A Tough Situation
Blended families can be tough. When you have sons from two different women, it can get complicated when there’s a big special family celebration that honors one son and not the other. So, how do you handle it when a brother from one mom starts to ridicule his little brother from another mom? To make matters worse, the mother of the younger son hits the fan and says, “That’s it! We’re not raising these two boys together. Your son who mocked my son has got to go and his mother too!” What do you think God is going to say when this husband asks God for guidance?
Now I would expect God to instruct the man to get the two women together and work things out. But in Genesis 22, when Abraham went to God over the conflict between Ishmael and Isaac and between Hagar and Sarah, God told him to listen to Sarah and send Hagar and Ishmael on their way. Why?
Ishmael, the son born by natural human effort, was not going to inherit with Isaac, the miracle boy, who would generate the line that would fulfill God’s promise to Abraham (Genesis 22: 10-12). What’s even more amazing is that Paul uses this tough story to clinch his argument explaining why the Galatian believers must throw out the false teachers who are tempting them to trust in their own human ability to earn favor with God instead of totally trusting in Jesus and his gracious gift of eternal life. Here’s Paul’s point:
“Now you brothers and sisters, like Isaac, are children of the promise, and just as in the past the son conceived the usual human way was persecuting the son born by the Spirit, now in our day, it’s happening again. So, what does the Scripture say to do about it? It declares, “Cast out the female slave and her son. For the son of the female slave will not inherit with the son of the free woman. Therefore, brothers and sisters, we are not children of the slave woman, but of the free.” Galatians 4:28-31
There is no middle ground between a salvation based upon human effort and one received as a gift rooted in what Jesus did for us by his sacrificial death.
And before you get angry at God for throwing Hagar and Ishmael out into the wilderness, read the rest of the story in Genesis 22. God provided for Hagar and her son Ishmael in the desert. Ishmael did become a mighty nation. Today, more than a billion Moslems claim him as their father, including Mohammad. Tragically, many are still relying upon their own human strength to earn favor with Allah, instead of trusting in Jesus and receiving his gift of life.
LORD, during this Ramadan season as many Moslems are seeking you, help them to read this account from Genesis 22, see how you provided the water for Hagar and Ishmael in the desert, and open their heart to Jesus who desires to give them a drink of living water that will last forever.
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