“ The LORD took note of Sarah as He had said, and the LORD did for Sarah as He had promised.”
Genesis 21:1 (NASB)
“Abraham planted a tamarisk tree at Beersheba, and there he called on the name of the LORD, the Everlasting God.” Genesis 21:33 (NASB)
Reading the Bible through in a year is something I have done for several years. Some years I am more consistent than others, but I love seeing the continuity of God’s purposes and plans come to life in the pages of Scripture. However, I confess that I often read Scripture looking primarily at the events recorded and how they relate to me today. There is nothing wrong with that approach since the Bible is God’s letter to us, “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness” (2Timothy 3:16). But as I seek to know God more deeply and more intimately, I am learning to read His Word specifically looking for His revealed character. As I change my focus from “me” to Him, I discover purpose in even long lists of ancient genealogies that I skipped over in the past (i.e., God is in the details, and each person matters to Him), and I begin to look for Him, and find Him, in the mundane moments of my own life.
Genesis 21 provides a wonderful illustration of seeing God’s character as He interacts with His children. In this chapter, Isaac, the son of the promise, is born to Sarah and Abraham; Ishmael, Abraham’s son by the maid Hagar, begins to mock and torment Isaac so much that Sarah demands Abraham send both Ishmael and Hagar away from their camp; Abraham makes a treaty with Abimelech at Beersheba. Those are the recorded events, and it would be easy to read them with amazement at Isaac being born to such old parents, with pity for Hagar and Ishmael wandering in the desert, and even with conviction that Abimelech recognized God’s presence with Abraham. But when I read purposely looking for God, I see so much more than first grabs my attention.
- God, Jehovah, The Self-Existent One, NOTICES (Genesis 21:1): He is the God who takes note of His children; He pays attention to provide care and help much as a shepherd takes care of his flock; and nothing escapes His notice. God is intimately aware of His own and personally involved in every aspect of their lives.
- God ACCOMPLISHES (Genesis 21:1): God completes what He purposes. He is the One who “works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose” (Philippians 2:13).
- God is the PROMISE KEEPING GOD (Genesis 21:1): God always fulfills His promises. “For no matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘Yes’ in Christ” (2 Corinthians 1:20).
- God, Elohim, the Creator, has PERFECT TIMING (Genesis 21:2): Only God sees the whole picture. We see only a part. His timing will always bring Him glory.
- God brings DELIGHT (Genesis 21:6): God’s gifts are for our good and His glory, and we can laugh in delight with His blessings.
- God is the God of the IMPOSSIBLE (Genesis 21:7): Nothing is too hard for God!
- God is HOLY and calls us to SEPARATE lifestyles (Genesis 21:12): Isaac was set apart by God, the child through whom God would fulfill His promise to Abraham and needed to be separate from the world.
- God HEARS (Genesis 21:17): Our cries and our distress wherever we are at is never unheard or ignored.
- God OPENS our eyes (Genesis 21:19): In His mercy and love, God opens our eyes to His provision in our time of need.
- God is PRESENT WITH us (Genesis 21:20): Even when we wander in the wilderness, God is with us, always present.
- God, El Olam is EVERLASTING (Genesis 21:33): The personal, intimate God of Abraham is the Everlasting God, who was and is and will be forever. He is the God we can always rely on, and He is worthy of praise and worship.
Who God is in Genesis 21 is who God is today in my life, and I want that truth to impact me. I want to recognize and remember all the times God has taken note of me. I want to claim His promises and live in the assurance of His victory. I want to live a consecrated life of dependence on Him, not looking to the things of this world to satisfy me. I want Him to open my eyes to His purpose and provision and be aware of His presence with me. I want to give Him the “impossible” in my life and trust His timing and His power to accomplish all He has purposed. I want to delight in Him and pray confidently knowing that He hears. I want the Abimelech’s of this world to see Him in me. I want confident and steadfast faith in El Olam, the Everlasting God.
When I read Scripture with my eyes on who God is, His Word comes alive to me. As I depend on Him to apply His truth to my life, His Word changes me. When I focus on God, my circumstances have perspective. And always, when I focus on God, worship and praise for who He is flow from a grateful heart.