Women appreciate good role models. One of the best Scriptural examples is Sarah. She is first introduced to us as Abram’s wife Sarai, a woman who cannot bear children (Gen.11:29-30). Although she and Abram are born of different mothers, they have the same father. She is therefore Abram’s half sister (11:31). Sarai is a woman who forsakes her homeland in Babylonia to follow God with her husband. Their home in Ur of the Chaldees is located about half way between the present-day Persian Gulf and Baghdad. She adapts herself to her husband’s dreams and epitomizes the obedient, faithful wife. This Babylonian couple will become the parents of the Hebrew race.
Famine soon drives this pair into Egypt. Abram is afraid the Egyptian lords will kill him and take Sarai into a harem if they discover they are married. Apparently, Sarai is very beautiful, even at 60 years of age (12:11). Abram tells a half-truth, informing the officials that Sarai is his sister (12:13). Abram is afraid for his own life; Sarai’s safety is secondary. God protects the mother of the twelve tribes by sending a plague upon Pharaoh and his house (12:17). Due to this physical affliction, Pharaoh is prevented from having sex with Sarai, who will mother Isaac. Pharaoh soundly rebukes Abram for his deception and sends them both away unharmed. Abram has acted cowardly, but God is faithful to protect the sexual purity of this special woman. God renews His covenant with Abram (17:5-6). As the great ancestral parents of the Hebrew people, the Lord changes Abram’s name to Abraham and Sarai’s name to Sarah (Gen. 17: 5 &15). The new names are significant, for Abraham means father of nations and Sarah means mother of nations (17:16).
In a situation which parallels the earlier predicament in Pharaoh’s court 30 years earlier, Sarah’s holiness is once more threatened. Abraham knows foreigners are not highly respected and that a husband must be disposed of before his wife is available. Fearful he will be killed, Abraham again claims she is his sister. It is possible Sarah has previously agreed with Abraham to use this deception whenever necessary (12:11-13). Abraham’s son, Isaac, later uses this same ploy concerning his wife Rebekah (Gen. 26:6-11). Abimelech, the King of Gerar, decides to take Sarah into his harem. Under penalty of death, God warns Abimelech in a dream not to touch her. Rebuking Abraham for his deceit, he loads the couple with gifts and sends them away (Gen. 20:1-18). Abraham failed to protect his wife on two separate occasions, putting his own safety ahead of hers. Husbands must learn to put their wife’s concerns ahead of their own.
Of all the women in “The Hall of Faith,” it is the strength of Sarah we are first asked to observe (Heb. 11:11). Peter advises women to imitate her obedience and holds her up as a model wife who respects her husband (I Pet. 3:6). Sarah won the hearts of three men: Abraham, Pharaoh and Abimelech. This great woman of faith became the mother of the most favored nation on earth: Israel. Apparently Sarah never looked back to her homeland, but went forth to share her husband’s dreams and aspirations. Her loyalty to Abraham, despite their many trials, is exemplary. With Sarah by his side, Abraham was willing to march toward an unknown future as “heirs together of the grace of life” (I Pet. 3:7).