Last week we looked at how an angel of HaShem, in the form of a man, caught up with Hagar and promised her scores of descendants, and a boy named Ishmael. Is such an angel HaShem’s way of interacting with man?
When HaShem’s original covenant is made, however, HaShem seems to speak directly to Abram, changing his name to Abraham and Sarai’s to Sarah, and instructing Abraham about circumcision as part of the covenant. (Gen. 15,17) Yet as events progress, angels seem to rapidly appear at opportune moments with life-changing information essential for the wellbeing of the intended recipient.
Three angels show up at Abraham and Sarah’s ranch, and one says he will be back in a year to confirm Sarah has had a child. The other two angels save most of Lot’s family from the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. (Gen. 18, 19 )
When Issac is born, bad feeling over succession seems to have returned, and Sarah insists that Hagar and Ishmael disappear into the unforgiving desert. With water gone, Hagar lays Ishmael down to die. Once again an angel appears, reminding Hagar of HaShem’s promise that “I will make a great nation of him.” (Gen. 21:9-19) and directs Hagar’s sight to a well of water. Ishmael survives to become a bowman, and Hagar is able to find a wife for him in Egypt. (Gen. 21:20-21)
In a remarkable symmetry, a similar scene occurs later with Issac, who has followed his father Abraham up the mountain in order to be sacrificed. Here an angel (perhaps the same one?) stops Abraham at the last possible moment, and directs Abraham’s sight to a ram caught in a thicket. It will be that ram that will be sacrificed, not Issac. Further, because Abraham did not resist the order to sacrifice Issac, now HaShem’s blessing will insure that Abraham’s descendants will be “as numerous as the stars of heaven and the sands on the seashore.” (Gen. 22:11-18)
Do you believe that HaShem speaks through anonymous angels, of whom you are unlikely to meet again? Have you met such a person and has that meeting made a difference in your life? Join us for a discussion on Saturday November 7th at 10:00 A.M.