(Hint: Think twelve princes.)
“I [God] have heard you [Abraham]. Behold,
blessed him, and
will make him fruitful, and
will multiply him exceedingly. He shall
beget twelve princes, and I
will make him a great nation.”
Who is the “him” referring to?
c) Jacob (Israel)
Ok do you have it? Are you ready for it? Are you sure?
Now someone other than yourself may have thought it was c) Jacob (Israel). Understandably so.
Indeed he was the father of the twelve tribes of Israel. And through Abraham it says “I have made you a father of many nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you.”
But if you guessed “c” you would in fact be wrong. The answer is b) Ishmael. Yes, that’s right. Genesis 17:20. It was God himself who blessed Ishmael who is the father of the Arab world. It was the God of heaven who would bless him to become a great nation and make him have in a similar way “twelve princes.”
So what is the difference between the blessing that came through Isaac and the blessing of Ishmael? Their blessing was alike in so many ways and yet primarily different in one. It is this:
“But my covenant I will establish with Isaac.”
Two sons. Both of them blessed. Yet with one God made covenant.