Pastor Troy Martin
Genesis 21 starts off with the birth of Isaac. It is the fulfillment of one of the chief promises given to Abraham and Sarah, and the joy is sincere. But by v. 8 the first sour note is sounded. Ishmael is the only character not rejoicing at God fulfilling his promise. His response to God’s faithfulness to his father will send him into the wilderness.
v.8-9 While everyone is happy at Isaac’s birth, we learn that one person in this later party is not just unhappy, but hostile. Ishmael is mocking his baby brother.
v. 10-12 Sarah demands that Abraham protect Isaac from Ishmael. She is not merely concerned about the present incident, but also the future inheritance.
v. 13-14 Abraham is grieved by the prospect of sending Ishmael away. But God makes promises to Abraham to take care of both his sons.
v. 15-18 For some reason Hagar stays in the wilderness, and their provision dries out. Hagar cries out, and for the second time in her life, God shows his eye is on her.
v. 19-21 God provides Hagar and Ishmael with their immediate need for water, and also provides them with a future. Not one of his promises fail.
Paul explains this section of Genesis in Galatians 4. These two boys illustrate the only difference between people in this world. For Paul, Hagar and Sarah also represent this division. The difference is this: There are only believers and unbelievers, every other division doesn’t matter. This section of scripture, then, is comparing belief and unbelief. And we can learn two things from it:
Unbelief is characterized by _______________. A sound heart is the life of the flesh: but envy the rottenness of the bones. Proverbs 14:30. Ishmael is not Jonathan. As he sees his inheritance slipping away his response is sharp and absent of any faith.
Belief is characterized by _________________. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: 1 Peter 5:6. Unlike Ishmael, Jonathan does not only let go of his inheritance to God’s purpose, he rejoices in backing God’s chosen one. In that way, he gains far more than he looses.
Questions for Household Growth
What is some of Paul's repeated advice in 2 Timothy?
God promised the inheritance to Isaac, not Ishmael. But what might have happened if Ishmael had not mocked him?
Prayerfully consider this question: Do I need to repent of envying anyone?