Monday, August 31, 2015

Hagar - I'm not invisible


This week we return to the (dysfunctional) family of Sarah and Abraham, but this time we will study the life of Hagar . . .
       
                Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian slave named Hagar; so she said to Abram, “The Lord has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my slave; perhaps I can build a family through her.”
Abram agreed to what Sarai said. So after Abram had been living in Canaan ten years, Sarai his wife took her Egyptian slave Hagar and gave her to her husband to be his wife. He slept with Hagar, and she conceived.
When she knew she was pregnant, she began to despise her mistress. Then Sarai said to Abram, “You are responsible for the wrong I am suffering. I put my slave in your arms, and now that she knows she is pregnant, she despises me. May the Lord judge between you and me.”
 “Your slave is in your hands,” Abram said. “Do with her whatever you think best.” Then Sarai mistreated Hagar; so she fled from her.
 The angel of the Lord found Hagar near a spring in the desert; it was the spring that is beside the road to Shur.  And 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.
 Then the angel of the Lord told her, “Go back to your mistress and submit to her.” The angel added, “I will increase your descendants so much that they will be too numerous to count.”
 The 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.
 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.
 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.” That is why the well was called Beer Lahai Roi; it is still there, between Kadesh and Bered.
 So Hagar bore Abram a son, and Abram gave the name Ishmael to the son she had borne. Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore him Ishmael.

The rest of Hagar's story is in chapter 21, verses 8 through 21. There we read about the second time that Hagar left -- this time she was shown the door . . .

The child grew and was weaned, and on the day Isaac was weaned Abraham held a great feast.  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 woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with my son Isaac.”
The matter distressed Abraham greatly because it concerned his son.  But God said to him, “Do not be so distressed about the boy and your slave woman. Listen to whatever Sarah tells you, because it is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.  I will make the son of the slave into a nation also, because he is your offspring.”
Early the next morning Abraham took some food and a skin of water and gave them to Hagar. He set them on her shoulders and then sent her off with the boy. She went on her way and wandered in the Desert of Beersheba.
When the water in the skin was gone, she put the boy under one of the bushes.  Then she went off and sat down about a bowshot away, for she thought, “I cannot watch the boy die.” And as she sat there, she began to sob.
God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “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.”
Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. So she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink.
God was with the boy as he grew up. He lived in the desert and became an archer.  While he was living in the Desert of Paran, his mother got a wife for him from Egypt.

We might be wondering about the story of Hagar . . . why is it in the Bible? Yes, it overlaps our story of Abram, to whom God made a promise, and who stumbled a bit, but was finally on the right path and passes the blessing to Isaac, who passes it to Jacob, etc.  That's kinda what Genesis is all about, no?

So, why Hagar? Why all the details, when she really doesn't contribute to the Abram (Abraham), Isaac, Jacob part of the story? She's actually a side story, because of Sarah's mistakes, which we studied in past weeks. Ishmael, Abraham's son, won't be the bearer of God's blessing; he won't be in the genealogy of our Lord, Jesus.

Although Ishmael's descendants are in the news daily in our world, there's just a "dead-end" here in the Bible as far as he is concerned. We humans might scratch our heads and wonder why; should we spend time studying this story?

Yes!
An emphatic yes!
Hagar, an Egyptian slave girl, was not considered important back then. She was about as low on the "pecking order" as one could get in that era. Did you see that Abraham and Sarah never call her by name?
To them, she is simply "that slave girl."
To God, she was more. She was not invisible. She counted for something.
That is what we will study this week.
Please read and consider the passages above, and join us next time to study Hagar.

1 comment:

Austin Towers said...

Thank you! I always thought Abraham was a bit of a wimp to be dictated to by his wife like that! Look forward to tomorrow :)