I have successfully completed a full week of the Bible in 90 Days challenge! I’ve read through all of Genesis and Exodus this week. I’m going to try to blog throughout the 90 days about things that stand out to me about my reading. This time around I want to talk about Hagar.
Who is Hagar? For her story, Wayne Blake has a summary of the verses dealing with her that you can check out. I have always felt badly for Hagar, whose very name means “flight” and “fugitive” in Egyptian. She was a slave of Abraham’s wife, Sarah and was given to Abraham by Sarah for the purpose of bearing a child. She would have had no choice in the matter which seems so unfair in light of my own cultural bias, but I know was a normal practice during her time. Still, when Hagar conceived she looked with contempt at Sarah and despised her and , as a result, was treated harshly by Sarah (Gen 16:6).
Because of her harsh treatment, she fled and God came to her. He asked her to do a hard thing, to return to Sarah, but He didn’t leave her without hope.
The angel of the Lord also said to her, ‘I will surely multiply your offspring so that they cannot be numbered for multitude.’ And the angel of the Lord said to her, ‘Behold, you are pregnant and shall bear a son. You shall call his name Ishmael, because the Lord has listened to your affliction.’ Genesis 16:10-11
Hagar recognizes in Genesis 16:13 that God is looking after her and she returns to Sarah.
Her trouble does not end when she returns, of course. After a time, Sarah and Abraham conceive Isaac. After Isaac is born and weaned, Sarah wants Hagar and Ishmael gone. So Abraham sends them away to wander in the wilderness. As a mother myself, I can only imagine how hard it was for her when she realized her water was gone. Not wanting to watch her child die, she left him, but God meets with Hagar once again.
And God heard the voice of the boy, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, ‘What troubles you, Hagar? Fear not, for God has heard the voice of the boy where he is. Up! Lift up the boy, and hold him fast with your hand, for I will make him into a great nation.’
Ishmael does indeed become a great nation. He had 12 sons and 2 daughters. Even though Hagar’s life was difficult, God seeks her in her most difficult moments.