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, and sharing life with others; we share our joys, our sorrows, and our experiences. Have you noticed in these, we too share our comparisons? We mask them with closing statements of “I’m not there yet.” Not there yet? Meaning, there is a goal, and we fall short. THERE is the carrot, and we are ever running after it, tumbling, tripping along the way – but THERE it is. We are here, and NOT there. We want to do and be something other than we are.
I am learning our there can only be found in God. HE is the blueprint Designer of our life. (read that again) Not friends, not co-workers, not church leaders and most assuredly not ourselves. The sad thing about the not there yet concept, we are continually striving, reaching for there, yet fail to live in and appreciate the NOW! Don’t get me wrong, we are called to growth, but not set in the environment of defeat!
Remember the story of Hagar, (poor gal) she was a by-product of Abram’s detour, he treks off to Egypt due to lack of food in the area and while there, acquires massive amounts of animals and what else? Maidservants. (Genesis 12:16) She was just being obedient when told to go to Abe’s tent … etc … etc … etc. (see chapter 16) Following this, where did she find herself? In the ‘ick’ of life. If I could interject just for a moment, the struggle we all face, the thought, the attitude, “If I were a better woman/man, I would __________ ” (and we fill in the blank). We are our best critic; we long to be and do it ALL better. Yet when we don’t, our mindset is, ‘just not there yet,’ and consider ourselves a failure.
I am sure Hagar felt the same way, if I were a better woman, a better servant, I could handle this. Hurt, frustrated, and confused, she takes off and runs away. Yet God found her, where she was. He called her by name, it wasn’t “Hey you, over there, yep you the one that everyone hates, the one who didn’t get it right,” He called her by name, “Hagar.”
God asks her questions, not that He doesn’t know the answers, but by asking these questions, God is inviting her to process through the ‘stuff’ with Him. “Where have you come from and where are you going? She shares her ‘ick’, and God encourages her with His promises. What a deal, our ick for His promises! I love how she wraps up her time with God; she calls Him El Roi… “You are the God who sees ME, for I have now seen the One who sees ME.” (v 13, emphasis mine)
The next time we are tempted to believe the LIE that since we are not there yet, we are not good enough. Instead, we focus on here and now, where God sees us! He calls us by name and extends love, grace, mercy, and strength.
Loved one, do you need to be seen by the One who sees you? He does. Hear His whisper, “I see YOU!” I see you NOW, who & what you are NOW, I will not love you any more than I do now, when you get to where you think you need to be!”
Looking to His design, ever growing, not there yet, but by golly, He sees me here and now. (Head bowed).
In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love & good deeds.” – Hebrews 10:24)