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 þ identification with the covenant partner: he is you and you are him- his concerns are yours and yours his þ pledge of defense against the other's enemies- his enemies are yours and yours his þ 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 þ an heir to inherit Abraham's wealth þ descendants "as numerous as the stars" (GEN 15:5) and "as numerous as the grains of sand" (GEN 22:23) þ 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." þ promise of the land þ prosperity þ freedom from sickness/infertility þ 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:
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