Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Jul 16 2011 - E100.8b – Genesis 21:8-21, Dangerous laughter

Yesterday we looked at the way in which God turns the laughter of disbelief into the laughter of overflowing joy. Today we encounter the laughter of mockery.

When Isaac had finished being weaned, probably at about two or three years old, Abraham threw a party for his son. By this time, Ishmael, the son that Sarah's servant Hagar had borne to Abraham, was about 16 years old. During the festivities, Sarah saw Ishmael laughing at Isaac – probably mocking the idea that this little child could be the subject of such great promises. Sarah demanded that Ishmael be sent away with his mother Hagar so that the son of a slave woman would not share the inheritance of Abraham along with her son Isaac.

Abraham loved his son Ishmael and was reluctant to send him away. However, the Lord told him to do as Sarah demanded, repeating his promises that "through Isaac shall your offspring be named" (Genesis 21:12). Some may mock the promises of God, but he will fulfil his word. But God also adds that he will protect Ishmael and will make a great nation from his descendants, for he too is a son of Abraham.

So Hagar and her son are sent off into the desert. Hagar is convinced that her son will die of thirst, but an angel of the Lord appears to her with a promise that he will live to become the father of a great nation. Then Hagar's eyes are opened to see a well of water by which their lives are saved.

This rivalry between these two sons of Abraham will continue into rivalry between two nations or peoples – the Israelites, the descendants of Isaac, and Arabs, the descendants of Ishmael. Yet the larger number from both of these peoples remain united in mocking the promises of God that find their focus in the Lord Jesus Christ. Nothing but shared faith in Jesus Christ – a faith like that of Abraham – can heal this ancient division.

Lord God, many still mock the child who is heir to all of your promises, and in mocking find that they are excluded from the inheritance. You turned Abraham and Sarah's laughter of disbelief into laughter of joy. Open the eyes of those who mock your Christ that they may see the water of life that is to be found in him. Unite them in faith and make them joint heirs with Christ to all the blessings of God.

Peter Misselbrook