We left Abraham in a pretty vulnerable situation on Tuesday (See This Post). Things were a bit sensitive.
Abraham had submitted to God’s promise of a Son with a very personal act of dedication! He had declared that he (and all his household) would be circumcised! (Genesis 17:23) Not sure the staff would have been all too pleased with that announcement at the Monday morning meeting…
The prophecy that Abraham would have a son through Sarah (Genesis 17:19-21) was then confirmed by Angels who came to visit and in Sarah’s hearing, said that they would return in a year and Sarah would have a son by then. (Genesis 18:10).
Maybe Sarah needed to hear it for herself because she didn’t exactly believe her husband anymore despite his grand gestures.
She too laughed.
Now Sarah was listening at the entrance to the tent, which was behind him. 11 Abraham and Sarah were already very old, and Sarah was past the age of childbearing. 12 So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, “After I am worn out and my lord is old, will I now have this pleasure?”Genesis 18:10b-12
You know, I think this is important scripture because it shows that the faithful don’t always react with faith – they have to put on faith! And it is not always an easy thing to do.
But this was Sarah’s faith…
That once she had heard from God, Sarah submitted sexually to Abraham, believing that God could do the impossible.
Of course, there was opposition…
Fulfilment of the prophecy may not have looked likely at all when, after moving to Gerar, Sarah was taken for the second time by a King. Again, she covered for her husband Abraham, saying ‘he is my brother’.
Her marriage to the king of Gerar was long enough for God to close the wombs of the women of Gerar. However, the marriage was not consummated. God, in a dream, stopped the King of Gerar from consummating their marriage.
Did God prevent confusion over the lineage of Isaac with that dream?
Who knows why God allowed her to be taken a second time? Sometimes I wonder if after 55 years of marriage and grief in the area of sex they needed to appreciate and miss each other.
Whatever the reason, Sarah went home into the arms and the bed of her grateful husband and at the ages of 99 and 90 they were rewarded with a son.
And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she considered him faithful who had made the promise.Hebrews 11:11
Sarah is called holy by God, but she was at war with her flesh just as much as I am. She was real. She endured.
By the age of 99 Sarah had faithfully born the fruit of the Spirit through many trials; 46 years single, 55 years married, 55 years barren, 35 years nomadic, 2 abductions by 2 Kings, 3 marriages, 2 idol worshipping households, 2 divorces, 1 slave who slept with her husband, 13 years of step motherhood.
But we are called to be her daughters because through it all she did not give way to fear.
1 Peter 3:6
like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her lord. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.
Fear is the opposite of faith. Not giving way to fear does not mean she didn’t make mistakes trying to step into the promises of God.
It does not mean she wasn’t hormonal, or disappointed, or even angry but she did not give way to fear. Fear did not have its way with her.
I am comforted by Sarah and Hagar’s story because it allows us to be real. Even Sarah and Hagar were tipped over the edge by pregnancy and breastfeeding hormones.
Their situation was fragile for 13 years, but they coped until one of them added extra hormones. Sarah cracked it big time twice, first when Hagar was pregnant (Genesis 16:4-5), second when she herself had just weaned Isaac (Genesis 21:8-10).
Pregnancy, breastfeeding and menopause hormones will undo the very best of women. But God knows us and goes gently with us.
It was Hagar, the slave, who prophesied for all hormonal women when she met God while pregnant and in the wilderness;
She gave 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.”Genesis 16:13
When Hagar was pregnant and running for her life God saw both sides of the situation and worked in both hearts. He softened Sarah’s heart to take her back and guided Hagar’s submission.
Later when Sarah was weaning Isaac, God saw that she needed time to heal, time to raise her own son out of Ishmael’s shadow.
What she could stand before, she could stand no longer, and this time God softened Abraham’s heart to allow it and provided Hagar with a son who could look after her.
Isaac grew. The time came for his mother to stop breast-feeding him. On that day Abraham prepared a big celebration. But Sarah saw Ishmael making fun of Isaac. Ishmael was the son Hagar had by Abraham. Hagar was Sarah’s Egyptian slave. Sarah said to Abraham, “Get rid of that slave woman! Get rid of her son! That woman’s son will never have a share of the family’s property. All of it belongs to my son Isaac.”
What Sarah said upset Abraham very much. After all, Ishmael was his son. But God said to Abraham, “Do not be so upset about the boy and your slave Hagar. Listen to what Sarah tells you, because your family line will continue through Isaac. I will also make the son of your slave into a nation. I will do it because he is your child.”Genesis 21:8-11
There are no coincidences with God, he goes before us.
Thirteen years old is the age that a boy becomes accountable for their own actions in Jewish culture, when they become a bar mitzvah.
When God promised Abraham a son through Sarah, Ishmael was thirteen. He was no longer the child of the household.
God honoured Hagar’s submission, He waited until the opportune time to send Ishmael out into his promise. Ishmael was at least fifteen years and nine months, well trained and ready to make own his way in the world.
God planned for Ishmael and Hagar to thrive outside of Abraham’s household. He had made promises to both Abraham and Hagar for Ishmael to become a nation. Now it was time for him to follow through on that promise.
And Sarah? God knew her pain. He would not test her beyond what she could bear, she had passed her test, now it was time to heal.
Now he honoured her desire to bring up her own child separately to Hagar’s. He honoured her desire to have her husband all to herself again.
God gave Sarah 37 years with her boys. She died at 127. In her death she was the first to rest in the promised land.
Abraham honoured Sarah by paying the full price for the Cave of Machpelah and the field around it (Genesis 23).
This was the first and only piece of the Land that God ‘gave him’, that Abraham officially owned.
They had walked through it together as sojourners for years and now finally in death Sarah was home.
I want you to be encouraged today that God is and has always been “home.” A place of refuge.
Lord, you have been our dwelling placePsalm 90:1
throughout all generations.
Perhaps you’ve never had that sense of home, a bit like Sarah and Hagar who, moved countries and were tossed about in relationships very much at the mercy of others.
But like Sarah and Hagar I pray that you will find “home” in the Lord.
God bless you as you put on faith today. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
Lots of love,