Genesis 16: Three’s A Crowd

Ok, so normally I like to at least try to put some funny spin on the chapter I read but I have to be honest: Genesis 16 was HEAVY! So let me quickly get the lone funny thought I had about this chapter out there and move on to the serious stuff.

So if you will allow me a brief moment of irreverence, this chapter reminds me of . . .

I should be ashamed of myself. And I am.

Three’s a Crowd

Genesis 16 is messy. There is no way around it. Abram and Sarai long for the promise of God to be fulfilled but God has been a bit hazy on the details of how that will happen. So they take matters into their own hands and do what would be culturally appropriate: Let Abram try to have an heir with their Egyptian Slave Girl, Hagar. Essentially, and perhaps I am being too crude here, Hagar is raped and impregnated by Abram.

They had hoped this would bring joy. God’s promise was going to be fulfilled! Instead it brings division, anger, bitterness, blame and so on. But before I get too harsh on them for acting so stupidly, how were they supposed to know? They acted in a way that others would have acted and were never told to not act that way.Would you or I have done anything different?

Echoes of The Fall

“Abram listened to Sarai . . .”

“Sarai . . . gave her to her husband Abram . . .”

Sound familiar? It should. These are the exact same phrases used in Genesis 3 with the fruit. The author is letting us know something very important: The acts of the fall are being repeated. That can’t be good. But this time, instead of the culprits getting punished, someone else takes the brunt of the sin.


There is a sharp contrast between the two episodes of Genesis 16. The first part is messy and gross and painful. The second half injects hope, healing, and truth into that mess.

Hagar has run away. She ends up scared, pregnant, and alone in the wilderness when God finds her. How many women today face the same things Hagar did? Her conversation with God is intense, weighty, compassionate, tender, honest, and powerful. This is the first time we are introduced to “the angel of the LORD.” It is the first time God tells someone they will have a child and what to name it. It is the first time someone names God. God extends the promise He gave to Abram to Hagar’s child as well.

It is a moving conversation. But one thing in particular stuck out to me. The main thing Hagar wants to remember about God is that he sees her.

He doesn’t fix her problems

He doesn’t make everything all right

He actually tells her to go back into a painful situation

But he sees her. He sees her and knows her. And that is enough.

I wonder what we can learn about God from this. He sees us. He knows us. He hasn’t forgotten us.

Hagar’s story is one of hope in the midst of horrible circumstances. Where in your life do you need to know you are seen and known? What difference would it make if you knew God saw you?

One response

  1. Very interesting! This is the first time I’ve experienced this story in this way and I’m blown away. Sooooo gonna give inductive Bible study a go. Back to the topic at hand: it is profound to realize that God knows and sees you. I’m becoming more aware that, since I’ve made the commitment to follow His will versus fight it, He sees me when I’m not doing my studies. He knows I’m interested, but He sees me watching anime instead of reading my Bible. Now that I’m in a more full realization of this, I will not leave Sunday as the only day I pay attention to the Lord by way of the Bible. We talk daily, and I love prayer and worship, but daily reading shouldn’t get tossed to the side.

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