Earlier in Genesis we read about God’s promise to Hagar to make her son, Ishmael, the father of 12 nations. In chapter 25 that promise is fulfilled.  Ishmael was nearly 90 years old when Abraham died. This is the last time we hear from him and his descendants in the flow of the redemption story.  One commentator observes, that after Abraham’s funeral, which both Ishmael and Isaac attended, “these two names (Isaac & Ishmael) are never given in any other transaction.”

The names of Ishmael’s 12 sons are listed. We can identify several of them with current locations in modern Arabia, but most of them are unknown. The interesting thing about this passage is that Ishmael will live over “against” all his kinsmen. That means, Ishmael will always be at odds with Abraham’s descendants through Isaac. Of course, that’s been the case for thousands of years.

While in Israel last September, in order for us to visit Bethlehem, which was under Arab control, we had to change tour guides. Our guide was a Jew and Arabs would not let them into Bethlehem. Our guide didn’t have any interest in going also. These Arab tribes remain enemies of Isaac’s descendants to this day.

I believe there are two good reasons that God included this section recording the genealogy of Ishmael. First, God always does what He says he’s gonna do. His promise to Hagar is fulfilled. Secondly, the description of where Ishmael’s tribes settled make it clear that their residence was outside the borders of the promised land being to the south. Thus, the promise of the land, seed and the blessing given to Abraham, passed only to Isaac and His descendant.

God, in his great foreknowledge, wanted us all to know that his promises of the redemption of the world through the Messiah would not be found in Islam. But notice also, that Paul makes it perfectly clear in Romans that the descendants of Abraham are not those born of the flesh, but those born of the spirit through faith. Thus, Jew, Gentile, Arab and you and me can all become recipients of God’s promises through faith in His Messiah, Jesus Christ. We are “born again” in the family of faith and our names are added to the will. This is what you will read: Isaac, Jacob, Rueben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Dan, Naphthali, Gad Asher, Isacchar, Zebulon, Joseph, Benjamin, and Chuck!