TWO WELLS—TWO SOURCES OF LIVING
In the first section of this chapter, we have two seeds, two kinds of persons, and two lives. Without the second section, however, we can see neither the source nor the result of their living. In the second section we have two wells, one for Ishmael (vv. 14-21) and one for Isaac (vv. 22-34). Since the Bible does not waste any words, this record of two wells for two kinds of lives must be very meaningful and full of spiritual significance.
THE WELL FOR ISHMAEL • In the wilderness close to Egypt • Ishmael’s well, the source of his living, was in the wilderness close to Egypt (vv. 19-21; 25:12, 18). In the Bible, the wilderness always represents a place rejected by God. God never accepts the wilderness. As long as we are in the wilderness, we are rejected by Him. The best illustration of this is the wandering in the wilderness by the children of Israel. In figure, the wilderness also signifies our soul. If we live in our soul, we are straying in the wilderness that is rejected by God. The wilderness where Ishmael’s well was located was close to Egypt. He could easily drift from there into Egypt. This means that when we are in our soul, in our natural being, we are wandering in the wilderness and can easily drift into the world.
Making Ishmael an archer • Ishmael’s source of living made him an archer (v. 20). The difference between an archer and a planter is that a planter grows life and an archer kills it. An archer is a wild hunter like Nimrod in 10:8-12, a killer in the wilderness. This section of the Word even uses the word “bowshot” to describe the distance between the place where Hagar was sitting and the place where she had cast her child (vv. 15-16). Thus, in this portion of the Word, it is revealed that if we stay in the wilderness of our soul and drink water out of the well for Ishmael, the source of his living, we shall be made an archer using the bow to kill life for building up our own kingdom, not a planter growing life for the building up of God’s kingdom.
Leading to the joining to EgyptFIshmael’s source of living eventually joined him to Egypt, that is, to the world (v. 21). When Hagar took a wife for Ishmael, she took a wife from Egypt, from her own source. Being an Egyptian, she desired to have an Egyptian woman as her daughter-in-law. By taking a wife out of the land of Egypt for Ishmael, Hagar sealed him with the things of Egypt. We see from all this that there is a well, a source of living, which can make us a wild hunter who kills life and can join us to the world.
THE WELL FOR ISAAC • Praise the Lord that there is another well—the well for Isaac (vv. 22-34). Many verses in the Bible speak of this positive well. Psalm 36:8 says, “Thou shalt make them drink of the river of thy pleasures.” The Lord likes to make us drink of His river of pleasures. In John 4:14 the Lord Jesus said, “Whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall by no means thirst forever; but the water that I shall give him shall become in him a spring of water welling up into eternal life.” This means that God Himself will be our life. In John 7:37 and 38 the Lord Jesus also spoke of drinking: “If anyone thirst, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, out of his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water.” Moreover, in 1 Corinthians 12:13, the Apostle Paul says that we have all been made to drink of one Spirit, that is, of one well of water. Even the last chapter of the Bible contains a word about drinking: “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come!…Let him who is thirsty also come; he who wills, let him take the water of life freely” (Rev. 22:17). This divine well must be the source of our living.
Although Christ has been brought forth and has grown up, in the church life we still must learn that there are two sources or two kinds of living. What kind of living do you have—the living of Ishmael or the living of Isaac? It is insufficient merely to say that you have the living of Isaac. You must examine the kind of water you are drinking day by day. Are you drinking of the well for Ishmael? If you are, that well will make you an Ishmael and will cause you to drift into the world. Are you drinking of the well for Isaac, the well which signifies the divine well, the well of Christ, the well of the Spirit? If you are drinking of this well, the divine water which flows out of it will accomplish a great deal.
(Abraham—Called by God, Chapter 20, by Witness Lee)