He could identify by experience with the great agony that was overwhelming Hagar as she thought she was going to have to watch her only begotten son die.
Even though Sarah came up with the plan for Abraham to father a child by Hagar, when Hagar gave birth to Ishmael, quite naturally Sarah became resentful. Hagar fled but after being confronted by God, she returned to the home of Abraham and Sarah. After Sarah gave birth to Isaac, she told Abraham to send Hagar and Ishmael away. As they wandered in the wilderness, their water ran out. Genesis 21:15-19 records what happened next, “When the water in the skin was used up, she left the boy under one of the bushes. Then she went and sat down opposite him, about a bowshot away, for she said, "Do not let me see the boy die." And she sat opposite him, and lifted up her voice and wept. God heard the lad crying; and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, "What is the matter with you, Hagar? Do not fear, for God has heard the voice of the lad where he is. "Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him by the hand, for I will make a great nation of him." Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water; and she went and filled the skin with water and gave the lad a drink.” (NASU)
Hagar put Ishmael in the shade and went a short distance away to wait. Hagar sobbed as she said to herself, “I cannot watch the boy die.” (Genesis 21:16 NIV) The NASU used above footnotes verse 16: “Do not let me look upon the death of the boy.” The next verse brings up a very interesting point. It says that God heard Ishmael crying out, but He called out to Hagar. Both were crying, but Scripture points out specifically that God heard the one and comforted the other. Why?
I wonder if the Father was thinking of an event far off into the future. This event was already complete in the mind of God who is not bound by time. Surely, you see the parallels here. Hagar separated her only begotten son from her. The son was crying out. Being unable to watch, she sat down to sob while waiting for him to die. Some 1800 years later, in a supreme act of mercy to mankind, the divine Father would separate his Son from Himself and retire to watch. The Son would cry out as death came near, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken Me.” (Matthew 27:46, NASU) Was The Father unable to watch? Certainly, by virtue of the divine mind, God could identify with all the Hagar felt, but additionally, He could identify by experience with the great agony that was overwhelming Hagar as she thought she was going to have to watch her only begotten son die. It is no wonder that God the Father responded with great tenderness to the suffering Hagar saying, “What is the matter? Do not be afraid.” (Genesis 21:17 NIV) God the Father absolutely knew how Hagar felt. It is also no wonder that God promised great reward to Hagar’s son who would live. Spend some time meditating on the great agony that God the Father went through in restraining His love from rescuing His Son when it was fully in His power to have done so. Hagar just thought she would have to watch. The Father actually did. His great love for you is all that kept Him from stopping The Sacrifice from taking place. Aren’t you glad He allowed The Sacrifice to take place? Bless, magnify, and exalt His Name among your circle of influence.
Pastor Steve Ellison is the director of the Ouachita Theological Training Institute in Mena, Ark.