Follow Me: A Promise Fulfilled

sarahandisaac googleObservations as I follow God through the Chronological Bible

Genesis 21[1]

Twenty-five years after Abraham arrived in Canaan his barren wife Sarah gave birth to a son. Sarah was thrilled. She credited God for her joy and then asked a ridiculous question. “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? How quickly Sarah forgot. God said to Abraham that Sarah would give birth to a child more than once. Every time he said it, they laughed in disbelief.

Now that Sarah had given birth to a son, she no longer needed Ishmael. When she saw 17 year old Ishmael mocking his 3 year old brother, Sarah demanded her husband to send away the slave and her son. To Sarah he was a means to an end that God rejected. But God only rejected Sarah’s plan not the man.

Before Ishmael was born God told Hagar he would make right the wrongs committed against her by his people. Twice he told Abraham Ishmael would not be forgotten. After God agreed with Sarah’s demand “to send away the salve woman and her son”, he told Hagar a second time he would make right the wrongs done to her and Ishmael. Ishmael would become a great nation too, but not the nation that produces “the seed” God made his promises to. Ishmael was included in those promises when Abraham circumcised him as a sign of the covenant God had with Abraham. The intent of the sign was the inclusiveness of God’s plan, but the sign did not save them.

If Ishmael had understood what lay ahead for the sons of Isaac there might not be so much hatred toward Israel today. Ishmael’s descendants lived in their homeland for centuries multiplying into a great nation that far outnumbers the nation of Israel. Both Isaac and his sons lived as foreigners with no land to call their own for 400 years. When they finally became a nation, they were doomed to failure before they possessed one inch of the Promised Land. After 300 years of being ruled by mostly corrupt kings who did not obey God, they became foreigners again with no place to call their own. Then millions of them were slaughtered by the Nazis sending them back to the Promised Land where they became a nation surrounded by people who hate them and would gladly slaughter all of them.  When will Ishmael see that God has never shown unwarranted favoritism to Isaac and his descendants?

The Apostle Paul compared Hagar and Sarah to the covenant of grace and the covenant of law to dispel the belief that circumcision will save you.[2] The child of the free woman who represents grace, Isaac, and the child of the salve who represents law, Ishmael, were circumcised. But circumcision did not save them. Paul called circumcision a yoke of slavery. “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.”[3]

[1] All scripture quotes are from the NIV Bible unless otherwise noted.

[2] Galatians Chapter 4-5

[3] Galatians 5:6

About Teena Myers

Teena Myers is the Chairman of Southern Christian Writers, a freelance writer and author of three books.
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