Friday, June 21, 2013


N.B. All JUNE posts are excerpts from All the Women of the Bible

I did NOT author this post. I am STILL PROCESSING it because the piece is so good! Each time I read about Hagar, I get angry with Abraham! His choice caused trouble still reverberating generations later. Hagar was the victim of Abraham’s ill-advised action. She was a mere slave in his household. In other words, she was not an “at-will” employee who could rebuff Abraham's sexual advances. Hagar was a slave subject to the commands and whims of her owners.

I can imagine when her boss, Sarah, told Hagar to have sex with Abraham, Hagar felt bone crushing pain - inside. First, because she was being forced to procreate; that with her boss’s husband and with an old man – Abraham was 76 years old when Ishmael was born! Then, Hagar had to allow this man,  of a strangely different culture than her own Egyptian one, to father this child she knew could never be her own. She would be forced to hand the heir over to  her frustrated, mean, childless boss, Sarah. Awful dynamics. They get weirder.

I am willing to believe Hagar held out hope that bearing such indignities, child included, could be assuaged by having a son which, in turn, would give her status within the household and increased value in the eyes of her owners. Didn’t happen.

Abraham should have told Sarah an unequivocal, “No! No, I am not having sex with that woman. God made a promise to me and I believe Him.”

With unwavering conviction, he should have told his aching wife, Sarah,“I am having that baby with you, Honey. Hang in there. This thing will happen. And besides that, I don’t want Hagar involved in our promise, ok?”

But he didn’t refuse Sarah's anxiety ridden request. He didn’t calm her with words of faith. He did the dirty with the slave maid and there came Ishmael.

Admittedly, I am foisting my 21st century, Western sensibilities onto the ancient circumstance. I am blissfully choosing to ignore my familiarity with that practice of old. Still, I posit that had Abraham “manned up,” held his “manhood” in check, exercised his godly authority as head of the household refusing his wife’s distraught request, the painful results we see today would have been avoided.

Hagar, I am sorry you were forced to play understudy in Abraham and Sarah’s dream. The promise was never made to you; no role drawn up for you. You had to improvise. I thank God He delivered you from their nightmare. Read on…

The Flight of Hagar

Strife quickly followed the human arrangement that Sarah had made. Having conceived by Abraham, Hagar chides the childless Sarah, and the jealousy begotten between these two women was transplanted to their maternal hearts and penetrated even their children. Ishmael came to tease and vex Isaac, and discord arose between Abraham and Sarah. The ill treatment accorded to Hagar by Sarah was not only cruel, but also irrational. Had Sarah not instigated the wrongdoing that was the cause of her jealousy? Therefore it was unreasonable for her to lay the blame upon another. As things were, mistress and maid could scarcely dwell together, so Hagar fled. Better a flight than a fight! Being compelled to flee was a thing forbidden to a bondwoman.
Far from home in “the way to Shur,” the appearance of a calm and gracious angelic messenger from God must have been a relief to the poor, pregnant fugitive. As Hagar traveled further from her jealous mistress the Lord was at her heels, and said to her in her distress, “Return to thy mistress.” Hagar had left her position as handmaid without notice and without permission, so she must return. Sarah had wronged her, but she was not permitted to retaliate by doing wrong herself. Two wrongs do not make a right. It was no easy matter for Hagar to return and submit herself to Sarah, but it was the only right course, and a divine revelation helped her to pursue it.
At that renowned well Hagar met God, and in awe cried, “Thou God seest me.” He had given her counsel, and although not pleasing to flesh and blood, Hagar took it and went back to Sarah. Had she persisted in remaining in the desert she might have died in it. God gave her a promise that although the wrongdoing of her master and mistress had led her into a false position, yet His favor would rest upon her and she would have a son who would be the progenitor of a great multitude. The soothing promise of God was a balm for the wounded spirit of the poor and lowly handmaid. Though Ishmael, the name God gave Hagar for her coming son, might not be the Child of Promise as Isaac would be, yet he would be the child of a promise made to her.
Is it to be wondered at that she called the well where God spoke to her and revealed the future of her son “Beth-lahairoi,” meaning, “The well of Him that liveth and seeth me”? It was there that the veil fell from Hagar’s eyes, and she received the assurance that she was the object of God’s special care. Dr. Alexander Whyte extols Hagar for her submission to God in this glowing fashion—
Hagar, by reason of the extremity of her sorrow; by reason of the utter desolateness and brokenness of her heart; and by reason of the sovereign grace and abounding mercy of God—Hagar, I say, stands out before us in the very foremost rank of faith, and trust, and experience, and assurance. Hagar, to me, stands out among God’s very electest saints. Hagar has only one or two who can stand beside her in her discovery of God, in her nearness to God, in her face-to-face fellowship with God, in the instructiveness, in the comfort, and in the hopefulness of her so close communion with God.... The best and the most blessed of them all was not more or better blessed than was Hagar the polluted outcast on her weeping way to Shur. The pure in heart shall see God.

- Still Processing

Monday, June 10, 2013


N.B. All JUNE posts are excerpts from All the Women of the Bible

I did NOT author this post. Because the piece is so good, I am STILL PROCESSING it myself. One of the lessons illustrated here is that even the strongest Believers falter - in their faith, in their decision-making. Sarah was a godly woman who had seen Yahweh miraculously perform multiple times in her life. Yet, she stumbled at the promise she wanted to see fulfilled more than anything else she had ever hoped for in her life - having a baby with her husband, Abraham. Perhaps growing tired of the 25 year wait after receiving God's word about having that son or perhaps trying to comprehend how she could now conceive since she was already ninety years old,  Sarah's despondency catapulted her to the actions you must read below:

The Folly of Sarah
We have already seen that Sarah’s folly had its root in unbelief. She was impatient, and wanted the promised child without delay. Her unbelief became contagious for “Abraham hearkened unto her voice.” The pious phrases she uttered were worthless. “The Lord judge” (16:5). She should have appealed for judgment to the Lord before she took the wrong step. She was a godly woman (Hebrews 11:11), but fell into the meshes of unbelief. With distrust there came dishonor. She confessed “my wrong,” but Hagar was the real sufferer, and Sarah’s sin bore bitter fruit, for when she gave Hagar to Abraham, she originated a rivalry which has run in the keenest animosity through the ages, and which oceans of blood have not quenched.

- Still Processing

(see HAGAR III for more about the fallout Sarah's act of desperation continues to have on her descendants)


N.B. The posts for all of JUNE are excerpts from All the Women of the Bible

I did NOT author this post. Because the piece is so good, I am STILL PROCESSING it myself. I want to share with you how El Shaddai cleaned up the mess HAGAR and others made of her life. His redemption intersected at a miracle of mercy and fulfilled promises for Hagar, Sarah and Abraham, in spite of their recklessness. The take-away is Yahweh is good in spite of our folly that can and should be an offense to Him.  That point is so poignantly and generously made in  Psalm 103 (The Voice)

"8 The Eternal is compassionate and merciful. When we cross all the lines, He is patient with us. When we struggle against Him, He lovingly stays with us—changing, convicting, prodding. 9 He will not constantly criticize, nor will He hold a grudge forever. 10 Thankfully, God does not punish us for our sins and depravity as we deserve. In His mercy, He tempers justice with peace. 11 Measure how high heaven is above the earth; God’s wide, loving, kind heart is greater for those who revere Him. 12 You see, God takes all our crimes—our seemingly inexhaustible sins—and removes them. As far as east is from the west, He removes them from us."

The Woman Who Lost a Bottle But Found a Well
Scripture ReferencesGenesis 16; 21:9-17; 25:12; Galatians 4:24, 25

Name Meaning—Hagar, an Egyptian name, closely resembles the root of the Arabic, flight, familiar to us as the history of Mohammed, descendant of Hagar. It may be taken as an adaptation of her original name to the principal circumstances of her life, and understood to mean, fugitive or immigrant, which Hagar became.
Family Connections—While the Bible gives us no record of Hagar’s genealogy, legend has supplied her pedigree, as being the daughter of Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, the same who coveted the possession of Sarah in vain. This legendary source affirms that the Egyptian princess became so attached to Sarah that she told her royal father that she would accompany her when she returned to Abraham.

     “What!” cried the king, “thou wilt be no more than a handmaid to her!”

     “Better to be a handmaid in the tents of Abraham than a princess in this palace,” the daughter replied.

Hagar would not stay behind and join again in the idolatrous rites of her home, so when Abraham and Sarah moved on, she went with them. Sarah was an active missionary of the faith of Jehovah among women, as Abraham was among men, and so Hagar became a convert to the worship of the true God. While this is a pleasing tradition, the likelihood is that Hagar was an Egyptian girl-slave whom Sarah secured for her household while she and Abraham were in Egypt. Hagar bore Abraham his first son, Ishmael, and thus became the foundress of the Ishmaelites and Arab peoples from whom came Mohammed, the founder of Islam.

If Hagar was a slave girl then her mistress was legally entitled to do as she pleased with her. Knowing that it was humanly impossible for her to have children by Abraham, she gave her handmaid to him, that she might have children by her—a custom consistent with moral standards prevailing at that time. Abraham reminded Sarah that her word was law to her own slave and that he had no choice in the matter. Under Sumero-Babylonian law there is this clause in Hammurabi’s Code—

If she has given a maid to her husband and she has borne children and afterwards that maid has made herself equal with her mistress, because she has borne children her mistress shall not sell her for money, she shall reduce her to bondage and count her among the female slaves.

But Sarah ran ahead of God in giving a Gentile idolater from a pagan country to Abraham to bear the promised seed. Poor Hagar—she became the helpless victim of Sarah’s scheming! The whole affair was a sin before God—a sin all three were guilty of. Sarah distrusted God when she resorted to such a wicked expedient. As a child of faith, did she not know that God was able to raise up children out of stones unto Abraham? As for this “friend of God,” in spite of current custom, he should have stoutly refused Sarah’s scheme and obeyed the law of God, and believed the divine promise made to him. The attempt to secure the Child of Promise by Hagar was the result of a lack of faith in God’s omnipotence. Then, Hagar, although the least free and the least responsible, should not have yielded to such an unholy alliance merely to gratify any ambition she may have had. What sorrow, anguish and loneliness Hagar reaped for her compliance in such a plan to forestall God’s promise of an heir for Abraham (Genesis 15:4, 5).

Although the chapter recording the unworthy method of trying to fulfill a divine purpose is only a short one, yet like the shortest verse in the Bible, it is saturated with tears. Genesis 16 is made up of only sixteen verses and with such we have these three features— (see HAGAR II)

-Still Processing