God’s Word: The Descendants of Ishmael and Isaac
Moses revealed to us God’s promise to Ishmael and his descendants in Genesis Chapters 16: 11-12 and 17: 20. As you might know Ishmael was a son of Abraham and the servant Hagar. Because he was conceived not in accordance with God’s will, but also was a son of Abraham the father of nations, he was given a twofold promise for Ishmael and his descendants. Ishmael was to be a “wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone’s hand will be against him.” (NIV) He was to live in hostility toward all his brothers. But Abraham pleaded for some blessing from God for his only son at that time. God promised Ishmael’s descendants will be fruitful and he will father a great nation. God, however, denies the ultimate promise, the covenant, to Ishmael to father the Messiah. That covenant was given to the son to come, Isaac.
Let us look into the scriptures further to discern why one son was more richly rewarded. Abraham was ninety-nine years old and Sarah was ninety when their first child Isaac was conceived. God had made an everlasting covenant with Abraham in Genesis 17: 6-7 that he would father nations and kings and in verse 16 that Sarah would be the mother of nations and kings. Abraham demonstrated his faith in God and God’s power was proved by the birth of the child Isaac by a previously barren woman in a childless marriage.
If in today’s world, as children of Abraham and through our belief in Jesus Christ, we believe and trust in God’s righteousness, we also will be richly blessed. As Paul tells us in Romans 9, the children of Israel can trace their human ancestry of Christ, but not all will be blessed. Only the children of the promise, those who believe in Christ and call to Him, will receive eternal glory. Amen