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Genesis part XI: Sarai’s name is changed and she is reproved for laughing

In case you missed it:

PART 10: The Promise of an Heir and Ishmael is Born

PART 9: God renews the promise and a kingly battle

PART 8: Language Confusion and Abram’s Blessing

PART 7: Noah’s Generation, a geographic history lesson

PART 6: Noah leaves the ark and God blesses him

PART 5: The wickedness of the world and the Great Flood

PART 4: The first murder and genealogy of the Patriarchs

PART 3: The Original Sin

PART 2: The making of mankind and the Sabbath

PART 1: Genesis: in the beginning

Discussing the Bible with you is what I look forward to the most! As always, I encourage you to share what you may have learned or what touched your heart this week in the comment section below. Today, we’re going to cover chapters 17 & 18.

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Sarai’s name is changed and she is blessed

Scripture in focus: Genesis 17

Abram is 99 years old when the Almighty appears to him and tells him what is expected of him (17:1). God also reminds Abram that He did not forget the covenant He made with him (17:2). Abram then falls on his face in reverence of His Majesty (17:3). Oh, to be in such glorious presence! Soon, my Lord! Soon, I shall be in such a glorious and majestic presence! 💙God reminds Abram that His covenant is with him and that he’ll be a father of many nations (17:4) so no longer was his name to be called Abram (father of many) for God changed it to Abraham (father of many nations) to reflect the meaning (17:5). God assures Abraham that he’ll have MANY descendants (17:6). God would establish an everlasting covenant with Abraham and it would extend to all of his ancestors (17:7-8). God commands Abraham to keep His covenant (17:9) and proceeds to gave Abraham something to do for the first time in regards to the covenant which is circumcision. He is also very specific about the details (17:10-14).

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God also changes Sarai’s (“my” princess) name to Sarah (princess) for His promises would come through her (17:15-16). How did Abraham response? He laughs in doubt for he did not think that a man his age would be fathering a child with a wife past her childbearing age (17:17). Which is sort of funny, for his own father had him when he was 130 years old. Ishmael was now a teenager and Abraham wanted to adopt him as his heir (17:18). It shows that Abraham still wasn’t looking at the big picture. All he could see was his old age and Sarah’s barrenness before him so it was hard to grasp what he couldn’t conceive. 

Despite Abraham’s doubt, God tells him matter-of-factly that he was going to have a son and he was to name him Isaac (17:19). Ishmael shall also be blessed for God heard Abraham’s prayer (17:20). In 16:10, God had already promised Ishmael’s mother (Hagar) that He’ll multiply her descendants through her son. God repeats that the covenant is to be established with Isaac and not Ishmael (17:21) and then He ascended before Abraham’s eyes (17:22) just as Jesus did in the presence of His disciples (Luke 24:51). 

Without delay, after God left his presence, Abraham carries out God’s command of circumcision (17:23-27).

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Sarah is reproved for laughing

Scripture in focus: Genesis 18

The Lord appears to Abraham once again in human form (18:1). Abraham holds up and sees three men (the pre-incarnate Christ & 2 angels) and he humbles himself before them (18:2). Abraham says to his Lord that if He judges him and finds him okay to not leave (18:3). Verses 4-5 is a picture of hospitality and shows Abraham’s willingness to serve. Sarah and Abraham prepare a meal for their visitors (18:6-8). After eating their meal, the men get down to business and enquires after Sarah (18:9). She was said to be in the tent, but she was within hearing of the conversation in which God reaffirms His promise of a son (18:10). 

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Sarah and her husband are old and “it ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women” meaning that she had stopped menstruating (and had probably gone through menopause) so she couldn’t see herself carrying an unborn (18:11) so she did what her husband did earlier when the Lord paid him a visit: laughed (18:12). She was in doubt about conceiving a child the natural way, but nothing’s impossible for God. Even when we’re faithless, God remains faithful (2 Timothy 2:13).

The Lord hears Sarah’s laughter and asks Abraham why did his wife laugh although He already knew why (18:13). He then poses a rhetorical question “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” (18:14). Of course not!

NOTHING IS EVER TOO HARD FOR OUR WONDERFUL CREATOR! NOTHING! 

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When Sarah realizes that she was in the presence of God she denies laughing, but God insists that she did in fact laugh (18:15). The men then rose up and look toward Sodom (18:16). God decides to reveal to Abraham the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah (18:17-19). The cities had become polluted with sins so great that God was going to go down and judge them (18:20-21). The two angels went down to Sodom (these are actually the two men who visited Sodom in Genesis 19), but the Lord stayed with Abraham (18:22) who proceeds to intercede on behalf of the two wicked cities (18:23-26) and then bargains with God for the people (18:27-32).

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During these verses, we see the character of a very prayerful and spiritual man. He prayed that Sodom might be spared if a few righteous people should be found in it. His nephew Lot was a resident of Sodom and he could’ve only asked God to save Lot, but he prayed for the righteous. His heart was full of compassion for the people of Sodom. This is the compassion that we should feel for sinners and how we should pray for them. All the while Abraham was conversing with the Lord, the Lord was ever so patient. 

The Lord then went His way and Abraham returned to his place (18:33). Unfortunately, not even 10 righteous people were found, just 4 and God had to destroy the cities as we’ll see in the next lesson.

Additional Notes/Recap

^ Relating to the appearances of the Lord to humans, it is believed that this Person was God, in the Person of Jesus Christ before His incarnation and birth at Bethlehem for NO ONE has seen God at any time but Jesus declared Him (John 1:18) and NO MAN has ever seen God in the Person of the Father (1 Timothy 6:16).

^ You may ask why God had to keep reminding Abraham of the promise He made to him. Simple. Faith comes by hearing (Romans 10:17) so we need to hear God’s promises over and over again. From Genesis to Revelation, God keeps reminding us of His beautiful promise of salvation if only we come to accept Him as Lord and Savior. 

^ Isaac means “he laughs” a reference to Abraham’s response in 17:17 and Sarah’s action in 18:12

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REFERENCES/AIDS

* The Holy Bible 

* biblestudys.org

* blueletterbible.org

*** Images and GIFs via Google Search