Sarah Laughed

“Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in years. The way of women had ceased to be with Sarah. So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, ‘After I am worn out, and my lord is old, shall I have pleasure?’” (Gen. 18:11–12).

- Genesis 18:9–12

Thus far, Abraham has been the primary character in Genesis 18. It is the patriarch who rises quickly to greet and provide water for the guests (vv. 1–4). Moreover, Abraham initiates the preparations for the grand feast later set before his visitors (vv. 5–8).

However, while the meal was indicative of the fellowship God enjoyed with Abraham, today’s passage helps us see that the three men came to the patriarch’s home primarily for the benefit of Sarah. Abraham’s wife is not a second agent in the Lord’s design for His people — she will bear the heir of God’s promises (17:15–16). But Sarah either does not yet know this or perhaps Abraham has not convinced her of this truth, and so Yahweh graciously descends to provide her with direct confirmation of her role.

If there was any doubt regarding the identity of the patriarch’s guests, the speech they give in 18:10 clearly reveals their identity as they utter words similar to the ones God earlier spoke to Abraham concerning Sarah and Isaac (17:21). Our father in the faith has been entertaining the Creator Himself, and therefore the couple should accept His word without hesitation. Furthermore, these visitors again pledge that Isaac’s birth will come within a year (18:10). Gone is the indeterminacy attached to God’s promise; the patriarch and his wife now have a firm time frame in which to expect Him to act.

Divine power is needed to accomplish this feat, for Moses tells us “the way of women had ceased to be with Sarah” (v. 11). Menopause now stands in the way of Sarah conceiving, and thus what the Lord pledges is impossible for men to accomplish. Sarah’s quiet laughter (v. 12) is not entirely surprising, since all she could see at the time was the cruel fact that she was long past motherhood.

Sarah erred in focusing on the obstacles to the promise instead of the Lord’s sovereignty over these impediments. So too can we fail to glorify God when we forget nothing is impossible for Him. John Calvin reminds us in his commentary: “We do not pay him his due honor, except we regard every obstacle which presents itself in heaven and on earth, as placed under subjection to his word.”

Coram Deo

Our Lord and Savior said that what is impossible with men is possible with God (Luke 18:27). When we consider the trials in our lives without trust and confidence in the Lord’s sovereignty, we will crumble under the weight. However, even the obstacles we face are subject to the authority of God. Thus, no burden is impossible for Him to remove, no matter how difficult it may seem to us. Hold onto Christ this day and trust Him to do the impossible.

Passages for Further Study

Ex. 15:1–21
Ps. 46
Dan. 3
Jude 24–25
Rev. 1:8

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