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The Blue Letter Bible

Mary Elizabeth Baxter :: Sarah. Part 1—Hebrews 11:2

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"By faith even Sarah herself received power to conceive seed when she was past age, since she counted Him faithful who had promised."-Hebrews 11:2., R.V.

Sarah is the first woman mentioned in (Hbr 11:11) among those who "obtained a good report through faith," and in this picture gallery of His faithful witnesses, the Lord mentions nothing else about Sarah but her faith. All the great imperfections of her life had been forgiven and blotted out, and nothing was remembered against her. But that faith which she exercised in becoming the mother of the child of promise was counted worthy of record side by side with the faith of an Enoch, an Abraham, a Moses, etc.

We have seen in the history of Eve that the vocation of woman, as she came from the hand of her Creator was to be a helpmeet to her husband, and in this vocation Sarah very frequently and very signally failed; yet the germ of faith, which in time brings forth faithfulness, was discernible in her from the first. She accompanied her husband when God called him out of Ur of the Chaldees, leaving behind her country, her kindred, her father's house, and all the familiar friends and the familiar scenes of her childhood. She was one with her husband in his trusting the God who gave him, for all he had lost, only promises of temporal blessing, with, however, a glorious share of spiritual blessing, a reality of communion with God


than all the benefits he had left in his old home.

Having reached the land of Canaan, Sarah's husband set up memorials to the Lord at every halting‐place on his journey, and called upon the name of his God, without fear of the heathen who carried on their worship around. (Gen 12:7-8.) But an unexpected trouble came upon them; there was a famine in the land. What should people do in the time of famine? Most men would say: "Do the best you can for yourselves." God says: "Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed." (Psa 37:3.) Abraham, accustomed as he was to take counsel with his God, failed in the point of temporal need. He followed after the way of most men, looked round him for ways of escape, and went down into Egypt to sojourn there (Gen 12:10), without waiting for God's direction. How could it be that he, a man whose faith in God had been such that he could leave all behind him in his own land, for the apparent uncertainty of the promises that God made him, should, in a time of famine, place no reliance on the forethought and care of a God whom he had trusted thus far? How comes it that many a Christian in the present day, who has come out from the world, and from sin, and who has trusted his soul's salvation into the hands of his God, relying solely upon the precious blood of Christ, and who is in perfect security without a fear of failure at the judgment day-how comes it, that yet when temporal need comes upon him, he seeks himself the way of escape, and does not completely and unreservedly commit his cause to God? Can the faith for the soul be real where there is so little trust about lesser things?

Sarah was at this juncture no real help to her husband. She failed in being a helpmeet. If she had had the confidence to remain in the land of Canaan, and had said, "Our God, who has led us thus far, will never fail us in a time of famine," Abraham might have been spared the failure and the disgrace with which he a witness for God, afterwards returned from the land of Egypt.


When they were about to enter Egypt, Abraham proposed to Sarah that their relationship should be kept a secret, that they should say she was his sister. Here is the husband tempting the wife to sin. With Eve it was the wife who tempted the husband. Here again, if Sarah had stood on the side of God, and said: "A God who has led us so far cannot fail to take care of me. God has promised to make thee a great nation, to bless thee, to make thy name great, and to make thee a blessing, to bless them that bless thee, and curse them that curse thee. How can He then let harm come to me?"-how she might have encouraged her husband's faith! But instead of looking at things with the eye of faith, Sarah comes down to earthly combinations, and falls into Abraham's plans to deceive Pharaoh. The consequence is that no altar, no memorial for their God was set up in Egypt, and they were made no blessing there. They had to depart from that land, truly with increased riches, but with no increase of honour, and without leaving behind them one saved soul, one altar reared, one vestige of witness for the God for whose sake they had left all at His call in their old Chaldean home. (Gen 12:17-20; 13:1-3.)

We come now to another page of Sarah's history; God had promised Abraham on two separate occasions that his seed should be numerous: "I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered" (Gen 13:16), and again: "Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and He said unto him, So shall thy seed be. And he believed in the Lord; and He counted it to him for righteousness." (Gen 15:5-6.) An earthly seed and a heavenly seed; and both innumerable! But year after year went by, and no sign of the promised seed appeared. Sarah began to be impatient, and


Faith for the promised seed failed her.

Unbelief is full of plans and human propositions; and so was Sarah, when she came to Abraham and said to him:

"Behold, now, the Lord hath restrained me from bearing: I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her." (Gen 16:2.) Sarah was no helpmeet to her husband in this proposition; it was not of Divine origin. It came from the restlessness of unbelief. But Abraham hearkened to the voice of Sarah, and took Hagar to wife, contrary to the first order of God, that a man should cleave unto his wife; polygamy was never God's order.

When Hagar saw that she was likely to be the mother of a child, she despised her mistress. This was more than Sarah could bear. Anger and indignation took possession of her, and forgetting altogether that it was she who had brought this thing about, she looked at things only from her own point of view. She felt wronged, and reproached her husband:

"My wrong be upon thee: I gave my handmaid into thy bosom: and when she saw that she had conceived, I was despised in her eyes: the Lord judge between me and thee. (Gen 16:5.)

A family quarrel might have ensued. But if Sarah had not her eye upon God, Abraham was looking to the Lord, and he spoke to Sarah as a man who knew how to trust. He could trust his wife, the circumstances, and Hagar too, into the hands of his faithful God:

"Behold, Thy maid is in Thy hand; do to her that which is good in Thine eyes." (Gen 16:6.)

Personal feelings were set aside. The question as between man and man had no weight when Abraham looked at things from above. Sarah dealt hardly with her servant, and Hagar fled from her face. Here again Sarah was no helpmeet to her husband. She acted selfishly and cruelly, because she considered herself rather than her God.

How wonderful that such a woman should at last have come to be numbered among the heroes of faith! Let us take courage; let us trust our God to show us our failure, shortcoming, and sin, in many of our household and family relations; let us trust Him to show us where we are wrong, to purify us, and work in us that life of faith which shall be to His glory, that sin may cease and the life of Christ be formed in us.

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