Genesis 18:1-21 Sarah Laughs

Sarah laughs, not out of delight but out of bitterness.

We join Abraham in the door of his tent as he receives some important visitors. Sarah finally hears the promise regarding her first hand.

The men that approached Abraham’s tent had something different about them. Is it possible that he recognized “the Lord” from previous encounters with Him? Was this representative one of God’s chief angels? Was this a pre-incarnation of Jesus? I betting on the first explanation, but I could easily be wrong and it could also easily be, (D) all of the above.

Abraham abandoned his quiet resting place and “ran” to meet them and “bowed himself to the earth” (verse 2b). He was certainly in better shape than any man 100 years old today! But at his age he was supposed to be “above” hurrying like that. It wasn’t dignified for an old man to do that. Abraham didn’t care! His joy at seeing his Lord overflowed. Maybe that’s where David got his abandon before the Lord.

I like how Abraham offers them “a morsel of bread” but prepared a feast. Better to under promise and over deliver than over promise and under deliver. Abraham also got personally involved with making this feast. He didn’t “delegate” the job to someone else to deal with and sit down and visit with his guests. He shared his recipe with Sarah to prepare the bread, picked the calf, gave it to the cook, gathered the curds milk and prepared calf, and brought the feast to his guests personally. He also didn’t count himself worthy to partake in this meal. He stood by as a servant while his guests ate.

Abram accepted the place of servant even though he was the master of the camp. He humbled himself before his guests. He recognized their authority over him and his household. This reminds me of Jesus’ teaching in Luke 14 about not taking the place of honor. Abraham was the most honored person in the camp but he did not assert his place of honor least he be called to step down in humiliation. He waited for his Lord to honor him instead.

Once the meal was complete, Abraham’s guests got down to business. “Where is Sarah your wife?” (verse 9a). I find it interesting that Abraham is not told to go and get Sarah. Instead she is intentionally allowed to overhear the prophecy. And this prophecy was specifically for her. “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife shall have a son” (verse 10).

I can empathize with Sarah’s response. For years and Years and YEARS she tried to have a child. She probably got excited every time she even thought she might be experiencing signs of pregnancy. It has been more than twenty years since God’s promise to Abraham about an heir. She had given up on herself providing that heir when she offered her maid, Hagar, to Abraham. NOW she is told she will have a child. Her female parts are dried up and withered. She is well past menopause. “Yah, sure. Tell me again about the bridge from here to China.” Her “field” was FULL of “yah-buts.” It was such an absurd notion to her that she laughed at it. I don’t think it was a very loud laugh but it was one of bitterness and unbelief.

When Sarah laughed, Abraham was questioned about it. She had been listening just inside the tent door. Did Abraham open it at this point? Was she called out to answer for herself? Or did she say that she didn’t laugh to herself and that too was overheard?

We are told that Sarah lied because she was afraid. I’m glad her lie and her unbelief didn’t get in the way of God’s promise coming to fruition. Because of her response I’m guessing that Abraham hadn’t told her of his last encounter with the Lord and the promise He made directly about her. Otherwise this would have been a confirmation of Abraham’s words instead of a surprise. If she would have been prepared before I doubt she would have had such a “knee jerk” reaction. I wonder if her faith kicked in after this encounter.

Our visitors’ mission wasn’t only to deliver Sarah the good news. They were on their way to deal with Sodom and Gomorrah. They didn’t really even need to stop by and see Abraham as he was given the message about Sarah during his last encounter with the Lord. They could have gone straight on to Sodom and Gomorrah and dealt with the problem. But the Lord wanted to let Abraham know what was going on. Abraham had family living there and would be affected by the outcome because of that. I wonder if Abraham is grateful that Lot chose that way instead of him winding up there.

God chose to let Abraham in on His mission. I wonder if it is because He wanted to see where his heart was. Did He want to know if Abraham would show compassion towards others? Was this a test of Abraham’s commitment to his family? Or could this have actually been a warning to him too that sin would not be allowed to run rampant. “For I have chosen him, that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice, so that the Lord may bring to Abraham what He has promised him” (verse 19). God decided to show Abraham BOTH sides of the coin; the blessings for righteousness and the punishment for sin. He didn’t hide anything in this instance. Tomorrow we will see how Abraham reacts to this news.

Father God, thank You that You are upfront with me. You don’t hide the bad side. You let me know what consequences lie beyond my choices. Not every one of them but the important ones. “This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life” (Deut. 30:19-20a). I choose life!

Also Lord, THANK YOU that NOTHING is impossible for You! I haven’t personally seen miracles on the scale that Sarah was about to experience but I have seen Your hand at work in my life on MANY occasions. Thank You for each and every one of those instances. Thank You too for Your daily presence through the Holy Spirit.

Thank You for the strength I see returning to Steve. Thank You for the removal of the pain. Thank You for the good days and for strength through the bad ones. I’m not going to limit Your hand in His progress, not even for fear of what changes in my role might become. Have Your way Lord! And keep my heart at peace while You do please.

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