We are continuing our meditation on Abram’s attempt to obtain a shortcut to the vision God gave him. Shortcuts never work, and it caused more anguish to Abram and Sarai as Hagar ran away from home, feeling that no one cared for her or Ishmael. In the desert place, the Angel of the Lord spoke to Hagar. This Angel was the One watching and listening to all that was going on in Abraham's household. He spoke kindly to her, asking two pertinent questions suitable for all of us to hear, "Where have you come from, and where are you going?” (v. 8). Here's the text:
7The angel of the LORD found Hagar near a spring in the desert; it was the spring that is beside the road to Shur. 8And he said, “Hagar, slave of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?” “I’m running away from my mistress Sarai,” she answered. 9Then the angel of the LORD told her, "Go back to your mistress and submit to her." 10The angel added, "I will increase your descendants so much that they will be too numerous to count.” 11The angel of the LORD also said to her: "You are now pregnant and you will give birth to a son. You shall name him Ishmael, for the LORD has heard of your misery. 12He 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.” 13She 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 16:7-13).
As we go through life, it is good to sit down and assess where you have come from and where you are going. If you are aiming for nothing, you are bound to hit it! Did you ever experience a time when you felt aimless and did not know which direction to go? Did you stop and ask God for His guidance? He wants to lead us and be our Good Shepherd through life's journey if we will let Him be our guide.
This Angel is no ordinary angel. Most scholars believe this to be an appearance of God in human form. The apostle John, in his gospel, reminds us that the Lord Jesus preexisted and that He took on human form when born of the virgin Mary. He wrote that Jesus was with God in the beginning, and that through Him all things were made, and that without Him nothing was made that has been made (John 1:2-3). This Angel does not speak for God, but He speaks as God, saying to Hagar,
I will surely multiply your offspring so that they cannot be numbered for multitude (v. 10).
This kind of language is not what the Lord says; instead, this is what I say! The person speaking is God Himself. Hagar knows who is talking to her, for she named the Angel, "You are a God of seeing," and calls the well where she encounters the Lord, "Well of the Living One who sees me" (v. 13). Hagar is given vision and direction for her future and told to humble herself and submit to her mistress, Sarai, and raise Ishmael in Abram's home. I'm sure her heart was encouraged to learn that she would be a mother to many descendants too numerous to count (v. 10). The descendants of Hagar today are the Arabic people who intermarried with Esau (Genesis 28:9).
The Lord brought Hagar into a new revelation. First of all, she found out that God (YeHoVaH, not Allah) heard the cry of distress, and to remind her constantly that God hears the cry of desperation, the Lord told her to name her son Ishmael, which means God hears. The Lord watched over her and saw all that went on in her life—a good lesson for us.
We all have challenging times of waiting when our faith is tested. Are you like Abram, being worn down and weary in the waiting process? Are you like Hagar, needing God's assurance and direction? Wherever you are in your faith journey and whatever difficulties you face, God has the next step for you, even if that step is to continue to wait. He has a plan and direction for you to lead you from where you are right now. Keith Thomas