The chapter opens with Sarah conceiving and giving birth to Isaac. Abraham obeys the command of God and circumcises his son on the 8th day after his birth.
The most obvious lesson in this chapter is that God keeps His promises. Whether it is for a 100-year-old man to become a father or to send the Messiah to redeem the lost or to return one day to judge the living and the dead. We can be confident that God always keeps His promises.
But what about Hagar? Despite the many flocks and wealth Abraham built, he sent her and his son into the wilderness with a loaf of bread and a skin of water. Was that based on faith that God had promised to also provide for Ishmael, or was it selfishness in not wanting to provide more? He could have sent them away with flocks and some herdsmen and enough material wealth to at least survive until they reached another town. Is God endorsing Abraham’s treatment of this woman who had clearly been mistreated time and time again by Abraham and Sarah?
When God says, “Do not be distressed about the boy and your slave,” it’s not because God approves treating them poorly. It’s because they are going to be in God’s care. God has already established a plan for Ishmael. He will provide for them and make a great nation out of him as well. But it won’t be the nation through which His promise comes.
It’s important to remember that God’s promise to Abraham was that “through you all nations will be blessed.” That wasn’t about material blessings for those who support Israel.
That was a reference to the coming Messiah, who would come through the line of Isaac, not Ishmael, and who would bring redemption to all, including the descendants of Ishmael.
God’s love and provision aren’t limited to a people group, a family line, or even a specific denomination. His salvation is available to all who will trust in the promised Messiah. His promise to Abraham was a promise for all people that was fulfilled through Jesus. God keeps His promises.