It had been 10 years. Abraham had left what was familiar. Had traveled to a foreign land. Accumulated wealth. Fought some battles. But still did not have what he desired most of all, what had been promised to him four times, an heir.
I understand why Sara and Abraham did what they did. Ten years is a long time to wait for a promise, especially when biological clocks are ticking loudly. And to be fair, God did not specifically say the heir would come from Sara. So Ishmael is born, born of a slave.
Now, Ishmael has become the epitome of not waiting on God and taking matters in our own hand. We all fear “birthing an Ishmael”. We have a fear of not hearing God correctly and getting out of “God’s will”. If we are not careful, the fear of “birthing an Ismael” can become more of a driving force than the promise itself. And that fear can lead us to a place of inactivity.
So how do we avoid “birthing an Ishmael”?
1. Stop avoiding Ismael and focus on Isaac. Get in the secret place with God. Asks for specifics and trust the voice you hear. Believe, if you ask God to speak, He will. God is not after perfect obedience (Jesus provided the perfect obedience necessary). He is more pleased with a submitted heart.
2. Don’t fear Ishmael because God is redemptive. We sometimes think of God like Monty Hall (for the younger people, Wayne Brady). He presents two doors and if we choose incorrectly, we have to sit down and play no more. But the truth is, if we make a mistake, the blood of Jesus covers it. As a matter of fact, God is standing behind both doors.
But wait a minute, Melissa. We are fighting wars today because of Ishmael. No, we are fighting wars today because we have a real enemy that likes to bring division and comes to kill, steal, and destroy.
As you move toward your promise, do not allow the fear of birthing an Ishmael paralyze you. God is there to redeem and correct any missteps you may make. Ishmael did not stop Isaac’s birth nor did he delay it. God redeemed Ishmael’s birth and he was used to fulfill the promise that many nations would come from Abraham.
God is redemptive!
“Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian slave named Hagar; so she said to Abram, “The Lord has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my slave; perhaps I can build a family through her.” Abram agreed to what Sarai said. So after Abram had been living in Canaan ten years, Sarai his wife took her Egyptian slave Hagar and gave her to her husband to be his wife. He slept with Hagar, and she conceived. When she knew she was pregnant, she began to despise her mistress.”
Genesis 16:1-4 NIV