Continuing our ‘Names of God’ study, we take pause in Genesis 16. Giving a brief summary: Sarai & Abram have been promised a son, an heir in their old age. Sarai’s impatience motivates an assuming creative alternative – MAKE it happen – by giving one of her maidservants (Hagar*) to Abe (as was the custom of the day) so they can create a child with the family name. Like all ‘let me do it myself’ plans – it didn’t go so well. Hagar becomes pregnant, Sarai & Hagar get all ‘girl-fight’ on the issue, Sarai was rather harsh and Hagar runs off. There in the desert, Hagar is alone and upset… yet … she is found – by God. The Angel of the Lord calls her by name, “Hagar, servant of Sarai…” May we not miss the importance of this; Hagar was a slave, a servant, a title that considered her the property of another – BUT the title does not outweigh God-knew-her-name! We may be the wife of… the mother of … the employee of… the friend of… BUT God knows our name.
The Angel of the Lord speaks directly to her situation, (in short) the discussion leads to promises, promises that Hagar will see her son (Ishmael*) grow to be a nation. She once the run-off-slave now the heir of promises. Hagar ends the encounter by naming the Lord, ‘El Roi’ (EL-row-EE) the “God Who sees” – Hagar, the only person in the Bible to give a name to God.* The “God Who sees” – in the midst of rejection, anger, aloneness, hurt and yes, even a dysfunctional family – God sees!
The Psalmist wrote of the watchful eye of God over Israel, but we, who by the blood of Jesus share in the same seeing God. “The LORD Himself watches over you! The LORD stands beside you as your protective shade. The sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon at night. The LORD keeps you from all harm and watches over your life. The LORD keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever.” (121:5-8)
El Roi, the God Who sees me and sees …YOU!
In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love & good deeds.” – Hebrews 10:24)
*Hagar, the Egyptian servant (Gen. 16:1) – how did she join this Hebrew caravan? Remember when Abe took the family on a detour down to Egypt due to famine in the land, with the whole ‘Sarai is my sister’ facade. Well, before Pharaoh found out the truth and kicked Abe and all out of Egypt, he gifted Abe with “sheep and cattle, male and female donkeys, menservants and maidservants (Hagar) and camels.” (Genesis 12:16, emphasis mine) Note to self: DO NOT TAKE DETOURS; you never know what attachments might mess with your life and MANY others!
*Ishmael: Fascinating, when the Angel tells Hagar about her son there in the desert, he explains that Ishmael will be a donkey of a man, (nice warm fuzzies) his hand will be against everyone, and everyone against him, then at the very end of verse 12 (Gen. 16) ‘and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers.” Now skip to Genesis 25, it speaks of the descendants of Ishmael and “they lived in hostility toward all their brothers.” (v18) The ‘he’ turned into a ‘they.’ Also, interesting side note: Jumping WAY ahead: Josephs brothers and their jealous outburst of selling him off – look who they hand him off to, “So when the Midianite merchants came by, his brothers pulled Joseph up out of the cistern and sold him for twenty shekels of silver to the Ishmaelites, who took him to Egypt.” (Gen. 37:28) WOW. It was Abraham’s ‘other’ sons descendants who transported his great-grandson Joseph (of the true heir bloodline ‘Isaac’) into Egypt and we know what happens in Egypt.
*People gave names to places & altars on behalf of God’s actions, indicating a quality of God (I.e. Abraham called the place ‘The Lord Will Provide’ – Jehovah Jireh – Gen. 22:14 and Moses built an altar and called it ‘The Lord is my banner’ – Jehovah Nissi – Ex. 17:15-16). God refers to Himself as ‘God Almighty’ – El Shaddai – Gen.17:1 and through Jeremiah God speaks of the coming Messiah, King as ‘Jehovah our Righteousness’ – Yahweh Tsidqenu – Jeremiah 23:6. And at Moses’ request for God’s name, God responds, “I AM THAT I AM” (in short) ‘Yahweh’ – Ex. 3:14.
In conversations, we share life with others. We share our joys, our sorrows, our experiences. Have you noticed in these, we too develope our … comparisons. We mask them with a slight shrug of the shoulder and personal confessions of “I’m not there yet.” Not there yet? Where? There is the carrot and we are forever running after it, we keep it tied in front of us. But THERE it is. We are here, and NOT there. We want to do and be something other than we currently are. “They are!”
I am learning that whatever, wherever ‘there’ is, it is not up to others to criticize or define it for me. Family, friends, the church, yes they are a voice in my life, I honor, respect and consider their input. However, my there can only be found in God. So the one in the back row can hear it again, “Our there, our goal of growth is ONLY found in God.” The sad thing about the not there yet concept? We fail to live in the NOW! The road is so long. Face it, we will continue to be, ‘not’ something. Not thin, smart, rich, fit, strong, not happy, healthy, beautiful, unselfish … enough. The list is vast. We are continually discouraged in the dressing room of life, trying on things that don’t fit (yet) Please note, I am not negating discipline. If it is in our means to change, to grow effectively, with Jesus’ help, may we do so.
Remember the story of Hagar, Sarah’s Egyptian servant girl. Poor gal. She was just being obedient. She was told to go to Abe’s tent, um… etc. (See Genesis 16) Following this, where did she find herself? In the thick of life. Sarah became jealous and mistreated her. Hagar was hurt, frustrated, and confused, unable to process it all, she takes off, running away. God found her, where she was. He called her by name, it wasn’t “Hey you over there, you – the one with the bad attitude, yup the one who didn’t get it right!” He called her by name, “Hagar.”
God being God, asked her “Where have you come from and where are you going? By asking this question, (He already knew) they are now in the moment. It is God’s invitation, the initiation to process through the ‘stuff’ with Him. She shares her stuff, God proceeds to encourage her with His promises. I love how she wraps up her time with God, she calls Him, El Roi, (El- ro-ee) “You are the God who sees me, for I have now seen the One who sees me.”
The next time we are tempted to believe the LIE when we look at others and think since we are not yet there, (Examining their …season of life, maturity, positions, titles, strengths & gifting) thinking we are not good enough. Stop comparing, instead, focus on here and now, where God sees us! He calls us by name. Yes, He wants us to grow and go there, (HIS there) but He loves and accepts us where we are NOW. May we not only strive to be ‘there’, continuing to grow in and through our weakness to be like Him, but may we experience the ‘God who sees me.’ The God who extends love, grace, mercy, and strength.
Loved one, listen for El Roi, the God who says, lovingly, “I see YOU!” I see you NOW, who you are NOW, what you are NOW, I am the God of your NOW!” Stop, and engage with Him NOW! Your goal is not only there, but here, now.
Where are you going?
In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love & good deeds” – Heb. 10:24)