Chapter 17:15-21 (ESV) - And God said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. I will bless her, and moreover, I will give you a son by her. I will bless her, and she shall become nations; kings of peoples shall come from her.” Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed and said to himself, “Shall a child be born to a man who is a hundred years old? Shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?” And Abraham said to God, “Oh that Ishmael might live before you!” God said, “No, but Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his offspring after him. As for Ishmael, I have heard you; behold, I have blessed him and will make him fruitful and multiply him greatly. He shall father twelve princes, and I will make him into a great nation. But I will establish my covenant with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this time next year.”
Question to consider: Why did Abraham laugh at God’s promise?
I became a father on my 38th birthday, and the first couple of years of sleep deprivation and fatigue were rough to say the least. It wasn’t like in college when I could pull all-night study sessions and still perform on a test the next day. I simply didn’t recover as easily or quickly as when I was young. So I can’t even imagine what it was like for Abraham to think about raising another child at 100 years old, especially while having to deal with a new teen.
When hit with the reality of this Abraham once again fell on his face. Only this time it was in laughter. Some of the older commentators suggested that this laughter was an expression of joy at the pending fulfillment of God’s promise. However, his comments that follow would seem to disagree with that view. Abraham expresses shock that Sarah would bear a child at the age of ninety since she would have passed that age at least 30 years earlier. Then he follows it up with a suggestion that maybe the blessing should belong to Ishmael instead.
If this was only about Abraham, this might have been the case, but this was about God’s everlasting covenant that would bring about the promised seed which would come through Isaac’s line. Also, this is God’s blessing to Sarah. Her name, Sarai, meant something along the lines of “my lady” or “the lady of the household.” Sarah, however, was more like “the princess of a multitude.” After the shock wore off, it must have been a tremendous gift to experience such a miraculous event.
God also blesses Ishmael by making him fruitful and the father of twelve rulers. They would not be part of the blessed line, but they would still ultimately be redeemed by the seed that would come from that line, Christ Jesus.
Dear Lord, may Your will be done in our lives as it was done with Abraham. Whether it is through our children or our witness, we ask that You will bless us in Your commission to go and make disciples of all nations. Whether we are old or young, we are thankful that You can still use us to bring You glory and share in the blessing of seeing people come to faith and grow closer to you. We long for the day in which we will all stand together in Your kingdom where there will be no more darkness, sadness or pain, and we can enjoy being in Your presence forever. Amen.