On May 23 I started my new series “After God’s Own Heart” which focuses on the things we can learn from women in the Bible. The first woman we looked at was Eve, and you can read about here story here.
Today I am going to share Sarah’s story with you. If you want to experience her full story by yourself, read Genesis 12-23. As there is quite a bit of information on Sarah and her husband Abraham, I’ve chosen to summarize the main ideas essential to tomorrows “lessons learned” post.
The end of Genesis Chapter 11 covers Abrams family line. (Please remember that Abram and Sarai will eventually have their names changed to Abraham and Sarah later on in the story. They are the same people.)
“Abram and Nahor [his brother] both married. The name of Abram’s wife was Sarai…Now Sarai was childless because she was not able to conceive.” (Ch.11 V.29-30)
The Lord chooses to make a covenant, a relationship of commitment between God and his people, with Abraham.
“After this, the word of the LORD came to Abraham in a vision: ‘Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.”‘
Abram asks God who should inherit his possessions since he had no children of his own. God promises that “a son who is your own flesh and blood will be your heir. He took them outside and said, ‘Look up into the sky and count the starts – if indeed you can count them.’ Then he said to them, ‘so shall your offspring be.'” (Ch.15 V.4-5)
Sarai knew the promise made between God and Abraham but she took matters into her own hand.
“Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian slave named Hagar; so she said to Abram, ‘The LORD has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my slave; perhaps I can build a family through her.’ Abram agreed to what Sarai said. So after Abram had been living in Canaan ten years, Sarai his wife took her Egyptian slave Hagar and gave her to her husband to be his wife. He slept with Hagar, and she conceived. When she knew she was pregnant, she began to despite her mistress. Then Sarai said to Abram, ‘You are responsible for the wrong I am suffering. I put my slave in your arms, and now that she knows she is pregnant, she despises me. May the LORD judge between you and me.’ ‘Your slave is in your hands,’ Abram said. ‘Do with her whatever you think best.’ Then Sarai mistreated Hagar; so she fled from her. The angel of the LORD found Hagar near a spring in the desert; it was the spring that is beside the road to Shur. And he said. ‘Hagar, slave of Sarai, where you have come from, and where are you going?’ ‘I’m running away from my mistress Sarai’ she answered. Then the angel of the LORD told her, ‘Go back to your mistress and submit to her.’ The angel added, ‘I will increase your descendants so much that they will be too numerous to count.’ The angel of the LORD also said to her: ‘You are now pregnant and you will give birth to a son. You shall name him Ishmael, for the LORD has heard of your misery. He will be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers.’ She have this name to the LORD who spoke to her: ‘You are the God who sees me,’ for she said, ‘I have now seen the One who sees me.’ That is why the well was called Beer Lahai Roi, it is still there, between Kadesh and Bered. So Hagar bore Abram a son, and Abram gave the name Ishmael to the son she had borne. Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore him Ishmael.” (Ch 16.)
Moving onto Chapter 17, we now read about Abram who is age 99 and a new covenant between God and Abram, one of circumcision. After agreeing upon the terms God sets, they continue on to discuss Abram’s family. Remember that name change thing I mentioned before? Here it is…
“God also said to Abraham, ‘As for Sarai your wife, you are no longer to call her Sarai; her name will surely 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; king of peoples will come from her.’ Abraham fell facedown; he laughed and said to himself, ‘Will a son be born to a man of a hundred years old? Will Sarah beware a child of the age of ninety?’ And Abraham said to God, ‘If only Ishmael might live under your blessing!’ Then God said, ‘Yes, but your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him. And as for Ishmael, I have heard you: I will surely bless him; I will make him fruitful and will greatly increase his numbers. He will be the father of twelve rulers, and I will make him into a great nation. But my covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you by this time next year,’ When he had finished speaking with Abraham, God went up from him.” (Ch.17 V.15-21)
In Chapter 18, three visitors arrive and talk about God’s plan for Sarah with Abraham. Sarah sits inside her tent and overhears the whole conversation.
“Abraham and Sarah were already very old, and Sarah was past the age of childbearing. So Sarah laughed to herself as she bought, ‘After I am worn out and my lord is old, will I now have this pleasure?’ Then the LORD said to Abraham, ‘Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Will I really have a child, now that I am old?’ Is anything too hard for the LORD? I will return to you at the appointed time next year, and Sarah will have a son.’ Sarah was afraid, so she lied and said, ‘I did not laugh.’ But he said, ‘Yes, you did laugh.”
Skipping forward to Chapter 21, we get to witness the wonderful birth of their son Issac.
“Now the LORD was gracious to Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did for Sarah what he had promised. Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the very time God had promised him. Abraham gave the name Issac to the son Sarah bore him….Sarah said, ‘God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.’ 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.”
Sarah and Abraham were brought great joy by this precious child that God had blessed them with. Unfortunately Sarah still wasn’t completely content with their family situation. Sarah saw that Ishmael, Hagar’s son, was mocking Isaac which made her angry. She demanded that both Hagar and Isaac were sent away, and they were. God promised to provide for Isaac and make him into a great nation as well.
There is more to the story of this family, but we are going to stop there. Be sure to come back tomorrow for a deeper look into the lessons that Sarah provides for us.
Please note that all scriptures have been taken from the NIV 1984 version of the Holy Bible published by Zondervan.