I remember exactly where I was when I heard one of my favorite Bible teachers say these words, “Spoiler alert: The Bible is not about you.” At the time, I chuckled a bit, startled perhaps by the absurdity of her statement. Of course, the Bible is not about me. Who would believe such a thing? But the more I thought about it, the more I realized how very often I open my Bible looking for how it can speak into my life, into my situation.
- What are some of the problems that could arise if we only read the Bible looking for what it says about us instead of what it says about God?
READ THE WORD: GENESIS 16:7-16 (ESV)
7 The angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, the spring on the way to Shur. 8 And he said, “Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?” She said, “I am fleeing from my mistress Sarai.” 9 The angel of the Lord said to her, “Return to your mistress and submit to her.” 10 The angel of the Lord also said to her, “I will surely multiply your offspring so that they cannot be numbered for multitude.” 11 And the angel of the Lord said to her,
“Behold, you are pregnant
and shall bear a son.
You shall call his name Ishmael,
because the Lord has listened to your affliction.
12 He shall be a wild donkey of a man,
his hand against everyone
and everyone’s hand against him,
and he shall dwell over against all his kinsmen.”
13 So she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, “You are a God of seeing,” for she said, “Truly here I have seen him who looks after me.” 14 Therefore the well was called Beer-lahai-roi; it lies between Kadesh and Bered.
15 And Hagar bore Abram a son, and Abram called the name of his son, whom Hagar bore, Ishmael. 16 Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore Ishmael to Abram.
English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
- Verse 7 begins the section just after Sarai mistreated Hagar, causing Hagar to leave her home, pregnant and afraid. There is no evidence that Hagar, an Egyptian woman, was seeking God in this situation. Regardless of that, what happened in verses 7-10?
- What do these things tell you about the character of God?
- How did Hagar react to this encounter with God (vs. 13)?
- Hagar was known by God, but that didn’t mean her situation was going to be magically perfect. What direction did God give in verse 9?
- How should knowing that God “sees” you and “looks after” you impact how you walk through difficult situations?
RESPOND TO GOD
It is tempting to read the Bible and think about how what we’ve just read affects us—and ultimately, the application of God’s truth in our lives is the goal of studying the Scriptures. But the Bible is first and foremost a book about God and how we should live in light of who he is. In today’s passage, we learn that God seeks us when we’re tired and confused. He hears the hurting cries of our hearts, regardless of our thoughts toward him. He knows the intricacies of our personal pain and yet has a sovereign plan for how our situation fits into his big redemptive plan. Knowing these things doesn’t always change our circumstances; Hagar still had to return to a difficult situation. But because of who God is, we can approach our difficulties in the power of his might and the truth of his sovereignty.
- Pray that God will reveal more of himself to you as you read your Bible each day.
- Ask him to change your reactions in light of what you learn about him.