The Faith of Sarah

By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised. Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as many as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore (Hebrews 11:11-12).

Sarah left Ur with her husband, Abraham, and her husband’s family, in search of a new beginning in the West (Genesis 11:31). When her father-in-law, Terah, died, her husband took her further West because God promised them a land, a progeny, an international reputation, and divine blessing (Genesis 12:1-3). But there was a problem. Both Sarah and Abraham were old, well past the age of bearing children.

So, Sarah and Abraham, having faith, did the only thing they knew to do. They took their nephew, Lot, with them (Genesis 12:4). Maybe he would be their heir and the channel of God’s blessing. Over time, however, it became apparent, that Lot was not that heir (Genesis 13:1-13) and God affirmed to Abraham that this was, in fact, the case (Genesis 13:14-17). So, Abraham adopted a second heir, Eliezer of Damascus (Genesis 15:1-3). But, God intervened and told Abraham that Eliezer was not the promised heir either (Genesis 15:4-5). The promised son, said the LORD, would come from Abraham’s own body (Genesis 15:6). Abraham confided this to Sarah and they decided that she was too old to help Abraham conceive this promised son. However, she had a young Epytian handmaid, Hagar, who might be equal to the task (Genesis 16:1-3). And so, because they believed God’s promise, Abraham conceived a son with Hagar, his wife’s servant (Genesis 16:4,Genesis 16:15-16). But again, God declared that Ishmael, Hagar’s son, was not the promised son (Genesis 17:15-21). The promised son would come from Abraham’s body and from Sarah’s body (Genesis 18:9-15). Isaac was born to Abraham and Sarah when he was 100 and she was 90 years of age (Genesis 21:1-7), a miracle by anyone’s standards.

From Isaac came Jacob and Esau. From Jacob came the patriarchs of the twelve tribes of Israel. Among these tribes was Judah and from Judah was born David. To David God promised an eternal kingdom (2 Samuel 7:12-16). From David came, Solomon, Reheboam, and all the kings of Judah. Through exile, this Davidic line survived and from David’s heirs came Joseph of Nazareth, who was the adopted father of Jesus, the Messiah and Saviour of the world (Matthew 1:1-25, Luke 3:23-38).

We are told that Sarah laughed when she heard the LORD promise to her a child (Genesis 18:12). The LORD rebuked her for her disbelief, saying, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?’ Is anything too hard for the LORD? At the appointed time I will return to you, about this time next year, and Sarah shall have a son” (Genesis 18:13-14). Sarah denied this, but the LORD reminded her that she had, indeed, laughed in disbelief (Genesis 18:15). This divine rebuke planted faith in Sarah’s heart, which, according to the writer of Hebrews empowered her to conceive the line of the Messiah (Hebrews 11:11). When Isaac was born, Sarah again laughed, but this time her laughter came from a deep seated joy in the faithfulness and power of God (Genesis 21:6-7).

Sarah’s laughter is a good reminder for us in the trials of life. Is anything impossible for God? Is God powerless in the face of death? Is it impossible for God to raise our bodies from the grave? Is God unable to make us sons and daughters of Sarah? Of course, God will do all this and more. When we have faith like Sarah, we become her children, heirs of eternal life along with her son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

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