What’s In A Name
Genesis 16: 1-16 (NLT)
Intro:The 1960’s were a wild time. In California the hippies were abundant and carefree. As these hippies got older and married and had children, they produced children with some unusual names. One of the more well known was the rocker Frank Zappa. He is known as the daddy of the weird naming celebrities. He named his first child Moon Unit and started a movement of crazy names. Jermaine Jackson of the Jackson Five named his child Jermajesty. There were names like Time Warp and Spring Fever and Precious Promise. Eventually most of these people wound up in Santa Cruz California and their kids attended the same school. The teachers were used to kids with very strange names. In walks Fruit Stand. On the first day of school for kindergarten the parents were instructed to put name tags on their children when they put them on the bus. That way when the children got to school, the teachers would know their names.
. School started and this is how the day went. "Would you like to play with the blocks, Fruit Stand?" they offered. And later, "Fruit Stand, how about a snack?" He accepted hesitantly. By the end of the day, his name didn’t seem much odder than Heather’s or Sun Ray’s. At dismissal time, the teachers led the children out to the buses. "Fruit Stand, do you know which one is your bus?" He didn’t answer. That wasn’t strange. He hadn’t answered them all day. Lots of children are shy on the first day of school. It didn’t matter. The teachers had instructed the parents to write the names of their children’s bus stops on the reverse side of their name tags. The teacher simply turned over the tag. There, neatly printed, was the word "Anthony."
. Names are important, aren’t they?
.Names mean something, they identify us.
. A teacher gave her class of second graders a lesson on the magnet and what it does. The next day in a written test, she included this question: “My full name has six letters. The first one is M, and I pick up things. What am I?” When the grades were all in the teacher was astounded to find that almost fifty percent had written in, mother.
. When we hear the name mother, we think of some qualities that are associated with it.
. The same is true for God. The Hebrew people had many names for God. Names like :
. Elohim – The creator God, mighty and strong
.Adonai – Meaning Lord
.El Shaddi – God Almighty
. Jehovah-Jireh- The Lord will provide
.EL - God
. In our scripture this morning we are introduced to another name for God.
. We are back in Genesis this Morning, Chapter 16.
. The Narrative is about Hagar, the handmaiden of Sarai, Abrams wife. She can also be traced back to being the mother of the Muslim faith
. I want to do something a little different this morning by doing a commentary on the verses as we go through them.
. You see there are many sermons within this scripture and I want to comment on each verse as we discover this new name for God.
. Let’s look at our scripture: Genesis 16:1-16
1Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had not been able to bear children for him. But she had an Egyptian servant named Hagar.
2So Sarai said to Abram, “The LORD has prevented me from having children. Go and sleep with my servant. Perhaps I can have children through her.” And Abram agreed with Sarai’s proposal.
3So Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar the Egyptian servant and gave her to Abram as a wife. (This happened ten years after Abram had settled in the land of Canaan.)
. If you remember, God had promised Abram and Sari a child. He had told Abram that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars in the sky. This was a promise that God had made to them.
. Unfortunately Sarai had waited on God long enough and decided to take things into her own hands.
. Many sermons on the dangers of not waiting on God have been preached using this scripture.
. So she hatches a plan. She has an Egyptian hand maiden named Hagar who she wants to use as a surrogate mother. Another wife for Abram but she would raise the child as her own.
.She shares this plan with Abram and instead of saying no, God has promised us a son, he went along with this.
. Now many of us draw back with revulsion at this concept but it was not a new concept to the Jewish people. It was customary that if a man’s wife could not bear children, a servant would be used and given to the husband as a slave-wife. She would bear children for the man and the children would be considered the children of his main wife.
. While they were in line with the customs of the day, they were not in line with what God had told them.
. Sound familiar? Many times we go along with the customs of the day instead of what God tells us.
. Let’s move on.
. 4So Abram had sexual relations with Hagar, and she became pregnant. But when Hagar knew she was pregnant, she began to treat her mistress, Sarai, with contempt.
5Then Sarai said to Abram, “This is all your fault! I put my servant into your arms, but now that she’s pregnant she treats me with contempt. The LORD will show who’s wrong—you or me!”
6Abram replied, “Look, she is your servant, so deal with her as you see fit.” Then Sarai treated Hagar so harshly that she finally ran away.
. Maybe Hagar had the misconception that since she was pregnant that she would be the favored one in this family and she started being contemptuous toward Sarai.
. What amazes me in this story is that Sarai came up with this Idea in the first place but when things started going south, guess who she blamed, Abram.
. This is all your fault that this slave girl, this servant is treating me this way.
. Abram looked at her and basically said I don’t want to hear this. This was your idea, she is your servant, you are responsible and you need to deal with it.
. Sarai started treating Hagar so badly that she ran away.
. 7The angel of the LORD found Hagar beside a spring of water in the wilderness, along the road to Shur.
8The angel said to her, “Hagar, Sarai’s servant, where have you come from, and where are you going?”
“I’m running away from my mistress, Sarai,” she replied.
9The angel of the LORD said to her, “Return to your mistress, and submit to her authority.”
10Then he added, “I will give you more descendants than you can count.”
11And the angel also said, “You are now pregnant and will give birth to a son. You are to name him Ishmael (which means ‘God hears’), for the LORD has heard your cry of distress.
12This son of yours will be a wild man, as untamed as a wild donkey! He will raise his fist against everyone, and everyone will be against him. Yes, he will live in open hostility against all his relatives.”
. Hagar was going home. Shur lies on the eastern edge of Egypt and probably had some significance for her. From verse one we know that Hagar was Egyptian.
. While on her way home she encountered what scripture says is an Angel of the Lord. Many consider this a Theophany or an appearance of God himself. If it was God, then it had to be Jesus because He is the physical manifestation of the invisible God.
. We can study this in depth sometime in Bible study but I don’t want to get too bogged down in theology this morning.
. Hagar was running away, going home and God intervened. God and Hagar had a conversation and basically God told her to go back and put up with Sarai’s pettiness. If she did, she would be taken care of.
. God told her to name her son Ishmael, (God Hears). God had heard her cry and He would take care of her.
. Ishmael would be a wild man , as untamed as a wild donkey, God says.
. Ishmael did become the father of a great but wild and hostile nation living in the Arabian Desert as perennial enemies of Israel.
. Many of the middle Eastern nations can be traced back to Ishmael and they to this day still live in open hostility with the people of Israel.
. In verses 13-16, we are introduced to this new name for God.
13Thereafter, Hagar used another name to refer to the LORD, who had spoken to her. She said, “You are the God who sees me.” She also said, “Have I truly seen the One who sees me?”
14So that well was named Beer-lahai-roi (which means “well of the Living One who sees me”). It can still be found between Kadesh and Bered.
15So Hagar gave Abram a son, and Abram named him Ishmael.
16Abram was eighty-six years old when Ishmael was born.
. Thereafter, Hagar used a different name for God. She Knew Yaweh, Elohim, El. Now she knew God in a Different way.
. She was distraught, alone, pregnant, a young woman who was a slave and had been given to a man in his 70’s to be his wife.
. The woman that had forced her to do this now despised her.
. She had an encounter with God though and now she felt secure. She didn’t know what the future held for her exactly but she knew that God was with her.
. Look back at verse 13 again.
. 13Thereafter, Hagar used another name to refer to the LORD, who had spoken to her. She said, “You are the God who sees me.” She also said, “Have I truly seen the One who sees me?”
. Hagar says that you are the God who sees me.
. You are the God who understands my circumstances.
. You are the God who is with me this day and will protect me.
. You are the God who understands the circumstances that I am in and you comfort me.
. From now on, I will call You El-ROI, the God who sees.
. A new name for God. EL-ROI, in Hebrew it means the God who sees.
. Hagar could take comfort in the fact that even though she was going through probably the worst thing that had ever happened to her in her life, God saw, He understood and He was with her.
. Did he powerfully and miraculously make everything perfect, no, but he did tell her that he saw her plight and understood and that He would be with her.
. Now this is a great story but what does EL-ROI mean to us today.
. Let me give you some application.
. To those that pray to God. Those that lift their voices to God in prayer.
. God is a God who sees and hears, so you can be assured that he hears the words we utter, whether they be uttered out of despair, out of praise, our of thanks or out of a need. He hears and sees, so keep on praying.
. He is EL-ROI
. To those who are anxious - full of doubts and worries. Take to heart that God can see what you are concerned about. He knows and he is concerned. So cast all your concerns on him and make use of his strength for he truly does care about you.
. He is EL-ROI
3) To those who are feeling abandoned. Be confident that you are not abandoned. God is there keeping watch over you. He is as close as a prayer away so tell him how you’re feeling, let him be your closest friend – he understands what you are going through.
. He is EL-ROI
4) To those who are under attack while trying to stay firm in your faith. – remember that there is a righteous judge who sees all. He knows what is going on and how faithful you are and will one day bring his judgment to bear. Those under spiritual attack, he sees and promises that he will never let us bear more than what together can manage. We can be confident in this.
. He is EL-ROI
5) And lastly, to those whose are living in sin. It may be that some of you are still holding God at a distance and not submitting to him. You are trying to deal with your own sin rather than letting him come and cleanse you.
.He sees where you are at and he won’t let up on you. It may be that there are some which are caught in the grip of some secret sin and they are content to enjoy the short term pleasure that it brings. Be warned – God sees all.
.We are foolish if we think we can hide things from God. He sees everything and so it will be so easy for him on judgment day. “I saw you” is all he will have to say.
I am EL-ROI
.To those of us who are lost, or those of us who think we are hiding sin in our lives – we need to repent because God is El Roi.
*** To my Christian brothers and sisters, thank you for taking the time to read this sermon. I ask that you take another second and score this for me. I am always open to feedback so that I can continue to grow in the proclamation of God’s word.
May God bless you as you continue to strive to walk worthy of His calling.
Sources: The Holy Bible, NLT
David Elvery; Getting to know God-EL-ROI: (sermon central)
Illustrations from sermon central