Yesterday we introduced the story of Abraham and Sarah, whom God promised would be parents of a great and huge nation, numbering like the stars of the sky. But Abraham keeled over laughing, since he knew having babies at his wife and his advanced age was impossible. Today, we’ll see he wasn’t the only one who thought so.
And the LORD appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the door of his tent in the heat of the day. He lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, three men were standing in front of him. When he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them and bowed himself to the earth (Genesis 18:1-2 ESV)
They said to him, “Where is Sarah your wife?” And he said, “She is in the tent.” The LORD said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife shall have a son.” And Sarah was listening at the tent door behind him. Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in years. The way of women had ceased to be with Sarah. So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I am worn out, and my lord is old, shall I have pleasure?” The LORD said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?’ Is anything too hard for the LORD? At the appointed time I will return to you, about this time next year, and Sarah shall have a son.” But Sarah denied it, saying, “I did not laugh,” for she was afraid. He said, “No, but you did laugh.” (Genesis 18:9-15 ESV)
The “way of women” isn’t a euphemism we use all the time, but one way to translate the Hebrew is to say the cycle of women. It suggests she is post-menopausal, and pregnancy should be impossible.
Yet, God says he’ll do it. This time Sarah laughs, privately she thinks, but God knows. She tries to cover it up, but he insists – you laughed, but I’ll show you real laughter, I’ll give you the joy you’ve long wanted.
There’s more to the story:
The LORD visited Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did to Sarah as he had promised. And Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age at the time of which God had spoken to him. Abraham called the name of his son who was born to him, whom Sarah bore him, Isaac. And Abraham circumcised his son Isaac when he was eight days old, as God had commanded him. Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him. And Sarah said, “God has made laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh over me.” And she said, “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.” (Genesis 21:1-7 ESV)
It happens. God does what he promised, so Abraham does what he promised.
The whole laughter theme comes full circle. Now she laughs with joy, not mockery.
Question: What lessons do you think can be learned from this story?