I. The Compromise of Abraham (Genesis 16:1-16)
– The Rationale for the Compromise (v.1-3)
God had promised to bless Abraham and make his descendants into a great nation, a chosen people of God (Genesis 12:1-3; 15:1-6). But, at that time, Sarah, Abraham’s wife, was already about 76-years-old and had not yet borne Abraham any children.
– The Results of the Compromise (v.4-16)
So, in keeping with ancient Near East customs, Sarah offered her maidservant, Hagar, to Abraham to bear a child for him. And Ishmael was born.
Based on Abraham’s limited knowledge at that point, he had no reason to think Ishmael was not the fulfillment to God’s promise. But, later, God made it clear to Abraham that it would be through Sarah that God’s chosen people would come (Genesis 17).
When we’re seeking God’s will, and hit a roadblock, we might start to ask: Have I made a wrong turn? Will I miss out on God’s plan for me? Does God have a plan for me? Has God changed His mind? Should I come up with my own plan… a Plan B?
Maybe all of these questions were on Abraham’s mind as he struggled with God’s plan… and, then, what to do with Ishmael.
II. The Celebration of Abraham (Genesis 21:1-21; 25:12-18)
We see the Fulfillment (of God’s Plan & Promise [in Isaac]), the Feast (of celebration), the Flaunting (by Ishmael over Isaac), the Fury (of Sarah), the Farewell (by Abraham [to Hagar & Ishmael]), the Fear (of Hagar), and the Faithfulness (of God).
So, what about Ishmael? Did he have any significance in his own right? Or would he be tossed aside as a leftover Plan B?
Though Ishmael was not intended to be the ancestor of God’s chosen people, Ishmael was still part of God’s plan. He would become the father of another great nation (Genesis 17:20)… the Arab people.
And, just like Ishmael and Isaac fought way back then… their descendants are still fighting today. You can see their ongoing battle on the National News… practically every night.
Much of what happened to Ishmael was not his fault. He was caught up in circumstances he had little control over. But, God saw to it he was cared for… and that his descendants would become a mighty people.
Are you wondering about God’s faithfulness to you today?
* Even if family and friends let us down, God can be counted on to keep His promises.
You can read Ishmael’s story in Genesis 16; 17; 21:8-21; 25:12-18.