Epistle to the Hebrews (11:11-12)   Leave a comment

Epistle to the Hebrews
                                                                                                      Epistle to the Hebrews

It was by faith that even Sarah was able to have a child, though she was barren and was too old. She believed that God would keep his promise. And so a whole nation came from this one man who was as good as dead—a nation with so many people that, like the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore, there is no way to count them.” Hebrews 11:11-12

If we have a look at this moment when the 3 visitors came at Abraham’s place, we have the impression that Sarah did not have faith in what the Lord said to her husband.  In fact, God made the promise of many descendants to Abram and not to Sarai in Genesis 16 and 17.

Sarai said to Abraham “The Lord has prevented me from having children. Go and sleep with my servant. Perhaps I can have children through her.

There was about 13 years between Sarah’s proposal for Hagar and the Lord’s visit to them in Genesis 18. Abraham was already Ishmael father at this time:

Then one of them said, “I will return to you about this time next year, and your wife, Sarah, will have a son!”Sarah was listening to this conversation from the tent. Abraham and Sarah were both very old by this time, and Sarah was long past the age of having children.So she laughed silently to herself and said, “How could a worn-out woman like me enjoy such pleasure, especially when my master—my husband—is also so old?”Then the Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh? Why did she say, ‘Can an old woman like me have a baby?’ Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return about this time next year, and Sarah will have a son.”Sarah was afraid, so she denied it, saying, “I didn’t laugh.”But the Lord said, “No, you did laugh.” Gen 18:10-15

Sarah laughed, so how could Sarah be included in the “Faith hall of fame”?

Sarah was an obedient wife and one whom God loved. Pharaoh and king Abimelech were cursed by God because they took Abraham’s wife (Gen 12, Gen 20). Their people were stricken with plagues and bareness.  Both Pharaoh and king Abimelech said “What have you done to us” when Abraham deceived them by saying Sarah was his sister(Sarah was Abraham’s half sister Gen 20:12). In Genesis 18, it was the third time God said descendants would come from Sarah. It seems that the Lord had Sarah on His agenda during His visit. “Where is Sarah, your wife?”, the visitors said.God knew Sarah was old and suffered. It was like a special word of God for a godly barren woman. God knew Sarah’s heart and faithfulness and knew how far Sarah could go in her faith. How many couple today give up after 3 or 4 years of waiting? Sarah was 76 and during all these years of marriage she did not propose a servant to Abraham. This couple was a desperate case the author tells us. They were as good as dead in their old worn out bodies.

Paul tells us in Romans:

Even when there was no reason for hope, Abraham kept hoping—believing that he would become the father of many nations. For God had said to him, “That’s how many descendants you will have!”And Abraham’s faith did not weaken, even though, at about 100 years of age, he figured his body was as good as dead—and so was Sarah’s womb. Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises. And because of Abraham’s faith, God counted him as righteous.” Romans 4:18-22

It is amidst hopeless cases that faith works better.  Do you see how faith brought conviction in Abraham? Faith in God becomes clearer and stronger when we have absolutely no other place to look at. Is it a fertile young woman who needs to have faith in God to bear a child or an old barren woman like Sarah?

God had a special plan for Sarah and not a man should have intercourse with her except Abraham. Sarah accepted to be called Abraham’s sister instead of wife because of Abraham’s selfish desires. Sarah was very beautiful and this put Abraham’s life in danger for many great leaders wanted to have her. Abraham did not want to get in trouble so he cunningly hatched a plan for not getting in trouble. There was famine so by “exchanging” Sarah, Abraham was well treated (Gen 12). But God protected Sarah and even cursed the men who were about to touch her because of Abraham’s deception. Sarah was a blessing to Abraham because through her Pharaoh gave Abraham a lot of riches(Gen 12:16, 13:2) and so did Abimelech(Gen 20:16). We see a similar story regarding Isaac and Rachel in Genesis 26. Sarah was an obedient woman who loved her husband to the extent of suggesting him to take Hagar to secure descendants. It was hard to wait. She followed her husband to the unknown land because she also believed in God’s promise.

Abraham was 100 years old when Isaac was born(Genesis 21). So Ismael was 14 years old as per Genesis 16:16 and Sarah 90 years old (Genesis 17:17) when Isaac was born. About 1 year elapsed between God’s promise to Sarah and it’s accomplishment. I guess Sarah already knew she was pregnant after a few months.

Sarah said: “The Lord has prevented me from having children. Go and sleep with my servant. Perhaps I can have children through her.” Gen 16:2

We see here that Sarah knew that it was God who was behind this delayed bareness. Sarah’s relatives (Milcah) was very fertile and I guess Sarah knew it was God behind this bareness. Rachel (Jacob’s wife), Hannah (Samuel’s mother), Samson’s mother, Rebekah (Isaac’s wife) and Elizabeth (John’s mother) are godly women of the bible who were barren. The wombs of these women were closed and their child bearing were miracles. The children of all these women were exceptional figures of the bible. God wanted these women to understand that it was not their achievement if they could bear a child but it was God’s intervention. These women were probably the most happy mothers on this earth because their children were exceptional servants of God.

Though Sarah laughed and knew she was barren she realised that her bareness was no coincidence. She knew God was behind it and eventually believed in what was promised. Sarah and Abraham went through wars and were victorious (Gen 14). Sarah was probably 76 when Ishmael was born and during these previous years she has not proposed Abraham to take a servant. In her goodwill she did a mistake and proposed Hagar because she knew her husband was a notable man and she could not give him a son. During the next 14 years which elapsed, it probably became harder.  It is the reason God said to Sarah “Is anything too hard for the Lord? “. Sarah got it right and closed her mouth. God is reputed for asking His servants to do surprising things. God has His own plans and He takes glory in doing it in His own way. “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter” Proverbs 25:2

We can point the finger to Sarah for giving Hagar to Abraham. But I don’t think there’s a woman on earth who could have kept God’s promises all these years. Today we can adopt children but at this time it was a practice to have a posterity through the wife’s servant.

How many women can say “The Lord has made me barren” without actually cursing God? Even if Sarah laughed, from what I read, I have not seen her curse God for what He did. She knew it was God’s plan and persevered for long. Yeah she failed on the way and saw the consequences of having an Ishmael  in the family.

I would like to emphasise here that Sarah was an exceptional wife and a faithful servant of God. As mentioned earlier, Sarah was 76 and during all these years of marriage she did not propose a servant to Abraham. When she was 89 she still believed she could become pregnant by sleeping with her husband. Sarah probably did not have sexual desires at this age but I guess it’s God’s promise which gave her this willingness.

We can also mention here that Abraham was a faithful husband. He did not reject Sarah because she was barren or because he had now Ishmael. He loved Sarah and allowed her to take the whole decision regarding Hagar and his son.When we talk about a promise we talk about something unseen. Sarah had faith in this unseen promises. She had faith that God could do something in this worn out body of hers.

This couple definitely had faith that God will give them their own son. Later on, this is why Abraham did not hesitate to give Isaac back to God. Abraham experienced God’s faithfulness, his faith became very mature during all these years and obeying God by giving his son was no hesitation. God will provide he said. I wonder Sarah’s reaction when Abraham told her about Isaac’s sacrifice.

Sarah died when she was 127 years old so she could see grown up Isaac for 37 years. This woman Sarah must have become such a faithful woman after Isaac’s birth. Abraham wept and wanted to give her the most descent burial he could (Gen 23). Sarah is the woman of the bible I appreciate much because of her faithfulness.

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Posted May 3, 2013 by Cedric in Theology

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