A lesson by Patrick Mead and our weekly reading assignments at our church have got me thinking about Hagar lately. Hagar gets kind of a bad rap. She was the one that Abraham got pregnant (at the request of his own wife). She gave birth to Ishmael who has traditionally been regarded as the father of the Arabs. Muslims trace the history of their faith back to him. The descendants of Ishmael were violent, aggressive, and territorial. And to this day, many blame much of the unrest in the Middle East on this one son of a slave woman.
Disclaimer: I have no references for the above statements. I have not done the historical research. I am simply passing along what I have been taught, whether true or not.
Regardless of the historical implications of this…subsitutionary impregnation…the story of Hagar is both tragic and beautiful.
Hagar was an Egyptian woman. Kind of. She may not have been Egyptian in nationality, but she was probably one of the “gifts” given to Abraham and Sarah by Pharaoh. In an attempt to speed up the fulfillment of God’s promises to them, Sarah got the bright idea for Abraham to sleep with Hagar. That should have been the first red flag.
And then after Hagar conceives, Sarah gets jealous of Hagar and starts mistreating her. Couldn’t see that one coming. This is beginning to sound like a bad reality show.
Sarah’s hazing becomes so over the top that Hagar runs away. She’s gone. Done. Finished. But where would she go? She has no family, no friends, no support system, no home. Sarah doesn’t chase after her. Abraham doesn’t go searching. But God does.
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.” (Genesis 16:7-10)
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.” (Genesis 16:13)
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. (Genesis 21:15-16)
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. (Genesis 21:17-21)