From the LYWB.com Team: We’re shaking things up a bit round here on the Lies blog. Instead of blog posts, we’ll be leading you through an online Bible study for the next two weeks. The study comes from Erin’s newest books, A Beautiful Story and Beautiful Encounters. You don’t need copies of the books to participate, just yourself and your Bible. We will return to regularly scheduled programming October 9. Grab your Bible (and maybe your journal and a pen), and join us as we look for the gospel in the lives of four Old Testament women. (Psst . . . be sure to keep reading for your chance to win signed copies of A Beautiful Story and Beautiful Encounters.)
Favorite flower? Daisy.
Favorite color? Yellow.
Favorite car? T-top corvette.
This is a game my husband, Jason, and I love to play. Whenever we get some time away, just the two of us, we settle into a familiar rhythm of asking each other about likes and dislikes, pet peeves, and dreams for the future. We’ve been married so long we already know the answers to most of the questions. But we keep asking them because every question is like a love note that says, “I know you.”
Jason was my high school sweetheart. Two decades later, he knows me better than anyone else on the planet. He can order for me at restaurants because he already knows what I like. He can read the expressions on my face without me ever saying a word. Sigh. Romantic, isn’t it?
Knowing and being known is a beautiful gift, and it’s what transforms the story of Hagar from a story of rejection and hurt to a story of acceptance and purpose.
Take a moment to read Hagar’s story in Genesis 16.
The One Who Sees Me
Picture the person who knows you best. Perhaps it’s your mom, your best friend, or your sister. If possible, send that person a text and ask the following questions:
- How many hairs are on my head?
- How many years will I live?
- What sentence am I going to say next? (Make them guess before you say it.)
How many did they answer correctly? Zero, right? Don’t worry, that doesn’t mean your best friend isn’t truly your best friend or that your mom secretly adopted you. It just means they aren’t the foremost experts on you. There is One who knows you better than your parents or friends. He even knows you better than you know yourself. We find His name in Hagar’s story.
Revisit Genesis 16:13.
Hagar named the Lord “a God of seeing” (ESV). That’s a weird name, right? It’s like calling me “a woman of writing” or you “a player of basketball,” but this was all Hagar knew of the character of God. She didn’t know how she was supposed to talk about God; she just knew that when no one else saw her, He did.
Another way to describe being seen is being known. Hagar faced difficult circumstances. She was forced to marry a man she likely did not love. She was pregnant with a child she’d have to share with her mistress. She was hated by the woman in charge of her care, and ultimately she was cast out alone into the desert. Hagar’s story is no fairy tale. But that’s the lower story. We are doing this online study to help you look for the higher story. There is a higher, more significant plotline at play. Hagar’s life reveals a critical piece of the puzzle of who God is.
He is a God who sees us. He is a God who knows us.
Learning to Look for the Gospel
Is it possible Hagar’s story is really about the gospel? (For a refresher on what the gospel is, check out yesterday’s post.)
Read Galatians 4:21–30.
These words were written by Paul after Christ’s time on earth. Paul knew the lower story. He was aware of the details of Hagar and Sarai’s lives, but he didn’t park there. He looked for the higher story, the gospel story.
Paul used Hagar and Sarai as symbols to describe a bigger truth, comparing them to two covenants. Hagar represents one covenant (or promise from God), and Sarai represents a second covenant. If you have a journal or a piece of paper handy, go back through the verse and compare the differences between Hagar’s covenant and Sarai’s.
Hagar’s tragic story represents life without Christ. She was enslaved to sin and destined to pass that along to the next generation. This is our position without Christ.
What does Romans 6:20 remind us to consider?
What did Jesus declare in John 8:34?
Hagar’s life illustrated the hopelessness of this truth. She was a slave, bound to her masters. Scripture doesn’t give us any indication that she ever experienced freedom.
When we surrender our lives to Him and turn from our sin, we experience true freedom.
In contrast, Sarai’s story showcases the covenant of freedom. God’s promise to us is that when we surrender our lives to Him and turn from our sin, we experience true freedom. We were born as slaves to sin, but because of Jesus our chains are removed and we are adopted as children of the promise (Gal. 4:28).
At first glance, Genesis 16 looks like a story about a pregnant slave girl in the desert. When we look again, we see it is so much more! Hagar’s life declares who God is.
I’d love to hear from you. Leave us a comment sharing what you learned from Hagar’s story today and how you’ve seen evidence that God is “a God of seeing.” At the end of this study, I will choose one commenter per day to win signed copies of A Beautiful Story and Beautiful Encounters.
Don’t miss tomorrow’s post, where we will run to the Bible together to learn from Miriam’s story.