"But Abram said to Sarai, ‘See here, your maid is in your hands and power; do as you please with her. And when Sarai dealt severely with her, humbling and afflicting her, Hagar fled from her. But the Angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness."
Genesis 16: 6, 7, Amplified Bible
The Well of God's Remembrance
"Remember" - To be mindful of. To recall to your mind. To keep in your memory because someone is deserving of affection and recognition.
"People need to be reminded more often than they need to be instructed."
"Therefore the well was called Beerlahairoi, a well to the Living One who see me."
Genesis 16: 14, Amplified Bible
Her name was Hagar. We met her for the first time in Genesis 16: 1, "Now Sarai, Abram's wife, had borne him no children. She had an Egyptian maid whose name was Hagar." With these two sentences, a sordid, painful tale began that has affected the history of our planet Earth ever since for we find the consequences of this tragedy still taking place in our modern society thousands of years later.
In order to get a more complete view of the situation, we need to back up a few chapters in Genesis. In Genesis 11: 11, we find verses that give a record of the genealogy from Shem - one of the three sons of Noah. If you will take a few moments to read the 17 verses that follow, you'll note we are looking at a period of time lasting over 1,000 years. From Shem's descendants eight generations later - a man named Terah had three sons - Abram, Nahor and Haran, the firstborn who was also Lot's father and died before his father Terah. This is the reason we find Haran's son, Lot, living with his Uncle Abram.
Chapter 12 of Genesis begins with God coming to Abram and telling him, "I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you with abundant increase of favors and make your name famous and distinguished, and you will be a blessing…I will bless those who bless you and curse him who curses you…in you will all the families of the earth be blessed (Genesis 12: 2, 3, Amplified Bible).
With this calling and promise lighting his way, Abram began a journey to the land of Canaan.
Unfortunately, Abram decided to take a detour from the path God had charted. Because of a famine, we are told in Genesis 12: 10, "Abram went down into Egypt to live temporarily."
And there was trouble in Egypt. When Abram's family arrived in this foreign country, he feared for his life because his wife, Sarai, was so beautiful he was certain the men would want her and kill him. So Abram came up with a scheme that involved lying. He told everybody Sarai was his sister. As predicted, the men, especially Pharaoh, fell head-over-heels for Sarai and Pharaoh took her for his wife. But before the marriage could be consummated, God stepped in to undo the mess Abram had created. Genesis 12: 17 says, "The Lord scourged Pharaoh and his household with serious plagues because of Sarai…and Pharaoh called Abram and said, ‘What is this that you have done to me? Why did you not tell me that she was your wife? Now then, here is your wife; take her and get away from here!'" (Genesis 12: 17-20, Amplified Bible).
The detour to Egypt had just come to an abrupt halt. But this makes me wonder, Couldn't the God who called Abram, who charted his course to the Promised Land, also take care of feeding him on the way without a detour to Egypt? The answer is, "Yes!" And what made this trip even a bigger disaster was what came out of Egypt with Abram's family. Sarai picked up a servant girl named Hagar. Who knows if Hagar wanted to leave Egypt - but whether she did or not we find her having a "HUGE" affect on Abram's family life.
Please allow me to interject something here. I want to review the quote at the beginning of today's devotional by Samuel Johnson, "People need to be reminded more often than they need to be instructed," I chose this quotation specifically because it applies to our story today and it has an application to our own lives as well.
Back in Genesis 12, God promised Abram he would be a great nation. God said that Abram would have descendants. Now here comes Genesis 13 and what do we find? A reminder - "And I will make your descendants like the dust of the earth, so that if you could count the dust of the earth, then could your descendants also be counted"
(Genesis 13:16, Amplified Bible). Go forward to Genesis 15 and again when Abram is bemoaning the fact that Sarai hasn't had children God says, "He who shall come from your own body shall be your heir" (Genesis 15: 4, Amplified Bible). But God didn't stop there, He continued, "God brought Abram outside his tent into the starlight and said, ‘Look now toward the heavens and count the stars - if you are able to number them…so shall your descendants be." (Genesis 15, 4, 5, Amplified Bible).
Three clear and distinct reminders - promises to Abram from the mouth of God. And what happens -Genesis chapter 16 contains a very pathetic record of what can occur when we choose to ignore or forget the very things God reminds us about.
And Sarai said to Abram ‘See here, the Lord has restrained me from bearing children. I am asking you to have intercourse with my maid; it may be that I can obtain children by her…and Abram had intercourse with Hagar, and she became pregnant" (Genesis 16: 1-6, Amplified Bible). This isn't a recipe for disaster - it's a disaster spread out like a buffet. Two women. One baby. And Hagar, an Egyptian girl, removed from family and friends, quite possibly against her will, now has a child by the Master of the tribe. Talk about clout. She has an heir to hold over Abram's head and to throw in the face of barren Sarai. It wasn't long before a big blow-up occurred, Sarai and Abram got their heads together and, obviously wanting to keep out of the middle of the fight, Abram tells Sarai, "Do as you please with Hagar." And we find that Sarai, "dealt severely with her, humbling and afflicting her" (Genesis 16: 6, Amplified Bible). Not able to take the unkind behavior, Hagar fled into the wilderness.
But God did not forget this poor pregnant servant girl. He sent an Angel of the Lord who followed her and brought a promise to her, not only about her own future but of her child's as well. This Heavenly encouragement was the inspiration that caused Hagar to "call the name of the Lord who spoke to her, ‘You are a God of seeing,' for she said, ‘I have looked upon Him who sees me'…therefore the well was called Beerlahairoi a well to the Living One who sees me" (Genesis 16: 7-16, Amplified Bible).
If you will note, the definition of remember is: "To keep in your mind because you recognize or see the importance of someone or something." This is what God did for Hagar. In her most desperate moment; when she was alone and pregnant; when she had been run out of the only home she had; when she was rejected by the very people who were behind the plot to use her to solve their perceived problem; when she thought God was silent and hidden; when she felt forgotten - the Lord appeared and reminded her that He sees what is going on.
There are so many lessons in these few chapters of Genesis, however, as we study today what God's Well of Remembrance is about, there are two specific lessons I've learned.
The first lesson is from the life of Abram. Three times that we know about, God reminded him he would have descendants. However, because God chose to work with a different time-line than Abram and Sarai, they failed to comprehend the validity of God's repeated reminders. Instead, they took things into their own hands creating a massive mess for themselves and for Hagar, all because they didn't remember what God had promised! Need I say more? I've done the same thing myself. God's promises to watch over me…to keep me…to guide me…to have a plan for me are given over and over again. But when He doesn't move as fast as I think He should…or He doesn't do things the way I believe He should…or I hit a rough patch in the road, I get all upset, blame Him for the trouble and then, I take things into my own hands. And inevitably - a disaster is the result! When God reminds us that He sees what is going on, if He seems silent or slow - we need to "wait patiently on the Lord."
The second lesson is from the life of Hagar. This girl was a victim of the powerful people in her life who took her out of Egypt; used her to try to solve their childless problem; then treated her harshly when she was successful at conceiving. God didn't look the other way at this cruel treatment of Hagar. Instead, He sent an angel to remind her that He sees us and remembers us when disappointment, despair, heartache and loneliness surround us like fog. We may not see Him at first, but He is there. He remembers. He is the God who sees. He is the Well of Remembrance.
"It is when God appears to have abandoned us that we must abandon ourselves most wholly to God."
"It is my prayer-
That, though I may not see,
I be aware
Of the Silent God
Who stands by me.
That, though I may not feel,
I be aware
Of the Mighty Love
Which doggedly follows me.
That, though I may not respond,
I be aware
That God - my Silent, Mighty God,
Waits each day,
Quietly, hopefully, persistently,
Waits each day and through each night
For me - alone."
Psalms of a Laywoman
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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