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Daily Encouragement

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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 1God 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. 2Abraham 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. 3Genesis 15:1-6. Abraham believed in the LORD 4The 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.” 5The 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. 6See 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. 7In 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. 8When 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. 9Genesis 17:1-16, pages 22-23.

Sarah Shall Bear the Son of the Covenant

When Abraham was ninety-nine years old, the LORD 10The 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 11The 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. 12The 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. 13The 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. 14Genesis 17:1-15, pages 22-23. 

Abraham Laughed

When Abraham heard that God promised to bless  Sarah  and give Abraham a son through her, Abraham fell on his face and laughed 15The Hebrew term “laughed” (“וַיִּצְחָק”–waw consecutive imperfect) means laughter; the issue is what king of laughter: scoffing? amusement? pure joy?. and said in his heart 16Notice here that Abraham was speaking inside himself, “in his heart” (“וַיֹּאמֶר בְּלִבּוֹ”)., saying, “Will a child be born to a man one hundred years old? And will Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?” 17Genesis 17:17, page 23. Notice that Abraham “laughed” as he considered the promise that Sarah would bear the child. At that time, Ishmael, the child he had with Hagar, was already thirteen years of age.

In my view, Abraham absolutely believed that God would provide a son through Sarah, just as he promised. I believe that Genesis 17:18, page 23, proves that Abraham absolutely believed that Sarah would bear a male child and she would be the mother of nations and the kings of people would come from her, just as God said. The proof of Abraham’s faith lies in his statement about Ishmael: “Oh that Ishmael might live before You.” This short statement shows that suddenly, Abraham had great concern for his son Ishmael, because God was going to fulfill the promise of the covenant through the son of Sarah, leaving Ishmael out of that covenant promise. Abraham understood immediately the full gravity of the prophecy for Ishmael, whom Abraham loved deeply.

Therefore, I do not believe that Abraham was scoffing in his laughter, but rather happy and amused that God would fulfill the covenant promise of offspring using two old people beyond their normal child-bearing years. Abraham believed God so completely that he was concerned about Ishmael. God then continued to speak to Abraham: “No, but Sarah your wife will bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac. 18Genesis 17:19, page 23. The Hebrew term “Isaac” (“יִצְחָק”) here means “laughter.” For Abraham, the name Isaac (“laughter”) will remind him of how he laughed in a positive way upon learning that Sarah would have the child of promise. God further promised that God would continue His covenant with Isaac for an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him. 19Genesis 17:19, page 23. Yet, God also promised that he had heard Abraham intercede for Ishmael, and so God said He would bless Ishmael and make him fruitful exceedingly. Ishmael would become the father of twelve princes, and God would make him a great nation. 20Genesis 17:20, page 23. God had another meeting with Abraham to tell him about the coming child of the covenant through Sarah.

The Oaks of Mamre

At the oaks of Mamre,  Abraham sat in the door of his tent during the heat of the day. 21Genesis 18:1, page 24). Three men approached him, and he called: “My lord, 22The Hebrew term “My lord” (“אֲדֹנָי”) may refer to God or to humans. if now I have found favor in Your sight, please do not pass Your servant by.”  23The New American Standard Bible translates the passage with the “Your” capitalized, indicating deity. Abraham commanded Sarah to prepare a meal for the three men and they ate. While Sarah was in the tent, one of the three men prophesied: “I will surely return to you at this time next year; 24The Hebrew phrase for “appointed time” (“כָּעֵת חַיָּה”) literally means “as this time of life,” translated as this time next year. See also the use of the same phrase with Elisha promising the Shunamite that next year  (“כָּעֵת חַיָּה”)  she would have a son (2 Kings 4:16, page 596). and behold, Sarah your wife will have a son.” Sarah was listening at the tent door, which was behind the speaker. Sarah reacted differently from Abraham to the prophecy that she would bear a child within the year. 25Genesis 18:2-14, page 24.

Sarah Laughed

God emphasized that Abraham and Sarah were advanced in age; Sarah was past childbearing (Genesis 18:11, page 24). So, when she heard the prophecy of her giving birth to a child, she laughed 26The Hebrew term referring to Sarah, “And she laughed” (“וַתִּצְחַק”), has the identical root to the laughter of Abraham. within herself. 27The Hebrew term for “within herself” (“בְּקִרְבָּהּ”) means innermost part. Sarah asked as she laughed: “After I have become old, shall I have pleasure, 28The Hebrew term for “pleasure” (“עֶדְנָה”) means here sexual pleasure.  my lord 29The Hebrew term for “and my lord” (“וַאדֹנִי”) speaks of submission and honor. In the New Testament, we read that Sarah “obeyed Abraham, calling him Lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear (1 Peter 3:6, page 1896). Peter made the point that Sarah obeyed Abraham, with all his imperfections and great faith, calling him lord, and said that believers could become the children of Sarah by acting like Sarah as she obeyed Abraham. being old also?”

When Abraham laughed, he was lying face-down on the ground and he believed every word God said about Sarah having a son. When Sarah laughed, she was standing up, and questioned her old age, and the old age of her lord, Abraham. The two laughters were different. Upon Sarah uttering those words within herself, the LORD said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh, saying, ‘Shall I indeed bear  a child, when I am so old?'” Notice that the LORD directed this question to Abraham. 30This use of the term LORD indicates that God was present among the three men talking with Abraham. When God mentions what you were saying in your heart to your spouse, then you know something very important is about to happen. In this case, God confronted Sarah by talking to Abraham about her laughter. Remember, Abraham had laughed too when he first heard the news about Sarah having a son at her age.

The LORD continued, “Is anything too difficult for the LORD?” You may recall that the LORD introduced Himself as God Almighty when He delivered the news to Abraham. Now God makes the point that His unlimited power can easily produce a child in Sarah. The LORD said further: “At the appointed time I will return to you, at this time next year, and Sarah will have a son.” 31Genesis 18:14, page 25.  Sarah, listening from the door of the tent, denied it however, saying “I did not laugh”. Anytime we lie about what we just said, even what we said within ourselves, we are not acting properly. In this case, Sarah was lying to God. The verse continues with the reason she was lying about laughing: Sarah was afraid. 32The Hebrew phrase “for she was afraid” (“כִּי יָרֵאָה”) explains that her fear caused her to lie. Why was Sarah suddenly so scared that she lied about laughing? She suddenly realized that God was reading her thoughts and expressing them to Abraham in her hearing. God also intended to confront Sarah about her laughing unbelief of His promises as LORD, and God Almighty. The LORD, God Almighty, then closed with the solemn words, “No, but you did laugh.”

So both Abraham and Sara laughed about the prophecy that she would have a baby when she was old, but they laughed for very different reasons. Abraham believed the prophecy and laughed lying face down with joy and amusement. In contrast, Sarah was standing and unbelieving, because she was focused upon her age and physical impossibility of bearing a child. In her mind, she knew that she was beyond childbearing.

The Year Before Sarah Gave Birth to Isaac

As promised, Sarah would have a baby by the same time next year. But during that year, several important events took place. God revealed great things to Abraham so that Abraham’s faith grew tremendously.

The Doom of Sodom

First, Abraham learned about the doom of Sodom. As the three men rose up from there, they looked down toward Sodom, and Abraham was walking with them to send them off.  As they walked together, the LORD asked: “Shall I hide what I am about to do since Abraham will be become a great and mighty nation, and in him all the nations of the earth will be blessed?” The LORD revealed that He would tell Abraham about His plans for the future, and those plans included destruction. 33Genesis 18:16-18, page 25. The LORD continued: “For I have chosen Him, so 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 upon Abraham what He has spoken about him.” 34Genesis 18:19, page 25. When we think of household, we may be thinking of just a few people, such as minor sons and daughters.  The household of Abraham, however, included his son Ishmael, all the servants born in house, all who were bought with his money, and all of their children (Genesis 17:23-27, page 24).  In fact, when Abraham had to rescue lot, the number of his trained men, born in his house, numbered three hundred and eighteen (Genesis 14:14, page 19; compare the household of Esau, which included more than his wives, his sons and his daughters, Genesis 36:6, page 59).  In fact, the households of Jacob and Esau had been so great, they were unable to live together (Genesis 36:7, page 59; see also Genesis 46:26, page 79–the sixty-six people who “belonged” to Jacob when he went to Israel).   Although sons may have their own households, to the extent they still live with their fathers, they remain in a sense part of the household of the father.  In any event, we see that the Fathers had a duty to command everyone who lived in their household to walk in the way of the LORD, to do righteousness and justice. In light of the prophecy about Sarah bearing a male child to fulfill the covenant blessing, God revealed the plan for Abraham to raise that son in a household committed to keeping the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice. 

The LORD revealed to Abraham that the outcry of Sodom and Gomorrah was great and their sin exceedingly grave. The LORD said, “I will go down now and see if they have done according the outcry and then He would know.” 35Genesis 18:21, page 25. Then the three men turned away from there and went toward Sodom. As Abraham was still standing before the LORD, Abraham asked if the LORD would sweep away the righteous with the wicked. The LORD answered that he would not and then Abraham questioned the LORD about what number of righteous people in Sodom would prevent the LORD from destroying the city. The LORD ended up saying that if He found ten righteous people there, He would not destroy Sodom. 36Genesis 18:15-33, pages 25-26. God destroyed Sodom, but the LORD spared Lot, the nephew of Abraham by leading Lot and his relatives out before the destruction began. They had to take Lot by the hand to bring him out, because he hesitated in leaving. 37Genesis 19:1-16, pages 26-27. The LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, but Lot’s wife disobeyed the LORD’S command not to look back, and she turned into a pillar of salt. 38Genesis 19:25, page 27; compare the pillar of salt with Sarah laughing.

The morning after the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham stood at the place where he had stood before the LORD, and saw the smoke like a furnace ascending from the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, along with the valley. God destroyed the cities of the valley, but God remembered Abraham, and rescued Lot from the overthrow of the cities. Even so, Lot became drunk one night and his daughters desired offspring. They thought that no man would father children with them. So, they made their father drunk with wine and laid with him, and produced offspring. The firstborn daughter of Lot gave birth to Moab, the father of the Moabites, ancient enemies of Israel. Likewise, the younger daughter gave birth to Ben-ammi, who became the father of the Ammonites, another enemy of Israel. 39Genesis 19:30-38, page 28. God spared Lot, the righteous man whose righteous soul was tormented day by day by the sensual conduct of unprincipled and lawless deeds of the people of Sodom and Gomorrah. 402 Peter 2:6-10, pages 1901-1902. In contrast to the children of Abraham, the children of Lot stood against God and His covenant plans for Abraham and His offspring of promise.

Abraham Feared and Lied

After the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham journeyed to the land of the Negev, and sojourned in Gerar. Abraham feared the king of Gerar, and told him that Sarah was his sister. 41In fact, Terah fathered Abram and Sarai, so Sarai was the half sister of Abram. Sarai had a different mother. (Genesis 20:13, page 29). So, Abraham was stretching the truth, because she was also his wife, which he failed to disclose to King Abimelech. Without knowing that Sarai was Abraham’s wife, King Abimelech took Sarah as his wife. God came to King Abimelech in a dream and revealed to him that he was a dead man because he had taken another man’s wife, Sarah. King Abimelech asked God: “Lord, will you slay a nation, even though blameless?” 42Compare the conversation Abraham had with God about Lot (Genesis 18:22-33, pages 25-26. King Abimelech then confronted Abraham about his lies and Abraham disclosed the truth, and how he had planned for Sarai always to call herself his brother to all strangers. Sarah knew that Abraham’s fear caused him to be a constant, premeditated liar about his wife. She too was swept up in Abraham’s sinful lies, based upon his fear. So, the truth became known, Abraham owned his lie, and prayed to God to heal King Abimelech and his wife and his maids, so that they could have children. Before Abraham prayed, the LORD had closed all the wombs of the household of King Abimelech, because of Sarah, the wife of Abraham. 43Genesis 20:1-18, pages 28-29. Abraham still had massive fears of his own, and he lied about Sarah to King Abimelech. 44In Genesis 12:4-20, pages 17-18,  Abraham told the same lie to Pharaoh, and great plagues fell upon Pharaoh and his household because of Sarai, Abram’s wife. Even men of great faith have their own spiritual problems. Yet, God still reckoned Abraham righteous, because of his faith, not because of his works, which were inconsistent. Abraham learned that God valued Sarah, and he would not allow anyone to have sexual relations with her except Abraham. If she had slept with King Abimelech, then the purity of the bloodline would be in question. But God spared King Abimelech. Furthermore, Abraham also learned more about faith. God preserved Abraham from trouble, not by lying, but by God disclosing the truth about Sarah to King Abimelech. Only when Abraham prayed to God did God heal King Abimelech and gave him more children. Abraham learned more about the power of God granting children and withholding children. By faith, Abraham lived before God, although Abraham had imperfect faith at times. Although Abraham believed that God would give him a male child through Sarah, Abraham still lied when his fears gripped him. 

The Birth of Isaac

After the time with King Abimelech, the LORD took notice of Sarah and fulfilled the promise He made to Sarah. Sarah conceived and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the appointed time, just as God had promised. Abraham called the name of his son, born of Sarah, Isaac. He circumcised Isaac on the eighth day. Sarah said: “God has made laughter 45The Hebrews term here for “laughter” (“צְחֹק”) is the same root used in Genesis 18:12-15 when Sarah laughed. for me; everyone who hears will laugh with me.” Previously, Sarah laughed in unbelief. Now, God has made laughter for her. 46The Hebrews phrase for “God has made laughter for me” (“צְחֹק, עָשָׂה לִי אֱלֹהִים”) emphasized that God provided the laughter for Sarah.  Not only has God made laughter for her, but everyone who hears will laugh with me. 47The Hebrew phrase for “everyone who hears will laugh with me” (“כָּל-הַשֹּׁמֵעַ, יִצְחַק-לִי”) indicates that they were joining her in laughing happily with her because God had worked a miralce with the old woman, past childbearing, to have a child to fulfill the covenant blessing of offspring. Sarah concluded by saying, “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet, I have borne him a son in his old age.” The child grew and was weaned, and Abraham made a great feast on the day that Isaac was weaned. 48Genesis 21:1-8, pages 29-30. Sarah had learned great lessons about faith, lying and laughter. So had Abraham. In the end, she had the last laugh, just like Abraham laughed before.

Lessons in Faith

Our spiritual lives will thrive when we believe that nothing is impossible for God and He wants to do impossible things in our lives. Could you make a list of all things in your life that you know God wants to achieve in your life, but you deem them impossible? Do you say things like I am too old, I cannot change, I know that cannot happen in my life? Jesus told us that the Old Testament provides examples for us and for our instruction. 491 Corinthians 10:1-13, page 1793. We should learn to stop living in evil and begin living in belief, trusting in the power of God to do things we deem impossible. God will always provide all the strength we need to do His will in our lives. We can learn to trust Him and His word. As we trust Him, we see more of His power at work in our lives. We live in the power of God by the faith from God in our lives. We learn that all things in the will of God are possible in our lives, even when we doubt them at first. God loves to grow our faith in Him and sot that we believe His plans for our lives.

Faith Lesson One: You Receive the Power of Faith as a Gift from God

Sarah received the power to conceive by faith. The Book of Hebrews provides  a key insight into the faith of Sarah: “By faith, even Sarah herself 50The Greek phrase here “even Sarah herself (“καὶ αὐτὴ Σάρρα“) received power to conceive (“στεῖρα δύναμιν “) highlights Sarah’s journey from laughing to believing (Hebrews 11:11, page 1882). received ability to conceive, even beyond the proper time of life, since she considered Him faithful who had promised.” Because Sarah received the faith before she conceived, she had to start believing before she became pregnant. Therefore, we know that Sarah did not believe the promises of God regarding the child in Genesis 18:12, pages 24-25, but she did believe when Isaac was born in Genesis 21:1-8, pages 29-30. Therefore, between those two events God changed Sarah’s heart about believing His promises about a child for her. Therefore, the passage where God confronted her laughter seems to be the place where God changed her life and built faith in her (Genesis 18:9-18, pages 24-25). Therefore, we should examine that passage carefully to learn how God brought special faith to Sarah so that she would conceive a child of promise by faith. The Bible always presents the truth and God inspired the words of the Bible. Notice that by faith, Sarah received the power to conceive.

Faith Lesson Two: Laughing in Disbelief Must Stop before You Receive the Power of Faith

Sarah had to stop laughing in disbelief before she could conceive Isaac by the power of faith. God used a single confrontation with Sarah to stop her laughing in disbelief. God called Sarah out before her husband for her disbelief. God often calls out our sinful disbelief and requires us to stop that laughing in disbelief before we can receive the power of faith as a gift from God. Our own disbelief must be removed before we can receive the gift of faith God wants to give so that He may fulfill His plans for greatness in our lives. He wants us to participate in His great plans. We can only do so by receiving the the power of faith as a gift of God.

.Faith Lesson Three–God Will Overcome Your Fear before You Receive the Power of Faith

Sarah had to overcome the fear causing her lying in order  to receive the power of faith. When God confronted her laughing disbelief, she immediately denied that she laughed. Nothing could be more stupid spiritually. She fell into two sins at once. First, she blasphemed the word of God because He said she laughed and essentially she called God a liar. Actually, Sarah was the liar because she laughed and denied it. Notice that her fear prompted her lying. Sarah knew she was in trouble for laughing. In the past, Sarah had lied about things at the direction of Abraham (“she is my sister”), and now lied because she feared the repercussions with God now confronting her laughing. Until we realize that God always knows all things and always tells the truth, and we live accordingly, and we speak accordingly, we have not yet come to the point in our lives where we can receive the power of God to believe in miracles. Second, Sarah let her fear overcome her faith in God. When we grasp that God already knows about my laughing disbelief, and is now confronting me with it, I will receive the rebuke about my faith from God. After I receive the rebuke (Sarah laughed in disbelief), then I can receive from God the power of faith as a gift from God. With the power of faith, I can do things beyond my years and natural abilities. For Sarah, she bore a child from God, designed to fulfill the covenant promises.

Faith Lesson Four–Laughing Last

Sarah laughed after she received the power of faith. When the LORD took note of Sarah and did as He promised, Sarah conceived and bore a son. Notice that God produced the son, and the Book of Hebrews emphasized that God gave her the faith to conceive. Sarah bore Isaac and Abraham named the child Issac, meaning laughter. Sarah’s initial laughter of disbelief, Abraham’s laughter of amusement and joy, and Sarah’s believing laughter will always be remembered with the name Issac. Yet, when Isaac was born, Sarah said that God has made me laughter for me. Furthermore, everyone who hears will laugh with Sarah. Not only was Isaac given to Sarah, and to all the people of the covenant, but God also gave laughter to Sarah and all the people of the covenant, because Isaac, the child of the covenant was born by a very old couple, blessed by God. Sarah certainly had the last laugh, with everyone who hears laughing with her. Sarah had received to power to conceive by faith and now laughed with everyone who hears of her.

Faith Lesson Five–Never Too Late

Sarah shows it is never too late to receive the power of faith. Sarah and Abraham had a pact of telling lies for years. They would say that Sarah was the sister of Abraham, because Abraham feared that kings would kill him to take Sarah from him. Both Sarah and Abraham let their fears control them at times. Sarah was ninety and Abraham was ninety nine when God revealed that Sarah was to bear Isaac, the child of the covenant. Abraham and Sarah both learned that it is never too late to have faith in God to do all things. He is God Almighty, and nothing is too difficult for God Almighty. Both Sarah and Abraham suffered from fears and counted upon lies instead of the power of God, but with God, it is never too late to leave fears and lies behind, and receive the power of God by faith from God to see God fulfill His wonderful plans for our lives. 

Faith Lesson Six–Never Too Old

Sarah shows you are never too old to receive the power of faith. Sarah was ninety years old when King Abimelech wanted her to be his wife. Sarah looked good in her old age. Abraham was ninety-nine years old when God told Abraham about Isaac. We should learn that we are never too old for God to give us faith and help us overcome our fears and our lies, so that we receive from God the power of faith so that He can accomplish marvelous works in our lives, even when we think we are too old. With God, all things are possible, even for old people with severe fears and doubts and patterns of not trusting God in all things.

Faith Lesson Seven–Everyone Laughs

Sarah shows everyone laughs when you receive the power of faith. With the birth of Isaac, God made laughter for Sarah. Indeed, Sarah said that everyone who hears will laugh with me. Sarah continued: “Who would have said to Abraham and that Sarah would nurse children? Yet, I have borne him a son in his old age.” 51Genesis 21:7, pages 29-30. With Sarah, she had overcome her fears and her disbelief, and finally laughed as Abraham laughed, with joy and amusement. Everyone would laugh with joy when they heard the story of the old woman, past childbearing years, nursing her baby because gave her faith to conceive that child. Everyone will move forward in the joy of the LORD. 52Nehemiah 8:10, page 777–“the joy of the LORD is your strength.” Everyone who hears the story will laugh with me.

 

Conclusion

We can learn many lessons for living in faith in the plans of the God Almighty. God gives us faith, even when we think we are too old, or its too late, or both, to implement his plans for our lives. The power of God comes to live in our lives by faith in God. We may start laughing in disbelief, but when we receive the gift of faith from God, then we will laugh with joy over the power of God and everyone who hears the story will join us in such laughter of delight over the power of God working through the gift of faith from God in our lives.

 

HALLELUJAH !

Reference    [ + ]

1. God 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”).
2. Abraham 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.
3. Genesis 15:1-6.
4. The Hebrew phrase “Abraham believed in the LORD” (“וְהֶאֱמִן, בַּיהוָה”) testifies to the power and priority of faith, a gift of God.
5. The 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.
6. See 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”).
7. In 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).
8. When 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).
9. Genesis 17:1-16, pages 22-23.
10. The 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.”
11. The 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).
12. The 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).
13. The 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.
14. Genesis 17:1-15, pages 22-23.
15. The Hebrew term “laughed” (“וַיִּצְחָק”–waw consecutive imperfect) means laughter; the issue is what king of laughter: scoffing? amusement? pure joy?.
16. Notice here that Abraham was speaking inside himself, “in his heart” (“וַיֹּאמֶר בְּלִבּוֹ”).
17. Genesis 17:17, page 23.
18. Genesis 17:19, page 23. The Hebrew term “Isaac” (“יִצְחָק”) here means “laughter.”
19. Genesis 17:19, page 23.
20. Genesis 17:20, page 23.
21. Genesis 18:1, page 24).
22. The Hebrew term “My lord” (“אֲדֹנָי”) may refer to God or to humans.
23. The New American Standard Bible translates the passage with the “Your” capitalized, indicating deity.
24. The Hebrew phrase for “appointed time” (“כָּעֵת חַיָּה”) literally means “as this time of life,” translated as this time next year. See also the use of the same phrase with Elisha promising the Shunamite that next year  (“כָּעֵת חַיָּה”)  she would have a son (2 Kings 4:16, page 596).
25. Genesis 18:2-14, page 24.
26. The Hebrew term referring to Sarah, “And she laughed” (“וַתִּצְחַק”), has the identical root to the laughter of Abraham.
27. The Hebrew term for “within herself” (“בְּקִרְבָּהּ”) means innermost part.
28. The Hebrew term for “pleasure” (“עֶדְנָה”) means here sexual pleasure.
29. The Hebrew term for “and my lord” (“וַאדֹנִי”) speaks of submission and honor. In the New Testament, we read that Sarah “obeyed Abraham, calling him Lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear (1 Peter 3:6, page 1896). Peter made the point that Sarah obeyed Abraham, with all his imperfections and great faith, calling him lord, and said that believers could become the children of Sarah by acting like Sarah as she obeyed Abraham.
30. This use of the term LORD indicates that God was present among the three men talking with Abraham.
31. Genesis 18:14, page 25.
32. The Hebrew phrase “for she was afraid” (“כִּי יָרֵאָה”) explains that her fear caused her to lie.
33. Genesis 18:16-18, page 25.
34. Genesis 18:19, page 25. When we think of household, we may be thinking of just a few people, such as minor sons and daughters.  The household of Abraham, however, included his son Ishmael, all the servants born in house, all who were bought with his money, and all of their children (Genesis 17:23-27, page 24).  In fact, when Abraham had to rescue lot, the number of his trained men, born in his house, numbered three hundred and eighteen (Genesis 14:14, page 19; compare the household of Esau, which included more than his wives, his sons and his daughters, Genesis 36:6, page 59).  In fact, the households of Jacob and Esau had been so great, they were unable to live together (Genesis 36:7, page 59; see also Genesis 46:26, page 79–the sixty-six people who “belonged” to Jacob when he went to Israel).   Although sons may have their own households, to the extent they still live with their fathers, they remain in a sense part of the household of the father.  In any event, we see that the Fathers had a duty to command everyone who lived in their household to walk in the way of the LORD, to do righteousness and justice.
35. Genesis 18:21, page 25.
36. Genesis 18:15-33, pages 25-26.
37. Genesis 19:1-16, pages 26-27.
38. Genesis 19:25, page 27; compare the pillar of salt with Sarah laughing.
39. Genesis 19:30-38, page 28.
40. 2 Peter 2:6-10, pages 1901-1902.
41. In fact, Terah fathered Abram and Sarai, so Sarai was the half sister of Abram. Sarai had a different mother. (Genesis 20:13, page 29).
42. Compare the conversation Abraham had with God about Lot (Genesis 18:22-33, pages 25-26.
43. Genesis 20:1-18, pages 28-29.
44. In Genesis 12:4-20, pages 17-18,  Abraham told the same lie to Pharaoh, and great plagues fell upon Pharaoh and his household because of Sarai, Abram’s wife.
45. The Hebrews term here for “laughter” (“צְחֹק”) is the same root used in Genesis 18:12-15 when Sarah laughed.
46. The Hebrews phrase for “God has made laughter for me” (“צְחֹק, עָשָׂה לִי אֱלֹהִים”) emphasized that God provided the laughter for Sarah.
47. The Hebrew phrase for “everyone who hears will laugh with me” (“כָּל-הַשֹּׁמֵעַ, יִצְחַק-לִי”) indicates that they were joining her in laughing happily with her because God had worked a miralce with the old woman, past childbearing, to have a child to fulfill the covenant blessing of offspring.
48. Genesis 21:1-8, pages 29-30.
49. 1 Corinthians 10:1-13, page 1793.
50. The Greek phrase here “even Sarah herself (“καὶ αὐτὴ Σάρρα“) received power to conceive (“στεῖρα δύναμιν “) highlights Sarah’s journey from laughing to believing (Hebrews 11:11, page 1882).
51. Genesis 21:7, pages 29-30.
52. Nehemiah 8:10, page 777–“the joy of the LORD is your strength.”

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