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El Roi - God of Hagar

Posted Dec 23, 2011 by Adrian Ebens in Devotional - Blog
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The story of Abraham, Sarah and Hagar is foundational the much of the history of the world. The nature of relations between these three is very instructive for us today.

The natural outworking of allowing Sarah's plan go into action, was to find Hagar fleeing from Sarah heading towards Egypt carrying Abraham's unborn child in her womb. The protective and leading hand of God led this poor, fearful and apparently destitute woman to a fountain in the desert.

It is at this point that the Angel of the Lord appears to her.

Gen 16:7 And the angel of the LORD found her by a fountain of water in the wilderness, by the fountain in the way to Shur.

This is the first time that the term "Angel of the LORD" occurs in Scripture. Why should this woman be favoured with a direct visit from the angel of the LORD? We do not have any record that this experience had occured with Abraham till this point in the story. The angel or messenger of the LORD states:

Gen 16:8-9 And he said, Hagar, Sarai's maid, whence camest thou? and whither wilt thou go? And she said, I flee from the face of my mistress Sarai. (9) And the angel of the LORD said unto her, Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hands.

The angel asks, where have you come from and where are you going. The heart of the conflict surfaces with the explanation that Hagar is fleeing from the harsh treatment of her mistress. The angel gives Hagar a condition of submission to Sarah and then a great promise:

Gen 16:10-12 And the angel of the LORD said unto her, I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, that it shall not be numbered for multitude. (11) And the angel of the LORD said unto her, Behold, thou art with child, and shalt bear a son, and shalt call his name Ishmael; because the LORD hath heard thy affliction. (12) And he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man's hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.

The response of Hagar is very important. She does not boast of these powerful gifts, nor mentioned them, but rather says:

Gen 16:13 And she called the name of the LORD that spake unto her, Thou God seest me: for she said, Have I also here looked after him that seeth me?

In this text we see that God Himself visited Hagar through His Arch Angel. Hagar calls Him El Roi - God sees me.

What a touching thought this is, that this visit from God told Hagar that He cared about her. He knew that she had been treated as a pawn in a game of Sarai's desire to deal with her shame of not producing Abraham an heir. God knew that Sarai's cool treatment towards Hagar contributed to Hagar despising Sarai. God knew that Sarai had treated Hagar harshly and that now she was fleeing she had a very uncertain future.

Many would reason that it would be better for Hagar to disappear in order that this bad situation could be solved. Yet Hagar carries the seed of Abraham, a seed that God later promised would be blessed.

Gen 17:20 And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation.

Does Sarah still treat Hagar harshly today? Does not Hagar despise Sarah and feel she is better than her? What was the instruction of the LORD

Gen 16:9 And the angel of the LORD said unto her, Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hands

It is through the submission to her mistress that Hagar obtained the promise that her son Ishmael would be a mighty seed. Hagar did go back and submit herself as she was asked. That would have been a very hard thing to do, yet she did this thing.

If Sarah and Hagar had learnt to love and respect each other, then maybe Ishmael might not have needed to leave causing great distress to Abraham. These questions we cannot answer, but we can know that when Hagar was about to disappear from history that God visits her, saves her life and preserves her son. Let us remember also that God gives Hagar the name for her son Ishmael - God will hear. What a beautful promise. Every time we hear the word Ishmael we are reminded that God will hear. Will bitterness and hatred continue to exist between Sarah and Hagar? Is there not a blessing for both of their sons? Can we find comfort in the God of Hagar, El Roi, the One who sees and therefore cares?