When God’s ability is finally bonded with faith’s availabilty, it creates a spiritual tipping point. This passage doesn’t read like a spiritual tipping point, but it is, for both Abraham and Sarah.
Then they said to him, ‘Where is Sarah your wife?’ And he said, ‘Behold, in the tent.’ And he said, ‘I will surely return to you at this time next year; and behold, Sarah your wife shall have a son.’ And Sarah was listening at the tent door, which was behind him. Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in age; Sarah was past childbearing. And Sarah laughed to herself, saying, ‘After I have become old, shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?’ And the Lord said to Abraham, ‘Why did Sarah laugh saying, “Shall I indeed bear a child, when I am so old?” Is anything too difficult for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you, at this time next year, and Sarah shall have a son.’ Sarah denied it however, saying, ‘I did not laugh’; for she was afraid. And He said, ‘No, but you did laugh’ (Genesis 18:9-15)
It was customary in those days, as in some cultures today, for the women to neither be seen nor heard while male guests were entertained. Sarah thus prepared the bread out of the sight of the men (cf. verse 6), and she remained inside the tent as they ate. While she carefully kept out of sight, her curiosity got the best of her. She may have peeped through the folds of the tent or had her ear to the door, anxious to hear the conversation outside. I doubt that any of us could have avoided such a temptation either.
It was in this context the Lord assured Abraham that Sarah would have a son next year. It appeared Abraham either failed to mention what he heard from God previously in Genesis 17 about a son, or he failed to convince Sarah of its certainty. Whatever the case, the words of God were intended more for Sarah’s benefit than Abraham’s. It was vital that she, too, have faith in God’s promise.
Initially, Sarah’s response differed little from her husband’s response. He laughed too when God spoke to him the last time about a son. Now, Sarah was laughing as well. What was their laughter all about? Maybe it was a combination of surprise, shock, sheer joy, and unbelief. How could such a thing be? One wonders if Sarah’s laughter was not heard outside the tent.
Notice the rebuke is directed, at first, toward Abraham, not Sarah. “And the Lord said to Abraham, ‘Why did Sarah laugh? ’” (Genesis 18:13). In essence, God is saying, “Hey husband, why is your wife laughing at such a wonderful promise? What have you been telling her?”
- Had Abraham deliberately kept God’s promise from her?
- Was his faith so weak that he could not convince his wife?
Somehow he had to give account to God for his wife’s response. I find it most interesting that Sarah’s response mirrored Abraham’s. He had provided the example for her. I personally have met people like this who could barely believe for themselves, much less pull along a “weak believing person”. In other words, their faith was so weak they were more easily pushed down than pulled up!
The words of our Lord speak as loudly to us today as they did to Abraham. “Is anything too difficult for the Lord?” (Genesis 18:14a).
Here was the bedrock issue. The only reason for such unbelief was a failure to comprehend God’s ability to work in and through us. This means there was a break down in our comprehension of what God can do through men. For most, the question has never been, “what can God do?” Everyone believes and knows God can do anything. We must personalize that question. “At my current faith level, what can God do through me? Do I personally believe God will powerfully move through me to others?”
This was the heart of the matter. Abraham and Sarah fully believed in their heart they were past the point of producing a miracle baby.
This is a sticking point for many who seek to believe the Lord for a promise. Most believe in God, but many believers have little or no faith in themselves. Fifty years earlier Abraham and Sarah could have easily believed for a child. Why? They were in the possible category. Now, while God was still in the possible category, they had grown into the impossible zone for God to do anything.
God was confronting them for thinking they were beyond living in the miracle zone. Understand, if the matter of having a son was not impossible, the glory for such a miracle would have not have been given to God. The birth would have simply been a product of love.
Now – The delay of Isaac’s birth was intended both to necessitate and to nurture the faith of Abraham and Sarah. God was not trying to torture and frustrate Abraham and Sarah. If God delays a miracle in any way, it only means He wants to develop our spiritual walk. God was not only providing a son, he was creating a “Father of many nations.” Creating a son was easy. Developing a Father of Nations was the difficult part.
Had Abraham and Sarah come to terms with their unbelief and sarcasm they would have grown more quickly in their relationship and faith towards God. It is high time we start getting honest with ourselves and honest with God. We spend so much time “acting spiritual”, we actually begin to believe we are someone spiritually deep.
Sarah lied to God when she said she didn’t laugh. I think she actually believed she didn’t laugh. Sarah did not deny her thoughts, only her actions. Sarah didn’t care what went on inside her mind and spirit. She only cared that others perceived her as having her spiritual act together. How do we know? She only tried to hide the fleshly error, not the heart issue. No one knew how sarcastic she had grown towards the promises of God.
Does anyone know what is really going on in you today? You could be floundering around “big time” spiritually. Your outward actions do not expose the truth. We all must learn to believe the Spirit’s assessment of our lives…not the fleshly hogwash we tell ourselves and others.
I believe God wants to accomplish some big things in our lives. These things can only be accomplished by the Lord working through people of faith so that He might receive all the glory. Have you arrived at the place where your faith is fully available for Him to use?