IS IT ISAAC OR IS IT ISHMAEL?

isaac

They are not all Christian who are Christians. They are not all followers of Christ who call themselves Christians.

Are today’s Christians the seed of Isaac or the seed of Ishmael?  It all depends.  Don’t be too quick to generalise and say it is Isaac.  The promise was Isaac but many have ended up with Ishmael and are reconciled to Ishmael: “It is not that the word of God has taken no effect. For they are not all Israel who are of Israel, nor are they all children because they are the seed of Abraham; but, ‘In Isaac your seed shall be called.’” (Galatians 9:6-7).

Likewise, they are not all Christian who are Christians.  They are not all followers of Christ who call themselves Christians.  As a result, instead of a life of victory, many so-called Christians are living defeated lives.  In spite of Christ, we remain at the mercy of situations and circumstances.  We run from pillar to post; looking for answers.  We are often anxious for nothing and are easily shaken by afflictions.

 

Mundane or extraordinary

True, both Ishmael and Isaac are children of Abraham.  When Ishmael was born, there was rejoicing in the house of Abraham.  Presumably, there was a naming ceremony and Abraham gave a testimony in church and blessed the name of the Lord.  But Ishmael is not the promise of God: it is Isaac.  Ishmael is not Isaac and Ishmael should never be confused with Isaac. 

 

Ishmael is the son of a bondwoman; but Isaac is the son of a free woman.  Ishmael is born according to the flesh.  But Isaac is born of the Spirit through the promise of God.

How can we tell the seed of Ishmael from the seed of Isaac today?  “Those who are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted as the seed.” (Romans 9:8). 

Christians are heirs of the promise.  But what has God promised us?  Never be discouraged: the God of the impossible has promised us nothing but the impossible.

If it were of promise, then it would be extraordinary and supernatural.  If it were of promise, it would be according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh.  If it were of promise, then it would be of God and not of men.

Accordingly, the seed of Ishmael live according to the flesh; but the seed of Isaac live according to the Spirit.  The seed of Ishmael live natural lives; but the seed of Isaac live supernatural lives.  The seed of Ishmael glory in the mundane; but the seed of Isaac glory in the extraordinary.

 

Hoping against hope

Sarah was barren.  But there was hope because Abraham could have children.  That hope in Abraham led to Ishmael.  Therefore, God waited until Abraham lost hope in Abraham.  God waited in order that, “against hope, Abraham might believe in hope.” (Romans 4:18).  He waited until Abraham was 100 years old.  He waited until Abraham considered his own body to be dead and knew that Sarah’s womb was dead.  Then he brought forth Isaac. 

Isaac was brought forth by God’s power of resurrection.  He was brought forth by the resurrection of Abraham’s dead body and by the resurrection of Sarah’s barren womb.

God then tested Abraham in the very promise he made to him.  He told him to sacrifice his child of promise.  He told him to tie up Isaac, kill him and set him on fire.  Abraham had no difficulty in obeying this extreme injunction because he had received Isaac, in the first instance, supernaturally.  He knew God was able to raise up Isaac because he did not get him by natural birth.  Therefore, he knew he could not lose him by natural death.  Even if he killed Isaac, he would get him back from God.  

“By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, “In Isaac your seed shall be called,” concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense.” (Hebrews 11:17-19).

If you have a child by natural birth, you cannot be free from anxiety.  The child might catch malaria and die.  He might be knocked over by a bus and die.  But if you have a child of promise, you will have peace like a river.  Since you received the child supernaturally, you know it is futile for him to die naturally.  If he is killed naturally, you will receive him back again supernaturally.

He that is born supernaturally need no longer fear natural death.  For this reason, the true believer is required to be born again.  Jesus says to Nicodemus: “Unless a man is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3).  For a believer to be truly born again, he has to die first.  For him to be born again, he has to be raised from the dead.

 

The resurrected Christian

He that is raised from the dead is of the seed of Isaac and not of Ishmael.  He lives the supernatural life and not the natural life.  His is now life with no confidence in the flesh. (Galatians 6:14).  He is no longer indebted to the flesh, to live after the flesh. (Romans 8:12).

Once Moses received the promise of God, he despised the lavish courts of Pharaoh and went out instead into the desert; “esteeming the reproaches of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt.” (Hebrews 11:26).  Accordingly, the resurrected life is life crucified to the world and to the vainglories of the world. (Galatians 6:14).  It no longer minds the things of men but the things of God.  It knows: “the things most people think are important are worthless as far as God is concerned.” (Luke 16:15). 

The resurrected life knows sin is the sting of death. (1 Corinthians 15:56).  It knows: “when sin is finished with us, it leaves us dead.” (James 1:15).  Therefore, it hates sin and abhors evil: “for he that is dead is freed from sin.” (Romans 6:7).

The resurrected life establishes us firmly in the love of God.  We love God because he first loved us and raised us to newness of life. (1 John 4:19).  Since we have overcome death by the love of God through Jesus Christ; we have love to give: “Our love for each other proves that we have gone from death to life. But if (we) don’t love each other, (we) are still under the power of death.” (1 John 3:14).

The resurrected life is a life of victory.  It is a life no longer under the spirit of bondage again to fear.  There is nothing as efficacious as death in casting out fear.  So if we have already died, we no longer fear death.  There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. (1 John 4:18).  If we have died, the power of the enemy over us is broken and it is pointless for him to break our bones.

“The LORD’s people may suffer a lot, but he will always bring them safely through. Not one of their bones will ever be broken.” (Psalm 34:19-20).

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