A Short Study of Genesis 17:18
“O that Ismael might live before thee!”
We must leave our families, husbands, wives, mothers, fathers, sons, and daughters in the hands of God. If they are saved, like all other sinners, they must be saved by the sovereign will and pleasure of God, by His free grace in Christ. Your family no more deserves God’s grace than mine. And my family no more deserves God’s grace than any other man’s. Our children, like all others, are by nature, children of wrath, deserving God’s just punishment for their sins. If God saves our families, we will serve Him with gladness. And if God does not save our families, we will still go on serving Him with gladness. Even with regard to our beloved families, we must, like Eli, say, “It is the LORD: let him do what seemeth him good” (1st Samuel 3:18). We dare not rebel against the sovereign purpose of our God.
However, we must make certain that none in our households perish through any neglect or carelessness of our own. It is a tragic fact that Lot’s family perished due in great measure to the fact that Lot gave too much attention to their material happiness and far too little attention to their spiritual, eternal welfare. Eli’s sons were slain under the wrath of God, because Eli was a slothful father who refused to exercise loving discipline in his family (1st Samuel 3:13).
There is nothing selfish about exercising special care for your own family and earnestly seeking your own family’s salvation. In God’s providence, your family is the first, primary sphere of your responsibility. It is not wrong, but most natural and proper, that your desire for the salvation of others should, first of all, be toward your own family. Those who live under your roof have special claims upon your care. God has not reversed the laws of nature. He has sanctified them by the rule of His grace. It is only right that Abraham should pray for Ishmael, that Hannah should pray for Samuel, and that David should pray for Solomon. It is only right that Andrew should first find his brother, Simon, and bring him to the Saviour, and that Eunice should teach her son Timothy the way of salvation and life in Christ. Let every believer resolve, by the grace of God, to do whatever can be done to bring his or her family into the kingdom of heaven.