Thursday, March 15, 2012

Ishmael: The son who was heard

Hagar wept.
If only she had told him to be more careful, she thought. To watch his tongue. Maybe if she had been able to make him behave, then none of this wouldn't have happened. But when she had heard his voice carrying over the din of the celebration, she knew there would be trouble.
They had been sent away. Armed with just some bread and a skin of water, they had been rejected and cast out into the wilderness. The angel had told her the first time she had run away, when she was pregnant with Ishmael, that she would have a son and that everyone's hand would be against him. She didn't realize those hands would include his own father's.
If only she had been more careful with the water. There hadn't been much. But he had been so thirsty and it had been hard to deny him. Then when the water had run out, and he could no longer keep walking, she had laid him beneath the bushes. She had moved away, to keep vigil. There she prayed and she wept.
Then for the second time in her life, an angel of God spoke to her: “What is the matter Hagar? Do not fear. God has heard the voice of the lad. Arise, take him by the hand. I will make him into a great nation!”
Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well. She ran, filled her skin with water, ran to her son, and put the skin to his lips.
Ishmael drank. And Hagar wept.
Abraham had two sons. In back-to-back chapters the two boys both face death by the action of their father. In each case, God intervenes. An angel speaks and the boys are miraculously saved. Yet despite the similarities, there is a fundamental difference to the two accounts. Isaac's story is told from the father's perspective, Ishmael's from the mother's.
What is interesting about Ishmael's account is that, twice in one verse, we are told that God heard the cries of the lad. It is not Hagar's weeping and prayers that brings deliverance. Instead, God hears the voice of her son and responds. Deliverance is provided. Mercy is shown. Hagar sees a well and the son is saved.
At Calvary, we see Mary standing by and weeping for her Son. He has been rejected and cast out, and now He hangs there before her on a cross. Twice God had spoken to Him with a voice from heaven. He had first declared, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” The second time He responded to Christ's prayer to glorify His name by saying, “I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.”
But at the cross, there would be no deliverance. God would not show His own beloved Son the mercy which He had shown to Ishmael. While He suffered, and while Mary wept, Jesus cried out: “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me.” And heaven was silent.
(Genesis 21:8–21)

No comments: