Sunday, August 1, 2010

She gave birth to a nation....

....but for many years all Sarah yearned for was one small child she could kiss and cradle.

Sarah's story comes from Genesis 12:1-20; 16:1-8; 17:1-22; 18:1-15; 21:1-13; Galatians 4:22-31.

God called Abram (Sarah's husband) to leave his country, his people, and his family for a foreign land. God promised Abram, "I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing" (Gen. 12:2). So, at the age of 75, Abram set out for the great journey. Now, that is what I call prompt obedience! He took Sarai (later known as Sarah), Lot (his nephew), and other possessions. Destination: Canaan.

When a famine struck Abram went down to Egypt to live. He knew that if he claimed beautiful Sarai as his wife the Egyptians would kill him. So he devised a plan and asked Sarai to say she was his sister. Sarah followed along with the plan and it worked. Sarai was taken into Pharoh's palace to become part of his harem, and Abram was treated well for her sake. But, there were consequences. The Lord inflicted diseases on Pharoh and his household and Abram's lie was exposed. Abram and Sarai were sent away.

Now since Sarai had not had any children and she was thinking that God had failed to follow through on his promise. She advised Abram to sleep with Hagar (a maidservant)in order to have a child. Abram agreed and Hagar conceived. Shortly after conceiving Hagar began to despise Sarai. Sounds very Hannah and Peninnah ring a bell? Sarai began to mistreat Hagar and eventually Hagar ran away. An angel appeared to Hagar in the desert and commanded her to go back and submit to Sarai promising to increase her descendants. Hagar gave birth to a son, and Abram named him Ishmael.

Thirteen years later when Abram was 99 the Lord appeared to him and said, "I am God Almighty; walk before me and be blameless. I will confirm my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers." Abram fell on his face and God said to him, "As for me, this is my covenant with you; You will be the father of many nations. No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations. I will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you." (Gen. 17:1-6). God also said, "As for Sarai your wife, you are no longer to call her Sarai; her name will be Sarah. I will bless her and will surely give you a son by her. I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of peoples will come of her" (Gen. 17:15-16).

Sometime later the Lord appeared to Abraham again in the form of 3 visitors (2 angels and the Lord himself). Abraham rushed into his tent to get food and drinks to welcome his visitors. While they were visiting the Lord told Abraham that he would return in 1 year and bless Sarah with a son. Of course, being a woman, Sarah was eavesdropping and upon hearing this she couldn't help but laugh to herself. I guess I would too if I was told I would bear a child at the age of 90!

The Lord blessed Sarah with a son whom Abraham named Isaac (which means "laughter"). God accomplishes his purposes despite our frailties, our little faith, and our self-reliance. This is truly an adventure that began with promise and ended with laughter.

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His word I put my hope. --Psalm 130:5

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