The God of Isaac, not Ishmael

In Genesis 17, God changes Abram’s name to be Abraham, saying that he will be the father of many nations. Furthermore, and more importantly, God calls Abraham to walk before him faithfully and blamelessly because he wants to establish his covenant with Abraham.

And what is the covenant? God will be Abraham’s God as well as the God of Abraham’s descendents as well as their descendents. So God is establishing a defined relationship between he and Abraham.

But then God throws in a kicker. He says that Sarah will have a son, even though she will soon be 90 years old. That son will be named Isaac which means “he laughs”. Why is he named that? Because when Abraham had first heard God’s plan for a son to come through Sarah, he laughed! And then later, when Sarah hears God’s plan, what does she do? She laughs!

The most interesting part of God’s plan, though, is that God says that he is going to establish his covenant with Isaac, who isn’t even conceived yet, and certainly not born, but not with Isaac.

And Abraham said to God, “If only Ishmael might live under your blessing!”

Then God said, “Yes, but your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him. And as for Ishmael, I have heard you: I will surely bless him; I will make him fruitful and will greatly increase his numbers. He will be the father of twelve rulers, and I will make him into a great nation. But my covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you by this time next year.”

Genesis 17:18-21

So despite saying that he would bless Ishmael, God chooses Isaac before he is ever born. God will be Isaac’s God. He will not establish his covenant with Ishmael, so he will not be Ishmael’s God.

Of course, from Isaac will come Jacob whose name will be changed to Israel, and from Israel will come the 12 tribes…and God’s people, the nation of Israel, has its official start!

So what do we learn? We learn that God chooses. He chooses whom he wants to use. In this case, he decided to choose Isaac…Even before he was born, he chose Isaac over Ishmael and established the nation of Israel and the Jewish people as his people.

When God chooses, he chooses his people. In the case of Isaac and Ishmael, God chooses a people for himself through whom he would establish his people on the earth. Of course, we know that God could do this through any individual, any person, but God chose his people, and for a purpose.

God’s purpose is that one day, all people would be saved through the people that he had chosen. The people that he established would be the people through whom the Messiah would come who would bring salvation to all people everywhere. This is the story that God has been telling throughout history and through the story of the Bible. It is the story of God’s glory that through the establishment of his Kingdom on the earth and the establishment of a King, God would choose Jesus as the One who would both save and rule over all people of all time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *