God's Promise to Ishmael--Final
May 06, 2008
The path to God is not about dressing up the flesh or beating the old Adam into subjection to make him righteous. It involves becoming a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17). Let the old man die (Rom. 6:6). Long live the new creation man.
It is not about making the original YOU righteous. It is about becoming a different person. This is the significance of the name changes in the Bible. Name changes represent becoming a new person which the name reveals. Saul became Paul, because he was a new creation. Simon became Peter. Abram became Abraham. Sarai became Sarah.
This is done by the power of the Holy Spirit. That is the only power on earth that has the ability to change human nature. All other powers attempt to impose a righteous nature upon the old Adam. They discipline the flesh, they threaten with fear of punishment, they bribe with the joys of the afterlife. But outward forces can never change the heart. They can only alter behavior to some degree.
When the Spirit came upon King Saul, he became "another man." Saul was a Pentecostal, crowned on the day of wheat harvest (1 Sam. 12:17), which was the day the high priest offered the wheat offering to God, signaling the wheat harvest. When Samuel told Saul that he was to be the next king, he gave him three signs by which he was to know that he was truly the one anointed to be king. These signs are given in 1 Sam. 10:1-6. Verse 6 gives us the result:
"Then the Spirit of the Lord will come upon you mightily, and you shall prophesy with them and be changed into another man."
Saul received three Pentecostal signs, designed to reveal the purpose and goal of Pentecost. Pentecost is accomplished by the Holy Spirit coming upon a person. The immediate result is prophecy--speaking the words of God. The more long-term result is being "changed into another man."
This does not mean that a person's flesh alters its form. No, the old Adam changes neither its appearance nor its basic character, though we may succeed somewhat in restraining its rebellious tendencies. When Pentecost actually was fulfilled in Acts 2, the apostles were finally able to observe the direct results of that feast and the action of the Holy Spirit. James 1:18 says,
"Having willing it, He BEGOT He us by the word of truth, in order that we might be as a firstfruit of His creatures [creation]." (The Emphatic Diaglott)
To beget is to conceive or to impregnate. Our new creation man is the result of an impregnation by the Holy Spirit by the seed of Truth. Unbelievers have only one nature within them--that of the old Adam. But those who have been impregnated by Truth by the power of the Holy Spirit have TWO natures within them. The old Adam is dying daily, yet continues to fight for control of one's life and mind. The new man (Christ in you) is alive, immortal, and perfect, for though it has an earthly mother, it has a heavenly Father.
Like Jesus Himself, this new creation (even as an embryo) cannot sin, because it was not conceived by the seed of the old Adam. Hence, 1 John 3:9 says,
"No one who has been begotten of God practices sin; because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin because he has been begotten by God." (The Emphatic Diaglott)
The great "mystery" (or secret) is "Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Col. 1:26, 27). That "Christ" is the new creation man in you. The Holy Spirit has impregnated your soul by the seed of Truth. It is the same process by which the Holy Spirit impregnated Mary. Mary was earthly, descended from Adam. The Holy Spirit provided the seed from heaven. The result was Jesus Christ, who was both Son of God and son of man.
Now it is happening to all of us by the same spiritual process. We are being turned into another man. We have a new identity. The real YOU is no longer the person of your birth. The real YOU is Christ in you, and you are now growing into a new person. When this embryo is born, it is called "the manifestation of the sons of God." That is, the son is unveiled, revealed, or manifested in the world--as opposed to hidden in the womb as it is today.
This great truth is part of the allegory of Ishmael and Isaac. Ishmael will never inherit the promise of God, any more than the old Adam can become immortal or righteous. Ishmael, however, will receive that promise by "hearing" and then "seeing," which will result is "living." Though Ishmael will always remain Ishmael on one level, Ishmaelites (on every level) will do what the apostle Paul did when he refused to identify himself with the old man, saying in Rom. 7:17 and 20,
"So now, no longer am I the one doing it but sin which indwells me. . . But if I am doing the very things I do not wish, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me."
Paul was switching identities, telling us that the REAL PAUL was no longer that "sin" body that he had been born with. The REAL PAUL was the "inner man" (vs. 22) which concurs with the law of God, instead of rebelling like a wild donkey.
As believers, we have two "men" (natures) inside of us. Which one is the real you? Which do you identify with? Do you want to keep the old man alive, dress him up, and give him a righteous look? Or do you want to identify with the new man, Christ in you, which concurs with the law (vs. 22) and by nature serves the law of God (vs. 25) because it cannot sin?
On this level, all men are equal. Ishmael and Isaac were both children of the old Adam. Both needed a change of identity. Both WILL have a change of identity. Allegorically speaking, they must be turned into another man, Saul to Paul, Ishmael to Isaac, Adam to Christ.
This is the promise to Ishmael. He will hear, he will see, and he will live. Why? Because like all of us, he will become a new creation. He must forsake his old identity and stop clinging to his genealogy from Abram or from Adam. He must stop claiming to be the inheritor of the promise by virtue of his fleshly genealogy. His identification with Adam or with Abram only proves that he will DIE. Only his identification with the Last Adam and with Abraham, the man of the Spirit, will bring him life.
That is the truth which Ishmael must HEAR. And when the work of hearing has been completed, he will SEE, and he will LIVE.
The journey of Ishmael, like with Israel, is marked by three steps, celebrated by the feast days. Ishmael can leave Egypt only after experiencing Passover, for a wild donkey must be redeemed by a lamb in order to begin this journey to the Promised Land. Ishmael must then go to Sinai for Pentecost in order to receive the earnest of the Spirit.
Ishmael must then spend some time in the wilderness learning to hear and to obey the voice of God. If he hears, then he will see the Promised Land when the appointed time comes to experience the feast of Tabernacles. That is the feast which marks our entry into the Promised Land, whereby we inherit the fulness of the Spirit.
This is the final part of a series titled "God's Promise to Ishmael." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones