Posted in theology

The Lord’s tenderness

By Elizabeth Prata

I was reading Genesis 16 & 21, Hagar. I love the Hagar scenes. I admit that the Woman at the well and the Hagar scenes are dear to me and I love those passages. I am amazed with how wonderful the Savior is.

Two of my favorite scenes in the Bible are the Woman at the Well, and Hagar in the Wilderness. In the former, the Lord ministered to a marginalized woman whose sins had given her an illustrious reputation which preceded her wherever she went.

Hagar was Abraham’s slave and her sin was forced upon her: Sarah (Sarai) concocted a plan to hurry-up God’s plan to get the promised child. She convinced Abram to use Hagar as the maternal vessel. When Hagar became pregnant, Sarah’s jealousy grew, and Sarah death harshly with Hagar.

But Abram said to Sarai, “Behold, your servant is in your power; do to her as you please.” Then Sarai dealt harshly with her, and she fled from her. The angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, the spring on the way to Shur. And he said, “Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?” She said, “I am fleeing from my mistress Sarai.” (Genesis 16:6-8).

The Angel of the LORD is interpreted to be Jesus, pre-incarnate. He told Hagar to go back and to submit, and she did. Genesis 16 has the full account.

The child born to Abraham and Hagar was Ishmael, but as Ishmael grew, Sarah became jealous again. Dissension came up between the two women. Sarah expelled Hagar from the community and with her child, Hagar fled to the desert.

The wilderness is a harsh place and when the water in her pouch ran out, Hagar knew that death would soon come. She placed the boy down near bushes and went to die herself a little ways off, not bearing to see the death of her child.

Again The LORD came to Hagar, this time by voice, and comforted her.

Then she went and sat down opposite him a good way off, about the distance of a bowshot, for she said, “Let me not look on the death of the child.” And as she sat opposite him, she lifted up her voice and wept. 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.” Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water. And she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink.” (Genesis 21:16-19)

Hagar and Ismael’ by Jean-Charles Cazin. 1841-1901, work painted before 1880. Musée d’Orsay artwork ID: 69708. Source Wikimedia Commons

Can you imagine? Being a slave? The owner taking you sexually? The wife mistreating you? Preparing to die in the desert? Worst, preparing to watch your son die in the desert? And you thought you had a bad day!

Both times Hagar was in the wilderness, God immediately heard the plea of her heart and the piteous lonely cries from her mouth. He asked her a similar question as He had asked Adam, “Where are you?” (Genesis 3:9, Genesis 16:8). Both times Jesus was dispatched to provide life to her, with water. Jesus is the Living Water. He gives life and He sustains life.

Our God is mighty. He is sovereign. He has His plan, which none can thwart. Yet He is tender, and caring, and gentle with His people. I hope the beauty of the painting and the even greater beauty of the Word comforts you today. Cast all your cares upon Jesus, who is the Living Water.

Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” (John 7:38)

Author:

Christian writer and Georgia teacher's aide who loves Jesus, a quiet life, art, beauty, and children.

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