Summary: Look at SARAH, HAGAR, NAOMI and RUTH as being agents in bring salvation to God’s people.
THE THEME OF IMMIGRATION, IN THE FIRST TESTAMENT,
AS ILLUSTRATED IN THE LIVES OF
SARAH, HAGAR, NAOMI and RUTH
SARAH (Genesis 12:1-9)
Sarah is challenged by God to remove herself from her land and her home,
all the places of security,
and accompany her husband to a non-specific place.
“Go from your country and your kindred and your [father’s] house to the land I will show you.” (Genesis 12:1)
Sarah walks with God.
Leaves her predictable environment because
she trusts her husband’s word and God acting in his life.
She is the tremendous support of her husband.
This act changed the course of their lives together.
Sarah sets on a path that she could scarcely have imagined.
Abraham, in my opinion, was able to respond to God’s call because he had the support of his family to search for a better life.
We understand Sarah and Abraham’s life as a couple on a pilgrimage.
Those of us who have walked the path of uncertainty
walk with Sarah.
[for they went as the Lord directed.] (Genesis 12:4)
There were stumbling blocks in this plan though:
The land that God promised them had people already living in it.
There was a clash of culture.
I imagine Sarah asking herself,
Will this change OUR traditions and eventually change US?
We are immigrants and can see OUR STORY in SARAH’S STORY.
*[For once we are considering HER story, not HIS STORY – history.]
How has God called us here, to the United States?
What are our fears here?
We haven’t taken “all the possessions we have,” (Genesis 12:5a) like Sarah and Abraham did.
We are not fortunate enough to have taken “all the persons” that are in our lives. (Genesis 12:5b)
Many of us haven’t even taken our husbands or wives,
or family members.
We are here alone;
families back in our own country.
Our journeys here were long, tough and dangerous.
Like Sarah, in order to get to OUR CANAAN,
we had to pass through many lands
BUT we are here,
with “pitched tents”
and with the same promise God gave to Sarah and her husband:
“To your offspring I will give this land” (Genesis 12:7a)
because one day, our offspring will be citizens
“you will be a blessing (Genesis 12:2) to your children and the families you left behind.
AND AS MEN we need NOT to underestimate the role women have in our lives.
In this story we see how Abraham was supported by his wife Sarah
and how instrumental she was in enabling,
not just encouraging,
Abraham’s acting on God’s call.
Additionally, Sarah later saves his life when they were forced to flee to Egypt
when avoiding famine,
subjecting herself to become one of the Pharaoh’s wives. (Genesis 12:19)
So as immigrant people on our pilgrimage to God,
we need to keep Sarah before our eyes AS INSPIRATION and ENCOURAGEMENT.
Later on in Genesis (chapter 16) we meet HAGAR
an Egyptian and Sarah’s slave who [as Phyllis Trible suggests,] “becomes the other woman.”
Sarah who had not given birth yet,
offers Hagar to her husband
when Hagar becomes pregnant, Sarah treats her so badly that she runs away.
Not that I mean to suggest Sarah and Abraham’s house was perfect,
for Hagar is Sarah’s “slave girl,” (Genesis 16:3)
the alternative for a better situation prompts Hagar to leave,
even though she is pregnant,
[ to possibly return to her homeland of Egypt. ]
Why did WE leave our homeland to come here?
How many times have we heard people say to us
as we are on our journey:
“where have you come from and where are you going?” (Genesis 16:8)
either referring to our journey to this land
or even questioning us about something as personal as
our pilgrimage to God.
Like Hagar, we may have left a “not so perfect” home situation.
Hagar responds to God though,
with the same trust as her oppressor Sarah did,
when Sarah accompanied her husband to Canaan,
in this part of Genesis, we also see God caring DIRECTLY for Hagar
and God becoming Hagar’s ADVOCATE
for God promises Hagar that God “will so greatly multiply [her] offspring that they
can not be counted.” (Genesis 16:10)
This is the SAME promise that God gave to Abraham saying:
“Look towards the heavens and count the stars… so shall your descendants be.” (Genesis 15:5)
Although Hagar escaped from Sarah’s oppression,
she also is challenged by God to return to Sarah,
not perhaps to her homeland,
where she may have longed to return and raise her child.
How many times, especially in adversity, do we want to return home
to be with our own,
speak our own language freely and without fear of being labeled “a foreigner”
or even worse, an “alien?”
Hagar’s difficulties, though, do not end with her return to Sarah and her husband.