When God made Abraham gaze into the night sky, He had stars in his eyes. “He took him (Abraham) outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Genesis 15
God made a land covenant with Abraham that starry night, promising Abraham a son. Abraham and Sarah decided to give God a little ‘help’ with that promise, as Sarah was too old to have a child. Abraham had a son named “Ishmael” through Hagar, Sarah’s handmaiden.
Ishmael means ‘God hears’. Abraham asked for his first born; “Oh, that Ishmael might live before You!”
Then God said: “No, Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his descendants after him. And as for Ishmael, I have heard you. Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly. He shall beget twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation. But My covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this set time next year.” Genesis 17:17-21
When Sarah laughed, the Lord asked “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” Genesis 18:14. Isaac means ‘laughter’.
Ishmael became the father of the Arabs, and Isaac the father of the Jews. There is emnity between them to this day. Ishmael’s descendants founded the religion of Islam, and they believe they are the rightful owners of the land of Israel.
I believe that God has not forgotten about Israel. It states it quite clearly in Romans 11;
1 “Did God reject his people? By no means!
2 God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew.
11 Again I ask: Did they stumble as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all!
The Church does not supplant Israel or take her promises. Romans 11:28 makes it clear that Israel has a separate covenant with God, which still stands. I love the Jewish people. How could I not? Jesus was a Jew. The church was born in Jerusalem. In Romans 11:17 it says that Israel is the olive tree, and the ingrafted branch of the Church is nourished from the root of that olive tree.
In the New Testament the Apostle Paul explains how Sarah, the mother of Isaac, and Hagar the mother of Ishmael represent two covenants;
There is the covenant of the law. God gave us the 10 commandments at Mount Sinai. Its been a law that none of us can keep. The letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
The new covenant is provided by Jesus who could keep the law. He has been the only man born without sin, and He fulfilled the law to save us.
“For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the slave woman and the other by the free woman. His son by the slave woman was born according to the flesh, but his son by the free woman was born as the result of a divine promise.
These things are being taken figuratively: The women represent two covenants. One covenant is from Mount Sinai and bears children who are to be slaves: This is Hagar. Now Hagar stands for Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present city of Jerusalem, because she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother.” Galalations 4.
Even though Abraham is the father of the Arabs and Jews, and spiritual father of the Christians – we don’t all get along. How can two walk together unless they are agreed? I was friends with an Arab man, a Moslem from Iraq. He wanted more than a friendship, but that I could not give him. I belong to a different covenant, and I will not bow to Allah. I encouraged him to return to his wife who had left him (by the way, it had nothing to do with me). We have remained friends. In the Kingdom story, his name is Ishmael. I wondered why had I attracted Ishmael? Why had my life been a desert?
God wanted me to trust Him. He told me I was the one who chose the desert, and that is why Ishmael appeared. I was trusting in myself, rather than God’s promises.
Ishmael always appears first. Like Abraham, we are told to get rid of the son by the slavewoman, because he doesn’t share in the inheritance God has under the new covenant.
“Get rid of the slave woman and her son, for the slave woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with the free woman’s son.” Therefore, brothers and sisters, we are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman.” Galations 4:30.
This does not mean that God has forgotten the children of Ishmael. Jesus has been appearing to many Moslems in dreams.
They can and do come to Jesus, and when they make Him Lord they also come under the new covenant. I believe God had that in mind when He saved Hagar and Ishmael from the desert. The sons of Ishmael have this in common with the sons of Isaac; they both have difficulty understanding the new covenant, which began in Jerusalem on the night of Passover;
At the last supper, Jesus took the cup saying “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.
I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” Matthew 26:28-29
The new covenant is available for all who believe and accept Jesus. Will you believe and drink from the cup the King has provided? Think about it this Easter.