“The Scriptures say that Abraham had two sons, one from his slave wife and one from his freeborn wife. The son of the slave wife was born in a human attempt to bring about the fulfillment of God’s promise. But the son of the freeborn wife was born as God’s own fulfillment of his promise. These two women serve as an illustration of God’s two covenants. The first woman, Hagar, represents Mount Sinai where people received the law that enslaved them. And now Jerusalem is just like Mount Sinai in Arabia, because she and her children live in slavery to the law. But the other woman, Sarah, represents the heavenly Jerusalem. She is the free woman, and she is our mother…And you, dear brothers and sisters, are children of the promise, just like Isaac. But you are now being persecuted by those who want you to keep the law, just as Ishmael, the child born by human effort, persecuted Isaac, the child born by the power of the Spirit.” – Galatians 4:22-26; 28-29
Sometimes, I feel like I need to help God. I do. I need to help Him fulfill the promises I believe He has made to me; I feel like I need to help Him out with the plans for my life; and I feel like I need to help Him execute…everything…as if He has forgotten me. Have you ever felt that way? You are not alone. As a matter of fact, you are the same as Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar. Yet, what do we risk by attempting to out God…God? We risk living in His permissive will and not perfect will for our lives.
In the Old Testament record, God promised Abraham, at the age of 75, to be a father of many nations. To a childless parent, this promise must have been extraordinary. Yet after waiting over 10 years, the promise still went unfulfilled. Therefore, Genesis 16 details how Sarah, Hagar, and Abraham would all play a human factor in trying to help God keep His word. From this, the child of Hagar and Abraham, Ishmael, would be born. Yet this would not be the child to fulfill the promise of God. It would be Isaac, the promised son of Abraham and Sarah. Although Ishmael was not the fulfillment of the promise, God gave a blessing to Ishmael through his father Abraham. In other words, although it was not God’s perfect will, His permissive will still allowed for the flourishing and protection of Abraham’s seed through Ishmael. Centuries later however, in the New Testament, Paul would reference the story of Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar again. This time, he would reference their story through the lens of history. And although God blessed the lineage of Abraham through Isaac and Ishmael, there were definitive consequences and blessings from those choices made long ago. The lineage of Isaac and the lineage of Ishmael would be at odds and at war with each other, even as the respective nations and belief systems arose from them. But the salvation of the world would come through the lineage of Abraham and Isaac…through Jesus Christ.
God looked out for Hagar and her son Ishmael in the wilderness. He kept His promise to Abraham to also bless Ishmael and not to forsake Him; but, the arrangement and subsequent birth of Ishmael would cause a ripple effect that is even felt today. All because humans tried to help God be God. All because of a lack of patience, lack of faith in the barren moments, and lack trust for God to keep His word and be who He is.
If you find yourself faced with a situation where you feel that you are moving ahead of God or are in frustration because of an unfulfilled promise, take heed to the fallacy of human efforts to help God. He doesn’t need our help (even though we sometimes feel as if He does). He has a plan that is still being revealed. Trust Him.
Walk with Him,
Shaniqua & The Great Is Team