”  His name is “he laughs.”  You have to laugh when you hear that.  “Why’d you name him that?” people will ask.  She could then say, “Well, let me tell you…”  Out of this joy there’s the opportunity to say we have a God who does impossible things.  I’ve wonder how many times Abraham stood aside and watched things unfold?  He is reminded of God’s faithfulness. 

Dads may not have long birth stories of their children.  At some point it’s important to just tell them.  Remind your children you know what happened when they were born.  Here we have Abraham sharing these words.  Here’s Isaac as a young child.  How many times did Isaac hear this story in his life?  He lives his life with this backdrop.  God has a plan for Isaac’s life and there’s a reason why all that happened.  Fathers, this is a great testimony.  Keep praying for the dreams and visions you have for your children.  I know as we come to a day like this we have a lot of different thoughts about our fathers.  All of us have a Heavenly father who has a plan laid out for our lives.  God rejoices over you as His child.  Some say God dances over you!  When God thinks about you He dances over you.  God loves you and if you’ve given your life over to Him you are His child.  You’re greatly loved. 

Sermon notes are taken, transcribed and posted by Jeni Martin Johnson.


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