Posts Tagged ‘Ishmael’

Part 3 – Genesis 21:14-21 – MY KINGDOM FOR A GPS!

Destination Straight Ahead!

When we left to Pastor a Church in the Whitsundays we left our children, Ben and Rachel, behind in Sydney. Rachel was still in her late teens, but both of them were already involved in Hillsong Church and did not want to leave. We remember the pain of driving off without them and for the next 10 years we commuted between the Whitsundays and Sydney every opportunity we had. It’s so strange leaving home WITHOUT YOUR KIDS. It is normally the other way around. In Genesis 21 Abraham’s pain must have been so much worse as he realised he would never see Ishmael again.

“So Abraham got up early the next morning, prepared food and a container of water, and strapped them on Hagar’s shoulders. Then he SENT HER AWAY with their son, and she wandered aimlessly in the wilderness of Beersheba.” (Genesis 21:14 NLT).

Abraham gives her JUST ENOUGH supplies for a journey to the NEXT WELL. He doesn’t send them away with a caravan of supplies, just food enough to carry on her back. HOW CRUEL IS THIS? (Abraham really doesn’t know how to treat women well). How does he expect her to survive in the desert? He doesn’t give her a plan on what she can do with her life now, but hopefully he tells her how to get to the next well. The tension and emotion in the air as they leave must be thick.

DIVORCE is never pleasant, especially when children are involved, but Abraham doesn’t count on them getting lost. Most people don’t stop to think about the consequences of divorce or how much it will effect the next generations.

Hagar is now a HOMELESS SINGLE MUM with no resources in a hopeless situation and there’s no women’s shelter in sight. Like so many REFUGEES today she has been through a conflict that has led to her being deprived of a husband, with devastating results.

She heads in the general direction of her old home in Egypt, but sure enough, without a GPS, she MISSES THE NEXT WELL. “When the water was gone, she put the boy in the shade of a bush. Then she went and sat down by herself about a hundred yards away. “I don’t want to watch the boy die,” she said, as she burst into tears.” (Genesis 21:15 NLT) 

Perhaps Ismael is thinking of the fun he had made of baby Isaac and the consequences of his actions which has led them into this desert, but whatever it is, all laughter and cynicism is gone and He begins to cry out to God. In Genesis 21:17 it says that “God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven, “Hagar, what’s wrong? Do not be afraid! God has heard the boy crying as he lies there.” 

God of course already knows what is wrong but he wants Hagar to articulate to Him what she knows of her situation so he sends an angel with these questions. GOD’S INTERVENTION INTO MY CIRCUMSTANCES IS SO OFTEN ACTIVATED BY MY CONFESSIONS. “What wrong? Don’t be afraid. Speak to Me. Trust Me”. It’s a good policy Just keep speaking to God when life isn’t working out as you planned.

It seems Hagars GPS wasn’t broken afterall – GOD’S POSITIONING SYSTEM. All of sudden Hagar sees the well. So often the answers I need are right in front of me but I can’t see them until I pray (Genesis 21:18-19). Hagar is sent to encourage Ishmael with WORDS OF LIFE AND PRACTICAL HELP.

God bless you Church as you do as 1 Peter 5:7 (NLT) says – “Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you.” I recited this verse to a woman some time ago and she said “I couldn’t do that. Why would God be interested in my worries and cares.” HE IS! Romans 8:35-37 (NLT) says, “Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean He no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? … No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.” 

Ishmael “became a skillful archer,” (I once was given the mechanism for a crossbow. I wonder what happened to it?) Anyway, “he settled in the wilderness of Paran (Arabia). His mother arranged for him to marry a woman from the land of Egypt.” and they all lived in conflict with Israel sadly ever after.  

Pastor Ross

Part 2 – Genesis 21:8-13 – THE LAST LAUGH!

What a Waste!

It was a boring job packing books and I remember we would look for ways to have a bit of fun in the warehouse. When people found other work and left the warehouse they were BINNED!

Usually it was TIM who organised a BINNING with everyone, and he would LAUGH THE LOUDEST. We would gang up on the unfortunate victim and lift them into a large industrial rubbish bin and stand around laughing at the shocked look on his face, then just walk away and leave him to climb out. I know it sounds a little cruel but it was all in good fun.

When I announced that I was leaving to Pastor a Church in the Whitsundays, I found out that Tim was planning to BIN me! So I decided to turn the tables on him. I would secretly arrange for Tim to be binned instead. I organised the whole thing with all the guys and planned it meticulously. It would be kind of like COLLECTIVE REVENGE.

I was so excited that day as we snuck up on Tim and I shouted “NOW!” but so totally shocked when they PICKED ME UP INSTEAD and binned me. The laughter and smirk on Tim’s face told me that he GOT THE LAST LAUGH. To this day I can’t work out how he did it.

There was a lot of laughter surrounding the birth of Isaac. Even Ishmael got in on the act with another dimension.

Genesis 21:8-10 (NLT) says that “When … Sarah saw Ishmael-the son of Abraham and her Egyptian servant Hagar-making fun of her son, Isaac, .. she turned to Abraham and demanded, “GET RID OF that slave-woman and her son. He is not going to share the inheritance with my son, Isaac. I won’t have it!”” All of a sudden Ishmael isn’t smiling anymore. THE LAST LAUGH WAS ON HIM.

The rift between Sarah and Hagar leads to Hagar being DIVORCED by Abraham (Genesis 21:9) and sent away. At first glance this seems so wrong and must have had a profound impact on Ishmael as the last ties to his father were broken. Abraham was as upset as any loving father would be and most likely prayed about the situation which was causing such conflict, but surprisingly in Genesis 21:12 (NLT) “God told Abraham, “Do not be upset over the boy and your servant. Do whatever Sarah tells you, for Isaac is the son through whom your descendants will be counted.” It seems God agrees with Sarah!

Why is God OK with the jealous rage of Sarah in wanting to get rid of Hagar and Ismael? Is Sarah going to get away with this kind of attitude? It seems as if she will. Nowhere are we told that Sarah went to God to pray about this situation.

As the laughter disappeared from Abraham’s face too, God reminds him that Isaac’s descendents are the key part of God’s purposes (Jesus will eventually come from this line). But God tells Abraham “I will also make a nation of the descendants of Hagar’s son because he is your son, too.” 

When I am most conflicted, and the devil seems to be having the LAST LAUGH, God’s Word speaks to me and I am reminded that HIS PURPOSES are bigger than MY CIRCUMSTANCES. It may not seem to make sense at the time, but God knows what He is doing. I can trust Him. Abraham has learned this lesson several times already.

Ishmael was Abraham and Sarah’s idea of how to fulfil God’s promise, but when it comes to the crunch, you have to make a decision. The question that Abraham and I must decide on is “Will I respond to my circumstances in such a way that I live by the power of His Spirit or will I rely on my own good works?” I will never gain God’s approval until I am willing to put away my HUMAN EFFORT and trust in Him.

Galatians 4:21-31 uses this story as an illustration. Two Mothers, two sons, two covenants and two ways of living. You can’t live in harmony by trying to live by HUMAN EFFORT and still hope to LIVE BY THE SPIRIT and inherit the promises of God.

God bless you Church when you decide to put away a life based on human effort which will enslave you and you embrace a life of trusting in the promises of God which will release you to live how God intended. When you do, the last laughter of sheer delight that you will hear will be from heaven’s corridors.

Pastor Ross