A Very Good Thing

“And it came to pass, after the death of Abraham, that God blessed his son Isaac.”—Genesis 25:11 (NKJV)

The Book of Genesis takes a turn at this point. As Abraham dies, the Genesis record now moves onto his son, Isaac. But before we look into Isaac’s life, the Bible has some unfinished business that needs to be taken care of.

Keep in mind that although Isaac was the son to inherit the spiritual promises that God had given to Abraham, there had been another son named Ishmael. Ishmael had been conceived outside of God’s prescribed plan for Abraham and Sarah, and he represents man’s attempt to do what only God can do. His existence is in contrast to what we see in Isaac as the symbol of God’s blessing. Despite this, God still honors Ishmael by giving us some important details about his life: “Now this is the genealogy of Ishmael, Abraham’s son, whom Hagar the Egyptian, Sarah’s maidservant, bore to Abraham. And these were the names of the sons of Ishmael . . . twelve princes according to their nations” (Genesis 25:12-16 NKJV).

We learn that Ishmael went on to have twelve sons who would each go on to establish their own nation. This is a powerful fulfillment of the promises God gave to both Ishmael’s mother (Genesis 16:10) and father (Genesis 17:20); that he would be the forefather of a mighty people and even have twelve sons. But there’s a final detail we’re also given: “These were the years of the life of Ishmael: one hundred and thirty-seven years; and he breathed his last and died, and was gathered to his people” (Genesis 25:17 NKJV).

God gave Ishmael a long and fruitful life, one hundred and thirty-seven years to be exact. We also see that he died in the most peaceful and dignified way possible. It wasn’t by the hand of an enemy on the battlefield or by a stroke of betrayal. Instead, it was a serene setting, or as the King James Version of the Bible puts it, “he gave up the ghost.”

Ishmael’s life points to God’s faithfulness. He kept all His promises and was exceedingly good towards the son who wasn’t even the “promised son.” This reminds us His goodness goes far beyond our expectations, which is a very good thing, especially for those who’ve inherited His promises by placing their faith in His Son, Jesus (2 Corinthians 1:20)!

DIG: What details does the Bible give us about Ishmael?

DISCOVER: What does this reveal about God? What does this reveal about God’s heart towards you?

DO: Think about the promises of God and the work of Christ to fulfill them and bless you!