Gracefully Truthful

Digging Deeper,God,Grace,Promises,Sin,Sketched,Suffering,Trust

Discover the original intent of Scripture. Make good application to our everyday lives.
Become equipped to correctly handle the Word of Truth!

Read His Words Before Ours!

Genesis 16

Abram’s wife, Sarai, had not borne any children for him, but she owned an Egyptian slave named Hagar. 2 Sarai said to Abram, “Since the Lord has prevented me from bearing children, go to my slave; perhaps through her I can build a family.” And Abram agreed to what Sarai said. 3 So Abram’s wife, Sarai, took Hagar, her Egyptian slave, and gave her to her husband, Abram, as a wife for him. This happened after Abram had lived in the land of Canaan ten years. 4 He slept with Hagar, and she became pregnant. When she saw that she was pregnant, her mistress became contemptible to her. 5 Then Sarai said to Abram, “You are responsible for my suffering! I put my slave in your arms, and when she saw that she was pregnant, I became contemptible to her. May the Lord judge between me and you.”

6 Abram replied to Sarai, “Here, your slave is in your power; do whatever you want with her.” Then Sarai mistreated her so much that she ran away from her.

7 The angel of the Lord found her by a spring in the wilderness, the spring on the way to Shur. 8 He said, “Hagar, slave of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?”

She replied, “I’m running away from my mistress Sarai.”

9 The angel of the Lord said to her, “Go back to your mistress and submit to her authority.” 10 The angel of the Lord said to her, “I will greatly multiply your offspring, and they will be too many to count.”

11 The angel of the Lord said to her, “You have conceived and will have a son. You will name him Ishmael, for the Lord has heard your cry of affliction. 12 This man will be like a wild donkey. His hand will be against everyone, and everyone’s hand will be against him; he will settle near all his relatives.”

13 So she named the Lord who spoke to her: “You are El-roi,” for she said, “In this place, have I actually seen the one who sees me?” 14 That is why the well is called Beer-lahai-roi. It is between Kadesh and Bered.

15 So Hagar gave birth to Abram’s son, and Abram named his son (whom Hagar bore) Ishmael. 16 Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore Ishmael to him.

The Original Intent

1) Why did Sarai and Abraham try to fulfill the promises of God in their own power?

In Genesis 12:2, God told Abram He would bless him with many descendants. Abram and Sarai waited ten years for God to give them a child and fulfill His promise. They were already very old, so Sarai figured God must want them to use a surrogate woman to start a family. (Genesis 16:2)

While the exact circumstances of the surrogate arrangement are not known, author David Guzik explains, “According to customs of the day, Hagar would actually sit on the lap of Sarai as Abram inseminated her, to show that the child would legally belong to Sarai, as Hagar was merely a substitute for Sarai.” Abram and Sarai believed God’s promise, but they took it upon themselves to fulfill it since it seemed as if God wasn’t coming through.

If they had waited for God to fulfill His word (which He did over a decade later), they would have saved themselves much suffering.

By using Sarai’s slave, Hagar, to give Abram a son, Ishmael, they caused strife and heartbreak for everyone, including our own world as Islam came through Ishmael. The preacher Charles Spurgeon notes that, “Very likely Hagar was one of the slaves given to him by Pharaoh when he dismissed him and Sarah; and you know what trouble Hagar brought into the family. If Abraham had lived the separated life, and hadn’t fallen into the customs of those around him, he would not have had that sin and sorrow concerning Hagar; nor would he have had that righteous rebuke from Abimelech, the king of Gerar, when again he had acted deceitfully with regard to his wife.” (Genesis 20:1)

Sarai and Abram were desperate to make God’s promises come true, but their intervention was not part of God’s plan. John Piper notes, “God will not settle for anything less than the path of impossibility: He aims to show that nothing is too difficult for the Lord. (Luke 1:37) His purpose in all He does is to magnify His sovereign grace and keep us in our humble place.” 

May we all cling to God’s promises while patiently trusting in His plan to bring the best results.

The Everyday Application

1) Why did Sarai and Abraham try to fulfill the promises of God in their own power?

I have ruined many things because I couldn’t wait. I have served under-baked cookies and smudged my finger nail polish on more than one occasion because I was too hasty. Impatience proved to be even costlier for Abram and Sarai when they decided to fulfill God’s promises in their own way by having a son born of Sarai’s Egyptian slave, Hagar. (Genesis 16:3)

They thought that since they had waited 10 years for God to provide with no results, God must want them to take the initiative. Surely their solution to make God’s promise come true would work, they reasoned.

As quickly as Hagar discovered her pregnancy, problems with their scheme became evident. Hagar soon felt pride in giving Abram what Sarai could not, which made Sarai angry. Soon Sarai began mistreating Hagar so badly that Hagar ran away. (Genesis 16:6) Even after Hagar’s return, when her son, Ishmael, was born, there was still tension and strife. 

Eventually Sarai, now Sarah, would have the pair sent far away from Isaac, the actual son of promise. (Genesis 21:10) We do this, too! 

We get tired of waiting on God. We figure He has forgotten us or that He must want us to take matters into our own hands since He hasn’t made a move to fulfill His promises to us in the way we think best.

We become good at reasoning and rationalizing. We even grow angry that God hasn’t acted in the ways we assume He should.  Sometimes we figure the ends will justify the means. If God wants something for us, then it doesn’t matter how we get it.  This is not God’s way!

We may not understand His ways or His timing, but His ways are always perfect. (Psalm 18:30) If we wait for Him and trust in His promise, we will see God do what only God can do. (Isaiah 30:18) If we attempt to muster up a way to make His promises happen, we miss out on His perfect plan, or we make a huge mess of everything. Instead, we can trust that God is a promise keeper. (Deuteronomy 7:9)

When God promises to do something for us or in us or through us, He will make it happen. (Philippians 1:6) Though He sometimes uses us to fulfill His plans and purposes, He does not need us to come up with plan B when we feel His plan is off track.  His plans, and His ways, can be trusted! (Proverbs 3:5)

The Original Intent

2) Why would God ask Hagar to submit to the mistreatment of Sarai?

When Abram and Sarai decide to use the slave woman, Hagar, as a surrogate so they can have a son, tensions rise. (Genesis 16:3)  Hagar is proud of carrying Abram’s child, and Sarai is enraged by her attitude.  Encouraged by Abram, Sarai mistreats Hagar and causes her to run away. (Genesis 16:5-6) God stops Hagar in her desert flight and urges her to return and once again submit herself to Sarai. (Genesis 16:9)

While it may seem harsh for the Lord to send Hagar back to where she had been mistreated, God instructed her to return, not for harm, but for a blessing. According to the Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible, “The counsel was given in kindness as well as wisdom; for, by continuing to penetrate further into the wilderness, she must inevitably have perished, and all her prospects of maternity been blasted.”

God had plans for Hagar and her baby, even though she was not carrying the child of promise. Every life is important to the Lord, regardless of the circumstances surrounding conception! The angel of the Lord, which was “Jesus pre-incarnate,” according to Dr. Tony Evans, told her she would have a son and he too would be the beginning of many descendants. Scholar Elizabeth Tracy emphasizes “God focuses on Hagar’s future; she won’t return defenseless or with the same status.  She will return with strong promises received directly and personally from God.”

As David Guzik explains, “The Angel of the Lord told her to repent. If she changed her direction, there was an inherent promise – obey Me and I will protect you. Jesus didn’t tell Hagar to return to abuse; He made an implied promise of protection.”

After encountering Jesus, Hagar calls the Lord “El Roi,” which translates to “the God who sees”. (Genesis 16:3) Hagar does not fear returning to live with Abram and Sarai because she knows God has heard her, seen her, and promised her blessing through her son.

The Everyday Application

2) Why would God ask Hagar to submit to the mistreatment of Sarai?

It is pretty clear to me by now that God doesn’t do things the way I would. If something is hard or causes me pain, my plan is to avoid it.  Seems pretty logical, right? More often than not, however, God uses the pain I experience as an integral part of my growth process. (James 1:2-4)

Scripture even tells us if our suffering is for God, it brings favor with God. (1 Peter 2:18-20) When God told Hagar to return to the household of Abram and Sarai, the thought of returning to the misery she just left must have been overwhelming. (Genesis 16:9) This is how I feel when God asks me to stay in a season of hardship, or stick with a difficult relationship.

I feel overwhelmed by the thought of staying with what causes me pain, even though running away has its own perils. When Hagar encountered God in the wilderness, He gave her hope by telling her He heard her, He saw her, and He had better things in store for her. (Genesis 16:7) If she endured by His strength, she would see reward. 

I have seen this same reality in my own life and the lives of others. I know a young person who has endured painful physical issues his entire childhood and now waits for a heart transplant.  He could be bitter and hopeless, but instead God has made him grateful, humble, and compassionate. Through the pain and hardship, he has learned to trust God and rely on Him for everything. My young friend understands that all things, even the painful ones, work together for our good if we love God and are called by God. (Romans 8:28)

My prayer is that I don’t run from God, but rather turn towards Him when I experience hurt and pain, so He can use it to mature me and make me more like Him.

The Original Intent

3) Why did it mean so much to Hagar to be seen and heard by God?

When the angel of the Lord, Jesus in the flesh before He came as a baby, appeared to Hagar, He told her some remarkable things as well as some hard things. (Genesis 16:7) One of those hard things was for her to return to living with Abram and Sarai, the place she had just escaped.

According to author Beth Moore, “Hagar is a name that means stranger — that she’s a stranger. Now I want you to please note that the angel of the Lord has sought out the stranger. This is making me think of Ephesians 2 which says you are ‘no longer foreigners and strangers, but you are citizens with the saints of God, members of the household of God, that he seeks out strangers.’”

Because her very name means stranger, the fact that God would seek her out was meaningful to Hagar. Not only did God seek her out, but she is the first person in Scripture to whom the angel of the Lord appears. David Guzik notes how God “didn’t first appear to Noah or Enoch or Abram. The Angel of the LORD first appeared to a single mother-to-be who had a pride problem and was mistreated by the woman who put her into the whole mess.”

Because she was a stranger, far from home with no resources or support, she had nowhere to turn. The fact that God heard her anguish and saw her situation was life-changing. Author Joni Eareckson Tada observes, “Her circumstances didn’t miraculously change, but she had experienced the miracle of a changed perspective. Knowing that God is real, and He was really involved in her life story, gave Hagar renewed vision for what otherwise looked like a desperate situation.”

Knowing she had been seen and heard by God meant Hagar could keep going. She could return to the household of Sarai and wait for the birth of her son without fear, because she knew God was protecting her, watching over her, and had promised her the blessing of many descendants.

The Everyday Application

3) Why did it mean so much to Hagar to be seen and heard by God?

When Hagar ran away from Sarai and Abram’s household and fled to the wilderness, presumably heading back to Egypt, she must have felt invisible. (Genesis 16:7)

She was a slave, a pregnant, unmarried woman, and a foreigner in a strange land.  She was mistreated and abused by those who chose her to be their surrogate child-bearer even though she was carrying Abram’s heir. (Genesis 16:6) She couldn’t have expected God to find her and call her name. (Genesis 16:8) She couldn’t have imagined He would see her in anguish and hear her despair. 

How amazed she must have been when the Angel of the Lord (Jesus Himself!) called her name and asked for her side of the story. She may have expected Him to chastise her for being prideful with Sarai or for running away.  (Genesis 16:4) Instead, God gave her good news that her child was a son and he would bring her many descendants. (Genesis 16:10-11)

He gave her a way to safely return, be provided for, and raise her son.  After she spoke with God, she called Him El Roi, the God who sees. (Genesis 16:13) She recognized God saw her, knew her, and cared about her situation. It didn’t matter she was a runaway slave.

It didn’t matter she had been mistreated or angered Sarai. God saw her, and extended mercy and love. God saw her, the woman Hagar, and not all the things she had done or had been done to her. He heard her heart and saw her need for Him, and He came through for her! He became her hope for a future.  He became her ever present help in trouble.

About the story of Hagar, Ann Voskamp says,” For the women forgotten and for the women discouraged and the women lost, there is water in the wilderness and He is our well and all. is. well.”

Through Hagar’s story, God is telling each of us, no matter who we are, where we are, or how we got there, He sees us, He loves us, and He has love and mercy for us, too.

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Merry Ohler
Admin
3 years ago

The account of Hagar has encouraged me greatly over the years, and El Roi is one of my favorite of God’s names. Thank you for this insightful, encouraging application.

Mandy Farmer
Mandy Farmer
3 years ago

Recent years of trial have brought me to love the story of Hagar.

Rebecca Adams
Admin
3 years ago
Reply to  Mandy Farmer

The Lord continually blows me away with the depth of His extravagant love!

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blessing,fulfillment,Hagar,Heard,humble,Ishmael,patience,Seen,Submission
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