Friday, May 9, 2008

Sarah Laughs At God's Promise

The Three Visitors

Genesis 18

1Later, the LORD again appeared to Abraham near the great trees of Mamre.
Abraham was sitting at the entrance of his tent during the hottest part of the day.
2He looked up and saw three men standing near him. When Abraham saw them,
he ran from his tent to meet them. He bowed facedown on the ground before
them 3and said, “Sir, if you think well of me, please stay awhile with me, your
servant. 4I will bring some water so all of you can wash your feet. You may rest
under the tree, 5and I will get some bread for you so you can regain your strength.
Then you may continue your journey.”

The three men said, “That is fine. Do as you said.”

6Abraham hurried to the tent where Sarah was and said to her, “Hurry,
prepare twenty quarts of fine flour, and make it into loaves of bread.” 7Then
Abraham ran to his herd and took one of his best calves. He gave it to a servant,
who hurried to kill it and to prepare it for food. 8Abraham gave the three men the
calf that had been cooked and milk curds and milk. While they ate, he stood
under the tree near them.

9The men asked Abraham, “Where is your wife Sarah?”

“There, in the tent,” said Abraham.

10Then the LORD said, “I will certainly return to you about this time a year
from now. At that time your wife Sarah will have a son.”

Sarah was listening at the entrance of the tent which was behind him.
11Abraham and Sarah were very old. Since Sarah was past the age when women
normally have children, 12she laughed to herself, “My husband and I are too old
to have a baby.”

13Then the LORD said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh? Why did she say,
‘I am too old to have a baby’? 14Is anything too hard for the LORD? No! I will
return to you at the right time a year from now, and Sarah will have a son.”

15Sarah was afraid, so she lied and said, “I didn’t laugh.”

But the LORD said, “No. You did laugh.”

16Then the men got up to leave and started out toward Sodom. Abraham
walked along with them a short time to send them on their way.

Abraham’s Bargain with God

17The LORD said, “Should I tell Abraham what I am going to do now?
18Abraham’s children will certainly become a great and powerful nation, and all
nations on earth will be blessed through him. 19I have chosen him so he would
command his children and his descendants to live the way the LORD wants them
to, to live right and be fair. Then I, the LORD, will give Abraham what I
promised him.”

20Then the LORD said, “I have heard many complaints against the people of
Sodom and Gomorrah. They are very evil. 21I will go down and see if they are as
bad as I have heard. If not, I will know.”

22So the men turned and went toward Sodom, but Abraham stood there before
the LORD. 23Then Abraham approached him and asked, “Do you plan to destroy
the good people along with the evil ones? 24What if there are fifty good people in
that city? Will you still destroy it? Surely you will save the city for the fifty good
people living there. 25Surely you will not destroy the good people along with the
evil ones; then they would be treated the same. You are the judge of all the earth.
Won’t you do what is right?”

26The LORD said, “If I find fifty good people in the city of Sodom, I will
save the whole city because of them.”

27Then Abraham said, “Though I am only dust and ashes, I have been brave
to speak to the Lord. 28What if there are only forty-five good people in the city?
Will you destroy the whole city for the lack of five good people?”

The LORD said, “If I find forty-five there, I will not destroy the city.”

29Again Abraham said to him, “If you find only forty good people there, will
you destroy the city?”

The LORD said, “If I find forty, I will not destroy it.”

30Then Abraham said, “Lord, please don’t be angry with me, but let me ask
you this. If you find only thirty good people in the city, will you destroy it?”

He said, “If I find thirty good people there, I will not destroy the city.”

31Then Abraham said, “I have been brave to speak to the Lord. But what if
there are twenty good people in the city?”

He answered, “If I find twenty there, I will not destroy the city.”

32Then Abraham said, “Lord, please don’t be angry with me, but let me
bother you this one last time. What if you find ten there?”

He said, “If I find ten there, I will not destroy it.”

33When the LORD finished speaking to Abraham, he left, and Abraham
returned home.

 The Holy Bible, New Century Version

Birth of the miracle child (Gen. 17:1-22; 21:1-7). Ishmael grew up as a member of Abram's family, and Abram loved his son. With the passage of years an uneasy truce existed between Sarai and Hagar. Then, thirteen years after Ishmael's birth, when Abram was ninety-nine years old and Sarai ninety, God spoke to Abram and delivered a stunning message. Sarai was to bear Abram a son, and her son-rather than the son of her bondwoman-would inherit the covenant promises God had given to Abram. God’s word to Abram about Sarai was "I will bless her and also give you a son by her; then I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of peoples shall be from her" (Gen. 17:16).

With the giving of that promise, God changed Abram's name to Abraham and Sarai's name to Sarah. And, despite the deadness of Sarah's womb, Sarah did become pregnant. A miracle child, the offspring of Abraham and his wife Sarah, grew in her womb and, when she was ninety and her husband one hundred, Isaac was born.

We can sense Sarah's relief and her delight when Isaac was born. "God has made me laugh," Sarah declared, "and all who hear will laugh with me .... Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? For I have borne him a son in his old age" (Gen. 21:6, 7).

(From Every Woman in the Bible by Sue and Larry Richards).

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