Laughing at God

Genesis 18:9-15





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Introduction

A.	In mythology, Calchas, the Homeric soothsayer, died of laughter.
	1.	The tale is that a fellow in rags told him he would never drink 
		of the grapes growing in his vineyard, and added, if his words 
		did not come true, he would be the soothsayer's slave.
	2.	When the wine was made, Calchas sent for the fellow, and he 
		laughed so incessantly at the non-fulfillment of the prophecy 
		that he died.
B. 	Calchas laughed to his great detriment, and there are times it is just 
	not appropriate to get tickled.
	1. 	In my home congregation we had this old baptistery under the 
		pulpit.
		a. 	One Sunday morning, some were lifting the lid and one of 
			the pillars of that church went head first into the baptistery 
			- suit, dress shoes and all.
		b. 	Not appropriate to get tickled.
	2. 	On another occasion, a gentleman at church said that he had an 
		announcement.
		a.	His wife's sister was severely ill, and no one was 
			expecting her to life through the weekend. Herschel said, 
			"We expect her to call any minute saying that she's dead."
		b.	Not a good time to get tickled.
C. 	Each of us could tell numerous occasions--either in church or 
	elsewhere--that something happened, we wanted to bust out 
	laughing, but it just wasn't the right place or the right time.
D. 	You know when it's never right to laugh? When God speaks.
	1. 	Sarah laughed when God told her what He had planned for her 
		and her husband.
	2. 	In this passage, we learn a great deal about God. In particular, 
		we learn GOD HAS A PLAN and GOD HAS A PLAN IN 
		SPITE OF MAN.




God Has a Plan, vv 9-10

A. 	In chapter 18, three men came and visited with Abraham.
	1. 	We know that these men are visible representations of God.
		a. 	"Then the LORD appeared to him by the terebinth trees of 
			Mamre, as he was sitting in the tent door in the heat of the 
			day" (v 1).
		b.	Are there three men representing God because God is a 
			Trinity? Possible, but I have no way of knowing for 
			certain.
	2. 	Abraham entertains these three visitors, and then the 
		conversation turns to Sarah--one of the visitors asked where 
		Sarah was, and Abraham said she was in the tent.
B.	The Lord then said, "I will certainly return to you according to the 
	time of life, and behold, Sarah your wife shall have a son" (v 10). 
	The Lord's plan was for Abraham to have a child.
	1.	The Lord had promised Abraham a child--Gen 15:4-5.
	2.	Here, we see the Lord's carrying out His promise.
		a.	Abraham "believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to 
			him for righteousness" (Gen 15:6).
		b.	Abraham had every reason to believe the Lord's 
			promise—the Lord is good and He 
			will keep His every promise.
C.	God had a goal when He spoke the words we find in Gen. 18 to 
	Abraham--He was going to give Abraham and Sarah a son.
	1. 	God has a goal today--He desires to bring all things under 
		Christ's lordship.
		a. 	God has "made known to us the mystery of His will, 
			according to His good pleasure which He purposed in 
			Himself, that in the dispensation of the fullness of 
			the times He might gather together in one all things in 
			Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth—
			in Him" (Eph 1:9-10).
		b. 	"At the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in 
			heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the 
			earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus 
			Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (Phil 2:10-
			11).
		c. 	"It pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should 
			dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by 
			Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having 
			made peace through the blood of His cross" (Col 1:19-20).
	2. 	What do these passages say about the goal of God? 
		a. 	The goal has not yet been fulfilled, but the goal will be 
			fulfilled at the end when Christ returns to this earth.
		b. 	This goal is inseparably linked with Christ.
			1)	Eph 1:9-10 makes the point that this goal has been 
				"purposed" in Christ. Phil. 2:10-11 makes the point 
				that all shall acknowledge Christ as Lord, and Col. 
				1:19-20 makes the point that universal reconciliation 
				will take place through the cross of Christ.
			2)	If it were not for Christ and the work He did at 
				Calvary, God's goal could not be accomplished, but 
				because of Christ that goal not only can be 
				accomplished 	but will be accomplished 
		c. 	What is the goal of God in Christ? 
			1)	The goal is that all mankind will come under the 
				authority of Christ.
				a)	In this life, I have a choice as to whether or not I 
					will submit to Christ's authority.
				b)	Yet, when Christ comes back, I will have no 
					choice--my tongue is going to confess Christ's 
					lordship and my knee is going to bow in 
					adoration.
			2)	The goal is that all things be reconciled to God 
				through the cross of Christ.
				a)	Notice that Col 1 says that all things--heavenly 
					things and earthly things--will be reconciled to 
					God.
				b)	How are all things going to be reconciled to 
					God?
					i.	This world is cursed because of sin: 
						"Cursed is the ground for your sake; In toil 
						you shall eat of it All the days of your life" 
						(Gen 3:17).
					ii.	The curse is going to be removed when 
						Jesus comes back--this world is going to be 
						destroyed.
		d.	God has a current plan just as He did when He spoke to 
			Abraham.




God Has a Plan in Spite of Man, vv 11-15

A.	Notice that God was able to carry out His plan in spite of Sarah:
	1.	Sarah was old.
		a.	The text reads: "Now Abraham and Sarah were old, well
 			advanced in age; and Sarah had passed the age of 
			childbearing" (v 11).

			1)	The text first mentions Abraham's age, but Abraham's 
				age wasn't really an impediment--Abraham remarried 
				after Sarah's death and had other children (Gen 25:1-
				6).
			2)	The text makes the point really that Sarah's age was 
				the impediment--"Sarah had passed the age of 
				childbearing."
		b.	Even though people tended to live longer in the day of 
			Abraham, women apparently were not able to bear 
			children any longer than they do today.
	2.	Not only was Sarah old, but she laughed: "Sarah laughed 
		within herself, saying, 'After I have grown old, shall I have 
		pleasure, my lord being old also?'" (v 12).
		a.	Abraham believed God, and we remember Abraham for 
			his confidence in God's promise.
		b.	Not so Sarah--she laughed, apparently because she 
			believed God couldn't do what He had promised.
	3.	Not only was Sarah old and laughing, but she lied: When God 
		told Abraham that Sarah had laughed, we read, "Sarah denied 
		it, saying, 'I did not laugh,' for she was afraid" (v 15).
		a.	Imagine being in Sarah's shoes--no way she can have a 
			baby, although she desperately wants one, God says she's 
			going to have a child when she's way too 
			old to be changing diapers, and she just can't believe that 
			this is really going to happen.
		b.	When God caught her, Sarah did the thing which seemed 
			to cause the least problems--she lied.
	4.	Aren't we sometimes just like Sarah?
		a.	Do we sometimes focus on the physical rather than the 
			spiritual?
			1)	When we read that Sarah was old, the focus is on the 
				physical.
				a)	Physically there is no way that Sarah could have 
					a child.
				b)	The answer lies in the rhetorical question at v 
					14: "Is anything too hard for 	the LORD?" (Gen 
					18:14).
			2)	Don't we often have a tendency to look at things 
				physically rather than spiritually?
				a)	"Lord, I can't give generously. I just don't make 
					enough money."
				b)	"Lord, this church can't really grow. We just 
					don't have enough people."
				c)	"Lord, we don't have enough teachers. Our 
					children will never learn anything."
				d)	When we say things such as this, we focus on 
					what we can do instead of on what God can do.
		b.	Do we sometimes doubt that God can really do what He's 
			claimed to do?
			1)	That's undoubtedly why Sarah laughed--she just 
				didn't believe that God could do what He said He 
				would do.
			2)	Do we really believe that God will do what He has 
				said He will do?
				a)	Do we really believe that God can take a broken 
					life and make it whole again?
				b)	Do we really believe that God will bless us when 
					we give generously?
				c)	Do we really believe that God will hear us when 
					we pray and answer us according to His will?
		c.	Do we sometimes stretch the truth a little bit when we get 
			caught?
			1)	Sarah was caught red-handed--there was no way she 
				could deny before the Lord that she had indeed 
				laughed. But, she did deny that she had laughed--she 
				didn't want to face the truth.
			2)	Do we sometimes lie to cover up what we have done?
				a)	If our parents ask us about something, do we 
					sometimes fabricate to make 	things look better 
					than they really are?
				b)	If we've gone to lunch, eaten in a hurry, shopped 
					for an hour, and make it back to the office late, 
					are we going to tell our supervisor, "The 
					restaurant was so slow today"?
B.	God was able to carry out His plan to give Abraham a son and make 
	from that son a great nation in spite of Sarah's shortcomings.
	1.	God was able to do what He had purposed to do even though 
		Sarah made things a little difficult.
	2.	God is going to be able to carry out His final goal, whether we 
		cooperate or not.
		a.	God is going to reconcile the world to Himself whether or 
			not I go to my neighbor and seek his reconciliation or not.
		b.	God is going to have every tongue confess the deity of 
			Jesus, whether I wish to do so or not.
		c.	God is going to destroy this world with fire whether I like 
			it or not.
	3.	God is sovereign, and He will carry out His plan in spite of 
		man.
	4.	God is going to reconcile all things at the end of the age. Do 
		you need to come tonight and be reconciled to God?




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