The story of Abraham’s wife, Sarah, is awe inspiring. When I stop and think of it, it is incredible what God did in the life of Sarah. She was the wife and woman of faith behind Abraham, the man who believed God and it was counted to him as righteousness (Genesis 15:6; Romans 4:3,9,22; Galatians 3:6; James 2:22-23). When God called Abraham to leave his home in Ur and travel into the unknown, Sarah faithfully packed up and went with him. When Abraham twice asked Sarah to pass herself off as his sister to protect his own life, yet exposing her to harm, Sarah obeyed. Sarah faithfully followed Abraham wherever God led without complaint. The apostle Peter wrote of her, Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord (1 Peter 3:6), and God honored her by giving her a new name (Genesis 17:15). He changed her name from Sarai, which means “my princess”, (limiting her honor to one family) to Sarah, which signifies a princess of multitudes. Thus, Sarah became a fellow heir of God’s promise made to Abraham in Genesis 12:1-3, “I will bless you and you shall be a blessing….and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” For by the power of God, Sarah gave birth to Isaac, thus becoming a significant matriarch in the line of Jesus Christ.
The writer of Hebrews wrote, By faith even Sarah herself received ability to conceive, even beyond the proper time of life, since she considered Him faithful who had promised. Therefore there was born even of one man [Abraham], and him as good as dead at that, as many descendants as the stars of heaven in number, and innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore (11:11-12).
When the Lord appeared to Abraham (Genesis 18:1-15) and told him that Sarah would bear a son, Sarah was eavesdropping, and knowing that Abraham was 100 years old and she was well past the age of childbearing, she laughed within herself, saying, “after I have grown old, shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?”
I think its unfortunate that many commentators take Sarah’s laughter to signify unbelief and turn this passage around and make it all about Abraham. But I don’t think Sarah’s laughter was lacking in faith. I think she laughed because the news she had just heard was, to the human mind, absolutely too good to fathom. Have you ever received news that you thought was just too good to possibly be true? Did excited laughter ever well up inside you spontaneously because you wanted it to be true with all your heart but you knew that humanly speaking it was impossible? If you have, you know that it’s an instantaneous laughter that is uncontrollable. It just comes out because the news you have heard is so incredible. But you know deep inside that with God anything is possible, and you want it to be true with all your heart. So when the Lord heard Sarah's laughter and asked the rhetorical question, “Is anything too difficult for the Lord?” Sarah’s faith was confirmed. All thoughts of her own and Abraham’s inability to conceive were overcome by her belief in God’s power and faithfulness. Surely this was strengthened by her life experiences of God’s faithfulness through the years.
Sarah was a woman of faith who is held up to all women as an example of faith. In 1 Peter 3, the apostle addresses women, encouraging us to adorn ourselves with ornaments of inner beauty, an incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit which is very precious in the sight of God. For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their own husbands; just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear (verses 3-5). The Bible presents Sarah as our example of faithful, fearless womanhood. Her entire life was lived by faith and God honored her.
So just as the men of faith described in Hebrews 11 are an example to all people, including women, so Sarah is an example of faith to all people, including men. Because Sarah took it to heart that nothing is too hard for the Lord. Like Sarah, we need to remember that Nothing is impossible with God (Luke 1:37). He is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think (Ephesians 3:20). Our faith is not in ourselves or in our faith, but in God who is faithful. So when we are faithful in the little things, like following wherever God leads and being obedient even when we’re afraid, then God entrusts us with the big things -- even when we’re old.
May your faith shine like Sarah’s,
When I was a kid, my family moved a lot - almost every year. My dad was in the army and before I entered high school I had lived, gone to school, and made new friends in five states, two foreign countries, and one U.S. territory. We didn’t think it was a big deal. Almost everyone we knew did the same thing. Besides, it was my dad’s job. He was an army officer and he obeyed. Being an “army brat”, I followed.
All of this moving, and never really settling down has helped me relate in small ways to Abraham’s family who followed God to places they didn’t know and where they never settled down. They moved because of Abraham’s faith in God, and I think that in a sense we did too. It’s hard for me to fathom how anyone would move all around the world without faith that God was guiding and protecting? But we’re going to talk about Abraham. Hebrews 11 tells us, By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise; for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God (11:8-10).
We have seen in Hebrews 11 that faith means believing that God and His promises are real and then stepping out with confidence into the unseen to act on that belief. Hebrews 11 has taught us that Aaron acted in faith by offering acceptable worship to God (a blood sacrifice). Enoch acted in faith by walking with God for over 300 years. Noah acted in faith by working to build the ark as God commanded. Now we see that Abraham acted in faith by following God wherever He led, even into the vast unknown.
In Genesis 12:1-4, we learn that God spoke to Abraham and told him to,
“Go forth from your country,
And from your relatives
And from your father’s house,
To the land which I will show you;
And I will make you a great nation,
And I will bless you………….
And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.”
And what was Abraham’s response? He went forth as the Lord had spoken to him.
When God spoke these words to him, Abraham was 75 years old and living in Ur of the Chaldeans (present day Iraq). He was a pagan, descended from pagans, and living in a pagan city (Genesis 11:28 and Joshua 24:2). But God spoke to Abraham with a call and a promise. Abraham believed God’s promise, responded to His call, and followed Him even though he didn’t know where he was going. He traveled to the land of Canaan: first to Shechem, then east of Bethel, and when famine struck, down to Egypt. Later he followed God back to Canaan and lived between Bethel and Ai before finally settling down in Hebron (Genesis 12:5-13:18).
The Hebrews 11 passage tells us that all this time Abraham lived as a sojourner (KJV), or an alien in the land of promise (NASB). He did not settle down as a permanent resident. He never owned a house or land except for a small plot he purchased in his old age to bury Sarah, his wife. He lived in tents with his family, by faith, as a temporary resident in the land of Canaan. Abraham did not follow God in order to acquire a fancy home or riches on this earth. By faith, he was looking ahead to the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God (Hebrews 11:10). He knew this earth was not his home but that God had prepared a place for him. Abraham looked ahead to his true home - heaven. What plans Abraham might have had for his life before God spoke to Him were left behind as he went forth as the Lord had spoken to him (Genesis 12:4).
So what are your plans for your life? What is God calling you to do? As you read His Word prayerfully, He will speak to your heart, open doors, and guide you. There’s a chorus from a little song my boys sang in our church’s children’s choir that always reminds me to seek and follow God’s leading. It goes like this:
I’m just a child, my life is still before me.
I just can’t wait to see what God has for me.
But I know that I will trust Him
and I’ll wait to see what life will be for me.
As believers, we are all God’s children and we always will be. So why not humble ourselves as children and trust Him and wait for Him to lead the way in our lives. We’re never too old to do that! That’s living by faith! If we’re living by faith, then we’re like Abraham - sojourners here on earth with our eyes on God and our feet ready to jump up and follow Him whenever and wherever He calls.
The things of this world will all pass away, but the promises of God are forever. Will you choose to put your faith in what is fleeting or in our eternal Creator and His Word? The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the word of our God stands forever (Isaiah 40:8).
May you be blessed along with Abraham the man of faith (Galatians 3:7),
I have been involved in Disciplers since 1987, as a discussion leader, teacher, writer, and now as director. I am profoundly committed to the stewardship of this ministry which God has entrusted to me for a time. God’s word is the chief joy of my life. I cherish my personal time in the word, and I am filled with gratitude to be able to share His word with you, my fellow disciples in Christ.