The Gospel in Genesis: The First Refugee

Though God had promised Abraham and Sarah a child, Sarah was growing impatient. To speed up the plan, Sarah gave one of her female slaves, Hagar, to Abraham so she could have a child in Sarah’s place, but the plan backfired. Hagar indeed became pregnant, but she also began looking at her mistress with scorn and pride. When the jealous Sarah began mistreating Hagar, she fled into the wilderness. However, she couldn’t run from God, and He came and spoke to her by a spring of water that He had provided for her.

He began by calling her by name, reminding us that, if He knew the name of a lowly Egyptian slave girl, He knows all of us by name. He knows our sins, our past, our motives, and our so-called plans.

He asked Hagar two questions. The first was, “Where have you come from?” Of course, God knew every detail of her past, but He needed her to admit her sins.

We all have vastly different backgrounds and past experiences, but one thing we all have in common with Hagar is that we have all sinned (Rom 3:23). Until we acknowledge and confess those sins, we can’t be saved.

The second question God asked Hagar was about her future: “Where are you going?” Perhaps Hagar had a plan, or maybe she was just wandering aimlessly. Whatever she was thinking, it was clearly not the course that God had laid out for her.

God commands her to return to Sarah’s house. He then encourages her with a promise about the child she is carrying. He explains that her unborn son will become a mighty man and a powerful fighter. God will fulfill this promise, even when Hagar and her son, Ishmael, are later thrown out into the wilderness to die. Both are preserved again by God, and Ishmael goes on to live a long life.

God often asks us to consider our future. He warns us that, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Prov 16:25, KJV). When He was here on earth, Jesus Christ taught us about two paths: a wide and crowded one heading down to hell and a narrow, rather sparsely populated one leading to heaven and eternal life (Matt 7:13-14). He warned us to “repent, or you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3, KJV).

And what God promises to us now, far exceeds what He offered to Hagar. He promises rest for all who will come to Him (Matt 11:28). He promises a rescue from hell for all who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 16:31). And He promises everlasting life to all who trust His Son (John 3:16).

Hagar was so amazed that the God of the entire universe would have such a specific care for her, she cried out, “You are a God of seeing!” She counted herself blessed to “see” the One who always saw and watched over her … even when she sinned.

God is still a God of seeing. He sees everything we do, even the thoughts of our hearts. He loves us even though we have sinned, and because we have sinned, He has provided a way for us to be right with Him again. He gave His only Son to die on a cross, taking our place and our punishment.