Summary: A Study of god’s Names - El Roi - The God who sees
Getting to Know God – El Roi – The God Who Sees
Hagar the horrible must be one of my favourite cartoons. There is just something about him that begs sympathy. I mean think about it – no one ever gives him respect – not even trees. He is not valued for the special person that he is – not even by his wife of all people. And to top it all off, he’s constantly controlled on by those closest to him – no freedom, no fun. I sort of know what he feels like…
But there is another Hagar from the Bible, that I want to focus on this morning that also can relate. It is a she though not a he, but apart from this small detail, they share much in common. The Hagar that I want to talk about today was the maidservant of Sarah, Abraham’s wife. Like my friend Hagar the horrible, she was not given any respect, she was not valued and she was picked on by those closest to her.
She didn’t have it easy at all, but in the midst of her suffering, God met her in a fantastic way and revealed himself to her as El Roi, the God who sees.
If you’ve got your bibles there, please open them up and let’s read from Genesis 16.
To set the scene, just a little bit – Genesis 16 comes straight after Genesis 15 – funny how that happens really. And Genesis 15 is all about God’s promise to Abraham. God had chosen Abraham in order to bless him so he could be a blessing to the whole world. God wanted a peculiar people group who he could call his own. He found Abram a willing patriarch who had the faith to step out and follow him to a distant country. In turn, he promised Abraham 3 things (Gen 12:2). He promised that
1) From Abraham there would come a great nation – more than the sands on the sea shore. More than the stars in the sky – There was just one small problem – Abraham didn’t have any kids (And here I can relate) – but more on that in a moment.
2) The second thing promised was that Abraham’s name would become great
3) The last thing promised was that from him all nations would be blessed. And ultimately this finds fulfilment in the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ who was a Jew.
Now this was all well and good, but Abraham had a bit of a dilemna as we get to Chapter 16. It was 10 years since the promise, and he was no closer to seeing the promise fulfilled. Now Abraham was a youthful 75 when he set out from his homeland. So now 10 years later, he was still only 85. There was plenty of good life left in him yet.
For us in our modern age, we can’t comprehend the plausibility of this, but this is a case where the saying “They don’t make them like the used to” has some real application. Before the flood, people lived far longer than they do now. Adam lived 930 years. Seth his son lived 912 years. Enoch’s life was cut short at 365 years. While Methuselah lived for 969 years. Some speculate that before the flood, there was a huge layer of moisture in the sky which protected the earth from the extremes of seasons and protected mankind from the damaging rays of the sun. I don’t really know, but after the flood, the biblical records show that the lifespans of people start to reduce. Abraham’s father only lived 205 years and Abraham lived 175 years, so at 75, he was in the prime of his life, though approaching middle age.
Now we come to chapter 16 and it is 10 years on and nothing has changed. Still no dirty nappies to change or sleepless nights nursing a baby. There wasn’t even a wife who was complaining that she had to go to the toilet constantly because of her unfortunate condition that some call pregnancy. There was nothing at all to show that they were any closer to seeing the promise fulfilled and Abraham and Sarah were getting impatient. Not only did they feel out of the social set – I mean all their friends no doubt had 6 or 7 babies by now, but they also felt let down by God.
So lets read from 16:1
16 Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian maidservant named Hagar; 2 so she said to Abram, “The LORD has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my maidservant; perhaps I can build a family through her.”
Abram agreed to what Sarai said. 3 So after Abram had been living in Canaan ten years, Sarai his wife took her Egyptian maidservant Hagar and gave her to her husband to be his wife. 4 He slept with Hagar, and she conceived.