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Forgiven - But Consequences
Scripture: Genesis 21:1-14; Titus 1:1-3; Galatians ...
Track 10 of 11 in the Abraham series
Running time: 1 hour, 03 minutes, 33 seconds.
Sometimes the littlest thing in life changes something forever and there will be times when you wish you can go back to how things used to be but you just can't because things have changed so much. For Abraham and Sarah, their mistake in taking matters into their own hands concerning the birth Ishmael really caused consequences for years and generations to come. In Genesis 21 we see the first big consequence show up. It forced Abraham to make Hagar and Ishmael leave the family and never to return.

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Mike Nobis Speaker: Mike Nobis
Sunday School Teacher, Former Elder at Madison Park Christian Church. Mike is President of JK Creative Printers & Mailing in Quincy, IL. He is married to Pam and has three children, Tom, Tyler and Jennifer. Mike has three grandchildren: Ryne, Ivy and Alicia.

View all sermons by this speaker.

True or False: If it's a good idea, go ahead and do it, it’s much easier to apologize then it is to get permission.

What is true about this statement? What is false about this statement? What happens when your good idea turned out to be a very bad idea? How does this statement change?

Sometimes the littlest thing in life changes something forever and there will be times when you wish you can go back to how things used to be but you just can't because things have changed so much.

For many people, maybe this is true of you; the most difficult problems are the result of our past mistakes. Some problems we can get behind us once and for all but there are some that seem to never go away. In fact, some continue to change and affect our lives no matter how hard we try to put the mistake behind us. But the ones that seem to hit the hardest are the ones we think we escaped from only to realize the effects were only delayed. It can be months or years later that the consequences of our disobedience comes back to haunt us.

In terms of emotional dynamics, this is exactly what happened to Abraham and Sarah. They made a serious mistake taking things into their own hands and using Hagar to produce a son. But 13 years later they discovered their mistake and got back on track spiritually. Isaac was born and everything seemed wonderful for several years. Then it happened. But hold that thought.

“It has been said, 'time heals all wounds.' I do not agree. The wounds remain. In time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens. But it is never gone.” Rose Kennedy

I think time can be a deceiver. As time moves along it can cause us to have a false sense of reality to think that disobedience that was done in the past is forgotten or lost and not able to catch up with the present. But for many who find themselves in these types of situations, time is not lost, it has moved ahead waiting for us to catch up to it with the consequences of our actions in its hand. Disobedience has consequences. Not all consequences are alike and not all consequences follow the same time table. God has used time to his advantage to reap the right effect so we learn not to do that mistake again. It is more than a teachable moment; it is a life altering experience to change the very soul of the ones He loves.

Are there any examples of this in scripture? Are there people who disobeyed God and thought they got away with it? Samson, Ananias and Sapphira, David. Achan

Genesis 21:1-5 Now the LORD was gracious to Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did for Sarah what he had promised. Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the very time God had promised him. Abraham gave the name Isaac to the son Sarah bore him. When his son Isaac was eight days old, Abraham circumcised him, as God commanded him. Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him.
I love how this passage starts out, “The Lord was gracious to Sarah”. In spite of al the mistakes Sarah had made concerning the promise of God, God was still faithful and did what He said He would do. God who is capable in making nature act against itself caused an old man and old woman, a couple who was not able to have children, bore a son. If we learn anything from this passage, we must always remember this, God cannot lie. When God makes a promise, He will never break it. We can always count on God.

There are several promises God made to us when we entered into our covenant with Him. Every one of those promises are fact in our lives. What God promises, He keeps no matter what. Paul even wrote about this when he sent a letter to Titus:

Titus 1:1-3 Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ for the faith of God’s elect and the knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness—a faith and knowledge resting on the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time, and at his appointed season he brought his word to light through the preaching entrusted to me by the command of God our Savior…

Everything Paul wrote about here started with Abraham and Sarah. It all began when with God’s initial promise to Abraham when he lived in Ur. Although Abraham had no clue as to the what this promise would eventually mean – as we do – God was referring to the blessing of salvation that would come through Jesus Christ.

Look at the statement found in this passage; what does, “at the very time God had promised him”, mean? We see this very same idea used when Paul writes in Galatians:

Galatians 4:4 But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son…

Reference was made that the arrival of Isaac happened on God’s time table, not Sarah’s, not Abraham’s; but in God’s time. The same with Jesus; He came at the time God designated the Messiah to come. Jesus basically is an extension of the promise God made with Abraham. Starting with Isaac, the linage would eventually end up with Jesus when all of mankind can be saved through the blood of Jesus and accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior.

What is in a name? Do you know what your given name means? When you named your own kids, did you take into consideration what the names meant? Does your kids live up to what their names mean?

Genesis 17:15-17, 19 I will bless her and will surely give you a son by her. I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her.” Abraham fell facedown; he laughed and said to himself, “Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?... Then God said, “Yes, but your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac.

Again, here is one of those times if we aren’t paying attention we miss the dynamics of what is written. There is significance in the name God chose for Abraham’s son. The name was meant to be a reminder to Abraham of his attitude about God’s power and abilities to do things beyond man’s comprehension.

What are some of the famous names in the Bible and their meanings?

Isaac: He laughs
Ishmael: God will hear
Esau: Hairy
Jacob: Supplanter, one who wrongfully or illegally seizes and holds the place of another
Benjamin: son of the right hand
Daniel: God is my judge
Michael: One like God
David: Beloved
Moses: Deliverer
Nabal: Fool

Imagine today if a 90 year old woman and a 99 year old man had a baby naturally? What would the headlines say? What reaction would there be to such an odd event? What questions would the news media ask when they went to interview the couple sitting there with their new born baby?

How does this event contrast to the Christian experience today? What about Abraham and Sarah that needed El Shaddai to step in and act on their behalf? Abraham and Sarah were as good as dead when it came to giving birth to a new life. God (El Shaddai) out of grace caused them to do something that was impossible for them to do themselves. The Christian is no different; before knowing Christ we too were as good as dead. But Jesus gave us our life back, a new birth takes place. We become new creations (babies), God makes all thinsg new that is impossible for man to do himself.

Genesis 21:6-7 Sarah said, “God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.” And she added, “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.”

What a contrast from the last time we heard Sarah speak. In fact, the last time she spoke it too was packaged in laughter except this time the laughter was much different. No longer is Sarah’s laughter in disbelief and sarcasm; it is full of rejoicing and happiness. What use to be a dream or a figment of her imagination is now a reality.

Genesis 21:8 The child grew and was weaned, and on the day Isaac was weaned Abraham held a great feast.

The weaning process; what is it all about and why is it important? What is significant about it?

I did some study on what the weaning process was like in ancient Hebrew times. The term’ “weaned” referred to the time the child was totally off his mother’s sustenance. There are varying thought as to the age a child was weaned but according to several Jewish writings, the time period was somewhere between 18 months to five years. Samuel was weaned somewhere around three years old. After he was weaned, Hannah gave him to Eli and Samuel lived in the temple.

Why celebrate the time a child was weaned? The infancy and toddler stage in a child’s life was the most dangerous. Most children died during this period. The celebration marked a time of thanksgiving for allowing the child to live that long and to have a greater prospect to living to manhood. It also marked the time when the child could live away from mom and Dad could begin to teach the child life skills easier than with the boy hanging around mom.

How does the process of weaning contrast to the life of a Christian? What can we say about Christians who are not weaned spiritually?

Hebrews 5:11-14 We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.

Right when things were going so well and joy was spilling out everywhere, the consequences of Abraham and Sarah’s choices come into light. It had been sitting there waiting. It was going to take the right circumstance to allow the consequence of disobedience to show its head. What about Ishmael?

Genesis 21:8-10 The child grew and was weaned, and on the day Isaac was weaned Abraham held a great feast. But Sarah saw that the son whom Hagar the Egyptian had borne to Abraham was mocking, and she said to Abraham, “Get rid of that slave woman and her son, for that slave woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with my son Isaac.”

In this passage, something very important is missing? The absence of something had been going on probably for some time but it comes to a head now. What is missing?

The name of Ishmael is missing. No longer is Sarah’s wonderful son Ishmael all that wonderful. After 13 years of being the only son of Abraham, Ishmael now is relegated down to being the son of an Egyptian slave. Now that Isaac was born and it is clear Ishmael is not the real seed, there is no longer any place for he or is mother in their family or camp according to Sarah.

Ishmael probably is in his mid teens by now. As an alert teenager he probably saw clearly what was happening. Ever since he was old enough to remember, he heard from his parents that he was the promised seed. But for the last three or so years, he had been getting a different message; he discovered that his parents had made a serious mistake and he was the result of that mistake.

Put yourself in Ishmael’s shoes at the celebration Abraham threw for Isaac. What would be going through your mind and what emotions would be flowing through your body?

Genesis 21:11-14 The matter distressed Abraham greatly because it concerned his son. But God said to him, “Do not be so distressed about the boy and your maidservant. Listen to whatever Sarah tells you, because it is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned. I will make the son of the maidservant into a nation also, because he is your offspring.” Early the next morning Abraham took some food and a skin of water and gave them to Hagar. He set them on her shoulders and then sent her off with the boy. She went on her way and wandered in the desert of Beersheba.

Here is a classic example of Abraham not making the same mistake twice. Back in Genesis 16, Sarah and Hager went at each other. Instead of handling the situation properly Abraham evaded his responsibility and put the responsibility for Hagar’s future back in her lap and told her to handle the problem. This time though, Abraham learned his lesson and even though he was deeply distressed with Sarah, he responded maturely.

What mature act did Abraham do this time instead of making the same mistake twice? He waited on God and asked God for the right decision. How hard was it for Abraham to release his son, the son for 13 years he thought was the promised seed, with his mom, out into the wilderness with no place to go? How did Abraham muster up the courage and willingness to do this to people he dearly loved?