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Some Christians believe God would never speak to or through believers whom they think are in error. Of course, that means that the person making that declaration is without error him/herself. This is a difficult claim to make in light of who our God is. My biblical stance is this: The sovereign God of the universe will speak to and through whomever He chooses. To validate that position, let’s look at one woman who was trouble with a capital T, to whom God spoke, to whom He made promises, and who very well could have told others what the Lord told her, thus placing her in the category of prophetess. However, she might not have been the kind of woman you would want to hang around with. Her name?

Hagar.

Hagar was the female servant of Sarah, Abraham’s wife. Sarah was barren and concerned Abraham, who was getting old like she was, wouldn’t leave a male heir. She suggested that he have a child via Hagar. And that’s what happened. However, it wasn’t long before Hagar kicked up rancorous dust. Hagar, in her odd brain, held Sarah—the mistress of the house, wife of the master of the house—in contempt (Genesis 16:4).

What was Hagar thinking?

Sarah dealt harshly with her and she fled. (Genesis 16:6).

But that’s not the end of the story. After her departure, an angel appeared to her. If you’re familiar with the Bible, angelic appearances are relatively rare. Nevertheless, not only did the angel appear to her, he made a promise:

The angel of the LORD said to her, “Return to your mistress and submit to her.” The angel of the LORD also said to her, “I will surely multiply your offspring so that they cannot be numbered for multitude.” And the angel of the LORD said to her, “Behold, you are pregnant and shall bear a son. You shall call his name Ishmael, because the LORD has listened to your affliction. He shall be a wild donkey of a man, his hand against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he shall dwell over against all his kinsmen” (Genesis 16:9–12). 1

Just another day in the ancient Middle East.

So, Hagar the troublemaker returned to Abraham—and Sarah’s household.

Wish I could have been there for the homecoming.

However, this woman’s disgraceful behavior would still taint her son and the family dynamics.

The Lord appeared to Abraham again and promised him a son, Isaac was born.

Then this happened:

And the child grew and was weaned. And Abraham made a great feast on the day that Isaac was weaned. But Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, laughing. So she said to Abraham, “Cast out this slave woman with her son, for the son of this slave woman shall not be heir with my son Isaac” (Genesis 21:8–10).

Once again, Hagar was out of the household. She and the child Ishmael were given a loaf of bread and a skin of water and bade adieu. Big surprise. After wandering around in the wilderness for a time, Hagar thought Ishmael was going to die. Then an angel spoke from heaven to this unwise, mischief-maker.

“What troubles you, Hagar? Fear not, for God has heard the voice of the boy where he is. Up! Lift up the boy, and hold him fast with your hand, for I will make him into a great nation.” 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 (Genesis 21:17b–19).

I don’t know about you, but I have never seen an angel nor has one spoken to me from heaven. Nor do I know anyone who has. Either one of those events would be milestones, I would think, in the life of any believer. But here is this despicable woman, who enjoyed humiliating others, with two such events.

To whom and through whom does the Lord speak? Anyone He chooses. But keep in mind that everyone in the Bible, even the “good people,” were sinners, as are we all. David, a man after God’s heart, had an amazing encounter with an angel—who was about to destroy everyone in sight because of what David had done (2 Samuel 24:15-17).

How about this:

But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all. Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.” He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad (John 11:49–52).

And Balaam. What shall we say about him?

So, fellow Christian, be careful when you’re tempted to say, “God would never speak through her!” Or, “That man’s doctrine is haywire. How could the Lord speak through him?” The real question is, “Is this God speaking or not?” We are told to test the spirits to see whether they are from God (1 John 4:1-3). That’s our job. God speaking to and through people—that’s His job.

 

1All Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

 

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