Who was the first person visited by an angel in the entire Bible?
(Nope. Not in the garden. It was a cherubim that was put at the entrance to the garden with a flaming sword.)
Hagar. How ’bout that! I would not have guessed her. Hagar encountered the angel of the Lord before anyone else. It had never happened before.
I have always thought of Hagar as a glitch in the beautiful love story of Abraham and Sara. To me, she was an insignificant character in this monumental story. To God, she mattered. She had God’s attention.
Now, I can’t get her off my mind.
When Hagar discovered she was pregnant, she despised Sarai. (Gen. 16:4) In Gen. 15, we learn that Sarai mistreated Hagar terribly once Hagar became pregnant. Some translations say that she was abusive. The tension in that household was high. Even though Sarai had given Hagar to Abram for the purpose of having a child, Sarai couldn’t stand the sight of her servant. Hagar, whose name means “wanderer” or “flight” eventually runs away. Wouldn’t you look for a way out?
Hagar, the Egyptian, possibly picked up from the household of Pharaoh during the time that Sarai was a member of his harem, heads for home.
So we find Hagar fleeing across the desert toward Egypt. She is pregnant, alone, and running away from Sarai when God comes looking for her. Gen. 16:7, “The angel of the Lord found Hagar near a spring in the desert…” The angel of the Lord met Hagar by “a fountain of water in the wilderness” (KJV)
She has broken free from her slavery to Sarai, but God tells her to “Go back to your mistress and submit to her.” (Gen. 16:9) She would have most likely died in the desert. She and her baby probably would not have survived the harsh surroundings. God sends her back to safety. He cares for her and for the seed of Abram.
God doesn’t leave it at that. He has more to say to Hagar:
- I will increase your descendants that they will be too numerous to count.
- You are now with child.
- You will have a son.
- You will call him Ishmael – which means “God hears”.
- He will be a wild donkey of a man.
Hagar has something for God in return. She names God. She named him. “You are the God who sees me.” Gen. 16:13
God saw Hagar in the fullness of the word: looked at, recognized, called by name, understood, visited with, provided for.
“I have now seen the One who sees me.” Gen. 16:13 (Makes me think of ‘Stands-With-Her-Fists’ from Dances with Wolves.)
“The name she gave the Lord became attached to the place where they met, a spot where both water and mercy flowed in abundance. ‘That is why the well is called Beer Lahai Roi.’ Genesis 16:14 Literally’ a well to the Living One Who sees me’.” Liz Curtis Higgs in Slightly Bad Girls of the Bible
Hagar returned to Sarai with the full knowledge that the One who sees her is far greater than Abram and Sarai.
God saved Hagar because he loved her. His love saw beyond gender, race, nationality, class, religion. (Higgs) He saved her in the desert. God saw her alone and vulnerable and he saved her.
God saw her. God sees you. God is “One-Who-Sees-Me”. This is the God we serve and honor. He will find you in the desert. He will save you.
What an awesome God!