Sarah’s story is one of faith mixed with doubt. So, she is someone many of us can relate to.
Sarah was the wife of Abraham and the mother of Isaac. Her name was originally Sarai.
Sarah was Abraham’s wife, but also his half-sister, the daughter of his father, Terah. Sarah was 10years younger than Abraham.
She was considered beautiful, to the point that Abraham feared that when they were near more powerful rulers he might be killed in order that they might have her. Twice he purposefully identified her as being only his sister so he would be “treated well” for her sake. It is apparent that she remained attractive into her later years, but was barren for an unstated reason.
Departure from Ur
The LORD told Abram to leave his country and his father’s house for a land that he would show him, promising to make of him a great nation, bless him, make his name great, bless those who blessed him, and curse “him” that curses him. Following God’s command, Abram took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, and the wealth and persons that they had acquired, and traveled to Canaan. Abram was 75 at this time; Sarai was 65.
There was a severe famine in the land of Canaan, so Abram and Lot and their households traveled south to Egypt. On the journey to Egypt, Abram instructed Sarai to identify herself only as his sister, fearing that the Egyptians would kill him in order to take his wife, saying, “I know what a beautiful woman you are. When the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘this is his wife.’ Then they will kill me but will let you live. Say you are my sister, so that I will be treated well for your sake and my life will be spared because of you.” When brought before Pharaoh, Sarai said that Abram was her brother, so the king took her into his palace and bestowed upon Abram many presents and marks of distinction. But, God afflicted Pharaoh’s household with great plagues. Pharaoh then realized that Sarai was Abram’s wife and demanded they leave Egypt immediately.
Hagar and Ishmael
After having lived in Canaan for 10years and still childless, Sarai suggested that Abram have a child with her servant Hagar, to which he agreed. This resulted in tension between Sarai and Hagar, so Sarai complained to her husband that Hagar no longer respected her. At one point, Hagar fled from Sarai… but returned after the angel of the LORD met her. She gave birth to Abram’s son, Ishmael, when Abram was 86years old.
This was certainly not what God had in mind for Sarai, but His plans for her would not be thwarted – not by outside events, nor even by Sarai’s own actions.
You know how hard it is to wait. But, imagine having to wait for 90years!
Eventually Sarai got tired of waiting and tried to speed up the process.
But, God made it clear that Ishmael was not His answer… nor the child He’d intended His people to come through.
What are you waiting for today? Don’t quit! God keeps every promise He makes. Resist the urge to rush things. Hang in there.
* God’s promises are always worth the wait.
In Genesis 17 when Abram was 99years old, God declared his new name: “Abraham” – “a father of many nations”, and gave him the covenant of circumcision. God gave Sarai the new name “Sarah”, and blessed her. Abraham was given assurance that Sarah would have a son. Not long afterwards, Abraham and Sarah were visited by 3 “men”. One of the visitors told Abraham that, upon his return next year, Sarah would have a son. While at the tent entrance, Sarah overheard what was said and she laughed to herself about the prospect of having a child at their ages. The visitor asked Abraham why Sarah laughed at the idea of bearing a child, for her age was as nothing to God. Frightened, Sarah denied laughing… but God had heard.
As had been prophesied in the previous year, Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham, at the very time which had been spoken. Abraham, now 100years old, named the child “Isaac” (laughter).
What “hopeless” situation are you facing today? Instead of looking at the size of your problem, why not look at the size of your God? Nothing… NOTHING!… is too hard for God.
Will you trust Him to work in your situation today?
* God is all-powerful. That means He can handle whatever you need to throw at Him!
Abraham held a great feast on the day when Isaac was to be weaned. It was during this banquet that Sarah happened upon the then teen-aged Ishmael mocking Isaac and was so disturbed that she requested that both Ishmael and Hagar be removed from their company. Abraham was initially distressed by this but relented when told by God to do as his wife had asked.
After being visited by the 3 “men”, Abraham and Sarah settled in the land of the Philistines. While he was living in Gerar, Abraham again claimed Sarah was his sister. King Abimelech subsequently had her brought to him. Later, God came to Abimelech in a dream and declared that taking her would result in death because she was a married woman. Abimelech, who had not laid hands on her, asked if he would also slay a righteous nation, especially since Abraham had claimed that he and Sarah were siblings. In response, God told Abimelech he did indeed have a blameless heart and that was why he continued to exist. But, if he did not return Sarah to Abraham, God would surely destroy Abimelech and his entire household.
Early next morning, Abimelech informed his servants of his dream and approached Abraham inquiring as to why he had brought such great guilt upon his kingdom. Abraham answered that he thought there was no fear of God in that place, and that they might kill him for his wife. Abimelech returned Sarah to Abraham, and gave him gifts of sheep, oxen, and servants; and invited him to settle wherever he pleased in Abimelech’s lands. Further, Abimelech gave Abraham 1,000 pieces of silver to serve as Sarah’s vindication before all. Abraham prayed for Abimelech and his household, since the LORD had stricken the women with infertility because of the taking of Sarah.
Sarah, who died at the age of 127, is the only woman in the Old Testament whose age is given. Abraham buried her in the Cave of the Patriarchs (also called the Cave of Machpelah), near Hebron which he had purchased, along with the adjoining field, from Ephron the Hittite and laid her to rest in the cave.
You can read Sarah’s story in Genesis 11-25.