Genesis 16: 8 (ESV) – And 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.”

At some point in our lives, we all find ourselves as recipients of ill-treatment – some through no fault of ours, but some as a consequence of our nasty behaviour. Hagar, in this Genesis 16, falls under the latter. She looked with contempt at Sarai after discovering she was pregnant (Genesis 16:4). Sarai’s mistreatment was so harsh that she was willing to risk her life and her unborn child to flee to Shur braving the wilderness.

Then, the angel of the LORD found her. He declared who she was—servant of Sarai. And asked two questions—her origin and her destination, only one of which, Hagar had an answer. Her quick response must have been rife with self-righteous justification for her unlawful rebellion against her cruel master. After all, surrogacy was Sarai’s idea. Hagar was an obedient servant to Sarai and did not deserve the harsh treatment! She was the “righteous” one in this case. The angel of the LORD did not lay out a defence for or against her or Sarai. This was not the time to display the LORD’s justice but His grace and mercy.

For now, the angel of the LORD, clearly knowing her identity, her origin, provided her, a runaway unwed pregnant slave,  not only a destination but a destiny for herself and her unborn child. The LORD did not change her circumstances; He changed her heart.

She was made to see her true condition and position before the only Righteous One. Before God, her righteousness is as filthy rags.

All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away. Isaiah 64:6 (NIV)

Her tightly held “justified” resentment toward Sarai and her self-righteousness gave way to the power of the Truth of the God who sees her for who she truly is.

So she called the Lord who spoke to her: The God Who Sees, for she said, “In this place, have I actually seen the One who sees me?”Genesis 16:13 (HCSB)

The God who saw not only her misery but also who she truly is, licking her wounds clasping her filthy rags. He provided her not only a balm for her wounds but a hope and a future.

Such is an encounter with God. He changes hearts even before we have the ability to love Him. It is a profound and wonderful mystery to behold His love for undeserving slaves to sin.

“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
2 Corinthians 5:21 (ESV)

Lesson reflection on Genesis 16,  iStudy Lesson 13
January 2022