Genesis: The Beginning
Ishmael: God Hears 1-17-16
READ: Genesis 16
Yesterday, we looked closely at the covenant God made with Abram while in Canaan. Today, we will look at the birth of Ishmael—Abram’s son.
Do you like waiting? Ten years have passed since Abram receives the promise from God that he will be given a son of his own; God will provide this divine blessing. Sarai is struggling with this lengthy time of waiting and surmises “the LORD has prevented me from having children” even though she knows Abram is blessed by God (v.2). She spends much time thinking and she comes up with a plan to make the promise God made to Abram actually happen in natural ways. (NOTE: Making a man in humankind’s image; however, is not the promise God made nor purpose He sent forth for life.) God promises salvation followed by blessings; a miraculous work only the divine LORD can do. Obviously, the ten years of waiting has managed to minimize the Truth and the power of cutting a covenant with God.
Consequently, Abram who is 85 years old thinks Sarai has a good idea (think Adam and Eve here—deception is involved) and the human plan (seed) is released. Sarai gives Hagar—her Egyptian handmaiden—to Abram as a wife with her blessing. It is with compassion that we realize the custom, during this culture, was that a barren wife had the prerogative of giving her handmaiden to her husband in order to further his lineage. Restated, other friends and family are doing it and it is culturally accepted.
Abram has sex with Hagar and she becomes pregnant. All of a sudden, Sarai feels left out of the plan and begins to resent the good things or blessings that are happening to Hagar. (Remember, God said he would bless Abram and make him a source of blessing to others). Yes, the blessing impregnated Hagar instead of Sarai. So, Sarai tells Abram, “This is all your fault!” And, all the men reading this post laugh and say, “Of course she did!”
Abram throws the blame back to Sarai (Adam/Eve revisited); so, Sarai makes life so miserable for Hagar she leaves the family and is heading back to Egypt when she runs into God. An angel of Yahweh (Christophany—appearance of Christ) finds her by a spring in the midst of dry wilderness, instructs Hagar to return to Sarai, and to submit to Sarai’s authority. If she is willing to obey the LORD, Hagar is promised many, many Arab descendants. Hagar hears the Word of the LORD and realizes Yahweh will look after her; Yahweh sees. The angel tells Hagar she is to name the son she holds, Ishmael (which means “God Hears”) for God has compassion on those distressed by deception. The angel simply states that Ishmael will behave like an untamed, wild donkey who raises his fist against everyone, and everyone will be against him—hostility will be the rule with his descendants.
Hagar returns and Abram takes responsibility for the seed he planted; the son is born and given the name, Ishmael. God truly does bring His faithfulness even to the messes we make in life. However, it would be better if we trusted the God who Hears and Sees more than we trust ourselves. This is a perfect place to share the biblical passage that consistently seeks to keep my life on course: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take” (Proverbs 3:5-6). Trust is required for the blessing…