Tag Archives: Sarah

Advent Week 2: Love; The Prophets/Prophecies and Christ’s Birth

Advent 2

Mary or Sarah ?

Luke 1:26-38 (The Annunciation)

In the sixth month (of Elizabeth’s pregnancy) the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a young girl engaged to a man who whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The young girl’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.

The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” Then Mary Said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.

Here is Sarah’s great announcement story Genesis 18: 1-15 :

The LORD appeared to Abraham by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the entrance of this tent in the heat of the day. He looked up and saw three men standing near him. When he saw them, he ran from the tent entrance to meet them, and bowed down to the ground. He said, “My Lord, if I find favor with you, do not pass by your servant. Let a little water be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree. Let me bring a little bread, that you may refresh yourselves, and after that you may pass on – since you have come to your servant.”

So they said, “Do as you have said.” And Abraham hastened in to the tent to Sarah, and said, “Make ready quickly three measures of choice flour, knead it, and make cakes.” Abraham ran to the herd, and took a calf, tender and good, and gave it to the servant, who hastened to prepare it. Then he took curds and milk and the calf that he had prepared, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree while they ate.

They said to him, “Where is your wife Sarah?” And he said, “There, in the tent.” Then one said, “I will surely return to you in due season, and your wife Sarah shall have a son.” And Sarah was listening at the entrance behind him. Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in age; it had ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women (menopause). So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I have grown old, and my husband is old, shall I have pleasure?” The LORD said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh, and say, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?’ Is anything too wonderful for the LORD? At the set time I will return to you, in due season, and Sarah shall have a son.” But Sarah denied, saying, “I did not laugh”, for she was afraid. He said, “Oh yes, you did laugh.”

Further along in verses 17-19 the LORD says to and of Abraham, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do, seeing that Abraham shall become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? No, for I have chosen him, that he may charge this children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice; so that the LORD may bring about for Abraham what he has promised him.”

Mary responds to God’s announcement with faith and commitment.  To God she says,

-Here I am

-I am a servant of the Lord

-I will do so according to your word

Despite being at first confused by the contents of the announcement, Mary trusts in the words of assurance given by God through His angel Gabriel, “Nothing will be impossible with God.”. Mary can accept God’s promise because she knows that as baffling and scientifically impossible as God’s announcement may be, nothing is impossible when God says so. If God said it, it will be. Unlike Sarah, Mary takes God’s announcement and his promise seriously. She responds not with a fear of God, but with trust.

Sarah’s annunciation is not a lovely story. Sarah is eavesdropping on her husband and his divine messengers. Unlike Mary, she does not receive a message directly from a divine intercessor.   And unlike Mary, Sarah does not respond with awe.  Instead, Sarah laughs at the announcement. This is serious enough that the story changes from “they/them” to “The Lord”. It is no longer the three men talking, it is now the LORD speaking and he is now talking directly to Abraham. He wants to know why Sarah is laughing. He reminds Abraham, “Is anything too wonderful (miraculous) for the LORD?”

As if Sarah hadn’t already dug herself into a deep enough hole by upsetting the LORD, she goes even further tell the LORD that he was wrong by denying having laughed. I’m not sure why anyone would tell the LORD a lie? As if God doesn’t already know the truth. I can’t imagine how embarrassed Abraham must have been. It was mighty brave and foolish of Sarah to lie to the LORD, but a promise is a promise and God kept his word her and Abraham. When their son was born they named him Isaac, meaning “he [God] laughs”.

Sarah responded to God with:

-Laughter (Doubt, mocking)

-Lies

-Denial

QUESTION: How do you respond to God’s seemingly impossible promises to you? Do you believe His promises? Will you respond like Mary or Sarah?

QUESTION Part 2: How would you have responded in each of these two scenarios? How would you have responded to the angel Gabriel? How would you have responded to the three messengers at Abraham’s tent? How would you respond to God after he has caught you in a lie; would you deny it or would you admit to God that He was correct?

Advent Week 1: Hope; The Patriarchs (Old Testament)

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#1Joseph or Abraham (Fatherhood and responsibility)

Matthew 1:18 – 25

Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph , but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: “Look, the Virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means, “God is with us.” When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife, but had no marital relations with her until she had borne a son; and he name him Jesus.”

Genesis 15:1-21

After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, “Do not be afraid, Abram, I am your shield; you reward shall be very great.” But Abram said, “O Lord God, what will you give me, for I continue to be childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” And Abram said, “You have given me no offspring, and so a slave born in my house is to be my heir.” But the word of the LORD came to him, “This man shall not be your heir; no one but your very own issue shall be your heir.” He brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” And he believed the LORD; and the LORD reckoned it to him as righteousness.

Abram (later known as Abraham) believed the Lord and was noted as a righteous man. This sounds great, but unfortunately the story takes a terrible turn for the worst.

Sarai (later to be known as Sarah) grows impatient in her desire to have a child to call her own. She pressures Abram into having a child with their African slave-girl named Hagar. It becomes disastrous for both Sarah and Hagar. Abram returns Hagar to Sarah’s ownership and from then on Sarai “dealt harshly with her”.  The story can be read at Genesis 16: 1- 16.

Abram doesn’t respond to fatherhood in the same manner as Joseph. Despite knowing that his wife is not pregnant with his own child, Joseph defies the religious rules and instead follows the instructions of the Lord and takes Mary as his wife. Joseph takes in Jesus as if this son was his very own flesh and blood. These are the actions of a righteous man.

Abram on the other hand does not act with righteousness. There isn’t even a hint of care for his pregnant concubine wife and his unborn child. When faced with public embarrassment and marital pressure, Abram chooses to put the life of his now former wife into the hands of his angry wife and washes his hands of his responsibilities to his concubine wife and unborn child. Hagar is treated so badly that she chooses to escape into the wilderness and possibly face death.

God is powerful and He is good. He takes the most unlikely persons and gives them amazing promises. Hagar is saved by the Lord as He tells her to return to her mistress as a slave. On the surface this sounds awful. As we read the story we want God to save her by guiding her out of the dessert to safety and freedom, but God doesn’t do that. Instead he sends her back to oppression and harm. For the longest time this part of the story always had me upset. It didn’t sound like something that a God who commands that his people practice justice and put an end to oppression would do. I later realized that in order to save Hagar and her unborn child He had to send back to her life of oppression and slavery; this was how Hagar was going to live and have her divine promise fulfilled.

Hagar receives this mixed message with praise and becomes the first woman in the bible to name God. “You are El-roi, for she said, “Have I really seen God and remained alive after seeing him? … Hagar bore Abram a son; and Abram named his son, whom Hagar bore, Ishmael.”  Hagar listened to the Lord and did as He had asked her to do and she was rewarded by the fulfillment of His promise to her.

QUESTION: After reading the stories of Joseph, and Sarai and Abram, do you consider yourself to be a person who responds like Joseph or like that of Abram and Sarai when faced with possibility or reality of public humiliation while waiting on God as he fulfills his promises to you?

QUESTION 2: How can we learn to face and deal with public humiliation that is caused by following God’s commands?