Friday, September 16, 2016

Hagar


Woman of The Dawn
"Hagar"

Key Scripture: Genesis 16; 21:8-21 Galatians 4:22-31

Her name: Means, “stranger” in Hebrew.

Her Character: She was scornful to Sarah after her son was born. She was never allowed to make her own decisions yet she learned to make the best of a bad situation.

Her Sorrow: That she was taken from her homeland to become a slave in a foreign land.

Her Joy: To know God cared, that He saw her suffering and heard her cry, and that helped her when she needed it the most.

Her Story: In the very beginning of the passage we are told Hagar was a foreigner and a slave. Her story begins as Sarah's handmaiden. God had promised Abraham that he would be the father of many nations but ten years later the promise had not been fulfilled. Sarah convinces Abraham to take Hagar, her maidservant,  as his wife so that they could have a child, using Hagar as a surrogate. After Hagar becomes pregnant, her relationship with Sarah rapidly deteriorates. As a result, Hagar flees to the desert where she is met by the Lord where He tells Hagar to return to Abraham and Sarah, which she does. Hagar and Abraham’s son is born a short time later and he is named Ishmael as The Angel directed. Ten years later God appears to Abraham again and promises that he and Sarah will have a child of their own in one year. After their son Isaac is born Sarah sees Ishmael taunting Isaac. She demands that Hagar and Ishmael be cast out. This command is confirmed by God to Abraham. As Hagar and Ishmael are wandering hopelessly in the desert, near death, The Angel of the Lord once again appears to Hagar.

The Angel of the Lord appeared to Hagar and interrupted her flight as she was running away from her problem. He takes the time to ask her some questions. He wants her to consider what she is doing and why. The angel didn’t accuse her. He asked her with kindness. In Genesis 16:13 God says “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.” Can you really imagine what this must have been like for her? Hagar’s circumstances were beyond her control. She was a slave with no rights of her own, no freewill. She was someone else’s property. She had no choice but to obey Sarah and Abraham’s wishes.

Hagar wasn’t anyone special, in a situation she did not choose for herself, the victim of someone else’s choices, mistreated, abused, not one single resource of her own. She spoke to and was known by the God who created the universe. He saw her tears, her pain, her aloneness.

Hagar was contemptuous of Sarah, disobeyed her, and ran away. Yet God appeared to her, rescued her, and greatly blessed her. God’s mercy wasn’t something that she earned because of good behavior. His mercy was not about who she was or what she had done or didn’t do. Mercy flowed from the very character of who God is. If you are in a place of pain where you think no one sees, no one understands, and no one cares, that is a lie from Satan. As Hagar was suffering she had no idea that He was watching and that He had compassion on her until He appeared to her later. Yet He was there every step of the way.

We have something that Hagar did not. We know that we have an intimate relationship with God if we can call Jesus our Lord and our Savior. His Word to us is easily accessible. We don’t have to wait for Him to appear to us to display His mercy. As God was merciful to Hagar, we can know through the authority of His word that He is and will be merciful to us too.

"The LORD is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works" Psalm 145:9

Her Place in God's Divine Plan: Paul uses the story of Hagar as an allegory to distinguish law from grace. (Galatians 4:21-31) Hagar the bondwoman is contrasted with Sarah the freewoman, and Ishmael “born after the flesh” with Isaac “born through promise” thence freedom and grace appear as the characteristic qualities of Christianity.

Her Challenges Along the Way: A foreigner and slave and a lonely woman with few resources. She was lost in the wilderness and encounters the Living God.  She obeyed God's voice as soon as she heard it and was given a promise that her son would become the father of a great nation. Hagar wasn’t anyone special, in a situation she did not choose for herself, the victim of someone else’s choices, mistreated, abused, not one single resource of her own. She spoke to and was known by the God who created the universe. He saw her tears, her pain, her aloneness. In the same way God sees us and He hears us.

Lesson Learned: Barrenness is no stranger to the 21st century. Many couples struggle with fertility. Some succeed in getting pregnant. Others adopt. A few opt for the child to be born by a surrogate mother. That's what Sarah finally did with consequences she didn't like or expect. In the process we learn something about the faith-levels of Abraham and Sarah. And we see faith in an unexpected person; Hagar, an Egyptian slave. Many women today are in a position similar to Hagar's. They may not be actual slaves, but they are in a position of weakness, with no one to defend them. No one except God. When we are at our weakest, God is still ready to step in and say to us as He did to Hagar, "Do not be afraid." Whether we are living in a wilderness of poverty or loneliness, God promise's of love, and protection are just as available to us as they were to Hagar.

Birthplace: Egypt
Death place: Desert of Paran
Spouse: Abraham
Children: Ishmael (Son)

*From the Arabs of the Hagar-Abraham line, Mohammed was descended, say Mohammedans. The strength of Islam still mighty on three continents, is said to be bound up with the name Hagar.

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