The focus on verse 1 was a eye opener for any student of the Word. It focuses on Sarah’s barrenness.
And Sarai said unto Abram, Behold now, the Lord hath restrained me from bearing: I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her. And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai.
Genesis 16:2 KJV
The word restrained denotes some kind of issue with God. I certainly could imagine the sentiment. It was widely held that a woman that could not bear children was somehow cursed.
Yet God proves that here His restraining is for reviving. The human perspective always focuses on the negative “acts of God” rather than His positive acts from trials.
We somehow can detect the parallel in John’s Gospel when Jesus raised up Lazarus. They held the belief that once dead it is too late even for God! We then vaguely mask over the defeatist issue with a convenient theology. In the case of Sarah it was ” the Lord has restrained…” and in the case of Mary sister of Lazarus it was ” he will rise on the last day.” The challenge is to either focus on our attention on what appearances tell us or what God has promised.
So Abraham heeded this human thinking and produced Ishmael.
These human works always return to visit us to irritate and to divide. We sometimes like Abraham cry out “That Ishmael live before you!” God blesses Ishmael in this life but will eternally set Isaac in the covenant line where his name hold weight in the heavenly realms.
God does sometimes bless our efforts in the short term but the fact that what we conceived was originated in natural process will come back for generations to bring grief and strife.
What was really going on was this;
Could it be we heard God wrong about a son? How can God raise up what is dead and make us conceive? We may have misheard. Maybe we need to help God out. Maybe we need to use common sense.
In every moment of faith I have encountered people and my own thoughts which tried to persuade me that what I heard I misheard and what God wanted to birth miraculously is a tall order and maybe I should be birthing things naturally.
Right there Ishmael is on his way!
Ishmael in all its forms cannot live with Isaac.
Even in our spiritual communities we see Ishmael communing with Isaac yet mocking and striving against.
There comes a time that we have to stop tolerating and making alliances with Ishmael to stop the strife because the strife resides in every attitude of the flesh. Ishmael has an inherent dislike of Isaac and a despising that goes deeper.
Jesus in Revelation speaks to the Church in Thyratira and condemns them for allowing Jezebel to have influence as they desired a quieter life. What happened that Church forfeits the blessings that come from walking even in warfare against that which tries to instill false authority and false spirituality
As much as it hurt Abraham Ishmael had to be thrust out. He had to leave because there would never be peace.
To walk in covenant we have to thrust out every attitude which we birthed naturally so that we focus on what God births in us supernaturally.