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God’s Work our Way

Mosaic Boston

Religion & Spirituality

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This media has been made available by Mosaic Boston Church. If you like to check out more resources, learn about Mosaic Boston and our neighborhood churches, or donate to this ministry, please visit mosaicboston.com.

Good morning. Welcome to Mosaic Church. My name is Jan, one of the pastors here at Mosaic, along with Pastor Shane, Pastor Andy. If you're new or visiting, we love to connect with you. If you'd like to connect with us, do that through a connection card, either the physical one that you can get in the back, and also, you can leave it there after you fill it out, or the virtual one in the app or on the website.

For all the moms in the house, happy Mother's Day. Happy Mother's Day. Round of applause. We love you. Thank you. Congratulations, one of the toughest jobs in the world. Happy Mother's Day to my mom, if she's tuning in. She lives in Rhode Island, but every once in a while, she tunes in and then calls me to correct my theology. Then happy Mother's Day to my wife, mother of four daughters. Great time.

We're going to pray a special prayer of blessing upon our moms. We also know for some people, it's a difficult day in that they want to be a mom or some have lost their moms. We'll pray for the Lord to comfort us. Would you pray with me?

Heavenly Father, we thank you that you are a Father. You're a good Father. We thank you that you are a Father who leads us in ways of blessing. Sometimes those ways of blessing don't feel like blessing. Make us a people who build our lives not on feelings but on the facts of reality of who you are, of what you said, of what you've promised. Make us a people who interpret our circumstances, how we feel about our circumstances through your promises, not vice versa, not interpret your promises through our circumstances, through our feelings.

Lord, we thank you for the moms in the congregation. I pray that you bless them abundantly. What a job they have, the hardest job in the world. I pray that you bless them, that you fill them with the Holy Spirit. Would you fill them with supernatural, both physical and spiritual, strength? Protect them from the evil one, from sin, from folly. Bless them abundantly. Make us children who do honor our parents, our father and our mother.

Lord, for those who long to be moms, I pray today, satisfy them deeply. Give them an assurance that you're with them. Like Sarah, perhaps they long to be moms. Perhaps it's not time, or perhaps you have something greater. Remind us that children are a blessing. Physical children are a blessing, but you also call us to make disciples of all nations, to have spiritual children whom we disciple in the same way that Jesus didn't have children and St. Paul didn't have children, but they have thousands, and millions, and billions of spiritual children. Bless them. For those who've lost their moms, I pray you do comfort them profoundly in this day and be close to them.

Lord, bless our time in the holy scriptures. We thank you for this time you've given us in the book of Genesis. We thank you for the example of Abraham. Thank you for calling him. We thank you for his faith. We thank you for the honesty of scripture, that there are times where his faith was shaken. It vacillated. There are times where he didn't see clearly. He walked by sight, not by faith, and sinned. Sinned against you. Sinned against people.

We thank you, Lord, that you didn't leave him in that sin, that you came as a redeemer. You met him. You met Sarah. You met Hagar in one of the lowest points in scripture. You pointed them to the redemption found at the cross. We pray that you bless our time in the holy scriptures. We pray this in Jesus name. Amen.

The title of my sermon is Don't Listen to Your Wife When She Suggests You Get a Girlfriend. No, that's the secondary title. The title is God's Work Our Way. God's Work Our Way. We're going through a sermon series that we're calling Jesus in Genesis, in which we see the gospel of Jesus Christ in the first book of the Bible where you see it over and over on every single page.

We see the story of a gentleman named Abram, who then becomes Abraham of his wife, Sarai, who becomes Sarah. God calls Abram out of paganism, out of idolatry into a land of Canaan. He promises him, "Hey, Abraham, I'm going to give you myself, the greatest blessing that there is. I'm starting a relationship with you. I'm going to give you this land. I'm going to give you a great name. I'm going to give you a son. Through your son will come blessings for all people."

As soon as Abraham moves to Canaan, he's expecting God to make good on His promise immediately. Years begin to go by. We find him in a text where he's 10 to 11 years since that initial promise. He's getting older and older. He was 75 when God called him initially. Now he's around 86 years old.

God promised him a son. The assumption of the text is the son will come through Sarah. This is where Abraham shakes. He shakes in his faith. God, maybe it's not through Sarah. Maybe it's my servant, Eliezer. That's last week's text.

God comes, and He says, "I'm going to give you a son. It's going to come through you. It will be your son." The assumption there is it's through you and your wife because from Genesis 2, we see that when marriage happens, a covenant happens, two become one. The promise made to the husband is a promise made to the wife as well.

We see Abraham over and over through the text. Through the stories, we see him believing, and then we see him shaking in unbelief, believing, and shaking. Today is the third episode in the series of doubt. Abraham now begins to grow impatient. God, where's my son? Where's my son? Sarah begins to grow impatient. Where's my son?

They attempt to circumvent God's timing. They attempt to do God's work in their own way. They attempt to force God's hand. There's where we find ourselves in Genesis, chapter 16. Would you look at the text with me?

"Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. She had a female Egyptian servant whose name was Hagar. Sarai said to Abram, 'Behold now, the Lord has prevented me from bearing children. Go into my servant. It may be that I shall obtain children by her.' Abram listened to the voice of Sarai. After Abram had lived 10 years in the land of Canaan, Sarai, Abram's wife, took Hagar the Egyptian, her servant, and gave her to Abram her husband as a wife."

"He went into Hagar, and she conceived. When she saw that she had conceived, she looked with contempt on her mistress. Sarai said to Abram, 'May the wrong done to me be on you! I gave my servant to your embrace. When she saw that she had conceived, she looked on me with contempt. May the Lord judge between you and me!' 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. 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.' The angel of the Lord said to her, 'Return to your mistress and submit to her.' The angel of the Lord also said to her, 'I will surely multiply your offspring so that they cannot be numbered for multitude.'"

"The angel of the Lord said to her, 'Behold, you are pregnant and shall bear a son. You shall call his name Ishmael because the Lord has listened to your affliction. He shall be a wild donkey of a man, his hand against everyone and everyone's hand against him. He shall dwell over all his kinsmen.' She called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, 'You are a God of seeing,' for she said, 'Truly here I have seen him who looks after me.'"

"Therefore the well was called Beer-lahai-roi. It lies between Kadesh and Bered. Hagar bore Abram a son. Abram called the name of his son, whom Hagar bore, Ishmael. Abram was 86 years old when Hagar bore Ishmael to Abram." This is the reading of God's holy, inerrant, infallible, authoritative word. May He write these eternal truths upon our hearts.

Three points to frame our time: myopic vision leads to mess, vision of God entering mess, and redeemed mess and vision. First of all, myopic vision leads to mess. What a doozy of a text we have before us. One of the reasons this text is here is because this happened. If you were inventing the Bible, if you were inventing a religion, you would not say, "This is the Father of my faith. The Father of my faith did this."

This is what's going on in the text. It's a commentary on a reality that happened. The scripture is true. Therefore, it's honest. In Genesis 16:1, "Sarai, Abraham's wife, had borne him no children. She had a female Egyptian servant whose name was Hagar."

The backstory here... You got to understand this culture, an honor, shame culture. One of the most important things, roles of a woman, that time was to have children. We saw Sarah... Her eyes are locked on her womb. This is where the culture says a woman's worth came from children who were a sign that you were legitimate, certified you as a person.

From a spiritual perspective, this is a sign that God approves of you. We see here, in particular with Abraham and Sarai, God promised them a child, promised them a son of the promise. He hasn't come. It's been 10 to 11 years since that promise, 120 months of anticipating, 120 months of ovulating. He's not coming.

Where is the servant from? Hagar. Hagar was an Egyptian. How did she end up in Abraham's household? We're told in chapter 12 that Abraham does leave his own town. He does go to Canaan, the promised land. God told him to stay there. He sets up an altar, starts worshiping God, telling people about God. What we see is a famine in the land shakes Abraham's faith. He says, "We might die."

He goes down to Egypt. In Egypt, he sins. He sins against his wife by giving her over to Pharaoh and basically prostituting her to Pharaoh, giving her up in order to save himself. God intervenes at the last moment and saves both of them. Then Pharaoh gives possessions and servants to Abram.

At this point, Abram should have rejected the servants. He should have said, "No, thank you. These are people made in the image of God. No, thank you. I'm not going to take them on as my property," in the same way that he said to the king of Sodom, yet he doesn't. He receives them. This wealth then becomes a stumbling block to him.

There's Abram. There's Sarai. They can't have a child. Then there's Hagar, the younger servant. Now Sarai said to him, "Behold now, the Lord has prevented me from bearing children." He's prevented me from bearing children. We see a tone of accusation. She knows that God is sovereign. She's just not happy with His sovereignty.

God, you're not good at being God. You're not doing your job right. You promised to bless us. Our current situation, our predicament does not feel like blessing. God, you're preventing me. You're not giving me what I want. You're preventing me. It's not just a sadness. It's a bitterness against God.

This is a very dangerous place to be when you're bitter against God because then, God's rules don't seem as important. God, you're not giving me what I want. Therefore, even if I have to break a commandment or break one of your decrees, I can because what's more important to me is my happiness, blessing as I understand it, than to fulfill your will.

She's blaming God. She comes up with a plan, and the plan is a plan that culturally is acceptable, that a woman who could not bear a child... One recourse that she had was a kind of adoption where she allows her servant to become a wife of her husband as a lower level wife. Then children borne to that surrogate mother would be adopted by the head wife. Very messy, but socially acceptable.

The Code of Hammurabi, which is a code followed by the pagan culture of that day... They endorsed it. Sarah looks around and says, "Everybody is doing this." Everybody who doesn't have a child, they allow for this... There's a second wife, second relationship. Scripture says Abram listened to his wife. This is an understatement. She says, "Go into my servant. It may be that I shall obtain children by her." Abraham listened to the voice of Sarai.

It doesn't get into the emotional commentary of what's going on. The text... It's not there. I will tell you that Abram is not doing his job. How do I know that? Because the same language that's used to say, "Abram listened to his wife," is the same exact phrase that God uses when He comes to Adam, Adam who sinned against God, rebelled against God, ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, being led by his wife.

God comes and uses the same exact language. This is Genesis 3:17. To Adam, He said, "Because you've listened to the voice of your wife and eaten of the tree of which I commanded you shall not eat of it, cursed is the ground because of you. In pain, you shall eat of it all the days of your life."

In the same way that Adam passively followed his wife, in the same way that Adam did not lead himself to follow God, to obey God, and because he didn't follow himself, he didn't lead his... Because he didn't lead himself, he didn't lead his wife to follow God in obedience. We see this passivity in Abraham where he's at a point in his life where Sarah comes to him with an idea.

I submit to you that Sarah doesn't really want Abraham to do this. How do I know this? I know this because later on, she blames him for following her. I know this, also, because I grew up with three sisters. I have four daughters. I'm married. I know that women don't always mean what they say, and they don't always say what they mean.

"Baby, you want the last piece of cake?" "Oh, no. No, I'm not hungry. You have it." Okay. Then she's mad the rest of the evening. "Honey, what do you want for your birthday?" "Oh, nothing. What can you give me? I have you. I don't need a birthday present."

"Oh, that girl's so pretty. Do you think she's pretty?" Proper response is, "What girl? Didn't notice. Had no idea. Oh, that one. Oh, yes. She's a 1. You're an 11. All right, baby." Conversation's over. That's how you get out of that. Do you think Sarah really wanted Abraham to go get another wife, this younger, pretty Egyptian servant? No, she did not, not deep down inside.

Perhaps maybe this will be the son, et cetera, et cetera. Later on, we see no, no, no, no, no, no, this is a terrible idea. She wanted Abraham at this moment to say, "No, honey. I am faithful to you. We worship a God who loves us with a covenantal love. He loves us faithfully, unconditionally, eternally, in the same way I'm going to love you. No, God is going to keep His promise. Let's keep trusting God. Your identity, your worth, your value are not in a child like the culture tells you. Your identity, your value, your worth is in God."

He should have done that. He did not. We see here, Abraham, a shell of himself, spiritually speaking, passively allows Sarah to take the spiritual lead in the family. This is a word to every single husband in the room.

Husbands, we have a word from God that we are the head of the household. Spiritually speaking, we are to lead our wives spiritually, to disciple them, to know God's word better than them, and to speak it over them, pray with them and over them, and lead them away from folly, away from sin as we lead ourselves.

Fathers, our job is to train our children. We're the spiritual leaders. You are the pastors of the household. You're the spiritual leaders to teach God's word, to obey God's word yourself, repent when you sin, and lead children in the same way. Wives, you are to allow your husband to lead as Ephesians 5 says.

Abraham should have guided Sarah. He did not. She listened to the wrong voice. She listened to the voice of the serpent just like Eve did. He listened to her voice just like Adam listened to Eve. We see this pattern over and over in scripture. Aaron listened to the voice of the people instead of the voice of God. Reuben listened to his brothers about Joseph. Israel listened to the spies. Israel didn't listen to their judges. Israel listened to the other nations. Solomon allows his wives to lead him into idolatry, et cetera, et cetera.

Abraham should have said, "Honey, I see you have an idea. Let's take this idea to the Lord. Let's pray about this." The more important an idea, the more important a choice, the decision, you got to pray. The more important the prayer and fasting is, let's go to the Lord. They did not. If they had gone to the Lord, you know what God would have told him?

He would have said, "No, Abraham. Polygamy is against my will. It's against the design of creation." In the Garden of Eden, God didn't create Adam, and Eve, and Hagar. You have one wife. Jesus Christ comes, and He dies not for multiple brides, for one bride. God is a God who loves with a covenantal love. It's two become one, and not three become one.

That's what God would have said. This is sin. This is scripture commenting on what's going on. We see the Apostle Paul interpreting what's going on in this text. He interprets it in this text in Galatians, in chapter 4 and 5, where he talks about the dichotomy in the Christian life between the flesh and the spirit, that when you become a Christian, it doesn't mean you're perfect. You're justified by grace through faith. Now begins a process of sanctification, but there are times in your life when you are carnal. You are living in the flesh.

He gives a whole list of fruits of the flesh, one of which is sexual immorality, and that's what's happening in this text, and then there's fruits of the Spirit. St. Paul looks at this text before chapter 5, in which he talks about that dichotomy. He looks at Galatians 4: 21 and 25. "Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not listen to the law? For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by a slave woman, one by a free woman, but the son of the slave was born according to the," what? According to the flesh.

"While the son of the free woman was born through promise. Now this may be interpreted allegorically. These women are two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery. She is Hagar. Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia. She corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children."

St. Paul says Ishmael is born as design of the flesh, as a result of the design of the flesh. Isaac was born as a design of the spirit. In terms of practically speaking, do you make your decisions out of the flesh or out of the spirit? How do you know which is which? Well, is it done with prayer? Is it done with seeking wise counsel? Is it done with looking at God's word and seeing, do I contradict any of God's laws, any of God's teaching?

Genesis 16:3 through 4, "After Abram had lived 10 years in the land of Canaan, Sarai, Abraham's wife, took Hagar the Egyptian, her servant, and gave her to Abram, her husband, as a wife. He went into Hagar, and she conceived. When she saw that she had conceived, she looked with contempt on her mistress."

Sarah comes up with a plan, sinful plan. Abraham goes along with the plan because he's tempted by his own flesh. Honey, you want me to do what? You want me to sleep with her? He's tempted, gives into that temptation. Then the rest of the text is a commentary on the consequences of him giving into that sin.

It was a terrible idea. Surrogate motherhood was a common practice at that time, but right away, we're given hints that this is a terrible idea. Sarah took Hagar and gave her to Abraham. It's an ominous callback to Genesis, chapter 3, where Eve takes of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. She eats and gives to her husband who is with her, passively. Doesn't protect her from the temptation of the evil one.

Sarah, the same way, takes Hagar as if she's an object and gives her as an object of temptation to her husband. In the Garden of Eden, we had two trees: the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and the tree of life. Those two trees... Here, we have two women. One, you can eat from. The other one, you can't.

Abraham sins. He's deceived by his flesh and then what happens with Hagar. In a sense, she's sinned against. Did she choose to go along with this plan? We're not told because if a person is in a position of power, has power over the servant. We're not told how she's responded to any of this, but we are told that she herself isn't blameless either since Sarai has sinned.

Then what we see is Hagar looks down with contempt on Sarai. The important word, she despises Sarai. She sees her boss, so to speak, who can't have a child, and she has a child. This child is growing inside now. The baby is showing perhaps, kicking. Now she's looking at Sarah with contempt.

The word is despised her. It's the same word that she uses to curse in Genesis 12:3, where God says, "Abraham, whoever curses you will be cursed by me." She curses in a sense because she understands. From the perspective of culture, she has everything that Sarah wanted. She has the affection of Abraham. She has the embrace of Abraham. She has access to his wealth and finally has a child.

As far as anyone knows, Hagar is carrying the promised child. What we see is now the family descends into misery. That sin leads to dysfunction that leads to misery. It says if two women with kids have one husband they both share, if a husband and wife divorced, and they're still living in the same house as the husband remarries, there's just bitterness, and spite, and heartache, and heartbreak.

Sarah perceives Hagar as a threat against her place in the household. In verse 5, Sarai said to Abram, “May the wrong done to me be on you!" She feels sinned against, although it was her idea. "I gave my servant to your embrace, and when she saw that she had conceived, she looked on me with contempt. May the Lord judge between you and me!"

What she's saying is, you should have known better. You know what? She's right. Abraham should have known better. Abraham is the guy that's talking to God, that's praying to God, that has access to God, that knows God's word. Sarah blames him. What we see here is this is how sin works. Sin makes these great promises that always over-promises and it under-delivers. Sin never comes to you with a whole list of consequences that will come after the sin. No, it comes with the promises.

Sin is like a medication commercial. You know those medication commercials, those drug commercials on TV? where it's like, this is your issue, whatever your issue is. Now this is the solution. This drug will absolutely make everything better. There's always sunlight. There's always green grass. There's nice music. There's always a bathtub. I don't know. Just in the middle of the field, there's a bathtub of someone just really enjoying themselves.

It's like, this will solve all of your problems, not all of your pain will go away. That's for two minutes, and then it'll last 10 seconds. A guy comes in with rapidfire 3x. He's like, "By the way, here's the side effects. You might have vertigo and nausea. You might get warts growing on your nose, little hairs. You might grow a tail. You might grow grass out of your ears, et cetera. You're going to die. You might die. You can't sue us. Sorry, but buy this thing."

Sin is like that except it doesn't give you the last 10 seconds. It just over-promises, and it under-delivers every time, in particular when it comes to sexual sin. That's why this is at the heart of the story of a man of faith named Abraham.

Verse 6, "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." It was Abram's sin that led to this situation. His passivity allowed for it. He didn't take responsibility, not then, not here. He listened to Sarai's sinful advice. Now he allows Sarah to do whatever she wants. You just see a pathetic shell of himself, spiritual speaking, the callous response, "Do to her as you please."

What does Sarah do? She deals harshly with Hagar. Hagar is pregnant. They're living in tents. We don't know what she did. Maybe verbal abuse, physical abuse, maybe demands on her that were just impossible, ultimately so cruel that Hagar just decides to leave, to flee, to go back to Egypt.

Here, what the text is teaching is, it's always a terrible idea to try to accomplish God's plan our own way in our own timing. There's examples of this over and over in scripture. God allows for situations like this in the life of His most faithful in order to grow them in reliance and dependence on God.

Case in point, Moses. Moses knew from a young age, he had a burning desire, the call on his life that he will be part of the liberation movement of the people of Israel from Egypt. He grew up as a Jewish person in Pharaoh's household, got the education, got the training, and then finally says, "Now it's time for me to be the great liberator."

Sees an Egyptian master abusing a Jewish slave. He meddles and kills the Egyptian master with his own hands, buries the body in the sand. When that's found out, he flees. What's going on? He tried to rush God's plan. God's work has to happen God's way. God's plans come complete with His methods, with His timing.

Hudson Taylor said, "God's work done in God's way will never lack God's supply." Our tinkering only messes things up. Case in point, King Saul, the first king of Israel... Samuel the priest tells him, "Hey, before you go to paddle, you need to understand. We need to sacrifice an animal to get the Lord's blessing. We need to worship God. Don't do anything. Don't go into battle until I come, and I will lead that process as the priest of God."

Saul waits one day, waits another day, waits a week. Samuel's not coming. Samuel's not coming. Saul takes an animal, and he takes upon himself the role of a priest, which he should not have. He sins. Samuel says, "Because you have sinned against God, trying to force God's plan, you will have the throne taken away from you."

Now that's the mess that's created by losing of vision of God's plan, a myopic vision, shortsighted vision. Thanks be to God that God doesn't leave them on their own in this mess. This is point two of vision of God entering the mess.

Now you see Hagar pregnant, no resources, cast out by Abraham, the father of her child and her husband, cast out by Sarah. She's by herself, fleeing 100 miles away from Abraham's camp in Hebron. In the next scene, we see that God doesn't leave her in this forsaken place. He comes to her when she is most broken, most desperate, most heartbroken. He doesn't just come to her. He doesn't just meet her. He calls her by name.

This right here is one of the most shocking parts of the text. This is the only instance, not just in the Old Testament, but in all of Eastern literature, where a deity calls a woman by name. God doesn't even call Eve by name, doesn't call Sarah by name, doesn't call Deborah by name, but He engages Hagar in conversation. Calls her by name as He meets her in the wilderness.

This is verse 7. "The angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, the spring on the way to Shur." She's on her way to Egypt, stops at a spring of water on the way to Shur. Shur... You have to pass through to get to Egypt. The word, Shur, means wall that hardly anyone passes through. It was that forbidding. It was just unending road of yellow sand and gravel.

She's at this place where she wants to get a little water before she treks on. She knows that her chances of getting through are minuscule. She knows that she needs supernatural help. The Lord meets her. The angel of the Lord found her. The angel of the Lord says in verse 8. 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.'" She answers the first question. Doesn't answer the second question.

Where did you come from? I'm fleeing Sarai. Where are you going? I don't know. I want to go back to Egypt. That's the only other place I've known." Is she going to be accepted in Egypt? Probably not. She's single. She's not a virgin. She's having a child. Who's child is it? It's probably a biracial child. She's going to go there and probably be outcast, if not killed.

God intervenes, stops her. He calls her by name, Hagar, servant of Sarah. Hagar is stunned. The gods of Egypt, where gods didn't care about slaves... They didn't care about slave girls. To be noticed by Egyptian gods, you got to be high up on the priest's ladder. You have to coax them, feed them, flatter them.

Here we see the angel of the Lord showing up, speaking to Hagar gently by name. No one's spoken to her by name thus far. Sarai calls her, "My maid," in verse 2 and 5. Abraham calls her, "My maid," in verse 6. Abraham and Sarah... They think of her as a slave, as a foreigner, as a possession, something to be used, abused, as someone to be mistreated, neglected, expendable.

The angel speaks to her and calls her by name. The angel of the Lord speaking to a woman who's not Jewish, at a well, speaking to her tenderly. This sounds like someone else. Then angel of the Lord... Who is that? Who is the angel of the Lord? The angel of the Lord, definite article. It's not an angel of the Lord.

He comes, and He speaks in first person. He doesn't say, "Thus say the Lord. I have a message to you from God." No, he speaks in first person. He speaks on behalf of God as if He is God. Well, the word, angel, in Hebrew just means messenger. This is a messenger of the Lord. Who else is a messenger of the Lord? Jesus Christ is the word of God.

Four times in this text: the angel of the Lord, angel of the Lord, angel of the Lord, angel of the Lord... Whenever that phrase is used with a definite article, this is the only angel, the primary angel of the Lord. This is a Christophany. This is Jesus Christ appearing. In verse 7, 9, 10, 11, it says, "The angel of the Lord."

It's Jesus Christ speaking to her. She knows exactly who's before her. She's in the presence of deity. That's why in verse 13, she says, "I have seen the Lord. The Lord has seen me. I'm spoken to the Lord." Jesus Christ meets her, and the angel of the Lord, Jesus, says to her, "Return to your mistress and submit to her."

Why is He doing that? He's doing that for two reasons. Number one, this is the only place she's going to have safety as a pregnant woman. Second of all, this son that you have, Ishmael, he's going to be a difficult son. He needs his dad. Every child needs their dad. You got to bring the child back to his daddy. Return and submit to Sarai. Promises her that much of the same blessing that was given to Abraham, that both offspring will be so great they can't be counted.

Verse 11, "The angel of the Lord said to her, 'Behold, you are pregnant and shall bear a son. You shall call his name Ishmael because the Lord has listened to your affliction.'" Ishmael means God hears. God heard your pain, your affliction. Verse 12, "He shall be a wild donkey of a man, his hand against everyone and everyone's hand against him, and he shall dwell over against all his kinsmen.”

Just as Abraham's offspring is promised suffering in Genesis 15, God says to Abraham, "Your children will suffer for 400 years." In the same way, he's saying Hagar's offspring will suffer. The hands of many will be against him and his hand will be against everyone. He's going to go his own way. A wild donkey is a metaphor for a proud individualist. There will be perpetual conflict in his life.

Herman Melville who wrote Moby Dick starts the novel, the narrative, saying, "Call me Ishmael," same name. Call me a man who is alone, who is alienated from others. This isn't as much of a blessing as much of a prophecy. This is what's going to happen. Perhaps this is because of the family situation, because of the two wives situation where perhaps Ishmael didn't feel as if he was truly loved in the household, et cetera, because he didn't feel like he was the son of the promise, et cetera.

We know that he was going to live a very difficult life. We see descendants of Ishmael, not just physical descendants, but he has spiritual descendants just like Isaac has descendants, not just physical but spiritual. The Muslim people claim that God actually promised the land of Israel to Ishmael, and that the Jewish people stole it, and that the Bible is a big Jewish lie. That's why there's still struggle in the Middle East. It all stems from this.

If we ever have a picture of the longevity of sin, we see it here. This is what the text teaches us, that we are to look at our decisions not just from our perspective or perspective even of our lifetime, but generationally speaking, will this decision lead to blessing to people and will leave a legacy of blessing, leave a legacy of pain?

God continues to minister to Hagar. This is point three: redeemed mess and vision. God brings in redemption into a situation. Verse 13, "She called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, 'You are a God of seeing.'" She knows this is God who spoke to her, right? She calls on the name of the Lord who spoke to her through the angel of the Lord. That's how we know that this is Jesus. "'You are God of seeing,' for she said, 'Truly I have seen him who looks after me.'"

What floors Hagar more than anything isn't just the blessing or the promise. It's the fact that God sees, that God has seen this whole situation. He's seen every blow that Sarah has inflicted. He's seen every single blind eye that Abraham turned. He's seen every injustice. She's blown away that God cares for those who are outside this people, hears their cry, sees their tears.

She realizes that she was viewed as expendable. God views her as a daughter. He speaks over her, calls her by name. She's beloved by the Lord. She says, "You are God of seeing." What's fascinating is she is the only person, all of scripture, male or female, that gets the name God. She looks at him, and she said, "You are God El Roi. You are the God of seeing. You see me."

Abraham lost sight of God. Sarai lost sight of God. Hagar lost sight of God as well, but God did not lose sight of them. Even when they are faithless, He is faithful. God comes to them.

In Genesis 16:14, "Therefore the well was called Beer-lahai-roi. It lies between Kadesh and Bered." That verse doesn't mean anything to us except we see the word, beer, there. Then we're like, beer, a well beer. Wow. That's amazing. It's not about beer, obviously.

There's an incredible theological significance in what's going on here. This is the well of the seeing God and et cetera. It's between Kadesh and Bered, Kadesh and Bered. Kadesh means holiness or holy. Bered means judgment. Between the holiness of God and the judgment of God is a well of a God who sees, a well of the living one who sees.

Hagar begins the journey to the wall, Shur. She ends up at the well. At the well is where she is met with her beloved. This isn't the biblical pattern that we see. The biblical pattern is every time a woman is at a well in scripture, in the stories, in the narratives, she encounters her beloved.

We see this with Rebekah. She was proposed to at a well. Rachel meets Jacob by a well. Zipporah meets Moses by a well. There's another story, of course, of Jesus Christ meeting a woman at the well, the Samaritan woman. He goes, and He meets with her. He asks her for some water. They have a conversation. Then finally, He says, "You know what? I don't need your physical water. I have spiritual water, water that wells up to eternal life. I am offering you a water that truly satisfies."

Then He explains to her who He is, that He is the Messiah. He explains to her that she's been living a life where she's been seeking waters of satisfaction in relationships with men, five husbands. She was living with a guy at the time that was not her husband.

He explains to her, "You're seeking something that can never be satisfied physically. You're seeking a spiritual satisfaction. You're seeking to be fully known and fully loved, that only God can do that."

We see Abraham, and Sarah, and Hagar... All of them were seeking this deep satisfaction. They couldn't find it. Finally, Hagar meets Jesus Christ at a well. She realizes, "You are God who sees everything. You still meet with me, and speak to me, and call me by name. You see everything," which sounds great when we do great things. How about when we don't?

It sounds great when we are sinned against. God, you see everything, but it doesn't sound great when we sin against others. Hagar realizes, "You see everything. You saw when I was being sinned against. You saw how I responded with sin against Sarah. You see everything, and you still call me by name?"

How can God do that? God can do that because He meets us at the intersection between two wells. He meets us at the well of grace between holiness and judgment. Where else do we see holiness and judgment coming together? We see at the cross of Jesus Christ. At the cross of Jesus Christ, we see the holiness of God poured out on his Son, in terms of wrath for taking our sin upon Himself. It's the holiness of God that leads to the judgment of our sin.

We see Jesus Christ forsaken from the Father's House, and we see that Jesus Christ goes. Though He is forsaken by the Father on the cross, He says, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" Why was Jesus Christ forsaken on the cross? So that we would never have to be, so that we could be sought, seen, wooed, embraced by God, so that we could have a vision of God that satisfies us like nothing else.

St. Thomas Aquinas is called one of the top three Christian minds to have ever lived. Called the Doctor of the Church for centuries, wrote over 80 books, all massive. It was beginner's theology. It was about 3,500 pages. When he was writing his masterpiece, his magnum opus, writing his masterpiece, he had a vision of God in prayer. In that vision, God says, "You've been faithful. You've been faithful to me. What do you want?" All he said was, "I just want some more of God." Then he died not long after that.

After the vision, his stenographer with whom he wrote said, "Why did you stop writing?" He said, "After what I've seen, all that I have written is straw." He saw a vision from God. He understood who God is. He understood that God proves that He does care for us, that He does loves us, that He does want to bless us, and He proved it on the cross of Jesus Christ.

Hagar returns. How couldn't she? She got a new vision from God. Because of this new vision, she continues to obey the Lord. Abram changes as well. We see him finally taking responsibility. In this text, he took his son, and he names him. Verse 15, "Hagar bore Abram a son, and Abram called the name of his son, whom Hagar bore, Ishmael. Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore Ishmael to Abram."

Abram repents of his sin. In 1 John 1:8 through 10, it says, "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us."

Do you have sins? Do I have sins? We do. We need to confess our sins, ask for forgiveness, repent of our sins, and believe that at the cross of Jesus Christ, our sins are paid for when the judgment of God is poured out on Jesus Christ. When we repent, God does forgive.

How do we know that Abraham repented? Because we see a pattern of changed life afterwards, that he continues to wait on God. He names his son, and he continues to raise his son. He loves his son. How do we know that Abraham loved Ishmael? Because later on, when God comes to him, he says, "Hey, I'm going to send you the son of the promise now, Isaac." Abraham says, "Could you make him the son of the promise? I really love Ishmael."

We see a change of heart in this man who finally takes responsibility for his actions. What we see at the end of the chapter is, and beginning of the next chapter, we see a gap of another 13 years. Now in these 13 years, yes, there was strife, and disagreement, and bitterness, and jealousy, and heartache. More than any of this, what we see is that Abraham continued to grow in his reliance and dependence on God. That's where true faith is grown in this area where we understand we could do nothing apart from Jesus Christ.

Every single one of us, we need to constantly reassert our dependence on God. God, I need you. God, I need a new vision, a fresh vision of who you are, a fresh vision of what you've called me to do. Give me the power of the Holy Spirit to do that, to live according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh. Let's pray.

Lord Jesus, we thank you for this text. We thank you for the honesty of the text and showing us an episode in Abraham's life where he did sin. There was a sin of passivity and not leading himself spiritually, not leading his wife spiritually, Lord.

For those of us men who are in this room, if we struggle with the sin of passivity, I pray today, give us the gift of repentance, that you make us a people who boldly lead in following you on a daily basis, lead ourselves, lead our wives, lead our children. Lord, continue to fill each one of us with the Holy Spirit so that we don't make decisions out of the flesh but make decisions out of the Holy Spirit and continue to bear the fruit of the Spirit. We pray this in Jesus name. Amen.


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