Sermons

Summary: How God Works the Messes of our own making into a beautiful tapestry

Giving Birth to an Ishmael

PPT 1 Title

This is a message about how God responds to the messes in life that are self inflicted.

PT 2 Text

Ge 3:17 Then to Adam He said, "Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, 'You shall not eat from it' Cursed is the ground because of you; In toil you shall eat of it All the days of your life.

Ge 3:18 "Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you; And you shall eat the plants of the field;

I am going to weave two main thoughts together for this week and the next message in this series, that center on the idea that you, or someone you love or are related to, has done something (usually sinned) that has caused painful consequences in your/their life. What was done we will call, “giving birth to an Ishmael,” and the consequences we will call, “a thorn in your side.” This is a multi part message and in the next part we will deal more with the thorns aspect of things. Hang on good news ahead if that describes you!

The bible teaches from beginning to end a principle called sowing and reaping. Reaping are the natural consequences and outgrowth of all our sowing in life. I don’t believe Gen 3:17, and 18 is strictly speaking about Adam and Eve’s sowing what they have reaped. What happens there is much more serious. Sowing and reaping are natural consequences. What happened in Genesis is God directly adding new elements to what was going on. It is as if He put His finger on the scale of your life and pushed down harder on what would have happened by itself. He is piling on and adding to what they would have reaped. Much suffering in life comes directly from our stupidity, but there are times where God will add thorns and that is not sowing and reaping that is punishment, there is a difference. Don’t be nervous this really will be an encouraging message. Let’s talk about giving birth to an Ishmael.

Ishmael was a son of Abraham through a servant of his wife Sarah's. It was an attempt on the part of Abraham to fulfill God's promise for a child for them, by their own ability. They were trying to speed God up. They were trying to give God a little help, they were trying to do what God said He Himself would do. I am not sure if this should be called flagrant sin or a stupid mistake, either way the result came out the same. It would have almost immediate consequences of family trouble and heartache, and it was a mistake that would cost the Jewish people difficulty for millennia! So they did something they shouldn’t have done and it has caused them and the Jewish nation a lot of pain and trouble ever since. That is what Ishmaels do, they cause you to reap what you have sown.

Our text in Genesis says because Adam and Eve sinned the ground would produce thorns, which means we are talking about a situation that causes less productivity from the soil of your life, and increased hardship and pain from working in that soil. So when we say someone has given birth to an Ishmael we are saying that they did something that is causing them a loss of fruitfulness and a lot of trouble and pain. Now let me give you a special insight, we get worked up about the trouble and pain, God gets worked up about the loss of fruitfulness. Thorns choke the word, thorns choke the ground. What should we really be concerned about? Our loss of fruitfulness!

Here is an interesting scripture portion from the book of Genesis, it hints that Joseph does something stupid and then it winds up crisscrossing with Abraham and Sarah having giving birth to an Ishmael:

PPT 3 text

Ge 37:5 Then Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him even more.

I think Joseph may have come across as bragging to his brothers when he told them of the dreams God gave him. As a consequence his brothers sold him as a slave, here is the tie in with Abraham and Sarah, I want you to notice who he was sold to:

PPT 4 Text

Ge 37:23 So it came about, when Joseph reached his brothers, that they stripped Joseph of his tunic, the varicolored tunic that was on him; Ge 37:28 Then some Midianite traders passed by, so they pulled him up and lifted Joseph out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver. Thus they brought Joseph into Egypt.

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