We have a bit more to learn from our Matriarch, Sarah, the wife of Abraham.
We read that “Abraham believed God and it was accounted to him as righteousness.” Four hundred years before the Torah was given, the first Hebrew was made right with God through FAITH. Abraham’s faith is legendary and serves as a model for us to this day. Yet was his faith perfect? Or like us, did faith come under attack in his life? And in Sarah’s? Yes it did.
After they entered Canaan, the presence of a famine there motivated Abraham to leave the Land which God had promised him and flee into Egypt (Gen. 12:10). As they approached Egypt, Abraham said to his wife, “See now, I know that you are a beautiful woman; and it will come about when the Egyptians see you, that they will say, ‘This is his wife’; and they will kill me, but they will let you live. Please say that you are my sister so that it may go well with me because of you, and that I may live on account of you” (Gen. 12:11-13).
It was certainly a tribute to Sarah’s beauty that at sixty-five years of age she was still so irresistible that Abraham thought the Egyptians might try to kill him for her. And the Bible tells us his fear was not some personal paranoia.
“And it came about when Abram came into Egypt, the Egyptians saw that the woman was very beautiful. And Pharaoh’s officials saw her and praised her to Pharaoh; and the woman was taken into Pharaoh’s house” (Gen. 12:14, 15). While Abraham thought the Egyptians might murder him to get his wife, he was confident that posing as her brother would afford him honorable treatment. And he was right. They gave him many animals and servants for her sake (Gen. 12:16).
To be fair, technically, Abraham didn’t exactly lie. Sarah was in fact his half-sister. (Gen. 20:12). Such marriages were not unusual in that culture. But what they told the Pharaoh was only a half-truth, and half-truths often backfire.
But, why did Sarah go along with his scheme? Should her devotion to God have superseded her husband’s conniving? Sarah could have refused and no one would fault her for that. But from her co-operation with Abraham in this situation we catch a glimpse of her deep faith. Despite years of disappointment at not conceiving a child, Sarah believed God’s promise that Abraham would become the father of a great nation. Since there were no children as yet, Abraham had to live and have children and she would do whatever it took to protect his life.
She may also have believed that God would intervene and deliver her from Pharaoh’s harem. She may likewise have believed that God would reunite her with her husband and rescue both of them from Pharaoh’s power. And because she believed, she acquiesed. God could have protected them apart from Abraham’s fearful scheme, but Sarah’s faith in God and respect towards her husband and his divine calling invite us to deepen our faith and trust in God’s promises.
Let’s give ourselves a ‘Sarah’ test. Consider the following verse:
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not rely on your own understanding; In all your ways look to Him and He will make your paths smooth.” Proverbs 3:5-6
Read it again, slowly. Now truthfully, how often do we lean on our own perceptions and attitudes instead of turning to Him with all our hearts in life’s various situations? Do we really “look to Him” in everyday life and “have faith” that He will give us into smooth paths?
Our weary world needs to see Sarahs and Abrahams today; men and women who hold onto the Word and Promises of God with unwavering conviction; who are not moved by frightful news reports or unwelcome government policies, but whose trust is in the Lord God Almighty.
Our Matriarch, Sarah, calls to us across the generations: “Have faith in God; I did and I can testify that He is faithful to His own.”