Deeper Roots – Genesis 21:14-21

A humbled and open heart is fertile soil for God’s seeds of wisdom. Establishing deeper roots requires analyzing God’s word to discover truths, values, and lessons for application to our lives. Periodically, a scripture or passage calls for further exploration, like Genesis 21:14-21.

14 So Abraham got up early the next morning, prepared food and a container of water, and strapped them on Hagar’s shoulders. Then he sent her away with their son, and she wandered aimlessly in the wilderness of Beersheba.

15 When the water was gone, she put the boy in the shade of a bush. 16 Then she went and sat down by herself about a hundred yards away. “I don’t want to watch the boy die,” she said, as she burst into tears.

17 But God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven, “Hagar, what’s wrong? Do not be afraid! God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. 18 Go to him and comfort him, for I will make a great nation from his descendants.”

19 Then God opened Hagar’s eyes, and she saw a well full of water. She quickly filled her water container and gave the boy a drink.

20 And God was with the boy as he grew up in the wilderness. He became a skillful archer, 21 and he settled in the wilderness of Paran. His mother arranged for him to marry a woman from the land of Egypt.

Genesis 21:14-21 NLT

Our Deeper Roots passage in Genesis shows that God can take decisions rooted in flesh and make them fruitful. Let’s start with a little bit of backstory. Abraham receives a promise from God that He will become a father to many nations. Yet, Sarah was unable to have children and came up with a plan for Hagar, her servant, to produce a child for them. Abraham agrees and Ishmael was born. Time passes and the promise of God is fulfilled; Isaac was birthed by Sarah. Abraham hosts a celebration in honor of Isaac and Sarah witnesses Ishmael mocking Isaac. At that point, Sarah wants Hagar and Ishmael sent away. Abraham is distressed because that’s his son, but the Lord comforts him with a promise. God tells Abraham that He will make a nation out of Ishmael too.

Our passage picks up early the next morning when Abraham gives Hagar and Ishamel some provisions and sends them off. The Bible says they wandered aimlessly before running out of supplies and resigning to die. Ishmael cried, perhaps about the mocking of Isaac, and the Lord heard him. God sent an angel to comfort Hagar and opened her eyes to the provision of water in the desert. The Lord covered Ishmael as he grew up in the wilderness. Despite being cast away, they were protected by God’s promise to Abraham.

Sarah and Abraham’s decision to bypass waiting for the promise of God created problems for them downstream. Their impatience and control issues birthed a threat to Isaac’s inheritance. God used this situation as an opportunity to remove the threat, but also demonstrate His faithfulness to Abraham through provision to Ishmael.

This story is an example of what happens when we make decisions in the flesh versus decisions rooted in the spirit. Flesh-made decisions are driven by control, fear, lust, and any other motivation that is not of God. How many times have you told God in specific detail how He can solve your problems? When we want to control the outcome, we’re saying that we don’t trust God’s judgment nor His timing. Many of us are dealing with the downstream effects of decisions made with fleshly motivations. YET, with God’s grace and mercy; the undeserved favor of God, situations can be transformed. We’ve got to surrender control to Him. Only God can turn decisions made with fleshly motivations into fruitful outcomes.

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