So she named the Lord who spoke to her: “You are El-roi,” for she said, “In this place, have I actually seen the one who sees me? ” (Genesis 16:13)
Just yesterday, we read in Genesis 15 that God promised Abram numerous offspring, and then made a covenant with Abram to give them land. Abram’s wife, Sarah or Sarai, already too old to bear children, did not wait on the Lord and His promises. She took matters in her own hands, encouraging her husband to have a child with another woman—her slave, Hagar! Trying to accomplish God’s will on her own backfired. Hagar became pregnant with Abram’s firstborn, Sarai began to look down on her with contempt, Hagar eventually fled Abram and Sarai’s home, and she bore her son. In fact, the angel of the Lord instructs Hagar to name her son Ishmael “for the Lord has heard your cry of affliction” (v. 11).
Not only did the Lord hear Hagar, but while she was lost in the wilderness, she also acknowledged God as “El-roi” or “God sees me” (v. 13). Hagar knew God saw her through her loneliness and suffering even as a slave.
Depending on what Bible version you are reading, Hagar is called a servant, a maid, or a slave. Regardless of her job title, Hagar represents the slave, and Sarah represents the free—two different covenants Paul teaches in Galatians 4. Hagar is the slave, the mother of Ishmael who was born through the flesh, and symbolizes the present Jerusalem (Gal. 4:25). Sarah is the free woman, the mother of Isaac who was born through the promise, and symbolizes the Jerusalem above (Gal. 4:26). Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ descended from Sarah, our mother, the covenant of the free.
The Lord hears us the way He heard Hagar’s cries. The Lord sees us the way He saw Hagar even when we were once “slaves of sin” (Rom. 6:17). Do you hear Him and do you see Him through the reading of His Word, in the presence of His family? Unlike Hagar, we are already free because we have been purchased by the blood of our Savior. We are “not under law, but under grace” (Rom. 6:15). Wait on the Lord.