In our reading today we have the covenant differences between Ishmael, born to Abraham and Hagar, and Isaac, born to Abraham and Sarah. Genesis 17:18-22 “And Abraham said unto God, O that Ishmael might live before thee! 17:19 And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him. 17:20 And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation. 17:21 But my covenant will I establish with Isaac, which Sarah shall bear unto thee at this set time in the next year. 17:22 And he left off talking with him, and God went up from Abraham.” The Covenant differences between Ishmael and Isaac are clear. The everlasting Covenant including the land of Canaan was with Isaac (Genesis 17:19), and will last a thousand generations, or forever (Psalm 105:6-11). Ishmael, because he is Abraham’s seed (Genesis 21:13), would also be blessed and made a great nation(s) (Genesis 17:20). But the everlasting Covenant would be made with Isaac, who would be born in the next year (Genesis 17:21).
In our reading today we get our Lord’s view of the seriousness of temptation and how horrible hell is. Matthew 5:28-30 “But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. 5:29 And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. 5:30 And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.” Jesus is not telling us to pluck out our eyes or cut off our limbs, he is illustrating the seriousness of these matters, temptation, sin and hell. In the New Birth, the born again experience the authority and ability to overcome these things is provided by the grace of God (Romans 8; 2 Corinthians 5:17-21; Galatians 519-24), and the grace and mercy when we fail (Hebrews 4:15, 16; 1 John 1:9, 10). Praise God for the New Covenant and the grace and empowerment to overcome.