The Bible is full of stories about women who have lived exciting and different lives. Many of them were examples to us of great strength of character, but there is only one woman who we are specifically encouraged to follow. Interestingly, she was one of the most beautiful women who has ever lived, perhaps next to Eve. What kind of mesmerizing beauty did she have that caused a king to swoon over her when she was 90 years old?
The woman was Sarah. She was over 60 years old when she left the city of Haran (which is now a small village in modern Turkey) with her husband, Abram, and began the hazardous journey into the deserts of Syria and the Negev of Israel.
Travel in the desert is considered most unfavorable to the preservation of beauty. But after many months and years of traveling and tenting in deserts, enduring dust storms, hot sun and scorching winds, and on through the northern Sinai desert to Egypt (because of famine in the land of Canaan), Sarah was still as captivating as ever. Not even her age or the desert could mar her beauty.
She was past age 65 years of age when she arrived in Egypt. The Bible says that, “As soon as Abram entered Egypt, the Egyptians noticed how rarely beautiful a woman she was. Pharaoh’s nobles noticed her too and highly commended her to Pharaoh; so she was taken to Pharaoh’s place” (Genesis 12:14 MLB). This situation was repeated again in Gerar, where King Abimelech fell in love with her. She was 90 years old at this time!
What was the secret of her enchanting beauty? Was there something more than her fair features? The Bible gives us a clue when it tells us about the serenity of her submissive spirit. She had an inner grace that emanated from a “meek and quiet spirit” (1 Peter 3:4).
Imagine your husband coming home tonight and exclaiming, “Honey, God has spoken to me and I feel that it is time for us to move on. We’re going to be leaving here very soon.”
“But where?” you cry.
“I don’t know the destination. God will show us.” I won’t print your answer!
But, this is what happened to Sarah when Abram confronted her with the news that God had called him to another country. Sarah was obedient to her husband and submitted to his plans and “away they went, not even knowing where they were going” (Genesis 12:1-5 and Hebrews 11.8).
It must have been painful for Sarah to leave her home and family and familiar surroundings. Her name means "Princess." She came from a well-to-do family and lived a comfortable and pampered life in Ur (now southern Iraq.) Instead, she ended up living a nomadic life, dwelling in tents in the mountains and deserts for 67 years (she died at 127 years)!
WHAT WAS THE SOURCE OF HER BEAUTY?
God honoured her faith and obedience and as we have discovered, she retained her beauty. No wonder God calls it the “ageless beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit” (1 Peter 3:4 GNB).
This kind of submission took faith and strength of character. It isn't for weaklings. It doesn’t take any noble qualities to demand your own way. Any three year old can do that. Submission is for the unselfish and the mature of spirit. Wuest’s Greek exposition says that meekness is “that temper of spirit in which we accept God’s dealings with us as good and therefore without disputing.” Jack Hayford says, “Submission is for people who accept divinely arranged order for the sake of protection, fulfillment, and realization.”
This dramatic entry into a new lifestyle was just the beginning of many crises for Sarah. She was obedient to her husband’s authority even when he was wrong. Abraham had a great problem as he traveled through strange places--his beautiful wife. Therefore, he made a deal with her that wherever they went, she was to say she was his sister as he was afraid they would kill him because of her. It was actually a half-truth as she was his half-sister. On the two occasions when Sarah was taken from Abraham by kings, God honoured and protected her and she was given back to her husband totally untouched (Genesis 12:1-20 and 20:1-18). 1 Peter 3:6 says, “Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters you are, as long as you do well.”
WHY DO WE REACT?-
It doesn’t seem popular, even in Christendom, to be Sarah’s daughters today. The moment the word "submission" is mentioned the prickles go up! Women revolt at the sound of the word. Why does it produce so much reaction?
It's a godly attitude. Why such a fuss about a godly quality? Although it is a virtue that is especially beatifying to women, it is a quality God intends for all mankind. The Bible says that we are to be in submission to our husbands “in the same way.” In the same way as what? In the same way that we submit to every human authority. When it talks in Ephesians Chapter 5 about wives submitting to their own husbands, it follows immediately on from where we are all asked to submit to one another (1 Peter 3.1 cf. 2.13 GNB; Ephesians 5:21-33).
Isn't it astonishing that the selfish attitudes of pride, independence and assertiveness are far more popular today than the godly attitudes of meekness, humility, and submission?. And yet it was this spirit of pride and independence that caused Lucifer to be thrown out of heaven. Jesus however, because of his total submission to His Father’s will and His willingness to relinquish His rights of equality with God, wrought for us eternal salvation (Isaiah 12:12-17 and Philippians 2:5-11).
WHAT SPIRIT CONTROLS US?
If we are not Sarah’s daughters and following in her footsteps, whose daughters are we? There is another woman in the Bible who is portrayed as the opposite to Sarah. Her name is Jezebel. She had a seducing spirit and enticed her husband and the whole nation of Israel away from serving the living God to worship Baal. She domineered, demanded, and got her own way at any price. She was independent and a law unto herself (1 Kings chapters 17-21; cf. Revelation 2:20-26).
The disturbing fact is that in our current humanistic society this kind of spirit is propagated. It is more prevalent than the Sarah spirit. May God save us from this deception. Maybe we have to come back to the premise of “Let God be true, but every man a liar” (Romans 3:4).
Jezebel’s beauty didn’t come from within her. She had to paint it on her face. She even took time to paint her face when she knew that death was imminent. There is inference to the different beauties of Jezebel and Sarah in I 1 Peter:1-6 (NIV): “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewellery and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is the way that holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their own husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her master. You are her daughters, if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.”
Jezebel had everything her own way while she lived, but her end was devastating. Although she was a queen, she wasn’t a true queen in spirit, and thus she didn’t even have the decency of a burial. When they came to bury her, the dogs had eaten her and all that was left was her skull, feet, and the palms of her hands. Her lifestyle not only brought her own destruction, but the downfall of her husband, her sons, and a whole nation! Her influence carried on into the future generations. Her daughter, Athaliah, continued in the same vein and even killed her grandsons so she could be queen (2 Kings 9:30-37 and 10:1-11).
Jezebel reaped calamity upon herself and her family. Sarah on the other hand reaped the blessing of God upon her life (Genesis 17:15). There are promises of fruitfulness and blessing for Sarah’s daughters.
Sarah wasn’t perfect. She made mistakes. But God saw her submissive and gentle spirit which is so precious in His eyes, and He honoured her and lifted her up as an example for all women of all ages to follow. God encourages us in Isaiah 5:2 to “Look unto Sarah that bare you.”
IN WHAT WAY IS SARAH OUR ROLE MODEL?-
1. Because of her faith.
By faith she willingly followed her husband to an unknown destination. By faith she left her family and comforts of her home in Ur. By faith she lived a nomadic life in the scorching deserts. By faith she conceived, carried, and gave birth to a son a t 90 years of age.
2. Because of her gentle and quiet spirit.
Her beauty of soul was even greater than her physical attractiveness. She was submissive to her husband and gave him respect and honor.
3. Because of her lack of fear.
She has many opportunities to fear as she lived amongst enemies in strange lands. And how did she feel when one day her husband and his servant, and her precious son of her old age disappeared for a week, when Abraham went to Mt Moriah to offer up Isaac? She must have kept her heart in peace even at this time.
What king of virtue is this? C.H. Spurgeon says, “It is a calm, quiet trusting in God. It is composure of mind, freedom from anxiety, the absence of fretfulness, and clean deliverance from alarm; so that, whatever happens, trepidation does not seize upon the spirit, but the heart keeps on at its own quiet pace, delighting itself in a faithful God. This is the virtue which is worth a king’s ransom and Sarah had it.” She knew the secret of calmly trusting in her God, no matter what the situation.
Today’s women, let’s not be deceived by the Jezebel spirit, but let’s look to the pattern woman God has given us.
Be blessed from NANCY CAMPBELL