Genesis 16:11 (ESV) … And the angel of the Lord said to her, “Behold, you are pregnant and shall bear a son. You shall call his name Ishmael, because the Lord has listened to your affliction.”
To use a vernacular expression, God does not expect us to “go it alone.” To help Hagar give evidence of true conversion, God gave her a promise and a prophecy. The promise was that she would be fruitful. “And the angel of the Lord said unto her, Behold thou art with child, and shalt bear a son, and shall call his name Ishmael” (16:11). The name means “God shall hear.” Her life would not be lived in vain, nor would she have to struggle through the difficult years ahead in her own strength. God would be looking after her and listening to her.
The prophecy centered in Ishmael. “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” (16:12).
From Ishmael the Arab tribes have sprung to fulfill the role of destiny upon the stage of time so accurately predicted of them here. They remain in the background of the Bible, joining hands with Israel’s foes. They found for themselves a prophet and hurled themselves like wild men against the ramparts of the world, building up a brilliant empire and spreading their creed with the sword. Christian explorers, blazing gospel trails into Africa, found that the sons of Ishmael had gone before and had set the continent ablaze in their savage hunt for slaves. Today they sit astride the oil reserves of the world and threaten the peace of the world. Their rage against Israel keeps the world in turmoil, ever on the brink of global war. It was all foreseen and wrapped up in that embryonic prophecy spoken to Hagar long ago. What a revelation of the greatness of God wrapped up in His sovereignty!