Mothers in the Bible: Sarah, Didn’t Believe

When we first meet Sarah, she is known as Sarai and her husband is known as Abram.

God promised Abraham he would have more descendants than stars in the sky

Sarai and Abram are living in the land of Canaan, when God tells them to leave.  We are told that Abram is 75, and it is believed Sarai is about ten years younger than her husband.  So, they are leaving to roam around and live out of tents at an advanced age.  When God tells them to leave, he told Abram to leave his country and kindred and go to a land that he would show him, and promised to make of him a great nation, bless him, make his name great, bless them that bless him, and curse he who may curse him. {Genesis 12:1-3}

The couple is childless.  For most of mankind, women have found their meaning and worth in their children.   But, Sarai has not had any children.

Sarai went with her husband when he left Canaan

Another ten years and Sarai still does not have any children.   God again appears before Abram and tells him, “ Look now toward heaven, and number the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be.”  {Genesis 15:5}.  God and Abram hold a covenant ceremony and God describes the lands in which is offspring would claim.  {Genesis 15}

Imagine how Sarah must have felt in hearing all of this.  The Women of the Bible Devotional says, “Sarah longed to give birth, not to a nation, but to one small child she could kiss and cradle… Sarah’s dream was to give birth to a son.”

Sarah gave Hagar to Abraham to bear children

But, Sarah thought she knew better.  The Women of the Bible Study Book says, “Sarai became convinced that she was not destined to bear her husband’s son. Sarai felt compelled to fulfill her obligation to her husband.”

Sarai takes her hand maiden, Hagar, and tells Abram to go in to her servant.   Hagar become pregnant and once she is with child, she despises Sarai.   {Genesis 16:5}      Sarai takes things out of God’s hands, believing that she knows better.  Our devotional says, “How hard it was for Sarah to remember God’s promises and to wait for him to fulfill them… Sarah’s pragmatic attempts to help God keep his promise caused plenty of anguish…God’s promises are revealed and fulfilled in his own timing, which is often on a calendar far different from our own.”

Hagar had a son named Ishmael

Hagar gives birth to a son, Ishmael.   Imagine the pain that must have come over Sarai’s heart as she watched Abram interact with Ishmael and Hagar.  This could not have been easy on her.

More than a decade passes, when Jehovah appears to Abram, who is now ninety-nine years old.  God says to Abram, “And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly.”   {Genesis 17:2}  Abram name is changed to Abraham and Sarai is now Sarah.

But, God has more to share about his promises and about Sarah.

strangers appeared with the promise of a child

Jehovah says to Abraham of Sarah, “And I will bless her, and moreover I will give thee a son of her: yea, I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of peoples shall be of her.”   {Genesis 17:16}  At first, Abraham thinks God means Ishmael in the promise, but God is quick to set the record straight.  He says, “Nay, but Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant for his seed after him.”

Sarah is almost 90 years old and God is telling her that she will be a mother.  Not only will she be a mother, but she will be a mother of nations.   I can’t imagine being a year from 90 and God says, “you’re going to have a child next year”.

Sarah laughed when the strangers told her she would have a child

Another year passes and three men appear at their camp.  {Genesis 18}  The men ask where Sarah is and she is listening from the door of the tent behind the men.  Sarah hears the promise that the men will return and she will conceive.  She says, “And Sarah laughed within herself, saying, After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?”  {Genesis 18:12}

Jehovah ask, “Why did Sarah laugh?  Is anything too hard for God?”  {Genesis 18:13}  He then says “at a set time I will return”.   God has had a set time for this from the beginning but close to twenty-five years have passed since the first promise was mentioned to Abraham.

Sarah denies laughing, but Jehovah says “yes you did”.  {Genesis 18:15}

Abraham and Sarah were faithful to God

Sarah “conceived, and bare Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him. “  {Genesis 21:1}.   Sarah and Abraham name their son, Isaac, which means laughter.

After the child is weaned, Sarah notices Ishmael mocking her son.  Now, any mother will tell you that when their child is mocked or threatened that Mama Bear comes out.  Sarah’s Mama Bear came out and she went to Abraham about how Ishmael was treating Isaac.  Abraham seeks God, who tells him to send Ishmael away.   God reminds Abraham of his covenant, “for in Isaac shall thy seed be called.”  {Genesis 21:12}

Sarah lives to watch her son grow into a man.  Sarah dies at the age of 127.

The Lord blessed Abraham and Sarah with a son

Sarah lived a life she never envisions she would live.  She lived a life of adventure, waiting and promise.   A promise that God took 25 years to fulfill.   As the years past, she lost hope and took matters into her own hands.   Her actions have rippled down through today with last effects.

However, God was still faithful and fulfilled his promise to her.   Sarah is listed in the Hall of Faith as “ By faith even Sarah herself received power to conceive seed when she was past age, since she counted him faithful who had promised.”  {Hebrews 11:11}

In Galatians 4, Paul writes about the covenant God made with Abraham.  He writes that Ishmael was born of a covenant of the flesh, while Isaac was born of a covenant of the spirit.  {Galatians 4:22-31}

In the Women of the Bible Devotional, Sarah is described as living an adventure, “an adventure that began with a promise and ended with laughter.”

What promises has God made to you that you are still waiting on?   How have you seen God’s promises revealed in your own life?


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