God said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but her name will be Sarah. I will bless her, and moreover I will give you a son by her. Yes, I will bless her, and she will be a mother of nations. Kings of peoples will come from her.”
Then Abraham fell on his face, and laughed, and said in his heart, “Will a child be born to him who is one hundred years old? Will Sarah, who is ninety years old, give birth?” Abraham said to God, “Oh that Ishmael might live before you!”
God said, “No, but Sarah, your wife, will bear you a son. You shall call his name Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant for his seed after him. As for Ishmael, I have heard you. Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly. He will become the father of twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation. But my covenant I establish with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you at this set time next year.”
It may have come as a surprise to Abraham, but God did not intend His covenant to be fulfilled through Hagar and Ishmael. It was God’s intent, all along, for Sarah to be the one to have Abraham’s promised family. God makes it very clear by changing Sarai’s name to Sarah and even rebukes Abraham when He laughs to himself at the idea of two very old people having children. This time, God tells Abraham that his promised, covenantal son would be born in one year.
God tells Abraham that He blessed Ishmael because of Abraham. Ishmael was a product of Abraham’s unfaithfulness to God’s promise but God, in his great love for both Abraham and Ishmael blessed them. Every detail is known and planned by God and God planned for Ishmael to become the father of twelve princes, but when He did this He continued to display his amazing grace. Neither Abraham nor Ishmael deserved the blessings they were getting any more that we deserve the blessings that we are getting. God is a loving and gracious God. That’s why this happens.
For those who have accepted the words of God in the Bible, this is a very important passage regarding the present day concerns over the land of Israel. Not all of Abraham’s children were to be included in the covenant. God makes it clear that, although He loved and blessed Ishmael, the everlasting covenant would be made with Sarah’s son. This is how we know that Jerusalem is the property of Israel. We learn much more about this covenant as we read on in the Bible and it is a critical passage to Christians as Paul later describes in Galatians. I encourage you to take the time to read Galatians two and three. It will help you as we continue our study of Genesis to understand how it relates to us as Christians.