Speaker: Abdu Murray
Scripture: Genesis 21:1-21

From the series Part 3

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Can we thank the students that helped us with that reading? They did a great job, didn’t they? Well, it’s my pleasure to introduce Abdu Murray to you as our guest speaker. Abdu, you came in November. We liked it so much that we asked you back. And it’s tough to get this guy because he’s a sought-after speaker all across the nation and the world, places like MIT and other universities where an evangelist and apologist. He’s also an author and you can see on the screen there is a part of Embrace the Truth Ministries and so you can follow him or just scan that QR code and get updates on where he is and what he’s doing. And we’re so excited to have you.

I always feel short when I’m next to you, so I’m going to get off the stage. Would you help? Welcome, Abdu Murray. Thank you, Murray. Thank you, D.J. Well, thank you for having me once again. It’s a pleasure to be back. It’s not often that I get to do this this quickly where I turn to a church. I should say that and qualify that because I do get to come back to churches. They do invite me twice. And either you weren’t paying attention to the announcements or your weapons for punishment, you’re here twice about me being here, but it’s truly a pleasure and

an honor. And by the way, one of the best parts about the worship service, although the words of the songs that were chosen were so deep and to perform so beautifully. In fact, hopefully you’ll see that there’s a theme woven not only in the worship songs in terms of the beauty of the inspiration of worship, but in the theme. I didn’t even talk with him about what those words would be, but you’re going to see a lot of that theme effervescing in the course of the morning we have together. But one of the best parts about the worship was the guitar keyboard that I haven’t seen since the Thomas Dolby days. So JJ, you blinded me with science today, man. Thank you. And everyone under 25 has no

idea what I’m going to be following up. I mentioned, I spoke last time on Genesis chapter 16, which as you know, was the story of the birth of Ishmael to Abraham and Sarah. Abraham and Sarah were waiting on the promise but didn’t wait long and they basically said, hey, look, we’re going to do it ourselves and have a plan according to our own desires, our own flesh, is that Sarah’s idea was take this woman, Hagar, who is my handmaid or Hajar, Hajar is how you say it in Arabic, but Hagar is probably the proper way to say it, take her and maybe I’ll have children through her and then of course Abraham is born a son named Ishmael. Now you know the story, I’m going to briefly say it, is that essentially

after some time, Hagar was lording over the fact that she was actually fertile over infertile Sarah and was making fun of her for it or at least making her feel bad about it and this caused enmity between the two and eventually Sarah was like treated her so poorly that Hagar had to leave. She fled because of the abuse that she was suffering even while pregnant it was so bad that she was willing to literally go and risk her life in the wilderness rather than stay and of course in the middle of her anguish God encounters her at a well and says look go back I know it’s going to be rough but go back I’m going to

redeem this whole thing and I’m going to make your son into a great nation and there’s a lot more there or about what I said go back and watch the video that I’m sure is stated on the kept on the YouTube channel for the church but that’s the context we’re not returning back to this family in terms of this dynamic and one of the things I pointed out was that the way God encountered Hajar at the well was not the last time one he would even encounter her at the well and you see messages of scripture that read this is not the last time that God will encounter her at a well and it won’t be the last time God encounters a woman outside of the Hebrews at a well

either John chapter 4 you see Jesus God incarnate himself encountering a woman of Samaria who is an outcast who is who is hated not only by her own village of outcasts but by the nation of Israel as well and he says that being included in the family of God is not a matter of DNA it’s a matter of those who worship God in spirit and in truth so you see that God encounters people especially those who are the outcasts and the downtrodden at these places of wells where the water is fresh and the well as a woman says in of Samaria the well is

in fact deep so you see that one of the things that I wanted to point out in the previous message and I’m rehashing it slightly friends because I want a continuation of what I was speaking about last time is that there were three things that Jesus spoke to the woman at the well in a way that that God spoke to Hajar as she was suffering as well in the middle of all this turmoil and it was that in our suffering in our conflicts whether they’re global conflicts or their family conflicts or whatever it might be three things emerge there is the cry of sorrow whenever there’s a loss there’s always the cry of sorrow because whether it’s a loss of dignity or property or life or

safety or whatever it might be there’s that sorrow that comes that grieving that comes then there’s the demand for justice because whoever did this to us those lousy so-and-sos and you always notice by the way it’s always them it’s never us but it’s always them those lousy so-and-sos must be held to account for what they’ve done and I demand justice. And then there is the question of love because sometimes justice is not coming anytime soon. Sometimes it seems delayed. Sometimes it seems like the victim is actually the aggressor and people will judge the victim for being the aggressor when that’s not fair either. And so the question of love, does

love does the community love us does God love us if he lets us go through this for this long without any sense of respite sorrow justice and love what I argued last time was that the cross is the one place in the history of the world where in actual history not just a matter of mythology or theology but in actual history the cross is the resolution of sorrow justice and love because it is Christ who felt that sorrow that you and I deserve to feel so that justice can be satisfied and sin is actually paid for but you and I don’t pay for and the reason we don’t is because of God’s infinite love for us so

that’s the place where all three things converge what I want to share with you today is that the gospel message is not just about the convergence and the resolution of sorrow justice and love but it’s about the transformation of sorrow justice and love into three things that we can bank on in terms of what this is all about and so we read this text and I think you can see the sorrow the justice and the love emerging from the text as it were whether it’s from Abraham and Isaac and Sarah or from Ishmael and her, his mother, Hajar. Everybody is going through this to some degree.

Now, I’m not going to reread the entirety of the passage, that will be on the screen behind you. I’m going to highlight certain parts of the passage for time’s sake. But of course, what we’re seeing here in Genesis chapter 21 is the promise that was given to Abraham and Sarah is finally being fulfilled. And the passage actually starts off with that, that God has visited Sarah as he promised and he did for her what he had promised in the first place. Now what’s interesting about this is that Abraham calls the name of his son who was born to him whom Sarah

bore him Isaac. Now in Hebrew it’s Itzhak. Itzhak means laughter. Now I want you to notice something in the passage. This is one of the beautiful bits of scripture you know I’m often amazed by this book and I said this last time and I’m perpetually amazed by it you know you read a passage several times through when you’re preparing for a message and you realize that there are enough hours in a in the given year for you go through a passage and put out all the little gems that you find bubbling up from the passage of scripture but Isaac means laughter it’s hawk is the word it

means laughter and of course you see here in the chapter that as Sarah is realizing the benefit of the promise of this son whose name is a laughter Sarah said God has made laughter for me has made it’s Hock for me everyone who hears will it’s Hock will laugh over me now there’s ways to laugh of course there’s just an amusing laugh like haha that was a funny joke or there’s that laugh of jubilation when you’ve had something so surprising so wonderful even though you were hoping it happened You didn’t quite expect it to happen But then it does happen and your joy is so great that you don’t just smile

You don’t just say that’s fantastic or woo and pump your fists in the air or whatever it might be sometimes the joy is so overflowing that it results in laughter and There’s so many around you who will laugh in joy as well when God’s blessing comes over you and so that’s what’s happening here in the text is that Sarah is so joyous over this blessing over the promise being fulfilled her name her son’s name is indicative of the circumstance she finds herself in in other words God provides every human person Isaac with his name it’s Huck he provides it in the context of actual history his name has meaning because Isaac has meaning and has purpose now we go on starting in verse

eight and the child grew and was weaned and Abraham made a great feast on the day that it’s Huck the laughter was weaned but Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian whom she whom she had born to Abraham laughing now this causes a reaction in Sarah now I want you to notice this, remember the word laughter. The Hebrew word for laughter that’s used of the name Isaac, Itzhak, is also used for Sarah’s laughter as she is laughing in joy over the promise that is being fulfilled in Isaac. It’s the exact same word used here about Ishmael’s laughing in the presence of Isaac as well. Now, at first blush when you read this you think to yourself, wait a minute,

Sarah sees him laughing and that’s cause for removal from the whole family? Now, as you notice from Genesis chapter 16, there’s a bit of baggage going on. Now, some scholars tell you that this word laughter, this word laughing, actually can mean a neutral thing where he’s just playing with a boy and he’s being the new infant and he’s laughing in amusement. Another way to look at it is that it’s actually a laughter of scorn or of scoffing in a derisive term. In other words, you’re the baby. Yeah, sure, you’re the baby of promise, but I’m still the firstborn. And so

that’s one way to look at it as well. In fact, when you read Galatians chapter 4, Paul talks about this relationship in an allegorical sense and he actually says that the older persecuted the younger that were persecuted is pretty strong there but Paul’s using it in an allegorical sense so the question is what’s going on here what’s happening here with it’s Hock and Ishmael the two sons of Abraham what’s going on here enough to cause their Sarah to think that there’s a threat to the air of Abraham they kicked him out, get rid of him. Something’s happening here. Now, at this point, Ishmael is not a baby. He’s not even, you know, a toddler or a young boy,

grade school age kind of a thing. He’s a teenager now. So he’s much older. And she says to Abraham, cast out the slave woman with her son, for the son of this slave woman will not be heir with my son Isaac. In other words, he’s making himself at least, if not greater than Isaac, he’s making himself at least equal to Isaac and there’s going to be problems in this family. I can foresee it already happening. So she says, kick him out. Abraham doesn’t want that, as the scripture says. And the thing was very displeasing to Abraham on account of his son. Now the New English translation of the Bible, which is a more scholarly word-for-word translation the ESV is quite quite a good scholarly

translation but I like the way the NET actually makes a little more direct it doesn’t say and the thing was very displeasing it makes it very explicit Sarah’s demand displeased Abraham greatly because Ishmael was his son but then God says of course Abraham don’t let this distress you too much I already promised her and you that I would make Ishmael a great nation. I’ll take care of them. There’s going to be strife in your family if because of this favoritism and by the

way I don’t know if you’ve noticed it and John Lennox points this out in his book on Joseph and in other books as well. There’s this whole history of favoritism that happens. You know, Sarah favors Isaac. Isaac favors Jacob. Jacob favors Joseph. It causes all kinds of problems. Human partiality is a big issue here. But you can begin to see the struggle and the strife and the sorrow that’s coming. And then God says to Abraham, do not be distressed over this thing, so because through Isaac your offspring will be named, but I will make a nation of the son of the slave woman also, because he is your offspring you gotta put a pin in that because it’s going to come back up later

because he is your offspring I want you to make sure you remember that because he is your offspring and of course what ends up happening is that Abraham sends them away he’s grieved over the whole thing and this won’t be the last time he’s grieved over something that has to do with his sons you’ll hear about that soon too about the sacrifice he’s commanded to make of Isaac himself. And then of course they go out in the wilderness. What is interesting to me is that God hears the cries of the boy. As you know from the story, and we just read it, is that Hagar and her son are out there and the skin of water is now depleted. There’s no more water out in

the wilderness. And Hagar finds herself in the exact same position she was in when she voluntarily left the first time, and now it’s not so voluntary and what she does is she takes her son her teenage son and puts him under a bush and this walks away a bow shot away a bow shot is not that close I mean a bow shots far like a football field away because she doesn’t want to even hear his groaning as he dies of thirst she goes away and the angel the Lord comes to her and says other you don’t want to hear your sons moaning, but God has heard. He promised you would make him a great nation. You will make him a great nation. I will give you would make him a great nation. You will make him a great nation. I will give you the water.