【Bible Study】Genesis 16: God Is the God Who Sees Us

Pastor Samuel Sharing

Brother William Sharing

Bible Study: Genesis


Today we are studying the book of Genesis chapter 16. There are a lot of different views on this chapter, especially when people are talking about the conflict between the Jews and Arabs. Because people tend to correlate this conflict with chapter 16 of Genesis. They are also looking at the conflict as the sorrow of humankind. Is that so? Probably not.

Let's look at Chapter 16 and you will know that God spoke to Hagar. How amazing can that be? However, you and I are not Israelites. You and I might be Chinese, Japanese, or Malaysians, there are no Jews amongst us. But do we get a response from the Lord if we call out to him? Please let me share my view on this, and I will appreciate it if you do not judge whether it's right or wrong in the end. I'm trying to build up faith for people. We are not historians, so I'm not studying it from a historic point of view or a psychological point of view. I'm looking at the faith. I'm looking at the Almighty God, who is the God of Israelites, the God of Arabs, the God of the Chinese, and the God of the entire mankind. Do you agree that our God is the God of all people? What if you and I were Hagar, do we want our children to be blessed? Yes, obviously!

After reading through this chapter, I would say the key topic is God is the God who sees me.

She 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." (Genesis 16:13 NIV)

The God who sees me

Isn't that a wonderful thing when you have seen the ONE who sees you? Let's ask ourselves a question: is the God who sees me, the God who really looks after me, cares for my needs?

Hagger might not be that knowledgeable. If she was, she would not flee from the house of Abram and end up alone in the desert. If she was knowledgeable, she would have never despised her master, Sarai. She would never need to suffer from all of this if she knew how to deal with her masters and built a good relationship with them. Actually, she was not a wise person, but she met the Lord who saw her. And you must agree that's very encouraging!

I see the God who sees me is the topic of this chapter. If we look at it from this perspective and we also realize that we can see the God who sees me. That is very exciting and encouraging. I'm sure you will encounter a problem here and there. Probably your investment has been wiped out by the market, your efforts have gone in vain, you are in deep sorrow; you may have been mistreated by your boss. You are now in the same situation as Hagar. She was not a perfect person, and neither was Abram.

None of the members of Abram's house were perfect, nor was Sarai. Hence why they had in-house politics to deal with every single day. That is very common for every family! But the key point is our God is still the God who sees us. God is still the God of Hagar, the God of Abraham, and the God of Sarai. Whoever turns to God, He will turn to you, regardless of your nationality, race, ethnicity. If you turn to God, God will turn to you.

God sees us regardless who we are

I have the Bible verses to support this. Rahab lived in the city of Jericho. Under God's command, the entire city of Jericho must be destroyed as per the book of Joshua. God commissioned Israelites to vengefully wipe out the entire city of Jericho, including men, women, children, and animals. Anything that could breathe should be killed, including Rahab and her family. But why did Rahab and her family survive? Because Rahab was seeking God and God knew her and her family. God saved her not because she was a perfect person.

In fact, according to the Bible, she was a prostitute living in the city of Jericho. Some biblical scholars have put on a lot of effort into the translation and tried to correct the translation by saying that she was not a prostitute as we thought. I prefer to make things easy to be understood and encapsulate the main idea for each chapter. The key thing is Rahab was not a perfect person, nor was she someone with high morals. We should not criticize them because you and I are not perfect. Hagar and Rehab had seen God. Today, you and I will have the opportunity to see God who sees us! And this is the Almighty God; this is a wonderful God and our God is a good God. Whoever turns to Him, He will turn to us. He will turn to the people who turn to Him. How wonderful it is! Moreover, we have hope in Him.

Hagar was an Egyptian, a slave who did not do a good job in the house of Abram. She got pregnant because her master Sarai was barren. So Sarai suggested to Abram to sleep with Hagar to produce an heir. Consequently, she was successfully pregnant and she thought her role in the family went up dramatically, higher than Sarai. Unfortunately, this type of thinking is very horrible.

When she knew she was pregnant, she began to despise her mistress. (Genesis 16:4 NIV)

Based on this description, Hagar very likely was mocking Sarai, being mean to Sarai. Hagar might have been displaying inappropriate haughtiness and showing off her pregnancy. She made it very difficult for Sarai, who was supposed to be a woman of faith. Eventually, Hagar's attitude was unbearable to Sarai, so she complained to her husband Abram.

But Abram was not willing to get involved between the two women.

"Your slave is in your hands," Abram said. "Do with her whatever you think best." Then Sarai mistreated Hagar; so she fled from her. (Genesis 16:6 NIV)

Abram pointed out that Hagar belonged to Sarai, so she should decide what to do. In return, Sarai treated this pregnant Hagar harshly to a point that Hagar fled from her.

Can you imagine the fighting between women in the same house? If you are creative enough, you may be able to turn this into a novel. The question is: are we in the right position to criticize them, Hagar, Sarai, and Abram? Of course not. Instead, we need to appreciate it because God has shown to us that none of these were perfect, nor with high morals. Yet, "God sees Hagar when Hagar calls out to the Lord, God sees her". Therefore, whoever calls out to the Lord, God sees us and will help us. That is really uplifting and encouraging.

Build our faith in God

Before I knew God, I felt my life was in vain, I was hopeless every day. My life was full of unfortunate events. I did not see the meaning of living because I was suffering from living, and I felt that my heart, soul, and body were floating out on the tide of agony. Everyone knows that Singapore is called "a beautiful Garden State" with neat streets and flowers everywhere. But it was gray and blurry. I just could not see the beauty of it. When I was walking down the street, everything I saw was black and white. I just had that dim vision, although I never had any eye issues. Do you know why? It was because I was spiritually ill, my spirit was so down, I lost hope.

I started to seek God. The day I saw the Lord who saw me, I turned to Him. And He turned to me and saved me. Our Lord is a good God, a wonderful God, He sees you. How wonderful is that!

I have explored for many years how to lead the Bible study. I found this approach: as a pastor, I need to help my audience to build their faith! The faith in the Lord!

Everyone knows the fight between Jews and Arabs, but that's not a problem for me. If we try to focus on what the Lord wants us to know, do we really need to care about them? Or is there something more important for Christians to care about?

I think we need to care about the faith in the Lord, which is more important than the conflicts between Jews and Arabs. I care about turning to the Lord, who sees Abraham Hagar and Sarai. I hope our brothers and sisters turn to God who sees you and me. This God also sees Sarai, Abraham, Hagar, you, and me. I hope I have delivered my message with clarity.

I suggest that if you lead the Bible study, it is better to bring your audience on the track of the faith. That actually is one of the most important aspects of the "Doctrine of Destiny". In Chinese, Ming-ding means destiny. The Doctrine of Destiny reveals to us the meaning of living defined by the Lord. Hence, we will know where we're going, all the things are in the hands of God. The Bible displays that those people who turned to the Lord are far from perfect, without high morals. However, once they turn to the Lord, our Lord turns to them and saves them.

Hagar's acquaintance with God

There was no documentary if Hagar was from Egypt, but we guess she was from Egypt. She heard that Abram defeated the four kings and rescued his nephew, Lot. She knew that Abram had fear and was afraid the enemy might return and attack him, she saw God spoke to Abram, and she saw everything that Abram experienced.

In her mind, she knew that God saved her master, Abram. But at that time, there was a distance between herself and God. She had a routine life and never bothered to have a connection with the Almighty God. But in her mind, she knew that God saved her master. She strongly believed that she would be safe if she followed Abram because she saw God was protecting and helping Abram all the way.

Hagar was trapped in a horrible situation. In the beginning, she became a slave of Sarai, then, Sarai gave her to Abram, she got pregnant and was mistreated by Sarai. After that, she ran away from this family, went to the desert, and cried out to the Lord.

Life can be horrible, but do not lose hope. The Lord is always there and waiting for you to call out to him. The moment you cry out to the Lord, you will find He is with you. That's what Hagar experienced.

Don't underestimate the power of mistreating. It is horrible when a woman mistreats another woman. Sarai mistreated Hagar, leading Hagar to flee from her. Hagar was a slave and she was pregnant, when Sarai mistreated her, there was nothing she could do. However, Sarai, as the master's wife, had the authority to make Hagar's life miserable. She could force Hagar to abort the pregnancy, which would have killed the baby in the womb. Hagar could not stop imagining what Sarai might do to her baby. So, she decided to run away.

As a slave, you don't have freedom, and if you run away from the master, you become a traitor. If you get caught, the master can punish you with the death penalty.

Hagar encounted God

Hagar ran away, walked into the desert. There was no human being, no modern civilization, she had a baby in the womb, and it might be in the later stage of pregnancy. She started thinking, "Where am I going? Where am I going? How can I survive? How can I give birth to this baby?"

As she continued walking in the desert and felt completely hopeless. She could not return to the master, because Sarai mistreated her, she couldn't take it anymore. She looked forward into the desert, there might be wolves, beasts, or other wild animals, and they could attack her any time. All the thoughts were horrible and fearful. She had no hope but only had suffering. There was nowhere for her to turn to. She might even talk to Abram before running away, but Abram said that was not his problem, but told her to listen to Sarai and follow her order.

When we have lost all hope, we will turn to God. This was the moment that Hagar felt completely hopeless. That was the time when she lost all hope, she started turning to the Lord. When we lose all hope, we start remembering how God responded to the prayer of Abram. She remembered how the Lord responded to Abram. So she was thinking, "Should I try?".

Hagar tried and prayed to the Lord, "You are the God of Abram and I have seen how you responded to the prayer of my master Abram. I'm falling into a desperate situation. I don't know where I am going. I do not know what my future is. Can I lay my future in your hands? I cry out to you, Lord. I do not know whether you are the Lord who sees me. I do not know whether you will respond to my prayer. There is no one I can turn to. Lord, please hear me, hear my cry, and hear my misery."

Then, while she was walking along the wilderness, the Angel appeared.

The angel of the LORD found Hagar near a spring in the desert; it was the spring that is beside the road to Shur. And he said, "Hagar, slave of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?" (Genesis 16:7-8 NIV)

The angel of the Lord asked exactly what Hagar was wondering, "Where am I going?"

"I'm running away from my mistress Sarai," she answered. (Genesis 16:8 NIV)

Hagar responded to the Angel, she was running away from Sarai.

Then the angel of the Lord told her, "Go back to your mistress and submit to her." (Genesis 16:9 NIV)

That's God's answer. Hagar was a slave, although God could set her free. God could see her, but He might not change her status, her job, or anything else. But God told her to go back and submit. God knew Sarai mistreated Hagar, and it was Hangar's fault, she'd better know how to handle it, which is "you'd better submit to her".

The angel added, "I will increase your descendants so much that they will be too numerous to count." The angel of the Lord also said to her: "You are now pregnant and you will give birth to a son. You shall name him Ishmael, for the Lord has heard of your misery. He will be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone's hand against him, and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers." (Genesis 16:10-12 NIV)

God always encourages us

God's response was very encouraging. Sometimes we get to a dead-end and lose all our hope, but when we call upon the Lord, He will give us hope.

She 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." That is why the well was called Beer Lahai Roi; it is still there, between Kadesh and Bered. So Hagar bore Abram a son, and Abram gave the name Ishmael to the son she had borne. Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore him Ishmael. (Genesis 16:13-16 NIV)

Hagar had seen the One who saw her. From that moment, Hagar knew that when she submitted to her mistress Sarai, God would look after her. Their relationship started getting better. She finally gave birth to a son and named him Ishmael. We need to remember, the name Ishmael came from the Lord, that's so precious.

If you are narrow-minded, you will think that God is the God of Israelites, then you will have a bias against Arabs. God is the God of both of them, just like God is the God of Chinese, the God of Egyptian, and the God of Jericho. God is the God of all human beings. This is our God, He will not turn away from anyone turning to him. No matter if we are Chinese or Israelites, when we turn to the Lord, God will see us. That is so wonderful!

Exercise faith by trial and error

Hagar's story has brought up another question; was Ishmael born from the flesh, or was he born from carnal? This will make every one of us think.

Many people will interpret it as carnal. The path of my thought is, God promised to give Abram a son and told him that his descendants would be as numerous as the dust of the earth and stars in the sky. He must be wondering, how would that happen? Although I'm not sure if Sarai and Abram prayed to the Lord together, I'm pretty sure Abram prayed to the Lord very often. Abram must pray to the Lord, "Give me a son, one would be enough, let my descendants be as numerous as the stars in the sky." They must have prayed to the Lord but did not hear any response. Just like sometimes you and I pray to the Lord, but we hear nothing. Then, we explore by trial and error, which I believe many of us do. So, Sarai and Abraham also went for it. One day she came up with a wonderful idea.

So she said to Abraham: "The Lord has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my maidservant; perhaps I can build a family through her."(Genesis 16:2, NIV)

How wonderful is it? “We can borrow Hagar. If she can have a child for us, the baby comes from you. Because you are my husband, so the baby will be our child anyway”. They thought it was a wonderful idea. Then Hagar indeed got pregnant. Both Abram and Sarai knew this. They were very happy that finally, they were going to have a son!

Then the question is: was this by faith? I'm going to post this question to challenge you. This is a real question. You and I might have gone through some trials and errors. Then we will try to figure out where God is leading me to. This is by faith!

Abraham believed the son was from the Lord. He did this by faith. It didn't matter whether it was from Sarai or Hagar. Abraham believed that was from the Lord and that was the Lord's approach. In the next chapter, Abraham told God that he had a son. Before this, he said to the Lord that the one who inherited his estate was Eliezer, the servant of Damascus. At that time, God said:

"This man will not be your heir, but a son coming from your own body will be your heir."(Genesis 15:4, NIV)

So this baby was born from Abraham, not from someone else. It was Abraham's son. And this is exactly what God promised to Abraham:

"I will make him fruitful and will greatly increase his numbers."(Genesis 17:20, NIV)

Why did Abraham and Sarai do this? They did this by faith.

Does this confuse you whether it's carnal or not? Let's march forward by faith. Whether you take up a job or do a business, do it by faith. As long as it is by faith, you know God sees you. God is seeing what you are doing. You will never run away from the hands of God. God is still in control. You are tiny like a little ant in God's eyes. We are all like little ants in the eyes of Almighty God. You will never be able to run out from the plan of Almighty God.

If you are a man who exercises faith, you will learn how to exercise your faith. Don't worry, put away all the worries you have. Sometimes, people turn to me and say, "Pastor, should I take up this job and that job? Should I do this business or that business? Can you pray for me and see if God gives me direction?" Can you guess what I will say if you are the one asking? I will tell them: "If you do, do it by faith. If you choose, choose it by faith." Some people may say: "I prayed and I saw a vision." Or "I heard the Lord say: you do this. Then I will do that." Probably you have to ask yourself the question: Is that called faith?

Distraction of feelings in exercising faith

Quite often, I see a lot of Christians do not know how to exercise faith. Abraham exercised the faith by doing such an approach and recorded it in the Bible. But they criticize by saying: "Oh, Abraham is not exercising faith." Was Abraham exercising faith?

One lady turned to me and said "oh, Pastor, you know, one day, when I was praying, I saw a vision and God told me to buy this and buy that, to invest in this, to invest in that. And finally, I invested in exactly what I saw in the vision and my heart was very peaceful at that time. But now my heart is full of sorrow because all these lands are of nearly zero value." I asked her: "Are you sure you saw the vision? Are you sure you felt peace at that time?"

From what I have seen, they do not exercise by faith, but by feelings. And that feeling brought them into the kind of practice where they either see a vision or hear the word of God. Is that by faith? I'm not sure about it. Probably you think it is by faith, then it is. But I do not practise that. I don't feel peaceful after I have prayed. That's called feelings. Faith is faith. Do you agree with me? Never go back to feelings. At that time, you feel like this, but you will feel something different next time. Sometimes you feel this kind of peace, sometimes you feel that kind of peace. I couldn't find any precedent in the Bible that after Abraham prayed to God, he felt peaceful, then Hagar gave birth to a son, Ishmael.

A lot of Christian practise by feelings, I practise my faith, regardless of the situation, the environment, the problem, and the challenge. None of the barriers can block our determination to march forward. I have God who sees me and **I will exercise my faith. **Probably I'm wrong. You can try to practise what I have shared with you and you will see the result.

God is in control of everything

Live by faith! You need to trust the Lord is in control of everything. You just go and move forward. If you hear the Lord say "don't do this, don't do that", then don't do it. If you hear the Lord say "yes, you must do", then do it. You must do this and you'd better do it. If you hear nothing, you just do it by faith. And this is called the doctrine of faith. I practise this doctrine and it works.

Probably you don't agree with me, but you can try to put it into practice. I believe the word of God is not for analyzing or interpreting. It is not history as I'm not a historian. I'm a man who is trying to put the word of God into practice. When I interpret the Bible, I interpret the way by which everyone can practice. I do not want to put fear into your heart, I want to bring faith into your heart; I do not encourage you to go by feelings, I encourage you and myself to go by faith.

Abraham tried this for 10 years. Was it easy? No, it was not easy. When you look back, 10 years was pretty short. But if you look forward to it, 10 years is pretty long. From today onward, follow in the footsteps of Abraham. And throughout the whole Bible, I've never found any prophet criticizing Abraham. Not at all. They never said: "Abraham, how come you do this?" No, there's no such thing. In the teachings of Jesus Christ, He never criticized Abraham for this either. Apostle Paul never criticized Abraham. But today, many pastors think they are much more knowledgeable than Apostle Paul or our Lord Jesus Christ. They start to criticize this and criticize that. Is that called critical thinking? No!

God made a promise to Hagar:

"I will so increase your descendants that they will be too numerous to count."(Genesis 16:10, NIV)

That was God's plan and He is still doing this wonderful thing amongst us. So get encouraged! Do not try out the feelings, but try out the faith.

God always sees us

We'd better study the word of God and understand how God works, what real faith is. We will see God as a good God. God sees me all the time. Let's give claps to our Almighty God, who sees me from the day the whole universe was created, the way I was born to the day I come back to Him.

God is the God who has saved me. No worry, no fear, only trust in the Lord. I know I came to this world with a destiny. I live for my Lord Jesus Christ. I will die for Him. Everything is made by Him and I will commit myself to Him. He's the God who sees me before I existed to the day I came back to Him. I'm looking forward to the day He puts a glorious crown on my head and commends me: my faithful servant, come and share my glory. I'm so excited about this. Although I have tried so many times, I know my God is with me.

Today I'm doing a wonderful thing and I believe I'm going to change the ways of interpreting the Bible. I follow in the footsteps of Abraham, I do not want to reinvent the view. Abraham is a wonderful man that He paved the path of the faith and God was so pleased with him, including his servant Hagar. Isn't that part of God's plan? So you and I can go into peace, rest in the Lord. Be assured that God will see you exactly as how Hagar experienced, even though she was an Egyptian. How wonderful it is! Welcome the Lord into our life.


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