Abram (Abraham) and Sarah (Sarai) were getting older. The Lord had blessed them in many ways, but He had not blessed them with children. Abraham asked the Lord about this and in Genesis 15:5 we have the Lord’s reply, “And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be.” Abraham’s seed would be of greater number than all the stars in the sky.

Sarai acted like many of us do. Sarai was trying to help God fulfill His promises, and that is something we do not need to do. She knew the Lord had promised Abraham many children. She considered herself too old to bear children, so she sent Abraham into Hagar so that he might have a child with her. We read in Genesis 16:1-3, “Now Sarai Abram’s wife bare him no children: and she had an handmaid, an Egyptian, whose name was Hagar. 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. And Sarai Abram’s wife took Hagar her maid the Egyptian, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife.”

Although it was Sarai’s idea to have Abraham sleep with her servant, she soon began to hate her. We read in verse 6, “Sarai dealt hardly with her, she fled from her face.” To avoid being mistreated, Hagar ran away. We then read in verses 11-12, “And the angel of the LORD said unto her, Behold, thou art with child, and shalt bear a son, and shalt call his name ISHMAEL; because the LORD hath heard thy affliction. 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.” Ishmael is considered to be Abraham’s son ‘after the flesh’. He was not the promised son, even though Abraham prayed that he might be.

Genesis 17:18-21 says, “And Abraham said unto God, O that Ishmael might live before thee! 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. 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. But my covenant will I establish with Isaac, which Sarah shall bear unto thee at this set time in the next year.” Because Ishmael was the son of Abraham, the Lord did bless him exceedingly, but the one through whom God’s covenant would be established was Isaac, the son of Abraham and Sarah. In fact, we read in Genesis 22:1-2, “And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am. And he said, Take now thy son, THINE ONLY SON ISAAC, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.” Of course, Isaac was not the ONLY SON of Abraham, but he was the only son that the Lord recognized as being Abraham’s lineage through whom the blessings of Abraham would come, establishing Israel through his seed.

Ishmael was a product of a lack of faith. Sarah did not believe she would be the one to produce the seed that the Lord promised Abraham. Ishmael is also a type of compromise. Abraham and Sarah grew tired of waiting for the Lord to provide the promised seed. They fretted over being too old and so used Hagar to give them a son, thinking this could be the one promised. Instead of waiting on Him, they compromised and acted according to human reasoning. Oh, how we fail when we lose faith and compromise the truth of God. We read in Galatians 6:8-9, “For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” (275.4)