« AnteriorContinuar »
and grieved that Sarah should ask him to punish Hagar and Ishmael so severely.
But God determined that these children should be the heads of great nations, and in his wise providence he caused this affair to bring about what he intended should take place. “ And God said unto Abraham, Let it not be grievous in thy sight.” So then God saw Ishmael mocking Isaac. “God," says Mr. Henry once more, “ takes notice what children do in their play, and will reckon with them if they say or do amiss, though their parents do not.”
And so the end of all this was, that Ishmael was turned out of doors for his bad behaviour, and his mother too, for not teaching him better.
And now, from the fourteenth to the nineteenth verses of the chapter, you have a very wonderful account of God's kindness to Hagar and Ishmael, when they were cast out. Abraham gave Hagar some bread, and a bottle of water, and sent her and her son away. And she wandered about in the wilderness, or wild country ; and when the water was all drunk, and they were fainting with thirst and fatigue, she cast her son under one of the shrubs; and she sat down at a little distance and wept. And the poor boy cried aloud ; “ And God heard the voice of the lad; and the angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven, and said unto her, What aileth thee, Hagar? fear not, for God hath heard the voice of the lad where he is. And God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water ; and she went, and filled the bottle with water and gave the lad drink." Perhaps her eyes were swollen with crying, and she could scarcely see ; but now she dried her tears, and looked around, and lo! there was a well which she had not seen before, and she and her son did not perish with thirst.
My dear young friend, wherever we are, there is a good God that looks down upon us.
If even our friends forsake us, let us never forget to trust in God. Perhaps when Hagar “lifted up her voice, and wept," she also prayed—and so, perhaps, did Ishmael; for they must have learnt so to do in the dwelling of pious Abraham. And God was there, to hear their prayers and their cries, and to see their tears. Let this comfort you when you are in sorrow, and teach you to pray to God for his help. He will then surely bless you, and do you good.
Note 1.-You must have seen that we first spelt the name of Isaac's father ABRAY, and then ABRAHAM, for God altered his name. About this you read in the 17th chapter, and 4th and following verses. Abraham means “the father of a great mul. titude;" and from Abraham came all the Jews, who long served God: and all good
men, as they are like Abraham, believe in God, and are called Abraham's seed, or children.
Note 2.--You must also have seen that we first spelt the name of Isaac's mother SARAI, and then SARAH ; for in the 17th chapter of Genesis, and 15th and following Ferses, we learn that God changed her name. Sarai means “my princess,” but Sarah, "a princess;" for when God made her the mother of Isaac, she was to be the mother, or princess, of many nations, that should be born of her race; and especially in her family, in course of time, was to be born Jesus Christ, “ the Prince of Peace."
Abraham offering up his Son Isaac.
GENESIS XXII. 2. Abraham had long wished to have a son, and when Isaac was born, he was called by the name Isaac, which means Laughter, to show how glad the good old man and his aged wife were, to have a son to comfort them in their old age, and whom they could both love.
But perhaps they thought of Isaac more than of God; and if they did so, they did that which was very wrong, for we ought to love God above all persons or things in the world.
Abraham and Sarah, no doubt, knew all this, and they did love God; but still there might be a danger of their loving Isaac so as to give him a share of love that did not belong to him, but to God only.
Perhaps, therefore, to put Abraham to the trial, and to show how far he would go in his love, as well as what real love to God can do, “ God did tempt Abraham."
To tempt, among us, means to entice one another to do any thing, and Fery often to do a wrong thing; but here it means only to try.
But what was this trial ? God spake to Abraham, and said, “ Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah ; and offer him there for a burnt-offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.” Now, burnt-offerings were slain beasts, whose bodies, laid on the altar, were all consumed by fire.
Poor Abraham! had God said, I will make thy dear son sick; had he even said, In a few hours Isaac shall die : this would not half so much have pained his heart. But to be told to take his son for a sacrifice, and to offer him himself,—his only son Isaac !Isaac, whom he loved ! Perhaps he wept very bitterly. Perhaps he prayed that Isaac might be spared. But God's will must be done, and he said nothing against it.
You may wonder that God should command him to kill his son ; and were any one to suppose he had such a command now, he would show that he was tempted by the wicked spirit, and not tried by the Almighty: but, in those times, God spake in various ways to pious men, so that they knew when he did speak; and Abraham knew that he would not order him to do any thing that was wrong.
“ And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt-offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him.”
This journey took Abraham three days, so that all this time he might have repented and turned back. But Abraham knew that God was able to raise
his son, even from the dead; and as God had told him that Isaac should be his heir, he would not dispute his word, but went on his way.
And now he came near the spot, and leaving the young men, he went up the mountain. “And Abraham took the wood of the burnt-offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son ; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife ; and they went both of them together." Oh, what a moment was this for poor Abraham ! in a few minutes more, and his dear, dear son Isaac must be killed, and bleed like a lamb upon the altar ; so he thought. Who can tell how much he was pained at his heart ? but still he obeyed God.
Isaac had been taught, by his good father, to sacrifice to God, as was the custom of those days, and he began to wonder where the sacrifice was, and very innocently said, “My father, behold the fire and the wood; but where is the lamb for a burnt-offering ?” Oh, how this must have touched the good old man's heart ! Isaac had been a good son, and it was wonder, then, if he dearly loved him. But he could not then make up his mind to tell him, and he only said-still, perhaps, hoping that God would spare him in the end .“ My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burntoffering; so they went both of them together.”
And now Abraham built the altar, and laid the wood in order—oh, did not his hands and his heart tremble? And now, perhaps, he said with a trembling voice, “My Isaac, my dearly beloved Isaac ! my son! my own son! my only son! thou joy of my old age! Oh, how shall I tell thee but I must; thou art the sacrifice, and God has required it.” Perhaps, too, he sobbed, and ceased to speak in the midst of his grief: all this was not unlikely. But, perhaps, as he had great faith in God, he shed no tear, nor breathed a single sigh. He knew that all he did must be right; at least he had much of such a spirit in him: and, like Abraham, when God afflicts us, we ought to say as Jesus Christ has taught us, “Thy will be done."