Third Sunday after Pentecost (June 25th)

Pastor's Summary of Genesis 21:8-21

Isaac has been born to Abraham and Sarah, in their old age, and has been circumcised, a sign of being one of God's people. Sarah has said, "God has brought laughter for me" (v. 6). Now aged three, Isaac is weaned: an occasion for a religious feast. 16:11 and 16:16 identify Ishmael as "the son of Hagar" (v. 9), but he is not named in today's reading--an indication that he ranks lower than Isaac. (When Sarah was unable to bear Abraham a son, he exercised the legal option of producing an heir through a slave woman.) Sarah sees Ishmael "playing" (v. 9, or laughing) with Isaac. She sees a real threat to her own life so she asks Abraham to "cast out" (v. 10_ Hagar and Ishmael. Abraham hesitates, for he loves Ishmael and ancient law forbade such a deed. God says to Abraham: go ahead, do as she asks, I will solve the problem; your line will continue through Isaac, and Ishmael will also become father of a nation (vv. 12-13). Abraham is obedient to God: he provides Hagar with provisions, and throws her and her son out. When the water is exhausted, Hagar realizes that death is near (vv. 15-16). God hears Ishmael's cry (Ishmael means God harkens); Hagar sees a well, "God was with the boy" (v. 20): he grows up and becomes a nomad ("expert with the bow"), lives in northern Sinai ("Paran", v. 21) and marries an Egyptian-all points which indicate his exclusion from God's specific plan. Genesis continues with the story of Isaac.