You are now pregnant and you will give birth to a son.

You shall name him Ishmael, for the LORD has heard of your misery.

Genesis 16:11, NIV

Ishmael is the result of Abram and Sarai’s conspiracy to “help God out”. While his mother Hagar is pregnant with him, his stepmother drives Hagar to flee to the desert, where the angel of the Lord finds her near a spring (Gen 16:7), there the angel tells Hagar to return to “return to your mistress and submit to her… I will increase your descendants so much that they will be too numerous to count.” (Gen 16:9-10, NIV)

God later reiterates this promise to Abraham in Chapter 17.

And as for Ishmael, I have heard you: I will surely bless him; I will make him fruitful and will greatly increase his numbers. He will be the father of twelves rulers, and I will make him into a great nation.

Genesis 17:20, NIV

Later in Chapter 21, when Isaac is born, Sarah cruelly drove Hagar and Ismael out to the desert, and as they’re near the brink of death, the angel of the Lord once again appears and says again that He will make Ishmael into a great nation (Gen 21:18).

Scripture proceeds to tell us that “God was with the boy as he grew up. He lived in the desert and became an archer. While he was living in the Desert of Paran, his mother got a wife for him from Egypt.” (Gen 21:20-21, NIV)

I have always been curious as to how Ishmael felt… He was sent out from the only family and place he knew at the age of fourteen. I wondered what he was thinking of as he cried under the bush Hagar put him. I have always felt sorry for Ishmael, so when I got my study Bible and was given more information on Ishmael, I was happy.

You see, Ishmael went on to have 12 sons, and the Ishmaelites were Israel’s neighbors for centuries. Arabs today traditionally trace their lineage back to Ishmael.

As we proceed to read the Bible, we learn that Ishmael kept in contact with his original family, though Sarah kicked him out, he kept a relationship with his brother, so much so that Esau marries one of his daughters (Gen 28:9).

This daughter is not the only thing that Ishmael and Esau have in common thought… They both were removed from Abraham’s covenant with God. They had earthly success, but God’s blessing was reserved for their brothers, Isaac and Jacob.

Today, God’s blessing is reserved for everyone who believes in His Son Jesus Christ.

Ishmael and Esau might’ve acquired earthly success, but God’s covenant blessing matters more, because you cannot take the things here on earth with you when you die.

As a result, we should be living our lives for eternity, not for today.

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