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Studies on the Women of the Bible
Davis W. Huckabee
“And Abram and Nahor took them wives: the name of Abram’s wife was Sarai... But Sarai was barren; she had no child,” (Gen. 11:29-30). Here is the first of fifty-six references in the Bible to Abraham’s wife, all being in Genesis except one in Isaiah 51:2 and four in the New Testament, viz., (Rom. 4:19; 9:9; Heb. 11:11; 1 Pet. 3:6). She was originally named Sarai, meaning Jah (Jehovah) is prince, and she is called this until Genesis 17:15 when her name was changed to Sarah, which means Princess. “And God said unto Abraham, As for Sarai thy wife, thou shalt not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall her name be.”
This was also the time when God changed Abraham’s name from Abram to Abraham, Genesis 17:5. It was not unusual in the Bible for people’s names to be changed when something significant happened in their lives, for names in the Bible always had a meaning. And it was at this time that God made two covenants, one of them the covenant of grace with Abraham, (Gen. 17:3-8). Nor has this covenant been abrogated since, so that much of the land of the mid-East still belongs to the Jews, the multitude of squatters thereon of other nations notwithstanding. The great extent of land that God gave unto Abraham’s seed is shown in Genesis 15:18: from the Nile River to the Euphrates River, a region now occupied by several Arabic nations. Yet many unbelievers find great fault with Israel for demanding the small portion of their rightful land that they now occupy. It seems that they are very gracious to these squatters in allowing them to live on the land that God gave to them alone. It is extremely important that one understands the covenants, and distinguishes between the old covenant of works and the new covenant of grace.
One’s understanding of these covenants affects all of his theological and church relations. If he confounds them, or reckons them as identical, he never gets out of the Old Testament for a plan of salvation, system of doctrines, idea of the church, nature, objects, and subjects of church ordinances. Hence it is easy for him to drift into ritualism, accept the doctrine of union of church and state and coercion of conscience by the magistrate. If he regards them as distinct, one to replace the other, he finds in the New Testament a plan of salvation, system of doctrine, idea of the church, number, nature, object, and subjects of church ordinances. He naturally rejects union of church and state, believes in liberty of conscience, opposes all hierarchies, advocates congregational form of church organizations and their independence of each other. The covenants have been a battleground between Baptists and pedobaptists throughout their history. A man’s views on the covenants easily locate him in one or the other rank. —B. H. Carroll, An Interpretation of the English Bible, Vol. I, p. 253.
Sarah is one of the few women in the Bible the length of whose life is given. She lived to be 127 years of age, (Gen. 23:1-2), having borne Isaac when she was past ninety years of age, (Gen. 21:1-7), which was a great miracle in itself. Then she lived another thirty-seven years to see Isaac grown before she died. Hers and Abraham’s burial cave became a family burial plot, (Gen. 49:29-33).
Sarah’s life is inexorably tied in with the life of her husband, and they often affected one another, sometimes in a good sense, and sometimes in a bad sense, but the important thing is that they shared a mutual faith in the true God. However their faith sometimes was weak and misguided, yet neither was unequally yoked with a mate that was an unbeliever toward God. This is one of the most important factors in any marriage, as suggested in 2 Corinthians 6:14-18. For all her faults, Sarah was a mate “meet” for her husband Abraham. What a lesson can be learned from this woman
- CONSIDER HER FAMILY.
Here we come face to face with what seems to be a difficulty, for Sarah was of near relationship to her husband—nearer than is today consider lawful according to the laws of consanguinity, for she was half-sister to Abraham, (Gen. 20:2; 12-13), if we take this literally. However, it is common in Scripture to call one a son or daughter of someone when in actuality nothing more is meant than that they are related. Hence in Acts 3:25 “children of the prophets” only means that they were descendents of the prophets. In Daniel 5:22 Nebuchadnezzar is referred to as Belshazzar’s father, though he was actually his grandfather, being descended from him through Nabonidus, who is known only in secular history. In Genesis 11:27-29 we have the family of Terah listed although not in their birth order: Abram, Nahor and Haran, and according to this, Abram’s older brother Nahor took to wife Milcah, the daughter of the eldest brother Haran, who was also the father of Lot. Some think that Iscah, (Gen 11:29), is the same as Sarai, and that she was therefore Abraham’s niece, the sister of Lot. Haran having died a number of years before the other two brothers, it is likely that his children were taken in and raised by their grandfather Terah, which is implied in Genesis 11:31. This would have made this all such a family situation that the nieces would be almost like sisters to their uncles and according to common Bible usage might be called sisters.
In any case, it is a matter of little importance. For long before this it had been the practice in the infancy of the race for brothers and sisters to marry, since sin had not so weakened the constitution of man that marriage to close relatives would produce defective children as is now sometimes the case. Before the Flood the earth was filled with trace elements, all of which contributed to the health and welfare of man, which explains the longevity of early man. But with the receding of the floodwaters these trace elements were leeched out of the soil and many of them deposited in the Dead Sea, the lowest point on the globe, and there began a steady decline in human health and vigor because these were lacking. Only in recent times has the importance of these trace elements been realized, and they are now sometimes added to foods or prescribed as aids to human health, and the longevity of man has increased by twenty or thirty years.
The timeworn question of unbelievers as to “Where did Cain get his wife?’ that is thought to show error in the Bible record is fully answered in Genesis 5:4. Adam and Eve had other sons and daughters, and they married and were providentially prevented from having any genetic problems. According to Exodus 6:20 the parents of Aaron, Miriam and Moses were nephew and aunt, although this was later on forbidden, (Lev. 18:12, 14), for Egypt was rife with diseases, and health must be guarded by careful marital practices, and God promised to keep the obedient from these, (Ex. 15:26). Dr. S. I. McMillan has written a book entitled “None of these Diseases” detailing this.
Very probably after the death of their elder brother Haran, whose daughter they married, at least one of them did, as some think both. The name of Abraham’s wife was Sarai. It is not said whose daughter she was unless she is the same with Iscah, the daughter of Haran, and so had two names, Israh her name before marriage, Sarai after it, Abraham calling her my mistress, as Sarai signifies, as she called him my lord... So that Nahor married his brother’s daughter, which sort of marriage was then allowed of, as formerly that of own brothers and sisters, but afterwards was strictly forbidden in the Levitical law... Some think, as before observed, that Abram married the other daughter of his brother, Haran, Iscah, and that she is the same with Sarai. And indeed, without supposing that it is difficult to conceive for what reason this should be observed, that Haran, the father of Milcah, was also the father of Iscah. And if Sarai is not Iscah, no account is given by Moses of her descent, which may seem strange; and it can hardly be thought he would omit it, when it must be so agreeable to his people to know from whom they descended, both by the father’s and mother’s side. —John Gill, Exposition of the Whole Bible, Vol. 1, p. 73, on Genesis 11:29.
Thus the matter is of little importance except for the misuse of the situation at a later time because of the weakness of Abraham’s faith and his fear that he would be slain so that lustful men could take his beautiful wife, (Gen. 12:11-13). Which brings up an interesting fact about Sarah. The time when Abraham made this compromise was a while after he had turned seventy-five and Sarah was ten years younger. Yet she was such a beautiful woman at that age that kings, who could have the most beautiful girls in the land, were expected to be enamored of her, and they were on at least two occasions. What a beautiful woman she must have been.
Question: How could she be so fair, when she was above sixty years old? Arista She was so both comparatively to the Egyptians, and simply in herself, and that might be from divers causes: 1. From the greater vigor of nature in that age of the world. 2. Because her beauty was not diminished by child-bearing 3 From God’s singular providence, ordering it thus for Abram’s trial, and for the manifestation of his special providence watching over him and his.—Matthew Poole, Commentary On The Holy Bible, Vol. 1, p. 32.
This lapse of faith on the part of Abraham is easily understood, for both he and Sarah had been raised in a pagan background, as is witnessed in Joshua 24:2, and at this time he had not had his experience of saving grace, as recorded in Genesis 15:6. His very presence in Egypt is significant for Egypt in Scripture symbolizes the world, and so, he was simply using worldly wisdom in an endeavor to protect and promote himself. It is interesting to observe that though he built an altar and worshipped the Lord while in the land of promise, (Gen. 12:8), nothing is said of any worship by him while in Egypt. Not until he comes back out of Egypt do we read of his renewal of worship, (Gen. 13:3-4). There is no possibility of the genuine child of God being able to correctly worship while dominated by the world. As our Lord said to His disciples, Ye are in the world, but not of the world, (John 15:18-19). An attempt has been made to justify Abraham’s action in this deception by Dr. T. J. Conant as follows.
Censure would be just, if the object had been to deceive others to their injury. But the object was personal safety; and the injury to others arose from their own violation of the duties of hospitality and the rights of strangers. Persons travelling, or sojourning, where the full knowledge of their relations exposes them to dangers, are not bound to disclose all that concerns themselves, and in no way concerns others. This principle is often acted on, and without any violation of moral duty; but whether wisely and prudently, the circumstances of the case must decide. Abraham consulted his wife’s honor, no less than his own safety, in adopting this expedient. For if she had been deprived of him, her only protector, her fate would have been worse than his. But while he passed for her brother, none but honorable proposals would be made to her as his sister, and these could be evaded or postponed until they should remove to a place of safety. That she should be taken without consent, by royal authority, was a contingency not likely to be foresee.—Quoted but without approval by B. H. Carroll, An Interpretation of the English Bible, Vol. 1, pp. 242-243.
And however much of this is true, it is hard to justify Abraham’s action which was repeated on another occasion by him, (Gen. 20:2ff), and then emulated by his son Isaac, (Gen. 26:6ff). It was clearly a manifestation of lack of faith in the Lord’s providential workings, and rather a trusting in worldly stratagems.
And Sarah went along with this sinful charade, but the New Testament gives us an insight into her reason for doing so, aside from her love for her husband. She was a submissive wife to her husband’s headship. “Even as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, so long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement,” (1 Pet. 3:6). And here is another instructive truth: As Abraham is the “father of all that believe,” so Sarah is the mother of all believing women.
- CONSIDER HER FAULTS.
Sarah’s first introduction to us emphasizes her barrenness, (Gen. 11:30), which was considered a reproach among eastern people. But in her case probably a great deal more was involved, for God had given the promise of a coming “Seed of the woman” that was to be the hope of the world for salvation. It was the hope of those women that were worshippers of Jehovah and knew the Scriptures that they might be privileged to be the mother of this Coming One. Some think that this is referred to in I Timothy 2:15: “Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing,” and this would seem to be a possible meaning if this phrase were lifted out of its context. However, the remainder of the verse makes it questionable that this is the meaning, for the verse goes on to say, “if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.” Note the change in pronouns. ‘She shall be saved...if they continue...” A woman lives on in her children—they are her monuments. But if they are wicked reprobates her life counts for nothing, and she would be better to not have had any children than to have only produced those that are a rebels against the Lord. It has been well said about barren wombs that—
“He maketh the barren woman to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of children, Praise ye the Lord,” (Psalm 113:9). In God’s Word, we find seven examples of women who, for reasons known only to God, had to endure the grief and pain, the sadness brought about by her inability to give birth. How her heart ached; how her tears flowed. But our God is truly a God of miracles, and we shall see the evidence of this, as we read of His great blessings in the lives of these women. We must, however, remember that our Lord is never under any obligation to perform such miracles in our lives. We should remember that “with God nothing shall be impossible,” (Luke 1:37). “...there is nothing too hard for thee,” (Jer. 32:17). Though we cannot, and we must not, obligate the Lord to work in our lives in the very same way He chose to work in the lives of these seven women, we should not lose our hope, our faith. —Wendy Gale Barkman, Women of the Bible Compared and Contrasted, p. 28.
Sarah’s barrenness was a sore trial to both her and her husband, and as is often the case, it caused them to make some unwise decisions as they were compelled to “wait upon the Lord.” One of the things that they brought out of Egypt when they left there was apparently the handmaiden to Sarah named Hagar for she is not mentioned heretofore, and first appears in Genesis 16:1. However, the lack of an heir had continued to plague this household, as we see in Genesis 15:1. Here, to God’s comforting assurance that He was Abraham’s “shield, and exceeding great reward,” Abraham had objected, “What wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus? And Abram said, Behold, to me thou hast given no seed: and, lo, one born in my house is mine heir.” But God assured Abraham that one from his own bowels would be his heir, then to further assure him God led him outside and asked him if he could number the stars. Then He assured Abraham that so innumerable would be his seed. Later, after his willingness to sacrifice Isaac, Abraham is assured that he would have a spiritual heavenly seed as innumerable as the stars, as well as a physical earthly seed as numerous as the sand upon the seashore, (Gen. 22:17).
But Sarah became tired of waiting and proposes a way “to help God out of His dilemma.” Sadly, man is all too prone to think that poor, weak, blundering God is unable to fulfill His promises without the wisdom and power of man. And so, he often intrudes his own plans and programs, and thereby brings chaos and calamity.
“Now Sarai Abram’s wife bare him no children: and she had an handmaid, an Egyptian, whose name was Hagar. And Sarai said unto Abram, Behold now, the Lord hath restrained me from bearing: I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her. And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai,” (Gen. 16:1-2). This seemed a perfectly logical way to “help God out,” for Hagar belonged to Sarah, and so, what was Hagar’s was consequently Sarah’s, (Ex. 21:4). A child born to Sarah’s handmaid would be Sarah’s child, and if sired by Abraham, would not all the requirements be met? But God would have nothing to do with this, and however Abraham might be satisfied with Ishmael, God was not, (Gen. 17:18-19). The covenant of grace was established at this time. God is not just concerned with the end, but with the means of achieving the end as well.
It is very informative to see the way that Inspiration uses this very scheme of these two believers to illustrate two radically different forms of evangelism in Galatians 4:21-31. An acceptable form of evangelism can never make use of worldly means to “win souls.” Making use of Hagar (worldly) methods of evangelism will only produce spiritual Ishmaels, not true Isaacs, and these will ultimately be cast out, for they are not God’s promised seed, but will always persecute the true spiritual seed. Sadly some churches are made up almost entirely of these. And here is an interesting truth set forth, for comparison of Galatians 4:29 with Genesis 21:9, reveals that there does not have to be the shedding of blood or murder for it to be persecution. No! A mere contemptuous attitude is persecution in God’s sight, which is interesting in the light of the religious world’s unholy contempt for anyone that is conservative and holds to the literal interpretation of the Scriptures. Throughout history most persecution has not been by atheists but by religious, but unsaved people who have been brought into churches by wrong methods of so-called evangelism. Overzealous people have tried to “help God out of his dilemma” because they thought that they had come up with “a better way” to fulfill God’s promise yet they only frustrate God’s good will for them thereby. God has promised to save souls by the preaching of the Gospel, (1 Cor. 1:21), and nothing else is “just as good” a method. Many Ishmaels have been produced by the unsanctified zeal of man, and they have always been a curse to the churches they were brought into.
When Hagar first conceived, she felt that she should have equal status with Sarah, and while Sarah admitted that this was mainly her idea in the beginning, she tried to pass the buck back upon Abraham, (Gen. 16:4ff). And when Hagar fled before Sarah’s anger, an angel of the Lord directed her to return and submit herself under her mistress’ authority, for the full consequences of Abraham and Sarah’s folly had not yet been worked out, as it subsequently would be when Isaac was born.
For twelve years little Ishmael was the darling of the household, and Abraham and Sarah thought that God’s promise had been fulfilled with their help, but then when Abraham was ninety-nine and Sarah was ninety, God fulfilled His promise, (Gen. 17:1, 15-17). Here was an inconceivable thing to both these elderly people. A ninety-year old woman conceiving and bearing a child! Yet the Creator of all things from nothing would have no problem suddenly causing Sarah’s body to become fruitful after all those years of barrenness. Most unbelief discounts the power of God to accomplish His will. And though initially they disbelieved this promise, yet grace was given to produce faith in the impossible, as we are told in Romans 4:16-22 as God honored His own workings. “Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all, (As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were. Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be. And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah’s womb: He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief: but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform. And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness.”
It cannot be stressed too much that any genuine faith is the product of the operation of grace, as in Ephesians 2:8-10; 2 Peter 1:1-4, et al. Man can produce a mere humanistic faith, but not “the faith of God’s elect,” (Titus 1:1). Thus it was with Sarah in the beginning, for she had a humanistic faith that required human effort to succeed.
Sarah, knowing that she was barren, and that she and her husband were old, falls upon an Oriental method by which Abram should have a son. She gives her handmaiden, Hagar the Egyptian, to Abram as a wife in order that Hagar’s child by Abram should be as Sarah’s child. She got herself, Abram and the handmaiden, the descendents of Abram through her own son and through Hagar’s son all into a world of trouble. —B. H. Carroll, An Interpretation of the English Bible, Vol. 1 P. 282.
It is both possible and common for people to have a right end in view, yet try to achieve it in a wrong way, and such was the case now before us. God had given promise of a son, but He also had in mind a particular way of achieving this end.
Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai. Without consulting God about it, the proposal being agreeable to the flesh, which may be imputed to the infirmity of the good man; though it does not appear to arise from previous lust predominate in him. But both Sarai’s proposal, and his compliance with it, might be owing to the eager desire of each after the promised seed. They both believed the promise, but did not know it, being not as yet revealed that Abram should have a son by Sarai. So that Sarai knowing her own case and circumstances, might conclude it was to be by another, and by her handmaid: and Abram might reason and judge after the same manner, which inclined him to listen to her. —John Gill, Commentary on The Whole Bible, Vol. 1, p. 92.
The faith that is produced by grace takes no account of human ability, but looks wholly and solely to the wisdom and power of God to fulfill the promises of God, and he that thinks that he must add his own puny works shows that he has a defective faith. But in the New Testament references back to the lives of Abraham and Sarah we see Divine grace emphasized so that there are few references made to the faults of this father and mother of all that believe, but rather their faith is emphasized. How gracious God is to His unworthy creatures.
- CONSIDER HER FAITH.
We have already anticipated this to a considerable extent but let us see what is said about this in Hebrews 11:11. “Through faith also Sarah herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised.” Note the similarity of her faith to that of her husband as set forth in Romans 4:19-21. This is implied in the word “also.” Such a mutual faith in the Lord is no accident. God had spoken to both of them and in due time they submit to His Word, which is what faith is—a submission to the Word of God. There can be no true faith apart from a firm foundation upon which that faith can rest, which explains much of the spurious “faith” of these latter days. Many people—even “religious” people have no knowledge of God’s Word, and what knowledge they do have, they often reject, and so, they have no real faith in God. What they call “faith” is often nothing more than their imagination. It is easy to have faith in one’s self, faith in “religion,” faith in one’s church’s creed, etc., but none of these are that God-pleasing faith, without which it is impossible to please God, (Heb. 11:6). We must remember that “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God,” (Rom. 10:17). And more than once it is recorded that “The Word of the Lord came to Abram,” regarding this very matter, (Gen. 15:1, 4), and when Abraham gave heed to the Word of God faith was produced, (Gen. 15:6). But when Abraham hearkened to the voice of Sarah, (Gen. 16:2), it was not a matter of faith, but of something else.
But it is common for faith to be tested, and so it was with Abraham and Sarah, for they had thirteen long years of waiting after the birth of Ishmael before God gave them Isaac, and this was a sore trial to both of them. Why was this wait necessary?
Why had Abram to wait all this while before the Lord appeared to him again? Why must so many years drag their weary course before Jehovah reveals Himself once more and makes promise of giving him Isaac? Is not the answer to be found in Romans 4:19? “And being not weak in faith: he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah’s womb.” God was about to act in grace, but ere grace can be displayed the creature has first to come to the end of himself: ere divine power is put forth man must learn his own impotency... Not till Abram’s body was “dead” would God fulfill His word and give him a son. God’s opportunity does not come until man’s extremity is reached. This is a lesson we sorely need to take to heart, for it is of great practical importance. It might be tersely expressed thus: the Lord has a reason for all His delays. —A. W. Pink, Gleanings In Genesis, pp. 182-3.
Faith is no mere theory, but is a most practical thing in the lives of every one of those that the Lord has brought into a state of grace. And a Biblical faith will be an ongoing thing that requires much patience to receive its ends. This is the truth that is so clearly set forth in Hebrews 10:35-39. Here is the difference in the mere empty professor and the genuinely born again person. God tests one’s profession of faith, and those that do not have a genuine faith will turn back unto perdition after so much frustration. But those with a true faith will continue to live by faith day after day after day until the promise is fulfilled, and some of our promises will not be given until the Lord’s return, and so, will require much patient waiting to receive them.
She, who first through unbelief laughed at the promise, yet being reproved by Christ, the Angel of the covenant, for it, believed on the repetition of it, (Gen. 18:9-16), and gave testimony of it by her waiting for the promised mercy. As barren as she was, yet faith made her fruitful; when it was impossible of herself to expect it for nature or years, yet received she power and strength from God, by believing, to conceive seed, that is, laying the foundation of it, conceiving in her dead womb, and bearing a son. —Matthew Poole, Commentary On The Holy Bible, Vol. IQ, p. 862.
Initially, when the promise was made to Abraham and Sarah that they two would have a son, there was doubt upon her part as she considered all of the seemingly impossible circumstances. Who can doubt the many meditations of her heart as she thought on this promise, and its natural impossibility. But Hebrews 11:11 makes a point as to the final conclusion of Sarah’s thoughts as she meditated on the One that made the promise: “...she Judged him faithful who had promised.” Here is one of the things that is often emphasized about God in Scripture: He is “the faithful God,” (Deut. 7:9; Isa. 49:7; 1 Cor. 1:9; 10:13; 1 Thess. 5:24; 2 Thess. 3:3; 2 Tim. 2:13; Heb. 10:23; Rev. 19:11 et al). Herein we see the importance of meditation upon God’s power and performances and promises, for this will promote faith in Him whereas meditation on one’s inabilities will only promote doubts and disbelief and despair. God is faithful to do what He has promised. It was a profound statement that Martin Luther made when he said, “If you would trust God, you must learn to crucify the question How.” But in our day, there are so many worldly distractions that meditation upon the power and faithfulness of God is a lost art, and that is to our great detriment. Satan would prevent faith being engendered by using the things of this world to keep our minds off the faithfulness of God to His promises.
The Divine perfections do not, of themselves, work faith in us: it is only as the heart believingly ponders the Divine attributes that we shall “judge” or conclude Him faithful that has promised. It is the man whose mind is stayed upon God Himself, who is kept in “perfect peace” (Isa. 26:3). That is, he who joyfully contemplates who and what God is that will be preserved from doubting and wavering while waiting the fulfillment of the promise. As it was with Sarah, so it is with us: every promise of God has tacitly annexed to it this consideration, “Is anything too hard for the Lord!” —A. W. Pink, Exposition of Hebrews, Vol. 2, p. 219.
Faith is required in order to please God, but faith is also promised when one uses the means that God has provided for its “coming”—the reading and meditation on the Holy Scriptures as they reveal God’s wisdom and power that is always at our disposal. Faith—at least a Biblical faith—is not a natural ability, but is a gift of the grace of God to His elect, (Rom. 4:16; Eph. 2:8-10). But as we see in the lives of so many people of the Bible—yea, as we see in our own experience—the flesh and its proud self-reliance often invalidates God’s choicest blessings by intruding itself into the matter. It is simply part of that ingrained human depravity that would steal God’s glory in order to take it unto self, and all sin has an element of this in it, (Rom. 3:23).
In the lives of this father and mother of all believers we see all of these trials and triumphs manifested, from their first call out of pagan darkness in Ur of the Chaldees until their earthly lives were concluded and they were released to step across into glory. And it will be the same with us today if we are among the vessels of mercy—the elect whom God has chosen and prepared beforehand unto glory, (Rom. 9:21-24). But we need to be constantly aware that we are nothing but worthless clay until God the Potter has finished His great work of grace, as He did in the lives of Abraham and Sarah.
In the verses which are now to be before us the Apostle calls attention to the marvelous power of a God-given faith to exercise itself in the presence of most discouraging circumstances, persevere in the face of the most formidable obstacles, and trust God to do that which unto human reason seemed utterly impossible. They show us that this faith was exercised by a frail and aged woman, who at first was hindered and opposed by the workings of unbelief, but who in the end relied upon the veracity of God and rested upon His promise. They show what an intensely practical thing faith is: that it not only lifts up the soul to Heaven, but is able to draw down strength for the body on earth. They demonstrate what great endings sometimes issue from small beginnings, and that like a stone thrown into a lake produces ever-enlarging circles on the rippling waters, so faith issues in fruit which increases from generation to generation. —A. W. Pink, Exposition of Hebrews, Vol. 2, p. 211, On Heb. 11:11-12.
This inconceivably beautiful and desirable woman was also a spiritual woman so that she was an asset to her husband. And if sometimes she made mistakes in judgment, so also did her husband and Abraham was doubtless the more accountable in God’s sight as the head of the home. But sovereign grace, operating through that faith that was wrought in them, caused both Abraham and Sarah to triumph through that faith that looked to Christ for hope, (1 John 5:4-5). Thus, they looked for that city that hath eternal foundations, whose builder and maker is God, (Heb. 11:10).
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