I was reading from Genesis 21 this morning where Hagar is cast out of Abraham and Sarah’s home at the birth of Isaac. It is an astounding thing that God cares for castaways. Look how he cares:
“And God heard the voice of the boy, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “What troubles you, Hagar? Fear not, for God has heard the voice of the boy where he is” (Gen 21:17 ESV)
Hagar could not bear to see the child die, so she put the child under one of the bushes (Gen 21:15). And here we read that God heard that child’s cry. Hagar could not have been in a more hopeless situation. She was utterly cast away, but she was not forsaken. She was a woman used in the plans of a couple to bring about God’s promises. The treatment of her was at twice harsh, yet in this instance God-ordained to display something of God that would not otherwise be seen without her suffering.
Sometimes suffering is placed upon us by no fault of our own to show forth the glory of God. We may at times be cast away, but we are under God’s heaven, never forsaken by the care of God. Here the child was not a child by covenant (though he bore the signature of circumcision Genesis 17:23). Even so, God cared for him. God heard his cry. There would be no excuse in the birth story of this child to not give thanks to God and turn to God in love out of the love that God had first loved him with.
And if God so cares for Ishmaels who are outside of the covenant, does he not then care for many like him? Is it not characteristic of God to do so. This doesn’t mean Ishmael is saved here spiritually speaking, but it does certainly mean that on this earth that such a child cared for by God here can offer no excuse when told of his past for not coming to God in Christ.
Imagine telling Ishmael today, do you know what God has done for you? When I was at the most forsaken spot in my life and I left you for dead, God rescued you. This God heard your cry. If he heard your cry then, will he not hear your cry now? Cry out to the Lord and ask him to save you, O Ishmael! You can then be not merely a child with an outward sign, but an inward change. You can now be a child of God, not merely a son of the slave woman. God desires all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth.