Death by Exposure: Part 1

Hagar was on the periphery of one of the most pivotal stories of human history. She was servant to Sarah, wife of Abraham. It had been revealed that Abraham and Sarah would miraculously conceive a son in their old age. And through this son, Abraham was to become the father of a nation — not just any nation, but the nation into which the Son of God would be born centuries later.

This glorious promise eventually degraded into a desperately devised work-around, however, as the patience of all parties began to wear thin. To keep the story short and discreet…Years went by, and no baby. Sarah suspects they must not have read the fine print. She wrongly concludes that God must need her strategic planning abilities. So, she offers Hagar as a surrogate. Abraham obliges. Hagar conceives. Sarah is jealous. A cat fight ensues.

Hagar runs away. But in the desert, she happens upon a spring. And at this spring, she meets an “angel,” or messenger. The messenger gives her advice (go back home) and provides some prophetic words about her son. He also tells her the reason for their encounter: “the Lord has heard of your misery.” (Genesis 16: 11) Suddenly, it seems there is a realization:

“You are the God who sees me…I have now seen the One who sees me.” (Genesis 16:13)

She is exposed. But she recognizes her audience. In that moment at the spring, she experiences a brief taste of the life to come when we will know as we are known. (1 Corinthians 13:12)

The story continues though. Hagar indeed bears a son. But wait…Sara eventually births the child that was originally promised. Now there are two women, each with a son of Abraham — the patriarch through whom great inheritance and blessing will come. Things are about to get ugly again. Such are the scenarios that keep tabloids in business. But throughout the pages of the Bible we find that God’s plans are far more glorious than the people through whom they are implemented. He therefore continuously works out work-arounds of his own.

Eventually Sarah is ready to be rid of her servant and, interestingly, God assures Abraham that yet another nation will come from Hagar’s boy but that he will need to let them go. Abraham provides some bread and water for their journey, then Hagar and her young son wander into the wilderness. Abraham’s provisions run out, but new provisions are about to be given.

 Genesis 21:15-20

15 When the water in the skin was gone, she put the boy under one of the bushes. 16 Then she went off and sat down about a bowshot away, for she thought, “I cannot watch the boy die.” And as she sat there, she began to sob. 17 God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. 18 Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation.” 19 Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. So she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink. 20 God was with the boy as he grew up. He lived in the desert and became an archer.

Once again, there is One who is watching and listening. There is a moment of revelation, and Hagar’s eyes are opened to a well of water that would restore hope.

Copyright © 2014. The Literate Lyoness.

trackMake your own tracks…Read Genesis 15-17, 21:1-21 for the full biblical backstory on this post. Don’t email me yet though. Part 2 is forthcoming.