The God Who Sees
“You are the God who sees me.” vs. 13
Do You Believe In Dragons?
An atheist was out fishing in Scotland, when all of a sudden a huge Dragon type Amphibian began to emerge from the water. With snarling teeth it slithered closer to the atheist. In desperation he cried out, “Dear God, Please save me!”
All of a sudden, the heavens opened and a deep voice said, “I thought you didn’t believe in Me.”
To that the atheist responded, “Give me a break, two minutes ago I didn’t believe in the Loch Ness Monster either!”
That may be how the main character in today’s sermon felt. We’re going to look at a woman named Hagar. She may or may not have believed in God before He spoke to her. But she surely believed in Him afterwards.
There are some people in the Bible who were incredibly blessed, they were the ones who heard directly from God. God spoke face to face with Adam and Eve in the Garden; he spoke to Noah; last week we studied about how God spoke with Abram and Abimelech. This week we’re going to look at a woman named Hagar — a woman who might have thought that God would ever take notice of her. Genesis chapter 16.
Read Passage – Genesis 16
1 Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian slave named Hagar; 2 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. 3 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. 4 He slept with Hagar, and she conceived. When she knew she was pregnant, she began to despise her mistress. 5 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.” 6 “Your slave is in your hands,” Abram said. “Do with her whatever you think best.” Then Sarai mistreated Hagar; so she fled from her. 7 The angel of the LORD found Hagar near a spring in the desert; it was the spring that is beside the road to Shur. 8 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. 9 Then the angel of the LORD told her, “Go back to your mistress and submit to her.” 10 The angel added, “I will increase your descendants so much that they will be too numerous to count.” 11 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. 12 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.” 13 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[c] the One who sees me.” 14 That is why the well was called Beer Lahai Roi; it is still there, between Kadesh and Bered. 15 So Hagar bore Abram a son, and Abram gave the name Ishmael to the son she had borne. 16 Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore him Ishmael.
A Difficult Life
Hagar was not an important person. She was not wealthy. She was not full of faith. In fact, her only claim to fame was that she ended up in the middle of a big, ugly, complicated, mess between a husband and wife. The fact is Hagar had nothing of her own and was living in a life of slavery. Verse 1:
“Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian slave named Hagar.” vs. 1
In our story there is a husband and wife, Abraham and Sarai, and Sarai had a slave; someone to cook, clean, help her with whatever she needed done. No matter when or where you are a slave, iti s not an easy life. It is difficult. You don’t decide things for yourself, you don’t have much of a say in most matters. Hagar was a slave, Sarah’s property, acquired by Abram during his unauthorized trip to Egypt (ch 12). She was treated as a non-person; Sarah not even once called her by her name. Inverse 2 & 5 she calls her “my slave” and in Genesis 21 she calls her “that slave girl.’ Nobody asked Hagar how she felt about this arrangement, about marrying Abram, about anything! And marriage really didn’t change her status, she was still considered a commodity, an object, something to be owned, a possession.
Taking Over God’s Plan
Let’s look back for a moment about what is really going on here. God has promised Abraham that He would be the father of many nations. He promised Sarah that she would bear a child. What an awesome promise! Their greatest pain was the barrenness. God was going to take care of that problem and them much, much more. Have you ever had God speak a promise to you and for weeks you’re walking on air in the excitement of it? I’m sure Abraham and Sarah were quite excited when God spoke that promise to them.
Now here’s the downer. Ten years later, it hasn’t happened. Abraham is 85 years old. Instead of the circumstances getting better, they get worse every year. The likelihood of conception, in their eyes, is getting less, not more, with every year that passes. By the time our text opens in Genesis 16 we’ve got a couple that is pretty discouraged. I can see Abraham and Sarah trying to figure out what’s going on. Did we or did we not hear the Lord? Abraham had the advantage of actually receiving the revelation. So Sarah has to rely upon his account of what the Lord said. It just seems like it is time to do something. Verse 1-2:
“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.” vs. 1-2
One of the greatest tests of our faith comes when God says trust Me; we do that for awhile; but circumstances seem to get worse instead of better. In this passage we see it come out really clear as Sarai says “I” in this verse. Her focus and trust was on herself not God. When you’re going through it (as some of you very well know) it’s much different that just theorizing about it. There was tremendous pressure on Sarah to make something happen—address the problem. So Sarah works up a plan. She takes over for God. Abraham’s isn’t really much better here, he goes along with the idea. So to make sure it’s all above board, Hagar marries Abraham and they sleep together and just like that she is pregnant.
Used and Abused
Ever get buyer’s remorse? How about decision remorse? That is what happens to Sarai, Her plan worked but she is realizing that it wasn’t really what she wanted and it really begins to eat at her. So, to add insult to injury, poor Hagar is not getting treated very well by Sarah.
“Then Sarai mistreated Hagar; so she fled from her.” vs. 6
Now Hagar did her part in this to exasperate the situation. She becomes pregnant right away and she then begins to taunt Sarai and basically provoke her to anger. We’re not told exactly what Sarai does but it is pretty clear that Sarai wasn’t handling this or Hagar well. So Hagar makes a decision; to run. Can you identify with that? I can. When things get tough we have the propensity to run, check out, take a hike. Sometimes it’s literal, and sometimes it’s mental.
Ex. Story about running for cover when I helped my friend, Lori, when we were walking to school and her brother was hiding and going to scare her. I yelled down the street and warned Lori. Boy did her brother get mad at me. He threatened to beat me up. So, for the next week I took different ways to school, avoided Ricky at recess. I was on the run. You now, I can’t even remember how this got resolved but I know I never did get beat up.
Life Lessons From Hagar
We are looking at some lesser known people in the Bible this year. I think we can learn quite a bit from this woman, Hagar, from this story.
-God’s Plan Is Not What We Would Choose
The first and most glaring thing that happens in this story is that God does not take Hagar out of the situation, quite the opposite, He sent Hagar back to Sarai and Abram.
“Then the angel of the LORD told her, “Go back to your mistress and submit to her.” vs. 9
So many times I pray, “God get me out of this situation!” But notice God sends her back into the difficulty. Sometimes we learn the most when it is the most difficult and I think that is because we have to trust God and not ourselves. My choice is to be rescued and released. God’s choice is for me to trust him.
This isn’t the only time this happens in the bible. Remember in the N.T. God sends Philemon, also a slave, back to his predicament. It doesn’t seem right to us. Not our choice. That’s when we go back to the verse that tells us that God’s ways are not our ways. He helps us in our difficulties but does it in such a way that we are continually being drawn closer to Him. That way it is for His glory.
-God Hears Us
A second lesson we learn is that God hears us. Verser 11:
“You shall name him Ishmael,for the LORD has heard of your misery.” vs. 11
We can feel exactly like Hagar, down and in the dessert feeling like we are going to die. But God hears us. For me, it is always reassuring to know that I am heard. God gives Hagar a gift; her son Ishmael. Did you know that Ishmael means “God hears”? Isn’t that cool. When she would say his name it was a reminder to her that God hears her.
Ex. My two daughters names
Madison – Strong Christian
Natalie – to be born of noble birth/a child of the king
Helps my wife and me remember what special gifts these two girls are to our lives.
David said in Psalm 33:
“ But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love.” Psalm 33:18
-God Sees Us
And that verse teaches us that God sees us as well. Hagar knew that lesson too; verse 13:
“She gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” vs. 13
Hagar gets who God is and gives Him a name, the God who sees me, in Hebrew “El Roi.” She realizes that God’s grace is with her and that the difficulties she is going through are not hidden from God. You might feel that God can’t understand what you’re going through and that he might not even ber aware of them. Not so. God sees. Romans 15:5:
“May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had…” Romans 15:5
God hears and sees and even better, he gets it. Don’t forget that Jesus went through difficulties. He walked on this earth, was ridiculed, mocked, tortured, and even murdered. God sees your hurt and difficulties and he understands. He gets it
-God’s Plan Gives Us Something To Look Forward To
And finally, the 4th lessons we learn from Hagar is that God gives us something to look forward to. Verse 10:
“The angel added, “I will increase your descendants so much that they will be too numerous to count.” vs. 10
Sometimes in the moment, it seems hopeless and depressing. It seems that there is no way out. But remember that God had made a promise to Hagar, that the descendants of Ishmael would be so numerous that they couldn’t be counted. Short term it looked bad. Long term, God’s plan would work out. He would prevail. The lesson here is to have faith in the promises of God regardless of how bleak the immediate looks.
Strength Through Weakness
Let’s wrap up our lessons from Hagar with a thought from Paul and a look at the rest of Hagar’s story. First from Paul; he says in 2 Cor. 12:10:
“That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Cor. 12:10
And this is how Hagar’s story goes from Genesis 21:
-She has a son Ishmael but he is a rough guy and a bully
-Sarah has a son, Isaac, and he is really the chosen one and the one through whom many prophecies would be fulfilled.
-Ishmael picks on Isaac just like Hagar picked at Sarai.
-Hagar and Ishmael again flee and they are in the desert and Hagar thinks they are going to die. They are down to the last of their water and all seems lost. She give s the last drops to Ishmael and then turns away because she can’t stand to watch him dies.
-Again in her despair, God appears, he sees her, hears her, and responds to her by providing a oasis froh er to get more water.
When God promises, it happens. He said she would be okay and he was taking care of her. She didn’t learn the first time (sound familiar?, I know I don’t always learn the first time) but God is faithful and his promises never fail. It’s only when we are weak that He can be strong.