This is my covenant, which you shall keep, between me and you and your offspring after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised… and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and you…. Both the slave born in your house and the one bought with your money must be circumcised. So shall my covenant be in your flesh an everlasting covenant. Any uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin shall be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.”… As for Ishmael, I have heard you; I will bless him and make him fruitful and exceedingly numerous; he shall be the father of twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation. But my covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this season next year.”…. Then Abraham took his son Ishmael and all the slaves born in his house or bought with his money, every male among the men of Abraham’s house, and he circumcised the flesh of their foreskins that very day, as God had said to him…. And his son Ishmael was thirteen years old when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. That very day Abraham and his son Ishmael were circumcised; and all the men of his house, slaves born in the house and those bought with money from a foreigner, were circumcised with him.
Yes, God said that Ishmael would not be the primary bearer and “administrator” of the covenant, but he still bears its marks. Reminds me of a reading from Lesslie Newbigin where he talks about how through our election and Covenantal relationship with God, Salvation is extended to all the nations. “Election” isn’t about blessing; it’s about responsibility to extend the Blessing to others.
Other peoples (even those not in the elect people of God) participate in and receive the full benefits of being part of the Covenant. To be elect is to extend these Covenantal blessings to all nations (as we see here with Abraham). To be marked as God’s is to be placed on mission.
Ishmael was still joined to the covenant! Praise God for his gratuitous grace!