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The God Who Sees Me

“Then she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, “You are a God who sees”; for she said, “Have I even remained alive here after seeing Him?” (Genesis 16:13)

I once worked with a woman who described her religious beliefs as “neo-Pagan.” She worshiped “Mother Nature” and exalted the “Power of the Feminine.” She liked to discuss matters of faith and would often tell me with great excitement of how she and her group would perform various ceremonies in the forests in order to incur the blessings of the “goddess.” She knew that I was a Christian which, in her eyes, was an equally valid “path” to knowing the Divine, just as hers was.

At one point, I was facing a difficult crisis in my life and this woman kindly expressed her concern for what I was going through. I thanked her and told her that I knew everything would be fine and that I was trusting God to bring me through it. I was absolutely shocked when she looked me in the eye and sadly replied, “Well, at least when you have problems you can pray to a God Who listens to you. All I can do is pray to a tree.”

Now, I acknowledge that there are likely many proponents of her belief system who would vehemently argue that the majority of those who practice it are not nearly so flippant about their devotion. I certainly am in no position to question the sincerity of any other “neo-Pagans.” All I know is that, in a moment of candor, this particular individual revealed her own view of the efficacy of her beliefs. In times of peace and tranquility, it seems that the esoteric nature of her religious practice was quite appealing, but she recognized that during her own moments of trial her object of worship was powerless to help her.

“[The Angel of the LORD] said, “Hagar, Sarai’s maid, where have you come from and where are you going?” And she said, “I am fleeing from the presence of my mistress Sarai.”Genesis 16:8)

Imagine Hagar, a woman who grew up in the land of Egypt with its pantheon of silent “gods” who neither see nor hear, who now suddenly hears the voice of the living God speaking to her in a remote wilderness. Calling her by name, He rhetorically asks from where she has come and to where she is going. Not only does she hear the audible voice of Deity, but this God is concerned about her. He is interested in her past and in her future, asking her where she has come from and where she is going. He knows who she is (“Hagar, Sarai’s maid”) and He has found her in this barren desert. Hagar has fled from the mistreatment of her mistress, Sarah, and has headed back toward the only other home she knew: the land of her birth, Egypt. It hardly seems likely that a young, pregnant woman could have survived the harsh and unforgiving wilderness through which she journeyed alone and without supplies, but anger over the abuses that others do to us can compel us to the rashest of decisions. Hagar seemed to have nothing in view, not even her own safety and that of her unborn child, but to be removed from the place of her torment. Now, she lay exhausted and alone by the side of the road in a vast wasteland. She probably felt that no one in the entire world cared whether she lived or died, yet God reached out to her in this desolate place.

As we read through the Bible, the focus is given so much to the key players in God’s plan that we can easily lose sight of the fact that the Lord is concerned with all people, not just those at “center stage.” The fate of Hagar has little bearing on what God is doing in the life of Abraham, and it seems that this episode of her flight into the desert could have easily been omitted entirely. Isaac is the son of promise, not Ishmael, so what difference does it make what happened to Hagar and her child? The difference is that it reminds all of us that God is concerned with even the “least” of us. What an awesome demonstration of the mighty love of God that He would come to this young lady on her way to Shur and reach out to her. Sarah may have hated her, and Abraham might have cared nothing about what happened to her (Genesis 16:6), but God cared.

Hagar immediately knew that this was not a “god” like any other Who spoke to her. He was a God Who sees. “Call his name Ishmael“, the Lord says of her coming offspring, God shall hear. Hagar can echo the declaration of Isaiah saying, Is the ear of God heavy that it cannot hear? (Isa. 59:1). She learns that there is a living God, the God of all, Who sees and hears and moves in the lives of man. He is not a dumb, lifeless idol who sits upon a shelf, nor is He a tree that cannot hear the prayers of people nor reach His hand out to help them, as my co-worker noted. Beer-lahai-roi, Hagar named the well where she met with Him, The well of Him that lives and sees me.

If you, like Hagar, have fled from your own place of calling; if you have rashly departed from the place where God has put you — is He not telling you the very same thing? Return, submit (v. 9). Go back to where He has brought you.  There is no record of a great reconciliation upon Hagar’s homecoming back to the house of Abraham, in fact, we see in Genesis 22:10 that Sarah most likely never got over her contempt for her handmaiden. But Hagar returned a changed woman, we can be certain. For now she had the promise of God given to her that her son would be the father of a great multitude of people. And, more importantly, she had the knowledge that God’s eye was upon her and His concern was with her, wherever it was that she may go.

To Jesus Christ goes all glory. In service to Him,

Loren

loren@answersfromthebook.org

[This post was originally published January 6, 2010]

**Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) © The Lockman Foundation and are used by permission.

[If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ or you are not certain where you are headed when this life ends, I invite you to read the article “Am I Going To Heaven?“]

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4 responses

  1. Loren,

    The story of your co-worker is so sad….. People can be so stubborn in sticking to a practice they actually know has no value or truth in it…..

    I have some questions in my mind about Hagar’s faith in God….. If Hagar continued to put her whole trust in the true God after her encounter with Him, why did Ishmael always mock Isaac?….. Where did Ishmael get such an attitude from?….. There has been conflict between Ishmael’s descendants and Isaac’s descendants throughout history — and, that is all in God’s hands….. There are so many mixed feelings and every person is individually accountable for their own faith or lack of faith…..

    God did make Ishmael a great nation as He promised….. And, God’s love for them is always sure….. Anyone who turns to the Lord in repentance will be saved, and that needs to be a turning in Christ….. That is something many of Ishmael’s descendants are not doing — yet….. Everybody needs to daily submit to the Lord, because we are so easily tempted to want to do things our way….. Guess I’m trying to say I just don’t know how God is working all things…. I’m not sure Hagar was submissive with a heart of faith and love, trusting always in the Lord….. One thing is sure, we all need to submit to God’s will and continually look to His love and promises in Christ.

    Margaret

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  2. Margaret,

    You have brought up some very interesting points about Hagar and just how much this encounter with the Lord at the well really affected her. Did Hagar come to a place of trusting God and placing her faith in Him? Did she come to a place of what we might call a saving faith? No, she certainly did not.

    Scripture is silent as to the conversations that transpired between Hagar and her son, Ishmael, but it is very likely that she maintained a defiant attitude toward her mistress, albeit a more passive and secretive one. What did she teach her son about the promise that God had revealed to her? If you ask a Muslim theologian today, he will proudly tell you that he is a son of Abraham through Ishmael and that his father, Ishmael, was the true son of promise. Did Hagar herself misinterpret what God was telling her and pass this interpretation on to her son and subsequently to her descendants through him? We do not know, but such a conclusion would explain the child’s prideful disposition and his contempt for Isaac (Gen. 21:9).

    I do believe that Hagar was changed by her encounter with the “Angel of the Lord” at Beer-lahai-roi, but I do not believe that it was a change likened to that of the re-birth of the believer in Christ. I would not characterize her as coming to an abiding trust in God Almighty at this point, but more of coming to an expanded view of who this God of her master Abraham really was. She learned that God is the One Who is in control of all things, even her own situation, and that He is a God Who sees, hears, and is concerned with the affairs of mankind.

    Paul describes Hagar as being an allegory for the Law of Moses (Galatians 4:24-25) and, as such, we can safely conclude that she never entered into the saving grace that comes from a faith wholly invested in God. Law can only bring a person to a realization that they are in need of grace, it has no power in itself to save. Hagar remained under bondage and neither her nor her son became heirs with the son of promise, the son of grace (Gal. 4:30), but were cast aside.

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  3. Loren,

    Right on!…. You have said it well….. And, in considering your co-worker, she, too, was living under her own perception of a law — an obligation to nature worship….. Maybe she felt obligated because of the people she socialized with — or maybe someone had convinced her that nature worship was the way to go at one time and as time went on she didn’t want to renege on her promise to be true to that concept….. People can have very unreasonable reasons for clinging to various forms of man-made “laws”.

    It seems that human pride is behind the refusal to accept God’s grace and salvation through Jesus Christ alone….. People want to set up their own parameters for getting saved and do it all by themselves….. They are too proud to admit their total depravity.

    Margaret

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  4. […] in Abraham’s household. The first instance where we are told about the Well is when the Angel of the Lord appears to Hagar after she flees from her mistress, Sarah (Gen. 16:7-16). It was there that Hagar had a revelation of the love and concern that God has for even the outcast […]

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