Then God said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. And I will bless her and also give you a son by her; then I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of peoples shall be from her.” Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed, and said in his heart, “Shall a child be born to a man who is one hundred years old? And shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?”- Genesis 17:15-17(NKJV)
You have keep this in context. God said what He would do through Abraham and Sarah in their old age, and then. . . Okay, okay. Let me say it another way. God shared how He would bless the man and his wife with a child, even though they both were beyond the years of conception and . . . Maybe I just should say it a different way. God informed Abraham that He would use Hs supernatural abilities to rid Sarah of her barren reproach, giving Abraham an heir of his own seed, his own blood, his own lineage. Yeah, that’s right about the place that the old man fell on his face. In worship? He was in laughter, creating images in our minds of him most probably nearing tears with an ache in his side to go with it.
Shall a child be born to a man who is one hundred years old?
And shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?
That’s not the most reverent response to God known to man from the sound of it. Abraham seems to take it a notch above a snicker with outright laughter if we take this at the surface. Yet, let us not jump on Abraham so fast. Genesis 18 complicates the matter even further when the Lord appears as three men approaching Abraham one day.
Then they said to him, “Where is Sarah your wife?” So he said, “Here, in the tent.” And He said, “I will certainly return to you according to the time of life, and behold, Sarah your wife shall have a son.” (Sarah was listening in the tent door which was behind him.) Now Abraham and Sarah were old, well advanced in age; and Sarah had passed the age of childbearing. Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, “After I have grown old, shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?”- Genesis 18:9-12 (NKJV)
Just like her husband, Sarah laughed at the idea. She, too, saw it as an impossibility for her and her husband to rear children at their advanced years of age. No matter if it is the Almighty God Himself or these three men entertained by Abraham, the idea presented to both husband and wife seems comical and causes both to laugh.
Was it really a laugh? Was it truly laughter? Were they both the same type of laughter?
The same root word is used in our English translation for “laughter” and “laughed,” making any distinction or differentiation between the two difficult. You would think that both were similar if not the same. Yet, Henry Morris points out in The Genesis Record that Abraham’s laughter was “with joy and surprise… not a laugh of doubt.” It is different from Sarah’s laughter that warrants the rebuke of the Lord in Genesis 18:13. Morris calls Sarah’s laughter “cynical.” Dr. Morris surmises that “her faith needed to be strengthened.”
Unlike the interaction with Abraham alone, the theophany in Genesis 18 leads to the Lord questioning Sarah’s laughter. Despite Sarah’s denial, the Lord breaks through all of the mess and addresses the child of promise issue again, repeating the promise before both Abraham and Sarah. Ultimately, He poses the deepest question that could be asked of any believer- whether they need their faith strengthened or not: Is anything too hard for the Lord?
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