Before we consider what took place at the Oaks of Mamre, let’s review. In our study of chapter 17, we read of God doing the following:
- changing Abram’s name to Abraham (Gen 17:5)
- declaring circumcision to be the sign of His covenant (Gen 17:10)
- requiring all males in Abraham’s household be circumcised (Gen 17:13)
- changing Sarai’s name to Sarah (Gen 17:15)
- promising (again) to bless Abraham and Sarah with a son (Gen 17:16)
- giving the name Isaac to the son they would have (Gen 17:19)
- blessing Ishmael (Gen 17:20)
- promising to establish His covenant with Isaac (Gen 17:21)
The LORD changing Abram’s name and Abram’s circumcision (the “cutting away” of the flesh) signify Abram’s transformation from the old, worldly man to a new, spiritual man in communion with his Creator. What happened next was amazing!
1 And the Lord appeared unto him in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day; 2 And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him: and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground, 3 And said, My Lord, if now I have found favor in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant: 4 Let a little water, I pray you, be fetched, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree: 5 And I will fetch a morsel of bread, and comfort ye your hearts; after that ye shall pass on: for therefore are ye come to your servant. And they said, So do, as thou hast said.
6 And Abraham hastened into the tent unto Sarah, and said, Make ready quickly three measures of fine meal, knead it, and make cakes upon the hearth. 7 And Abraham ran unto the herd, and fetched a calf tender and good, and gave it unto a young man; and he hasted to dress it. 8 And he took butter, and milk, and the calf which he had dressed, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree, and they did eat.
One of the three men was the Lord Jesus Himself. This is called a Theophany or a Christophany. It is a pre-incarnate appearance of the Lord Jesus Christ in human form. The Bible clearly records three Christophanies in addition to the one here on the plains of Mamre (Gen. 18):
- by the brook of Jabbok (Gen. 32:24–30),
- at Jericho (Josh 5:13),
- and in the fiery furnace of Babylon (Dan. 3:19, 25).
The Lord’s Appearance to Abraham and Sarah
Abraham treated the three men with the utmost of reverence and respect. He washed their feet, served them the finest of meals, and offered them use of any of his resources. As the text continues, the focus turns to Sarah.
9 And they said unto him, Where is Sarah thy wife? And he said, Behold, in the tent. 10 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.
11 Now Abraham and Sarah were old and well stricken in age; and it ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women. 12 Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also? 13 And the Lord said unto Abraham, Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I of a surety bear a child, which am old? 14 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.
Sarah was inside the tent and able to hear what the men were saying. When the Lord said Sarah would have a son, she laughed to herself in a cynical, unbelieving way. Sarah presumed that since she was post-menopausal, there was no way she could conceive. She further presumed that because of Abraham’s old age he could no longer father a child. So, in her human reasoning, she laughed.
When the Lord heard the laugh, He asked Abraham why Sarah would laugh at this news. And then the Lord said, “Is anything 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.” (Gen 18:14)
15 Then Sarah denied, saying, I laughed not; for she was afraid. And He said, Nay; but thou didst laugh.
Why did Sarah deny her laughter? We don’t know because the Bible does not say. However, we can wonder.
- Did she hear the Lord ask, “ Is anything too hard for the Lord?”
- Perhaps she thought of her God who had created all things out of nothing.
- Maybe she considered how God had already worked in her life or how He had already brought to pass things that He had promised.
- Perhaps she heard the Lord say to Abram, “At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.”
Did Sarah deny laughing because she was ashamed of her unbelief? Or was she laughing out of skepticism? We don’t know. We do know that after this her faith grew because she is included in the Hebrews 11 Hall of Faith:
Heb 11:11 Through faith also Sara 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.
Lessons from Sarah
- Faith is not simply believing something could happen. It is believing it WILL come to pass if God has declared it!
- Faith should never be based on circumstances. It should always be grounded in the character of God.
- Faith is not blind. God has fully revealed His will and ways, His promises and plans, His Person and perfection, in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ and through His Word.
God can be trusted, despite circumstance, feelings, or anything else. For is anything too difficult for the Lord?
Mat 19:26 But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.
- Timeline of the Life of Abraham
- A Story of Relationship
- From Haran to Canaan
- Abraham and Lot
- The Battle of Siddim
- Abraham and Melchizedek
- Righteousness Through Faith
- Cutting the Covenant
- Hagar and Ishmael
- A New Name for A New Man
- Circumcision: the Sign of the Covenant Read also: Why Circumcision?
- Sarah — A New Name for a New Woman
- The Lord Appeared to Abraham at The Oaks of Mamre
- Abraham Pleaded for Mercy for Sodom and Gomorrah
- The Rescue of Lot Out of Sodom
- Lot and His Daughters
- The Birth of Isaac, the Son of the Promise
- The Akedah: God’s Testing of Abraham’s Faith and Obedience
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