Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Hagar - Finding the God Who Sees

All my life I had been a slave. I was brought into Abram's household, where my duty was to serve his wife as her maidservant. I tried to do my duty well, and lived for quite some time as happily as could be expected, since I was in bondage.

Then, the trouble began. Sarai gave me to her husband to have me build a family for her. I simply obeyed orders. And... I got pregnant. I guess I shouldn't have been so proud, but I began to despise my mistress, for I had been able to give my master a child, while she couldn't.

She began to abuse me for my haughtiness, and finally I couldn't stand it any longer. I ran away. Then, there, by a spring, I found the One Who Sees Me...

Hagar was a simple Egyptian slave, most likely acquired from Pharoah, when he treated Abram well for Sarai's sake. (Genesis 12:16) She was the maidservant of Sarai, and most likely served her mistress well.

However, when Sarai still didn't get pregnant despite God's promise, Sarai decided to build a family through Hagar. After giving her to Abram, Hagar did indeed become pregnant. Finding out that she was pregnant, Hagar didn't respond well; she became proud, and began to despise her mistress (Genesis 16:4) Sarai likewise didn't respond well; she began to abuse her maidservant.

Hagar fled from the abuse, and went into the desert. While she was sitting by a spring in the desert, an angel of the LORD appeared to her and said, "Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?" (Genesis 16:8a) When Hagar told Him that she was running away from her mistress, the angel told her: "Go back to your mistress and submit to her." adding, "I will so increase your descendants that they will be too numerous to count." (Genesis 16:9-10)
"The angel of the LORD also said to her: 'You are now with child and you will have a son. You shall name him Ishmael (which means God hears) for the LORD has heard of your misery. He will be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone's hand against him, and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers.' " (Genesis 16:11-12)

Even though Hagar was nothing more than a simple maidservant, God still cared for her. It doesn't matter how small or how great one is; God loves and has compassion on everyone. Hagar realized this, and "She gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: 'You are the God who sees me,' for she said, 'I have now seen the One who sees me.' " (Genesis 16:13)

Hagar then went back, and submitted herself to her authority, Sarai. Because she was obedient and submissive, Sarai no doubt stopped mistreating her. From this, we should learn that even when things seem unfair, we still need to obey God and our authorities. More than likely, if our attitude is right and we are obedient, God will work the situation out for good.

After the right time had passed, Hagar indeed bore Abram a son, whom he named Ishmael. Abraham cared for his son, and when God was talking about the blessing in store for Isaac, "Abraham said to God, 'If only Ishmael might live under Your blessing!" (Genesis 17:18) God did indeed promise to bless Ishmael although he was not the promised son. He said in Genesis 17:20 - "And as for Ishmael I have heard you; I will surely bless him; I will make him fruitful and will greatly increase his numbers. He will be the father of twelve rulers, and I will make him into a great nation."

Years passed, and at last the promised son Isaac was born to Abraham. A great feast was held to celebrate Isaac's weaning. Ishmael may have been a bit resentful to be displaced as the only child. Genesis 21:9-10 says "But Sarah saw that the son whom Hagar the Egyptian had borne to Abraham was mocking, and she said to Abraham, 'Get rid of that slave woman and her son, for that slave woman's son will never share in the inheritance with my son Isaac.' "

Sarah was jealous, and didn't like Ishmael or Hagar anymore. She had her own baby now, and she didn't want Ishmael around as a threat, especially when he was mocking her baby.

Abraham was concerned about his son, and didn't know what to do. "But God said to him, 'Do not be so distressed about the boy and your maidservant. Listen to whatever Sarah tells you, for it is through Isaac that your offspring with be reckoned. I will make the son of the maidservant into a nation also, because he is your offspring.' " (Genesis 21:12-13) So Abraham gave them water and food the next morning, and sent Hagar and Ishmael away. They went and wandered in the desert of Beersheba.

The water eventually ran out and Hagar felt sure that her son would die. The situation seemed hopeless. I mean, where does one find water in the desert? Hagar put Ishmael under a bush, and went a little ways away. Her mother heart broke, and she began to sob. God didn't forget about Hagar or Ishmael, or the promises He'd made to them. He heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven, saying, "What is the matter Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation." (Genesis 21:17-18) God opened her eyes and she found a well of water! She went and gave her thirsty boy a drink, reviving him.

God still didn't forget Hagar and her son. Genesis 21:20 tells us that God was with the boy as he grew up. He lived in the desert, and became an archer. The last we hear of him, Hagar gets him a wife in Egypt.

Isn't God amazing? So many situations seemed hopeless, yet God was faithful. He provided ways that we'd never have dreamed of, and worked his purposes out. He is indeed the One Who Sees, and will help us in our distress. Never fear or be discouraged; God is good! In story after story, we see that God does indeed fulfill His promises; He only asks that we trust and believe.


Elizabeth Ellen Moore said...

This is good. You don't usually see much written specifically about Hagar.

Susan said...

I always feel rather sorry for Hagar. She's unwept, unsung, but look at what she endured! I definitely am glad I didn't have to walk in her shoes, but God's plan was through it all :).

Elijah Lofgren said...

Another good post Anna. Once you finish going through them all you can compile them and publish a book. :)

Miriam Rebekah said...

Really good post. Gave me a lot to think about. I've always wondered exactly how Hagar may have felt when Sarai told her to do certain things.

Anonymous said...

I am glad I read the story, but I am living the life of Hagar so speak. Taking orders from people who are not my master - yet it seems to be my responsibility to "fix" a situation that I did not cause.

My faith is being tested and I am sure I am failing. I absolutely feel forsaken, right or wrong, I do. I am not asking for a "kingdom" all I have ever asked for is peace in my life - and I don't seem to be able to attain it. I'm absolutely as sad as a person can be...constantly asking "why me" and struggling to find something positive in a desperate situation. I don't understand...I just don't understand -- why do some endure so much pain - and those who cause the pain seem to live a life that is blessed. Will I ever see a blessing for my obedience or will my faith slip away as a result of feeling forsaken?

Anna Naomi said...

Anonymous: I'm sorry to hear what you've been going through! I'm glad this story ministered to you, however. I don't the answers for your situation, but God does. Keep seeking after Him, even if it looks right now as though He's not working. Even when things seem hopeless, God is always there, working things out according to His plan. Everyone has times of testing and pain, but in it all, God is shaping and refining us to better serve Him. I'll be praying for you!

One verse that has really helped me is Hebrews 6:10 - "God is not unjust; He will not forget your work and the love you have shown Him as you have helped His people and continue to help them." Life often doesn't seem fair, but God is in control. Sometimes we just have to trust in His Sovereignty when our world seems out of control. I don't know your exact situation, but God does.

Also, reading in the Bible about the life of Job might encourage you to stay strong. Stay in God's Word - there's a wealth of encouragement in it to keep up the good fight of the faith! Live, "being confident of this, that He Who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." (Philippians 1:6)

An Ethereal Forest of Stars said...

I love this, I have never read any article based from Hagar's perspective! :)