Laughing At God’s Promise

And the LORD said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh, saying, ‘Shall I surely bear a child, since I am old?’ Is anything too hard for the LORD? At the appointed time I will return to you, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.” (Genesis 18:13-14)

In a dramatic way, God appeared to Abraham at the oak trees of Mamre (Genesis 18:1). As the story develops, we see that of the three persons who visited Abraham, two were angelic beings in human appearance who went on to the city of Sodom. The third was the LORD Himself.

Laughing At God's Promise

One reason God made a special appearance was to tell Abraham that the promise he had long waited for would soon be fulfilled. A son would be born to Abrahm and Sarah in about a year (Genesis 18:10). Sarah was listening to the conversation between the LORD and Abraham, and when she heard this good news, she laughed (Genesis 18:12). Sarah knew that she was long past the time of bearing children, and it seemed too good to be true that God would work such a miracle to make her able to conceive.

Sarah’s laugh was silent. Genesis 18:12 says that she “laughed within herself.” Yet, God heard it and He asked Abraham, Why did Sarah laugh? God knows our thoughts and inward actions, even if hidden from others. Sarah fearfully denied that she laughed (Genesis 18:15), but God knew the truth. We might live very differently if we remembered that God hears and knows everything we think and speak.

I wonder what Abraham’s immediate reaction was when he heard God ask, why did Sarah laugh? I wonder if Abraham thought, “Oh no – now God will take away His promise to give us a son. We didn’t respond to His promise with strong faith, so He will take away the promise.”

Yet, that wasn’t what happened. Instead, God confirmed the promise by saying, at the appointed time I will return to you. When Sarah laughed at God’s twice-given promise, God didn’t take the promise away. Instead, God responded by dealing with her sin of unbelief, not by taking away the promise. Sarah’s less-than-perfect faith did not disqualify her from God’s good promise. We are grateful for what 2 Timothy 2:13 says: If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.

As God confirmed His promise, He gave believers an enduring principle: Is there anything too hard for the LORD? God would demonstrate through Abraham and Sarah that there was nothing too hard for the LORD, and that God can triumph even over the weak faith of His people.

Someone can laugh at God’s promise because they think it is ridiculous, or they can laugh at it because it seems too good to be true. Sarah’s laugh seems to be of the second kind, but God assures us all: nothing is too hard for the LORD. Rest in God’s promises, even the best of those promises.

Click here for David’s commentary on Genesis 18

Click Here for Daily Devotionals from David

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