Covenant Reformed News
March 2023 • Volume XIX, Issue 11
Was Hagar Saved?
Was Hagar, the wife or concubine of Abraham and the mother of Ishmael, saved? As with the spiritual condition of Ishmael, whom we considered in the last issue of the News, there are differences of opinion among orthodox Christians on this question, with some claiming that Hagar was not a believer and others reckoning that she was a child of God. Similar to last time, I will give five biblical arguments from Genesis in support of the position that Hagar was saved by God’s sovereign grace in Jesus Christ.
1. Do you really think that father Abraham would marry or take as a concubine an unbeliever and that holy Sarah (Heb. 11:11; I Pet. 3:6) would have presented an ungodly woman as a wife or concubine to her husband (Gen. 16:1-3)? This is Jehovah’s testimony regarding Abraham’s faithfulness in his household, the church: “I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment; [so] that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him” (18:19).
God’s people must marry “only in the Lord” (I Cor. 7:39). Believers are forbidden to enter into wedlock with an unbeliever: Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? (2 Cor.6:14,15).
2. The messenger of God appeared to Hagar. In fact, the very first recorded appearance of “the angel of the Lord” in Scripture is His conversation with Hagar (Gen. 16:7-14). Moreover, the angel of God spoke twice with Hagar, with the latter interaction being recorded in Genesis 21:17-19.
A careful consideration of these passages in Genesis 16 and 21, as well as a study of the angel or messenger of the Lord in the Old Testament, reveals that He is God, even an appearance of the pre-incarnate Christ. Hagar was the recipient not only of the first Christophany in the form of the angel or messenger of the Lord but of two of them! Both appearances were favourable to her. Are we really to think that Hagar was ungodly?
3. God answered Hagar’s prayers (just as He answered Ishmael’s prayers, as Genesis 21:17 records): “the angel of the Lord said unto her, Behold, thou art with child, and shalt bear a son, and shalt call his name Ishmael; because the Lord hath heard thy affliction” (16:11).
In naming Hagar’s son “Ishmael,” which means “God heard,” the pre-incarnate Christ would have us remember, whenever we read or write or say or hear or think the name “Ishmael,” that Jehovah answered Hagar’s prayers. Moreover, this text specifically states that God heard her “affliction,” for He cares for His people in their suffering and hearkens to their cries (cf. Ex. 2:23-25; 3:7; 4:31; 6:5; Isa. 63:9). Remember Scripture’s testimony regarding whose prayers Jehovah answers and whose He does not: “He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination” (Prov. 28:9); “Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth” (John 9:31).
4. Hagar made a good confession of God’s gracious speech to, and vision of, her: “she called the name of the Lord that spake unto her, Thou God seest me: for she said, Have I also here looked after him that seeth me?” (Gen. 16:13).
Hagar wisely and thankfully memorialized this marvellous meeting and the wonderful God who met with her in Jesus Christ: “Wherefore the well was called Beer-lahai-roi” (14). The three parts of “Beer-lahai-roi” mean, roughly, “well-living-seeing.” If the reference is to God, Hagar calls it “the well of Him who lives and sees me.” Others reckon that the verbs “living” and “seeing” refer to Hagar herself, so that her point is, “I live after seeing Him at this well.” Some think that the name is deliberately ambiguous and so is designed to include both meanings. We do not need a definitive answer for our present purposes. Whatever the precise import of the name “Beer-lahai-roi,” like the name “Ishmael,” it underscores Jehovah’s mercy to Hagar and her piety.
Homer C. Hoeksema makes the following astute remarks regarding Hagar in Genesis 16, the chapter from which we have derived the last four arguments: “There are ... facets of this history we must not ignore ... we note that the Lord comforts Hagar. She is the recipient of a wonderful revelation through the angel of Jehovah, the Old Testament manifestation of the Christ (Gen. 16:7ff). The Lord reveals his favor to Hagar and promises to multiply her seed exceedingly. Hagar commemorates this revelation by naming the well where the angel of Jehovah appeared to her Beerlahairoi, ‘the well of him that liveth and seeth me’ (Gen. 16:14)” (Unfolding Covenant History, vol. 2, p. 157).
5. The messenger of the Lord told Hagar not to fear: “the angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven, and said unto her, What aileth thee, Hagar? fear not; for God hath heard the voice of the lad” (21:17). Unbelievers have everything to fear! Where in His Word does God ever tell the wicked not to fear dying or Him?
There are three other instances in the book of Genesis when Jehovah tells people, “Fear not.” All of these commands are addressed to the believing patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac and Jacob): “the word of the Lord came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward” (15:1); “And the Lord appeared unto him [i.e., Isaac] the same night, and said, I am the God of Abraham thy father: fear not, for I am with thee, and will bless thee, and multiply thy seed for my servant Abraham’s sake” (26:24); “And he said [to Jacob], I am God, the God of thy father: fear not to go down into Egypt; for I will there make of thee a great nation” (46:3). Thus Hagar is included in Isaiah’s exhortation of all those whom Jehovah has “created” and “formed” by His grace, including us: “Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine” (43:1)! Rev. Angus Stewart