By Norman E. Fultz
Urbanization has whittled away all but nine acres of what used to comprise the 1,000 acre White Haven plantation in St. Louis County. The beautiful old mansion which dates back to 1818 still stands and is being renovated and restored to its 1870s appearance when it was bought by then President Ulysses S. Grant from his father-in-law, Frederick Dent. Intending to retire there, this former Civil War general never realized that dream. He lost the estate in 1885 when a business venture turned sour. He died of throat cancer a short time later.
To preserve anything that might contribute to a better knowledge of White Haven’s historical past, an archaeologist, hired by the National Park Service which now owns it, is searching in and around the house for artifacts. The excavated dirt is sifted through fine wire screens which, it is hoped, will leave behind historical objects. A pile of sifted dirt that had been excavated from below the floor of the kitchen, used by the Dent’s slaves before they were freed at the end of the war, has shown that the screens do not catch everything. Several weeks after being piled outside, the dirt had a plant growing from it. “The plant turned out to be tobacco which was grown on the plantation in the mid1800s. It’s possible the seed lay dormant for more than a century and then sprouted,” according to the archaeologist, quoted in Rural Missouri, November 1995.
With a view to identifying the variety of the tobacco and to prove that “it’s in-deed a plant from the past,” the Park Service moved the plant indoors to grow it to maturity.
Well, now that’s interesting, don’t you think? But you know what? Whatever variety of plant produced that seed is the variety that will be produced by that seed even though more than a hundred years have passed and even if a hundred other varieties have been developed by the ingenuity of man since that seed fell to its protected resting place in the dry soil. From the beginning it has been the herb yielding seed after its kind” which seed will then produce “after its kind” (Gen. 1:11-12).
It is because of the law of the seed producing after its kind that the restoration principle in religion is workable. Jesus declared that the word is the seed of the kingdom (cf. Matt. 13:19; Luke 8:11). When that pure word is sown in the fertile soil of honest hearts, the result will be citizens of the kingdom of heaven. Being the “incorruptible seed” (1 Pet. 1:23), the word of God will produce the kingdom though a thousand years has transpired and even if men have, by their additions and deletions, brought forth a thousand mutations (denominations). Our task is to sow the pure seed and water it (1 Cor. 3:6). The increase is God’s end of the stick.
The God Who Sees
One can make a good study of the nature of God by looking at his names (Lord, God Almighty, Jehovah, etc.). Hagar learned to know God as “El Roi” “The God Who Sees.” The concept of God as the God who sees lingers today in our understanding of the omniscience of God God sees all things. Let us remember how this concept of Jehovah was revealed to Hagar.
Hagar was the handmaid of Sarah. When Sarah finally accepted that she was barren, she decided to have children through her handmaid, as was the custom of that day. Children born to a handmaid were considered heirs unless there was a natural born son, in which case he was the heir.
Sarah approached Abram about having children through Hagar and the two of them agreed to do this. They had become impatient with God, not expecting him to fulfill his promises. Therefore, they worked to help God do what he had promised. Abram went in to Hagar and she conceived a child through him.
Neither had fully considered the ramifications of their conduct. The human emotions that people have cannot be turned off and on like a faucet. Apparently, Abram and Sarah thought that Hagar could have a child through Abram and without emotional attachment. They are like those today who think that two people can co-habit without emotional involvement. When Hagar perceived that she was pregnant, her attitudes changed. She became “odious” like the maid servant that the wise man described who became heir to her mistress (Prov. 30:23).
When Sarah was sufficiently alienated by Hagar’s attitude, she complained to Abram and he told her, “Do with her as it pleaseth thee” (Gen. 16:6). Sarah dealt harshly with Hagar and Hagar fled from her; she be-came a runaway slave.
God Appeared to Hagar
The angel of the Lord appeared to Hagar by a fountain of water in the wilderness. Hagar explained that she had fled from her mistress. The Lord instructed her to return to Sarah and promised her that she would bear a son named Ishmael who would prosper (because the Lord heard her affliction). After hearing the Lord’s promise, Hagar called the name of the God who spoke to her as “Thou God seest me” (El Roi). She named the well at which the Lord appear to her Beer-lahai-roi (“the well of him that lives and sees me,” Gen. 16:14). Harold G. Stigers wrote,
Hagar’s reaction is one of consciousness of God’s presence at her deep need, for He is near to point out responsibility and offer aid in assuming it. She memorialized the event in the characterizing of Yahweh as He who sees, i.e., who sees and succors. At the same time in offering her His help, He restores her feelings of being and affirms His impartiality to all His creatures so that, though a slave, she may hope in Him (A Commentary on Genesis 162).
After the miraculous appearance, Hagar knew that God cares for and looks after her because he is a God who sees man’s needs and responds to meet them.
God’s All Seeing Eyes Watches You
How sad that we have so emphasized God’s omniscience in knowing all of man’s sins (a truth that does not need to be minimized) that we may have neglected giving proper attention to the positive truth revealed in this passage. Consider these truths about the God who sees:
1. God knows my needs. Jesus emphasized this in his Sermon on the Mount. He said,
Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, 0 ye of little faith? Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things (Matt. 6:25-32).
Jesus knows my every need. How comforting is the knowledge that God in heaven lives and knows and cares for me.
2. God responds to meet my needs. He is the God who hears prayer (Ps. 65:2). Like he met the needs of Hagar, he will respond to my needs as well. There is nothing that I need for salvation that he has not provided. He watches over me to make sure there is a way of escape in the hour of temptation (1 Cor. 10:13). How comforting is the knowledge that God will act to meet my needs.
3. God knows our works. This is the oft repeated message to the seven churches of Asia (see Rev. 2:2, 9, 13, 19; 3:1, 8, 15). He walks amidst the lamp stands (churches) and knows what occurs among them. He promises help and encouragement to the faithful who faced sore trials and tribulations.
4. God knows our special circumstances. He wrote to the church at Pergamos, “I know thy works and where thou dwellest, even where Satan’s seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth” (Rev. 2:13). These brethren faced some difficult circumstances because they lived where “Satan’s seat is.” The Lord promised them the help they would need to stay faithful.
Don’t lose heart. God knows your needs and cares for you. The same God who has watched over and cared for you through the years until now, will stay with you to help you through those that remain. Whatever your circumstances and problems may be, don’t forget that God sees and cares.
Guardian of Truth XL: 10 p. 2
May 16, 1996