True freedom is only possible through the Spirit of Jesus Christ and experiencing the new birth. “And you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:32)
The opposite of freedom is slavery and bondage. The two are diametrically opposed. There has always been a war between the flesh and the spirit ever since Cain killed Abel. This pattern continued with Esau and Jacob. Cain and Esau represent the flesh and Abel and Jacob represented children of God.
The feud between brothers continued in the Bible. Through Abraham God gave a promise that his children would be as the sands of the sea when Sarah was way past child bearing years. The pressure to fulfill the promise must have been intense as time passed. Sarah contrived a way to help God out and fulfill the promise made to her husband through her Egyptian handmade Hagar. Whenever we allow our fleshly understanding and instincts to take control we conceive an Ishmael.
Ishmael was the first born but he was not the child of promise. The Bible tells us that Abraham was 86 years old when Ishmael was born. Sarah and Abraham had to wait another 14 years before Isaac, the child of promise, was finally born. How often do we become impatient waiting for the promises of God to be fulfilled in our life, and in our impatience birth an Ishmael?
Abraham loved Ishmael. He asked the Lord to bless him. “And Abraham said to God, Oh that Ishmael might live before thee.” (Genesis 17:18) God answered Abraham’s prayer and the Arab nations have been blessed in oil production above all others. However, they are not the children of the covenant. Sometimes we can mistake blessing for approval.
God spoke to Abraham and said “And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee; behold I have blessed him and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget and I will make him a great nation.” (Genesis 17:20)
As I read the news this past week of thousands of Syrian protestors forcing themselves down on Israel’s border, I thought how amazing it is that this tiny nation of Israel (approximately the same size as New Jersey) is surrounded by Arab nations determined and enflamed to annihilate her and “wipe her off the map”. According to the above scripture it would appear to be 12 against 1, which in the natural aren’t very favorable odds. But when we look through the eyes of the Spirit we see things in their proper perspective.
Remember when the Hebrew children went into Canaan land? With their natural eyes they saw the fierce inhabitants and said they felt like grasshoppers in comparison. Only Joshua and Caleb saw with the eyes of the Spirit and that the God of Abraham was well able to give them the victory.
Later we see a shepherd boy named David going against Goliath and his size meant nothing to him because his eyes were on his great God. David was the youngest and smallest of many brothers and yet he was the one chosen to rule one day as King. He was the child of promise.
When God told Abraham and Sarah that a child of impossibilities would be born to them, the Lord gave a prophetic glimpse into the new covenant.
“And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed, and thou shalt call his name Isaac. And I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him.” (Genesis 17:19)
Isn’t it interesting that God likes to give a name to the promise? Didn’t God tell Mary to call the child that was conceived in her by the Holy Ghost, JESUS? This was the seed spoken of in Gen. 17:19.
So it is very clear from scripture that the covenant was established with Isaac and not Ishmael. When Sarah had finally had it with Hagar and her mocking spirit, she cast her and Ishmael out into the desert. This would seem like a cruel thing to our natural mind, but God spoke to Abraham and told him that this was the way it would have to be.
“They which are the children of the flesh are not the children of God: but the children of promise are counted for the seed.” (Romans 9:8)
Who are the children of promise today? “And being assembled together with them (Jesus) commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which saith he, ye have heard of me.” (Acts 1:4)
The promise was poured out on the Day of Pentecost and was the infilling of the Holy Ghost. The promise was this. Before God had been with His people, but now He would be in them. “He came unto His own (the natural Jews) and his own received him not. But as many as received him, gave he power to become the sons of God, to them that believe on His name.” (John 1:11-12)
Being filled with the Holy Ghost gives power to witness to unbelievers. It will give us power to witness to Muslims who do not even believe God has a Son. The Quran speaks of a twisted version of Jesus because the rebellion is so deep that they, except for a miracle of God, cannot submit to the children of promise.
“Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise.” (Galatians 4:28)