Women of the Bible - Sarah

    A Woman of Obedience
    by Kathryn Capoccia

     Young Adults Sunday School Class
    
     All Scripture references are taken from the HOLY BIBLE: NEW
     INTERNATIONAL VERSION (C) 1978 by the New York Bible Society, used by
     permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.

 Copyright Kathy Capoccia 2000.  This file may be freely copied, printed out,
and distributed as long as copyright and source statements remain intact,
and that it is not sold.
 
  I. Introduction

     A. Prayer Requests

     B. Review of Last Week's Lesson/Verse

II. Character Profile: Sarah, a Woman of Obedience

     A. WHO WAS SHE? (See GEN 11-25:10; ROM 4:19, 9:9; HEB 11:11; 1PE 3:5)

        1. WHEN DID SHE LIVE? At the beginning of the time of the Patriarchs
           (dated anywhere from the 19th to the 14th century B.C.).

        2. WHERE DID SHE LIVE? Ur of the Chaldeans; a wealthy, urban area of
           southern Mesopotamia (220 m. SE of Baghdad). Later, Haran, in
           Syria, and from the age of 65, in Canaan (GEN 12:4).

        3. WHAT WAS HER NAME?

           a) Her Name Was Sarai, "princely" (GEN 11-17:14)

           b) Her Name Was Sarah, "princess" (GEN 17:15-23:20)
              Sarah is a covenant name that was given to her by God (Gen
              17:15,16)

              GEN 17:15,16 "God also said to Abraham, '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 from her.'"

              1) How did Sarah fit into the Covenant?

                 a] as Abraham's wife she was included in his covenant with
                    God

                 b] as the one who would bear the child of promise she is
                    included

              2) What is a covenant?

                 a] the word "covenant" means: a binding agreement or
                    contract that supersedes any other relationship: a
                    treaty, alliance of friendship, a pledge or agreement, a
                    contract.

                    i] this can be between two people or between God and man

                   ii] this can be a conditional or unconditional

                  iii] this involves oaths/promises of commitment and
                       blessings or curses for keeping or breaking the
                       covenant; signs; sacrifices- the Hebrew word for
                       making a covenant is "berith","to cut a covenant",
                       (making a blood sacrifice as part of the ritual).

                 b] covenants represent:

                    i] pledges/promises upon pain of death

                   ii] commitment unto death

                         identification with the covenant partner: he is
                          you and you are him- his concerns are yours and
                          yours his

                         pledge of defense against the other's enemies- his
                          enemies are yours and yours his

                         pledge of making one's resources available to the
                          other

              3) What are some Covenants that we see in Scripture?

                 a] the Noahic covenant (GEN 9:13-17)
                    [an unconditional covenant between God and mankind]

                    GEN 9:13  "I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it
                    will be the sign of the covenant between me and the
                    earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the
                    rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my
                    covenant between me and you and all living creatures of
                    every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood
                    to destroy all life."

                 b] the Abrahamic covenant (GEN 12,15,17)
                    [an unconditional covenant between God and Abraham and
                    his descendants]

                    GEN 17:7-11 "I will establish my covenant as an
                    everlasting covenant between me and you and your
                    descendants after you for the generations to come, to be
                    your God and the God of your descendants after you.  The
                    whole land of Canaan, where you are now an alien, I will
                    give as an everlasting possession to you and your
                    descendants after you; and I will be their God. This is
                    my covenant with you and your descendants after you, the
                    covenant you are to keep: Every male among you shall be
                    circumcised. You are to undergo circumcision, and it
                    will be the sign of the covenant between me and you."

                    it promised two things:

                    i] seed
                         an heir to inherit Abraham's wealth

                         descendants "as numerous as the stars" (GEN 15:5)
                          and "as numerous as the grains of sand" (GEN
                          22:23)

                         a "seed" in whom all the nations would be blessed
                          (GEN 22:18)
                          *this would be fulfilled in Jesus Christ

                   ii] land- Canaan

                 c] the covenant between Abraham and Abimelech (GEN
                    21:22-34) [a covenant of fear to guarantee friendship]

                    GEN 21:23  "Now swear to me here before God that you
                    will not deal falsely with me or my children or my
                    descendants. Show to me and the country where you are
                    living as an alien the same kindness I have shown to
                    you."

                 d] the Issacic covenant (GEN 26:24)
                    [an unconditional covenant]

                    GEN 26:24  "That night the LORD appeared to him and
                    said, 'I am the God of your father Abraham. Do not be
                    afraid, for I am with you; I will bless you and will
                    increase the number of your descendants for the sake of
                    my servant Abraham.' Isaac built an altar there and
                    called on the name of the LORD. There he pitched his
                    tent, and there his servants dug a well."

                 e] the Jacobic covenant (GEN 28:13-15)
                    [an unconditional covenant]

                    GEN 28:13-15 "There above it stood the LORD, and he
                    said: 'I am the LORD, the God of your father Abraham and
                    the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants
                    the land on which you are lying. Your descendants will
                    be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out
                    to the west and to the east, to the north and to the
                    south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you
                    and your offspring. I am with you and will watch over
                    you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this
                    land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have
                    promised you.'"

                 f] the covenant between Jacob and Laban (GEN 31:44-54)
                    [one of fear- agreement to keep peace]

                    GEN 31:44  Come now, let's make a covenant, you and I,
                    and let it serve as a witness between us."

                    GEN 31:50-54 "'If you mistreat my daughters or if you
                    take any wives besides my daughters, even though no one
                    is with us, remember that God is a witness between you
                    and me.' Laban also said to Jacob, 'Here is this heap,
                    and here is this pillar I have set up between you and
                    me. This heap is a witness, and this pillar is a
                    witness, that I will not go past this heap to your side
                    to harm you and that you will not go past this heap and
                    pillar to my side to harm me. May the God of Abraham and
                    the God of Nahor, the God of their father, judge between
                    us.' So Jacob took an oath in the name of the Fear of
                    his father Isaac. He offered a sacrifice there in the
                    hill country and invited his relatives to a meal. After
                    they had eaten, they spent the night there."

                 g] the Mosaic covenant or the Old Covenant (DEU 5:6-21)
                    [a conditional covenant between God and Israel]

                    EXO 34:27,28 "Then the LORD said to Moses, 'Write down
                    these words, for in accordance with these words I have
                    made a covenant with you and with Israel.' Moses was
                    there with the LORD forty days and forty nights without
                    eating bread or drinking water. And he wrote on the
                    tablets the words of the covenant--the Ten
                    Commandments."

                    EXO 24:7,8 "Then he took the Book of the Covenant and
                    read it to the people. They responded, 'We will do
                    everything the LORD has said; we will obey.' Moses then
                    took the blood, sprinkled it on the people and said,
                    'This is the blood of the covenant that the LORD has
                    made with you in accordance with all these words.'"

                    i] the Law guaranteed blessings for obedience (and
                       punishment/termination of covenant if broken)

                       DEU 5:33  "Walk in all the way that the LORD your God
                       has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper
                       and prolong your days in the land that you will
                       possess."

                         promise of the land
                         prosperity
                         freedom from sickness/infertility
                         peace

                   ii] circumcision was given as the sign of the covenant

                 h] the covenant between Jonathan and David (1SA 18:3,4)
                    [a covenant of friendship]

                    1SA 18:3  "And Jonathan made a covenant with David
                    because he loved him as himself. Jonathan took off the
                    robe he was wearing and gave it to David, along with his
                    tunic, and even his sword, his bow and his belt."

                    1SA 20:42  "Jonathan said to David, 'Go in peace, for we
                    have sworn friendship with each other in the name of the
                    LORD, saying, 'The LORD is witness between you and me,
                    and between your descendants and my descendants
                    forever.' Then David left, and Jonathan went back to the
                    town."

                 i] the Davidic covenant (2SA 7:16)
                    [an unconditional covenant]

                    2SA 7:16  "Your house and your kingdom will endure
                    forever before me; your throne will be established
                    forever."

                    *This will be fulfilled in Christ

                 j] the Solomonic covenant (1KI 9:4-8)
                    [a conditional covenant between Solomon and God]

                    1KI 9:4-8 "'As for you, if you walk before me in
                    integrity of heart and uprightness, as David your father
                    did, and do all I command and observe my decrees and
                    laws, I will establish your royal throne over Israel
                    forever, as I promised David your father when I said,
                    'You shall never fail to have a man on the throne of
                    Israel.''But if you or your sons turn away from me and
                    do not observe the commands and decrees I have given you
                    and go off to serve other gods and worship them, then I
                    will cut off Israel from the land I have given them and
                    will reject this temple I have consecrated for my Name.
                    Israel will then become a byword and an object of
                    ridicule among all peoples.'"

                 k] the New Covenant (LUK 22:19,20; MAT 26:26-28; MAR
                    14:22-24) [an unconditional covenant to all believers]

                    MAT 26:26-28 "While they were eating, Jesus took bread,
                    gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples,
                    saying, 'Take and eat; this is my body.' Then he took
                    the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying,
                    'Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the
                    covenant, which is poured out for many for the
                    forgiveness of sins.'"

        4. WHAT WAS ABRAHAM TO HER?

           a) He Was Her Husband (GEN 12:5)

              GEN 12:5  "He took his wife Sarai"

              1) he was her senior by 10 years (GEN 17:17)

                 GEN 17:17  "Abraham fell facedown; he laughed and said to
                 himself, 'Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old?
                 Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?'"

              2) they married in Ur

           b) He Was Her 1/2 Brother (GEN 20:12)

              GEN 20:12  "Besides, she really is my sister, the daughter of
              my father though not of my mother; and she became my wife."

              1) they shared a common father, Terah

              2) they had different mothers

        5. HOW DID SHE LOOK? She Was Very Beautiful.

           a) GEN 12:11- "you are a beautiful woman"

           b) GEN 12:14- "the Egyptians saw that the woman was very
              beautiful"

        6. DID SHE HAVE ANY CHILDREN? She Was Childless Until She Was 90
           (GEN 11:30; 16:1-8; 21:1,2)

     B. WHAT DID SHE DO?

        1. POSITIVELY:

           a) SHE WAS SUBMISSIVE TOWARDS ABRAHAM

              1) She Followed Him

                 a] when God called Abram to leave Ur Sarai accompanied him
                    though it meant leaving comforts and friends (ACT
                    7:2-4).

                    ACT 7:2-4 "The God of glory appeared to our father
                    Abraham while he was still in Mesopotamia, before he
                    lived in Haran. 'Leave your country and your people,'
                    God said, 'and go to the land I will show you.' So he
                    left the land of the Chaldeans and settled in Haran.
                    After the death of his father, God sent him to this land
                    where you are now living."

                    *Ur was a very civilized area with a population of
                    perhaps a quarter of a million persons, a ziggurat of 70
                    feet, a great wall surrounding the city, and a bustling
                    commerce.

                 b] when God commanded Abram to go to Canaan Sarai went too
                    even though it meant lowering her standard of living to
                    nomadic tent dwelling in Canaan (GEN 12:5)

                    GEN 12:5  "He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all
                    the possessions they had accumulated and the people they
                    had acquired in Haran, and they set out for the land of
                    Canaan, and they arrived there."

                 c] when Abram left Canaan to sojourn in Egypt Sarai again
                    went with him (GEN 12:10,11)

                    GEN 12:10,11 "Now there was a famine in the land, and
                    Abram went down to Egypt to live there for a while
                    because the famine was severe. As he was about to enter
                    Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai..."

                 d] when Abram left Egypt Sarai accompanied him (GEN 13:1)

                    GEN 13:1  "So Abram went up from Egypt to the Negev,
                    with his wife and everything he had, and Lot went with
                    him."

                 e] when Abraham went to Gerar she was with him (GEN 20:1,2)

                    GEN 20:1,2  "Now Abraham moved on from there into the
                    region of the Negev and lived between Kadesh and Shur.
                    For a while he stayed in Gerar, and there Abraham said
                    of his wife Sarah..."

              2) She Obeyed His Commands

                 a] when Abram asked her to tell the Egyptians that he was
                    her brother she obeyed (GEN 12:13)

                    GEN 12:13  "Say you are my sister, so that I will be
                    treated well for your sake and my life will be spared
                    because of you."

                    i] this deceit put Sarai in a position where,
                       theoretically, she could have been forced to commit
                       adultery and sin against God.

                   ii] this deceit was dangerous because of possible
                       repercussions when the truth was discovered.

                  iii] this deceit was unnecessary because God had promised
                       Abram offspring which had not yet been born , so God
                       would have protected Abram from death.

                       *Even though her obedience to Abram put her in
                       potential danger, and from the standpoint of faith
                       was needless, she did what was asked of her; [she]
                       obeyed Abraham and called him her master (1PE 3:6).
                       The word "master" means authority, lord: Sarai felt
                       obligated to obey Abram in everything because he was
                       the ruler of their family.

                 b] when company came she prepared food as she was commanded
                    (GEN 18:6)

                    GEN 18:6  "So Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah.
                    'Quick,' he said, 'get three seahs of fine flour and
                    knead it and bake some bread.'"

                 c] when Abraham again asked her to lie about their marriage
                    to Abimelech, the Philistine, she did (GEN 20:5)

                    GEN 20:5  "Did he not say to me, 'She is my sister,' and
                    didn't she also say, 'He is my brother'? I have done
                    this with a clear conscience and clean hands."

              3) She Appealed to Abraham To Act With Hagar

                 a] for a child

                    GEN 16:2  "so she said to Abram, 'The LORD has kept me
                    from having children. Go, sleep with my maidservant;
                    perhaps I can build a family through her.' Abram agreed
                    to what Sarai said."

                 b] for justice

                    i] when Hagar despised her (GEN 16:5)

                       GEN 16:5  "Then Sarai said to Abram, 'You are
                       responsible for the wrong I am suffering. I put my
                       servant in your arms, and now that she knows she is
                       pregnant, she despises me. May the LORD judge between
                       you and me.'"

                   ii] when Ishmael mocked Issac (GEN 21:9,10)

                       GEN 21:9  "But Sarah saw that the son whom Hagar the
                       Egyptian had borne to Abraham was mocking..."

                       *Sarah did not take any direct action against Hagar
                       or Ishmael until she had Abraham's permission to do
                       so.

           b) SHE WAS MOTHER TO ISSAC

              1) Issac Had Been Promised

                 a] before they left Haran, when Abram was 75 yrs. old

                    GEN 12:2  "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.

                 b] in Canaan

                    GEN 15:4  Then the word of the LORD came to him: "This
                    man will not be your heir, but a son coming from your
                    own body will be your heir."

                 c] when Abraham was 99 yrs. old

                    GEN 17:16  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 from her."


                 d] when Abraham was 99 and Sarah was 89

                    GEN 18:10  "Then the LORD said, 'I will surely return to
                    you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will
                    have a son.'"

              2) She Had Been Chosen To Bear Issac

                 a] because she was Abraham's wife

                    *God could have used Hagar or Keturah to bear Abraham's
                    son, Issac, but He chose Sarah, Abraham's wife, because:

                    i] the son of the  wife received full inheritance
                       rights, though children born to women of less than
                       full wifely status had some lesser inheritance also.

                       GEN 25:5  "Abraham left everything he owned to
                       Isaac."

                       GEN 25:6  "But while he was still living, he gave
                       gifts to the sons of his concubines and sent them
                       away from his son Isaac to the land of the east."

                   ii] Sarah was a free woman and God wanted the picture of
                       her freedom as a "type" for believers.

                       GAL 4:26  "But the Jerusalem that is above is free,
                       and she is our mother."

                       GAL 4:31; 5:1 "Therefore, brothers, we are not
                       children of the slave woman, but of the free woman.
                       It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand
                       firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened
                       again by a yoke of slavery."

                 b] because she was  barren - the child would be the result
                    of a miracle

                    GEN 16:2  "... she said to Abram, 'The LORD has kept me
                    from having children.'"

                    i] she was kept from having a child until she was too
                       old to have a child naturally.

                       ROM 4:19  "Without weakening in his faith, he
                       [Abraham] faced the fact that... Sarah's womb was
                       also dead."

                       GEN 18:11  "Sarah was past the age of childbearing."

                       GEN 18:12  "After I am worn out... will I now have
                       this pleasure?"

                   ii] Abraham was also unable to have a child naturally  by
                       this time.

                       ROM 4:19  "Without weakening in his faith, he faced
                       the fact that his body was as good as dead--since he
                       was about a hundred years old..."

                       GEN 18:11  "Abraham and Sarah were already old and
                       well advanced in years."

                       GEN 18:12  "So Sarah... thought, 'After I am worn out
                       and my master is old, will I now have this
                       pleasure?'"

              3) She Loved Issac

                 a] she found joy in him

                    GEN 21:6,7  "Sarah said, 'God has brought me laughter,
                    and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.
                    And she added, 'Who would have said to Abraham that
                    Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son
                    in his old age.'"

                 b] she took care of him

                    i] she nursed him (GEN 21:7).

                   ii] she and Abraham gave Issac a feast upon his weaning
                       (GEN 21:8)

                  iii] she protected him from persecution

                       GEN 21:9,10  "But Sarah saw that the son whom Hagar
                       the Egyptian had borne to Abraham was mocking, and
                       she said to Abraham, "Get rid of that slave woman and
                       her son."

                       GAL 4:29  "At that time the son born in the ordinary
                       way persecuted the son born by the power of the
                       Spirit."

                   iv] she protected his inheritance

                       GEN 21:10  "and she said to Abraham, 'Get rid of that
                       slave woman and her son, for that slave woman's son
                       will never share in the inheritance with my son
                       Isaac.'"

                       GEN 25:5  "Abraham left everything he owned to
                       Isaac."

                 c] she was mourned by Issac for 3 yrs.

                    GEN 23:1,2  "Sarah lived to be a hundred and
                    twenty-seven years old. She died at Kiriath Arba (that
                    is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan, and Abraham went to
                    mourn for Sarah and to weep over her."

                    GEN 24:67  "Isaac brought her into the tent of his
                    mother Sarah, and he married Rebekah. So she became his
                    wife, and he loved her; and Isaac was comforted after
                    his mother's death."

                    GEN 25:20  and Isaac was forty years old when he married
                    Rebekah daughter of Bethuel the Aramean from Paddan Aram
                    and sister of Laban the Aramean.

                    i] Sarah died at 127 yrs. when Issac was 37 yrs. old

                   ii] Issac grieved her death until he married at 40 yrs.
                       old.

        2. NEGATIVELY

           a) SHE HAD A WEAK FAITH

              1) she did not believe God would give her her own child

                 a] since she had waited 10 yrs. from the promise of GEN
                    15:4 and she was still childless, she reasoned that He
                    would not ever give her a child from her own body.

                    GEN 16:1  "Now Sarai, Abram's wife, had borne him no
                    children."

                 b] she thought God would only give her a child through
                    someone else.

                    GEN 16:2  "so she said to Abram, 'The LORD has kept me
                    from having children. Go, sleep with my maidservant;
                    perhaps I can build a family through her.' Abram agreed
                    to what Sarai said."

                    *This indicates that Sarah did have a faith in God,
                    albeit a weak one, because she believed that God would
                    keep His Word to Abraham and give him a child of his
                    flesh.

              2) she did not believe God could give her her own child

                 a] Abraham doubted that God could make a child from them

                    GEN 17:17  "Abraham fell facedown; he laughed and said
                    to himself, 'Will a son be born to a man a hundred years
                    old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?'"

                 b] Sarah doubted that God could make a child from her

                    GEN 18:12,13 "So Sarah laughed to herself as she
                    thought, 'After I am worn out and my master is old, will
                    I now have this pleasure?' Then the LORD said to
                    Abraham, 'Why did Sarah laugh and say, 'Will I really
                    have a child, now that I am old?'"

                    *She had a low view of God and His power but her faith
                    grew, just as ours does, when God fulfilled His promise.

                    GEN 21:1,2  "Now the LORD was gracious to Sarah as he
                    had said, and the LORD did for Sarah what he had
                    promised. Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to
                    Abraham in his old age, at the very time God had
                    promised him."

                    GEN 21:7  "And she added, 'Who would have said to
                    Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have
                    borne him a son in his old age.'"

           b) SHE COULD BE SELFISH

              1) she urged Abraham to take Hagar because she was thinking of
                 her desire to have a child, as well as a was to fulfill the
                 prophecy.

                 GEN 16:2  "so she said to Abram, 'The LORD has kept me from
                 having children. Go, sleep with my maidservant; perhaps I
                 can build a family through her.'"

              2) she was unwilling to share any of Abraham's wealth with
                 Ishmael.

                 GEN 21:10  "and she said to Abraham, 'Get rid of that slave
                 woman and her son, for that slave woman's son will never
                 share in the inheritance with my son Isaac.'"

           c) SHE COULD BE CRUEL

              1) she would not forgive Hagar and mistreated her.

                 GEN 16:5  "Then Sarai said to Abram, 'You are responsible
                 for the wrong I am suffering. I put my servant in your
                 arms, and now that she knows she is pregnant, she despises
                 me. May the LORD judge between you and me.'"

                 GEN 16:6  "Your servant is in your hands," Abram said. "Do
                 with her whatever you think best." Then Sarai mistreated
                 Hagar; so she fled from her.

              2) she urged Abraham to cast out Hagar and Ishmael with
                 nothing.

                 GEN 21:10  "and she said to Abraham, 'Get rid of that slave
                 woman and her son, for that slave woman's son will never
                 share in the inheritance with my son Isaac.'"

     C. WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM HER?

        1. We do not have to "feel" like obeying to obey: it is a matter of
           the will.

        2. Obedience is pleasing to God.

            1SA 15:22  "But Samuel replied: 'Does the LORD delight in burnt
           offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the
           LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better
           than the fat of rams.'"

           JOH 14:15  "If you love me, you will obey what I command."

        3. Our weak faith cannot thwart God's will for our lives:

           a) He will still conform us to the image of His Son, Jesus.

              PHI 1:6  "being confident of this, that he who began a good
              work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of
              Christ Jesus."

           b) He will still accomplish "good works" through us.

              EPH 2:10  "For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ
              Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us
              to do."

        4. God will be gracious with us when our faith is weak as He was
           with Sarah.

           GEN 21:1  "Now the LORD was gracious to Sarah as he had said,
           and the LORD did for Sarah what he had promised."

        5. God can do anything so we are secure in Him.

           GEN 18:14  "Is anything too hard for the LORD?"

 III. WHAT FRUITS OF THE SPIRIT DO WE SEE IN HER?

  IV. Memory Verse: 1SA 15:22  "But Samuel replied: 'Does the LORD delight
     in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of
     the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than
     the fat of rams.'"

Added to Bible Bulletin Board's "Kathy Capoccia's Sunday School Lessons for Young Adults" by:

Tony Capoccia
Bible Bulletin Board
Box 119
Columbus, New Jersey, USA, 08022
Websites: www.biblebb.com and www.gospelgems.com
Email: tony@biblebb.com
Online since 1986