Saturday, July 26, 2008

Genesis 18:13-15 God Knows When You Scorn

Genesis 18:13-15: 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.”

These three verses are packed with lessons. First, we notice that the “Lord” asks Abraham “Why did Sarah laugh?” This very question explains the significance of Sarah’s laughing “to herself” as we read in verse 12. If she had laughed out loud, the question would not be as surprising. But only the “Lord” could have been able to hear an internal laugh and also the thinking behind the laugh, so as He could say Sarah was “saying, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, when I am so old?’” Clearly, there’s no escaping the fact that God knows our every thought and feeling.

Secondly, further to our thoughts on the earlier verses, this verse definitely says, “And the Lord said…” Now again, there are two possibilities here. The most likely one is that the Lord God was indeed one of the visitors. The less likely is that He joined the discussion at that point and spoke to Abraham as He done before. I find this is what happens in our own lives. God uses others to direct and guide us, even to test us and grow us. But He is always present. Yet there are times, when He Himself directly enters the process and speaks to us, perhaps not like He spoke to Abraham that day, but certainly clearly enough so that if we were listening for His voice, we would hear it.

And what did God say when He spoke. “Abraham (and maybe Sarah), what’s too difficult for me?” Well, of course, God knows the answering is “Nothing.” But He wants to know what we think. He wants us to believe the answer. The Bible is silent on any direct answer that Abraham or Sarah gave God on His direct question. Was the answer too obvious? Were they too ashamed to state it? Did they not believe the answer? How much more insight would we have into the character of both Abraham and Sarah if we were provided a direct answer to that question. Yet, sometimes, in similar circumstances we behave the same way. We stay silent and do not give God the answer He wants to hear.

Instead of getting upset with our behavior and silence, God reaffirms. In this passage He indicates to Abraham (and to Sarah listening at the side of the tent) that He will return in exactly one year’s time and then, or by then, Sarah will have a son. That’s the loving God that we have.

Now you would think Sarah would have learned her lesson, got the message God was trying to give both of them, and have a change in heart that would result in praising God. Instead, she takes on behavior similar to Eve’s in the garden and denies what God told her she had done. “I did not laugh.” Wow. That takes a lot of guts. How do you deny something God has said you have done? Of course He knows. He would not be saying you did it, if you had not. And why would anyone deny something like that? Well, the Bible tells us she did because she was afraid.

Fear is an emotion that God built into our nature as human beings. In fact, I would venture to say that all of God’s creatures to my knowledge have the emotion of fear. It was intended as a means of helping us survive. Yet, it sometimes causes us to take inappropriate actions and make poor decisions, as it did here in Sarah’s case. It is interesting to note that God (capital He in our text) does not accept it as an excuse and He says, “No, but you did.”

Having lived over six decades at this point, I have come across at least three people that I can clearly say, “there’s no point in arguing” with them. I just cannot win and trying to is not worth it. Once in a while very early in any discussion, I may get a point across to each of them and there may be a momentary concession on their part. It’s very frustrating. I’ve also learned that when it comes to my own life, there is absolutely no purpose in arguing with God. But in the case of God, I would not have it any other way.

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