Women of the Old Testament
By Emily Grace
Day 1 of 4: Hagar
The angel of the Lord found Hagar near a spring in the desert; it was the spring that is beside the road to Shur. And he said, “Hagar, slave of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?” “I’m running away from my mistress Sarai,” she answered. Then the angel of the Lord told her, “Go back to your mistress and submit to her.” The angel added, “I will increase your descendants so much that they will be too numerous to count.”
The angel of the Lord also said to her:
“You are now pregnant
and you will give birth to a son.
You shall name him Ishmael (which means God hears),
for the Lord has heard of your misery.
He will be a wild donkey of a man;
his hand will be against everyone
and everyone’s hand against him,
and he will live in hostility
toward all his brothers.”
She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me (El-roi).”
-Genesis 16:7-13 (NIV)
Since the Old Testament was written from the perspective of the Israelites, we often don’t get stories about God showing up for people of other cultures. However, this story about Hagar shows us that God does not just care for the wealthy, Jewish, male, leader of the tribe—Abram—but also cares for and sees the Egyptian servant who was raped by Abram and mistreated by Sarai. God made the same promise to Hagar that God made to Abram in the chapter right before this one: their descendants will be too many to count. That is a promise of security, prosperity, and legacy—not just for the Jews but for Hagar and her unborn son, as well!
How often do we assume God is not for us? There are so many voices saying that God is only for some people and not for others, but God does not just draw near to some—God also draws near to the immigrant, the woman, the rape victim, the outcast. We might expect a leader to look a certain way or come from a certain background, but God empowers not only Abram—the leader of the Israelites—but also Hagar, the foreigner and servant. God’s promise to her is exactly the same: “I will increase your descendants so much that they will be too numerous to count.” Why then do we think that we need to fit a mold to be loved, empowered, and seen by God? God is with you and sees you for exactly who you are.
When was a time in your life (recent or from a long time ago) that you’ve felt seen by God?