21 Abraham’s Patience
Genesis 21 Abraham’s Patience
Our discussion continues in Genesis 21 with the birth of Isaac, the son of promise, arriving as prophesied. Isaac comes on 15 Nissan 2048 From Creation. It is the future holy day of Passover for The People of Israel. Why do we call Isaac the son of promise? It is because numerous times in Scripture leading up to today’s discussion, the Lord Promised Abraham’s descendants that they would inherit the Land of Cannan. We will briefly review the journey it took to get there. Still, first, we will consider a story that will help us understand Abraham’s frustrations and questions.
Dear Ones, has there ever been someone in your life who promises to do something, and they never get around to it, excluding husbands and wives? We used to use a former addict, a disabled veteran, who is honest, good-hearted, kind, respectful, and a polite contractor that tried to care for his widowed mother and divorced sister. He has a cute little Chihuahua that goes around with him. Chico is his PTSD dog. We try to employ veterans when possible. I am a disabled veteran.
He intends well, but he procrastinates. If you schedule a job to begin in the morning, he may show up in the afternoon. There is no telling when he will show up. Deadlines are like a foreign language he doesn’t understand. Still, he is a sweet brother, and I love him.
A while back, I needed our property line brush hogged. There were about 3 feet of overgrowth from the wooded area next door. I was tired of being snapped by brush when I cut the grass. He estimated that clearing the overgrowth would require several hours. He began the job but did not finish it until months later. Over time, I asked him to complete that job. He kept promising me that he would do it. Eventually, he completed the job, but I had to ask and ask. I can’t begin to express how frustrating it was. It quickly became an irritation.
This week’s discussion takes a peek at promises made to Abraham over 30 years regarding his descendants beginning at 70 years of age in (Genesis 15). Rabbi Meir Zlotowitz and Rabbi Nosson Scherman, The Artscroll Tanach Series – Bereishis Vol. I(a) (Brooklyn, New York: Mesorah Publications, Ltd. 3rd Impression, 1989), p 433 – Our discussion is in numerical order, not in chronological order.
(Genesis 12.2) says, ‘I will make of you a great nation.’
(Genesis 12.7) says, ‘I will give this land to your seed.’
In (Genesis 13.14 – 16), the Lord said to Abraham, ‘Look to the north, the south, the east, and the west. All the land you see, I will give it to you and your seed forever. And I will make your seed as the dust of the earth.’
In (Genesis 15.18 – 21) [At the age of Seventy], The Lord Made a covenant with Abraham, saying, ‘To your seed have I given this land [Canaan], from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates, [presently occupied by The Kenites, Kenazites, Kadmonites, Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaim, Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites, and the Jebusites.’
Ten years pass. Abraham is still waiting for the promise of children. Then he is informed by his wife Sarai that she cannot have children. In (Genesis 16.2) Sarai said to Abram, ‘Behold now, the Lord has prevented me from bearing.’ Study Partner, would that get under your skin a little? Think of all the years of hoping, Yet nothing! No children. Would that rock your boat some? You’re trusting The Lord for children, and then you find out your partner cannot have children because The Lord is preventing it. Wouldn’t you like to have a little talk with The Lord about that? Yet, Abraham believed in The Lord!
Next, Abram learns there are more conditions. He and Sarai must change their names so that Abraham can be the father of many children, but Abram could not! Sarah can be the mother of many nations Sarai could not. After you change your name, The Lord Shares it with them. I’m going to give you a son. Next, we learn that a covenant is required. Still, Abraham believed in The Lord!
In (Genesis 17.) The Lord says to Abraham, ‘I will make My covenant between you and Me and will multiply you exceedingly… you shall be a father of many nations… I will make nations of you, and kings shall come out of you. Moreover, I will establish my covenant between you and Me and your seed after you in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God to you and your seed after you. And I will give to you, and to your seed after you, the land where you are a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.’ Then we learn that the manner of women had ceased for Sarai. Abraham continued to believe in The Lord!
(Genesis 17.15 – 21) says, ‘As for Sarai, your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall her name be. I will bless her, and give you a son also of her, and 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 [SON] BE BORN TO [ME WHEN I AM ONE-HUNDRED YEARS OLD? SHALL SARAH [BEAR AT] NINETY YEARS OF AGE? And Abraham said to God, O that Ishmael might live in Your Presence! And God said, SARAH YOUR WIFE SHALL BEAR YOU A SON INDEED, and you shall call his name Isaac. I will establish My covenant with him for everlasting and seed after him. ‘My covenant will I establish with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this set time in the next year.’
Genesis 18.10 12
And he said, I will certainly return to you at this season; and, lo, Sarah, your wife shall have a son. Now Abraham and Sarah were old and well advanced in age, and it had ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women. Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, After I am grown old shall I have pleasure, my Lord being old also?
(Genesis 21.1 – 2) says, ‘And the Lord visited Sarah as He had said, and the Lord did to 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.’
After thirty years of promises and many bumps in the roads, God’s promise to Abraham and Sarah is fulfilled! The lesson we have just read is one reason why Abraham is considered an example of faith. Despite what he faced, he continued to believe in the promise of a son. Isaac was a son Abraham had wanted for a very long time. Abraham could have become impatient like me and others. He could have pressed God, but Abraham remained faithful. He believed God!
Our discussion focuses on how God Proved Abraham’s faith. His faith does not waver. His faith did not shake! This discussion is intended to show us how Abraham was a beacon and anchor of hope regardless of what he faced.
Moreover, Abraham called the name of his son who was born to him, whom Sarah bears to him Isaac. And Abraham circumcised his son Isaac being eight days old, as God had commanded him. And Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born. And Sarah said, God, has made me laugh so that all who hear will laugh with me. And she said, Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah should suckle children? For I have born him a son in his old age
As we journey towards Erev Shabbat, may we have rest, comfort, unity, peace, loving-kindness, good health, and financial success.
May each of us have a wonderful Shabbat. Shabbat Shalom!
Dr. Akiva Gamliel Belk