An Angel Sends Hagar Back
The angel of the LORD found Hagar beside a spring of water in the wilderness, along the road to Shur.
Genesis 16:7 (NLT)
In the quiet of the wilderness “the angel of the Lord,” who had come to bring her direction, hope, and peace of mind, confronted Hagar. This is the first recorded instance of an angel appearing to anyone in the Scriptures. Some scholars believe this was none other than a pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus because of the way Hagar addressed him in Genesis 16:13 and the way the angel spoke in the first person as if he were God.
Since there had never been an appearance of an angel before this, it would be interesting to know exactly what Hagar thought. It looks, from her reaction in Genesis 16:13, that she thought this was God Himself.
|Hello my friend. This post is fairly long but so worth reading. So why don't you grab a cup of coffee or tea and your bible and enjoy the time you spend with God as your read what He shared with me today.|
Along The Road To Shur
In desperation Hagar fled in the direction of her homeland, Egypt. Shur was on the road to Egypt (1 Samuel 27:8). Hagar was an Egyptian slave and had no right to run away. Her situation, however, had become unbearable, and flight seemed to present the only relief. She probably thought she might find peace, rest, and life in her old home country.
I’m sure she had seen a tremendous difference between the God that Abram worshiped and the Egyptian gods. Yet, in adversity, she was headed back to where she came from. What a blessing that the Lord stopped her.
It’s interesting that Abram didn’t try to stop Hagar. It’s possible that Sarai was glad she was gone and that the non-confrontational Abram was glad this strife-producing situation was out of his sight.
When the Lord sends His Special Messenger, it is generally an important and sensitive mission (see, too, Exodus 3; Numbers 22; and Judges 6). This special agent bears God’s unique, covenant name and speaks with divine authority in ways other messengers do not. In fact, by what Hagar says and does next, it is clear she thinks she has encountered the Lord Himself.
Special Messenger: Hagar, Sarai’s servant girl? Where have you come from, and where are you planning to go?
Hagar: I am running away from my mistress, Sarai!
Genesis 16:8 (VOICE)
The Lord knew Hagar but makes reference to her as Sarai’s servant girl. Hagar had run away and broken that bond, but not in God’s sight. He told her to return and submit to Sarai.
Notice that the angel asked her where she was coming from and where are you planning to go. She hadn’t thought through what she was doing. She didn’t have any plans. She was just getting away from Sarai.
We don’t need to act just out of emotions. We need to think through our actions. If Hagar had done that, she would have been wise and humbled herself and just stayed with Sarai. Likewise, we would act differently if we didn’t let our emotions get the best of us.
Special Messenger: Hagar, go back to your mistress, and change your attitude. Be respectful, and listen to her instructions.
Genesis 16:9 (VOICE)
The Lord told Hagar to return to slavery not because God viewed slavery as a good thing but it was better than the alternative.
Trust me: I am going to give you many children and many descendants, so many you won’t be able to count them!
Genesis 16:10 (VOICE)
This is similar to the promises the Lord made to Abram about his promised seed (Genesis 13:16 and 15:5). Therefore, it would be logical to think that Hagar and Abram would have thought Ishmael was the seed God had promised to Abram. We later learn that was not so, because Isaac, the child of Sarai, was the promised seed (Genesis 17:15-16).
Ishmael was not God’s will. This was totally a product of the flesh (Galatians 4:28-29). Yet God cared for Ishmael and Hagar and promised to multiply Ishmael’s descendants and make them into great nations (Genesis 21:18; 25:12-18), and He did, for Ishmael is the founder of the Arab peoples.
The Lord can adapt and even use our mistakes for His glory (Romans 8:28).
The descendants from Hagar are included in the promise given to Abram that his family will be so large that he will not be able to count them.
Look, you are pregnant,
and you’re going to have a son.
I want you to call him Ishmael
because the Eternal One has heard your anguished cries.
Genesis 16:11 (VOICE)
The Lord doesn’t tell Hagar to just go back to Sarai and suffer. He gives her a promise that through her son many nations would rise. He names the child Ishmael, which means “God hears,” and gives her assurances that God will bless her and the child. God never tells us to just blindly follow Him. He gives promises of His blessing for obedience.
This son of yours will be a wild man, as untamed as a wild donkey! He will raise his fist against everyone, and everyone will be against him. Yes, he will live in open hostility against all his relatives.”
Genesis 16:12 (NLT)
We don’t have a lot of information given about Ishmael’s life in Scripture. What we do know is that Ishmael would be a “as untamed as a wild donkey”, which is not a very flattering description. It identified him with the wilderness where he lived by his skill as an archer (Gen. 21:20-21; Job 24:5). It also revealed his independent and aggressive nature.
He would be a hated man, living “in open hostility against all his relatives”. While we must not apply these traits to every descendant of Ishmael, the centuries-long hostility between the Jews and the Arabs is too well known to be ignored. The Arab nations are independent peoples, dwelling in the desert lands and resisting the encroachments of other nation’s, especially Israel and her allies.
Thereafter, Hagar used another name to refer to the LORD, who had spoken to her. She said, “You are the God who sees me.” She also said, “Have I truly seen the One who sees me?”
Genesis 16:13 (NLT)
Hagar’s wilderness experience brought her face-to-face with God and taught her some important truths about Him. She learned that He is the living God who sees us and hears our cries when we hurt. This shows that God has always heard the prayers of those who call out to Him in truth, whether Jews or not. This must have been very significant to a slave girl who had been treated as property all of her life. The name Hagar gave God (“‘EL RO’I” – the God who sees me) signifies this. He is a personal God, concerned about abused people and unborn babies. He knows the future and cares for those who will trust Him.
Remember that this first angelic appearance in Scripture happened to a Gentile.
So that well was named Beer-lahai-roi (which means “well of the Living One who sees me”). It can still be found between Kadesh and Bered.
Genesis 16:14 (NLT)
The naming of this well–“the God who sees me”–suggests that Hagar responded in faith to the Lord and His promises. Hagar did return and submit herself to Sarah. Surely she apologized for being arrogant, for despising her mistress, and for running away. She trusted God to protect her and her son and to care for them in the years to come.
We never solve life’s problems by running away. Submit to God and trust Him to work things out for your good and His glory.
Sarah Had To Submit To God
How did Sarah feel when Hagar came back to the camp and reported that God had talked with her?
Did God have time for a poor servant?
Was God concerned about a slave-girl’s baby?
Did the God of Israel care for an Egyptian?
Yes, because that Egyptian’s baby had Abraham as a father; and God had a covenant with Abraham. The record does not tell us how Sarah responded, but it would appear that she accepted both Hagar and her report and took her back as her servant. Sarah did not mistreat her again; for, after all, God was watching!
Abraham Had To Submit To God
In this entire episode, Abraham played a rather passive role. He let Sarah talk him into marrying Hagar, and he allowed Sarah to mistreat Hagar and drive her from the camp. Apparently, Abraham did not offer to help Hagar in any way. (Later, he made up for that.) But when his son was born, Abraham acknowledged him and obediently gave him the name that God had appointed.
Both Abraham and Sarah had to learn to live with their mistakes. Certainly Abraham enjoyed watching the boy grow up, and the old man’s heart was full of love for him (Gen. 17:18). But Abraham knew that Ishmael would not be a permanent part of the covenant family. God’s solution to the “Ishmael problem” was not to blame Abraham, Sarah, or Hagar, but to send another baby into the home—Isaac. Ishmael did not give Abraham and Sarah any trouble until Isaac came along; then he started to create problems (Gen. 21:1-11). As we shall see in later chapters, all of these things have profound theological significance for the Christian believer today.
James 4:1-10 explains why Christians fight and how Christians can be at peace. Our battles among ourselves are caused because we obey our three enemies:
How can we expect to be at peace with God and each other if we are living for the enemy! “God opposes the proud, but He pours out grace on the humble. So submit yourselves to the one true God and fight against the devil and his schemes. If you do, he will run away in failure. (James 4:6-7 ).
As you review the chapter, you will see that several key texts from Romans are illustrated by what is recorded here.
“If you do anything you believe is not right, you are sinning.” (Rom. 14:23). Be sure that your plans and procedures can pass the four “tests of faith”.
- You are willing to wait
- You are concerned only for the glory of God
- You are obeying God’s Word
- You have God’s joy and peace within
People may agree with you, and the law may defend you; but if God cannot bless you, don’t do it! Let God accomplish His will in His way and in His time. Sarah tried to run ahead of God, and she created problems that are with us yet today.
“But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of righteousness, for all who receive it will live in triumph” (Rom. 5:17). In Genesis 15, grace was reigning through righteousness because of Abraham’s faith (v. 6); and Abraham was reigning in life to the glory of God. But he abdicated the throne in chapter 16, and sin started to reign. Unbelief, impatience, anger, pride, and indifference took over in Abraham’s home and almost destroyed it. God’s people are kings and priests (Rev. 1:6), who should “reign in life” by yielding to Jesus Christ (see Rom. 6:11-14).
“But as people sinned more and more, God’s wonderful grace became more abundant.” (Rom. 5:20). This does not mean that God winks at sin or that abundant sinning is the key to abundant grace (6:1-7). Rather, it means that God’s grace is greater than man’s sin and can accomplish God’s best even when men do their worst. In grace, God saw Hagar fleeing to Egypt; and He came to her and met her needs. He made her the mother of a great nation. Of course, He did it because of Abraham; but God’s covenant with Abraham was a covenant of grace.
From the human viewpoint, this “diversion” was a tragedy that brought God’s great salvation plan to a standstill. Consider, however, the divine point of view. God is never caught by surprise. When He cannot rule, He overrules; and He always accomplishes His purposes.
Satan wants us to think that our “disobedience diversions” must become the permanent road for the rest of our lives; but this is a lie. Like Abraham and Sarah, we can confess our sins, accept God’s cleansing (1 John 1:9), and then learn to live with our mistakes. Yes, there will be pain and regret; but God’s grace will overcome in the end.
George Morrison is worth quoting again: “The victorious Christian life is a series of new beginnings.”