Standing Naked Before God: Sarah
- 2006 23 Jul
I love ah-ha moments. I expect them literally every time I read from the Word. You see, God is not like man when it comes to what He says. Or, I should say, not like me. He doesn’t waste His words. So every book, every chapter, every verse, every word of His Word has been spoken and then written for a purpose.
Would you like to explore one of those ah-ha moments with me now?
Eve: The First Woman, Naked or Not
In my last “ah-ha” article, I wrote about Eve, who stood naked before God, completely unashamed, until that awful moment when — having tasted of the “forbidden” — she stood before Him wearing ill-fitting fig leaves. Though no longer completely undressed, her nakedness was more a condition of her soul than her wardrobe.
Sarah: Can You See My Raw Emotions?
Sarah was the wife of Abraham, the original patriarch. Theirs was an unusual relationship; not only did they share a bed; they came from the same father, Terah.
It was to Abraham that the covenant was made:
"I will make you into a great nation
and I will bless you;
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."
Later, when the prospects of becoming a great nation were slim, Abraham heard from God again. This time, He said:
A son coming from your own body will be your heir." He took him outside and said, "Look up at the heavens and count the stars—if indeed you can count them."
Then he said to him, "So shall your offspring be."
No doubt, Abraham informed Sarah. But how could that be, they wondered. After all, Sarah was barren. In all the years of their marriage she’d never once conceived that they (or we) know of. What’s more, she was nearing her 75th birthday. Though we know from Scripture that she was beautiful, all the lovely in the world won’t make you pregnant. And it takes more than a husband who loves you. It takes an “opened” womb.
What Else is a Woman to Do?
In Sarah’s day, having a child was everything to a woman. It was her calling, if you will. There were no great universities from which she could attend and graduate. She wasn’t after the ole 9 to 5. She never sang any songs about bringing home the bacon and frying it up in a pan, either. She was a wife and a mother, later to be a widow and a mother. Without that, there was little else.
Yet, with so much love between Abraham and Sarah, there was no offspring to prove it. So Sarah did what women today consider to be the unthinkable. She “ordered” her husband to sleep with her maidservant, Hagar, in order that the son of God’s promise be fulfilled.
And so Ishmael was born. But he wasn’t the son of God’s promise.
A Visit from Three Men
Genesis 18 holds an amazing story. After Ishmael’s conception, Hagar grew haughty. Haughty, haughty Hagar. She flaunted her pregnancy in Sarah’s face while Sarah used her position as Abraham’s wife to be cruel toward Hagar. Finally, Hagar fled Abraham’s home, most likely heading for her homeland. But before she went very far, God sent her back and Sarah had to learn to live with the fact that another woman had born her husband’s son.
It must have been a bitter pill to swallow. In time, however, when Abraham was 99 and Sarah was nearing 90, God Almighty once again confirmed his covenant with Abraham, and — in the process — promised him not only a son, but a son by Sarah. Abraham boldly laughed before God, leaving no doubt as to his suspicion. Yet God said to him that not only would she give birth to a son, that son would be called Isaac, meaning “he laughs.”
Then, one afternoon soon after, Abraham is sitting at the entrance to his tent when he spots three men standing nearby. This story, found in the 18th chapter of Genesis, leaves little doubt that Abraham recognized these men as being from the Lord. (At one point Abraham refers to one of the men as “my lord” but when he speaks in reference to “you” the word in plural as though he recognizes one of the men to be God Himself. This is called a Christophany, a term used to describe a visit by the pre-incarnate Christ.)
Abraham does what most men would do; he hurries into his tent and says to his wife, “Quick! Bake something!”
While dinner is on the stove, so to speak, Abraham feeds the men a few appetizers (curds and milk…yum!) and stands nearby.
“Where is your wife Sarah?” they asked him.
“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 Sarah was listening at the entrance to the tent, which was behind him. Abraham and Sarah were already old and well advanced in years, and Sarah was past the age of childbearing. So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, "After I am worn out and my master is old, will I now have this pleasure?"
Then the LORD said to Abraham, "Why did Sarah laugh and say, 'Will I really have a child, now that I am 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."
Sarah was afraid, so she lied and said, "I did not laugh."
But he said, "Yes, you did laugh."
The Ah-ha Moment
What Abraham did in the open, Sarah did in the privacy of her heart; she laughed.
But are our thoughts and emotions — raw and naked as they can be — really private from the One who created us?
The Lord knows the thoughts of man…
You know when I sit and when I rise, you perceive my thoughts from afar.
Even standing in the presence of God, Sarah thought she could hide her thoughts from the Lord in the same manner as she covered her physical nakedness. But she could not.
Nor can we.
Yet, I do not see the Lord as being harsh toward her. With my heart’s eye, I see the Lord sitting with His back to the entrance of Abraham’s tent, fully aware of Sarah’s listening ear. When He asks Abraham about her inner laugh, He challenges them both with profundity: Is anything too hard for the Lord?
Then I see Him, a slight twinkle in His eye for this woman/child that He loves, turning to look over His shoulder. “Yes, you did laugh….”
We can — none of us — hide anything from God. Our thoughts are naked before Him. Is there anything we cannot bring to Him, then? Is there anything too hard for Him to hear out loud?
Award-winning national speaker Eva Marie Everson is a graduate of Andersonville Theological Seminary. Her work includes the just released Sex, Lies, and the Media (Cook) and The Potluck Club; Trouble’s Brewing (Baker/Revell) She can be contacted for comments or for speaking engagement bookings at www.evamarieeverson.com