Eternity Daily Bible Study

The Life Of Abraham

Number: 573

Verses: Genesis 21:14-21

Topic: God Hears Ishmael

Date: 10th April 2006


[Apologies for the inconsistency of these devotionals of late, I have just returned from ministering in Indonesia and they should, God willing, resume from now on.]


Genesis 21:14-21 HCSB Early in the morning Abraham got up, took bread and a waterskin, put them on Hagar's shoulders, and sent her and the boy away. She left and wandered in the Wilderness of Beer-sheba.  (15)  When the water in the skin was gone, she left the boy under one of the bushes.  (16)  Then she went and sat down nearby, about a bowshot away, for she said, "I can't bear to watch the boy die!" So as she sat nearby, she wept loudly.  (17)  God heard the voice of the boy, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, "What's wrong, Hagar? Don't be afraid, for God has heard the voice of the boy from the place where he is.  (18)  Get up, help the boy up, and sustain him, for I will make him a great nation."  (19)  Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water. So she went and filled the waterskin and gave the boy a drink.  (20)  God was with the boy, and he grew; he settled in the wilderness and became an archer.  (21)  He settled in the Wilderness of Paran, and his mother got a wife for him from the land of Egypt.


Ishmael and his mother Hagar are cast out from the household of Abraham without inheritance. Abraham is grieved by Sarah's anger and gives them bread and water and sends them away. Soon the supplies are gone and it seems that the situation is hopeless.


However, Hagar forgets that previously God had promised that Ishmael would become a great nation (Genesis 17:20) and that her offspring would be “too many to count” (Genesis 16:10). If God was true to His Word then they would not both die there in the wilderness of Beer-Sheba! And of course God was true to His Word!


Hagar was also blinded by the circumstances. The water was already there, she just had to have her eyes opened in order to see it. Often the solution is right in front of us but pain, panic and despair blind us to it. We cannot see the obvious solution because we can only see the problem and its probable outcomes (in this case death from dehydration).


The well was right there, right under their noses, but it took an angel of God to show it to them!


No human rejection (such as being cast out of Abraham's family), or terrible circumstance (such as being in the desert and running out of water), can stop God's plan for your life. God fulfilled His plan for Ishmael despite the inauspicious circumstances of his birth and upbringing.  God made him into the Bedouin Arab peoples of today!


When God speaks an authoritative word over your life it must come true. God is never thwarted, and God can make all His promises “yea and amen” in Christ Jesus. Now that does not mean that every human desire or wish will come true. But that which God has planned for you and truly spoken over you will come true for you as it did for Ishmael.


At critical points God will point out a solution, a “well in the desert” that you may not have even known was there. He does this in response to intense, prevailing prayer “for I have heard the cry of the boy”. God wants us to press on into Him and to call earnestly upon Him for grace, salvation and life's solutions. God allows the crisis, that produces the prayer, that leads to the solution.


God wants to get us to pray from our spirit, to call out from the depths of our beings to Him, to make spirit-to-Spirit contact with the Almighty - and that often requires a crisis. From Moses at the Red Sea, to Jonah in the belly of the whale, and to Hezekiah faced with the Assyrians - the great prayers are prayed in crisis and amidst life's most grievous pressures.


The crisis molds us and stamps us with God and builds our faith as we see His care and as our prayers are answered. If there had been no crisis would the Hebrews have remembered the events at the parting of the Red Sea? The drama is part of the learning!


Hagar would remember the two occasions on which God turned up for her in the desert (Genesis chapters 16 & 21) as the God Who Sees, and the God who answers prayer. Her theology was that God was there, watching, even in the wilderness. God was always gracious to her and always had a solution for her difficulties. This indeed was a God worth serving!


Ishmael grows up in the wilderness of Paran and becomes an archer – a highly skilled warrior. He comes back into the picture in Genesis 25 when he returns for the burial of Abraham and his twelve sons are recorded in the same chapter along with the attribution “he lived in opposition to all his brothers”. (The two main sons of Abraham were Isaac and Ishmael but Abraham also had sons by a later wife Keturah and with his many concubines, these sons he sent away to the East – see Genesis 25).


Ishmael seems to have a deep 'spirit of rejection' from being cast out that permeated his life, dwelling away from people in the wilderness, being an archer and a warrior, and living in opposition to the rest of his family. To some extent this spirit of rejection still lives in many of the Arab peoples to this day!


Rejection is not easy to overcome and forgiveness and reconciliation is essential. You have to let go of the past and make a conscious decision to love and to trust and to move on. As a Christian you need to realise that you are acceptable to God, part of His household and designed for fellowship with God and with His saints. No Christian needs to live in a state of isolation and rejection for God loves them! Even family rejection can be overcome by the love of God!


Psalms 27:10 MKJV When my father and my mother forsake me, then Jehovah will take me up.





John Edmiston (



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