by Nelson Price

Isaac and Ishmael: A Portrait of the Middle-East Today
Nelson Price
Genesis 16:1-16, 17:15-21, 21:1-21

JESUS CHRIST's birth was the fulfillment of numerous prophecies. One was that He would be a descendant of Isaac. That was a most unlikely reality. By man's standard an impossibility.

Who was this man Isaac? On the pages of the Bible he stands out on history's horizon like a mole hill between two mountains. On one side was the summit of his father Abraham. On the other the peak of his son Jacob. Compared to them his life seems insignificant. Yet, as with all things great and small God had a plan for him.

Of him God said to Abraham, ''Sarah your wife will bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac: I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his descendants after him'' (Genesis 17: 19).

Let the story tell itself, and then let's draw from it some vital conclusions. READ: GENESIS 16:1-16; 17:15-21; 21:1-21.

God's plan became man's parody when Sarah decided to devise a plan to do what she did not trust God to do. The Code of Hammurabi stated:

If she has given a maid to her husband and she has born children and afterwards that maid has made herself equal with her mistress, because she has born children her mistress shall not sell her for money, she shall reduce her to bondage and count her among the female slaves.

Sarah, Abraham's wife, was a strong willed woman who wanted to exercise her rights when her plan failed.

Hagar, Sarah's Egyptian maid, ''despised Sarah'' and ''mocked Isaac.'' Obviously she was also a strong willed woman with a bad attitude.

God promised Abraham he would have a son by Sarah through whom He would bless all mankind.

Consenting to Sarah's wishes Abraham at the age of 86 had a son by Hagar. Later God's promise of a son through Sarah became a reality. These two half-brothers were Isaac, his son by Sarah, and Ishmael, his son by Hagar. Isaac was the son of promise.

I. TWO S ...

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