Foundational Themes in Genesis – Study 66
Foundational themes in Genesis – Study 66 (Key verses: Gen 21:14-34)
We are discussing the foundational theme of faith as we are learning from Abraham as God’s Old Testament type of the route the faith of Christ will take us on. The faith of Christ opens up His refreshing waters through His Word as Christ (and His Word) is the true well of living water (Joh 7:37-39):
Joh 4:13 Jesus answered and said unto her [the woman at the well of Jacob], Every one that drinketh of this water shall thirst again:
Joh 4:14 but whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall become in him a well of water springing up unto eternal life.
Joh 4:15 The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come all the way hither to draw.
In the beginning God clearly made distinctions between two dimensions which are seen throughout the scriptures by using various metaphors for our edification concerning the way in which He works with mankind (Gen 1:1; Gen 1:4; Gen 1:16; Mat 9:16-17; Mat 10:34; Joh 6:63; 1Co 15:45; 2Co 3:6; Heb 9:13-14). One of these metaphors is the clear separation God established between the waters above the firmament (which is a symbol of His spirit life in His Word) and the waters below the firmament (relating to the physical life and its concepts):
Gen 1:6 And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.
Gen 1:7 And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.
Like this woman at the well of Jacob, we are firstly introduced to the waters of our physical well through the first man Adam with all his natural desires, before we can receive and appreciate the true spiritual waters in Christ, the last Adam (Joh 6:3; 1Co 15:45-49). In this discussion we also see this dichotomy of these two Adams as it also played out through Abraham and his two sons, Ismael and Isaac. The theme of wells is used in Genesis 21 in relation to the gift of the faith of Christ and how these physical metaphors make the spiritual application of faith understandable in our own lives (Rom 1:20; 1Co 10:11). Here is the first well we read of in this passage in Genesis 21:
The well of water for Hagar and Ishmael
Gen 21:14 And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and took bread and a bottle of water [this bottle is actually a skin bag that can contain water], and gave it unto Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, and gave her the child, and sent her away. And she departed, and wandered in the wilderness of Beer-sheba.
Gen 21:15 And the water in the bottle was spent, and she cast the child under one of the shrubs.
Gen 21:16 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 look upon the death of the child. And she sat over against him, and lifted up her voice, and wept.
Gen 21:17 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.
Gen 21:18 Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him in thy hand. For I will make him a great nation.
Gen 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.
Gen 21:20 And God was with the lad, and he grew. And he dwelt in the wilderness, and became, as he grew up, an archer.
Gen 21:21 And he dwelt in the wilderness of Paran. And his mother took him a wife out of the land of Egypt.
Abraham is not only a spiritual type relating to our walk in the faith of Christ, but also in the way he obeyed God and His commandments diligently. Abraham obeyed God despite his own deep-seated fleshly attachments, even in letting Hagar and Ishmael go and trusting that God will provide for them. Through the faith of Christ we learn that God is the Faithful One who knows what He is doing, as He is most excellent in all His ways (Deu 32:4; Psa 145:17; Isa 28:29). So many times we worry what will happen to those whom God takes away from us as if our worrying can achieve something good which God cannot do. How silly our religious flesh is and how convincing the deceitful beast is when we confess with our unbridled tongue that we believe God, but our hearts and actions testify to the opposite:
Jas 1:26 If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain.
Ecc 5:3 For a dream cometh through the multitude of business; and a fool’s voice is known by multitude of words.
Ecc 5:4 When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou hast vowed.
Ishmael was already older than fourteen years at this stage when Abraham had to let him and his mother, Hagar, go from his household as commanded by God through Sarah (Gen 21:9-12). They were given bread and water by Abraham and he surely provided enough for them to last for some time. But these supplies from Abraham all point to what the fleshly provisions are all about. The flesh was never created by God to last forever or to fulfil our spiritual needs – it was a temporary shelter made marred and corruptible as from the hand of the Potter – the way God designed this from the beginning (Gen 2:7; Gen 3:19; Jer 18:4; Rom 8:20):
1Co 15:50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.
Our first body of dust is given as a temporary tent in which we must wander and sojourn in the wilderness of our earthy lives until this earthy water is spent, as it is indeed placed also in a temporary skin bag (Joh 3:5-6). The skin indeed has a shine, like Moses’ skin shone for a short period after he was given the law on mount Sinai (Exo 34:28-30; 2Co 3:13). But all that fleshly glory is veiled for the elect who knows that glory is short lived and will be abolished (Eph 2:15; 2Ti 1:10). But within this time in our wilderness we are given to tend the things of the flesh:
Rom 8:5a For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh….
Our Hagar and Ishmael stage is a very important aspect in the growth of our faith as we first need to know the depths and delusions within the time of our own spiritual bondage and ignorance (Ecc 3:1-11). The revelation of Jesus Christ includes the unveiling of the old Adam – “the man of sin” created by God for His purposes (2Th 2:1-12; Rev 1:1; Rev 1:8; Rev 1:11). We can recognise our own Hagar and Ismael if we can see them in our own Arabia and Jerusalem “which now is”:
Gal 4:22 For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman.
Gal 4:23 But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise [the holy spirit of promise – Eph 1:13].
Gal 4:24 Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar.
Gal 4:25 For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children.
Hagar and Ishmael represent our time in the wilderness of Arabia which is our fleshly convictions and understanding of the things of God. This Mount Sinai in our Arabia is our carnal elevations of pride when we are convinced that we are spiritually mature to worship the Father in spirit and truth. This is what “Jerusalem which now is” in us achieve as appointed by God, when we say we can see and is not even aware of our blindness and immaturity:
Joh 9:39 And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind.
When we believe we can see, we are made blind to not even grasp that we are in lustful bondage of selfishness and self-elevation. This is when we are married to our fifth fleshly husband like the woman at the well of Jacob:
Joh 4:16 Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither.
Joh 4:17 The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband:
Joh 4:18 For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly.
Joh 4:19 The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet.
Joh 4:20 Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.
The number five relates to “grace through faith”, and in this case it reveals the negative aspect of faith (‘dead faith’) when we drink the waters of flesh and think it can satisfy us. Our fifth husband represents our intimacy with this ‘dead faith’ when we speak foolishly in a multitude of idle words about the worship of God without the works to prove it in our lives (Ecc 5:3; Mat 12:36-37; 1Ti 5:13; Jas 2:17). This also relates to physical Israel, who also wandered in the wilderness for forty years, and was given manna and water which they believed was the true bread and water from heaven. The flesh cannot stand the true bread and the true drink that gives spirit life because they want to preserve and save their flesh and maintain their carnal concepts:
Joh 6:53 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh [His spiritual bread] of the Son of man, and drink his blood [His spiritual water], ye have no life in you.
Joh 6:54 Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.
Joh 6:55 For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. 56 He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.
Even their law which physical Israel received in the wilderness was after carnal commandments and could not bring spiritual righteousness and justification before God:
Rom 3:20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
Rom 3:21 But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;
Rom 3:22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:
Ishmael is indeed a son of Abraham as the fleshly Adam was a son of God, but as Ishmael was not born of the promise, so is the first Adam not the true spiritual son of God (Luk 3:38; 1Co 15:45). If we claim sonship, then our words and actions will testify to which we associate – the fleshly offspring or the offspring of the spirit of God:
Joh 8:39 They [the Jews who believed in Jesus “after the flesh”] answered and said unto him [Jesus], Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham.
Joh 8:40 But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham.
The Word of God indeed has an outward application, but for many this physical application is the focus as they also believe in a fleshly resurrection (which some even call spiritual flesh). The outward is just a parable designed by God to also bring spiritual blindness in the multitude to the mysteries of the inward and spiritual kingdom of God (Luk 17:21):
Mat 13:10 And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them [the multitude] in parables?
Mat 13:11 He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.
Hagar’s eyes have been miraculously opened to see what she could not see before, but she could only see the well of water for the fleshly needs for her and her offspring. This well which Hagar saw is indeed a symbol of Jesus Christ, but this Christ is “after the flesh” and not after the spirit (2Co 5:16). She could indeed see, but it was still just about physical things. This well of water which was revealed to her was still under the control of the darkness and it’s “lesser light” which the flesh must live by (Gen 1:16). It all is contained in our first heaven which is our initial way of understanding things when our “deep” is ruled by the darkness or the night and is devoid of spiritual insight:
Gen 1:2 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
But when we are given to “rise up out” of these waters and we can walk on the dry land which appear also out of these waters, we are like an elevated mighty beast still filled with pride and lusts. This is our second heaven (Ecc 3:18; Gen 1:9-13; 1Jn 2:16):
Rev 13:1 And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy.
Rev 13:2 And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority.
Rev 13:3 And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast.
As Hagar was from Egypt, it made sense that she “took [Ismael] a wife out of the land of Egypt” as Egypt always refers to the flesh and its carnal convictions and solutions:
“And his mother took him a wife out of the land of Egypt.”
In this section in Genesis 21 verses 14 to 21, we also read about the distance of a bowshot and an archer relating to Ishmael in these verses:
Gen 21:16 And she went, and sat her down over against him a good way off, as it were a bowshot…
Gen 21:20 And God was with the lad, and he grew. And he dwelt in the wilderness, and became, as he grew up, an archer.
Bows and arrows refer to the thoughts of our hearts and words expressed which are used in the scripture for both good and evil purposes (Gen 27:3; Gen 49:22-26; 1Sa 31:3; Psa 18:14; Psa 64:3; Jer 9:8). The references to bows and arrows in this story of Hagar and Ismael connect the negative application as the aim of the wicked is always to shoot at the upright in heart while this wicked man of sin reviles and opposes the true bow and arrows of the doctrine of Christ:
Psa 11:2 For, lo, the wicked bend their bow, they make ready their arrow upon the string, that they may privily shoot at the upright in heart.
Psa 37:14 The wicked have drawn out the sword, and have bent their bow, to cast down the poor and needy, and to slay such as be of upright conversation.
It is only the shield of the faith of Christ that can protect the righteous and upright in heart from the arrows of the enemy and this is why we are taught by God to only use His bow and His arrows – the mind and words of Christ – in all spiritual warfare (Lam 3:12-13):
Eph 6:16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
2Sa 1:18 (Also he [David] bade them teach the children of Judah the use of the bow: behold, it is written in the book of Jasher.)
The second well which appears in this passage is the true well of living water which the world has no interest in:
The well of water for which Abraham reproved Abimelech
Previously we met this king of the Philistines in chapter 20 of Genesis when Abraham denied that Sarah was his wife and this Abimelech took Sarah into his household, but never slept with her. Abraham was rebuked and corrected by Abimelech for doing that and returned Sarah to Abraham. In chapter 21 Abraham met Abimelech again at a well of water over which there was some dispute:
Gen 21:22 And it came to pass at that time, that Abimelech and Phichol the chief captain of his host spake unto Abraham, saying, God is with thee in all that thou doest:
Gen 21:23 Now therefore swear unto me here by God that thou wilt not deal falsely with me, nor with my son, nor with my son’s son: but according to the kindness that I have done unto thee, thou shalt do unto me, and to the land wherein thou hast sojourned.
Gen 21:24 And Abraham said, I will swear.
Gen 21:25 And Abraham reproved Abimelech because of a well of water, which Abimelech’s servants had violently taken away.
Gen 21:26 And Abimelech said, I wot not who hath done this thing: neither didst thou tell me, neither yet heard I of it, but to day.
Gen 21:27 And Abraham took sheep and oxen, and gave them unto Abimelech; and both of them made a covenant.
Gen 21:28 And Abraham set seven ewe lambs of the flock by themselves.
Gen 21:29 And Abimelech said unto Abraham, What mean these seven ewe lambs which thou hast set by themselves?
Gen 21:30 And he said, For these seven ewe lambs shalt thou take of my hand, that they may be a witness unto me, that I have digged this well.
Gen 21:31 Wherefore he called that place Beersheba [“well of the sevenfold oath”]; because there they sware both of them.
Gen 21:32 Thus they made a covenant at Beersheba: then Abimelech rose up, and Phichol the chief captain of his host, and they returned into the land of the Philistines.
The Philistines are used as a symbol of our religious flesh which is not at all interested in the undefiled truth of God’s Word. Here are the words of Abimelech to God which confirms this self-righteous perspective of our flesh:
Gen 20:4 But Abimelech had not come near her: and he said, Lord, wilt thou slay also a righteous nation?
Gen 20:5 Said he not unto me, She is my sister? and she, even she herself said, He is my brother: in the integrity of my heart and innocency of my hands have I done this.
Abimelech represents our carnal ruler of a “righteous nation”, even our own uncircumcised self-righteous Babylonian flesh which has limited communication with God. But Abimelech with his own integrity and his self-righteous innocence has no interest in this well of water which represents the living waters of the Christ “after the spirit” (Joh 4:10-11; Joh 7:38; 2Co 5:16). The spiritual harlot (Babylon) which is “Jerusalem which is now” is only interested in how they can use the Word of God for elevating their own profile and receive physical blessings (Gal 4:25).
Eze 16:15 But thou [Jerusalem] didst trust in thine own beauty, and playedst the harlot because of thy renown, and pouredst out thy fornications on every one that passed by; his it was.
Eze 16:16 And of thy garments thou didst take, and deckedst thy high places with divers colours, and playedst the harlot thereupon: the like things shall not come, neither shall it be so.
Eze 16:17 Thou hast also taken thy fair jewels of my gold and of my silver, which I had given thee, and madest to thyself images of men, and didst commit whoredom with them.
This true spiritual well of living water is an “odor of death” to those who are peddling the word of God:
2Co 2:15 (CLV) for we are a fragrance of Christ to God, in those who are being saved and in those who are perishing:
2Co 2:16 to these, indeed, an odor of death for death, yet to those an odor of life for life. And for this who is competent?
2Co 2:17 For we are not as the majority, who are peddling the word of God, but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God in Christ, are we speaking.
Abimelech wanted Abraham to avoid him and his family and his nation which points to how spiritual Babylon rejects those who carry the true testimony of Jesus Christ, even banning God’s elect to their own island of Patmos – the place of dying to this world (Mat 10:39; 1Co 15:31; Gal 2:20; Rev 1:1-2; Rev 1:9; Rev 12:17). This war in our own heavens is seen in the presence of Abimelech’s army chief captain, Phichol, which indicates the hostility of all in Babylon towards those who please God by the faith of Christ in them (Heb 11:6). The Hebrew name “Phichol” means the mouth or voice of all – all our enemies and accusers in the flesh. The flesh is under the control of the dragon, Satan, as appointed by God and this enemy, and all his armies focus on the child of God with whom he makes war in the heavens (2Co 11:1-4; Rev 12:3-6; Rev 12:17). Abraham’s gesture of separating the seven ewe lambs as a gift to Abimelech confirms the truth that faith is only complete in the application or doing of God’s commandments. This also relates to the digging of the well by Abraham which produced the good water as we work out our own salvation by doing God’s commandments as He places and works His Word within our hearts (Php 2:12-13). This is what the works of the faith of Christ produce through us and only by these works is the Father glorified:
Gal 5:22 But the fruit [the works] of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
Gal 5:23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
Abraham is showing us how we are to keep our eyes on the prize of the high calling (the third heaven) which is Christ and His mind and doctrine. This is when we totally rely on the name of the Lord and believe in His sovereignty over all the kingdoms of this world:
Gen 21:33 And Abraham planted a grove [a type of tree] in Beersheba, and called there on the name of the LORD, the everlasting God.
Gen 21:34 And Abraham sojourned in the Philistines’ land many days.
Abraham found that the joy of the Lord is doing God’s commandments – digging the well and planting the grove, among other works. It is from this well of God that the pure river of life flows and where the tree of life is planted on each side of that river of water, which is in the midst of the paradise of God (Rev 2:7; Rev 22:14):
Rev 22:1 And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.
Rev 22:2 In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
Rev 22:3 And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him:
Rev 22:4 And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads.
Detailed studies relating to these foundational themes in Scripture are available on the www.iswasandwillbe.com website, including these topics and links:
Other related posts
- Psalms 77:10-20 "In The Day of My Trouble I Sought The Lord", Part 2 (September 7, 2016)
- Foundational Themes in Genesis – Study 66 (October 9, 2014)