Sarah’s encounter with Ishmael appears to be very cruel on the outset. She no longer wants this child around because she is seeing the mistake that she and Abraham made in him every day. Ishmael is a living reminder to her that she had lost faith in God. She wants him to go because she is once again afraid that God will backtrack on His promise and give Ishmael Isaac’s blessing. It seems right for her to be upset with Ishmael, but she must realize that is partly her fault that she has to deal with this problem now. However, God promised that Abraham’s descendants would be the fathers of great nations, and this now includes Ishmael. God had promised Ishmael and Hagar years prior that Ishmael would indeed be a great nation, but because He chose to continue Abraham’s line through Isaac, God allowed Ishmael and Hagar to leave Abraham and Sarah’s presence.
But just because Ishmael was not the chosen one by God, God did not leave them stranded. He first sent them away through Abraham with supplies. When those supplies ran out, Hagar and Ishmael cried out to God for help. He heard their cries and provided more water for them through a well. This is an early example of how our God is not just the God of one nation. He may have chosen the Israelites (or who would one day become the Israelites) to be His chosen people, but that did not mean that He left all of the other nations out to die without hope. God is God of the entire world and is not limited to one country or one set of people. Here, not only did God provide for Abraham and his family, but He also provided for Ishmael and allowed Ishmael to become a great nation. Even today, we must never forget that God is not limited to the United States or to any other country. God is a God of the entire world, and He desires that all men (from every nation) come to Him. The Gospel is global, and it is our responsibility to make sure that everyone has an opportunity to hear it.
Meanwhile, Abraham had another encounter with Abimelech (the man that Abraham had initially viewed as an enemy). Abimelech remembered how Abraham’s God had protected him in their previous encounter and could also tell that Abraham was a man of God. It was evident in Abraham’s life (at least at this point in his life) that Abraham was a follower of God. As a result, Abimelech expected more out of Abraham. He expected Abraham to deal honestly with him in any sort of business matter. Their particular business deal was over some land and a well within that land. There the two men made a covenant as to the ownership of the land, and Abimelech trusted that Abraham would uphold his end of the deal.
Is it obvious that our lives are characterized by God? If a man like Abimelech came up to us randomly would he know that we were a follower of God? Would he be able to trust us with important issues in life such as a business deal or even a form of accountability? If not, then we must strive to be like Abraham, a man whose life obviously showed that he trusted and followed the commands of his God. In a world full of sin and scandals, our lives should stand in stark contrast to those of the culture. We should never blend into the culture around us. Instead, we should stand out as one who is separate from the sin in our world.