On Jul 26, 2015, pastor Darin preached from Gen 21, Surprised by Laughter. Our journey with God frequently involves suffering. Abraham and Sarah were barren, but God made a promise to them. It took 25 years though for the promise to be realized. There are three things to see in the passage related to our journey with the Lord and His promises and purpose in our lives:
1. What is one of God’s primary purposes for the journey?
Sarah experienced shame because of the barrenness. Her and Abraham take matters into their own hands with Hagar. We take matters into her own hands, grief very often comes as a result.
Sarah basically gave up on hope. When God appears to her and Abraham in Genesis 18, she laughs in unbelief when she hears about how God is going to fulfill His promise. Here in Gen 21 it is a laugh of wonder.
The story of Abraham is the story of a man who moves from ignorance and doubt to robust faith in God. God grows faith through the various trials we endure (James 1:2 – five).
The purpose of God is that we may be complete in the faith.
2 Corinthians 1:8–9 – Paul experienced despair but relied on God who raises the dead. This is the same pattern that we go through as well. The deepening of our faith in Christ is the primary purpose for the journey that God has us on.
2. How does God accomplish this purpose?
- A theme emerges in the text where God focuses on what He promised. The promise would come through Isaac, not through Ishmael.
- This highlights the electing purpose of God. We go from doubt to faith by understanding that God is weaving a story behind the scenes that we cannot imagine (Psalm 139:15–16). What enables us to walk through difficult times is that we see God’s handiwork behind every event in our lives.
3. How ought my life changed as a result?
- Trust and obedience: Abraham learns to obey without questioning. He does not delay in obedience.
- Two aspects of God’s will:
- Secret – this refers to all that God has ordained before time began.
- Revealed – this refers to all that God commands us in His word in time. We spend so much time on the secret will, when the reality is that we cannot know it. God calls us to focus primarily on His revealed will, which is what Abraham did and what we must do. We must trust in the Lord and obey his commands.
- We see Abraham’s growth in this regard in his interaction with Abimelech. Abraham has learned to deal with his fears. Courage is born through trust in the Lord.
Where are we in relation to God’s will? Are we trusting in Him and obeying His Word (resting in Christ through faith to do that)? We must remember that all of the promises and purposes of God in this text (and throughout all of Scripture) find their ultimate fulfillment in Christ. Jesus was the Word made flesh who lived the perfect life and died so that all who believe could have eternal life.