Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Genesis 17:10-22 He Who laughs last, laughs the best

The Lord next turns to the matter of Sarai, Abraham's wife:

"As for Sarai your wife, you are no longer to call her Sarai; her name will be Sarah.  I will bless her and will surely give you a son by her.  I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her."  (Genesis 17:15-16 NIV)

It is no wonder that, directly after these verses in the Bible, we are told that Abraham fell face down.  No doubt part of this was falling down in worship to God for the wonderful things which had just been said.  He and Sarah would finally have a son together!  However, Abraham also laughed to himself and thought, "Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old?  Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?"  (Genesis 17:17-18 NIV)

Out loud, "...Abraham said to God, 'If only Ishmael might live under your blessing!' (v.18) This verse, small as it is, is very telling.  It reveals that Abraham loves his son Ishmael very much.  How do I know this?  Well, God has just told Abraham that he and Sarah would soon be having a son of their own.  However, in the midst of this great news and the realization of their dreams as a couple, Abraham is still thinking of his son Ishmael.  (More on this in my next post.)

"Then God said, 'Yes, but your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac.  I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him.  And as for Ishmael, I have heard you:  I will surely bless him; I will make him fruitful and will greatly increase his numbers.  He will be the father of twelve rulers, and I will make him into a great nation.  But my covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you by this time next year.' (Genesis 17:19-21 NIV)

God makes it clear that he will indeed bless Ishmael, as Abraham requested.  However, God had already decided that He would establish His covenant with Isaac.  I love the wordplay in this chapter, and, in particular, in these verses:  God 'heard' Abraham's request about Ishmael, whose name means 'God hears'.  Abraham, whose name means 'Father of many' is well on his way to fathering many nations.  And, best of all,  Abraham, who probably thought his somewhat unbelieving laughter had escaped God's attention, is informed that the son with whom God will establish His covenant is to be named Isaac, 'He laughs'.  This tells me three things: 

  1.  God lets Abraham know that nothing escapes His attention.  (I know you laughed, Abraham.)
  2.  God knew that Isaac would bring Abraham and Sarah much joy.  (You'll laugh with Isaac.)
  3.  God Himself was laughing.  (Look Who's really laughing, Abraham.)

    No comments:

    Post a Comment