Memory Verse: Genesis16:12
“He (Ishmael) will be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be
against everyone and everyone’s against him ,and he will live
in hostility toward all his brothers.” (NIV)
God is faithful and He keeps
His promises. This is something you can rely on. This is something that
will strengthen your trust and your relationship with Him.
Your lesson tells about the
story of a man Abram and his wife Sarai who left everything that was
familiar to them to follow the Lord’s instruction. They left their
extended families and relatives and traveled to a new land because God
asked Abram to do so. Abram trusted God.
1 “The Lord had said to Abram, “Leave your native country,
your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that
I will show you. 2 I will make you into a great nation. I will bless
you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others. 3 I will
bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt.
All the families on earth will be blessed through you.”
4 So Abram departed as the Lord had instructed, and Lot went with him.
Abram was seventy-five years old when he left Haran. 5 He took his wife,
Sarai, his nephew Lot, and all his wealth—his livestock and all
the people he had taken into his household at Haran—and headed
for the land of Canaan. When they arrived in Canaan, 6 Abram traveled
through the land as far as Shechem. There he set up camp beside the
oak of Moreh. At that time, the area was inhabited by Canaanites.”
Abram traveled to a foreign
country taking everything he owned with him, his wife Sarai, and his
nephew Lot. He didn’t ask questions; he didn’t argue with
God, he obeyed, so God blessed him. He trusted that God would take care
of him, his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot and all of his herds, servants,
and possessions. He believed God’s promise to him.
7 “Then the Lord appeared to Abram and said, “I will give
this land to your descendants.” And Abram built an altar there
and dedicated it to the Lord, who had appeared to him. 8 After that,
Abram traveled south and set up camp in the hill country, with Bethel
to the west and Ai to the east. There he built another altar and dedicated
it to the Lord, and he worshiped the Lord.”
God promised give the land
in which Abram was living to Abram’s descendants. This was an
extraordinary promise because Abram had no children. His wife Sarai
had not been able to conceive. Abram’s response to this promise
was to build an altar and dedicate it to God. He didn’t say, “But
God, I don’t have any children to inherit this land.” Abram
trusted that God could and would fulfill His promise even though he
was over 75 years old at the time. He believed God.
9”Abram continued traveling south by stages toward the Negev.
10 At that time a severe famine struck the land of Canaan, forcing Abram
to go down to Egypt, where he lived as a foreigner. 11 As he was approaching
the border of Egypt, Abram said to his wife, Sarai, “Look, you
are a very beautiful woman. 12 When the Egyptians see you, they will
say, ‘This is his wife. Let’s kill him; then we can have
her!’ 13 So please tell them you are my sister. Then they will
spare my life and treat me well because of their interest in you.”
14 And sure enough, when Abram arrived in Egypt, everyone spoke of Sarai’s
beauty. 15 When the palace officials saw her, they sang her praises
to Pharaoh, their king, and Sarai was taken into his palace. 16 Then
Pharaoh gave Abram many gifts because of her—sheep, goats, cattle,
male and female donkeys, male and female servants, and camels.
17 But the Lord sent terrible plagues upon Pharaoh and his household
because of Sarai, Abram’s wife. 18 So Pharaoh summoned Abram and
accused him sharply. “What have you done to me?” he demanded.
“Why didn’t you tell me she was your wife? 19 Why did you
say, ‘She is my sister,’ and allow me to take her as my
wife? Now then, here is your wife. Take her and get out of here!”
20 Pharaoh ordered some of his men to escort them, and he sent Abram
out of the country, along with his wife and all his possessions.”
A famine struck the area
and Abram had to take his family to a place where they could get food.
The closest place for them was Egypt. When they got there, Abram told
his wife Sarai to say that she was his sister. It was common practice
in those days for kings and pharaohs to kill the husbands of beautiful
women so they could take those women as wives. Technically, Abram was
not lying, but he was not telling the whole truth. Sarai was his half-sister.
They had the same father but different mothers. That too was common
in those days.
Even though Abram feared
for his life and resorted to subterfuge, deceiving Pharaoh about Sarai,
God was faithful to keep the promise He made Abram.
Remember God said He would
bless those that bless Abram and curse those who would treat Abram with
contempt? When Pharaoh took Sarai into his palace, was that showing
contempt for Abram? What curses did Pharaoh and His household suffer?
What does this tell you about the promises of God? (He keeps them).
God showed Abram that He would keep his promises. Abram increased in
wealth and possessions as God blessed him as God had promised him. However,
Abram still did not have a son.
1 “So Abram left Egypt and traveled north into the Negev, along
with his wife and Lot and all that they owned. 2 (Abram was very rich
in livestock, silver, and gold.)”
5 “Lot, who was traveling with Abram, had also become very wealthy
with flocks of sheep and goats, herds of cattle, and many tents.”
Both Abram and Lot prospered
under the blessings that God had promised to Abram and those who would
6”But the land could not support both Abram and Lot with all their
flocks and herds living so close together. 7 So disputes broke out between
the herdsmen of Abram and Lot. (At that time Canaanites and Perizzites
were also living in the land.)
8 Finally Abram said to Lot, “Let’s not allow this conflict
to come between us or our herdsmen. After all, we are close relatives!
9 The whole countryside is open to you. Take your choice of any section
of the land you want, and we will separate. If you want the land to
the left, then I’ll take the land on the right. If you prefer
the land on the right, then I’ll go to the left.”
10 Lot took a long look at the fertile plains of the Jordan Valley in
the direction of Zoar. The whole area was well watered everywhere, like
the garden of the Lord or the beautiful land of Egypt. (This was before
the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.) 11 Lot chose for himself the
whole Jordan Valley to the east of them. He went there with his flocks
and servants and parted company with his uncle Abram. 12 So Abram settled
in the land of Canaan, and Lot moved his tents to a place near Sodom
and settled among the cities of the plain. 13 But the people of this
area were extremely wicked and constantly sinned against the Lord.”
Even though Abram was superior
to Lot, Abram gave Lot the power to choose where he wanted to live when
conflict arose between their families. Lot chose the lush, green Jordan
Valley near Sodom and the evil cities of the plain. He disregarded the
danger of exposing his family to the evil that would constantly be around
him in favor of expanding his wealth and herds. This choice would cause
Lot problems later on. Abram chose the lesser quality land. God blessed
Abram for his generosity to Lot.
14”After Lot had gone, the Lord said to Abram, “Look as
far as you can see in every direction—north and south, east and
west. 15 I am giving all this land, as far as you can see, to you and
your descendants as a permanent possession. 16 And I will give you so
many descendants that, like the dust of the earth, they cannot be counted!
17 Go and walk through the land in every direction, for I am giving
it to you.” 18 So Abram moved his camp to Hebron and settled near
the oak grove belonging to Mamre. There he built another altar to the
For the 2nd time, God again
promised permanent possession of the land to Abram’s countless
descendants. Still Abram did not doubt God’s promise even though
he and Sarai still had no children and were getting way too old to have
any children. He trusted that God would keep His promise to him. He
didn’t know how it would happen, but trusted that it would.
1” Some time later, the Lord spoke to Abram in a vision and said
to him, “Do not be afraid, Abram, for I will protect you, and
your reward will be great.”
2 But Abram replied, “O Sovereign Lord, what good are all your
blessings when I don’t even have a son? Since you’ve given
me no children, Eliezer of Damascus, a servant in my household, will
inherit all my wealth. 3 You have given me no descendants of my own,
so one of my servants will be my heir.”
Abram thought that God might
keep His promise by allowing one of Abram’s servants to inherit
his wealth. God was very clear that this was not how it was going to
4 “Then the Lord said to him, “No, your servant will not
be your heir, for you will have a son of your own who will be your heir.”
5 Then the Lord took Abram outside and said to him, “Look up into
the sky and count the stars if you can. That’s how many descendants
you will have!”
6 And Abram believed the Lord, and the Lord counted him as righteous
because of his faith.”
God promised Abram a son
of his own that would be his heir and Abram believed God would make
it happen regardless of how old he was or that Sarai was well past childbearing
years. God counted Abram righteous because of that unshaken faith that
God would do as He said.
7”Then the Lord told him, “I am the Lord who brought you
out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land as your possession.”
8 But Abram replied, “O Sovereign Lord, how can I be sure that
I will actually possess it?”
9 The Lord told him, “Bring me a three-year-old heifer, a three-year-old
female goat, a three-year-old ram, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.”
10 So Abram presented all these to him and killed them. Then he cut
each animal down the middle and laid the halves side by side; he did
not, however, cut the birds in half. 11 Some vultures swooped down to
eat the carcasses, but Abram chased them away.
12 As the sun was going down, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a terrifying
darkness came down over him. 13 Then the Lord said to Abram, “You
can be sure that your descendants will be strangers in a foreign land,
where they will be oppressed as slaves for 400 years. 14 But I will
punish the nation that enslaves them, and in the end they will come
away with great wealth. 15 (As for you, you will die in peace and be
buried at a ripe old age.) 16 After four generations your descendants
will return here to this land, for the sins of the Amorites do not yet
warrant their destruction.”
17 After the sun went down and darkness fell, Abram saw a smoking firepot
and a flaming torch pass between the halves of the carcasses. 18 So
the Lord made a covenant with Abram that day and said, “I have
given this land to your descendants, all the way from the border of
Egypt to the great Euphrates River—19 the land now occupied by
the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, 20 Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites,
21 Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites, and Jebusites.”
God makes an unconditional
covenant with Abram. We see this because only God walked through the
halves of the carcasses. Usually in a covenant agreement, both parties
would have walked through the halves. This might seem to you to be a
gross way to make an agreement, but the message this gives is that “if
I don’t keep my part of the bargain, may this happen to me”.
This was very graphic and spoke of the seriousness of the covenant.
Again God promises that Abram’s descendants would inherit the
land. He seals the agreement in the common way at that time. Abram believes
God. This is the 3rd time that God has made this promise to Abram.
1” Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had not been able to bear children
for him. But she had an Egyptian servant named Hagar. 2 So Sarai said
to Abram, “The Lord has prevented me from having children. Go
and sleep with my servant. Perhaps I can have children through her.”
And Abram agreed with Sarai’s proposal. 3 So Sarai, Abram’s
wife, took Hagar the Egyptian servant and gave her to Abram as a wife.
(This happened ten years after Abram had settled in the land of Canaan.)
4 So Abram had sexual relations with Hagar, and she became pregnant.
But when Hagar knew she was pregnant, she began to treat her mistress,
Sarai, with contempt. 5 Then Sarai said to Abram, “This is all
your fault! I put my servant into your arms, but now that she’s
pregnant she treats me with contempt. The Lord will show who’s
wrong—you or me!”
6 Abram replied, “Look, she is your servant, so deal with her
as you see fit.” Then Sarai treated Hagar so harshly that she
finally ran away.”
Sarai isn’t that trusting.
She takes matters into her own hands and talks Abram into taking her
Egyptian servant Hagar so Abram could have a son through her. Although
a common practice in those days, this is a bad decision for all concerned.
Hagar gets pregnant and becomes arrogant toward Sarai. Sarai complains
about it to Abram, and Abram passes the buck back to Sarai telling her
,”She is your servant, so you deal with her. In her frustration
and humiliation, Sarai mistreats Hagar so she runs away where God finds
her in the desert and tells her to go back to Sarai, that she will have
a son, and to name that son Ishmael and he too would father many nations.
7 “The angel of the Lord found Hagar beside a spring of water
in the wilderness, along the road to Shur. 8 The angel said to her,
“Hagar, Sarai’s servant, where have you come from, and where
are you going?”
“I’m running away from my mistress, Sarai,” she replied.
9 The angel of the Lord said to her, “Return to your mistress,
and submit to her authority.” 10 Then he added, “I will
give you more descendants than you can count.”
11 And the angel also said, “You are now pregnant and will give
birth to a son. You are to name him Ishmael (which means ‘God
hears’), for the Lord has heard your cry of distress. 12 This
son of yours will be a wild man, as untamed as a wild donkey! He will
raise his fist against everyone, and everyone will be against him. Yes,
he will live in open hostility against all his relatives.”
13 Thereafter, Hagar used another name to refer to the Lord, who had
spoken to her. She said, “You are the God who sees me.”
She also said, “Have I truly seen the One who sees me?”
14 So that well was named Beer-lahai-roi (which means “well of
the Living One who sees me”). It can still be found between Kadesh
15 So Hagar gave Abram a son, and Abram named him Ishmael. 16 Abram
was eighty-six years old when Ishmael was born.”
God kept His promise to Hagar.
She had a son, named him Ishmael and he had many descendants. Ishmael
is the father of the Arabs, who many years later became the Moslems.
The repercussions of Sarai’s
decision to take matters into her own hands rather than trusting that
God would keep His promise in the face of both of them being too old
to have children together, carry forward to this day. Of all the ancient
nations of the old Testament, only the Jewish people and the Arab people
survived intact. There are no more Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites,
Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, 21 Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites,
and Jebusites.” The rest of those ancient nations disappeared
into history. Abram was 86 years old when Ishmael was born.
1 “When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to
him and said, “I am El-Shaddai—‘God Almighty.’
Serve me faithfully and live a blameless life. 2 I will make a covenant
with you, by which I will guarantee to give you countless descendants.”
3 At this, Abram fell face down on the ground. Then God said to him,
4 “This is my covenant with you: I will make you the father of
a multitude of nations! 5 What’s more, I am changing your name.
It will no longer be Abram. Instead, you will be called Abraham, for
you will be the father of many nations. 6 I will make you extremely
fruitful. Your descendants will become many nations, and kings will
be among them!
7 “I will confirm my covenant with you and your descendants after
you, from generation to generation. This is the everlasting covenant:
I will always be your God and the God of your descendants after you.
8 And I will give the entire land of Canaan, where you now live as a
foreigner, to you and your descendants. It will be their possession
forever, and I will be their God.”
Again God appears to Abram
when he is 99 years old and this is the 4th time He repeats His promise
to make Abram the father of many nations. God changes Abram’s
name to Abraham, which means “father of many”. He promises
Abraham that He will always be Abraham’s God, and in addition,
promises to be the only God of all of Abraham’s descendants. Abraham
is now 99 years old. It has been 24 years since God first promised Abraham
that he would have countless descendants. Would you still believe God
after all this time? Let’s see how Abraham reacted to this latest
repeat of God’s promise to him.
9 “Then God said to Abraham, “Your responsibility is to
obey the terms of the covenant. You and all your descendants have this
continual responsibility. 10 This is the covenant that you and your
descendants must keep: Each male among you must be circumcised. 11 You
must cut off the flesh of your foreskin as a sign of the covenant between
me and you. 12 From generation to generation, every male child must
be circumcised on the eighth day after his birth. This applies not only
to members of your family but also to the servants born in your household
and the foreign-born servants whom you have purchased. 13 All must be
circumcised. Your bodies will bear the mark of my everlasting covenant.
14 Any male who fails to be circumcised will be cut off from the covenant
family for breaking the covenant.”
Sarai Is Named Sarah
15 Then God said to Abraham, “Regarding Sarai, your wife—her
name will no longer be Sarai. From now on her name will be Sarah. 16
And I will bless her and give you a son from her! Yes, I will bless
her richly, and she will become the mother of many nations. Kings of
nations will be among her descendants.”
17 Then Abraham bowed down to the ground, but he laughed to himself
in disbelief. “How could I become a father at the age of 100?”
he thought. “And how can Sarah have a baby when she is ninety
years old?” 18 So Abraham said to God, “May Ishmael live
under your special blessing!”
19 But God replied, “No—Sarah, your wife, will give birth
to a son for you. You will name him Isaac, and I will confirm my covenant
with him and his descendants as an everlasting covenant. 20 As for Ishmael,
I will bless him also, just as you have asked. I will make him extremely
fruitful and multiply his descendants. He will become the father of
twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation. 21 But my covenant
will be confirmed with Isaac, who will be born to you and Sarah about
this time next year.” 22 When God had finished speaking, he left
23 On that very day Abraham took his son, Ishmael, and every male in
his household, including those born there and those he had bought. Then
he circumcised them, cutting off their foreskins, just as God had told
him. 24 Abraham was ninety-nine years old when he was circumcised, 25
and Ishmael, his son, was thirteen. 26 Both Abraham and his son, Ishmael,
were circumcised on that same day, 27 along with all the other men and
boys of the household, whether they were born there or bought as servants.
All were circumcised with him.”
Abraham at first thought
that God was speaking of Ishmael, because of course, Abraham was too
old to have any more kids. God was very definite. He made another covenant
with Abraham that would identify the people of God and all of Abraham’s
descendants. All males were to be circumcised and that would be the
outward sign of who God’s people were. God also told Abraham that
he and Sarah would have a son that Abraham was to name Isaac within
the next year. What was Abraham’s reaction? He believed God and
then was circumcised and had all the males in his family circumcised
– even his male servants were circumcised. What faith! Would you
still believe God after all this time?
1 “The Lord appeared again to Abraham near the oak grove belonging
to Mamre. One day Abraham was sitting at the entrance to his tent during
the hottest part of the day. 2 He looked up and noticed three men standing
nearby. When he saw them, he ran to meet them and welcomed them, bowing
low to the ground.
3 “My lord,” he said, “if it pleases you, stop here
for a while. 4 Rest in the shade of this tree while water is brought
to wash your feet. 5 And since you’ve honored your servant with
this visit, let me prepare some food to refresh you before you continue
on your journey.”
“All right,” they said. “Do as you have said.”
6 So Abraham ran back to the tent and said to Sarah, “Hurry! Get
three large measures of your best flour, knead it into dough, and bake
some bread.” 7 Then Abraham ran out to the herd and chose a tender
calf and gave it to his servant, who quickly prepared it. 8 When the
food was ready, Abraham took some yogurt and milk and the roasted meat,
and he served it to the men. As they ate, Abraham waited on them in
the shade of the trees.
9 “Where is Sarah, your wife?” the visitors asked.
“She’s inside the tent,” Abraham replied.
10 Then one of them said, “I will return to you about this time
next year, and your wife, Sarah, will have a son!”
Sarah was listening to this conversation from the tent. 11 Abraham and
Sarah were both very old by this time, and Sarah was long past the age
of having children. 12 So she laughed silently to herself and said,
“How could a worn-out woman like me enjoy such pleasure, especially
when my master—my husband—is also so old?”
13 Then the Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh? Why did
she say, ‘Can an old woman like me have a baby?’ 14 Is anything
too hard for the Lord? I will return about this time next year, and
Sarah will have a son.”
15 Sarah was afraid, so she denied it, saying, “I didn’t
But the Lord said, “No, you did laugh.”
Three strangers show up and
Abraham treats them with generous hospitality. One of them identifies
Himself as God by stating that Sarah would have a son within a year.
Sarah, eavesdropping on their conversation, is incredulous and laughs
at the absurdity of the idea of an old woman like her, many years into
menopause, ever conceiving, much less having a baby at her age. She
was 89 years old and Abraham was 99 year old! How ridiculous! And she
laughed at the whole idea. Her faith wasn’t as unshakeable as
God heard her laugh and commented
on it. She was shocked and afraid! How could this man know her thoughts?
She realized this man was no ordinary man – he must be God and
when confronted by Him, she denied laughing. God asked Abraham, “Is
anything too hard for the Lord?”
You can ask that question
for yourselves. Is anything too hard for God who created all that is,
was, or ever shall be? If God makes you a promise in His Word, the Holy
Bible, will you believe it through everything good and bad – especially
bad -- that happens to you in your life? Did God keep His promise to
Abraham to make him the father of many nations? Let’s see.
1 “The Lord kept His word and did for Sarah exactly what He had
promised. 2 She became pregnant, and she gave birth to a son for Abraham
in his old age. This happened at just the time God had said it would.
3 And Abraham named their son Isaac. 4 Eight days after Isaac was born,
Abraham circumcised him as God had commanded. 5 Abraham was 100 years
old when Isaac was born. 6 And Sarah declared, “God has brought
me laughter. All who hear about this will laugh with me. 7 Who would
have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse a baby? Yet I have given
Abraham a son in his old age!”
What can you learn from Abraham?
Does God keep his promises? Can you trust that God will keep any promises
He makes to you in His Word? How will this impact your life today? Why
did God take 24 years before He kept his promise to Abraham? Did Abraham
ever fail to believe and obey God during those 24 years? Was Abraham
faithful to God no matter what happened to him or to his family? Was
God faithful to keep his promise even though Sarai tried to jump the
gun, so to speak with Hagar and Ishmael? What does this tell you about
the character of God?
God keeps His promises. Abraham
was 100 and Sarah was 90 when they had Isaac. That would be like if
your great-grandma suddenly got pregnant, your great-grandpa was the
father and they had a baby!
God performed a miracle with
Isaac’s birth. There was no doubt in anyone’s mind that
God had done this. This was a “show-to-the-world-I-am-God”
type of miracle. Nothing like this had ever happened before. Anyone
who knew Abraham or met him later would know that God had done this
and they would learn about God through this miracle.
God keeps His promises no
matter what you do to hasten, circumvent, go around, jump the gun, etc.
etc. His promises will come to pass no matter how long it takes. God
has His own reasons and timing for keeping His promises and answering
prayers. I think that He took so long with Abraham so the whole world,
you included, would know that God was able to take an old woman and
an old man and make them parents of a baby boy against all reason and
logic. God did this to show you that no matter what, He can do all things,
and He keeps His promises.
You don’t always know
what reasons God has for taking His time in keeping His promises and
in answering your prayers. You may never know the answers to your questions
about the things that happen to you and to those you love, good and
bad, during your lives here on Earth. Your part is to be faithful and
obedient to Him and to continue to believe in Him and in those promises,
like Abraham did. God keeps His promises. That’s all you or we
need to know. You can trust God as Abraham trusted Him – unconditionally,
no matter what.