The following is an excerpt from Explore the Bible: Genesis—The Life of Abraham, a six-session study published by Lifeway. You can order this study at lifeway.com, and you can check out other resources in the Explore the Bible curriculum at lifeway.com/explorethebible.
God Keeps His Promises
The LORD came to Sarah as He had said, and the LORD did for Sarah what He had promised.
Genesis 21 records the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham and Sarah. God asked them to trust Him with their future. They followed Him by faith into a new land and now, years after the original promise of offspring, they saw God’s promise fulfilled. Their leap of faith into the future God had for them was met by the Lord’s faithfulness in providing a son and keeping His word.
Although 25 years had passed since the promise was originally made, God kept His word. The Lord acted “as He had said” and did “what He had promised.” This verse is a strong reminder of the trustworthy nature of the Lord. We can trust Him because He’s always trustworthy. He keeps His word and His promises to His people. He doesn’t mislead us or fail us. Although His timing may certainly surprise us, His faithfulness ought never to do so. He’s a God who can be depended on because He’s absolutely dependable.
Although Sarah and Abraham both received the promise, Sarah is singled out in this verse as one who received the fulfillment of the promise made by the Lord. God’s promise to Sarah wasn’t a general, generic promise but a personal one. When God makes a promise to us in His Word, we need to recognize it as a personal promise to us. His Word applies to our lives specifically and individually, not just in a general or generic sense. God desires a personal, intimate relationship with each of us.
Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the appointed time God had told him.
Just as God promised, Sarah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. This birth happened “at the appointed time,” in fulfillment of the promise. That is, the birth certainly didn’t fit Abraham and Sarah’s expected schedule. But it was at the appointed time in God’s plan. He’d planned for this event to occur at this exact moment.
Although God’s timing is certainly different from human beings’ timing, God is always on time. Abraham and Sarah were surprised by the timing, but God wasn’t surprised in the slightest. How comforting it is for believers to recognize that God isn’t surprised by the details and circumstances of our lives. He’s well aware of our needs and the conditions of our lives. He fulfills His word at the right time, if not at the expected time.
You’ll never face a problem that catches the Lord by surprise. You can be assured of His care and provision as you trust Him through those problems. The 25 years of waiting must have been difficult for Abraham and Sarah, but those years led to deeper faith in the Lord. Many times it’s to our great advantage that God allows us to wait on answers to prayer rather than answering immediately. God often blesses us through times of questions and doubts in ways we couldn’t have experienced otherwise.
Excerpted from Afshin Ziafat, Explore the Bible: Genesis—The Life of Abraham © 2015 Lifeway Press®. Used by permission.
Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission.