Sarah, wife of Abraham, the founder of the Hebrew nation and father of all those who live by faith.
Most of the stories of Abraham and Sarah revolve around faith, but mainly the faith of Abraham. Abraham slipped in his faith a couple of times, as did Sarah. They were on a faith journey and displayed typical human traits of momentary failure. But, far fewer than most of us.
Abraham was called by God to leave his family, friends, and especially his religion, to follow an unknown pathway to a destination he had never visited. There in the land of Canaan, a place full of wicked inhabitants, he was to subtly stake his claim for God on the whole country. God desired to turn it into a place of belief and blessings; a country truly following God. Abraham's new 'living by faith' way of life was also that of Sarah’s. Everywhere he went, she went faithfully. They were pioneers of promise, where the promise wouldn't come for many years. Their nephew Lot was also with them. Christians follow a similar path of faith.
Sarah was Abraham's half-sister, the daughter of his father but not his mother (Gen 20:12). A bit odd, but that’s how it was back then. God seemed to allow many things we consider strange today.
Sarah was so beautiful that even at the approximate age of sixty-five, Pharaoh thought her stunning enough to want her for his wife. Even at an older age, King Abimelech of Gerar thought the same as Pharaoh. God changed both their minds. Despite Abraham lying about their relationship and Sarah playing along, God brought problems to both kings so they would get their eyes off Sarah.
One of the things I really like about Sarah is that she showed us she was human. God didn't provide us with unflawed examples in the Bible, who seem at an unobtainable spiritual height. If you are trying to be one, you might be working too much in your own strength. We need humans who are completely reliant up our Saviour. Who aren't afraid to be human.
Slip of faith — like Eve and Adam
Sometimes holding biblical heroes up too high is our fault. We don't let them be the humans they were. Don't get me wrong, God's aims for all followers is high, but we are too focussed on comic book heroes and expect our biblical heroes to be the same.
In her human lack of faith, Sarah handed her husband over to her servant, Hagar, to produce this son of promise. Often we do the same. We pray for an outcome, but when it doesn't arrive in the time we have allotted, we interfere.
In this lack of faith (Genesis 16) we see an almost identical scenario to that of Eve and Adam. Sarah bit on the deceptive fruit of depression in her desperation for a child. Then Abraham, listening to his wife instead of challenging her, involved himself in the deed. All unfaithfulness produces negative offspring. Once the child Ishmael was born, Sarah noticed the real scorning personality of Hagar. When she saw how despised she was in her servant's eyes, Sarah had no choice but to throw her out. It is not for servants to despise their masters or mistresses.
Yet, the Lord intervened, as He does in many relationships that are on the rocks. He called for repentance and brought them back together. Despite Hagar’s repentance and return to her mistress, the underlying smugness still resided. To escalate Hagar's scorn for Sarah, her contempt and sneering seemed umbilically fed directly into her child Ishmael. Over the coming years, this impertinent young man created a family just like himself and his mother, which has been a thorn in the flesh of Israel ever since and will be until the return of the Lord.
Another slip of faith - laughed in her heart
When Sarah was told by God in her old age that she would still have a child, she laughed in her heart. Who wouldn't at that age? God saw it. If the Lord said to you that you would be the president or prime minister of the country in a short time, do you think you'd laugh in your heart? We have many machinations enacted in our hearts that remain unknown to others, until we mature and reject them. Thankfully, God knows them all.
Always yearning to be a mum, Sarah was barren for most of her life. Numerous Biblical women of faith have started off barren and conceived after much heart-wrenching prayer and tears. None had to wait longer than Sarah.
Many preachers today talk about having faith, saying we don't get blessed because we don't believe. This is true. But I would like to see them hold onto one dream as long as Sarah did, without it coming true for most of their lives, and then see where their faith stood.
Why do you think God withheld the opportunity to become pregnant from Sarah?
I think God held off her motherhood until such as a time as it could only be described as a miracle of miracles. If he held it off until she was sixty, there would be a reason for science to say it may have been her body still responding. But at ninety, it was irrefutable. It cost Sarah emotionally and often drained her faith, but God does things like that to us all for His greater glory.
Think about the strength of Sarah's faith when she finally gave birth. Her aged body would have been rejuvenated. More importantly, after all the years of pleading with God, of her oft-disappointments, here now is God’s promise brought to life. Her spirit would have become youthful again. When God’s promise came to life it brought more than a son and heir to Sarah, but a renewed spirit that allowed her to raise her son in the way of faith needed for the next generation.
Name change — Calling her husband Lord?
Sarah was one of several Biblical characters who had their names changed by the living God. Close to ninety years old, God changed her name from Sarai to Sarah, and Abram’s to Abraham. The change seems insignificant, except for the meaning. Both Sarai and Sarah mean 'princess', while Abraham means ‘Father of a multitude’.
The Bible states that Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him Lord. (I Peter 3:6). Debates have occurred over whether that set a precedent for faith-based marriages. Men loved it; some sects using it as a tool to rule over their wives. Both men and women have asked the question of why she would call him Lord.
The meaning of their names seems to give us a clue. Rather than two people, it seems like two offices they held. Peter may have been referring to their offices of Father (Leader) and Princess (underling), even though they were husband and wife. Another example of this type of arrangement was in Queen Esther's marriage to the King. Though they were husband and wife, when he was on the throne she had to still approach him in obeisance as king.
Hebron — the coveted region
Abraham purchased a cave in Hebron to bury his beloved Sarah in that land of Godly promise. His half-sister, his wife, the girl who so faithfully joined him on his journey of following God wherever He led them, was faithfully laid to rest in a very special place. This is why, after the exodus from Egypt, when the Israelites crossed over to take Canaan on the Lord’s behalf, faithful Caleb requested Hebron for his heritage. A precious place. It was the hallowed ground of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Hebron is in Israel’s greatly embattled West Bank, currently partly-occupied and coveted by a tribe which has no portion, nor right, nor memorial there.
All Sarah's errors in faith and misjudgments seemed to be related to one root cause — her childlessness. We may see many things we do related to one root cause.
Despite Sarah’s wrestles of faith she was faithful to the promise. Never walking away, never leaving her husband’s side, never seeking to be worldly. To me, Sarah was the epitome of a strong believer who had no doubts about the long-range goal of God. Her doubts were like those little choices that come upon us as we walk that long road, where we want to have faith but fall a little short of it at times. Sarah was a very faithful human believer with enough flaws to make her relatable and is forever enshrined in Hebrews 11:11 as a hero of faith.