Vol. 4, No. 5
~ Page 18 ~
I like reading this biblical account (Genesis 17-21). A broad smile moves across my face every time my eyes meet the words of this inspired text... Abraham and Sarah were "expecting" their first child. Nothing special about that; millions of couples have anticipated the same blessing. However, the circumstances surrounding this particular birth were "unique": 1) God had actually been talking about it for some twenty-five years (Genesis 12:4), and 2) Abraham was one hundred years old (Genesis 17:17; 21:5), while Sarah was ninety (Genesis 18:11-12) when the birth occurred. She had "passed the age of childbearing" [lit., the manner of woman had ceased to be with her].
Beyond the obvious miraculous intervention, one of the things that affects me about this story is all of the laughter. When God broke the "good news" to Abraham (Genesis 17:16), Scripture says that the patriarch "fell on his face and laughed" (Genesis 17:17). When Sarah heard the news, she laughed too (Genesis 18:11). Interestingly, when their son was finally born, Sarah was laughing again (Genesis 21:6) and the infant was named "Isaac" (Genesis 17:19), which meant, of course, laughter. My intent is not to be irreverent, but I can't help but notice that when God was talking, people were laughing. Perhaps Abraham and Sarah found it hard to take the Almighty seriously when he had made such an "outrageous" promise.
But as I consider the "humor" of the promise and birth of Isaac, I don't want to miss the application of this narrative to my life today. Observe:
God's TIME. God actually started talking with Abraham about his "seed" two and a half decades (that's a long time to wait for a baby!) before Isaac's birth. As promised, the son was born "at the SET TIME" (Genesis 21:2; 17:21) of which God had spoken.
Is it just me, or do you tend to grow impatient with the Almighty too? I want him to work now -- on my schedule, at my time. "Give me a microwave answer, Father!" I want to go through the "drive-through" and get my blessing. I want high-speed Internet access to the promises of heaven. Yet, the story of the promise of Isaac reminds me that deity moves at a different pace than I do. I'm on CST (Central Standard Time); God is on EST (Eternal Sovereign Time). I think in terms of seconds and minutes; he thinks in terms of years and decades. I need to learn to let God work things out on his timetable. I need more patience (James 1:4). Sound familiar?
God's WORD. God blessed Abraham and Sarah with a son despite their advanced age -- just as he had said he would. Note: "For Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which GOD HAD SPOKEN to him" (Genesis 21:2). God said it and it happened. But do you remember what Sarah did when she first heard the promise? That's right, she laughed (Genesis 18:12). Moments later, when God asked her why she laughed, she denied doing so (18:15a). My guess is that laughter was Sarah's way of expressing doubt. Folks well into their retirement years don't start having children.
Are you ever tempted, like Sarah, to doubt God's Word and his promises? "With all of my past sins, will he really save me?" "When/as I sin, will he really forgive me?" Be assured, dear reader, that he will (Psalm 89:34-35; 2 Timothy 2:13; Hebrews 10:23; 2 Timothy 1:12; 2 Peter 3:9). God will do exactly as he has promised (Acts 2:38; 1 John 1:9; cf. Hebrews 6:18). Do you need to increase your faith (Hebrews 11:11)? Read, study and then trust God's Word (Romans 10:17; Proverbs 3:5-6).
God's POWER. The bodies of Abraham and Sarah were miraculously rejuvenated (Genesis 18:10; 17:16). Abraham was "young enough" not only to father Isaac, but also six other sons by his second wife Keturah, after Sarah passed away (Genesis 25:2). Sarah was "young enough" again, not only to bear Isaac, but also to nurse him (Genesis 21:7).
Now consider, if God could take a 100-year-old man and his 90-year-old wife and produce a son, then imagine what he'll do with our mortal bodies at the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:35ff; 1 John 3:2; John 11:25)! This Old Testament story reminds me of God's awesome power (Genesis 18:14; cf. Romans 15:4; Psalm 68:35)!
Every time Abraham and Sarah spoke their son's name, they would remember how they had laughed (in surprise and doubt) at God's promise. Every time I read about Isaac, it prompts a joyous smile and a little laugh too for God's masterful control and manipulation of time and events, for his trustworthiness and for his incredible might.