Why did you laugh?
Today’s Text: Genesis 18:10 – 14
There is a strong tradition that as he recuperated, Abraham looked-up out of the tent door to see three visitors standing before him. Perceiving that they were not mere men, Abraham ran to them, bowed to the ground and invited them to rest in the shade of his terebinth tree while a “morsel of bread” was prepared (Gen. 18:5).
It was the Lord Himself joined by two angelic beings—all in human form.
Abraham’s home was suddenly a flurry of activity. Sarah made fine bread and a servant butchered a choice calf while Abraham gathered milk (not unlike the yogurt we enjoy today) and butter for the meal. Abraham’s understated invitation actually resulted in a substantial feast. Incidentally, the menu was not kosher since the meal included dairy and meat (v. 8). The laws of Kashrut were not observed until the giving of the Law some 400 years later.
Conversation after the meal revealed the true reason for the Lord visiting Abraham’s tent:
“And He said, ‘I will certainly return to you according to the time of life, and behold, Sarah your wife shall have a son.’
(Sarah was listening in the tent door which was behind him.) Now Abraham and Sarah were old, well advanced in age; and Sarah had passed the age of childbearing. Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, ‘After I have grown old, shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?’
And the Lord said to Abraham, ‘Why did Sarah laugh, saying, “Shall I surely bear a child, since I am old?’ Is anything too hard for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.””
The announcement was no surprise to Abraham. He had heard it only a few days earlier. The message was for Sarah.
Abraham had certainly explained God’s promise of a son in relation to the circumcision of all males in his household. Thrilled by the prospect of a son with Sarah, he had undoubtedly announced the promise to her as well.
Apparently, because Sarah still needed reassurance, God in His grace personally communicated the promise to her.
When Abraham heard the promise, he laughed with joy and expectation.
Sarah also laughed when she heard the news, but with some skepticism that the promise could ever materialize. She saw only the facts. Abraham was almost 100-years old; she was nearly 90 and well beyond fertility. The idea of physical intimacy at such an advanced age seemed laughable (v. 12).
The Lord gently reprimanded Sarah’s incredulity and underscored the certainty of His promise by repeating it. At the set time, she would give birth to the promised son. Emphasizing the certainty of fulfillment, the Lord promised that when He returned, she would be the mother of a baby boy (v. 10).
God reminded Sarah that He was the source of the promise. Using a rhetorical question, He forced Sarah to recognize His awesome power. He asked, “Is anything to hard for the Lord?” (v. 14). The word translated “hard” comes from the Hebrew root pala meaning wonderful, awesome, exceptional or extraordinary. In other words, is there anything so wonderful, so awesome, so exceptional or so extraordinary that God is unable to do it? The obvious answer is a resounding no!
Looking at the situation from God’s perspective, Sarah realized the foolishness of her unbelief. When the Lord asked Abraham why she had laughed, she couldn’t help stepping out of the cover of the tent to deny the accusation. But, the Lord emphatically declared, “you did laugh” putting an end to her denial (v. 15). In so doing, He assured Sarah that although the idea of having a son seemed impossible, she would certainly see the promise fulfilled.
Ultimately, this was the crux of the issue. Sarah needed her faith strengthened. God reminded her that nothing is too hard for Him. Nothing is outside His realm of ability. She could choose to trust the Lord’s promises even when circumstances made them seem impossible.
The first 15 verses of the 18th chapter of Genesis are an incredible example of God’s care for Believers. The Lord Himself came to visit Abraham following his decision to obey God’s command in the physical sign of circumcision. The Lord also gave Sarah the assurance that He would give her the strength and stamina to bring a child into the world.
It’s a principal all people of faith need to remember. For those who are willing to believe, God is at work in our lives and nothing is too hard for Him!
Charles E. McCracken is an international Bible teacher, long-time friend of Israel and advocate for the Jewish people. Rev. McCracken authentically communicates biblical truth making his presentations relevant for those seeking to understand the significance of Israel and the church in Bible prophecy. He staunchly supports the nation of Israel and the Jewish people’s right to exist and live in peace.
© Charles E. McCracken 2016, devotional comments only. Repost/Reprint with permission from the author via Contact Form under ABOUT. Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved. (Emphasis added.)
1) Bible opened to Isaiah. By, Ken Horn, [CC BY 2.0] via Wikimedia Commons – Enhancement: MKM Portfolios
2) Abraham and the Three Angels, c. 1896-1902. By James Jacques Joseph Tissot (1836-1902), [PD-US, PD-Art], via The Jewish Museum, New York – Enhancement: MKM Portfolios
3) Abraham and Sarah Host Three Angels. Providence Lithograph Company [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons – Enhancement: MKM Portfolios