Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Hagar and the Angel

And Sarai said unto Abram, Behold now, the Lord hath restrained me from bearing: I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her. And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai.
And Sarai Abram's wife took Hagar her maid the Egyptian, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife.
And he went in unto Hagar, and she conceived: and when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress was despised in her eyes.
And Sarai said unto Abram, My wrong be upon thee: I have given my maid into thy bosom; and when she saw that she had conceived, I was despised in her eyes: the Lord judge between me and thee.
But Abram said unto Sarai, Behold, thy maid is in thine hand; do to her as it pleaseth thee. And when Sarai dealt hardly with her, she fled from her face.
And the angel of the Lord found her by a fountain of water in the wilderness, by the fountain in the way to Shur.
And he said, Hagar, Sarai's maid, whence camest thou? and whither wilt thou go? And she said, I flee from the face of my mistress Sarai.
And the angel of the Lord said unto her, Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hands.
10 And the angel of the Lord said unto her, I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, that it shall not be numbered for multitude.
11 And the angel of the Lord said unto her, Behold, thou art with child and shalt bear a son, and shalt call his name Ishmael; because the Lord hath heard thy affliction.
12 And he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man's hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.
13 And she called the name of the Lord that spake unto her, Thou God seest me: for she said, Have I also here looked after him that seeth me?
Genesis 16:2-13, KJV

Hagar and the Angel

Who was Hagar, and what made her so special that she received a visit from the Angel of the Lord?

Hagar was Sarai's handmaiden, or slave. She had no personal rights as is shown by this narrative from Genesis 16. Sarai was unable to bear children, so, like we so often do, she took matters into her own hand. She decided that if her handmaiden bore a child, then she could claim this child as her own, thus solving the problem of her own barren condition. 

How often do we do the same thing? God does not answer our prayers in the manner in which we believe He should, so we determine to solve the problem in our own way. 

However, as is also the normal case, nothing went the way Sarai imagined it would. Hagar did, indeed, become pregnant by Abram, but now Hagar looked down upon Sarai. She may only be a slave, but she was able to do what Sarai could not--become pregnant by Abram. She was no longer the diminutive, submissive slave.

When Sarai brought her complaints to Abram, he told Sarai to do whatever she chose with Hagar. Sarai, in retaliation, treated Hagar harshly.

One has to feel a great deal of empathy for Hagar. She chose none of this on her own, and now she was being treated harshly by her mistress. She did, again, what we are so often prone to do--she ran away.

And, that is where the Angel of the Lord found her. And the angel of the LORD found her by a fountain of water in the wilderness, by the fountain in the way to Shur.  Genesis 16:7

What an amazing God we serve. Hagar, just a poor slave, was visited by an angel of the Lord with a message from God. This child she carried was a boy whom she was to name Ishmael. Though he would be a wild man, yet we know from a later passage that he, too, would become the ruler of a nation of people. God told her to return to Sarai and submit herself to her mistress.

How can we apply this passage to our lives today? Most of us live a relatively free life compared to that of Hagar. Though we may have others who make decisions for us, we have the freedom to make most of life's choices on our own.

Let us think of the lessons we can learn from Hagar.

First, we are not too little or too unimportant to be heard by God. As believers, we know that God chose us in Him before time began. He chose us while we were yet sinners. He did not say, "I see some good in that man, woman, or child, so I will call them to be my child." 

How can a holy, righteous, and pure God speak to us who are poor, wretched, and blind before Him? He is sinless and we are filled with hearts that are prone to wander from this God we love. The answer is in Christ. Christ did what we cannot do. He bore our sins and suffered God's wrath when those very sins were poured upon Him on the cross.

Second, Hagar submitted herself to the Lord even though it would prove to be a very costly decision. If we have never gone before Christ and submitted ourselves to Him, then now is the day of salvation. Only in Christ can we be freed from our sins. Let us submit ourselves to Christ, confessing our sins and inability to serve Him in our own power. Let us call upon Him to save us and make us His child, forever!

If we are children of God, let us remember that God is truly sovereign. He loves us and cares for us more than we can ever know. Because that is true, He does not always guide and direct us in the way we want to go. Sometimes it is necessary to just quietly, like Hagar, submit ourselves to our Lord and Savior. Only in Christ and in submitting to Him can we find perfect joy, perfect happiness, and perfect peace--not just now, but for all eternity!

There are many more lessons we can learn from Hagar, but she will appear again very soon when she has another conversation with an angel of the Lord in the wilderness.

In closing, note that God appeared to Hagar in the wilderness. Often our most treasured experiences with the Lord are in our own times of wilderness wandering. 

May you go to Christ, today. Rest in Him for, as His child, He loves you more than you can ever imagine.

God Bless You,

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