Sarah and Abraham Laughed │ Lessons in Building Faith

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. 1Genesis 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.” 2Genesis 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.” 3Genesis 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. 4Genesis 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. 5Genesis 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. 6Genesis 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. 7Genesis 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. 82 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. 9In 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?” 10Compare 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. 11Genesis 20:1-18, pages 28-29. Abraham still had massive fears of his own, and he lied about Sarah to King Abimelech. 12In 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. 

References │ Page Numbers Below Footnotes   [ + ]

1. Genesis 18:16-18, page 25.
2. 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.
3. Genesis 18:21, page 25.
4. Genesis 18:15-33, pages 25-26.
5. Genesis 19:1-16, pages 26-27.
6. Genesis 19:25, page 27; compare the pillar of salt with Sarah laughing.
7. Genesis 19:30-38, page 28.
8. 2 Peter 2:6-10, pages 1901-1902.
9. 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).
10. Compare the conversation Abraham had with God about Lot (Genesis 18:22-33, pages 25-26.
11. Genesis 20:1-18, pages 28-29.
12. 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.