Epistles to the Cyberchurch - Su Min

To: en & others
From: Su Min
Subject: Isaac & Ishmael

To my Dearest Daughter in Dorset, (I like the triple "D"),

Grace and peace to you from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the sevenfold spirit before his throne, and from Jesus Christ who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead and the ruler of kings of the earth. (NB: this greeting which comes from the opening chapter of Revelation, vs 4&5, is a clear identification of the triune nature of God. It is indeed a precious greeting, I thank God for His Word that embodies such greetings that I can use for my Dearest Daughter in Dorset!)

Today brings us to the birth of Isaac as written in Gen 21:1. As I read verse 1, I am reminded that God IS gracious and He does for us what he had promised. And the promises of God? There is a heart warming Gospel Camp song, "Standing on the promises of God my saviour": Read his holy word and see what God has in store for each one of us who would accept his Son: He promises salvation, guidance, blessings, comfort, protection, forgiveness, healing, peace, pardon. He promises eternal life. Yes indeed the Lord is gracious and does for each one of us what he has promised to do.

God is gracious and does for Sarah what he promised to do: Abraham and Sarah share the pleasure of Genesis 18:12, and at the very appointed time the promised son is born.

Appointed time and timing. That is another great lesson to learn. Most of us are in such a hurry. We want what we want and we want it now! God has his own schedule of appointed time and timing. We have to learn patience and God's timing and must not insist that God gives us the recipe for instant everything. He makes all things beautiful in his time. Remember the lessons from Ecclesiastes Chapter 3? God knows what is good for us and meets us at our point of need. Trust him.

So 100 year old Isaac and 90 year old and attractive Sarah have a son, Isaac, he laughs : did not both Abraham and Sarah laugh (Gen 17:17 Gen 18:12)?: and on the 8th day Isaac is circumcised. Sarah anticipates the shared joy, people laughing with her (not at her).

A big feast is held to mark the weaning of Isaac, probably at 3 years of age but the joy is not universal. The Egyptian subfamily is distressed and distressing. Surely Ishmael now a circumcised teenager of possibly 16 years (cf. Gen 17:25), proud to be the firstborn son of Abraham. Ishmael mocks and perhaps makes disparaging remarks about tiny Isaac and his mother. The hazards of the love triangle become obvious. How can Abraham be loyal wife 1 and wife 2 at the same time? Sarah is distressed by these goings on and the distress passes to Abraham. God consoles Abraham by promising that Ishmael will father a great nation, yet reiterates that Isaac will be the source from which the promised people will come.

Hagar and Ishmael are sent away, and in her misery Hagar believes that her son will die of dehydration in the desert. The angel of the Lord comes and comforts Hagar, provides a well of water, provides hope for Ishmael and Hagar, promising the great nation that will ensue. We read that God continues to be with Ishmael as he grew up, and his mother got a wife from him.

The big lesson I see from this passage is that God has a plan for each one of us. In spite of our mistakes, wickedness, sins, God still cares for us. What a mighty God we serve. God will use us ordinary people for his extraordinary work, if only we will let him.

Shall we pray:

Love dad

For any comments or enquiries please write to Dr. Lim Su Min

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