Published on
December 21, 2023

Genesis 16

“Abram replied to Sarai, “Here, your slave is in your hands; do whatever you want with her. Then Sarai mistreated her so much that she ran away from her....”

Author Photo
Steve Wiggins
Author Photo
Steve Wiggins
Read Time
4 minutes
Genesis 16
“Abram replied to Sarai, “Here, your slave is in your hands; do whatever you want with her. Then Sarai mistreated her so much that she ran away from her. The Angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, the spring on the way to Shur. He said, Hagar, slave of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?”  Genesis 16:6-8a (HCSB)

Throughout my church experience, whenever Hagar has been mentioned, she has been vilified with the overtones of being the mother of radical Islam. That may be excessive criticism towards one whom the Lord blessed.  

Interestingly, God never pronounced Abram’s intimacy with Hagar a sin. What is clear is that Abram’s intimacy was a symbol of his intimacy with Egypt. Hagar was an Egyptian slave whom Sarai had obtained while in Egypt.  

It is important to remember that Abram profited from his sin in Egypt. All the while, Sarai suffered the personal burden of keeping Abram’s lie a secret as she fought to stave off the advances of Pharaoh. Similarly, Abram profited from his relations with Hagar at the emotional risk of Sarai. Old Abe had issues with passivity. Instead of taking God’s promises & direction at face value, Abram injected human reason to accomplish God’s purposes. Perhaps he was the “father of our faith” in more ways than one…

On both occasions, Sarai was left to fend for herself. Sarai’s reaction to Hagar’s pregnancy (which led to Hagar’s change of attitude) within the context of Sarai’s marriage relationship with Abram was an explosion of pent-up emotion against Abram’s neglect of her in Egypt. That’s not to say Sarai was justified in abusing Hagar. I simply want to paint an accurate emotional portrait of Abram and Sarai’s marriage.

So what of God’s response to Hagar and her unborn son? Today’s passage mentions the “Angel of the Lord” visited Hagar on the way back to Egypt. Shur was the boundary wall that protected Egypt from raiding nomads.  

The narrative beautifully illustrates the Lord’s regard for the saddened and abandoned soul. It is the first time “angel” is found in the Bible. The phrase “Angel of the Lord” denotes more than simply one of the Lord’s angels. Most theologians believe the Angel of the Lord to be the Messiah Himself. Remember, Messiah has existed from eternity past, and He will exist for eternity future. (Micah 5:2)  

It is important to note that even though God knows the outcome of our decisions, He still gives us the option to choose or reject Him. As for us, the results of our choices are generally a mystery right up to the point that we make them. So, do you know where you have come from and where you are going? Don’t go back to “Egypt,” as it were. Choose to trust the Lord and follow the Messiah, Jesus!

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