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The Birth of Isaac-Laughter

By David Thurman from The Gospel Minutes


     Our story begins in Genesis 18.  Visitors approached the camp of Abraham.  He insisted they eat with him and rest in the heat of the day.  As they sat with Abraham, they tell Abraham he would have a son next year.  The following events lead to the naming of Isaac.  “Then they said to him, ‘Where is Sarah your wife?’  And he said, ‘There, in the tent.’  He said, ‘I will surely return to you at this time next year; and behold, Sarah your wife will have a son.’  Sarah was listening at the tent door, which was behind him.  Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in age;  Sarah was past childbearing.  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 will have a son.’  Sarah denied it however, saying, ‘I did not laugh’; for she was afraid.  And He said, ‘No, but you did laugh.’” (Gen. 18: 9-15)


     This story tells us about everyday life in that  era.  Traveling in middle of the day was dangerous due to the heat and arid conditions, so Abraham is eager to get these men to stay and rest.  It was expected that you would invite strangers to stay and dine with you.  It was common to offer them the best of everything you had to offer.  And, it was normal for the women to stay out of sight and away from the visitors as they ate.  Everything seems normal, until the prediction of a birth in the coming year.  This seems odd, since Abraham is 99 years old and Sarah is 89!  Imagine, a baby at age 90!  Sarah’s reaction is probably what ours would be, she laughed at the prospect of having a baby at that age.


     “Then the Lord took note of Sarah as He had said, and the Lord did for Sarah as He had promised.  So Sarah conceived and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the appointed time of which God had spoken to him.  Abraham called the name of his son who was born to him, whom Sarah bore to him,  Isaac.  Then Abraham circumcised his son Isaac when he was eight days old, as God had commanded him.  Now Abraham was one hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him.  Sarah said, ‘God has made laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh with me.’  And she said, ‘Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children?  Yet I have borne him a son in his old age’” (Gen 21:1-7).  They call the name of the child, Isaac, or laughter!  Instead of considering her surprise a problem, they turned it into joy.  For the rest of their lives these two parents will rejoice every time they mention their son’s name.  He brought joy to two people who had wondered if they would ever have children.  We can learn some things from these parents.




     Abraham has been following God for over a quarter of a century.  From the time he left Ur of the Chaldeans until now, this man of faith has gone where God led him.  But through all of that, he has been trying to have the son God promised.  Abraham and Sarah are still trying to have a baby, even at this advanced age.  Against all common sense , Abraham keeps obeying God by trying to have a son.  Against all  medical knowledge, Abraham and Sarah keep trying to conceive a child.  They keep trying, trusting God will keep His promise.  When Sarah conceives, it was because God intervened.  But, if they had stopped trying to have a child, they would never have had Isaac.  It was their obedience that led to the birth of Laughter in their home.


     We need to pay attention to this point.  We need to obey God in all situation.  Sometimes it might seem silly to turn the other cheek, but we need to obey God.  There are times it might be easier to keep our money to ourselves, but we need to obey God and share what we have with others.  It might not make sense to forgive someone seventy times seven times, but we need to obey God.  It is in our obedience that God fulfills His promises to us.  It is in our submission to His will that  God fulfills His promises to us.  It is in our submission to His will that God brings joy into our lives, just as He did for Abraham and Sarah.




     The men on God ask, “Is anything too difficult for God?”  The point of the question is to make us think about God’s power.  Is there anything so incredible the Lord cannot do it?  Is there any natural law that the author of natural law cannot change?  By any standard this was an impossible pregnancy.  A ninety year old woman giving birth is beyond medical science.  But, that is part of the Lord’s plan to them, and to us, to impress on us the scope and reach of His power.


    The fact is all that we do to make life work is based on the science and natural law that God thought up.  If God can make the universe from nothing, He can certainly intercede in nature and change things to bless His children.  That is why we pray for rain.  That is why we pray for healing.  That is why we ask God for blessing.  All of this is based on the simple conviction that God can change anything.  So, if you are worried about politics and politicians, ask God to change things.  If you are anxious about wars, ask God to intervene.  If you are worried about jobs, money, children, take this to a God who can do anything He chooses to do to help His children.  This doesn’t mean you will get it right then, after all, Abraham and Sarah have waited 25 years to have this child.  But, we should always turn to the One who controls the world and  let Him take action in our behalf in His time and His way.




     This is the great lesson Abraham learned.  God keeps His promises.  God has told Abraham he will become a great nation.  The land of Canaan would belong to that great nation.  His descendants would be too numerous to count.  But, Abraham has no son, no way of continuing the family line.  But, when God kept this promise, my hunch is that Abraham all of a sudden knew more than every that all the other promises would be kept too.  When we see God keep a promise to us, we stop worrying about all the other promises.  If God has promised, He will keep His promise.—David Thurman