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Fresh Water: For Hagar and Ishmael

Fresh Water: For Hagar and Ishmael

Fresh Water: For Hagar and Ishmael.

There were many times in the Hebrew Bible when God appeared in bodily form as a man. But can Yahweh be seen that way? Can one visibly witness a sighting of God face-to-face? There are a couple of reason why this contradicts Scripture:

  • God is a Spirit (John 4:24). One can’t see a Spirit. A Spirit is formless, shapeless, and basically invisible. The Spirit is more like a wind and can’t be encountered visibly;
  • We cannot actually see God and survive the experience (Exodus 33;20; John 1:18). God is a consuming fire of purity and light and unimaginable substance. God burns too hot for personal human experience.

So when people in the Old Testament state that they have seen God, what have they literally seen? Early Church theologians, and numerous Biblical scholars since, have believed that when God is in visible form, the truth is that Christ has made an appearance. Every physical appearance of God is a revelation of Jesus Christ in His pre-incarnate form. There is a particular character who flits in and out of the Hebrew Bible, the Angel of Yahweh also known as the Angel of God, the Angel of the Lord, the Messenger of Yahweh, or the Angel of His Presence. It is widely accepted in Biblical scholarship that this mysterious Angel is none other than the bodily appearance of Jesus Christ. The Deity of Jesus is clearly portrayed in His role of Angelic Messenger, God’s special representative that speaks God’s mind and performs His will. “The Angel of the Lord is the visible Lord God of the O.T., as Jesus Christ was of the N.T.” (Amplified notes). It’s interesting to consider that once Jesus was born, there is no more mention of the Angel of Yahweh, after having a dominating presence in stories of the O.T.

When is it safe to say we might assume that Christ made an appearance in the Hebrew Bible? There are several signs that point to the presence of Jesus:

  • Did the Angel do or say anything that is normally associated with God?
  • Did the persons involved claim that they had seen God?
  • Was there a response of worship on the part of the witnesses?
  • Was there anything miraculous in the appearance?
  • Were there any traits of God demonstrated?

That the Angel of Yahweh is an uncreated angel, distinguished from other angels, and in many places identified with the Lord God is undeniable. On the other hand there are passages in which He seems to be distinguished from God the Father. The simplest way of reconciling these two classes is to adopt the old view that this Angel is Christ, the second Person of the Godhead, even at that early period appearing as the revealer of the Father.” (Lange’s Commentary).

Jesus With Hagar, Part 1. “The Angel of the Lord found Hagar near a spring in the desert… ” In Genesis 16, we see pregnant Hagar fleeing from a jealous and angry Sarai and a befuddled Abram. He conceived a child with Hagar, at Sarai’s request, and it brought nothing but trouble. So Hagar tried to escape this troublesome home and found herself in the wilderness at a spring of water. The Angel of the Lord appeared to her, comforted her, and directed her back to Sarai. If there was any doubt about this Messenger being Jesus, the Angel told Hagar that she would have countless descendants, that she would bear a son named Ishmael. Ishmael means “God hears,” so her son’s name will serve to remind her that Yahweh has heard her affliction. Do other angels have the authority over life that this Angel did? No, only the Messenger Jesus has the authority or power to speak these divine words. Hagar had no doubt that she was talking directly with the Lord, for v. 13 states, “Then she called the name of Yahweh who spoke to her, El-Roi, You-are-God-who-sees.” And she followed that up by exclaiming, “Have I truly seen the One who sees me?” That spring of water in the well was named, “Well of the Living One who sees me.” God saw the humble Hagar and intervened. The Living One was indeed Jesus, who comforted the desperate and distraught Hagar, and cared for her, and sent her back to Abram and Sarai for God’s will to be accomplished. God made a special appearance for someone who could easily have been overlooked. Yahweh had His eyes on the lowly, and Jesus brought His message.

Jesus with Hagar, Part 2. “Sarah said to Abraham, ‘Get rid of that slave woman and her son… Early the next morning Abraham took some food and a skin of water and gave them to Hagar. He set them on her shoulders and then sent her off with the boy. She went on her way and wandered in the desert of Beersheba. When the water in the skin was gone, she put the boy under one of the bushes. Then she went off and sat down nearby, about a bowshot away, for she thought, ‘I cannot watch the boy die.’ And as she sat there nearby, she began to sob. God heard the boy crying, and the Angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, ‘What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. Lift the boy and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation.’ Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of fresh water. So she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink.” (Genesis 21).

 

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