Now that Isaac has his bride, the Genesis narrative takes a decided shift to the life of the promised son. This twenty-fifth chapter includes a major point of transition—the death of Abraham.
These are the days of the years of Abraham’s life, 175 years. Abraham breathed his last and died in a good old age, an old man and full of years, and was gathered to his people.Genesis 25:7-8 ESV
Isaac and Ishmael come together one last time to bury their father in the cave he purchased for his beloved Sarah. Then we see an interesting verse:
After the death of Abraham, God blessed Isaac his son. And Isaac settled at Beer-lahai-roi.Genesis 25:11
Why is this verse interesting? For several reasons.
God stays true to his promise.
Though Abraham dies without seeing a grandson from Isaac, Moses wants us to know, in leaving this history for the Israelites, that God did indeed bless Isaac. He’d provided a wife from the people of his mother, and he was with him. Isaac would inherit all that Abraham owned. He would inherit the covenant promise. He was blessed, but maybe not as the world sees blessing.
God saw Isaac
I find this verse interesting because of where Isaac chooses to settle. This was his first major decision upon the death of his father and marriage to Rebekah. Maybe you recognize the name of the place—Beer-lahai-roi.
He settles near the well named by Ishmael’s mother, Hagar. The God who saw Hagar in her time of distress and need also sees Isaac, who is no longer able to depend upon the wisdom of his father. The relationship between God and Isaac would need to be confirmed, and it will, but for now, it’s good enough for us to know God sees him as he settles down in Beer-lahai-roi.
God keeps his promise concerning Ishmael.
I find verse eleven interesting because after such a short, distinct verse, we have a paragraph about the son not of the promise—Ishmael. It is important for God to have Moses record this history of Ishmael to show us that God did bless him.
These are the generations of Ishmael, Abraham’s son, whom Hagar the Egyptian, Sarah’s servant, bore to Abraham. These are the names of the sons of Ishmael, named in the order of their birth: Nebaioth, the firstborn of Ishmael; and Kedar, Adbeel, Mibsam, Mishma, Dumah, Massa, Hadad, Tema, Jetur, Naphish, and Kedemah. These are the sons of Ishmael and these are their names, by their villages and by their encampments, twelve princes according to their tribes. (These are the years of the life of Ishmael: 137 years. He breathed his last and died, and was gathered to his people.) They settled from Havilah to Shur, which is opposite Egypt in the direction of Assyria. He settled over against all his kinsmen.Genesis 25:12-18
Twelve sons for Ishmael, that’s a lot. I cannot help but think that Abraham was able to know many of these grandsons, as Ishmael was older than Isaac and most likely had been married long before Isaac was able to find a wife. God had promised Abraham that he would make a nation out of Ishmael, and indeed he had. When comparing to Isaac, even after we see sons born to him, it would appear that God’s blessing upon Ishmael was much greater. Twelve sons to two is a big difference.
However, just because God multiplies the seed of Ishmael more than Isaac doesn’t mean he is slow to keep his promises or he’s not working through Isaac too. Physical blessing doesn’t necessarily equal spiritual blessing.
Abraham is dead and God blesses Isaac, even when we can’t see it.
Are we looking for blessings in all the wrong places? Rely instead on the blessings which endure forever.
Grace and Peace