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  • Writer's pictureAllison Wilcox


The Lord dealt with Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did for Sarah as he had promised. Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age, at the time of which God had spoken to him. Abraham gave the name Isaac to his son whom Sarah bore him. And Abraham circumcised his son Isaac when he was eight days old, as God had commanded him. Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him. Now Sarah said, “God has brought laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh with me.” And she said, “Who would ever have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.”

The child grew, and was weaned; and Abraham made a great feast on the day that Isaac was weaned. But Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, playing with her son Isaac. So she said to Abraham, “Cast out this slave woman with her son; for the son of this slave woman shall not inherit along with my son Isaac.” The matter was very distressing to Abraham on account of his son. But God said to Abraham, “Do not be distressed because of the boy and because of your slave woman; whatever Sarah says to you, do as she tells you, for it is through Isaac that offspring shall be named for you. As for the son of the slave woman, I will make a nation of him also, because he is your offspring.” So Abraham rose early in the morning, and took bread and a skin of water, and gave it to Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, along with the child, and sent her away. And she departed, and wandered about in the wilderness of Beer-sheba.

When the water in the skin was gone, she cast the child under one of the bushes. Then she went and sat down opposite him a good way off, about the distance of a bowshot; for she said, “Do not let me 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? Do not be afraid; for God has heard the voice of the boy where he is. Come, lift up the boy and hold him fast with your hand, for I will make a great nation of him.” Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. She went, and filled the skin with water, and gave the boy a drink.

God was with the boy, and he grew up; he lived in the wilderness, and became an expert with the bow. He lived in the wilderness of Paran; and his mother got a wife for him from the land of Egypt. ~ Genesis 21:1-21

This is the second time Hagar has been in the wilderness.  The first time was when Ishmael was born when again Sarah's jealously reared it's head and Hagar fled.  That time, an angel came to her and told her to go back to Sarah.

Twice Hagar is in the wilderness and twice an angel - a messenger of God - comes to her.

There are times in scripture where the messenger of God gets confused with God.  When Jacob wrestles with the angel, Jacob also said he wrestled with God.  When the angel came to Hagar the first time in the desert, Hagar names God: "El roi" and exclaims in amazement that she has seen God and lived.

However you interpret this, it is clear that God was directly looking out for Hagar.  

Hagar, the slave.  Hagar, the banished.  Hagar, the kept woman who bore an illegitimate son.  Hagar, the mother of the child who tradition says became the ancestor of the prophet, Muhammed, and therefore the father of Islam.

"I will make a great nation of him" says God.  

Sound familiar?

Also familiar, the angel tells Hagar: "Do not be afraid."  The most common instruction in scripture.  

Already God's promise to Abraham - that he would be blessed so that all nations would be blessed through him - is beginning to unfold.  The blessings of God have followed Abraham from his home and followed this slave girl into the wilderness and then into Egypt.

What does this tell us about who is blessed and how God's blessing works?  What does this tell us about the deepness of God's love and protection?  Who is the Hagar in our lives?  The outcast who seems to be everything we think God is against?  How does God's blessing open our eyes and heart to see them in new light?  

God help us never to doubt the breadth of your love for your people.  Even those we may find unloveable ourselves.  Open our hearts to love as fully and as deeply as you.  Amen.

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