It was Beth Moore night again tonight with my friends. We are studying her Patriarchs series. In tonight's lesson she pointed out some things about Ishmael and his descendants. In Genesis 16:12 God tells Hagar that her son Ishmael will be against everyone. In Genesis 25:18 it says that his descendants where against all of their brothers. From he to they. It is a chain. It got me thinking about my chain and my debt to my father and mother. My family tree is neither physically nor spiritually illustrious. Poor farmers and railroad men from America's Midwest my father's family settled in Nebraska and my dad grew up poor, in a broken home on the wrong side of the tracks. I have just a few memories of my great grandfather. He was a gruff old man who sat in his recliner chair and watched sports on television. He was not a very spiritual man and I don't know that he ever thought about God even though he went to church every Sunday. My early memories of my grandfather were of a rough man who was loud and quick tempered. I admired his strength at the time but as I grew up I realized that he made one bad decision after another. He continually gave his strength away and remained small and bitter. Late in life he found faith in Jesus and he radically changed. He found faith because my father shared Jesus with him. It was my father who broke the chain. An endless line of poor broken men ended when my father accepted the free grace of Jesus and was adopted into a new family. A family of powerful heritage. A family of strength, and honor, and dignity. A family with Abraham as its patriarch and Jesus as its head. Sometimes I think that I still see a poor farm boy in my father's eyes. Sometimes I see a boy who wants to be on the other side of the tracks so bad it hurts. But I see a man redeemed to be much more than all those whom he has envied for so long. My father has become much more than his upbringing ever gave promise to. Because he broke the chain I am proud to stand on his shoulders. Because he broke the chain I have followed in his steps and accepted adoption into the only family worth being in. I am a child of God not because I am wise or clever or even lucky. But because my father's lost and useless family has been swept up in a story that is as old as Genesis itself. I am not a poor directionless man wandering aimlessly across America's vast Midwest. I am a blessing in the hands of Almighty God to bring hope and light to dark distant lands filled with hopeless people. This is God's own doing, what He delights to do.
These people here in Gondor are a part of this epic story. They believe that they are the sons and daughters of Ishmael. They believe that Ishmael is the child of promise. They are deceived. Islam means to 'submit'. Their heritage is that of the bondwoman Hagar who is Mount Sinai (Romans 4). They are trapped by the law that they believe will save them but it only brings death. I am here to call them to break the chain. I have been sent by God- by virtue of his great mercy- to call them to leave their father's house and join the Family of Promise. They are called to join the family of Isaac and establish the new Jerusalem. Not a city on a hill in the Middle East, but a Kingdom whose beginning is full of faith and valor and whose end is glory everlasting.
Who are you? The son or daughter of a merchant? A blacksmith? A soldier? If you are a follower of Jesus you are a child of the King. A powerful force in the world today. Live it.