Sarah part 1

by John Thomas Lowe
(Woodruff, S.C.)


ABRAHAM AND SARAH
Sarah
Sarah, born Sarai, is a biblical matriarch and prophetess, a significant figure in Abrahamic religions. While different Abrahamic faiths portray her differently, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam all depict her character similarly, as that of a pious woman, renowned for her hospitality and beauty, the wife and half-sister of Abraham, and the mother of Isaac. Sarah has her feast day on Sept 01 in the Catholic Church, Aug 19 in the Coptic Orthodox Church, Jan 20 in LCMS, and 12 and 20 December in the Eastern Orthodox Church.
In the Hebrew Bible and the book of Genesis, Abraham tells Abimelech that Sarah is his sister. Sarah;ָׂModern: Sara, Tiberian: Śārā; Arabic: Sārah. Born Sarai, a biblical matriarch and prophetess, is a significant figure in Abrahamic religions. While different Abrahamic faiths portray her differently, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam all depict her character similarly, as that of a beautiful, godly woman.
In popular culture
Sarah (originally named Sarai) was one of several Bible women in the Bible who were unable to have children. That proved doubly distressing for her because God had promised Abraham and Sarah they would have a son.
God appeared to Sarah’s husband Abraham when he was 99 years old and made a covenant with him. He told Abraham that he would be the father of the Jewish nation, with descendants more numerous than the stars in the sky. God also said to Abraham, “As for Sarai, your wife, you are no longer to call her Sarai; her name will be Sarah. I will bless her and will surely give you a son by her. I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her.” Genesis 17:15–16, NIV)
After waiting many years, Sarah convinced Abraham to sleep with her handmaiden, Hagar, to produce an heir. That was an accepted practice in ancient times.
The child born of that encounter was named Ishmael. However, God had not forgotten his promise.
The Child of Promise
Three heavenly beings, disguised as travelers, appeared to Abraham. God repeated his promise to Abraham that his wife would bear a son. Even though Sarah was ancient, she did conceive and deliver a son. They named him Isaac.
Isaac would father Esau and Jacob. Jacob would father 12 sons who would become heads of the 12 tribes of Israel. From the tribe of Judah would come David, and finally, Jesus of Nazareth, God’s promised Savior.
Accomplishments of Sarah in the Bible
Sarah’s loyalty to Abraham resulted in her sharing in his blessings. She became the mother of the nation of Israel.
Although she struggled in her faith, God saw fit to include Sarah as the first woman named in the Hebrews 11 “Faith Hall of Fame.”
Sarah is the only woman renamed by God in the Bible. Sarah means “princess.”
Strengths
Sarah’s obedience to her husband Abraham is a model for Christian women. Even when Abraham passed her off as his sister, which landed her in Pharaoh’s harem, she did not object.
Sarah was protective of Isaac and loved him deeply.
The Bible says Sarah was exceedingly beautiful (Genesis 12:11, 14).
Weaknesses
At times, Sarah doubted God. She had trouble believing God would fulfill his promises, so she plunged ahead with her solution.
Life Lessons
Waiting for God to act in our lives may be our most challenging task. It is also true that we can become dissatisfied when God’s solution does not match our expectations.
Sarah’s life teaches us that when we feel doubtful or afraid, we should remember what God said to Abraham, “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” (Genesis 18:14, NIV)
Sarah waited 90 years to have a baby. Indeed, she had given up hope of ever seeing her dream of motherhood fulfilled. Sarah was looking at God’s promise from her limited, human perspective. However, the Lord used her life to unfold an extraordinary plan, proving that he is never limited by what usually happens.
Sometimes we feel like God has placed our lives in a permanent holding pattern. Rather than taking matters into our own hands, we can let Sarah’s story remind us that a time of waiting may be God’s precise plan for us.
Hometown
Sarah’s hometown is unknown. Her story begins with Abram in Ur of the Chaldeans.
Occupation
Homemaker, wife, and mother.
Family Tree
• Father - Terah
• Husband - Abraham
• Son - Isaac
• Half Brothers - Nahor, Haran
• Nephew - Lot
References to Sarah in the Bible
• Genesis chapters 11 through 25
• Isaiah 51:2
• Romans 4:19, 9:9
• Hebrews 11:11
• 1 Peter 3:6
Key Verses
Genesis 21:1
Now the LORD was gracious to Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did what he had promised for Sarah. (NIV)
Genesis 21:7
And she added, “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.” (NIV)
Hebrews 11:11
Moreover, by faith, even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she considered him faithful who had made the promise. (NIV)
Sarah had to wait until she was in her nineties to give birth to her son, Isaac. We can learn much from Sarah (formerly called Sarai) in the book of Genesis regarding what walking in faith in the promises of God looks like in real life.
1. In Genesis 11, we learn that Sarai is barren.
Because Sarai is barren, she cannot participate in the promise of Genesis 3:15 that God would provide the seed that would crush the head of the serpent. Abram possibly could have divorced her because of her barrenness in that culture.
Moreover, Abram and Nahor took wives. Abram’s wife was Sarai, and the name of Nahor’s wife was Milcah, the daughter of Haran, the father of Milcah and Iscah. Now Sarai was barren; she had no child. (Gen. 11:29-30)
2. Sarah is not mentioned in Genesis 12-15 as the mother of the promised child of Abraham.
In God’s promise to Abram in Genesis 12 and 15, there is no mention of Sarai: The Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land I will show you. Moreover, I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you, all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Gen. 12:1-3)
Furthermore, Abram said, “Behold, you have given me no offspring, and a member of my household will be my heir.” And behold, the word of the Lord came to him: “This man shall not be your heir; your very own son shall be your heir.” Moreover, he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you can number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” And he believed the Lord and counted it to him as righteousness. (Gen. 15:3-6)
3. In Genesis 16, Sarai tries to participate in the promise of Genesis 3:15 through her servant Hagar.
Because she is advanced in years (in her 90s) and has not yet provided Abram with an heir, Sarai gives Hagar to Abram as a wife in Genesis 16. Since nothing was mentioned in God’s promise about the heir coming through Sarai in Genesis 12 and 15, Abraham thought taking Hagar as a wife was a reasonable “plan B.”
Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. She had a female Egyptian servant whose name was Hagar. Moreover, Sarai said to Abram, “Behold now, the Lord has prevented me from bearing children. Go into my servant; it may be that I shall obtain children by her.” And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai. So, after Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar the Egyptian, her servant, and gave her to Abram, her husband, as a wife. (Gen. 16:1-3)
4. Sarai is acting out of faith, but she does the wrong thing.
In Galatians 4, Paul points out that Abraham and Sarai were trying to assist God in bringing his promise to fulfillment, adding a human ingredient in redemption, but God does not need our help.
Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not listen to the law? It is written that Abraham had two sons, one by a slave woman and one from a free woman. However, the son of the enslaved person was born according to the flesh, while the free woman’s son was born through promise. (Gal. 4:21-23)
5. It is not until Genesis 17:5-21 that God tells Abraham about Sarai’s future role.
In Genesis 17, God changes Sarai’s name to Sarah, which means “princess” in Hebrew. He changes her name because he is going to bless Sarah, making her part of the foundation of the covenant of grace (see Gal. 3:13-18). Regarding Sarah’s name change, the Anchor Yale Dictionary notes,
In Gen. 17:15, the Priestly version of God’s covenant with Abraham, Sarai’s name is changed to Sarah, just as Abram’s name becomes Abraham. Name changes to signify a new reality. Thus, the barren Sarah is brought into God’s covenantal promise as the mother of many nations and kings (17:16). Over and against Hagar and Ishmael, she is the lawful wife who will bear the son through whom God’s promises to Abraham will be realized.
This was God’s promise to Eve and then to Abraham—she is royalty in the eyes of the Lord. Abraham learns that Sarah would indeed be the mother of the promised child: moreover, God said to Abraham, “As for Sarai, your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. I will bless her and give you a son by her. I will bless her, and she shall become nations; kings of peoples shall come from her.” (Gen. 17:15-16)
6. God’s promise that Sarah would bear a son is delayed.
Even though God promises Abraham (this promise is not declared to Sarah directly) that Sarah would bear the heir to the promise—namely, Isaac— the fulfillment of this promise is delayed for another year: The Lord said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah, your wife, shall have a son.” Moreover, Sarah was listening at the tent door behind him. (Gen. 18:10)

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