Genesis 16Amplified Bible
Sarai and Hagar
16 Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had not borne him any children, and she had an Egyptian maid whose name was Hagar. 2 So Sarai said to Abram, “See here, the Lord has prevented me from bearing children. I am asking you to go in to [the bed of] my maid [so that she may bear you a child]; perhaps I will [a]obtain children by her.” And Abram listened to Sarai and did as she said. 3 After Abram had lived in the land of Canaan ten years, Abram’s wife Sarai took Hagar the Egyptian [maid], and gave her to her husband Abram to be his [secondary] wife. 4 He went in to [the bed of] Hagar, and she conceived; and when she realized that she had conceived, she looked with contempt on her mistress [regarding Sarai as insignificant because of her infertility]. 5 Then Sarai said to Abram, “May [the responsibility for] the wrong done to me [by the arrogant behavior of Hagar] be upon you. I gave my maid into your arms, and when she realized that she had conceived, I was despised and looked on with disrespect. May the Lord judge [who has done right] between you and me.” 6 But Abram said to Sarai, “Look, your maid is entirely in your hands and subject to your authority; do as you please with her.” So Sarai treated her harshly and humiliated her, and Hagar fled from her.
7 But [b]the Angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, on the road to [Egypt by way of] Shur. 8 And He said, “Hagar, Sarai’s maid, where did you come from and where are you going?” And she said, “I am running away from my mistress Sarai.” 9 The Angel of the Lord said to her, “Go back to your mistress, and submit [c]humbly to her authority.” 10 Then the Angel of the Lord said to her, “I will greatly multiply your descendants so that they will be too many to count.” 11 The Angel of the Lord continued,
“Behold, you are with child,
And you will bear a son;
And you shall name him Ishmael (God hears),
Because the Lord has heard and paid attention to your persecution (suffering).
“He (Ishmael) will be a wild donkey of a man;
His hand will be against every man [continually fighting]
And every man’s hand against him;
And he will dwell in defiance of all his brothers.”
13 Then she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, “You are [d]God Who Sees”; for she said, “Have I not even here [in the wilderness] remained alive after [e]seeing Him [who sees me with understanding and compassion]?” 14 Therefore the well was called Beer-lahai-roi (Well of the Living One Who Sees Me); it is [f]between Kadesh and Bered.
15 So Hagar gave birth to Abram’s son; and Abram named his son, to whom Hagar gave birth, [g]Ishmael (God hears). 16 Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar gave birth to Ishmael.
The Word of God for the Children of God
Adeste Fidelis! Venite Adoremus! Dominum.
Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen.
Today’s story centers on the painful triangle of relationships between Abram, Sarai, and Sarai’s slave Hagar.
The ancient story contains moral weakness, self pity, jealousy, competition, contempt, scorn, rejection, revenge, meanness, and other emotional violence.
When the situation becomes unbearable, Sarai sends Hagar to Abram that Abram should have sexual relations with her and then bear the family a child.
A child is conceived and this is where things really break down.
Hagar looks down with jealousy and contempt upon Sarai in her infertility.
What had started with Sarai good intentions, her self sacrifice to give Abram a lasting hope for the continued future of his lineage, just turned seriously sour.
Sarai blamed Abram ….
Sarai wanted maximum accountability from Abram for Hagar’s behaviors.
5 Then Sarai said to Abram, “May [the responsibility for] the wrong done to me [by the arrogant behavior of Hagar] be upon you. I gave my maid into your arms, and when she realized that she had conceived, I was despised and looked on with disrespect. May the Lord judge [who has done right] between you and me.”
Abram washes his hands of the matter ….
6 But Abram said to Sarai, “Look, your maid is entirely in your hands and subject to your authority; do as you please with her.” So Sarai treated her harshly and she humiliated her, and Hagar fled from her.
But now she is in a desperate situation: pregnant and alone in the desert with barely enough provisions for survival.
It all began with a promise from God to secure Abram’s family future.
Time had lapsed and a hopeful, hope-filled promise turned into a situation of impatience and desperation, a lapse of personal faith in God to change lives.
We are greatly shocked by the sequence of events – great promise to an even greater descent into great jealously, rage, humiliation – threatening the family.
Putting the prospect of great hope in a blessed and abundant future in jeopardy.
But the one thing we notice which seems to be missing from this tragic story is anyone’s attempt to seek out God, to pray for change, courage, patience, mercy.
The one thing we do not see is any sincere desire for an “attitude adjustment.”
To caught up in their very raw emotions …. there is no offer of prayer to God.
This instantaneous moment when all Abram, Hagar and Sarai can see is each other trying to sort out an extraordinarily volatile situation by their own wills.
Was grace an unknown commodity?
Was the thought of compassion or mercy an unknown commodity lost to anger?
On the human side … very much so.
Too fast to respond with raw unfiltered emotions is all too soon our first hope, first response for lasting meaningful successful resolution to a hopeless cause.
But, what if we were to counsel these parties and try to insert a moment or two of “attitude adjustment” – set these people apart – insert another perspective?
Remind them in the midst of this, there’s grace and mercy in this raw story too.
Remind them and ourselves of the promise: the presence, sovereignty of God?
The name for God in this text draws from the Hebrew word ‘roi’, which has to do with “looking,” “appearance,” “seeing,” and “sight.”
Abram and Sarai seem to have lost their sight, vision, of God’s faithfulness.
Yet, alone and utterly forsaken in the desert—in her darkest moment—Hagar realizes that El Roi, “the God who sees,” sees her, has never lost sight of her.
Some choose to see God, envision God, prayed, inserted into their situations.
Look for hope in seemingly hopeless situations ….
Believe all things “impossible in our eyes” are always possible in God’s eyes.
Like Abram and Sarai (and perhaps us?) in that moment …. not so much ….
Don’t we all find ourselves at times in desperate situations?
Even if our circumstances are not desperate, they can certainly be difficult at times, and we can absolutely feel as if we will never have a hope for any future.
Life was harsh and difficult in those ancient of days and even today is difficult, and living in today as a Christian does not mean we are spared those difficulties.
As we will continue to confront and face illness, unemployment, heartache, broken relationships, separations and divorces and other moral challenges, we are always and forever will be confronted by this single fundamental question:
Is their an “Attitude Adjustment” anywhere in our futures?
Is there time for a “God sized” “Attitude Adjustment” anywhere in our plans?
Is God’s perspective going to be even minimally, voluntarily sought out?
Remember the faithful Promises of God for an abundant future of hope?
Not our own hope or lack of hope we exclusively reserved for ourselves?
Lose sight of God’s wisdom to know how we should respond to adversity?
Walk the narrow paths of God’s promises?
Walk the broad pathways which lead to our destruction? (Matthew 7:13-14)
Walk the path of faith or will we try to take matters into our own hands?
Abraham was a man who was just like us—he experienced both triumph and failure in his walk of faith.
God had personally promised Abram to make his family a nation and to bless the world through someone from that nation (Genesis 12:1-3).
Though childless, elderly Abraham and his wife, Sarah, would have their “very own son” who would be their heir (Genesis 15:4).
Abraham “believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness” an even Sarah herself received the ability to conceive Isaac. (Hebrews 11:8-11)
But after years and years of waiting, Abram and Sarai’s faith had wavered.
They were expecting God to act in good faith, but now had grown impatient.
Presumably, on a monthly basis, their hopes would rise and collapse—and with every passing month and year, Sarah grew older, sadder, and more impatient.
So it was that they reached an explosive crisis of faith.
They knew that God is real, that God is all-powerful, and that God had promised them a son, but they also knew they both got older and didn’t yet have a son.
Would they allow the questions of their hearts to overturn their faith or would they allow their vision of faith in God to overturn the questions of their hearts?
The verses above narrate the sorry conclusion: they took matters into their own hands, and the “best” solution that they adopted was a destructive self-effort.
In doubting and despair, Sarai ordered Abram to sleep with her maid servant, Hagar, in hopes of bringing about the promised child, and Abraham complied.
Perhaps this was acceptable practice in that time and culture, based on the idea that the children of such a union would belong to the owner of the slave-girl.
Abram undoubtedly informed Sarai of God’s promise to him, and Sarai perhaps thought that this was necessary in order to bring about God’s plan for them.
Ancient and Contemporary 20/20 hindsight being what it is, always will be;
It was the wrong decision.
Doubting that God would keep His promise, they instead sought to bring it about by their own (immoral) actions.
They made their decision based on expediency.
They didn’t ask, What is right?
They asked, What can we do for ourselves that will “work things out” for us?
They allowed pragmatism to be their guide over and against faith—and in doing so, they brought about more suffering, more pain, and more heartache for themselves and for Hagar.
They thought intervening by their own devices and their understanding of human nature would simplify things; instead, it complicated everything.
Making Attitude Adjustment, Leaving Matters in God’s Hands
Whenever we set faith aside and apply self-effort, we complicate our lives.
Whenever we seek to take things into our own hands and make our own plans instead of trusting God to keep His promises, we end up with chaos, heartache.
Faith and waiting go hand in hand.
Do not lose heart as you sit in life’s waiting rooms.
It is always right to wait upon God, and it is always right to wait for God.
God sees and knows everything and everyone.
We do not know everything and everyone.
But we can know God more than we do now – if we want to know Him more.
If we want to surrender the sum total of who we believe we are in our eyes.
What areas of life do we need to “make adjustments” to live this out today?
But even in times of hopelessness,
can we adjust our way of thinking an believing we are each Blessedly Assured:
El Roi, “the God who sees,” is 100% watching over us, 100% seeing us, 100% protecting, 100% providing for us all in our darkest hour of need (Psalm 23)?
It is too deep in our human nature, our bleakest moments we too feel all alone.
What is my natural response?
What is your natural response?
What is our natural response?
With a bit of tweaking (attitude adjustment) by the Lord our Savior,
By God’s matchless grace, faithful mercy. one and done forgiveness and love,
What might our “God-Adjusted” responses become?
Job 19:23-27Amplified Bible
Job Says, “My Redeemer Lives”
“Oh, that the words I now speak were written!
Oh, that they were recorded in a scroll!
“That with an iron stylus and [molten] lead
They were engraved in the rock forever!
“For I know that my Redeemer and Vindicator lives,
And at the last He will take His stand upon the earth.
“Even after my [mortal] skin is destroyed [by death],
Yet from my [immortal] flesh I will see God,
Whom I, even I, will see for myself,
And my eyes will see Him and not another!
My heart faints within me.
El Roi, “the God who sees,” has never lost sight of us, promises to care for us.
Surely, the Goodness and Mercy of God do follow us all the days of our lives!
What greater, more blessed assurance can we “adjust” ourselves to believing?
In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,
Let us Pray,
Psalm 16 The Message
16 1-2 Keep me safe, O God,
I’ve run for dear life to you.
I say to God, “Be my Lord!”
Without you, nothing makes sense.
3 And these God-chosen lives all around—
what splendid friends they make!
4 Don’t just go shopping for a god.
Gods are not for sale.
I swear I’ll never treat god-names
5-6 My choice is you, God, first and only.
And now I find I’m your choice!
You set me up with a house and yard.
And then you made me your heir!
7-8 The wise counsel God gives when I’m awake
is confirmed by my sleeping heart.
Day and night I’ll stick with God;
I’ve got a good thing going and I’m not letting go.
9-10 I’m happy from the inside out,
and from the outside in, I’m firmly formed.
You canceled my ticket to hell—
that’s not my destination!
11 Now you’ve got my feet on the life path,
all radiant from the shining of your face.
Ever since you took my hand,
I’m on the right way.
Adeste Fidelis! Venite Adoremus! Dominum.
Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen.