A DEVOTIONAL SUMMARY OF THE LIFE OF SARAI / SARAH WITH ABRA(HA)M (Genesis 11-23)
[STONE translations], followed by a Commentary:
THE MYSTICAL ASPECT OF OUR LIVES.
Genesis 11:31, 32, THE EXODUS FROM UR:
“Terah took his son Abram, and Lot the son of Haran, his grandson, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, the wife of Abram his son, and departed with them from Ur Kasdim to go to the land of Canaan; they arrived at Haran and they settled there. The days of Terah were two hundred and five years, and Terah died in Haran.” After Terah’s death, Abram took up his ordained pilgrimage.
Abram’s life began with a phase of sloughing off the paganism of his father prior to his true migration to the Land of Promise to which had God charged him to go. It is like this for many of us: we sometimes have lingering periods in which we must resolve old issues before we can truly let go of our past and press forward uninhibited toward our calling and our destiny. Sometimes we have more than one of these sloughing off periods as we progress toward our eternal goal.
Genesis 12:10 seq: ABRAM AND SARAI IN AND OUT OF EGYPT:
“There was a famine in the land” [of Canaan where Abram, Sarai, Lot and the whole family retinue had come after the death of Terah], “and Abram descended to Egypt to sojourn there, for the famine was severe in the land. And it occurred, as he was about to enter Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai, ‘See now, I have known that you are a woman of beautiful appearance. And it shall occur, when the Egyptians will see you, they will say, “This is his wife!”; then they will kill me, but you they will let live. Please say you are my sister, that it may go well with me for your sake, and that I may live on account of you.’”
Then follows the acted-out ruse which resulted in Pharaoh’s officials recommending Sarai to Pharaoh and his taking her into his harem as a wife. God then smote Pharaoh and his household with severe plagues until he gave Sarai back to Abram and let him go with the great substance that he had acquired while in Egypt. Thus, in Abram and Sarai there was set a prophetic type of the great Exodus of Israel from Egypt that would follow four centuries later; that type then became a universal type for all followers of God, especially those of us who are in Messiah Yeshua, in which we COME OUT FROM AMONG THE PAGAN WORLD and become separate unto God in a spiritual journey with God from Earth to Eternity in the World to Come—we call the transcendent part of that world-to-come “Heaven.” Its glory will take the form of the New Heaven on the New Earth in the New Jerusalem. Forever. From there, endless history, filled throughout all Creations with purpose and blessing, joy and adoration, fellowship and love, health and prosperity, wonder and delight, will pour forth in cascading ages, world without end.
(Ephesians 3:21; Isaiah 9:7; John 14:1-3; 1 Corinthians 2:9)
After he left Egypt, Abram journeyed to the south and from there to a place between Bethel (“House of God,” where later Jacob would cut the patriarchal covenant with God in the third generation of the patriarchs, Genesis 28) and Ai (where much later Achan sinned and caused Israel to lose in battle until the sin by which he defiled Israel was expiated, Joshua 7). Following Abram’s journey to Bethel came the matter of Abram rescuing Lot, when Sodom was invaded by the army of a coalition of city states; Lot and his family were taken captive. But Abram rescued them and brought the spoils back to Sodom. He then made his powerful visit to Melchizedek, “King of Righteousness,” in Salem, the ancient name for Jerusalem, where the Melchizedekian Priesthood was evidently founded—see Psalm 110:1-4 and Hebrews, the entire book. There Abram received blessing from that great King who prefigured the Messiah. (Genesis 14)
Then in chapter 15 came the Covenant between the parts, the covenant of simple faith (Genesis 15:6 with Romans 4); and in chapter 17 came the Covenant of Circumcision which became the sign in Israel’s flesh that the descendants of Abra(ha)m were in covenant with the God of Abraham, the One True Living God, Creator of Heaven and Earth, Redeemer of all Mankind. This covenant is vital because it is the fulfilling in the material world of God’s oath to Abraham by which his heirs have been legally and spiritually JOINED to the Heavenly Realm of God. The New Jerusalem of Revelation 21-22 becomes the uniting of these upper and lower Creations. Our inheritance there (see Hebrews 11) began with Abraham in these chapters of Genesis.
By these two covenants—simple Faith which is accounted for righteousness, and Circumcision which is the sign of the Covenant made by God with the descendants of Abraham—by these two, I say, the Apostle Paul teaches that Abraham became the father of both the circumcision (the Israelite Nation according to natural descent) and the uncircumcision (all of Redeemed Humanity by spiritual descent from the Messiah, grafted into the covenants of God through faith in our Lord Jesus the Messiah, God’s Universal Heir (Romans 4:11-16, with all of chapter 4—very important). By Him we have become grafted-in Members of the Commonwealth of Israel and “fellow citizens with the saints.*” This is the grand scope of the vast Kingdom of God in the Messiah: there are many passages in both the Tanakh and the B’rit Chadasha (New Covenant) concerning this. See especially the letters of Paul which theologically elucidate the issues involved from their basis in the Torah to their fulfillment in Messiah Jesus.
[* “fellow citizens with the saints” (chosen and set-apart ones): Ephesians 2:19, “Now therefore you are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God….”]
Sarai was present in the background during all of this covenant making between God and Abram. She was to be the necessary vessel through which the promised Seed would come. She, not Hagar.
In chapter 17 Abram’s name was changed to Abraham. After receiving the sign of circumcision, he became the “friend of God” (by an exchange of Names in which God placed the “H” of his Holy Name into Abram’s name, and God then became known as “The God of Abraham,” by this means taking into His Divine Identity the name of Abraham. Similarly, Christians are now known as descendants of the God of Abraham through Jesus the Messiah, the Son of Promise descended through Mary from Abraham, the Friend of God. God is now also known as “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” See Ephesians 1:3 and 3:14-19, et al).
In Genesis 17 God gave the promise of a son to Sarah (now that her name also was invested with the Covenantal “H” of the Name of God.) Similarly, when we are born again of the Holy Spirit through Faith in the Son of God (see our “inbreathing” in John 20:22), we become inscribed in the Lamb’s Book of Life—Revelation 3:5 and 20:12. The “other book” of Revelation 20:12 is the book of life of the Lamb in Revelation 3:5. This is the book of our Lord Jesus Christ by whom we have been born into the Family of God through faith in Him—Romans 10:8-10 et al.
Your name is recorded there. Praise be to God!
The inbreathing of God’s name into Sarai is a foreshadowing of our being born again of the Holy Spirit of God and the planting of his Holy Name into our souls, written on our foreheads as a sign to the Principalities and Powers of the spiritual realm (Ephesians 6:12) that we are the Children of God. [See 2 Corinthians 1:19-22 with Revelation 7:3, the sealing of the Tribes with whom we are fellow citizens and heirs of the Household of God.]
In verse 22 of Genesis 17, the scripture says of Abraham, “And when He [God] had finished speaking with him [Abraham]” [about the covenant continuing through Isaac, the Promised Seed from Sarah, not through Ishmael from Hagar—Galatians 4] “God ascended from upon Abraham.” This is extremely significant. A similar ascent of the Messenger Angel occurred in the life of the parents of Samson, the life-long Nazarite in Judges 13:1-21.
ASCENT is one of the major doctrines of the whole Bible (see Ephesians 4 with 2 Kings 2:11 and Mark 9:4), especially of the ascent of our Resurrected Lord (Acts 1) and of our own promised Ascent to meet him in the heavens (1 Thessalonians 4-5), just as Enoch was taken up earlier in Genesis 5:22 to be with God. After God revealed to Abraham that he would have a son through Sarah (Genesis 17) God revealed it also to Sarah (Genesis 18:6-15). She laughed. Therefore when the Promise came to pass, she named her miracle-son “Isaac”—which means “Laughter.”
Sarah must have been extremely beautiful: in Genesis 21 is the story of her abduction by Abimelech the King of Gerar, similar to the abduction earlier by Pharaoh, with an identical result of Plague and Restoration of Sarah to Abraham. This is a strange pattern in the Torah that replicates in our lives in subtle ways: that which is stolen from us MUST BE RESTORED because we are in Covenant with God who restores that which is stolen from his people. [Exodus 22:2-4 with 2 Samuel 12:6 and Luke 19:8]
In Genesis 21 is the account of the birth and weaning of Isaac, and of his circumcision. Also, there is the mockery of Ishmael and the casting out of Ishmael. The contention between the son of Hagar and the son of Sarah becomes a template for the spiritual struggle between the flesh and the spirit in Galatians 4-5. A similar template in the Bible is the contention between Jacob and Esau: Esau is a type of the carnal man who does not prize the things of the spirit; Jacob is a type of the spiritual man who loves and desires the things of God. (Romans 7)
In Genesis 22 is the account of the Akeida—the Binding of Isaac as a sacrifice to God on Mount Moriah. Jewish tradition says that this event caused the premature death of Sarah at age 127. The tradition is that an evil angel whispered to her that Abraham had sacrificed Isaac and that she then fell dead when she heard it. Abraham lived to the age of 175 years. So, Sarah died young in relation to her peers because of the shock to her heart when she believed that Isaac had been slain.
The offering of Isaac should have put an end to human sacrifice in the line of Abraham. Before then human sacrifice was common in the ancient world. Such ritual sacrifice has been carried out to this day by many pagan cultures world-wide, cultures that involve themselves with the worship of demonic spirits. The temple to the Moon in Peru, devoted to a demonic deity known as “the be-header,” is just one example of this. In times of apostacy, Israel reverted to it.
The offering of Isaac (along with the Ram of Substitution, which was a picture of Messiah, the “Lamb/Ram of God”—Isaiah 53) was the foreshadowing of the once-for-all sacrifice of the Son of God—our Lord Jesus on the Cross. His offering put an end to ritual sacrifice forever. The memorial of Communion is what is left of the covenant drama. Therefore, let us never capitulate to a resurgence of the spirit of slaughter.
Messiah fulfilled the promise given to Eve in Genesis 3:15 and to Humanity in Isaiah 7:14 and Isaiah 53. Our redemption has come to us at a Great Price. (1 Peter 1:19-23) Let us take care that we never despise it nor permit the world of ungodly people to cause us to be ashamed of the truth concerning our salvation.
THE BURIAL OF SARAH
So then, when we come in Genesis 23 to the Parashah CHAYEI SARAH—”The Life of Sarah”—we arrive at the end of her story. This chapter contains Abraham’s negotiation with the Hittite sons of Heth for the burial ground of Machpelah in Hebron, south of Jerusalem. Abraham paid an exorbitant price to obtain it.
Once Sarah was laid to rest, the closing of the Patriarchal story began. Eventually Abraham was buried alongside his darling wife; Isaac was buried alongside Rebecca, the beloved mother of his twin sons Esau and Jacob; and Jacob was buried alongside Leah—the wife who built the majority of his household, the twelve tribes through whom “KOL YISRAEL”—ALL ISRAEL—would descend. Rachel, Jacob’s favorite, had been laid to rest near Bethlehem where she died giving birth to Benjamin. The cherished concubines Bilhah (Dan and Naphtali) and Zilpah (Gad and Asher) contributed sons to Jacob’s house in the names of their mistresses Rachel (Joseph and Benjamin) and Leah (Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, and daughter Dinah). (Genesis 29-46)
Thus, the wife of Redemptive Covenant entered her rest. And Abraham began the final phase of his long journey.
A COMMENTARY ON THE LIFE OF SARAH WITH ABRAHAM:
Life has a mystical aspect that we do not clearly see while we are living it. (1 Corinthians 13:9-12) How could Abraham and Sarah have fully known the depth of the challenges to their faith that they would encounter as God led them through the days of their sojourn with him? How could Abraham have ever known that God would require him to sacrifice his only son of promise as soon as Isaac became a young man? How could Sarah have known that she would be horrified to learn that Abraham had taken her darling child to be sacrificed to God on mount Moriah three days journey from their home? How could she or Abraham have possibly known that God was performing through them a prophetic drama that symbolically foreshadowed the great event of God himself giving his own Virgin-born Son, the Seed of the Woman of Genesis 3:15 and the Sign of Isaiah 7:14, on the very same mountain where Isaac had been offered two millennia before? That Event, the Crucifixion of Christ, was the actualization of all blood covenant ritual for the workings of redemption among mankind. In this working, God himself took upon himself through his “beloved Son in whom I am well pleased” the sin of the world. That precious Son then became for us the expiating Deliverer from the curse of death.
Your life has a mystical depth that you do not now see; you will not fully see it until God raises you to life incorruptible in the resurrection and shows you the full extent of his grand plan for you in the world. Until then, you will be like Abraham and Sarah, walking by faith and not by sight. (2 Corinthians 5:7; Hebrews 11:8-19)