New Faith & Old Promises

by Rick Duncan, CVC Founding Pastor

Risk-taking faith sees the invisible, believes the incredible, and receives the impossible

A story for the young… and the old

Before the Jewish nation was ever born, a young man fell in love with the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen. Abraham (and just about everyone else) thought Sarai was simply stunning. The young couple married and lived happy, carefree lives as most lovers do waiting for the birth of their first child.

Months and years went by, but still no baby. They began to hate the inevitable question, “When are you going to have children?”

Then one day, Abraham heard the voice of God, “Leave your people and go to the land of Canaan. There I will give you a home and make you a great nation.” So, with disappointment because of past infertility and with hopes for a fruitful future, this couple left everything familiar behind and moved to Canaan land.

As they traveled through the strange new land with their flocks, herds, and servants seeking to settle into a permanent home, a king noticed that Sarai – even though older now – was a dazzling beauty. The king wanted her for his own harem. Abraham thought, “If I say she’s my wife, they might kill me. If I say she’s my sister, they’ll spare my life.” But before the king had slept with Sarai, he and his family became terribly ill. Somehow God revealed to the king that the illness had come because Sarah was not free for him to have – that she was already a married woman. The king quickly sent her back to Abraham.

In spite of Abraham’s foolish scheme, God kept the couple safe.

But still they waited and waited for their baby to be born. And God made yet another promise to Abraham, “You will be the father of a multitude.” More months and years passed. Still Sarai’s womb was closed. Had God forgotten His promise?

Sarai began to think, “What if I gave my maid servant, Hagar, to my husband? Perhaps she will get pregnant and we could raise her child as our son.” That was not God’s plan. But Sarai had grown impatient. She did give her husband freedom to be with Hagar and sure enough, Hagar did give birth to Abraham’s son, Ishmael. But Sarai grew jealous and her heart turned against Hagar her servant. Sarai drove Hagar and Ishmael away and into the wilderness.

What was once the ideal couple with hopes for a bright future had now become a family filled with heartache, drama, and conflict. Not only did they stay childless, but their love had grown cold. Plus, they still roamed in the land of Canaan with no permanent home. It seemed like God would not keep His promise.

This is ridiculous! It’s impossible!

Then God made yet another promise to Abraham, “At this time next year, Sarai will have a baby boy.” Sarai overheard the messenger and she laughed, “I’ve heard this before. God has made this promise one too many times. You’re not going to get my hopes up. I’m totally past childbearing age. This is ridiculous! It’s impossible!”

What’s impossible to us is possible for God. To make the point, God even changed Sarai’s name from Sarai – a name that means “my princess” signifying that she’s Abraham’s princess or one family’s princess – to Sarah, a name that means “princess at large” or “mother of nations” signifying that she’s everyone’s princess, that a King for everyone will one day come from her.  

We don’t know the whole story, but somehow Sarah began to not only believe God but to believe God. Sure enough, Sarah, miraculously, found herself expecting a child. She gave birth to a baby boy. They named him Isaac, which means “He laughs.” God fulfilled His promise and He filled their house with laughter. Sarah lived a long, full, grateful, faith-filled life for 37 more years after little Isaac was born.

The Bible tells the rest of the story. Baby Isaac grew up and married the love of his life, Rebecca. They had two sons, Esau and Jacob. Jacob blessed the world with 12 sons who became the leaders of the 12 tribes of Israel.

After waiting for such a very long time, Abraham and Sarah indeed finally became father and mother of a great nation. God kept His promise after all.

Remember God’s promise was to do something great for more than just Abraham and Sarah? God had promised to bless the world through them. And He did – after His people had waited for a long, long time. You see, one of their offspring – their great, great, great, great, great, great, great… Grandson became the Savior of the world. His name was Jesus. By grace through faith, everyone who believes in Him will be saved.

Sarah teaches us that faith pleases God and that He rewards those who seek Him. Faith waits on God. Risk-taking faith sees the invisible, believes the incredible, and receives the impossible.