Abraham has two sons. The first, the son of a slave woman, is born out of Abraham’s and Sarah’s understandable doubt that God’s promise will be fulfilled. (“God helps those who help themselves” isn’t a new concept.) The second, a miracle child, is born to them in their old age against all odds.
Does God ever have a Plan B?
We can’t help but think about that as we read about God’s provision for Hagar and Ishmael. Isaac is the child of promise, but God promises that Ishmael will not be forgotten. He will have God’s blessing in his own right.
For the second time in her life, Hagar is visited by God. “And God heard the voice of the lad” (21:17). In Hebrew, the first few syllables of this verse are the name “Ishmael” — “God heard.” And it is the only time in the whole story that Ishmael’s name appears, as if to emphasize the meaning of that name — God hears. God hears the cries of the outcast and abandoned. God hears and has compassion.
The angel of the LORD speaks to Hagar and says what angels always say, “Do not be afraid.” Do not be afraid, though things seem hopeless. Take the child in your arms. I have heard his cries. I will save him and will make of him a great nation.”
God opens Hagar’s eyes to see a well of water nearby, just as Abraham last week saw the ram caught in the thicket (21:19; 22:13). And in both cases the seeing leads to new life for Abraham’s sons.
It could be that we just need to remember that God’s work is always bigger than we know and is going on in more places (and in the lives of more people) than we can see.
Plan to join us online on Sunday at 10am MT through the church’s Facebook page, or later in the week, through the media page on our church’s website. Then join us after worship on ZOOM for a time of face to face fellowship with one another online. (We will share the link to ZOOM at the end of worship.) Feel free to reach out to me if you have difficulty with any of these digital connections.
One final note: we are seriously considering the feasibility of worshiping outdoors for a few weeks, prior to returning to our sanctuary for in-person worship again later in the Fall. Keep an eye out for this announcement later in the week …
With Health & Wholeness,