Genesis 16 records the very first appearance of the Angel of the Lord to a human being. “Angel of the Lord” occurs fifty-six times in the Old Testament and twelve times in the New Testament. The story of Hagar, a young, pregnant Egyptian servant girl provides the setting. The father of the baby was Abram, the servant’s owner/master. This made Sarai, the man’s wife, angry even though it had been Sarai’s idea in the first place. Sarai treated Hagar harshly so Hagar fled into the wilderness. This young foreign girl found herself sitting by a well in the wilderness far from home without friends or resources. Most students of the Old Testament believe that many of the Old Testament appearances of the Angel of the Lord are none other than the Second Person of the Godhead. Genesis 16:13 makes this appearance seem to be an appearance of Christ.
These Old Testament appearances of Christ accomplish two things. They prepare us to be ready for the Incarnation of Christ. They also allow our loving, gracious, and merciful Savior to meet us where we are and in our time of need. Hagar must have been afraid, hungry, and lonely. Christ met Hagar where she was and comforted her. While He made Hagar some marvelous promises, He did not tell her that everything was going to be exactly the way she wanted it. The Angel of the Lord gave her a very difficult, if not impossible, command. Christ told this young servant girl to return to the mistress who was treating her harshly and submit. Submit: now there is a dirty word if there ever was one. You do not like to submit and neither do I. In effect, Christ met all of Hagar’s needs but it was likely not in a way that Hagar wanted. My observation in my own life and in the lives of others tells me that Christ often works that way today. Returning and submitting would relieve Hagar’s fear, hunger, and loneliness.
How was it possible for Hagar to return to and submit to a mistress who was mistreating her? How is it possible for you and me to submit? Genesis 16:13-14 provides the answer, “Then she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, “You are a God who sees”; for she said, “Have I even remained alive here after seeing Him?” Therefore the well was called Beer-lahai-roi.” (NASU) The only way we (Hagar, you, me) can obey such a command is that we see the Living God and live. Hagar gave the well a new name, Beer-lahai-roi, which means “The Well of the Living One who Sees Me”. More astonishingly it seems that Hagar gave Christ a new name. Hagar is the only one I recall who gave Christ a name. She called Him “The God who Sees”. There seems to be a play on words here in the Hebrew. It seems that Hagar is saying, “God sees me. I see Him. I see Him who sees me.” When God reveals Himself to us as the “One Who Sees and Cares”, then and only then can we obey His command to submit to unjust mistreatment. This is a view of God that allows us to take what life throws at us. When we realize that this great big Creator God really sees us and cares for us, then we are transformed. Hagar returned to the home of Abram and Sarai as a new person. We are not told what sort of reception that Hagar received from Sarai. We are not told if Sarai changed. We only know that Hagar was transformed by seeing the Living God.