“When I picture God's rejoicing over his people with singing, I think of Snowflake Bentley. Wilson ‘Snowflake’ Bentley, a New England farmer born in 1865, couldn't get enough of snowflakes. For forty years, he ran around in the snow, raucously joyful, catching snowflakes on chilled slides and photographing them, seeking to capture for others the beauty he saw in those one-of-a-kind masterpieces of frozen crystals. Over his lifetime, he photographed more than five thousand individual snowflakes. His notes were effusive: ‘No. 785 is so rarely beautiful.’ He wrote of the ‘feast of [their] beauty.’ As I imagine Snowflake careening in the snow, giddy with joy, I marvel with the psalmist, ‘LORD, what are human beings that you care for them, mere mortals that you think of them? They are like a breath; their days are like a fleeting shadow’ (Psalm 144:3-4). I'm like a vanishing, vaporous breath, and God cares for me.”
Source: Jean Fleming, Pursue the Intentional Life (NavPress, 2013), page 50.
I could have entered college with scholarships to help pay for my schooling, but instead I entered college on academic probation
My grades in high school were passing, simply because I did not apply myself
I had to take a required, none credit, class my first semester that taught me how to study and held me accountable
I graduated college with a much better GPA that was much higher than just passing
I graduated seminary with almost a 4.0 GPA. I had one class that I did not complete perfectly
While maturity played a role in my developing educational success, I know that God was taking care of me
God has taken care of me throughout my life in many ways
He provided safety for me as I experienced culture shock with our move to Birmingham, AL as a Junior in High School
He protected me from many of the teenage pitfalls
He led me to Judy in college and has provided wisdom and guidance for both of us through nearly 31 years of marriage
He has shown great care in waiting for me to be obedient to His calling for my life – pastoral ministry
I have seen God’s care for me through various illnesses I have experienced over the years
God has cared for me by answering prayers
I know that He will continue to take care of me until He calls me home or sends Jesus again
Every one of us has probably experienced obstacles that we have had to overcome with the Lord’s help
We can all share ways in which we have seen God taking care of us or of our family members
We may be able to recall times that God took care of us even before we were His disciples
We can probably recount times that God took care of family members, friends, and coworkers who are not His disciples
These seven verses are the shortest toledot (“the account of . . .”) section in Genesis. It is a transitional section that prepares us for the section on Isaac’s family line. It focuses on the genealogy and obituary of Ishmael, the non-covenant son of Abraham and Hagar. This is a continued featured of the narrator of Genesis, to provide information about the non-covenant people before addressing the covenant people. What we will see from this section is that . . .
BIG IDEA – God cares for all people. (this includes covenant and non-covenant people)
GOD (Genesis 25:12-18)
The Genealogy (vv. 12-16)
“This is the account of . . .” is the seventh statement like this in Genesis
This the shortest one in Genesis (only 7 verses)
Verse 19 begins the eighth section beginning with, “this is the account of . . .”
This is the account of Ishmael
He is Abraham and Hagar’s son
Hagar was Sarah’s maidservant from Egypt
As was mentioned earlier in Genesis (12:16), Hagar perhaps was one of the maidservants that the Egyptian Pharaoh gave to Abram when he and Sarai went there during the famine in Canaan
Now that we know who Ishmael’s parents are, the narrator lists his sons
We find all of these names listed in the ancestry of the nation section of 1 Chronicles 1:29-31
We are told that Ishmael’s sons are listed in birth order
Nebaioth (nev-ah-aw’/nev-aw-yoth’) = “heights”
Isaiah 60:7 tells us that this tribe was rich in rams
They were located in what is modern Ha’il [show map 1]
Kedar (kay-dawr’) = “dark”
Isaiah 60:7 also mentions the richness of their flocks
They were nomads that lived between Egypt and Dedan-Edom [Waltke, Genesis: A Commentary, 345]
Isaiah mentions them as warriors, skilled with the bow and arrow (Isaiah 21:17)
They were “the most influential tribe during the first millennium until the Nabateans.” [Mathews, The New American Commentary, Volume 1B, Genesis 11:27-50:26, 360]
Adbeel (ad-beh-ale’/ade-bee-el’) = “chastened of God”
Mibsam (mib-sawm’/miv-sawm’) = “sweet odour”
Mishma (mish-maw’) = “a hearing”
Dumah (doo-maw’) = “silence”
Isaiah has an oracle about Dumah (Isaiah 21:11-12)
They were located in northern Arabia [show map 2]
This oasis town was a key point in the incense trade between Babylon and Palestine [Mathews, 361]
Massa (mas-saw’) = “burden” or “oracle”
Hadad (khad-ad’/kha-dad’) = “mighty”
Tema (tay-maw’) = “desert”
“Tema is also mentioned in Isa. 21:14 along with Dedan (v. 13) and Kedar (v. 16), and they are urged to provide water and bread for Arabian refugees who have been ravaged by Syrian forces.” [Hamilton, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 18-50, 172]
Tema also appears in Job 6:19 and Jeremiah 25:23
There is an oasis town named after Tema in northwest Arabia [show map 2]
Jetur (yet-oor’/yet-tour’) = “enclosed”
Found together with the tribe of Naphish in the Transjordan (1 Chronicles 5:18-19)
The Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh went to war against them and Nodab
These three tribes were considered the Hagrites
Naphish (naw-feesh’) = “refreshment” or “precious”
Kedemah (kayd’-maw/kayd’-de-maw) = “original” or “toward the east”
The narrator tells us that these are the sons of Ishmael
The names are also the names of the twelve princes
They settled in villages and set up camps according to the tribes/clans named after them
Settlements – unwalled villages near towns (without protection) [Mathews, 362; Waltke, 346]
Camps – it has the idea of tents related to towns [Mathews, 362]
The sons of Ishmael were nomadic/transient, so they lived in unprotected structures
Twelve tribal rulers
God cares for all people.
We see the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham concerning Ishmael
Genesis 17:17-20, Abraham fell facedown; he laughed and said to himself, “Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?” And Abraham said to God, “If only Ishmael might live under you blessing!” Then God said, “Yes, but your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him. And as for Ishmael, I have heard you: I will surely bless him; I will make him fruitful and will greatly increase his numbers. He will be the father of twelve rulers, and I will make him into a great nation.
PRINCIPLE #1 – God fulfills His promises.
We talked about this last week, that God fulfills His promises to us also
It is a great reminder again this week that we can claim the promises of God for peace, provision, protection, presence, and so much more
In verse 17 we are told of Ishmael’s death
The Obituary (v. 17)
He was 137 years old
He lived another 48 years after his father, Abraham’s, death
We are told that he breathed his last and died
He was gathered to his people
He was not buried with his father in Machpelah near Mamre
While it is not stated, it can be implied that Ishmael had secured his own family burial location
The narrator concludes this toledot section with the destiny of Ishmael’s sons and their tribes
The Destiny (v. 18)
Where they settled
They were nomads, so they traveled throughout eastern and south-eastern Arabia
[show map 3]
[show map 4]
PRINCIPLE #2 – God can overcome our lack of faith.
We don’t really see the removal of Ishmael from Canaan, in this statement about where they settled
Ishmael and Hagar had already been sent away many years earlier
God had promised to bless Ishmael and make him into a great nation also, but He was not the son through whom His covenant would be fulfilled
Abraham and Sarah had tried to take matters into their own hands, but God was able to overcome their impatience and lack of faith
Have you ever gotten impatient with God’s timing?
Have you ever lacked faith in God’s ability to accomplish something?
Did your impatience or lack of faith create obstacles that God overcame in order to accomplish His plan and purpose for your life?
Is there currently a situation where you are struggling with God’s timing?
Is there a current circumstance where your faith is lacking?
Are you in danger of creating an obstacle that God will have to overcome?
#1 – My Next Step Today Is To: Ask God to strengthen my faith in Him and wait patiently on His timing.
God had overcome Abraham and Sarah’s lack of faith by providing a region where Ishmael and his descendants could live and thrive and where the promises of God would be fulfilled
The final half of verse 18 shows us that God’s Word never fails
How they lived
Ishmael’s descendants lived in hostility toward all their brothers
This fulfilled what the angel of the Lord told Hagar when she was expecting Ishmael and had fled from Sarah
Genesis 16:11-12, The angel of the Lord also said to her: “You are now with child and you will have a son. You shall name him Ishmael, for the Lord has heard of your misery. He will be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers.”
The original Hebrew can be translated two ways
“Against the face,” which means in defiance or in hostility
“Opposite, east of,” meaning dwelt alongside of
While both translations would make sense here, the one that speaks of them living in defiance/hostility fits better with the context of Genesis 16:12 where Ishmael’s hand will be against everyone
That is what is being referenced in Genesis 25:18b
While this narrative note is not positive, it still shows that God’s Word never fails
PRINCIPLE #3 – God’s Word never fails.
There are hard sayings in Scripture (Read John 6:53-66)
There are difficult concepts for us to grapple with in God’s Word
There are things that God calls us to do that we do not always want to do (Read Luke 14:25-27)
There is discipline that God promises for our disobedience that we do not want to think about
And yet, God’s Word never fails (Read Joshua 21:43-46)
His Word provides guidance and direction for our lives
#2 – My Next Step Today Is To: Know and submit to God’s unfailing Word whether or not I understand it or agree with it.
God’s Word did not fail when He told Hagar that Ishmael would live in hostility towards his brothers – it happened even though it was not a positive revelation/word
Even though Ishmael’s line was not the chosen covenant line, God still cared about him and his descendants
God cares for all people, whether or not they believe in Him or are disciples of His Son, Jesus
Do not forget that God fulfills His promises!
Do you need to patiently wait for the Lord to strengthen your faith about the difficult situation you are currently facing?
Are you ready to submit to God’s unfailing Word?
As a body of believers, we can help to support one another as we patiently wait for God’s perfect timing
We can also help support one another as we submit to God’s unfailing Word
“During the recent uprisings in the Middle East, Ron and Joke Jones, who serve with the Christian and Missionary Alliance in Israel, communicated the following in their prayer letter:
The result of the fighting and killing has left a profound sense of discouragement that hovers over the country. Several times we have come into closer contact with this conflict than our comfort zone allowed.
Yesterday a friend shared with us something she observed that was a delightful reminder of God's care for us. She watched a shepherd caring for his flock near the area where guns are fired. Every time the shots rang out the sheep scattered in fright. The shepherd then touched each of them with his staff and spoke calmly to them, and the sheep settled down immediately because they trusted the shepherd. And then another shot sounded, and the same routine happened again. Each time, the sheep needed the shepherd to orient them again and to reassure them they were safe.
We are like those sheep, and our Shepherd reaches out and touches us with his staff, speaking words of calm and comfort.”