“And the words were very evil in the eyes of Abraham on account of his son.”
In the context, Sarah has seen the ridicule that is coming from Hagar and Ishmael and asks Abraham to cast out both from his household. Ultimately, the promise is to be through Isaac, not Ishmael, and thus allowing Ishmael to stay would threaten the claim of Isaac. Such must not be. Yet, Ishmael is still Abraham’s son…
In our discussions of God’s promise to Isaac and all of the good things that God was doing in his covenantal line, we sometimes forget to remember that Ishmael was Abraham’s son too and that Abraham was a father just like any other father, and thus had feelings toward his son. Here is the point where this first child of his is about to be cast from his presence forever. He has lost Lot, his nephew (whom he had raised for much of his life) to sin after the destruction of Sodom and now he is losing Ishmael. No one must share in the covenantal promise that is directed rightly at Isaac.
God’s promise and blessing to Abraham is a wonderful promise, but we sometimes forget that with God’s promises often comes a sacrifice. For Abraham, in this case, the sacrifice was of his firstborn son being cast out because he threatened the claim of Isaac to the covenantal promise of God.
How often God demands sacrifices from us as well. Perhaps none are as great as this, perhaps they are. Yet God says to us, “trust my design, for it is good.” Often, like Abraham at this moment, the design of God does not look good to us, but sounds downright evil. Yet God says, “trust me.” The question we must ask is whether or not we will trust him and whether we will walk forward in obedience to his calling. My prayer, beloved, is that we learn trust even in the presence of those things that by every human standard, we perceive to be evil.