Questions for Littles: What did Abraham do for Isaac on the day he was weaned (v8)? What was Hagar’s son doing at the party (v9)? What does Sarah want Abraham to do? What does God tell Abraham to do? What does god say about Isaac in v12? What does He promise to do with Ishmael in v13? What problem to Hagar and Ishmael run into when Abraham sends them away? What does God promise Hagar that He will do? And what does God do for her in v19?In the passage for this week’s Old Testament reading, a bratty-kid situation escalates quickly.
We’re not really surprised that Ishmael is a brat. It fits what has been prophesied about him. Our best guess at weaning age for Isaac is somewhere in the ballpark of 3 years old, which puts Ishmael at 17. And there he is at his little brother’s party mocking him.
What we are surprised about is when God says “listen to her voice.” That hasn’t gone so well, thus far in Genesis. The first time a man took his wife’s counsel, the fall happened.
And v9 very intentionally reminds us of another significant moment in which Abraham had listened to Sarah. Instead of just saying “Ishmael,” the text says, “the son of Hagar” … “the Egyptian” … “whom she had born to Abraham.” It’s a triple reminder of Sarah’s foolish and sinful plan for producing the child of promise.
So, when God says, “listen to her voice,” it perhaps takes us by surprise. What reason does God give for this? “For in Isaac your seed shall be called.” This is not a new promise. We have seen it before. But God is saying here that there is something about Isaac’s place as the son of promise that is harmed so long as this teasing, mocking older brother remains.
Ultimately, however, it’s not Abraham’s voice that God is listening to here. It is God’s voice. And God distinctly displays Himself as the Promise-Keeper in this passage. He promises Abraham that He would make a nation out of Ishmael in v13. And He promises Hagar the same thing in v18.
Then, God opens her eyes. After He has made the promise, He immediately enables her to see just a small part of how He is going to fulfill that promise. There’s years’ more promise-keeping in v20-21, but we can see the point.
It may take another 1600 years before Isaac’s descendant saves His people from their sins. But it will surely happen. The Lord is the Promise-Keeping God!
What promises has God already kept in your life? What promises has God already kept in sending Christ for us? In what current situation do you need to be reminding yourself of God’s promises, and God’s promise-keeping?Suggested songs: ARP89A “The Lovingkindness of the Lord” or HB112 “God Moves in a Mysterious Way”