R4E130911 – Ishmael (Old Testament Character Study) by Douglas Jacoby
- Yishma’el (Ishmael) — God hears.
- The point: God hears, and cares for, and works in the lives of all human beings — not just the covenant people.
- Note: the translations used in this podcast are the CSB and NASB.
- Genesis 16:9-16: Ishmael is born as a result of human attempts to receive (accelerate) God’s promises, after Sarah and Abraham had waited 11 years. In contrast, Isaac, born 14 years later — 25 years after the promise was given — was clearly the work of God. His birth was possible only because of the Lord.
- Genesis 17:20, 23-26; 21:8-21; 25:7-17 (35:29).
- Galatians 4:21-5:1; Revelation 3:12; 21:2, 10.
- Ishmael and the Ishmaelites are mentioned in Genesis 16, 17, 25, 28, 36, 37; Judges 8:24; Psalm 83.
- Study Paul’s use of flesh and spirit and law in Galatians and Romans. Flesh is the human tendency to take matters into our own hands, rather than trusting God to work in our lives. In connection with this, read the interesting articles on Human Nature and Driven Men.
- Read about the Qur’anic view of Ishmael, ‘Isma’il in Arabic. Seeking legitimacy, the Muslims eventually chose Ishmael as an “ancestor,” although in fact many of the Arab peoples have no Ishmaelite blood in their veins at all.
- A less fair, though provocative and stimulating webpage is found here.
- If you want to learn more about Islam, Jesus and Islam (2009) has lots of material.
Some things we learn about God:
- God often reverses the natural order of things. In the Bible, and especially in Genesis, the younger supplants the older, receiving the blessing that would otherwise be his.
- God hears the prayers of sinners (with the exceptions of Psalm 66:18, Isaiah 59:1ff, John 9:31). Otherwise, Matthew 7:7 would not make sense.
- God cares for those who are outside his covenant people.
- Genesis 14 — Melchizedek.
- Amos 9:7, Jonah 4:11, etc.
- Hear also the audio lesson in Foundations for Faith: Old Testament Survey, on God’s Universal Purpose.
- If God kept his promises to Ishmael, who was not a son of promise or child of the covenant, how much more will he keep his promises to those of his chosen line?
- Read portions of Genesis 21. Tell the basic story: Abraham had two sons. One was 13 years older than the other! Abraham loved Ishmael very much.
- Explain that Sarah, Ishmael’s stepmother, was not very nice to him. Even though it was hard for Ishmael and his mother, they did okay.
- God’s plan for Ishmael was not the same as his plan for Isaac. Through Isaac all the world would be blessed — he would be the ancestor of Jesus. Ishmael went on to become the father of twelve triibes (just like Jacob later on).
- Like Abraham, God loves all his children. He will accomplish different things through different people. We should not be jealous, or doubt God’s love or us, even if we can’t understand his plans.
- 17:20 and 21:18 — God cares for Ishmael; he did not write off him and his descendants.
- 25:9 — Ishmael comes together with his younger brother Isaac to bury their father, Abraham.
- Galatians 4:29 — This passage is not referring to the Muslims, but to the religious establishment. In the first century, this was Second Temple Judaism. While many Jews embraced Christ and the gospel, others dismissed Christ; they were no longer the covenant people of God.