Genesis 21:8-21

Talks for Growing Christians

Hagar and Ishmael Separate from Abraham and Sarah

Genesis 21:8-21

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Lesson Number 45

Background Notes

Doctrinal Point(s)

  1. Hagar and Sarah picture the great contrast between law and grace.
  2. Ishmael and Isaac picture the great contrast between the flesh and the spirit.

Practical Application

  1. It isn’t always easy for us to do the right thing.
  2. When in need, remember Hagar.
  3. Husbands, listen to your wives.


  1. What was the purpose of giving Hagar as a concubine to Abraham?
  2. How old was Ishmael when Isaac was born? What was the precipitating factor in casting out Hagar and Ishmael?
  3. How do Hagar and Sarah picture the contrast between law and grace?
  4. How do Ishmael and Isaac picture the contrast between the flesh and the spirit?
  5. The husband is to be the spiritual head of the house (Ephesians 5:22-24). As such, is it seemly that the husband receive counsel and advice from his wife?


  1. The purpose was to obtain an heir for Abraham, since Abraham and Sarah had no children, and God had promised them an heir.
  2. Ishmael was fourteen when Isaac was born. Abraham made a feast on the day that Isaac was weaned (Ishmael was now at least sixteen). During this feast that Sarah saw Ishmael mocking Isaac. Sarah couldn’t take it any longer and told Abraham to cast out Hagar and her son, Ishmael.
  3. Refer to Galatians 4:21-31. Abraham and Sarah tried to produce an heir in their own strength, through Hagar, and not in God’s way. It was like trying to please God in their own strength by doing the works of the law. Sarah, on the other hand, received strength from God in His time, recognizing that God is faithful. This is of grace.
  4. See Galatians 4:29. Ishmael was born of the flesh and persecuted him who was born of the Spirit (Isaac). As Ishmael was in conflict with Isaac, so is the flesh in conflict with the Spirit. See also Galatians 5:17.
  5. This is not in conflict. The authority structure designed by God is that the husband is the head of the household, and the wife is given as a helpmeet. Many times the husband is given good counsel by God through his wife. Husbands are to ascertain that their wives are giving advice in concert with Scripture. Wives can give advice and counsel, and should be listened to.


  1. Abraham and Sarah did not please God by taking matters into their own hands, and trying to do His work. We cannot please God by trying to keep His commandments in our own strength. Come to the Lord in simple faith trusting His promises. Trust also in God’s timetable.
  2. We are to practice the principle found in Galatians 4:30 and 5:16 by continually casting out the flesh and walking in the Spirit. Avoid putting yourself in situations where it is easy to give in to the flesh. What are you watching on TV? What are you reading? With whom are you associating? Walk in the Spirit by reading and watching and doing things that help you mature in Christ.


  1. When in need, remember Hagar. Lost in the wilderness with no water and no hope for the future, God saw her condition and heard her cries. God opened Hagar’s eyes and showed her water, and gave her strength and promises...and a command, which she obeyed. Do you have needs right now? As with Hagar, God hears your cires and can meet your needs.

Key Verses

  • “Cast out this bondwoman and her son...” Genesis 21:10
  • “Abraham! Listen to Sarah’s voice.” Genesis 21:12
  • “Hagar lifted up her voice and wept. God heard the voice of the lad. God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water.” Genesis 21:16-19

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