Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Genesis 18:1-15

“Is anything too hard for the LORD?” (vs. 14)

This is the heart of today’s passage. We see so many clever signs and bumper stickers that portray a Christian message, but this one should be the flashing neon sign over all of our door posts! Is there anything God can’t do?? Of course, He can’t deny Himself and His character, so He can’t lie - but I’m talking here about the challenges we face daily. Is there one that He can’t handle? Of course not! So, this morning I want to focus on this part of the scene we are looking at in Genesis 18.

The LORD appeared to Abraham near the great trees of Mamre while he was sitting at the entrance to his tent in the heat of the day. Abraham looked up and saw three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he hurried from the entrance of his tent to meet them and bowed low to the ground. (vs. 1-2)

It’s the hottest part of the day, and in the blazing sun, Abraham sits at the entrance of his tent, and the LORD shows up. Note that it does not say that Abraham saw the three men coming at a distance, but “he looked up and saw three men standing nearby.” They just appeared! Jon Courson points out that the LORD always shows up when we are in the midst of the heat - when we are going through a fiery trial, He is always there beside us. Where we may not have noticed His presence so much when it was quiet (that’s our fault, not HIS), He appears in full force when the major challenges loom. He appears here to Abraham in the form of a man, with two angels by His side.

Abraham recognizes these are special visitors, for he rushes to bow before them, then gets everyone else busy preparing a lavish meal. I think it’s funny that the preparations are dealt with in six verses, as if it didn’t take a long time to prepare loaves of bread and to kill, dress, and cook a calf! Imagine the happenings in that kitchen!

Now, the LORD has come to personally deliver a great message: “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son.” (vs 10) God had already promised Abraham an heir through Sarah - He’d even given the child the name Isaac, meaning “laughter.” (Gen 17:19) So, I’m wondering why He has come again to give basically the same message... I’m wondering if this visit wasn’t just for Sarah! The rest of this passage focuses on her response. Sarah had been eavesdropping on the conversation from just inside the tent. When she heard God’s pronouncement that she’d have a baby in a year’s time, she laughs incredulously, since she’s already way past menopause! Note the way this is stated in verse 12:

So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, “After I am worn out and my lord is old, will I now have this pleasure?”

The God who hears our thoughts and knows our hearts calls her out on her unbelief in this humorous exchange:

Then the LORD said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Will I really have a child, now that I am old?’ Is anything too hard for the LORD? I will return to you at the appointed time next year, and Sarah will have a son.”
Sarah was afraid, so she lied and said, “I did not laugh.”
But he said, “Yes, you did laugh.” (vs13-15)

As a teacher, I have similar scenes play out like this in my classroom all the time:

Me: “Why did you sign your mother’s signature on your reading log?”
Guilty student: “I didn’t sign it! She did!”
Me: “Really? She signed in PENCIL then ERASED it and SIGNED IT AGAIN? Do I look stupid to you???”

Seriously, why do we think we can get away with ANYTHING? And why would we WANT to? It’s amazing how fear of punishment will cause us to lie when the evidence is so glaring to the contrary! It shows our lack of understanding of our Father when we pull stunts like this one. Sarah had just heard God say He was going to bless her socks off - and she could not wrap her brain around His being the God of the impossible. Is ANYTHING too hard for Him??

What IMPOSSIBLE thing are you facing? Is it a financial mess that seems impossible to unravel? Is it a relationship so “beyond repair” that you have despaired of seeing it healed? Has the doctor given you the terrifying diagnosis of cancer, which has you immobilized with fear? Is your grief so overwhelming you cannot imagine going on? Or maybe you, too, are barren and figuring you will never know the joy of holding your own child? NOTHING is impossible for God! As Courson says, there is no “degree of difficulty” with God: curing a headache or a malignant tumor are the same to Him. Can we believe Him? Or do we laugh at the thought? Oh, LORD, help us to grasp just how big and powerful you are! Help us to trust in your sovereignty and your great love for us. Help us to KNOW without a doubt that you are not only ABLE but so WILLING to answer the deepest desires of our hearts!

Off to school - wonder if anyone is going to try to pull the wool over Mrs. White’s eyes today?? :)

1 comment:

  1. I had to leave a comment and let you know that once again, God is using something you wrote a month ago to be an encouragement TODAY. I read this blog this morning as my best friend, Kasey, was on a plane to visit her dad who suffered a stroke in February. As you may remember, she was at home with her family for a little more than a month. Today is the first time she's going back to visit since then. So many questions are unanswered about her Dad's recovery. And we are still trusting God to heal him completely.

    When I read this, I knew I had to send it to her right away. As soon as she got off the plane, she read it and emailed me saying what an incredible encouragement it was to her. She is going to print it and put it on her parent's fridge to read every day.

    Thank you for continuing to post the truth of God's word as an encouragement to so many.