I can’t imagine how it would have played on Abraham’s mind, imagining his beautiful wife with the Pharaoh even though now she was back with him. That kind of sexual problem takes a lot of healing.
Against her will, Sarah had very possibly committed adultery and begun a new life, never knowing if she would ever see her husband again.
I know how hard it is to un-see what has been seen and done and felt.
Regardless of what she did or did not do while she was away, Sarah would have come back a changed woman and Abraham too would have been altered by the experience, but they persevered together.
And they got through it, we know because Abraham was able to say afterwards to God,
“You have given me everything I could ask for, except children.”Genesis 15:2
The couple left Egypt, and separated from Abraham’s nephew Lot, who by going his own way, unwittingly dragged Abraham into a war. Suddenly, Sarah was a war bride.
And although Abraham returned from the war victorious, still there were no children.
Yet the couple honoured and believed God.
After the war they were thankful, and they tithed, not because they had to but because they chose to thank and honour God with a tenth of everything.
Abraham gave his tithe to the high priest Melchizedek who blessed him, and in response God confirmed his promise to Abraham.
Genesis 15 says,
Later the Lord spoke to Abram in a vision, “Abram, don’t be afraid! I will protect you and reward you greatly.”
But Abram answered, “Lord All-Powerful, you have given me everything I could ask for, except children. And when I die, Eliezer of Damascus will get all I own. You have not given me any children, and this servant of mine will inherit everything.”
The Lord replied, “No, he won’t! You will have a son of your own, and everything you have will be his.” Then the Lord took Abram outside and said, “Look at the sky and see if you can count the stars. That’s how many descendants you will have.” Abram believed the Lord, and the Lord was pleased with him.
At this point Sarah, having already sacrificed so much by marrying the Egyptian King, decides to sacrifice her own part in the prophecy.
I try to imagine her thoughts. “Maybe it’s not meant to be my baby? We’ve waited 30 years. Perhaps it’s God’s will that Abraham have this child with another wife? The King of Egypt had multiple wives, women shared the raising of children there and it seemed to work well.…”
Maybe she prayed earnestly about it?
As far as we know God gave her no specific word either way. Did she ask Hagar if she wanted to be involved? Did Hagar offer? God only knows how it came about but Sarah offered her much younger handmaid Hagar, to her husband, as his wife.
No surprise, things got tense.
Genesis 16:5-6 says,
Then Sarai said to Abram, “It’s all your fault! I gave you my slave woman, but she has been hateful to me ever since she found out she was pregnant. You have done me wrong, and you will have to answer to the Lord for this.”
Abram said, “All right! She’s your slave, and you can do whatever you want with her.” But Sarai began treating Hagar so harshly that she finally ran away.
Poor Sarah. Poor Hagar. But God loved both women too much to let Hagar and the baby die because of Sarah’s actions. He brought Hagar back to her mistress and helped her to submit in this impossible situation.
Imagine it. Ishmael was officially Sarah’s son. Hagar was powerless, but the pain was Sarah’s. She knew she was not Ishmael’s mother. Ishmael knew too.
For Sarah, to watch her husband dote on his son, knowing he was not hers must have pierced her heart anew each day. They would have guided Ishmael through his childhood as the only son of their household, as the fulfilment of God’s promise. How very bittersweet for all of them.
Sarah knew the pain of a barren step mother.
More so, the child’s real mother lived enslaved under the same roof, watching her every move. It is unknown whether Abraham continued to sleep with Hagar or Sarah or both at this time. Either way it can’t have been easy.
God waited 13 years before he put things right for Sarah.
Then he promised a son to Abraham (who was 99), through Sarah (who was 90).
Why did he laugh? Was it just because they were old? Was it just because Sarah had finished menopause, or had they stopped having sex? How long had it been? When he finished laughing he said, “Why not Ishmael?” But God said, although he blessed Ishmael, it was through Sarah that he would make his promise to Abraham’s descendants.
Genesis 17:19-21 says,
No! You and Sarah will have a son. His name will be Isaac, and I will make an everlasting promise to him and his descendants.
I have heard what you asked me to do for Ishmael, and so I will also bless him with many descendants. He will be the father of twelve princes, and I will make his family a great nation. But your son Isaac will be born about this time next year, and the promise I am making to you and your family will be for him and his descendants forever.
I wonder how Sarah felt to hear this after so long? I wonder how Hagar felt?
At this time, God altered Abraham and Sarah’s names (see Part 1 for more about this) and demanded circumcision of the entire household.
Circumcision exposes the most vulnerable and tender part of the penis. This was a sign that God was doing something new.
Abraham, the great builder of altars to God, built an altar in his loins, so to speak, and waited exposed, vulnerable and expectant for God to bless him in that place.
…and we’ll leave it there till Thursday… poor Abraham needs time to heal 🙂
Like we all do…
What are you healing from in this area of relationships?
I hope you are encouraged that God is with you in the mess today, just like He was with Abraham and Sarah as they walked through their fire. He is fighting for his faithful and He, who can’t be faithless, keeps His promises.
Join the conversation below, I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Lots of Love,