Blessings for Ishmael and
Genesis 21 & 26
The lesson reviews the promises of God for
Ishmael and Isaac.
The study's aim is to realize that God keeps His
promises no matter how impossible the
circumstances may seem.
The study's goal is to deepen our trust in God
and His Word.
Abraham is described in Scripture as an example of
faith, and he certainly is (Hebrews 11:8).
But even “the father of the faithful” had his
Sarah suggested they take things into their own
hands. She urged Abraham to sleep with her
handmaid, Hagar. He did and fathered a child—
Ishmael. Their attempt to run ahead of God led to
tragic results, the effects of which are still obvious in
the world today.
At the time of today’s lesson, Ishmael was about
16 years old. He mocked Isaac and made fun of
him. Sarah asked Abraham to send Ishmael and
his mother away.
God told Abraham to do what Sarah asked, and
he reconfirmed his earlier promise (Genesis
21:12) that through Isaac all spiritual blessings
will come (Romans 9:6-8; Hebrews 11:17-19).
Key Verse: Genesis
12 But God said to Abraham, "Do not let it be
displeasing in your sight because of the lad or
because of your bondwoman. Whatever Sarah
has said to you, listen to her voice; for in Isaac
your seed shall be called. 13 Yet I will also make a
nation of the son of the bondwoman, because he
is your seed."
“As for the son of the slave woman, I will make a
nation of him also, because he is your offspring.”
Abraham had to send Ishmael away at least
When Abraham died at the age of 175, both
Ishmael and Isaac attended his burial (Genesis
Because Ishmael was Abraham’s son, God
promised to make a great nation of him also
(some of Ishmael’s descendants are listed in
Ishmael could choose to pass on the knowledge
of the true God to his children.
Abraham had Ishmael circumcised in obedience
to God, and presumably Abraham taught Ishmael
about the true God: Genesis 17:23.
Lesson: God's plan to bless one does not preclude
His ability to bless another (Gen. 21:12-13)
Reflection: How like us to be more enamored with
our blessings that those of others. We tend to look
upon them with envy or resentment. We should
never forget that God is actively engaged in the lives
of those around us in ways we will never know.
Their blessing may well be a part of God’s plan.
So Abraham rose early in the morning, and took
bread and a skin of water, and gave it to Hagar,
putting it on her shoulder, along with the child,
and sent her away. And she departed, and
wandered about in the wilderness of Beer-Sheba.
Though Abraham loved Ishmael, Abraham rose
early in the morning to obey God.
Later, Abraham would rise early in the morning
to take Isaac to Mount Moriah to offer him as a
sacrifice in obedience to God (Genesis 22).
Lesson: God's will often requires doing the hard
thing and leaving the results to Him (vs. 14)
Reflection: We are so conditioned to providing
for others that the idea of pushing someone
away is reprehensible. Yet God may require us to
do just that in order to redeem that person. God
is not asking us to give them over to the devil but
rather to give them over to Him. The question is
whether we think we know better than God.
And God heard the voice of the boy; and the
angel of God called to Hagar from heaven, and
said to her, “What troubles you, Hagar? Do not
be afraid; for God has heard the voice of the boy
where he is.
God did not abandon Hagar and Ishmael. The
“angel of God” was probably “the Son of God”
before He came to earth in human flesh.
They could remember this intervention of God in
their behalf, and they could tell their
descendants about the faithfulness of the true
God to those who trust Him.
Lesson: God answers the cries of His children at
just the right time (Gen. 21:17-19)
Reflection: We may forget that our children pray
to God as much as we do. We tend to advocate
for them and approach them with what we
believe is God’s will but are set back when they
have ascertained something completely
different. Learn to trust the ability of your child
to go before the Lord and win His attention.
Come, lift up the boy and hold him fast with your
hand, for I will make a great nation of him.”
God told Hagar not to abandon Ishmael. God
reaffirmed to her the promise He had given to
Abraham (which Abraham had probably told her
about when he sent her away).
After He spoke words of comfort to her, God told
Hagar to comfort her son.
Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of
water. She went, and filled the skin with water,
and gave the boy a drink.
God opened Hagar’s eyes so she could see a well
of water, perhaps a well that God himself (the
angel of the Lord) had miraculously dug for her.
From that day, they knew they could trust God
to care for them. She followed the guidance of
God and partook of God’s provisions.
Lesson: Obedience brings God's blessings both to
us and to our loved ones.
Reflection: Failure and disappointment affect
more than just us. Our sorrow bleeds over into
the lives of those we love. But our trust and
obedience to God can have even greater reach.
When we do what is before us in faith, God
opens wells of blessings not just to us but to
those we love.
We cannot emphasize enough that God was with
Ishmael, and Ishmael knew the true God.
The Bible lists his descendants in Genesis 25:1218 (12 princes of 12 tribes were born to him).
Whereas Isaac would be a farmer and shepherd
to meet his needs, Ishmael would be a hunter.
He lived in the wilderness of Paran; and his
mother got a wife for him from the land of Egypt.
Paran included the Sinai Peninsula, an area that
Moses would later cross when God freed the
Israelites from slavery in Egypt.
Hagar, who was Egyptian, found a wife for
Ishmael from nearby Egypt. The marriage would
have been arranged by Hagar as was the custom
of the day.
Isaac sowed seed in that land, and in the same
year reaped a hundredfold. The LORD blessed
Isaac indeed lived as an alien in the land and
those who lived in the land saw the blessing and
power of the true God in the many good things
God did for Isaac.
They saw good reasons to trust in the true God
as they saw God at work in Isaac’s life.
Lesson: Personal obedience leads to God's
richest blessings (vs. 12-13)
Reflection: To God, what happened to Isaac and
Ishmael was personal as well as prophetic. God
takes a personal interest in our lives and enjoys
blessing us as we fulfill His will. Like a father
proud of his children and grandchildren, we love
giving when they travel in the path we know is
best for them.
and the man became rich; he prospered more
and more until he became very wealthy.
Isaac worked as a farmer and God gave him the
growth to become very wealthy.
Eventually, because Abimelech saw how God
blessed Isaac, Abimelech made peace with Isaac
even though he hated Isaac (Genesis 26:26-33).
C. F. Keil explains that this was an unusual
blessing, since the yield even in very fertile
regions is not generally greater than from 25- to
50-fold. Isaac’s riches continued to increase and
he became a very wealthy person.
Even his pagan neighbors could recognize how
much the Lord had blessed him (Genesis 26:29).
Sarah had moments she would just as soon
forget entirely. Peter’s use of Sarah as an
example of humility and submissiveness
overlooks this event as an exception to the
In a similar fashion the writer to the Hebrews
spoke of Abraham and Sarah as those whose
faith we should imitate.
Their mistakes and sins are not the point of the
author’s purpose in Hebrews, but rather their
Their sins are recorded in Scripture in order to
remind us that the men and women of old were
no different than we are and to serve as a
warning and instruction to us not to repeat their
mistakes (I Corinthians 10:11).