Old Abe Has a Son

(Genesis 16)

“No, I didn’t!”

“Yes, you did!”

“No, I didn’t!

“Yes, you did!” Abraham said to his wife Sarah.

She did laugh. But now she was afraid to say so, because she had laughed at something she heard God say to Abraham - and it wasn’t supposed to be a joke. Not really. But what Sarah heard God say to Abraham was so crazy and impossible, it made her laugh.

God does like to do crazy, impossible, wonderful things. And sometimes they are so crazy and impossible and wonderful they make us laugh. God must have a great sense of humor. Well, of course he does - where else would WE get OUR sense of humor?

But why did Sarah laugh?

To find that out, we’ll have to go back in this story a little bit.

Many years before...

...God had promised Abraham that he would be the father of a great nation. Remember that starry night? Abraham was called Abram back then, and his wife was called Sarai. God told Abram that from him would come as many children as there were stars in the sky.

But years went by, and still Abram didn’t have any children, not even just one.

Sarai was worried that Abram would have no children at all, and so she said to Abram, “Maybe you should have your children by my servant Hagar. She is younger than I am, and maybe she is the one you are supposed to have your children with.”

That wasn’t God’s plan at all. But God’s plan seemed impossible. This plan didn’t.

So Abram agreed with Sarai.

As soon as Hagar became pregnant with Abram’s first child, there was trouble between Sarai and Hagar. And there has been trouble between the two and their children ever since.

The trouble got so bad, that finally Hagar ran away.

She came to a spring, and a pool of cool water in the middle of the hot desert. She sat down there and began to cry. She didn’t see that there was a man there. This man was an angel of the Lord. It was God himself appearing to her.

“Where are you going?” the angel of the Lord said to Hagar.

“I am running away,” she answered.

“Go back to your mistress Sarai,” God said to Hagar. “Be her servant and serve her well. I promise that from you will come so many children that no one will be able to count them. You are going to have a son and you will call him Ishmael, which means ‘God hears,’ because God has heard you cry.”

When the angel left her, Hagar said to herself, “Did I really just talk with God? And am I still alive to tell about it!” She didn’t know God’s name, and so she called him, “The God Who Hears.” And from then on, the spring where she talked with God was called “The Well of the Living One Who Hears Me.”

Hagar went back to her home, and she did have a son. She named him Ishmael, just as God had told her to. Abram was 86 years old.

Still, more years went by, and Abram and Sarai had no children.

Next time...

A Covenant with God
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Paul Dallgas-Frey

Originally written 12/02/00
redesigned a tinny bit November, 2004

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