Hagar and the Angel of the LORD

16: 7-14

DIG: How does the LORD comfort the oppressed Hagar? Why does He insist that she submit to Sarai’s authority? What do His dealings with Hagar teach us about Him? Why do you think ADONAI’s treatment of Hagar gave her the courage to return to Sarai? Did God’s love stop for Ishmael after his descendantd became a great people, or would He continue to love them?

REFLECT: From what are you tempted to run? Where have you seen the LORD lately? As a result of that encounter, what name would you give to God or to the place where you met Him?

Eventually the mistreatment at the hands of Sarai became so unbearable that Hagar ran away. She was so desperate that she ran out into the desert. This would have most likely meant death to her and certainly to the child she was carrying.273

The Angel of the LORD, or Malach ADONAI, found Hagar near a spring in the desert (16:7a). This is the first appearance of the Angel of the LORD in the TaNaKh. This is a unique Person. He is called the Angel of the LORD 58 times and He is called the Angel of God 11 times. This is never a common angel, but the second Person of the Trinity, Jesus Christ. This is always a reference to the pre-incarnate Messiah. Significantly, the rabbis teach that the phrase the Angel of the LORD is sometimes used to denote God Himself. Indeed, when this phrase appears He may be referred to as an angel, but somewhere else in that context, He is referred to as ADONAI Himself. We see the same thing here.

He found her near a spring in the Negev desert. It was the spring that is beside the road to Shur (16:7b). The road to Shur was a major highway between Egypt and the land of Canaan (20:1, 25:18; Exodus 15:22; First Samuel 15:7, 27:8), so this shows that Hagar had fled and she was now in the border area between the Sinai and the Negev desert. There was Hagar, who had fled from her master and mistress. She was sitting there, without anything left. As she had fled, she had not received a donkey, sheep or goat. Probably not even any food or drink. She had nothing. Rejected, mistreated, a slave, a nobody. Several months pregnant and without hope, in a lonely, forgotten place.

But ADONAI saw her and had compassion on this nobody, who represents millions of nobodies, dressed in black today, slaves to their husbands, and told that they will be like wood for the fire of hell. And God called outto her, “Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?” Hagar most likely had no personal relationship with the LORD. She may have heard about Him from Abram, but she didn’t cry out to Him. So God, in His mercy,made the first move and reached out to her.

He didn’t merely send an ordinary angel to comfort her. He sent His Son, Yeshua Messiah. The Angel of the LORD would appear later in the Bible, often in unique times. He can be seen when Abraham offered Isaac on Mount Moriah (22:13), in the burning bush on Mount Sinai (Exodus 3:2), sitting down with Gideon under the oak in Ophrah (Judges 6:11-22), appearing to Samson’s parents (Judges 13:1-24), and when He put to death a hundred and eighty-five thousand Assyrian soldiers getting ready to invade Jerusalem in the days of Hezekiah (Isaiah 37:36). Hagar was privileged to be the first person to be honored with His visit. He must have loved her dearly. Jesus Christ continues to reveal Himself to many of Ishmael’s descendants today. He also loves them very much and wants to call them by name so they can know Him personally.

She answers the first question: I am running away from my mistress Sarai, she answered (16:8). But she doesn’t answer the second question because she seems to be wandering aimlessly far from home, not sure of her future at all. One of the great characteristics of God is that He is always out looking for the lost.

Then the Angel of the LORD told her, “Go back to your mistress and submit to her” (16:9). The divine presence called for obedience to His divine will. She returned to her mistress and accepted her position. It had not been ADONAI’s will for this union between Abram and Hagar to take place; but now that it had, He would make a gracious promise to their descendants.274

The Angel makes a specific prophecy and speaks as God Himself when He says: I will so increase your descendants that they will be too numerous to count (16:10). ADONAI had promised Abram to make his descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky (15:5). The Patriarchs received such a promise, but Hagar is the only woman to receive such a promise. And even though Ishmael was not the child of promise, the LORD graciously promised Hagar to also bless the fruit of her womb. The Bible tells us that Ishmael would be the father of twelve tribes (25:12-18). Later, Abram would pray a blessing for Ishmael (17:18). God told him that He would indeed bless Ishmael, just as He had promised his mother Hagar at the well. As a result, ADONAI honored the child that was born from unbelief and chose to bless him greatly also.

In fact, one person can only become a great people when God blesses the womb of the mothers, protects them from sickness, their enemies and bless them with food and drink. The descendants of Ishmael lived in some of the harshest places on earth, the edges of deserts where there was little food and water. No wonder Ishmael became an archer, hardly anything would grow there. But evidently the LORD blessed Ishmael’s descendants as He did when the Israelites traveled through the desert. And as for Ishmael, I have heard you: I will surely bless him. I will make him fruitful and will greatly increase his numbers. He will be the father of twelve rulers, and I will make him into a great nation (17:20). Such is God’s love for Ishmael and his descendants.

The pre-incarnate Messiah also said to her, “You are now with child and you will have a son. You shall name him Ishmael, which in Hebrew means God hears, for the LORDhas heard of your misery” (16:11). God has named very few people. Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz (Isaiah 8:3) was given his name after his birth. Sha’ul had his name changed to Paul (Acts 13:9) and Jesus changed the name of Simon to Kefa (Matthew 16:17-18). Isaac (17:19), Jesus (Matthew 1:21; Luke 1:31), and John the Baptist (Luke 1:13) were named before their births. Ishmael, however,was the first unborn child named by ADONAI Himself.

But the name itself had to be a great encouragement to Hagar. In the midst of her distress and weeping ADONAI was saying to her, “I hear you.” By naming the child Ishmael, which means God hears, every time Hagar thought of her son or looked at her son, she would be reminded that God had heard her at the lowest point of her life. The LORD had heard her misery. What a comfort to know that God hears of and sees our misery today. He is concerned and will act on our behalf if we believe in Him (see my commentary on The Life of Christ Bw - What God Does For Us at the Moment of Faith)

Today, the descendants of Ishmael cry out five times a day, “Merciful God, show us the straight way.” God hears. So many live in misery, under the yoke of government corruption and harsh religious regulations. But God hears. ADONAI has placed His Son, Jesus (or Esa) within the pages of the Koran. The citations below are all listed from The Meaning of the Glorious Koran, translated by Mohammed Marmaduke Pickthall: A mentor Religious Classic, The New American Library, New York, New York, fifth printing, 1956.

(1) Esa was sent by Allah, who supported Him with the Holy Spirit to tell the world of Allah’s will (2:87; 5:110-117);

(2) Allah gave Esa to the world, exalted Him above all others, and supported Him with the Holy Spirit as proof of His sovereignty (2:253);

(3) Allah caused the miracle birth of John the Baptist to the aged Zechariah and his barren wife so John could be the messenger to announce Jesus as the Messiah (3:33-41);

(4) Allah appointed Mary to be the virgin mother of Esa, the Messiah (3:42-45, 19:12-22, 21:90);

(5) Yeshua would be righteous [sinless] all His life (3:46, 6:86, 19:19);

(6) Esa would be raised from the dead (19:33-34);

(7) Esa, the Messiah and son of Mary, crucified, appeared dead, He did not appear to be alive because He was dead (4:157-158, 3:55);

(8) Yeshua was a messenger of Allah, who is to be believed (4:171);

(9) Allah taught Jesus His religion and commanded Him to establish it (42:13, 43:63);

(10) Allah caused Esa, son of Mary, to follow [the prophets], gave Him the Gospel, and placed compassion and mercy in the hearts of those who follow Him (57:27);

(11) Allah strengthened the group of Jews who believed Esa and His message, so they overcame those who disbelieved (61:14);

(12) the true message of Jesus and the prophets was perverted by religious leaders who were condemned by Allah (9:31);

(13) long before the Prophet Muhammad, Allah revealed the Torah and the Gospel for the guidance of mankind (3:3-4, 48, 65);

(14) Allah taught Jesus the Scriptures and wisdom, and the Torah and the Gospel. Allah would do miracles through Esa and make Him a messenger to Isra'el (3:48-49);

(15) Allah gathered Yeshua and caused Him to be resurrected and ascended to Allah himself (3:55, 4:158);

(16) Allah bestowed the Gospel on Esa to be the light of the world (5:46);

(17) observing the Torah and the Gospel brings nourishment from above (5:66);

(18) those who went astray from Allah’s commands were cursed by both David and Yeshua (5:78);

(19) Allah inspired Esa’s disciples to believe in Him and His message (5:78);

(20) Esa and His disciples were Allah’s helpers (61:6 and 14);

(21) followers of Muhammad are commanded to believe in all that was revealed to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, and that which Moses and Jesus received (2:136)

(22) the surrender, al-Islam – means that Islam and Muslims are to be surrendered to Allah’s will and guidance as had been revealed to Abraham by God and explained by Esa (3:19).

It is impossible for Muhammad to replace Jesus. There can be only one Messiah. Jesus did Messiah’s work (opening heaven) 550 years before Islam’s prophet was born. Only belief in the resurrected Christ can make it possible for a person to enter the Kingdom.

With regards to Ishmael, the NIV and most translations are bias against him. Some words used below have a wide semantic range and can be taken either positively or negatively. Because many translators have this bias, they translate these verses negatively. Let’s take a closer look at Genesis 16:12 - this most controversial verse.

He will be a wild donkey of a man (16:12a). Bible interpreters have taken this to point out to the wildness and aggressiveness of the Arabs. However, donkeys are social animals who are herbivores and do not have the capacity to kill other animals. What does ADONAI Himself say about the wild donkey? When speaking to Job about His ability to control the universe, ADONAI said to him: Who let the wild donkey go free? Who untied his ropes (Job 39:5)? Even the mere act of releasing wild donkeys out in the desert where they roamed free was beyond Job’s ability. Thus, when the Bible points us to wild donkey’s, it is a picture of them being free animals, unlike domesticated ones who are bound. The footnote in the NIV merely says that a wild donkey means away from human settlements. Therefore, we must conclude that God told Hagar, a slave herself, that her son would be a free man.

Today we see most of Ishmael’s descendants living as slaves, bound by the regulations of Islam. Yet Isaiah prophesied that the people of the Arabian Peninsula would worship the Messiah one day (see my commentary on Isaiah Jv – The Attraction of the Gentiles). This means that multitudes of Ishmael’s descendants are yet to enter into the freedom that comes from following the Way (Acts 9:2), and being freed by Jesus from the slavery of religious systems that started in Babylon and are perpetuated by Satan today.

His hand will be (upon) upon everyone (16:12b). The NIV translates this in a negative sense: His hand will be against everyone. Other valid translations of the Hebrew preposition are on, or upon. This means his influence will be (on) upon everyone (First Samuel 5:6; Second Samuel 24:17; Second Kings 3:15; Nehemiah 2:8; Job 9:33; Psalm 139:5; Isaiah 8:11; Ezeki'el 21:3), and indeed it has been. It is important to note that the preposition used by the Jewish scholars when translating the Hebrew into Greek used the verb to lay on. The B’rit Chadashah expression is to lay hands on. Such as: Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through a prophetic message when the body of elders laid their hands on you (First Timothy 4:14; also see Acts 13:3; First Timothy 5:22 and Hebrews 6:1-3).

And live to the east of (16:12c). Once again the NIV negatively translates and everyone’s hand against him (16:12c). However, the NIV footnote says that the Hebrew could also be translated live to the east of. Again, in a literal sense this is quite true of the sons and daughters of Ishmael.

And he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren (16:12d NKJV). The NIV translates this verse: And he will live in hostility toward all his brothers because of the negative interpretation of the wild donkey.275 When we look at this verse in a new light, we can see that it is God’s plan to save millions of Arabs (see my commentary on Revelation Fk – Gentiles in the Messianic Kingdom).  While we know very little about the rest of Ishmael’s life there are two short scriptures that speak volumes.

First, Abraham’s sons, Isaac and Ishmael, buried their father together in the cave of Machpelah near Mamre, in the field of Ephron son of Zohar the Hittite, the field Abraham had bought from the Hittites. There Abraham was buried with his wife Sarah (25:9-10). This leads us to believe that the two brothers had a good relationship with each other. It is true that after Isaac was born, Hagar was furious over her treatment by Sarah. She influenced Ishmael, who ended up mocking his younger brother resulting in both Hagar and Ishmael being sent away by Abraham. But it was very unlikely that the toddler Isaac had any memory of the mocking that infuriated Sarah so much.

Secondly, years later, Isaac’s son Esau married a daughter of Ishmael (28:9). Marriages only took place with the consent of both fathers. If the father was incapable or dead, the oldest son would take his place. Ishmael had died at least fifteen years before Esau approached his family. Had Ishmael’s son Nebaioth been resentful that Isaac was the son of promise and full heir to Abraham’s wealth, even though his father was the firstborn, he would not have given his sister to Esau. Instead, he did not object and the marriage took place. It seems that Ishmael had experienced healing through the blessing of his twelve sons as God had promised (17:20).

Therefore, we can see that the Israelites and the Ishmaelites had very few problems (aside from the Midianites), with each other before the Messiah came. After the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in 70 AD, many Jews went to live in Arabia. To date there are Jewish communities in the Arabian Peninsula. In the sixth century, a Jewish king even reigned over South Arabia. Only with the coming of Islam did the hostility of the Jews surface. But the Jews, secular or messianic did not, and still do not, accept Muhammad as a prophet of God. Gentile believers didn’t either. The biggest sin that a Muslim can commit is to confess that God has a partner. Every day during the call to prayer, the muezzin proclaims that God has no son. The Muslims have learned to hate those who worship the Meshiach because, according to them, all Jewish and Gentile believers commit the greatest sin. But Muhammad will not have the final word, says: The desert tribes will bow down before Him and His enemies will be like the dust (Psalm 72:9).

She gave this name to ADONAI who spoke to her: El Ro’i “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me” (16:13). She was overwhelmed by the fact that the LORD personally took an interest in her while she was in misery. God sees everything that happens in our lives. In the midst of suffering, God sees us. He does not merely watch us struggle from far away; He comes to us, touches our spirits, and gives us strength to endure the trials of life.

That is why the well was called Beer Lahai Roi,which means the well of the Living One who sees me, it is still there, between Kadesh Barnea (Numbers 20:1) and Bered (16:14). May the LORD Himself find us at the well as He did Hagar of old, and may it be ours, as it was hers, to hear Him and see Him.276 As He Himself said: If anyone is thirsty, let them come to Me and drink. Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within them (John 7:37).


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