top Abraham #4 Tuesday, October 17, 2017
ABRAHAM, A STUDY OF HIS LIFE
By James L. Thornton
This Is The Fourth Lesson In A Series On The Study Of The Life Of Abraham. We Will take up where we left off in Study #3. We will look at The destruction of Sodom and the reason God destroyed it. Also we will talk about the birth of Isaac and Ishmael being cast out.
A. Sodom’s Doom Revealed
B. Abraham Intercedes For Sodom
C. The Last Day Of Sodom
D. Angels Hasten Lot
E. Fire & Brimstone From Heaven
F. The Danger Of Looking Back
G. The Sins Of Sodom
H. Not Hungry, God
I. The Birth Of Isaac
J. Cast Out The Bondwoman
K. God Pities The Outcast
A. Sodom’s Doom Revealed:
This Section is taken from Genesis 18:16-22.
The meal and conversation concerning Sarah and the birth of Isaac being finished, the Heavenly Visitors then reveal another reason for their visit.
Genesis 18:16a. And the men rose up from thence, and looked toward Sodom: ... (KJV)
After the meal they rose up and looked out towards the mountains over which Sodom lay, and began to move in that direction. They had spent nearly a half a day with Abraham, but he was reluctant to let them go.
Genesis 18:16b. ..And Abraham went with them to bring them on the way.
So Abraham, to prolong the visit, walked along with them for a ways. And as they walked, God took Abraham into his confidence and revealed his intentions towards Sodom and Gomorrah.
Genesis 18:17. And the Lord said, shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do; (KJV)
Having been taken in covenant with God, Abraham would henceforth be known as "The Friend Of God," and would share an intimacy with Him like few mortals would ever share.
Psalm 25:14. The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him; and He will shew them His Covenant. (KJV)
Then The Lord Revealed Why He Would Confide In Abraham.
Genesis 18:18. Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?
19. For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment; that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him. (KJV)
About to become the head of a great nation, it was natural to suppose that Abraham would be interested in everything that concerned mankind.
As the head of the Old Testament Church, and, "Father of the Faithful," there was a special reason for him to be properly instructed concerning the impending doom of Sodom. For upon him would fall the responsibility of interpreting to the people of his day the reason why judgment fell upon Sodom.
This is also the responsibility of the Church on earth today, to explain God’s Judgments to the unbelieving world.
Amos 3:7. Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but He revealeth His secret unto His Servants the Prophets.
8. The lion hath roared, who will not fear? The Lord God hath spoken, who can but prophesy? (KJV)
Abraham was to be not merely the Ancestor of a Nation, but the Father of a Spiritual Family, which he would lead by influence and example. Abraham had no Written Book to aid him in his work, nor did he leave written records for his descendants.
But He Left Them An Example Of His Walk With God.
Genesis 18:19a. For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment; that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him. (KJV)
"I Know Him,.." "I Can Trust Him,.."
He could trust Abraham, for he would "command," not in the dictatorial tones of a tyrant, but by the power of a consistent life. God made the bestowment of intended blessings contingent on the faithful discharge of duty.
"...That the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which He hath spoken of him."
If Abraham had not been faithful, his name would have died out, and there would have been no handing down of the story of his devoted life, and persistent hold of the Divine Promise. Children and servants alike learned from Abraham, and were brought under Spiritual Influence. (Gen. 22:7; 24:26; 26:25)
Isaac followed in his father’s steps and was a meditative man. (Genesis 24:63)
Jacob cherished the promises and handed them on to his sons. (Genesis 49:1-33)
The Jews preserved a knowledge of One True God when all other races were sunk in idolatry, and polytheism. From them came the one who was to be the Savior of the world.
All, however, depended on the right training of Isaac. This should speak to us of the inestimable value of spiritual training in the home. (Proverbs 22:6)
Ephesians 6:4. And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
Parents are held accountable for failure, and should therefore be firm and loving in training. The heart will not become pure naturally, but must be trained. The set of the world-tide is in an evil direction.
Parents should not readily delegate to others the work of training, either in secular or religious knowledge. Sunday School teaching should supplement, not supplant, home training.
Genesis 18:20. And the Lord said, because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous;
21. I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know. (KJV)
After giving the reason why He would give the revelation to Abraham, God gave him the reason why he would destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. "Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous;"
All sin is open and unhidden to the eyes of God, and when sin is concentrated in an area, a nation, a city, a people, an individual, it draws greater attention from God.
Revelation 18:5. For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities. (KJV)
The sin of Sodom is detailed in the next chapter, and some very heinous sins are made known.
Genesis 18:21. I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know. (KJV)
Though God speaks of making investigation into the sins of Sodom, this was really unnecessary.
Proverbs 15:3. The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good. (KJV)
The moral degeneracy of the inhabitants of the Jordan Valley was one of the "All Things" that are ever "Naked and Manifest" unto His eyes. I feel that He went to seek repentance from them.
Hebrews 4:13. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in His sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do. (KJV)
So Nothing Can Hide Sin From God.
The reason that God visited Sodom and Gomorrah is because of His exceeding patience with mankind before unleashing his judgments.
2 Peter 3:9. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. (KJV)
Was there a chance that Sodom would come to repentance?
We note that God was long-suffering in the days of Noah while he prepared the ark. (1 Peter 3:20)
Genesis 6:5. And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. (KJV)
For 100 years, while Noah prepared the Ark, God waited, with patience, giving mankind a chance to repent.
God allowed Nineveh to repent at the preaching of Jonah, even after declaring their destruction. (Jonah 3:9-10
One-hundred years later Nineveh’s wickedness came again before God, and there was no repentance, and no holding back the wrath of God, and it was completely destroyed. (Nahum 3:7)
So it is today, God visits before judgment, that mankind might have every opportunity to come to repentance.
Individuals are visited in various ways, cities, nations, and races of mankind, are visited by storm, flood, earthquake, and other natural disasters to turn them back from sin.
God sends Prophets, Preachers, Evangelists, and sometimes Heavenly Messengers, to warn of impending judgment, yet people go on in their wicked ways.
When the, "Iniquity Is Full," (Gen.15:16)
And the "Heart Is Continually On Evil," (Gen. 6:5)
And "Given Over To A Reprobate Mind," (Rom. 1:28)
Then the judgments of God must come swift and sure.
He Is Merciful And Kind Where He Can Be, But Just And Stern Where He Must Be.
But as with the case of Sodom and Gomorrah, nothing would be done in haste, but with judicial calmness.
B. Abraham Intercedes For Sodom: Genesis 18:22-33
Genesis 18:22. And the men turned their faces from thence, and went toward Sodom: but Abraham stood yet before the Lord.
Two of the three proceeded on their way towards the Jordan valley while the third was detained by the Patriarch, probably on the heights overlooking the Plains.
It is as though Abraham reached out and took hold of his arm to hold him as he spoke to him.
Then Abraham begins the first intercessory prayer which we have recorded in the Bible.
Genesis 18:23a. And Abraham drew near, and said... (KJV)
Not simply physically, but spiritually, or a pious turning of the mind to God.
James 4:8. Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. (KJV)
Abraham begins his prayer, which contains one of the most sublime examples of human intercession of which scripture preserves a record.
When Abraham learned of the possibility of Sodom being destroyed, his mind must have turned immediately to his Nephew Lot which was living in Sodom.
Ultimately Abraham hoped to rescue not only lot, but the cities, along with their inhabitants.
Genesis 18:23b. .., Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked? (KJV)
In Genesis the wickedness of Sodom is set forth so emphatically that its name has become Proverbial to this day.
Yet here is Abraham interceding for Sodom. The good man pleads for mercy on behalf of the wicked.
Who is most likely to come to the help of the wicked? Can bad men when in trouble expect help more certainly from other bad men?
Men who are thoroughly bad are as merciless to others of their kind as a wolf pack is merciless to the wounded wolf.
The most merciful men all through the Bible are the best men-- Joseph, Moses, David, Stephen, Barnabas.
Above all was Jesus, who in his perfect righteousness could be the friend of publicans and sinners.
There is no more corrupting sin than censoriousness and self righteousness. Let church members examine their own hearts.
Abraham did not shut his eyes and his ears to the calamities which was coming upon the Sodomites, as many would have done, on the argument that it was richly deserved, or that it was no concern of his, or that it was little he could do to stop it.
But Abraham actively bestirs himself, that, if possible, to prevent the calamity.
Genesis 18:24. Peradventure there be fifty righteous within the city: Wilt thou also destroy and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that are therein? (KJV)
Not content with asking Lot’s deliverance, or the rescue of the righteous, he aims at nothing short of the complete preservation of the cities.
He realized that Jehovah was a merciful God, because he was tolerant with the Amorites, for their iniquity was not yet full. (Genesis 15:16b)
Genesis 18:25. That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from thee: shall not the Judge of all the earth do right? (KJV)
Abraham began his entreaty, not on the deserving of mercy on the part of Sodomites, but on the grounds of the righteousness of the judge.
Pitching his hypothetical number of pious Sodomites so high as to insure a favorable response, and gradually reducing the number as grace was extended.
Genesis 18:26. And the Lord said, if I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes.(KJV)
Thus Jehovah accepted the test proposed by Abraham, solely on the grounds of mercy.
Notice how that Abraham acknowledges his personal unworthiness as he takes his petition to Jehovah again.
Genesis 18:27. And Abraham answered and said, behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the lord, which am but dust and ashes:
28. Peradventure there shall lack five of the fifty righteous: wilt thou destroy all the city for lack of five? And he said, if I find there forty and five, I will not destroy it. (KJV)
The Patriarch, not sure that there were fifty righteous souls in the cities, petitions the Lord again.
Let Us Look At The Success Of His Intercession.
1. He got all he asked for.
Genesis 18:29. And he spake unto him yet again, and said, peradventure there shall be forty found there. And He said, I will not do it for forty's sake.
30. And he said unto him, oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak: peradventure there shall thirty be found there. And He said, I will not do it, if I find thirty there.
31. And he said, behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord: peradventure there shall be twenty found there. And He said, I will not destroy it for twenty's sake.
32. And he said, oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak yet but this once: peradventure ten shall be found there. And He said, I will not destroy it for ten's sake
33. And the Lord went his way, as soon as he had left communing with Abraham: and Abraham returned unto his place. (KJV)
2. He ceased asking before God stopped giving.
We may speculate as to what may have happened had Abraham continued to reduce the number on which he staked the Salvation of Sodom.
For God’s glory it is only just to notice that it was not He, who discontinued answering the Patriarch’s Petitions, so much as the Patriarch himself.
Maybe Abraham felt that he had reached the limit of that liberty which God allows to the believing supplicants at His throne.
Here Are Some Lessons We Learn In This Intercession With God By Abraham.
1. The liberty which saints have to approach God in prayer. (Hebrews 4:16)
2. The art of wrestling with God in prayer. (Genesis 32:24-28)
3. The great encouragement which Saints have to pray without ceasing. (James 5:16b)
4. The deep interest which Saints should always take in the welfare of their fellow-men. (1 Timothy 2:1)
C. The Last Day Of Sodom: Genesis 19:1-29
Genesis 19:1a. And there came two Angels to Sodom at even; and Lot sat in the gate of Sodom: (KJV)
The two men of the preceding chapter who had accompanied Jehovah to Mamre, and having left the tent of Abraham in the afternoon, arrive in Sodom near sunset.
Lot, who we last heard of when he returned to Sodom after being rescued from the Asiatic Kings by his uncle Abraham (Gen. 14:12-16), was sitting in the gate.
What capacity or position he occupied in the city of Sodom is unknown.
Considering his relationship to Abraham, to whom the city owed its entire being, it is likely that he occupied a position of honor, maybe as a judge, which verse 9 hints at.
As the two Angels approached the gate, Lot became their welcoming committee.
Genesis 19:1b. ..: And lot seeing them rose up to meet them; and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground; (KJV)
Lot recognizing them as strangers, by their dress and looks, and having not yet abandoned the practice of hospitality, or forgotten, despite his mingling with the Sodomites, the respectful courtesy towards strangers, bowed to them as Abraham had done when they visited his tent. (Gen. 18:2)
This indicates that the light of Lot’s piety still flickered.
Genesis 19:2. And he said, behold now, my Lords, turn in, I pray you, into your servant's house, and tarry all night, and wash your feet, and ye shall rise up early, and go on your ways. And they said, nay; but we will abide in the street all night. (KJV)
Though an act of kindness on the part of Lot, his invitation was not accepted by the Angels, probably to try his character to see if it was genuine. (Luke 24:28)
Genesis 19:3. And he pressed upon them greatly; and they turned in unto him, and entered into his house; and he made them a feast, and did bake unleavened bread, and they did eat. (KJV)
Lot proved to be as pressing in his invitation as his uncle Abraham, and the Angels went to his home.
The meal he set before them, though not as elaborate as the sumptuous meal which Abraham served them, was, never-the-less, sincere and earnest.
It clearly testifies that Lot had not yet lost much of the religious training he had from his early relationship with Abraham.
This Lets Us know That Early Religious Training Is Difficult To Eradicate.
Proverbs 22:6. Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. (KJV)
Even though we do not understand, nor approve, of all that Lot said, and did, that last night in Sodom, God evidently looked at him from a different view, as the New Testament calls him a just man. (2 Peter 2:7)
The next several verses (4-11) reveal to what depth of wickedness the citizens of Sodom had sunk to.
In their unbridled lusts they had far outstripped common sinners, and become "As Natural Brute Beasts." (2 Peter 2:12)
They were shameless, disgusting, and repulsive. They openly proclaimed their filthiness, and would have gratified their lusts in public (v. 5). They became violent in their attack on Lot, and the house wherein the two strangers were. (v. 9)
They were obstinate. Even when struck with blindness they were relentless in their attempt to invade the decency of Lot and his guests. (v. 11)
It was a universal attack by the entire population of Sodom, both old and young, and from every quarter (v.4). They were all of one mind. Could anything more signify and attest Sodom’s ripeness for destruction?
The verdict was in, Sodom was found guilty, and the city was to be destroyed. The cup of its iniquity was full. The Angels would be the ministers of its execution. But they would be merciful to Lot and his family.
Genesis 19:12. And the men said unto Lot, hast thou here any besides? Son in Law, and thy Sons, and thy Daughters, and whatsoever thou hast in the city, bring them out of this place:
13. For we will destroy this place, because the cry of them is waxen great before the face of the Lord; and the Lord hath sent us to destroy it.
14. And Lot went out, and spake unto his Sons in Law, which married his Daughters, and said, up, get you out of this place; for the Lord will destroy this city. But he seemed as one that mocked unto his Sons in Law. (KJV)
Lot went out into the night to make a last and final appeal to Sodom, especially to those men who had married into his family, but was mocked and laughed at when he warned them of the impending doom of Sodom.
There are still mockers and scoffers today which make light of people who speak of the coming of the Lord.
2 Peter 3:3. Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, (KJV)
Lot had been in the city more than fifteen years yet had made no converts to Jehovah. What he had learned from Abraham, but we do know that he had not gained the respect of his Sons-in-Laws.
Before we make too hasty judgment against Lot, we must realize that when Lot first went to Sodom, that Sodom was recognized as wicked, and exceedingly sinful. (Genesis 13:13)
There are Pastors and Churches which are located in a very sinful and wicked environment which have won no converts, and have a very hard struggle, that is no sign they have lost their place with God.
One thing we do know, when the final appeal is given, and judgment day arrives, and fire falls from Heaven, God has promised that He will not destroy the righteous with the wicked.
D. Angels Hasten Lot:
Genesis 19:15. And when the morning arose, then the Angels hastened Lot, saying, arise, take thy Wife, and thy two Daughters, which are here; lest thou be consumed in the iniquity of the city. (KJV)
All appeals were over, the patience of God was exhausted,
Time had run out for Sodom, the Angels hurried Lot to evacuate his Family from the city.
Genesis 19:16a. And while he lingered, ... (KJV)
Lot was a wealthy man when he went down to Sodom, with flocks and herds and tents and servants and herdsmen, and we have no reason to believe that he was not still wealthy
While we have no record of him attempting to save a portion of his great wealth, his heart must have clung to the earthly possessions he was leaving.
Lot’s hesitation indicates indecision, and without the Angel’s firm hand it would have been his ruin.
Genesis 19:16b. ..., The men laid hold upon his hand, and upon the hand of his Wife, and upon the hand of his two Daughters; the Lord being merciful unto him: and they brought him forth, and set him without the city. (KJL)
Literally, in the mercy, or gentleness, of Jehovah to him; the primary idea of the words being that of softness. They carried them out of the city and with ominous warning to flee.
Genesis 19:17a. And it came to pass, when they had brought them forth abroad, that he said, escape for thy life; ... (KJV)
It was only by the earnest admonition of the Angels that Lot was saved.
"Up, Get You Out Of This Place;" "Arise!" "Escape For Thy Lfe;" and then only after physically carrying them from the city did Lot escape.
Genesis 19:17b. ...; Look not behind thee, neither stay thou in all the plain; escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed.(KJV)
Do not look back! It was a solemn warning given by the Angels, and heard by all.
That beautiful plain which Lot had looked upon fifteen years before, and chosen as the place he wanted to dwell, was no longer a safe place to be. "Escape To The Mountains."
The Plain, along with all the cities around there, was to be consumed by the fire storm which God sent. Today it is a waste land dotted with thousands of salt dunes and pillars.
Genesis 19:22. Haste thee, escape thither; for I cannot do any thing till thou be come thither. Therefore the name of the city was called Zoar. (KJV)
This is the fifth time that the Angels pleaded with Lot to make haste, because he lingered and trifled like many today thinking there is plenty of time. God’s wrath will not fall until the last righteous person is safely brought out.
E. Fire And Brimstone From Heaven:
Genesis 19:23. The sun was risen upon the earth when Lot entered into Zoar.
24. Then the Lord rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of Heaven;
25. And He overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground. (KJV)
The overthrow of the entire region, included Sodom and Gomorrah and other smaller cities which were close by, and also included the beautiful Plain which was so well watered when Lot first went there.
It was swift. It came without warning. It does not appear that the inhabitants of Sodom were warned of the approaching fire-storm.
Luke 17:29. But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from Heaven, and destroyed them all.
It was complete destruction. The cities with their inhabitants, along with the fields and it’s vegetation, were engulfed in the sulfurous baptism and "Turned Into Ashes".
The story of the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah is a constant reminder to us of a greater firestorm which will come upon the entire earth, of which we have ample warning to save ourselves from.
2 Peter 3:12. Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the Heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?
F. The Danger Of Looking Back:
Genesis 19:17b. ...; Look not behind thee, ... (KJV)
This injunction was given to Lot, and his Wife and Daughters, to guard against any desire rising up to return.
Genesis 19:26. But his Wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt. (KJV)
Lot, his Wife and two Daughters, were safely out of Sodom and on their way to the little city of Zoar.
Lot led the way, with the two Daughters, and his Wife following behind him. I’m sure that Lot urged them on by calling out to them to hurry.
Then after a time he called back to them and his Daughters answered, but there was no answer from his Wife.
No doubt he called several times, each time louder than the last, but still no answer. Fearing to look around, he went on.
The scriptures tell us the story in a few words.
Genesis 19:26. But his Wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt. (KJV)
It does not say she stopped, but merely looked back, and was overtaken by the storm, she was transfixed where she stood, and in a moment forever wrapped in a sheet of salt.
Her doom was rendered all the more shocking from the circumstances that she had so nearly escaped.
Contrary to the Angel’s instructions, she had looked behind, thus she had brought her tragic fate upon herself.
Obedience would have saved her; disobedience proved her ruin.
Whether she was lost eternally it is not safe to say, but her temporal destruction had been righteously incurred.
Her fate has been forever memorialized by our Lord.
Luke 17:32. Remember Lot's Wife.(KJV)
Lot’s Wife was not deaf to the call; and did not think it a whim of the imagination; she really believed; felt the danger, and fled.
But the sun arose; the valley was beautiful; home attractive; there was no sign of danger. Must she leave all? And, all at once?
Surely some of you can remember times of earnestness.
Perhaps in hours of anxious watching at the bedside of a loved one, or during a Revival God has spoken directly to the soul and made you feel his presence. (Genesis 28:16-17)
Then the blessedness of accepting Salvation was felt. The message was so real, the Bible and prayer were precious then.
But time went on. The immediate influence gone. All was as before. Old ways asserted their power; hard to give them up.
In mercy the hand reaches out once more. Awake; the storm is at hand, though thou seeth it not. Pray that the Holy Spirit may transform thy heart.
Genesis 19:27. And Abraham gat up early in the morning to the place where he stood before the Lord: (KJV)
Abraham was up early and standing at the place where he had interceded to God for Sodom. This shows us the extreme interest Abraham had in his prayers.
And as the sun was beginning to rise he saw a sight which he would never forget.
Genesis 19:28. And he looked toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the plain, and beheld, and, lo, the smoke of the country went up as the smoke of a furnace.
29. And it came to pass, when God destroyed the cities of the plain, that God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow, when he overthrew the cities in the which Lot dwelt. (KJV)
Abraham knew when he saw the smoke that God had not found ten righteous souls in the cities. Abraham probably did not know to what extent that God had answered his prayer until some time later.
The last days of Lot were a far cry from the wonderful days he had enjoyed when in the company of his uncle Abraham.
He dwelt in a cave. (Genesis 19:30) haunted by terrors.
Terror of Divine Judgment. The terror of men. The terror of conscience. Conscience makes cowards of us all.
His daughters became the incestuous Mothers of Nations which afterwards greatly troubled the people of God.
Lot died an unnoticed death. Buried in an unknown grave.
G. The Sins Of Sodom:
The Bible has painted a very vivid picture of the last night of Sodom and some of the sins with which it was so taken up in.
We want to take a few moments and look farther in the Scriptures and see how the Holy Spirit views the sins which caused Sodom’s doom.
First Our Lord’s Teachings Concerning The Destruction Of Sodom.
Luke 17:27. They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the Ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all.
28. Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded;
29. But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from Heaven, and destroyed them all.
30. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed. (KKV)
Let us take a look at the things which our Lord said were going on in kSodom when it was destroyed.
They did eat,
They married wives,
They were given in
He mentions nothing of the gross depravity and immorality. The things which our Lord mentioned are a part of every normal society.
In fact they are a part of the life of almost every individual in the Church.
Our Lord himself ate and drank on many occasions, and He loved to attend banquets. (John 12:2; Luke 5:29)
He also sanctioned Weddings by His presence. (John 2:1-2)
There is nothing inherently wrong with buying and selling and planting and building. It is an essential part of an ordered society. Then why would Jesus use these things to condemn Sodom?
There must be something deeper in the meaning of the things that Jesus said concerning Sodom. Let us read in another place what the Holy Spirit said about the sins of Sodom.
Ezekiel 16:49. Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fullness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.
50. And they were haughty, and committed abomination before me: therefore I took them away as I saw good. (KJV)
Once Again We Will List The Sins In Order.
2. Fullness of bread.
3. Abundance of idleness.
4. She did not help the poor.
5. They were haughty.
6. They committed abomination.
We are well aware of the depravity and abominations which were taking place in the city of Sodom.
One of the definitions of the word "Abominations" is "the quality of being shockingly wicked." (A.H.D.)
Paul Speaks Of This Kind Of People In His Day.
Romans 1:26. For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: foreven their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:
27. And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet.
The Greco-Roman Empire was filled with cities which was given over to this type of abominations.
Rome, Athens, Philippi, Corinth, and especially Ephesus which was known the world over for the temple of Diana that was served by tens of thousands of prostitutes.
We know that God has already passed judgment upon most of these ancient cities, and their ruins stand as a memorial to this judgment.
These abominations are in our nation, even in our city, but in no where near the proportions as it was in some of the cities of Paul’s day.
We do not want to minimize this shocking, wicked and depraved nature of these people.
But what we want to do now in this chapter is to take note of the other sins which the scriptures says were responsible for Sodom’s destruction.
The things which are listed in Luke 17 are not sins in themselves, as we have already stated, but we will come back to this later.
Ezekiel was a little sharper in his criticism.
We do not like to see pride in an individual, nor do we like to be near a person who is haughty, and God hates it even more.
Proverbs 16:18. Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall. (KJV)
This brings us to two more things which Ezekiel says are the things which caused the fall of Sodom, and are the things which we all have to be careful lest we also are carried away in these sins.
"Fullness of bread, and abundance of idleness."
The people of Sodom were self sufficient, they did not need anything.
They no longer had to struggle for food because the storehouses were full.
The plains of Jordan were well watered, and compared to the rest of Palestine was like a paradise, and the food supply was plentiful.
They were wealthy and had plenty of time to play and enjoy all the pleasures that wealth could give them.
It was this combination of wealth, and the time that it afforded them to spend on the pursuit of pleasure, that caused their destruction.
So the inhabitants of Sodom ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they builded, they planted, they married, they gave their sons and daughters in marriage, their entire time was taken up in money making or pleasure seeking.
They did not need God any longer because they were self sufficient.
They had forgotten that fifteen years before one of the worshipers of Jehovah God had rescued them from the four marauders which had invaded and sacked Sodom.(Genesis 14)
H. Not Hungry, God:
A great danger lies ahead when we become self sufficient and no longer have to pray, "Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread."
One of the woes Jesus pronounced to his Disciples,
Luke 6:25. Woe unto you that are full! (KJV)
One of the curses of the Laodicean Church was,
Revelation 3:17. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: (KJV)
It is possible that we also can get so wrapped up in buying and selling, eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, building and planting, that we have no room for God in our lives.
Luke 14:16. Then said he unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many:
17. And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, come; for all things are now ready.
18. And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused.
19. And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused.
20. And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.
21. So that servant came, and shewed his Lord these things. Then the Master of the House being angry said to His Servant, go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind.
22. And the Servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room.
23. And the Lord said unto the Servant, go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.
24. ? For I say unto you, that none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper. (KJV)
We see that it is not necessarily the gross immoral, or depraved sins which condemns a Nation, or an individual, but a neglect of God in our lives.
I. The Birth Of Isaac: Genesis 21:1-8
Genesis 21:1. And the Lord visited Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did unto Sarah as he had spoken.
2. For Sarah conceived, and bare Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him. (KJV)
God kept his promise to Sarah and Abraham, and within the year Sarah conceived and bore a son.
This was Sarah’s own child of Abraham’s old age. The child of promise, the fruit of faith, the gift of grace, and the heaven appointed heir of the covenant blessing.
Motherhood at ninety was certainly unusual even in the millennium in which Abraham lived.
The Holy Scriptures make it plain in a number of places that the birth of Isaac was a miraculous occurrence brought about by the power of God.
The key to this miracle is in the last five words in verse 2. "...God Had Spoken To Him."
When God speaks, worlds are created.
When God speaks, light shines out of darkness
When God speaks, whatever, it comes to pass.
So, God spoke, and Sarah received strength to conceive and bear a son.
God had made it plain to Abraham and Sarah that nothing was impossible with him. But it took the faith of both of them to bring it to pass. (Hebrew 11:11-12)
Genesis 21:3. And Abraham called the name of his son that was born unto him, whom Sarah bare to him, Isaac.
4. And Abraham circumcised his son Isaac being eight days old, as God had commanded him.
5. And Abraham was an hundred years old, when his son Isaac was born unto him. (KJV)
Now the long looked-for child had arrived and there was joy in Abraham and Sarah’s tent, and Abraham called his name Isaac, meaning, ‘Laughter’.
Abraham had waited twenty five years for the fulfillment of the promise. A remarkable instance of faith and patience. (Romans 4:16-21)
Abraham was obedient to God’s command and performed the ritual of circumcision on Isaac.
Sarah burst out in laughter and joyous inspiration like unto Elisabeth and Mary at the anticipated birth of our Lord. (Luke 1:43-55)
Genesis 21:6. And Sarah said, God hath made me to laugh, so that all that hear will laugh with me.
7. And she said, who would have said unto Abraham, that Sarah should have given children suck? For I have born him a son in his old age. (KJV)
We see the spiritual elevation of her soul indicated in the poetical form of her speech.
Sarah’s song, is the first cradle hymn of a mother’s thankful joy, representing the Divine Delight in the pure and simple happiness of those who are children of God.
Her laughter was of a different character now from what it had previously been (Gen. 18:12); and her acknowledgment of Jehovah proved her faith in Him.
The first duty of a Mother is to her baby, and Sarah, even though a princess, was not above discharging the duties of a nurse, and gave of the sustenance God had provided for her baby’s necessities.
Genesis 21:8. And the child grew, and was weaned: and Abraham made a great feast the same day that Isaac was weaned. (KJV)
When Isaac was three years old, which was the customary age when children were weaned, Abraham made a great feast, and invited people far and near to come to the festive occasion.
It is estimated that by this time Abraham’s household, including servants, herdsmen, camel-drivers, women, and children, must have numbered between five and six thousand people.
Everybody was invited, maybe Melchisedek, and King Abimelech of Gerar, and others of the nations around them, were there. In this we see Abraham expressing joy and rejoicing in the future as his son was weaned.
John 8:56. Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad. (KJV)
From the moment of weaning a child may be said to enter on a separate, and as it were, independent existence, attaining then for the first time to a distinct individuality of being.
It is still customary in the east to have a festive gathering at the time a child is weaned.
J. Cast Out The Bondwoman: Genesis 21:9-21
Sometime during the feast, (21:8) and probably on other occasions, Sarah saw Ishmael mocking and scoffing and making faces at Isaac.
That this was no mere sportive pleasantry may be inferred from the deep feeling it aroused in Sarah, the subsequent chastisement it brought on Ishmael, and the severe language in which it is characterized by Paul. (Galations 4:22-31)
It roused the anger in Sarah, to the extent that she decided that Ishmael and his mother had to go. So once again she went to Abraham with her grievance.
Genesis 21:9. And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, which she had born unto Abraham, mocking.
10. Wherefore she said unto Abraham, cast out this bondwoman and her son: for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac. (KJV)
Was Sarah apprehensive least Ishmael should scheme to disinherit Isaac, notwithstanding the assurance that the covenant was made with Isaac?
Was this an act of unbelief on Sarah’s part into which she was obviously betrayed by her maternal fears and womanly jealousy?
It is more satisfactory to attribute her seemingly harsh counsel to the clearness with which she recognized that Isaac alone was the heaven-appointed heir, and that nothing must be allowed to either damage his position or endanger his prospects.
Sarah said to Abraham that this bondwoman and her son must be "Cast Out." By "Casting Out," Sarah was meaning that Abraham must ensure the disinheriting of Ishmael.
Ishmael’s separation from Isaac prefigured the ultimate removal of unbelievers from believers, of the world from the Church, of those in a state of natural, or of legal bondage, from those who are children of the promise and of the heavenly Jerusalem. (Galations 4:22-31)
It shows the impossibility of any compromise existing between the world and the Church.
Separation brings pain and anguish, and in the case of Abraham and Ishmael it was no exception.
Genesis 21:11. And the thing was very grievous in Abraham's sight because of his son. (KJV)
Ishmael was now seventeen years old, and who, besides being bound to him by natural affection, had long been regarded by Abraham as the Heaven-appointed heir of the promise.
The separation was painful to the Father, but was part of the gracious work of God for Isaac.
Genesis 21:12. And God said unto Abraham, let it not be grievous in thy sight because of the lad, and because of thy bondwoman; in all that Sarah hath said unto thee, hearken unto her voice; for in Isaac shall thy seed be called.
13. And also of the son of the bondwoman will I make a nation, because he is thy seed. (KJV)
Considering the Patriarch’s former experience of "Hearkening To Sarah" ( Genesis 16:5-6), It is doubtful he would have yielded to her demands, had God not intervened.
It was necessary that the separation should take place for the accomplishment of the Divine Purpose.
Abraham was comforted somewhat by God ensuring him that Ishmael would not perish, but would, because that he was Abraham’s seed, make him prosper, and become a great nation.
Genesis 21:14a. And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and took bread, and a bottle of water, ... (KJV)
The moment the mind of God was known of certainty, internal controversy ceased and resolved, and Abraham hastened to put into effect the Divine instructions, with complete submission to the will of God.
Genesis 21:14b....And gave it unto Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, and the child, and sent her away: and she departed, and wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba. (KJV)
Making provisions for their immediate necessities, Abraham sends them away, doubtless with many prayers and tears.
We see the master and the servant at the door of the house in the early morning; the master himself placing the bottle of water on the bondwoman’s shoulder as a sign of continued kinship.
This could not but help being an emotional parting, because for many years Ishmael was his only child, and presumed heir, and to Ishmael, Abraham was his loving father.
K. God Pities The Outcast: Genesis 21:14-21
Genesis 21:14c. ..: And she departed, and wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba.
15. And the water was spent in the bottle, and she cast the child under one of the shrubs. (KJV)
The "Wilderness" was the uncultivated wasteland between Palestine and Egypt, which was very hot and dry, and it was not long before she had lost her way.
Happiness and home was behind them; desolateness, dreariness, lonely journeying, imminent dangers from the wild beasts and fierce hordes of men, were before them.
Unable to proceed, she and her son sunk down to die, to perish in the scorching heat from the most fearful of all deprivations, water.
Genesis 21:16. And She went, and sat her down over against him a good way off, as it were a bowshot: for she said, let me not see the death of the child. And she sat over against him, and lift up her voice, and wept. (KJV)
In this verse we see a mother’s anguish, having supported her son to the limit of her strength, and not physically able to do more, she separates herself from him not being able to bear the thought of watching him die.
Let us follow the fortunes of the outcast.
1. Banished From Home.
Up to this time the household of Abraham had been to Hagar and her son such a pleasant and doubtless much-prized abode; but henceforth their connections with the Patriarch’s encampment was to be completely severed.
So God in his mysterious providence, and in many ways, frequently dispossess men of the shelter and society of home.
2. Separated From The Church.
For all practical purposes the expulsion of this Egyptian slave-mother and her son from the household of Abraham, if it did not involve a casting off from God’s mercy, amounted to separation from the Patriarchal Church.
No one is to be more pitied than that soul which has been separated from God’s people.
3. Lost In The Wilderness.
The region through which they traveled was unfamiliar, and having no guide, and propelled by exasperation and excitement, they simply drifted on with aimless feet, and "wandered" until they became lost.
This scene touchingly portrays the sad condition of thousands of homeless and church-less wanderers today, roaming purposelessly and perplexed across the trackless wastes of life.
The way from God through the wilderness is a hard way, a way of suffering, a way of danger.
4. Perishing From Thirst.
Extreme thirst is one of the most excruciating torments to which the human body can be subjected.
A fellow creature dying from lack of water is as sad a spectacle as any on which the eye of man can gaze.
Lamentations 4:4. The tongue of the sucking child cleaveth to the roof of his mouth for thirst: the young children ask bread, and no man breaketh it unto them. (KJV)
Isaiah 41:17. When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue faileth for thirst, I the Lord will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them. (KJV)
The soul that is estranged from the Church, and God, is the saddest spectacle in human existence.
The Psalmist describes the soul seeking for God.
Psalm 42:1. As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after Thee, O God.
2. My soul thirsteth for God, for the Living God: when shall I come and appear before God? (KJV)
5. Sobbing In Anguish.
Exhausted and weeping aloud, the poor disheartened Boy and his Mother moan out their misery.
To recognize and make complaint of one’s spiritual destitution is better than to be callous and indifferent to one’s dying condition.
6. Praying To God.
Though not certain that the "Voice Of The Lad" meant more than the rude cry of his distress, we would hope that in the day of his calamity he directed his prayer to God.
Prayer usually precedes deliverance.
7. The Comforting God.
The Angel of deliverance follows even the bondwoman and her son.
Genesis 21:17. And God heard the voice of the Lad; and the Angel of God called to Hagar out of Heaven, and said unto her, what aileth thee, Hagar? Fear not; for God hath heard the voice of the Lad where he is.
18. Arise, lift up the Lad, and hold him in thine hand; for I will make him a great nation.
19. And God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water; and she went, and filled the bottle with water, and gave the Lad drink.(KJV)
We notice God’s care for Ishmael, even for one who would appear to be outside all Covenant Blessings.
He was one whose "hand was to be against every man, and every man’s against him" (Genesis 16:12).
God manifested care, however to Ishmael.
He heard his cry in distress.
He knew his distress and supplied his needs.
God always knows our needs, whence to supply them, and where to find us even in the wilderness.
Our God cares for those outside the rampart of the church, even as those within.
"What Aileth Thee, Hagar?"
What a glimpse into the infinite pitifulness of divine nature!
Only when Christ came was it surpassed in clearness and fullness.
As the cry of Ishmael came up into the wakeful ear of God, so the cries of dying men and perishing souls never fail to do.
They are suffering great loss, and are in danger of further loss, but God cares for, and pities, them.
God wills not the death of a sinner, "not willing that any should perish..." (2 Peter 3:9)
God pittied the people of Nineveh, sent them a warning, and gave them space for repentance.
He healed a Naaman; sent his prophet to dwell with a woman of Sarepta, and so conferred honor upon her; and he brought a Nebuchadnezzar to his right mind by a judicious infliction.
All this was mercy shown outside the pale of Israel to those who would be accounted as Ishmaelites.
Oh, how much more widely flows the channel of Divine Mercy and love than we imagine.
How little we conceive of the depth of the Father’s love to all his creatures!
In every heart He is seeking to find a reflection of His Image.
To all those who think yourselves too sinful to have a share in Divine Compassion, look upon God’s treatment of Ishmael.
Remember that Jesus came "Not To Call The Righteous, But Sinners To Repentance." (Matt. 9:13)
In the case of Hagar, the well was near her, but she saw it not. So it is with the Water of Life.
Why are so many without peace?
The well is beside them, the sound of the Gospel is familiar to them.
The Bible is read in their hearing, but it speaks nothing to them. (2 Corinthians 3:15-16)
Christ died for all. (2 Corinthians 5:14-15)
His blood was a ransom for all. (1 John 1:7)
We do not have to go seeking a Savior. (Romans 10: 6-10)
There is no sin too deep for cleansing, no sorrow too great for comfort, nothing is required to give a right to trust Him.
Why are there then so many without peace?
Their eyes are closed to the truth.
What is needed is not a new fountain, but opened eyes.
It is disbelief that keeps so many from finding the well. To them the well is not there.
It is important to know that what really is needed is spiritual discernment.
"God opened her eyes. And she saw a well of water." The well was there all the time. The water of life flows, but if we see it God must open our eyes.
Genesis 21:20. And God was with the Lad; and he grew, and dwelt in the wilderness, and became an archer.
21. And he dwelt in the wilderness of Paran: and his Mother took him a wife out of the land of Egypt. (KJV)
We must not think that God had cast off Ishmael, and left him to utterly and everlastingly to perish, for God furnished Ishmael with a place of habitation, He gave him the desert for his domain.
Not only that, God furnished him with the skills, the knowledge, and the tenaciousness to dominate it.
Further, he seems to have kept up his union with his brother, for his daughter, Bashemath (Genesis 36:3), married Esau, Isaac’s Son.
Thus two families in the line of promise, but who had cast themselves out, Esau by his indifference, and Ishmael by his mocking, were united.
Ishmael united with Isaac in the Funeral Ceremony of their father Abraham. (Genesis 25:9)
"God was With Him," and all because of Abraham.
Genesis 25:16. These are the Sons of Ishmael, and these are their names, by their towns, and by their Castles; twelve Princes according to their Nations.
17. And these are the years of the life of Ishmael, an hundred and thirty and seven years: and he gave up the ghost and died; and was gathered unto his people.
18.And they dwelt from Havilah unto Shur, that is before Egypt, as thou goest toward Assyria: and he died in the presence of all his brethren. (KJV)
In this Study Number 4, and in the previous studies, 1, 2, 3, we have traced the life of Abraham from his call by kGod when he was a pagan in Ur of the Chaldees to Canaan and down into Egypt and back to Canaan. We have seen how he built altars, talked with God, and fought and struggled with forces both within himself and amongst his family, along with forces of the nations around him. God always making and keeping promises to him concerning a family.
In the next few Studies we will witness that his greatest struggles still lay ahead of him. It would seem he would have reached the age, now one hundred and twenty, and had reached a spiritual standpoint where all struggles would have become unnecessary.
But we shall find that in the life of Abraham, along with out own life, that we never reach an age, or a spiritual standing where there are no struggles. We will deal with these issues in the next Study, Number 5, of the Life of Abraham.
We hope you are enjoying these studies of the life of Abraham, and can find something in them that will help you with your own life.
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James L Thornton