The Hagar Factor--Part 1
Feb 20, 2010
When God first promised Abram that he would have a son, it appears that the revelation was limited to Abram himself. Nothing is said about Sarai being the mother of that son, though certainly they would have assumed this, seeing that Sarai was Abram's wife.
But as time passed, and Sarai became too old to have children, she finally concluded that God had not included her in the promise--at least not in the way she had assumed. In Gen. 16:2, we read,
"So Sarai said to Abram, 'Now behold, the Lord has prevented me from bearing children. Please go in to my maid; perhaps I shall obtain children through her.' And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai."
Hagar, the maid, had been given to her ten years earlier while they were in Egypt (Gen. 12). While the Bible says nothing of Hagar's pedigree, the book of Jasher tells us that she was the daughter of Pharaoh himself. Pharaoh gave his daughter to Sarai as restitution for taking her into his harem.
Perhaps this is why, when Hagar became pregnant, "her mistress was despised in her eyes" (Gen. 16:4). And so Hagar gave birth to Ishmael, as we read in Gen. 16:16,
"And Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore Ishmael to him."
Thirteen years later, God revealed to Abram that Ishmael was not to be the inheritor of the promise. Abram was then 99 years old. This was the occasion where God changed his name to Abraham and revealed that the promised son was to come through Sarai. Thus, her name was changed to Sarah at that time.
The addition of the Hebrew letter hey to each of their names indicated the Holy Spirit, the breath of God--the only way in which the promise could come. This is one of the great truths of the Sonship message. Ishmael was the son of Abram; Isaac was the son of Abraham.
Each was the son of a princess. Hagar was an Egyptian princess; Sarah's name means "princess." But one was of the flesh, while the other was of the Spirit.
When Isaac was five years old, they had a "weaning" celebration, as was customary in those days. It was the first formal "Sonship" ceremony, proclaiming Isaac to be the heir of the promise. Ishmael went into a rage. The Bible only says that he was caught "mocking" (Gen. 21:9), but Jasher 21:13 tells us that he drew his bow as if to kill Isaac. This terrified Sarah, of course, and she demanded that Hagar and Ishmael be cast out. Gen. 21:10 says,
"Therefore she said to Abraham, 'Drive out this maid and her son, for the son of this maid shall not be an heir with my son Isaac'."
Abraham did so only reluctantly and after much prayer. Yet God told him that Ishmael would receive promises of his own, lesser promises to be sure, but yet God would certainly bless him and his descendants. Furthermore, an angel of the Lord appeared to Hagar and gave them water in their wilderness journey.
This was in addition to the angelic appearance that had occurred earlier in Gen. 16:7. This was another "well" revelation, and the well was then called Beer-lahai-roi, "the well of living after seeing(God)." The well was located between Kadesh and Bered (holiness and "hail," i.e., truth).
This is the basic prophetic story that has great implications for us today, especially in understanding the message of Sonship. We learn from Galatians 4 that this story is an allegory of the two covenants, represented by Hagar and Sarah. Ishmael and Isaac are the "children" of those two covenants. The children of Hagar, Paul says, are those who adhere to the Old Covenant and place their faith in Mount Sinai in Arabia--the inheritance of Hagar and Ishmael.
Paul makes it clear that we, as Christians of the New Covenant, are the true inheritors of the promises of God. The temple priests, playing the role of Ishmael, had been persecuting and trying to kill the Christians (Isaac). Paul knew this by experience, of course, since he had been the leader of the persecution at one time. So the verdict upon the children of Hagar in his day was the same as in the days of Abraham. Galatians 4:30 says,
"Cast out the bondwoman and her son; for the son of the bondwoman shall not be an heir with the son of the free woman."
In other words, those who adhere to Judaism with its Old Covenant are NOT the heirs of the promise. They are NOT the chosen people, even though they may participate in some of the blessings that were promised to Ishmael. Yet in the sight of God, they are Ishmaelites from Hagar.
Paul calls the New Covenant believers "Isaac" and "the children of promise" in verse 28. In the next verse he says of the Old Covenant people and their acts of persecution,
"But as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so it is now also."
It is obvious that this is not a matter of genealogy. There is an Ishmael company and an Isaac company, determined only by the covenant that you consider to be your "mother."
Let me say it plainly so there is no misunderstanding: Anyone who follows Judaism is an Ishmaelite in the eyes of God. He is not one of the "chosen people," nor can he be unless he is converted to Christ as the apostle Paul was. Paul shows us how to change from an Ishmaelite to an Isaac-ite.
Paul also shows us in Gal. 4:25, 26 that Hagar and Sarah represent the two Jerusalems.
(25) Now this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. (26) But the Jerusalem above is free; she is our mother.
Those religions who consider the Old Jerusalem to be their "mother" are in bondage with their children. They are NOT the inheritors of the promise. They will NOT fulfill the responsibility of the Birthright. They will NOT become the manifested Sons of God. Why? Because their methods are carnal, or fleshly. They attempt to establish the Kingdom of God by violence and force. They want to be the sons of God apart from the Holy Spirit. They still have confidence that the Old Covenant is the true path to Sonship.
And so Christianity, Islam, and Judaism as religions are all fighting over their mother, old Jerusalem. They are all Ishmaelites on different levels. Islam claims Ishmael as its genealogical father. Christianity is spiritual Ishmael. And Judaism is legal Ishmael.
When the leaders of Judaism rejected the Mediator of the New Covenant, they chose to remain under the jurisdiction of the Old Covenant from Mount Sinai in Arabia. But Arabia had been given to Ishmael as part of his inheritance. So the temple priests unwittingly placed Jerusalem under the jurisdiction (authority) of the children of Ishmael.
In essence, they signed over the city to the Ishmaelites without realizing it. So God moved them out and then raised up the children of Ishmael, empowering them to take their city and rule it as they wish. This lasted until 1917 when Britain took the land on behalf of Jacob ("Union Jack"), and then turned it over to Esau in 1948 to atone for his sin in Genesis 27.
The present conflict in Israeli-occupied Palestine is primarily a conflict between Esau and Ishmael over the divine right to own the land. Ishmael has the overall rights to that land, based upon the Jewish handover in the first century when they rejected the New Covenant. But Esau also has had legal rights because of Jacob's offense in Genesis 27.
God has been using whole nations to fulfill prophecies from thousands of years ago. He has been judging between nations according to His own law without the people's knowledge.
This is the first part of a series titled "The Hagar Factor." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones