Richard Agee

Genesis 21:10-21: God sends Ishmael away to become a great nation separate from that of Isaac

“For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the bondwoman and one by the free woman. But the son by the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and the son by the free woman through the promise.” (Gal. 4:22-23)

Richard AgeeOn the surface, Paul’s message about Sarah and Hagar in Gal. 4:22-23 doesn’t make sense. After all, we all know how a man and woman come together to make a child. This biological mechanism is how both Ishmael and Isaac came into the world.

We also read here that, because of Abraham, God made a covenant with Ishmael as well as Isaac, but Ishmael’s is different because he was cast out. 

Although we read earlier in Genesis 21 that Sarah had a reason to want Ishmael cast out, Paul ignored that issue and focused on Sarah and Hagar. Hagar and Ishmael were the cast-out ones, not Sarah and Isaac. Paul wrote that Hagar represents Mt. Sinai and the present Jerusalem on earth, while Sarah represents the Heavenly New Jerusalem. There are two different covenants. One is “bound” and one is “free.”

We have all broken the law and fallen short of its commands. If all you have is Sinai, you have no resurrection, no place in the future world. 

In Gen. 21:11, we read that “The matter distressed Abraham greatly because of his son.” The word translated as distressed is the Hebrew word רָעַע ra‘a (Strong’s H7489a), which means evil, harsh, wicked, hostile, etc. When Abraham first heard Sarah’s request, he thought her request was very wicked and overly harsh, but we read in verse 12 that God agreed with Sarah. God tells Abraham not to consider Sarah’s request evil in his sight but tells Abraham that Sarah’s solution is correct because “through Isaac your descendants shall be named.” 

Gal. 4:28 says, “And you brethren, like Isaac, are children of promise.” Paul is telling the Galatian believers that they are children of Abraham and Isaac when they believed in Yeshua. Apostle Paul also warned them that those who are children of Hagar — and Ishmael — will persecute Isaac’s descendants.

“But as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so it is now also.” (Gal. 4:29)

Abraham did not make any prophesies, yet God called Abraham His prophet. God made Abraham’s life as recorded in the Scriptures a prophesy. 

Abraham listened to God and sent Hagar and Ishmael away with some bread and water and cast away. As Hagar and Ishmael left, we read that Ishmael was on the verge of death. Hagar was so upset that she couldn’t stand to watch and she left him. Then we read that God heard Ishmael’s prayer. We don’t know what Ishmael said, but what’s important is that God heard Ishmael’s prayer and called out to Hagar. It’s interesting that God didn’t hear Hagar’s cry, but He heard Ishmael’s.

I believe that God brought Ishmael was brought near to the point of death, so He could bring him back to life. It was only after God heard Ishmael’s prayer that God opened Hagar’s eyes. Then she found the water, and God told her to go back to Ismael and take care of him. Ishmael grew to adulthood in the “wilderness of Paran” and became an expert archer. 

Can God be glorified in the “heathen”? Yes. Can God be glorified in Ishmael? Yes. Yet, we read in the newspapers and watch on the nightly news how the sons of Isaac and the sons of Ishmael are constantly at war with one another. God puts trials upon all people — to strengthen us. He has to make us weak and humble before He can make us strong, just as He did to Ishmael. 

Sarah symbolizes Heaven, and Hagar symbolizes the Earth. In the last days, God will glorify Jerusalem. Hagar and Sarah’s lives are also prophesy lived out in human form. 

This story is a “concrete” story. It’s not written in the abstract, yet we can find abstract lessons within it. This is what apostle Paul did in Galatians 4. He took an abstract lesson from the Torah and made it  more concrete. 

Speaker: Richard Agee. Reader: Jeff. Summary: Tammy.


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