Friday, January 16, 2009

Laughing At God

Poor Sarah. Not only did she have to put up with Abraham's wanderings, and the troublesome Hagar and her son Ishmael, but she laughed at God, then denied it out of fear.

Reading through Genesis, Abram is called by God to leave his country and go to a new place, where God will make him a great nation and bless him. Yet in order to become a great nation requires at least one descendant, which, in Genesis 12 is sadly lacking. So Sarai (as she was in chapter 16), gives her servant to Abram to produce a son. Abram and Sarai try to solve the problem their own way, in their own time, rather than waiting for God. Behold, Ishmael comes along, but the problems increase. Sarai is jealous of Hagar's fertility, and Sarai is well past childbearing. Or as Genesis 18 puts it, 'Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in years. The way of women had ceased to be with Sarah.' (Gen 18:11).

Up to their tent comes the Lord, flanked by two angels. After a meal, the Lord declares that 'I will surely return to you about this time next year and Sarah your wife shall have a son.' Sarah was probably about 89 at this time. Her reaction? 'So Sarah laughed to herself saying, "After I am worn out, and my lord is old, shall I have pleasure?"' (Gen 18:12).

Laughter, disbelief, amusement, shock.

Immediately, the LORD says to Abraham: 'Why did Sarah laugh and say, "Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?" Is anything too hard for the LORD?'

I love that line. Is anything too hard for the LORD? Of all the rhetorical questions in the Bible, this is the most emphatic - no, nothing is too hard for the LORD! Or as the angel Gabriel says to the Virgin Mary, "For nothing will be impossible with God." (Luke 1:37)

So what about you? Is the sovereignty, the power, the omnipotence of God something that you mentally assent to, but don't really believe? Maybe God can do some things, but he can't sort out this ... or that ... Without realising it, we chuckle at God. The Scriptures constantly remind us that nothing is too hard for the LORD:

Creating the universe by the power of his word
Saving Noah and his family along with the animals when the flood destroyed the ancient world
Calling Abraham to be the father of a great nation
Protecting Moses when the Israelite infants were being slaughtered in Egypt
Delivering his people from their slavery in Egypt
Leading his people into the promised land
Enabling David to defeat Goliath
Calling his people to repent through the prophets
Protecting the remnant of his people in exile in Babylon
Becoming man in Jesus
Dying on the cross to save us
Raising Jesus from the dead so that he will not die again
Saving souls and bringing people from darkness to light
Being patient that people might come to repentance and faith
Preserving his elect until the full number is gathered in
Preparing the biggest party in the universe, the wedding supper of the Lamb

'Is anything too hard for the LORD?'

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