Abraham (Genesis 18:1-15)

By Mary Jane Chaignot

Categories: Patriarchs

  • God visited Abraham, who will epitomize the virtuous host.
  • Yet, this appearance was in the form of three men. Readers are told it was the Lord; Abraham saw three men.
  • He saw the men in the heat of the day.
  • He ran to them and bowed to the ground – a warm and respectful greeting.
  • "If I have found favor in your sight, do not pass by your servant." This was very polite.
  • He offered water for their feet, rest, and a "morsel" to eat. (If he had told them what he was planning, they might have declined, thinking they were imposing upon him.)
  • As soon as they accepted, Abraham went into high gear.
  • He hurried into the tent, told Sarah to make bread quickly, dashed out to find a young calf, and told a lad to hurry to dress it.
  • All this rushing around was happening in midday heat.
  • Abraham turned that "morsel" into a feast.
  • Then, he did the serving himself.
  • Everything Abraham did was unknowingly appropriate.
  • After the meal, the visitors asked where Sarah was.
  • As a married woman, Sarah would have been expected to stay out of sight. Yet they knew her name.
  • This was Abraham's first hint that these were no ordinary strangers.
  • He answered that she was in the tent.
  • The visitors announced that they would return in about a year and that Sarah would have a son.
  • Even though Sarah was not present, she was listening intently, perhaps ready to be of assistance in whatever way she could.
  • She overheard the announcement of Isaac's impending birth. Her response was very similar to Abraham's just a short time ago.
  • She laughed, silently, within herself, asking, "After I am worn out, and my husband is old, shall I have this pleasure?" It was too much to even think about.
  • She was ninety years old; Abraham was a hundred.
  • She was long past the age of childbearing.
  • No one had ever told her that she would be part of God's promise.
  • The prospect overwhelmed her. She laughed to herself, laughter edged with irony, joy, and disbelief.
  • One of the men asked Abraham, "Why did Sarah laugh, saying, 'Shall I bear a child even though I'm so old?' "
  • They could not possibly have seen her and her response made no noise, yet they knew. And they knew everything.
  • Then they asked the most wonderful question, "Is anything too hard for the Lord?" The only possible response, of course, would be, "No."
  • The phrase suggests that nothing can be too wonderful, too marvelous, or too extraordinary for God.
  • It called into question everything Abraham and Sarah had thought for decades; it challenged their plans, hopes, and activities. It pushed them beyond the point of reason, wisdom, and common sense.
  • It insisted that God alone is omnipotent and omniscient. Then, the promise was repeated.
  • Sarah heard this comment, too, but by now she was afraid; she denied that she had laughed.
  • The Lord replied, "No, you did laugh."
  • In all instances, the word "laugh" is a form of the word, "Isaac."
  • Sarah confirmed the divine promise, and the Lord's response clinched the discussion.
  • The fulfillment of God's promise did not depend on Abraham and Sarah's readiness to accept it. God is God.

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