So the child grew and was weaned. And Abraham made a great feast on the same day that Isaac was weaned.
And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, scoffing. Therefore she said to Abraham, "Cast out this bondwoman and her son; for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, namely with Isaac." And the matter was very displeasing in Abraham's sight because of his son.
But God said to Abraham, "Do not let it be displeasing in your sight because of the lad or because of your bondwoman. Whatever Sarah has said to you, listen to her voice; for in Isaac your seed shall be called. Yet I will also make a nation of the son of the bondwoman, because he is your seed."
[Genesis 21:8-13 NKJV]
When I was young, there was a game that was played called Truth or Consequences. In this parlour game, someone would ask a question and if the others failed to give the right answer, a penalty was exacted; usually something like “you must wash the dishes for a week”. Rarely in my experience did “the punishment fit the crime”, which is why I refused to take part in such an unjust game. I believe that there was an American game show based on this idea and with the same title.
Abraham in this Genesis story found himself in the middle of such a thing. He had to face up to God’s truth and pay the consequences too. God is just and merciful, but His immutable law of sowing and reaping (as you sow, so shall you reap), cannot be ignored
This is an aspect of this that we must consider in the inheritance battle between Ishmael and Isaac. In the meditation “Submit Yourself”, we looked at the consequences of how two people Abram and Sarai dealt with their desire for a child, despite all the odds against this. Sarai seems to put aside her trust in God and offers her maidservant, Hagar, an Egyptian, to Abram, and the child Ishmael is born. We can see in this story that Ishmael is always going to be the firstborn in you and I, for he is a type of a natural birth.
Thirteen years later, Isaac is born supernaturally to Sarah (noblewoman) and Abraham (father of a multitude) — both having their name and nature changed from natural to spiritual by The Lord. By this I mean that when we give ourselves to The Lord, we are reborn into His life, which is of the Spirit — thus Isaac is born in us also. Being “born again” does not mean that our old life is done away with; instead we have Ishmael and Isaac battling in us for dominance. Ishmael the older and stronger is always likely to push Isaac the younger out of the way and is why we struggle daily to keep our older “flesh” nature under control and allow the “spiritual” to flourish.
Abraham found this an immense struggle, and could not banish his son Ishmael from his presence as Sarah said that he should. Eventually God took a hand in this — for the furtherance of His plan — and says to Abraham "Do not let it be displeasing in your sight because of the lad or because of your bondwoman. Whatever Sarah has said to you, listen to her voice; for in Isaac your seed shall be called. Yet I will also make a nation of the son of the bondwoman, because he is your seed.
It is a hard truth, and one that we must hear or face the consequences. We need to cast out the bondwoman and her son — and allow His Holy Spirit to flourish in you and I. We are assured of The Lord’s help. His plan will succeed.
In tribulation, misunderstanding, slander, in the midst of all these things, if our life is hid with Christ in God, He will keep us at ease. We rob ourselves of the marvellous revelation of this abiding companionship of God. God is our refuge”—nothing can come through that shelter.
GEORGE and GILL STEWART
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