Let’s read Genesis 21:8-13, “So the child (Ishmael) grew and was weaned…and Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, scoffing. There 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’” (NKJV). The following verses tell us that Abraham did cast out Hagar and Ishmael and they “wandered in the Wilderness of Beersheba” (verse 14). Later an angel of God told Hagar, “Arise, lift up the lad and hold him with your hand, for I will make him a great nation” (verse 18). And then in verse 20-21 we read, “So God was with the lad; and he grew and dwelt in the wilderness, and became an archer. He dwelt in the Wilderness of Paran; and his mother took a wife for him from the land of Egypt.”

We see from this passage that Ishmael was blessed by God, for twice we read that God would “make him a great nation.” He was not to be the promised heir in Abraham’s line that would eventually inherit the land of Israel and bring forth the Messiah, but because he was Abraham’s son God would bless him with many descendants. Before he was even born, God told Hagar, “I will multiply your descendants exceedingly, so that they shall not be counted for multitude” (Genesis 16:10). She was then told that Ishmael “shall be a wild donkey of a man, His hand will be against everyone, and everyone’s hands will be against him; and he will live to the east of all his brothers” (verse 12). Putting these passages together we learn that Ishmael lived a wild, nomadic life in the wilderness. We also learn that he would be hostile to his brothers, the Jews. In time Ishmael and his Egyptian wife had twelve sons (see Genesis 25:12-18) and they settled “from Havilah to Shur which is east of Egypt as one goes toward Assyria.” His descendants are the Arabs, who for centuries have lived, like their father, a nomadic lifestyle in the deserts and wildernesses of the Middle East. And like their ancestor Ishmael, they have been hostile to the Jewish nation to the present day.

We need to understand the main reason for the hostility between the Arabs and the Jews. Because Abraham was Ishmael’s father, he truly believed “he was the promised heir.” Thus he persecuted Isaac and this hostility was passed on from generation to generation. Today the Arab people want to destroy the Jewish nation, believing that the “promised land” is their land, and that the blessings that God promised Abraham belong to them. But as we saw in Genesis 21:10 & 12, “for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with….Isaac…for in Isaac your seed shall be called.” Scripture is crystal-clear on this point and it is a tragedy that Ishmael’s descendants refuse to believe the Word of God. (232.5) (DO)