So the child grew and was weaned. And Abraham made a great feast on the same day that Isaac was weaned. And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, scoffing. Therefore she said to Abraham, “Cast out this bondwoman and her son.” (Genesis 21:8-10)
It is believed that Isaac would have been about 2 – 3 years old when this “great feast” was held and it was during this celebration that Sarah observed Ishmael “mocking” or “making sport.” The Hebrew word is מצחק m’tzachek which comes from the same root as Isaac or יצחק yitzchak.
When Abraham and Sarah “laughed” at the news they would have a son, it was joyous laughter mixed with a bit of stunned disbelief. This word, however, is one that is used many times in Scripture to denote an action of impurity, even idolatry. In other words, Ishmael was not “laughing” in the same way as Abraham and Sarah had laughed. Sarah felt that it was sinister – a threat to the spiritual health, if not the physical well being of her son.
Perhaps she felt that Ishmael exemplified Hagar’s attitude toward her which would infer that Ishmael was more influenced by Hagar than by Abraham. According to Jewish commentary, by this time Ishmael had become corrupt and would continue to be a corrupting influence. In the end, Abraham was faced with another great test — to prefer Sarah’s wishes over his own by sending Hagar and Ishmael away.
As harsh as it sounds, God’s people cannot expect that wheat and tares can grow together in harmony even if they are related by blood. This principle had already been demonstrated in the life of Abraham; first his separation from his homeland and family, followed by his separation from Lot. The sad truth is that, sometimes, the tares are in your own family, living in your house. In that scenario, there comes a time when God requires a separation of the two. Though it will not be easy, we are reminded by Messiah of who are family really is:
“Whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.” (Matthew 12:50)
As far as God is concerned, our true family are those who are of the faith; our brothers and sisters are those who are walking upright before the Father and obeying His instructions and performing His will. In the days ahead, we will see more separations as the tares are removed from among God’s people. It may be surprising and heartbreaking to see who the tares are but, in the end, God’s family will prosper. Until then let us continue to intercede on behalf of those who need a change of heart that they, too, might be considered as part of the family of faith.
Blessings and Shalom,