“So Esau swore an oath, thereby selling all his rights as the firstborn to his brother, Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and lentil stew. Esau ate the meal, then got up and left. He showed contempt for his rights as the firstborn” (Genesis 25:33-34, NLT).
Esau and Jacob were twin sons of Isaac. As they grew up, Esau, the firstborn of the twins, was an outdoorsman and preferred by his father, Isaac. Jacob was a homebody and preferred by his mother, Rebekah.
“Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed, and said in his heart, ‘Will a child be born to a man one hundred years old? And will Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?’ … Sarah laughed to herself, saying, ‘After I have become old, shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?’ … So Sarah conceived and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the appointed time of which God had spoken to him. Abraham called the name of his son who was born to him, whom Sarah bore to him, Isaac….Now Abraham was one hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him. Sarah said, ‘God has made laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh with me.'” (Genesis 17:17; 18:12; 21:2-3,5-6, NASB).
The name Isaac means, “He laughs.” And, each time the verb “laugh” is used in these verses, it is a wordplay on the name “Isaac.” So, this extraordinary and somewhat humorous story of the miraculous birth of Isaac is actually a story of who gets the last laugh!
“When Abram was 99 years old, the Lord appeared to him, saying, I am God Almighty. Live in My presence and be blameless. I will establish My covenant between Me and you, and I will multiply you greatly” (Genesis 17:1-2, ESV).
Thirteen years after Ishmael’s birth, God again appeared to Abram, whom He renamed as Abraham during this appearance. In these verses God calls Himself “El Shaddai,” for which the meaning is unknown, but its translation as “God Almighty” is based on a tradition going back more than two thousand years.
“This is what the Lord says: Look, I am presenting to you the way of life and the way of death. Whoever stays in this city will die by the sword, famine, and plague, but whoever goes out and surrenders to the Chaldeans who are besieging you will live and will retain his life like the spoils of war. For I have turned against this city to bring disaster and not good—this is the Lord’s declaration. It will be handed over to the king of Babylon, who will burn it down” (Jeremiah 21:8-10, HCSB
King Zedekiah of Judah was depending on Pharaoh Hophra of Egypt to defeat Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon. Nevertheless, King Zedekiah sent one of his officials, Pashhur, and the priest, Zephaniah, to the prophet, Jeremiah, to ask him to foretell what the outcome of the Zedekiah’s rebellion against Babylon would be.
“Look, I am giving all this land to you! Go in and occupy it, for it is the land the Lord swore to give to your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and to all their descendants” (Deuteronomy 1:8, NLT).
To prepare the Israelites for the conquest of Canaan, Moses reminded them of life in Egypt, of the forty years of wandering in the wilderness, and of their past fearfulness that resulted in disobedience to God and rebellion against His promises.
“Lord, You are my portion and my cup of blessing; You hold my future. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance” (Psalm 16:5-6, HCSB)
These verses use language that is usually reserved for describing the land promised to Israel. Instead, the Psalmist proclaims that it is God Himself, not the land, that is the true inheritance.
This declaration is rather like the promise made to Aaron, the brother of Moses, and his progeny, the succession of high priests over Israel.
The priests had no inheritance of land in Israel!
“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…Thereafter, Hagar used another name to refer to the Lord, who had spoken to her. She said, You are the God who sees me.” Sarah, Abraham’s wife, gave Hagar, her servant, to Abraham as a concubine so that she would have Abraham’s child as was the social custom for a barren wife. God had promised Abraham and Sarah they would have a son and and the number of their descendants would be as numerous as the stars (vs. 15:5). Because they were both elderly (Abraham was 99 and Sarah was ten years younger), they were skeptical that God’s promise could be fulfilled through them so they tried to work it out themselves. When Hagar became pregnant, she began to treat Sarah with contempt. In return Sarah treated Hagar harshly and Hagar ran away. Hagar was beside a spring of water when an angel of the Lord appeared to her and told her to return and submit to Sarah and promised that her son, whom she would name Ishmael, would also have more descendants than she could count (vs. 15:9). Hagar named the well Beer-lahai-roi, which means “well of the Living One who sees me.” The name of the well and the name, Ishmael, which means “God hears” were reminders to Abraham and Sarah that God sees affliction and hears the cries of those in need. Sarah and Abraham should have asked God for help (as did their son Isaac in Genesis 25:21) rather than taking the fulfillment of God’s promise into their own hands. What seems like impossible difficulties can be resolved through God’s intervention. God sees the difficulties and hears the cry of the afflicted and can miraculously resolve the problem. God is the One Who Sees and Hears you. He sees your difficulty and hears your cries for help and He will answer and intervene on your behalf.