Why is “angel of the LORD” repeated 4 times in Hagar’s story?

Hagar, tumblr_lbw9u39P8J1qddmknQuestion: Why does the phrase, “angel of the LORD” occur repetitively (4 times) in Hagar’s story found in Genesis 16:6-13?

The phrase, “angel of the LORD” is repeated 68 times in the King James Bible in 64 verses. Angel of the Lord refers to the pre-incarnate (before He was physically born in Bethlehem) appearances of Jesus Christ. The first time is in Sarah and Hagar’s story when Hagar despises Sarah, and her mistress treats her harshly, causing her to run away into the wilderness.

Why does the phrase, “angel of the LORD” occur four times in Geneses 16:6-13? As repetition is an obvious pattern in stories of Bible women, it is important to linger long enough to gather some understanding. This small phrase bursts with significance when we realize who it represents.

To introduce ourselves to these truths, we can ask these questions:

  1. What does the “angel of the LORD” do or say?
  2. Do these actions or words have spiritual parallels found in the New Testament and applicable to our lives today?

When we compare Genesis 16:6-13 which contains these four repetitions of the phrase, “angel of the LORD,” we can identify four cornerstones of spiritual truth as follows:

1st Time the phrase “angel of the LORD” is mentioned in Genesis 16:6-13

Question 1: What did the angel do?
Answer: Genesis 16:7 “angel of the Lord found her”

Question 2: Does this action have a spiritual parallel in the New Testament?
Answer: Yes.

This phrase “angel of the LORD” found in Genesis 16:7 refers to the Lord Jesus Christ. Does He seek us today?

 Luke 19:10 For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.

 There is a spiritual parallel in the New Testament of Jesus seeking us. Jesus sought us with His great love and wooed us to Him! Just like Jesus found Hagar in the wilderness, an implication that He was specifically looking for her, so He searches for us on a one-to-one basis. It’s a process for us, a journey to discovering Jesus and His powerful love for us.

When the angel of the LORD found Hagar, he asked her two questions:

Where did you come from?

Where are you going?

The LORD still asks us today:

 -Where do we come from?

The answer is found in Revelation 4:11

Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.

-Where are you going?

For Christians, the answer is found in John 14:6

John 14:3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.

 

2nd Time the phrase “angel of the LORD” is mentioned in Genesis 16:6-13

 

Question 1: What did the angel say?
Answer: Genesis 16:9: angel of the Lord said unto her, Return

Question 2: Does this action have a spiritual parallel in the New Testament?
Answer: Yes.

The phrase, “angel of the LORD” found in Genesis 16:9 refers to the Lord Jesus Christ. Is Jesus asking us to return to Him today?

1 Peter 2:25 For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.

Jesus is beseeching us to return to Him as the Shepherd and Caretaker of our souls.

3rd Time the phrase “angel of the LORD” is mentioned in Genesis 16:6-13

 Question 1: What did the angel say?
Answer: Genesis 16:10 “angel of the Lord said unto her, I will multiply thy seed.”

Question 2: Does this action have a spiritual parallel in the New Testament?
Answer: Yes.

 

The phrase, “angel of the LORD” found in Genesis 16:10 refers to the Lord Jesus Christ. Is Jesus promising to multiply our “seed” today in a spiritual sense?

 

2 Corinthians 9:10 Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness;)

Psalm 122:6 He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.

 

2 Peter 1:8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Yes. There is a spiritual parallel to the idea of delivering seed in The New Testament.

Jesus is telling us that He will boost our efforts to give the Word of God (The seed is the Word of God according to Luke 8:11) and that the effects on others will expand.

4th Time the phrase “angel of the LORD” is mentioned in Genesis 16:6-13

Question 1: What did the angel say?
Answer: Genesis 16:11 “angel of the Lord said unto her, Behold, thou art with child.”

Question 2: Does this action have a spiritual parallel in the New Testament?
Answer: Yes.

 

The phrase, “angel of the LORD” found in Genesis 16:11 refers to the Lord Jesus Christ. Is Jesus promising us children in a spiritual sense?

Galatians  4:19 My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you,

 

The Apostle Paul is calling the Christians at Galatia his “little children” and drawing a parallel between physical birth and spiritual birth and growth.

Additional thoughts:

Law of First Mention

This phrase, “angel of the LORD” is found first in Genesis 16:7. The first time that something is mentioned in the Bible is important. In fact, it is called the Law of First Mention and Bible scholars consider it to be a critical component of studying the Bible. When something is mentioned for the first time, it sets a precedent for how the word, name, etc. is treated in the remainder of the Bible.

 

Note the word, “LORD”

This word is in all capital letters, indicating that it is the name of God that explains that He is the “self-existent” one WHO REVEALS HIMSELF. God wants us to know Him.

 

Hagar’s Status

Hagar was the despised servant, an underdog tossed out in anger and retribution. In contrast (another Bible pattern) how poignantly and tenderly the LORD, who wants to reveal Himself to us, searches for her like a precious lost sheep. He searches for us by name too. He comes in humility and pleading as indicated by the word, “unto.” The way that the “angel of the LORD,” Jesus Christ, King of the universe, approaches Hagar speaks volumes about Jesus’ love for us!

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