Anglican Morning Devotion for 24 January 2022 Anno Domini
a ministry of the Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide
“And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and took bread, and a bottle of water, and gave it unto Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, and the child, and sent her away: and she departed, and wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba. 15And the water was spent in the bottle, and she cast the child under one of the shrubs. 16And she went, and sat her down over against him a good way off, as it were a bowshot: for she said, Let me not see the death of the child. And she sat over against him, and lift up her voice, and wept. 17And God heard the voice of the lad; and the angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven, and said unto her, What aileth thee, Hagar? fear not; for God hath heard the voice of the lad where he is. 18Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him in thine hand; for I will make him a great nation. 19And God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water; and she went, and filled the bottle with water, and gave the lad drink. 20And God was with the lad; and he grew, and dwelt in the wilderness, and became an archer. 21And he dwelt in the wilderness of Paran: and his mother took him a wife out of the land of Egypt.” (Genesis 21:14-21;all scripture quoted is from the King James Version)
Poor Hagar, the mother of Ishmael, was sent off by Abraham with a modest provision of bread and water into the Wilderness of Beersheba. This was a result of a failure of faith by both Sarah and Abraham in the promises of God. Abraham & Sarah had been given the son of promise, Isaac, for whom Ishmael had only contempt. So, Hagar began her sad journey with her child in hand and on her shoulder a bottle of water. Hagar was forlorn of hope as she observed the small provision being depleted along her journey and knowing that there was not likely sufficient supply to see them through the Wilderness.
As Hagar approached the very middle of this Wilderness of Beersheba, her bottle gave out of water. Her child was tired and dying of thirst. What could a loving mother do? She placed Ishmael under a shrub and went an arrow’s shot away so that she could not witness the demise of her only son. She could not bear to hear the boy crying out to his mother in desperation for drink. Hagar wept bitterly and alone in the wilderness. But there was One who heard the crying of the boy – God Almighty always hears the cries of his little ones. The angel of God opened Hagar’s eyes and she saw a well of water there. It had been there all along, but Hagar could not see for her tears.
The empty bottle of Hagar illustrates the vain works of man without the intervening grace and mercy of God. Many of the world face life with bottles that are filled with the false hope and provision of men, but it is the Bottle of God that provides the Water of Life that will forever quench our thirst.
This past Sunday was the 3rd past Epiphany, and it, too, was about empty bottles. Our Lord was at a Marriage Feast in Cana of Galilee when the wine gave out. Upon the reminder of His mother, Mary, Jesus had the servants fill the six large jugs with water – to the brim. He thus instructed the servant to take the wine to the ruler of the feast for testing. “And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it. 9When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom, 10And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now.” (John 2:8-10) Where the Lord blesses our labors, there are no empty bottles.
There may be one case in which an empty bottle may be a blessing – God’s Tear Bottle. “Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book? 9When I cry unto thee, then shall mine enemies turn back: this I know; for God is for me.” (Psalms 56:8-9)
If the Tear Bottle of God is filled with our tears, then our own tear bottles will be empty. On one occasion at Capernaum, our Lord entered the home of Simon the Pharisee, and sat down to meat. “And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster box of ointment, 38And stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment.”(Luke 7:37-38)
It is likely that so many tears were needed to bathe the feet of another that the woman emptied her tear bottle with which she would be customarily buried at death. With Christ, she no longer needed a tear bottle, so, she gave all her tears to our Lord Jesus Christ to be kept in God’s Tear Bottle.
The woman at Jacob’s Well came bearing her empty bottle seeking the vain water of the world. This represents her works without Christ. But she went away, leaving her empty bottle, for she had found the Water of Life that shall quench the thirst forever.