OK, now THIS is the covenant. I never realised how often God made his promises to Abram – this is the third time. Each time more detail. This is the one where he changes his name to Abraham, and gets the circumcision to reinforce the separateness of the people of God.
Ishmael the son to Hagar the slave, the second wife, is now 13. Abraham still doesn’t see that his earthly implementation of God’s plan is not the way God will do it. Having been told at length and in no uncertain terms that God will make him the father of a chosen nation, he falls face down and tells God, his creator, its not going to happen. He’s too old, sarah is too old, and reminds God that he’s fixed it: “If only Ishmael might live under your blessing!”
Good reminder to the readers of how unbelievably stupid our prayers must sound to God a lot of the time.
And still god answers yes, Ishmael will have a blessing. But god’s plan will also be done gods way. He adapts, he works with and through and despite our faithlessness.
There are 3 promises. Abraham’s focuses on the nation of Israel. They will have the land, he will be their God, they will be chosen, separate and special. Hagar’s is to be the mother of 12 kings though Ishmael. Sarah’s focuses on the child, Isaac. Through him she will be the mother of nations, of kings not numbered.