Genesis 21:19 – Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water. And she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink.
At the behest of his wife, Sarah, Abraham sends his son, Ishmael, and his mistress, Hagar, out into the wilderness once the promised son, Isaac, is born. The crazy thing is that Abraham sleeping with Hagar was originally Sarah’s idea! She was part of the reason they’re in this mess in the first place and, after recognizing how this would negatively impact her life, she orders them to be gone.
Can you imagine being Abraham and helping one of his sons and the son’s mom pack up and shutting the door as they head out into the wilderness? My family and I live in a desert climate and it’s likely not to make it very long with one jug of water. Though Ishmael was not the promised son, Abraham still cared about him as his earthly son.
As the situation got dire, Hagar put Ishmael in one place and went to sit in another place, because she felt impending death coming upon both of them and she couldn’t stand to see her son die. Here, God shows up. He provides a well of water and they survived.
The well seems to be a special piece of imagery throughout Scripture where Jesus meets people in need. He meets Hagar at a well two different times, including here and earlier in Genesis 16 when she was in distress upon learning she was pregnant. Later, when Jesus arrives on the earth in human form, He meets a Samaritan woman at a well (John 4), telling her about who He is, and she starts the spread of His name throughout Samaria. God meets people in the ordinary and mundane places, like a well.
This well is today known as the Zamzam Well and is known as a Muslim holy site, near where Ishmael settled in modern-day Mecca in Saudi Arabia. This is the area where Muhammed, father of the Muslims, was born, one of Ishmael’s descendants. The One True God provided this blessing to Hagar and Ishmael and, today, this blessing has been misconstrued to become a holy place for a counterfeit religion of Islam. In fact, God didn’t just bless them with water, He blessed them with water that’s been scientifically proven to be some of the purest water on earth. Muslims re-enact this search for water every year with an annual pilgrimage to this area. The well God provided for Hagar and Ishmael can be found here: https://zamzam.com/blog/history-of-zamzam/.
The incredible thing about this story is that God blesses every single person in the story, believers and unbelievers alike, despite the fact that none of them really seem to actually deserve it. He blesses Abraham and Sarah with a promised son, and He blesses Hagar and Ishmael with water to drink while wandering the desert. We can take great solace in the fact that our God is a good God and that He blesses us even when we are undeserving.
How have you seen God bless unbelievers even though they don’t know Him? Pray that they would not see this blessing as acceptance of their lifestyle and that they would still come to know Him and have a relationship with Him as their Savior. Thank Him that His blessing isn’t because of our goodness or worthiness but because of His goodness and graciousness.
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