The Faith of Sarah (Hebrews Sermon 50 of 74)
December 04, 2011 | Andrew Davis
Faith, Walk by Faith
The Need for Role Models
Well this morning, we have the great privilege, the great joy of celebrating the faith of a single woman who lived many years ago, 4000 years ago, as a matter of fact. And the effects of that faith, the faith of Sarah are still felt today 4000 years later. And not only are we celebrating her and her faith, we're also celebrating her union, spiritual union with her husband, Abraham, and how the two of them walked by faith in the promises of God, they walked under the promises of God. They organized their whole lives under those promises and so they become for us a paradigm example of a godly couple who lives by faith, in the promises of God, and makes the promises of God the center of their marriage, the center of their relationship. That's what we get to celebrate today and we really need this, we need godly examples. Women need godly examples of a faithful woman, a faithful wife And a faithful mother who was blessed richly through her offices of a wife and a mother and the effects are still felt today. Women need that example, that role model and we men also need the role model of this godly marriage of Abraham as he interacted with his wife Sarah.
We need role models, and I think that's exactly why Hebrews 11 was given so that we can read the examples of men and women who walked by faith, So many years ago, we live in an age in which womanhood godly vision of woman, excellent womanhood and genuine marriage as God intended is under bitter attack from the world, the flesh, and the devil. And the only remedy is the grace of God as revealed in the pages of scripture, and so for us to celebrate the faith of Sarah is appropriate and beneficial and I hope it'll be a blessing. I really want to speak to you, women first and foremost to encourage you in your roles, those of you that are wives and mothers to encourage you. And the validity of those roles, the blessedness of them that you may feel the strength Of the Holy Spirit through the promise of God in those roles, and for those women among you that are not wives or mothers and for the rest of you, namely, the men, you can still benefit as well from the example of Sarah's faith just as James uses Rahab, as an example of faith, resulting in works and so we can learn from that as well. So we can be challenged and encouraged as well even as men.
And so we see the timelessness and beauty of the roles of godly womanhood celebrated here. And I think women need this too because we have in our culture a perverted and strange sense of feminine beauty. Literally billions of dollars are spent in our country, in the West in general on artificial feminine beauty whether in cosmetics or botox, surgical adjustments all of it, trying to stem the ravages of time. And I think it's ironic that the paradigm example of feminine beauty in the Bible came with a woman who was 90 years old. And who said, "I'm old, I'm worn out and can I really have this pleasure at this point in my life?" And she is chosen as an example of beauty, by Peter. And we'll talk about that in 1 Peter Chapter 3. But we have before us the example of a truly beautiful woman and one worthy of celebration. So look at the words with me. You've already heard them read, "By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age since she considered him faithful, who had promised and therefore from one man and him as good as dead, were born descendants many as the stars of the heaven and as many as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore."
I. Abraham and Sarah: Co-Heirs of a Gracious Promise of Life
So we begin by looking at Abraham and Sarah and their marriage right in the middle of a flow here, a flow of thought in Hebrews 11, we're looking generally at role models or examples of faith. The reason for that at the very end of chapter 10, we are told "The righteous will live by faith." It is only the life of genuine faith that leads to heaven. Be not deceived. As I've said many times before, the examples of faith in Hebrews 11, are not for the extra special or super Christians, This is what faith genuine faith really looks like. And so the examples that we have one after the other... That we've already seen of Abel, and Enoch, Noah and Abraham and now Sarah and then Abraham, some more after this Are giving us snapshots of what faith looks like. Now, your situations will certainly be different than These peoples were but the faith will be the same, And this is the faith that justifies this is the faith that saves. So right in the middle of Hebrews, and we're looking at examples of faith and we come to Abraham. The section of Hebrews 11 from verse 8-19, essentially is following Abraham somewhat mentioning Isaac and Jacob, but mostly it's Abraham right on through. Through the sacrifice of Isaac And right here in the middle of that, we have this focus on Sarah and so we have Abraham and Sarah who are together, I think co-heirs of the gracious promise of life And paradigm examples of, I think what God intended when He created marriage, to begin with.
The Blessed Gift of Marriage in the Creation Order
Genesis, chapter 1, God created them male and female, created them in the image of God, and he blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, fill the Earth and subdue it." Genesis Chapter 2, we are told these words that led to the first married couple being formed the first woman being formed, "It is not good for the man to be alone," which as I've mentioned before, I think it's better to be understood. It is not good for the man to remain alone. It was good for him to be alone for a while to establish male headship in marriage, but it was impossible for Adam to remain alone and be fruitful and multiply, and fill the world with the image of God with human beings who would celebrate the glory of God in creation. And so, it was right and part of God's plan to create in the order of time, Eve Who would come and join him. And so we have the first couple.
We know that she was created to be a helper suitable for him Lined up to his needs, lined up to what he was called on by God to do, and so she became a helper suitable for him. And I think we see this pattern laid out for us in Genesis 1 and 2 in a beautiful way fulfilled in Abraham and Sarah's marriage With this godly couple, an example of a godly marriage. And God's desire I think, in giving us Sarah, is to give us a sense of her faith in the promise of God and the fact that both Abraham and Sarah believed in the promises of God And lived under those promises of God.
In this way. Therefore, I think in a similar way to Abraham being the father of the faithful, Sarah in a similar way as a mother to the faithful. We know that in Romans chapter 4, it says "Abraham is the father of us all." He is our father in the sight of God, it says, in Romans 4:17, but then Peter says in 1 Peter 3, and verse 6, Speaking to godly women to Christian women, he talks about Sarah, "who obeyed Abraham and called him her master. You are her daughters, if you do what is right and do not give way to fear." So there, Sarah is a paradigm example of a godly woman to other godly women. If you want to be a godly woman be like Sarah, she is your mother. But then even more mystically and more powerfully the Apostle Paul in Galatians Chapter 4 talks about two women Hagar and the free woman, she's never named there, Sarah, but it's clearly Sarah And saying that we as children, as Christians, as children of the promise, having believed the promise of life in Jesus Christ, we are sons and daughters of the free woman who is above.
So it says in Galatians 4:31 that we are children not of the slave woman, but of the free woman. We are in that way by faith in Jesus, children of Abraham, and children of Sarah as well. So what an incredible example she is and also Isaiah 51: Verse 1 and 2, The prophet there, says, "Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness and who seek the Lord." I hope that's you, I hope you are pursuing righteousness and seeking the Lord. Okay, well this is for you, then listen to me, "Look to the rock from which you were cut and to the quarry from which you were hewn. Look to Abraham, your father and to Sarah, who gave you birth. When I called him, he was but one and I blessed him and made him many.
So here we have Abraham, The father of faith and Sarah in a beautiful way, The mother of faith, We also see in Sarah a woman who is indispensable to the promises the specific promises that God had made to Abraham. God called Abraham in Genesis chapter 12, and he said, "Leave your country and your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you l I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you." And then God also promised that he would have descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky, and as countless as the sand in the seashore and he was told that he would be a father of nations. Well, all of these things would come through Sarah. God intended to elevate and to glorify marriage and specifically Sarah that she would be the one through whom all of these promises could come true.
Sarah Indispensable to God’s Promise to Abraham
Now, we know that Abraham had children through other women. We'll talk about that, we'll talk about Hagar. It wasn't a biological necessity that it be Sarah, it wasn't required that it be Sarah biologically. He had children, also through Keturah after Sarah had died, But I believe that God had chosen Sarah as Abraham's wife And elevated that pattern that he established from the very beginning. One man one woman for life, and he chose her and she would be his chosen vehicle, his chosen instrument, By which God would fulfill his promise to Abraham.
And so we're going to see a study today of a woman of faith who was indispensable to God's plan and 1 Corinthians 11:11, it says "In the Lord, however, woman is not independent of man nor man independent of woman." And so both Abraham and Sarah, indispensable to the promises of God that He made through Abraham. And so we see this couple who are called beautifully co-heirs of gracious promise of life, 1 Peter 3:7, it says "Likewise, husbands live with your wives in an understanding way showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the gracious gift of life so that your prayers may not be hindered." And so Abraham and Sarah both went through the trials, the difficulties they shared those experiences together the trials of faith and also they receive their rewards of faith.
Question: Does this Passage Refer to Sarah?
Now, I've already gone on and on this morning about Sarah the question you have to ask is, "does this passage even talk about Sarah?" And you may say, "What are you talking about? Have you gone astray, here? Well, if you were to do what Larry said, and that's to take the Pew Bible and open up to the NIV, you will not see the first three words that we saw in our reading today which was ESV. In the NIV, you're going to see these three words "By faith Abraham, A bit troubling. ESV by faith Sarah, I find a difference between there Don't you. By faith Abraham versus by faith, Sarah? Now, which is it? Why did the NIV translators decide to go with by faith Abraham? Is it right for me to be preaching today on Hebrews 11:11 on the faith of Sarah. Is it really talking about Sarah's faith?
Well, my best answer to you is, I think so, But I wanted to preach about Sarah anyway, so here I am... Alright, I think it's wonderful to have Sarah as an example, the fact that, Galatians 4, and 1 Peter 3, celebrates her as a godly woman in a paradigm example, sets me free to go ahead and celebrate it here. But there are some reasons why the NIV editors went with "By faith Abraham, even though Sarah was barren, etcetera." And so, it's a viable Greek translation, and probably the number one reason they went with "By faith, Abraham" has to do with these words, it says, "By faith, Abraham, even though he was past age and Sarah herself was barren was enabled to become a father." That's what the NIV gives us.
The Greek is katabolē spermatos which really focuses I think grammatically, on the male role of procreation. Katabolē means to establish or lay a foundation of seed, and that seems to be something a man does, But the word spermatos can also refer to air or sea generally descendants and I think that's why all the other translations, KJV ESV NAS all of them went with, by faith Sarah. And so I think it's right. Also, there's an indication we're just generally talking about Abraham here Abrahams, there in 8, 9 and 10, and then we've got Sarah, and then 12 seems to be talking about Abraham and then back some more to Abraham. And so, it seems odd to just stop and talk about Sarah, But when you look at what God is actually discussing here in the text Namely the birth of the miracle baby Isaac, it seems completely appropriate to talk about Sarah as well.
II. The Development of Sarah’s Faith: Overcoming Obstacles
And she was a faith-filled woman, she wasn't faithless as she was carrying Isaac, but trusting God in the midst of all that, seeing God's hand in it celebrating it rejoicing in it, considering God faithful in the midst of it. And so this morning, we're going to celebrate her faith and we're going to see the development of Sarah's faith. We're going to go back and look a little bit as we've done with the other people in Genesis 11 To what the actual record is of what happened with Sara and try to understand this. And as we look at Sarah's life, we're going to see a faith developing... We're going to see it overcoming obstacles. It's not fully formed immediately, but through the twists and turns of events, She ends up with a stronger and stronger faith. That's what we're going to look at.
And so Sarah's faith I think is on display initially as she went with her husband leaving their home, Ur of the Chaldees in Iran and settling in the promised land, not knowing where they were going. I don't mean to say anything off-color here, but I just think men are more kind of that way and women are like Where are we going, where are we staying tonight, where is it going to be... How's it going to go? I need to know and again I don't want to generalize, but that seems to be kind of generally true where are we going to pitch the tent? I need to know, "Is it going to be near water, that kind of thing? And so I think she may have displayed even more faith to live in a tent than Abraham did. To trust God for all of that, but it's not mentioned and... As we've said many of these heroes, Abel, and Enoch and Noah, their faith isn't specifically mentioned, but if you know what to look for, you can see it.
And so also The promise that had been made, to Abraham that he would be a father of many nations, their initial reaction would have been that has to do with me. He didn't have anyone else And so they had to deal with the challenge.
Sarah’s Barrenness an Ongoing Test
The trial of Sarah's ongoing barrenness, the fact that she was unable to conceive a child, it was a very difficult test. Genesis 17:17, Abraham asked, will Sarah bear a child at the age of 90. And it just continues to be a trial for them. They have these incredible promises, they have stepped out in faith on them. But he was 75 years old, Abraham, when he received that. And then just as the years wear on even the decades wear on, I'm sure the fact that she was barren became a bigger and bigger issue in their marriage and in their faith, it was a struggle for them.
Genesis 15:2, Abraham says, "O sovereign Lord, what can you give me since I remain childless? The one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus." So it's a burden. It was a challenge, I remain childless. We don't have any children in case you haven't noticed, we don't have a son. And so, it was a trial and then at the beginning of Chapter 16 that faithful chapter Genesis 16. It starts the exact same way. Now, Sarah, Abraham's wife had borne him no children. And so it was an ongoing trial and there in Genesis 16, they take what I consider to be a faithless misstep. They stepped away from God's plan and God's purpose and this is very instructive for us. I think it's very significant. There are other ways to look at all this, but I think in Genesis 16, it's pretty plain that what happened was that Sarah first, and then, Abraham Took matters in their own hands according to their own wisdom and tried to fulfill God's good ends by their own fleshly means.
You know the story, what happened was, she was not again, not giving birth and the time of her being able to even do that, probably was coming to an end. And what are we going to do, how is this promise going to be fulfilled? And here's Hagar, her maidservant, says, "Well Tell you what, I will give you my maidservant, and you can have children by her, you can have a son by her. And so Abraham listened to the voice of his wife, and he lay with Hagar, and she conceived and gave birth to a son named Ishmael. And it was nothing but a grief and a burden and in the providence of God, ultimately there will be descendants of Ishmael in heaven praise God, you can find it in Isaiah. Ask me afterwards what I'm talking about, but still, it was off message. And so instructive for us.
How many times are you tempted to take hold of something? You see what God's... You think where God's going, what we're to do, but you take hold of the matter with your own fleshly wisdom and understanding and try to make it happen. It's a great temptation for pastors. We want a church to be successful as the Bible defines it, to go into pragmatism or to study the science of church growth and by fleshly means to try to do it rather than just trusting in the word of God is a great mistake. And so all of us, as believers, we are tempted to do this as Paul says in Galatians, "Having begun by the Spirit, are you now completed by the flesh?" Is this how it happens? And I think that's what happened. I think they saw where they were going, but they didn't think they could get there. And so, they go with Hagar. And you have to realize there's indications that God was intending Sarah all along. You remember earlier, when Abraham had lied about her and said, "She is my sister" and Pharaoh was getting ready to take her as his wife. You remember that whole story?
And God afflicted Pharaoh's household with diseases and warned him in a dream, and all of that, and all of this stuff happened around that. Since Abraham failed to protect his wife, God had to step in and protect her. But specifically it was her procreation, it was Abraham and Sarah's marriage and their child, their bearing of a child that God was putting a wall around the thing. She is set apart for my purposes. Now, they should have learned then, God was going to do great things through Sarah, just wait, just wait. Wait on me and trust me. And boy, it's hard for us to wait isn't it? You know, why was God making them wait? I think it's similar to what God was doing with Gideon when he told Gideon, "You have too many men here for me to win the battle, send them home." That makes no sense at all, it just makes no sense. Well, it makes perfect sense if you see it through faith. God wants all the credit and all the glory for doing something astounding and amazing, and so, in order to achieve that he's going to wait for Sarah to get to be 90 years old and then he's going to move out.
He could have done it at 80, at 70, anytime, but he does it in such a spectacular way that Galatians 4 can come in and say that Isaac was a miracle baby, he was born by the power of the Spirit of God, and no other way. And so, they just needed to wait on God's best, to wait on his plans and his purposes, and not take matters in their own hands and do it in the fleshly way. Trust in the Lord with all of your heart, and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths. God's wisdom has worked out the best ends and the best means to the ends. And so, that's what happened with Hagar. So in due time, God clearly identifies Sarah as the mother of the miracle baby in Genesis 17, God also said to Abraham, "As for Sarai, your wife, you are no longer to call her Sarai, her name will be Sarah, and I will bless her and I will surely give you a son by her and I will bless her so that she will be the mother of Nations, kings of peoples will come from her."
Key Moment in Redemptive History
This is a key moment in redemptive history. In Genesis 17:19, then God said, "Your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac and I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him." Mark that moment well. That word is what enabled Abraham to almost kill Isaac later on. We'll talk about that in due time, I don't want to steal the thunder, but it's because of that specific word, it's because of Sarah's son, Isaac. In him, your offspring will be named, it is through him the covenant is going to happen, therefore, he is indestructible until he bears a son also. And so, God made this promise, he was very clear, it's going to be Sarah, now wait some more. And so, they had to wait some more, but now they knew by faith, trusting in God that it was going to be Sarah. And as the time drew near for God to fulfill his promise to Sarah, one day Abraham sitting in the entrance of his tent, looks up and sees three men. And the men come and he greets them, and energetically he and Sarah prepare to show hospitality to them.
In my opinion, I think this is exactly what the author of Hebrews means in Chapter 13, when he says, "Show hospitality to strangers for by so doing, some have entertained angels unawares." They didn't know who these three were per se, but in due time, I think Abraham probably figured it out. And the account is interesting. You have three men eating a meal, and the Lord speaking to Abraham and Abraham answering. And so, I think it doesn't ever say the Angel of the Lord, but this is probably the pre-incarnate Christ, the Angel of the Lord there with two other angels who are going to subsequently be sent down to Sodom and Gomorrah and see if the outcry there is so terrible. And so, here is the Angel, the Lord, the pre-incarnate Christ. Sarah was in the tent, maybe cleaning the dishes after the meal has been served, but she's listening through the walls of the tent. A little bit of sanctified eavesdropping. And so, this exalted individual says, "'Where is your wife Sarah?' 'There in the tent,' he said. Then the Lord said, 'I will surely return to you about this time next year. And Sarah, your wife, will have a son.'"
Now, what could be clearer? Now, we know not only the woman but the time, this time next year, I will come and you're going to have a son by her. Now, Sarah was listening at the entrance of the tent which was behind him. Abraham and Sarah were already old, well advanced in years and Sarah was past the age of child-bearing, literally the way of women had ceased with her, you know what I mean. And so, she just... It just was a biological impossibility at that point. So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, after I'm worn out and my master is old, will I now have this pleasure? So she has a rational appraisal of herself and her husband. She's been able to look in the mirror, she knows what she looks like and she knows what he's like, and she's wondering how is this going to happen? And so she just laughs. Now, there are a lot of different laughs in the Bible. A lot of different laughs. I mean, you can get the different kinds of laughs even in Jesus' statement in Luke, "Woe to you who laugh now, for later on you will weep. But blessed are you who weep now, for later on you will laugh."
So there is a laugh of grief and sorrow, and under the wrath of God, that is a laugh of unbelief laughing... For example, when Jesus goes to raise Jairus' daughter, and all the mourners were there and Jesus says, the little girl is not dead, merely sleeping and they laughed at him. It's a laugh of unbelief, but then there's the laugh of true joy that comes, Isaac means laughter. And so, what kind of laugh was this? Well, we wouldn't know accept how the Lord responded to it. "Lord said to Abraham, 'why did Sarah laugh? And say, "Will I really have a child now that I'm old?" Is anything too hard for the Lord. I will return to you at the appointed time next year and Sarah will have a son.'" So, this passage, Hebrews 11 will float away from us, if we don't realize how much we are like the people in it, how imperfect they were and how imperfect we are. These are not perfect people of faith, not everyone whose faith is celebrated in Hebrews 11 did everything by faith. Do you understand that?
Faith Must Grow
But they still had faith. Faith must grow, faith must develop. 2 Thessalonians 1:3. "We ought always to thank God for you, brothers and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more." Our faith must grow. How many times did Jesus call his disciples "O, you of little faith." He wanted them to grow, and they did have to grow and so throughout Hebrews 11, we have examples of flawed men and women who made huge mistakes and frankly it's hard sometimes to see how they exhibited faith. We'll get to it in due time, but I don't want to talk anymore about the details, but just by faith, Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau. You know that story. We'll get to that in due time, but it's hard to see how faith was operating there as the blind Isaac's putting his hands on the wrong son.
It's hard to see faith in Moses' murder of the Egyptian, looking left and right and hiding him in the sand. That doesn't sound like a faith-filled action to me, frankly similar to what we have in our text here, a man trying to take matters in his own hands and deliver the people himself, and he couldn't do it. Or Gideon's... Let's go to Gideon's Second Fleece. The First Fleece, maybe I get but the second one, I mean... And God, so patient, goes ahead and does the opposite thing with the due and the fleece, and all that. These are not super stars of faith, these are just ordinary men and women just like you and me. Sampson's love for odd women. I mean, a moral failure of his, an Achilles heel, his love for prostitutes, and of course David and Bathsheba, not everything that these examples of faith, did was by faith. And I think that's precisely why Hebrews 11 is written, it's because our faith isn't complete, our faith needs to grow. That's why Hebrews 11 was written. It's because ordinary believers like us need to grow in faith, and get stronger in our faith so that these examples are given.
And so, God corrected Sarah. "Why did Sarah laugh? And say, 'Will I really have a child, now that I'm old?' Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return to you at the appointed time next year, and Sarah will have a son." Now, I think that second statement of the promise is key. We don't hear the promises of God just once, and that's all. We need to hear them again and again and again. And the more important the promise is, the more you need to hear it. You need to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ again and again, that if you repent of your sins and trust in Jesus, His blood shed on the cross, all of your sins will be forgiven and that because he rose from the dead, you will live forever. You just need to hear that again and again. And so, the promise is restated, along with this correction, "Is anything too hard for the Lord?"
Do you remember what happened in Genesis 18:15? Sarah at that point was afraid and lied, said, "I didn't laugh." I did not laugh. But he said, "Yes, you did laugh." Period, next paragraph. I love that part, alright? I mean, I'll tell you what, it's amazing trying to smoke out a lie with someone and back and forth, and it's like, what can you do? You don't need to worry about God on judgment, he will say the final word, whatever it is you say. There's no point in lying to God on Judgment Day, because he gets the final word and when he says, "Yes you did laugh," that's the end of it. Before him, everything lies uncovered and laid bare. He is the one to whom we will give an account. And so, he settles the matter. But I think he's not angry at her, he's not enraged at her, he's just telling her the truth, and frankly, he's working surgically on her faith.
And so, the overall lesson to me here is that faith must develop even heroes and heroines of the faith, their faith must still develop and grow. And don't you also see beautifully here, in this simple account in Hebrews 11:11, by faith Sarah, God's willingness to graciously overlook all of that and just keep it simple and say "By faith, Sarah had a son." Praise God for that. God's willingness to make the final word on you, be a gracious word. Think about what he says about David, for example. David says of himself in Psalm 40. My sins are more numerous than the hairs of my head. And if you know how many different ways there are to sin, sins of omission, sins of co-mission, words of irritability, selfishness and all that, I think he's absolutely right, and probably understated the case. He probably had more sins than the hairs of His head. But yet, for all of that, in 1 Kings 15:5 it says, "For David had done what was right in the eyes of the Lord and had not failed to keep any of the Lord's commands all the days of his life, except in the case of Uriah the Hittite."
There, it's just a sweeping statement of righteousness, except in the matter of this one case, Uriah the Hittite. And then after that in 2 Chronicles 29:2, it says, "Hezekiah did what was right in the eyes of Lord just as his father David had done." How sweet is that? We are righteous, perfectly righteous in Jesus and after Judgment Day, when all of our wood, hay, and stubble works have burned up and gone forever God will celebrate the gold and silver and costly stones of our faith-filled actions, then purified by his refining fire and that's all he will talk about when he talks about you. Isn't it awesome? And Hebrews 11's indication of that. These people who surprise you that they made it, they're there by faith, because of God's grace, and so will you be. And so, God's words, I believe is anything too hard for the Lord became the focal point of her faith.
III. The Immediate Outcomes of Sarah’s Faith: Consideration and Strength
And so, the immediate outcomes of Sarah's faith were a consideration and strength. I reversed the order that we have in Verse 11.
First, she considered and then God gave her strength to conceive the child, alright? So the consideration happened right there. She starts thinking about these words. Is anything too hard for the Lord? Who are we talking about, the God who created heaven and earth in six days, by the word of His power? The God who said "Let there be light," and there was light? This is the God who created the Garden of Eden, the God who put the first man, created out of the dust of the earth there, and then created the woman out of the part of the man. This God can do anything, this is the same God who destroyed the whole world by a flood, but rescued Noah and then repopulated the earth through that one family. Is there anything too difficult for the Lord. Nothing is too difficult. And so, she started to consider him. And it's beautiful how like Abraham, who it says in Romans Chapter 4, he did not weaken through unbelief when he considered the promises of God, because he looked at his own body weak as it was, his body was as good as dead, he looked at Sarah's womb and Sarah's womb was also dead.
"But he did not waver through unbelief concerning the promises of God, but with strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, because he was convinced that God was able to do what he had promised." So much of it is a battle for the mind, by faith he's thinking, by faith, she is reasoning out. Can God keep this promise? Could God actually give me at age 90, a baby? Could he? Yeah, I think he could. Nothing is too difficult for the Lord. And then he said, again at the appointed time, I will return this time next year and Sarah will have a son. There was something in the way he said it, something in the word, something powerful had just moved in my heart, Sarah would say. And her faith just started moving she said, "I think it's going to happen." Faith is the assurance of things hoped for. I want it to happen and I think it will happen. As a matter of fact, I know it will happen, Just a matter of time now. God can do this, God can do anything. And so, she considered Him faithful, and we sang earlier, "Great is thy faithfulness," God keeps all of his promises.
Holding Onto God’s Promises
It says in 2 Timothy, "If we are faithless, He will remain faithful for He cannot deny himself," it would be a denial of himself to break this promise, and He will not do that. So she considered him faithful, the one who had made the promise, and notice the focus wasn't even on the promise, it wasn't baby, baby, baby, it was God, God can do this. And because of God then I'm going to have a baby. And so, that's the process. And so we also as believers in Christ, we need to go through that same kind of mental process. Look at the promises of God, and at the end of the message in a moment or two, I'm going to lay out some of the promises, and I want you in every case to consider God, faithful who had made that promise. And so secondly, she received strength to conceive children. She received strength. It's very much like in Luke Chapter 1 when Mary, the virgin had never been with a man. Gabriel says "You're going to have a son," and she says, "How can this be…Since I am a virgin?" And the angel answered "The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the most high will overshadow you. So, the Holy One to be born in you will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth, your relative, is going to have a child in her old age and she who has said to be barren is in her six-month for nothing is impossible with God." Does that sound familiar? It's the very same thing that it was said in Genesis 18. Is anything too hard for the Lord? So we have these three women and their sons. We have the elderly, Sarah, age 90, giving birth to the miracle baby, Isaac. We have the elderly, Elizabeth, barren all her life, beyond again the age of bearing children, giving birth to the miracle baby, John the Baptist, and then the greatest miracle of them all, Mary the Virgin had never been with a man and the Holy Spirit overshadowed her body. We should not underestimate the word strength that God gave her strength to do this. That it's a capability, it's a biological function that she did not have.
We should not underestimate the connection of faith and the body, the impact of faith on your physical body. Colossians 1:29, the Apostle Paul, speaking of his ministry, says this, "To this end I labor, struggling with all His energy, which so powerfully works in me." It's a physical energy that enables you to get up out of a pile of rocks in Paul's case, stoned to death but he wasn't dead and just to enable him to stand up, beaten and bruised and continue his ministry. Where did that strength come from? The weariness that can come over you in life, the physical fatigue even as you spend yourself for the Lord, where does the strength and the energy come from? It comes from the Lord, by faith.
I think about one of my heroes in church history, George Whitfield the last sermon he ever preached to a huge assembly, he was dying worn out with years of service to the Lord. No microphone like this, standing up in front of thousands of people one more time goes up the stairs, standing there and he's just barely able to stand, and he said Please wait, just wait, I'm waiting on God to strengthen me. And he just stood there and God's strengthen him. And he preached for two hours from the diaphragm to thousands of people, two hours pouring Himself out and then he went home and died.
We should not underestimate the connection of faith in this Holy Spirit with our physical bodies. And how capability is given to do what you thought you could never do by faith. And so she was able to do this. Also, I want you to notice one of the overarching themes of Hebrews 11. God's ability to raise dead things to life. It's a big theme, it's all about from death to life, The author of the Hebrews wants you to consider that God is able to raise the dead to life and so it talks about Sarah's womb was also dead, and his body was as good as dead Romans 4 and then verse 12, "And so from this one man and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky…" Rhis death theme is huge verse 5 by faith Enoch was taken from this life, so, he did not experience death.
Faith in the Face of Death
Noah was delivered from death by his faith, delivered from death and the flood verse 13, "All these people were still living by faith when they died." Verse 19, "Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead, And figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from death." Verses 20, 21, and 22. All of them are end-of-life scenes, Isaac at the end of his life, Jacob at the end of his life, Joseph at the end of his life. There are many other things that could have been chosen, but the author of the Hebrews brings you right to the end of life to see what faith looks like right at the end of life. Verse 35, "Women received back their dead raised to life again, others were tortured and refused to be released so that they might gain a better resurrection."
Verse 37. "They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were put to death with the sword." It's death, death, death, and more than that, it is God's ability to raise people from the dead, and give them life. Friends, that is the promise that the author wants us to believe. We're not going to have a baby at age 90, That's not what's going to happen, but God is going to raise your body out of the grave And if you can believe that, that great miracle of the Gospel that through faith in Jesus, you will live forever. "I am the resurrection and the life, he who believes in me will live even though he dies, and whoever lives and believes in me will never die." Then he asks Martha, "Do you believe this?" Oh, that question searches You do have faith to trust that God can raise your dead body out of the grave. And if he can do that, he can do anything less than that in your life now. That's what the author is giving.
IV. The Ultimate Outcome of Sarah’s (and Abraham’s Faith): Descendants
Now what is the ultimate outcome of Sarah and Abraham's faith? Well, a descendants. She considered and she was given strength and from that came Isaac. The miracle baby. And from Isaac verse 12, descendants as numerous as stars of the heaven as many as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore. Because of Sarah's and Abraham's faith, God's promise came true. Long-term okay.
75 People entered or lived in Egypt at the time of Jacob. When Jacob entered to be reunited with Joseph there were 75 people at that point. When they left Egypt, four generations later, there were 600,000 men plus women and children, added up, they were a prolific read about it in 1 Chronicle. I'm thinking between what, two to four million people, That's A lot of people in four generations. That's certainly more stars than Abram could have counted in that starry sky. God kept his promise, physically, but what about the spiritual promise. What about the fact that through Abraham through His offspring, all peoples on earth will be blessed, the real blessing of Sarah's faith is Jesus, it's Jesus through that miracle baby Isaac Ultimately, Jesus entered the world.
As God had said to the serpent, "I'll put enmity between you and the woman, and between your Seed your offspring, and hers, and he will crush your head you will bruise his heel." Jesus is the ultimate outcome of Sarah's faith we have through this faith and Abraham's faith, we have a savior. The one who came who is born whose birth we celebrate this time of year, who died on the cross for sins and as a result of that all peoples on Earth are blessed.
As John writes: "After this, I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne in front of the Lamb. The were wearing white robes and they were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: 'Salvation belongs to the Lamb who sits on the throne and to the lamb.'" And they will be happy forever, and ever, because of faith because of Jesus being born, the eternal impact of a single act of faith never underestimates.
So application, come to Christ, trust in Him, believe in him, embrace him again. You may have been justified by faith 25 years ago, trust in Jesus still today, amen? Embrace him by faith, love Him by faith though you don't see him hear the words of the Scripture and believe in Jesus today, and repent of your sins and walk with him, and maybe you have never done that. You walked in here, dead in your transgressions and sins under the wrath of God, there's only one deliverance and that simple faith in Jesus. Christ crucified and resurrected.
Secondly, understand the development, the growth of faith. Pray that you have a stronger faith a year from now, than you do right now, pray that your faith will develop and grow. Sarah's faith had to develop and grow. And do what she did. Hear the promise, again, go read it again, it took a second hearing for her listen to it again and again, let your faith grow and develop. Wives and mothers, Embrace by faith the role that God has given you as a vital blessed God-honoring, role. By faith, Do it. Realize, do you realize what kind of faith it took to give birth to a baby at age 90? Do you know that Rachel died giving birth to Benjamin dangerous and even more dangerous for a 90-year-old woman, and so instead of giving way to fear, being afraid and all that, she trusted God through all those nine months and through the delivery and then for many years after that, she died at 127, So trusted God to raise Isaac. And so by faith Do your office of wife, by faith do your office as mother. Do those things by faith, you can do them not by faith or do them by faith I urge you to do them by faith to the glory of God.
And husbands and wives, live your married lives together under the promises of God. Study the promises of God. Look at them. Don't worry saying what shall we eat or what shall we drink, or what shall we wear? For God is able to give you all those things, seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all those things will be added to you as well. There's a promise of God, do you consider God faithful who made that promise? Matthew 21:22. "If you believe, you'll receive whatever you ask for in prayer." Do you consider Him faithful, who made that promise? Can we see it in your prayer life as a husband and wife together? He has promised you never will I leave you never will I forsake you. Do you consider him faithful? Who made that promise? James says "if anyone lacks wisdom, he should ask God who gives generously to all without finding fault, and, it will be given to Him." There's a promise. Do you consider him faithful, who made that promise? Because if you don't, James says, Don't bother asking because God will not give to a double-minded man any kind of wisdom. So when you go ask God for wisdom expect Him to give it to you.
He has promised to protect you, to filter your temptation so that no temptation will come upon you except what is common to man, but God is faithful, He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you can bear but with the temptation he'll make a way of escape so you can stand up under it. Do you consider him faithful, who had made that promise? He has promised Jesus has promised all that the Father has given me will come to me, and whoever comes to me, I will never drive away and this is the will of Him who sent me, that I shall lose None of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. Do you consider him faithful? Who made that promise that none of God's elect who have come to faith in Christ, will be lost? All of them raised at the last day. Do you consider Him faithful, who promised a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness, Study the promises of God husbands and wives make the promises, of God the center of your marriage together and develop each other's faith.
Husbands, if your wife is weak in faith, build her up by the word. Wash her with the word, strength her faith, so she's more believing a year from now than she is now, that's your role as a husband, as a shepherd of her soul. And wives, you're told directly in 1 Peter, 3? If your husbands do not believe the word, don't just read that in terms of non-Christian husband there are times I don't believe the word Like I should... What should my wife do when I'm not believing the word like I should 1 Peter 3, tells what I should do. If your husband's aren't believing the Word, they may be won over without talk by the behavior of their wives when they see the purity and reverence of your life. Be like Sarah who had a gentle and quiet spirit and who prayed and trusted, and you'll win over your husband.
And then finally be willing to overcome obstacles as you serve and wait on God. God is going to give you faith, and then he's going to test it, test it, test it, test it, test it, test it. Why? To get stronger, be willing to overcome obstacles. Just as Abraham and Sarah did. Close with me if you would in prayer.