The Well, the Ram, and Jehovah Jireh

“Hagar in the Wilderness”
Artist: Camille Corot (French, Paris 1796–1875 Paris) | Date: 1835

And then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. – Genesis 21:19 (NIV)

Abraham looked up and . . . saw a ram. – Genesis 22:13

I’ve always felt that Hagar, Sarah’s Egyptian maidservant, got a raw deal. Her job was to serve her mistress. This she did. And what did it get her? Not five gold stars for obedience, that’s for sure.

We first meet her in the pages of ancient Scripture when barren Sarah decides the only way she’ll have children is to order her maidservant to sleep with her husband. Any child conceived as a result would then be considered Sarah’s. Legally.

So Hagar sleeps with the big man and conceives. Sarah’s abuse of the pregnant maidservant is so harsh that Hagar runs away. But God meets her in the wilderness, gives her a blessing, and sends her back. Fast forward about 15 years to the weaning celebration of Abraham and Sarah’s miracle baby, Isaac. Sarah spots half-brother Ishmael taunting the little guy and runs to Abraham. “Get rid of that slave woman and her son!” she orders him.

The next morning, Abraham gives Hagar some food and water and sends her off into the wilderness.

When the water was gone, she put Ishmael under a bush and went off a short distance, where she sat sobbing, “I cannot watch him die.”

Once again God meets her in the wilderness. I love how the writer of Genesis describes what happens next: “God heard the boy crying” (Genesis 21:17) and “God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water” (v. 19).

They do not die in the wilderness. Ishmael becomes “a great nation,” as God promised his mother.

Fast forward again, this time to Abraham and Isaac on a mountain on the land of Moriah, where God has sent Abraham on a mission: “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, and . . . sacrifice him there as a burnt offering” (Genesis 22:2).

They were almost there when Isaac asks, “Where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”

I used to wonder if Abraham’s answer, “God himself will provide the lamb,” was a cop-out. I mean, would he really tell Isaac he was the offering? And I used to think Abraham lied when he told the servants to wait at the bottom of the mountain: “I and the boy will go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you” (Genesis 22:5, emphasis mine).

Image by rjmcsorley on Pixabay

Then on the mountain, just after God has stayed his hand from plunging the sacrificial knife into Isaac’s heart, “Abraham looked up and . . . saw a ram,” which he sacrificed in place of Isaac.

Did the ram just happen to be there? Or had it been there all along, making its way up the mountain and getting itself stuck in the thicket just as Abraham looked up?

Did the well that provided life-giving water to Hagar and Ishmael just happen to be there? Some commentators say it was there all along, but Hagar, in her physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual condition, just didn’t see it. Some say it was well hidden.

The answer to these questions is the name that Abraham gives to the mountain: “The-LORD-Will-Provide”(YHWH Yireh or Jehovah Jireh).

The Hebrew word used for “provide” also means “to see.”

God is still Jehovah Jireh today.

Thank you, Lord, for reminding me of the value of every person on this planet. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son . . .” (John 3:16). Amen.

Read and reflect on Genesis 21:14–21; 22:1–19

From God, Me & a Cup of Tea: 101 devotional readings to savor with your time with God  © 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.

Rest Stops

Image courtesy of Pixabay

Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve springs and seventy palm trees, and they camped there by the water. – Exodus 15:22

Since our daughter settled in South Carolina, seven hundred miles away, my husband and I used to make the twelve-hour drive to visit with her and her family two or three times a year. At our age, long trips are easier to take if we make frequent stops to rest and avoid road weariness.

Thousands of years ago, the Israelites also had a long trip to make. One million men, women, and children left the bondage of Egyptian slavery and trekked across a barren wilderness where there was little to eat or drink, and where they were exposed to rain, wind, sun, and storms, headed for a land flowing with milk and honey. Along the way, they got tired, thirsty, hungry, and discouraged.

But they were on a faith-growing journey, and the One who led them had many lessons to teach them. They failed test after test. Just when they were in the deepest despair and discouragement, hope dwindling and faith faltering, God intervened—with manna from heaven, water from desert rocks, and an oasis with twelve springs of water and seventy palm trees.

I’m sure the weary travelers would have loved to pitch their tents and stay at that oasis the rest of their lives. But eventually they had to move on. The oasis wasn’t their destination.

The Israelites’ journey through the wilderness is a picture of our journey through life. Once the shackles of our bondage to sin are broken, we begin our journey to the Promised Land – Heaven. We, too, struggle through the wilderness, which, just like the Israelites’ journey so long ago, takes up most of the trip. And we, too, encounter oases sprinkled along the way. But we cannot abide in the rest stops. They are there to provide a temporary respite from the difficulties of life, refresh our minds and spirits, and renew our strength.

Sometimes I’d like to find an oasis and move in permanently. But God calls me to venture into the wilderness on a faith-growing journey. And, just like with the Israelites, He will be with me every step of the way.

Thank You, Lord, for the wilderness that stretches my faith and the oases that refresh me and give me the strength to journey on. Amen.

Read and reflect on Exodus 15:22–16:1

From God, Me & a Cup of Tea: 101 devotional readings to savor during your time with God © 2017 Michele Huey.