“Then she called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, You-Are-the-God-Who-Sees; for she said, ‘Have I also here seen Him who sees me?’” Genesis 16:13 (NKJ)
In last week’s teaching we learned the hard lesson that comes with impatience and disbelief. “The way of faith, which is waiting, was abandoned and the way of human calculation was taken.” (Bible Knowledge Commentary) The situation that had been engineered by man (or woman, in this case Sarai) was the perfect environment for Jehovah, the God Who sees, to exercise His sovereignty in redirecting the fate of not only Abram, but also the future of an Egyptian slave girl named Hagar.
After Hagar conceived, the relationship between she and Sarai began to “go south.” It is said that Sarai began to be “despised” in Hagar’s eyes (Gen. 1:4, 5). While Sarai’s plan of offering her maid to Abram to bear him a child was acceptable within the social custom of the day, there were still consequences that Sarai and Abram had not considered. God had chosen Sarai to birth the heir of Abram through His plan of monogamy in marriage (Gen. 2:24). But Sarai and Abram had chosen to try to achieve God’s blessing through their own futile efforts. Is this not the case for mankind in the 21st century? God has given us instruction on how we are to live. However, many times we choose to attempt to accomplish God’s purpose through counterfeit and fruitless efforts. We are guilty like Sarai and Abram of accepting society’s customs and values in making life decisions that often lead to disharmony with others and confusion.
Sarai dealt harshly with Hagar (‘anah, NIV, “mistreated”). Ironically, this same word is used to describe Egypt’s oppression of Israel (Exod. 1:11-12). So Hagar fled to the desert, headed for her homeland. But the God Who sees had other plans for the runaway. It was here that the Angel of the LORD (the first reference to the Angel of the LORD in the Old Testament) began to speak to Hagar, asking two questions that would frame God’s special message for her: “Where have you come from and where are you going?” This is reminiscent of the question God called to Adam in the Garden after he sinned, “Where are you?” (Gen. 3:9) As sure as God knew where Adam and Eve were, the Angel of the LORD knew the answers to the questions He posed. Often the God Who sees will ask questions He already knows the answers to. The God Who sees recognizes our unique circumstance including how we arrived at this place in our life. Whether by mistreatment or reliance on our own efforts, God is there to redirect our path to His perfect purpose.
As a consequence of her despising Sarai, Hagar was forced into the desert. She would stay there unless she “returned and submitted” herself again to Sarai. The implication of this instruction is clearly understood in the literal translation of this passage. Hagar was “strongly encouraged” by the Angel of the LORD to “put herself back under the affliction” of Sarai (v. 9). For her obedience, she was given a promised inheritance for her son, whom the Angel of the LORD named Ishmael, “the LORD has heard your affliction”. Hagar then called the name of the LORD Who saw and spoke to her in the desert: “You-Are-the-God Who-Sees” (v. 13). Sometimes God puts us back at “square one” in order to bless us in His unique way. It may require that we acknowledge our part or culpability in the unfortunate circumstance we’re in, even asking forgiveness for offenses we may have inflicted. Obedience to His instruction is crucial. We trust that the God Who sees always has our best interest in mind, regardless of our perception of the outcome (Jer. 29:11).
These teachings on the God Who Sees, both part 1 and 2, have several applications for how we approach the choices we make in our life. Do we trust in what God has promised us and patiently wait for it? Or do we use human effort to fulfill God’s divine promise? Do we follow God’s Word and the Holy Spirit in making key decisions in our life? Or do we seek societal norms, standards and practices to develop our options? Whether our actions are intentional or the result of someone else’s choice, know this—God sees!
“Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, The people He has chosen as His own inheritance. The LORD looks from heaven; He sees all the sons of men.” Ps. 33:12-13