Laughing, Lying And Trees
Lord God, giver of life and love and grace, I thank You that You can fill my heart with joy each day.
Read Genesis 18:1–15
Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“Is anything too hard for the Lord?” (Gen. 18:14). See Luke 1:37.
The Bible doesn’t generally waste words, so we may well question why details are given here. Why the trees (1,4,8)? There are parallels to the Eden story and, potentially, an allusion to the tree of life, which may, in part, answer the question. Likewise, the itemized menu shows that Abraham was a good host, hospitality being important in that culture, but in it are foreshadows of the sacrifices: “fine flour” (6) is used only in cereal offerings and making the bread of the presence; and only animals without defects—“choice, tender calf” (7)—were allowed to be sacrificed. Gordon Wenham, in his commentary on Genesis, feels that there are also parallels with the flood story. Nevertheless, in a passage where the main point seems to be a reiteration of the promise of a son to Abraham and Sarah (and that Sarah laughed), one wonders why we need to know that Sarah was in the entrance of the tent that was behind the tree under which Abraham stood. Interpreting God’s Word is not always straightforward. We may over-read a text and draw out significances that are not intended, or we may miss nuances because we have deemed something to be unimportant. Which of our questions are good and which are bizarre, idiosyncratic or just basic? Thankfully, we have commentaries to help us, though there is no substitute for reading and re-reading God’s Word—slowly. Sarah struggled to interpret God’s words. Like her husband, she laughed inwardly at the idea of conceiving a child at their ages. Her fear on being discovered and her denying the laugh are understandable, but though it was an unnerving experience it was also, arguably, reassuring. If God could hear her inner, silent laugh, could he not also work with her inner body? Interestingly, though one or more of the strangers have spoken up to this point, it is the Lord who asks why Sarah laughs.
What does this story about Sarah teach you? Where in your life may God be telling you it’s never too late?
Help me, Father, to believe that amidst the many questions in life and in the Scriptures, nothing is too hard for You.