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God's Way, God's Time

by Wayne Dailey,
Senior Pastor, Bethel Revival Center

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God's Way, God's Time

by Wayne Dailey
Senior Pastor, Bethel Revival Center
43 Norwood St.
Everett, MA 02149

And the LORD visited Sarah as He had said, and the LORD did unto Sarah as He had spoken.

This is speaking about the birth of Isaac. What do you think that day might have really been like when Isaac was born? And after such a long wait! It must have been a very interesting day and a very strange day for Sarah and Abraham.

Many things had happened during those twenty five years since God had told Abraham of his promised son. So much was hinged upon the fact that he would have a child through Sarah, who had been barren all those years. And now, up there at 90 years old, she gave birth to this promised child! God acted: He visited Sarah and worked a miracle in her life — in His set time.

We can learn a lot about promises by looking at Abraham and at his life.

One thing, this proves a point: If God makes a promise and you're willing to hold fast — embracing it and believing it — God will bring it to pass. It doesn't matter how long it takes. God will do what He plans and purposes to do.

Everything started out with Abraham receiving a great promise from God:

Genesis 12:1-3
Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will show thee: and I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: and I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.

This started a string of promises, a string of very far-reaching promises: Would God tell a man that He was going to make him a father of many nations . . . or that somehow all the families of the earth would be tied to him . . . or that all the nations of the earth would be blessed through him? Don't those things sound far-reaching? Listen, it's not merely far-reaching, it is so far-reaching that it hasn't stopped yet.

It's a great thought, a great thing. Was Abraham crazy? No, he heard from God and he believed God. It just took that promise — and a faithful man who would believe it — for God to bring it to pass.

Now, think about Isaac: Here's a child brought into the world who would be so important. But he's not the only child to be born who would have an important purpose for his life. Adam and Eve also had been told of a Child who would have a very important purpose:

Genesis 3:15
And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

This is speaking of the promise of Jesus. Eve bore a righteous seed unto God when Seth was born. But he wasn't the answer to what God had said; only temporarily, just a part of the promise that would come through Jesus. All these promises fall in line.

Others Born
With a Great Purpose

Think about Jeremiah: He wasn't just a prophet; he was a timely prophet, one who came right on time — God's time.

Jeremiah 1:5
Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.

And what about Elizabeth and the child that God gave her? Her son, John, was another ordained of God from his very conception:

Luke 1:13-17
But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John. And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth.

For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb. And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God.

And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.

The Promise Goes On

Now, Isaac is a type of Christ, a perfect type of Christ. And, as such, it's important to note that it is going to be through his lineage that the promises to Abraham will come forth.

Try to fathom the promise of God in bringing Isaac into the world. Only in the wisdom of God would you find a family such as Abraham's family. Everything was tied to the fact that Abraham must needs have a child through Sarah.

So, the promise was first given to Abraham. But then the promise had to take shape and direction. Abraham believed, and thus the promise could go on to the next generation. This promised son has to grow up, get married, and have a son too. For the promise to continue that God made Isaac, he would have to have a son. That was the course it would take.

As we read the Word, we see where, when the right time came, Isaac married Rebekah. And through her they had twins. Now there's another generation added to Abraham's family. We see these twins, and now we're stuck! Christ can't come through both of these boys. So God made a choice before these twins were born, when they were struggling in the womb:

Genesis 25:22,23
And the children struggled together within her; and she said, If it be so, why am I thus? And she went to inquire of the LORD. And the LORD said unto her, Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger.

Two nations are in your womb. These twin boys, Jacob and Esau, were born to Isaac and Rebekah. God chose Jacob, but Esau was a profane person. Esau wasn't spiritual. He wasn't one who loved God like one should love God.

There are those who take the things which are spiritual and holy and treat them as something profane, some evil and worthless. And this is just what Esau did.

Hebrews 12:16,17
Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.

Esau sold his birthright for a morsel of food. That's profane. He was hungry one day, but it cost him something to satisfy that hunger. It cost him something more than just the fact that he sold his birthright: It set the tenor in his life. He wasn't the type of person that one would look at and say, "I would like to be an Esau." Did you ever hear anybody say that?

Obedience Is Essential

Genesis 21:4
And Abraham circumcised his son Isaac being eight days old, as God had commanded him.

Think about things like this: If God said to do it on the eighth day, would it be all right to do it on the seventh? Or maybe wait until the ninth? Listen, it's always best to be obedient, doing just as you are told to do.

There are exceptions to some rules, and there are those who always look for exceptions, always look for a way to do things their way. Some would say, "A day earlier won't hurt, neither would a day later do any harm."

What if it was impossible to do it on the eighth day? Maybe there would be a special case where it was impossible. But should that become the rule, or should it be the exception?

The thief didn't come down from the cross and get baptized after he believed on Jesus. Yet, the Word would teach us to be baptized after we have believed — see Matthew 28:19. The man on the cross wasn't the rule. He was the exception.

God's Promises Are Sure

Genesis 21:7
And she said, Who would have said unto Abraham, that Sarah should have given children suck? for I have born him a son in his old age.

When God made this faithful promise to Abraham (that Sarah was going to have this child), it happened just as He had said. Who would have ever thought that, after all those years, Sarah would be holding a little infant in her arms — her own son! Think of the miracle that would have to take place for a frail, old woman to have her youth renewed and be enabled to conceive and have a child!

Strange as it might sound, God brought it to pass. It certainly took a great, creative miracle for God to remake Sarah's body so she would have all it would take to conceive and bring forth a child. All of those things would have been long gone.

This child was a child of promise — a promise fulfilled at this point — yet a promise that reaches ahead over the ages.

We should always bear in our mind, no matter what it looks like, our God is still able. Promises are something, then, that are great. And we've got to learn, as we walk along in this life, to stand on the promises of God.

I'm a person who's prone to believe what God tells me. It's just my nature. I believe what God said, and when He promises something, I embrace that promise. I hold on to it, wait and pray, doing what God tells me to do, knowing that one day I will see that promise fulfilled.

God makes long range promises and He makes short range promises. Some promises we have to patiently wait for, while others are fulfilled rather quickly.

God is still working through His promise to Abraham. Through that promise, Christ came, the promised seed who would be the Saviour of the world.

One thing we know: All of those things that have been promised will be fulfilled. What God spoke will always come to pass — in His time. Think big in your heart, and try to span the plan of God with your eyes and through the hearing of His Word. See that God has it all planned out from before the foundation of the world, and He is carrying it out day by day.

Genesis 21:8
And the child grew, and was weaned: and Abraham made a great feast the same day that Isaac was weaned.

How important this day really was. Sarah has finished her job and Abraham made a great feast. There's Abraham and all of those who were around him, all those servants in his household.

Sometimes Faith
Requires Letting Go

Now he has two sons: Ishmael and young Isaac. I smell trouble. Abraham has two sons: one is Sarah's son, and the other is Hagar's son. This is not going to work. This is not going to work out. We have to take this thought and deal with it.

Genesis 21:9-11
And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, which she had born unto Abraham, mocking. Wherefore she said unto Abraham, Cast out this bondwoman and her son: for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac. And the thing was very grievous in Abraham's sight because of his son.

Ishmael was Abraham's son too. And here, Sarah was telling him to cast out his son whom he loved. Wouldn't you love your son? This wasn't easy for Abraham to deal with.

Genesis 21:12
And God said unto Abraham, Let it not be grievous in thy sight because of the lad, and because of thy bondwoman; in all that Sarah hath said unto thee, hearken unto her voice; for in Isaac shall thy seed be called.

This was unusual for God to tell someone to do what his wife told him to do. God told him not to let it be grievous in his sight but to hearken unto what Sarah had said to him. Abraham had to take it to heart that he had to just let Ishmael go with his mother. Here's another separation in Abraham's life. He left his country and kindred, then his nephew Lot left him. That was necessary, and this seems to be even more necessary.

Genesis 21:13
And also of the son of the bondwoman will I make a nation, because he is thy seed.

So, through Abraham's son Ishmael, God would make a nation. This, too, would be part of God making Abraham father of many nations.

Sometimes you find yourself between a rock and a hard place, where there's something you have to do that's not easy, something that will affect you. How do you deal with such a place? How do you obey when hard times are upon you and there are some difficult things you have to obey God in?

Genesis 21:14
And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and took bread, and a bottle of water, and gave it unto Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, and the child, and sent her away: and she departed, and wandered in the wilderness of Beer-sheba.

This was grievous for Abraham to have to do. This wasn't easy, but God told him to do it, so he did. He didn't do it because Sarah had told him to do it: He did it because God had told him to do it. God knew what was best here for Abraham to do. Ishmael wasn't going to be an heir; and if he stayed, he would just be a source of problems.

Genesis 21:15,16
And the water was spent in the bottle, and she cast the child under one of the shrubs. And she went, and sat her down over against him a good way off, as it were a bowshot: for she said, Let me not see the death of the child. And she sat over against him, and lift up her voice, and wept.

Here we find the water is gone and they're wandering out there in the wilderness. Does this sound right?

God Works All Things for Good

The question is this: If God told Abraham to do something, wouldn't He be prepared to deal with the situation with him? And wouldn't God take care of the details concerning what He told Abraham to do?

Genesis 21:17,18
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. Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him in thine hand; for I will make him a great nation.

Hagar and Ishmael were cast upon the Lord. It wasn't like it was doomsday for them. It was a separation that may have been grievous, but God heard Ishmael crying. And, in the midst of all this, there is a promise made: that of Ishmael, God would make a great nation.

Genesis 21:19
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.

Hagar was so taken up with her sorrow that she never saw that well until God brought it to her attention. She was led in the right path. God had led her to water. Yes, God was with them; He didn't desert them.

Genesis 21:20,21
And God was with the lad; and he grew, and dwelt in the wilderness, and became an archer. And he dwelt in the wilderness of Paran: and his mother took him a wife out of the land of Egypt.

We look at this and wonder if it would have been better if Ishmael had never been born. But everything seems to fit together. Could God have had His hand in all of this, though Ishmael would not be part of the blessing that was to come through Isaac?

In this light, we could think that maybe some of the things we have to do which may seem hard and grievous to us could actually work good for us. Some people, if they are asked to surrender up something that they're clinging to, it is grievous to them. But if God says to do something, we want to be ready to do it.

Being Quick to Obey

God directed Abraham's heart. Though it may have started with Sarah, it ended up with God — and the conclusion was that Abraham was faithful and obedient, not worrying about the cost. God told him not to let it be grievous. How do you stop that hard thing you're facing from being grievous to you? Well, if it's God telling you not to let it be grievous then, I suppose, God would take the grief away as you obeyed His voice.

And I don't believe that after Abraham obeyed and did what God had told him to do that we would find him bemoaning himself every day about it. I believe he would have done what God said to do, and God would have taken that out of his heart so it would not have troubled him.

Instead of getting all bogged down every time we're asked to obey in something new — instead of getting all bent out of shape — we need to be more like Abraham in our obedience. When God tells us to do something, we ought to be that obedient vessel, quick to say, "Yes Lord, I'll do whatever You want me to do."

We have seen that Abraham was an obedient vessel, an example to us all about what it is to be obedient to the Lord in all things.

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