Questions to Consider
1. In lesson 13, we gave some thought to the idea that God made the formalized Abrahamic Covenant only with Abraham, not with Abraham and Sarah. But notice God’s attention to Sarah in verse 1. Analyze the two halves of verse 1. Who is the subject? The object? What action is performed? Compare verse 1 to Hebrews 11:11. What can we learn about Sarah’s faith and God’s faithfulness from these verses?
2. How old was Abraham when Isaac was born? (5) How old was Sarah? Imagine yourself becoming a first time mom at Sarah’s age. What might you be thinking? What are some of the things you might pray about? What are some new issues you might need to trust God about?
3. What does the name “Isaac” mean? (3- see footnote) There has been much laughter surrounding Sarah’s pregnancy and Isaac’s birth. Examine verse 6 along with these verses. How would you characterize Abraham’s and Sarah’s laughter? Scornful? Unbelieving? Shock and awe? Thinking about how absurd the situation would seem to others? (Hint: Think about how we often see God treat scorn and disbelief of His word in Scripture alongside the fact that Abraham and Sarah are both commended several times in the New Testament.) Who chose Isaac’s name? What kinds of things would Sarah have been reminded of every time she called Isaac’s name?
4. Look at Genesis 16:16 alongside 21:5, and factor in the fact that children were usually weaned (21:8) at 2-4 years of age in that time. Approximately how old would Ishmael have been in 21:9?
5. Read the footnote on verse 9, and examine this verse in a few other trustworthy translations. What set Sarah off? (10) Does this sort of behavior from Ishmael seem to fit with what God had spoken about him? Compare verses 10-13 with 17:18-21. Before Isaac was ever conceived, what had God already told Abraham and Sarah about which son would be “heir” of the Abrahamic Covenant? So what sort of heirship might Sarah have been concerned about Ishmael sharing with Isaac?
6. Compare Hagar’s second “exile” from Sarah’s household in verses 14-21 to her first in 16:6-15. What are some similarities? What are some differences? Which attributes of God are showcased in both of these stories? How is God “the God who sees me” (16:13) and “God hears” (16:11) in the second “exile” as well as the first? Compare Hagar’s trust in God in these two passages to the lack of trust in God Sarah has exhibited in recent passages.
7. Briefly review Sarah’s actions in Genesis 16 (lessons 11-12) with the consequences in both chapter 16 and chapter 21. How did Sarah’s sin of taking matters into her own hands instead of trusting God impact Abraham, Hagar, Ishmael, Isaac, and herself?
Consider the impact Sarah’s sin of failing to trust God had on all the members of her household. Consider the example Hagar still sets for us today because she trusted God. Think about a situation you’re going through in your own life. How could your failure to trust God hurt those around you? How could your trust in God set a godly example that might even open a door to sharing the gospel with someone?
Suggested Memory Verse
The Lord visited Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did to Sarah as he had promised.