Reading Genesis 16:7-14 makes me certain of it. “And the angel of the LORD found her by a fountain of water in the wilderness, by the fountain in the way to Shur. And he said, Hagar, Sarai’s maid, whence camest thou? and whither wilt thou go? And she said, I flee from the face of my mistress Sarai. And the angel of the LORD said unto her, Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hands. And the angel of the LORD said unto her, I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, that it shall not be numbered for multitude. And the angel of the LORD said unto her, Behold, thou art with child, and shalt bear a son, and shalt call his name Ishmael; F77 because the LORD hath heard thy affliction. And he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man’s hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren. And 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? Wherefore the well was called Beerlahairoi; F78 behold, it is between Kadesh and Bered.”
Now “the angel of the Lord” is a common term for the preincarnate Jesus Christ in the Old Testament. However, there are incidents in the Old Testament where references to angels – and other appearances of supernatural beings – are just that … angels (whether fallen or not). So, I came up with a system where if the supernatural being is worshiped i.e. Moses and the burning bush or Joshua on the plain of Jericho, then it is a theophany, an appearance of God in the Old Testament. However, if the supernatural being is not worshiped, then it is an angel. However, this is not foolproof, as Jacob apparently did not worship Jesus Christ, but wrestled with Him and demanded (?) to be blessed by Him, and we only know that it was God whom Jacob wrestled with because A) Jacob said so, B) God warned Jacob that day was breaking and that it was not meant for Jacob to clearly see His face and C) God refused to tell Jacob His Name upon Jacob’s request.
This appears to be a similar incident. In Genesis 16:10, the angel of the Lord states “I will multiply thy seed exceedingly …”. The angel speaks in first person of an action that he will personally take, not in second person regarding an act of God, or of knowing the intentions of God (in contrast with, say, how Gabriel spoke of God’s actions to Mary in second person i.e. “and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David” in Luke 1:32). As obviously no angel has the power or authority to perform this deed, it had to have been God speaking to Hagar.
More evidence still? Genesis 16:13. “And she called the name of the LORD that spake unto her, Thou God seest me.” So this verse makes it plain: Hagar knew that she was speaking to God, and called God by Name. The Hebrew makes it more explicit: “qara shem Yĕhovah dabar ‘el ro’iy.” Qara shem means “[She] called the Name.” Yĕhovah is Jehovah, Yahweh, YHWH, or the Name of the Holy Trinity. “Dabar” means “word.” “Dabar” is what the apostle John translated directly into “Logos” in the prologue of the Gospel of John … “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” In that verse and elsewhere in reference to God, “the Word” = “Logos” = “Dabar” = “Jesus Christ” are interchangeable. So not only was it the God of Abraham that Hagar was speaking to, but Hagar knew that she was speaking to the God of Abraham, and – whether knowingly or not – by including “dabar” in her speech, actually addressed the Person of the Trinity that she was speaking to!
Still more evidence: “Wherefore the well was called Beerlahairoi” of Genesis 16:15. In Hebrew Beerlahairoi is “Bĕ’er la-Chay Ro’iy”, which basically means “well of the Living One seeing me.” Or in other words, the well where God saw me.
Now the Geneva Study Bible notes on http://bible.cc seems to dance around the issue. Which is strange, because the idea that the Old Testament people knew of the Person and office of Jesus Christ is a major part of Calvinism. However, the Matthew Henry and John Wesley notes that appear on that same site arrived at the same conclusion as did I.
But neither of them deal with the obvious question: what was so special about Hagar (or more truthfully Ishmael) that there was an intervention on Ishmael’s behalf by way of a Christophany? And why was Ishmael the father of 12 tribes, just as Jacob (Israel) was? It is still more curious when you consider the type-antitype regarding Ishmael and Isaac. Isaac was the son of the free Hebrew woman, which generally means salvation and the people of God in scripture. Ishmael was the son of the slave Egyptian woman, with slavery representing bondage and Egypt representing sin in scripture. Also, Isaac represents the church because he was resurrected from the dead (meaning born to a barren womb). Meanwhile, Ishmael was conceived naturally. Isaac = son of God, the supernatural order where Ishmael = son of man, the earthly sinful order?
In a way, it recalls Adam and Eve, with the Godly line originating with Seth (type) and the evil line originating with Cain (antitype). And yes, just as Adam and Eve were the direct father and mother of both Seth and Cain (this isn’t an “obviously” sort of thing, because it would have been very possible for the ungodly line to have originated a generation or three from Adam and Eve), Abraham and Sarah were the father and mother of Isaac and Ishmael. So … Abraham was not just the progenitor, the ancestor of Israel and ultimately the church. He was quite literally the father of “many nations”, including the ungodly Ishmael line! (Incidentally, Israel was not the only Godly line that Abraham started … he also started the Midianite line, who apparently were Godly at least for a time, as Jethro, the father – in – law of Moses, was the Jehovah worshiping priest of Midian, and thus it was acceptable for Moses to marry Jethro’s daughter, and Miriam was punished for speaking against the marriage.)
Yet, just as God directly intervened to preserve the Ishmael line, He marked Cain to prevent him from being killed! So, Seth = Isaac = Jesus Christ = church. Cain = Ishmael = _______ = ______. Now precisely who or what is the opposite of Christ who persecutes – or will persecute – the church? (See Galatians 4 for more of this type/antitype involving Sarah/Isaac and Hagar/Ishmael, and for the direct statement that Ishmael and his seed persecutes the church.) Anyone want to fill in the blanks? It seems clear – to me anyway – that Ishmael and his line were intended for a prominent role in salvation history, and his being the father of a nation/people of 12 tribes plus the contents of Galatians 4 verifies this fact. So, the only mystery is A) who the descendants of Ishmael are (my guess … it isn’t the Roman Catholic Church or some new Roman Empire, nor is it the Jews, although nothing precludes Ishmael’s seed from using one or both) and B) what that role in salvation history will be.