We probably all heard of some tragic stories about family members feud with one another over the inheritance. The situation is usually even more complicated with those ultra-rich families which the siblings are from different mothers. Abraham has a family like that. Before I dive into the main points of this devotion, allow me to point out that polygamy is against God's design of marriage. (Cf. Genesis 2:24, Mark 10:7-8) It is a sin in God's eye.
Now that we have set things straight, the first thing I want to bring out, is how Abraham manage his vast wealth before his death, so his children don't need to deal with it. Though he made a mistake to marry three wives, at least he wisely divided the properties to avoid the ugly quarrelings among his children. Genesis 25 tells us that he gave all the inheritance to Issac—the only son promised by God. (v.5) And "gave gifts to the sons of his concubines and sent them away from his son Issac to the land of the east." (v.6) Another disclaimer I have to make here is that I am not endorsing the way he divides his properties and treats his sons from the two concubines. But Abraham was doing the right thing for taking up the responsibility of making the pre-arrangements. Those properties were his to deal with, and he was the only person who has the authority to make the arranges in ways that will produce the least disputes among his children. He gave us a great example in that regard. Many people don't want to deal with personal wills, some even think it is bad luck to write a last will until death is inevitable. Some people really close to me had to go through the painful process of dealing with the demands of the unsatisfying relatives because the father didn't make proper arrangements.
The other thing I would like to point out is in Genesis 25:9. It says that Ishmael and Issac came together to bury their father, even though they hated each other. We don't know if the two sons were informed separately or Issac invited his brothers back. Whatever the scenario was, they were willing to put their personal feeling toward each other aside to honour their father's death and buried him together. Though this is the last thing they do as a family together, though their descendants will become enemies, they knew this is something they ought to do for their father.
Further, they didn't fight when they met each other. Ishmael didn't demand more of the inheritance, Issac also didn't quarrel on that his brothers shouldn't inherit anything because their mothers were concubines. Their only focused was to bury their father according to his will. Then they peacefully parted their ways.
There are occasions when a broken relationship can never be repaired. That doesn't mean that we should stop loving. Jesus Christ teaches us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. (Matthew 5:44) At times, we might feel that we are still not ready to forgive, at least we should put aside the differences or even hatreds out of our love of the common third party. Ishmael and Issac showed us that it is possible even without the biblical knowledge we have today. Similarly, we might never be able to do something that remedies the mistakes we made earlier in life. But making the efforts to limit the results of the earlier faults is a responsible thing to do. That was what we can learn from Abraham's example in this passage.
Share with your devotional partner about anything that comes to your mind after reading today's devotional. Pray for each other that we will learn from Abraham's example of thinking ahead for the descendants as well as Ishmael and Issac's example of working on a common good despite having disagreements with another person.