“Seeds of Flesh & Promise”
Yesterday I gave my opinion as to why I believe Hagar, and especially Ishmael, were sent away from Abraham and Sarah’s household. This is the second time Hagar went into the desert and each time feeling she and her son would die there. Drinking all the water they had taken with them, Hagar places her son under a shrub (Genesis 21:15). Again, “An Angel of the Lord” appears and tells her that God would bring a great nation from Ishmael (21:18). God then opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. The lives of Hagar and Ishmael were spared through the provisions of the Lord.
Ishmael continued to live in the desert and became an archer (21:20). He married a woman from Egypt and had 12 sons whose descendants became the Arab people. Muhammad who is the founder and chief prophet of Islam, claimed descent from Ishmael. The animosity today between Israel and the Arab Nations can be traced back to Isaac and Ishmael. The Arabs believe God’s promise to Abraham of a son was fulfilled through Ishmael. The Jews believe it was through Isaac. Both recognize Abraham as the father of their race. Isaac and Ishmael had problems in their day which continues through their descendants to this very day. Now, let’s look at a spiritual application.
The Apostle Paul in Galatians 4:21-31 uses Ishmael and Isaac to explain some important spiritual truths. In verses 28-30, Paul describes Ishmael as the child of the flesh and Isaac the child of the Spirit (or promise). Just as they were in conflict with one another, so the flesh and the Spirit do not harmonize. The flesh struggles against the Spirit because they are contrary to one another (Gal. 5:16-17). The child of Sarah represents the grace of God, and the child of Hagar the works of the flesh. Isaac and Ishmael may have been able to live together , but there would have been constant conflict, just as there is conflict in our personal lives when our flesh (personal desires) conflicts with the Spirit (God’s will for our lives). The only solution to get rid of the conflict was to send Ishmael and his mother out of the camp. Are there things battling within your life? What do you need to send (get rid of) from your life? Spiritual peace and sin cannot co-exist. So the question is, who do you want to serve – yourself or the Lord? It’s your choice.