Saturday, January 6

If only Ishmael were acceptable to You!

Scripture: Genesis 15-17, Luke 6

Genesis 17:17-18 Abraham fell facedown. Then he laughed  and said to himself, “Can a child be born to a hundred-year-old man? Can Sarah, a ninety-year-old woman, give birth?” 18 So Abraham said to God, “If only Ishmael were acceptable to You!”


When Abraham was 75, God promised him a son.  Ten childless years later, Sarah offers her servant girl, Hagar, to Abraham as a surrogate wife, and Hagar gives birth to Ishmael.  This was never God’s plan; it was Abraham and Sarah’s attempt to make God’s promise come true by their own effort.  By the time Abe is 99, he and Sarah have given up on having a son, and accepted Ishmael as their promised son.  Thus, his response to God’s announcement:

“If only Ishmael were acceptable to You.”

The gospel is that God has done for us in Christ what we couldn’t do for ourselves.  I could never be good enough on my own; Jesus is my righteousness.  Yet many people, like Abraham, wish their own effort would be good enough.  We hope that our Ishmael would be acceptable.

I wonder how many times I’ve tried to fulfill God’s promise on my own?


What are some promises God has given me?  Am I trusting Him to fulfill those, or am I trying to do it myself?  Do I have an Ishmael that I’m wishing would be acceptable?  Do I ever replace the gospel with my own self-effort?

Prayer: Lord, show me my Ishmaels.  Help me to identify your promises and trust You completely to do what You promised.