Abraham and Sarah: Lessons in Laughter and Faith
Would you like to have greater faith in the promises of God? If so, then you may benefit from studying how God turned laughter into faith in the lives of Abraham and his wife Sarah. We will see that both Abraham 15God renamed Abram (“אַבְרָם”–“exalted father”) to Abraham (“אַבְרָהָם”–“father of a multitude”) (Genesis 17:5, page 22) and God renamed Sarai (“שָׂרַי”–(“chieftess ? old feminine ending?”) to Sarah (“שָׂרָה”–“princess”). and Sarah laughed about the promise of God, but for very different reasons. We will also see that it is never too late and you are never too old for God to change your life with great promises, and build faith in you to believe His promises.
The Abrahamic Covenant
Abraham lived a life of faith. 16Abraham had a life of faith. By faith, Abraham obeyed the call of God to leave Ur of the Chaldees and traveled to the land “where he would receive an inheritance; and he left, not knowing where he was going.” (Hebrews 11:8, page 1882). By faith, Abraham “lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with His sons, Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise; for he was looking for a city which has foundations, who architect and builder is God.” (Hebrews 11:9, page 1882.) God made a special covenant with Abraham with very specific promises. In Genesis 12:1-3, pages 16-17, you can read about the seven things God promised Abraham: (1) I will show you the land (2) I will make you a great nation; (3) I will bless you; (4) I will make your name great; (5) you shall be a blessing; (6) I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you; (7) in you all the families of the earth will be blessed. Among the great promises to Abraham, God specifically promised that Abraham would be a father of a great nation. When God made that promise, Abraham did not have a male heir. When God ratified the covenant with Abraham, God promised Abraham that a son from his body, not a servant like Eliezer of Damascus, would be given to Him to produce descendants like the stars of the sky in number. 17Genesis 15:1-6. Abraham believed in the LORD 18The Hebrew phrase “Abraham believed in the LORD” (“וְהֶאֱמִן, בַּיהוָה”) testifies to the power and priority of faith, a gift of God. and it was “reckoned to him as righteousness.” 19The Hebrew phrase “it was reckoned to him as righteousness” (“וַיַּחְשְׁבֶהָ לּוֹ, צְדָקָה”) relates directly to Romans 4:1-5, pages 1762-1763), showing that Abraham was justified by faith, not by works. God revealed the promises of the covenant in a series of meetings with Abraham. At each meeting, God revealed more about the covenant and strengthened faith in it.
After Abraham received the promises from God that he would be the father of many nations, Sarai recognized that the LORD had prevented her from having children. 20See Romans 4:19, page 1764, “the deadness of Sarah’s womb” (“καὶ τὴν νέκρωσιν τῆς μήτρας Σάρρας“); compare Genesis 11:30, page 16: Sarai was introduced as barren because she had not born children (“וַתְּהִי שָׂרַי, עֲקָרָה: אֵין לָהּ, וָלָד”). So Sarai conceived a plan to provide an heir for Abraham through Hagar, her hand maid. 21In the New Testament, Paul described Abraham as having two sons, one of the bond woman (“τῆς παιδίσκης”) and one by the free woman (“τῆς ἐλευθέρας“). Paul likened them to two covenants: one covenant bearing slaves (Hagar and her son Ishmael) and the other covenant bearing children of promise (Sarah and her son Isaac) (Galatians 4:21-31, page 1824). Hagar produced a son named Ishmael. 22When Hagar saw that she conceived a child with Abraham, she despised Sarah. In turn, Sarah treated Hagar harshly. Hagar fled, but the LORD met her and promised that she would have descendants too numerous to count and that Ishmael, her son with Abraham, would be the father of a nation (Genesis 16:1-16, pages 21-23). Abraham was eight-six years old when Ishmael was born. Abraham loved Ishmael, but God had plans for Sarah to bear Isaac, so that she would become the mother of nations, and kings of people would come from her, and Isaac would be the promised heir of Abraham. 23Genesis 17:1-16, pages 22-23.
Sarah Shall Bear the Son of the Covenant
When Abraham was ninety-nine years old, the LORD 24The Hebrew term here “LORD” (“יְהוָה”) always refers to God. See Exodus 3:16, page 91 and John 8:58, page 1675; Psalm 110:1, page 968 “The LORD (“יְהוָה”) said to my Lord (“לַאדֹנִי”), ‘Sit at My right hand until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet.” appeared 25The Hebrew term “appeared” (“וַיֵּרָא”) to Abraham described God’s personal appearance to Abraham, and others after Him, such as Moses (Exodus 3:1, page 90, Exodus 3:16, page 91). to Abraham, using the name “God Almighty” for the first time. 26The Hebrew phrase “I am God Almighty” (“אֲנִי-אֵל שַׁדַּי”) used here refers to God’s power to do all things, including producing offspring (Genesis 17:1, page 22.) Isaac used this same name for God, “God Almighty,” in sending Jacob out to find a wife, so that he would become a company of many peoples (Genesis 28:2, page 44). God again used the term (“God Almighty”) with Jacob to command him to be fruitful and multiply, and a company of nations shall come from him (Genesis 35:11, page 58). God also said He appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as “God Almighty” but by “My name, LORD, I did not make Myself known to them (Exodus 6:3, page 95). As God Almighty, God reaffirmed the covenant with Abraham and provided significant new details about the covenant. Abraham fell on his face as God was speaking to him. 27The Hebrew phrase “fell on his face” (“וַיִּפֹּל אַבְרָם, עַל-פָּנָיו”) described Abraham’s reverence and submission to God. Compare Moses falling on his face (Numbers 16:4, page 245) when confronted by the rebels of Korah, not showing submission to them, but humility before God knowing that he, not them, was chosen of God for leadership; see also Joshua falling on his face before the captain of the host of the LORD (Joshua 5:14, page 353. God changed his name from Abram to Abraham and God promised to establish His covenant with all the generations of Abraham. God also gave Abraham the sign of the covenant, circumcision. At this meeting, God also renamed Sarai to Sarah, because she would bear a child and she will be a mother of nations; kings of people will come from her. 28Genesis 17:1-15, pages 22-23.