12 This is the account of the family line of Abraham’s son Ishmael, whom Sarah’s slave, Hagar the Egyptian, bore to Abraham. 13 These are the names of the sons of Ishmael, listed in the order of their birth: Nebaioth the firstborn of Ishmael, Kedar, Adbeel, Mibsam, 14 Mishma, Dumah, Massa, 15 Hadad, Tema, Jetur, Naphish and Kedemah. 16 These were the sons of Ishmael, and these are the names of the twelve tribal rulers according to their settlements and camps. 17 Ishmael lived a hundred and thirty-seven years. He breathed his last and died, and he was gathered to his people. 18 His descendants settled in the area from Havilah to Shur, near the eastern border of Egypt, as you go toward Ashur. And they lived in hostility toward all the tribes related to them.
In Genesis 15 we read that God had given a promise to Abraham in his old age that he would have a son. The fulfilment of this promise was obviously not coming quickly enough for Abraham’s wife Sarah, so she decides to take matters into her own hands.
In Genesis 16 we read that Sarah tells Abraham “The Lord has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my slave; perhaps I can build a family through her.” And the result is a son named Ishmael.
Ishmael is not the son that God has promised Abraham, but eventually the promised son Isaac is born, and the blessing of God rests on Isaac and his offspring.
As I read this passage here today, I noticed that Ishmael had 12 sons (a favourite biblical number) -12 tribal rulers. But as for these 12 sons- though their names are carefully listed here, apart from this listing, their names are now long forgotten to us.
This reminds me that when I try to do things my own way, not God’s way, the results are temporal without lasting value.
1 Cor. 3:12 -14 “For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.
If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw,
their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work.
If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward.”
May I walk in step with God’s plans and set my mind on the things above, not merely my temporal needs and plans.
Written by Shelley Witt