“…And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and took bread and a bottle of water, and gave it unto Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, and the child, and sent her away: and she departed, and wandered in the wilderness of Beer-sheba.” Genesis 21:14
It had to have been one of the most trying days in the life of Abraham. Sarah, his wife, who had borne him no children, devised a plan by which her servant, Hagar, would be given to Abraham as a wife. Hagar bore a son to Abraham whose name was Ishmael. But there would come a day, after Ishmael was thirteen or fourteen years old, that Sarah would give birth to the promised seed, Isaac. There had been a history of animosity between Hagar and Sarah. When Ishmael was caught mocking Isaac, at a time of a great feast, marking the event of Isaac being weaned, Sarah would declare to Abraham: “Cast out this bond-woman and her son: for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac.” (21:10) Scripture tells us that, “…the thing was VERY GRIEVOUS in Abraham’s sight because of his son..” Abraham had become very attached to this son Ishmael, even though there existed the “rivalry” between Sarah and Hagar. What was he to do? And why did he choose to send Hagar and her son away, with apparently very little means of sustenance? The answer is found in three imperatives.
The first imperative is: The Lord told him to do it. “…in all that Sarah hath said unto thee, hearken unto her voice.” (v.12) Without a clear understanding of God’s word to his heart, how could Abraham ever send his son away like this? The second imperative is: Abraham is to take a stand of faith on the promise of God. “And also of the son of the bondwoman will I make a nation, because he is thy seed.” (v.13) God does not tell Abraham how He is going to do this. He calls upon Abraham to trust Him, and go forward. Thus, he sends Hagar and Ishmael away…and in this case, into wilderness of Beer-sheba. The third imperative has to do with Abraham’s own attitude of heart and mind: Abraham is to take an eternal view of the situation, in order to be delivered from his own present, natural grief. “And God said unto Abraham, ‘Let it not be grievous in thy sight because of the lad…'” (v.12) Why does God tell him this? Because God is looking down the road to eternity, not only because of the seed of Abraham in Ishmael (…whom He will care for…), but also in Isaac. It shall be in the lineage of Abraham, through Isaac, that the Christ will be born, the Savior of the world. All the nations of the world will be blessed in Abraham’s seed. In the wisdom, goodness, and love of God, Abraham can rejoice…even out of the context of sorrow. God WILL do that which is good, and not fail.
Dear Father, in the difficult moment, when our hearts may be torn by one circumstance or another, give us grace to hear Thy voice, and respond in faith. Give us to take our stand upon Thy promises, and also, look down the road to eternity, believing that You only do the wonderful, good thing…indeed, that which is of highest good. In Jesus’ name, Amen.