Who is the “son of promise”–Ishmael or Isaac?

Most Bible believing Christians, I’m quite sure, have never really been concerned about the answer to this question. But in this seemingly rapidly changing world, the rise of Islam in our day requires that we know our Bible well so that we can “give an answer” to those who would ask us of the reason for our hope of eternal life. Peter urges us to provide such answers to those who ask us with “gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15).

This question is a most important matter to those who accept the Muslim faith.

Here are three questions posed recently (18 hours ago) in the closed Facebook group, “Jesus or Mohammad, who’s the Right Way to Heaven.” The questions were posed by a non-native speaker of English, so I will try to carefully preserve the meaning intended in correct English.

Opening Statement:

According to the Christians, they claim that ISAAC was the son God told Abraham to sacrifice after ISHMEEL AND HAGAR had traveled. Moreso, they said God’s voice spoke to Jesus that Jesus is MY BELOVED SON after Jesus was baptized.

Now let us reason on this by considering Genesis 22:15. The angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time. The angel said, “You were ready to kill your only son for me. Since you did this for me, I make you this promise. I, the LORD, promise that….

We know that ISHMEAL was the first son and the verse said ONLY SON. Also the same verse said an ANGEL SPOKE TO HIM AND THE LORD promised.

The Questions:

  1. How can Isaac the second born be used as a sacrifice since the Bible said ONLY SON?
  2. Who spoke to Abraham–an Angel or the Lord?

Note:  If it means an angel spoke to Abraham, an angel spoke to Jesus too. But remember, no angel has a beloved son.

Come let us reason together.

Defend the Bible.

Do not dodge the questions.

No abusive text.


No hidden place:  The truth has come; falsehood shall Vanish.

My Answers to the Two Questions:

1. How can Isaac the second born be used as a sacrifice since the Bible said ONLY SON?

Isaac is the second son born to Abraham, but Isaac is the ONLY SON born to Abraham by Sarah. It was to Abraham and Sarah, NOT Abraham and Hagar that the promise was made to Abraham that he should have a son. It was by Sarah’s advice, not God’s command, that Abraham had a son by Sarah’s handmaid (Genesis 16:1, 2). Sarah’s advice was mistaken and reveals that Sarah had a lack of faith in God’s promise to fulfill His word through her.

There is much, much more in the Bible that relates to the issues brought up by this excellent question. You can study these issues in depth by using the notes and Bible cross references I have given at John 3:16 in The Ultimate Cross Reference Treasury.

2. Who spoke to Abraham–an Angel or the Lord?

This is a fascinating question with an even more fascinating answer. The answer is, that the Angel who spoke to Abraham was Jehovah Himself, who in the near context is also called God, and other divine titles. Careful study will prove without question that the Angel of Jehovah is the Second Person of the Godhead, namely, the One we now call the Lord Jesus Christ, who in His pre-incarnate form appeared to men as the Angel of Jehovah, also called God, also called the Angel of God. That there is a second Jehovah is seen at Genesis 19:24, where both Jehovahs are on the same scene at the same time, one Jehovah is in heaven, the other Jehovah is upon earth.

I have placed full explanatory notes and cross references on these matters at Genesis 19:24 and Genesis 22:15 in The Ultimate Cross Reference Treasury. Study these two passages using the UCRT, and you will be blessed with more understanding than you had before of what God teaches in His Word.


3. Provide the verse in which God said that Ishmael is not my son.

My Answer:

Bn Adewole Kunle Ishaq, when addressing an issue such as this, to understand the Bible correctly, we must always consider all the pertinent evidence.
Consider, for example, Genesis 21:12,
Gen 21:12  And God said unto Abraham, Let it not be grievous in thy sight because of the lad, and because of thy bondwoman; in all that Sarah hath said unto thee, hearken unto her voice; for in Isaac shall thy seed be called. 
The key is that GOD said, “for in Isaac shall thy seed be called.”
Therefore, in terms of the provisions of the Abrahamic Covenant, Isaac is God’s designated heir of those promises.
Ishmael is not the son of promise because God promised Abraham a son by Sarah. Only Isaac is that son.
Because God always keeps His covenants (Malachi 3:6), God honored the fact that Ishmael was the son of Abraham. In answer to Abraham’s intercessory prayer on behalf of Ishmael (Genesis 17:20), God gave Ishmael a SEPARATE COVENANT that God has continued to fulfill to this day. That covenant, to Ishmael, is mentioned in Genesis 21:13,
Gen 21:13  And also of the son of the bondwoman will I make a nation, because he is thy seed. 
The PROOF that this is a separate covenant given to Ishmael is seen by how it is worded:  “And also.” It is repeated in Genesis 21:18.
See also Genesis 17:20,
Gen 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.
This, of course, is a confirmation of the promise as given originally to Hagar in Genesis 16:10-12,
Genesis 16:10-12
10  And the angel of the LORD said unto her, I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, that it shall not be numbered for multitude.
11  And the angel of the LORD said unto her, Behold, thou art with child, and shalt bear a son, and shalt call his name Ishmael; because the LORD hath heard thy affliction.
12  And he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man’s hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.
So what we have, then, is TWO COVENANTS:  God gave a separate covenant to Ishmael, but God gave the heir of promise, Isaac, the Abrahamic Covenant which also is still in force today.
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