“I will surely multiply your offspring so that they cannot be numbered for multitude.”
“I have blessed him and will make him fruitful and multiply him greatly. He shall father twelve princes, and I will make him into a great nation.”
These blessings resonate with similarities to that of Abraham and Isaac. However, the first was given to Hagar (Genesis 16:10) and the last to Ishmael (Genesis 17:20). In fact, God’s promise that twelve princes would come from Ishmael intentionally resembles the twelve tribes that will come from Israel. Hagar and Ishmael were not how God had intended to bring about His promise to Abraham and Sarah, and His blessing to the whole world. God was under no obligation to make these promises to Hagar and Ishmael, but He does anyway. This is not an isolated instance. When someone finds themselves as a tangent to the story – even if it was not what God had intended – God invites them to partner with Him.
Centuries later, God promised David, “I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth…When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom… And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever” (2 Samuel 7:9,12, 16). From Abraham, to Isaac, to Jacob, to the 12 tribes, through the judges, and now the kings, God chose David to establish His kingdom. Unfortunately, a mere generation later, David’s son, Solomon, will fall prey to the shallow promises of other gods and build an egypt-like kingdom on the back of people. A rebellion would follow Solomon’s passing and his son’s (Rehoboam) ascension to the throne.
Before this happens, God speaks to the future leader of the rebellion against David’s descendant, Jeroboam:
“And I will take you, and you shall reign over all that your soul desires, and you shall be king over Israel. And if you will listen to all that I command you, and will walk in my ways, and do what is right in my eyes by keeping my statutes and my commandments, as David my servant did, I will be with you and will build you a sure house, as I built for David, and I will give Israel to you.”
1 Kings 11:37-38
God will remain faithful to David, but still invites Jeroboam to also be included in His plans. Unfortunately, Jeroboam quickly fails to trust in God’s promise and attempts to create a cheap knock off to fulfill God’s promise. The invitation was extended even if in vain. God was less concerned with who should be out and more concerned with who could be in…and He still is. Whether it’s the illegitimate son of a slave or a child of a widow, “the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him” (2 Chronicles 16:9). Your story matters. Whenever the story seems to veer of course, God offers to bless it. Every single one of us will find ourselves in positions of influence and each one of us will find ourselves in seemingly dire dead-ends. No matter how grandiose or seemingly insignificant, God is always looking for those who will partner with Him in blessing the whole earth. It does not matter what story lead up to the moment you are in. What does matter is if you are willing to bless the world with the story you find yourself in right now.