1 Now Sarai Abram's wife bare him no children: and she had an handmaid, an Egyptian, whose name was Hagar.

...the unhappy case of Hagar -- human device and reasoning trying in its anxious weakness to augment and hasten the eternal workings of God. Was it wrong? It was limited judgment, and a deeper insight could have shown Abraham that it was out of harmony with the principles of God's purpose. Here again, Abraham, with sincere zeal and good intentions, went beyond his instructions, and the results added to his trials.

It was not Abraham's idea, but Sarah's. Abraham hearkened to her pleading, as Adam had to Eve, but soon Sarah herself saw that in her short-sighted anxiety, she had played into the hands of her maidservant, who was quick to seize the advantage and who now despised her. And Sarah in her bitterness reproached Abraham for having done what she herself had initiated and urged.

And there is a measure of justice in Sarah's reproach, for Abraham's responsibility was greater, and he should have guided her, rather than allow himself to be misguided by her. Henceforth there is constant friction. Hagar is finally removed much later, but first for nearly twenty years Abraham and Sarah must suffer this added burden and disharmony.

Bro Growcott - Shall a child be born

Since the encampment had first settled in Hebron, she had gazed upon the new moon over six-score times. Each time that first sliver of silver had appeared in the inky blackness of Mamre's night, she had marked the beginning of a new month that brought new hope and fresh yearning as the manner of women came upon her. 2

Each time she wished so desperately for that miraculous yet infinitesimal beginning of conception, which the birth of the new moon heralded in its slenderness. 3

Each time the moon waxed to the abundance of its promise, she felt pain and grief and disappointment that her empty womb was the very antithesis of the moon's final splendour, plump in its fullness, replete in its roundness. It was as if the heavens mocked her.

Every godly woman wanted to bear a godly seed. But Sarai's desire was not just to bear children to Abram, but Sarai's desire was not just to bear children to Abram, but to produce the child of the angel's repeated assurances. 4 This was the seed on whom the promises of God rested, and she had not been able to bear him.

The angel had said with certainty that the son to come would be Abram's own, but it seemed to Sarai that he would not be hers. She felt that the burden lay with her, and that she had let her husband down. So huge had the matter of her barrenness become in her mind, so intense the pressure of her inability to bear, that now it affected her attitude to everything.

She felt that this was her responsibility, and that she had failed. She had prayed to the Father about her barrenness, and certainly desired His blessing. Her prayers had been frequent and fervent, as God was witness, yet He had never answered her. If there was to be fruit of the union between her and Abram, then why could not Gog grant them a child, just one, just one precious son?.

It was not as if they would neglect the child. He would be raised with love and care in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. He would be taught the greatness of the truth and the virtues of faith and obedience. If a son, a seed was needful that God's own promise to them might be fulfilled, then why did He not bless them with this son?

Why this delay, this intolerable delay, which chafed her spirit so bitterly? What had she done or not done, that heaven remained closed to entreaties?

She had asked herself these questions on countless occasions, and still did not know the answers. There was only one thing that she knew with certainty, and that was this, that despite her prayers, she was barren, as barren as she had been when they first left Ur. 5

Perhaps this was, after all, the Father's reply. Perhaps it was His way that she should remain so. Perhaps it was His purpose that she should be restrained from bearing.

2 Genesis 18:11.

3 Indeed, the waxing and waning of the moon in the heavens is adduced (for the unfailing regularity of its monthly cycle) as a faithful witness (Psalm 89:37).

4 Already the promise had come on three occasions, and each time it was contingent upon the appearance of the seed (Genesis 12:7; 13:15,16; 15:18). The emotional burden of this on Sarai must have been considerable.

In truth, however, the Father had not restrained her at all. When Sarai's faith came to blossom and bud in unreserved certainty of the Father's mighty power, then likewise her womb would quicken to nourish a child for Abram.

There was no shortening of the Lord's hand that He could not at this moment send His angel with the touch that could heal and empower. But He waited for a faith that Sarai, lost in the labyrinth of her own fear, had not yet found.

He waited for her to believe that He could provide what she herself could not, that her inadequacy, her weakness, her deficiency were no match for the allsurpassing greatness of His power and love.

But Sarai could wait no longer. It was enough. If heaven would not answer and open her womb, then she would provide another way for the promise to be fulfilled. This was to be her initiative. 6

Sarai was to take over the leadership of the family with disastrous results. For in her agitation of mind, she was about to assume not just the headship of Abram, but the responsibility of God Himself.

She believed that God was unable or unwilling to fulfil the promise through her, and that she must needs therefore find another way. And there was in the customs of the day a practice that might serve her need.

5 Genesis 11:30.

6 The emphasis of the record indicates this. Genesis 16:1,2 states

_ "Now Sarai Abram's wife bare him no children: and she had an handmaid ... and Sarai said unto Abram ... "

Bro Roger Lewis - Abraham and Sarah Heirs Together Ch 3

2 And Sarai said unto Abram, Behold now, Yahweh hath restrained me from bearing: I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her. And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai.

Sarai turned the matter over and over in her mind. Each time she became more reconciled to the idea, and more certain that her choice of Hagar was prudent and sensible. The time had come to speak with Abram, to suggest what he could not suggest, and to convince him that this arrangement was still really working with the Almighty. She chose her moment with care.

For one evening as dusk fell, they sat outside the tent door and observed the quiet bustle of the encampment as it prepared for the hours of darkness and sleep. A knot of children sped past giggling merrily, intent on evading capture by the determined maidservant who followed pursuing, equally intent upon delivering them safely to their beds. Abram chuckled, and then smiled the wistful smile of a childless man.

"Behold now" said Sarai, seeing her chance,

"Yahweh hath restrained me from bearing: I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her".

As Abram looked at her in astonishment she pressed on with her explanation, her voice low and pleading, her eyes expressive of her need for him to listen carefully and understand. They never wavered from searching his face as she spoke, and in turn Abram read in her face the earnest conviction of a woman who believed in the truth of what she said.

Sarai's suggestion placed Abram in a quandary. His immediate reaction was to feel distinctly uneasy about the possible consequences of this arrangement should they move ahead. He was not at all sure that Sarai realised how things might turn as time unfolded. And what of divine principle?

They had heard the story of Adam and Eve being recounted, and knew that the divine ideal of marriage from the beginning had been one man, one woman, committed for life through weal or woe. Such singleness of union was surely still the best basis for the bringing forth of a godly seed. Yet he was aware that her proposal had social acceptance in their day, and that legal provision was made for it.

Abram smiled wryly as he thought upon the matter. Years before he had let her down, and she had ended up in association with another man. Now she sought his support that he might have association with another woman! What strange circling of circumstances was this, that led them to this reversal?

He understood completely Sarai's desire to build their household, 10 but how could a woman from another land and another life provide suitable stones for the building?

Then again, he realised how dangerously overwrought his wife was about this present distress. More than once he had found her weeping inconsolably and he knew that this grief affected her health, her equanimity of mind, and her relationship with him. He could not simply reject her suggestion out of hand. In fact her assessment of their situation was completely true. God had indicated that he, Abram, would father the child, but how could they be sure that Sarai would bear it?

He wanted her to of course, they had always longed for this fruit of their marriage. Yet just as he believed that the bringing forth of children was a blessing from God, so he was bound to recognise that barrenness, or the withholding of the fruit of the womb, was also of God. Sarai's whole argument was that her barrenness was indeed of the Father, and that they finally needed to accept this and move on. How could he suggest that she was wrong, when all the evidence of their marriage for the last forty years or more proved her point to be true?

10 Houses were built with stones - eben. Households were built with sons _ ben. The desire for offspring as stones to build the household may reach back to the 'seed of the woman' promise in Genesis 3:15. Sarai's description of a child by Hagar, so that she might be "builded by her" echoes this strong scriptural theme (Deuteronomy 25:5-10; Psalm 127:1-3; Hebrews 3:3-6).

Bro Roger Lewis - Abraham and Sarah Ch 3

3 And Sarai Abram's wife took Hagar her maid the Egyptian, after Abram had dwelt 10 years in the land of Canaan, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife.

Abram was hesitant and uncertain, but recognised the look of pleading in her eyes. He knew what this meant to his wife, and he understood what it had cost her even to make this suggestion. Perhaps after all she was right. perhaps the absence of a response from heaven was so that they might seek another way. Certainly he did not want to let her down again when she sorely needed his sympathy and help. 'I agree', he said, 'for your sake Sarai, I will do this thing'.

And Sarai gave Hagar to her husband Abram

"And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai. And Sarai Abram's wife took Hagar her maid the Egyptian, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife." (Genesis 16:2,3)

It was on the morrow that Sarai gave Hagar to Abram. She presented her handmaid, and withdrew out of earshot. She knew that Abram needed to be alone with Hagar for the conversation that would follow. She could see them both, yet was distant enough to not intrude, and tactfully beyond hearing's range. Hagar stood before Abram in the meekness of submission.

As Abram looked upon her, she returned his gaze shyly and bowed low in deference. She was aware of the honour being extended to her in this arrangement, and was sufficiently shrewd to conduct herself with a decorum that would please both her mistress and the master. 'Are you willing, Hagar, to become my concubine?' 12 he asked, and received in return her assent.

There were, of course, matters to be considered, for with her acceptance of Abram's offer her position and duties in the household would change. Abram explained these changes carefully for in this, as in all his dealings, he would conduct himself with integrity and fairness.

No dowry or marriage ceremony was necessary to formalize the taking of a concubine. But in this case, Hagar was expressly chosen to build the house of Abram and Sarai, and the master gave orders for a feast to be prepared that the household might rejoice. The time to laugh and the time to dance had come, and the voice of melody was heard around the surrounding hills of the Judaean plateau.

When the feast day and its celebrations were ended, Abram, with a curiously awkward gesture of the hand, bade Hagar to step within his domain as lord of the encampment. As Hagar stooped to enter Abram's tent, Sarai stifled a sob, drew breath sharply, and turned away that she might not see Abram enter also. She had not until this moment realised the distress she would feel, and she knew not as yet how greatly that distress would be multiplied, as this chapter in their lives unfolded.

It was, of course, Sarai's desire that her house might be builded through Hagar bearing a son to Abram. The birth of a son would cement their marriage, establish their family, and provide the means for the promise to be fulfilled. And perhaps even more than her own desire, she wanted this to be so for Abram's sake. If Hagar could supply her lack, then she might rest content with her husband again.

Alas, alas that it was not to be. Everything that Sarai wished for in this arrangement would remain unfulfilled. A child was born by and by, but the lad who sprang from Hagar's line would never be the promised seed. God in heaven would not acknowledge this boy as the channel of His blessing. For Abram's sake,

He would preserve the child and build him as a nation, but never to be that people of whom the proclamation had been made -

"I will make of thee a great nation ... and thou shalt be a blessing" _13

12 For in the final reckoning of Scripture, she is deemed to be Abram's bondwoman and concubine, not his wife (Genesis 21:12; 25:6).

Ishmael's birth did in measure establish Abram's family, but it did not establish Sarai's as she hoped. The child would always be his birth mother's, and would manifest his mother's spirit. Ishmael was no son of Sarai as he grew. And Sarai's marriage to her lord, far from being nourished by the birth of this child, was cruelly hurt to the piercing of her soul with a sword.

I t had been painful enough to surrender her man into the arms of another woman. She had only borne it because of her love for him, and her grim determination that the promise should be fulfilled. But in her urgent haste to advance the promise of God, she had not pondered carefully enough the consequences that might ensue. For until this moment, the household had simply known and accepted that Abram and Sarai were together childless.

It was a communal sorrow they all shared, that the family tree of their lord and mistress still lacked a scion. But with Hagar now in the blossom of expectancy, it was clear to everyone that Abram could produce an heir. Sarai could tell from stolen glances and whispered asides that all now knew the problem lay with her. Her own contrivings had proved it, had shown beyond doubt that she was barren indeed, the sole reason for this tree without a branch. Whatever inadequacy she had felt before, had now been magnified an hundredfold.

Bro Roger Lewis - Abraham and Sarah Heirs Together Ch 3

4 And he went in unto Hagar, and she conceived: and when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress was despised in her eyes.

It was so difficult to maintain her composure and her calm when she sensed the eyes of all upon her. Worse was to come, for as soon as Hagar had conceived her docile spirit underwent a startling change. Hagar the humble was transformed into Hagar the haughty. All the arts at her disposal were now employed to show her disdain for the mistress she served.

Her walk was slower, and her steps more careful, as if to show that now she walked for two, slowest of all when passing her mistress. When she knew that Sarai was watching, she would stand and straighten in such a way that her gentle swelling was seen and on occasions she stood with her hands on her hips as if to cradle her precious burden and keep it safe.

She began to decline her more burdensome tasks on the basis that her condition would not allow it, and that nor would Abram. And the expressions of her face were calculated to cut Sarai to the quick. Her looks were mysterious, challenging, enigmatic, brazen, and all with a knowing smile that hinted at secrets she possessed, but which were not shared by Sarai.

But hardest of all was the change in Abram's behaviour. He was still the same in his affection for her, she was bound to acknowledge that, and yet he was no longer the same man in other ways. He was embarrassed to speak with Hagar in her presence, yet he was obviously eager to know of her welfare.

There was a new and strange look in his eye, slightly guilty yet somehow pleased, the gleam of an expectant father, aware of his virility, and rejoicing in the prospect of a child.

Yet he never seemed to share that joy with her. When they were alone, his references to Hagar were studied and careful, yet whenever Hagar was present he was all attention and care and fussing concern. And Hagar rewarded every little act of solicitude he showed with a swift smile for him, and a slow smile to her.

It suddenly dawned upon Sarai with an unpleasant shock that Hagar was no longer her servant but her rival, and a determined one at that. 14

Already then, the matter was unfolding in a way which Sarai had not foreseen. She had hoped for the sweetness of a family, but the fruits of her actions were already bitter to the taste. The trouble was that decisions had been made which could not now be reversed.

There was a lesson here for both of them to learn. Any problem, when allowed to overwhelm us, can cloud our judgement and affect our temperament. Those problems that rule the heart as well as the head disturb our balance the most.

Rational thought and Scriptural reasoning are abandoned, because of emotion and feeling. It was a mistake to be guided by her own anxious thoughts. The mind of the flesh can never be trusted to produce the thinking of the spirit.

This couple, momentarily diverted by the burden of their woe, had not yet understood the need to wait patiently upon the Lord.15 God, who knoweth the thoughts of each heart, would fulfil His words when both He and they were ready. He had promised; He would perform, and they would through faith and patience inherit the promises.

But patience needed to have her maturing work, until their confidence in Him was absolute. Patience meant standing back from their problem to see it from a spiritual perspective. Patience meant taking the time to try and appreciate the Father's purpose in the matter.

Patience meant understanding fully the law of consequences that would inexorably, relentlessly, follow whatever choice they might make. Only now were the consequences becoming apparent, as the circumstances within the family became more and more entangled.

14 Among the unbearable things which greatly disquiet the earth is "an handmaid that is heir to her mistress" (Proverbs 30:23). The terms "handmaid" and "mistress" are identical to those found in Genesis 16:1,4 and the proverb may well have the story of Sarai and Hagar as its basis.

Bro Roger Lewis - Abraham and Sarah Heirs Together Ch 3

5 And Sarai said unto Abram, My wrong be upon thee: I have given my maid into thy bosom; and when she saw that she had conceived, I was despised in her eyes: Yahweh judge between me and thee.

The wisdom of a soft answer

It was an impossible situation, and soon enough the strain between husband and wife grew into a moment of confrontation. Some especially spiteful act on Hagar's part brought Sarai to Abram's tent. The urgent jerking open of the tent flap told Abram that something was amiss, and when he looked up and saw her the signs were certainly ominous.

...When a woman has bottled feelings, she will also have bottled words. Now that the bottle was open, she would speak until it was empty and he must hear the outpourings of her heart, till all the words were finished. Only then could they begin to deal with the matter. Abram listened.

"My wrong be upon thee: I have given my maid into thy bosom; and when she saw that she had conceived, I was despised in her eyes: Yahweh judge between me and thee." (Genesis 16:5)

...Here then was the crux of the matter. Sarai was aware, cruelly aware that her plan had gone astray. Upset to the point of distraction, she sought a response from Abram by blaming him for the entire episode. Her words were passionate, emotive, and unreasonable. It was true in one sense, that Abram had not shown spiritual headship in the matter.

He should have encouraged Sarai to wait in patience for the fulfilment of the promise, in God's own good time. He should not have allowed spiritual thinking to be overborne by personal feeling. But to lay all blame at his door for something that had been of her making was both unkind and unfair. But she was not finished yet. As her speech came to an end, she uttered the strongest thing she could think of to provoke a response:

"Yahweh judge between me and thee."

Abram blinked. To invoke the Name of God in judgement was very serious, and quite extreme. And were they so far apart that God must now decide between them? These were strong words indeed, and might have aroused the ire of a lesser man.

Thankfully, Abram was a husband of discernment and sensitivity. He knew that there are times when all argument is futile, that there are some debates that cannot be won. He knew that there are occasions, when a woman's emotions are stirred, that whatever a husband might say will still be wrong. And, astute man that he was, he also knew how to read the real message of her words, to understand not what she said but what she meant.

His ears had heard the vital clue, hidden in her forceful remonstrance - "I have given my maid into thy bosom".16 These were not the words of a scheming or angry woman, but the language of a badly frightened wife, who now felt insecure in her marriage. Sarai's deepest fear was not that she was despised in Hagar's eyes, but whether she might be despised in Abram's.

She had lost confidence in the security of their relationship. She knew her reasons for giving Hagar, but now she felt unsure of his reasons for taking Hagar. There was a rupture of trust here, and however it had come about, Abram needed to heal the breach. His reply, measured and thoughtful, was a model of marriage diplomacy and tact:

"But Abram said unto Sarai, Behold, thy maid is in thy hand; do to her as it pleaseth thee."

(Genesis 16:6)

"Behold, thy maid is in thy hand." He did not seek to defend Hagar, or even to mention her by name, for that would be too personal given this fragile moment. His description of her as Sarai's maid, and not his wife, was designed to reassure Sarai concerning her rightful status as the wife of his covenant.

Even his choice of words to allow Sarai to deal with the matter were selected with delicacy and care, for Hagar was to be left in "her hand", and not in "his bosom". Leaving her in charge of this issue was not a matter of indifference on Abram's part. Instead, he showed his confidence and trust in Sarai to handle the matter on behalf of them both. Yet in this gentle reply, Abram sought to guide Sarai in the spirit of her dealings. "Do to her that which is good in thine eyes.'? 17 It was a reminder that her actions needed to be just and fair, irrespective of her depth of feeling.

Abram's voice, deep and calm and reasonable, soothed her troubled soul. A soft answer had won far more than the hasty spirit that strives. 18 The breach that had come through mutual foolishness was healed, and their marriage relationship restored. They would live through the consequences of their actions, as every couple must do, but at least they would face them together.

16 A tender term, used in Luke 16:22 to convey the delights of the kingdom age. It indicates here the intimate relationship between Abram and Hagar that now existed, albeit with the consent and approval of Sarai.

17 Cp. 1 Chronicles 21:23, Zechariah 11:12, etc. where the same expression is used, and which evidently refers to that which is fair, or right, or appropriate.

18 Proverbs 15:1, Ecclesiastes 7:9 and Ephesians 4:26 are all illustrative of the wonderful benefits of self-control and mastery of emotions within our personal dealings, and especially within the marriage bond.

Bro Roger Lewis - Abraham and Sarah Heirs Together Ch 3

6 But Abram said unto Sarai, Behold, thy maid is in thy hand; do to her as it pleaseth thee. And when Sarai dealt hardly with her, she fled from her face.

Hagar's flight to freedom

The woman who stepped forth from Abram's tent was happier than the one who had entered it. Sarai walked again in the comfort and security of her husband's love, and with an assurance of bearing that proclaimed her to be the mistress of the household. With a purposeful gleam in her eye she called for Hagar. It was time to put matters right.

The bearer of Abram's child was to learn that she was still but a handmaid to Sarai, and not her rival. She had sought to replace her mistress and to become the pre-eminent wife, but she had overstepped her station. She would never do so again. Sarai was stern but just in the humbling and chastening of her servant. 19

Through the giving of orders, and by the assignment of menial tasks, Hagar was rebuked. Sarai might have erred in making her suggestion to begin with, but that did not justify Hagar's wilful and presumptive spirit. Sarai's actions unequivocally declared that she was Abram's wife, and the entire household knew that Hagar had been put in her place.

It was a bitter blow to Hagar's pride. Now that she had experienced a taste of higher things, she was no longer content with her servant status. She resented her punishment, she resented the need to submit to the authority of another, and she was not prepared to remain subservient to Sarai.

So one day, when certain duties brought her to the perimeter of the encampment, she fled. Her speed of travel was not great, for she was with child, but her movements were deliberate in heading south to Beersheba. Beyond Beersheba, about a day's journey, the road turned to strike south-west in the wilderness of Shur.

It was an arid and desolate land, but Hagar was glad to be there. For her march was not simply an escape into the wilderness. This road on which she travelled was the highway to Egypt, and she was going home. She was never a spiritual member of Abram's household, far less the companion of his mind. Her thinking was Egyptian, pagan, profane, and the direction of her feet told where her heart lay.

Back in the encampment, all was astir. Abram, doubtless, had sent forth retainers to scour the hills around Hebron in search of Sarai's wayward maid. They could not find her. And meanwhile, several days to the south, the object of their attention was doubtless smiling with satisfaction at her success in eluding her pursuers. Hagar, true to her nature and to her name, had fled. 20

19 The term - "dealt hardly" is anah, which means to humble or afflict or punish. Since the range of meanings includes 'afflicting' one's own soul on the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 23:27; Isaiah 58:5), and of 'chastening' oneself before God (Daniel 10:12) it is evident that the term does not necessarily imply cruelty or oppression. It would seem that Sarai did indeed punish Hagar, but later events would vindicate the rightness of Sarai's actions.

20 Hagar - means 'flight'.

7 And the angel of Yahweh found her by a fountain of water in the wilderness, by the fountain in the way to Shur.


-This is a mutilated Greek word.‭ ‬In its original form it is αγγελς,‭ ‬pronounced‭ ‬angelos.‭ ‬By dropping the last syllable‭ ‬os,‭ ‬we obtain the word‭ ‬angel‭;‬ which is a name not of‭ ‬nature,‭ ‬but of‭ ‬office.‭ ‬In the Septuagint,‭ ‬it usually answers to the Hebrew...mälahk, one sent, a messenger. In Isaiah 42:19, it is applied to Messiah, the servant of Yahweh:

"My messenger whom I sent."

Angel is applied to beings a little superior to the faithful, and greater in power and might, who execute the purposes of God; and are sent forth for service on account of those hereafter to inherit salvation.-(Psalm 8:5; 2 Pet. 2:12; Psalm 103:20, 21; Heb. 1:14).

It is also applied to the winds, devouring flies, destroying frogs, the caterpillars, the locusts, hail, frost, lightning, &c. After enumerating these plagues of Egypt in detail, the Spirit in David sums them up in the words, "He cast upon them the fierceness of His anger, wrath, and indignation, and distress, by sending angels of evils-mäläkai rahim.-(Psa. 78:49). And, "He maketh winds His angels."-(Psalm. 104:4).

In Matt. 3:1, which foretold the appearing of John the Baptizer, he is styled by Yahweh "my angel, " very properly rendered in the common version, "my messenger." The two disciples John sent to Jesus, are termed "the angels of John" in the Greek; but also rightly rendered in Luke 7:24, "the messengers of John."

The disciples of Jesus are also styled angels. "When the time was come," says Luke, "that he should be received up, he steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem, and sent angels before his face to make ready for him"-(9:52). In this place the word is correctly rendered "messengers" in the common version. "God in flesh seen by angels," an item of the great mystery of right-worship, is the Lord Jesus seen by his disciples whom he sent forth, after his resurrection, or justification by Spirit.-(1 Tim. 3:16).

Paul's "thorn in the flesh" is styled in the Greek, "an angel of Satan."-(2 Cor. 12:7). Abaddon and Apollyon, Hebrew and Greek synonyms for destroyer, "king of the locusts," or the Arab power capitalized in the caliph-successors of Mahommed, is styled "the angel of the abyss" in Rev. 9:11. Also, the four powers known in history as the Seljuks, Zinghis, Moguls, Tamerlane Tartars, and Othman Turks, are styled "the four angels which are confined by the great river Euphrates."-(verse 14).

The world rulers of the darkness of the fourth century, or the spirits of the wickedness that then prevailed in the heavenlies of Daniel's fourth Beast, are styled "the angels of the great Dragon, the original Serpent, surnamed Diabolos and Satan."-(Rev. 12:9) This Serpent power still exists unbound, and unbruised, only in a modified form.-(Rev. 20:2). Its agents are styled "angels" by the Lord Jesus in Matt. 25:41, where it is written,

"the diabolos and his angels."

The plagues of ancient Egypt being styled "Angels of Evils, " we see a reason for "the plagues" of the Apocalypse which afflict the Roman Habitable or "Great City," which is spiritually called Sodom and Egypt" (Rev. 11:8), being termed angels.

The Seven Angel-Trumpeters, and the Seven Angel-Outpourers, and the Five Angel-Heralds, and the Son of Man, and the Angel of the Sickle, are all Angels of Evil against the Gentile apostacy in Church and State, which is to be "consumed with the Spirit of the Lord's mouth, and utterly destroyed with the brightness of his presence."-(2 Thess. 2:8.)

The Seven Angel-Stars are symbols of another sort. They pertain to the right hand of the Son of Man who walketh in the midst of the Seven Golden Lightstands. Of that right hand it is written,

tihyeh karnaim miyahdo lo:‭ ‬we-shahm khevyon uzzoh‭;‬ that is,‭ "‬There shall be to him rays of light from his hand‭; ‬and there the covering of his power.‭"-(‬Hab.‭ ‬3:4.‭) ‬This is affirmed of the Holy One.‭ ‬The word karnaim,‭ ‬is the plural of k̂r̂n, which is rendered horns in the Common Version-horns of light. "His brightness was as the light: he had horns out of his hand."

Now "a lamb" has no hands; therefore, horns cannot be said to be to him out of them. But "the Holy One" is symbolized by a lamb in Rev. 5:6. Hence, to represent Habakkuk's idea, "Seven Horns and Seven Eyes" are assigned to it, which are explained to signify "the Seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth."

Omnipotence and omniscience shine forth from the right hand of power. The Spirits are fitly represented by "Seven Stars." and as they were sent forth to the Seven Lightstands, as well as elsewhere, the seven Spirit-Stars are styled "Seven Angels." These Angel-Spirit-Stars blazed with sparkling brightness from the ecclesial Lightstands, whose burners were "first, apostles; secondarily, prophets; thirdly, teachers; after that, miracles; then, gifts of healing; helps; governments; kinds of tongues."-(1 Cor. 12:28.)

The Seven Angels, then, of the Seven Ecclesias were the Spirit-endowed or Anointed Presbyteries of the body of Christ in Ephesus, Smyrna. Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.

The Christadelphian, June 1872

8 And he said, Hagar, Sarai's maid, whence camest thou? and whither wilt thou go? And she said, I flee from the face of my mistress Sarai.

The angelic watcher in the wilderness

But Hagar walked in ignorance of one who saw her every move. A watcher, from the holy ones of Ail, was following her steps. His purpose was to speak with the fleeing one before her discovery by any of Abram's servants. There were certain matters to be impressed upon Hagar before she returned to the household.

Hagar trod the desert path, in blissful ignorance of the angelic being that watched her with the piercing eyes of the spirit. Many others since have likewise walked in ways that reveal they are quite unconscious of the ministering spirits who have been nearby, and who see and know.

The angel who watched on this occasion was unhurried, for the woman was unaware. He waited for the time to manifest himself, and soon the opportunity he sought was presented.

Hagar had reached a water well that lay on the wilderness highway. The little oasis of green and shade, and the prospect of water to slake the thirst were too attractive to pass by. So, secure in her present progress, she decided to rest awhile. Her defences were down for there was no sign of anyone present, and she was certain that none were following. She drank, and sat under a tree to restore her tired limbs.

The landscape in front of her shimmered in the desert heat, and the distant horizon receded and advanced through the waves of heated air. It was while she sat at rest that a man suddenly appeared before her. One moment the wilderness lay open and empty, the next he was there. Before she could think, and before she could move, the man had spoken.

His words shocked and dismayed her. The man was a perfect stranger, yet he knew everything about her with an intimacy of detail that frightened. With a few brief words he had laid her bare. He knew her name and her status, her immediate past circumstances and her present intention.

What was there that he did not know, this unknown yet insightful visitor? Hagar answered with the honesty of fear. There was no point in pretending with one who knew too much already.

"I flee from the face of my mistress Sarai".

This much at least was true. Of course, the question of whether she was right in doing so remained as yet unanswered, at least until the angel spoke again. Yet before the angel breathed another word, Hagar knew with simple certainty what his reply would be. For in describing her as Sarai's maid and not as Abram's wife, the angel had already pronounced judgement in the matter.

It was a declaration that Sarai was right in her insistence on their respective positions. Hagar waited with pained resignation for the words which she felt sure would now come. They did. "Return to thy mistress", was the stern command of the angel, "and submit thyself under her hands" 21 There was to be no escape from responsibility, and Hagar was to face the consequences of her actions.

21 The command of Genesis 16:9 indicates that Hagar's behaviour was unacceptable. She needed to return and accept her position, and it is therefore reasonable to assume that Sarai's dealing was not unjust or unrighteous. Especially significant in this context is the fact that the term "submit" is anah, the identical word used in verse 6 when Sarai "dealt hardly" with Hagar. The angelic pronouncement for Hagar to return to receive more of the same is a clear endorsement of Sarai's spirit in the matter.

So also were Abram and Sarai to face the consequences of theirs. It might well have been easier for all concerned for the angel to permit Hagar to escape, and to leave the household in peace. But in the purpose of God she was ordered to return. There was a reason for this. Abram and Sarai were to be chastened by the results of their own actions as we all are in life.

If their spirit was right before God, the experience would strengthen their faith and mature their marriage. That chastening might not be joyous, in fact it rarely is, but it would yield the peaceable fruit of righteousness after exercise. And it would engrave the lesson upon their hearts in a way that would never be forgotten.

One of the vital lessons to be learned was that the Almighty grants to every person freedom of choice, but He has attached a terrible legacy to its exercise. The law of consequences is the divinely appointed counterpoise to the doctrine of free will.

When the power of the former is finally understood, it will help to circumscribe the proper boundaries of the latter. Simple though this truth is, it can take a lifetime before we finally understand its reality. The law of free will can so easily be translated into the spirit of liberty or licence, which brooks no restraint and recognises no boundaries.

Only later, when we experience an outworking of consequences that are relentless, unavoidable, and painful, do we understand that free will is an enormous responsibility, and must always be exercised with thoughtful care and spiritual purpose.

The return of Hagar and the birth of her child in the encampment would instruct Abram and Sarai more powerfully than her departure, that all decisions in life bear consequences that must be faced.

Bro Roger Lewis - Abraham and Sarah Heirs Together Ch 3

9 And the angel of Yahweh said unto her, Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hands.

It was the herdsmen who first saw Hagar on the horizon. She drew close enough so that her shape and walk could be recognised, and a lad was dispatched to run back home and tell the news to the master. Onward she came, her shadow slipping ahead of her, but soon her face and features could be made out.

The men called out to her, and she came readily enough, and was grateful for some water from their bottle and some cheese from their shepherd's pouch. She ate and drank greedily, for the past few days had yielded but the scant and meagre fare of desert food. Thus fed, the errant wanderer was brought by escort to the patriarch's tent.

It was a bedraggled and dusty waif who came to bend the knee before Abram and Sarai. Gone were the imperious looks and high-handed ways. Her spirit was docile again and Hagar, somewhat fearful of her encounter with the angel, was ready to submit and render obedience. After pleading forgiveness and pledging faithfulness, she was led away by the older women that she might be scolded and bathed, examined and rested.

Months passed, and the time came when Hagar travailed in labour. She was delivered of a man child her firstborn, and the firstborn also of Abram. It was the father who gave name to the child, but the mother who chose it. Hagar had explained the angel's promise to Abram, and her earnest countenance had convinced him ofthe truth of her account. The child would be called Ishmael- God shall hear - just as the angel had said.

Yet tragically the father and mother saw even the name of the boy from different standpoints. For Hagar, the name Ishmael gave assurance that God had heard her woes and would preserve both her and the child. For Abram, the name Ishmael reminded him that God had not forgotten His promises and would fulfil them. There was no unity of thought or purpose here.

No marriage relationship can truly prosper when there is no meeting and matching of minds on things divine. There was no affinity here between Abram and this concubine, despite the fact that she had borne his child. Physical relationships make one flesh, but not one spirit. They bring together, yet they do not unite. The child born was Abram's son, but he was not the godly seed promised in God's covenant.

Bro Roger Lewis - Abraham and Sarah Ch 3

11 And the angel of Yahweh said unto her, Behold, thou art with child, and shalt bear a son, and shalt call his name Ishmael; because Yahweh hath heard thy affliction.

12 And he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, AND every man's hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.

The prophecy concerning Ishmael

Hagar then, must return. Yet the angel's edict also implied that Sarai's treatment of Hagar had been just. The counsel to submit to more of the same was based upon its fairness. Abram's words, prudent and kindly in Sarai's ear, had borne fruit. If Hagar went back there would be no miscarriage of justice, although she would need to accept her subordinate role.

In one particular matter, however, Hagar was given reassurance that gladdened her heart. Not only would her offspring grow into a multitude, but the child would be indisputably hers. She would carry him, give birth to him, nourish him and name him. The lad would never be Sarai's, and would never build Sarai's family. 22

Hagar was exultant at this news, for she yearned with all her maternal instinct to mother the babe as her own. And so she would, for in every sense this child would be his mother's son. In character and temperament, in thought and conduct, the babe was not Abram's child, nor Sarai's, but Hagar's.

To the mother then, the child's name was given. Ishmael - God shall hear - was proof that God was aware of her unhappiness. 23 The very promise given to her, that the child was not to be reckoned as Sarai's, was God's response, and incentive enough for Hagar to return to the comfort and safety of Hebron.

"And the angel of Yahweh said unto her, Behold, thou art with child, and shalt bear a son, and shalt call his name Ishmael; because Yahweh hath heard thy affliction. And he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man's hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren." (Genesis 16:11,12)

The joy of knowing that her son would not be taken from her was tempered by this strange prophecy that followed. The child would not be an easy one to raise. He would prove to be turbulent and contrary, as unteachable and untameable as the wild asses of the desert. 24 His very spirit would set him at odds with others, and they in turn at odds with him.

This child of Hagar was emphatically not the true seed. Wherever the true seed went, there would be blessing. Wherever this child went, there would be trouble and controversy. Only in his latter end would there be the prospect of peace and reconciliation, to live in harmony with those who were, after all, his brethren.

The pronouncements of the angel were ended, and Hagar knew that she had received a divine visitation. Awestruck with the knowledge that she had seen, and been seen by, a heavenly being, she gave him the name of Ail Roi in commemoration of their meeting.

The name was a revelation of Hagar's mind. The angel who had spoken to her was a manifestation of the Lord. Yet Hagar was not grateful for a covenant God who watches with care, but resentful of a Power who sees to control. She quailed before divine authority, but would never rise to divine principle. She was impressed that she had caught a glimpse of a heavenly messenger, but less inclined to glimpse his heavenly mind.

The well of meeting was also given a name that would be a remembrance of their encounter, for it was called Beer Lahai Roi - 'the well of him that liveth and seeth me'. The reality of his watchful eye was enough to turn Hagar's footsteps back.

She could not escape, that was clear, and now with certain promises to cheer and comfort her, she bowed to the command and began the homeward trudge, ascending by stages into the rocky summits of the Judaean hills. The air grew cooler, and the flowers and herbs of the mountain slopes appeared to point the way.

22 Sarai would despair to learn of this, as her hopes for a child by this means would be extinguished. Only later, in the breathless excitement and wonder of her own child, would she realise that the Father always knows what is best for our development.

23 The term "affliction" only (Genesis 16:11) indicates unhappiness arising out of many differing circumstances. It is found in Genesis 29:32 (misery from neglect), in 31:42 (hardship through labour), and in 41:52 (trials in exile). Hagar's unhappiness (it must be remembered) was largely self-induced, although she may have suffered real privation in the wilderness, and been nourished by the angel to sustain her on her return journey.

24 The term "wild" (Genesis 16:12) means a 'wild ass', and is translated on every other occasion that way.

15 And Hagar bare Abram a son: and Abram called his son's name, which Hagar bare, Ishmael.

16 And Abram was 86 years old, when Hagar bare Ishmael to Abram.

But let patience have her perfect work

Thirteen years had passed since the birth of Ishmael to Hagar, Sarai's handmaid. The seven sons who had run and climbed, and laughed and cried, were older now. Some of the boys were already at work with the herds and flocks, and all of them from eldest to youngest had the burden of some particular responsibility in the household.

Ishmael, the oldest, was just beginning to show the first signs of change, with a growing frame, a squarer face, and a deepening voice. The moment comes when the early eager beauty of childhood innocence is marred by the truculence and surliness that so often appears in youth, and recedes in the mercy of God when manhood is finally attained.

With Ishmael, however, the spirit of contention would remain, and grow like a canker within him. For the moment he was not especially troublesome, and none of the lads were stubborn or rebellious. Yet Abram and Sarai, having watched them all from infancy, did not feel close to any of them. The cornerstone they yearned for to build their own family, the son who could be the foundation of the household, was not to be seen amongst these.

They had learned a valuable lesson from this chapter in their life. Fleshly contrivance is not the answer to the problems of the truth. They had learned, finally, that

"the children of the flesh, these are not ... the children of the promise". 3

For even the first child of the promise to come, they would need to trust in Him, and so that their trust might be developed to fulness the Father made use of the experience of delay. It was necessary that they should truly believe in Him because of the great things He would accomplish through them in return. In the divine wisdom therefore, He made them wait until certain years were expired.

There was nothing haphazard about the length of the delay. God had in mind the teaching of a profound and powerful truth. For when these vital years of further delay were gone, both Abram and Sarai were so well stricken in age that neither could produce a child. 4 All fleshly hope was extinguished when this moment came. All human possibility was ended. God wished it so.

If a child should now be born to them both, it could only be because of a divinely glorious and miraculous intervention in their lives. They had been brought to the brink of either faith or despair. God had tested them to the utmost, yet not beyond measure. He waited to work a miracle with them, if they would receive it, not just the miracle of a son's birth, but the enactment of a parable that was rich with significance.

Abram and Sarai would not in their lifetime understand completely the wondrous things that God would foreshadow through their lives. Enmeshed within the tangle of their own trials, they could but dimly know the greatness of the Father's ways. How oft indeed are all His children unaware of the pattern He weaves through the warp and weft of their own experience?

It was nevertheless, the sovereign pleasure of God to exhibit the parable of His own Son in the story of theirs. Unbeknown to the old man and woman who waited with their private dreams, the arrival of their son would portend the coming of another, who also would be begotten

"not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God". 5

Yet even if they did not see the fulness of the Father's plan, they did at least appreciate that their own son could only come through this divinely organised way. This much they saw, and still they believed in the promise of God.

Now, herein was a marvellous thing. Despite the act that all appeared impossible, they had learned at last to wait on God, and appreciate His working in their lives. Their bodies were dead, but their faith was alive. Imperfect perhaps, faltering even, but still alive. Their patience was about to be rewarded. The time had come for another visitation, and the ageless angel came again to the ageing man.

3 Romans 9:8.

4 The testimony of Romans 4:19 is unequivocal on this matter, that both were in the state of ' deadness of body' before this promise of Isaac came.

5 John 1:13.