“And they said unto him, Where is Sarah thy wife? And he said, Behold, in the tent. And he said, I will certainly return unto thee according to the time of life; and, lo, Sarah thy wife shall have a son. And Sarah heard it in the tent door, which was behind him. Now Abraham and Sarah were old and well stricken in age; and it ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women. Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also? And the LORD said unto Abraham, Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I of a surety bear a child, which am old? Is any thing too hard for the LORD? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son. Then Sarah denied, saying, I laughed not; for she was afraid. And he said, Nay; but thou didst laugh.” Genesis 18:9-15 (KJV).
The three guests had been served, had received the meal, and had eaten. We are not told this by the text itself, but it seems to be quite clear that the reason these had come, was to bring this important, encouraging message to Abraham and Sarah. Abraham was 75 years of age when they departed Haran, and Sarah would have been 65, yet they had believed the promise of a son. It seems though, that that promise had been given solely to Abraham, and Sarah went along believing Abraham, and this was the first time she had heard it from the mouth of the LORD. If it is true that this is the first time she has heard the promise from the LORD Himself, then, we can better see why she suggested Abraham take Hagar as wife, and they had Ishmael. It might give us better understanding of why she laughed when she heard the words, “Sarah thy wife shall have a son”.
At the time of this visit Abraham was 99 years of age and Sarah was 89. Now, if the preceding scenario is correct, and Sarah had not heard the promise from the LORD Himself, then she has now. The laughter can be understood from this perspective, though it may not have been appreciated by our LORD. Her laughter may have been done in stark surprise at what she had just heard coming from the mouth of this special Stranger.
Then, she heard the words, “Is any thing too hard for the LORD?”, and she believed that the previous words were the word of the LORD. Sarah is not the only one who laughs at the immediate promises of God. We have heard the promises for years from the mouth and lips of others. We have heard them from the mouths of our pastors, our Sunday School and Bible Study teachers; and we have heard them as we read the Scriptures for ourselves, but they just seem distant at times, and not really applicable to us. Then, at a time of our need; at a time when we are discouraged, thinking that God doesn’t care, feeling like God has just forsaken us, and left us to fend for ourselves; one or two of those promises just leap off the page at us; then we kind of laugh, not really meaning to, but we do until it sinks in, then we know God has spoken; we are no longer laughing, but praising. There is a different form of laughter. A laugh of joy, of praise, and of worship.
Why Sarah denied that she laughed is not clear. It may be that she was not that well acquainted with the LORD, and was afraid that He might judge her harshly. The LORD understands our humanity better than we do. He despises unbelief, but what Sarah had was not unbelief, but a lapsed judgment, maybe even a shortage of knowledge, concerning the way of the LORD. Abraham would have probably taught her and led her in their worship of the LORD. She had heard of the promise over and over from Abraham, but now she hears it from the mouth and lips of this Stranger, whom we know to be the LORD in person.
We learn from this that each individual Christian needs to know and worship God on their own, and with others. What we learn in our private times, our “Quiet Times” with the LORD we can share when we are in public with other believers. The wife cannot depend on the faith of her husband to save her. The husband cannot depend on the faith of his wife to save him. The child born into the home with Christian parents cannot be saved by the faith of their parents, then grow up and say, “I am a Christian, because my Mom and Dad were Christians”. If you were born in a garage, does that mean you are a car? Maybe an even more pertinent question would be, If you were born in a hospital does that make you a doctor or nurse? The answer to those questions, of course, is NO!
Did Sarah have faith and believe the LORD? Most definitely. We find in the book of Hebrews these inspiring words, “Through faith Sarah herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised.” 11:11 (KJV). In her fear, and denial of her laughter, there seems to be faith that God would do just what He said. The LORD leaves her saying, “Nay; but thou didst laugh”, letting her know that He knew her heart, and her thoughts. He does know our heart and our thoughts, and He knows the heart and thoughts of unbelivers as well. “IS ANY THING TOO HARD FOR THE LORD?”