17 November 2012

Genesis 18:1-15

"Is anything too wonderful for the Lord?" (v. 14)


Today is story time, a dramatic narrative where Sarah, at the age of 90, hears she is to have a child. Three men, messengers from God, are welcomed and offered hospitality by Abraham who calls up on Sarah to do the baking and provide a meal.

We can clearly picture the situation with Abraham and his family camped by the "oaks of Mamre" (v. 1), going about their everyday business when three strangers turn up. Abraham offers them a welcome and Sarah busies herself preparing a meal. The sharing of the food becomes a time of revelation. At this time Abraham is still an 'alien' living in a foreign land and yet he offers hospitality to the stranger. Hospitality, and care for the stranger is a theme that is picked up time and time again through the Bible. The nation that God has chosen will need to be one that blesses others and looks after those in their midst.

Is anything too hard for the Lord? Is anything impossible for the Lord? This challenging question is not given an answer by Sarah. We are left with the picture of Sarah doubting the news that she has been given by the Lord. "I am old" (v. 13) was her cry. Once more a question of faith and trust in the promises of God is left hanging and we are told no more until Isaac is born: "The Lord dealt with Sarah as he had said ... Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age" (Genesis 21:1-2).

Everything seems to depend on the answer, but we are not told what the answer was, just that Sarah was afraid (verse 15). Sarah and Abraham just seem to get on with their lives and God keeps God's own promise. Faith and doubt combine as the mystery that is God works God's own purposes out. The initiative remains with God.

To Ponder

  • How would you answer the question: "Is anything too wonderful for the Lord?"
  • Have you ever been in a difficult situation where the outcome seemed impossible? What happened?
  • Faith and doubt seem to be intertwined in the lives of Abraham and Sarah as they learn to walk in God's ways. What space is there in your life for doubt as a good thing? 

Bible notes author

Susan Johnson

Susan has recently moved house from the north east coast in Durham to the west coast in Cumbria. After completing eight years as the Darlington Methodist District mission and development enabler she is taking time out to explore what next, but hopes to get involved with the local foodbanks in the area.