1. God's care for those beyond the covenant. A Beersheba in a heathen land.
2. The things of this world made a channel of higher blessings. The covenant arising out of bodily wants a civil agreement. The oath a testimony to God where reverently made.
3. He is not far from every one of us. The neighborhood of Beersheba, the revelation of Jehovah, the little company of believers.
4. The blessing made manifest. The days spent in Philistia left behind them some enlightenment.
5. Adaptation of Divine truth to those to whom it is sent. Abraham's name of God, Jehovah El Olam; the two revelations, the God of nature and the God of grace. The name of the Lord itself an invitation to believe and live. Paul at Athens adapted himself in preaching to the people's knowledge while leading them to faith. - R.
I. ALL CHRISTIAN PROSPERITY IS CONSCIOUSLY IDENTIFIED WITH GOD.
II. ALL CHRISTIAN PROSPERITY IS ALSO CONSCIOUSLY IDENTIFIED WITH CHRISTIAN CHARACTER.
III. ALL CHRISTIAN PROSPERITY IS IDENTIFIED WITH CHRISTIAN ENTERPRISE. Between God blessing a man's labour and God doing a man's labour for him there is a wide difference. God won't pasture the sheep, but God will multiply the flock. God won't dig the ground, but He'll water it with rain and dew.
IV. IN ALL CHRISTIAN PROSPERITY THERE IS A CONSCIOUS INFLUENCE AND POWER.
(A. W. Potts.)
1. God delivered him in extremity. He heard his cry and distress. He knew his needs; for God always knows our needs and how to supply them. There is a well for bondmen as well as for the free. God's living well is to be reached in any position of life. "The word is nigh thee, in thine heart," etc. (Romans 10:8).
2. God was with the son of the bondwoman as he developed. He was with him as he grew up, and gave him favour in the sight of others. God is ever seeking by His Holy Spirit to mould the characters of the worst for good.
3. God had intentions of grace towards the slave-mother's boy. He gave a promise to him as well as to Isaac.
4. God shewed how He was with Ishmael by quickening his faculties. "He became an archer." He had to learn to defend himself, and secure for himself by God's help a position. The fiery defenders of faith and controversial champions of the truth have their sphere as well as the pious, plodding, pastors of Christ's flock. We have all to learn to appreciate diversity of talents, and to remember that skill in any work is the outcome of independence, resolution and energy.
4. God's care was seen in the selection of the place of abode for the son of the bond-woman. He gave to him the desert for his domain, a place in which he might roam and pitch his tent at his own suggestion. The wilderness was the most suitable place for this man of wild nature. Some grow up under the sweet shadow of the home, and ever find there a resting-place. They occupy themselves in some work at hand, pleasant and profitable; but others wander off, perhaps go to sea, emigrate, engage in sheep-farming, cattle-tending in some wide and lonely ranch, or go to gold-digging and diamond-hunting. God works through all these phases of life to discipline the heart. He follows each one, and cares for all.
5. God also was with Ishmael, securing for him acceptance among others. He was to " dwell in the presence of his brethren" (Genesis 16:12). Though cast out by Abraham he was not cast off by God, or cut off from all interchange with others.
6. God was with Ishmael to the end of his life. He had a shorter life than Isaac. Ishmael died at a hundred and thirty years old, Isaac at a hundred and eighty. Evidently the active, restless, wandering, hazardous life was more wearing and consuming than the calm and meditative life of pastoral Isaac. But that his death was recorded shows that it was noticed by God.
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