DIGGING DEEPER INTO THE STORY OF ISAAC’S BIRTH
Bible Background: God has promised to Abraham and Sarah that they will be ancestors of a great nation; and that through them-all the families of the earth will be blessed. There’s just this one little problem: no offspring! Oh, and Sarah and Abe are old! (They did take matters into their own hands and Abe had a son, Ismael, with Sarah’s slave. But the difficulty in believing God’s promise continues. Mamre=Hebron, which is a city in southern Israel to this day.
Going Deeper: 1. An interesting question is “how does God appear to Abraham and Sarah?” There are three men traveling (apparently the Lord and two angels). Abraham shows them wonderful hospitality. The Lord renews the promise of a son. Did Abe know these 3 men? Hebrews 13:2 reminds us of showing hospitality to, and being blessed by, strangers! (Probably a reference to this scene.)
2. At the word “I will return to you in due season and your wife Sarah shall have a son”, Sarah laughs! Who could blame her? She later denies laughing, but the promise is repeated, along with this question we know the answer to: “Is anything too wonderful for the Lord?” When have you been inclined to laugh or scoff at one of God’s promises? When were you surprised that something turned out much more wonderfully than you could ever have imagined?
3. Jumping ahead to chapter 21, we read of the birth of Isaac. As he is named, we learn the meaning of his name “he laughs”. Can you picture old Sarah and Abraham laughing to themselves? This is now a joyous laughter! The kind that a beautiful, unexpected, child might bring!
4. How important is it that God makes and keeps promises? Which promise of God is especially important to you? Which of God’s promises might be hard for people to grasp or to trust in? How might we help them hold onto God’s promises?
5. Some key points in today’s reading: God comes near. With God all things are possible. God keeps God’s promises. God is gracious. Which of those do you need to hear right now? What questions would you like to ask of Abraham or Sarah in today’s story?
6. Let’s not ignore the subject of infertility, and the struggle some couples go through to become parents. Pray for those longing for children; those raising children; and those considering not allowing their child to be born. And pray for all children, that they may be filled with laughter, with hope, and with promise!