Hagar the Seer
I’m often asked if there are any seers in the Bible. Well, yes. Yes there are many seers in the Bible!
I’m using the broadest interpretation of “seers” in this series of articles: people who visually saw something from the spirit realm which revealed something to them, even just occasionally.
Some of the figures in the Bible had spiritual information revealed to them through their eyes on a regular basis. Others, the biblical authors record, only occasionally saw in the spirit realm. What I find amazing about the seers in the Bible is how many of them had errant interpretations of God or weren’t the most morally upstanding people. And yet, they still saw in the spirit realm from time to time.
Hagar was such a person.
Hagar was the servant woman of Abraham’s wife 1 They lived in a culture far different from ours. Women had no rights. Slaves had no rights. It was a violent, dangerous time period full of despots, giants, and the worship of demons, perhaps 4000 years ago in the Middle East… a time when the Middle East held the center of civilization.
Abraham was a powerful man with a huge estate. He even fielded a private army strong enough to defeat several local chieftains.
One day, God came to Abraham and offered to make a promise that Abraham’s offspring would inherit a kingdom. All Abraham had to do was believe.
Abraham was old and had no children, which in itself was pretty remarkable: it indicated he was faithful to his barren wife Sarah, although he was within his rights to sleep with any of his female slaves or to purchase concubines and sleep with them to produce an heir.
Who Fulfills God’s Promises?
God promised Abraham a child. His barren wife had already been through menopause, and so she reasoned she and Abraham would help God out by having Abraham take her slave woman, have sex with her enough times to get her pregnant.
Abraham agreed this was a great idea – Hagar was young and beautiful… not that this would have anything to do with Abraham’s willingness to take her or anything – and the slavewoman had no choice: she had to comply. The text is unclear how many times they “slept together” before she got pregnant.
Eventually she did.
Relations between Sarah and Hagar soured. You can imagine why.
The slavewoman began to mock the freewoman because she as a slave became pregnant through her slavery and Abraham’s efforts, while the freewoman did not get pregnant through her freedom and Abraham’s efforts.
Think on that statement.
Free verses Slave
The young woman, who had no choice but to become a sex slave to very old man, began mocking the woman who was free.
Millennia later, the scholar Paul compared Hagar’s slavery to being enslaved to religious law and standards, whereas Sarah was compared to freedom in Christ: freedom from manmade standards and the religious laws of the Old Testament. 2
The Blessing of Sarah’s Barrenness
Sara was not only free and the wife of Abraham, she was beautiful: Pharoahs had slept with her through some idiot choices her husband had made.
Please understand that in this case, Sarah’s barrenness was a blessing from God.
First, in Sarah’s case it prevented the Pharoahs who she had to sleep with from getting her pregnant. (I’m not suggesting barrenness is a gift from God. Generally, I feel that barrenness is an unfortunate result of our fallen world).
And second, her barrenness provided an opportunity for God to do something awesome through Abraham’s faith: she gave birth in spite of her physical condition.
You see, God made a promise, and he fulfilled his promise with no help from Abraham… he didn’t need Abraham’s works to fulfill his promises. He just wanted Abraham’s faith.
The freewoman conceived through God’s efforts, not Abraham’s. Just like God’s efforts produced Adam and Eve, God’s efforts produced what became the nation of Israel from Abraham, and later on in Mary, God’s efforts produced Jesus. (Christmas time is coming, so stay tuned for more on that!)
Hagar the Seer
Hagar the slave began mocking the freewoman, so Sarah began treating her harshly. Hagar fled, breaking her oath and bond as a slave to the free. Hagar the slave was in the wrong, for both mocking and fleeing, but God showed up with instruction, mercy and grace.
The angel of the Lord appeared to her and instructed her to return and submit to Sarah, and promised her offspring would be multiplied beyond count.
So she called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, “You are a God of seeing,” for she said, “Truly here I have seen him who looks after me.”
Here and at least one other time, Hagar saw an angel, who revealed an amazing prophetic message and blessing for her, a slave woman in error.
Who is the God of Seeing?
In this story, told in Genesis 16, the Angel of the LORD came to Hagar. The text adds “she called the Name of the LORD…”
She called the Angel of the Lord and the Name of the Lord “God.” The text confirms she is correct.
God appeared visibly to her as the Angel, who is also the Name. And so while not every angel who appears in the Bible is God, in this case he was. But let’s drill this down just a bit more.
Who exactly appeared?
Jude 1:5 declares that Jesus Christ was the Angel of the Lord.
John 17:6 declares the Jesus Christ was the Name of the Lord.
Who is the God of Seeing?