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The Story
"I have now see the One who sees me!"

Let’s begin with the best line from our readings this week.  We are reading through the Story Bible, one chapter each week.  This week you were supposed to have read chapter 2; already.  It is basically Abraham through most of Jacob.  We have all the Abraham stories; all of Isaac, and then, the first half of Jacob.  Genesis 12-36 edited down.  Talk about hard to pick a sermon.  I had tons of ideas that are left on the sermon drawing board.

But, I am excited for the one that got off the drawing board.  This sermon is based upon the best line of chapter 2... my favorite verse from chapter 2 of the Story Bible... spectacular line... from Hagar... (hay-gar) You are going to love it... Ready...

NIV Genesis 16:13 Hagar gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: "You are the God who sees me," for she said, "I have now seen the One who sees me."

NRS Genesis 16:13 So she named the LORD who spoke to her, "You are El-Roi"; (El Roee) for she said, "Have I really seen God and remained alive after seeing him?"

ESV Genesis 16:13 So she called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, "You are a God of seeing," for she said, "Truly here I have seen him who looks after me."

“I have now seen the One who sees me!”  Wow.  “My God is a God who Sees” El-Roi!”  I now have seen the God who looks after me!”  Wow, is that not the best line of chapter 2 or what?

That is what I want this morning.  We want to see the One who sees... us!  We want to see the Lord El-Roi.  We want to catch a glimpse of the One who looks after us!  Last week we I said... God is love.  This week El-Roi is love! 

Let’s explore the story behind El-Roi.

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The story begins with a call.  Joe-Guy-Chosen-By-God, named Abram, living in Ur gets a call to go.  Our story begins with Abram leaving. Abram goes.  Our story begins with a blessing.

Genesis 12:1-4 Now the LORD said to Abram, "Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you.  And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.  I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed."  So, Abram went...

God called.  Abram went.  God blessed. But, the part of the blessing where Abram would become a great nation; i.e. have a bunch of kids, was a bit slow in... developing. In fact, Abram was in his mid 80’s; an octogenarian and he still had no kids.  Here is the ironic part.  The name Abram means... father.  All his life, he was called “Pops” but he has no kids. 

Abram has been married to Sarai, whose name means “my little princess”.  So, My-Princess and Pops have been married for... ever without any kids.  He doesn’t feel like a Pops.  She doesn’t feel like... a princess. 

This is where the Hagar part of story enters.  Sarai; My Little Princess; Mrs. Abram, has an idea...

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Genesis 16:2-4 And Sarai said to Abram, "Behold now, the LORD has prevented me from bearing children. Go in to my servant; it may be that I shall obtain children by her." And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai.  So, after Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, Sarai, Abram's wife, took Hagar the Egyptian, her servant, and gave her to Abram her husband as a wife.  And he went in to Hagar, and she conceived. And when she saw that she had conceived, Hagar looked with contempt on her mistress.

The name “Hagar” doesn’t mean anything as far as I know.  It may be an Egyptian name.  No-name; Hagar becomes Mrs. Abram #2 and she gets pregnant.  Then the tension builds between Mrs. Abram #1 and Mrs. Abram #2. Sarai is thinking she is going to raise the kid as hers, Hagar is thinking she is going to become #1 wife.  “Pops” has a problem.

Genesis 16:5-6 And Sarai (Mrs. Abram #1) said to (Mr.) Abram, "May the wrong done to me be on you! I gave my servant to your embrace, and when she saw that she had conceived, she looked on me with contempt. May the LORD judge between you and me!"  But Abram said to Sarai, "Behold, your servant is in your power; do to her as you please." Then Sarai dealt harshly with her, and she fled from her.

Certainly, a reason not to have two wives. Who is going to be Mrs. A #1?  Sarai makes sure she in #1 by abusing Hagar until she leaves.  As Hagar runs to get away from Sarai’s abuse, we find my favorite saying in chapter 2.

Genesis 16:7-11 The angel of the LORD found Hagar by a spring of water in the wilderness, the spring on the way to Shur.  And he said, "Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?" She said, "I am fleeing from my mistress Sarai."  The angel of the LORD said to her, "Return to your mistress and submit to her." The angel of the LORD also said to her, "I will surely multiply your offspring so that they cannot be numbered for multitude." And the angel of the LORD said to her, "Behold, you are pregnant and shall bear a son. You shall call his name Ishmael, because the LORD has listened to your affliction.”

The name Ishmael means “God hears”.  Coolest name yet.

Genesis 16:13 So Hagar called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, "You are a God of seeing," for she said, "Truly here I have seen him who looks after me." 

El-Roi – God sees Hagar.  Hagar sees the God who looks after her. 

So, Hagar returns and submits to My Little Princess... and all is well for a while. 

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Little “God hears”; Ishmael grows up.  Ishmael is the apple of Abram’s eye.  He is the little boy Abram always wanted.  Now, “Pops” is pops.  All seems to be working out. But God isn’t finished with the story, just yet.

Genesis 17:1-5 When Abram was ninety-nine years old the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, "I am God Almighty; (El- Shaddai) walk before me, and be blameless, that I may make my covenant between me and you, and may multiply you greatly."  Then Abram fell on his face. And God said to him, "Behold, my covenant is with you, and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations. No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham, for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations.”

His name is change from Pops to “Exalted Father”.  I think that is a great name...  but Sarai gets a name upgrade as well.

Genesis 17:15-19 And God said to Abraham, "As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name.  I will bless her, and moreover, I will give you a son by her. I will bless her, and she shall become nations; kings of peoples shall come from her."  Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed and said to himself, "Shall a child be born to a man who is a hundred years old? Shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?"  And Abraham said to God, "Oh that Ishmael might live before you!"  God said, "No, but Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his offspring after him.”

Seriously, Sarah is 90... seriously.  She becomes “a real princess”.  I think we would call her... Queen Mother.  Not just my little princess... She is to be princess of All!

Guess what?  You read the book.  Sarah has a little boy named... “Chuckles”.

Now, we have the rest of the Hagar story.  Her comes another good part.

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Genesis 21:5-6,9-11 Now Abraham was one hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him.  Sarah said, "God has made laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh with me."  (skip a couple years) Now Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, mocking.  Therefore, she said to Abraham, "Drive out this maid and her son, for the son of this maid shall not be an heir with my son Isaac."  The matter distressed Abraham greatly because of his son.

Abraham still loved his teenage son, Ismael...

Genesis 21:14-16 So Abraham rose early in the morning and took bread and a skin of water and gave it to Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, along with the child, and sent her away. And she departed and wandered in the wilderness of Beer-sheba.  When the water in the skin was gone, she put the child under one of the bushes.  Then she went and sat down opposite him a good way off, about the distance of a bowshot, for she said, "Let me not look on the death of the child." And as she sat opposite him, she lifted up her voice and wept.

Once again, Hagar is abandoned in the wilderness facing death...

Genesis 21:17-20 And God heard the voice of the boy, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, "What troubles you, Hagar? Fear not, for God has heard the voice of the boy where he is.  Up! Lift up the boy, and hold him fast with your hand, for I will make him into a great nation."  Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water. And she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink.  And God was with the boy, and he grew up. He lived in the wilderness and became an expert with the bow.

God is not only the El-Roi... The God who sees.  But God is also Elohim-Shema –God hears!  What an amazing story.  No-name Hagar gets to experience El-Roi and Elohim-Shema.  Hagar sees the God who sees her and hears the God who hears her! 

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Hagar is mentioned one more time in the Old Testament... in Genesis 25.

Genesis 25:12-15 These are the generations of Ishmael, Abraham's son, whom Hagar the Egyptian, Sarah's servant, bore to Abraham. These are the names of the sons of Ishmael, named in the order of their birth: Nebaioth, the firstborn of Ishmael; and Kedar, Adbeel, Mibsam, Mishma, Dumah, Massa, Hadad, Tema, Jetur, Naphish, and Kedemah.

Ishmael had 12 sons, just as Isaac's son Jacob would. Two generations later, God used the descendants of Ishmael to save the Jewish nation. Isaac's grandsons sold their brother Joseph into slavery to Ishmaelite traders. They took Joseph to Egypt where he became second in command of the entire country and saved his father and brothers during a great famine. (But that is next week’s story.) Ishmael becomes the father of the Arab nations. 

Hagar steps out of The Story.  We won’t read of her, again, in the Story Bible.  But, before she leaves the stage, I believe there is something for us to learn about God.  It is a lesson that has to do with names and blessings.

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--God chose Abram; Pops to become Abraham; Exalted Father. 

--God chose Sarai; My little Princess, to become Sarah... Mother of nations.

--Abraham and Sarah are the parents of the Jewish Nation.  The Jewish nation are the people of God through the Old Testament.  The people of God are the place where God, himself, is born.  The Jewish people are the birthplace of Emanuel... God with us.

--Through Abraham “all the families of the earth are blessed!”

--That is the big picture point.  God chose Abraham to bless the world through Jesus.

But that is not the lesson I want to share from the story of Hagar. That is the point of the big picture, but it is not the lesson I want to adopt this morning.

Hagar the no-named, Egyptian slave, who was abused by Abraham and Sarah, is seen by God.  El-Roi, the God who sees, sees Hagar. And Elohim-Shema, God hears, hears Hagar. This Nobody also becomes the mother of nations.   

There is an amazing play on names.  Ishmael... The Hearing God is the reverse of Elohim-Shema the God who hears.  I think that is the lesson.

We need to reverse who we believe God hears.  If we believe only the Abrahams and Sarahs, the insiders, the chosen, are heard by God --- we need to consider Hagar, the outsider, the other, who was also heard by God.  God hears the others. 

--We need to reverse who we believe God sees.  God sees the Hagars of the world.  God sees the outsiders around us.  God sees the others. 

--We need to reverse who we believe God loves.  God is love.  God is love.  God is love to the Hagars of our world. 

“That’s pretty obvious Tim.  God loves everyone.”  Is it that obvious.   We would not know it from our theology. 

--Do we see them as “others”? 

--Do we hear them as “others”? 

--Is it us and them?  Do we view the world as everyone as... either “us” or “them”?

I am challenging us to reverse our theology. 

--I am challenging us to rise up to the theology of El-Roi – the God who sees the others. 

--I am challenging us to rise up to the theology of Elohim-Shema, the God who hears the others.

--I am challenging us to rise up to the theology of God is love to the Hagars around us.

Genesis 16:13 So Hagar called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, "You are a God of seeing," for she said, "Truly here I have seen him who looks after me."

 

Tim Stidham

January 21, 2017

Los Alamos Church of Christ



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