The Making of Ishmael

“The Making of Ishmael”

Genesis 16

(A Missions Conference Sermon)

March 4, 2017

Consequences, this morning I want to talk to you about the consequences of our actions, in particular those actions when we willfully choose to do something that is contrary to God’s instructions for our lives. This, of course, does not mean that God is not still sovereign over our sinful actions, but that God works his will through even our worst rebellion…but it is rebellion nonetheless. And so, there are consequences to our actions, whether we are in open rebellion or just trying to find a pragmatic solution to a problem when a Biblical solution can be presented. And what you will find is that not only are there consequences, but the consequences can last for generations if not centuries.

Now, had our Missions Conference speaker been able to make it and was not snowed in north of London, we would have spent the weekend speaking about Islam and how to best she our faith with the Muslims in our midst. And since he was unable to be here, I’ll try and do a little of that this morning, but I want you to understand this first: Islam in our world today is a result of Abraham and Sarah’s sin thousand of years ago — a consequence of a bad decision.

If you recall the story of Abraham…God had called him to leave Ur of the Chaldeans after the death of his Father, Terah. At the time, Abraham was seventy five years old, his wife was barren, and he was overseeing his nephew, Lot. As part of God’s covenant with Abraham, God told him that a nation would descend from him and Sarai — that’s Genesis 12. Between that promise and the chapter we are in, 10 years has passed (that’s verse 3).

But still no son. Lot has gone out on his own, settling near Sodom, Abram was 85 years old and Sarai was 75…long past child-bearing years and still barren. So, Sarai comes up with a plan.

Now, before you wag your finger at Sarai and condemn her, I want to remind you of two things:

First, yes, she should have known better. But she should have known better because Abram should have taught her the word and expectations of God better. He was her covenant head and the spiritual head of the household, so if she is in error, could it be that he has not taught her well enough. And men, do not think you are off the hook all of these years later. You too are heads of your families and homes, so before you gripe about the decisions your wife makes, ask yourself how you have spiritually led your family or whether you have left them alone to fend for themselves and know that you will stand accountable before God one day on that matter.

Second, not only should Sarai have known better, Abraham went along with her. It’s the whole Adam and Eve account again. He could have said, “I don’t think so, Sarai…” but he didn’t. So who is really at fault here?

So, Sarai says, ‘Look, I have this Maid servant, take her as a second wife and maybe God will give you a covenant son through her.’

Isaiah writes: “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil; who put darkness for light and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter…” (Isaiah 5:20)

She knew better, but justified her sin. But do we not do the same?

So, here we are, Abram takes Hagar, Sarai’s maidservant, as his wife and she gets pregnant and Hagar resents Sarai for this…and can you blame her? Sarai gets upset and blames Abram. You can almost imagine Abram looking to heaven and saying, “Lord, the woman YOU gave me…” He doesn’t, but it is not too far off. He says in an unsanctified way, “Look, she is still your servant, do with her what you want.”

Essentially Abram is denying Hagar the rights and privileges of being his wife and does not defend her whom he has covenantally taken as a wife. So, Sarai deals harshly with her…literally, the Hebrew reads that Sarai humiliated her. And so Hagar ran. And can you blame her?

So Hagar flees and finds herself in the wilderness on the way back to her people in Egypt. She is headed toward Shut, which is in the north eastern portion of the Sinai Peninsula. And there she has an encounter with the Angel of Yahweh…who is, as we have discussed in the past, the pre-incarnate Christ, and he makes a prophetic statement…and it is important to see the contrast between the prophesy to Ishmael and that given to Isaac, the rightful heir of the promise.

To both were given the promise to be a great nation…but to Isaac, his people will be a blessing to the world. In contrast, Ishmael will be a wild donkey of a man and everyone’s hand will be against him and his hand will dwell over (dominate) all his kinsmen.

Both great nations. Isaac brings blessing but Ishmael brings war. And given that Muslims trace their lineage to Abraham through Ishmael, they have inherited this promise…and are living it out.

As to the language of a wild donkeys…we usually think of them as domestic pack animals, but in Africa there are still places where wild donkeys roam. They are unsocial beasts, living in the wasteland as they are well suited to harsh climates. They are migratory, choose to fight when danger is near, and are strongly patriarchal with the oldest male leading the clan. I wonder if a better description could be given to the Arab people today.

And, so the consequences fo Sarai’s sin is that birth of a son, Ishmael, who would be a legitimate heir to Abraham’s line, though not the heir that God promised the covenant to go through, for Abraham would reject Ishmael.

So, what of Ishmael and his line? Like Jacob, he had twelve sons plus a daughter: Nebaioth, the father of the Nabateans (in northern Arabia), Kedar (a desert tribe), Adbeel (in northwest Arabia), Mibsam and Mishma (we don’t know where these settled), Dumah (who would connect with the Edomites), Massa (settling near the Persian Gulf), Hadad (connected to Edom), Tema (settling on the northern edge of the Arabian desert), Jetur and Naphish (who fought against Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh — 1 Chronicles 5:18-19 — who also became known as the Itureans who later gave rise to the Lebanese), and Kedemah. His daughter Mahalath, became the second wife of Esau.


But what is important here, folks, is what is found in Genesis 25:16 — their settlements are not just called villages, but “encampments” — military language.

In addition, it was the Ishmaelites that carried Joseph into Egypt (Genesis 37:25). The Ishmaelites joined with the Moabites to conquer Israel in the days of Gideon (Judges 8:24) — so here, the consequences have moved from a couple generations to a full 750 years. And further, Absalom, David’s son, befriended Ithra the Ishmaelite to the end of no good (2 Samuel 17:25), which is another 150 or so later.

850 years…we cannot even begin to wrap our heads around that concept. 850 years ago, Native American Indians were all that dominated the North American continent and Europe was in what we call the Middle Ages…but the consequences of Sarai’s actions continued…as they continue today, from Ishmael to Mohammed.

How often we try and do things our way instead of God’s way — and like with Sarai’s sin, there are consequences that may and do last for generations.

For example, we often lament the state of the church in America today — our lack of influence on society’s morals and laws — the fact that people are walking away from the church.

But do understand that we are reaping the fruit of bad decisions made 50 years ago, 100 years ago, and 150 years ago in many cases.

When we gave up the classroom to the secularists and socialists…when we gave the States the right to murder babies…when we stopped making the study of the Bible the most important aspect of education and of our lives…when we permitted the government to establish a permanent income tax, forcing mothers into the workforce rather than raising and overseeing the education of their children …when we bought the lie that faith was a personal thing and not to be shared with or inculcated in others … when we allowed the government to ignore the First Amendment and make laws concerning the church or allowed them to take Social Welfare off of our plate, which in turn gave us the excuse to build our own kingdoms rather than building the Kingdom of God…We have left the ground dormant and unplowed and then we scratch our heads in wonder as to why the seed we scatter is choked out by the weeds. And many of these decisions were made long before any of us were born.

40 years ago, I imagine that Pastor Stewart probably warned you as to the danger of Communism and that we needed to protect our minds against those bad ideas. Many of you likely scratched your heads and said, “naw, you are overreacting…” Yet socialism and progressivism is all around us today and many openly advocate communistic ideas under these names. And I am telling you that it will be a lot less than 40 years before Islam begins capturing the minds of our kids even out here in the countryside.

There is more that we could say, but I also want to talk briefly about Islam and about sharing your faith with Muslims in your midst… So, I’m going to approach it briefly as a kind of “Top Ten” List and if you want to talk in more depth, come out to TOPIX tonight and we can tackle those questions.

So, the Top Ten Myths that we are told about Islam in the broader society… And I can give references in the Qur’an if you want to do the homework…

10) “Muslims and Christians worship the same God”

This is about as far from being true as one can be. The simplest way of answering this is by comparing attributes. The God of the Bible is morally perfect, a Father to his people, is loving and True. Allah is Merciful, but not loving and he is described as a great deceiver.

Check out Sura 3:54; 7:99, 182-183; 8:30; 13:42.

9) “Jihad is just a personal expression of faith, much like Sanctification in the Christian world.”

While there are some Muslims who would hold to this, that is not what the Qur’an teaches. It teaches that Jihad is the duty of every Muslim until the world is conquered for Allah. In fact, the world is broken into two Houses “Dar Islam and Dar al-Harb” — the house of Islam and the house of War.

Check out Sura 2:190-193; 4:84;9:29; 47:4.

8) “Muslims go to heaven if they live a good life.”

The Muslim faith argues that when one dies one is presented before Allah and his good and bad deeds are weighed out before him. If his good deeds outweigh the bad, Allah may or may not send him to paradise. The only way one can be guaranteed paradise is if one kills infidels in an act of Jihad.

Check out Sura 3:157; 23:102-103; 101:1-11.

7) “Islam liberates women.”

One need only to spend a small amount of time in the Middle East to realize this is a lie and a falsification.

6) “The Islamic World Preserved Knowledge and Science during the European Dark Ages.”

First of all, the so-called “dark ages” is little more than a myth. True, the growth of science and technology slowed during this era for various cultural reasons, but literature and reflection on God thrived and advanced. Most historical scholars have given up on this term. Further, while the Islamic world did see a kind of Renaissance, it was short lived due to various Caliph’s and leaders striving for power. They were not as civilized as the movies portray, nor were Europeans as barbaric.

5) “Muslims do not desire to establish Sharia.”

Sharia, meaning “Law” is the law that is contained in the Qur’an and the other Fatwas and Islamic texts. It is the measure by which the Muslim will be judged on the final day of Judgment, so any serious adherent to the Qur’an must strive for this in their lives and in their community. While we view it as harsh, they view it as a blessing of religious order to the people. Read the Qur’an on the idea of judgment and you decide.

Also Check out: Sura 5:48; 21:179.

4) “Islam is a religion of Peace.”

While many Muslims are peaceful, the Qur’an has other words about how the Muslim is supposed to behave toward the infidel.

Check out Sura 9:29, which commands Muslims to kill Christians and Jews with the sword until they are subjugated.

3) “The Qur’an is the unedited perfect book containing the word of God.”

Shortly after Mohammad’s death, there was a crisis because the Qur’an and other writings were fragmented and some held in the memory of various people who were dying off in battle. Uthman gathered the people and fragments together and made a single copy of the writings, proclaiming it the official text of the Qur’an — this is called the “Uthmanic Revision.” Then, he sought to destroy all variant copies, militantly enforcing his revision. Yet, things survive purges and an ancient copy of the Qur’an, for example, is part of the Paris Museum, departs from this Uthmanic version. So, there were variants and revisions, such things are largely overlooked today.

2) “The wars regarding Islam are a long time ago…”

Do you know when the last Muslim Caliphate was brought to an end? World War I — the Ottoman Empire had been seeking to expand into Europe from Turkey (had been doing so since the 16th century) — this is recent history, not the ancient past.

  1. “Muslims believe in Jesus.”

Well, sort of, but not really. They do believe in a Jesus, but they do not believe he was God nor do they believe that he died a sacrificial death on the cross. In fact, Sura 4:157 argues that Allah made someone else look like Jesus and take his place. What is the problem with this? The problem is that they may speak of a Jesus, but their Jesus is not the Jesus of the Bible who was God, the second person of the Trinity, and who died a sacrificial death on the cross to atone for the sins of those who had faith in him. Without the cross and Jesus’ subsequent resurrection, Christians have nothing and, as Paul writes, ought to be pitied.

So, as we close, how do we approach evangelizing Muslims, because typical evangelistic techniques typically are not effective with them. The simple answer, offer them a challenge. If they will read your Bible, you will read their Qur’an…then compare notes. They will see the disparity between the books and the Truth of God’s word will shine through.

Islam rose to power in the 6th Century AD, during a period in time when Byzantine Christianity had grown weak and people just made up their theology as they went. Folks were ready for a religion that brought in uncompromising order. I wonder, are we in that place in America today? Beware the consequences.

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