Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Adult Sunday School Lesson from the International/Uniform Series for Sunday October 20, 2013

             “A Blessing for Ishmael and Isaac”
Adult International Sunday School Lesson for October 20, 2013

Scripture Text: Genesis 21:13-14, 17-21; 26:2-5, 12-13

Purpose:  To acknowledge the love of God for all people

Bible Lesson
Background: Genesis 15: 1-6; 16; 17:1-14, 18, 20-27; 21:9-21; 26:1-25

Genesis 21:13-14, 17-21  (CEB)

13 But I will make of your servant’s son a great nation too, because he is also your descendant." 14 Abraham got up early in the morning, took some bread and a flask of water, and gave it to Hagar. He put the boy in her shoulder sling and sent her away.
She left and wandered through the desert near Beer-sheba.
17 God heard the boy’s cries, and God’s messenger called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, "Hagar! What’s wrong? Don’t be afraid. God has heard the boy’s cries over there.18 Get up, pick up the boy, and take him by the hand because I will make of him a great nation." 19 Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well. She went over, filled the water flask, and gave the boy a drink. 20 God remained with the boy; he grew up, lived in the desert, and became an expert archer.21 He lived in the Paran desert, and his mother found him an Egyptian wife.

Genesis 26:2-5, 12-13 (CEB)
   2The Lord appeared to him and said, "Don’t go down to Egypt but settle temporarily in the land that I will show you.3 Stay in this land as an immigrant, and I will be with you and bless you because I will give all of these lands to you and your descendants. I will keep my word, which I gave to your father Abraham. 4 I will give you as many descendants as the stars in the sky, and I will give your descendants all of these lands. All of the nations of the earth will be blessed because of your descendants. 5 I will do this because Abraham obeyed me and kept my orders, my commandments, my statutes, and my instructions."
   12 Isaac planted grain in that land and reaped one hundred shearim that year because the Lord had blessed him.13 Isaac grew richer and richer until he was extremely wealthy.

My Thoughts by Burgess Walter

Our lesson today has a familiar pattern, it follows the same pattern as Adam and Eve. Both Sarah and Eve suggest that their husbands partake of forbidden fruit. And both Adam and Abraham are more than willing to comply.  

When Sarah notices that Hagar, her Egyptian maid, is pregnant with Abraham’s seed. Sarah becomes very jealous and upset to the point that she becomes abusive to Hagar. Sarah shares her feelings about Hagar with Abraham and he simply says, “she is your slave, do with her as you will.”  Some think that Hagar was a gift to Sarah when her and Abraham left Egypt, possibly by the Pharaoh that had taken Sarah into his house. (Gen. 12:15-20)

It took intervention on the Lord’s part to get Hagar to return to Abraham and Sarah’s household. So Abraham and Hagar had a son and called him Ismael. When Ishmael was thirteen years old and Abraham was ninety-nine, The Lord again reiterates the covenant and ask Abraham to seal it by means of circumcision.

About a year after this Isaac is born, and maybe two years later at a feast thrown by Abraham to celebrate the weaning of Isaac, Sarah thinks the young teenage son of Abraham and Hagar is mocking Isaac and she becomes incensed. From the remarks recorded in Gen. 21:9, it sounds like Ishmael might have been rubbing it in that he was the first born son and hence the hier. Sarah became so upset she gives Abraham an ultimatum, get rid of him and his mother.  This upset Abraham, because he did not want to make the choice Sarah was giving him.

God’s solution to the problem provides a way where all can be blessed. Isaac will be Abraham and Sarah’s heir, but Hagar and Ishmael will also receive a blessing from God.  This has to be an early expression of God’s grace, and as part of the three great religions to come from this union, we must open our hearts and minds to the fact that all of this was ordained by God.

God visits Hagar in the desert at very critical time, they have run out of the provisions provided by Abraham, as he sent them off. Her son is dying of thirst and she is absolutely alone. God has been observing what is going on and hears the cry of the teenage son, Isaac. God, as he often does, offers hope and water for the thirsty soul. Hagar, seeing a well, took action and drew the water and filled both her son and the skins she had been given by Abraham. Verse 20 of chapter 21 is a powerful statement, 20 God remained with the boy; he grew up, lived in the desert, and became an expert archer.  Go back to Gen. 17:18 and see Abraham’s prayer for Ishmael. 18 To God Abraham said, "If only you would accept Ishmael!"  It certainly appears God did accept Ishmael, but not in the way Abraham had it worked out in his plan.

All too often God’s plan does not coincide with our plan, that is where our trust and faith come in. Can we trust God to provide for us? Is God waiting on us to be flexible enough to see Him in our darkest hour?  Do God’s promises always come true?

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