If you think way back to the beginning of this issue between Babylon and the people of Judah, God has always been telling them that everything would be fine if they would humble themselves and submit to the imminent captivity. However, they didn’t like that, and yesterday we saw the people taken captive and largely hauled off to Babylon.
Today, in Jeremiah 41, you would think that the people would have learned by now that this captivity had to be the amount of time as prophesied by Jeremiah. It was not that easy, and they continued to try to rebel from under the plan that God had laid out.
Jer 41:2 Then arose Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, and the ten men that were with him, and smote Gedaliah the son of Ahikam the son of Shaphan with the sword, and slew him, whom the king of Babylon had made governor over the land.
Jer 41:3 Ishmael also slew all the Jews that were with him, even with Gedaliah, at Mizpah, and the Chaldeans that were found there, and the men of war.
Jer 41:4 And it came to pass the second day after he had slain Gedaliah, and no man knew it,
It almost seems like Ishmael, who was a distant relative of Zedekiah, thought that the way he get back his power was by simply murdering the person who was put in charge for the time. Maybe he thought that the people would rally behind him and overthrow Babylonian rule.
I only bring this up because we know that it was prophesied that the Babylonians were going to rule. Jeremiah already said that earlier in the book, and it is not as if God would not have seen this coming. It is not as if God was surprised that Ishmael what do this.
I guess my main point is simply that we need to pay attention to the word of God as we go through our everyday lives. For example, if the Bible distinctly tells us something is wrong, we don’t get to go and change it because we want to. Now, there is always the possibility that we were previously interpreting something incorrectly, so I understand that that kind of thing can change. However, it is never a good idea to go explicitly against something that God has laid out. It is not as if our rebellion is justified simply because it is a rebellion that we feel is justified.
One thing that I found particularly interesting was the identity of one of Esau’s wives.
Gen 36:2 Esau took his wives of the daughters of Canaan; Adah the daughter of Elon the Hittite, and Aholibamah the daughter of Anah the daughter of Zibeon the Hivite;
Gen 36:3 And Bashemath Ishmael’s daughter, sister of Nebajoth.
Esau actually married one of Ishmael’s daughters.
It is interesting that even at this point in history, there was apparently some level of contact between the lines of Isaac and Ishmael.
We saw earlier how they both came together to bury their father when he passed away, and their children obviously had some degree of contact as well.
In my mind, this is another reference to the fact that these people forgave each other.
Many marriages during this time were arranged according to Jim West of the Quartz Hill School of Theology as well as many other sources around the Internet that I found.
If Ishmael was still upset with Isaac and jealous of the fact that he kind of took his place, I highly doubt that he would have allowed his daughter to marry the son of Isaac.
That must have been some pretty strong forgiveness.
However, as hard as that is to believe, it is apparently what happened.
By definition, forgiveness covers a lot of bad things that happened in the past.
If you go online to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, here is what they tell you forgiveness means.
“To cease to feel resentment against (an offender) : pardon”
I think that we sometimes miss this fact in our lives. We have all come into contact with people who have perhaps stepped over us.
Ishmael very possibly felt some resentment. After all, if Ishmael had remained the only child, he would have obviously been the favorite.
However, as we now realize in chapter 36, their children were marrying each other. There must have been some reconciliation.
In all of our relationships that might have taken a wrong turn, we should seek reconciliation as well. Nobody benefits from grudges, and God is able to help us find the power to forgive.
On one hand, you will recall from previous chapters that Abraham had to send Ishmael away. Although we don’t know that for sure, I would imagine that Ishmael would have been a little bit jealous of Isaac.
After all, he would not have been sent away if Isaac did not exist.
However, when Abraham died, we find Ishmael back on the scene to help bury his father along with Isaac.
Gen 25:8 Then Abraham gave up the ghost, and died in a good old age, an old man, and full of years; and was gathered to his people.
Gen 25:9 And his sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah, in the field of Ephron the son of Zohar the Hittite, which is before Mamre;
Gen 25:10 The field which Abraham purchased of the sons of Heth: there was Abraham buried, and Sarah his wife.
Of course, it isn’t healthy to speculate too far, but that obviously was not angry enough at his father for sending him away to not come pay his final respects. He also wasn’t mad enough Isaac to avoid him altogether.
Later, we see a slightly different relationship developing.
Even while they were still within Rebekah, Jacob and Esau were already fighting with each other.
Gen 25:22 And the children struggled together within her; and she said, If it be so, why am I thus? And she went to enquire of the LORD.
Gen 25:23 And the LORD said unto her, Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger.
Obviously, Isaac and Ishmael had plenty of reasons to disagree, but they seem to have gotten along somewhat well. On the other hand, we have Jacob and Esau who couldn’t even wait until they were born to start fighting.
I know that in both of these cases, we are talking about literal brothers, but let me expand a little bit too spiritual brother and sisterhood in Christ.
It is no secret that Christianity has suffered from enough division over the years, but that is not how it should be.
Php 2:5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
There should not be all of this conflict because if we all thought like Jesus did, it would be perfect. Unfortunately, since we are human, it is impossible to be exactly like Jesus.
Nevertheless, this is what we should strive for. We need to treat our Christian family as well as everyone else we meet with respect and love.
Mat 22:37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
Mat 22:38 This is the first and great commandment.
Mat 22:39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
Mat 22:40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
Literal and spiritual sister and brotherhood are incredibly important relationships, and in Genesis 25, we see two examples of how they may play out.
Ishmael and Isaac may not have had the best of relationships or they very well might have had a great relationship, but the important point here is that when they needed to come together to respect their father, they were respectful and did what they should have done. They put aside personal differences to do what God would want them to do.
First, Isaac is born just as God said he would be. Obviously, Abraham and Sarah were extraordinarily happy, and they undoubtedly knew that their family line would not die. God had promised that, but it must have been nice to finally see the tangible results.
However, after that, Sarah became incredibly jealous of Hagar again. This relationship has been strained for a long time, but Sarah was again concerned that when Abraham died, both Ishmael and Isaac would take part in his inheritance.
Abraham didn’t want to do that. After all, Ishmael was his son, and he didn’t want to send him away to wander and die.
It seems a little bit strange, but here is what God told him.
Gen 21:12 And God said unto Abraham, Let it not be grievous in thy sight because of the lad, and because of thy bondwoman; in all that Sarah hath said unto thee, hearken unto her voice; for in Isaac shall thy seed be called.
Gen 21:13 And also of the son of the bondwoman will I make a nation, because he is thy seed.
When I read this, part of me really had to wonder what God was thinking. Why would he tell Abraham to throw out his own son?
I think that the answer to that is found in verse 13. Ishmael was promised to have a nation just like Isaac was. Obviously, you can’t have two nations that are built right on top of each other.
You might think that I’m stretching this concept a little. After all, it seems like the separation could have been a lot more peaceful.
Nevertheless, since this was God’s plan, He also made it work. He was watching out for Hagar and Ishmael as they wandered and provided for them in the middle of the desert.
Gen 21:17 And God heard the voice of the lad; and the angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven, and said unto her, What aileth thee, Hagar? fear not; for God hath heard the voice of the lad where he is.
Gen 21:18 Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him in thine hand; for I will make him a great nation.
Gen 21:19 And God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water; and she went, and filled the bottle with water, and gave the lad drink.
Gen 21:20 And God was with the lad; and he grew, and dwelt in the wilderness, and became an archer.
Gen 21:21 And he dwelt in the wilderness of Paran: and his mother took him a wife out of the land of Egypt.
This is yet another illustration of the concept that God’s ways are not our ways. Why did Ishmael and Hagar have to get thrown out of Abraham’s house rather than peacefully parting ways?
I’m honestly not sure, but God provided during the whole journey. Ishmael survived, and his descendents created a great nation. Verse 20 says that God was with him, and Ishmael’s nation had its own area to grow and prosper. It definitely could not have done that if it was smashed up beside Isaac’s descendents.
Even if things seem incredibly confusing at a time, when we are in God’s will, everything has a purpose.
He was very concerned about this son that he was supposed to have but hadn’t had yet. Again, he knew that God had promised him a child, but he was wondering how that would happen since his wife, now renamed Sarah, was 90 years old. You don’t hear about many 90 year olds having children.
Gen 17:17 Then Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed, and said in his heart, Shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred years old? and shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear?
Gen 17:18 And Abraham said unto God, O that Ishmael might live before thee!
Gen 17:19 And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him.
Gen 17:20 And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation.
Gen 17:21 But my covenant will I establish with Isaac, which Sarah shall bear unto thee at this set time in the next year.
Even with all the assurances that we have seen through the past few chapters, Abraham was still worried about this issue.
I think that we all run into this quite often. We have all of the various promises that are reported in the Bible, but we still worry about nearly everything far too much.
We don’t need to worry though because Jesus is in control of everything. When He was physically here on earth, His disciples were concerned that He was going to go away from them. They weren’t sure how to react to that news, but here is what Jesus told them.
Joh 14:27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
This verse is still applicable in whatever context any of us find ourselves in. When God promises something, he doesn’t give like the world gives. The world will ultimately let us down at some point, but God never will.
Because of that fact that was established earlier in this verse, we definitely don’t need to worry.
Worrying is a pretty human thing, and I know that everyone has his or her experience with it. However, we don’t need to worry like Abraham did. When we read a promise from God, as hard as it might be sometimes, we need to let go and trust that it will happen just like the Bible says it will.
I wrote a few days ago about the importance of being on time. I talked about how the Bible says that Noah had a deadline to when he had to be ready for the rains to fall. He met that deadline, and all was well. He followed the directions that God had given him.
Today, we’re going to talk about a similar idea, but with Abram, he wasn’t waiting for God’s timing. He wanted to take matters into his own hands.
Keep in mind through all of this that God had already promised Abram an heir. According to Genesis 13:15, we know that Abram had heard this promise directly from God.
However, Abram and Sarai were concerned that they were going to have children, so Sarai actually told Abram to have children with her handmaid Hagar.
Gen 16:1 Now Sarai Abram’s wife bare him no children: and she had an handmaid, an Egyptian, whose name was Hagar.
Gen 16:2 And Sarai said unto Abram, Behold now, the LORD hath restrained me from bearing: I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her. And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai.
Again, I cannot stress enough the fact that Abram knew that he would have a child enough. There was no ambiguity in this promise from God.
Despite this fact, he was still willing to try to rush God’s timing.
We all tend to do this a lot. I know that I want certain things to happen right now simply because I want them. That definitely is not right as what we really need to do is wait on God’s timing.
Psa 62:5 My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him.
2Pe 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
As a result of the aforementioned rushing, we see that Ishmael was born. Here is what God told Hagar about her son.
Gen 16:12 And he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man’s hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.
Essentially, all of that could’ve been avoided if Abram was willing to wait and not rush God’s timing.
Again, I know that we do this all the time, and I know that that isn’t right. Please help us all remember that Your timing is perfect, and even though we may not understand everything that happened at the beginning, we can be assured that God makes everything happens according to what You will.