God chooses and calls Abraham and promises to multiply his descendants.
(Genesis 17:5) “5 No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you a father of many nations.”
(Romans 4:17) “17 (as it is written, “I have made you a father of many nations”) in the presence of Him whom he believed—God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did;”
Abraham, chosen by God, had many children by different women.
(Genesis 25:1-6) Abraham and Keturah
“25 Abraham again took a wife, and her name was Keturah. 2 And she bore him Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak, and Shuah. 3 Jokshan begot Sheba and Dedan. And the sons of Dedan were Asshurim, Letushim, and Leummim. 4 And the sons of Midian were Ephah, Epher, Hanoch, Abidah, and Eldaah. All these were the children of Keturah.
5 And Abraham gave all that he had to Isaac. 6 But Abraham gave gifts to the sons of the concubines which Abraham had; and while he was still living he sent them eastward, away from Isaac his son, to the country of the east.”
But the Scriptures do not reveal much information about other children of Abraham but only regards the first two.
From the beginning Abraham had two sons, one by Hagar, maidservant of his wife and one by his wife Sarah.
(1 Chronicles 1:27-28) “27 and Abram, who is Abraham. 28 The sons of Abraham were Isaac and Ishmael.”
Ishmael, son of Abraham, was born according to the flesh.
“Hagar bore Abram a son; and Abram named his son, whom Hagar bore, Ishmael.”
(Genesis 16:1-15) Hagar and Ishmael
“16 Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. And she had an Egyptian maidservant whose name was Hagar. 2 So Sarai said to Abram, “See now, the Lord has restrained me from bearingchildren. Please, go in to my maid; perhaps I shall obtain children by her.” And Abram heeded the voice of Sarai. 3 Then Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar her maid, the Egyptian, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan. 4 So he went in to Hagar, and she conceived. And when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress became despised in her eyes.
5 Then Sarai said to Abram, “My wrong be upon you! I gave my maid into your embrace; and when she saw that she had conceived, I became despised in her eyes. The Lord judge between you and me.”
6 So Abram said to Sarai, “Indeed your maid is in your hand; do to her as you please.” And when Sarai dealt harshly with her, she fled from her presence.
7 Now the Angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, by the spring on the way to Shur. 8 And He said, “Hagar, Sarai’s maid, where have you come from, and where are you going?”
She said, “I am fleeing from the presence of my mistress Sarai.”
9 The Angel of the Lord said to her, “Return to your mistress, and submit yourself under her hand.” 10 Then the Angel of the Lord said to her, “I will multiply your descendants exceedingly, so that they shall not be counted for multitude.” 11 And the Angel of the Lord said to her:
“Behold, you are with child, And you shall bear a son.
You shall call his name Ishmael, Because the Lord has heard your affliction. 12 He shall be a wild man; His hand shall be against every man, And every man’s hand against him. And he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.”
13 Then she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, You-Are-the-God-Who-Sees; for she said, “Have I also here seen Him who sees me?” 14 Therefore the well was called Beer Lahai Roi; observe, it is between Kadesh and Bered.
15 So Hagar bore Abram a son; and Abram named his son, whom Hagar bore, Ishmael.”
Isaac, son of Abraham, was born according to the promise of God.
“Then God said: “No, Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac;”
“And the Lord visited Sarah as He had said, and the Lord did for Sarah as He had spoken. For Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him. And Abraham called the name of his son who was born to him—whom Sarah bore to him—Isaac.”
(Genesis 17:15-19) “15 Then God said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. 16 And I will bless her and also give you a son by her; then I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of peoples shall be from her.”
17 Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed, and said in his heart, “Shall a child be born to a man who is one hundred years old? And shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?”18 And Abraham said to God, “Oh, that Ishmael might live before You!”
19 Then God said: “No, Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his descendants after him.”
(Genesis 18:9-14) “9 Then they said to him, “Where is Sarah your wife?”
So he said, “Here, in the tent.”
10 And He said, “I will certainly return to you according to the time of life, and behold, Sarah your wife shall have a son.”
(Sarah was listening in the tent door which was behind him.)11 Now Abraham and Sarah were old, well advanced in age; and Sarah had passed the age of childbearing. 12 Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, “After I have grown old, shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?”
13 And the Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh, saying, ‘Shall I surely bear a child, since I am old?’ 14 Is anything too hard for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.””
(Genesis 21:1-7) Isaac Is Born
“21 And the Lord visited Sarah as He had said, and the Lord did for Sarah as He had spoken. 2 For Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him. 3 And Abraham called the name of his son who was born to him—whom Sarah bore to him—Isaac. 4 Then Abraham circumcised his son Isaac when he was eight days old, as God had commanded him. 5 Now Abraham was one hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him. 6 And Sarah said, “God has made me laugh, and all who hear will laugh with me.”7 She also said, “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? For I have borne him a son in his old age.””
(Genesis 24:36) “36 And Sarah my master’s wife bore a son to my master when she was old; and to him he has given all that he has.”
(Romans 9:9) “9 For this is the word of promise: “At this time I will come and Sarah shall have a son.””
(Hebrews 11:11) “11 By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised.”
Hagar the slave was cast out with his son Ishmael from Abraham’s house. Why were they cast out?
(Genesis 21:9-13) “9 And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, scoffing. 10 Therefore she said to Abraham, “Cast out this bondwoman and her son; for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, namely with Isaac.”11 And the matter was very displeasing in Abraham’s sight because of his son.
12 But God said to Abraham, “Do not let it be displeasing in your sight because of the lad or because of your bondwoman. Whatever Sarah has said to you, listen to her voice; for in Isaac your seed shall be called. 13 Yet I will also make a nation of the son of the bondwoman, because he is your seed.””
(Galatians 4:29-30) “29 But, as he who was born according to the flesh then persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, even so it isNevertheless what does the Scripture say? “Cast out the bondwoman and her son, for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.””
What does this all mean?
(John 8:35) “35 And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever.”
The apostle Paul reveals that the first two children that Abraham had, Ishmael and Isaac are two symbols of two lineages:
son Ishmael represents the earthly descendants, while Isaac represents the spiritual.
Ishmael, the first, was born of flesh, by the natural desire of Abraham to have a child with his wife’s slave Hagar, while Isaac was born of the wife, Sarah, of the promise that God had made to Abraham.
(Galatians 4:21-28) Two Covenants
“21 Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not hear the law? 22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman, the other by a freewoman. 23 But he who was of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and he of the freewoman through promise, 24 which things are symbolic. For these are the two covenants: the one from Mount Sinai which gives birth to bondage, which is Hagar— 25 for this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children— 26 but the Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all. 27 For it is written:
“Rejoice, O barren, You who do not bear! Break forth and shout, You who are not in labor! For the desolate has many more children Than she who has a husband.”
28 Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are children of promise.”
We see that God tells Abraham that the true descendants are through Isaac.
(Genesis 21:12) “12 But God said to Abraham, “Do not let it be displeasing in your sight because of the lad or because of your bondwoman. Whatever Sarah has said to you, listen to her voice; for in Isaac your seed shall be called.”
(Hebrews 11:17-18) “17 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son,18 of whom it was said, “In Isaac your seed shall be called,””
(Romans 9:7) “7 nor are they all children because they are the seed of Abraham; but, “In Isaac your seed shall be called.””
God’s promise to Jacob:
(Genesis 35:10-11) “10 And God said to him, “Your name is Jacob; your name shall not be called Jacob anymore, but Israel shall be your name.” So He called his name Israel. 11 Also God said to him: “I am God Almighty. Be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall proceed from you, and kings shall come from your body.”
The true seed of Abraham.
“they are not all Israel who are of Israel, nor are they all children because they are the seed of Abraham;”
(Romans 9:6-8) “6 But it is not that the word of God has taken no effect. For they are not all Israel who are of Israel, 7 nor are they all children because they are the seed of Abraham; but, “In Isaac your seed shall be called.” 8 That is, those who are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted as the seed.”
(Romans 2:29) “29 but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God.”
(John 1:12-13) “12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: 13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”