Today's Little Lift
by Jim Bullington
“By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised.” (Hebrews 11.11).
The one who had promised Sarah a child was not an angel, though angels may have been involved. Neither was Abraham the one who promised Sarah that she would bear a son. The translators of the New King James version got it right when they capitalized the word Him in Hebrews 11.11 due to the fact that this pronoun clearly refers to God. It was God who had instructed Abram to remove to a land that he would be shown and there he would become the father of a great nation. It was God who had superintended Abram’s every move to insure that nothing would go wrong in God’s plans to bless all nations through the seed of Abram. It was God and God alone who had the power to promise children and deliver on that promise.
But as for Sarah, even after she was past the time of life (postmenopausal) in which it would be reasonable for her to deliver children, she judged God faithful to deliver on His promise. It was not that she was too old chronologically; she was too old biologically. Besides, she and Abram had wanted children for years without her ever becoming pregnant. The evidence was overwhelming that Sarah and Abraham would never be the biological parents of a child. Yet, the text says, she judged Him faithful!
The nation of Israel faced the same question about God’s faithfulness before, during, and after their escape from Egyptian bondage. First, they did not know how they could possibly escape the mighty Egyptian machine that held them captive; God delivered. Then they did not know how they could secure a crossing of the Red Sea that stood between them and freedom; God delivered. They did not know from whence they would get food and water during their journey; God delivered. They had no means of overthrowing and displacing the nations that were residing in the Promised Land toward which they were marching; God delivered! This same story was literally repeated countless times. The trustworthy nature of God led Moses to exclaim, “Therefore know that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments…” (Deuteronomy 7.9).
Several other biblical passages explicitly speak to the faithfulness of God while hundreds or perhaps thousands testify to the fact without saying so in so many words. A smattering of these texts are presented here: “Ephraim has encircled Me with lies, And the house of Israel with deceit; But Judah still walks with God, Even with the Holy One who is faithful. (Hosea 11.12). “God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” (1 Corinthians 1.9). “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” (1 Corinthians 10.13). “But as God is faithful, our word to you was not Yes and No.” (2 Corinthians 1.18).
Sarah was not without her faults anymore than Abraham was. But in the long run, she knew that God would deliver on His promises and she lived her life in a way that demonstrated that faith. She “judged” Him faithful; literally, she counted upon His faithfulness. We know the rest of the story. She was right in judging Him faithful and it earned her a place in the Bible’s Hall of Faith recorded in Hebrews 11.
1. How old was Sarah when she bore Isaac?
2. What evidence existed to say that she and Abraham would never have biological children?
3. What is the literal meaning of faithful?
4. Can we be faithful to the same extent that God is faithful? Can we be faithful?
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