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

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SARAH.
PART II.

"She judged Him faithful Who had promised."-Hebrews 11:11.

When Abram was ninety‐nine years old (Gen 17:1), God appeared to him after thirteen years of silence, the result apparently of his unbelieving step in taking Hagar to wife. But now He speaks of a Covenant, and gives to Abram circumcision as a sign between God and his seed. Then God changes his name, and calls him Abraham, "the father of a multitude of nations." (Gen 17:5., R.V.) And God said unto Abraham:

"As for Sarai thy wife, thou shalt not call her name Sarai, but Sarah (princess) shall her name be. And I will bless her, and moreover I will give thee a son of her: yea, I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of peoples shall be of her." (Gen 17:15., R. V.)

Thirty long years had elapsed since God's first promise to Abraham. Physical impossibility stood in the way of the fulfilment of that promise, and, at first, "Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed, and said in his heart,

"Shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred years old? and shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear? O that Ishmael might live before Thee!" (Gen 17:17-18.)

God could not choose one that was born after the flesh (Gal 4:23), and He reiterated His Word that Sarah should bear a son, that through him Abraham's seed should be established, and God s covenant with Abraham.

After this, the long silence which had existed between God and Abraham because of his unbelief was broken, "and the Lord appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre" (Gen 18:1., R. V.). It was in the form of three men. And Abraham hastened to his wife into the tent, and called upon her to make cakes for the men who were come to him. Also Abraham himself helped in the preparation of the repast which he would spread before them. And while the men did eat, they said to him,

"Where is Sarah thy wife?"

"Behold, in the tent."

"I will certainly return unto thee when the season cometh round; and, lo, Sarah thy wife shall have a son," (Gen 18:10) was the message the three men brought to him.

"And Sarah heard in the tent door." (Gen 18:10., R. V.) Her first thought was to consider herself. How could such a thing be possible? All experience of human nature was against such a possibility and "Sarah laughed within herself." Was this the woman of whom it should be said wheresoever the Word of God should go: "She judged Him faithful Who had promised?" Yes, it was even so.

But a deep work had to be done upon Sarah's heart before she could be recognised as a woman of faith. There was duplicity as well as unbelief within her, and we may well conceive that at this time she was not the helpmeet to her husband she might have been. "The Lord said unto Abraham,

"Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I of a surety bear a child, which am old? (Gen 18:13.)

"IS ANYTHING TOO HARD FOR THE LORD?"

And God repeats His Word. "At the set time, I will return unto thee when the season cometh round, and Sarah shall have a son. Then Sarah denied, saying, I laughed not." (Gen 18:15.) She even told a lie to God!

And yet, in the New Testament neither her unbelief nor her lie are mentioned against her. Before He could place her among the worthies of faith, God had forgiven her, and cast her iniquities into the depths of the sea. (Mic 7:19.)

But God was not deceived; He could not ignore sin; it must be brought to book; therefore He said, "Nay, but thou didst laugh."

Perhaps the destruction of Sodom, and the fearful judgment upon Lot's wife which intervened between the promise of God to Sarah and its accomplishment, may have done much to deepen Sarah's respect for God, and her faith in His spoken Word.

When, after the destruction of the cities of the Plain, Abraham journeyed into the land of the south, and came to Gerar (Gen 20:1), it seemed almost inconceivable that he should have again repeated his duplicity with regard to Sarah, saying of her, "She is my sister." Perhaps the rebuke of Abimelech in giving Abraham money compensation may have gone far to humble Sarah. "Thus she was reproved." (Gen 20:16.) The judgment upon Sodom, speaking to her of the mighty power of God and His hatred of sin, and then her fall, and her husband's, into untruth, may have shown both of them how their own hearts were not to be relied upon, and Sarah may have been a more serious as well as a more humble woman before the Lord made her the mother of His promised seed.

But the Lord is true. He visited Sarah, as He had said, and a son was born to Abraham in his old age, and he called him, as God had foretold, Isaac (laughter). It may, perhaps, have been in remembrance of his laugh when God declared to him that Sarah should bear a son, that the remembrance of his unbelief might be ever before him, and warn him lest he should fall again into the same sin.

Sarah's joy was, of course, very great. God's promise could never have been fulfilled if her unbelief had not been overcome.

BY FAITH SARAH "RECEIVED STRENGTH

to conceive seed." And now, at last, she had learnt to look at God rather than herself, at God rather than circumstances. She said:

"God hath made me to laugh, so that all that hear will laugh with me. Who would have said unto Abraham, that Sarah should have given children suck? for I have borne him a son in his old age." (Gen 21:6-7.)

Time went on, and the babe grew. But there was in the house one thing, as the fruit of Abraham's and Sarah's unbelief, which must be set in order. There was always the Egyptian Hagar in the house, and the lad Ishmael; and on the day when Isaac was weaned, Sarah saw Ishmael mocking. The old, irritable spirit got the better of her; and yet there was something of the prophetess about her when she said,

"Cast out this bondwoman and her son; for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac. (Gen 21:10.) She saw, at any rate, in a measure, from God's side; Isaac's birth was the fulfilment of God's promise; Ishmael's was not; he was born after the flesh; Isaac was by promise. (Gal 4:23.) When Abraham took his family affairs and laid them before his God, God justified Sarah, and said,

"In all that Sarah hath said unto thee, hearken unto her voice; for in Isaac shall thy seed be called."

Sarah had fulfilled her vocation; she was God's witness. He was faithful Who promised, and she had responded to Him; faith had taken the place of unbelief within her, so that all the Canaanites around would have the testimony of how great was the God of Abraham. All her former life, all her mistakes and failures to help her husband, were blotted out, and this one fact remains behind, that, as Abraham "considered not his own body" (Rom 4:19), but "was fully persuaded that what God had promised He was able also to perform," so Sarah, contrary to experience, and contrary to human reasonings, "judged Him faithful that promised." (Hbr 11:11.)

Oh, what a lesson it is to us, in all the details of our family and social life, to see things with the eye of God, to take counsel with Him about everything, to justify Him in all His ways and all His providences! So only can a Christian wife be a true helpmeet to her husband.

Only one more thing is told us of Sarah. It is of her burial. Sarah's name means "princess;" and as a princess Abraham buried her. The only land he possessed in all the world was Sarah's grave, which he bought of Ephron the Hittite. But beyond the grave, amidst those who shall sit down with Abraham and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven, Sarah shall have her place, because "she judged Him faithful that promised."

Sarah. Part 1—Hebrews 11:2 ← Prior Section
Hagar—Genesis 16:13 Next Section →
CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.

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