“And God was with the lad and he was mighty; he dwelt in the wilderness and became a great archer. He dwelt in the wilderness of Paran and his mother took for him a wife from the land of Egypt.”
And so, Hagar and Ishmael separate from the presence of Abraham and move to the wilderness of Paran. The region of Paran is traditionally located toward the western side of the Arabian Peninsula and it should be noted that Muslim tradition states that it is Mecca where Ishmael settled, again noting the connection between Abraham and Sarah’s sin of trying to rush God’s plan and the Arab nations today. In addition, he did not take a wife from “his own people” as would Isaac, but chose a wife out of Egypt…an idolater.
Notice the contrast between Ishmael and his father in terms of how they are remembered. Abraham is remembered as the Father of the Faithful (Romans 4:11-12) and the Friend of God (James 2:23); Ishmael is remembered as being a good archer, a hunter (not unlike the language that is given of Nimrod — Genesis 10:8-9). One being remembered for eternal things and the other for earthly things. The contrast should be profound.
How often we who know eternal truth find ourselves much more concerned with earthly matters than with heavenly ones. How often we would rather be remembered for our accomplishments on earth than for our faithfulness to God. How often we invest our time and money into things that will not last but for a few moments on the timeline of eternity. How often we behave more like the pagans in terms of what we value than we do like the men and women of God that have walked before us. Loved ones, may it be faithful Abraham who is our example and not Ishmael. May we invest our energies in building the Kingdom of God and not worry so much about building our own man-centered kingdoms. May we be remembered not as a “Great” man or woman, but as “Friend of God.”