In the chapter from Genesis I read tonight which I am uncertain of the number, possibly 21, we get the birth of Isaac. There is much rejoicing and celebration. Sarah is happy. Abraham is happy. And God is happy for them. Then there are Hager and Ishmael. Sarah no longer wants them around and commands Abraham is cast them out. God tells him to listen because God has promised the boy will become his own nation.
Then we get what I think is the most beautiful story of the Bible so far. Hager and Ishmael are given a water skin and a bit of food before Abraham commands them to leave. Cast out and alone they soon run out of water. Hager then decides to leave Ishmael under a bush and goes some distance away saying she cannot bear to see or hear her child die.
Remember they are cast out and alone in the wilderness. The water skin has run out and Hager has been a slave her entire life. While that is no easy life it isn’t a life where one develops any sort of wilderness survival skills. In her mind they are doomed.
God hears Hager’s wails and appears to her. He tells her to lift up Ishmael because he has promised to make him a nation and that God is with the boy. Hager does this and water falls from the sky and she fills the water skin.
Here we have several lessons that will reappear throughout the Bible. God is still blessing Sarah, Abraham, and Isaac but he hasn’t forgotten about Hager and Ishmael. They were cast out to die in the wilderness but God comes to their aid. God provides for them when they are at their most desperate. These are not the rich and powerful, but the meek and lowly. God provides for the slave and her child while they wander the wilderness.
If you’re familiar with what is to come in the next chapter of the Bible, Exodus, I think you can see the connection. What is also important is the lesson that God cares for everyone. God isn’t the God of the rich and powerful. He is the God of the meek and humble. God serves everyone. That is what I take from this reading, and a theme I know I will see more in the Bible even if the very next chapter in Genesis is one of the most controversial.