The Reading: Genesis 18:9-15
“So Sarah laughed to herself” (v.12) RSV
During these next week we shall consider the unlikely women who were part of the ancestral line of Jesus. They will reveal to us how God can weave the most unpromising material and the deepest hurts into fulfilling his purposes. Jesus was born in spite of unbelief (Sarah), unlove (Leah), incest (Tamar), prostitution (Rahab), foreign blood (Ruth), adultery (Bathsheba) and an unmarried mother (Mary)!
This week we consider the first, Sarah. She was the wife of Abraham, and was in many ways exemplary. Peter uses her as an example of an ideal wife and an example of godly submission (1 Peter 3:5-6). However, she failed through unbelief in the question of producing an heir for her husband. First of all she suggested that he produce a son through a surrogate, her maid Hagar. The resulting child, Ishmael, proved to be a thorn in the side of the family.
Secondly, Sarah laughed in unbelief when three divine visitors arrived at her tent. She overheard them foretelling to Abraham that he would have a son by Sarah. She knew she was past child bearing age, and had long since given up hope of having a child of her own. This word from the Lord seemed as foolishness to her. And yet, God in his mercy and to fulfil his plan caused his word to be fulfilled. Within a year she had produced Isaac!
Normally God requires our active participation by a response of faith. But sometimes he works in a sovereign way. Despite Sarah displaying lack of faith, the Lord wove her error into his redeeming purposes. In due course her descendants would produce Jesus.
In like manner God will use our ancestry (both the good and the bad), and indeed our own past failures if only we cry to him for mercy and let him work out his plan from now on. The past is not only forgiven but actually transformed so that it becomes part of his process. A mystery indeed!
Thank you Lord for my past, both the good and the bad. Redeem it so that what I am now, and what I may be in the future, will fulfil your holy purposes. Amen.
1 After her disbelief what enabled Sarah to conceive?
2 How did Abraham react to the news that Sarah would conceive?