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Wakeup Calls

They're part of the system.

Genesis 16:7–16 (ESV)

The angel of the LORD found her 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. He shall be a wild donkey of a man, his hand against everyone and everyone's hand against him, and he shall dwell over against all his kinsmen.”

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.” Therefore the well was called Beer-lahai-roi; it lies between Kadesh and Bered.

And Hagar bore Abram a son, and Abram called the name of his son, whom Hagar bore, Ishmael. Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore Ishmael to Abram.

The Bible doesn’t tell us how Sarai treated Hagar after she returned, but we have one clue. Abram named the child Ishmael—the name the Angel told to Hagar.

Obviously, Abram got the name from Hagar. She must have told him about her encounter with the Angel of the LORD. Hagar would have to have told the whole story anyway, to explain why she returned.

Imagine the shock this must have been to Abram and Sarai. This lowly servant girl describes a direct encounter with the angel of the LORD. Ding! They had forgotten about God’s guiding hand in all this.

But this clue tells us something else; Abram named the child. That means Abram sees the child as his. This gives Hagar some status as Ishmael’s mother.

Unfortunately, this status will disappear (will even turn negative) when Isaac is born.

Even the father of the faith needed wake-up calls to remind him that God is always running the show. We should strive to not need them, but we shouldn’t get discouraged when we do.

In fact, being frustrated by our own failures is one of the key characteristics of a Christian. Sanctification is a never-ending growth process, and frustration is essential to that growth. When we claim Jesus as Lord, we get a new standard of excellence. Our ability to meet that new standard doesn’t jump instantly, and that gives us fits.

Then our understanding of the new standard keeps growing faster than our ability to meet it. So, it feels like we’re moving backwards.

Praise God for this system! Sure, it’s painful, but it works marvelously. To God be the glory.

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These weekday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay. Saturdays' by Matt Richardson. Subscribe here:

The weekly study guides, which include questions for discussion or meditation, are here:

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NASB stands for the New American Standard Bible. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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