Vs 12 – 13: God tells Abraham not to be displeased. Why? Because He has already pre-determined to bless Ishmael in the future regardless. God will make a great nation from Ishmael simply because he is Abraham’s son. Essentially God is saying he will protect and bless the boy for Abraham’s sake. Notice though that God does not extend his covenant promise to Ishmael because that belongs to Isaac.
Verse 14: Early in the morning Abraham prepares to send Hagar and Ishmael off on their journey by giving them basic provisions of a skin of water (about three gallons of water) and bread. Ishmael is called a child and this word means a child from infancy all the way to a grown man. In Genesis it usually refers to a young man capable of taking care of himself (It’s the same word used of 17 year old Joseph). After they were packed they went into the wilderness and wandered. She was probably lost and wasn’t sure where she was or where she was going.
Vs 15 – 19: Eventually the water is gone and she directs the boy to sit under a bush. She is in despair and hopeless. It is inevitable the boy will die if things don’t change soon. She left him and went a good distance away because she thought if she was far enough away the cries of her son wouldn’t be heard as easily and he could die. She and he were essentially lost, hungry, thirsty and ready to die in the desert. She was hopeless, abandoned and alone with her son. God hears the cries of Ishmael and sends an Angel to take care of them. God promised Abraham that he would make Ishmael a great nation and once again God keeps his promise. She has two visits from the Angel of God. The Angel greets her by name and asks, “What troubles you, Hagar? Fear not for God has heard the voice of the boy…” Once again God shows his willingness to rescue Hagar. He commands her to lift the boy up by the hand and then proceeds to disclose the blessing of Hagar. We know that Abraham knew about the blessing but this is the first time the blessing is spoken to Hagar. At this moment God opens her eyes to a well of water so she could fill the skin. God not only assures and protects but he provides for her as well. Hagar and Ishmael in the desert was part of God’s plan and since they were part of his plan he provided for them. God always provides when we are called to be part of his plan.
Vs 20 - 21: “God was with the boy…” These last two verses show that God fulfills his promise to Ishmael. He lives in the wilderness (as a wanderer) and becomes an expert with the bow. This could suggest that he was a great marksman or that he was fond of fighting. We are not told. This is the exit of and the conclusion of the Ishmael account.
As I conclude this devotional today I would like to share some application points or truths that are intended to encourage, equip and strengthen your faith. One thing we should realize is the God who is at work here in Genesis 21 is the same God who is at work in our world today. Thus these points and truths are still relevant and applicable today.
- God always keeps his promises: I am not going to spend much time on this point because I think I have built a solid biblical foundation on this truth over the months. However we should be constantly reminded about this truth each and everyday. The accounts of Abraham, Israel and even the Gospel always points to this truth… God keeps his promises.
- Valley experiences are common after mountain top experiences. Sarah and Abraham are celebrating and rejoicing in the fulfillment of God’s promise and not long after is when Sarah see Ishmael mocking and demands she be sent off. As a father Abraham’s heart would have been crushed. On one hand he has a brand new baby boy (the promised one) and on the other he is forced to send his other son away. You may have experienced this before. It is often when I have had an intense time with God and I am the recipient of some amazing blessings, something or someone waits in the corner to rob me of this joy. It is very important that after our mountaintop experiences we continue to be on guard and in prayer so God will protect and preserve the joy we experience.
- Jesus responds when we cry out to him. God heard the cries of Ishmael and He hears your cries today. I Peter 5:6 – 7 says, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” God cares about you. Regardless of the situation you are in today we are implored to put all our cares and anxieties on to him because he DOES care. God listens, he hears and he responds.