Read and Meditate on Genesis 21:1-21. Focus on verses 8-14.
Pray for God to guide you when faced with difficult decisions
Our study in the life and character of Abraham brings us to understand the dynamic relationship between Ishmael and Isaac. What we understand is this:
- Ishmael was the first born of a slave woman Sarah had given to Abraham for wife (see Genesis 16:4).
- Isaac is born through God fulfilling His Promise.
We read in Genesis 21:9 where Sarah saw Ishmael laughing: “But Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, laughing.” This concerned Sarah and she made her complaint known to Abraham.
For about 14 years, Abraham raised up Ishmael. The text also refers to the celebration where Isaac was weaned. In Ancient Jewish Custom, this celebration focused on the survival of the child from infancy to childhood where the child is able to eat solid foods. It is also symbolism for the maturation process of our own Christian faith and spirituality.
The Apostle Paul, writing to the Corinthian Christians, teaches: I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready (see, 1 Corinthians 3:2, ESV).
As we examine the context of this passage, focusing on verses 8-14, we see that Ishmael’s laughter may be in relation to the celebration of Isaac’s maturation from infancy. This appeared to trouble Sarah. We also read that the complaint bothered Abraham. There is no doubt Abraham had love for both of his children. However, what we read here is another fulfilling of God’s promised blessing to Abraham.
Go forth from your country, And from your relatives And from your father’s house, to the land which I will show you; And I will make you a great nation, And I will bless you, And make your name great; And so you shall be a blessing; And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (See Genesis 12:1-3, ESV)
Abraham is reassured that through Ishmael, Abraham will be the father of many nations (see vv. 12-13). We also see the foreshadowing of a greater sacrifice – that of Isaac. Abraham followed in obedience by sending out Hagar and Ishmael.
As Hagar realizes there is no more water, she turns away from her son and intercedes. God hears her and blesses her, assuring her that Ishmael will become a father of a great nation. We also read that God was with Ishmael while they lived in the wilderness.
God’s assurance is upon us all in times of trouble and when we are faced with difficult decisions. How have you focused more on what God has already accomplished in your life rather than focusing on where God is calling you to go? How are you to shift your focus toward where God is calling you to go?