Our Bible Class. The Story of Abraham, the Friend of God - 1

 •  4 min. read  •  grade level: 9
ALTHOUGH Aunt Alice is not able to continue her happy service for Christ in connection with our Bible Class, we hope to insert papers in reference to the Book of Genesis, and to give questions on the portion we shall study from month to month, please God. We shall be glad if all the former members of the class will start with the following lesson, and send their answers as noted at the end. We shall arrange a series of prizes for the best and most regular workers, which we shall announce (God willing) in our next number.
The Story of Abraham the Friend of God
(Gen. 20, 21)
It is remarkable that in the history of noted saints of God in the Bible some sad mistake is generally recorded. Abraham failed in faith, the very thing of which he was a pattern, as Moses, the meekest man on the earth, “spake unadvisedly with his lips.” All these things are to make us look with more delight and steadfastness at Christ, the only perfect Man who ever trod this earth, the only One whom we may safely follow. He has reached the end of His course, and is the finisher of faith, and looking at Him where He now is will give us strength, too, to run with patience. (Heb. 12.)
Well, in chapter 20 we see what a mistake Abraham made for the second time, and how God came in and prevented a righteous nation from sinning against Him in ignorance. Still, it is sad that such a one as “the friend of God” should not have learned from his former failure (ch. 12:11), not only to avoid the appearance of evil, but to have faith in God concerning himself and his wife.
What a day it must have been to Abraham when (ch. 21) Isaac was born! the son for whom he had waited in faith for these long years, during which “against hope he believed in hope.” In due time Isaac was weaned. Abraham made a great feast that day, and everyone made much of Isaac. Then comes a grievous moment to Abraham. Ishmael was about fourteen or fifteen years of age, and Sarah sees him mocking, and she demands that he and his mother shall be cast out—the son of the bondmaid may not be heir with Isaac.
Now “these things are an allegory.” Isaac is he “that was born after the spirit,” and Ishmael “he that was born after the flesh,” and these two cannot agree together. One must have the upper hand: Ishmael will persecute Isaac unless he be cast out. God decides the matter. He says, “Let it not be grievous in thy sight: in Isaac shall thy seed be called.” Do not let us forget “even so it is now” (Gal. 4:2929But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now. (Galatians 4:29)). Flesh and Spirit are contrary to each other, and God does not own the flesh at all.
This is rather difficult for young people, but some of you who answer the questions belong to Christ, and it is very important that you should see that there are two principles at work in you— one that will only bring forth fruit unto death, and the other fruit unto holiness.
Suppose you have a little patch of garden ground: if you leave it empty, something must grow there, and weeds will spring up as fast as you can pull them up. But supposing you sow mustard and cress in your little garden, then there is less room for the weeds, and the more mustard and cress you sow, the fewer weeds will spring up, for there will be less room for them. Well, when Ishmael was cast out, Isaac was the chief person, and the more they were occupied about him, the less time was there for thoughts of Ishmael. These things are figures to teach us about the flesh and the Spirit, and to encourage us to allow nothing but Christ to find a place in our hearts. The more He is there, the less will anything belonging to the flesh find an entrance. IT WAS WHEN ISAAC WAS MADE MUCH OF THAT ISHMAEL WAS CAST OUT.