God's Promise to Ishmael--Part 3
May 02, 2008
There are many levels of meaning and application of God's promise to Ishmael. So far we have focused largely on the most personal and universal application. It is God's promise to our own inner Ishmael--our flesh. We have seen that the flesh, or the "old Man" inherited from the first Adam, is not and can never be the inheritor of God's promise.
Yet as a child of the Old Covenant (Hagar), Ishmael did have a promise from God. It was fulfilled in Israel's first inheritance in the land of Canaan. It was purely a fleshly land inheritance. By contrast, the New Covenant offers us a greater inheritance, for here the "land" is a glorified body of flesh and bones (Luke 24:39). Israel was not ready to receive this greater inheritance under Joshua, and so they entered Canaan, not at the feast of Tabernacles, but at the time of Passover. Specifically, it was the tenth day of the first month, when they were supposed to select the lambs for Passover (Joshua 4:19).
The Old Covenant inheritance was a type of the greater inheritance yet to come. It was a temporary inheritance for Israel until such time as they were ready for the greater. A measure of this greater inheritance was given in the fulfillment of that second feast, Pentecost, in the second chapter of Acts. But the full inheritance will not be given until the fulfillment of that third and final feast in the law, Tabernacles. The purpose of Tabernacles is to manifest the Sons of God, who will have authority to minister in heaven in spirit and to minister in earth in physical bodies.
In a very real way, though the character of an overcomer must be "Isaac," Ishmael himself is a type of that glorified flesh. Ishmael was the offspring of a Hebrew and an Egyptian, and he pictures the genetic offspring of heaven and earth, God and man, spirit and flesh. Fascinating stuff, indeed.
Yet when we contrast Ishmael and Isaac on another level, we see that Isaac was a greater type of offspring of heaven and earth, for his birth required divine intervention from heaven.
And so on the corporate level of application, there are various groups of people represented by both Ishmael and by Isaac. I find at least three levels of application, each distinct and yet having things in common.
Physical application: There are physical Ishmaelites in the world, represented by the Arabs and (more broadly applied) represented by the religion of Islam in general.
Legal application: There are legal Ishmaelites in the world, represented by those adhering to the religion of Judaism.
Spiritual application: There are spiritual Ishmaelites in the world, represented by pre-Tabernacles Christianity. Generically speaking, it is Pentecostal Christianity--not the denomination by that name, but rather the Church under its pentecostal anointing.
As for the physical application, the promise to Hagar and Ishmael is found in Ishmael's name itself. It means "God hears." The angel told Hagar to name him thus, because "the Lord has heard your affliction" (at the hands of Sarah). In other words, God recognized that Sarah had no right to mistreat Hagar and to afflict her, even though Hagar's attitude was not right either.
The angel gave this promise by the well called Beer-lahai-roi, "the well of living after seeing." This incident was a prophecy that Ishmael's descendants in the end would see God and live (receive immortality). They will drink the water of life from the wells of salvation. (Yeshua, or Jesus, means "salvation"). They will come to know Jesus for who He really is, according to the word of Isaiah 12:2, 3,
" (2) Behold, God is my salvation [Heb., Yeshua]; I will trust and not be afraid; for the Lord God [Yah Yahweh] is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation [Yeshua]. (3)Therefore you will joyously draw water from the springs of salvation" [Yeshua].
This passage prophesies of the incarnation of Jesus Christ, saying, "Yahweh has become my Yeshua." The God of the Old Testament became flesh and dwelt among us. Therefore, we are able to draw water from Him. For this reason Jesus said in John 7:37 and 38, "If any man is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. . . from his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water."
The two Old Covenant religions of Islam and Judaism do not yet know Jesus in this way. Neither understands how the God of the Old Testament could come to earth in human flesh, nor do they understand the purpose of the feast of Tabernacles and what they are destined to become.
This is, however, the "well" where the angel of God will find Hagar. The promise to her is that God has heard her and understands her bondage and affliction. When she sees, she will live.
The well beer-lahai-roi was located "between Kadesh and Bered" (Gen. 16:14). Kadesh means "holy," and Bered means "hail." Isaiah 28:17 tells us that God's hail will sweep away the refuge of lies. Hail, then, indicates the coming of TRUTH by whatever means God chooses. God finds Hagar somewhere between holiness and truth. But that is where she will receive her revelation of Jesus Christ.
The people of Hagar-Ishmael, then, are future Christians, future overcomers. Instead of mistreating them for their pride in thinking that Old Covenant religion can inherit the promises of God, we ought to see their destiny as God sees them. They will not see and live until God reveals Himself to them.
Meanwhile, however, the angel told Hagar that Ishmael would be a "wild donkey of a man" (Gen. 16:32). The Hebrew text reads pareh awdawm. The word pareh means "a wild donkey." Later, we find that God called Israel a wild donkey as well (Jer. 2:24). And, of course, I showed in my book, The Wheat and Asses of Pentecost, that the donkeys are one of the primary biblical symbols of Pentecost as well.
Hence, Ishmael, the "wild donkey," is a prophetic type that fits at least three levels of application: Islam, Judaism, and Pentecostal Christianity. They all have one thing in common--rebellious character, a "stiff neck," which makes each an unclean creature in the sight of God.
As I explained in Part 1, Judaism also revolves around Hagar, because their adherents consider Jerusalem to be their "mother." Jerusalem is Hagar (Gal. 4:25), and her children are in bondage under the Old Covenant. Furthermore, they persecute the children of Sarah, Paul says (Gal. 4:29). In their pride, these legal Ishmaelites think they are "chosen" to fulfill the promises of God as if they were Isaac. They have induced Christian Zionists to join with them in their quest to make Hagar bring forth the promise and to make Ishmael the chosen seed. But their quest will fail when God casts out the bondwoman and her son.
Finally, most of Christianity (as a religion) is a form of spiritual Ishmael, because they have reverted to Old Covenant thinking. When the Church followed the example of Israel under Moses by refusing to hear God's voice for themselves, they were left with a physical sword with which to bring righteousness into the earth. For a thousand years the Church tried to subdue the earth under Christ by using force and violence. They only succeeded in shedding more blood on the earth.
And so they too fulfilled the word of the angel who revealed the character of the wild donkey, saying in Gen. 16:12, "his hand will be against everyone, and everyone's hand will be against him." In other words, they would use violence to establish their will and, supposedly, the will of God.
This is the third part of a series titled "God's Promise to Ishmael." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones