WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
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THE BIRTH OF THE PROMISED SON
(GOD keeps HIS promises)
(Genesis 18:1-15 and 21:1-7)
In biblical times in the land of ancient Palestine, inns, hotels, and motels were very scarce, and so many travelers had to rely on its citizens to be hospitable towards each other. Here in Genesis 18 we see the seriousness exhibited by Abraham in his desire to welcome strangers in his home as he offers three men (angels) a royal welcome into his abode.
One day around noon Abraham was sitting at the entrance of his tent when he espied three men standing nearby. This passage tells us that Abraham jumped up and ran to meet them, bowing to them, showing the greatest of respect and acknowledgement, even calling them “LORD” (this indicates that he knew that they represented Divinity before him) and requesting that they abide with him for a while.
Abraham offered that they rest in the shade of one of Mambre’s oak trees, and allow his servants to bring them water to drink, and to wash their tired feet (v.4). In addition, he offers to prepare them fresh food (not leftovers), for them to be filled before they continued on their way (v.5). And so we see here, the great lengths to which a person should go to welcome another person into their home, because we never know (like in this case) when we may be entertaining “an angel of the LORD”.
Notice that the first verse in this chapter indicates that “the LORD” appeared again to Abraham, and so at least one of these men was an actual “Theophany” of CHRIST, or, represented one of several Old Testament appearances by CHRIST JESUS” (Genesis 18:20-21 and 22:11-17, Exodus 3:2-3, Joshua 5:13-15, Numbers 22:21-35, and Judges 2:1-5).
And so, after the three angels accepted Abraham’s invitation, he ran back to the tent and instructed his wife Sarah to help him prepare the meal for them. After the food was prepared, Abraham took it and served it to his honored guests, and then, respectfully waited for them to finish eating.
One of the angels then requested to know where Sarah was, and Abraham responded that she was in the tent. “The angel of the LORD” then informed Abraham that by this time next year HE would return and Sarah would be nursing their very own son, conceived of their own bodies in their old age. Sarah, who was listening from their tent, laughed silently to herself, thinking, “How could a worn-out woman like me have a baby? Especially when my husband too, is so old”
However, the LORD divinely perceived Sarah’s thoughts and said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh? Why did she say, “Can an old woman like me have a baby?” Is anything too hard for the LORD? The LORD then iterates HIS previous statement to Abraham, and upon hearing it again, Sarah became afraid and denied that she had laughed. However, the LORD rebuked her telling her “That is not true, you did laugh”.
The promises GOD makes to us are often concerning things that are “humanly impossible” to achieve, and despite our doubt, HE humors us, and brings those promises into reality anyway. Here in this passage we see, for the first time, GOD actually giving this aging couple “an exact time-frame” for the birth of their son, who would be named “Isaac”, and HE reminds them that nothing is impossible for HIM to do. GOD is able to work with us through our limitations and imperfections, even when we exercise less than “mustard-seed faith” in HIS divine, unlimited abilities.
THE BIRTH OF ISAAC
In Genesis 21, verses 1-7, we see GOD’s promise to Abraham and Sarah finally being realized, and it is exactly at the appointed time. The silent laughter of both Abraham (Genesis 17:17) and Sarah (Genesis 18:12), because of their unbelieving spirit, is now turned into loud laughter of joy that can be shared by both, their family, and friends. And it had been made possible because they had both finally, through increased faith, turned themselves over to GOD, whole-heartedly and completely.
This account in the lives of this aging couple serves to remind us forever, and to assure each of us individually, that, the seemingly impossible things in life are put here to serve as proof, that all things become possible for us when we serve the Almighty, sovereign GOD, the CREATOR of the universe, in total faith.
As “human beings” living in this world, we seem to always attempt to solve our problems by taking matters in our own hands. However, after we become Christians, we need to develop a different mindset, calling on the advice found in GOD’s Word, and the power of the HOLY SPIRIT, to lead and guide us out of our own, self-imposed predicaments.
Unfortunately though, we often continue on in “our worldly mindset” long after we’ve professed to have accepted the wonderful gift of salvation, and vowed to GOD that we are ready to place our lives into HIS protective hands. We seem to have a difficult time resisting the urge to try and move forward without the help of the only wise GOD WHO is physically invisible to us. We have to have faith in someone (GOD) other than what we see physically every day. As human beings, our mind finds abstract things hard to grasp and embrace, because we have to do so with our spirit, through our faith.
When we develop an experiential relationship of friendship with GOD, we can then allow HIM to work in our lives through prayer, and by being patient and waiting on HIM to answer at perfectly the right time. Our trust in GOD should buttress our patience, so that, over time, we won’t see GOD as not moving fast enough, and begin to take foolish and prideful measures, thinking that we need to “help GOD out”.
The only real way we can help GOD, or ourselves, is by being obedient to HIS Word. When we foolishly attempt to interfere with GOD’s speed, we often end up sinning against HIM, and thereby, we delay HIS promise and blessing that HE has already prepared for us.
Abraham and Sarah are one of Scripture’s greatest examples of people who delayed their blessings and promise from GOD, by trying to “help GOD out”. First they brought their servant girl, Hagar, into their bedroom to try and produce a child totally outside of the will of GOD’s plan for them. This human act, of course, eventually caused a lot of strife in their family, and, as a result, they ended up waiting seventeen more years for their promised son, Isaac, to be born through their union.
A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander