The sixteenth chapter of Genesis is just chock-full or plum-full, as we say in the South, of gems. I would love to focus on Sarai’s reasoning for offering her maid-servant to Abraham, but I’ll give you a teaser for that conversation. Watch the movie, His Only Son. It gave me new insight into a possible reason for her actions.
Instead, I want us to look at a gem found in the middle of the chapter after Hagar flees her mistress.
The angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, the spring on the way to Shur. And he said, “Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?” She said, “I am fleeing from my mistress Sarai.” The angel of the Lord said to her, “Return to your mistress and submit to her.” The angel of the Lord also said to her, “I will surely multiply your offspring so that they cannot be numbered for multitude.” 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. He shall be a wild donkey of a man, his hand against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he shall dwell over against all his kinsmen.” So she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, “You are a God of seeing,” for she said, “Truly here I have seen him who looks after me.” Therefore the well was called Beer-lahai-roi; it lies between Kadesh and Bered.Genesis 16:7-14 ESV (emphasis mine)
The Lord God, who spoke to Adam, and then appeared to Abram (Genesis 12:7), now comes to an Egyptian servant-woman named Hagar. This amazing appearance of the Angel of the Lord, which is understood by scholars as the pre-incarnate Christ, takes it upon himself to find a rejected slave. Hagar is the visual representation of Sarai and Abram’s sin. They’ve taken matters into their own hands to have a son, and almost instantly regret it. Sarai is so distressed, she kicks her out of her sight.
But God’s not done with Hagar.
Tired and hurting, Hagar is sitting by a spring of water and is found by God himself. Just like he does in so many other encounters, he calls her by name and asks questions. “Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?” Like so many today, her answer to both questions reveals her lost state: “I’m fleeing,” she says.
When the world says “run,” God says, “return and submit.” It is in her obedience to God’s direction that she will know blessing.
- God will multiply her offspring.
- She will give birth to a son.
- His name will give testimony to the fact that God hears us in our times of affliction.
- Though he will be a wild man, he will rule over his relatives.
God’s blessings have nothing to do with our goodness.
Hagar, a slave, was found by God, seen by God, heard by God, and blessed by God. God’s grace was evident in the life of this Egyptian woman, and her son’s heirs would become the rulers of nations. The Angel of the Lord has often appeared to the most unlikely of persons, including a man named Balaam. It has nothing to do with who we are but everything to do with who God is and his will for that person.
The place of her encounter would be a reminder to the entire nation of Israel that it was an Egyptian slave woman who was seen by God. The well at Kadesh forever bears the name Lahai-Roi. Oh, that the Israelites realized that our God sees not only his chosen people but all peoples.
Let’s give praise to our Lord today that he shows us his grace by seeking us out, seeing us, hearing our cries, and blessing us when we obey, even in the hard things of life.
Grace and Peace