When Wandering Stops
A daily devotion for June 22nd
14 Early the next morning Abraham took some food and a skin of water and gave them to Hagar. He set them on her shoulders and then sent her off with the boy. She went on her way and wandered in the desert of Beersheba.
15 When the water in the skin was gone, she put the boy under one of the bushes. 16 Then she went off and sat down nearby, about a bowshot away, for she thought, "I cannot watch the boy die." And as she sat there nearby, she began to sob.
17 God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, "What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. 18 Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation."
19 Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. So she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink.
20 God was with the boy as he grew up. He lived in the desert and became an archer. 21 While he was living in the Desert of Paran, his mother got a wife for him from Egypt.
Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. So she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink (Genesis 21:19).
The well around which this story occurs is the central theme. The spiritual significance of this well is easy for us to identify, since it occurs frequently in the Bible to picture the Word of God. The water in the well is often Christ as the source of refreshment to the thirsty soul. Remember how the Lord said to the woman of Samaria as she came down to the well,
The water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life (John 4:14b). Wells in Scripture often picture that relationship.
In Galatians Paul tells us how to interpret Hagar and Ishmael, what they mean to us in the program of God. He says that
Hagar stands for Mount Sinai in Arabia (Galatians 4:25), from which the law was given. She and Ishmael are a picture of the present Jerusalem, which is the nation of Israel that refused Christ and yet retained the promises and God's preserving care in their lives. Israel persecuted all those within the nation who turned to Christ in the early days of the church. In Romans Paul tells us that after Israel rejected Christ, a blindness came upon a part of the nation, which would last until all the Gentiles who would believe had come (Romans 11:25-26). Here in the Old Testament, two thousand years before our Lord came, this was shown to us in the life of Abraham.
Like Ishmael, the nation of Israel has wandered in the wilderness of the world ever since Passion Week, when the people gathered before Pilate and said,
We don't want this man to be our king, (Luke 19:14) and
Let his blood be on us and on our children! (Matthew 27:25b). Shortly afterwards the city of Jerusalem was destroyed and the temple ransacked and demolished, and Israel was driven out into the nations. They wandered like Ishmael in the desert for centuries, without any central place of gathering, without any of the real worship of God they once knew back in the Old Testament days. They have been wandering in the wilderness ever since, perishing with thirst.
But the New Testament tells us a day is coming when their eyes will be opened, just as Hagar's eyes were opened here, and she saw the well. The well is the Word of God, portraying Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Perhaps we are nearing the very hour when Israel, the nation that has been wandering in unbelief around the earth ever since that time, will have their eyes opened and behold Christ once again in their own Scriptures. Many have asked why the Jews do not believe in Christ if the Old Testament is so full of Jesus Christ. The answer is that
Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in (Romans 11:25b). Not all Jews refuse to believe, but many of them, even with the testimony of their own Scriptures, do not believe Jesus is the Messiah. But God says that a day will come at last when their eyes will be opened. They will be refreshed with blessing. God will be with them, and, just as He made Ishmael great, He will make them a great nation again.
Thank You, Father, that all the things you have written in Your Word will come to pass. You are the sovereign God of history, and I praise You that You fulfill all Your promises to Your people.
Life Application: Do we think of prayer as merely an emergency hot line? Are we missing the amazing privilege of partnering with God through habitual, confident, dependent prayer?
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Daily Devotion © 2006 by Ray Stedman Ministries. For permission to use this content, please review www.RayStedman.org/permissions. Subject to permission policy, all rights reserved.