Had a visit from an angel lately? Here’s a fascinating story about an angelic visit, with a surprise ending, too.
There are no less than 20 thrilling stories in the Old Testament where the Angel of the Lord shows up. Perhaps surprisingly, the first two occurrences are with this poorly treated Egyptian maid named Hagar. Even her Hebrew name, Hagar, must have been hard to take. It means “stranger” or “sojourner,” someone who doesn’t belong. Sounds pretty insensitive! Then she was used by her mistress to bear a child for Sarai and Abram. But as soon as Hagar was pregnant, Sarai realized how wrong she had been to suggest this. To add insult to injury, Sarai saw she was despised by this servant woman who so quickly conceived when she was unable to. Jealousy in the home is deadly, and so Sarai put it to Abram: who was he going to choose, and choose he must, if there was to be peace in the home. Abram passed the buck back to Sarai and told her to do whatever she wanted with Hagar. Thus we read, “Sarai dealt harshly with her,” and in response, Hagar “fled from her presence” (Gen 16:6). She ended up in the wilderness of Shur, and there she found a spring of water, where she rested. Pregnant. Homeless. Hopeless. She wouldn’t be the last young woman in this predicament. But who showed up in her time of desperation? The Angel of the Lord! He instructed Hagar to return to serving Sarai, told her that the child would be a son, and gave him his name, Ishmael. And then He promised this: “I will multiply your descendants exceedingly, so that they shall not be counted for multitude.” Though Abram had failed, God would not fail to keep His promise concerning Abram’s children, no matter how conceived. Here is a reminder: there may be illegitimate acts by adults, but there are no illegitimate children. They are all valued by God.