Do you ever wonder where you are going? Have you been driving down the highway and talking on the phone – hands-free of course – and you missed your off-ramp? Go ahead, admit it. I’ve driven past my exit and gone a mile or so before I even noticed!
If we multitask in the fast-paced lifestyle that we live in America – so much so that we get distracted and make some wrong turns – do you suppose that we make some wrong turns in our walks with God?
We get caught up in our busyness and our problems, and sometimes we get so tired of the hustle, that we want to run away from it all.
“Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest; yes, I would wander far away; I would lodge in the wilderness. Psalm 55:6-7
Hagar ran away.
In Genesis 12, we read that Abram and Sarai had followed God’s direction to the hill country where they lived for a time between Bethel and Ai. Abram built an altar to the Lord and called on God. But a famine occurred, and they traveled south to Egypt.
Sarai was beautiful, and Abram asked her to say that she was his sister, which was true, but he told her to leave out the part that she was also his wife.
Consequently, Sarai was taken into the Pharaoh’s harem. Plague broke out in Pharaoh’s house, and God told him why. Pharaoh confronted Abram, and he confessed that she was his wife. So the Pharaoh sent Abram out of Egypt with all Abram’s riches and slaves. Hagar was one of the Egyptian slaves who he had acquired in Egypt.
Abram and his household went back to the hill country and lived between Bethel and Ai, where they had worshipped the Lord.
God had promised Abram in Genesis 12 and 15 that he would be the father of a great nation, but he had no son. Sarai was barren. They had been in the land for 10 years, and no son was born. So Sarai decided to help God out with His promise.
“Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. She had a female Egyptian servant whose name was Hagar. And Sarai said to Abram, ‘Behold now, the LORD has prevented me from bearing children. Go in to my servant; it may be that I shall obtain children by her.’ And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai. Genesis 16:1-2
Note, Abram didn’t go to God and ask Him about the promise He had given to him about being the father of a great nation. He did not ask God to confirm that Sarai was to be the mother.
Since this was the custom of the day when there were no children from the wive, Abram complied with Sarai’s direction.
Hagar became pregnant and started feeling a little cocky. She began thinking that her position was elevated, and somehow, she was better than Sarai.
As a result, Sarai treated Hagar harshly.
Sarai lashes out at Abram, too, and what does he do? He tells her to do with Hagar as she pleases.
Who do you think was the boss in that family, at least at that time?
Sarai does as she pleases and is very harsh with Hagar.
Dragged from her homeland, made a nomad, made to serve a woman who called upon a strange God, and then forced to have sex with the woman’s husband! Now, Hagar was pregnant with a son who would be this man‘s and woman’s son. It was more than she could bear, and she ran away.
Hagar flees towards Shur (towards Egypt), and the Angel of the Lord finds her by a spring of water, Genesis 16:7.
“Hagar, Sarai’s maid, where have you come from, and where are you going?” She said, “I am fleeing from the presence of my mistress Sarai.” (Genesis 16:8).
Return and submit to Sarai. I will greatly multiply your descendants. (Genesis 16:9-10)
The Angel of the Lord is none other than Jesus. What an encounter and a promise! Jesus is blessing an Egyptian slave with the promise that her descendants will become a multitude, a powerful people, the father of the Arab nation.
Hagar marvels that the God of Abram sees her and has given her this incredible promise in the midst of hardship. She calls Him, El Roi, “The God Who Sees.”
She is the second one mentioned in the Bible to give God a name. Melchizedek called God, El Elyon, the Most High God, in Genesis 14:18. Hagar calls God, El Roi, The God Who Sees. She met the God of Abram.
The Egyptians worshiped gods like Ra, the sun god; Isis, goddess of life; or Osiris, the god of the dead. These gods were geographically restricted and did not have power outside of Egypt.
Here was a God who related personally to individuals, and in particular, to Hagar, a slave, not of the chosen family, a poor woman running from a harsh environment, from great trials back to her homeland, Egypt. In the wilderness, she meets God.
God gives her an amazing promise, but He tells her to return to the harsh environment, to return to Sarai and Abram.
Go back, Hagar, and submit to Sarai. Serve her and keep My promise in your heart and before you.
So she goes back to Sarai and Abram.
Ishmael is born, and for 13 years, he grows into a young man. Then God visits Abram again and reinforces His promise of making Sarai the mother of nations. As a sign of God possessing Abram and his household, God establishes circumcision of all the males.
Abram obeyed, and all males, including Ishmael, were circumcised. Ishmael was circumcised – marked for God!
God then changes Abram and Sarai’s names to Abraham and Sarah, a spiritual turning point.
The next year, Isaac is born to Sarah. Perhaps 3 years later, Sarah weans Isaac, and Abraham throws a big party. But Ishmael, perhaps 16-years-old, scoffs at Isaac.
That was the last puff of sand in the face for Sarah.
She demands that Abraham send Hagar and Ishmael away for good. Abraham protests, but God tells him to send away Ishmael, the son of the flesh, from the promised son, Isaac.
Paul writes in Galatians 4:24-28 that Hagar and Sarah represent the two covenants. Hagar represents the Law given to God’s people at Mount Sinai. Sarah represents the New Covenant, freedom in Jesus. Galatians 4:24-28
David Guzik observes: “Significantly, Sarah could live with Hagar and Ishmael until the son of promise was born. Once Isaac was born, then Hagar and Ishmael had to go. In the same way, a person could relate to the law one way before the promise of the gospel was made clear in Jesus Christ. But now that it has been made clear, there is nothing to do but to cast out the bondwoman and her son.”
So Abraham fills a skin with water and packs some bread, and sends Hagar and Ishmael off into the desert.
He was rich! Couldn’t he have loaded some of his riches, and a generous supply of food on a camel and sent a servant or two with them?
He didn’t. He relied upon God providing.
Here were Ishmael and Hagar wandering in the Wilderness of Beersheba.
Soon, the skin of water was empty. Their tongues stuck to the roof of their mouths. They were hot, and hopeless.
Hagar couldn’t bear seeing Ishmael in agony, so she sat him under some bushes and sat down a few yards away and cried out to the Lord.
Ishmael was also in agony and crying out to the Lord, and God heard, Genesis 21:17.
What troubles you, Hagar? Fear not. I have heard Ishmael.
I can imagine what my response would be. What troubles me? I ran away the first time, and You told me to return to the servitude and the mistreatment. I bore Abraham a child. I saw Ishmael grow, and I remembered Your promise. Then Isaac comes along! The trouble begins again. Now my son’s a young man, and we’ve been sent out into the desert to die!
Up! Lift up the boy, and hold him fast with your hand, for I will make him into a great nation.” Genesis 21:18
That’s what the Lord tells you and me to do in our hardships
Know that God has heard us.
Get up, trust God and know that there’s work to do.
God opened Hagar’s eyes, and she saw a well. God provided for Ishmael and Hagar, and Ishmael became a great nation, and they dwelled in the Wilderness of Paran. This area is associated with Mount Sinai.
Hagar and Ishmael are pictures of the Law and works as opposed to grace, only possible through Jesus.
Hagar, a bondslave from Egypt, met the God Who Sees and Hears and obeyed Him. She became the mother of a great nation.
She rose up from her self-pity. She lifted up Ishmael, the chosen son to raise 12 princes and be the father of a great nation.
Hagar tightly held Ishmael by the hand as she led him in the Wilderness of Paran, dwelling in the land where God gave Israel the Law. She pointed her son to the God of Abraham.
Are you rising up from your circumstances to lift others up?God directs, we follow. Click To Tweet
There’s more to the story. In Genesis 25, we learn that Abraham was full of years and knew that he was going to step into heaven, so he gave gifts to his six sons by his concubines and sent them off to the east. He then gave Isaac his inheritance and died.
Together, Ishmael, a picture of the Old Covenant, and Isaac, the picture of the New Covenant, bury Abraham in the cave of Machpelah, Genesis 25:9.
The Old Covenant and the New Covenant joined together. Jesus fulfilled the Old Covenant, bringing the New Covenant.Without the Law, there could be no grace. Click To Tweet
Where are you going?
I hope that you are going into the land that God has ordained for you. Instead of sitting hopelessly in our suffering, God tells us to
- Get up!
- Lift up our brothers and sisters
- Hold fast to their hands and lead them in the way of the Lord.
Are you running away from troubles and desperately afraid of worse things to come?
Like David, we tell God that our troubles make us want to fly away. Then, we remember the goodness of the God Who Sees us and Hears us.
Cast our burdens on the LORD,
And He shall sustain you;
He shall never permit the righteous to be moved. Psalm 55:22
Our God Who Sees Us and Hears Us, You see our troubles, and You tell us not to fear. You hear our cries and tell us to rise up and lift others up. For You will work Your good works in and through us. Lead us, Father, in the way You would have us to walk, so that we will point others to You and Your eternal lovingkindness. In Jesus’ name, we pray, Amen.
What is your biggest fear in your walk with God?
Please share in the comments below.