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Ishmael and Isaac in the Modern World: Part 1

Aug 18, 2006

The Bible teaches largely by illustration and by contrast. People are often types that illustrate principles, and many times they are compared to other types.

Thus, Adam is compared to Christ, "the last Adam" (1 Cor. 15:45). The first is "natural," and the last is "spiritual" (1 Cor. 15:46). The first brought death to all mankind; the second brought life to all mankind (1 Cor. 15:22; Rom. 5:18).

Likewise, Abram is compared with Abraham, representing two stages of one man's life. Abram is the natural man, Abraham the spiritual with the Hebrew letter (HEY) added to indicate the presence of the Holy Spirit, the breath of God.

Ishmael is contrasted with Isaac, Esau with Jacob, and Jacob with Israel (same person; two stages of development). In each case, the first illustrates the natural man, the second illustrates the spiritual man.

There is also a covenant for each. The Old Covenant is for the natural man, for it requires men to do something (work) by the power of their own will and strength in order to obtain the promises of God. The New Covenant is for the spiritual man, for it requires God to do a work in the natural man to make him a spiritual man.

For example, Jacob was a natural man, as his name indicates ("supplanter"), and his actions were Old Covenant for the first 98 years of his life. Yet God worked with Him to train him and bring him to the place where he would learn that the promise of God was not to be obtained by cunning, deceit, violence, or by any fleshly motivation of the natural man. When he learned that, he was a type of one entering a New Covenant understanding, and God changed his name to Israel.

Abram, too, was a natural man until he was 99 years old, during which time he brought forth Ishmael through Hagar (when he was 86). The natural man can only produce a natural child, born of natural childbirth. But after God gave him a greater revelation and changed his name to Abraham at the age of 99, then he was able to produce a spiritual child named Isaac, the son of promise.

It is apparent from these biblical types that natural men can be true believers. Jacob and Esau were both motivated by the flesh. But God had chosen and called Jacob by His own sovereign will, and that is what made the difference. Neither Jacob nor Esau was "worthy" nor could they obtain the true promise of God by their own strength. So if God had not taken an interest in Jacob, he would have struggled his entire life trying to obtain what was "rightfully" his. He may have attained it on some level by the power of his flesh, but he would have missed the true inheritance altogether.

Thus, Jacob obtained the birthright by fleshly cunning and would have inherited a physical land of Canaan by the power of his own strength. But he would never have obtained the true birthright by those means. The true birthright is to inherit the land inheritance which is the glorified body, the dust of the ground infused with the Holy Spirit.

Likewise, Scripture teaches us that Ishmael received a land inheritance as well, known generally as Arabia. As the seed of Abram, God blessed Ishmael (Gen. 17:20). Earlier, God had even appeared to his mother, Hagar, while she was yet pregnant and had given her a promise for her son, saying, "You shall call his name Ishmael, because the Lord has given heed to your affliction" (Gen. 16:11). Ishmael's name literally means "God hears."

Hagar had become prideful when she saw that she was pregnant with Abram's child, while Sarai was barren (Gen. 16:4). Sarai treated her harshly, because this was before the Spirit was added to her name to make her Sarah. As a type of the natural woman, she mistreated Hagar. Both women were partly right and partly wrong.

Hagar finally ran away, and this is when the angel appeared to her and told her to correct her attitude, to humble herself (Gen. 16:9). But the angel also told her that God had heard her cry and would rectify the injustice at the hand of Sarai. The injustice perpetrated upon the descendants of Hagar even today (Arabs) will not last forever, because God hears their cry, and He has a promise for them. Yet it awaits the time of their humbling.

Hagar and Ishmael provide us with one of the most prominent themes in the Bible in regard to the natural and the spiritual man. This type extends far beyond racial or genealogical parameters. The Apostle Paul explains clearly in Gal. 4:22-31 that the old Jerusalem is Hagar, and those following Judaism are fulfilling the type of Ishmael. By contrast, the New Jerusalem is Sarah, and her "children" are fulfilling the type of Isaac.

In today's world of political turmoil, the Church has all but forgotten Paul's teaching in the mad rush to support the Zionists at all costs. In so doing, the people of the New Jerusalem and the New Covenant (i.e., the Church) have once again perpetrated injustice, even as Sarai did so long ago.

This injustice is not only directed against the Arab people (genealogical descendants of Ishmael), but also upon the Jewish people, who are Ishmaelites in Paul's teaching. The injustice is in the fact that Christians are often rabid Zionists themselves, pushing the Jews into Armageddon in order to hasten Christ's return.

At the same time we now see the rise of a whole new heresy, where it is thought that Jews are saved by the Old Covenant apart from Christ. Even the American Catholic Church is shutting down all missions to the Jews, saying that they are already in a covenant relationship with God and therefore do not need Jesus as their Savior. This was set forth in the document called Reflections on Covenant and Mission, dated August 12, 2002, published by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

This new teaching arose out of an earlier document in 1965 from Vatican II called Nostra Aetate. Thus, Reflections says, "Thus, while the Catholic Church regards the saving act of Christ as central to the process of human salvation to all, it also acknowledges that Jews already dwell in a SAVING covenant with God." In other words, Christ is "central," but NOT ESSENTIAL.

This is simply another form of injustice perpetrated upon the people of Hagar (Jews). Such a doctrine either locks Jews into their unbelief or saves them apart from Christ. This doctrine is now crossing the line into evangelical teaching as well, primarily through John Hagee and those who support his rabid brand of Christian Zionism.

Ishmael is a type of the natural man and his carnal religious philosophy. The Arabs are physicalIshmaelites; the Jews are legal Ishmaelites, and the Christians are spiritual Ishmaelites. Each has its own unique level of fulfillment. Each is a "wild ass" in its own way, as the angel told Hagar in Gen. 16:12. ("He will be a wild ass man," pareh awdawm.) The ass is a biblical type of a stubborn, rebellious servant, in contrast to the ox, which is the strong, submissive servant.

Ishmael also serves as a type of Pentecostal, in contrast to Isaac, who is the type of a believer of the Feast of Tabernacles. In the Bible, whenever we see stories that are types of Pentecost, we see wheat or asses (or both) in the story. The Church, under its Pentecostal anointing since 33 A.D., has been an ass learning to be an ox. It is a spiritual Ishmaelite, learning to be of Isaac. For a full perspective of this, see my book, posted online, The Wheat and Asses of Pentecost.

Only by understanding these biblical types can we comprehend the news in the world today. Because we have not understood the types, we have an inaccurate view of world events.


This is the first part of a series titled "Ishmael and Isaac in the Modern World." To view all parts, click the link below.

Ishmael and Isaac in the Modern World


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Category: Teachings
Blog Author: Dr. Stephen Jones